WATCH: Why Theresa May Must Accept the Verdict of the High Court & Allow Parliament to Vote on Triggering Article 50

16 Jan 2017 at 15:12

This is a short video I made in advance of the Supreme Court decision on Brexit, due on Monday next week, I believe. In it I urge Theresa May to accept the result, if the government loses, and to immediately introduce a one line Bill into the Commons.

It’s the first of this type of video I’ve done. If you like it, there may be more. Do share it on social media if you like it.



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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to June Brown

Iain talks to June Brown, aka Dot Cotton, about her autobiography

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ConHome Diary: Washington Beckons, Trumpery & Why Southern Rail Is Not Fit to Run a Franchise

13 Jan 2017 at 13:53

Next week I’ll be writing this diary from my favourite city in the whole world, Washington DC. It’s my first visit there since the autumn of 2012 when I covered the re-election of Barack Obama. This time I’ll be there as Donald Trump will be sworn in as President during my LBC Drivetime show. Washington in January can be a very cold and bleak place, but on a sunny winter’s day it can be very beautiful indeed. My great fear is that we get one of those famous east coast snowfalls, though. Normally I’d regard such a thing as a great adventure, but seeing as my Dad’s funeral takes places on Monday I have this natural fear of not getting back in time.
Regular readers will know that I don’t have a massively high opinion of America’s new president. However, even I had some sympathy this week when he had to deal with unverified and rather lurid allegations involving Russian and activities which The Sun described as ‘cavorting’ – one of those words beloved by tabloid newspapers but rarely used by normal people in real life. What has it come to when so-called reputable news organisations publish what can only be described as tittle-tattle? The BBC’s Ten O’Clock news programme on Wednesday was among the worst offenders, revelling in providing viewers with full details of all the single-sourced allegations and their reporter Paul Wood sounding as anti-Trump as you could be. Contrast that with the ensuing saccharine-based report from Chicago on President Obama’s farewell speech. It was as if he had died. The reporter did everything but break down in tears at the departure from office of this allegedly titanic figure. The contrast in the respective treatments of Donald Trump and Barack Obama could not be more stark. BBC television news editors should look at their own editorial guidelines, for I am pretty sure they breached them on Wednesday.

I come into London most days by train, using the Tonbridge line into Charing Cross. It’s run by Southeastern Trains. By and large the service is not bad, with most trains running to time and with relatively modern rolling stock. Southeastern is run by the same company as Southern Rail, Govia. How this company can run one franchise area quite efficiently, while appearing to be completely incompetent in the neighbouring one is something only they can explain. It may well be the case that the two rail unions, ASLEF and the RMT continue to hold them to ransom over the operation of Driver Only Operated Trains, but Southern Rail has been a shambles for some time. Passengers on Southern are at the end of their collective tether. The Transport Secretary is a man who prides himself on being knowledgeable about the railways, and indeed I can vouch for the fact that he is. As a commuter himself, he will also be familiar with the frustrations of passengers who cannot rely on their trains to get themselves to work each day. I think the time is rapidly approaching – and some would say it passed a long time ago – for him to intervene and relieve Govia of the Southern Rail franchise. Their management have proved themselves to be complete and utter failures. The only thing stopping him is the fact that he couldn’t be seen to be giving into the rail unions over DOO trains. But this situation cannot be allowed to continue for much longer, as the local MPs are no doubt telling him.
Over Christmas we bought a rather large new television. Since then I’ve hardly watched any normal TV and instead have been binging on series via Netflix and Amazon Prime. On Wednesday night I finished watching THE CROWN, a ten episode drama detailing the early years of The Queen’s reign. It’s one of the best things I have seen on TV in years. It must have had a massive budget given the lavish sets. The acting is brilliant, especially on the part of Claire Foy who plays The Queen and Matt Smith who plays the Duke of Edinburgh. The stars of the show in many ways are the two actors who play Princess Margaret and Sir Winston Churchill. It’s worth a subscription to Netflix on its own. The other series I’d recommend is DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, if you like politically themed dramas as much as I do. Kiefer Sutherland is the star, and he plays a junior US cabinet minister who is thrust into the Presidency after the entire US political establishment is killed in a terrorist attack on Capitol Hill during the President’s State of the Union address. Rather like an MP is held hostage during the Queen’s Speech, a member of the US cabinet or Congress has the same experience during the State of the Union, and on this occasion that duty falls to Sutherland. The series then tracks the aftermath and the challenges Kiefer Sutherland faces as a rather hapless and inexperienced politician who has greatness thrust on him. It’s preposterous in many ways, but hugely entertaining. Finally, if you have Amazon Prime, take a look at THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. It’s a counterfactual drama set in the United States in the early 1960s with Germany having won World War Two. The USA is split into three with Germany occupying the eastern and central US, the Japanese the West Coast and a neutral zone in between. It has a bit of a slow start, but once you get into it, it’s quite gripping. And if you don’t like that there’s always THE GRAND TOUR, starring Jeremy Clarkson and his two mates!

