Radio

Tom Swarbrick's 'The News That Nearly Was'

24 Feb 2013 at 16:20

I work with some brilliant young people, both at Biteback and LBC. Two of the brightest and most talented at LBC are my Sunday show producer Carl McQueen and reporter Tom Swarbrick. Tom’s about to be assigned to Nick Ferrari’s Breakfast Show, but over the last six months he has produced some brilliantly funny packages for my Sunday show. Our remit on Sundays is to get the big name interviews (today we had Sir David Attenborough and Ofsted’s Sir Michael Wilshaw), reflect the news agenda, but also to have a bit of fun. I like to think the Sunday show has a little of the flavour of the old 5 Live Sunday Service, which I had the honour of occasionally co-presenting alongside Fi Glover and Charlie Whelan when Andrew Pierce was away.

Anyway, today Carl asked Tom Swarbrick to put together an amusing package for our 11.45 slot, and boy did he deliver. He called it “The News That Nearly Was” and it certainly doffs his cap to Chris Morris’s “The Day Today”. It is only 3mins 40 secs long, but prepare to have a smile – he also helps Michael Fabricant to answer his own question: why is a b*** job not called a suck job? Heavy stuff. Listen HERE.

I reckon we should see if he can do this every week, don’t you?

And if that doesn’t satisfy your thirst for more Swarbers (as he is known) here he is on US presidential inauguration oratory

Oh, and we also had Sir David Attenborough on the show today. Click HERE too listen. Forgive the idiotic opening question…

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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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UK Politics

The Loss of AAA is a Mild National Humiliation - Now Let's Get Serious About Generating Growth & Cutting Spending

23 Feb 2013 at 17:06

There’s been a lot of hypocritical comment since it was announced Britain’s credit rating had been downgraded from AAA to AA1. With a few exceptions people on the right are making out there’s nothing to see and people should move along and these credit ratings Johnnies don’t really know what they’re talking about, and people on the left are rejoicing furiously at the Chancellor’s discomfort. Both attitudes are pretty unedifying.

To any Tories who can’t see what the issue is, just imagine if this had happened if Labour were in power. Just imagine what George Osborne would now be saying. That in itself ought to give some people pause for thought. But not a bit of it. They rest on the laurel that the markets had seen this coming and had already discounted it. In theory that’s a fair point, but it avoids the political embarrassment that it brings to a Chancellor whose whole economic strategy was built on our AAA status being maintained. Interestingly when I interviewed Ed Balls a few weeks ago he didn’t seem at all bothered by the prospect of our status being diminished. Indeed today he told Today…

I have always said… that you should not set your policy by the credit ratings agencies. They have got things wrong in the past.

David Blanchflower took a similar view when I interviewed him recently. I rather disagree with them. I regard it as a slight national humiliation. I console myself that it happened to the French a year ago. Why do I think this? Well it’s quite simple. In1967 when the Pound was devalued, our credit status remained AAA. During the strikes of the 1970s and the Winter of discontent it remained unchanged. After Black Wednesday in 1992, no one even speculated about our credit rating, and even in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis there was no move. However, having said that, only Germany and Canada, of the major economies, now have a AAA rating, so I suppose that needs to be born in mind.

Economically it may not have much effect, but if it further weakens the value of the pound, sucks in imports and inflation, that would be a very serious matter indeed.

Having said all that, it is quite clear that the real reason for the downgrade is that our structural debt is not being cut. Indeed, it is rising. It’s all very well for George Osborne to trot out the old chestnut that the deficit has been cut by 25%, but he’s been saying that for at least a year. I would have expected that cut to have reached 40% by now. The only way the structural deficit will be cut is when we have made far more serious inroads into the PSBR. What we need now is a serious attempt to rein in government spending and an even more serious attempt to inject some growth into the economy. Our national spending now tops £700 billion. I’m afraid to say, and this will be unpalatable to anyone left of me, that government spending needs to be reduced not by the odd billion, but by £100 billion or more. We simply cannot afford to maintain expenditure at current levels if the structural deficit is to be attacked properly.

