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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LBC 97.3 Book Club: Iain talks to Nigel Farage

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The Greatest Sporting Night of My Life

6 Aug 2012 at 16:40

I never thought I could attend a sporting occasion which surpassed the 2006 FA Cup Final. And then along came this year’s Championship Playoff Final. Last night I attended the evening session of the athletics at the Olympic Stadium. Well, we all know what happened. It proved to be the greatest night in the history of British athletics. And I was there. I still find it difficult to believe that the lottery of Olympic ticket applications gave me one of the most wonderful sporting experiences of my life, and one I doubt will ever be surpassed. Even if West Ham won the Champions League, I am not sure it would rank alongside. OK, I lie.

Like everyone else, I applied for tickets many months ago. I went through all the sports and decided that it was really only the athletics I was interested in. Knowing what I know now I’d happily have had tickets for the gymnastics or cycling, but in the event I only applied for tickets on two nights – last night and tonight. I went for Category A tickets rather than AA, as I thought the AA ones would be hugely popular. I waited, and waited. And waited. I heard nothing, so assumed that like hundreds of thousands of others, I had been unlucky. C’est la vie.

But then, three months later I opened a credit card statement for a card I hardly ever use (Visa!) and saw that £590 had been debited. WTF! And then I saw www.London2012.com. My joy was unconfined. Scroll forward to yesterday.

I decided to take my 13 year old niece, Philly, with me, as I knew it would an experience she would never forget. We set off from Tonbridge around 2pm, arriving at London Bridge 40 minutes later to change to the Jubilee Line. We decided to get off at West Ham and walk for 25 minutes along the so-called Greenway to Stratford. It proved to be quite an experience with street performers and the Gamesmakers entertaining us along the way. The Olympic Park itself had the feeling of a county show. There was plenty to see and plenty to do as we waited for the gates to the stadium to open at 5pm. We gave up on the queue for the Olympic shop and instead sampled some of the food on offer. I did think £16.60 for two hot dogs, a coke and a Fanta was a bit much, but you expect that at big events like this, I suppose.

The great thing about the day thus far was the fact that you could smile at and talk to complete strangers without them thinking you were weird or a pervert.

And so the moment came. The moment when we finally got to look inside the Olympic Stadium, the place I hope will be the future home of West Ham United FC. The place I will go every other Saturday afternoon. Would I be disappointed. Would I look in horror at the distance from the seats to the pitch? What would the acoustics be like? All these questions were about to be answered.

Climbing the steps into the stadium and looking in for the first time takes your breath away. Yes, it really is that impressive. But it is much smaller than you think. TV pictures make any football ground and pitch look bigger than they really are. I was sitting at the end opposite the Olympic flame towards the back of the lower tier. The view was fantastic. Unless I wanted to see the long jump, which was off to one side. I could also see that the grass in the middle was only about half the size of a football pitch and once it was enlarged the view would be even better. But what about if you’re in the Upper Tier Row Z. Well, I went and had a look again, fully prepared to be horrified. I wasn’t. The view was far better than the view I had from high up in the Blackpool end at Wembley in the playoff final. I’d even go so far as to say that I’d be quite happy for my season ticket to be there. Unless you have been inside the Stadium, you just cannot comment on it. But that doesn’t stop people from making reference to binoculars and the like. Karren Brady was right. The views from every seat in the stadium are not just acceptable, they are outstanding. I could also see how they could put in retractable seating to make the pitch closer to the crowd. No doubt I will get crucified by West Ham traditionalists for saying this, but anyone who doesn’t think this move ought to be crucial to West Ham’s future is the football equivalent of a Luddite. My heart says ‘stay with what we know’, but my head tells me something very different. Trust me, when you have seen it for yourself you will know what I mean.

Towards the end of the evening, just before Jessica Ennis’s medal ceremony the crowd starting singing along with All You Need Is Love. It was spine-tingling. For a moment I imagined 60,000 Hammers fans belting out I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.’ I got quite emotional at the thought.

Would West Ham fill 60,000 seats for each home game? No. But as long as we are in the Premier League I’d be very surprised if the attendance ever fell below 40,000. And for games against Man U, Man C, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea we’d be full. That’s one third of home league games, just for the record.

There’s little I can add to the athletics that hasn’t already been said. It was a privilege to watch it. Not just Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah, but also Greg Rutherford winning the Long Jump. In fact the whole evening was a delight. I had never been to an Athletics event before but I do think I will go to one again after this. It’s a shame that events like the Long Jump and Discus seem to play second fiddle to the track, and I felt very sorry for Greg Rutherford in a way. He was about to do his final jump, when Jessica Ennis appeared alongside him on the track doing her lap of honour. He fluffed his jump, but in the end it didn’t matter.

