Sport

West Ham Player Appears On Cover of Gay Magazine

3 Jan 2013 at 22:03

It really is something that there is not a single ‘out’ footballer in the world of professional football, not just in this country but throughout Europe and probably the world. West Ham winger Matt Jarvis is this month’s cover boy on Attitude Magazine, the UK’s leading glossy gay magazine. Jarvis isn’t gay, he’s married, but for whatever reason he has decided to speak out. I’m not sure Sam Allardyce, his manager, will be overjoyed, but it will certainly be interesting the watch the fallout from this. Jarvis is not the first footballer to appear on Attitude’s cover – David Beckham did so in 2002 and Freddie Ljungberg did so in 2006.

In an interview with the magazine, Jarvis said he thought it was time that a gay footballer felt comfortable enough to come out…

“It’s everyday life. It’s not something that’s going to be a shock. I’m sure there are many footballers who are gay, but when they decide to actually come out and say it, it is a different story. It’s one that I’m sure they’ve thought about many times. But it’s a hard thing for them to do… There’d be support everywhere within the football community, whether it be players, fans or within the PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association]. There would definitely be groups of people who would be supportive and help them through it.”

You would hope that would be the case, but if a footballer does decide to take this step, I hope there will be many others that follow his lead, because being the only one would certainly not be a comfortable position to be in.

Homophobia is rife in football, both on the pitch and on the terraces. If Matt Jarvis helps combat that in any way, he should be congratulated.

You can see the full story courtesy of The Guardian

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Iain Interviews Ken Loach

what could possibly go wrong?

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Books

Mark Pack Reviews My New Book, 'The Blogfather'

3 Jan 2013 at 13:15

Mark Pack has reviewed my new book THE BLOGFATHER on his own blog. He’s kindly given me permission to repeat it here, warts and all.

A selection of Iain Dale’s blog posts from 2004-2012, The Blogfather is a potted history of one of the pioneering political blogs in the UK which helped take blogging from idiosyncratic niche into a mainstream format for covering politics. To his credit, Iain Dale has included several posts where subsequent events showed up his political judgement and he doesn’t stint in recording his heavy defeat at the hands of Norman Lamb in North Norfolk – even including his post from the day before when he wrote, “I just heard Channel 4 has tipped us to gain the seat”. It is a more interesting book for him having avoided the temptation many writers succumb to of omitting such events.

What is missing, perhaps inevitably, are the more ephemeral posts which were part of the rapid-fire cyber news cycle when his blog was at its peak. A reader of the book but not the original blog therefore gets a limited view of what the political blog was like, with more of the more substantive stories and less of the passing political Punch and Judy blogging. It is doubtful how many of the latter would interest readers now save for those named in them (yes, I did check to see if any of Iain’s posts about myself were in there!) so their exclusion is logical, even if it means we don’t quite get a full flavour of political blogging from the book. But then missing too are the comments on his posts, an omission which also probably suits the reader whilst also extending the degree to which the book takes blog posts and presents them in a different format, turning them into a different form.

Amongst the posts that are included, even the briefest usually have a serious message in them, as with the blog post from 4 May 2006 which may appear trivial at first glance yet actually touches on a deeper point about how much of political communication on TV is about appearance, with people often remembering someone’s appearance far more than their precise words:

While watching Question Time:
Me: Isn’t that Julia Goldsworthy just appalling?
Partner: Yes, but she’s got lovely hair.

Iain Dale’s Conservative views come out clearly in the book but he can at times be generous to politicians from other parties, as when he wrote in 2007:

I’ve been listening to Any Questions on my drive to Upton Park. Lynne Featherstone said something quite profound. On the question of gay adoption she urged people not to think about the generality of the issue but to concentrate on individual gay people you know and think about whether they would, as individuals, make good parents.

Overall the selection of posts makes for an interesting political history of the years, with plenty of issues that are still relevant. The selection of posts, exclusion of comments and absence of hyperlinks means it doesn’t quite give a real feel for what the blog, as a blog, was like. But then this is a book, not a blog. What it does have in common with the blog is that there is much of interest and, given the pugnacity of its views, much that will also annoy or trigger disagreements. But then bland writing is usually boring writing.

If that’s got your juices flowing, you can buy THE BLOGFATHER via Politicos.co.uk

Mark Pack’s book 101 WAYS TO WIN AN ELECTION is available now too from Politicos.co.uk

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Hosts a Phone in on Psychics & Mediums

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UK Politics

Anyone Would Think That Rail Fare Rises Were New!

2 Jan 2013 at 22:09

Watching Labour Transport spokeswoman Maria Eagle touring the TV studios today, you’d think Labour had never put rail fares up during their time in office. If only that were true. Since 2004 fares have risen by inflation plus 1% under a formula put in place by, yes, you guessed it, the then Labour Transport Secretary. There’s a word for Maria Eagle’s weasel words today and it begins with H and ends in Y. OK, this is the sort of thing oppositions do, everyone knows that, but her words will cut little ice with an electorate which has a longer memory than Ms Eagle and her colleagues might imagine.

