Diary

ConHome Diary: Twenty Comments on Election Night

8 May 2015 at 14:11

Party leaders say some very odd things. Ed Miliband was interviewed by my LBC colleague Theo Usherwood on the last day of campaigning and was very keen to explain his priorities as prime minister. He said he wouldn’t be thinking of hedge fund managers every day, “I’d be thinking of your family.” I’m sure Theo and his wife were very touched.
*
Oh dear, it would seem wrong of me not to return to the subject of Mr Benjamin Harris-Quinney. For new readers, Mr H-Q and I have history. Google us if you’re interested. Mr Harris-Quinney has single-handedly brought the Bow Group into disrepute over the last couple of years. He has transformed it into a much respected Conservative Party supporting thinktank/pressure group into an organisation nobody apart from his diminishing band of admirers has any time for. He’s used it to trash the Conservative Party at every available opportunity and covertly provide succour for UKIP. Harris-Quinney hasn’t been a Conservative for some time, and I am told didn’t go to last year’s Tory conference but did go to UKIP’s. Draw your own conclusions. Now, though, BHQ has surpassed himself by authoring a so-called Bow Group paper which urges Conservatives in hopeless seats to vote UKIP. This was released only a few days before election day. Never able to refuse an opportunity to put the knife into the Conservative Party, he accepted an invitation to appear on the Daily Politics to explain himself. Oh whaddamistakeadamakea. He was spit-roasted by Andrew Neil and Michael Heseltine, and it wasn’t pretty. He ended up gulping like an out of breath goldfish. Rarely have I seen anyone skewered so beautifully. Andrew Neil called him a Walter Mitty character, something he rejected even though he professed not to know what that meant. It doesn’t make for pretty viewing, but here is the full interview for your delight and delectation.

Every single patron the Bow Group has now denounced Harris-Quinney. Surely to God he ought to have the good grace to fall on his sword and resign. And if he doesn’t, surely the Bow Group Council should convene a meeting to remove him. And if they don’t, the patrons should all not just denounce Harris-Quinney, they should resign in protest.
How this narcissistic fantasist has ever been allowed to get control of the Bow Group and use it to promote his own personal agenda is a question which I cannot answer. He should be sacked, and not before time.
*
It’s quite difficult writing this at midday on election day as I can’t really write anything about the election results, which you now know, but I don’t. So I won’t bother… Much. One thing I will say though is that it is already clear that thousands of people have been denied their democratic right to vote through the incompetence of various local authority electoral registration departments. They only have one thing to get right, and that is to conduct an election every five years. In Hackney, 3,000 postal votes weren’t sent out. The same thing has happened in Barnet, where there are two key marginal seats. The councils blame the new IER system of voter registration. Typical. Always pass the blame onto someone else. I remember the days when councils actually ran elections competently. We didn’t have an Electoral Commission in those days. Perhaps if it were abolished, our system of electoral administration might actually improve. Something for a majority Conservative Government. Oh look, here’s one along in just a minute!


So who have been the stars of this election campaign? I’ve tried to pick five but in fact I’ve only come up with two – Nicola Sturgeon and Andrew Neil. I can’t think of a single Tory, LibDem or Labour politician who I could say has unreservedly covered themselves with glory. Having said that, I could think of plenty who haven’t.
*
Oh how I enjoyed presenting LBC’s election coverage. It was one of the most exciting election nights of my life. I write this at 8am, having just returned to my hotel. I’ve had no sleep in 26 hours so forgive me if this doesn’t make much sense. Where do I start? I think I’ll just make 20 observations.