If you haven’t already done so, do download my weekly BREXT BRIEFING podcast on iTunes. It’s posted each Friday morning and this week features a sparky debate between Nicky Morgan and UKIP leader Paul Nuttall.
That awkward moment when you’re cabinet minister meeting an ex cabinet minister for breakfast in a posh Westminster eatery, and the waiter decides to sit you at the next table to two of Westminster’s biggest gossips. All I’ll tell you is that Andrew Pierce and I weren’t the cabinet ministers… Suffice to say they insisted on moving to a table over the other side of the restaurant. Was it something we said?!


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Iain Confronts Sajid Javid About Tweet

It's called a skewering...

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ConHome Diary: Signing Farage, The Worst Christmas of my Life & Interviewing the PM

6 Jan 2017 at 20:58

LBC announced a new signing for its presenter line-up yesterday. From Monday Nigel Farage will be presenting an evening show from 7-8pm Monday to Thursday. Given his other interests the show will often be broadcast from Brussels, Strasburg or America. The reaction from the left has been hilarious to watch. You’d have thought we’d offered a show to Mussolini. Mind you, these are people who seem to believe that anyone right of Tony Blair is automatically a fascist, and for them Blair himself comes quite close. This is the voice of the intolerant left – unable to entertain the thought that anyone who has alternative views might sometimes have a point. My instinct is to laugh at people like that, but the truth is that they are very dangerous and enemies of democracy. The truth is that Nigel Farage is a very good broadcaster. He’s eloquent, handles all the junctions well and interacts with callers well, even when they have rung up to profoundly disagree with him. He’s actually very charming with people, and even very hostile callers seem to find it difficult to have a real go at him, given that’s what they had intended to do when they pick up the phone. It will be a fascinating listen.
Talking of one of the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’, Arron Banks’ book may be turned into a Hollywood movie according to various press reports. The ratings successes of House of Cards, 24 and Designated Survivor mean there’s a lot of appetite in the US for politically inspired stories, and they don’t come much bigger than Brexit. The question is, who would play Arron Banks and Nigel Farage? Answers in the comments please…

I wonder how many of us had heard of Sir Ivan Rogers before his resignation on Tuesday. Very few, I suspect. And yet his departure was treated by the BBC as if there had been a senior death in the cabinet. Admittedly there was no other news that day, or the next, so it took on an importance it didn’t really merit. Downing Street moved at lightning pace to replace him with Sir Tim Barrow, who most people seem to think is a very good thing indeed, even if, given his Foreign Office career, he is bound to have supported Remain. I don’t subscribe to the theory that a civil servant or politician can’t deliver on Brexit if they voted Remain, but I do think it is preferable where possible to fill posts with people whose heart will definitely be in what they do. I don’t know Sir Tim, but I’ve spoken to several people I respect who do, and they are unanimous in their view that he will do everything he can to deliver the best deal possible. He is said to get on very well with Boris Johnson, and knows his way around Brussels. Time will tell whether this is a good appointment or not, but the first signs seem positive.
I’m not going to lie, this was the worst Christmas I have ever had. On the Wednesday before Christmas my father died. The death of a parent is a very private thing, and those who have experienced it will know what I mean by that. It can be a very lonely thing too. At the age of 54, having lost both my parents, I suppose I have become an orphan. That may seem a flippant comment in the circumstances, but it’s a point in your life at which you know things will never be the same again. On top of that, I then contracted a terrible cold which meant on Christmas Day I actually lost my voice. Even now, ten days later, it hasn’t fully come back, as listeners to my radio show can hear! This is something I have noticed about getting older – it becomes more difficult to shake off minor ailments. I’m sure there are positive things about the ageing process, but at the moment I can’t think of many.

