Daily Archives: 2 October 2006

Lazy Hague

Iain Dale is very admiring of William Hague – and it is fair to say that the bald one did a brilliant rabble rouser yesterday.

But one issue troubled me. Hague is the Shadow Foreign Secretary. And, as per usual, there has been a lot of “foreign stuff” going on over the past few months, not least of all everything that has been happening in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, did he actually mention any of this in his speech? At all? No, instead he just did a crowd pleaser, bashing Prescott and Brown ad nauseum.

It isn’t as if he was the only person available to speak on the subject of his speech either – indeed, it was exactly the same subject as that of his Party leader’s an hour or so later.

It is true to say that there will be a debate on foreign affairs later in the week, but that didn’t stop David Davis from sending everyone to sleep speaking about crime in his speech before.

One can’t help but get the feeling that the reason Hague didn’t refer to his brief in his speech is that he doesn’t really have that much to say on the matter. For all his attacks on Labour, the truth of the matter is that you would struggle to get a fag paper between him and Blair on foreign affairs matters. And of course there was Hague’s personal elephant in the room: his handling of Cameron’s pledge to pull out of the EPP. Will anyone actually address this issue at all this week?

The Tories’ strategy for the past year has been to shout a lot about “change” as an excuse for not having an policies. From the media coverage I’ve seen, that’s already starting to wear thin. They’re boost in the polls, while in the right direction, hasn’t been enough to make them start looking like a party of government and now it looks like the honeymoon period is wearing off. And as for all this sleaze stuff

If I were a Tory I’d be starting to get a little twitchy. If the wheels haven’t come off the wagon yet, they’re certainly starting to look wobbly.

Tribune Tribute

I was amused to see Susanne Lamido get a whole article printed about her blog in this week’s Islington Tribune because she recommends it as “the best read for local residents”. Clearly blogging has come of age when local newspapers actually write whole articles out of the fact that a blogger has said a nice thing about them.

I too find the Tribune required reading, although I suspect not for the same reasons as Susanne. As a political hack, it’s a great, fun read – full of scandal and gossip – but I’m not as convinced by commitment to news values as Susanne clearly is. It’s certainly true it has a strong interest in community issues, but it has a real weakness for hearsay and seems more interested in mischief making than informing.

This week, for example, there is a report on a public meeting about Highbury Fields. Headline: “Fields update more like a ‘game show'”. Sub-heading: “Audience ‘shouted at by woman in dominatrix shoes’.” Indeed, fully 50% of that article is about the fascinating-sounding facilitator and her footwear (clearly I need to go to more public meetings), all based on the fact that Josie Lawrence-lookalike Green councillor Katie Dawson made a couple of catty comments.

The letter’s page is also a great read. Being a member of a political party or a pressure group appears to be compulsory and all the letters are full of bile and vitriol. All great fun, but anyone interested in getting to the truth of the matter is entirely frustrated.

Do ordinary people read this thing? It’s possible but if they do I doubt they gain anything from it except a confirmation of their worst prejudices about politicians. A bit of nuance, and the volume set at something other than 11, would be quite refreshing every now and again.