Welcome to The Staggers

The launch of our new blog

It's an exciting day here at the New Statesman with the launch of our new rolling blog The Staggers. The blog will include posts from across the team with a dynamic mixture of news, views and insight.

From 8am every day we'll round up the best of the day's comment from the morning papers and from 4pm we'll select the highlights from the blogosphere.

In the run-up to the general election, we'll also provide full coverage of the latest opinion polls and live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions.

Our existing bloggers George Eaton and Sophie Elmhirst will continue to blog here and they'll be joined by Samira Shackle and the NS deputy editor, Jon Bernstein.

Sholto Byrnes will post on religion and atheism and Jason Stamper will write a weekly blog on technology and politics. Also look out for guest bloggers from across the centre left.

Elsewhere on the site, Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre will continue to blog in their normal spaces and our rolling culture blog Cultural Capital will remain as before.

Finally, a note on the name. "Staggers" began as an affectionate (and mildly pejorative) name for the NS but like other terms that originated as insults (democrat, impressionist, intellectual) we plan to reclaim it as a badge of honour.

As ever, we need your involvement to make the blog a success, so do join the debate and let us know your thoughts.

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Tim Farron is being unfairly maligned for inviting us to smell his spaniel

The truth behind “smell my spaniel”.

Out on the campaign trail in Cambridge, the Lib Dem leader Tim Farron was caught inexplicably inviting voters to “smell my spaniel”.

Here is the shock footage:

“Smell my spaniel, maybe, maybe… oh, how are you? Good to see you!” he said, while the top political journalists of the nation scratched their heads. “A new Lib Dem slogan?” asked the BBC. The “catchphrase of the general election” declared the Telegraph. A new, surprisingly progressive “theological pronouncement”, was this mole’s first thought.

And he has, of course, been ridiculed online:

But no.

Look closer.

What’s going on is clear. Farron is not inviting voters to sniff his spaniel at all; he is addressing a dog. One of the activists in the huddle he is speaking to is holding a little dog wearing a Liberal Democrat rosette:

And here is said dog with Farron:

Farron is clearly being sniffed by the dog, because he is carrying the smell of his own dog, Jasper the spaniel.

Was Farron actually commenting that the little Lib Dem pooch was sniffing its party leader because he smelt like another dog? In these uncertain times of fake news and eroding trust, let’s get our spaniel sniffing story straight.

I'm a mole, innit.

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