And This is What Political Journalism Has Been Reduced To...

4 Apr 2013 at 23:21

God I hate the Daily Mirror. Remember that post that I wrote a few weeks ago about falling out of love with politics? Well THIS story from the Daily Mirror is a perfect example of why no one in their right mind would want to be a politician. They are having a go at George Osborne because someone has sent them a picture of Osborne’s car parked in a disabled space. Perfect. Evil chancellor not only fleeces the disabled, but he steals their parking spaces too. Except…

1. It is a police car.
2. Osborne isn’t driving it
3. A police security officer is driving it
4. He parked it there after dropping Osborne off to buy a McDonald’s.

Now I wonder how many people who sit in a passenger seat get out of a car when it is parked and think to themselves: “Hang on, I must just check if the driver of the car has parked in a disabled space.” Exactly. No one.

Here is what the Mirror’s Political Editor Jason Beattie wrote…

He’s snatched millions of pounds in benefits from those in most need – and it seems that George Osborne could not care less about anyone else. He was branded selfish and arrogant last night after allowing his chauffeur to park his £50,000 Land Rover in a space reserved for the disabled. There were plenty of other places available just a few yards away as the Tory Chancellor was dropped off for a burger at an M4 service station. But Mr Osborne was obviously far too important to waste valuable seconds – and the bright-yellow markings on the restricted bay were brazenly ignored. Last night Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope claimed the incident “shows how wildly out of touch the Chancellor is with disabled people in the UK”. He said: “They will see this as rubbing salt in their wounds. "Many are already struggling to make ends meet, yet the Chancellor’s response has been to cut vital financial support and squeeze local care budgets.”

Well Richard Hawkes should be ashamed of himself for those comments and if Jason Beattie is proud of this piece of so-called political journalism, I would be very surprised. Indeed I am surprised that he has put his name to such a pile of horseshit.

Ed Balls has been fulminating, conveniently forgetting that during the last election he was photographed on a mobile phone while driving. The normally sensible Owen Smith MP ranted: “Osborne’s arrogant use of a disabled bay was in Magor. Did he think he had feudal rights to them in Wales? See my thoughts in tomo’s Mirror.” Owen is someone I have a lot of time for. He’s better than that.

The Mail’s James Chapman tweets to the morally outraged David Blanchflower and Channel 4 News reader Krishnan Guru-Murty “presumably then you think police driver who reversed into space while Osborne buying McDonalds should be sacked?”

And David Allen Green puts it in perspective: “There really are people on my timeline more angry at Osborne for parking in disabled space than at Philpott for killing 6 children. Bizarre.”

One day a politician will just think, “Sod this for a game of soldiers, they can go **** themselves. I’m quitting.” And I seriously think if I had gone into politics, that politician would probably have been me.



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Why I Call ISIS Daesh

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UK Politics

On North Korea & Trident

4 Apr 2013 at 23:13

We had a corking discussion on North Korea and also whether we should renew Trident on my LBC show tonight. But I was very concerned by the number of people who sincerely appear to believe that America is at the centre of all evil in today’s world. Sure, America isn’t perfect but according to some of my listeners it is the aggressor in the North Korean conflict and intends to invade the country at the first available opportunity. And it isn’t even a full moon! I really wonder where these people get their views from. I had a very tetchy interview with Chris Nineham from the Stop the War Coalition – more commonly known as the Provisional Wing of the Socialist Workers’ Party. He wasn’t at all interested in the bellicose statements emanating from North Korea. Naturally not. No, all he wanted to do was slag off the US. I think he got as good as he gave.