1. My ‘Portillo’ moment wasn’t Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander or Ed Davey. It was Vince Cable. I didn’t cheer on air because that would have been unprofessional. But I did punch the air.
2. Having said that, I did feel a twinge of remorse when I heard about David Laws, Jo Swinson and Lynne Featherstone.
3. I can’t go through all of the losses on the Labour side but some good people lost. Tom Harris, in particular, is a loss to Parliament.
4. And on the Tory side? My biggest regret is Nick de Bois. To be beaten by the expenses cheat Joan Ryan must be a bitter pill to swallow. He’s a great guy and I hope he will bounce back.
5. Credit to Lynton Crosby. He stuck to his plan and it worked. All of us who doubted the strategy have egg on our collective face.
6. Not as much as the pollsters though. How on earth did they get it so wrong? Most of u doubted the exit poll, but it wasn’t that far out, was it?
7. Labour seems to be blaming David Cameron for the rise of the SNP. Incredible. No. It started when Tony Blair let the devolution genie out of the bottle. It continued with Labour taking its vote in Scotland for granted, and culminated in the terrible Better Together campaign. This is a problem of their own making and it’s about time someone said it.
8. Chuka Umunna was uncharacteristically quiet on election night. He wasn’t to be seen anywhere. Lost his voice? Can’t think why.
9. We may be seeing the return of traditional two party politics in England.
10. Nigel Farage’s result isn’t in yet but many sources tell me he has come third. He will now presumably deliver on his promise to resign. Cue a UKIP leadership bloodbath. The ferrets will be in the sack by the end of the evening.
11. The Tories have never had so many seats in Wales. That’s thanks in large part to the work of their former national director, Matthew Lane, who now works at CCHQ.
12. Tweet of the night goes to Claire Perry. “Hallelujah. Mark Reckless out. Don’t let the door shut on your fat arse.”
13. Ed Balls and Jim Murphy get the prize for most gracious concession speeches.
14. Dan Jarvis. Your time has come.
15. Norman Lamb v Tim Farron for the LibDems
16. Suzanne Evans v Paul Nuttall v Patrick O’Flynn v Stephen Woolfe for UKIP.
17. Sorry Boris. You have five years to wait.
18. I’ll see how much egg I have on my face regarding my own seat by seat predictions. I owe a few people some apologies. But at least I had the balls to put my neck on the line. Still smarting a bit though.
19. What money on Boris for Foreign Secretary? Nah. Theresa May. Handed the poisoned chalice of EU renegotiation.
20. David Cameron. It’s your victory. You’ve never been stronger. Congratulations. Be bold in your Cabinet appointments and reward some of your 1997, 2001 and 2005 footsoldiers in the junior ranks too. It’s the right thing to do.
It’s now 8.30am. I’m done in. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

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Join Shelagh Fogarty Tonight From 9.55 for the LBC Election Night Coverage

7 May 2015 at 15:32

I hope you will join me and Shelagh Fogarty from 9.55pm until 5am for LBC’s election night coverage. We’re intending to have some fun and give the BBC a run for their money. We have reporters at 100 counts, we’ll get the results on air as soon as they are announced and we’ll have some brilliant pundits analysing what will happen.

Throughout the night we’re joined by Tim Montgomerie, Times columnist and former editor of ConservativeHome. as well as Damian McBride, former spin doctor to Gordon Brown. Miranda Green, star of This Week and former LibDem spindoctor and Alexandra Swann, an expert on UKIP will also be with us. Rory Bremner will be providing some satire and Lord Ashcroft will be joining us at midnight.

There will be a few surprises too along the way.

You can listen to LBC on DAB thoughout the country. You can stream the programme via www.lbc.co.uk, use Tunein Radio or the LBC App, now also available on Android. or you can listen via your TV on Freeview Channel 732 or Sky Channel 0112. Or in London on 97.3 FM.

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LISTEN: Gender Segregation Can Never, Ever Be Justified And Here's Why

7 May 2015 at 09:19

Earlier this week I did a phonein on gender segregation after 7 Labour candidates spoke at a meeting in Birmingham where the women had to sit separate from the men. Among those candidates were Jack Dromey, Tom Watson, Khalid Mahmood and Liam Byrne. Now it’s one thing for this to happen in a mosque, but for politicians to go along with it is an outrage. You wouldn’t segregate by colour or sexuality, so why on earth would anyone in 21st century Britain think it was OK for it to happen in this context? I did a phone-in on this on my LBC show, and started off by interviewing two feminists. I was flabberghasted by their responses. How on earth can a feminist approve of this? The calls from the public were also fascinating. I had several female muslim callers who tried to justify it, but I am afraid there is nothing that anyone could say that would change my mind on this. I’d have refused to address a meeting that refused to treat men and women equally. That makes me more of a feminist than those who try to justify it.