In terms of going for growth, let’s not make the same kind of mistakes that Tony Barber made in the early 1970s and fuel an inflationary boom. Tax cuts can certainly inject growth into the economy and may generate higher tax revenues, but what we need is for people to spend money on goods and services made in the UK. the last things we need is to suck in a load of white goods imports and cars. Apart from benefiting retailers, how would that help the rest of the economy?

Most commentators have just commented on the headline of the AAA cut. Very few seem to have actually read what Moody’s actually said. It’s worth doing so HERE. Their message is clear and it is one which is both sensible and direct. Redouble efforts to deal with your debt and concentrate on creating the economic conditions for renewed growth. It will take time, much more time, to recover than in previous recessions and people need to be prepared for that.

Finally, let’s turn to how this affects George Osborne. He’s appeared on the broadcast media today giving out the message of ‘steady as she goes’ and that this doesn’t affect the Government’s economic strategy, and indeed, it reinforces it. That’s all fine and dandy but surely not even George Osborne’s biggest fan can deny that this has damaged him politically. This is what the 2010 Conservative manifesto said…

We will safeguard britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament.”

Others have provided examples of many occasions when the Chancellor has emphasised the importance of retaining our AAA status so I won’t repeat them all here, It simply treats us all as idiots to pretend that the politics of the economy haven’t now changed. They have, and I suspect the budget George Osborne delivers next month may well be rather different to the Draft Budget currently sitting in the Chancellor’s In Tray. He needs to achieve three things in the next budget…

1. To retain the confidence of the international markets, sustain the value of the Pound and keep interest rates low
2. Make proper inroads into both the budget deficit and structural debt
3. Announce new measures to achieve quick, but lasting and non-inflationary economic growth

The big question is, can this be done in time for people to notice any difference by May 2015, the date of the next election? I can’t be alone in habouring major doubts.

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Alastair Campbell about Depression

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On My LBC 97.3 Sunday Show Tomorrow From 10am...

23 Feb 2013 at 15:14

We have a corker of show tomorrow (producer Carl McQueen is very proud of himself), so I thought I’d give you the rundown…

10-11am Interview and your calls to HM Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw.
11-1130am Interview with Sir David Attenborough
1130-12 Olly Mann looks ahead to the next 7 days & names his Communicator of the Week
1145 Tom Swarbrick on political bandwagons
12-1230 Sunday debate: How important is Britain’s burgeoning relationship with India? Guests: Lord Bilamoria, Pavani Reddy, Rajesh Agrawal & Mary Honeyball MEP
12.30 Tony Russell talks about his new book ‘Commons People’
1245-1 Secret Lives with Mary Honeyball MEP

  • You can find LBC on DAB in much of the country, or listen on Sky TV Channel 0112, Virgin Media 973, via the LBC iPhone or iPad app or online at LBC.co.uk

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Video: Iain & Andrew Mitchell Debate Rwanda

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Medway Conservative councillor Rupert Turpin

23 Feb 2013 at 11:35

There are two things I don’t like about you, both of your faces.

Medway Conservative councillor Rupert Turpin, to his Labour opponent, 22 Feb 2013

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LBC 97.3 Iain Interviews Anjem Choudary

It get's sparky...

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Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter: No 3 - Being Recognised

23 Feb 2013 at 10:39

“Excuse me,” said the elderly gentleman. “Are you the chap from ConservativeHome?”

That happened yesterday afternoon on the train back to Tonbridge. “Er, no. I’m Iain Dale,” I said. Flattering, though it is, I am not Tim Montgomerie! “Ah yes, I see you on Sky News in the evening,” he then said. Not any more he doesn’t.

