Saturday, October 27, 2007

Brown on the ropes

Column published in the Newcastle Journal on Saturday, 27 October 2007.


Two weeks ago, after the debacle of Gordon Brown’s non-election announcement, I posed the question whether there was anything at all the Prime Minister could do to regain the political initiative.

In a nutshell, I said the answer was to stop nicking the Tories’ ideas and set out an agenda that was distinctively and authentically his own.

Mr Brown’s fortunes have not improved in the ensuing fortnight. This week, a damning report on the conduct of May’s Scottish Parliament elections forced a grovelling apology from the then Scottish Secretary Douglas Alexander, one of Mr Brown’s closest allies.

It gave David Cameron another golden opportunity to bash Mr Brown over the head at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday which he duly grabbed with both hands. So much for the Big Clunking Fist.

At the same time, the Government has continued to adopt a defensive posture over the big issue of the moment – the row over whether there should be a referendum on the new European Treaty.

In the immediate aftermath of the election decision, I was one of those who argued that it might make sense for Mr Brown to hold one, as a means of demonstrating that he is not afraid to face the voters.

Since the, however, the Government – most notably Foreign Secretary David Miliband – has dug in its heels so firmly against such a referendum as to rule out the option.

A U-turn on the issue at this stage would only reinforce the idea of Mr Brown as a “bottler” who is incapable of giving strong leadership.

So what can Mr Brown do to regain the upper hand? Well, ever since the outset of his premiership, it has been clear that he sees constitutional reform as a key part of his agenda.

It was the subject of his first big Commons statement after taking over in Number 10, and this week, Justice Secretary Jack Straw attempted to put some flesh on the bones in a follow-up statement to the House on Thursday.

Some of the ideas were rehashed from that earlier statement and from Mr Brown’s party conference speech, for instance, a fully-elected House of Lords and allowing MPs to vote on going to war.

What was new, however, was the emphasis placed on the “liberty” agenda, with Mr Brown setting out a range of measures to increase access to information and guarantee human rights.

From a purely professional point of view, it was gratifying to see that part and parcel of this included a new commitment to press freedom and the scrapping of plans to curb the Freedom of Information Act.

As readers of an older vintage will recall, this Act was pioneered by the former South Shields MP David Clark, now Lord Clark of Windermere, during his short spell in Cabinet from 1997-98.

Lord Clark spent most of that time being undermined by his own side, not least by a Number 10 press officer who told me he had “totally lost it,” but against the odds, he has managed to leave a lasting legacy.

This in spite of a campaign by Alastair Campbell to strangle the original Bill at birth, and the more recent attempts to water it down by making the costs of information requests prohibitive.

But although this announcement will doubtless help mend fences with the media, Mr Brown will need to do more to win a fourth term for Labour than merely pleasing the press.

If the “liberty agenda” is to mean anything, for a start, the Government surely has to look again at its hugely expensive and controversial compulsory ID card sheme.

As well as being potentially the biggest infringement of individual liberties in this country since rationing, it will also cost an estimated £15bn to implement which most people think could be better spent elsewhere.

This is another area where Mr Cameron’s Tories have managed to put themselves on the right side of both popular sentiment and liberal opinion, two things which don’t necessarily always coincide.

Similarly, if the “liberty agenda” does not go nearly far enough, neither at this stage to do the Government’s proposed constitutional reforms. If public trust in politics is genuinely to be restored, there are three specific areas which the Prime Minister should take a closer look at.

First, he should introduce a bill for four-year fixed term Parliaments, and pre-announce that the next General Election will therefore be held on the first weekend in May, 2009.

Mr Brown has already as good as accepted that he messed-up big time with the election announcement. Giving away his power to determine future polling days might be seen by the voters as a way of making amends.

Second, the Prime Minister should take a fresh look at proportional representation for Westminster. The first-past-the-post system, by encouraging the parties to target their messages at voters in a hundred or so marginal constituencies, has resulted in the effective disenfranchisement of most of the population.

Finally, Mr Brown should start to turn the "new localism” from a trendy political catchphrase into a meaningful reality, giving people and communities more power over how their taxes are both raised and spent.

If the Prime Minister is looking for a Big Idea, an overarching narrative by which he can define his proposed constitutional reforms, this, surely is it.

