Radio

The Cruelty of Families

30 Dec 2012 at 18:33

Christmas can be a very lonely time, especially for the elderly. I hear time and time again on my radio show of people whose families just aren’t there for them. They’re too busy with their own lives to worry about their elderly parents, let alone visit them. I just don’t understand why people are so callous to the very ones who brought them into the world. Listen to this call my colleague Petrie Hosken took on her LBC show this afternoon.

Shame on them indeed.

Some people can be very condescending about talk radio. But where else would you hear gut wrenching stories like this, that make you sit down and think about the society we live in and the kind of families we have become? Petrie Hosken is brilliant on these sorts of subjects. When I first started at LBC I never thought I could handle emotional calls like this without having a bit of tear in my eye. And I was right. But I don’t worry about that now, and nor does Petrie. It’s called empathy. And it’s what this woman’s family need to learn the art of.

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Iain talks to the stars of 'Handbagged'

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UK Politics

Is Paul Goodman Right? Are the Tories a 2015 Write-Off?

30 Dec 2012 at 15:18

It is a brave man who predicts an election result two and a half years away from polling day, but that it what Paul Goodman has done in today’s Sunday Telegraph . Paul is a shrewd observer and one of my favourite pundits. He may have been a loss to the Commons, but he is a must read as a commentator. He reckons the Tories haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of winning and he predicts a Miliband led government. On the face of it, it’s not a risky call. This year has been little short of a disaster for the Conservatives. They appear out of touch, incompetent and without any sort of direction or strategy. Despite some encouraging inflation and employment figures, growth is weak and manufacturing lingers in the doldrums. Borrowing continues to rise way beyond the levels George Osborne originally forecast.

In addition, the majority of cabinet ministers seem to have been taken prisoner by their civil servants and have forgotten that they are party politicians with a message to sell. Several seem to have forgotten that they are even Conservatives. And then there are the Liberal Democrats, seemingly doing everything they can to destabilise the coalition in a desperate attempt to regain an identity. Yes, you Vince Cable.

But is it really so bleak as Paul Goodman would have us believe? In the short term yes. But a lot can happen in 30 months, and while David Cameron would be very wise not to rely on a Macmillan-esque upturn in ‘events’ things are still at least partially within his control. But he needs to rediscover the sure political touch which was so evident in his first year in power, but which vanished in 2012.

Ed Miliband had a very good 2012 but he and his colleagues still remain an asset for the Conservatives. Ed Balls has developed into a formidable politician in many ways, but as long as he stays Shadow Chancellor the Tory message of “Would you want to let them do it over again?” remains a very powerful one. Ed Miliband’s political strategy in 2013 will go a long way to deciding whether Paul Goodman’s prediction comes true.

Psephologically it is easy to put the case for the Goodman scenario. The death of the boundary changes make it even more difficult for the Tories to win outright. But we are also in a very new electoral game. Depending on how the LibDem vote disintegrates, the Tories could win 20 or 30 extra seats in the south of England without even trying. In seats in the south west, Labour may gain from extra LibDem votes, but it will generally be the Conservatives who gain the seats.This could make up for the loss of the 20-30 seats boundary changes would have given the Tories.

Of course, these gains could all be negated by the UKIP effect. If UKIP win the 2014 European elections (as I currently expect them to do) who knows what might then happen. It would be a foolish commentator who predicted they would actually win any parliamentary seats in 2015, but they could certainly stop the Tories winning a couple of dozen or more. Michael Fabricant recognised this and put together a paper sugggesting some sort of pact with UKIP. What he failed to recognise is that this would necessitate a change of Tory leader. Nigel Farage would never do a deal with Cameron. He dislikes him. He doesn’t trust him, and it’s difficult to see what would be in it for him and his party.

I do not think UKIP could ever be bought off, so there is little point in trying. To develop a whole political strategy around neutering UKIP would be bound to end in failure. No, far better to render them an irrelevance. How does Cameron do that? By legislating for a referendum in advance of the election. Only in that way will Tory-UKIP switchers ever be convinced that such a referendum will actually happen. And even then, they wouldn’t be 1100% sure.

David Cameron’s big European speech has been hyped up so much that it needs to have a very big announcement contained in it. I don’t think just announcing some sort of woolly referendum on renegotiated terms will cut it with that 5% of voters for whom this issue is more important than almost any other.

If I had to put money now on the result of the next election, I’d go along with Paul Goodman and agree that Labour will win. But I am not as sure as he is that this is an inevitable outcome. David Cameron has to prove that there is a lot of political life left in him yet. The next twelve months will go a long way to showing whether that is the case.