Later on we moved onto discussing whether we should spend £100 bn or so on upgrading Trident. During the cold war I was always an advocate of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent. It has helped keep the peace for a good few decades, as the NATO Secretary General recognised today in a letter to Philip Hammond. However, I think we now need a year long national debate about Britain’s place in the world, our defence capabilities and whether we really want to commit to a long term international role akin to the one we have had all my adult life. Because if we do, we have to fund it properly. I am horrified by the cuts in our conventional armed forces. They can only be sensible if we are to reduce our international role. And if we do that maybe, just maybe we don’t need Trident. But make no mistake, if we dispense with it, and any sort of nuclear deterrent, we become a national of ever declining world influence and importance. If we want to be another Poland or Spain, that’s fine, but I’m not sure we do.

The North Korean situation makes me lean towards keeping our nuclear deterrent, along with the fact that we have no ideas who our potential enemies might be in twenty years’ time. But if we do, let’s stop bleating about the cost. Defending a nation costs good money. The Liberal Democrat position on this is so hypocritical as to be almost nauseating. Nick Clegg deliberately withdrew LibDem ministers from the FCO and MoD knowing the decision on Trident was approaching. And now he says that while they believe in a nuclear deterrent, they don’t want Trident. Conveniently they have no ready made alternative. So they straddle the fence both sides as usual. Sometimes they really do need to grow a spine.


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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to JFK's Mistress, Mimi Alford

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Random Thoughts

Mick Philpott: The Blame Game - Is It the Welfare State's Fault?

3 Apr 2013 at 12:10

When terrible things happen, the natural instinct is to seek an explanation, to find a reason for what happened. Sometimes there are no explanations. Sometimes there are no reasons. Sometimes bad things happen purely because evil people are at the centre of them. That is what happened in the case of the Philpott family. Six children lost their lives because of the evil doings of one man, and the inability of his weak and besotted wife to stand up to him.

This morning’s Daily Mail front page surpassed itself. It claimed that the deaths were the VILE PRODUCT OF WELFARE UK. What utter nonsense. It is possible to claim that the lifestyle led by Philpott was encouraged by a warped benefits system, but it is not possible to claim that six lives were lost because of it. That happened because of the evil intent of Mick Philpott. His criminal past demonstrates that it was his character, not the welfare system which led him to commit criminal acts.

The Sun’s first edition editorial went even further than the Mail.

I suppose at least we can rest easy in the knowledge that they have the good grace to amend it in later editions.

If we want to apportion blame, we would do better to look at a legal system which only sentenced him to seven years in prison for stabbing his then girlfriend 13 times. If he had been given Life he would never have met Mairead and never had the children in the first place.

If we want to apportion blame let us look at Mairead. Her blind love for her husband seemed to be a form of enslavement. She did his bidding even though in her heart of hearts she must have known it was wrong. She shared him with another woman. They took it in turns to sleep with him in the family caravan. And that’s not the worst of it. But by all accounts the kids were well cared for, well turned out and never missed a day’s school. Social Services had little reason to place them on a ‘watch’ list. But is the wretched woman to be blamed more than her husband?

Mick Philpott is in some ways a product, not of the Welfare State, but of today’s ‘want it all’ society. He craved his 15 minutes of fame by going on the Jeremy Kyle Show and by appearing on TV spending a week with Ann Widdecombe. He wanted more. He had a dozen children. He wanted more. He ended up with 17, then 11. He wanted to control the women in his life. It was only when he knew he had lost control of his mistress that things went wrong. They went wrong because of his desire to control everything. He wanted full custody of his mistress’s children and came up with the fire plan as a ruse to show himself as a hero, which would enable him to gain custody and then get a bigger house. In the end mick Philpott is an egocentric narcissist who would do anything to get his own way.

When the sentences are handed down later, there will be howls of anger from people who think they should get the death penalty. Clearly that won’t happen but in Mick Philpott’s case I hope he gets Life and that it actually means Life – no parole, no early release, no hope of ever being free. There is no hope that he can ever be rehabilitated. This sentence must all be about punishment and nothing else. In his wife’s case she already has a life sentence. She is sentenced to a life of thinking about how different her life would have been had she stood up to Philpott. By all accounts she is still besotted with him. One day she will wake up and realise what he did, not just to her 6 children, but to her as well.

