Tim Montgomerie has written two articles today - one FOR the Telegraph and the other ON the Telegraph for CommentisFree. It is this latter article I wish to concentrate on. The essense of what Tim is saying is that the Telegraph can no longer be regarded as the Torygraph and that relations between the paper and David Cameron are terrible. He concludes by saying this...
What is to be done? The leadership must put more energy into promoting policies
that will appeal to its traditional voters. It already has many such policies
but they receive very little coverage compared to David Cameron's environmental
agenda. I think of the promise of a borders police force, more prisons,
scrapping of ID cards, a review of the Human Rights Act and support for
marriage. None of these policies are in conflict with the Cameron party's
gentler, greener priorities but they need to be sold to core voters. The
Telegraph is vital for reassuring the party's core voters that the party is
worth electing. As a political geek who studies the Tory strategy on a daily
basis I know that the party remains a very conservative enterprise. David
Cameron must find a way of ensuring that The Telegraph shares that
Obviously it is clear to any political leader that it is wise to build political bridges with as many parts of the media as possible. You cannot get your message out if the entire media is against you. Cameron always knew that the Telegraph would be a tough nut to crack and Tim Montgomerie is right to point out that more effort needs to be expended in this direction. But it works both ways.
I have never seen the Telegraph as being anti-Tory. It's a Conservative minded paper which reflects the concerns of its readers. It should be a surprise to no-one if it huffs and puffs from time to time at the direction the Party is taking. Of course it has quite a few columnists like Simon Heffer, Jeff Randall - and latterly Janet Daley - who cannot see anything good in David Cameron. But let's not forget it also employs Boris Johnson, Alice Thompson and Rachel Sylvester who can all be put into the pro-Cameron camp. And then there's me.
I was a little suprised Tim Montgomerie didn't mention my column in his piece, as he knows very well why I was taken on. When the Telegraph asked me to write my column they told me they felt they weren't covering Tory politics with enough breadth. They recognised there was a problem. They said they wanted someone who wasn't a signed up Cameroon, but also someone who wasn't antagonistic to David Cameron. They reckoned I fitted the bill. I don't think I am telling tales out of court if I say that Simon Heffer himself was sceptical about me, as he felt that I would be too anti-Cameron as I had worked for David Davis. I hope my columns have demonstrated a balanced approach.
So while the Telegraph should not fall for the view that David Cameron and his circle are closet pinkos, neither should David Cameron view the Telegraph as an enemy.