I have bowed to the democratic demands of my Facebook and Twitter friends, and agreed to accept an invitation to guest edit the New Statesman. When I put up an update saying I was mulling over it, a whole load of messages came through basically saying there was nothing to mull, and I should get on with it. So I will, for an edition some time in mid-March.
I have all sorts of ideas for stories and features, a couple of which I would like to launch here and now, as they will require reader input. The first, inspired in part by my recent work on the BBC programme The Speaker, which is a hunt for the best young public speaker in Britain, aims to counter the middle-aged, middle-class myth that ‘young people are not interested in politics.’ I want three young people, aged 16-18, one from each of the three main parties, to say why they have joined a political party and why politics matters to them. So if such people are reading this, or people who know such people are reading this, they should get in touch with a response on the blog.
I would also like to hand over a page, more if the response merits it, which answers the question ‘if I could get one sentence into Labour’s manifesto for the next election, it would say this …’ For all that the Tories may be ahead in the polls, and swanning round like they’re in power already, I think the battle of policy ideas still has more energy on the left than the right, and I hope this reflects that. Again, people can put their suggestions here. I will also be arranging links with other sites and of course with the New Statesman itself.
I will start the ball rolling with a couple of my own. I would like to see:
– Compulsory voting for general and local elections
– An end to charitable status for private schools
The New Statesman has an important place in the history of the policy and ideas debate on the left. When I was in frontline politics, I found it sometimes interesting, occasionally irritating, often irrelevant. Perhaps that will be the mix I come up with too, we’ll see.
There is an interesting profile of David Miliband this week, written by editor Jason Cowley, who came from Observer Sport Monthly (another reason why I leaned towards accepting his offer). I already have a couple of good ‘products’, as we editors call them, in my back pocket, but I hope the two above also generate a good response. In the meantime I am off to make a vlog on why state schools are better than private schools.