So yes, the Welfare State allowed Philpott to claim £60k a year in benefits. It allowed him to live a feckless life. But did it kill his children? No.He did that himself, and the only person who helped him was his wife. William Beveridge played no part in it.



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Coleen Nolan

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Paolo Di Canio - If He's Good Enough for Swindon...

1 Apr 2013 at 20:11

Oh the hypocrisy of the Left. It was OK for Paolo Di Canio to play for Sheffield Wednesday, Celtic, West Ham and Charlton. It was OK for him to manage little old Swindon Town in League One, but oh no, the thought of him managing Premier League Sunderland is repellent. No, I’ll tell you what is repellent – it’s the so-called ‘liberal left’ deciding who should do what based on whether someone conforms to their own idea of normality or political acceptability. And then, only deciding to enforce their own illiberal ideas when it suits them. Where were the howls of indignation when Di Canio took over at Swindon Town? No one cared, because, well, it was only little old Swindon, wasn’t it?

Only it’s not anymore. Its Sunderland. Big old Premier League Sunderland. And poor ‘ickle’ David Miliband has spat out his dummy and resigned as Board adviser. I’m not surprised. He was paid £75k a year for offering advice, and if the Board asked him for his advice on their new manager, they clearly ignored it. His friends are pointing out that Miliband resigned because his parents were Jews who fled the Nazis. He issued a statement which said…

“In the light of the new manager’s past political statements, I think it right to step down.”

I wonder how much time David Miliband invested in actually researching what Paolo Di Canio believes. Did he actually look beyond the headlines, or did he just write it in blind acceptance that Di Canio believes what he thinks he does? I don’t know if Paolo Di Canio is a Fascist or not, but surely David Miliband understands there are some very marked differences between Fascism and National Socialism. That does not mean that I have any sympathy with anyone who has Fascist leanings, I do not. I regard the ideology as politically repugnant and morally abhorrent. I wouldn’t vote for a political candidate with Fascist leanings, but we’re not talking about an election here, we’re talking about football.

I’d like to think David Miliband might have taken some notice of people who know Di Canio, people who count him as friends. Like Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell. Like the respected football writer Gabriele Marcotti. He told 5 Live: "I’ve known him very well for the last 15 years. There’s no question that he’s not a racist. His record, his friendships, his relationships pretty much speak for themselves. Marcotti is not some cheap tabloid journalist looking for a headline. He is a serious writer.

Di Canio’s former chairman at Swindon commented today…

“It is a sad knee-jerk response. I doubt David Miliband has ever met Paolo Di Canio. I’ve known him for two years. I don’t think politics was ever discussed once. Paolo will have many strong views. He probably has a strong view on whether Italy should be in the Euro, gay marriage or the endangered Siberian tiger, but I doubt if it’s really relevant to keeping Sunderland in the Premiership. I think anybody’s political views and their private views – as long they’re private and how they conduct themselves away from their job – are pretty irrelevant. Nothing of that was ever discussed during his time at Swindon. He was focused on success for us and that’s what he’ll do for Sunderland.”

Di Canio himself has released THIS statement, defending himself against accusations of political extremism. Here’s an extract…

“I don’t have a problem with anyone. I haven’t had a problem in the past and I don’t know why I have to keep repeating my story, to be defending myself on something that doesn’t belong to me every time I change clubs. “Talk about racism? That is absolutely stupid, stupid and ridiculous. The people who know me can change that idea quickly. When I was in England my best friends were Trevor Sinclair and Chris Powell, the Charlton manager – they can tell you everything about my character. “I don’t want to talk about politics because it’s not my area. We are not in the Houses of Parliament, we are in a football club. I want to talk about sport. I want to talk about football, my players, the Board and the fans. My first priority is my family and my daughters, that’s obvious, and secondly to have the responsibility for thousands of people. This is my priority and I want to be focused on this aspect. I don’t want to talk any more about politics – I am not a politics person.”

