ConHome Diary: Hillary Debates The Donald and Why Corbyn Won't be Magnanimous

23 Sep 2016 at 14:45

Over the weekend I head up to the Labour Party conference. It’s my 18th conference, but I suspect this will be different to all the others. I’m expecting a very different clientele to be attending. Gone will be the sharp suited youths of the Blair years, present will be a new breed of the hard left. I suspect the atmosphere will be horrible. The Corbynistas will feel that they are at their most powerful and all this talk of Corbyn being magnanimous and making a peace offering to his critics is for the birds. Even if he wanted to, McDonnell wouldn’t allow it. The Shadow Chancellor sticks firmly by the rules of the Trotskyists handbook. Stamp your opponents into the ground when they are at their weakest. Give no quarter. No compromise. See if I’m not right.
This week I convened my panel to compile this year’s Top 100 People on the Right. It consisted of a Conservative MP, a party agent, a prominent Vote Leave campaigner, a broadsheet journalist and a Tory writer. The most enjoyable part of this three hour session was deciding who to eject from last year’s list. It was quite a task given the regime change we’ve been through. Perhaps the most difficult thing to achieve was to agree where David Cameron and George Osborne (last year’s top two) should feature in the list. You will be able to see the results of our deliberations next weekend on ConservativeHome.

So Mary Berry has quit the Great British Bakeoff. Give. A. Toss.
I suspect the viewing figures for the first Presidential debate early on Tuesday morning will be at an all time high in this country. With the polls narrowing there is an awful lot at stake for both candidates. I’d love to be a fly on the wall as the Trump debate prep team take their candidate through what he should and shouldn’t do. “Be the voice of sweet reason and don’t say anything sexist,” shrills one. “Ground the bitch into the dirt,” says another. “Let Donald be Donald,” says another. It will be very interesting to see which of his advisers wins the day. Hillary’s task is to speak human. She’s not a great speaker or a debator, but her strategy surely has to be to show Trump up for what he is – a racist, sexist bully who has no clue on either domestic or foreign policy. Having said all that, Trump has one strong card in his hand -that of the outsider. Like Nigel Farage, he seems to be inspiring people to vote who haven’t voted in years. I am astonished by the number of Democrats who say they can’t vote for Hillary and will therefore vote Trump. The questions is, can they be outnumbered by the Republicans who can’t stick Trump and will hold their noses and vote for Hillary. And to think, that out of 320 million people, these are the best two candidates the Americans could throw up. And I use that phrase advisedly.

The Liberal Democrat conference was held in Brighton this week. Just thought you should know.
I’ve always rather liked Diane James. In case you haven’t a clue who I am talking about, she has just been elected Leader of UKIP. I’ve rarely seen a woman more pumped up with adrenaline than when she accepted the job on stage at the UKIP conference. I did think, though, that Nigel Farage shouldn’t have been on stage. It was her moment, and she should have been allowed to enjoy it on her own and bask in the applause from a very excited audience. Diane is transparently nice, but she is also quite steely. The big question against her, though, is can she appeal to voters in northern Labour seats. They are the key to UKIP’s success in 2020 but she won’t appeal to them in the same way that Nigel Farage did. The other question against her is whether she can escape from Nigel Farage’s shadow. The jury is out on that one. There have been several defections of relatively high profile UKIPpers back to the Conservatives in recent days. I doubt whether this trickle will become a flood, but you never know. If Suzanne Evans decided to make the journey back, I suspect she would be followed by quite a few others.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson talks about his book THIS BOY

Listen now


WATCH: The LBC Middle East Process Debate With Mark Regev & Manuel Hassassian

19 Sep 2016 at 21:26

This was an hour long debate I hosted this evening between Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and his Palestinian counterpart, Manual Hassassian. I had interviewed them separately back in July and asked if they would debate each other. Somewhat to my surprise they both agreed without any pre-conditions. My aim was to have an hour of conversation rather than heated debate. I wanted to avoid any histrionics on either side and to try to explore what the two sides have in common, as well as what divides them.

I urged people right from the beginning to try to put aside their own prejudices and beliefs and I hope I did that myself. Looking at the social media reaction, it seems I succeeded in that as no one has accused me of being biased towards one side or the other – that must be a first!