Listen to the show HERE (40 mins)

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WATCH: The LBC Business & Economy Debate

5 May 2015 at 21:29

Tonight I hosted an hour long Business & Economy debate on LBC with Vince Cable, Chuka Umunna, Matt Hancock and Neil Hamilton. It was quite sparky at times, and I reckon was one of the best debates of the election campaign. The ‘Ask me Anything’ sections, where the candidates quizzed each other, were particularly good. At least, I thought so!

Let me know what you think.

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A Rather Lovely Election Graphic For You

5 May 2015 at 13:05

LBC’s Adrian Sherling has knocked this up. Rather lovely, don’t you think?

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Attitude Column: What If a Footballer Came Out?

5 May 2015 at 09:36

He hadn’t told anyone. Not even his agent. It was going to be done on his own terms. Adam Ranger hadn’t told his mother what he was about to do, and he especially hadn’t told his gossipy sister. They would all find out like the rest of the country. Had he told any one of them, he knew they would come out with all sorts of reasons why he shouldn’t go ahead with what he knew would affect him for the rest of his life. You see, Adam Ranger, star England central defender, was about to announce to the world he was gay.

He knew the risks. He was prepared for the media storm that would no doubt engulf him. People who do something ‘first’ always become renowned. Adam was prepared for that – what he didn’t want to become was ‘notorious. He calculated that if he did it, others would follow suit. And follow suit quickly. He knew that in every dressing room up and down the land there were men like him. Indeed, he knew of one Premier League team where four of the starting eleven were gay. It wasn’t as if anyone was particularly secret any longer. Looks were exchanged. People just knew, but rarely said anything.

Adam had thought long and hard about how to do it. Press conference? No. Too uncontrollable. Newspaper exclusive. No. The other newspapers which hadn’t had the story would be angry and seek to trash him. TV or radio? Maybe, but would he get the time to say what he wanted to say? Would he be able to control the editing? Probably not. No, Adam decided to do a Tom Daley and record his own Youtube video.

After training one day, he went down to PC World and bought a video camera and tripod. “Alright, Adam?” said the sales assistant. “Got the girls coming round, have we? He joshed, with a deliberate wink. “Yeah, something like that,” smiled Adam. “If only you knew, mate,” he thought to himself.

He went home, set up the camera, sat down and looked straight into the lens. “I’m Adam Ranger. I play for England. And I’ve got something I want to tell you…”

Four weeks later…

It had been a momentous month. The praise, the almost entirely positive reaction from his own teammates who had lined up after training and done a collective moonie while pissing themselves laughing. The phone calls from players from other clubs, his England teammates had been a mixture of hilarious, emotional and highly charged. Tears were shed.
Three other international players followed Adam’s lead in the week after he came out to the world. A dozen lower league players did too. And all to an ever increasing shrug of the shoulders.

In his first game after the video release on Youtube Adam ran out at Upton Park, a difficult place for an opposition player at the best of times, to a standing ovation from most of the crowd. He hadn’t bargained for that and for a moment lost his composure. As the applause died down a chant started from the Bobby Moore Stand of “Does your boyfriend know you’re here?” Adam laughed, grabbed the hand of one of his teammates and bowed. The applause restarted.
Yes, there were problems. He knew there would be. His agent was furious with him. “You’ve jeopardised all your commercial contracts by doing this,” he fumed. Adam suspected the very opposite would be true. And he was right. The offers flooded in. “We want you to be the face of our company,” said the chief exec of a major clothing brand. And there was more. Lots more.

Back in the room…

And that’s how I’d like to think things would be if a professional footballer took that great leap. OK, I might be writing with rose tinted spectacles, but I genuinely think it would be a lot more like this scenario than it was for Justin Fashanu 25 years ago. I have no idea how many professional footballers read Attitude Magazine. Probably more than you think. But if there’s only one, think about the trail you would blaze. Think about what kind of example you would set, not just to your fellow footballers but everyone else. Be proud of who and what you are. And tell the world.

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General Election Predictions

Final General Election Predictions 64: Birmingham

5 May 2015 at 08:48

APOLOGIES, IT SEEMS I FORGOT TO LIST MY FINAL BIRMINGHAM PREDICTIONS. HERE THEY ARE!

