The white smoke lasted all of a few seconds: from the moment I became editor I knew who I wanted to succeed me as political editor. In what few discussions I had about it, the same name was clearly ahead. And reading the comment threads, you guys knew it too. But today it’s official: James Forsyth, whose political analysis you have been following for so long, will be the new political editor of The Spectator. Coffee House is one place where he really does need no introduction. James has done more than anyone else to establish this blog’s reputation for political analysis: writers, like me, follow the template he set. Its an incredible achievement which, if I were him, I’d brag about a lot more than he does. What you see around you in this screen is only the most visible sign of his energy and ability.
When I did the job, I was mindful of the rather daunting list of names that went before me – including Charles Moore, Ferdinand Mount, Simon Heffer, Bruce Anderson and Peter Oborne. The odd thing about The Spectator is that, when you look at its history, it seems to be an all-star cast – but this isn’t always the case at the time. When Timothy Garton Ash started filing on the collapse of communism, for example, he was an unheard-of research student in Berlin. Not that James has come from nowhere. In the space of a few years, he has already established a reputation for forward-looking, timely and impeccably-informed political analysis. He was very much part of the team that Matt d’Ancona established here, becoming promoted to deputy editor (online) two years ago – both Matt and I spoke of him as a future political editor. So while this is, perhaps, the most important appointment I’ll make as editor it is one that I make unhesitatingly and wholeheartedly. It is, for us at The Spectator, a no-brainer. Congratulations, James.