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Sunday, 2 October 2011

How to become a Top Tory

What amuses me about Andrew Tyrie's comments on the economy is that while, as Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, he is undoubtedly a sensible and substantial figure, he has been elevated to the status of a "Top Tory" by the headline writers, to make the story sound exciting. When this happens, it is always for the following three reasons: 
  1. The person's name is not well enough known to itself be recognisable in a headline, so Top Tory is used as a cipher
  2. Top Tory is short enough to fit easily into a headline
  3. The story only has legs if it is about someone so senior as to be noteworthy, so they are labelled a Top Tory to disguise the fact that most people have never heard of them. 
Whether Andrew Tyrie is a Top Tory, rather than a senior and respected backbencher who chairs an important Commons committee, is a moot point. Still, the media wanted a story about Tory splits on which to peg their coverage of the Conservative Party Conference, and this is the best that they have found for such a purpose. I don't think it's so much a split as a reasoned contribution to a sensible debate, and it's certainly not a "crisis for Cameron as top Tory questions economic strategy". But the media loves reporting splits, so there you have it.

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