Beyond the constitutional agenda, Mr Brown badly needs to rediscover his old social justice credentials, and recreate the kind of One Nation politics that Labour used to espouse.

I find it amazing that, after a decade of Labour Government, we are still reading about the pernicious health divide between North and South – but perhaps I shouldn’t really be that surprised.

The big question at the end of the conference season was whether the Tories could sustain the poll lead they had suddenly established as a result of their inheritance tax gambit and Mr Brown’s indecisiveness.

So far, the answer is yes. One poll yesterday showed the Conservatives are now on 41pc, their highest level of support since before Black Wednesday.

Mr Brown needs to stop that hardening into the kind of consistent poll lead which would create an unstoppable momentum around Mr Cameron as the next Prime Minister.

In short, he needs to rediscover that Big Clunking Fist – and fast.

free web site hit counter

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Third party facest its toughest choice

Column which first appeared in Newcastle Journal, Saturday 20 October 2007.


For most of the last 80-odd years since the old Liberal Party last held power, the third party in British politics has struggled to make a mark in what is still essentially a two-party system.

During the 1950s, the party’s MPs could be accommodated within a single taxi, and even as recently as the 1990s still numbered in the low teens.

But from the 1992 election onwards, the Liberal Democrats’ representation in the Commons finally started to climb towards more respectable levels, culminating in the current high water mark of 63.

So what has gone wrong? Is the party’s current desperate plight down to bad leadership? Or has it simply been a victim of deeper political forces, beyond the ability of either Charles Kennedy or Sir Menzies Campbell to control?

Well, the way the party has handled its leadership issues over the past two years has certainly done little to enhance its credibility in the eyes of voters.

Having unceremoniously knifed Mr Kennedy in January 2006, the Lib Dems had a chance to make a fresh start under a new leader from the talented younger generation of MPs.

Instead, the party opted for the "safe" option of Sir Menzies Campbell, even though it was obvious from the outset that he lacked the skills to prosper as a party leader in the current, media-driven era.

There’s been a lot of talk this week about whether 66-year-old Sir Ming was a victim of ageism - but I would say only in the sense that he seemed like a throwback to a bygone political age.

But the party’s leadership travails disguise a much more deep-seated problem for the Lib Dems which predates the leadership of Sir Ming and arguably also that of his predecessor.

It is this: that while most Liberal Democrats are left-leaning folk who believe in tax-and-spend, redistribution and greenery, most of the seats they hope to win are in right-leaning areas which don’t.

The North-East is obviously an exception to this. The Lib Dems’ three target seats at the last two elections have been Labour-held Durham, Blaydon and Newcastle Central, although boundary changes will alter that next time round.

But the Celtic fringes of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall aside, most of the marginal seats which the Lib Dems are either defending or targeting are in the Tory-dominated South.

This in turn leads to what, for them is a difficult but recurring political dynamic - that when the Tories go up, the Lib Dems tend to go down, and vice-versa.

Hence at the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections, when the Tories did extremely badly, the Lib Dems managed to almost treble their numbers of MPs from 22 to 63.

But moreorless ever since David Cameron took over the Conservative leadership in December 2005, the Lib Dems’ poll ratings have been in the doldrums.

Messrs Kennedy and Campbell, then, were not so much victims of their own leadership shortcomings, as victims of Mr Cameron’s success in reviving his own party’s fortunes.

It against this backdrop, then, that the party must now choose its third leader in little over 18 months, with the choice already seemingly narrowing to a straight fight between Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne.

So who should they choose? Well, in the light of the dilemma outlined above, clearly the answer is the one who would cause the most difficulties for the Tories.

Eighteen months ago, this would have been Mr Huhne. Up against Sir Ming and Simon Hughes, he was the most right-wing candidate in the field, the moderniser up against two veterans from the past.

Up against Mr Clegg, however, he finds himself positioned as the “left” candidate, a redistributionist advocate of higher green taxes against the man who wants to get the state off our backs.

I personally remain unconvinced by Mr Clegg. Some Lib Dems seem to speak of him as if he is some sort of new Kennedy – John F., that is, not Charles.

He’s surely not that good. But there can be no doubting that, with good looks and charisma allied to rightish-leaning views, he is the candidate most feared by the Tories.

As regular readers will know, I am intensely suspicious of setting too much store by charisma when choosing political leaders, based largely on the country’s experiences with Tony Blair.