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Lady Pamela Hicks

Iain talks to Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten, talks about her new book, DAUGHTER OF EMPIRE

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List

My Top 50 Favourite Tweeters of 2012

30 Dec 2012 at 13:34

Each new year I do a list of people whose tweets I have most enjoyed during the previous 12 months. I follow about 1100 people on Twitter (I think it might be time for a cull, but I know how upset people get when they are unfollowed!) but these are the ones who have entertained, informed, educated, annoyed and, most of all, made me laugh this year. They are, in no particular order…

@AFNeil
@ShippersUnbound
@PaulWaugh
@StephenNolan
@campbellclaret
@50ShadesOfShit
@ZoeqsWilliams
@Smithjj62
@TomHarrisMP
@adamboulton
@TimMontgomerie
@MehdiRHasan
@Brit_Battleaxe
@TheJamesWhale
@JamesWharton
@ThereseCoffey
@StanCollymore
@KerriSackville
@GuidoFawkes
@MichaelLCrick
@NadineDorriesMP
@GrantTucker
@SimonMarksFSN
@NotBigSam
@Conor_BurnsMP
@OwenJones84
@BigBigBen
@GabyHinsliff
@KatyScholes
@TheOllyMann
@JohnRentoul
@ReporterBoy
@DonalBlaney
@TheJamesMax
@NigelFletcher
@JuliaHB1
@SuttonNick
@RobinLustig
@CarltonCole1
@DuncanBarkes
@MrCarlMcQueen
@IanCollinsUK
@CarolineFeraday
@MrJamesOB
@Tony_McNulty
@OFlynnExpress
@BobBallardSport
@MatthewStadlen
@NickyAACampbell
@TweeterAnita
@His_Grace

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Iain interviews Fern Britton

Fern Britton talks about mental illness and excessive homework

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Rant

Arise Sir Hector, Arise Sir Peter - The Spoils of Failure

29 Dec 2012 at 13:49

At about quarter past midnight last night, I lost it a bit on Twitter…

You see, an honours system is only worth having if it is respected by the people. and not devalued by those responsible for bestowing honours. So who the effing hell thought it ws a good idea to give a Knighthood – a Knighthood FFS! – to the man who presided over banking regulation in the years leading up to the credit crisis of 2008, and was actually chief executive of the FSA when it broke. Yes, step forward Sir Hector bloody Sants. I’ve never met him, I don’t know him, for all I know he is very nice to children and animals, but whatever his qualities, he is surely one of the key people responsible for what happened to our banking system and who failed to see it coming.

So in typical Sir Humphrey style, he isn’t fired,he is rewarded. Oh, and just for good measure he’s about to take up a £3 million a year appointment as Head of Compliance at Barclays. The good old boys network is still very much alive and well in the British Establishment, The Guardian comments…

By recommending Sants for a top honour, ministers are signalling their unequivocal gratitude for his contribution to keeping the banking system from systemic meltdown.

Are they indeed. Well that’s not how the rest of us will see it.

And then there’s Peter bloody Hendy. He’s also been made a Knight of the Realm. For what? Presiding over one of the worst run and profligate quangos in Britain, Transport for London? Perhaps it’s for continuing to implement a London transport policy dreamt up by Ken Livingstone, and constantly pulling the wool over Boris Johnson’s eyes. Oh how I wish I was on LBC tomorrow morning to pour a warm bucket of shit over this Honours List.

Let’s look at the political section of the Honours List. Damehoods are awarded to Margaret Beckett and Angela Watkinson. Delighted for both of them. But isn’t there a little inconsistency here. One has been an MP since 1974. The other since 1997. One has been Leader of a political party and Foreign Secretary. The other has been an Assistant Whip. On the plus side I am delighted Richard Shepherd has been given a Knighthood – a true Parliamentarian. There are also OBEs and CBEs for two LibDem MPs Annette Brooke and Roger Williams, and an OBE for former Tory MP Christopher Fraser – seemingly a consolation for the Peerage which has never been forthcoming. The ever so nice Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the LibDems on the GLA gets an MBE.

Unsurprisingly the odd Tory donor gets a gong too, leading Labour’s Michal Dugher to puff himself up into self righteous indignation…

“By doling out knighthoods and other honours to big money Tory Party donors… David Cameron shows once again how out of out of touch he is and how he always stands up for the wrong people,”

What a short memory he has. LibDem Peer and all round sage on matters related to Vince Cable, Lord Oakeshott is also quick to stick the knife in…

“It’s Arise, Sir Donor, as usual.”

