How's Michael Crick's blog being doing lately?
Well, it only kicked off again (22/9) with the start of the Lib Dem conference, on which he posted a couple of comments. The first discusses the problems the Lib Dems are having retaining women candidates for the next election. Crick calls one of the working groups set up to counter this trend 'the ludicrously named Candidates' Retention Working Party'.
The second mocks Nick Clegg's talk of becoming prime minister.
"The Lib Dems pride themselves on being a party of honesty, and Nick Clegg's talk today suggesting he's planning to become PM next spring is utterly bogus."
"But one thing every Liberal Democrat in Bournemouth knew this week, somewhat to their dismay, is that, as David Steel once suggested, they aren't going back to their constituencies to prepare for government."
Quite true, of course.
As I noted in my previous reviews of Michael's blog, the Lib Dems don't often feature and a mere two posts on their highly eventful (not so say unfortunate) conference seems a little meagre. Moreover, as I also noted, the Lib Dems are not a party that Crick refuses to criticise. I recorded that the only non-Tory instance on his blog of a specific attack on dodgy party donations was directed at the Lib Dems (his blog, 22nd June; my blog 23rd August). The Labour Party remains untouched.
Seven further posts followed from the Labour conference. In previous posts I have demonstrated, beyond all argument, that Crick's posts about the Labour Party are dominated by trivia and anecdote and are far less critical/political that those aimed at the Tories. The first post here is another example of that - an anecdote about Peter Mandelson pretending to eat fish and chips:
Next came a post that undermines my point somewhat, as (for the first time in five months of blogging) Crick sniffs out a little Labour dodginess over donations!
Crick bumped into dodgy donor David Abrahams and raises a pertinent question:
"At least seven times this evening I asked Mr Abrahams whether he was now giving money to the party again, and every time he refused to say. Which might suggest he IS giving money again, in which case his name should soon crop up among the Electoral Commission official figures on party donations.
"Unless he's giving money again through other people! Surely not."
Will he pursue this point over the coming months, or let the matter rest there? I think I can guess which way he'll go.
Brown's sop to the Lib Dems over electoral reform was another interesting one:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2009/09/arent_all_election_promises_hy.html "Gordon Brown's pledge to hold a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) voting system - after the election, if Labour win - may partly be a bargaining chip in the event of a hung Parliament and the need to woo the Lib Dems, who have long wanted proportional representation (PR)."
A chance to question Labour's motives? No. Instead Crick uses it to mock the Lib Dems again:
"So I rang the Lib Dems twice last night to ask them what they thought of Gordon Brown's pledge.
"We have no comment," they told me, "about a hypothetical referendum in Labour's hypothetical fourth term."
"Hypothetical? Aren't all election promises hypothetical? Lib Dem promises more especially."
He then refers to an article in the Guardian. Crick's always been a keen Guardian-reader, unsurprisingly.
Next up came a post about U.S.-style pre-election debates between the party leaders: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/michaelcrick/2009/09/the_future_and_format_of_tv_de.html
Crick puts a highly charitable gloss on Brown's cowardly dithering on the subject:
"So what happened to Gordon Brown's agreement to TV debates, which we thought might feature in his speech yesterday?
"I understand he certainly has accepted the idea, and so such debates are now likely to happen. There was quite a last minute tussle amongst his advisers over whether the idea should be included in the speech. The view which prevailed was that such an announcement would dominate the coverage, and overshadow the other important things that he had to say, especially on policy."
So, not because he's 'frit' then? The rest of the post talked technicalities.
No mockery so far of Labour then, and when Crick's attention turns to the Sun's decision to ditch Labour his focus is fixed not on Labour but (characterisitically) on the Murdoch empire:
His conclusions hint at shady goings-on:
"Many Labour people here in Brighton believe the Murdochs have done a tacit deal with the Conservatives - to promote the business interests of Murdoch, and especially their broadcasting outlets, at the expense of the BBC.
"We simply don't know. But there may be another explanation for what's happened, which I don't think one can ignore. That the Murdoch family, like the schoolboy Rupert at the Melbourne racetrack, like picking winners."
And Murdoch remains the focus of Crick's following (anecdotal) post from the Labour conference:
September's last post was called 'Lord Monkswell and the "hereditary principle"' and told us about Crick's 'old friend' Baron Monkswell, who 'is one of just 18 or so hereditary peers who support the Labour Party'.
He wants the 'heriditaries' removed.
So nothing much here to worry the Labour Party, as usual.
So far, you will have noticed, no Tory-bashing (though the first Murdoch story came close)!! Has Crick read CraigMorecambe's comment on his final August post, and decided after a string of stridently anti-Tory posts, that he better actually write about the Lib Dems and Labour when he goes to their conferences instead of the Tories?
But then again it's the Tory party conference next week, so watch this space...
Here are some things to look out for:
***Will there be a higher number of posts from Crick than from the Lib Dem and Labour conferences? (Given that I think he's obsessed with them I bet there will be!)
***How many of those posts will contain either sarcasm or mockery?
***How many will be critical of the Conservative Party? Will any be potentially damaging?
***Will any mention be made of Lord Ashcroft? Or other aspects of funding?
** Will the issue of expenses be brought up (it wasn't for either of the other two parties)?
***Will the Murdoch/Tory angle be pursued, and the Coulson/News of the World 'story' dredged up again?