Personal

My Sartorial Elegance

13 Dec 2012 at 21:33

Just got this email from an LBC listener…

Hello Iain,
If there was an award for the most smartily dressed man on sky news press review, you would win in by a country mile. Every week you are always immaculately dressed in your tie and suit and you put to shame alot of other male presenters who I wont name but appear on sky press review in their scruffy jackets,jeans and open top shirts and in some cases wearing cowboy boots,i think you should accept this compliment with grace. Stuart from west London.

I do Stuart, I do. Can’t say I have ever had a compliment for my sartorial elegance before, And you’re not surprised, are you?!

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Policy

The Compassion of Angels

11 Dec 2012 at 22:17

Ann Clwyd came on my programme for an hour tonight to talk about the treatment her husband received in hospital in Cardiff in the weeks before he died. She moved many to tears last week in PMQs when she asked David Cameron why so many nurses lacked compassion nowadays. Her voice quavered with emotion. It reminded me of the terrible time my family went through when my mother was in Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge earlier this year. I wanted to complain about the lack of care and lack of compassion but by the time the funeral was over to be quite honest I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want to relive those hours all over again. I now feel ashamed. I talked about it a bit on the radio, but thought most people would think I was being unkind to poor, overworked nurses. Ann Clwyd, though, was made of sterner stuff and was far braver than I was. She has unwittingly hit on something though, judging by her postbag and those who called my show tonight. Jeremy Hunt has asked to see her next week to discuss the issue. No one is saying all nurses lack compassion. Far from it. But too many do. Is it systemic? Has it got something to do with training and the fact that all nurses are now graduates? Is it lack of support or staff numbers? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this issue is becoming a real problem and needs to be tackled by NHS managers before it gets out of control.

So good luck to Ann Clwyd. She’s been a tenacious campaigner on many issues in the past and I hope she gets somewhere with this.

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Personal

Tragedy in Cromer

8 Dec 2012 at 17:10

Like many in North Norfolk I remain in shock, after hearing of the tragedy which unfolded last Sunday in Cromer, when the former mayor Keith Johnson shot his wife and then took his own life. You never think something like this will happen to someone you know. But Keith and Andrea Johnson were known to virtually everyone in Cromer and were both liked and respected. Keith had given much of his life to serving the local community and did a brilliant job as mayor of Cromer between 1997 and 2004. I got to know them both just before they got married in 2004 and it was clear they were devoted to each other. Andrea had a brilliant sense of humour and she was very supportive to me when I was the parliamentary candidate in the constituency, as was Keith. I remember when Michael Howard visited Cromer and a local fisherman accosted the then Tory leader in the street about the fact that Cromer didn’t want a candidate who was gay. Later that day Keith and Andrea took me aside and assured me that this man didn’t speak for anyone but himself and that I shouldn’t take any notice of his bigotry. Keith was a man who held very traditional values, but blind to prejudice.

Only six months ago Keith took over as leader of North Norfolk District Council. After the chaotic and often shambolic regime of his predecessor he had a difficult task ahead of him, but in a very short time he had united the ruling Tory group and gained the respect of the council officers. Keith was a reluctant leader, but reluctant leaders who are not overburdened by ambition often prove to be the best sort.

Nearly a week on from the tragic events in Compit Hills mystery still defines what happened. Inevitably there will be much speculation about what lay behind Sunday’s events. Few of us can comprehend how anyone could be driven to shoot the person they love, and perhaps we will never know the reason. In fact, part of me hopes we never do, because some things deserve to be kept private. The national papers have shown a ghoulish fascination with the deaths of Keith and Andrea. I understand why, but part of discomforts me.
The shock to a very close community will continue to reverberate for a long time to come, especially on the Compit Hills estate. I hope people don’t keep their feelings to themselves. Talking to each other is often the best antidote to shock.

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Humour/Satire

The Prime Minister is on the Line

8 Dec 2012 at 14:51

So when you pick up the phone and the person say “Number 10 Switchboard here, can I put you through to the Prime Minister?” do you say…

A) Can you hold on a minute while I get dressed?
B) Remind me of his name again?
C) If you really must
D) Only if he’s offering a peerage
E) He really must stop ringing me like this
F) Is he in the situation room?
G) Thank you very much

This was the dilemma I faced at 10am this morning. You can guess which one I went for.

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UK Politics

Should We Really Buy Shares in George Osborne and Sell Balls?

7 Dec 2012 at 17:11

James Forsyth wrote in last week’s Spectator that now was the time to buy shares in George Osborne. I mentioned this to a Tory MP this morning, a mere 48 hours after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. “Yes,” he said. “They’ve risen from 2p to 4p.” Cuttingly cruel. It is true to say that Osborne was saved, at least in part, by the shambolic Commons performance of the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. His reply to the Autumn Statement was all over the place, something which he had the good grace to admit later. However, he blamed his stammer for what happened. I admire Ed Balls for overcoming a stammer. In his big set piece speeches I have never seen much sign of it, and he is capable of delivering real barnstormers. It seemed to me that Balls’ performance was less down to a re-emergence of a stammer but more to a lack of preparation and being caught wrong-footed. This came on the back of a very weak showing from Ed Miliband at PMQs. Labour MPs were mainly looking at their feet. When their man has done well, they generally take to Twitter to trumpet their leader’s performance. On Wednesday Labour MPs maintained a Twitter silence for quite some time after PMQS and the end of Ed Balls’s speech. And then, as one, they started to complain about those nasty Tories braying at Ed Balls because of his stammer. Clearly the word had gone out that this was how to turn disaster into a triumph. It didn’t really work. For the first time, Bruiser Balls looked politically vulnerable.

