Yesterday we shared our favourite video, moment and funny of the year. Today we’ve got three related more to ConservativeHome itself.
Platform article of the year
Tim – Murdo Fraser MSP’s article at the end of October: We must not allow nationalists to drive England and Scotland apart. Some of the ToryDiary threads on the Scottish question have turned quite ugly in the last few months. Murdo’s piece hit all of the right notes and towards the end of the year David Cameron made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t going to take risks with the Union.
Regret of the year
Tim – Iraq has dominated geopolitics for the last five years and the divergence of US and British policy towards the conflict was the most important real story of 2007. America, through General Petraeus’ troops surge, showed that it was willing to try one more time to make the nation it liberated a half-tolerable place to live. Brown couldn’t get out fast enough – infamously playing politics with British troop withdrawals. To say that Britain was defeated in Iraq is no slur on our courageous and badly-led troops but it is the truth. It was also disappointing that the Conservatives were unwilling to champion the surge at the outset or credit it when it had succeeded in delivering a massive reduction in violence. William Hague’s response to Petraeus’ success was bland at its best and the Shadow Foreign Secretary was too ready to credit Sunni leaders rather than American policy for the halving of violence despite the connectedness of the two developments. Only the odd pairing of Iain Duncan Smith and John Bercow spoke up for the surge in the Commons. I can only hope that David Cameron’s recent visit to Washington signals the beginning of something different.
Samuel – It’s been a good year generally, I started working on the site and related projects on a proper full-time basis at the start of January and have been lucky enough to travel abroad a lot and get to know some great people down in London. The Party is generally getting closer to what I wanted it to be like when I joined. One regret that comes to mind ConservativeHome-wise is something that has been raised with me by a few candidates, and that is the critical comments about them being posted on here by readers. I don’t believe anything particularly nasty or libellous has been put up (if you ever see anything like that please don’t hesitate to email us and we’ll take action asap) but it’s fair to say that perceptions of some candidates have been coloured by what is discussed about them online. Other candidates laugh it off and say you need a thick skin in this game and also that it’s healthy to be able to voice genuine concerns about an aspect of a candidates’ past etc. Knowing which comments to overwrite really is a tricky one. We do try our best to avoid needlessly hurting anyone’s prospects as well as needlessly muting opinions.
Highlight of the year
Tim – One highlight was an ICM survey that showed that twice as many MPs used ConservativeHome as any other blog. I was more encouraged by the progress of the ConservativeHome Members’ Panel, however. It was widely quoted by the mainstream media during 2007 but when it showed unhappiness with David Cameron there were often ‘shoot-the-messenger’ complaints that it had been infiltrated by non-Tories. But, after the dramatic events leading up to Bottler Saturday, there was a massive bounceback in the standing of Cameron and George Osborne, in particular. Exactly the same population that had been dissatisfied was now largely satisfied with the direction of the party. In recent weeks I’ve met a number of shadow cabinet members who have admitted that their own local Associations were decidedly negative from the grammars schools row until the Blackpool Conference. The grassroots may be open to the charge of being fickle but the monthly panel survey does capture the temperature of the membership. ConservativeHome’s Agenda/ Manifesto for 2008 – launching on 7th January – will be based on Panel findings. The December survey is still live here if you want to have your say.
Samuel – We had a fun but busy night liveblogging the local/Welsh/Scottish election results
in May. Rather surreally we were doing so from St Stephen’s Tavern
opposite Parliament as the BBC had commandered it and filled it with
pundits and cameras. We got information from grassroots activists from
all over the country as well as some senior bods in Party HQ, which
meant we were very often ahead of the TV networks. I think we left at
about 5am and continued coverage a few hours later. I felt we’d done a
good job of aggregating what was going on in the media and providing a
place for Tory anoraks to chat about it all (there were almost 600
comments). I look forward to seeing how we can cover the next general election.