I’m sticking to my long-held belief that Labour will comfortably win a third term next year with Tony Blair as prime minister. But there’s not doubt that the political climate has changed markedly. The lead story so far today has been shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin’s announcement of a putative Conservative government’s spending policies.
I think Cabinet Office minister Douglas Alexander had all the best points when he and Letwin were interviewed this morning on the Today Programme. But what’s changed is that Letwin was given respect (not least through leading the news bulletins with his plans) and sounded calm and reasonable.
Alexander tried to stick the knife in with the accurate jibe that Letwin was the man who declared he would beg in the streets rather than send his children to the local state school. That plays well with me, but I think most listeners would just regard it as the kind of yah-boo politics that Letwin was trying to decry.
I don’t understand why Letwin’s speech is a lead story. After all, he has no power whatsoever, and his chances of becoming chancellor remain slight even with the most optimistic reading of the polls. Clearly, however, the editors at BBC News reckon Conservative policy announcements are once more real news, after seven years in the wilderness. And that’s an important shift.
Felix Salmon has a long, well-considered post on the ethics of blogging. He concludes:
“If individual bloggers, especially the higher-profile ones, made it clear what kind of things they will and will not do, at least some kind of consensus might start to emerge.
“If that happened, would the blogosphere lose its appealing, free-wheeling, anarchic flavour? I very much doubt it. Would anybody still be free to publish anything they wanted? Absolutely. Would blogs still deliver the kind of content which is hard, if not impossible, to get from any other media outlet? I should bloody well hope so. I would simply like to think that, in aggregate, blogs might get taken increasingly seriously by the kind of people who naturally discount anything which isn’t published on paper.
“But there could be a downside, as well. If bloggers started censoring themselves in an attempt to stay on the right side of the ethical line, their blogs might become duller. If they started double-checking things before publishing them, they could lose both speed and volume of posting. If they refused certain forms of advertising, they could both lose money and hinder the growth of a whole new form of media.”
How can you not like Pholph’s Scrabble Generator?
My Scrabble© Score is: 21.
What is your score? Get it here.
(Via Prints the Chaff, which scores 30.)