In two weeks’ time Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President of the United States of America. This week he has spent his time denouncing the FBI and CIA while at the same time praising Julian Assange. I find it incredible that he is feeding the post-truth fantasists. He bases his antipathy to the security services on the fact that their intelligence was wrong on Iraq. It’s quite incredible that the man who is about to become the most powerful man in the free world thinks that one mistake means they inevitably get everything else wrong. He’s refused security briefings from the CIA and FBI since the election, too. As a president he’s certainly going to be very different from any of his predecessors. We’ll soon see whether he’s the disaster many predict, or if he will surprise us all. I hope it’s the latter, but I fear it’s the former.
Talking of doing things differently, let’s take a look at the Number Ten media operation. It emerged on Wednesday night that instead of giving her traditional new year interview to Andrew Marr – as is the custom, Theresa May will instead be guest of honour on Sophy Ridge’s new Sunday morning show on Sky News. It’s certainly an interesting move, which will mean that Ridge’s show will get off to a fantastic start, so good on her and the Sky News interviews team for landing the big one. Naturally Twitter has gone mental about it, with the usual suspects suggesting that it’s all because May wants to be nice to Rupert Murdoch. Ridiculous. I suspect it’s more about sending a powerful message to the BBC and others the message that “a change is going to come”, and nowhere is this more apparent that in the granting of prime ministerial and cabinet ministerial interviews. The BBC is said to be “in shock” with senior editors wandering around the building wailing “How could they do it to us?”

Gone seem to be the days when a cabinet minister or junior minister would appear on a news show on any channel at the drop of a hat. It’s sending production staff apoplectic with rage. And this on top of the fact that it’s also quite difficult for news programmes to get any senior Labour Shadow Minister to appear on the media either. 2017 could well be a very difficult year for the political broadcast media.



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Mary Robinson

The former Irish President discusses her new memoirs.

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UK Politics

My Ten Predictions for 2017

31 Dec 2016 at 20:14

1. A daily or Sunday newspaper ceases print publication.
2. John Humphrys announces he will retire from the Today Programme.
3. Labour loses Copeland by-election.
4. Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Hull are relegated from the Premier League.


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LBC 97.3: Iain talks to GQ editor Dylan Jones

Dylan Jones talks about his new book about the 1980s and what it's like editing GQ

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So Did I Keep my 2016 New Year's Resolutions?

30 Dec 2016 at 16:21

These are the resolutions I made a year ago. Let’s see how many of them I stuck to…

1. Not to buy a new car. ACHIEVED
2. Read more for pleasure, rather than because it’s my job. NOT ACHIEVED
4. Go abroad more often. NOT ACHIEVED
5. Lose another half a stone in weight. HALF ACHIEVED
6. Ditch ‘I Want it That Way’ as my Karaoke song and find another one. NOT ACHIEVED
7. Start writing a new book… and think of something to write about. NOT ACHIEVED
8. Eat fewer biscuits and cakes. NOT ACHIEVED
9. Get into fewer rows on Twitter. HALF ACHIEVED
10. Visit Berlin. (Admittedly I vowed to do this in 2013…) NOT ACHIEVED

So three out of ten. Useless. A good reason not to repeat the exercise for next year!



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Iain Shows Why Tony Blair Is Not a War Criminal


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So How Do I Answer the Question: "Did You Have a Nice Christmas, Iain?"

29 Dec 2016 at 16:10

They say ‘honesty is always the best policy’, but I wonder how honest I will be when I go back to work on Tuesday and a caller says: “Did you have a nice Christmas, Iain?” Do I say, “yes thanks, hope you did too.” Or do I tell the truth and say “No I didn’t. My Dad died and I spent the rest of the time with the mother of all colds, snot dripping out of my head, and half the time without the use of my voice. You?”

What I have noticed as I get older, is that it takes me much more time to recover from a cold. It used to take 3 or 4 days to get it out of my system. This one has lasted a week so far and my head is still as thick with cold as it was on Sunday, Christmas Day – a day when I couldn’t actually speak properly.

If I sound miserable, I guess it’s because I am! This is the second Christmas in three that this has happened. I look forward to a relaxing break, and then it’s ‘snotsville’.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading, which means I then fall asleep quite easily and sleep during the day, which means I sleep fitfully at night. My brain is so addled that I haven’t done what I normally do and watch a series of Box Sets. The most challenging TV I’ve got into so far is THE CROWN on Netflix!

