Personal

Me and Diabetes: Becoming an Ambassador for Diabetes UK

6 Mar 2013 at 10:59

Don’t laugh but I have finally made it as a cover boy! Back in January Diabetes UK asked if I would become an Ambassador for them and they asked me to be interviewed for their magazine BALANCE. And this cover is the result! I guess I really ought to be some new pictures done, as this was my official LBC photo, done back in November 2009! I don’t mind admitting, I struggle to control my diabetes and my diet. My weight has now been fairly constant for a few years, but I know I need to lose more. I want to buy a rowing machine, as I hate running, but will I have the self discipline to use if often enough? We’ll soon find out. To find out more about Diabetes UK, click HERE Anyway, here’s the article which appears in the March edition of BALANCE.

Before his nightly show with London station LBC, Iain admits to often grabbing a 10-minute nap but says his tiredness is more due to his hectic lifestyle than the Type 2 diabetes he was diagnosed with five years ago. “When I go to LBC four nights a week after working at my publishing company all day I have to have a lie down,” he confesses. “This morning
I was up at 4.30am to be interviewed on ITV’s Daybreak about the vote on gay marriage, I was on air with LBC until 10pm and didn’t get to bed until 2am. I have Fridays and Saturdays off, but my producer will often ring me at home,” Iain adds, “so it’s rare I switch off from work altogether.”

Following the Commons vote, Iain was delighted that MPs backed the bill to allow everyone, regardless of sexuality, the right to marry in England and Wales. “It’s not about gay marriage, it’s equal marriage,” he says. “That is all gay people are asking for. Huge strides forward have been made on gay rights issues in recent years and this legislation will
be welcomed by thousands. If we believe in stable relationships and equality of opportunity, then I see no reason not to introduce it. To those who are against it, it’s quite simple, don’t marry a homosexual!” Iain didn’t ‘come out’ until 2003, when he became the first Conservative candidate to tell the selection panel he was gay. “I had never made an issue about my sexuality but decided to be upfront about it as I didn’t want to live a lie. I told my parents first as I didn’t want them reading about it in The Telegraph.”

If Iain hadn’t gone into the media he would have liked to have been a politician. After graduating with a degree in German in 1985, he was research assistant to the Conservative MP,
Patrick Thompson. In 2005 he stood in the General Election as Conservative candidate for Norfolk North, but lost to Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb. However, he decided to give up on his political ambitions in 2010, mainly because he ran out of money, he says, but the edge was taken off his disappointment when he landed a dream job of hosting the
evening show at London radio station LBC. ““I always had two ambitions – to be an MP or have my own radio show – so I am happy I achieved at least one. It might sound trite, but I
really think this is what I was put on this earth to do. I normally have the attention span of a flea, but I still really enjoy the work. I was hired because I know a lot about politics but we talk about lots of different things on the show and it can be quite emotional,” Iain explains. “After my mother died last year we ran a show on bereavement and I broke down on air. I was embarrassed at the time, but I think listeners are more able to open up to you, if you can share something of yourself."

Having diabetes has never been an issue for Iain and after having classic symptoms for a couple of years his diagnosis was hardly a shock. “I was always thirsty and having to get up in the night to go to the loo, so when the GP told me I had diabetes I wasn’t at all surprised,” Iain recalls. “She told me it shouldn’t impact too much on my life if I made some lifestyle changes and took all the right medication, so I wasn’t too concerned. Other people were more worried, but one of my friends was diagnosed with MS and another with cancer, so I count myself lucky.”

Although 50-year-old Iain has lost two stone since his diagnosis, he admits there is still plenty of room for improvement. “The worst thing the doctor said is that I should still be able to eat the things I like, as all the things I like are bad for me! I have got better. At one time I was drinking three litres of Fanta a day, but I have switched to mineral water and I love crisps but now I eat the baked variety.”