But given the difficulties faced by third parties in even getting the media to take notice of them, having a good communicator as leader will certainly help – as Dr David Owen showed when leading the SDP in the 1980s.

The strategic dilemma now faced by Lib Dem party members is not a million miles away from that faced by Labour when it chose Mr Blair in 1994.

Can they bring themselves to vote for someone whose views they know to be well to the right of their own, in the knowledge that he is the candidate most likely to win them more seats?

While I think we will find the answer to that question will yes, I also think they will get rather more than they bargained for – just as Labour did with Mr Blair.

If he wins, I would expect Mr Clegg to complete the Thatcherisation of British politics by abandoning, as New Labour did, any serious commitment to redistribution and tackling inequality.

But either way, I hope for the Liberal Democrats' sake that whoever wins is granted the kind of loyalty which the party's leaders used automatically to merit.

Both Paddy Ashdown and Mr Kennedy were given the chance to fight two general elections, and they repaid that loyalty by increasing the party’s number of MPs each time.

It made a bad call by going with a “caretaker leader” in the shape of Sir Ming, but the party must now put aside its internal differences and dig in for the long haul under Mr Clegg or Mr Huhne.

British politics badly needs a successful Liberal Democrat party. It is high time it stopped playing the nasty party and got its act together.

free web site hit counter

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sideblog Snippets #1

A return to the original spirit of web-logging....

  • Well done to former Derby Telegraph colleague Deborah Wain who has won the Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism.

  • Could Cherie Blair become a Labour MP? Mike White thinks so.

  • The House of Commons may need to decamp to a new location. I nominate Derby.

  • Inheritance tax: Why Gordon should have listened to Stephen Byers.

  • Skipper asks whether Party Conference timings favour the Tories.

  • Bill Blanko reckons the new Commons Press Bar is a charter for editors' narks to spy on lunchtime tipplers.

  • "I think I've had my shot," says Charles Kennedy. What, just the one?

  • Ousted Telegraph pol ed George Jones' lobby career just rolls on and on

  • Former North-East Labour Regional Press Officer Hopi Sen launches a rather good blog.

  • Geoff Hoon succeeds where Hilary Armstrong failed and evicts the spin merchants from No 12.

  • Looks like the Blog Wars are back on again.

  • free web site hit counter

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Has Gordon entered the twilight zone?

    Column published in the Newcastle Journal, Saturday 13 October 2007

    It all started so well. A smooth transition, with the party more united than it had been for years. A catalogue of crises, swiftly and competently dealt with. A skilful distancing from the Blair era, the decisions on supercasinos and cannabis suggesting that New Labour had finally rediscovered its lost moral compass.

    Just how did it all go so wrong, so quickly for Gordon Brown?

    The speculation about a snap election, which almost certainly began as a tactical tease to unsettle the Tories, ended up spiralling so far out of control that it trapped the Prime Minister in a lethal dilemma of his own making.

    In the end, with the polls in key marginals pointing towards a hung Parliament, he made the only decision possible – to call it off, take the hit, and try to buy himself more time.

    Back at the beginning of August, I said in this column that holding an election this year could cause irreparable damage to the "Brown brand."

    “The Prime Minister's whole appeal rests on being seen as a man of serious purpose and high principles - not someone who is prepared to cut and run at the earliest opportunity. Were he to do that in order to take advantage of a temporary downturn in Tory fortunes, he would risk destroying that reputation at a stroke,” I wrote.

    Well, the only thing I got wrong there was my assessment that it would take a snap election to damage the Brown brand. He's actually managed to damage it - possibly irreparably - without having one.

    Had he called the whole thing off while Labour was still ahead in the polls, everyone would have applauded his statesmanship. Instead, he waited until David Cameron had caught him up, with calamitous results.

    Yet in a way it wasn’t the Prime Minister’s decision not to hold an election which was the most damaging thing he did last week, nor even his cack-handed and frankly disingenuous attempts to explain it away.

    No, the really damaging decision was not postponing the election, it was using Tuesday’s pre-Budget report to implement the Tory manifesto.

    Okay, so I admit that I was among those who advocated that Labour needed to do something to neutralise the inheritance tax issue after the Tories’ success in Blackpool.

