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What’s next for Tim Montgomerie?

10 March 2014

Normally, we wouldn’t blog about a journalist moving jobs — but Tim Montgomerie is an exception. He is an actor in, not just an observer of, Britain’s political drama which is why it’s significant that he has decided to step down as opinion editor of The Times, to do other things (as yet undefined).

Normally, ‘do other things’ is a euphemism – but in Tim’s case, it fits a pattern. He is a serial political entrepreneur, an ex-Iain Duncan Smith staffer who set up ConservativeHome website, and the Centre for Social Justice think tank and can be found behind various other projects (PoliticsHome, 18 Doughty Street TV, and others). A few years ago he became a newspaper columnist, adapting to the genre with an ease that dismayed his rivals (myself very much included).

Hiring him as Comment Editor was an inspired move by The Times‘ editor John Witherow. The business of political comment is mutating, moving online and diversifying into audio, video and social media. Tim was a natural at all this but he has also added heft and zest to its pages – the Matt Ridley column, for example, has become an invaluable Bloody Mary administered on a Monday morning. Tim will also keep on his own weekly column, with the luxury of having more than four hours to write it.

There’s an election a year away which a normal, cynical journalist like me sees as a great spectator sport. But being confined to the journalistic sidelines during this election was never really an option with Tim. He loves the Conservative Party, he sees a huge battle around the corner and he wants to do something to help win that battle. And how? I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure about one thing: we’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the next few months.

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  • Bobby Blazer

    He’s about to become irrelevant like all his colleagues with no experience of real live.

  • Bill Brinsmead

    Good bye and good luck.

    To this Times subscriber it did appear to be a strange appointment for Tim is more polemicist than journalist. Thus too much stuff from boring euro sceptics and dreary climate change deniers.

  • John Smith

    The establishment has always looked after its own
    UkIP has not entered, yet ..

  • foxoles

    Anyone remember Montgomerie opining on Con Home that some UK cancer sufferers should go without treatment so that more money could go on Foreign Aid, because ‘that money would do so much more good elsewhere’?

    He’s not the fluffy bunny you make him out to be. Or, if he is, he’s also got rather too much fluff between the ears.

  • Rockin Ron

    Err… Fraser, much as I admire Mr. Montgomery for his ideas and enterprise, this article is overegging it. At the end of the day, you are a scribbler praising another (more polished admittedly) scribbler. The days when scribblers changed the world are long gone. Just wish somebody would tell Mr. Gove.

  • Walter Ellis

    I wish Tim well. He is a clever columnist and a shrewd operator. But I do not agree that he was a good Comment editor at The Times. He helped turn the paper’s Opinion pages into an anti-EU platform that only took into serious account the opinions of High Tories like himself. Though utterly opposed to UKIP, I wish to see serious EU reform. But neither UKIP nor reform were Tim’s cup of tea. It would be nice from here on in to see a bit of variety and independent thinking from those invited to write for The Times.

  • sarahsmith232

    Apologies, this is a bit off topic. I pull my hair out over the free reign the BBC has to brainwash away to it’s hearts content. I would really love to see such a thing as a Spec’ Internet TV start exposing their games. Just watched last Thursdays Question Time, I picked up quite quickly that the Barking white working-class caricature male that was running through the list of all of the ‘I’m a thick, uneducated, member of the underclass and I’m angry about -insert all of the worst offensive stereotype statements about immigrants’ was a plant. He was acting, quite badly, playing a part. Then he proved it by standing up ranting, put his coat on left in some set piece flounce.
    Fraser Nelson, if you looked into who that was you’ll find the BBC, not sure if they paid him or gave him drink and cig’s, or what the set up was, but it was a set up, he was a plant. Surely it’s the type of thing that would make for good internet TV? Why not approach Tim Montgomerie to ask him if he’d like to take another stab at creating a right-wing internet TV. Only this time with a proper budget and real editors (meaning visual, as in knowing what they’re doing with Final Cut Pro, apparently not the case with his last stab). What’s going on with your TV? It’s too infuriating to have to sit and constantly see straight through the Left’s brainwashing domination of the TV media and there be nothing out there to counter it. FN, you’re a charismatic, witty sort, you could pull viewers in and be informative. Come on to the Spec’, will you all please get on it, bring on Spec’ Internet TV.