Mo Farah’s run was astonishing. 25 times he ran straight in front of us, and it was right in front of us that he made his move. I have never heard such a cacophony of noise that accompanied him down the home straight. We were all shrieking our heads off. No one can tell me that that kind of support doesn’t spur an athlete on to even faster times. I guess our medal haul is proof of that.

We all felt rather cheated that we didn’t get to witness the medal ceremonies for Farah and Rutherford, but the evening closed with Jessica Ennis receiving her gold. Hearing the national anthem belted out by such a crowd was something all of us there are never likely to forget. It was a great night to be British.

The great thing about the whole day was that everything worked. And it’s not often you can say that in this country. Even getting home on the Javelin train proved to be fairly easy. The Gamesmakers and stewards were fabulous – pleasant, smiling and approachable. And they even tried to entertain queuing crowds. I hope the government does two things to reward them – create a British Olympic Medal and then do what Sydney did in 1996 and organise a parade through the centre of London. These volunteers have made these games memorable in a way no one could have predicted. Yes, it has been all about athletic achievement, but for those in the crowd they made the Olympic experience a very different one, and one which those of us have witnessed it will not forget for a very long while.

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Top Ten Ways the Olympic Ceremony Would've Been Different If It Had Been Organised by Aidan Burley

29 Jul 2012 at 18:36

10. Alf Garnett and Vera Lynn dance the Charleston, while the crowd is showered with food stamps and Bird’s custard.

9. Twenty minutes of BUPA nurses jumping up and down on beds

8. Czech athletes ordered to remove blue wellies and replace them with shiny jackboots

7. Kenneth Branagh begins the ceremony – dressed as Enoch Powell

6. The Chimneys can stay, as long as children are sent up them

5. The return of the Black & White Minstrel show

4. Suffragettes made to clean up the stadium afterwards

3. Marchers have to comply with a rule that required straight leg lift above the horizontal.

2. Muhammed Ali replaced by Melanie Phillips

1. Jim Davidson to light the Olympic flame

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Let's Reward the Olympic Volunteers With a Medal Too

29 Jul 2012 at 16:46

The Olympics are only three days old but one thing that has already shone through is the extraordinary job being done by the 70,000 or so volunteers who are ensuring that people enjoy the Olympic experience. And I am not just talking about those at the Olympic stadium. The thousands of volunteers who are on the streets of London in their fluorescent vests, who don’t wait to be approached, they approach members of the public and visitors to London to check they know where they are going. Same thing on the transport system. I experienced it first hand returning from the opening ceremony. All the volunteers were so incredibly cheerful, and many of them had been in post for more than twelve hours.

On my LBC show this morning I had an idea. It’s not often that happens, so bear with me. My idea was that everyone who volunteered for these games should be recognised by the award of a British Olympic Medal, or even the British Empire Medal. It would mean a lot to those who have volunteered and give them a memento of their work which they could look at with pride in the years ahead, and be a focal point for them to explain to their children in years to come what they did in 2012.

I put it to the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd, and he seemed to think it was a good idea and he was already in discussions with LOCOG about how to recognise the tremendous effort of the volunteers. Let’s hope it happens.

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Aidan Burley Was So Very Wrong

28 Jul 2012 at 18:38

I’ve just finished watching the Olympic Opening ceremony on Sky Plus, as last night I had to watch the pictures without sound, while I was hosting LBC’s Olympic opening ceremony programme. Why no sound? Well, because the BBC had the broadcasting rights, we were not allowed to be in the stadium or give a running commentary. Instead we had to describe anything after they happened, not while it happened. I have to say it was the most challenging programme I have ever hosted. We were on the balcony of the MWB Sky Bar which overlooks the Olympic Stadium and the entrance to the Olympic Park. It got particularly interesting just as I was about to start at 7 when the technicals all went awry and I had to start dry, with no intro, no jingle and no news bulletin. The perils of outside broadcasts, eh! And then after twenty minutes the heavens opened and I found myself broadcasting with a very moist back and sitting in a puddle of water. Not nice.

OK, so what did I make of it all? Was it, as the Tory MP Aidan Burley put it, a load of leftie, multicultural rubbish? Or did it represent Britain at its finest?

