UK Politics

Yvette Cooper Has the Balls To Say We Should Take 10,000 Refugees And This Is Why She's Right

1 Sep 2015 at 20:49

Usually when I get back on the radio after a two week break, I’m a bit ring-rusty. It takes me a couple of shows to get back into my stride. Not today. In our 5pm hour I wanted to address the refugee crisis which is affecting many countries in southern and central Europe. Yvette Cooper sparked off a debate when she accused other UK politicians of being ‘cowardly’ and suggested the UK should take 10,000 refugees from Syria. Hear, hear I thought. It’s about time someone said so. We of all countries should be showing our compassion and humanity and doing what Britain does best – support the underdog. We took in 10,000 Jewish children in the 1930s. In the 1970s we took in tens of thousands of Ugandan Asians, ten thousand Vietnamese boat people. We’ve done it before and we should do it again. As Yvette Cooper said, if every town in the country took ten families, that would be at least something. And yet all the heavy lifting is being left to Germany. They’ve thrown open their borders to anyone from Syria, no questions asked. They won’t be taking 10,000. They’ve already taken in hundreds of thousands.

Here’s my impassioned opening to the hour in which I ask people to imagine, when they see the TV pictures, that it could be them. have a listen…

What happened next was incredible. I took call after call – all first time callers – from people who had fled other countries (mainly Somalia, actually) to come to this country. this was our first call from Ishmal. I felt very emotional listening to him, and I am glad he kept talking, because at one stage I was incapable of speech. Just tell me that Ishmal and those who followed him don’t deserve to be here. They didn’t come here to scrounge. They came here to make a better life and he and the other callers have all made major contributions. Take a moment to listen to Ishmal, Abdul and George.

I am sure a lot of people listening, and a lot of you reading this, will think I’ve become a wet lettuce liberal on immigration. Maybe, but this isn’t about immigration, It’s about refugees seeking asylum. It’s about compassion and humanity. We should be doing what the Germans are doing. David Cameron should be living up to his ‘compassionate conservative’ rhetoric and ignoring the inhuman siren voices who believe this is not Britain’s problem. We should be at the forefront of EU efforts to come up with a solution, even if only a short term one. If the EU can’t act on this, what on earth is it for?

So well done Yvette Cooper. At least you showed the balls your colleagues and opponents have so far lacked.



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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to June Brown

Iain talks to June Brown, aka Dot Cotton, about her autobiography

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 34: When Four Hours Become Three

31 Aug 2015 at 15:32

I’m back on the radio tomorrow after my summer holidays. I’m raring to go, to be honest as I’ve really missed it. I always need two weeks off in the summer to recharge my batteries and believe me, I’m at 100% charge again!

From now on the show will be three hours long and finish at 7pm rather than 8pm. So Clive Bull will take over at 7. I’ve been doing four hours now for two and half years. A lot of people wonder how I can do that as it’s a hell of a long time to be doing live radio. In all honesty I’ve never viewed it like that and I have never got to 7 and inwardly sighed, wishing I could finish then. It made huge sense at the beginning because I could retain part of my former audience on the 7-10 show. But when it came to negotiating a new contract we discussed whether it was sensible to continue doing four hours. Had this been a year ago I wouldn’t have countenanced it, or even suggested it, but now that the election is over I think both LBC and I felt it was the right time to change. It means I can get home at a more reasonable hour and also that it’s possible to go to events in London in the evening. When you finish at 8, that’s more difficult. However, even forgetting my own work-life balance issues, from a scheduling and programming point of view it makes a lot of sense too.

I’m so happy that I’ve signed a new contract, which will keep me at LBC for some time to come. It’s the best job I have ever had, and I hope that comes across in my enthusiasm. It also means I’ll be covering the London Mayoral election, the EU Referendum and the US Presidential campaign, all of which I know will be hugely enjoyable and challenging.

LBC is in a very good place, and so is my show. We now have more listeners in London at Drivetime than 5 Live, more than three times the number that BBC London get, and every day we are gaining more listeners across the country. As a station we have more listeners than at any time in our 40 year history, and as more people switch on all over the country we are surely heading for 2 million in the not too distant future.

It’s a great time to be part of LBC and a tremendous honour to be asked to continue to present our Drivetime show.