    But even I didn’t think they’d do it so quickly and so blatantly, even pinching the idea of taxing the so-called “non doms” to help pay for it – the very idea that, a week earlier, they had ridiculed.

    So why was this so very damaging to Mr Brown? Because it demonstrated that the Tories, for the first time since Labour came to power in 1997, are now making the political weather.

    This is when governments need to fear for their futures – not when they are assailed by one-off crises, but when they start to lose control of the political agenda.

    Shadow Chancellor George Osborne - who has emerged in the past fortnight as a serious political force – said of Mr Brown that he “talks about setting out his vision of the country, but he has to wait for us to tell him what it is.”

    That is a charge so damaging to the Prime Minister that it has had MPs and commentators alike talking darkly of “tipping points” having been reached.

    I have written about tipping points in this column before, those moments in political history when the public mood changes overnight and all things start to conspire towards one end.

    I have witnessed two in my lifetime, the first in 1978-79 when the Winter of Discontent destroyed the postwar consensus and with it Labour’s credibility as a governing party.

    Jim Callaghan famously captured the moment in his memorable phrase uttered to an aide on the eve of the 1979 election.

    “There are times when there is a sea-change in politics. It then does not matter what you say or what you do. There is a shift in what the public wants and what it approves of. I suspect there is now such a change, and it is for Mrs Thatcher,” he said.

    The next sea change, of course, happened on Black Wednesday, 16th September 1992, the day the Tories lost their reputation for economic competence

    It then did not matter what poor John Major said or did – he was going to be unceremoniously kicked out of office, and eventually, on 1st May 1997, that is what came to pass.

    The danger for Mr Brown is that his government, like Major’s, is now entering a period of what the Germans would call Gotterdammerung – the twilight of the gods.

    Far from renewing Labour in office, it could be that his destiny is to spend the next two years fighting back the inexorable Tory tide, while Mr Cameron prepares for his inevitable victory.

    So is there anything, anything at all, that Mr Brown can do about it? Well, as long as he is Prime Minister, he always retains the power of action, and that is not to be under-estimated.

    The trouble is, we’ve heard too much talk about Mr Brown’s “vision” and too little evidence of him putting it into effect.

    Part of that vision was meant to be about restoring trust in politics, but he can’t now do that just by not being Tony Blair. It is clear something much more fundamental is required.

    For starters, I think Mr Brown is going to have to be much more radical in his plans to give away power, putting real decision making in the hands of localities and communities.

    For what it’s worth, I also think the political cross-dressing has to stop. The past week has surely shown Mr Brown that there is no real advantage to be gained in apeing the Tories, when the public can just as easily vote for the real thing.

    If he is to regain the political initiative, he will need to set out an agenda which people will see as authentically and distinctively his own - one based on fairness and social justice.

    For those of us who have always thought of Gordon Brown as a man of principle who would usher in a new era of political honesty and an end to spin, these are difficult days indeed.

    Yes, he can still recover – but it’s going to be no easy task.

    free web site hit counter

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Journalist bloggers - gamekeepers turned poachers?

    This was an article written for Iain Dale's Guide to Political Blogging 2007 published recently by Harriman House.


    Whether it’s a ground-breaking new band, an up-and-coming avant garde painter, or just the latest technological craze, there is always a tendency among groups of people who have discovered something new to want to keep it to themselves, to resent those Johnny-come-latelies who seek to get in on the act and jump aboard the rolling bandwagon.

    That was, by and large, the reaction among internet political bloggers when, during the course of 2006, the UK’s national press and major broadcasting organisations belatedly woke up to the emergence of the new blogging phenomenon.

    They were pejoratively dubbed “old media,” “mainstream media,” and worse of all, the “dead tree press.” They represented the smug, complacent old elite, the handing down of received wisdom from on high, the stifling of true debate in the name of bogus consensus, the past.

    Bloggers, on the other hand, were the future, the pioneers of a new, postmodernist style of political journalism in which there was no truth, only opinion, and in which the views of Joe and Joanna Bloggs were as intrinsically valid as those of the most highly-paid political pundits in the land.

    Thankfully for me, perhaps, I had by then left full-time journalism for the world of digital publishing, and although I continued to supplement my main income by writing political columns for various regional newspapers, the blogosphere tended to treat me from the start as one of its own.