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Former Footballer Leon McKenzie Discussions His Depression With Iain

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Eric Pickles

20 Nov 2012 at 16:13

I sit next to Vince Cable in Cabinet. In private, he’s not as cheerful as he seems on the telly.

Eric Pickles, 20 Nov 2012

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Iain has a blazing row with George Galloway over Margaret Thatcher (Part 1)

TalkSport, August 2009

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UK Politics

A PR Lesson Andrew Mitchell Needs to Learn

24 Sep 2012 at 14:56

What on earth did he think he was doing? All Andrew Mitchell achieved this morning by talking to the assembled cameras was to give the story more legs. But perhaps it is wrong to blame Mitchell. After all, he was no doubt doing what he had been advised to do by the so called government PR “experts”. Either those experts were incompetent or they did not have Andrew Mitchell’s best interests at heart. At the moment, I am not sure which is more likely to be true.

What Andrew Mitchell should have done, and done on Sunday, is to sit down for a one on one interview with the likes of Andrew Marr, Tom Brady, or Adam Boulton. It wouldn’t be guaranteed to work, but it would have stood far more chance than this morning’s shambles of a doorstep.

In these circumstances, the rule is if you have nothing new to say, shut the f*** up. Because all you do by repeating your previous words is to keep the story going and give it legs. The fact is that the Sunday papers delivered nothing new. Nor, frankly, did The Sun this morning. The story was starting to struggle to keep going. A big news story breaking elsewhere would have sealed it and Andrew Mitchell would have done a Jeremy Hunt and survived against the odds. But by doing the doorstep statement this morning and then failing to respond to questions, Mitchell has achieved the opposite of that he would no doubt have intended.

Despite having been an MP for 25 years, Andrew Mitchell has always been a little naïve about the ways of the media. He has improved as a media performer, as evidenced by some strong performances on Question Time and Any Questions. But he’s not a media natural. I well remember that in the Davis campaign, Damian Green became the public face of the campaign because Andrew Mitchell’s interviews weren’t cutting the mustard. To his credit, Andrew realised this and accepted it.

To have a chief whip who doesn’t appear on the media is normally what is to be expected. Patrick McLoughlin rarely did. But we are where we are.

What Andrew said to the Police officer was crass and arrogant. Not even his closest friends would defend that. But we still don’t know for a fact exactly what was said. It seems clear that he did swear but it less clear what other words he used. But frankly it hardly matters what the truth is. Everyone believes he used the word ‘pleb’, whether he did or not, and it’s something the left is now able to sue to smear the whole government with. I doubt whether it is even possible to get to the real truth. Labour have called for the Cabinet Secretary to launch an inquiry. Really? Do we really think this is the most important thing in the nation’s politics? Is that really the best use of the Cabinet Secretary’s time? Surely not.

Mitchell has apologised to the officer concerned and he has accepted his apology. That, in any normal turn of events, should be the end of it. But until the two versions of events are reconciled, it won’t be. Dan Hodges has written that he thinks the Police Federation may be overplaying its hand in its desire to pick a fight – any fight – with a government it despises. He may have a point, but that’s not the way the media see it.

Andrew Mitchell’s other big problem now, apart from the question over his survival, is how he can impose discipline on a parliamentary party, when he has been so undisciplined himself. Speaking to several Tory MPs over the last few days, they all say the same thing. And you can guess what it is.

One other comment in passing. Over the weekend I took several calls from lobby journalists all of which were along the same lines. “I gather you and Andrew Mitchell aren’t on speaking terms. Got any dirt to dish?” It is true that Andrew and I didn’t see eye to eye on some aspects of the campaign, but he and I are good friends. I went with him on the trip to Rwanda in 2007 and I have seen at first hand what a brilliant job he did at Dfid. He’s been on my LBC show many times – hardly something he would have done if we hadn’t been on speaking terms. I’ve not said anything about him either on or off the record to any journalist or broadcast station as I didn’t want to become part of the media circus on this. And as a friend I decided that any opinion I offered couldn’t possibly be seen as in any way independent. I have only written this piece to put on record my incredulity at what happened this morning. Judging from other opinion pieces by commentators I respect I am not alone.

I don’t believe Andrew Mitchell deserves to lose his job over this and I don’t think he should resign. If you think about ministers in this government and the last one who survived over doing things which were far worse, it ought to add a sense of perspective.

But Alastair Campbell’s 11 day rule may soon come into play, no doubt aided and abetted by the Labour Party and The Sun – unlikely bedfellows, but there you go.

I don’t know how this will play out in the end, but for Andrew Mitchell’s sake, I’d advise him to stop listening to those who advised him to do what he did this morning. They’re incompetent fools.

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Radio

Why Mental Health Has Become Important To Me

13 Sep 2012 at 16:38

Mental health remains a subject most people find difficult to talk about. Unless they are affected by it, it’s not something talked about in polite society. Or they are bored by it. I’ve never suffered from depression, or any other form of mental condition, so I have slightly surprised myself at how interested in the subject I have become. My interest was sparked when I was a political candidate in North Norfolk, where I led a campaign to save a dementia care unit in North Walsham. The people I met made me realise how mental health really was, and still is, the cinderella service. Think about it, we care for our physical health, but we regard mental health as of secondary importance. But to those with mental health problems, it’s far from that. It dominates more or less every waking moment of their lives. People who are outwardly extrovert and have very successful careers and happy home lives can often by prime examples of people with chronic depression. The most common response is to tell them to ‘snap out of it’. It’s the worst possible thing you can say. Because it’s impossible to do. If you could, you would.

