TV/Film/Theatre

An Evening of Taboos and Dogging With 'Fascinating Aida'

9 Mar 2014 at 23:07

How is it that ‘Fascinating Aida’ rarely get on television, when vastly inferior acts do? Having just seen them perform in Norwich it’s a question which continues to baffle me. I emerged from the Theatre Royal with my cheekbones aching, as did the rest of the audience. How come these three women don’t get on the BBC? How much funnier do they have to be? I mean, if Jack Whitehall appears on virtually every BBC comedy show without being that funny, why don’t this lot get a look in? They’ve been around for years, every show they do is sold out, yet someone in TV land doesn’t like them. They need to think again.

I hadn’t heard of Fascinating Aida until a few months ago when a friend sent me a link on Youtube. It was sketch about, er, dogging. Have a look at it and I guarantee you will find it the funniest thing you have seen this week.

See? Told you, didn’t I? And there’s a lot more where that came from. This was two hours of laugh out loud, quite risque humour. Indeed, bearing in mind all three are women of a certain age, they delighted in shocking an audience which was largely over the age of forty and very middle class. But it wasn’t just a sixty year old woman saying the C word which was funny, many of their song routines had an edge to them, even a political message. It’s safe to say they are not right wing. Take this sketch which takes aim at OFSTED

They even sail fairly close to the laws of libel and slander. I do hope Tom Cruise’s lawyers never go to see it. There’s also a very funny series of very short songs, all of which are hilarious and some of which are clearly updated very recently. I’m not sure Wendy Deng, Rebekah Brooks or Tony Blair would find one of them very amusing, but the audience certainly did. Here’s a recent little song about the floods…

Apart from the Dogging song my favourite of the evening was all about taboos. They started off by outlining some of the taboos you just don’t talk about in polite company. Things like eating bogies out of a friend’s hankey, smegma, and…. Ipswich. That was guaranteed a cheer in Norwich. Unfortunately I can’t find a video of it, but here’s the sound…

Anyway, it was a brilliant evening and I hope some bright TV producer makes them the national stars they deserve to be.

They’re on a national tour. If they’re appearing near you, book a ticket. You won’t regret it. Here’s their tour schedule

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LBC at 40: Iain talks to Brian Hayes

LBC veteran Brian Hayes talks to Iain about his time at the station.

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Tribute

A Tribute to Marion Thorpe 1926-2014

8 Mar 2014 at 15:01

If I were to compile a list of the 20 most impressive women I have ever met, Marion Thorpe would be right up there. I first met her back in 1998 when I published a book by her husband, Jeremy Thorpe. I went to their magnificent home in Orme Square, off the Bayswater Road, where I found Jeremy in his office, in a natty three piece suit replete with yellow waistcoat. I was let in by Jeremy’s faithful secretary, who had worked for him since before his political downfall in the late 1970s. Marion was stood behind Jeremy and I remember thinking she was like a lioness protecting her cub. This meeting came a couple of weeks after I received a call from Jeremy Thorpe, asking if I would like to publish a book of reminiscences he wanted to write.

Spending six months with him putting the book together was a fascinating experience as he was a key figure in my early political memories in the mid 1970s. Despite the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease, his mind had remained razor sharp and we had some fascinating political discussions.

For anyone much younger than me Jeremy Thorpe is a name which is only associated with one thing – the trial. But we should remember that for a decade he was considered to be Britain’s most charismatic politician in an age of technocrats. He brought a campaigning verve to politics which few had bettered since.

Yes, in many ways he was a flawed politician, but in many ways he kept the Liberal flag flying against all the odds. His political career ended in the worst possible circumstances, yet he never embraced the bitterness which could so easily have dominated his long years of political exile. The Liberal Party itself was not kind to him. It’s easy to understand why, but on a human level it was deeply unforgivable. Jeremy always felt his party would come calling for him once again, if only for wise advice. But those calls never came. The peerage he so desperately wanted eluded him.

Back in the early 1970s my mother used to be besotted with Jeremy Thorpe and was a Liberal voter until the, er, events of the mid 1970s. My sister then got to know him in the 1980s through his work at the United Nations Association. So to publish his book was an experience I shall never forget, but it was largely down to Marion, as well as Jeremy, that I shall treasure that time,

John and I became quite friendly with them and enjoyed several meals at Orme Square and we stayed at their beloved North Devon home one weekend. Marion and John got on especially well, both being chain smokers. Every five minutes they seemed to disappear for a quick fag. Marion often displayed a very well developed and cheeky sense of humour. I have read in other obituaries that she could be icy cold. If that was the case, we never saw it. She was never anything other than welcoming, amusing, great company and full of anecdotes. Apart from Jeremy, the other great love of her life was music, and their living room was dominated by a giant Grand Piano. In her youth she was a renowned concert pianist, having been a disciple of Benjamin Britten. But when she married the Earl of Harewood her music took a back seat. She had three sons with him, but the marriage was not to last following his adulterous affair. They divorced in 1967 and she married Jeremy in 1973.

When i first met Marion she was 72 years of age, but still stunningly beautiful. She had a regal spirit about her and a tremendous sense of calmness. She had devoted her life to looking after Jeremy, and in many ways I regard her as a living saint. Jeremy’s Parkinsons dominated their lives. She did have help, but she was effectively his full time carer. I cannot imagine how dreadfully her death will have affected him.

Marion wasn’t blind to Jeremy’s flaws but she loved him, warts and all. She would go to any lengths to protect him, and in the months following the publication of his book I took felt incredibly protective of them both. They trusted John and myself not to put too much pressure on Jeremy to include material in the book that he didn’t want to. The book wasn’t a full scale autobiography, more a collection of reminiscences and anecdotes. I can’t pretend it was a great work of literature, but it was significant nevertheless. It allowed Jeremy to tell some of the tales he had been storing up for years and it provided him with a form of therapy, I think. Marion told me it was important that he always had a project to concentrate on.

Some time after publication of the book I got a phone call asking if I would visit Orme Square to discuss “a matter of some urgency”. It appeared that Jeremy had cooperated with a biography of him written by the historian, Michael Bloch. The Thorpes agreed to cooperate with it on the understanding that it would be published posthumously – something quite common in the literary world. Roy Jenkins had the same agreement with Andrew Adonis, as did Charles Moore with Lady Thatcher. Jeremy had encouraged his friends and former political colleagues to talk to Mr Bloch on the same basis. They were all rather shocked therefore to learn that Mr Bloch had finished the book and was going to publish in January 2002. Originally the book was going to be published by Transworld but Mr Bloch’s editor, Ursula McKenzie, moved to Little Brown and took the book with her. Ms McKenzie seemed totally unmoved by the fact that she and Mr Bloch were reneging on the agreement with. Two people at the publishers have justified this by saying: “Thorpe has lived too long.” What a disgrace.

Marion was distraught. Jeremy was furious. I promised to do all I could to ensure the book would never come out. Legal action was threatened. I remember having conversations with senior people at Little Brown and trying to make them see sense behind the scenes. In the end they did, and I remember a call from Marion telling me the good news. She was in triumphant and unforgiving mood. The lioness had won out again. Jeremy came on the line: “We saw them off, didn’t we?” That was thirteen years ago and the book has still not appeared. I hope they now have the decency to wait until Jeremy leaves us.

John and I last saw the Thorpes was five years ago at Jeremy’s 80th birthday in April 2009, appropriately held at the National Liberal Club. I was somewhat shocked to see Marion in a wheelchair. But there she was, making sure Jeremy was comfortable, protecting him from overzealous well-wishers. The fact that the Liberal leader Nick Clegg was there and made a speech seemed to be the welcome back into the Liberal fold Jeremy had always wanted. The peerage, though, was still elusive.

I’m proud to have known Marion. Had she persisted with her musical career she could have risen to any height of musical achievement. But if I know her she will have had few regrets that that last forty years of her life were devoted to caring for the man she loved very deeply.

Marion Thorpe died on Thursday at the age of 87.

Read the magnificent obituaries to Marion Thorpe in the Telegraph HERE and The Guardian HERE

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to James Caan

Dragon's Den star James Caan talks about his book on how to start a new business.

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International Women's Day: Waste of Time & An Insult to Women?

8 Mar 2014 at 11:11

Yesterday on my show I hosted a panel discussion on women’s issues to mark International Women’s Day. Harriet Harman, Mary Beard, Zoe Williams and Cristina Odone joined me for a sparky hour long discussion.

Click HERE to listen.

But before that, Katy Hopkins had her say too. Suffice to say she was less than impressed by the lineup of my panel!

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Jack Straw

Jack Straw talks about his newly published memoirs, LAST MAN STANDING

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Sadiq Khan on Why He Uses Vaseline on His Nipples...

4 Mar 2014 at 22:28

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Gets Emotional About Grief

In a half hour discussion on dealing with long term grief, callers get very emotional and Iain has his moments too.

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UK Politics

The Quislings Who Give Putin A Free Pass

3 Mar 2014 at 20:45

Sometimes I despair of my own countrymen. Tonight on my LBC show I have endured listening to calls from a succession of people who seem quite happy to think the worst of their own country and yet think the best of an illiberal, intolerant, state which thinks nothing of invading another sovereign state with the stated intention of annexing part of it. These are people who are quite happy to give Vladimir Putin a free pass while imagining that their own country, and of course the United States, must be to blame for the fact that Russia is trying to bully Ukraine into submission. Sometimes I think I live on a parallel universe.

These are the very same people who would think nothing of marching on the streets to protest against their own government engaging in any warlike activity, yet when Putin does it, they actively urge him on, on the basis that America is clearly to blame.

Quislings. The lot of them.

On what left wing, peacenik planet is Vladimir Putin a guardian of any sort of freedom? He imposes policies on his people which these leftist zombies should recoil against. He persecutes homosexuals. He tolerates the killing of journalists. I could go on. But you see, he is not American. And that’s the main thing which drives the perverted minds of those who egg him on in the Crimea – their hatred of America and all it stands for. They conveniently forget that without American sacrifice in two world wars they wouldn’t even be free to promulgate their vile loathings. They would be living under the Nazi jackboot, that is unless they had the misfortune to be Jewish, homosexual or a gypsy. In which case they’d be dead or wouldn’t have ever been born.

I don’t pretend America is perfect, and I don’t pretend Russia is evil. But in the end you’re either on the side of freedom or you’re not. And in this crisis Russia is on the wrong side of freedom. It can come up with all the excuses it likes about protecting Russian speaking citizens of Ukraine. They know it’s bollocks. We know it’s bollocks. It’s all about subjugating a free people to the Kremlin’s whim and power. But there seem to be plenty of people in this country who think that’s just fine and dandy.

Tonight I am ashamed to call them my fellow countrymen.

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LBC 97.3 Book Club: Iain talks to Nigel Farage

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage tells Iain Dale on LBC 97.3 about being locked in a pub 'for his own safety' on the campaign trail in Scotland. After his event was gatecrashed by 'Scottish nationalists'.

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Personal

Attitude Column: Would I Have Been a Good Dad?

27 Feb 2014 at 21:13

Call me a hard hearted bastard but I have never wanted children. My nieces refer to me as ‘Uncle Herod’ so perhaps it’s just as well. Some of us have the child-rearing gene and others of us don’t. My partner would love to have had children and it’s only recently that I have come to realise what a sacrifice he has made by never pushing the issue with me. It came about like this…

Adoption and fostering are two issues I cover quite a lot on my LBC radio show and one day we talked about the challenges facing gay parents. We had dozens of calls but one stuck in my mind. Rob and his partner were in their early thirties and lived in Eltham, I think. He almost had me in tears at one stage as he described the unconditional love they have for their little girl. Even I began to get a little broody and when I got home I thought I would investigate what you have to go through to foster or adopt. I wasn’t sure if I really meant to take it any further or not, but one thing that Rob said kept running through my mind. He believes that if someone is in a position to offer a child a loving home, they have a responsibility to do so. I don’t know if he was trying to make me and my listeners think about our own situations, but I certainly did.

