The automatic divert from this site to the new one won’t now kick in until later on today. The new site, however, should be going live round about now. Visit it by clicking here, and let me know what you think (although, if you don’t like it, tough, ‘cos I’m not changing it back now).
Category Archives: Blogging
THIS SITE will be offline from about nine tonight until seven tomorrow morning.
The new site will have a new address: tomharris.org.uk, but you should be redirected if you try to find this site. Please bear with us if there are hiccups. Those of you using Internet Explorer 6 in particular could have some problems viewing the new site, but we’re trying to minimise difficulties as much as possible.
That’s it for harrismp.wordpress.com, then.
Thank you and goodnight.
THE LATEST version of this blog will be launched at 7.00 am on Friday, less than two days from now.
Do try to keep calm, people.
THERE’S almost a bullying tone to some of the voices raised in criticism of the government’s economic policies. Anyone who dares to suggest that the current crisis is not of our making gets the proverbial Chinese burn behind the bike shed and has his dinner money stolen.
So Sir Alan Budd, former adviser to Tory chancellors Norman Lamont and Ken Clarke, might want to get his mum to pick him up from school for the next couple of days. According to Paul Waugh of The Evening Standard, Sir Alan told Radio 4:
On the issue of whether the nation is on the edge of “bankruptcy”, he said:
“Expressions like the country going bankrupt aren’t really suitable to be used in these circumstances. There are problems out there but they’re not to do with bankruptcy.”
This contrasts slightly with D Cameron (who worked alongside Sir Alan when he was with Lamont) just a week ago, declaring “We’ve got to stop this Government before they bankrupt our economy and bankrupt our children’s future”.
Here’s Sir Alan on the fall in sterling:
“I don’t think a fall in the currency in itself is a serious matter, this is a price that is determined in free markets. Let people take their views of the future value of Sterling, some will get it right and some will get it wrong. This doesn’t prevent the Government from being able to finance its deficit and it is able to do that at the moment at very low interest rates”
And on the public finances in general:
“I don’t think public finances are a problem at the moment. They are not nearly as healthy as one would wish but I don’t think we need worry about the public finances, what we do need to worry about are the commercial finances and the operation of the banking system.”
I don’t deny that recent polls suggest Labour is losing the economic argument. That doesn’t mean the critics are right or that the public won’t give us the benefit of the doubt when polling day comes around.
I remain firmly of the view that, had we been inflicted with a Conservative government in the last decade, not only would we be facing exactly the same economic difficulties as today, but that we would be doing so without the new hospitals and schools which were so needed in 1997 and which Do-Nothing still insists were not.
DON’T take the headline the wrong way: most readers know I prayed for an Obama victory in November and was overjoyed when he won.
But it’s the only thing everyone else is talking about and you can’t escape it – it’s all over every newspaper, radio station and TV channel. So today, consider this site a little island of calm, untouched by the frenzy and jubilation of this historic inauguration day, free from the screeds of analysis and reportage, speculation and vox pops.
And another thing… where real life needn’t intrude.
I FELT strangely depressed yesterday on reading this over at LabourList. That in this day and age we can still have this kind of “debate” in the Labour Party is incredibly dispiriting.
I mean, come on! A maximum wage!? And it’s not just left-wingers who betray this level of disengagement from reality: many right-wing and Tory-supporting commenters on this site have, over the months, left barbed and pointed comments expressing their resentment that Tony Blair is earning many millions of pounds a year. Good for him, say I.
And while we’re at it, good for Geoff Hoon for hiring a private tutor for his daughter. Any decent parent would do the same, and I certainly would, without hesitation or apology, if I felt any of my sons would benefit from it.
WORK on And another thing… version 4.0 is continuing apace. I’ve pencilled in “some time next week” as the not-very-helpful-or-specific date for the launch.
So now seems as good a time as any to explain how we got to the number four.
And another thing… started out as a daily column on my old parliamentary website back in 2006. In those days I had no real idea what a blog actually was; I had never heard of an RSS feed and I wasn’t aware of the necessity to allow comments and to interact with readers.
Anyway, I chuntered on, archiving each day’s comment for easy access for the few people who were interested. My attempts to have my “blog” featured on other sites, like Bloggers4Labour, in order to attract more traffic, were met with (in retrospect, perfectly understandable) indifference.
Then, just after I was made a minister in September 2006, I hired an intern. I will spare his blushes; let me just say that of all the applicants for this upaid post, he was the one who most impressed me because he had the bottle to tell me, during his interview, that he favoured reintroducing the eleven-plus! Such chutzpah should be rewarded, thought I. He found himself hired, and a few weeks later, he set up a WordPress.com account for me, complete with the cartoon illustration you can see at the top of this page. So that was version 2. The intern, meanwhile, has gone on to bigger and better things. We haven’t heard the last of him.
I enjoyed blogging right from the start, and I had just started to attract some attention as a blogging minister when I came a bit of a cropper. I won’t go into too many details, but I discovered that a senior member of the government didn’t share my online sense of humour, and I decided it might be better for my ministerial career if I gave up the blogging altogether.
So what made me want to restart in March 2008? Some might say a self-destructive streak – who knows? But it was at about the same time that I relaunched my parliamentary site and I thought: “Well, why not?” That question was answered three months later, but I persevered anyway. I was – and remain – convinced that MPs should engage, not just lecture.
So, anyway, you’re reading And another thing… Mark 3 at the moment. I figured that, if I’m going to take this blogging lark seriously, then I should have a site that’s bespoke and which offers more flexibility on content than the (admittedly excellent) free site from WordPress.com. It will also have a new URL, which anyone looking for this site will be redirected to (I hope).
Anyhoo, only a matter of days now. No doubt you will not be slow in coming forwards with your comments and criticisms. I’ll post again as soon as I have a more specific time.