It was certainly a spectacle, and overall it reminded me of a giant West End musical. I kept thinking ‘Les Mis’ during the Industrial Revolution scenes. Musically, I thought it was fantastic, especially in the early part. The music montage bit later on was absolutely superb. It held my attention and I enjoyed the passage through various aspects of our more ancient and then contemporary history. You could quibble with some of the things Danny Boyle chose to depict, but that’s what it would be – a quibble. Overall it hung together and at times it was visually astonishing.

I had my reservations about the whole thing beforehand. I thought it might be buttock –clenchingly embarrassing, but my fears were misplaced. It was quite the reverse. OK, I thought the NHS section was a bit odd and went on too long, but if that’s my worst complaint, it’s a very minor one. Actually, strike that. It isn’t my worst complaint. That accolade goes to Sir Paul McCartney. Dreadful. Awful. Out of tune. Leave the stage. Now. Having said that, I’ve never liked him or his music.

Last night I speculated on his well this would travel internationally. Bearing in mind there was a worldwide audience of more then 1 billion it seemed a little odd to include some very esoteric Uk-centric references. For a UK audience there was something for everyone, but would people in Seoul, or Delhi or Singapore have understood references to Michel Fish or GOSH? Perhaps it didn’t matter. No doubt tomorrow papers will report how the world viewed it.

Something which many people probably didn’t know is that US TV didn’t carry it live. I was bombarded by emails from people listening to LBC in the USA complaining that NBC weren’t showing it until 00.30 our time.

So as you can see, I certainly don’t agree with Aidan Burley’s analysis or opinion. But that’s all he offered – an opinion. The way the world has descended on him you’d have thought he’d suggested a slaughter of the first born. Yes, after his previous misdemeanor (the Nazi salute) you might think he’d be more careful in venturing to offer controversial views via Twitter. We do actually have free speech in this country and it’s not yet against the law to offend people. Burley may be a fool, but that’s all.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it and it got the Olympics off to a cracking start. Now let’s collect a record haul of medals!

And perhaps Aidan Burley can get a life.

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Iain Talks to Labour MP John Woodock About His Depression

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Tim Yeo Is The Unacceptable Face of Conservatism

24 Jul 2012 at 18:39

There’s a bitter row going on between George Osborne and Ed Davey about the level of subsidy given to renewable energy and wind turbines in particular The chairman of the Energy & Climate Change Select Committee, Tim Yeo, has waded in and attacked the Chancellor for wanting to rediuce subsidies to the wind farm sector by 25%. I am sure his motives are pure and that he is thinkin entirely of the plant. However, Yeo’s colleague on the Conservative benches, Christopher Heaton-Harris is less sure. Yesterday afternoon, heaton-Harris tweeted this…

“Unsurprised by Tim Yeo’s comments. I’m sure he’s genuinely worried about the subsidies 4 green jobs, esp as he holds so many of them himself”

I suspect Mr Heaton-Harris has by now received a stern phone call from his whip ordering him to delete the said tweet.

I have always found Tim Yeo’s interest in climate change and green issues a tad hypocritical bearing in mind the amount of time he spends flying round the world playing golf. But it appears it goes deeper than that. Yesterday I dug out his entry in the latest Register of Member’s Interests. I print it below.

I haven’t bothered to add up all his outside earning from companies associated with energy renewables but it must be in excess of £90,000. Just what does he do for these companies? How does he justify his £300-£400 hourly rate?

To be fair to Mr Yeo, and I like to be, as you know, he fully declares all his outside earnings and he was elected as chairman of this committee when his colleagues knew full well what his outside interests were.

But I am afraid it still stinks.

I interviewed Labour MP Barry Gardiner on my programme about this last night. He’s a member of Yeo’s committee and seemed entirely relaxed about it. He said that Yeo had offered to withdraw from questioning when this subject came up in front of the committee. The committee didn’t accept his offer.

My Yeo has done nothing wrong. Under the rules he is perfectly within his rights to do this.

But it seems to be a massive error of judgement on his part to think that he can both take the money and remain as chairman of this committee. And let’s not forget, he gets an extra sum from the taxpayer for chairing the committee too!

James Delingpole has just challenged his Twitter followers to name a more loathsome Tory MP. At the time I said he had set an impossible challenge, although I have now thought of two rivals (I’ll keep them to myself). But if Tim Yeo stands down at the next election it won’t be a moment too soon.

Tim Yeo: Member’s interests

Extract from the register of members’ interests

1. Remunerated directorships

ITI Energy Limited; suppliers of gasification equipment.

AFC Energy; company developing alkaline fuel cell technology. Address: Unit 71.4 Dunsfold Park, Stovolds Hill, Cranleigh, Surrey, GU6 8TB. Undertake duties as Chair, run board meetings and keep in touch with senior management.