I try to fall asleep but then I start thinking about my Dad. Did I tell him I loved him enough? Could I have done more in his last weeks? All these things (and more) whirl around in my head and of course my brain races back into action and the prospect of sleep drifts away even further. And I am someone who can normally drop off to sleep on command – just like my Dad used to do.

At times like this we all need the emotional support of our nearest and dearest. I know Tracey, Sheena and I have been overwhelmed by the kind words of our friends, and the hundreds of comments made on Facebook. I have the love of John, Sheena has Alan and Zoe, Tracey has Peter, Issy and Philly. And the three of us have each other. And in the end, it’s our closest family who help us get through times like this. It’s just a pity none of them can do the same for my cold!


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Video: Iain Dale spars with Polly Toynbee

Sky News paper review

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BOOK REVIEW: All Out War by Tim Shipman - Without Doubt the Political Book of 2016

27 Dec 2016 at 21:36

You know that feeling you get when you finish a book you never really wanted to end? It’s almost a feeling of grief. That’s what I’ve got as I type this, minutes after finishing Tim Shipman’s majestic ALL OUT WAR. It’s impossible to fully comprehend what happened on June 23 and the ensuing two weeks without reading this book. I consider myself fairly well informed about most aspects of the referendum, its result and consequences, but reading this book taught me how much I also didn’t know and had failed to understand.

To write an instant, 624 page, fully-footnoted book in less than three months, let along publish it within four makes me doff my cap not only to the author but to the book’s publishers HarperCollins. In all those pages I only spotted one factual error, and not a single typo. Respect to all involved.

Sometimes, with instantly written books, the final chapters can appear, well, rather hurried. Not in this case. Indeed, the final chapter is without doubt the finest in the book. It almost serves as a rather polished executive summary of the whole tome. Shipman gives his verdict on the whole shebang, venturing into several ‘what if’ scenarios and analysing who really was responsible for what. It makes for fascinating reading.

At this point in a normal book review the author of the review usually spends the rest of the article giving his/her own opinion on the events in question. I won’t be doing that here as anything I offer would pale into insignificance compared to what Tim Shipman concludes. I don’t feel worthy. It’s possibly also because I couldn’t really find much to disagree with in his analysis, which in itself is somewhat remarkable. He’s incredibly fair in his thoughts on all the various leading players. Even Michael Gove and Boris Johnson will read this book feeling that he has been very fair to both of them – that’s not because he sits on the fence or writes a palid version of what went on, he writes it warts and all. Arron Banks may possibly feel his role in the campaign to leave the EU is slightly underplayed, and Nigel Farage may also feel that Shipman doesn’t challenge the narrative from Vote Leave that he was seen as toxic by swing voters, something I’ve always felt was overplayed. To the several million ex-Labour voters and non voters who voted Leave, Farage wasn’t seen in that way at all. But those are two minor quibbles.

I don’t know Dominic Cummings. My office in Westminster Tower is three floors about that of where the Vote Leave campaign was. I saw Cummings once but didn’t introduce myself. In fact I only visited their offices once in the whole campaign, to discuss an LBC interview with Michael Gove. If I were Dominic Cummings and I read this book – and surely he has – I’d be fairly confident my place in the political history of this country was assured. Every successful campaign needs a Cummings figure – someone who the campaign workers can look up to and respect. Stronger In didn’t have that. Lynton Crosby or Alastair Campbell could have provided that leadership, but one wasn’t willing to do the job, and the other wasn’t asked. Even then, no one can be certain it would have made a difference.

Stronger In had two main problems – Jeremy Corbyn and the fact that with few exceptions, none of their leading spokespeople were able to offer any sort of positive vision about what Britain’s future in the EU would look like. If anyone doubts Jeremy Corbyn did everything he could to scupper the Remain campaign they should read Tim Shipman’s chapter called JEXIT. Dear oh dear. I’ve always felt that Corbyn probably secretly voted Leave. Reading this chapter convinces me even further.

The relentless Project Fear approach of Stronger In worked to an extent, but it had to be married to something more positive too. Vote Leave had their ‘Take Back Control’ slogan, which was remarkably effective. Stronger In had nothing comparable. I interviewed all the leading players during the campaign, but there was only one who was able to articulate a positive vision, and that was James McGrory, Nick Clegg’s former spin doctor, who carried out the same job for Stronger In, but was also one of their spokespeople. He should have given his colleagues a masterclass in how to do it, because none of them managed it. Ever.