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Ed Balls

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls talks about his jobs plan for the long term unemployed, child benefit, Peter Mandelson and how he spent Christmas.

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UK Politics

The Curious Case of Harvey Proctor - Why Do the Police Agree With "Nick"?

30 Aug 2015 at 21:49

I am very troubled by the treatment of former Tory MP Harvey Proctor at the hands of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Midland inquiry. In some ways it mirrors that of Paul Gambaccini’s terrible year at the mercy of Operation Yewtree. I’m publishing his story in September and parts of it make your hair stand on end. I got wind that Harvey Proctor was holding a press conference on Tuesday and secured an exclusive radio interview with him. I knew it would be a difficult balance to strike. Although I had sympathy for his position I had to do a rigorous interview and ask some difficult questions. Judge for yourself if that was what actually happened in the blogpost below this one.

Proctor’s contention is that his accuser, “Nick”, is an obvious fantasist, and when he outlined some of the things he was accused of, it was difficult to draw any other conclusion. The most lurid was that Proctor was about to cut off a boy’s testicles with a penknife, when Edward Heath intervened to stop him. Somehow “Nick” was given that penknife and has now given it to the police. On the face of it, totally preposterous. Given that Proctor and Heath were sworn enemies is it even likely they would be in the same room together? I doubt it.

However, my colleagues at LBC have had dealings with “Nick”, and like the police, they regard him as credible. In some ways I don’t know what to think, but with all this publicity and the fact that “Nick” alleges there were many other boys involved, it’s odd, isn’t it, that no more have come forward? I believe there was abuse by politicians of young children in the 1970s and 1980s. I also believe that the police have a duty to investigate credible claims, especially when some of those accused are still alive. What they don’t have a right to do, though, is to act in the way they have in the Proctor case. Or the Cliff Richard case. Or the Gambaccini case. Or the Heath case.

Harvey Proctor was understandably very angry at the way he has been treated and angry in the way that his name has emerged in public. In some ways he is an easy target for any potential accuser, as a quick search of Google will uncover the fact that he pleaded guilty to four charges of gross indecency in 1987. He had sex with a 19 year old when the age of consent was 21, something which of course would not be a crime nowadays. He believed the individual to be over 21. Had it been a woman, that would be a credible defence but there was a so-called lacuna in the law and because it involved two men, that was no defence. As soon as he found that out, he pleaded guilty. He’s spent the last 28 years in private life but now it’s all over the media again.

If any living politician has committed any of these terrible crimes I hope they are brought to justice. If it turns out other politicians, including Margaret Thatcher, knew about any of this and deliberately covered it up, that needs to be exposed too. It would be very uncomfortable for many people to learn that some of their political heroes were effectively complicit in covering up these heinous crimes, but the truth must out.

But the police also need to answer for the way they are conducting some of these inquiries and enabling the public to adopt the belief that where there is smoke there must be fire. As a society we have reached a stage where whenever any famous person is mentioned in connection to child abuse, there appears to be an automatic assumption that they must therefore be guilty of something. This is a very dangerous development and it is why some people believe that the police are complicit in a media driven witch hunt against people who are often totally innocent. Their defence is that they need to shake the tree to see what fruit drops down. In some cases that may be a legitimate way of encouraging victims to come forward, but to me that should only ever happen when the police have proved to a judge there is a need to take that course of action. Otherwise, names should only come into the public sphere when they are charged.

Harvey Proctor hasn’t been arrested, let alone charged, yet his life has been ruined because the police gave his name to “Nick” who in turn passed it to the media. Proctor has been questioned about his alleged part in three murders, yet no charge has been forthcoming. Where this murky story goes next is anyone’s guess.



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to David Leigh

David Leigh talks about his new book on Wikileaks and Julian Assange

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WATCH: My Exclusive Interview with Harvey Proctor

25 Aug 2015 at 21:05

I’m on holiday at the moment but when you get the opportunity of an exclusive you don’t turn it down. So I got the train to London from Norwich this morning and went straight to St Ermin’s Hotel to attend Harvey Proctor’s press conference, having persuaded him to give me an exclusive interview afterwards. What he said at the press conference was truly astonishing, and you can read what he said at that conference elsewhere.

