Does a new look mean a fresh start for the Staggers?

"The first 40 pages are rolling." This is relayed triumphantly from the printers by Tim Moore, the New Statesman's marketing manager. The fact of the Statesman having a marketing manager is indicative of the new professionalism to which the magazine aspires. It was relaunched last week with a major fanfare from its editor John Kampfner, and a redesign, using a larger size and more white space, by Stephen Coates and Simon Esterson.

But the redesign is only part of the story. "The old idea was that if you're left wing you should be a bit shambolic," Kampfner says. No more. A publication noted for its "edgy, controversial journalism, fine writing and intelligence", thinks its editor, should have a much wider audience. But will the addition of more humour and longer reads help it acquire it? The reaction of some of its traditional readers is mixed.

Anthony Howard Editor, 'New Statesman', 1972-78

"I thought it was quite clean and seems to be quite nice looking but what counts is content. I've never seen letters given such pride of place, except in The Economist. The change in size is only marginal but it looks quite nice. Among the contributors, I was surprised I didn't see Andrew Stephen, who writes from America, or Pilger, but I'm glad that dreadful column by Darcus Howe has disappeared.

"They do need to perk up and become more entertaining but I don't know if it will work. The difference is possibly that they have invested in trendy names who can't always be wonderful writers.

"Trying to shake the austerity and the hair-shirt image has been quite successful. They have done a good job, when I consider the botched jobs. I suspect it's going to be difficult keeping the advertising up in a 72-page magazine."

Nick Cohen 'Observer' columnist and current 'New Statesman' contributor

"The main worry with any modern newspaper or magazine is that every redesign cuts down on words, as though they are frightened of words. But I don't think that's a problem with the New Statesman. John Kampfner's guiding motto is that magazines like the Statesman, in order to survive, have to give readers a treat, something you can't get elsewhere. John's keen on big pieces, which is good, but he also needs to provide the zippy little pieces and celebs.

"It used to be said that the left was joyless but in a funny way satire's the dominant idiom on the liberal left now because there isn't a credible left-wing programme. So in some ways there is too much satire. It's a medium traditionally associated with Conservatives because the world was changing. The common charge on the left now is that you are a hypocrite. Calling people a hypocrite is a sign of defeat. But I don't think it's a problem so much in the New Statesman as in the mainstream liberal press."

Francis Wheen Reporter, 'New Statesman', 1972-78

"There's no reason why it cannot be outspoken or without a sense of fun. Traditionally, as in the Seventies, that is what it was."

Boyd Tonkin Books editor, 'The Independent'; literary editor, 'New Statesman', 1991-96

"The design is perfectly OK. They have had redesigns in the past, but it never adds more than 10 per cent circulation. It's a very fixed audience that's really not showing many signs of expanding. Every time it is relaunched, the editor says the same thing: 'Don't think we are worthy and dull - we have lots of jokes, we're stylish and like eating and drinking as much as readers of The Spectator.'

"If they wanted to expand as a cutting-edge, left-wing weekly, there would be a case for being more puritanical - going for the anti-globalisation/Respect Party/ deep-green constituency, which is now pretty powerful. Those people don't want columns about the best Chilean wines.

"It was the same when I was there. It tried to show it wasn't just about joyless sandal wearers, but the people who could swell the circulation are not the people who want a laid-back sophisticated metropolitan magazine.

"You only have to look at the sheer anger and passion driving online radical journalism to see that there are a lot of people who would be appalled about giving David Cameron an easy ride. There is a pretty hard radical constituency who might want a weekly print magazine, but unfortunately I can't see what they would find to enjoy in the sort of metropolitan package the Statesman is always trying to produce.

"It's not hard for the New Statesman to run an arts and books section. The real problem is that, compared to 30-40 years ago, all the main broadsheets now do the same and more of it. Just a generation ago there wasn't that degree of cultural coverage."

Alan Watkins 'IoS' columnist; political columnist 'New Statesman', 1967-76

"I'm considering moving en bloc to the New Statesman. I read The Spectator and Private Eye usually, but this decision is more in hostility to The Spectator.

"John Kampfner, who is an excellent chap, is hiring lots of gay comedians as writers- Julian Clary and Stephen Fry. Rory Bremner is OK - he's a gifted lad but not a columnist. So the short point is: I might consider it now because of that dreadful 'You've Earned It' section in The Spectator. So I might give it a run."

Stuart Weir Editor, 'New Statesman', 1987-91

"I think it's much better. Undoubtedly, there are things I'm not that sure about it. Essentially it's a great deal more elegant; I'm not sure what they are going to do with the cover generally.

"There have been times when the Statesman has had a sense of fun. I certainly wrote a few joke articles - one spoof taking the piss out of Mandelson in the form of a memo, which everyone thought was real. There was also a piece explaining the strategy for Labour depended on global warming - the bits on the map that survived it were all Labour.

"Peter Wilby is fun. Rather than going for jokey people, jokes should be coming out of the intelligent, dispassionate view of life in its pieces. But Rory Bremner is good.

"Both John and Peter have raised the quality and now they have the resources, the New Statesman has made a fantastic 'leap forward' and has a chance to show off."

Suggested Topics
News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam