World Politics

Gillard Fires the Election Gun Eight Months Early

30 Jan 2013 at 07:42

Morning, everyone.

I am an avid follower of Australian politics so it was with a sense of incredulity that I heard this morning that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a general election for – wait for it – September 14th. Yes, you read that right – in eight and a half months time. And so begins the longest election campaign in recent history. Perhaps she intends to bore the Australian electorate into submission. She’s certainly got the voice to do that. Her reasoning is interesting…

It gives shape and order to the year, and enables it to be one not of fevered campaigning, but of cool and reasoned deliberation. I can create an environment in which the nation’s eyes are more easily focused on the policies, not the petty politics. I can act so Australia’s parliament and government serves their full three-year-term.

If you say so, Prime Minister. More likely she thinks that a long campaign will expose the weakness of Liberal Opposition leader Tony Abbott. And if I’m honest, she may be right to do so. He’s a singularly unimpressive man – overpromoted, given to intemperate outbursts and not really up to the job. He’s also given to sexist outbursts against Gillard, which may appeal to the part of the Australian electorate that is prone to a ‘tinnie’ and nine o’clock in the morning, but tends to put others off supporting him.

Gillard herself is a ruthless political operative who grabbed her opportunity to overthrow her predecessor Kevin Rudd. She’s a machine politician with a voice like a pneumatic drill. She may have been born in Wales, where she spent the first five years of her life, but there is certainly no trace of a Welsh lilt. She takes no prisoners and can argue her way out of anything. Her two and a half years as Prime Minister have been dominated by arguments about her plans to impose a carbon tax, something she adamantly promised she wouldn’t do during the last election campaign. Had the Opposition had a stronger leader she would have already been dead political meat. Yes, she’s behind in the polls, but I wouldn’t put it past her to edge ahead between now and polling day. This is an election which is Abbott’s to lose, and if he does lose it will probably his mouth which is the cause.

It will be an entertaining ride, watching this. Australian election campaigns are brutal.So let’s sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

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Catholic Church Shock! It Says Something Positive About Gays!

29 Jan 2013 at 22:21

Whisper it, but the Catholic Church might just have inched its way into the 1990s. This is what the Catholic Church of England & Wales said in a document today, issued to MPs and Peers….

We recognise that many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes.

Let’s just savour that, shall we?

We recognise that many same sex couples raise children in loving and caring homes.

Now the rest of the document is about how gay marriage will lead to the downfall of civil society and all the usual bollocksery. But let’s rejoice that after all these years they have actually had the courage to something that is even moderately positive about gaybos. I’m sure the Pope will rap them over the knuckles. Now, if only they could bring themselves that gay marriage threatens no one, least of all straight people. Because as I keep on reminding people…

IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH GAY MARRIAGE, IT’S QUITE SIMPLE, DON’T MARRY A HOMOSEXUAL!

Full story HERE at Pink News.

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Iain Interviews George Osborne about Brexit (full interview)

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Catholic Church of England & Wales

29 Jan 2013 at 21:17

We recognise that gay couples make loving parents but they must be banned from marriage

Catholic Church of England & Wales, 29 Jan 2013

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Interview with Sir Nicholas Soames on Winston Churchill

25 minutes with Nick Soames on the 50th anniversary of his grandfather's funeral

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Video: Falling Out of Love With Politics

29 Jan 2013 at 17:12

Here’s a short Daily Politics film with an ensuing discussion with Jo Coburn and myself about falling out of love with politics. The hook was my blogpost from a few days ago (scroll down).

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Iain interviews Simon Danzcuk on Sexting

Frank interview and searching questions

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Video: The LibDems Have Acted Shamelessly on Boundary Changes

29 Jan 2013 at 16:20















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Earlier on the Daily Politics I debated the proposed boundary changes with LibDem Peer Lord Rennard and YouGov’s Peter Kellner. See how you think I did. Lord R looked a little uncomfortable at times when I pointed out a few home truths about LibDem behaviour!

The result of the vote in the House of Commons has just come through. The government lost 292-334 and there seem to have been a few Tory rebels. Tim Shipman has names David Davis, Philip Davies, John Baron and Richard Shepherd all voted with Labour. They need to examine their consciences on this. But more importantly so do the LibDems. They’ve acted like spoilt schoolchildren, as I explain in the video!

