David Blackburn

And the winner is…

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A few intrepid writers from the Right braved the lion’s den of the left-wing Orwell Prize last night, dominated as it was by hordes of hacks from the Guardian, the Observer, and the New Statesman.

One of these brave souls even won an award. ConservativeHome’s Graeme Archer, whose quietly angry and deeply considered blog-posts took the prestigious Orwell Blog Prize. Archer’s original subject matter, written in prose as robust as granite, rebuffed strong opposition from the growing cacophony from the left-wing blogosphere. Indeed, his victory defies the popular belief that the day of independent right-wing blogging has passed.

Jenni Russell won the journalist of the year award for her work on the Sunday Times and the Guardian. Our own Martin Bright presented the bauble and observed that journalism was now the preserve of an ageing clique: the young cannot break into journalism unless they have significant financial backing. He said that paucity of talent had led him and his fellow judge, Michela Wrong, to select a shortlist of over 40s.

Finally, the main event arrived: the prize for book of the year, judged and presented by Jim Naughtie. The shortlist was nothing short of stellar, with entries from Oliver Bullough, Helen Dunmore, D.R. Thorpe and the Hitch. There was also an extraordinary novel-cum-memoir on the recent failed Iranian revolution, titled Death to the Dictator!.

Given the audience, a cynic might have smiled to himself and presumed Death to the Dictator! to be a shoo-in. Many of the audience must have thought so too, because there was perceptible surprise when the late Lord Bingham’s meditation on the rule of law carried the day. On reflection, however, there could be no other contender: Bingham’s simultaneously impassioned and dispassionate book is a tour de force on the fundamental tenet of a free society. And its greatest achievement is to be readable. In the video above, Lord Bingham explains the concepts behind his


PS: In other news, Philip Roth has won the International Man Booker Prize, another lesser trophy for his cramped cabinet. Might it not be an idea to award Roth the Nobel Prize?