Is the site influencing the events it covers?
The cover story of this week’s Spectator is unashamedly based on the story and discussion here on June 9th when we looked at the impact of David Cameron’s Etonian background on the Tory leadership race. Good on the magazine for giving Politicalbetting full credit unlike many other parts of the media who pick up our stories.
In the article Vicki Woods describes how she has moved from her original pro-Davis position and how what was discussed here is influencing her. She writes:-
The craze for internet spread-betting that has swept through City trading floors and the suburban housing market has finally gripped me; for three weeks Iâ€™ve been a slave to gambling websites. Up nights, tapping away…. Actually, itâ€™s one website â€” Politicalbetting.com â€” which is not exactly a gambling site, more an online tipping service. And Iâ€™m not looking to bet, Iâ€™m looking for David Cameron.
I know, I know. Call me flighty. Back in May I was all for David Davis as opposition leader for the upcoming and possibly rather grim Brown years. Cameron, 38, was â€” well, a bit young. (What was I thinking? Etonians are made men at 18.) But on 9 June his rather appealingly 18th-century face was posted on the site alongside: â€˜Can the Tories choose a toff? Does being an Old Etonian still disqualify you from being Tory leader?â€™ The accompanying post noted that this countryâ€™s last Etonian prime minister (out of 19 OEs) was Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Forty years ago, at the time when leaders were not voted in but simply â€˜emergedâ€™.
So, thereâ€™s Cameron, on my screen in his country-shabby navy jumper, looking inescapably toff-y, and I was curious to see how the punters would respond. Two hundred did vigorously, knowledgeably and politically. (Also coarsely.) The main thrust was a) itâ€™s the parliamentary party thatâ€™s worried about supposed toffiness more than voters ever are, b) Cameron â€˜looks nicerâ€™ than Davis, and c) the dream ticket â€” for lots â€” would be Clarke and Cameron, if only Clarke were younger and Cameron older. They noticed his â€˜youthâ€™ but what mutterers call â€˜Davidâ€™s Eton thingâ€™ passed them by. ….
Over the decades the Spectator has had a big impact on Tory leadership races and played a big part forty odd years ago in the party moving from the process where leaders “emerged” to a sort of democratic structure. That the magazine is now covering Cameron’s prospects in positive terms in not without significance.