But mental health is far from being all about depression. Mental health issues come in all shapes and sizes, as I have discovered over the last two years of presenting my LBC radio show. When I started at LBC I never for a moment imagined I would host phone ins on depression, dementia, bereavement, coping with trauma, the psychological effects of child abuse. Who on earth, I thought, would phone in to a radio station and talk about such personal matters. Well, I soon found out that many people do, and regard it as a huge release to be able to talk about things in such a forum. My boss at LBC at the time said that I would always get a good reaction on these subjects because I am a good listener and don’t interrupt all the time. “You’ve got a comforting, non threatening voice,” he said. “People will open up to you in a way they might not to others.” And so it has happened. Some of my best programmes have involved talking about mental health. We’ve had some tears, we have had a lot of emotion, but above all, people feel they are helping others by demonstrating that other listeners are not suffering alone.

On Tuesday I got an email from the mental health charity, MIND, informing me that my show has been shortlisted for the 2012 MIND Media Awards. I’m up for Speech Radio Show of the Year and the News & Current Affairs Show of the Year. The MIND awards are a big thing and take place each November. This year the evening will be hosted by Stephen Fry.

All broadcasters covet award nominations, and I am not different. I’m a comparative newbie at this, but to be nominated for not just one but two awards means a huge amount to me. My sister tweeted me last night to say “Mum would be proud of you.” Cue instant tears. But she would. She listened every night and could never quite comprehend how I could move from discussing Ed Miliband’s leadership to talk about coping with dementia, “just like that”. “How do you know about all these things?” she used to ask? “I don’t,” I replied. “But my listeners do, and I just let them tell their stories.” And in a way, that’s the secret of talk radio. Let the listeners to the talking and only intervene if they start breaking down or need a bit of guidance.

You can read more about the MIND awards HERE.

Here are the two shortlists, I am on…

News and Current Affairs – sponsored by Samaritans

• Combat Stress: BBC Look East / BBC One • Antipsychotic Drugs for Kids: Channel 4 News • Iain Dale: Mental Health & The Work Capability Assessment: LBC • Newsbeat: Male Anorexia: BBC Radio 1 • The Forgotten Fallen: ITV News

Speech Radio

• Henry’s Demons: BBC Radio 4 • Iain Dale: Mental Health Special Programmes: LBC • Mental Health in Prison: Radio Wanno • Poetry and PTSD: BBC Radio 5 Live • Ramblings / Walking around England: BBC Radio 4

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Sport

The Carlton Cole Interview

17 Aug 2012 at 16:44

The last time I interviewed any West Ham players was back in the mid 1990s, when I spoke to Tony Cottee and Stan Lazirides. To be honest, I don’t find many footballers that interesting. Hanging around Upton Park hoping for a brief word with a player has never been my idea of fun, and in six years I have never interviewed a player for this site. So why start now? Well, I had intended to interview Sam Allardyce, but then again so did everyone else. In the end I decided that I’d stand aside and leave him to KUMB or OLAS as I felt it might be interesting to talk to him later in the season rather than now. The club then asked if I’d like to interview a player. Initially, I thought I’d say no, but then I started thinking about Carlton Cole. I’ve always found him to be a bit different to most footballers. He always seemed to me to be a really nice guy, with a bit more about him. From his tweets you can see he has quite a range of interests. So I thought, OK, let’s see if Carlton will do it. ‘How long would you need’ asked the press officer. ‘At least 45 minutes,’ I said. There was an audible gulp. Well, I said, these sort of conversational interviews don’t really work unless they are at least 45 minutes long. And so it was, that I rolled up at Upton Park yesterday lunchtime for an appointment at 1pm. Several of the players were doing press stuff on the pitch, but by 2.15 I was starting to get a bit twitchy. And then the moment came. ‘Would you like to do the interview pitchside?’ I was asked. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth I said yes, of course. So off we went, through the doors, and there it was, the tunnel that the players walk through to get onto the pitch – home dressing room on the right, away dressing room and media interview room on the left. And so it was that for the first time in my life I emerged onto the Upton Park pitch. What a feeling! Carlton was there in his white T shirt and designer jeans, looking slightly smaller than I thought he would. And we spent the next 45 minutes or so sat in the dugout on the Recaro seats chatting about life, football and whatever else came into my mind. There will be three or four parts to this interview. I hope you enjoy it.

ID: Have you been to any of the Olympic events?

CC: No, I haven’t had a chance. We have been away a lot. I have been watching it, though. It was a massive thing for East London, for the whole community – schools, neighbourhoods. Everywhere got an upgrade. We’ve been lucky to have it over here. I really enjoyed the athletics, and it was great to see Mark Hunter get a medal [Mark Hunter was sitting a few yards away from us talking to Kevin Nolan]. I’m not from Jamaica, but to see the Jamaican 4×100 relay team get the world record was really exciting as well. There’s a massive Jamaican community here. I’ve also known Mo Farah since I was at school. He’s from the area where I grew up. It was great to see how the crowd supported him and pulled him through.

ID: Have you been to the Olympic Stadium?