Received payment of £3,750, 9 May 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)

Received payment of £3,750, 13 June 2011. Hours: 12 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £3,750, 11 July 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £3,750, 22 August 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £3,750, 12 September 2011. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £3,750, 7 October 2011. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)

Received payment of £5,000, 14 November 2011. Hours: 10 hrs. (Registered 13 December 2011)

Received payment of £5,000, 13 December 2011. Hours: 12 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2012)

Received payment of £5,000, 10 January 2012. Hours: 9 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2012)

Received payment of £3,350, 8 February 2012. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 13 March 2012)

Received payment of £990, 29 February 2012. Hours: 2 hrs. (Registered 13 March 2012)

Groupe Eurotunnel SA (non-executive) (of which Eurotunnel plc is a wholly owned subsidiary); company managing the Channel Tunnel. Address: Cheriton Parc, Cheriton High Street, Folkestone, Kent, CT19 4QS. My duties as a non-executive director include attendance at meetings of the Board and of the Environment and Safety Committee and advising senior management on a range of issues.

Received payment of £3,622.57, 9 May 2011. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)

Received payment of £3,569.33, 31 May 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)

Received payment of £7,238.97, 28 July 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £6,440.62, 12 September 2011. Hours: 16 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £4,245.20, 14 October 2011. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)

Received payment of £3,526.97, 21 November 2011. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 13 December 2011)

Received payment of £6,885.38, 31 January 2012. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2012)I

Received payment of £4,649.09, 9 February 2012. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 13 March 2012)

Eco City Vehicles plc, Hemming House, Hemming Street, London, E1 5BL; distributes and services London taxis. Duties include chairing board meetings and keeping in touch with senior management.

Received payment of £3,333.33, 23 May 2011. Hours: 9 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)

Received payment of £3,333.33, 22 June 2011. Hours: 9 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £3,333.33, 22 July 2011. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £3,333.33, 22 August 2011. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £3,333.33, 22 September 2011. Hours: 8 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £3,333.33, 24 October 2011. Hours: 6 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)

Chairman of TMO Renewables Limited, 40 Alan Turing Road, Surrey Research Park, Guilford, Surrey GU2 7YF. The company is developing and supplying technology for second generation biofuels. My duties involve chairing board meetings and keeping in touch with senior management.

Received payment of £1,666.73, 25 May 2011. Hours: 4 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 27 May 2011. Hours: 11 hrs. (Registered 14 June 2011)

Received payment of £1,666.73, 24 June 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 27 June 2011. Hours: 14 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 22 July 2011. Hours: 13 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £1,666.53, 25 July 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 22 August 2011. Hours: 14 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £1,666.73, 25 August 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 22 September 2011. Hours: 14 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £1,666.73, 23 September 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 12 October 2011)

Received payment of £4,166, 23 October 2011. Hours: 13 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)

Received payment of £1,666.73, 25 October 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)

Received payment of £4,166, 24 November 2011. Hours: 13 hrs. (Registered 13 December 2011)

Received payment of £1,666.73, 25 November 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 13 December 2011)

Received payment of £1,666.73, 12 December 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2012)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 22 December 2011. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 2 February 2012)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 24 January 2012. Hours: 12 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2012)

Received payment of £1,666.53, 25 January 2012. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2012)

Received payment of £1,666.73, 24 February 2012. Hours: 5 hrs. (Registered 13 March 2012)

Received payment of £4,166.66, 24 February 2012. Hours: 15 hrs. (Registered 13 March 2012)

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc

Occasional articles for Country Life magazine.

Management consultant giving advice on strategy and business to Regenesis Ltd, Coptoak House, 216 Blackberry Lane, Limpley Stoke, Bath, BA2 7FE; a California-based company which develops, manufactures and markets advanced technologies for the restoration or remediation of natural resources.

Member of Advisory Board of Oxinia (August 2008-September 2009); a group of recruitment consultants and head-hunters.

Payments from Forum Invest SA; organisers of international conferences. Address: 19, Sold. Gheorghe Matac Street, 020314, Bucharest 2, Romania:

Adviser to Edulink Consultants; providers of education services in Dubai and Uganda. Address: PO Box 500697, Dubai, UAE. I advise on the running of Victoria University, Kampala, where I am Chair of the University Council, including advice on academic standards, marketing and the development of the curriculum.

