Alex Massie

PoliticsHome & Westminster Wisdom

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The kerfuffle over Lord Ashcroft's purchase* of a majority stake in PoliticsHome is not something, I suspect, that mch interests anyone beyond the Westminster village. That said, I think Hopi Sen has the best take on this midget-brouhaha:

The result of these expert polls was usually a story like “Westminster insiders think Clegg needs to up his game” a day after something bad happened to Nick Clegg, or “Westminster insiders think Cameron is struggling to convince” a day after a poll comes out showing Cameron struggling to convince. Well great. Now we know MPs and journalists read the newspapers and watch TV.

Now, you might think this is all just fine, but it’s not. We need polling and market research to tell us what people we don’t get to hear from all the time think, not to reinforce the validity of the opinions of those already in the magic circle. All this kind of elite/expert/special secret super friends nonsense does is make whatever the conventional wisdom even more self reinforcing. And since Westminster conventional wisdom is an already formidable beast, it's worth welcoming pretty much anything that weakens its hold on public disource - not least because Westminster is frequently, if understandably, out of touch with what "real" people think on any given issue.

*That said, Iain Dale and others might consider that left-wing objections are more to do with the fact that Ashcroft is Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party and not, like the previous owners, merely a Conservative supporter. I can see why some people might think that does make a difference.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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