Quote of the Day
18 Dec 2012 at 11:31
Only the peaceful and law-abiding fear the law today
Quote of the Day
18 Dec 2012 at 11:31
Only the peaceful and law-abiding fear the law today
17 Dec 2012 at 17:13
Four and a half years ago we launched Total Politics magazine. Most people thought it would sink without trace. Who would buy a political lifestyle magazine, let alone advertise it, sneered the cynics. Well, today the magazine was sold to Dods. For me it’s a bittersweet moment as I have decided not to travel with it. The deal makes total business sense and will enable the magazine to grow in a way that might not have been possible otherwise, but I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss it. Shane Greer and Ben Duckworth and their team will be moving to Dods head office off Victoria Street in the new year, and Shane will be overseeing not just TP but a newly created division of Dods. I, meanwhile, will stay behind at Westminster Tower and continue to look after Biteback Publishing, which is not part of the deal. In some ways today marks the end of an era, but also the beginning of a new one. I wish everyone at TP well with their new owners, and look forward to another year of expansion for Biteback Publishing. This year we have published 127 books, a phenomenal achievement. And we have some great titles lines up next year, as you will soon discover!
13 Dec 2012 at 21:33
Just got this email from an LBC listener…
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?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quote of the Day
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
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage tells Iain Dale on LBC 97.3 about being locked in a pub 'for his own safety' on the campaign trail in Scotland. After his event was gatecrashed by 'Scottish nationalists'.
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.
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