So after the press conference he came to LBC’s studios and I recorded a 16 minute interview with him. At one point Mr Proctor became quite emotional.


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LBC Book Club: Pam Ayres

Pam Ayres discusses her autobiography THE NECESSARY APTITUDE

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LISTEN: My Political Books Podcasts with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Andrew Marr & Damian Barr

24 Aug 2015 at 14:51

Here are my latest political books podcasts with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Andrew Marr and Damian Barr. For thw full archive click HERE



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Discusses Page 3 With Tracey Crouch, Margaret Hodge & John Thurso

From the LBC Parliament hour. Should Page 3 be banned?

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Labour Politics

Twelve Questions to Which Jeremy Corbyn Would Answer 'Yes' To & The British People Would Answer 'No' To

23 Aug 2015 at 22:16

It seems that most commentators believe Jeremy Corbyn will be announced as the new Labour leader in under three weeks’ time. His views and policies are coming under increasing scrutiny, and a good thing to. Parts of the Labour Party seem to be voting for him on the basis that he is the second Coming of Christ and he has no links with the Blair regime. I wonder how many of them have actually studied his policies in any detail, or looked into his beliefs. It’s all very well to vote for someone who your heart agrees with. It’s when your head tells you something different and you still go ahead and vote for them that you should worry.

The Labour Party resembles a group of hundreds of thousands of lemmings who are about to collectively jump off a cliff and commit suicide. And they’re doing it in the full knowledge that this is going to be the end result. I shake my head in disbelief at the apparently sane people who knowingly ignore the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is simply unelectable as Prime Minister. They know that. I know that. You know that. I suspect even Jeremy Corbyn himself knows that. The thing is, unless you have power, you can’t change anything, and anyone in elected politics is well aware of that simple fact. So why, oh why is he going to win? It’s partly because he has a habit of answering a question, as evidenced in the leaders debate I hosted at LBC. It’s partly because he’s a nice man. It’s partly because of the deluded leadership election system Ed Miliband bequeathed. It’s partly because he appears to represent an anti-politics mood. It’s partly because, despite him being an MP for 32 years, he’s successfully portrayed himself as being apart from the Westminster bubble, something which Andy Burnham has also laughably tried (and failed) to do.

But the simple truth is that he isn’t where the British people are. I have a list of twelve questions for Jeremy Corbyn below. He would answer ‘yes’ to them all. Most British people would answer ‘no’ to all of them. All. Of. Them.

1. Do you think Britain should withdraw from NATO?
2. Do you think Britain should give up its nuclear deterrent?
3. Would you refuse to join the Privy Council as leader of the opposition?
4. Do you think Northern Ireland should become part of the Republic with no referendum?
5. Do you think the railways should be renationalised?
6. Do you think the energy industry should be renationalised?
7. Do you think the top rate of income tax should be above 80p?
8. Do you think the Bank of England should be brought back under political control?
9. Do you think face to face talks with ISIS are the way forward?
10. Would you hold face to face talks with Hezbollah or Hamas?
11. Do you think there should be an inquiry into Jewish influence on government decisions?
12. Should Argentina be given a say in the governance of the Falkland Islands?

Yes, there are a few hundred thousand ultra-lefties who would agree with their messiah, but they don’t win elections. It’s Essex Man, Worcester Woman, it’s middle England who win elections, and assuming they bother looking at Jeremy Corbyn’s views they won’t be putting their cross in the box of any part he leads. Most sensible Labour supporters know that. But it seems they are going to be outvoted by people who seem determined to ignore the political facts of life.

The people to blame for this are not the people who vote for Corbyn. They are in some sort of political trance and they know not what they do. Or perhaps they do. No, the people to blame are Ed Miliband for coming up with this lunatic way of electing a leader, the idiot MPs who nominated Corbyn in the first place, when they certainly won’t be voting for him. Yes, Sadiq Khan, I mean you. Margaret Beckett, you too. I could go on.

But most of all I blame the other three other leadership candidates for having spent the four months since the election talking meaningless bollocks. They haven’t come up with a single memorable policy or quote between them. They have bored us all to death and inspired no one. Not even their own pets.

And it could have been so very different. I leave you with two words. Chuka. Umunna.



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Video: Iain Interviews Lady Thatcher

Well, it's really Steve Nallon!