Iain thinks there are a lot of misconceptions about diabetes. He has written about it on his former blog, Iain Dale’s Diary, which closed in July 2011, and he hopes to create better
understanding of the condition in a proposed new role as ambassador for Diabetes UK. Iain thinks people with diabetes need more positive support from the government. “At the moment the approach is to lecture people into what might happen to them if they don’t follow government advice, but I think it would be better to demonstrate the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle by giving people examples of how people have successfully controlled their diabetes.”

As far as practising what he preaches, and leading a healthy lifestyle goes, Iain tries to incorporate exercise into his daily routine, but is realistic about what he can achieve, given his hectic schedule. “I used to play golf once a week but gave that up about two years ago. My life is so busy I find it hard to make the time, though in the summer I often hop on a ‘Boris’ bike to ride the two miles between my publishing company and the LBC studios.” And – as far as eating food that is off limits goes – his philosophy is simple, “It’s ok to have a little of what you fancy – just don’t eat the whole packet!”

Quick fire…

What three things would you abolish from diabetes life?
A nagging partner, a nagging GP or nurse and blood tests! I have a dreadful sweet tooth and hate being told I can’t have things and they can never find a vein and end up having to put the needle in the back of my hand.

What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes?
Don’t think you’re going to die and make changes gradually. There can be a tendency for people to be a bit zealous when they are diagnosed, and to try and give everything up all at once. But people have to realise this a long-term condition and they have to change a little at a time.

Has diabetes brought anything positive to your life?
I would say having diabetes have given me more knowledge about what I eat. I now look at the sugar, fat and carbohydrate content of the food I buy and have changed my diet quite a lot. I have lost about two stone since I was diagnosed and try and make healthy choices most of the time then I go and spoil it all by eating a load of chocolate biscuits!

What’s the strangest myth you have heard about diabetes?
I thought it was a joke when someone told me you were entitled to free Viagra on the NHS if you have diabetes, but then I found out it was true! I haven’t had to use it yet, though.

What’s the most and least healthy food in your fridge?
Melon and Leerdammer cheese.

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Radio

LBC 97.3: End of an Era - Beginning of a New One: I'm Moving to Drivetime

5 Mar 2013 at 15:55

As a radio presenter you always get nervous when contract renewal time comes round, and I am no different. I’ve had very good Rajars (audience figures, for the uninitiated) and feel that both my evening shows and Sunday shows have done well in attracting a bit of a new audience to LBC. But you never know. Radio can be a cruel industry. If your face no longer fits, out you go. So when James Rea, the Managing Editor of LBC opened the meeting by saying: “I think you have taken the evening show as far as you can,” you can imagine that my heart slightly sank. Surely he wasn’t going to fire me, was he?

Well no, he wasn’t. Quite the contrary. He then asked me to be the new presenter of LBC’s Drivetime show – and not only that, he wants the show to be four hours long instead of three. So to cut a long story short, this Thursday will be my last evening show, and next Monday I start presenting Drive from 4-8pm every weeknight. I will continue to present the Sunday morning show for the next three weeks, but that too will then get a new, as yet unannounced, presenter. LBC legend Clive Bull will be presenting the evening show, from 8-10 in future.

I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity and hopefully I can build on what James Whale has achieved in his four years on the show. I’m really sad to see James go as he has been fantastic to me and become a good friend since I joined LBC in September 2010. We have a very different style, but I have learned so much from him. He is one of the iconic broadcasters of the last three decades and I hope we see him back on the radio before too long.

Any change in presenter is always difficult and James has a huge following, so I am well aware that I have big shoes to fill. All I ask is that those who are understandably lamenting James’s departure all over Twitter and elsewhere will have the good grace to give me a fair chance.

I will really miss the evening show, especially doing some of the more emotional subjects which you can’t really do in the Drivetime slot. I’ll also miss the 9pm hours, although I am taking the book club with me.

The new Drivetime show will gradually transform into something a little different. Phone-ins will remain at its core, but we want to introduce more business and culture spots into it, as well as some big name guests who will take calls from listeners. If you have never listened before, do give it a try! I start this Monday at 4pm.