Back in January I predicted the outcome of the General Election, seat by seat. Since then, I have done more research and altered some of the predictions taking into account various issues including new updated constituency polls by Lord Ashcroft. Over the next ten days I will be revisiting each county and region giving my final predictions. I’d still welcome feedback, even at this late stage.

BIRMINGHAM

Seats: 9
Current Political Makeup: Lab 8, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Lab 9
Final Prediction: Unchanged

1. Birmingham Edgbaston

2010 Result:
Conservative: 15620 (37.6%)
Labour: 16894 (40.6%)
Lib Dem: 6387 (15.4%)
BNP: 1196 (2.9%)
Green: 469 (1.1%)
UKIP: 732 (1.8%)
Christian: 127 (0.3%)
Others: 146 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 1274 (3.1%)

Sitting MP: Gisela Stuart (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

This is by no means a certain Labour hold. If UKIP eats into the Labour vote, the Tories may yet take this seat. UPDATE: I’m told UKIP are making headway in the whote working class area of Bartley Green. Could that help the Tory Dr Luke Evans slip through the middle?

2. Birmingham Erdington

2010 Result:
Conservative: 11592 (32.6%)
Labour: 14869 (41.8%)
Lib Dem: 5742 (16.2%)
BNP: 1815 (5.1%)
UKIP: 842 (2.4%)
Christian: 217 (0.6%)
Independent: 240 (0.7%)
Others: 229 (0.6%)
MAJORITY: 3277 (9.2%)

Sitting MP: Jack Dromey (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

Relatively safe seat.

3. Birmingham Hall Green

2010 Result:
Conservative: 7320 (15%)
Labour: 16039 (32.9%)
Lib Dem: 11988 (24.6%)
UKIP: 950 (1.9%)
Respect: 12240 (25.1%)
Independent: 190 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 3799 (7.8%)

Sitting MP: Rodger Godsiff (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

If Respect had played their cards better, they could have been contenders here in 2015. But they haven’t.

4. Birmingham Hodge Hill

2010 Result:
Conservative: 4936 (11.6%)
Labour: 22077 (52%)
Lib Dem: 11775 (27.7%)
BNP: 2333 (5.5%)
UKIP: 714 (1.7%)
Others: 637 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 10302 (24.3%)

Sitting MP: Liam Byrne (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

Safe seat.

5. Birmingham Ladywood

2010 Result:
Conservative: 4277 (11.9%)
Labour: 19950 (55.7%)
Lib Dem: 9845 (27.5%)
Green: 859 (2.4%)
UKIP: 902 (2.5%)
MAJORITY: 10105 (28.2%)

Sitting MP: Shabana Mahmood (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

Safe seat.

6. Birmingham Northfield

2010 Result:
Conservative: 14059 (33.6%)
Labour: 16841 (40.3%)
Lib Dem: 6550 (15.7%)
BNP: 2290 (5.5%)
Green: 406 (1%)
UKIP: 1363 (3.3%)
Others: 305 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 2782 (6.7%)

Sitting MP: Richard Burden (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

This used to be a Conservative seat and it’s conceivable it could be again. But not in 2015, I suspect, depending on where the LibDem vote goes. UPDATE: I am told CCHQ have been impressed by the Tory candidate here and are thowing more support here than any other Birmingham seat.

7. Birmingham Perry Bar

2010 Result:
Conservative: 8960 (21.3%)
Labour: 21142 (50.3%)
Lib Dem: 9234 (22%)
UKIP: 1675 (4%)
Christian: 507 (1.2%)
Others: 527 (1.3%)
MAJORITY: 11908 (28.3%)

Sitting MP: Khalid Mahmood (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

Safe seat.

8. Birmingham Selly Oak

2010 Result:
Conservative: 14468 (31.1%)
Labour: 17950 (38.5%)
Lib Dem: 10371 (22.3%)
BNP: 1820 (3.9%)
Green: 664 (1.4%)
UKIP: 1131 (2.4%)
Christian: 159 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 3482 (7.5%)

Sitting MP: Stephen McCabe (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

Once held by the Tory Anthony Beaumont-Darke it doesn’t look as if this will return to the Tory fold any time soon.