I’m really proud of what we did in this hour. I’m told it was the first time that an official representative of the Israeli government and an official representative of the PLO had debated each other in this way. I was delighted to see them shake hands at the end. Symbolically it was important.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Tom Swarbrick's News That Nearly Was

From my LBC Sunday show. Prepare to laugh.

Listen now


BOOK REVIEW: Speaking Out by Ed Balls - Best Political Book I've Read This Year

18 Sep 2016 at 15:44

Very few political books stand the test of time. Three months after they come out they’re forgotten. Ed Balls can be proud that his book will be different. It’s not a conventional political memoir in that it’s not chronological and doesn’t pretend to be a learned, intellectually based book, which sets out the author’s massive contribution to political history. Instead, it’s set out in a series of themed chapters, each containing many lessons to anyone who is involved in politics at whatever level. There’s a certain therapeutic nature as Balls unburdens himself. It’s almost as if when he got to the end he breathed a massive sigh of relief and muttered to himself in the direction of the reader: “do your worst”.

There is little self-justification contained in this book. In fact, it really is warts and all. Ed Balls is open and honest about a myriad of things he now believes he got wrong, as well as the odd thing he got right. He reckons in retrospect that he knew the financial crash at the time was coming. He and others spotted the fault lines, but somehow failed to join up the dots. Six months before it happened, the Treasury ‘wargamed’ a financial crash in which a northern building society got into financial trouble having over-extended itself. Who’d have thought?

In some ways may of the chapters provide rock hard evidence that most political failures are cock-ups rather than conspiracy. They also show that Ed Balls is very far from the bullying political bruiser he is often portrayed as. He is very far away from the shadowy figure who was Gordon Brown’s enforcer. This book is full of wonderfully human anecdotes, often involving the chaos of the Balls-Cooper family like, and proves that politicians are actually just the same as the rest of us – with the same foibles, aims, ambitions and experiences.

The only place I thought Ed Balls wasn’t quite on top of the actualite, was when he was talking about the TeeBeeGeeBees, which he downplays to the point of unbelievability. Compare his version with the version in Alastair Campbell’s diaries, and I think I know which is the more accurate. He acknowledges that the running battles between Blair and Brown got in the way of the Blair government achieving what it could have, but fails to give the reader the depth of the split between them that clearly existed.

Where Balls is strongest is where he goes into events in which he was intimately involved. The inner contortions he went through over whether to sack Sharon Shoesmith in the Baby P case, is a good example. Damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. Welcome the life of a Secretary of State, where making decisions is often a lonely experience.

We complain loudly nowadays that we have elected a generation of politicians with no hinterland. On the face of it Ed Balls was one of them. Oxford, special adviser, MP, Minister. That’s the career path taken by so many politicians nowadays, a career path barely interrupted by any kind of life outside politics. Ed Balls doesn’t shrink from this. His only job outside politics was as a journalist at the Financial Times. Yet the pages of his book brim with real life experience and many interests outside politics.

Ten years ago I loathed Ed Balls. To me he represented all that was dreadful about politics under New Labour. That was because I failed to look beneath the surface and believed the conventional wisdom.

I now think it’s very sad that he is, for the moment at least, lost to the political world. In fact, I would go so far as to say that losing his seat may well be the best thing that ever happened to him. Serving as a Labour MP under Jeremy Corbyn would have been torture for him.

It’s sad that he’s no longer a leading Labour MP because I think that his experiences over the last few years would have prepared him well for the leadership of his party. Sadly, because of a past from which he could never escape, it was never going to happen. He’s got the intellect, the self-knowledge, the communicative ability and presence to have made a very good prime minister. Never say never, but it’s difficult to imagine the circumstances in which it will now happen, but we certainly haven’t heard the last of Ed Balls.

In fact, I suspect he is having the time of his life – lecturing at Harvard, chairing the board of Norwich City Football Club, Strictly Come Dancing contestant. But all these roles are transient.

Alastair Campbell left Downing Street in August 2003. Thirteen years later he has yet to take on a big role, concentrating instead on writing books, taking on various short term roles and earning money from public speaking. I’ve always thought he yearns for one more big role.

Ed Balls must avoid the danger of being seduced by short term enjoyment. He has a big role left in him, even if neither he nor I have a clue what it might be.