CC: Yes, before it was fully finished. It was still a construction site. Scott Parker, Mark Noble and I got a tour around it before they put all the fittings in.

ID: Do the players talk much about playing there?

CC: No. We haven’t been discussing because nothing’s been confirmed, so we’re just concentrating on our own little pitch here! [laughs and gestures towards the pitch]. As players we’re not really monitoring that situation. We know it’s a massive season for us so we are not really bothered with off the field stuff at the moment.

ID: There’s a lot of stuff in the press about how footballer could learn a lot from the example set by our Olympic athletes. Do you think there’s anything footballers can learn from the way the athletes conducted themselves?

CC: People say we don’t give back to the community in any way, and we’re spoilt brats. I think that’s unfair. A lot of footballers I know do huge amounts of charity work and conduct themselves properly off the field. When you’re an athlete, you have four years to train just for that one moment. We train for every Saturday. It’s a different lifestyle. Yes, we do get paid very well for what we do. I know how hard Mo Farah has worked, because I’ve seen what he has done to get to where he is today. Sometimes these things do work out in different ways money-wise, but that’s just the way it is.

ID: Karren Brady said the other day that there are people working here in the ticket office on £15,000 a year and players who earn double that in a week, and she likes the players to mix with other staff so they don’t lose touch.

CC: I’m not into this big earning thing anyway. Obviously I want to have a good lifestyle and provide for my family. If you look into the money side of it, all people see is just the money instead of what you do as a profession. Obviously to get me where I am today, football has treated me really well, and I know I am privileged to be a footballer. The money bit is just a bonus. I never concentrate on that too much. If you’re driven by money, it’s a different scenario.

ID: When I asked my readers what I should ask you, several of them said: “Can you thank him for taking a pay cut last season, because not many footballers would have done that?”

CC: No one has to thank me for taking a pay cut. I felt I had to pay back a bit because I had had a poor season. I can’t take all the blame but I felt responsible for what happened the season before. I was nearly driven to Stoke as a makeweight, so I said, if I have to take a pay cut, I’ll have to take a pay cut. It would drive me on more to get us back in the Premiership. There’s no bigger reward than that, and in the fashion we did as well. I just felt such a weight off my shoulders. It was a question of honour. I believed in something and I went for it. I took a gamble and it paid off.

ID: When you thought you were going to Stoke, did you feel as if you were being traded as a commodity rather than a human being? Because you clearly didn’t want to go.

CC: I can’t join a football club if my heart’s not really in it. I wouldn’t be happy. And to play the best football, I need to be happy. I need the support of people and my family around me. I spoke to my family and they said ‘if you don’t want to do it, don’t go’. So I decided to just chill out and work with what I had.

ID: You say you need to be happy to play good football. When Gianfranco Zola was here he got the best out of you because he gave you more confidence. How important is it for the manager to recognise he needs to give you confidence to get the most out of you?

CC: It’s always important but not just with me, with any player. If the fans are on your back you can either go one way or the other. Some people will cave in, with others it makes you stronger. You fight through it and concentrate on what you’ve got to do and what is going to be best for the team. As long as you put the team first in anything that you do, then you can’t go wrong. Obviously as a striker I have got to score goals. I have got that added pressure on me. As long as we win the game, that’s the most important thing and if I haven’t scored, then I haven’t scored. If I have contributed in the best way I could, whether it be a goal or an assist or just being a nuisance up front, as long as we win that game, that’s what matters to me.

ID: I remember one game where you came on as a substitute and you actually got booed before you’d even stepped onto the pitch. What goes through your mind when you’re standing there, waiting to go onto the pitch, and all you can hear is people booing you?

CC: To be honest I don’t know what to feel. I wouldn’t have known, because I am fully focussed on what I have to do. It’s only afterwards when people say ‘how come you got booed?’ I say ‘did I?’ I just don’t hear it as much. There will be times when I’m getting booed and I’m not, it’s a decision that’s gone against me. I don’t notice it as much as people really think I do.

ID: Before you came here there was a player called Samassi Abou, and we’d all shout ‘Aboooooooo’ and the TV commentators couldn’t understand why we were booing one of our own players.

CC; [laughs]. That’s quite funny, that.

ID: Have you noticed a difference in the crowd response to you.

CC: Yes, definitely.

ID: I think people ‘get’ you as a player now in a way that they didn’t a few years ago.

CC: My sort of player is as more of a team player. Yes, I am here to score goals but I am a team player. I’ve been criticised for that, which is a bit strange. My team mates appreciate me. They get what I do. And so does the manager. That’s the most important thing. I might not be pleasing to the eye for some fans, they might not like the way I play, but as long as I know what I am in the team for, and I am doing my job I know the manager appreciates what I am doing, and he needs my input for us to get the result.

ID: You’ve played under five different managers at West Ham. What’s the difference between Sam Allardyce and the others?

CC: Obviously Sam has got vast experience in the Premiership and he believes in his way of playing. He believes that there’s his way, but he believes in going with the times as well. He will go the sports science way to prove that you’re not fit enough and that’s why you’re not going to play this week. He really adapts to the times, he’s been really impressive, and he’s open to suggestions as well. He knows where he wants to go. If you’re not achieving that, he’ll tell you straight away. He’ll sit you down. He’s a straight up guy. I think everyone knows that and if you don’t like it, you’ve just got to deal with it because he isn’t going to change.

ID: There were a lot of games last season where we expected you to start, but you didn’t. Do you expect to start every game, or does the modern trend for rotating a squad mean that you accept you won’t start every time?