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Attitude Column: The Ups & Downs of Public Displays of Affection

20 Aug 2015 at 09:34

Every so often when I’m walking from the LBC studios to Charing Cross Station to get my train home I spy a couple of guys walking down the street hand in hand. And every time I see it, I get a spring in my step. If I saw a man and a woman holding hands I’d think nothing of it, but for two people of the same sex to do it, even in a metropolis like London, sends out a signal that they’re out and proud. And no one bats an eyelid, or at least if they do, they don’t show it. Of course, this is all very well in central London, but imagine it happening in Chipping Sodbury or The Gorbals. Maybe we still have some way to go.

I read recently about a young lesbian couple who had been upbraided by a security guard at a Cardiff Food Festival for kissing in public. Apparently people had complained and he had asked them to stop because it was “offensive” and “disgusting”. Would people have complained, and would he have acted in the same way if the couple had been straight? Well, quite possibly, yes. By all accounts this wasn’t exactly a smack on the lips of a peck on the cheek, the two young ladies were going for it and ticking tonsils in quite an aggressive way. In an official statement Cardiff City Council said that it was tantamount to sexual behaviour and inappropriate at a food festival. I hate myself for it, but I can see their point, not because they were two people of the same sex, but because quite frankly I don’t think anyone wants to see foreplay at a food festival, or indeed any other public arena for that matter, whether it’s two people of the same sex or two people of the opposite sex.

I don’t think this has anything to do with the traditional sense of British puritanism, it’s more to do with what kind of public displays of affection society deems acceptable. People will have very different views about this, but surely it depends on circumstance. What is regarded as de rigeur and wouldn’t make anyone bat an eyelid in a nightclub on a Friday night is surely different to thinking you can do the same thing at a food festival. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, surely there is still such a thing as public decency, even in 2015. I know I sound like an old git, but much as I have no objection to general public displays of affection, everything has its place. Giving your partner a full on snog when you say goodbye to them at a railway station is one thing, but would you really do it at the checkout at Boots? What’s the difference, you may say? I suspect everyone knows the difference, it’s just instinct and knowing the difference between right and wrong.

I tend to be a much more touchy feely person than my partner (I still can’t bring myself to use the word husband – does that make me a bad person?). I’d happily wander around hand in hand depending on the surroundings, but he’d instantly recoil. That’s just the way he is.

When I came out to my family I well remember one of my sisters being worried that my partner and I would be all over each other on the couch watching TV in front of my parents. I suppose I could have felt quite insulted by it but I found it quite funny. I would no more do that than seek to inseminate Kim Kardashian. Now there’s a thought.

In the end we’re all different. We all have different needs and different boundaries. But we also know what boundaries society imposes on us and how far we can push those boundaries without provoking others and upsetting people. Sure, over time those boundaries can be redrawn, but that can done by gentle cajoling and persuasion rather than causing outright shock. Perhaps one day it will be quite acceptable to do a whole range of things which would currently come under the banner of ‘lewd and obscene behaviour’, but until then, behave!



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LBC97.3 Iain Talks to Ann Barnes

Kent Police & Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes defends her stance on Paris Brown, the Youth PCC who had to resign over inappropriate tweets.

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Edinburgh Festival Diary: Wednesday - Can I Bring Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho to the Tory Party Conference?

19 Aug 2015 at 23:00

A bit of a later start today. Had a coffee with Duncan Brack to talk about doing another book of counterfactuals next year. All ideas welcome. Perhaps we should call it PRIME MINISTER CORBYN AND OTHER THINGS THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Boom boom.

The first show of the day was at the Assembly Rooms and was called PLAYING MAGGIE. It was a one man show starring Pip Utton, a 60 year old male actor from a mining village in Staffordshire. Who was playing Maggie. Really. The fact that he looked nothing like her and sounded very little like her wasn’t really the point. He opened with a bit of a monologue and then took audience questions. The audience played along and addressed him as if he really was her. He actually improvised very well and you could acually imagine her giving some of the answers he gave. He also had some great comic timing. But Utton really needed to put more effort into the voice and her mannerisms. Studying Steve Nallon would have done him no harm at all. I never quite understood whether he was a fan or not, but it was clear that the Iron Lady had played a big part in his family’s life. His father had been a miner and blamed the closure of his pit on her, and everything else for that matter. As people do. Even now. The hour finished with the Lady’s not for turning quote, which Upton got slightly wrong, just as he did with the Where There Is Discord quote. I felt a bit awful at the end for pointing this out to him after the show but he told me my book of Margaret Thatcher quotations is his bible and is by his bedside. As it should be with everyone!

