Tag Archives: daniel finkelstein

Opinion: Should Liberal Democrats accept defeat and join the two main parties?

Yesterday in The Times (£), Daniel Finkelstein, former SDP member turned Tory, writes that it’s all over for the Liberal Democrats. The best thing, he says, for those who wish to advance liberal ideas is to join whichever of the Tories and Labour they feel most comfortable with.

I would be lying if similar thoughts hadn’t crossed my mind, particularly after the 2015 general election. It’s heart breaking to see the party you support make steady progress throughout your adult life, culminating in entry into government in 2010, only to be seemingly pushed back to square one. Do we need to wait another 20 years to get back into government? Is that even a realistic objective anymore?

With the UK’s punishing electoral system working to maintain the two party status quo, does it make sense to be on the inside of that system, working for change, rather than pushed to the margins?

I think Finkelstein’s argument only really holds for those inside the Westminster elite. Yes, I can understand that if you’re an ambitious Liberal Democrat MP who has lost their job, you might now be wishing you’d jumped to one of the big two parties, where you might still be in government and looking to implement your ideas. But the argument isn’t really valid for anyone else.

Posted in Op-eds | 63 Comments

Paywall vs ‘Freemium’: why Parris, Finkelstein et al may rue Rupe’s decision

Will The Times’s paywall work? It’s the question that’s been asked ever since Rupert Murdoch’s News International announced its intention to place The Times and The Sunday Times websites behind a paywall, blocking any user not prepared to pay a subscription for access.

Last week saw publication of early unofficial statistics which were extrapolated at length in The Guardian and suggest The Times’s website now attracts somewhere between 84,800 and 195,700 daily unique users – compared with c.1.2 million daily unique users pre-paywall.

It’s stating the obvious to point out that’s a huge drop: after all, the point of the exercise is to make money from the few, not be free to the masses. So far, it’s understood there are 15,000 paying users – though whether that figure includes those who signed up for cheap one-month trial offers is not certain – in addition to 12,500 iPad users.

Assuming The Times can retain all those paying customers (which is a big assumption), it’s estimated the paywall could attract revenues of £1-2m a year. I’ve not yet seen, though, a reliable figure showing what the cost in lost advertising revenue associated with a fall in online circulation will total – which make it difficult as yet to work out if News International will generate an immediate net profit from the paywall. That, after all, would be Mr Murdoch’s ultimate response to the naysayers.

What I don’t understand is why News International decided to go all out for the paywall at The Times without at least first testing the market by adopting a ‘freemium’ model, making basic content available free, but charging for premium content.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments
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