CC: I don’t expect to start any game. If the manager sees fit to start with another player that means he is fit for that game. He takes a lot of pressure of me if I have another central striker up there. It means I can rest, recharge my batteries and then go again. If that’s the way he feels he can get the best out of me then I am all for it. It’s not that he’s dropping you, he wants the best for the team. I’ll train midweek and the week after and prove myself so I can get in the team. Competition is what you need otherwise there’s a danger you get comfortable and complacent.

ID: Is it true you can’t play two games in a week.

CC: No, it’s not. As long as I am managed properly. Say I play on a Saturday and there’s a game on the Tuesday, I’ll probably play 70 minutes on the Saturday, so I can recover in time. My injury hasn’t been like Ledley King’s injury, it’s been a bit more manageable, but at the start, when I was trying to get used to it and my body was trying to adapt, it was a bit hard for me, but now I’ve got the flow, I know what I’m doing, I know how much I can train and how much I can’t train, there’s a balance there so I know my body.

ID: Are you ready for Saturday.

CC: Yeah, I’m raring to go! We had a training session today and all the lads look sharp. We’ve been trying to get sharp in the matches we’ve had. We’ve had a lot more friendlies this year in pre-season than we did last year. I think we have had five or six more than last year. We have been trying to get match-fit in the pre-season games. There’s been a bit less training and more matches.

ID: What’s Madibo Maiga like as a player?

CC: He’s a great talent, a great signing. As soon as he acclimatises, which he is starting to do now. With the way we play, he will be a great asset to have.

ID: Where exactly does he play?

CC: If he plays up front he would play along another striker, but in 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 he’d play on the wing. He can adapt to different positions and that’s what we need, players who can adapt and be a bit more versatile.

ID: When you read all the transfer speculation about Andy Carroll coming in, do you think to yourself ‘well, that’s me done for?’

CC: I’m a central striker, we haven’t got another big man up top, so what happens if I get injured? We need someone else as well. I have already told the manager that! [laughs]. If you want to improve yourself you have to have competition for places. And that can only be healthy for West Ham.

ID: How important was Gianfranco Zola to you? He brought things out of you that we hadn’t seen in you before, didn’t he? When he went, people wondered how you would progress from there.

CC: Zola was fantastic for me personally. That’s when I got my England call-up and it was a turning point for me. Because he was a striker he understood me, understood how I can play, and he believed in me. Curbs always knew I was a good player but he just wanted me to be 100% all the time and go at it, gung ho. But my type of striker, to be a Number 9, a hold up player, you have to grow into it. That’s what Zola found out that I needed to do. He focussed on that in training.

ID: When you heard he had been sacked?

CC: I was obviously disappointed. I had played with him at Chelsea as well, Steve Clarke too. So I knew him personally. These things happen, you know. I was disappointed for him, but then again, you’ve got to look forward. Forward to who was going to come in. That was obviously Avram, and I had to try and work for him as well. I’m only a player, but I felt bad for Zola.

ID: What was it like under Avram Grant. People said that in the end he lost the dressing room.

CC: [hesitates and laughs]. It was a weird season, a very weird season. It was a tough season as well.

ID: Because you started on fire – was it 8 goals in 10 games? And then you got injured for a long period. It could have been very different…

CC: Exactly. It happened. I’m not about the ‘what ifs’, I just focus on the future and right now my future’s with West Ham. The future’s on Saturday and I am predicting a win! I’m doing my mystic Meg!

ID: What did Scott Parker say in that half time team talk he did after we were 3-0 down against West Brom?

CC: [laughs]. Do you know what? I actually played that up a bit too much. He didn’t really say too much but he said we had to do much better. He was really emotional about it as well. But so was everybody else in the room. It wasn’t just about Scott Parker. It was everybody in the room. Everyone was together. I just mentioned Scott Parker because it was the first thing that came into my mind. But he was one of the real influences on that game.

ID: Didn’t that sum up what had gone wrong under Avram Grant? That he had lost it. It should have been him doing that rallying call, shouldn’t it?

CC: Exactly, and that’s one of the reasons I came out and said it. But you had to read between the lines to understand what was going on.

ID: We all did! What formation do you prefer playing in? Obviously the way Sam Allardyce plays is very different to what went before. Do you like a smaller, Sam Baldock striker playing off you, or do you feel the 4-3-3 or 4-51 plays to your strength?

CC: Any of them play to my strength as I am always going to be the big guy, but there’s always going to be other players buzzing around me. As long as there’s support around me it doesn’t matter whether it’s 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. It’s up to players around me to get into effective positions.

ID: What did it mean to you to get an England call-up?

CC: Some players don’t really care – as long as they give 100%, but if you’re an ambitious player, that’s what you play for, it’s the pinnacle and it means you’re doing something right for your club. Some players never get an England callup but play brilliantly. Look how long it took Scott Parker to get called up. Sometimes even if you’re playing well at your club you just don’t get the call. Look at Nobby here [gestures over to Kevin Nolan, who is nearby], a consistent Premiership player but I don’t think he has ever had an England callup. Sometimes it doesn’t work.

ID: Is there a bit of competition between you and Kevin Nolan. Last season every time you scored, he seemed to. There was a point when we thought he might overtake you!

CC: Do you know what it was? The manager gets into our heads as well. He says ‘Ah, Nobby’s going to overtake you!’ No way! He can’t! Yes, there was a bit of competition there, but it’s all good. We’ve got other strikers doing the same thing this year who will hopefully get double figures, so that can only be a good thing for the club.