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Policy

Why I Would Divert Childcare Funds to Sink Estates

29 Jan 2013 at 08:44

OK, you might say I don’t have a right to a view on this. I’m male, gay, and don’t have children, but I am a taxpayer, so that surely gives me a right. Anyway, deep breath, here goes.

Why, dear reader, why is it that middle class parents think that the rest of us should subsidise their childcare needs? When people have children, don’t they consider these issues before they decide to have them? If not, why not? It may seem a callous thing to say, but if you can’t afford to have kids, don’t have them. But surely that’s the responsible thing to do. Middle class parents who don’t think about how they will need to change lifestyles are just as irresponsible as the mythical single mother who deliberately gets herself pregnant to get a council flat. In fact, they are worse. At least the single mother is capable of rational choice.

So when I hear Children’s Minister Liz Truss bleating on about how she can’t find a nursery place for love nor money my sympathy is somewhat limited. Why? Because her solution seems not only to be to encourage private providers to provide more places, it is for the government to provide more subsidy. And in that, she is supported by the Prime Minister. I just don’t see that government has a role here beyond imposing minimal regulation on private sector nurseries. Fine, if the government wants to get into the nursery provision business, let it do so but charge commercial rates.

The aim of encouraging women back into the workplace may be a laudable one, but isn’t encouraging mothers or fathers to stay at home to rear their children an equally laudable one. [cue feminist outrage]? it is stay at home mothers and fathers we should be supporting – parents who put their children before their careers. They are the ones who are making the real sacrifices, but do they ever get a mention in this debate? Very rarely.

Listen, I’m not having a go at parents who through economic necessity have to go back to work as soon as they have a child. But I am having a go at middle class yummy mummies and daddies who seem to think it is their God given right to have children and hang the consequences for the rest of us. it is not government’s job, or the taxpayer’s job to solve their self made problems for them.

If we have extra money to spend to improve the life prospects of children let’s spend it where it is really needed – in the sink estates. That’s where the real childcare problems are. Give the money to Louise Casey. She’d spend it far more wisely than well meaning Department of Education civil servants.

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Michael Dobbs

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Books

Book Review: West Ham - The Inside Story by Tony Cottee

28 Jan 2013 at 22:18

I think if any West Ham fan were asked to compile a list of their Top 5 greatest ever West Ham strikers, Tony Cottee would more than likely feature alongside Geoff Hurst, Syd Puddefoot, Vic Watson and Iain Dowie. OK, maybe not Iain Dowie.

When I saw that Cottee had written a new book I assumed it was merely an update of his autobiography published back in 1995. So I bought it anyway even though I only expected a couple of new chapters to bring his life up to date. Boy was I wrong. It’s a whole new book, covering the last 18 years of his life. It covers the fag end of his playing career in Malaysia, Leicester and Norwich before moving on to his ill fated six months as player/manager at Barnet. He writes movingly about the difficult transition from top class player to journeyman pro winding down his career, and the awful realisation that through little fault of his own, his managerial reign at Barnet would prove to be the first and last time he had the chance to manage a football club.

This is not a particularly polished book. It’s published very cheaply on very shiny paper with far too many photos mixed into the text. It’s not edited that well either, but somehow none of this matters because it’s so authentic. Cottee isn’t a bad writer and can certainly hold the readers attention and he comes into his own when he starts discussing what turns out to be the main theme of the book – how we tried to buy West Ham and install himself as chairman. I reckon I know quite a bit about the recent history of West Ham, but I hadn’t realised how close Cottee came to achieving his goal, and as he relates, had West Ham not not been promoted in the playoff final of 2005, it’s likely that the name above the Chairman’s office at Upton park would be Cottee not Gold or Sullivan.

Cottee hated what he saw happening to the club he supported as a boy. He felt Terry Brown the then chairman, was resting on his laurels and fat salary (£492,000 if you please). The club wasn’t operating as it should commercially, the wrong managers were being appointed and they were buying the wrong players. So Cottee set out to do something about it. He tells the tale in exhaustive detail, naming names and shaming those who he sees as guilty parties. For a footballer with no background in finance to get so close to successfully buying West Ham tells you something about his gutsy determination. Despite Terry Brown constantly shifting the goalposts – and price – Cottee persevered and whenever his bid suffered a setback, he bounced back. But the one thing he seems to have lacked was perhaps the most important thing – a sense of media nouse. Cottee went through the whole episode operating by the maxim ‘least said, soonest mended’. He didn’t go public with his bid and as a consequence was outmanouvred not just by rival bids but also by Terry Brown’s media operation, which sought to do him down at every opportunity. Had Cottee gone public at the right time and solicited the support of West Ham fans I suspect his bid would have been unstoppable. Instead, he was shafted not just by Terry Brown, but by the Icelanders.