Let’s cut out the moralistic crap we’ve heard today from Dan Hodges and others. It’s the politics of the student union to talk about ‘boycotting’ Sunderland. Especially if you’re not a Sunderland supporter. If I were a Man U supporter, would I boycott them because their manager is a devout left wing Socialist? Of course not. Would I boycott West Ham if they appointed a Chinese Communist as manager? No. Because the club is always bigger than any manager or player.

Paolo Di Canio is the greatest player I have ever seen in a West Ham shirt. Some of his goals for the Hammers were truly breathtaking. He was an inspiration. When he comes back to Upton Park nowadays and is spotted in a corporate box, the crowd chant his name to the tune of Rigoletto. He will always be a bit of a hero to us at West Ham. Many would happily have him back as manager if Sam Allardyce comes to grief.

Sunderland fans have every right to question Di Canio’s qualifications to manage their club. He did very well at Swindon but his methods were, shall we say, unconventional. They were methods which may have been acceptable in a League One club, but time will tell how they translate to the Premier League. If West Ham had been in Sunderland’s position – and they very nearly appointed Martin O’Neill two years ago – would I have wanted West Ham to appoint di Canio? The truth is, no I wouldn’t. He would be too much of a risk. But it would have nothing to do with his political views (even if we were certain as to what they were), it would be because of his managerial unpredictability.



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Can John Hayes Be a 'Willie'?

29 Mar 2013 at 17:59

‘Not since Caligula appointed his horse as his chief adviser has such an inappropriate appointment been made’. Those were the words of not one, but two Tory MPs, speaking to me about John Hayes being made the Prime Minister’s chief parliamentary adviser. I wouldn’t quite go that far myself, but I can understand the sentiment. One minister when told the news seriously believed it was an early April Fool. Only when he logged onto the BBC News website did he finally believe it.

I’ve always got on rather well with John Hayes, and I have a sneaking admiration for his utter shamelessness. He really does have the ability to argue that black is white. And he did it today on PM. ‘My kind of Conservatism is the Prime Minister’s kind of Conservatism’ was one of his more memorable quotes from the interview. It may be that he believes it, but if he does he couldn’t be more wrong. His is a kind of Christian fundamentalist conservatism which is about as far removed from David Cameron as you can possibly get. He’s a sort of ‘Kinder, Kueche, Kirche’ Conservative who is viscerally opposed to any form of liberalism. He’s a climate change sceptic, ambivalent about women’s rights and a vocal opponent of gay marriage. Does he sound like a typical Cameroon to you?

Now in itself, holding views like that shouldn’t rule him out from advising David Cameron. It’s good for any Prime Minister to hear different views. But the thought that John Hayes is representative of the Right of the Conservative Party is slightly fanciful. The tensions between him, Edward Leigh and Christopher Chope, the other two leading lights of the Cornerstone Group are palpable. When Cameron made him a Minister there were gasps from various corners of the Tory Right. Why him? That was the question most were asking. The simple explanation is that he enjoys the patronage of Iain Duncan Smith. IDS was quite open that if Cameron didn’t promote several of his proteges, he wouldn’t be joining Cameron’s government.

Hayes was a rather good Minister in charge of vocational education and apprenticeships. He did the Prime Minister’s bidding and his policy area was seen as one of the Coalition’s successes. But most pundits were left open mouthed when he was promoted to the Department of Energy & Climate Change. Everyone knew his non PC views on global warming, so a clash with the LibDem Secretary of State Ed Davey wasn’t difficult to predict. On a personal basis they rubbed along OK, but Davey was furious at his junior minister’s public utterances on wind farms.

There is only one reason for this mini reshuffle, which sees the excellent Michael Fallon take over John Hayes’ responsibilities at DECC. It has to have been because the LibDems insisted on it. I can think of no other reason. So Hayes moved across to Number 10 and is elevated to the Privy Council. That’s how Coalition politics works at the moment. Nick Clegg says jump, and the Prime Minister obeys.