    • James Lovelace

      Channel 4 News removes video report from their website after it emerges four of the five ‘normal’ people questioned were from the same marketing agency

      • sarahsmith232

        I’ve read that. It all really is too much. This time Channel4 has not got away with it, every other time they do do. Most of their ‘Benefits St’ was set up and faked. They were plying them with drink and cig’s and getting them to play their parts. All those scenes with the Romanians being slagged off and verbally abused were faked. The BBC did something similar with a BBC3 show set on a ‘real life Shameless estate’ in Manchester. They took a load of the girls, got them blind drunk then told them to start physically fighting each other. When they objected they told they’d be dropped from the show if they didn’t all start punching each other, so they played up a group girl fight for the cameras. This was what the BBC passed off as a ‘real life Shameless Estate’. They’re getting up to this constantly.
        That QT plant was outrageous, this was the BBC trying to smear the local white population. Most of their mid-class viewers would have been only too happy to be brainwashed by it though. Prob’ sat there on their couches tut tutting at the stereotype, believing this was your typical e.g of the anti-immigration type, so disgusting, so vile, so so irrelevant, so not worth listening to. It would have worked, it’s subtle BBC brainwashing, playing into their sense of superiority, would have worked like a charm. It’s all so frustrating.

  • asalord

    Mr Montgomerie is just another commentator who promulgates British nationalism.

  • James Allen

    He always comes across as slightly vague on TV. Presumably he’s a good “organiser”, but not sure his political views are on the money…..

  • Kitty MLB

    Well I can say regardless of Tim’s views on wind farms etc.
    Con Home was a far more democratic place when he was the editor, and that’s
    regardless of him being a supporter of the government, always a very reasonable, fair- minded and quiet chap ! For various reasons I shall not speak of, that place is becoming the Marie Celeste of political blog sites.
    No idea of what Tim Montgomerie will do next and despite political differences grassroots Tories have with him, I genuinely wish him well.

  • Raddiy

    I don’t find it surprising at all that Tim Montgomerie has stepped down, since going to the Times he has been more or less invisible.

    It may in part be because the Times is behind a paywall, and although I can’t speak for others, whenever I see the dreaded £ sign on a newspaper comment link, then I am afraid it could be the greatest scoop in history, but it doesn’t get the time of day as far as I am concerned.

    The newspapers are still to learn that we don’t need them anymore for news and discussion, and with their paywalls, they are simply pricing themselves out of the national debate on politics.

    Tim’s unique style depsite his afflication of being a Conservative, is that he grew ConHome on the back of open debate across political opinion, which gave it real authority, especially amongst conservatives. The current editors in recent months are in the process of destroying its USP, turning it into a loyal Conservative mouthpiece, by a barely noticeable drip, drip exclusion of contrary voices. I have no doubt by the GE it will be like LibDemVoice and LabourList, stopping anything that is critical of the party getting through censorship, and become slavishly loyal.

    If Tim wants a project, then he should look at the yawning chasm where there should be a non partisan debate going on about British politics. The future is people politics not party politics, even as a Conservative I would suggest he alone has the integrity to make something like that happen.

    • Kitty MLB

      Wholeheartedly agree with that. ConHome was always bursting with people
      from across the political spectrum when Tim were editor, he was always reasonable and thankfully the Spectator is the same.
      Yet I must disagree with you, in regards to Con Home, its not a loyal Conservative mouthpiece,
      Grass Root’s who do not support Cameron ( we must not be portrayed as all the same ) are also being sprayed with weed killer before being mowed down ( and indeed many Kipper friends) they clearly just want to portray
      one voice despite that not being a refection of the electorate- A fools paradise.
      I also agree, Tim should forget perhaps start with a non partisan debate,
      people start ratting away in the usual tribal manner and nothing gets dealt with- Tim has the type of character to get people talking.

    • DavidL

      Couldn’t agree with you more about the “silencer” effect of the paywall.

  • swatnan

    … a move to UKIP?

    • HookesLaw

      I see comments are not allowed on the late Bob Crow threads. Suffice it to say that I think in pretty pathetic for Farage to bring the EU into his sad little tweet.