The thing is that many people are actually noticing that their railways are getting better. That’s certainly the case on the line I use – Tonbridge to London. New rolling stock and relatively reliable performance mean that although none of us want to pay more, we can at least see an improvement on what the service was like a decade or so ago. I am sure that this is not the same on every line, but credit where credit is due, on Southeastern Railways the extra investment is being put to good use. One thing though, the car parking is an absolute rip-off!

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Iain Hosts LBC's Coverage of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Harry Redknapp

2 Jan 2013 at 15:07

“Only dopes fail at Chelsea.”

Harry Redknapp, 1 Jan 2013

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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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Books

Book Review: My Fight With Life by Leon McKenzie

2 Jan 2013 at 14:25

No one thinks of footballers as people who are likely to be suffering from depression, but after the suicides of Gary Speed and Robert Enke, people are waking up to the fact that even people earning tens of thousands of pounds a week and seen as heroes can suffer from depression. Leon McKenzie is a professional footballer who never played for one of the top clubs but scored goals wherever he played. His most successful season was in the Premier League with Norwich City a few years ago, but at the age of 34 he’s now playing non league football at Corby Town. He started life at Crystal Palace before moving to Peterborough with Barry Fry, where a prolific season or two earned him a big money move to Norwich. Injuries blighted his career and he ended up spending an injury blighted season with Charlton. It was there that he tried to take his own life in the unglamorous surroundings of the Bexleyheath Marriott. Luckily his father discovered him before it was too late.

This book is his story and seeks to shed light on why an apparently successful and happy man would do this and inflict such misery on his friends and family. It’s a gripping tale, and although the book could have done with a good editor to avoid a lot of repetition, it allows the reader to really get into the mind of footballer trying to deal with his demons. A bizarre family background (his father and uncle were boxing champions), a loveless and failed marriage and the feeling that people in football didn’t quite get his talents all played their part in leading McKenzie into depression. But you get the feeling that it was also his inability to deal with fame and money which were just as important, even if neither issue is addressed head on in the book. Although McKenzie wasn’t one of the game’s top earners, at the height of his career he was on £10,000 a week, and yet he confesses he pissed it up the wall. He spent £100,000 a year on new cars, just to keep up with the Jones’s.

The failure of the PFA to help him is apparent. This is a trade union which is so rich it has money coming out of its ears. Yet its approach to the issue of depression among its members was to send out a 36 page leaflet. Too little too late, some would say.

McKenzie also discusses his three months in prison and this passage makes for gripping reading. It’s clear that he should never have been inside in the first place, but he clearly gained a lot from the experience, and certainly got to know who his friends are. Having more or less retired from football, Leon McKenzie is now looking to emulate his uncle and father and seek a career in professional boxing. I’m sure he will put his all into it and it wouldn’t surprise me if he succeeded. I hate boxing as a sport, but I really hope he succeeds.

This is an important book which will enable other footballers suffering from depression to understand that they are not alone. It deserves to do well.

* MY FIGHT WITH LIFE by Leon McKenzie is published by Macanthony Media in paperback at £7.99.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale interviews Polar Explorer Dwayne Fields

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Hugo Chavez

2 Jan 2013 at 00:31

I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar’s sword. For you who, like Bolivar, took up arms to liberate your people. For you who, like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. [Mugabe] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists. (Jan 27 2004)

Hugo Chavez, Praising Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as a freedom fighter

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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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Personal

Good People Doing Nothing...

1 Jan 2013 at 18:17

Before West Ham home games it has become a pre-match ritual for me to visit Ken’s Cafe, just down Green Street from the stadium, for a pre-match fry-up. Jo Phillips and her grandson Marlowe join me, and we catch up on the gossip over Sausage, Beans & Chips. We queue up and our order is taken by the lovely Carole, who seems to be my biggest fan on LBC. She regularly takes me to task if I have been too hard on a caller or an interviewee. Anyway, as we were queuing up today I noticed a slightly surly looking youth take back two cups of tea, which he had ordered. Gradually an argument between the two of them ensued, and it finished with Carol thrusting some coins at him and asking him to leave the cafe. He threw the coins back at her and called her a “fucking old bag”. We all looked on in slight horror, as the cafe turned silent. He then tried to walk past me on his way out. On the spur of the moment I jabbed my finger into his chest and said in the most macho voice I could summon up: “You don’t talk to people like that.” The youth replied: “Yeah, and what are you going to do about it?” “Try me and find out,” I retorted, pulling myself up to my full 6 foot 2 inches. With that he left.

Why was it, though, that no one else said a word? Surely more people should have stood up to defend Carole’s honour? All it takes is for good people to do nothing, and…

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Tony Benn

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Personal

Happy New Year!