ID: Has Roy Hodgson given you a call? Do you think you are in his plans?

CC: No, we haven’t been in touch. If it happens, it happens but I am not really focussed on that right now. I am focussed on my form at club level. That’s what needs to gain me recognition, but if it doesn’t that’s cool.

ID: But you’ll only just be 30 for the next World Cup in two years’ time in Brazil. That’s got to be an aim for you?

CC: Yes, of course. You always have to have aims and targets. If I am doing the business with West Ham, hopefully I wold get the chance. There’s a good history of West Ham players playing for England!

ID: Who’s been your best strike partner over the years at West Ham?

CC: Well there are many to choose from!

ID: But you’re still there!

CC: I know, I don’t know how I’m still here! [laughs]. It’s hard for me to say because I have enjoyed playing with a load of strikers. Demba Ba took a lot of pressure off me. He scored a load of goals. We had Craig Bellamy, Di Michele, Franco. Franco was really good as well. We have had quite our fair share of good players who have moved on now. If I have to pick one, I would say Di Michele.

ID: Really???

CC: Yp, he was such a clever player. He played with the striker. He wasn’t greedy. He wanted me to do well. He always talked to me and tried to help me through. He was a good player to play with.

ID: Do you set yourself targets? I seem to remember last season it was 15 goals, which you achieved. What’s your target this season. It’s got to be 25 surely?!

CC: [giggles]. I’ve got to sit down with the manager again. We’re going to go through it. The way we did it last year was to talk just before the games started. He sat us all down individually and we agreed targets, he told us what he wanted from us. I think that will be happening on Thursday or Friday. I didn’t actually start the season last year, I was on the bench. Freddie Piquionne started against Cardiff so our focus kind of changed during the season.

ID: Do you do a lot of stat work. Sam Allardyce is known to be obsessed by it. Your goals to games ratio is actually a lot lower than people think. Do you look at stats like that and use them to inspire you to do better?

CC: I’ve not actually looked it, I should do. I go with games I start. If you do that I think it’s OK. I need to have a look. When I was younger, at Chelsea, I was always looking at my stats, but with starting games. When you come on as a sub it’s really hard to get into the game, especially for my type of player. I have never seen myself as a game changer, but maybe sometimes I am.

ID: Have you ever consciously changed the way you play? Zola or Clarke once said that you were so nice off the pitch but you needed to be more aggressive on it.

CC: I have had that criticism from a few managers. I go through stages, I think. It’s more of a mental thing than just my character. When I am on it, you can see I’m on it. I’m aggressive. In training today I was aggressive. James Collins was complaining, so I was obviously doing something right, and he’s an aggressive player! I’m in the right frame of mind now to get aggressive and when I am like that I know I am hard to control for a defender.

ID: I think sometimes people look at a player and they see a body style which is quite languid and laconic, but that doesn’t mean to say they are not giving their all.

CC: I always give my all. You can’t hide nowadays. As the manager says, he’s got all the stats there. He knows what you’re supposed to be doing so you can’t hide anymore. Maybe back in the day before all the stattos came out with all these little machines you could get away with not working hard, but now you can’t get away with it at all.

ID: Earlier in your career you were a bit of a nomad. Chelsea sent you out on loan a lot. When you first came not many people though you would stay 6 years. Would you like to see your career out at West Ham?

CC: Of course, yes. I am not really a guy that likes change. I just don’t like it. I like things as I know them. As long as I’m doing what I am supposed to be doing, and not getting in the way, and I feel welcome, I will continue to give my all for the cause. Not many people like change in their jobs and it’s the same for a footballer. You like to know what’s expected of you so it’s the same pressure all the time.

ID: Which of the young players at the club do you think will push forward this season?

CC: I am looking forward to see Robert Hall do well.

ID: I remember Scott Duxbury was waxing lyrical about him when I interviewed him several years ago. I think he was 14 at the time – not Scott, Robert!

CC: Robert is a good, handy player. Really nippy. Daniel Potts is another one. He’s been travelling with us. He made a pretty good debut and hopefully he can progress now and get the experience he needs. We’ve got the people too help him here – players, staff, coaching staff. Young Blair Turgott is another one who’s doing really well. They all train with us and that’s so important. It makes them feel part of it and gives them experience. They came with us on the pre-season tour too. I’m quite happy with all of them at the moment.

ID: What are you hoping for this season? I suppose avoiding relegation has to be the aim.

CC: I’m expecting more than that to be honest with you. We had a lot of Premiership players playing the Championship last year. We have some great players here. Hopefully we can build on what we did last year and do even better. We have Premiership quality here. I’m aiming for mid table – eighth to tenth. That might be a pipedream but if you aim any lower you’re going to be fighting relegation and we don’t want to do that. I’d rather aim high and come up a little short.

ID: How much is Robert Green’s departure going to affect the side? We have two new goalkeepers. What do they bring to the side?

CC: With Jussi I have seen vast experience. He knows what he is doing. Obviously he’s the oldest player in our squad. He talks to you, gives you advice. Especially someone likes me. You’ve then got the young maverick in ‘Hendo’. He’s got quality as well.

ID: Why is he a maverick?

CC: I don’t know. I just call him that.

ID: You mean he comes to play alongside you up front sometimes?

CC: [laughs]. He’s wild. If you know his personality you’ll understand.

ID: Right, he’s the next player I want to interview then!