Margaret Thatcher once said that ‘every Prime Minister needs a Willie’. She was right. But is John Hayes a ‘Willie’? The key point of any ‘Willie’ is that they don’t want to be a player. They retain the trust of their master because they have no agenda, no ambition and don’t gossip. Can John Hayes truly be said to have no agenda, no ambition and to lack the desire to gossip?

Ah, say Number 10, he will be a bridge to the right. Up to a point Lord Copper. He is indeed of the right, but he is not massively popular on the right. Liam Fox and David Davis, the two big guns on the right are certainly not massive fans of his. Will he really be able to reflect right wing opinion to the Prime Minister any better than the Prime Minister’s PPS Sam Gyimah? If I were Gyimah I’d regard this as a huge slap in the face.

The trouble is, John Hayes sees himself as an operator, and an operator is not ideally suited for the role of ‘Willie’. Let me tell you a story,…

On my first day working as David Davis’s chief of staff back in May 2005 John Hayes paid me a visit. I had never met him before, but I was greeted like a long lost friend. After some initial pleasantries he got down to business. “I can deliver David 30 votes,” he said with a knowing wink. And with that he departed. Later that day I was in Portcullis House and spied John on the second floor talking to one of David Willett’s key advisers, Mark Fox. I saw Mark later and asked him what John Hayes wanted. “Oh,” he said. “He was telling me how he could deliver 30 MPs for David Willetts.” I roared with laughter at the sheer bravado of the man.

Throughout the next few months I would have some very interesting conversations with John, all of which revolved around how many MPs he personally could deliver, if only DD would ‘play ball’. I enjoyed talking to him. He would always have some snippet of information to divulge and reveled in the inevitable plotting that was going on. He imagined that he was at the centre of most of it. What he failed to realise is that neither we, Liam Fox’s campaign or David Cameron’s campaign operators took him remotely seriously, because he was saying the same things to all of us. Cameron dubbed him ‘Shrek’, which may have seemed unkind, but became a term of endearment.

So to conclude, I would say that John Hayes chances of success in this job depend on his ability to transform himself from being an operator to being a Willie. He will have to learn that keeping his mouth shut and listening is far more important than opening his mouth and trying to be a player.

Not giving interviews to Radio 4 programmes might be a good start.



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Peter Sissons

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Book Review: 'What Have I Done' by Amanda Prowse

29 Mar 2013 at 17:35

Reading a novel about violent domestic abuse is not my idea of fun, but doing my job you often have to read a lot of books you wouldn’t normally bother with. And so it was that I read ‘What Have I Done’ by Amanda Prowse. She tells the story of an apparently normal family with some very dark secrets. In the end, the main character, headmaster’s wife Kathyrn Brooker, stabs her husband to death after enduring years of the very worst kind of abuse – both mental and physical. The book tells of her tortuous relationship with her children, and her life after she gets out of prison. It is an absolutely gripping read, and the characterisation is done superbly.

I first interviewed Amanda after she wrote her first novel, ‘Poppy Day’. She published it through the British Legion and donated all proceeds to the charity. Her husband is a major in the British army. But when she said she was writing another book I urged her to publish it properly, so I introduced her to top literary agent Caroline Michel. The two hit it off and Caroline then secured her a multi book deal with the fiction publisher Head of Zeus. In some ways I kick myself. i could tell she was a major talent and did wonder about whether I should sign her up for Biteback, as our first novelist. But in my heart of hearts I knew I would be using her. We don’t do fiction and it is very different to publishing non-fiction. So I probably missed out on someone who is going to be a best selling writer. But I did the right thing.

If ‘What Have I Done’ is anything to go by it won’t be long before Amanda enters the bestseller charts. She has already built up a very big, loyal following. She has a great ability to tell a story and take the reader along with her. She doesn’t write above her audience. She writes with it.

If your interest is pricked, click HERE to hear me interview Amanda about ‘What Have I Done’. Scroll in 24 mins 30 secs.