Here’s the press release put out by Global Radio this afternoon…

LBC 97.3 to refresh weekday evening schedule

Global Radio’s LBC 97.3 is today announcing a new look to its weekday evening schedule. From Monday 11th March, political heavyweight Iain Dale moves from the evening show to host the coveted weekday Drivetime programme (Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm), while Clive Bull, one of LBC 97.3’s longest-serving presenters, returns to weekday evenings on the station (Monday to Thursday, 8pm to 10pm).

The announcement comes as the station enjoys its highest ever audience figures, with 1.3 million people* now tuning in across the UK every week.

Iain Dale has replaced James Whale who has left the station.

Iain Dale said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been asked to present LBC 97.3’s Drivetime show, after two and a half years with the station. These are big shoes to fill. The new show is going to be a real mix of the big stories and interviews, but the constant thread throughout will be our callers. They’re the ones with the stories, as I know from my evening show. I want the Drivetime show to both lead and reflect London’s agenda and the priorities of Londoners. I can’t wait to get started.”

James Rea, LBC 97.3’s Managing Editor said: “LBC 97.3 has always been home to some of the country’s best broadcasters and I know that Iain and Clive will help drive the station forward in this, our 40th birthday year.”

LBC 97.3 broadcasts in Greater London on 97.3 FM and across the UK on digital and online at lbc.co.uk

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UK Politics

Ever Wondered Why In These Times of Austerity...

5 Mar 2013 at 00:08

In case you haven’t visited it before, there is a brilliant new blog by Conservative Agent Andrew Kennedy. He is the agent for my home constituency of Tunbridge Wells. He’s just written a “blogpost”: headlined ‘Ever Wondered Why…’. He writes…

‘In these times of austerity…’

1. Why a young family on a below average wage pay additional taxes so my wealthy in-laws can have a free TV licence, winter fuel allowance and ‘free’ bus travel?
2. Why do my wealthy in-laws have to donate the value of these benefits to their Church because the state doesn’t allow them to return the value of the Exchequer?
3. Why the British state runs a broadcasting company and taxes people to watch it, regardless of whether they do so or not?
4. Why so many hard working families are bringing up children in cramped and unsuitable accommodation whilst down the road a single retired pensioner lives alone in two or three bedroom social housing, with his/her rent being subsidised through the taxes paid by the over-crowded family along the street who cannot afford to move?
5. Why people think taxpayers, many poorer than them, should subsidise their parents care / nursing home bills so they can inherit their property?
6. Why do I pay additional tax to subsidise my brother and sister-in-law’s child benefit, when my brother-in-law earns four times what I do?
7. Why, if we can charge tourists for the food they buy in the shops, can we not charge them for the treatment they receive in our hospitals?
8. Why do we pay stamp duty when we sell a home which has been paid for out of taxed income?
9. Why is the newly introduced benefit cap of £500 pw still higher than the average working-family earns in Chatham ?
10. Why does the government think higher tobacco tax reduces the desire to smoke, but does not think the same applies to income tax’s effect on the desire to work hard.

Quite simply brilliant. Make sure you bookmark his blog.

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Jerry Hayes

3 Mar 2013 at 19:33

We really could learn an awful lot about campaigning from the Lib Dems. Alright they play really dirty and are about as trustworthy as a Peter Mandelson mortgage application, but they do know how to make politics fun. That is why they attract so many more young people.

Jerry Hayes, trying to explain falling Tory Party membership, 3 Mar 2013

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Random Thoughts

Cardinal Keith O'Brien: Time to Forgive & Let Him Find His Inner Peace

3 Mar 2013 at 18:58

This is the statement just released by Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them. However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal. To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

Who’d have thought? I will be far more Christian in my response to the Cardinal than he has been to the hundreds of thousands of gay people he has offended with his bigoted, homophobic remarks down the years. It is an interesting psychological phenomenon for someone to be so hateful against a group of people which he knew in his heart he belonged to. It was a special form of self-loathing. However, I have a degree of sympathy with his position. He grew up at a time when to admit to be homosexual was shameful. It wasn’t only his church that told him it was a sin, so did society. He wouldn’t have anyone to relate to, to discuss it with. He would have had to deal with it on his own. And occasionally, it would get the better of him. We can all, surely, show some empathy.

