Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good news for Tim Montgomerie, but perhaps not David Cameron

The news broke today that Tim Montgomerie, the editor of Conservative Home, is to become the new comment editor of The Times. Congratulations to him, and it is always good to see someone from the blogosphere get on in the mainstream media.

But I wonder if it is such good news for David Cameron.

Montgomerie is one of the more eloquent holders of the view that the way for the Conservatives to gain a majority is to move to the right and concentrate on issues like spending cuts, immigration and Europe.

It is not for nothing that Conservative Home is known to some as the Continuity IDS.

If Montgomerie's appointment is a sign The Times is to embrace this agenda more tightly then that is bad news for David Cameron.

Because Cameron has grasped that the way for the Conservatives to win that majority is for them at least to appear more moderate than they did in the decade after John Major's premiership. And if another newspaper is pushing him in the opposite direction then his task will become that much harder.

I am reminded of a story in one of Simon Walters' books. It is to the effect that Charles Moore reflected ruefully when he left the Daily Telegraph in 2003 that, throughout the eight years of his editorship, the Conservative Party had been unelectable. Walters remarks that it did not occur to him that his editorial policies may have been one of the reasons for that unelectability.

David Cameron must hope that no one finds it necessary to make the same remark on the day, far distant, when Tim Montgomerie leaves The Times.

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