CC: He’s young and he’s raring to go. He can’t wait to get into the team. So we’ve got youth and vast experience. We’ll see where that takes us, but from what I have seen so far, I can’t see any problems. Rob Green was massive for us in goal and you could always rely on him, but time moves on and we have got to adapt.

ID: Who’s the best defender you’ve ever played against, apart from James Collins, obviously!

CC: In my younger days I played a friendly against Nesta. Stam was a monster. Nowadays in the Premiership I’d say Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are the best pairing. They are really hard to get by.

ID: Who inspired you to become a professional footballer?

CC: My uncle, Duncan King, used to play football who used to play for Chelsea when he was younger, but he got led astray a little. He floated about a bit and went to QPR and Tottenham. He wasn’t focussed on what he had to do. But you’ve got to remember, he was a young kid coming from Africa so he had other things on his mind. It was hard for him. When I was younger he would take me to training, he would talk to me and make sure I stayed positive and analyse my games with me and tell me what I needed to do better or what I was good at. There was another guy called Richard Butler. I used to play for a team around the Hounslow and Ealing area. He used to take me to practice all the time as well and he got me involved me with Chelsea. A real inspiration. I have had a lot of influential and good people around me who helped me make it, and I am very privileged to be here.

ID: When you joined West Ham how aware were you of their history of brining on black players going right back to the 1960s with John Charles and then later Clyde Best, Ade Coker?

CC: I wasn’t aware of it until I got here. I had known West Ham for being the Academy of Football and bringing England players through and having that kind of quality and the youth setup, but I didn’t know about Clyde Best and all the others. But they helped paved the way for us, and as a black boy I am really grateful.

ID: You’re quite famous on Twitter – not always for the right reasons! Well, one time a wrong reason [alluding to whe he was fined £20k for a joke remark made about immigration]…

CC: [laughs] Yes, for a stupid joke.

ID: Is social media a good way to keep in touch with fans?

CC: It’s the best way, I think. Since I have been on Twitter I have been fined £20k and I don’t want to do that again so I have to manage what I say properly, so I have Laura here to help me [points to Laura Burkin, a West Ham press officer]

ID: She’s your brake mechanism.

CC: She tells me to take it down quickly!

ID: Too late. These things are there somewhere for ever!

CC: Yeah, cos someone will retweet it straightaway. Yeah, it’s a great way to stay in touch with the fans – not necessarily to talk about football but to keep in touch about general stuff. I think there’s been a culture of footballers not being in touch with the fans and people complaining about that, saying ‘oh they’ve got too much oney’, ‘they don’t talk to the fans’, ‘they won’t sign programmes’…

CARLTON IS INTERRUPTED BY DAVID GOLD WHO WALKS OVER…

DG: Carlton good to see you in fine form today, good to see you again Iain…

CC: Good to see you chairman!

DG: Don’t be late on Saturday!

CC: I think it’s one of the best ways of communicating with the fans, so they can see what kind of personality you have got. I had to convince Ashley Cole to join Twitter. He’s actually a nice guy but people don’t realise that They just see him as ‘the cheat’. I think Craig Bellamy needs to go on Twitter so people can see where’s he coming from. He’s such a nice guy as well. He does a lot of stuff for where my Mum is from – Sierra Leone. He does a lot of charity work there. People don’t see that side to him. But he’s just not interested. He says ‘why should I have to explain myself, that I’m a nice guy?’ At the end of the day people will never know unless you show them how it is – not to toot your own horn or anything. At the end of the day you’ve got a personality, but people don’t realise you do. They just think you’re a robot.

ID: Have you changed your seat on the team coach now? [Carlton had tweeted earlier in the week that he wants to change his seat on the team coach as he sits by the toilet and it reeks!]

CC: [laughs] I haven’t yet! As I said, I don’t like change! But that toilet is getting out of hand! It’s not smelling too good. I have already had a word with Pete, the driver, and he’s already looking into the air conditioning.

ID: David Gold just walked over. How much do you have to do with him, David Sullivan and Karren Brady? Do they have much to do with the players?

CC: On Friday’s David Gold is always at the training ground and mingles in. He wants to see what is going on, where the injuries are at. He mingles in so all the players are familiar with him. David Sullivan not so much. He used to come down, but he is not as hands on at the training ground. I think Karren Brady has only been to the training ground just once. She’s not interested in that part, she’s interested in us keeping safe, the finance, the business part. But I have a good relationship with all of them.

ID: Right, some quickfire questions now… [Laura, the press officer looks rather nervous at this point!]. What do you eat before a match?

CC: Pasta, Broccoli, that’s my favourite. I love Broccoli, and I’ll have some chicken with that.

ID: Where do you like to go on holiday?

CC: My new favourite destination is Marrakesh. I took my family there. The people, the country, everything’s lovely there.

ID: If you weren’t a footballer, what do you think you’d be doing?

CC: I’d probably be a DJ or something in the music industry. I love DJing in my spare time, I love music.

ID: What kind of music do you like? Stuff I’d never have heard of, no doubt.

CC: Yeah, you’d never have heard of it.

ID: No Roxette, Abba, Dire Straits…

CC: Nah, although I don’t mind listening to it, but I wouldn’t be doing it myself!

ID: Favourite footballer of all time?

CC: That’s a really hard question. Probably Ronaldo. The real one. The Brazilian one.