Buy the book HERE



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Michael Winner

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Dan Hodges

29 Mar 2013 at 12:18

It’s not fair, we didn’t win the election, and you told us we would win the election, and you only had that Gordon Brown to beat, and he’s rubbish, and now we can’t do what we wanted to do, so we’re not getting out of bed!

Dan Hodges, on Tory MPs whinging about David Cameron, 29 Mar 2013



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Damian McBride & Me: How the Book Came About

28 Mar 2013 at 09:12

Four years ago I appeared on the Today Programme talking about Carol Thatcher and her use of the word ‘gollywog’. She had just been fired from the ‘One Show’ for having the temerity to liken someone’s hair to that of a ‘gollywog’. This is what I wrote on my blog at the time…

Chris Moyles is Radio 1’s star DJ. Two years ago he was involved, on air, in an incident which led to him being accused of racism. Halle Berry, no less, felt that he was indeed being racist. In December 2008 he faced another allegation, after he asserted that “Polish women make good prostitutes”. On neither occasion did the BBC fire him, let alone discipline him or even make him apologise. On both occasions the BBC said he was “poking fun”. Today, despite issuing a full apology, Carol Thatcher was fired by the BBC – not disciplined, but fired – from the One Show, after she likened a tennis player’s hair to that of a golliwog. It was a jokey remark made off air in the Green Room. The logic of the BBC’s argument is that the very mention of the word ‘golliwog’ is considered racist. Utterly preposterous. Whatever Carol Thatcher said off air should not have been made public by the BBC. By firing her in this manner and allowing all this to enter the public domain, they have branded her a racist when she is patently nothing of the sort. When dealing with the BBC, having the surname of Thatcher is not an advantage. However, if you are a fat, loudmouthed git with a surname of Moyles (or Ross, or Brand) you can get away with anything.

At the time, I was one of the country’s three star bloggers, alongside Guido Fawkes and Tim Montgomerie. Deep inside Downing Street, plans were being hatched to help Derek Draper launch a blog to take on the three of us. The Left had been scratching their heads as to why people on the right dominated the blogosphere. What happened next would have massive consequences for him, his blog and a certain Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s spin doctor in Number 10. Later that day Draper (who I knew and had advised on how to launch his new site, LabourList) saw an opportunity. He effectively called me a racist for going on the Today Programme and trying to explain why a 55 year old woman might use the word without meaning it to be pejorative. This is what he wrote on the fledgling Labour List…

Ashcroft sock puppet Iain Dale has defended Carol Thatcher and the use of the word “Golliwog”. See, even the nice seeming ones are nasty underneath. On the Today programme he said Adrian Chiles must hear much worse every week. No, Iain, he doesn’t. Because he doesn’t make a habit of hanging out with racist Tories. Until Dale thinks again we are suspending his listing on our blogroll. Come on Iain, do the decent thing and admit you got this wrong.

I reacted in my usually calm and measured manner…

As my readers can imagine, I am truly bovvered. Inconsolable. Bereft. My blog won’t be able to survive without the thirty visitors LabourList has sent its way. Believe me, it’s his site which loses out if I don’t link to it, not t’other way around. And with fewer than a thousand visitors a day, he needs all the links he can get. There’s just one thing that Derek might have to explain. Just where, exactly, have I ever said that the use of the word ‘golliwog’ is acceptable. Not here, and not on the Today Programme. I have indeed tried to explain why the BBC is guilty of hypocrisy and has overreacted, but that is not the same as saying the word is nowadays ‘acceptable’.

And so it went on. I was bloody furious. Someone I had helped get his blog off the ground, and knew reasonably well, had smeared me as condoning racism. I shouldn’t have been surprised by these tactics, but I was. Scroll forward two months, to April 2009, when Guido Fawkes rang me up to tell me that Derek Draper had been acting under orders from Number 10, and Gordon Brown’s chief henchman, Damian McBride. Again, I found it difficult to believe, but Guido said he had the emails to back up the claims and would be publishing them. Wow.