However, it still doesn’t explain some of more lurid statements he has made down the years about the so-called wickedness of homosexuality. He didn’t have to support gay marriage, but to describe it a a threat to world peace and liken it to some form of slavery, was perhaps going just a little far. In May 2005 he told members of the Scottish Parliament that homosexuals were “captives of sexual aberrations”, comparing homosexuals to prisoners in Saughton jail. In December 2011 he said

The empirical evidence is clear, same-sex relationships are demonstrably harmful to the medical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, no compassionate society should ever enact legislation to facilitate or promote such relationships, we have failed those who struggle with same-sex attraction and wider society by our actions.”

By all accounts the Cardinal is actually a very nice man, The Independent reports…

“He’s very kind, very pastoral, a very good priest,” says a London-based Catholic journalist, who recalls how, at the end of a meeting, he insisted on driving her editor to the station to catch her train. According to John Haldane, Professor of philosophy at St Andrews University, his hardline image is sharply at odds with his character: “He is actually a very sociable, jovial man… he says everything with a smile, and should not be mistaken for some dour harbinger of doom.”

No gay man or woman should rejoice in Cardinal O’Brien’s downfall and fall from grace. If we do, we become no better than him. I hope he comes to terms with his sexuality and the events of the past few weeks. It must have taken some courage to admit to his past in this manner and he will detest the public ridicule that will no doubt come his way in certain parts of the Scottish media. As they say in Church circles ‘May inner peace be upon him’.

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Video

You Can't Out-UKIP UKIP

3 Mar 2013 at 16:01

I was on the Andrew Marr Show this morning doing the paper review with Clare Share Short and Jude Kelly. Here;s a short clip that @liarpoliticians has posted on Youtibe where I make the point that I don’t think the Conservatives can out-UKIP UKIP. But some of the stories in the Sunday papers indicate that’s certainly what the Tories are intent on doing. It’s not a strategy that can work.

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Clare Perry MP

2 Mar 2013 at 18:59

Who wouldn’t look at internet porn if you’re a teenage boy and it is available?" There’s been a pornification of society, most 16-year-old girls now think that having pubic hair is an aberration. The boys are worried about their performance. Who amongst us doesn’t sit in the hairdressers looking at a magazine and thinking: ‘I don’t look like that in a swimsuit’? It’s the pornstar thing – the beautiful woman with big tits, no pubes, who has hundreds of orgasms, and the bloke who can keep going all night. Porn is a really bad sex educator.

Clare Perry MP, The Times, 2 Mar 2013

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TV/Film/Theatre

Theatre Review: CHESS at the Union Theatre

1 Mar 2013 at 22:47

Well that was quite an evening. I’m on the train home from seeing CHESS at the very small Union Theatre in Southwark. Because of my working hours I very rarely get to go out in the evening, so it was really nice to do something a bit different. I bought the tickets ages ago and thought I had only bought two, but when I retrieved the paperwork yesterday, it turned out I had bought 4. I didn’t think I could flog the spare two so I rang the box office to ask if it would be possible to return them on the night if they had demand for them. Yes, came the response. In the meantime my LBC colleague Anthony Davis said he’d like to come with a friend, so we met up at All Bar One in Leicester Square, with Joe Pike, another colleague from LBC, where we had a drink or two with another LBC colleague, Raj Pattni, who was holding his leaving do there. Raj is a very great man and we are all very sorry to see him go. Safe to say by the time we left at 615, he was somewhat rat arsed.

We got to the venue and were told that two of my tickets had subsequently been resold so Anthony and his guest couldn’t come in. I am afraid I rather exploded. “But you said you were returning them,” they said. “No,” I said. I asked if it was possible to. It all got a little heated until it turned out that Anthony’s guest had acted at the theatre before and started ‘mwahing’ the rather aggressive theatre manager who I had been rowing with. “You can sit on the director’s chair,” she told her.