I’ve always considered Andrew Rawnsley’s SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE to be the best book in that type of contemporary political literary genre. ALL OUT WAR surpasses it. Rawnsley and Shipman are both Sunday newspaper journalists, so they clearly have a lot in common. Both books read at times like thrillers, they have pace and they keep the reader engaged.

There are lots of f****s and c**** in this book. One thing which united both sides of the argument was their liking of swearing. And in this book the reader isn’t spared. I suppose it makes them all seem more human than most people assume people in politics to be. Boris Johnson, for example, comes across in these pages as a much more human, vulnerable, emotional individual than he is usually portrayed as. Farage is portrayed as much less gung ho.

Remarkably, I’ve got to the final part of this article without mentioning David Cameron. Someone is quoted in the book as saying that David Cameron looks like the Lord North de nos jours at the moment. Others have written that he will go down in history alongside Neville Chamberlain and Anthony Eden in the pantheons of our worst prime ministers. People who say that no doubt voted Remain. I suggest that we won’t be able to judge that for 15 or 20 years. I suspect that in 2035 we may look back and think that leaving the EU was the best thing Britain ever did. Just my opinion. Could Cameron have avoided giving a referendum? Yes. But it would have continued the running sore of Europe that has split the Tory Party for the last thirty years. Some might think that would have been a price worth paying. In reality, the sore will continue to run, as the likes of Nicky Morgan and Anna Soubry will continue to advocate the pro-European viewpoint.

It’s hard to believe this is Shipman’s first book. I’ve known Shippers (as he’s known to everyone) for donkey’s years. As political editor of The Sunday Times he currently has one of the, if not the – best jobs in political journalism. But it’s taken a long time for him to get there and be recognised as one of the best political journalists of his era. He held a succession of jobs on the Sunday Express, the Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph, all at deputy level. I could never understand why he had never got a Pol Ed job, as he proved himself to be a brilliant story-getter week after week. Since he’s been at The Sunday Times he’s formed a brilliant partnership with his deputy James Lyons, and they’ve made the Sunday Times unmissable for its brilliant political coverage.

I hope this will be the first of many books by Tim Shipman. It certainly ought to be, and I suspect HarperCollins will already be talking to him about his next one.

This book is brilliant. If you haven’t already done so, buy it. HERE



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale interviews Ed Miliband about Mental Health policy

A 90 minute special on mental health policy, featuring a ten minute interview with Ed Miliband and many moving phone calls

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Random Thoughts

My Predictions for 2016 - How Did I Do?

24 Dec 2016 at 23:44

In 2015 I got 8 out of my 10 predictions right. Seeing as 2016 turned out to be the year of the unexpected, I don’t think I’ve done quite as well. Here were my predictions for 2016, made on 31 December 2015…

1. The EU Referendum will be held in July. WRONG (but only by 7 days!)
2. The ‘Stay’ Campaign will prevail, but by a margin of 55-45 or less. WRONG
3. Nigel Farage will not be UKIP leader by the end of 2016. CORRECT
4. Labour will experience a net loss of council seats in May. WRONG (net gain of +46)
5. Donald Trump will not be the Republican Candidate for President. WRONG
6. In terms of seats and/or vote share Labour will come third in the Scottish Parliamentary elections. CORRECT
7. Arsenal will win the Premier League. WRONG
8. Philip Hammond will not be Foreign Secretary by the end of the year. CORRECT
9. The LibDems are all but wiped out in the GLA, Welsh Assembly & Scottish Parliament elections, retaining less than half of their existing 12 seats in the three bodies. CORRECT
10. Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull calls an early election and wins an increased majority. HALF CORRECT

So a miserable 4 and a half out of 10. My worst ever. I’ll post my predictions for 2017 before the end of the year. For what they’re worth, which isn’t much!


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

Three interviews on the current situation in North Africa.

