A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A sad day for British politics

I have to say I'm devastated.

Not by the latest 23% Tory poll lead - I've reached the gallows humour stage with Labour's poll ratings - but by the news that there is unlikely to ever be another edition of Robert Waller's Almanac of British Politics.

The Almanac has been a kind of Wisden for political geeks and trainspotters since the mid '80s. I have half-a-dozen editions of this brick sized tome on my bookshelf. It is basically a set of pen portraits of every parliamentary constituency in the UK, packed with stats and gems of history and geographical and demographic insights. It's necessarily impressionistic and subjective as Mr Waller has basically personally researched it as a labour of love over the years.

In recent editions Byron Criddle joined Waller and started adding in mini-biographies of the MPs to go with Waller's seat profiles.

On politicalbetting.com Waller explains why we may never see a new edition of this much-loved (to its narrow readership) book:

"thanks for your continuing interest in The Almanac of British Politics, Punter, but I fear it will not appear again, at least not in that form, since money was lost when my co-author made a mistake about an MP, whose threatened suit severely cost the publishers (and my co-author)."

I can't remember reading anything remotely libelous in what is a rather good-natured, gossipy publication. It's a shame the MP concerned - I have no idea who they were - couldn't have accepted an apology rather than effectively shut down a harmless book which brought a great deal of knowledge and pleasure to its readers. Rather like another topical threat of libel it portrays a rather humourless approach and disregard for free speech (and I'm writing as someone who has been libelled repeatedly on the Fakehurst site but laughed it off as legitimate satire).

I hope Mr Waller finds some way to keep the Almanac alive.


Blogger Merseymike said...

Must say I am with you here. Humourlessness and an inflated idea of one's own importance are all too common - even amongst people whose ideas one might agree with in general!

Like you I have read all the books and cannot recall seeing anything as severe as to even suggest a libel suit.

11:35 pm, June 22, 2008

Anonymous Albert Shanker said...

Sounds like something real defenders of freedom of speech should be interested in - I'd invite you to talk to the esteemed Director of Liberty on the limits of freedom of speech in these circumstances - but then again...

1:48 pm, June 23, 2008


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
OfficeDepot Discount