In praise of Tim Montgomerie

27th February, 2013 8:45 pm

It would be remiss of LabourList to allow one of the big beasts of the British political blogosphere to move on without comment. This blog doesn’t make a habit of praising Conservatives – so to those of you of a delicate constitution, please look away now (I’ll keep it brief).

Tim Montgomerie has announced today that he is stepping down as Editor of ConservativeHome. When Tim set up “ConHome” political blogging was a niche pursuit in its infancy – and LabourList was still four years away. Tim established ConHome not only as required reading for Conservative activists and establishment alike, but as an accessible and dare I say entertaining way for me and many others on the left read to take the (often boiling) temperature of the Tory grassroots.

With the support of Lord Ashcroft (whose polling has become essential reading) he has continued to drive forward his own brand of Conservatism with vigour. Certainly there are elements of it – backing for equal marriage and opposition to NHS reforms (to name but two) – that could be far more electorally-potent than the current brand of Austerity-fuelled masochism the country is being subjected to. Or as he put it today “conservatism must have a one nation character”. Carefully chosen and pointed words, I’m sure. I hope that his reach and influence isn’t diluted behind the Times paywall. That would be a loss to those – like me – who usually disagree with him, as it would be for his ideological fellow travellers.

Tim also deserves praise for the way he has approached online debate – much in the way he is in real life – polite, thoughtful, engaging and open. So much dialogue online is rows punctuated by point scoring. I won’t say that Tim is immune to this (who is?) but that he is certainly amongst the most willing to constructively engage with – and praise, where appropriate – his opponents in a way that is unusual, but most welcome. Certainly I have taken any advice and kind words about LabourList from Tim as seriously as I have from any Labour figure. I’ve probably destroyed some of his Tory street cred here, but I think his work at ConHome is testament to what he’s capable of.

It is my ambition that LabourList will eventually achieve the stature and influence on the centre left that ConHome has on the centre right under the leadership of Tim. Certainly I look forward to a time when LabourList might have both the breadth and depth of ConHome’s offering. We are not there yet, but this month has been a record breaking one for us in traffic terms, with nearly 100,000 of you visiting these pages over the past month. Our list of email subscribers has also doubled to more than 7,000 with the move to our new morning email.

But there is still much to do.

As Tim and ConservativeHome move on to new pastures, I’d like to thank those of you who have kept the faith with LabourList during our first few years.

We’re only just getting started.

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