I usually only read political and football biographies. Some time ago I compiled a list of my favourite political books. Were I to compile such a list today I have no doubt that SPEAKING OUT would make the top twenty. It deserves to sell well, and if you are at all interest in the body politic, you should read it. I can almost guarantee you will both enjoy it and learn from it. It’s a book which should be read not only by current cabinet ministers, but everyone involved in politics at whatever level. I can’t recommend it too highly.

Buy can buy SPEAKING OUT from Politicos.co.uk HERE

UPDATE: I interviewed Ed Balls on the day his book was published. Well worth a watch IMHO!



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Video: Iain & Yasmin Alibhai Brown crossexamine Martin Bell

18 Doughty Street: Crosstalk, 2007

Listen now

LibDem Politics

The Top 50 Liberal Democrats 2016

17 Sep 2016 at 13:56

Each year I convene three panels to compile lists of the Top 50 Liberal Democrats, the Top 100 People on the Left and the Top 100 People on the Right. Each list is published to coincide with the three party conferences. This is the ninth year I’ve been doing this and although I thought that last year’s lists saw an unprecedented degree of change from the previous year, 2016’s are maintaining the momentum. Politics is getting ever more frenetic.

The Liberal Democrats have at least met the challenge I set them in 2015: of remaining relevant enough to warrant their inclusion in this exercise. Although they still seem stuck on 8 to 9 per cent in the polls, the EU referendum result, and Tim Farron’s immediate and instinctive reaction to it, gave them more publicity, another 20,000 or so members and a marked improvement in their local government by-election performance.

After 19 new entries in last year’s Liberal Democrat list, there are 15 new ones, or re-entries, this year. Much of this is due to the firming-up of the leader’s organization – this time last year Farron was a brand new leader, and hadn’t sorted out his office or his advisers. So many of the changes are due to new appointments – notably his widely-respected chief of staff Ben Williams, the highest new entry at number 5 – or to members of his leadership campaign team fading out. A raft of new appointments at party HQ have brought a new energy and professionalism to what was a distinctly battered operation, and the highly competent party president Sal Brinton has overseen an overhaul of the party’s byzantine committee structure.

Still, the Lib Dems lack stars recognizable in the outside world; most of the names here will be familiar only to party activists. Alongside Farron, Nick Clegg – now clawing back a little of the respect he used to have thanks to his expertise on EU matters – and Norman Lamb, plus old warhorses Paddy Ashdown and Vince Cable, are about the only Lib Dems who get any national coverage. There are other good performers, many now in the House of Lords, such as Susan Kramer and Lynne Featherstone, or Scottish leader Willie Rennie or London mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon, but along with the party as a whole, they struggle to be noticed. Welsh leader Kirsty Williams finds herself in the odd, though influential, position of occupying a ministerial post in the Welsh government as part of a coalition between Labour and – herself, as the only surviving Liberal Democrat in the Welsh Assembly.

Labour’s long-drawn-out implosion and UKIP’s disintegration may offer opportunities to the Liberal Democrats over the next twelve months. It’s too early to say they’ve recovered from electoral wipe-out in 2015 – but at least they seem to have hit bottom.

1. (-) Tim Farron
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
One of the more challenging jobs in British politics at the moment. Finding it difficult to get media traction but very popular with the LibDem grassroots. With Labour imploding there are now huge opportunities for the LibDems if Farron can exploit them.

2. (-) Sal Brinton
President of the Liberal Democrats
Brinton has an increasingly high media profile and is a reassuring presence for the LibDem grassroots.

3. (-1) Nick Clegg
Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats
With the publication of his new book and his return to the front bench as Europe Spokesman, expect to hear much more from the former Deputy Prime Minister over the next 12 months.

4. (-1) Norman Lamb
Health Spokesman
A quieter year for Lamb, who is increasingly concentrating on mental health policy.

5. (NEW) Ben Williams
Chief of Staff to Tim Farron
Acts as Tim Farron’s eyes and ears and gatekeeper.

6. (+1) Willie Rennie
Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats
Avoiding wipeout in the Scottish Parliament elections in May counted as success in LibDem terms. Much of this was due to Rennie’s unexpectedly good performances in the TV debates.