Payment of £7,494. Hours: 16 hrs. (Registered 3 September 2011)

Payment of £9,994. Hours: 27 hrs. (Registered 17 November 2011)

Payment of £9,994 on 23 January 2012. Hours: 19 hrs. (Registered 9 February 2012)

9. Registrable shareholdings

(a) Anacol Holdings Ltd.; a family investment company.

(a) (b) AFC Energy (share option).

(a) Eco City Vehicles plc.

(a) Group Eurotunnel SA

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I've Reshuffled Cameron's Cabinet So He Doesn't Have To

19 Jul 2012 at 18:41

It is much to David Cameron’s credit that he is not a reshuffle addict. The fact is, he hates them. So it is little surprise that his first major reshuffle, predicted for early September, is much anticipated and is the subject of much speculation. Had it not been for Jeremy Hunt’s little local difficulties, the reshuffle might well have happened in May, and were it not for the Olympics, it might well be happening this week.

Watching the antics of some of the 2010 intake you’d think it would be happening today. So desperate are some of them for their phone to ring and be appointed junior minister for paperclips, they are almost self-combusting in their keenness to be handed a ministerial red box. But most of them will be very disappointed, especially if they are the proud owners of a pair of testicles. According to ConservativeHome, there may be only three male MPs who are promoted. Why? Because by the end of this Parliament David Cameron is committed to 33% of his ministers being female. Nick Clegg wasn’t foolish enough to make that commitment.

Let’s start at the top and look at the Conservative members of the Cabinet and analyse who might make way for some fresh meat. Here are the ministers at risk of ejection…

Ken Clarke, by very dint of his age, is certainly at risk. He has also been at the centre of one or two departmental cockups and seems out of kilter with the Prime Minister’s views on sentencing and prison conditions. Sir George Young has done a perfectly good job as Leader of the House but there would be few cries of protest if he were to be asked to make way. Caroline Spelman is a nice woman but it is fair to say she hasn’t ripped up many trees, so to speak, at Defra. Her sex may save her, but she has few people who will jump to her aid if she is axed. Jeremy Hunt – another member of the ex future leaders of the Conservative Party club – may just survive, but is almost certain to be moved from his current post. Cheryl Gillan is tipped to be replaced by David Jones, but it is difficult to see why. She is popular, has done a good job, and Cameron can hardly afford to lose three women from his cabinet. I tip her to survive. Lord Strathclyde is popular but seems to have been in the job for years. He’s also out of kilter with the party leadership on Lords reform and Cameron may want someone more reliable in the job. Step forward Lord Howard…

Sayeeda Warsi is on everyone’s list for demotion and I fear it may well come true and that she will be offered some sort of sop – Ambassador to Pakistan or Minister of State for something not very important. It’s a great shame that she has been so shackled in her current job, as she could have made a real difference if she had been allowed to. But if she goes, then so must her co chairman and Cameron best friend Andrew Feldman. I rather like him, but appointing your best friend to such a job is just not right.

Choosing a new party chairman is no easy task for the Prime Minister. As an election draws near the job needs a big hitter, someone who has a good sense of political strategy and is respected by the media. The name often touted for the job by political journalists is Grant Shapps. He would certainly be a good choice as someone who is very good at getting on the media, but as an election strategist? The jury is out on that one. Many remember the Ealing Southall By Election. I do think he will get the job, but personally I’d put him in a ‘difficult to sell’ policy job. Another possibility would be Andrew Mitchell, who was keen to be David Davis’s party chairman had he won the leadership. Many moons ago he was Vice Chairman in charge of candidates. Some are suggesting either Jeremy Hunt or Michael Gove for the job. Ridiculous. Hunt in particular is not hard enough and is not a political strategist. My own choice for Party chairman would be Michael Fallon but I don’t see that as likely.

Francis Maude is another who may be seen by some to be past his sell by date, but he has been quietly effective in his job so far and it would be a mistake to move him in my opinion.

So, here are my tips for outright ejection – Sir George Young, Ken Clarke, Caroline Spelman, Sayeeda Warsi, Lord Strathclyde.

I think it is also fair to say that two more on the ‘At Risk Register’ would be Patrick McLoughlin and Andrew Lansley. Patrick McLoughlin has been Tory chief whip since December 2005 – a long stint by anyone’s measure. At the 1922 Committee on Wednesday David Cameron seemed to give him the football club chairman’s vote of confidence – at least, that was how it was interpreted by many in the room. Personally, I see no reason to make a change in chief whip. McLoughlin has done the job well, and it is difficult to see a natural successor. Some have mentioned Andrew Mitchell for the job and in some ways you can see why. He is a former whip and is seen by some as a bit of a bruiser. But right for the job now? I think not. Right for the job in a minority government? Maybe.