Having ascertained that the process wouldn’t necessarily take years or be too complicated I plucked up courage and said to my partner “You know you’ve always wanted a child, well….” His reaction rather shocked me. “Trust you to wait until we’re too old,” he said, and left it at that, apart from reminding me that we didn’t have a spare bedroom and were in the process of buying another property in Norfolk. I felt slightly deflated at his reaction, but decided not to argue about it. Maybe the status quo was for the best.

But were we really too old? I was 50 and he was 48. Neither of us feel particularly old and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to adopt a new baby, but maybe society expects parents to be under the age of forty and frowns on people who don’t belong to the ‘norm’. But then again, society used to frown on gay parents, didn’t it?

There are of course people who still find the concept of gay parenting difficult to deal with. Some imagine that if the parents are gay, that inevitably means the child will grow up to be gay. It’s nonsense of course, but there are still such people around. Then there are the very few people who still equate homosexuality with paedophilia and imagine that gay parents will prey on their children. They are right, of course. There will be the odd ones who do just that, but surely not on the scale of straight parents who more commonly abuse their children.

Prospective gay parents need to worry about barriers being put in their way. Of course there are rigorous background checks. There should be. But adoption charities and local authorities now positively welcome applications from gay parents (and older parents), and it can now take under a year for the application process to be completed. If you want to adopt a baby the wait can be longer, but if you are willing to adopt an older child, or even siblings, you can expect to be fast-tracked.

There are 68,000 children in care at any one time in this country and the number rises all the time. Not all of these are available for adoption, but there is a huge shortage of foster parents, who are willing to foster children for anything from a week to several years. For some, fostering is more appropriate than outright adoption, although for me it would never work, as I am sure I would get too emotionally attached too quickly.

Whenever I host a radio discussion about adoption, I have to admit I do often wonder what kind of parent I might have been. To be honest I’m not sure it would have worked. But I’m sad it never happened as I know my partner would have been a brilliant Dad, and for that I shall for ever retain a feeling of abject guilt.

This article first appeared in the February edition of Attitude Magazine.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Olivia Newton-John

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Policy

Attitude Column: Why Prostitution Should Be Legalised

26 Feb 2014 at 09:08

An episode of the final series of the superb Danish politico-drama Borgen concerned itself with the vexed subject of legalising prostitution. Like the legalisation of drugs, it’s a subject politicians shy away from debating in real life.

Most people labour under the illusion that prostitution is illegal in this country. It isn’t. Not quite. Exchanging money for sexual services is legal. However, soliciting in a public place, kerb crawling, pimping and owning or managing a brothel remain outside the law. Paying for sex with anyone who has been forced into it is also illegal and you can be prosecuted even if you weren’t aware of it. It is also illegal to buy sex from anyone under eighteen even though the age of consent is sixteen. So now you know.

Sex laws are always tricky to draft and usually tend to lag about twenty years behind the way society has progressed in its thinking or tolerance. Society still looks down on those who sell sex, and even more on those who buy it, but perhaps not as much as in previous ages. One explanation for this gradual acceptance of prostitution is that many women think nothing of paying men for sex nowadays, something which would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago. Also, gay prostitution is much more commonplace than it once was, and is seen by many in the gay community as much more acceptable, ‘normal’ and less shameful than in society more generally. The internet has a lot to answer for. Sites like Gaydar, Grindr and a multitude of others are quite happy to allow male escorts to play their wares.

I remember when I lived in Germany in 1980, I was driving past a building on the outskirts of town and asked my friend what it was. “Das ist ein Haesschen Bar,” he said and winked in a knowing way. “A bunny bar?” I thought to myself. “They eat baby rabbits there?” Well, I was eighteen and very naïve. Bear in mind that this was a rather conservative minded town of 25,000 people, in the middle of nowhere and it had its own licensed brothel.