I then made my way up The Mound (and it’s a long time since that’s happened!) to see a one man show starring Simon Cartwright about Bob Monkhouse, called THE MAN CALLED MONKHOUSE. I wouldn’t say this was my highlight of the week, if I’m honest. Cartwright was quite convincing and certainly got his voice right on occasion, but there was something missing. Listening to audience members on the way out they weren’t at all impressed. Several complained that it appeared to finish 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. Others just didn’t like Cartwright’s portrayal at all. I think what was missing was a narrative. I’m not sure what we were supposed to think at the end of it, so in the end we didn’t really think anything. So all in all a bit of a disappointment.

Fred MacAulay on the other hand was the very opposite. Fred is a Scottish comedian and broadcaster. He had been presenting the mid morning programme for BBC Radio Scotland but was removed from the schedule in March after 17 years. His show at the Fringe is called HIM OFF THE RADIO, but this was anything but. Virtually none of his act could have been broadcast on the radio, but so what? This was a laugh a minute show with some hilarious tales from his career and some brilliantly funny observational stuff about his life and travels. When he started talking about the times radio broadcasters had been caught out saying the word c**t on air, I thought he might mention my famous Archbishop of Cunterbury incident, but I guess it hasn’t travelled this far north!

You know what they say about leaving the best till last? Well that’s what I did. My last show today, and indeed of my visit, was MARGARET THATCHER QUEEN OF SOHO. And it was the best, even edging Gyles Brandreth into second place. The show played in Leicester Square a few months ago but I didn’t manage to get to see it. Oh what I missed out on. This was a joy from beginning to end. A mixture of high campery, slapstick, great music and subtle political messaging, this hit all the right notes, both musically and theatrically. I’d say 90 per cent of the audience weren’t even born when Mrs T was deposed, but they seemed to get even the most obscure references to things that happened in the 1980s. The show revolves around the issue of Section 28 and even hints that Mrs T wasn’t exactly in favour of it herself. Dame Jill Knight, played by a moustachiod man was the baddie of the evening, and Mrs T even has a snog with Peter Tatchell, but it was a scene featuring the ghost of Winston Churchill which stole the show. As Kenny Everett might say, all in the best possible taste. Not. But it was very funny. It was an hour that you never wanted to end. But just as it ended, a wicked thought struck me. Wouldn’t it be fun to hire the cast to perform at the Conservative Party Conference. Watch this space, ladies and gentlemen. Coming to a stage in Manchester… Leave it to me…



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Bob Marshall-Andrews

Former Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews discusses his autobiography.

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Edinburgh Festival Diary: Tuesday - Leading with my Nipples & Other Stories

19 Aug 2015 at 00:55

Last week I was put on a new diabetes pill and it’s playing havoc with my ability to sleep. It’s not falling asleep that’s the problem, it’s staying asleep. I keep waking up around 4.30am, and then seemingly every ten minutes or so afterwards. It’s also making me very thirsty. Hmmm. Anyway, enough of my medical problems, let me tell you about my thirs day at the Edinburgh Fesitval.

Today started with a visir to the studios of Shore Radio in Leith to be a guest co-host of the Ewan Spence Edinburgh Fringe Show. You can listen to the podcast HERE . We had various guests from the fringe, all plugging their respective shows, and actually, they were all very entertaining, and if my schedule wasn’t already full I’d have booked to to see all three of them. John Robertson was a real character – an Australian with a voice like Brian Blessed. I did smile when I found that that radio studio was part of the Leith Dockers Social Club. If you wonder why I found it so amusing read THIS

By the time I emerged from Ewan’s show it was raining. I had promised myself that I’d walk everywhere between venues but waling from leith bck into the centre of town is two miles and I’m afraid I wimped out and got a cab. The first show of the afternoon was STEVE RICHARDS: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL POLITICS. This is Steve’s second year at the Festival, and he performs his show in London fairly regularly. It was a sell-out, and there’s clearly an appetite for this sort of thing, given yesterday’s Matt Forde/Ruth Davidson event. It’s set me thinking about possibly putting on some sort of show here some time in the future. Anyway, Steve was a bundle of energy and really engaged the audience. He put two dilemmas to the audience and asked them to imagine they were David Cameron trying to decide the date of the EU Referendum, and to imagine they were Nicola Sturgeon deciding whether to include a manifesto promise for a second referendum. One of his aims was clearly to challenge some of the audience’s preconceptions about the decisions politicians make and why they make them. He did it with humour and self-deprecation, even if some of his impressions were dodgier than others!