      • Kitty MLB

        I here a UKIP councillor has said the party should be renamed
        NKIP because of not know what on earth he’s going on about.
        Why can’t we make anymore comments regarding Bob Crow,
        regardless of political differences. Conservatives know how to behave when someone dies and might want to say RIP- without effigies.

        • swatnan

          Same with the Telegraph … no comments allowed!
          Bob Crow was a Class Warrior and believed passionately in the rights of British workers. So he and Nige had something in common. He also supported Capital Punishment, and I’d agree with him there, but little else.

  • black11hawk

    That’s a real shame he’s leaving The Times, Tim, Roger Boyes and Matt Ridley are the only real Conservatives still left at the paper.

    • James Allen

      What caused this wholesale takeover of the Times? Murdoch feel the need to appease Westminster for a while????

      • Thomtids

        I’ve entertained the thought that neutralising independent opinion is one way for Westminster to go about its nefarious activity with fewer ripples. I noted that after Rupert’s grilling and that of his son, there may have been a subtle message that if Rup’ wanted to be allowed to keep his hands on his various investments, Sky News channel could do with showing less disagreement with HMG and become much more accommodating of the “warmist” views.
        But, as I could believe any such behaviour of both Westminster and Whitehall between them, it’s just a co-incidence, isn’t it?

  • Liz

    Sounds like he will be an irrelevance to me.

  • Daniel Maris

    I’ve always found him as dull as dishwater.

    • John Smith

      He is a geek, with no particular insight, like many . .

  • global city

    Why are the Times running an assassination campaign against UKIP when the danger for the country lies amongst the members of the three ‘parties of government’?

    How can supposedly independent minded and analytical journalists be so pettily party partisan?

    • Lady Magdalene

      Because like the rest of the MSM, they aren’t independently minded and there are very few analytical journalists left working in the MSM.

    • Colonel Mustard

      UKIP is the only party that does not appear to have sold its soul to the Cultural Revolution. Since the three main parties are now two cheeks on the same backside and the orifice between them they must have a vested interest that there are no interlopers in continuing their work of creating a big government, big brother, high tax, legislatively promiscuous, coercive and conformist state run by a privileged and wealthy elite who believe we “little people” are here to do as they say not as they do, whilst peddling, essentially, a constant admonition of dishonest propaganda.

      It is most unfortunate that UKIP is being characterised as the last refuge of the blazered golf club bore by those taken in by the Brave New World rather than as the last hope for freedom generally and freedom from crap government especially which it actually represents, however imperfectly and amateurishly.

      The English have a slow fuse. I hope it is burning. Otherwise they will continue to be shoved gently into a night that is far from good.

      • Colin56

        No signs whatever of a fuse, burning or otherwise. No sign of backbone either. We are a spineless lot (the Scots are no better – they can’t even be bothered to vote for independence when it is offered to them on a plate with watercress on the side!). Nicely written post through – it’s good to come across some literary style once in a while. Thank you!

    • HookesLaw

      You mean this?

      I think its in the public interest to know that UKIP’s main fundraiser does not trust Farage with his money.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I remember those days when people in offices talked about s*x and told jokes without the fear of being denounced by some po-faced, hair trigger offence taker. There are still plenty of offices where staff are allowed to bring pets in but not being UKIP they don’t make the Daily Mail’s shock horror pages.

        Eccentric we could do with more of, to counter the bland, wonkish plasticity of Camiliclegg & Co.

      • Streben80

        Sykes was always going to run his own campaign, he likes absolute control over what his money does like many businessmen, it was never going to be anything else.
        You are of course factually wrong though as Wheeler is the main UKIP fundraiser, Syles isnt strictly even a donor, he is simply running a pro-UKIP project for the Euro elections. UKIP are also running their own campaign alongside whatever Sykes is doing. Always helps to get the facts right.

  • George_Arseborne

    MP. Then Party leader. Will do better than Cameron, Osborne and Johnson combine.

    • Hello

      There are leaders, and there are shapers. Montgomerie is clearly a shaper.

  • jason green

    £50 says he gone off to help David Moyes

    • Span Ows

      LOL, I doubt it, the right wing wouldn’t get enough attention and the left wing completely ignored!

    • John Smith

      So a move to Chelsea is on the cards ..

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