These brothels are licensed by the local Bundesland, and are very far from being seedy and the women who work there do so entirely voluntarily. They work in a secure, clean and healthy environment and submit themselves to regular health checks. Their customers are closely monitored. That doesn’t mean that other forms of prostitution don’t take place in Germany; they clearly do. But the Germans have a far less puritanical approach to the sex industry than we do in this country and are none the worse for it. The thought of such an establishment outside Tunbridge Wells is a delicious thought, but frankly, it isn’t going to happen any time soon. More’s the pity.

Over the last ten years, the nature of prostitution in this country has changed, with a growing number of the women involved in it being trafficked into this country for the specific purpose of pimping them out for sex. On top of that, the need for drugs has encouraged more and more women (and young boys) into prostitution as the only way of feeding their habit. Often, pimps force their women to take drugs as a means of controlling them.

So we now have two very different types of prostitutes – those who are being controlled by others, and those who do it entirely voluntarily. I suppose it has always been so, but the proportions have changed dramatically in recent years.

The last government tried to address the problem by introducing a law which says that men to knowingly pay for sex with a trafficked girl would be charged with rape. In addition, men who have sex with a woman controlled by a pimp would be fined £1,000. I think they did it for the right reasons but it seems to me that a law which relies on the word “knowingly” is incredibly difficult to enforce.

A female Labour MP once told me she has always argued for the legalisation of prostitution as she thinks it would effectively make the trafficking of girls redundant. It seems on the surface that there are far fewer issues surrounding exploitation in the world of gay prostitution, but let’s not run away with the idea that there aren’t any problems. Research suggests that a large number of gay escorts use their income to fund a drug habit, which makes it less of a lifestyle choice, more of a means to an end. It may not be traffickers, or pimps who are exploiting gay escorts, but drug suppliers certainly are.

It is surely time we tried to have an adult debate about the legalisation and lawful regulation of prostitution. It has always seemed ironic to me that the very women who shout loudest on the abortion issue that it is a woman’s right to do with her body what she likes, are the very same women who would prevent her from selling her body for sex if that is what she chooses. They would ban prostitution altogether. If it were actually possible, they might have a point.

Sex is a commodity and always has been since time immemorial. If we accept that prostitution has always existed and always will, does it not make sense for it to be legalised and properly regulated – to the benefit of both the purveyor of sex and consumer of it?

This article first appeared in the March issue of Attitude Magazine.

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Video: Andrew Marr Paper Review with Iain, Clare Short & Jude Kelly

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UK Politics

Harman & the NCCL: What Has the BBC Really Learnt?

25 Feb 2014 at 08:17

One of the most irritating phrases you will ever hear on television is “the BBC has learnt”. You’d think it meant that due to an original piece of journalism, the BBC has found out something nobody else has. Invariably it means the BBC has switched on Sky News. Sky use a similar technique by using the phrase “Sky sources have told us.” But in each case it gives the broadcaster cover to hype up a story that might otherwise be considered a little pedestrian. And it perverts the news agenda. But this sort of thing happens every day. Take the current furore about Harriet Harman, the Daily Mail, and the NCCL.

Over the last few days both the BBC and Sky have studiously ignored the front pages of the Daily Mail, which has accused Harriet Harman of, well, I’m not totally sure exactly. It seems they think that because she was legal officer to the NCCL she must have somehow sympathised with the aims and objectives of one of its thousands of members, the Paedophile Information Exchange. It’s a ‘guilt by association’ smear which upon any reasonable examination doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. But day after day the Daily Mail demands that Harman, her husband Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt say ‘sorry’. It’s the same kind of tactic they used on Ed Miliband back in September.

Conservatives have up to now attacked the BBC for not even mentioning the issue, understandably believing that if three Tory politicians had been accused of something similar the BBC might not have been so coy. We’ll never know. However, the BBC could defend its position by pointing out that these allegations are nothing new and were first aired back in 2009. That would be a sustainable editorial position.