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My Top 100 Tweeters of 2016

22 Dec 2016 at 21:40

Each new year I compile a list of people whose tweets I have most enjoyed during the previous 12 months. I follow about 2300 people on Twitter, which is far too many to be honest, but I whenever I try to cull the number I end up giving up because it’s so difficult. Anyway, these are the ones who have entertained, informed, educated, annoyed and, most of all, made me laugh most this year. So here are my Top 100, including 14 new entries, in no particular order…


@MatthewSyed – Times Journalist (NEW)
@PickardJE – Jim Pickard, FT political journalist
@BenGlaze – Mirror political reporter
@ChrisDeerin – Journalist, Scottish Daily Mail
@ShippersUnbound – Political Editor, Sunday Times
@ZoesqWilliams – Columnist, the Guardian
@Montie – Columnist, The Times
@JohnRentoul – Columnist, Independent on Sunday
@Y_Alibhai – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, The Independent
@GrantTucker – My former PA & Diary Reporter for The Times
@DavidWooding – Political Editor, Sun on Sunday
@SamCoatesTimes – Deputy Political Editor, The Times
@OwenJones84 – Guardian columnist
@VinceGraff – Columnist
@DAaronovitch – Columnist – The Times


@RobBurl – Rob Burley, Andrew Mar Producer (NEW)
@AFNeil – BBC presenter
@PiersMorgan – Presenter, GMB
@MichaelLCrick – Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News
@KayBurley – Sky News presenter
@AdamBoulton – Sky News presenter
@FaisalIslam – Political Editor, Sky News
@DMcCaffreySKY – Political reporter, Sky News
@AlStewITN – Presenter, ITN


@StephenKB – Stephen Bush, New Statesman (NEW)
@RaheemKassam – Editor, Breitbart London (NEW)
@PaulWaugh – Editor, Huffington Post UK
@FleetStreetFox – Susie Boniface
@GuidoFawkes – Editor in Chief, Guido Fawkes blog
@Dizzy_Thinks – Phil Hendren
@OwenJBennett – HuffPo political correspondent


@Anna_Soubry – Conservative MP (NEW)
@MichaelGove – Conservative MP (NEW)
@ArronBanks – Chairman, (NEW)
@HeidiAllen75 – Conservative MP
@JessPhillips – Labour MP
@Suzanne Evans1 – Deputy Chairman, UKIP
@LordAshcroft – Businessman & philanthropist
@Jacqui_Smith1 – Former Labour Home Secretary
@Andrew_Kennedy – Conservative Party Agent in Kent
@NadineDorriesMP – Conservative MP
@NichStarling – Former LibDem leader on Broadland District Council
@Edwina_Currie – Former Conservative MP
@ThereseCoffey – Conservative MP
@Tracey_Crouch – Conservative MP
@LiarPoliticians – Anti politics tweeter
@MrTCHarris – Former Labour MP
@RuthDavidsonMSP – Leader, Scottish Conservatives
@CampbellClaret – Alastair Campbell

RADIO (25)

@KTHopkins – LBC Presenter (NEW)
@Masterman – Radio X producer, the Chris Moyles Show (NEW)
@HattMarris84 – My ex producer on LBC
@StephenNolan – 5 Live presenter
@ShelaghFogarty – LBC presenter
@JaneGarvey1 – Presenter, Woman’s Hour, Radio 4
@JuliaHB1 – Former afternoon presenter, LBC
@Rachel_Hump – Producer, LBC
@RobinLustig – Former Presenter, The World Tonight, Radio 4
@StanCollymore – Radio host
@TheJeremyVine – Presenter, Radio 2
@MrJamesOB – Morning show presenter, LBC
@NickyAACampbell – 5 Live presenter
@Tweeter_Anita – Presenter, Any Answers, Radio 4
@DuncanBarkes – Late show presenter, BBC London
@JohnMyersTeam – Radio guru
@DavidLloydRadio – Radio guru
@PaulEaston – Radio consultant
@IainLee – Radio presenter, talkRadio
@NRDBrennan – Online Journalist, LBC
@Hemmch – Chris Hemmings, Producer LBC
@TheoUsherwood – Political Editor, LBC
@Jags_dave – Jagruti Dave, My Drivetime producer, LBC
@JamesCridland – Radio commentator
@Sherls – Online editor, LBC

SPORT (11)

@LutaloMuhammad – Olympic Taekwando medallist (NEW)
@Chris_Sutton73 – Former footballer (NEW)
@Dean36Ashton10 – Former Norwich City & West Ham footballer
@HenryWinter – Football journalist, The Times
@LeeClayton_ – Sports editor, Daily Mail
@DavidGold – Co chairman of West Ham United
@ClareBalding – BBC & BT Sport presenter
@JimmyBullard – Ex footballer
@BoringMilner – Spoof James Milner account
@Trevor8Sinclair – Ex West Ham winger
@ArchieRT1 – German football journalist


