Yesterday’s local blogosphere and today’s dead-tree press both seemed to raise more than a wry eyebrow that “Lord” Ashcroft, the Tory’s favourite sugar-daddy, had bought a commanding state in both ConservativeHome and PoliticsHome.
Now, to be honest, Malcolm had always felt dealing dining with either of those sites required a long spoon. At least Montgomerie and Co were up-front with their allegiances: right-wing, Europhobic and unrepentant. But PoliticsHome?
Well, for a start, the rolling strap-line seemed heavily dominated by right-of-centre sources. Is that a reflection of the balance of UK political blogs, or something a whit more dexter (sinister doesn’t seem quite the right word there)?
The Spectator‘s Coffee House and the paper’s political correspondents seem to hog the space (actually, not without some reason: both are often worth the trip).
That’s not the whole story, especially with the Speccie. As Malcolm muses, there is a come-on headline on the Speccie’s site. It looks like this:
Yet, when Malcolm clicks the link to go to the Blogs pages, no continuation or expansion of that can he find.
There is a straight-t0-camera, no-blinking, vanilla piece by Alex Massie. He restricts himself to a meringue (crisp on the outside, mere dry froth within) of an argument:
Iain Dale and others might consider that left-wing objections are more to do with the fact that Ashcroft is Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and not, like the previous owners, merely a Conservative supporter. I can see why some people might think that does make a difference.
‘Tis passing strange.
Then again, PoliticsHome features those curious insider polls. We are told the sources are “experts”. We do not know who they are. What we do know is that the consensus of the cognoscenti varies none to far from, say, the political line of the Daily Mail. Either Malcolm mixes in the wrong company (quite true, fortunately) or these gurus are collective very anodyne.
Note: the Oxford English Dictionary‘s draft to up-date its definition of “anodyne” reads:
Unlikely to provoke a strong response; innocuous, inoffensive; vapid, bland.
The operation feels more like opinion-forming than opinion-reflecting.
Then something came out in the wash. It was the dog-end of Sam Coates’s piece in today’s Times: by comparison, the Guardian, which should have a hot-line to the horse’s mouth, Andrew Rawnsley (if diplomatic relations between the two sister papers are not hopelessly broken) was feeble — even “anodyne” by comparison. Anyway, here’s Coates:
In a statement on the website, [Stephan Shakespeare] said: “PoliticsHome will remain strictly non-partisan and readers can continue to have absolute confidence in its editorial independence.” PoliticsHome said yesterday that it would use a £1.3million cash injection to make the site more useful for businesses.
For businesses, Mr Shakespeare?
Malcolm was not aware that corporations and companies had votes. What about the individual electors, who do?