But yesterday the game changed when Harriet Harman decided to break cover and respond to the allegations by giving the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg an interview. It turned out to be a bad move. Instead of saying that it was a clear mistake for the NCCL to allow the PIE to be an associate member, she prevaricated and appeared a little shifty. Not only that she compounded her error by accusing the Daily Mail of being hypocritical because it publishes pictures of bikini-clad young women on its website. Women, not girls. So instead of closing down the story, it has merely given all other media outlets the excuse to cover it on the basis that if Harriet Harman has spoken about it, it becomes a legitimate story.

Cue BBC overkill. It’s now leading bulletins on the Today Programme and 5 Live. I haven’t seen Sky News yet this morning, so I can’t comment on what they are doing but as it’s the lead story on their website it’s probable that it is leading their bulletins too.

I’ve steered clear of the story on my LBC show, not because of any desire to be politically correct, but because I genuinely don’t see this as a massive story. I see it as a politically motivated smear by a newspaper which is besmirching its own good name by running it day after day after day.

Does anyone seriously believe Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt have any paedophile sympathies? No, of course not. They worked for a ramshackle organisation which was run in an anarchic way. Just as anyone with dubious views can join a political party, anyone or any organisation with dubious views could join the NCCL. Does anyone seriously think that Harman, a lowly junior legal officer, had the power to expel a member who had legitimately joined? Presumably to do so would have meant changing the NCCL’s constitution. Perhaps she and her husband tried to do that. Who knows? But remember that one of the NCCL’s aims was to promote freedom of speech for everyone, no matter how vile their views.

The biggest mistake Harriet Harman has made was to give that interview to Newsnight. All it succeeded in doing was fanning the story’s flames and giving other media organisations and newspapers to excuse they needed to cover it. Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but the overblown and blanket coverage it is getting is so out of proportion to the lack of coverage it got yesterday, that editors all over the place, but especially the BBC, would do well to examine why they are doing what they are doing. Are they doing this because it is such an important story or because of their collective feeling of guilt that maybe they should have given it some coverage well before today?

When I go into LBC today and we start planning my Drive programme, it will be interesting to see how the story has developed during the day. If I cover it at all – and at the moment my feeling is that I’d rather not – it will be looking at the behaviour of the Daily Mail, more than the behaviour of Harriet Harman. No doubt I will get a shedload of abuse for it, but hey – broad shoulders and all that.

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Paul McKenna

Paul McKenna talks about his new book HYPNOTIC GASTRIC BAND, and about hypnosis.

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Policy

Attitude Column: It's Not Just Women Who Are Victims of Domestic Violence

23 Feb 2014 at 21:17

I’m lucky. I have been with my partner for more than eighteen years and in that time we have barely exchanged a cross word. We’ve never had a full scale row. ‘Yeah, right’, I can hear you saying. But it’s true. Of course we have the odd disagreement, but I can’t recall a single occasion when we’ve had a full scale screaming match or slammed a door in high dudgeon.

So when I read an article which claimed one in four gay or bisexual couples have experienced some form of domestic violence it took some time to sink in. I know no one, gay or straight, who has been on the receiving end of domestic violence. Yeah right. Who am I kidding? Given those statistics, and I imagine they are no different among straight couples, I must know someone who is carrying a dark secret, it’s just that they haven’t shared it with me – or probably any one else.

Domestic violence comes in many forms. It’s not just about physical violence, it can be about mental torture too.

I’ve often wondered why victims of domestic violence stay in their relationships. I suppose it must be because of unconditional love and they imagine things may get better. But do they ever? Not that I have ever been in the situation, but I have always imagined that if it happened to me it would be the first and last time. I’d quit the relationship with barely a second thought. That’s all very well in theory, but as those who have been in the situation will no doubt confirm, it’s usually a lot more complicated than that.

It’s not necessarily the physical violence that has the deepest effect. It’s the way it can blow your self-confidence and eat into your self-esteem. After a while, it can lead to chronic depression.

I don’t pretend that I am qualified to advise people who are in this situation. I’ve looked up on the internet what the professional advice is and it doesn’t really seem to go very far. Advising people to involve the police is not necessarily the only way forward.

The worst thing one can do is to bottle it up and pretend it isn’t happening. I suspect you have to get over the feeling of embarrassment and acknowledge that because it is happening to you it will inevitably be happening to others. You may feel alone, and on your own but in reality you are not.