To be honest, I have never been very good in responding to public recognition. I just don’t know what to say. I’m not saying it happens every day, but it is happening more often, and bizarrely in taxis. In taxis I often get recognised by my voice.Talk about weird. “Love your programme, mate,” is what usually follows. I mutter some thanks and say ‘how kind’ or words to that effect, and then become completely tongue-tied. Very unusual for me.

Someone tweeted me earlier to say they had seen me having lunch with my LBC colleague and the editor and news editor of THIS MORNING at the Oxo Tower.

“Just seen you at the oxo tower for lunch with @PetrieHoskenLBC but was too shy to say hello. I think you’re both great.”

I tweeted back and quite a conversation the ensued. Turns out he is a Spurs supporter. That’s what I love about Twitter. It brings complete strangers together to talk about common interests. The only odd things about getting tweets like this is that it reminds you that whatever you do, someone could be watching. Some years ago I was on a train and David Starkey was sitting opposite. I tweeted or blogged about it at the time and asked people if they thought I should say hello to him. I didn’t in the end as I thought it was rude to disturb him. Then someone tweeted back to say they had been sitting opposite me on a train a few weeks earlier and wondered exactly the same thing. I am not sure I like the idea of always having to watch what I do or where I am in case someone recognises me, but I guess it comes with the territory to an extent.

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Iain interviews George Osborne (who has no plan for Brexit)

"There are no Treasury civil servants planning for Brexit"

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The Tories Should Beware of Marta Andreasen

22 Feb 2013 at 22:03

The news that UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen has defected to the Conservatives will no doubt provoke some celebrations at Tory HQ in Eastleigh tonight. She is the second one to do so, following in the footsteps of David Campbell-Bannerman, who re-ratted last year. She cites Nigel Farage’s dictatorial leadership style as the reason for her defection. I suspect the real reason is that she stood little chance of being reselected by UKIP.

To say Andreasen’s behaviour is flaky would be an understatement. My experience of her is that she is also not to be trusted, and the Tories should be very wary of her. Back in 2009 she and I had agreed that her book would be published by my new company, Biteback Publishing. We spent quite a bit of money editing the book but she went completely silent and I could never get hold of her. A month later I discovered quite by chance that the book had been published by someone else. I was livid. We were out of pocket and she had completely betrayed my trust. I have not spoken to her since. She refused to answer emails about meeting the cost of the editing. I threatened to go public about it and wrote to Lord Pearson, the then UKIP leader about it. Suddenly a cheque appeared – not from her, but from him.

Only last month she was calling Cameron’s position on Europe “naive”. This is what she told the Oxford Mail

He made a great speech but he obviously doesn’t know Brussels. Mr Cameron fundamentally fails to understand the federal EU freight train. Whilst flexibility sounds great and was probably dreamed up by the Prime Minister whilst sitting in his slippers in Chequers, there is a different reality in Brussels. I can assure the Prime Minister that there is no such thing as flexibility when it comes to the EU’s objective: a deeper federal Europe where member states’ sovereignty becomes an anachronism. His speech therefore was naive. The train is on a one-way track.

The Tories should be very careful of this woman. I know from others that there have been other incidents which show her to be, shall we say, a full pesetas short of a euro.

I’ll leave the last word to Nigel Farage…

The Conservative Party deserve what’s coming to them. The woman is impossible.

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Iain Dale leads a discussion on whether gender segregation is ever right

Phonein.

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Random Thoughts

Have You Ever Met a Nice South African?

22 Feb 2013 at 19:36

I’ve never been to South Africa, which is probably just as well. I’d spend the whole time drooling. You see, I am that very unusual example of someone who finds South African accents rather sexy. Erotic even. That probably marks me down as some kind of linguistic pervert, but I could listen to that clipped lilt 24 hours a day. That, however, is not a commonly held opinion. I tweeted earlier: “Am I alone in finding South African accents sexy?” I wasn’t alone, but those of us who do indeed hold that view could probably fit inside a telephone box. Lee Mack clearly wouldn’t be with us.

I also love South African music – Mango Groove, Juluka, Johnny Clegg & Savuka, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I could go on.