7. (-1) Kirsty Williams
Former Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
She stood down from the leadership in Wales after losing all the LibDem seats in the Welsh Assembly apart from her own. She is now the only LibDem in a position of power, having accepted a place in the Welsh Executive Cabinet.

8. (+5) Lord Newby
Lib Dem Leader in the House of Lords
Newby has just been elected LibDem leader in the Lords, having previously acted as chief whip.

9. (+17) Alastair Carmichael
Former Scottish Secretary, MP for Orkney & Shetland
Carmichael has recovered from being accused of electoral malpractice and has now one of Tim Farron’s inner circle. A wise old owl figure.

10. (-1) Lynne Featherstone
Lib Dem Peer & Spokesperson on Energy & Climate Change
Popular with activists, a stellar record as a minister on issues like gay marriage and FGM. Kept up her profile with her book on equal marriage, EQUAL EVER AFTER

11. (+3) Caroline Pidgeon AM
Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London
Bright, funny, sassy, intelligent, she fought an excellent campaign for London mayor even if she didn’t get the result she deserved.

12. (+3) Tom Brake
Lib Dem Chief Whip
Brake is popular in the party, if somewhat charismatically challenged. But he herds the LibDem cats well and is trusted.

13. (+4) Baroness Susan Kramer
Lib Dem Peer & Economics Spokesman
Was seen as a good minister at the Department of Transport and has a good profile in her new economics portfolio. Her public persona belies a wickedly cheeky sense of humour.

14. (+2) Baroness Kate Parminter
Lib Dem Deputy Leader in the Lords
One half of a LibDem power couple (married to Clegg donor/adviser Neil Sherlock) she is a popular member of the LibDem House of Lords leadership team. She also shadows DEFRA.

15. (RE-ENTRY) Mike German
Party Treasurer & DWP Spokesman in the House of Lords
Former leader of the LibDems in the Welsh Assembly, he is said to have become very close to Tim Farron and is also responsible for the money side of the party.

16. (+3) Sir Vincent Cable
Former Lib Dem Business Secretary
Kept up a high media profile in the last twelve months and clearly determined to continue to play a leading role in the promotion of LibDemmery. Still handicapped by his reputation for not being a team player, burnished in the Clegg and Laws books.

17. (+1) Paddy Ashdown
Former Lib Dem leader
Still recovering from the 2015 election shambles he remains an important figure behind the scenes and still maintains a high media profile.

18. (NEW) Phil Reilly
Director of Communications for the Liberal Democrats
All round nice guy, Reilly has made the transition from being one of Nick Clegg’s Press team to taking on the whole comms role for Tim Farron. Devout West Ham fan.

19. (+12) Tim Gordon
Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
Some say he’s more of a Financial Director than a Chief Executive, but whatever he is, he’s doing a great job holding the LibDems’ financial head above water.

20. (NEW) Shaun Roberts
Director of Campaigns & Elections

21. (-1) Duncan Brack
Vice Chair Lib Dem Policy Committee

22. (+1) Mark Pack
Editor, LibDem Newswire

23. (-1) David Laws
Former LibDem Schools Minister

24. (+16) Caron Lindsay
Co-editor of LibDem Voice

25. (NEW) Chris White
Member, Party Executive & Councillor

26. (+18) James Gurling
Chair, Campaigns and Communications Committee

27. (NEW) Giles Derrington
Head, Parliamentary Advisory Unit, Liberal Democrats

28. (+1) Dorothy Thornhill
LibDem mayor of Watford, new peer

29. (-2) Jo Swinson
Former Business minister

30. (NEW) Robin Teverson
LibDem Peer

31. (-6) Sir Simon Hughes
Former deputy leader of the Lib Dems

32. (NEW) Rumi Verjee
LibDem donor

33. (+9) Mark Williams
Lib Dems’ only Welsh MP, vice-chairman of the parliamentary campaigns team

34. (-13) Catherine Bearder
Member of the European Parliament

35. (RE-ENTRY) James McGrory
Co-Director, Open Britain, former Press Secretary to Nick Clegg

36. (NEW) Laura Davies
Director of People, Liberal Democrats

37. (-1) Menzies Campbell
Former leader of the LibDems, LibDem peer

38. (NEW) Tim Pickstone
Chief Executive, Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