I expect Andrew Lansley to remain in the cabinet, either as Leader of the House or remaining in his current job. To move him would be seen as an admission of failure. The only way I think he would leave the cabinet is if he asked to, or if Cameron decided to gift the whole department to the LibDems, something I suggested a year ago and which Fraser Nelson has written about recently too.

Let’s now turn to those who are as safe as houses in their current jobs. There has been some silly season speculation about Hague and Osborne doing a job swap. It won’t happen for many reasons but the main one would be William Hague’s refusal to leave the Foreign Office. This will be his last job in government and he has no interest in any other job. And to move Osborne would send all the wrong signals, especially to the money markets. Osborne is there for the long term whether people like it or not. But he needs to concentrate on his job as Chancellor. Any political strategy work needs to be passed on to someone else – preferably a powerful new Conservative Party Chairman. Osborne’s reputation as a political strategist has always been overblown, but many believe he has been found out in recent months.

Others I do not expect to be moved include Philip Hammond, IDS, Owen Paterson, Eric Pickles, Michael Gove and Theresa May. Hammond has only been in the job for nine months, it’s difficult to see where you would move Pickles to, Michael Gove needs to stay at Education to cement his reforms, and Theresa May has done nothing to merit a demotion. She heads a basket case of a department and needs more time to sort it out. The Guardian reckons Michael Gove will go to the Home Office and be replaced by Liz Truss. That would be bonkers on two counts. Gove is not in tune with current Home Office policy – he is not exactly a libertarian. And secondly, who in their right mind would promote someone who isn’t even a minister to the Cabinet? That way madness lies. If May does get moved I suspect it would be to Justice.

I expect Justine Greening to be moved sideways, so she is removed from having to preside over any U turn on airport capacity. She would make a good replacement for Jeremy Hunt at Culture, Media & Choirboys.

Andrew Mitchell has made clear he’d like to remain at International Development but I think he may well find himself in a new job, possibly Transport but more likely at the Department of Business.

So, assuming we have five cabinet jobs to fill, who will get the nod? The natural thing to do is to trawl the Ministers of State. Here goes…

David Lidington, Alan Duncan, Damian Green, Nick Herbert, Mark Hoban, David Willetts (already attends Cabinet), Mark Prisk, John Hayes, Greg Clark, Nick Gibb, Simon Burns, Chris Grayling, Greg Barker, Charles Hendry, James Paice, Grant Shapps, Hugo Swire, Theresa Villiers.

Only one woman in that list, Theresa Villiers. The obvious thing to do would be to promote her to the Cabinet in the Department of Transport, although she is as anti Heathrow as the current incumbent. But she is also a lawyer and is therefore a candidate to replace Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary.

Of the rest of that list Greg Clark and Nick Herbert are the two most touted names for promotion. Herbert is a strong candidate for Justice Secretary as he already has a role in that department. David Willetts has done a very difficult job well, but the standout name to me is Chris Grayling. He could easily slot into the Transport job, having done it for a period in opposition.

If raw ability played any part in this – and it often doesn’t – Damian Green would certainly be joining Chris Grayling at the Cabinet table, but for whatever reason David Cameron is said to be suspicious of him. Possibly because of his long term association with David Davis. One name I would put in the mix for promotion is Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper. Tory MPs may not like the policy he has been promoting, but he has performed with assurance and panache, both at the Despatch Box and in the media. He’s been batting on a difficult wicket, and hasn’t shown any signs of getting bowled out. That counts for a lot in politics.

But where are all these extra women going to come from? If we look further down the ministerial ranks among the Parliamentary Under-Secretaries we find the following: Maria Miller, Chloe Smith, and Anne Milton. Well, I suppose Maria Miller might find her day has come, but after her recent TV performance I think we can safely assume Chloe Smith’s hasn’t.

So could David Cameron REALLY promote any female members of the 2010 intake straight into the Cabinet? Frankly, I think he’d be mad if he did, but if so, here are the leading candidates…

Anna Soubry, Louise Mensch, Nicky Morgan, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Harriet Baldwin, Margot James.

I wouldn’t appoint any of them, not because they’re not good, they are. But many politicians have suffered from early over-promotion. Remember John Moore? Theresa May was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet far too early in the late 1990s and the same thing happened to Theresa Villiers back in 2005. All of them should be made junior ministers this time and then their performance assessed in a year’s time.