Not a comment from him on the OBE for LibDem money man Andrew Wiseman, though. Funny that.*

There is much comment in the papers about the CBE for Cherie Blair. Frankly, I have no issue with it. She has indeed done a lot for various charities and womens’ issues. At least there is a logic to her gong, unlike many others. So sorry to disappoint, no rant against Cherie from me.

Finally, the Olympics. Actually, I think a good job has been done here, by and large. There has been much comment that Mo Farah should have got a Knighthood and Jessica Ennis a Damehood. I beg to differ. They are mid career, not reaching the end. What happens if in Rio Mo Farah repeats his double gold? Would he then get a Peerage? Shame on anyone who believes their lesser honours are as a result of innate racism in the honours system.

A word on Ken Livingstone. On his LBC show this morning he revealed he had turned down a CBE for his role in securing the London Olympics. Good on him, in some ways, for sticking to his principles.

And finally, many congratulations to my colleague at Global Radio, Darren Henley, who is head of Classic FM. He got an OBE for the work he has done for the government on music in education.

UPDATE: Just seen that Mary Beard got an OBE. Delighted. And deserved.

UPDATE: Oops. I had thought Andrew Wiseman was LibDem Treasurer. Turns out he is their Conference Committee chairman, not Treasurer. Sorry!

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Video: Iain & Sally Bercow review the papers

Sky News, August 21 2010

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Music

Whatever Happened to Enya?

29 Dec 2012 at 12:44

She’s sold 80 million albums worldwide, is one of Ireland’s leading exports and a massive talent, yet Enya hasn’t released a new album since Amarantine back in 2005. A new album was rumoured in 2011 but nothing has happened. I have every song she has ever released and would love to know why seven years have passed since her last album and whether anything new is on the horizon. Enya is one of those artists some people love to hate. I’ve never understood why. She’s accused of recycling the same song over and over again by people who ought to know better. It’s presumably because she has a very distinctive sound – but so do most successful recording artists. You know a Dire Straits track when you hear one, but they were never accused of rehashing a single song.

So come on Enya, let’s have a new album please. Soon!

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Margaret Thatcher about the Royal Wedding

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Gerard McCarthy

28 Dec 2012 at 14:03

Worst Xmas Present ever: The Bonnie Tyler Sat Nav. It keeps telling me to turn around & every now and then it falls apart.

Gerard McCarthy

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LBC 97.3 Iain talks to David Aaronovitch about Ed Miliband

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TV/Film/Theatre

DVD Review: Borgen

28 Dec 2012 at 13:25

Until this Christmas I had never seen an episode of Homeland, Borgen or The Killing. I’m one of those people who binge out on DVD box sets rather than watch a series an episode at a time. Many happy Christmases have been spent feasting on five or six episodes at a time of the West Wing, 24 or Lost.

For the last week I have been suffering from a rather bad dose of the lurgi, which has been so bad at times that I couldn’t even be bothered to switch on the TV. (I’m getting a bit better now, thanks for your concern!). However, I did manage to watch the first series of Homeland and quite enjoyed it, although I didn’t think it lived up to the hype. It was quite slow moving and had some very irritating characters. The thought that Carrie’s bipolar disorder wouldn’t have been discovered by the CIA was just laughable. However, let’s not carp. It’s left me wanting to watch Series 2, so it can’t have been that bad. I suppose I was wanting it to be a worthy successor to ‘24’, but truth be told, it only ever got to a ‘15’.

The same cannot be said of Borgen. I was hooked right from the first minute. Indeed, I am slightly ashamed to admit that I watched all ten episodes within a 24 hour period. No, since you ask, I don’t have a life. It was gripping. I’m quite used to watching programmes with subtitles from my time living in Germany, so that part of it didn’t bother me at all. Indeed, I hope it has made UK TV executives wake up to all the terrific foreign language programming we are missing out on.

Some will say that the plotlines are slightly predictable, and they’d have a point. Some of the characterisations are also predictable but the quality of acting means this hardly matters. The incestuous relationship between politicians and the media is laid bare for all to see as is the grubby side of coalition politics.

Birgitte Nyborg is very much of the same politics as the West Wing’s President Bartlet, although she doesn’t quite have as much of the ‘vision thing’ as he does. The subplot throughout the ten episodes is the changing relationship between Nyborg and her husband Philip Christensen, who finds it increasingly difficult to cope with the stresses manifested by his wife’s job. This storyline is again, somewhat predictable, but somehow, again, it doesn’t matter.