The old cliché about a problem shared is a problem halved is something to hang onto. OK, it’s not something to tell an acquaintance, but telling the right person can be an enormous help. Just having someone listen is a start.

In the end domestic violence is about control. One part of the relationship wants to exert physical or mental control over the other. It can be for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the person committing the violence may also suffer from self-esteem issues. This can often happen in relationships where one partner is seen as more successful than the other. Instead of talking it over and admitting to the other what the problem is, literally thrashing it out seems an easier option. It’s followed by tears and contrition, but if it happens once it will inevitably happen again.

Some people still think it’s a myth that domestic violence can ever happen to men. They need to wake up. They still think that to admit, as a man, to being abused by another man is somehow to appear less than masculine. It actually takes a real man to accept there is a problem and ask for help. I’d like to think if it happened to me I’d be able to do that, but if I am honest I suspect I’d be like most others and shut my eyes and hope the issue would go away. Sadly, that rarely happens. It will only ever go away if the issue is confronted. Easy for me to say, more difficult to do, especially if it has been going on for a long time. But with courage, it can be done.

There is a national helpline for LGBT people experiencing domestic violence called Broken Rainbow. Tel 0300 999 5428

This article first appeared in the January issue of Attitude Magazine

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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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UK Politics

Clegg v Farage Debate: LibDems Must Now Promise to Support an In/Out Referendum

20 Feb 2014 at 09:51

These phone-ins we do at LBC do have a habit of generating a few headlines, and today’s CALL CLEGG was no exception. Nick Clegg has challenged Nigel Farage to a live debate on the EU. As it’s PHONE FARAGE tomorrow morning, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get an answer from the UKIP leader. But I wonder if Nick Clegg might have cause to regret issuing the invitation, as it raises Nigel Farage to the same level as the Deputy Prime Minister. It also could put the general election TV debates in jeopardy as Farage would have a much stronger case for inclusion in those debates this time around. But I suspect David Cameron would rather shove a red hot poker up his backside than take part in a debate with Farage. The two loathe each other.

This is what Nick Clegg said…

“I will challenge Nigel Farage to a public open debate about whether we should be in or out of the European Union, because that is now the choice facing this country and he is the leader of the party of ‘Out’, I am the leader of the party of ‘In’. I think it’s time we now have a proper public debate so the public can listen to the two sides of the argument and judge for themselves. If Nigel Farage is either listening or looking at this programme I hope he would take up my challenge to debate, once and for all, publically, should we be in the European Union – which I believe means that we have more people in work than would otherwise be the case, we keep ourselves safer because we can go after cross-border crime and terrorism, it means we can look after the environment in the way that we can’t on our own or do we do what UKIP want which is to pull ourselves out of the European Union and so jeopardise millions of jobs in this country? “That’s the choice let’s have the debate out in the open and I am very happy and very keen to debate that with Nigel Farage directly.”

If Farage doesn’t say yes to Cleggie, he will come across as a wuss, and I suspect he will say yes because I suspect he will feel he has little to lose and would wipe the floor with the leader of the LibDems.

But has Clegg dropped the ball with his challenge. Read his words again. How can he offer that debate to Farage and then deny a referendum on the same subject to the British people?

I think it’s time we now have a proper public debate so the public can listen to the two sides of the argument and judge for themselves.

And then vote. Because that is what the public will want. And they won’t see an amorphous vote in the European elections as anywhere near enough. Mr Clegg, you have been warned.

UPDATE: Response from UKIP… A UKIP spokesman said:

“Mr Farage would like to thank Mr Clegg for his kind invitation to a debate on the great issue of Britain’s membership of the European Union. Perhaps he could also let us know whether he has invited David Cameron and Ed Miliband too in order that the British people can see all their main political leaders argue their positions. If this challenge means that Mr Clegg is going to restore his backing for an In/Out referendum, which he gave before the last election but then withdrew afterwards, then it could be a significant moment in British politics. Mr Farage will give a full response to this development on LBC tomorrow morning.”

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