    But for other, better-known figures from the world of political journalism, it was a different story. The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh, the most influential “dead tree” lobby hack of the past 25 years, was deservedly ridiculed after his blog, launched in a fanfare of hype as “The Blog the Politicians Fear,” was updated only a couple of times before it swiftly died a death.

    More enduring, but equally contentious was The Guardian’s attempt to capture the zeitgeist with the launch of its uber-blog “Comment is Free,” which sought to corral the best of the blogosphere and its almost infinite range of opinions under the already flourishing Guardian Unlimited brand.

    It has performed a valuable function in providing a forum for people to interact with Guardian columnists and other guest writers, but its claims to blog-dom have always been hotly contested - for instance it still does not link out to other blogs and is too diverse to possess a true personality of its own.

    But such developments were really only one relatively small facet of a much larger commercial game that is still ongoing – the reorientation of the newspaper publishing industry as it seeks to diversify away from print and respond to the fact that much of its business is now migrating online.

    It wasn’t just blogging that suddenly became the flavour of the month. Newspapers and broadcasters also enthusiastically embraced podcasting, vodcasting, and other new technological gimmickry, while more and more news was being published on the web before it appeared in print.

    In other words, the gamekeepers of the dead tree press needed to turn poachers simply to remain competitive in the new 24-hour news environment – but at the same time, some of the poachers of the blogging world have effectively turned gamekeepers as the profile and importance of the blogosphere has increased.

    It might have been pistols at dawn to begin with - but the story of the relationship between political blogging and political journalism, over the past 12 months in particular, has been one of gradual and irresistible convergence.

    So if Trevor Kavanagh was to blogging what Alastair Campbell was to objective truth, the BBC’s Nick Robinson was always a different kettle of fish, using his blog not so much to rehash his on-air prognostications as to amplify them, earning a reputation for a time across the blogosphere as the only MSM blogger worth reading.

    Robinson’s success as a journalist blogger has been emulated in recent months by the Daily Mail’s Benedict Brogan, one of the youngest of the national daily political editors yet already regarded by his peers as one of the outstanding political journalists of his generation.

    Brogan is not an old-fashioned story-getter in the sense that, say, Kavanagh or his Mail on Sunday counterpart Simon Walters obviously are, but he does have an instinctive feel for what constitutes an important political story, and it is this quality which makes him such a good blogger.

    As a politics junkie – you don’t get where he is without being one – he is also fascinated by the kind of detail that would not necessarily be of interest to general Mail readers, using his blog, like Robinson, as a sort of “Politics Plus” channel for a more specialist political readership.

    But at the same time as some of the leading political journalists have been getting into blogging, some of the leading political bloggers have become steadily absorbed into the journalistic mainstream, reflecting their increasingly high profile in the media generally.

    Blogs such as Iain Dale’s Diary, Guido Fawkes, Political Betting and Conservative Home are now regarded as primary political news sources, and are reputedly read by most Lobby journalists and MPs.

    You could make a respectable argument that their authors are now more influential media figures than, say, the political editor of the News of the World, and indeed The Guardian already has done, recently listing Guido in its media Top 100 “Power List” alongside national newspaper editors and proprietors.

    As if to emphasise the fact that the old demarcation lines are now becoming increasingly blurred, the man behind the Guido mask, Paul Staines, has applied for a Lobby pass, while Dale has been given a column in the Daily Telegraph to complement his regular slots as a TV pundit.

    Even the government, it seems, is now treating blogs as an extension of the mainstream political media. As the Financial Times reported last month, the COI’s Media Monitoring Unit is now considering how to add blogs to its regular summaries of government coverage in mainstream press or television.

    The FT itself acknowledged that the move reflects “the growing media profile of the format and the fact some individual bloggers are moving from niche self-publishers to establishment opinionformers.”

    Clarence Mitchell, director of the Media Monitoring Unit, was quoted as saying that although there was debate about the objectivity of some bloggers, several of them were taken “increasingly seriously” within government.

    In this context, it is perhaps significant that most of the leading political bloggers – those most in danger of becoming “establishment opinion formers” - are people who had a pre-existing political commitment or background which had already taken them within the orbit of the Westminster Village.

    So for instance Iain Dale has in his various incarnations been Chief of Staff to David Davis, a Conservative parliamentary candidate, and, before that, the proprietor of a bookshop known to, and at some time or another regularly patronised by virtually everyone in Westminster.