Of course, to make room for new blood in the lower ministerial ranks, Cameron will have to get rid of some Ministers of State and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries. Speculation suggests that the following are at risk…

Gerald Howarth, Peter Luff, Stephen O’Brien, Jonathan Djanogly, Crispin Blunt, John Randall, Charles Hendry, Michael Fabricant, James Paice, Nick Gibb, Bob Neil, Angela Watkinson and Bill Wiggin

There will be many eager beavers in the 2010 intake wanting to replace them, but the ones in prime position to do so will be the more junior members of the Government Whips office. Shailesh Vara, Greg Hands, Philip Dunne, Mark Francois and Brooks Newmark will stake their claims.

Of course it’s not only the 2010 intake who will be pushing their claims. There are around 25-30 Conservative MPs who thought they would be ministers, but instead, their positions went to Liberal Democrats. People like Eleanor Laing, Ben Wallace, Keith Simpson, Rob Wilson, Adam Afriyie, David Burrowes, Mark Simmonds, Andrew Selous & Stephen Hammond could all expect preferment, but I suspect only a couple of them will get it.

In the lower ranks, there will be around 15-20 new entrants to ministerial office or the whips office from the Conservative benches if my calculations are anywhere near correct. Here are my top tips…

Gavin Barwell, Nicola Blackwood, Nicholas Boles, Tobias Ellwood, Anna Soubry, Nicky Morgan, Claire Perry, David Rutley, Andrea Leadsom, Liz Truss, Sajid Javid, John Glen, Harriet Baldwin, Margot James, Matthew Hancock & Edward Timpson

A week ago, I’d have added Jesse Norman, Angie Bray, Nadhim Zahawi and Conor Burns to that list.

We also have to think about how Nick Clegg might reshuffle his ministers. In the Cabinet he has Ed Davey, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and Michael Moore. My tips are for Jo Swinson to replace Michael Moore and Davis Laws to replace Vince Cable, who I think may well ask to stand down to position himself for the post-coalition LibDems. Lower down the ranks Sarah Teather hasn’t exactly covered herself in glory. The trouble for the LibDems is that they don’t have a huge wealth of talent on their backbenches, and most LibDems will be wanting to concentrate on trying to hold their seats. But expect Norman Lamb to become a Minister of State and Julian Huppert to be one of the new LibDem ministers, possibly alongside Duncan Hames and Stephen Williams.

So, as with most other commentators, I suspect I’ll be wildly out, but here’s my predicted post reshuffle lineup.

Prime Minister David Cameron

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Chancellor George Osborne

Foreign Secretary William Hague

Home Secretary Theresa May

Secretary of State for Justice Theresa Villiers or Nick Herbert

Secretary of State for Defence Phillip Hammond

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling

Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport Justine Greening

Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Ed Davey

Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove

Secretary of State for Health David Laws

Secretary of State for Work & Pensions Iain Duncan Smith

Secretary of State for Business Andrew Mitchell

Secretary of State for Communities & Loc Govt Eric Pickles

Secretary of State for the Environment Maria Miller

Secretary of State for International Develt Jeremy Hunt

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson

Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan

Secretary of State for Scotland Jo Swinson

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander

Leader of the House of Lords Lord Howard

Leader of the House of Commons Andrew Lansley

Chairman of the Conservative Party Grant Shapps

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude

Head of Policy Oliver Letwin

Minister of State for Universities David Willetts

Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin

Attorney General Dominic Grieve

Discuss!

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North Norfolk Holiday Diary: Day 3

14 Jul 2012 at 18:42

Getting older has never really bothered me. Being 30 or 40 meant nothing. There was no mental anguish, no depression at the passing of my youth. So why is it that reaching the age of 50 this weekend feels something of a milestone?

Last week I tweeted about how I was feeling and ended the tweet with the hashtag #midlifecrisis. It was gently pointed out to me that the age of 50 was a little way past ‘midlife’. Thanks for that.

The thing is, it’s got nothing to do with my own mortality, which, by the way, I don’t measure in years left. I count the number of World Cups I’ll still live to witness. At least six or seven I hope. No, even though my own mother’s death last month made me think a little more about lifespans, reaching 50 doesn’t make me think I’m on the way out. But it is salutary to think that I may only have a decade of my working life left. Indeed, there aren’t many radio presenters left who are over 60, although come to think of it, there aren’t that many over 50 either. Luckily publishing is somewhat less discriminating age-wise.

Landmark birthdays inevitably make one rather reflective, and lately I have been doing a hell of a lot of reflecting, thinking about what I have achieved in my life and what I have failed in. And then thinking about what I want to do in the next decade of my life. Charles Clarke said to me recently that every decade in his life had been better than the last one and that he has really enjoyed his sixth decade. I hope he’s right, as I fully intend to follow his lead.