ID: Last book you read…

CC: [laughs] I’m not going to say what I was going to say…

ID: I bet it was 5 Shades of Grey…

CC: I’m not going to say that! I love comics. So I’m going to say The Avengers.

ID: Funniest thing you have heard from the crowd?

CC: Baldock’s chant! I heard it for the first time last year at the train station. We were coming back from somewhere up north and the crowd just started chanting, ‘Baldock, Baldock, he’s got a massive cock!’ I was in pieces. I was crying.

ID: Best away fans?

CC: I like going to Fulham. They give me a hard time, all the time. And I usually end up scoring against them!

ID: And the worst fans?

CC: Got to be Millwall!

ID: Five dinner party guests. Living or dead.

CC: Bob Marley, Oprah Winfrey, John F Kennedy, Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy because I know he’s make me laugh.

ID: I was going to ask for your favourite politician, but you’ve said JFK. Are there any current politicians you have any respect for?

CC: No, not really, not at the moment. I don’t really follow politics. I don’t really know why. My Grandmother does and she tries to keep me up to date with what’s going on but I’m not really into politics. Only football politics!

ID: Best player you’ve ever played with at West Ham?

CC: Scott Parker would be up there.

ID: Favourite App?

CC: Right now it’s got to be Shazam. I’ve got my own App actually, but it’s not working at the moment so I’ve got to get them to fix it. It’s going to be really good. Shazam is a music app. If a song is playing, it identifies what it is and who it’s by.

ID: That’s it! Great to talk to you Carlton and good luck luck for the season!

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Clegg's Bluff Needs To Be Called

6 Aug 2012 at 16:45

What follows is written more in sorrow than anger. I was a cheerleader for the coalition in the days it took for it to be negotiated. I take little pleasure in seeing it start to fracture. It was right for the country then, and it is now. But it can only work if both sides act like adults instead of indulging in petty posturing and point scoring.

So, this afternoon Nick Clegg laid the law down to David Cameron and told him in no uncertain terms that the terms of trade for the coalition are about to change. With David Cameron having failed to deliver Lords reform, which was (sort of) in the coalition agreement, Nick Clegg says he will now instruct his MPs to refuse to support another part of the coalition agreement – cutting the number of MPs and equalising constituency boundaries. It’s as if he’s saying nah, nah nah nah nah. Has Nick Clegg finally discovered his fangs, or is this further evidence of duplicity by the Liberal Democrats?

But it goes further than that. I believe that in 2015 political commentators will look back on today and say this was the day that set Ed Miliband on course for Downing Street. Because he is the politician who has most to gain from today’s outburst by Nick Clegg. Why? Because Labour has an inbuilt electoral advantage from the current boundaries and if the next election is fought on them, the Tories need to be 10% ahead of Labour even to win a majority of one. But this is also about the LibDems differentiating themselves from the Conservatives and saying to the electorate – hey look, we’re not the same as them. But to do it over an issue that very few people care about? Was that wise? Voters might have even respected Clegg and the LibDems if they had vetoed the NHS Bill. But they didn’t.

A senior Conservative minister has told yesterday that if the LibDems don’t vote for the boundary changes David Cameron should end the coalition and govern as a minority government and dare the LibDems to vote him down. Powerful stuff. Who said politics was boring?

Nick Clegg is, however, getting away with blue murder by claiming the Conservatives have broken the Coalition Agreement. They have done nothing of the sort. It might pay for him to actually read the text of the Coalition Agreement. This is what it says about Lords Reform…

We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

I can see no part of that which David Cameron hasn’t delivered on.

Clegg has now said that LibDem MPs will now vote against the implementation of the Boundary Review. It can only be down to petulance for reducing the number of MPs was in the LibDem manifesto and surely no one can disagree with the equalisation of constituency sizes. In any case, this was always seen as a quid pro quo for the Conservatives allowing a referendum on AV. But even then, the LibDems attemped to insinuate that Cameron had broken the Coalition Agreement for campaigning against AV during the referendum campaign. This despite the text of the Agreement being quite clear…

We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. We will whip both Parliamentary parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.

And if we want to play games about breaking the Agreement, what about this little gem…

We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.

Unless I am very much mistaken, both parties have conveniently forgotten about this one. And what about this…

We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this Parliament, targeted at seats which have not changed hands for many years. These funds will be allocated to all political parties with seats in Parliament that they take up, in proportion to their share of the total vote in the last general election.

Again, ignored by both parties.

It is not only Liberal Democrat MPs who will vote against the implementation of the Boundary Review, apparently Clegg is telling all 19 ministers to do so too. If Cameron has got the balls, he should tell Clegg that if he does that, all 19 will be required to tender their resignations from office. Because Nick Clegg seems to have forgotten a key clause in the coalition agreement. Let me remind him…

2.1 The principle of collective responsibility, save where it is explicitly set aside, continues to apply to all Government Ministers. This requires:

2. Collective Responsibility

(a) an appropriate degree of consultation and discussion among Ministers to provide the opportunity for them to express their views frankly as decisions are reached, and to ensure the support of all Ministers;

(b) the opinions expressed and advice offered within Government to remain private;

© decisions of the Cabinet to be binding on and supported by all Ministers;

Note the wording “binding on and supported by all ministers”. And the consequence of not supporting an agreed government policy? The sack. At least that’s what would happen in any normal government. Perhaps David Cameron should entertain Nick Clegg to a meeting without coffee and tell him some harsh political facts. Shape up or ship out and face a general election. Clegg is massively overplaying his hand and his bluff needs to be called.

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