Here’s what I wrote on March 27th2009…

On the Daily Politics yesterday, Guido Fawkes made an allegation that McBride had given Derek Draper his marching orders on how to trash my reputation as a blogger, and in particular how he should smear me over the Carol Thatcher golliwog remarks. This wasn’t the first time I had heard the allegation made. I intend now to submit an FOI on this subject as I regard it as a hugely serious breach of McBride’s role as a civil servant – paid for by the taxpayer, if indeed it is true. Several people have warned me off doing this. “Let it lie,” they say. One lobby correspondent advised me: “Don’t get on the wrong side of McBride”. I’m afraid they ‘misunderestimate’ me. But I will say this. I hope Guido’s allegations are wrong and that Damian McBride can truthfully tell me that he gave no such advice to Draper either by email or verbally. But if these emails do exist, they will come to light through an FOI request. Someone else said to me that they will just delete the emails, if they exist. I reminded that person that to do so would constitute a criminal offence. It’s the kind of thing a certain Richard Nixon got into rather a lot of trouble for.

UPDATE: Guido has submitted an FOI request. In the absence of a reply from DM, I have followed suit…

Dear Damian,
This is a Subject Access Request made under the provisions of the Data Protection Act (1998).
Please provide me with copies of all emails, letters or other documents referring to either myself or my publication, “Iain Dale’s Diary”. In particular, but not exclusively, the analysis provided by you to Derek Draper and on the afternoon of Friday 13, February 2009.
I have copied this to the Cabinet Office Freedom of Information Unit. If you require payment of a fee please advise by return.
I should remind you that it would be a criminal offence to destroy the information requested. Please confirm receipt of this email.
Kind regards

On 11 April the whole scandal broke when Guido revealed the contents of emails between McBride and Draper. A day later, I wrote a column for the Daily Telegraph on the subject (read it HERE). This is how it ended…

When you’re a leader in trouble you turn to those whose undying loyalty you know you can count on. That’s why Brown was reluctant to let McBride go last September after he had been found briefing against Ruth Kelly. Instead of firing him, he moved him sideways and out of direct contact with the media. But at the same time he brought back his old ally Charlie Whelan.

Whelan is now political officer for the giant Unite union, and he funds Draper’s website. It was he who persuaded Geoffrey Robinson, the co-proprietor of the New Statesman, to dispense with the services of the magazine’s award-winning political editor Martin Bright, who was considered not onside with Brown. Whelan was also copied in on McBride’s emails to Draper as he had agreed to fund the new Red Rag blog which was to play host to the smears about Tory politicians. I suspect there is far more about to emerge about Whelan’s pivotal role at the heart of the Brown empire. If Gordon Brown really wants to bring about a new era at Downing Street, he can do several things – take away Alastair Campbell’s pass which gives him free access to the building; reshuffle Tom Watson out of Number Ten; but most significantly of all, tell Derek Draper his services as editor of LabourList are no longer required. The trouble is, our Prime Minister is wedded to the notion that seeking political conflict and dividing lines is the be all and end all. And he’s incapable of changing.

So McBride had had to quit, not just over these allegations, but also relating to similar ones against Tory MPs, including Nadine Dorries.

Eighteen months later, out of the blue I got an email from Damian apologising for what had happened. That sparked an exchange in which we both buried the hatchet. Then last year we met up for a coffee. Damian had been out of the political world for three years and was working happily for CAFOD. We met in a Costa Coffee near Waterloo. I had heard on the grapevine that Damian was planning to write a book, and I was determined to publish it. We talked it through, what kind of book it would be etc and the ramifications. We both laughed about the irony of me publishing it after all that had happened. He wasn’t totally sure about doing it but to cut a long story short we have continued discussions over the last year and today I have announced that Biteback has signed up the book and we will be publishing it at the end of September. Judging by the reaction to what Damian writes on his superb blog, it will be a corker.