31 Dec 2012 at 23:12

I will be glad to see the back of 2012. It has been without doubt the worst year of my life. I think 2005 is the only year which could compete with 2012 for twelve months of unalloyed personal misery. I failed to win the North Norfolk seat at the election by a massive 10,600 votes after a campaign which nearly bankrupted me, and then I spent six months working on the failed David Davis Tory leadership campaign. I was glad to see the back of 2005. Seven years on I have the same feeling about 2012. Funnily enough, I have never been more financially solvent, I do a job I thoroughly enjoy, and I had the privilege of attending Super Saturday at the Olympics where I witnessed Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford win gold for Britain. But all that cannot mask the fact that 2012 will always be the year that I lost my mother. That single event means that this is a year I wish to banish to the furthest recesses of my mind, for my life will never be the same. Only those who have lost their mothers will be able to understand what I mean by that. She meant everything to me, and six months on, there is still a tremendous feeling of emptiness. A void that can never be filled.

I’m determined to make 2013 a very different year indeed. I’m going to get fit, be a better partner to Simmo, become a much better radio broadcaster and publish even more brilliant books. Hold me to it!

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LBC: The Best of the Iain Dale Show 2012

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List

Ten Faces To Look Out For in 2013

31 Dec 2012 at 17:38

ALISTAIR GRIFFIN

Griffin is a singer/songwriter who was behind the Olympics Gamesmakers song ‘I Wish For You The World’ and the Formula 1 theme ‘Just Drive’. His latest album ‘Albion Sky’ is just brilliant and I predict great things for him in 2013.

OLLY MANN

Olly Mann is one half of the Answer Me This podcast, the other being Helen Zaltzman. He’s a broadcaster with an all round talent, with an ability to handle any subject that’s thrown at him. He’s now a colleague on LBC where he covers the overnight show. 2013 will be a very successful year for him.

JESSICA LEE MP

Jessica Lee is Conservative MP for Erewash and PPS to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. She’s a regular on my LBC show and is a superb media former for the Tories, if only they recognised it. She walks that fine line between staying loyal but also saying something interesting. As an aside, she used to work for me in the Politico’s coffee shop before she trained as a barrister!

EDDIE MAIR

Is it rash to believe that Eddie Mair will be the new face of a revamped Newsnight? Not if there is any justice in this world. His cover slots towards the end of 2012 earned great plaudits from across the spectrum. But would it spell the end for Jeremy Paxman? My money is on Mr P heading to pastures anew in 2013 leaving the way open for Eddie Mair to make the show his own.

JAMES WHARTON

James Wharton was the first soldier to adorn the front cover of Attitude Magazine. In June I am publishing his autobiography Out in the Army. My prediction is that the media will fall in love with him and his story and he will become quite a star in 2013.

JANE COLLINS

Never heard of Jane Collins? She was UKIP’s candidate in Rotherham and impressed all. As UKIP seek new national faces to take the weight off Nigel Farage, expect to see Ms Collins on our TV screens a lot in 2013. Part of UKIP’s test for success in 2013 is whether they can garner together a group of spokespeople who can all become well know names.

ROB HALL

West Ham’s next big thing. A prolific young striker, currently out on loan to Birmingham, Rob Hall has been tipped for huge success ever since he broke into the youth team at the age of 15. Will he make the grade this year? Let’s hope so.

TOMMY KNIGHT

Tommy Knight has just joined the cast of Waterloo Road, playing the character of Kevin Skelton. He’s a great young actor and even though he is only 19 has an impressive CV. He’s starred in the Sarah Jane Adventures and if he plays his cards right 2013 could be a real breakthrough year for him.

HEIDI ALEXANDER MP

Heidi Alexander is one of those rare breed of MPs who speak ‘normal’ and have a well developed sense of humour. Her seat is as safe as they come, she is great on both radio and TV and Ed Miliband would do well to use her talents on his front bench team. But is she pushy enough?

KELLY EVANS

I met Kelly Evans a few weeks ago doing a Sky News paper review. She came to London a few months ago to be CNBC’s London Bureau Chief. Her range of knowledge on economic issues is hugely impressive and I expect she’ll be widely used to many UK news outlets in 2012.

Feel free to nominate your own faces of 2013 in the comments!

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Mark Regev Interview

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Rant

McGuinness to Trouser £20k Severance Payout

31 Dec 2012 at 13:01

So Martin McGuinness has announced he is resigning as an MP, causing a by-election in the seat of Mid Ulster. It would be hard for him to be sorely missed seeing as he has never actually taken up his seat. He refuses to swear the oath, yet has claimed millions of pounds in expenses. And here’s something that will stick in our collective throats. Even though he hasn’t taken his seat, he will still be eligible for a severance payment of around £20,0001. Them’s the rules.

What a ridiculous system. We allow a man to take huge amounts of money from a parliament he claims to despise and several of whose members he has played a part in trying to maim and kill. We must be stark raving mad.

1 The Mirror’s James Lyons points out that the sum is actually £50k. It’s called a “Winding Up allowance”. How very appropriate. I am very wound up.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Interviews Lord Owen, Col Richard Kemp and Lord Malloch Brown about Mali & Algeria

Three interviews on the current situation in North Africa.

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