I thought the best actor in the series was from Pilou Asbeak who plays the PM’s spin doctor Kasper Juul. He has a dark side to him, as most spin doctors do, but is more self aware than most. The most unrealistic character was political journalist Katrine Fonsmark. She grated with me for all sorts of reasons, not least that I cannot imagine a 29 year old journalist constantly having public shouting matches with her editor. The woman she replaced as news anchor for TV1, Hanne Holm, was by far the more interesting character, and I’d like to see more of her in the next series.

Perhaps the best thing to emerge from Borgen is that it shows how an idealistic leader is forced to come to term with wielding political power. I wonder if Nick Clegg is a fan.

Interestingly NBC are to make a US version of Borgen, which leads me to ask why it is that UK broadcasters seem incapable of making multi-episode dramas like this. Borgen and the West Wing treat politics and politicians as forces for good as well as bad. Our broadcasters would reject any script which showed politicians in a good light. It all needs to be about scandal and corruption. Shame on them.

My dilemma now, is do I Sky Plus series two which begins on BBC4 in early January, or do I wait for the box set to come out later in the year? Somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until then.

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Kate Adie

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Personal

The All New Iain Dale's Diary ... Er, Why?

27 Dec 2012 at 19:03

“You’re like a dog returning to its own vomit,” said a friend when I told her I was going to restart my blog. Charming. But yes, after a two year interlude, I am indeed returning to writing my own blog and winding up Dale & Co. Let me explain.

When I announced, back in December 2010, that I was stopping blogging, people seemed to miss the fact that I said I wasn’t ruling out a return to it when the time was right. At the time I had just been taken on by LBC and there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. The blog began to suffer. I’d usually write 5-8 pieces a day, but it wasn’t just about being prolific, I just wasn’t enjoying it. I knew that if I continued by just writing an occasional blog, my readers wouldn’t like it, so I decided the best course of action was to stop altogether.

Six months later I started Dale & Co, a multi-authored site, on which I would write something as and when I felt like it. But in all honesty, Dale & Co never really took off. It only ever seemed to get much traction when I wrote an article myself, and that wasn’t very often. It actually had a lot of talented contributors and several of them took on a loyal following, but I never really enjoyed running the site. So a couple of months ago I decided to shut it down and go back to my individual blog.

Who knows whether I will enjoy blogging again. I know I won’t be as prolific as I was before. I suspect the range of things I will write about will be different. My life is different, with different priorities. I certainly won’t be watching traffic levels as much as I used to, if at all. I’m going to do this my way, in the hope that people will like it.

In terms of commenting, you must log in through your Facebook or Twitter account. I’m not allowing anonymous comments at all. If you haven’t got one, it’ll take you 5 minutes to create one.

You will notice a feature which alerts you to when I am on air on LBC and enables you to listen live, via the blog. We’ll also be having guest posts from one or two of the more popular contributors to Dale & Co.

We’ll be adding a few features over the next few weeks. I am sure you won’t be backward in coming forward in suggesting things you think I ought to add, or write about, or indeed tell me what you don’t like.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Margaret Thatcher about the Royal Wedding

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Ed Miliband

27 Dec 2012 at 16:57

If spin doctors could design a politician, I suspect he wouldn’t look like me.

Ed Miliband, 15 Jun 2012

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I'm Like a Sith, Says a Caller Responding to my Views on Syria

May the force be with me

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Personal

Glad to See the Back of 2012

24 Dec 2012 at 19:43

It’s only natural, with Christmas approaching and a new year on the horizon that we all think about the year that has gone by. 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. Her funeral was on June 25th. Six months later, on Christmas morning I shall drive to the village church in Essex where she was buried and have a good cry by her grave. I’ll have breakfast with my father and sister, and them drive back home to Kent to spend Christmas with my partner for the first time in the 17 years we have been together. You see, I could never bring myself to say to my mother, “Sorry, I won’t be there for Christmas this year.” Call me a sentimental old fool, but I always thought the first year I did that would mean that inevitably one of my parents would die in the following twelve months. I loved our Christmas rituals. I loved the fact that my mother would put a single Brussels sprout on my plate each year knowing full well that I would immediately put it back on hers. Brussels sprouts – invention of the devil. I loved our present giving rituals, with my mother unable to hide the fact she didn’t like a particular present. I’ll so miss her telling my father to ‘wake up’ as he would inevitably fall asleep by the fire. Christmas Day this year will inevitably be filled with tears, not only for us but for families throughout the country. But thank goodness we are able to show our feelings for those who are no longer with us. It’s what makes us human. A very happy Christmas to you all, and thank you for reading my columns throughout the year.

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Iain meets Gordon Aikman

Gordon has MND. He's raised £500k. He's an inspiration.

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