39. (-31) Greg Mulholland
Chair of the Parliamentary Campaigns Team

40. (-1) Jonathan Oates
Former Director of Communications to Nick Clegg, LibDem peer

41. (-31) Ben Rich
Former chief of staff to Tim Farron

42. (-2) John Pugh
MP for Southport, Education spokesperson

43. (NEW) Daisy Cooper
Parliamentary Candidate, St Albans

44. (NEW) Prateek Buch
Federal Policy Committee Member, former Director of the Social Liberal Forum

45. (NEW) John Leech
Former Member of Parliament for Manchester, Withington

46. (+41) Jim Wallace
Outgoing Liberal Democrat leader in the House of Lords

47. (+1) Maajid Nawaz
Director of the Quilliam Foundation, former LibDem PPC

48. (-2) Sarah Ludford
LibDem Peer, former MEP

49. (NEW) Daisy Benson
Parliamentary Candidate for Yeovil

50. (-5) Gerald Vernon-Jackson
Leader of the LibDems on the LGA



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Iain Jousts With a Caller Over Legalising Prostitution

An angry caller thinks prostitution should never be legalised.

Listen now


WATCH: Iain Dale Interviews Owen Smith

17 Sep 2016 at 00:27

Twenty minutes with the Labour leadership contender.


1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Gyles Brandreth

Gyles Brandreth discusses his latest Sherlock Holmes Novel and much else besides.

Listen now


ConHome Diary: Dave Quits, I'm Playing Kofi Annan & Why Sadiq Refused an Upgrade

17 Sep 2016 at 00:03

Brits don’t quit. That’s the quote that came back to bite David Cameron on the arse this week, after he announced his departure from the House of Commons. This decision makes me sad as I have always taken the view that ex-Prime Ministers should continue to play a role in our national life. We should be able to draw on their experience and wisdom and the ideal forum to do that in is Parliament. Unfortunately, the media has now become the chosen forum of e-PMs to contribute to debates. I do understand David Cameron when he says that whatever he said as a backbench MP would be a distraction, but it’s a pretty weak reason to quit Parliament. You only become a distraction if you allow yourself to, and comment on everything. Jim Callaghan hung around for seven years after he quit the Labour leadership. He chose his interventions carefully. I don’t remember John Major becoming a distraction in the 1997-2001 Parliament. Indeed, John Major should be David Cameron’s role model in how to behave in his post Parliament life. He only says something when he has something to say. And because of that, we all take notice of it on the rare occasions he emerges onto the Andrew Marr Show.
Next week I’m starting the LBC Middle East Process. Yes, really. On my radio show I’ll be hosting an hour long debate between the Israeli Ambassador to London Mark Regev, and the Palestinian Ambassador, Manuel Hassassian. I’ve interviewed them separately before, and I hope we can have at least a partial meeting of minds. Clearly there will be huge differences between them, but in my experience they are both reasonable men who have the ability to see a different point of view from their own. Whatever the outcome, I think I can assure you an hour of gripping radio.

The fuss about the state of Hillary Clinton’s health has been something to behold. The conspiracy theorists reckon she’s got anything from Parkinson’s disease to dementia or both. If she had, it would undoubtedly be in the public interest for it to be revealed, and she’s no doubt have to step down. But unless I am missing something, she is suffering from a mild dose of pneumonia. By the time you read this column she will be back on the campaign trail. Would she be getting this kind of scrutiny if she were a man? Actually, I think she probably would. Americans are obsessed about the health of their leaders. If you’re of my vintage you’ll remember the furore when President Carter collapsed while out on a jog. I could give you a lot more examples. As the first presidential debate approaches (it’s only ten days away), Hillary’s performance will be examined like never before.
My company Biteback is publishing a book this week by someone you’ve probably never heard of, a Turkish newspaper editor called Can Dundar. ‘We Are Arrested’ is the dramatic story of the repression of press freedom in Turkey and how he was treated at the hands of the Turkish state. He’s had to flee the country for his own safety and is the most famous journalist on the list of 109 ‘Wanted’ Turkish writers. If anyone now seriously believes that Turkey is now anything other than a semi-fascist state, they want their heads read. And quite why the EU is still entertaining the idea of Turkish membership is beyond a rather sick joke.