Here’s the official announcement…

Biteback Publishing today announces the publication in September of Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin, by former government special adviser Damian McBride. It is a book which will send shivers down the back of the Labour establishment as it reveals the truth about life within Gordon Brown’s government. World rights were acquired for a five figure advance in a highly competitive bid.

From 1999-2009, Damian McBride worked at the heart of the Treasury and No10, becoming one of the most controversial political figures of the last decade, before a notorious scandal propelled him onto the front pages and out of Downing Street. In Power Trip, he writes candidly about his experiences at the heart of government, and provides the first genuine insider’s account of Gordon Brown’s time as Chancellor and Prime Minister. He reveals the personal feuds, political plots, and media manipulation which lay at New Labour’s core, and provides a fascinating, funny, and at times shocking account of how government really works. His own journey from naive civil servant to disgraced spin-doctor is also laid bare, with brutal honesty. Power Trip is a riveting memoir and an eye-opening expose of politics in Britain. It is also an intensely personal, and sometimes emotional book. How do you cope with one day being at the centre of power and the next day cast aside, on your own?

Iain Dale, Managing Director of Biteback says: "I have absolute confidence in predicting Damian’s book will be seen as the political memoir of the year. I’ve been chasing this book for at least eighteen months and am delighted to have persuaded Damian to put pen to paper. It confirms Biteback as the ‘go-to’ publisher for political books. Everyone knows from his blog that Damian is a brilliantly incisive writer and that he was in a unique position to expose what being at the centre of power in the Brown government was really like.

Damian McBride comments: “Given that Iain Dale was one of my supposed enemies when I was working in Downing Street, he was the last person I expected to be working with, but his thoughts on what this book should be about exactly matched my own, and I am delighted to be publishing it with him. I hope that, like my blog, this book will be a chance not only to give my account of what happened during Gordon Brown’s time in office, but also to give an insight into what life is like for those working in government today.”

Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin will be published on 23 September in hardback. Price: £20.00

Royalties from sales of the book will be split between Damian McBride’s current employers, CAFOD (the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development), and the appeal by his former employers, Finchley Catholic High School, to build a new sixth form centre.

You can preorder a signed copy HERE



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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Heath & Safety Executive Spokesperson

26 Mar 2013 at 09:16

“We often come across half-baked decisions taken in the name of health and safety, but this one takes the biscuit. The real issue isn’t what shape the flapjacks are, but the fact that pupils are throwing them at each other – and that’s a matter of discipline, and has got nothing to do with health and safety as we know it. We’re happy to make clear that flapjacks of all shapes and sizes continue to have our full backing.”Heath & Safety Executive Spokesperson, commenting on the banning of flapjacks in an Essex school, 26 Mar 2013


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Welcome to the Glenda Slagg School of Commentary

24 Mar 2013 at 19:22

What an astonishing reaction there has been to Boris Johnson’s car crash of an interview with Eddie Mair this morning. It’s so typical of our ‘hero to zero’ society. In a way it’s rather pathetic. Some people are seriously positing that after that interview there is no way Boris could ever lead the Tories. It is apparently proof that Boris can’t handle the big time. For Christ’s sake, it is one interview which went spectacularly wrong. And I say this as someone who is not exactly a proponent of a Boris leadership bid.

And on the other side, Eddie Mair is apparently now the greatest interviewer who ever lived. Until, of course, he does a dodgy interview, Then he will be the worst interviewer who ever lived. There is now a clamour for him to take over the Andrew Marr Show permanently. On the basis of one interview, I ask you. I am a huge Eddie Mair fan and love his laid back style. I’d like to see him as a regular presenter on Newsnight, but what will be the reaction when he has a dodgy interview. Well, I imagine those very same people who are eulogising him today will then suggest he should take over the overnight show on Radio Midsomer..

Are you, like me, sick to death of this ‘zero to hero to zero’ school of political and media commentary?



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