@TFLN – Texts from last night (NEW)
@_YouHadOneJob1 – Comedy account poking fun at people who fail at the one job they had to do
@RoyCropperNot – Spoof Roy Cropper sayings
@AwkwardGrindr – Cringeworthy moments from Grindr
@2010LeeHurst – Comedian


@PaulwrBlanchard – PRconsultant & Presenter, Media Masters podcast (NEW)
@Lance Forman – Purveyor of the finest smoked salmon (NEW)
@SohailPakBrit – Gay muslim
@WMaryBeard – Classics academic & author
@AdamLake – Public Affairs Specialist
@Brit_Battleaxe – Christine Hamilton
@JamesWharton – Author of OUT IN THE ARMY
@GylesB1 – Gyles Brandreth
@Bishmanchester – David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
@StirringTrouble – Aleksander Nekrassov



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Iain interviews Len McClusky

"Yours is a very working class programme"

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 53: The Producer King Is Dead, Long Live the Producer Queen

17 Dec 2016 at 17:15

If you’ve never worked in radio, you will think I am going completely over the top when I say that the key relationship on any radio show is the relationship between the show’s producer and the presenter. If there’s a good relationship, magical radio can be the result. It there isn’t, it’s usually the listener that suffers. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my six years at LBC in the long term producers I have had. I broadcast my first show on the station in September 2009, when my producer was Matt Harris. Yesterday Matt produced his last show with me, after ten years on LBC. He’s spreading his broadcasting wings and joins Newsnight in the new year.

If I am honest I feel as if I am going through a sort of grieving process. Matt produced my evening show for my first nine months, and when I took over Drive in March 2013 we renewed our on air partnership. We’ve been together ever since. Laura Marshall was the third member of our team for the first year (I wrote about her HERE) but when she left to return to the North East, the excellent Jagruti Dave joined us. Over the last two and a half years I think the three of us have formed one of the closest-knit teams on the station. And it really is a team effort. We’ve won several awards and our audience has doubled.

Matt is at the top of his game, which makes his departure all the more painful. He totally understands what it makes to make a daily show interesting, relevant and compelling. He has a great contacts book, and as a studio producer is unsurpassed. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: he makes me a far better presenter than I really am, and I have continued to learn from him. He knows when to stop me going off on a particular tangent, he knows when he needs to curb my sense of mischief and he knows when I am thinking of doing something which might not quite work. Those are all a little negative, but totally necessary in a good studio producer. Far too many producers repeatedly let their presenters get away with blue murder, often because the producer is often afraid of the consequences of telling the presenter something in their ear they don’t want to hear. This is not something which afflicts Matt! He can do it because he’s got the experience to stand his ground when he needs to.

On a positive note, if you hear me skewer a politician in an interview, it’s often because Matt has spotted a weakness in the politician and suggested a line of questioning to me in my ear which I might not have thought of. And if we don’t get an answer from the politician he presses me to ask the question again. And again. And again, to the point where sometimes I can be embarrassed to do it. But almost always it ends up with us getting a newsline, and that’s where he excels – spotting an opportunity for a newsline which we can then pump out to our media colleagues. LBC’s higher profile in recent years owes a lot to this talent. All this means he has helped me become a much better, and on occasion tougher, interviewer than I was at the start of my career.

Matt is also great on big occasions. As anyone in radio knows, it’s on the big occasion, especially outside broadcasts, when a presenter feels exposed. When you’re out of your comfort zone anything can happen, and often does. We’ve done seven hour election night marathons, two referendum nights, the US election and many others. It really is flying by the seat of your pants radio at times, but you must never let the audience know that, as a presenter, you’re often in full panic mode while maintaining a facade of calmness and control. You cant be fazed by anything. What people don’t understand about LBC is that we never have a script. It’s all off the cuff. And that is where the role of the studio producer becomes far more important than it might be on Five Live or Radio 4. The producer has to know when to speak and when not to. He/She needs to know how much info to pass to the presenter and how and when best to do it. It’s a real skill, often underestimated by people who’ve never been in a radio gallery. And Matt has it in spades. I hope Matt will be able to utilise this skill on Newsnight. If I were running Newsnight, he’d be the person I’d want in the presenter’s ear throughout the whole programme.

