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October 11, 2006

Tim Montgomerie, Iain Dale and Stephan Shakespeare: The true authors of the revival in Conservative fortunes?

Posted by Watlington

When the history of the revival of the Conservative Party comes to be written, sharper eyed commentators will focus on the influence of three men: Tim Montgomerie, Iain Dale and Stephan Shakespeare. All three, in their own way have been rebuilding conservatism at grassroots level, but in a way that fits into 21st century multimedia communications.

Tim Montgomerie, a former IDS staffer and a leading proponent of the party's social justice agenda has established a website Conservativehome.com and is read by hundreds of thousands each month. Mr Montgomerie is scarcely off our screens as he is interviewed by leading media outlets as the authentic voice of conservatism. He has provided a forum for activists who might otherwise have suffocated under Cameron's "big tent".

Iain Dale by contrast has through his blog - by far the best political blog on the web - propelled Conservative blogging into the stratosphere. Mr Dale, a former David Davis Special Adviser, has - through a clever mixture of joviality and seriousness - ensured that Conservative blogs influence and are taken seriously by the mainstream media The official Tory party have decided to work with these websites rather than against them, knowing that anything they would produce would pale in comparison.

Into this triangle fits Stephan Shakespeare, the founder of YouGov and strategist to Jeffrey Archer's mayoral campaign. From nothing, Mr Shakespeare has turned YouGov into a multi-million pound business. His success has enabled him to become a major shareholder in ConservativeHome.com and also to invest a small fortune in the new internet TV station 18 Doughty Street which launched yesterday.

18 Doughty Street is being run on a daily basis by Tim Montgomerie and Iain Dale and you can be sure that it will be a clever operation judging by their previous work. At a time when New Labour is clearly in decline, these three men are ensuring that the Conservative voice is heard loud and clear on the airwaves and the internet. For this they are to be congratulated.

To read more by Watlington, see Watlington.

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Rather over the top don't you think? Do you honestly think Ian Dale's blog is all that special? It gets about 20 odd comments per article he writes. Is that anything to get over-excited about? Ditto Conservative Home is talking to Conservative supporters. It's not as if they are attracting new supporters is it? For all this wild talk about the internet attracting a new generation of political supporters and engaging the young is there any actual evidence? The most popular blog type thing on the internet seems to be the BBC's Have Your Say site which allows the British to do what they do best which is moan about the Government. So let's have some realism and not hype.

Posted by: Manjit at October 11, 2006 05:00 PM

considering that there are millions of blogs out there, "20 odd comments" is not to be sniffed at. The vast majority of blog readers dont comment. And if you look at Iain Dale's blog now, it's more like an average of 40 comments.

Posted by: ghost of john trenchard at October 12, 2006 12:29 AM
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