The Icelanders? I hear you chorusing. Yes, because the main point of this book is to show us, the loyal West Ham fans, that it was Cottee who actually gave them the idea of buying the club in the first place. They had agreed to put up money to back Cottee’s bid, but over time, they sought to edge him out of the equation. Once they realised that Terry Brown wouldn’t do business with Cottee he was well and truly shafted. Was he naive? Probably. Did he trust one or two people – like Keith Mills from Seymour Pierce – too much? Absolutely.

I’m not going to go into any more detail because I don’t want to ruin the book for those who haven’t read it yet, but suffice to say after reading it you will change your opinion of quite a few people at the heart of the club over those years.

One question he didn’t really answer, though, is why didn’t he try to buy the club again in 2010, or at least attempt to become part of the Gold/Sullivan bid? He clearly enjoyed good relations with them both.

Perhaps I will ask David Sullivan in our next interview.

Anyway, do buy Tony’s book. It’s published in paperback at £14.99, but you can buy it for under £9 from Amazon HERE

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Jerry Hayes Has a New Blog

28 Jan 2013 at 11:42

One of the most popular contributors to Dale & Co was the former Conservative MP Jerry Hayes. He really built up a loyal following, and I am delighted to tell everyone that he now has his own blog, which you can find HERE

Well worth bookmarking.

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Policy

The Cleggs Should Send Their Child to the School of Their Choice - No One Else's

27 Jan 2013 at 22:08

Despite what people seem to think, I did not go to a private school. I went to Saffron Walden County High School which was a secondary modern turned comprehensive. My parents wanted me to go to some minor private school in Cambridge. I passed the entrance exam, but I kept asking them: “Why do I have to go to a different school to my friends? Why?” Eventually I wore them down. In all honesty I should have gone to the local grammar school in the nearby village of Newport, but I stupidly and deliberately messed up my 11 plus. And on such vagaries was schooling decided in those days. Anyway, let me get to the point.

Nick Clegg is coming in for a lot of criticism for having the temerity not to rule out sending his son to a private school. As far as I know Clegg has never suggested that private schools should be outlawed, or criticised anyone else for sending their child to one. He’s certainly not in the same position as Diane Abbott. So if he wants to do it, it’s a matter for him and his wife and no one else.

We need to get away from imagining that all people who send their children to private schools do so for class reasons, or just because they are rich enough to. On my radio show this morning I took a call from Sarah in Croydon whose daughter wasn’t allocated a place at a local school and by the time she was, it was so far away it was totally inappropriate. She reckoned she knew lots of parents who were in a similar situation and had to scrape the money together to send their kids to a local private school. In other words, the state system had totally failed them. Depending on where you live, it can certainly happen, and as a parent you face a choice. Move house or pay up for private education. In an ideal world no parent would face that conundrum.

So it isn’t difficult to see why Michael Gove wants to expand the academy network and encourage schools to leave LEA control. Local Education Authorities have failed generations of children. But to think, as some civil servants seem to, that the answer is direct control from Whitehall is surely to misread the needs of children. I like academies and free schools because they are able to operate independently, or semi independently from state control. Yes, the state provides the money, but in the end it must be down to local schools, head teachers, teachers and parents how the money is spent. Grant maintained schools were great innovation of the 1990s and we need to learn some of the lessons of their success.

In Finland, I was told this morning, private schools have been abolished and there is a uniform system of secondary education. How ghastly. Variety is the spice of life and I have no objection to different kinds of schools operating side by side. The key is that parents have a proper and real choice about where they send their children. The Cleggs should have that choice, and so should everyone else.

We will know state education has succeeded when state schools have lifted their achievements to a level where they are comparable with most schools in the private sector. Interestingly, this is happening in some areas. The standard of state education in many areas of London has been transformed in recent years. Those lessons need to be learned elsewhere.

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: James Graham

27 Jan 2013 at 20:38

Hey, journalists: when you say “X” is the UK Obama for no reason other than that he’s black, don’t you feel even a little bit … dirty?

James Graham, 27 Jan 2013

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Mary Berry

Mary Berry talks to Iain about her new autobiography.

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