The relationship between a presenter and producer is a unique one – It’s one of trust, respect and total, utter disrespect from time to time. I say this because I’ve probably made our relationship sounds like a perfect marriage. But in most marriages there are moments of tension, and from time to time we’ll have a bit of a blow up. I actually think that’s healthy. A live studio environment is highly pressurised and at times tempers can fray. It doesn’t happen often, but when you have strong personalities (and by definition a talk radio presenter isn’t shy in coming forward!) there will be times when things are said. I remember one time when we were calling (Ok, screaming) each other terrible things through the glass, when one of us had totally misunderstood something the other had said. The key is to get back on an even keel as quickly as possible so that no one outside the studio can tell that anything has happened.

There are so many memories of our time together. One of the most traumatic and moving came on the afternoon of 22 May 2013, when Lee Rigby was murdered in Woolwich. As details started to come in I tweeted out asking for witnesses to phone our newsroom – frankly it was more in hope than expectation, but at around a quarter to four I noticed Matt was deep in conversation with someone on the phone. As the clock edged toward 4pm I wondered what on earth he could be talking about seeing as we needed to head down to the studio and I frankly hadn’t got a clue what I was going to say.

I gestured to Matt to get off the phone so we could discuss how I would open the programme. He signalled that it would all be OK and it became clear he was talking to someone who knew something abut what had happened. He put the phone down and told me we have an eye-witness, James, who was literally feet away from the incident and had seen everything. “Do a short intro telling people what we know – then get into the call quickly. James was there. He can tell us everything.” And he did. That was the day I felt I came of age as a radio presenter. I heard months later the BBC held an internal inquiry as to why our coverage of Woolwich was so much better than theirs. The conclusion of their inquiry ought to have been that it was because Matt Harris and Laura Marshall were producing it. LBC is never better than when covering breaking news stories, and this was a prime example. As you can see from the picture, we won a Sony award for it.

I also think of the night of the Scottish Independence Referendum where I was anchoring our coverage from the count in Edinburgh, with Duncan Barkes in the studio in London. We turned up to the count, which was held in some sort of cattle barn on the outskirts of Edinburgh. We reached our allotted broadcast point to find that all we had was a table, chair and a microphone. I was less than impressed and had a good moan. Matt is always very good at reading my moods (and believe it or not, I do have them!) and did what was necessary to calm me down and make me focus on the job in hand.

That day in Brighton when I er, had a little fracas on the seafront, will also long remain in both of our memories. Matt had my back all day and was brilliant in trying to cope with a situation where the police were wanting to ‘have a word’ while I was live on air! I well remember the commercial break when he walked over and said “Now I’ve sorted it, but the Police were here, and now they’re not.” And at that moment the red light went on. “You’re listening to LBC…,” I said. It’s those moments that I’ll look back on when I’m in my dotage and dribbling.

I could go on for a long time about Matt’s talents, but some of you will no doubt already be feeling queasy. In short, I have been privileged to have him behind the glass for so long. I knew it would end at some point, as all good things do. When he told me he was going to Newsnight I didn’t try to persuade him to stay. You might think that odd, but it’s absolutely the right move for him at this point in his career. To have begged him to stay would have been selfish on my part and an act of pure self-indulgence. I’d love to think that at some point we will work together in future. You never know.

So the Producer King (he will hate that) is dead, but long live the Producer Queen. As I mentioned above, the third member of our team is Jagruti Dave, who joined us when Laura left in the Spring of 2014. She is the best guest-getter in the business and is an absolute delight to work with. I’m so pleased that she is taking over from Matt, as the two of us have developed a similar relationship.

She has learned a huge amount from Matt over the last two and a half years, as she is happy to admit. She’s developed excellent relationships with people across the political spectrum and the reason we have such a consistent lineup of top quality guests is often down to her. Like Matt, she often knows me better than I know myself. We often disagree on which subjects we should cover, but I have to admit (and I hope she’s not reading this) that more often than not she’s right and I’m wrong. “That won’t get a single phone call,” I’ll often say, when she suggests covering the plight of the lesser spotted Yak in Uzbekistan. “Ah, but you’ll do it brilliantly,” she will reply. And within five minutes we’ve got a full switchboard. “OK, OK,” I’ll say at the end of the show, “you were right again.” Cue a rather self satisfied grin on her face!

In my thirty years in the workplace I can honestly say that Matt Harris is one of the top ten people I have worked with. Wherever I end up in the rest of my working life, he’s someone I wouldn’t hesitate to employ or work with again. I hope he has become a friend for life. And I haven’t got many of those.

I hope the BBC realises what a gem it has recruited.



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