I read somewhere a few days about a woman who has written a list of 50 things her husband should do in his fifties. And there’s even a book that tells me 50 things I should do in the next twelve months. So far I have resisted temptation, and haven’t bought it. But knowing me I will soon relent but then ignore its advice.

People seem to be very willing to offer me their own ‘helpful’ advice. “You can’t wear jeans after you’re 50,” said one friend, with an evil glint in her eye. “I expect you’ll be buying a flash car,” said another. Well, sorry to disappoint, but I went out yesterday and deliberately bought three new pairs of jeans, and I already have a car that’s quite flash enough!

Quite frankly, despite the fact I have been reflecting on reaching 50, I don’t expect an awful lot to change in my life, apart from wanting to have a little more downtime. With two full time jobs this is not an easy thing to achieve, but I am giving up the London flat and will now travel home each night. And I will work a little more from home. Well, that’s the intention.


I am now half way through a fortnight’s holiday. Well, when I say holiday, I use the word in its loosest term. For the first two days, despite having an Out of Office message on my email, everyone at my publishing company kept bombarding me with queries, most of which could have been easily answered when I was actually at work the previous week. I really am now trying only to look at email once a day. It’s like coming off crack cocaine. Well, not that I know how that feels, but I genuinely have email pangs. Sad, really. Perhaps that should be something else to change in my fifties – stop thinking the world ends if I can’t access my Blackberry every five minutes.


We’re renting a lovely house in Brancaster at the moment. Rather than have a big party in London, to which I would have to invite scores of people I didn’t really want to, we decided to be very low key and have family to stay, along with assorted friends. I would have given anything for my mother to have been alive to be with us, but I’m sure she will be watching over us as we all go paddling in the sea. She loved the Norfolk coast, and whenever I would walk along a Norfolk beach I would phone her so she could hear the waves. There’s nothing quite like the Norfolk coastline. I remember when I was at university in the mid 1980s and was going through a tough time emotionally, I would often drive up to Mundesley at midnight and walk along the beach alone with my thoughts. Somehow the crashing of the waves helped. One night at 1am I encountered a university friend on the beach doing exactly the same thing!


Yesterday was a bit of a washout holidaywise. It started raining mid afternoon so a trip down to the beach with the dogs didn’t seem a very good idea. John went into Norwich for what seemed like hours to buy some stuff for tonight. Somehow he and Pepi Simpson managed to contrive to spend two hours in the Macro Cash & Carry. While they were out my family start to arrive. They seemed rather impressed with the house. Nobody could be bothered to cook so we ordered Fish & Chips from the Ship pub just down the road. And our minds now start to the events of tonight. I am told I am going to get a lot of surprises. I have spied a PA system. Do you think John has booked Bjorn Again????

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North Norfolk Holiday Diary: Day 2

13 Jul 2012 at 18:44

That really was just about a perfect day. We woke to bright sunshine, and that’s how it stayed all day, and boy did we make the most of it.

Our dogs, Dude & Bubba are just one year old and have never been let of the lead. At home we have a lot of foxes on our land and the thought of them entering into a fight with a fox doesn’t bear thinking about. Anyway, we – or rather I – decided it was about time to give them a bit of freedom, so, feeling very nervous, we let them off the lead into the garden of our holiday home. It’s not all fenced in, so disaster could have struck, but actually, they behaved perfectly. Dude even learned to fetch a ball and drop it back at my feet. Progress indeed.

Later in the morning my LBC colleague Lucy (James O’Brien’s producer) and her husband Alistair came over with their dog Oscar. The three dogs spent some time sniffing each other out (a lovely image there for you) before we descended on Brancaster beach. Even though it was fabulous weather there weren’t that many holiday makers around, so we were soon able to let the dogs off the lead. The trouble with Dude & Bubba is that they think everybody is a new friend, so they immediately run up to every adult and child and expect to be made a fuss of, not realising that not everybody is a ‘doggy’ person. They had a fine old time playing with a boxer and both even went for a paddle. It really was a perfect hour.

Back at the house, preparations for my birthday party at the weekend proceed apace. The marquee people came and an erection was soon under way. Matron! Pepi and Keith Simpson arrived to deliver what seemed to be a massive amount of cheese and order vast amounts of glasses and alcohol. Keith and I decided to talk about books while all this was going on.

And the evening was spent slobbing with dogs asleep on laps. Now that’s what I call a perfect, do very little, holiday day.

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