9. Birmingham Yardley

2010 Result:
Conservative: 7836 (19.2%)
Labour: 13160 (32.2%)
Lib Dem: 16162 (39.6%)
BNP: 2153 (5.3%)
UKIP: 1190 (2.9%)
Others: 349 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 3002 (7.3%)

Sitting MP: John Hemming (LibDem)
Prediction: Labour gain

Hemming is a maverick and I wouldn’t bet against him pulling off a surprise, but if Labour is to form a government it’s this kind of seat they need to take back.

If you’d like to see the rest of my seat by seat predictions, click HERE

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LISTEN: Idiotic Stunts Like the Mili-Tablet Happen Because No One Has the Bottle To Say No

4 May 2015 at 20:37

How did the Ed Miliband Tablet idea ever get past the Labour Party drawing board?

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Never Go Tiger Hunting With a Gossipy Liberal Democrat

4 May 2015 at 14:34

I had never heard of Lord Scriven before this morning. He’s the LibDem Peer who tweeted that David Cameron had told Nick Clegg before the election that he didn’t think the Tories would get a majority.


This is now leading the BBC and LBC news bulletins. What a shit the man clearly is. I have no idea if it’s true or not, but even if it is, like John Pienaar and Adrian Chiles I shrug my shoulders. What was he supposed to say to Clegg?

I’m going to get a majority and wipe you off planet politics. So there!

No. If he said it, it must have been part of a conversation about renewing the coalition.

I take a very dim view of people who reveal these sorts of things in public, and I am pleased to see Nick Clegg distance himself from it. He clearly wouldn’t want to go tiger hunting with Paul Scriven.

I remember having a conversation with a very senior LibDem back in March who was very keen to tell me he thought the Conservatives would win a majority at the election. Much as I am tempted to tell you who it was – and believe me, you’d be surprised – I won’t, because there’s a big difference between me and Lord Scriven. He’s a total shit, and I’m not.

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Twenty Predictions For Election Night

4 May 2015 at 09:49

1. Just as in 2010 there will be queues outside polling stations at 10pm and people won’t be allowed to vote. Politicians will declare their outrage and say that something must be done to prevent it happening again. Just like 2010.

2. There will be reports of voter intimidation in Tower Hamlets. It wouldn’t be an election otherwise.

3. The Exit Pollsters will be shitting themselves.

4. The Press Association’s prediction of count declaration times will bear little resemblance to reality.

5. Broadcasters will wish they hadn’t booked any politicians as guests as they will just trot out the usual pre-prepared soundbites and refuse to engage in coalition speculation.

6. Jeremy Paxman and David Mitchell won’t hit it off. At all.

7. As election night progresses, a few red lines start shattering.

8. Three or four senior Labour politicians start muttering nice things under their breath about the SNP as the night progresses. Andy Burnham will be one of them.

9. Boris Johnson remains silent until the lie of the land becomes clear, but several of his supporters begin subtly advancing his case on the media as breakfast approaches.

10. In my seat by seat predictions I’ve predicted the Conservatives will get 276 seats. My gut feeling is that is on the low side, but 290 is their maximum reach.

11. For Labour, I’ve predicted 267. I think 275 is their maximum.

12. I’ve predicted the LibDems will get 23 seats. If they get over 30 they will be euphoric. Sort of.

13. I’ve predicted Nigel Farage will win his seat and be one of 5 UKIP MPs. If he doesn’t win, he will resign the UKIP leadership either in his count concession or a few hours later. I predict one of UKIP’s winners will be a complete surprise.

14. The journalist who gets any words out of David Miliband during the night will deserve an award of some kind.

15. The two biggest name casualties will be both be Alexanders – Danny and Wee Dougie.

16. Andrew Neil will be the TV star of election night.

17. The BBC will come to regret their new live position opposite the House of Commons as their daytime coverage is ruined by a man shouting “All Politicians Are Liars”.

18. Len McCluskie, Paul Kenny and other trade union leaders take up semi-permanent residence on College Green opposite Parliament to dole out some “helpful” advice to Ed Miliband.

19. Seconds out, Round Two for Alastair Campbell and Adam Boulton.

20. The broadcaster tents and studios on College Green will still be there two weeks later.

I will be presenting LBC’s election night programme with Shelagh Fogarty from 9.55pm until 5am when Nick Ferrari takes over. If you’re going to a count do keep us up to date with any news by emailing iain@lbc.co.uk, texting 84850 or tweeting @iaindale.

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