The best five new blogs on the block
I've just scrapped the 'Editor's blog choice' that appeared in the middle column of this page and throughout ConHome. I've replaced it with two lists: a Big Beast Polibloggers list which links to the Paul Waugh and Coffee Houses of the blogging world and also a New Wave Blogs list; blogs that are new and I recommend for your favourites.
Iain Dale recently wrote about the dearth of new centre right bloggers but I'm more optimistic and want to do more to highlight good new bloggers in the weeks ahead.
- Top of my list is James Frayne's Campaign War Room. It's one of a kind; providing the kind of insight into political campaigning that is missing from the current internet offerings. UK politics isn't half-as-professional as US politics - from which James (part of the Business for Sterling campaign, recently saluted by George Trefgarne) draws much inspiration. I recently suggested James - more in hope than expectation - should be hired by David Cameron.
- Then comes Ed Staite, former CCHQ media officer and now a great commentator on the process of politics.
- Third, already attracting lots of attention at Telegraph blogs, is Katharine Birbalsingh. Is there a more persuasive advocate of Michael Gove's education reforms?
- Fourth for a foreign policy perspective is former British Ambassador Charles Crawford.
- Fifth, not-so-new and not-so-right-of-centre but insightful, under-appreciated and deliciously in love with Parliament is the blog of the BBC's Mark D'Arcy.
James Frayne on rallying third parties: "I have always thought the parties should put very serious resources into mobilising third parties... it's an interesting exercise to imagine what modern politics would be like with them. Imagine a BBC presenter saying, "We're joined by Alan Johnson, the Labour Shadow Chancellor, and John Smith, who runs a small manufacturing business in Yorkshire, who has today helped launch a new campaign of small businesspeople for a faster reduction in the deficit..." It'd be an unfair contest."
Katharine Birbalsingh on pro-poor Michael Gove: "On the whole, teachers don’t like Michael Gove. He’s too posh, too political, and above all he’s too Tory. To have stood next to Michael Gove and spoken on a Conservative platform was enough to brand me for life. Free Schools are his idea? It must be an attempt to help the middle class. Why? The teaching profession believes that those on the Right are only interested in keeping the poor, poor. Are they right, or is it just pure prejudice?"
Ed Staite on political attack dogs: "Attack dogs are very useful as they allow front bench MPs to concentrate on matters of substance to build credibility in their briefs. It may be that a story doesn't quite stack up - some politicians are nervy about this - so the resident attack dog steps up. It also ensures a party can react with speed; often essential to get a story a good show in today's 24 hour media age with ever shorter news cycles. If they are good they develop close links with Lobby journalists - particularly in the Sunday papers - and often work in partnership to develop a story."
Charles Crawford on our (and the media's) declining interest in the world around us: "Coverage of European affairs is beyond hopeless. With the distinguished exceptions of the FT and European Voice (part of the Economist family), neither cheap if you want the full coverage, it is almost literally impossible to follow EU business and politics via the rest of the UK media. Or even via UK blogs. How many of the Iain Dale Top 50 blogs regularly carry serious and informed analysis of foreign affairs? Plus foreign language teaching in the UK state education sector is an endangered species: The fewer pupils learning languages, the fewer go into teaching, so fewer learn, so fewer teach, so the subject declines precipitously."
Mark D'Arcy's on the LibDems sitting on the fence on tuition fees: "Can Lib Dem ministers really abstain on a government policy, even with cover provided by the coalition agreement? And if they do, might Conservative ministers claim the right to abstain on constituency interest issues, such as the HS2 high speed rail project? In Lib Dem ranks, the hope is that the coalition can cope with its Lib Dem MPs voting in perhaps three different directions on tuition fees, then pick itself up, dust itself down, and move on as if nothing has happened. They may be right. Of course, Conservative MPs won't be happy at the Lib Dems acting as if they're in the coalition when it suits them, and out of it when it is expedient. But that's showbusiness."