    Likewise, long before he launched the Guido Fawkes blog, Paul Staines was a well-connected figure within libertarian right circles, supplying jokes for Mrs Thatcher’s speeches, and even working for the Iron Lady’s favourite fixer, David Hart, who, with the help of MI5, fixed the miners good and proper in 1984-5.

    The leading left-of-centre bloggers were, if anything, even more obviously on the inside track. Recess Monkey’s Alex Hilton was a Labour candidate, Tom Watson an actual Labour MP, and Kerron Cross a long-serving MP’s researcher, allegedly the model for the central character in TV political soap “Party Animals.”

    And of course, probably a lot fewer people would have read my own blog had I not been in a position to furnish it with some of the insights gained from my time in the Lobby, a period during which I was able to observe the internal politics of New Labour at fairly close quarters.

    In this respect, the blogosphere mimics the world of journalism itself, where who you know is often more important than what you know and where the ability to construct networks is probably a more important skill than the ability to construct the perfect intro.

    Just occasionally, an original writing talent will emerge as if from nowhere – in blogging terms Chicken Yoghurt’s Justin McKeating springs to mind – but among the ranks of the leading bloggers, such meteors are very much the exception rather than the rule.

    Undoubtedly the single most talented writer thrown up by the entire blogging medium to date has been Rachel North, who began blogging as personal catharsis following the terrible events of 7/7 in which she found herself caught up - but her story was indeed truly exceptional.

    In truth, the political blogosphere is not nearly so diverse as its own hype would suggest. It has the potential to be, yes, but thus far, that potential has not been realised.

    So, for me, the blogging v journalism dichotomy was always something of a false opposition. Yes, they are different disciplines, and as Trevor Kavanagh proved, success in one does not necessarily engender success in the other, but essentially they are both part and parcel of that huge and amorphous beast, the modern media.

    Sure, it sometimes suits both sides to paint them as diametric opposites, as personified by the infamous clash between Paul Staines and the veteran former Guardian political editor Michael White on Newsnight, which “Sir Michael” is widely held to have shaded.

    But the relationship was always more complex than that. In actual fact the blogosphere has fed off the mainstream media from the earliest days of “weblogs” consisting of little more than long lists of links to interesting material that could be found online.

    In those days, relatively few blog posts did not, in some way, lead back to the MSM, but recently the trend has reversed, with newspaper diary columnists in particular regularly plundering the blogosphere for material – not all of it necessarily accurate.

    Journalism, like music, does not stand still. The political journalism of today bears absolutely no resemblance to the straight, low-key factual reporting of 40 years ago, an era in which the parliamentary correspondent reigned supreme while the lobby correspondent was regarded as a form of journalistic pond-life.

    A line was crossed, in my view, with the reporting of Prime Minister Jim Callaghan’s comments after returning from an international summit in Guadeloupe at the height of the Winter of Discontent in 1979, when he was asked what he thought of the “mounting chaos” at home.

    His complacent reply - “I don’t think other people would necessarily take the view that there is mounting chaos” – was famously transposed the following day on the front page of The Sun as “Crisis? What Crisis?”

    That, of course, was an interpretation rather than a quote – but the episode exemplified that it had become fair game to report such interpretation as fact. Much of the political journalism of today – and I have been as guilty of it as anyone – is built on that pretext.

    Why the history lesson? Well, it’s simply to demonstrate that journalism is a constantly evolving trade, and will evolve again as a result of the need to embrace new technologies and meet new commercial challenges.

    At the same time blogging, too, will have to change and adapt. It is particularly vital, if the blogosphere is not to degenerate into a right-wing mutual admiration society, that the left gets its collective act together, and produces a blog that can rival Dale and Guido for influence.

    But just as the best political bloggers, like Dale, will increasingly become seen as important journalistic figures, the best political journalists, like Brogan, will increasingly embrace blogging. Indeed it would not surprise me if, in five years’ time, much of Ben Brogan’s output as political editor of the Daily Mail was online.

    Thus, as in music, and as in art, do new departures eventually become assimilated by the mainstream, while simultaneously ensuring that the mainstream itself is also changed beyond recognition.

    free web site hit counter
    Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to New Blogger by: Blogger Team
    Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro