I Really Wanted to Like the US 'House of Cards' But I Don't

22 Dec 2014 at 12:11

Ok, I’m late to the party. I meant to watch House of Cards when it was shown on Sky Atlantic, but somehow didn’t. I’ve had the DVD on my shelf for two years but somehow it’s always been overtaken by something else – Covert Affairs, 24 and others. Anyway, a couple of nights ago I sat down to start the marathon. It didn’t hook me in the first episode. Or the second. I’m now on the ninth and and although I am not not enjoying it, I’m not really enjoying it! I just don’t find Kevin Spacey convincing at the Francis Urquhart character. And save us from those oral sex scenes. Were they really necessary? Yuk.

The trouble is that although the original House of Cards seems very dated now, it is still head and shoulders above the Spacey version. He doesn’t channel the sinisterness of F.U as well as Ian Richardson and the plot veers too often towards the ridiculous. Does anyone seriously imagine that any political party in the US would pick a gubernatorial candidate like Peter Russo? No, me neither.

The one character I do like is Clare, Francis Underwood’s wife. A striking looking woman, she plays the part brilliantly and is quite sinister in her own right.

I’m going to stick with it, and will no doubt watch the second series as well, if only to see if it gets any better. I’m not hopeful.

Meanwhile, I am very much looking forward to season 4 of Covert Affairs. If you haven’t tried Covert Affairs, give it a go. It’s about a female CIA operative who gets herself into all sorts of pickles. It’s got echoes of 24, but with some great humour and some fantastic characters. President Logan from 24 is one of the key characters.



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LSE Pulse Radio: Iain is Interviewed by Mike & Christina

Iain spends an hour being interviewed by LSE student radio presenters Christina Mysko and Mike Pearson.

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 4: Cambridgeshire

22 Dec 2014 at 10:39

This is the fourth in a series of blogposts (scroll down for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 7
Current Political Makeup: Con 6, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 6, Labour 1

1. Cambridge

2010 Result:
Conservative: 12829 (25.6%)
Labour: 12174 (24.3%)
Lib Dem: 19621 (39.1%)
Green: 3804 (7.6%)
UKIP: 1195 (2.4%)
Independent: 145 (0.3%)
Others: 362 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 6792 (13.5%)

Sitting MP: Julian Huppert (LibDem)
Prediction: Narrow Labour gain

A genuine three way marginal, this seat has been held by all three parties in recent memory. It went LibDem in 2005. If you look at the size of the LibDem majority here, Julian Huppert ought to be considered very safe, but this is a seat which swings with the wind, and if the wind is blowing towards Labour you can see it returning to them. It obviously has a high student vote and this may determine the outcome. However Huppert has been a strong performer both locally in Parliament and if anyone can hold this seat for the LibDems, he can. But bearing in mind the LibDems’ calamitous results in May I’ve now changed my mind and think Labour will win here.

2. Huntingdon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26516 (48.9%)
Labour: 5982 (11%)
Lib Dem: 15697 (28.9%)
Green: 652 (1.2%)
UKIP: 3258 (6%)
Independent: 1432 (2.6%)
Others: 729 (1.3%)
MAJORITY: 10819 (19.9%)

Sitting MP: Jonathan Djanogly
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

No words necessary.

3. North East Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26862 (51.6%)
Labour: 9274 (17.8%)
Lib Dem: 10437 (20%)
BNP: 1747 (3.4%)
UKIP: 2791 (5.4%)
English Dem: 387 (0.7%)
Independent: 566 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 16425 (31.5%)

Sitting MP: Stephen Barclay (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

One of the safest of safe Conservative seats.

4. North West Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 29425 (50.5%)
Labour: 9877 (16.9%)
Lib Dem: 12748 (21.9%)
UKIP: 4826 (8.3%)
English Dem: 1407 (2.4%)
MAJORITY: 16677 (28.6%)

Sitting MP: Shailesh Vara (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Even safer than the previous one.

5. Peterborough

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18133 (40.4%)
Labour: 13272 (29.5%)
Lib Dem: 8816 (19.6%)
Green: 523 (1.2%)
UKIP: 3007 (6.7%)
English Dem: 770 (1.7%)
Independent: 406 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 4861 (10.8%)

Sitting MP: Stewart Jackson (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Conservative hold

This is Labour’s second biggest hope in Cambridgeshire and it is a seat which was held by Labour between 1997 and 2005 in the person of the notorious Helen Brinton. Jackson has had two terms to establish himself. Having said that the pro Tory swing in 2010 was way below the national average, and this has become quite an ethnically diverse seat. As in many other seats, this may come down to where the LibDem vote shakes down and how much UKIP eat into the two main party votes.

6. South Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27995 (47.4%)
Labour: 6024 (10.2%)
Lib Dem: 20157 (34.1%)
Green: 1039 (1.8%)
UKIP: 1873 (3.2%)
Independent: 1968 (3.3%)
MAJORITY: 7838 (13.3%)

Sitting MP: Andrew Lansley (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Andrew Lansley may be standing down but the Tory majority here is likely to increase due to the massive LibDem vote shrinking, presumably to Labour.

7. South East Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27629 (48%)
Labour: 4380 (7.6%)
Lib Dem: 21683 (37.6%)
Green: 766 (1.3%)
UKIP: 2138 (3.7%)
Independent: 517 (0.9%)
Others: 489 (0.8%)
MAJORITY: 5946 (10.3%)

Sitting MP: James Paice (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

James Paice is standing down but as in the previous seat, the Tory majority is likely to increase here due to the split opposition vote.

Coming next: Hertfordshire

To see previous predictions. click on…




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LBC 97.3 Book Club: Iain talks to Tia Sharp's Grandmother (Part 2)

Part two of an interview with Christine Bicknell and Tia's stepdad David Niles

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 3: Suffolk

21 Dec 2014 at 14:58

This is the third in a series of blogposts which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Number of Seats: 7
Current Political Makeup: Conservative, 7
Prediction for 2015: Conservative 5, Labour 2

1. Bury St Edmunds
2010 Result:
Conservative: 27899 (47.5%)
Labour: 9776 (16.6%)
Lib Dem: 15519 (26.4%)
Green: 2521 (4.3%)
UKIP: 3003 (5.1%)
MAJORITY: 12380 (21.1%)

Sitting MP: David Ruffley (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

The only time this seat has ever looked like drifting away from the Tories was in 1997 when David Ruffley only narrowly held on by 368 votes. Since then he has built up a more or less impregnable majority. He’s standing down but this is one to bet your mortgage on.

2. Central Suffolk & North Ipswich
2010 Result:
Conservative: 27125 (50.8%)
Labour: 8636 (16.2%)
Lib Dem: 13339 (25%)
Green: 1452 (2.7%)
UKIP: 2361 (4.4%)
Independent: 389 (0.7%)
Others: 118 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 13786 (25.8%)

Sitting MP: Dr Dan Poulter (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Again, nothing less than a political earthquake would shift Dan Poulter here, partly due to a split opposition.

3. Ipswich

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18371 (39.1%)
Labour: 16292 (34.7%)
Lib Dem: 8556 (18.2%)
BNP: 1270 (2.7%)
Green: 775 (1.7%)
UKIP: 1365 (2.9%)
Christian: 149 (0.3%)
Independent: 93 (0.2%)
Others: 70 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 2079 (4.4%)

Sitting MP: Ben Gummer (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Labour gain

Another of those bellweather seats that tends to swing with the political wind. The fact that UKIP haven’t been very popular here in the past begs the question as to whether they can eat into the Labour vote to allow Ben Gummer to squeak through. The fact that the LibDems have also scored strongly in the past tends to suggest that a slab of their 18% at the last election will go to Labour as well. Gummer has provied to be a popular, independent minded MP, but has only had one term to build up a personal vote. Will that be enough? I suspect not.

4. South Suffolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24550 (47.7%)
Labour: 7368 (14.3%)
Lib Dem: 15861 (30.8%)
UKIP: 3637 (7.1%)
MAJORITY: 8689 (16.9%)

Sitting MP: Tim Yeo (CON)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

If Tim Yeo wasn’t standing down I’d have reduced this to the status of probable Conservative hold, but with the LibDem vote splitting to Labour it’s difficult to see this as anything other than a bet your mortgage Tory hold.

5. Suffolk Coastal

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25475 (46.4%)
Labour: 8812 (16.1%)
Lib Dem: 16347 (29.8%)
Green: 1103 (2%)
UKIP: 3156 (5.7%)
MAJORITY: 9128 (16.6%)

Sitting MP: Therese Coffey (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

A much safer seat than the figures show, mainly because of the high LibDem vote. Put your money on an increased majority for Therese Coffey.

6. Waveney

2010 Result:
Conservative: 20571 (40.2%)
Labour: 19802 (38.7%)
Lib Dem: 6811 (13.3%)
Green: 1167 (2.3%)
UKIP: 2684 (5.2%)
Independent: 106 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 769 (1.5%)

Sitting MP: Peter Aldous (Con)
Prediction: Probable Labour gain

Peter Aldous has a wafer thin majority. Formerly Jim Prior’s seat it went Labour in 1997 and if UKIP take more votes off the Tories than Labour, it’s likely to return to Labour, given that they will be the beneficiary of any reduction in the LibDem vote. Aldous will still feel there is all to play for and a Conservative hold can’t be ruled out, but the odds are stacked against them.

7. West Suffolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24312 (50.6%)
Labour: 7089 (14.7%)
Lib Dem: 11262 (23.4%)
BNP: 1428 (3%)
UKIP: 3085 (6.4%)
Independent: 540 (1.1%)
Others: 373 (0.8%)
MAJORITY: 13050 (27.1%)

Sitting MP: Matthew Hancock (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Seeing as this has been a Conservative held seat since the 19th century, it’s another Conservative hold to be your mortgage on.

Coming next: Cambridgeshire


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BBC Radio Norfolk: Iain appears on Treasure Quest

On the afternoon of the Lammas village Christmas Fayre, Iain appears live from the village hall on Radio Norfolk's Treasure Quest programme. Aha!

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My 100 Favourite Tweeters of 2014

21 Dec 2014 at 09:03

Each new year I do a list of people whose tweets I have most enjoyed during the previous 12 months. I follow about 1600 people on Twitter but these are the ones who have entertained, informed, educated, annoyed and, most of all, made me laugh most this year. So here are my Top 100, including 18 new entries, in no particular order…


@ChrisDeerin – Journalist, Scottish Daily Mail
@ShippersUnbound – Deputy political editor, Daily Mail
@PaulWaugh – Editor, PoliticsHome
@DAaronovitch – Columnist – The Times
@ZoesqWilliams – Columnist, the Guardian
@MrMatthewTodd – Editor, Attitude magazine
@TimMontgomerie – Comment editor, The Times
@NeilWallis1 – Media commentator
@MehdiRHasan – Political Director, Huffington Post
@GraemeArcher – Columnist, ConservativeHome
@IanBirrell – Columnist, Independent, Daily Mail & Evening Standard
@JohnRentoul – Columnist, Independent on Sunday
@Gallaghereditor – Tony Gallagher, Deputy Editor, Daily Mail
@VinceGraff – Columnist
@Timothy_Stanley – Telegraph columnist (NEW)
@Y_Alibhai – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (NEW)


@AFNeil – BBC presenter
@PiersMorgan – Presenter, CNN
@ReporterBoy – (Giles Dilnot), Reporter, Daily Politics
@MichaelLCrick – Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News
@KayBurley – Sky News presenter
@AdamBoulton – Presenter, Sky News
@FaisalIslam – Political Editor, Sky News (NEW)
@IanKatz100 – Editor, Newsnight
@DMcCaffreySKY – Political reporter, Sky News
@SimonMcCoy – Presenter, BBC News Channel
@AlStewITN – Presenter, ITN


@FleetStreetFox – Susie Boniface
@MrHarryCole – Editor, Guido Fawkes blog
@GuidoFawkes – Editor in Chief, Guido Fawkes blog
@PaddyBriggs – Sports & politics blogger
@Nero – Milo Yiannopolous (NEW)


@LordAshcroft – Businessman & philanthropist
@Jacqui_Smith1 – Former Labour Home Secretary
@Andrew_Kennedy – Conservative Party Agent in Kent
@JohnMcTernan – Former Political Director for Tony Blair
@NadineDorriesMP – Conservative MP
@NichStarling – Former LibDem leader on Broadland District Council
@Edwina_Currie – Former Conservative MP
@ThereseCoffey – Conservative MP
@Sarah_Hayward – Labour leader of Camden Council
@StewartWood – Labour peer
@Tony_McNulty – Former Labour MP
@Tracey_Crouch – Conservative MP
@EI Jake – Jake Morrison, Liverpool City Councillor
@JerryHayes1 – Former Conservative MP
@ThatchersRise – Real time account of Thatcher’s rise to the Tory leadership (NEW)
@LiarPoliticians – Anti politics tweeter (NEW)
@StirringTrouble – Alexander Nekrassov (NEW)


@HattMarris84 – My producer on LBC
@StephenNolan – 5 Live presenter
@RichardPBacon – Former 5 Live presenter
@ShelaghFogarty – LBC presenter
@TheJamesMax – BBC London presenter
@JaneGarvey1 – Presenter, Woman’s Hour, Radio 4
@JuliaHB1 – Former afternoon presenter, LBC
@SuttonNick – Editor, World at One, Radio 4
@Rachel_Hump – Producer, LBC
@RobinLustig – Former Presenter, The World Tonight, Radio 4
@StanCollymore – TalkSport radio host
@CarolineFeraday – Former BBC London presenter
@TheJeremyVine – Presenter, Radio 2
@MrJamesOB – Morning show presenter, LBC
@Corrie_corfield – Radio 4 announcer
@NickyAACampbell – 5 Live presenter
@Tweeter_Anita – Presenter, Any Answers, Radio 4
@DuncanBarkes – Late show presenter, LBC 97.3
@BroadcastMoose – Ian Abrahams, Talksport presenter
@FiFiGlover – Radio 4 presenter
@JohnMyersTeam – Chairman, Radio Academy
@DavidLloydRadio – David Lloyd, Orion Radio
@HorneyMedia – Tony Horne, Radio presenter
@PaulEaston – Radio consultant
@CarolynQuinnCQ – Presenter, Westminster Hour, Radio 4
@IainLee – BBC Three Counties Breakfast Presenter (NEW)
@AccidentalP – Accidental Partridge (NEW)
@Grvlx001 – Jamie Angus, editor of Today (NEW)


@Dean36Ashton10 – Former Norwich City & West Ham footballer
@Joey7Barton – QPR footballer
@CarltonCole1 – West Ham footballer
@HenryWinter – Football journalist, Daily Telegraph
@BobBallardSport – Radio sports journalist
@LeeClayton_ – Sports editor, Daily Mail
@NotBigSam – Sam Allardyce spoof account
@DavidGold – Co chairman of West Ham United
@ClareBalding – BBC & BT Sport presenter
@JimmyBullard – Ex footballer (NEW)
@BoringMilner – Spoof James Milner account (NEW)


@WMaryBeard – Classics academic & author
@Alistairgriffin – Singer, songwriter
@AdamLake – Public Affairs Specialist
@Brit_Battleaxe – Christine Hamilton
@JamesWharton – Former Soldier & author of OUT IN THE ARMY
@Joshuwahwah – Politically tuned funny guy
@MarkFoxNews – CEO, Business Services Association
@SallyHitchiner – Vicar
@GrantTucker – My former PA!
@GylesB1 – Gyles Brandreth (NEW)
@Modawah – Spoof Mo Ansar account (NEW)
@AwkwardGrindr – Cringeworthy moments from Grindr (NEW)


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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Duke Safo

Duke Safo explains why he has turned to the internet to raise funds to pay for his mother's funeral.

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UKIP Politics

Kerry Smith Speaks Out - UKIP Candidate Unrepentant About 'Chinky' Comments

20 Dec 2014 at 09:48

Yesterday evening I was conducting a phonein on whether women should be able to serve on the frontline in the infantry when I was told that after the 5.15 news and travel I’d be interviewing Kerry Smith, the former UKIP candidate for South Basildon & East Thurrock. Earlier in the day Nigel Farage had defended his comments about ‘chinkies’ and ‘poofters’, calling him a ‘rough diamond’ and this had become a big story on the news channels during the course of the day.

What followed was thirteen minutes of radio gold. Mr Smith, it is fair to say, was unrepentant about his words, maintaining that they were the words that many people use. What I want to know is how he ever came close to being selected as a parliamentary candidate in the first place in a seat which UKIP reckon they have a good chance of winning. Not only that, but after he was deselected he was then reselected in order to stop Neil Hamilton becoming the candidate after the personal intervention of Nigel Farage, who, I am told on good authority knew all about the authority of the tape which was subsequently leaked to the Mail on Sunday. And UKIP reckon that they are different to the other parties and don’t indulge in this sort of skulduggery. Yeah, right.

Anyway, listen to the interview and judge for yourself whether Kerry Smith was ever fit to stand as a parliamentary candidate…



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to horror writer James Herbert

James Herbert talks about his latest book ASH and his career as Britain's leading horror writer.

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Knackered, Unfit & Overweight - Something Needs to Change in 2015

19 Dec 2014 at 20:37

Another year’s work complete. Now for two weeks off, and I can’t pretend I don’t need them. Basically, I’m knackered. I remember last Christmas, it wasn’t until I went back on the radio in the new year that I realised how tired I had got in the runup to Christmas. I have tried to pace myself a little better this year, but I can’t pretend that I’m not tired. I haven’t had any time off since August, and I know people must think that sitting there for four hours a day must be easy peasy. I mean, I get paid to talk. How difficult can that be? I don’t blame people for thinking that, but let me tell you that it’s the most knackering thing I have ever done. Not only does it require intense concentration, you have to be thinking and communicating several things at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I love more or less every minute of it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that when I get home of an evening all I usually do is fall asleep in front of the TV. Most weeks I start watching Question Time, fall asleep before the end of the first question and then wake up more or less at the end of THIS WEEK. Sorry David, sorry Andrew. No reflection on either of you, I can assure you.

But something has got to change in 2015. I can’t go on like this and let my health suffer. Sitting down for 4 hours a day isn’t good. I bought a pedometer which shows I walk a fraction of the number of steps I should walk each day. I eat the wrong food. I have a sweet tooth, yet I am a diabetic. My work commitments mean I don’t exercise enough. or is that just an excuse?

I have promised myself that things will be different in 2015. I’ve got to make time for things which are important, rather than keep saying yes to everything that comes my way. I have tried to start already. A couple of days ago I was invited to lunch by someone I know vaguely “for a catchup”. I emailed back to ask what was on the agenda. “Oh, nothing in particular,” came the reply. “I just thought it would be good to catch up”. Well I’m not being funny, but with two full time jobs and a home life, I just can’t be as sociable as I might once have been. I felt a bit rude emailing back to say I just couldn’t do it, but I have got to learn to say no. My partner says it’s my biggest weakness. No, Mars Bars are my biggest weakness. But I haven’t bought any chocolate for 13 months now. Or any sweets for 11 months. You see I do have some self control if I choose to exercise it. Sometimes.

I know people always make promises at this time of year to get fit etc once Christmas is out of the way, but I really have got to mean it and stick to it. I’ve been told if I don’t I will have to start injecting insulin and I really don’t want to have to do that, mainly because it apparently makes you put on weight and it can lead to hypoglycaemic attacks. Not good if you are a radio presenter.

So do I join a gym, or take up running? I hate running, but it’s easy to do and doesn’t involve prancing around with a load of muscle marys in front of mirrors. Perhaps I should get a personal trainer. I know somehow I need to force myself to have the discipline to get fit and lose weight. Maybe I’ll make it a feature on the radio show. Maybe a weigh-in every week. Not quite sure that would work on radio!

Anyway, I’ll be sure and let you know. All advice gratefully received.



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to a Caller About His Dating Horror Stories

John in Southgate rang in... hilarious.

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Why I am Jealous of Mehdi Hasan

19 Dec 2014 at 14:58

Mehdi Hasan is someone who most people on the right love to hate. Opinionated, clever, robust and on the left, he has moved from being a talented writer to a brilliant broadcaster on Al Jazeera. It has just been announced that he is leaving the Huffington Post to take up a full time post with Al Jazeera in Washington DC. It’s rare that I am jealous of anyone, but in this case I will make an exception. I don’t have many regrets in my life, but one of them is that I have never worked in Washington. It’s a city I love and I’ve probably been to visit on twenty or thirty occasions. I know it will never happen now, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t stop me becoming wistful. Mehdi will be a big loss to the British political media. I’ve always thought he would end up standing for Parliament and becoming a leading light in the Labour firmament. But maybe like many others he has come to the conclusion it is a fool’s errand and not for someone whose outspoken tendencies would not be tolerated. I wish him all the luck in the world. We may not agree on much, but I’ve valued his friendship and support over the years, and he’s a thoroughly nice guy.



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Play Radio: Iain interviews BNP Deputy Leader Simon Darby

Play Talk, June 2009

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Rory Bremner is the New Host of the Political Book Awards

19 Dec 2014 at 07:51

Choosing a host for the next year’s Political Book Awards has been a very tortuous process. For the first two years of this event, which takes place at the IMAX on the South Bank each year, we have used the wonderful Gyles Brandreth, and he has been superb. He’s funny, risqué and you have complete confidence that if something goes wrong, he’ll cope. And there aren’t many people who can do that. But you have to keep events like this fresh, so this year we decided to seek a new host. But who? We needed someone who could be funny, who a political and publishing audience could relate to and who could keep the show on the road. Well I’m delighted to announce that Rory Bremner has agreed to host the evening. I had a meeting with him this week and he treated me to some of his new impressions. His David Cameron is absolutely superb. Like others I think Rory found it difficult to “get” Cameron initially, but I can promise you, it’s now spot on. He still finds Nick Clegg a challenge though. My advice was that he just needed to sound permanently indignant and slightly petulant.



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LBC 97.3 Iain talks to David Aaronovitch about Ed Miliband

David Aaronovitch gives his analysis of Ed Miliband's failings

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UKIP Politics

What Do You Give Jacqui Smith For Christmas?

18 Dec 2014 at 11:54

On Wednesday I did my fortnightly Sky News paper review with Jacqui Smith. A couple of Christmases ago, live on TV, I pulled out a sprig of mistletoe and gave her a smacker. (The evidence is here. Well it’s best not to revisit the scene of a crime so this year I thought I’d give her a present to unwrap. I thought WHY VOTE UKIP might be an amusing thing to give her. So she unwrapped it live on air. Guess you had to be there, but I enjoyed the moment.

Mark Longhurst, the Sky host, looked on rather quizzically and said “It’s a bit of a slim volume, isn’t it?”

Perhaps I should have written this blogpost under the hashtag #productplacement…



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale deals with an Anti-American caller

Darren from Walthamstow isn't a fan of the USA. Iain begs to differ.

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 2: Norfolk

15 Dec 2014 at 22:56

This is the second in a series of blogposts which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.


Seats: 9
Current State of the Parties: Con 7, LibDem 2
Predicted State of the Parties: Con 6, LibDem 1, Labour 2


2010 Result:
Conservative: 24338 (46.2%)
Labour: 7287 (13.8%)
Lib Dem: 17046 (32.4%)
BNP: 871 (1.7%)
Green: 752 (1.4%)
UKIP: 2382 (4.5%)
MAJORITY: 7292 (13.8%)

Sitting MP: Keith Simpson (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative Hold

It would take an earthquake to shift Keith Simpson. The LibDems used to have pretensions here but the so-called ‘North Norfolk effect’ has so far not trickled south of Aylsham.

Great Yarmouth

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18571 (43.1%)
Labour: 14295 (33.2%)
Lib Dem: 6188 (14.4%)
BNP: 1421 (3.3%)
Green: 416 (1%)
UKIP: 2066 (4.8%)
Others: 100 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 4276 (9.9%)

Sitting MP: Brandon Lewis (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Conservative hold

A genuine three way marginal, this seat ought to swing back to Labour if Ed Miliband is to win a majority. However, much of Labour’s vote has defected to UKIP and this seat is one of their top targets. In local government UKIP has won a swathe of seats on both the borough and county councils. As elsewhere, UKIP has had candidate troubles here and that may count against them. Brandon Lewis, who won the seat with a bigger than expected majority in 2010 and has been quite a high profile junior minister will do well to hang on here, but he may well just do it.

Mid Norfolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25123 (49.5%)
Labour: 8857 (17.4%)
Lib Dem: 11267 (22.2%)
BNP: 1261 (2.5%)
Green: 1457 (2.9%)
UKIP: 2800 (5.5%)
MAJORITY: 13856 (27.3%)

Sitting MP: George Freeman (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

North Norfolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 15928 (32.1%)
Labour: 2896 (5.8%)
Lib Dem: 27554 (55.5%)
Green: 508 (1%)
UKIP: 2680 (5.4%)
Independent: 95 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 11626 (23.4%)

Sitting MP: Norman Lamb (LibDem)
Prediction: LibDem hold

This was the scene of my electoral defenstration in 2005. Despite adverse boundary changes, which took Fakenham out of the seat, Lamb’s majority increased in 2010 to more than 11,000.. It will probably be cut this time, although UKIP is making a lot of inroads into the Tory vote. Labour has a very active candidate in Denise Burke and it is expected that she will start to build up the almost extinct Labour vote here, almost entirely at the expense of the LibDems.

Norwich North

2010 Result:
Conservative: 17280 (40.6%)
Labour: 13379 (31.4%)
Lib Dem: 7783 (18.3%)
BNP: 747 (1.8%)
Green: 1245 (2.9%)
UKIP: 1878 (4.4%)
Christian: 118 (0.3%)
Independent: 143 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 3901 (9.2%)

Sitting MP: Chloe Smith
Prediction: Labour gain

This is the seat where I cut my political teeth back in the mid 1980s. It hasn’t changed a lot since then, although there are quite a few new build housing estates. This is another seat which goes with the prevailing political wind. If Cameron wins a majority Chloe Smith will hold her seat. If he doesn’t she will face a very tough fight against the impressive Labour candidate Jessica Asato.

Norwich South

2010 Result:
Conservative: 10902 (22.9%)
Labour: 13650 (28.7%)
Lib Dem: 13960 (29.4%)
BNP: 697 (1.5%)
Green: 7095 (14.9%)
UKIP: 1145 (2.4%)
Others: 102 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 310 (0.7%)

Sitting MP: Simon Wright
Prediction: Labour gain

If there was one definite Labour gain at the election, this would be it. Much to his own surprise Wright won this from Charles Clarke 2010 and since then seems to have remained in a total state of bemusement. Having been Norman Lamb’s campaign manager, Wright knows all there is to know about the LibDem campaign manual for holding a seat once you’ve won it, but he seemed to give up on this seat almost from day 1. The Greens have pretensions here, but usually flatter to deceive in general elections. It’s conceivable that they could gain five percent from both the LibDems and Labour, but in reality it’s difficult to see anything other than a Labour gain.

North West Norfolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25916 (54.2%)
Labour: 6353 (13.3%)
Lib Dem: 11106 (23.2%)
BNP: 1839 (3.8%)
Green: 745 (1.6%)
UKIP: 1841 (3.9%)
MAJORITY: 14810 (31%)

Sitting MP: Henry Bellingham (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

This seat went Labour for a time under Tony Blair, but it returned to the Conservative fold in 2001 and Henry Bellingham has built a solid majority. This might well increase in May as UKIP slices into the Labour vote, although they might do the same to Bellingham.

South Norfolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27133 (49.3%)
Labour: 7252 (13.2%)
Lib Dem: 16193 (29.4%)
BNP: 1086 (2%)
Green: 1000 (1.8%)
UKIP: 2329 (4.2%)
MAJORITY: 10940 (19.9%)

Sitting MP: Richard Bacon (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold*

The LibDems have done their best here in the past and have controlled one or two local councils, but they have never seriously threatened the Conservative majority, and certainly won’t do this time.

South West Norfolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 23753 (48.3%)
Labour: 9119 (18.6%)
Lib Dem: 10613 (21.6%)
BNP: 1774 (3.6%)
Green: 830 (1.7%)
UKIP: 3061 (6.2%)
MAJORITY: 13140 (26.7%)

Sitting MP: Liz Truss (Con)
Prediction: Conservative hold

Of all the so-called safe Conservative seats in Norfolk, this one that is most volatile. It has seen a huge demographic change in the last 20 years. It almost went Labour in 1997 but Gillian Shephard just held on. UKIP have got a foothold here, but no one quite knows where their vote might come from.

Coming Next: Suffolk

See also Essex



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