In this country we tend to think of white South Africans as rather boorish (geddit?), with no sense of humour and not much of a dress sense when abroad. And a lot of people still assume that anyone who is white and South African is probably still a bit of racist. The image of black South Africans could do with a bit of improvement in this country, due in part to the Aids denying Thabo Mbeki and the polygamous (and other) antics of their current President Zuma. It’s only the besainted Nelson Mandela who provokes unanimous sighs of admiration, and quite right too. South Africa has it in itself to be a major power in the world. It is a country of huge natural resources and talent. It’s also a country I really do want to visit, and not just to drool over the accents!

This is a Spitting Image sketch, which I suspect is not very popular in Cape Town. It’s a song called ‘Have You Ever Met a Nice South African?’

And finally, here’s one of my favourite comeddy sketch characters of all time from the Fast Show.

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Iain Hosts a Discussion on Suicide After Clarke Carlisle Tries to Take His Own Life

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Ben de Pear

22 Feb 2013 at 17:15

So as the BBC release a publicly funded report into a public body the acting DG of the BBC will only be interviewed by the BBC about the BBC. In my time as a TV journalist I have been offered interviews with the following people produced by their own organisations; President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran, President Charles Taylor of Liberia, & Tim Davie of the BBC. We got Mugabe and Ahmedinejad ourselves but not Taylor & turned down his offer of self interview; we are still trying for Tim Davie.

Ben de Pear, Channel Four News, 22 Feb 2013

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2015 Highlight: Iain spends an hour discussing the Indian Caste System

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Random Thoughts

Mystic Dale Has a 'Birds Eye' Premonition

22 Feb 2013 at 15:16

I was doing the News Review, with Petrie Hosken, on ITV’s THIS MORNING at 10.30 today and the final item was a picture of a ready meal of Steak and Chips in which a lady had found a dead bird. ‘What do you think of that then?’ chirruped Eamonn Holmes. Quick as a flash, I responded: ‘Was it a Birds Eye meal?’ Much laughter all round. And I promise I hadn’t rehearsed it.

Anyway, I’ve just got the train back to Tonbridge and picked up an Evening Standard. This is the main headline on the front page…

BIRDS EYE MEALS HIT BY HORSE MEAT FEAR

I think they should call me ‘Mystic Meg’. I’ve been called worse.

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Peter Hain & Toby Harnden

Peter Hain discusses OUTSIDE IN and Toby Harnden talks about his history of the Welsh Guards.

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Saying Sorry Has to Mean Something

22 Feb 2013 at 14:29

We live in a society where ‘Sorry’ seems to be the easiest word. Apologies are demanded from public figure for the most minor transgression, preferably with tears. And if the apology is not forthcoming, the weight of the media descends. Politicians in recent years have thrown apologies around like confetti, thereby demeaning their value. Sometimes they have the desired effect and on other occasions they can rebound. I am still not sure whether Nick Clegg’s mea culpa over student fees did him any favours or not.

So when David Cameron visited Amritsar this week, on the final leg of his visit to India, everyone was agog to learn whether he would apologise on behalf of Britain for the massacre of 400 Sikhs in 1919. As it turned out, he called it a “deeply shameful event in British history” but didn’t use the ‘S’ word. But strangely the wrath of the Gods of Apology did not rain down on him. One local official, in charge of the memorial site said “He came here, he paid a tribute. It was more than an apology.” We talked about this on my LBC radio show later that evening and were deluged with calls from Sikhs and Indians, none of whom criticised Cameron’s reluctance to actually say sorry. Most of them said they felt it was ridiculous for a politician to apologise for something he himself had no control over and wasn’t even alive at the time. Wise people. Apologies should be contemporaneous. They must relate to recent events, be genuine and be full of genuine remorse and contrition. Only then can they really mean something.

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Did I Put the Thought of Running for Leader Into Jeremy Corbyn's Head?

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