So from the Assembly Rooms back to the Pleasance for Gyles Brandreth’s new show WORD PLAY. Gyles has become a bit of a festival institution and always pays to sellout audiences. This was vintage Brandreth – at times hilarious, at times slapstick, at times deep and meaningful, at times informative. I wasn’t sure what to expect as the title of the show was a bit ‘Countdownesque’ but Gyles really delivered a tour de force, ostensibly explaining the power of words, but always willing to go off on a very entertaining tangent. The audience loved it. Perhaps the highlight was when he got us all on our feet to march to the lyrics “Leading with our nipples”. Perhaps you had to be there. A definite five stars.

It was now 5pm and the next show was an hour’s stand up comedy from the presenter of Absolute Radio’s Breakfast Show, Christian O’Connell. He’s been presenting the same show for 17 years, which is a feat in itself. He gets up at twelve minutes past four every day. I just couldn’t do that, but he clearly thrives on what he does. He told some hilariously funny anecdotes about things that have gone wrong over the years, but concentrated on the loons who complain and troll him on Twitter. He even keeps a book of them. A lot of it struck home with me. I’ve only met Christian once, and that was on stage at the Arqiva Radio awards when I won Presenter of the Year in 2013. When I’ve seen him present awards ceremonies he comes over as very cocky and pleased with himself. It’s very different to his radio show or indeed the event this evening, where he showed a much more down to earth and human side. I’d definitely recommend anyone to go and see Christian – you’re guaranteed to laugh a lot and you’ll like what he says about free speech.

The final show of the day was AN AUDIENCE WITH JIMMY SAVILE. I’m going to be honest. I nearly didn’t go. Did I really want to spend an hour thinking about this lowlife? In all honesty I did not, but so many people had said it was a brilliant play that I decided to go after all. It was the right decision. Alistair McGowan was utterly brilliant in his depiction of this monster You’d expect him to get the voice right, but had all Savile’s mannerisms off to a tee too. The script was deft, and the four other actors involved all played their roles to perfection. It was a lovely surprise to see Graham Seed playing the chat show host and he carried it off well. The audience sometimes didn’t know whether to clap or laugh, as it almost felt inappropriate. At the end as McGowan departed the stage it felt totally wrong to clap and there was a moment of silence when we just didn’t know what to do. But as soon as the actors came back on stage they got deserved sustained applause. None of the actors smiled. It would have been wrong.

And so Wednesday is my final day. Looking forward to it already.



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LBC 97.3: Iain finds Sajid Javid Unable to Answer a Question

Iain interviews Treasury Minister Sajid Javid

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Edinburgh Festival Diary: Monday - Boris, Benn, German Humour & Ruth Davidson

17 Aug 2015 at 21:49

To say today was back to back would be an understatement. The day started with a meeting with a Biteback author, and yes I know I am supposed to be on holiday. Strangely it also ended with a Biteback author too. But I’ll come to that later.

My first show of the day, at the Pleasance, was called TONY (BENN’S) LAST TAPE. It was a one man show with the actor Philip Bretherton playing Tony Benn in his twilight days, struggling to cope with the fact that he must now leave the fight to others. It didn’t really work on a number of levels. Bretherton looks nothing like Tony Benn did, which is hardly surprising as I’d guess he was half his age. He also didn’t sound a lot like him. Maybe I am being harsh because I knew Tony Benn and there were quite a few things which I just know Tony Benn would never have thought, let alone said. At 80 minutes it was also twenty minutes too long. That’s not to say that it was unenjoyable, I suppose I was hoping for something a bit more. A bit more emotional. A bit more Bennish.

