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.