It really is a very small theatre, with a maximum capacity of 50 punters. Very intimate. The cast are almost on top of you, blaring out tunes about two feet from your face. It was quite unnerving at times. The set was minimalist in the extreme, with not even a chessboard floor, which has always been present in the other productions I have seen. But it worked and the lack of sophistication and scenery seemed not to matter after a while.

One of the main complaints about CHESS is that its storyline is very complicated. Perhaps one of the best aspects of this production is that it tells the story in a way that anyone who’s never seen it before can easily follow. Despite the cast being necessarily quite small, the characters were allowed to breathe, and even the minor characters resonated well.

For those not familiar with CHESS it tells the story of the cold war through the game of chess, and the battles between Russian and American chess champions. There’s a defection, two love stories and the spying game is integral to the plot. The two songs that non-CHESS afficionados will all recognise are I KNOW HIS SO WELL and ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK.

There were several highlights. Svetlana’s SOMEONE ELSE’S STORY was one and NOBODY’S SIDE another. The rendition of I KNOW HIM SO WELL provoked me to say to Joe “we can go now”. I think he was a tad embarrassed as my voice is clearly louder than I think it is, and several people turned round, smiled and nodded assent.

My only quibble with the show was the quality of some of the singing. I thought Freddie Trumper and the Arbiter had rather weak, weedy voices which didn’t resonate like most of the others. For me the undoubted star of the production is Nadim Naaman who lays Russian chess champion Anatoly Sergievsky. His acting and singing were a joy and in some ways he carried the whole thing at times.

The lowlight of the evening came a few minutes before the interval where a young lady in the front row threw up all over the edge of the stage area while the cast were in full song. But the show must go on, and it did!

Anyway, CHESS is playing until 16 March and has sold out every night,although there are usually a few returns if you turn up on spec. Well worth it. A great night out.

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UK Politics

The Challenge for UKIP Comes in May

1 Mar 2013 at 13:17

No one should deny that the really big winners last night were UKIP. Few people had seen it coming much before Polling Day itself, John Rentoul being an honourable exception. To come second, only 1,711 behind the Liberal Democrats was an incredible achievement, and much of the credit must go to the excellent UKIP candidate Diana James. People liked her. You never know, people may have liked Maria Hutchings had they been given the chance to.

But as the afterglow of near victory fades and Nigel Farage departs Eastleigh, he will be ruminating on the challenges facing his party. Farage is not one to rest on his laurels, but knows now he and his colleagues will come under renewed scrutiny by a media gasping for controversy. He knows that his party’s policy platform will be examined in minute detail. He knows that his promise to make UKIP a truly national party will be questioned. But he has a simple way of dealing with that. He can promise now, and unequivocally to stand UIP candidates in every County Council seat in May. Yes, all 2,000 of them. Up to now, UKIP hasn’t really taken local elections very seriously. That must change. They only have a handful of councillors throughout the country at the moment. Any successful national party needs a local government base.

Secondly – and Nigel Farage acknowledged this earlier – they need to ensure that the people they pick as Euro candidates for the Euro elections next year are not the normal list of weirdos and crackpots, several of whom then don’t last the course, defect or get put in jail. Diane James was a perfect candidate – she looked good, sounded good and was, well, normal. Very unusual for a UKIP candidate, and I mean that in a caring way, as Dame Edna would say.

I also think the media need to buck up their game with regard to UKIP. They have far more MEPs than the Liberal Democrats and in the runup to the Euro elections they certainly deserve at least equal airtime with the LibDems. I have already agreed with my production team at LBC that we must increase the representation given to UKIP, especially on my evening Parliament Hour each Wednesday. But the challenge for UKIP is to ensure that they can put up credible people to speak on their behalf. UKIP must be more than just about Nigel Farage. Making Diane James his official deputy would be a good start.

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Professor Tim Bale

1 Mar 2013 at 13:14

Rather than shooting Nigel Farage’s fox, all Cameron has done is feed it.Professor Tim Bale, 1 Mar 2013

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