Brian offers a figure from the past Alan Watkins as the epitome of great British journalism (by and large no argument from me on that score). But for me no one in the British MSM scales the gap between the left and right as seamlessly as Guardian leader writer Julian Glover (long term partner of former Tory MP Matthew Parris)… He argues that the class war schick may just be enough to wake up Labour’s core vote, but that the Tories can and probably should counter with more of who they really are…
12,659 voters in Gosport (only 7,000 fewer than elected the local MP in 2005) picked Caroline Dinenage (campaign slogan: “local businesswoman, navy wife and mum”) to replace Sir Peter Viggars, made infamous by his duck island. She is the 14th person to be picked to fill one of the safe seats that have just come vacant (with eight more currently to go): so far 38% are women, three are doctors (one chosen just ahead of a teacher), two run businesses and only one went to Eton.
Open primaries, and in particular all-postal ones, are working. If there is a stereotypical modern Tory candidate, they are local, middle income, probably state educated and quite possibly employed in the public sector, with a record of voluntary work and a deep-seated distrust of the central state and the European Union. A solid Tory majority would mean about 60% of Conservative MPs were new and, if he is among them, Zac Goldsmith will stand out as the oddity, not the norm.
This is the story Cameron knows he has to get across. His advisers could do worse than return to that old communist text, and reword it very slightly: “It is high time that Conservatives should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of conservatism with a manifesto of the party itself.”
It is a manifesto that has yet to be heard, or at any rate understood, by Mr Cameron’s new friends in the UUP…
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty