ConHome Diary: Me and Mussolini & Missing West Ham
2 Dec 2016 at 13:41
There I was, innocently presenting my radio show, when PING, an email came in which, at first sight, looked rather intriguing. The subject line was ‘Audition for Docudrama’. Well that certainly got my attention. So I opened up the email and I read on… “You have been chosen because of your resemblance to the character as there is very little, if any, dialogue. However, if script is relevant it will be filmed in German so it is imperative that you are able to speak it.” So who am I supposed to resemble? Benito Mussolini. I kid you not. Apparently the fact that I am 6’2 inches tall, whereas Mussolini was 5’4 doesn’t seem to have put them off. I do speak German, but even that is not enough to tempt me. I did suggest to Alex Salmond that he bears more than a little resemblance, and I’d happily give him my place in the auditions. He growled something back, but I didn’t take it as a yes.
Talking of Alex Salmond, he also told me in an interview he regards Tony Blair as a worse prime minister than Margaret Thatcher. Eight years ago I interviewed him for Total Politics and he made the great mistake of saying that there were some good things about Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies. The reaction in the left-wing Scottish media was explosive and the interview dominated the Scottish headlines for some days afterwards. In Scotland, at the time, you couldn’t utter a single word of praise for the Lady in public without being ritually denounced. Alex Salmond may be about to find out if things have changed.
This week I have started a new half hour weekly podcast called IAIN DALE’S BREXIT BRIEFING. You can subscribe to it or download individual episodes free of charge on iTunes. The first episode features a sparky debate between Michael Gove and Alastair Campbell. The idea is to provide a one stop shop where we review all the latest aspects of the Brexit debate on a Thursday evening. It’ll be live on my LBC each Thursday at 6.30, but the Podcast will feature extra material. I hope it may become part of your political listening. I don’t know about you but I have recently become an avid consumer of podcasts. On my train journey to and from London I now listen to podcasts on iTunes rather than music – which, given my taste in music may be just as well. Podcasts are less hurried than live radio and are inevitably quite niche. There really is a podcast for everyone.
On Saturday night I’m giving a speech to Peter Lilley’s local constituency association. I don’t do many of these events nowadays and really only do them for MPs I know and like. When I accepted this one I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. West Ham are playing Arsenal that day, so I thought it would work quite well. Match finishes at 5pm, I then take a leisurely drive out to Hertfordshire and then drive home afterwards. Job done! I hadn’t bargained for the Sky Sports schedulers, who decided that this match should kick off at 5.30pm. So I now can’t go. Not pleased. Only a Hammers victory will put me in a good mood for the evening dinner If we lose, goodness only knows what I might say to the assembled throngs!
I’ve just started reading Tim Shipman’s ALL OUT WAR, a book which really can be described as the definitive history of the EU Referendum campaign. If the Political Book of the Year Awards were still going (and I wish they were) then I have little doubt this weighty tome would win. Tim has a really engaging writing style which appeals both to the general reader and the political geek, and I hope this is his first book of many. My only regret is that I didn’t publish it. If you haven’t already bought it, you’re denying yourself hours of reading pleasure.
I’ve always thought a football manager needs to be a leader. Someone filled with charisma. Able to knock heads together. Yesterday England appointed Gareth Southgate. Draw your own conclusions.