Cometh the hour – 8am – cometh London’s commentariat to its first-ever awards ceremony, held amid the 1930s splendour of the Royal Institute of British Architects in Portland Place. Pleasing as it was to be celebrated in this way, it seemed slightly unfair that Editorial Intelligence should stage the event at the journalistic equivalent of the crack of dawn. A lavish breakfast, we consoled ourselves, would at least await. We were wrong. Even the coffee had run out by the time I arrived and, as the chattering classes took their seats, a discontented murmur filled the hall.
But MC Peter York, the management consultant and co-author of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, swiftly lifted our spirits before ambling genially through the various categories. We were reminded on numerous occasions just how lucky Britain is to have such an abundance of talented commentators – again, gratifying, though whether this makes up for the lack of a strong domestic car industry or sound public finances is, like so many other things in life, a matter of opinion.
Former MP and columnist Matthew Parris was charm personified as he accepted Sir Christopher Meyer’s chairman’s – read “lifetime achievement” – award (“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee…”) Iain Dale, named best independent blogger, made a serious point about the power of the blogosphere in the face of gagging orders on the traditional media – one discussed in the post below.
The Financial Times was up for a few gongs, two of which it won: take a bow, Alphaville (best online newspaper blog) and Martin Wolf (“commentariat of the year”). It may have amused the judges to award the FT’s unyieldingly rigorous chief economics commentator such a plainly ungrammatical prize, but he was gracious enough not to point this out. Sadly, the FT lost out to the Times in the award for best comment pages. As the judges themselves might put it, we wuz robbed.