The next show also involved an actor playing a politician. David Benson is someone I got to know many years ago when we’d both appear on Gyles Brandreth’s LBC radio show on a Sunday afternoon. He rose to fame for his depictions of Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd. At Edinburgh he plays Boris Johnson in BORIS: KING OF THE WORLD. By lucky coincience I met Gyles Brandreth and his wife Michele in the queue. Well, more accurately I spotted them in the queue, which enabled me to queue jump! The auditorium was jampacked full, and I was slightly surprised it was so small. David was totally believeable as Boris even though physically and facially he’s nothing like him. He absolutely got his voice and at time it was like listening to Boris himself. It was a very physical performance, sometimes verging on the slapstick. Actually, no. It was slapstick at times. I couldn’t work out at the end how satirical it was meant to be and whether it was meant to serve as a warning as to what a Boris Prime Ministership might entail, or if David Benson was actually being quite affectionate. It was a riproaring hour, and I imagine David lost quite a few pounds as it was incredibly hot, and he was, shall we say, sweating like a pig! If you can get tickets, this is a show not to be missed.

I had only twenty minutes to get to the next venue where I would be seeing UKIP: THE MUSICAL. In some ways this was all rather predictable. Yes, there were funny parts, but the jokes about UKIP being undercover Nazis wore a bit thin after a while. The singing was, however, superb, and it was all very fast moving, with a cast of around a dozen 20-25 year olds. It all got a bit strange when Nigel Farage won a general election but then more or less immediately resigned when he realised that the agenda of his colleaues was to forcibly remove all immigrants from the country. It was called the “Complete Solution”. The only surprise was that the decision wasn’t made at Wannsee. So in some ways it was a very lazy narrative with a lot of easy jokes. I was expecting a little more, to be honest. It was a sellout, though, so they must be doing something right. I deliberately haven’t looked at the reviews for this. Basically, if you’re of a left wing disposition and you think all UKIP supporters live in the past and are closet racists, you’ll probably love this. If you’re on the right or have an open mind, you probably won’t. I didn’t, although it didn’t totally suck.

My next port of call at 5pm was a few minutes walk away in a converted church in Cowgate, where the German comic Christian Schulte-Loh put on a free show. I saw him in Edinburgh on my last visit in 2010 and found him so hilarious that I then booked him to appear at an event I was hosting at that year’s Tory Party conference, where he went down a storm. He was in brilliant form, and if I’m honest, this was the most enjoyable show of the day. He relies on making fun of national stereotypes, not just his own. He picks on members of the audience, but not in an awkward way. This can, however backfire. He told a story of a woman he picked on who, when asked what she did for a living, she said “I work in the Holocaust Centre.” Christian paused for a second, before replying that his Grandfather had done something similar… And that was the last time he performed in Israel. Boom boom. He was also very funny when a member of the audience outed himself as a Greek. Christian told the Greek man not to worry about putting any money in the bucket at the end of the show, as the Germans in the audience would bail him out. If you have a chance, go and see him. He deserves to be a lot more well known than he actually is.

The final event of the evening was back at the Pleasance to see Matt Forde interview Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson. I hadn’t met her before so I was quite keen to see what she’d be like in such an arena. You didn’t have to be a Tory to be impressed by her. Feisty, funny, intelligent, brave. She really wowed the audience and I think convinced everyone that the Tories could be on the verge of a bit of a breakthrough in Scotland. She certainly thinks she can win more seats next May than Labour, and on the current polling you’d have to say she’s not being unrealistic. I liked Matt’s interviewing style, and he managed to tease a lot out of her. This type of event isn’t really designed for a hardhitting political interrogation but it was no the worse for it. It also gave me an idea for an Edinburgh show in future years. I met Ruth for a drink in the bar afterwards and we had a right old gossip with my friend and Biteback author Joe Pike, who’s writing a book (out on September 18th) about the Scottish referendum and the last general election.

It was also good to run into Simon Mayo, Radio 2’s Drivetime host, whose 5 Live show I used to appear on a lot. Lucky devil is broadcasting from the fringe most of this week.

So, tomorrow I’ve got another five events. It’s a bit knackering, this fringe lark!



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LBC: The Best of the Iain Dale Show 2012

Listen to some moving clips from a programme on rape, hosted by Iain in November.

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