In the latest issue of the Author, the journal of the Society of Authors, along with the usual spread of articles on such subjects as the threat and promise of ebooks, the pros and cons of talking at literary festivals, and the cut in the Public Lending Right, there are two self-regarding items of Tory cheer. The first is by Toby Young, plugging his latest book, How to Set Up a Free School, in the guise of a piece about the ‘writer as political activist’:
The process the last government had put in place for the creation of new schools was designed to be navigated by professional bureaucrats, not amateurs like me.
Unbelievable, no? But then along came Michael Gove with the inspired idea of allowing schools to be run by amateurs, as long as they’re amateurs like Toby Young:
It’s generally taken for granted that if you’re a creative person, you’re on the Left. In fact, I’ve always been a conservative, but before free schools came along I was in the closet, so to speak.
Then there’s John Redwood MP in praise of blogging, not for the opportunities it gives him to write sentences that begin with the word ‘I’: he manages 37 of those (out of 76) in the piece in the Author (and that doesn’t include the ones that have ‘I’ as the second word or begin with ‘My’, but I couldn’t face going through it and counting again). Redwood took up blogging because:
I had plenty to talk about. It was a luxury to be able to say more than a couple of soundbites. I could allow myself the luxury of paragraphs, whole arguments, even tackling criticisms within the statement of a case. I could put some thought into soundbite politics.
All worthy intentions. But along the way he seems to claim not only to have predicted the financial crisis but to have more or less invented the internet by campaigning for the privatision of Britain’s telephone system. What’s more:
The sale of BT and the introduction of competition enabled London to grow a great financial centre based on data and the information revolution.
So much for the ability to predict financial crises.