So according to Jean Claude Juncker the EU should now create an EU defence fund and a headquarters for a common military force. Yet another prediction made by Leave supporters (and denied by Remainers) which has come true.
Imagine you’re on a ten hour long flight to Montreal. You’re the Mayor of London. Journalists are on the plane with you. It’s your first big foreign trip. You’re offered an upgrade from economy. What do you do? Why, you refuse it of course! Well, that’s what Sadiq Khan did on Wednesday. My question is this: why on earth should we expect the Mayor of London to travel economy? Soon we’ll be expecting the Prime Minister to travel cattle class just to prove her hairshirt credentials. Ridiculous.

So the LEADER OF SCOTTISH TORIES IS THE MOST POPULAR POLITICAL LEADER IN SCOTLAND according to a new poll. And in other most unlikely headlines of the week, OWEN SMITH TO STORM TO VICTORY OVER JEREMY CORBYN IN LABOUR LEADERSHIP ELECTION. Which one of those two do you think is true, and which one is made up?



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Iain has a Testy Encounter with a Member of the Fire Brigades Union

Iain takes Laurie Brightman to task over the Fire Strike.

Listen now


It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 50: When Is It Acceptable to Brand a Caller a "Fool and an Idiot"?

12 Sep 2016 at 20:31

This is hilarious. Ron loves Assad. He loves Putin. He thinks I am a Zionist because I apparently support funding the people (ISIS) who, er, would love to kill all Zionists. It’s not often I tell a caller they are a fool, but in Ron’s case, I made an exception.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Peter Sissons

Peter Sissons discusses his career in journalism and broadcasting.

Listen now


ConHome Diary: Do Some Lives Matter More Than Others?

9 Sep 2016 at 13:31

In the next few weeks we’ll get the results of the UKIP and Labour leadership elections and the SNP’s deputy leadership election. Labour and the SNP have both experienced booming membership growth, but there the similarity seems to end. Labour is languishing at 27% in the latest opinion poll, while the SNP have double that level of support a 54%, which is the highest rating for any political party in Europe I am reliably informed. Labour is tearing itself apart and debating just how left the party can go, while the main topic of conversation in the SNP deputy leadership election – which will undoubtedly be won by their Westminster leader Angus Robertson – seems to be the powers the deputy leader should have in deciding the maximum or minimum size of an SNP branch. Strange, I’d have thought that was more up the LibDems’ street.
South Eastern Railway is obviously trying to compete with Southern in order to claim the title of Britain’s most hapless train operator. My journey home from to Tonbridge on Wednesday was a case in point. We drew out of Charing Cross, only to remain on the bridge over the Thames for thirty minutes. And that was thirty minutes without explanation. No announcement from the guard or the train driver at all. I tweeted my displeasure to @Se_railway who later replied that due to the delay the train would terminate at Tonbridge rather than Tunbridge Wells. It didn’t affect me, but if I had been going on to Tunbridge Wells I’d have been furious. Needless to say that announcement wasn’t made until the train actually arrived at Tonbridge. What brilliant customer service. I’m tempted to say it should be privatised, and therein lies the problem. Train companies, like banks, display all the faults and incompetences that we used to complain about in the nationalised industries.

Just for the record, I haven’t spoken to David Davis since his supposed ‘slapping down’ by Number Ten. If I were him I’d be fairly phlegmatic about it. He won’t have enjoyed the headlines, but in actual fact, if you look at what he said it is very similar to what Theresa May has been saying. In many ways he was stating the bleeding obvious to say that it was “improbable” that we’d remain in the Single Market. How could we, if the EU continues to insist on freedom of movement of labour? The phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is crystal clear. It means exiting all aspects of the EU, including the Single Market. Some people try to pretend that the Single Market is a separate entity to the EU itself. Total fiction. It’s an integral part of it. The countries that aren’t in the EU but are members of it, like Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, are all potential members. And frankly, quite how you can compare their economies with ours is anyone’s guess. Whatever trade agreement we come to with the EU it will be based on our requirements and the fact that we are the fifth largest economy in the world and our imports from the EU are rather more vital to the EU than our exports to the EU are to us. We are in a very strong bargaining position and no doubt Theresa May and David Davis will use that to our advantage. The PM says she is not going to give a running commentary on all this but the media will no doubt demand that she does. She’s in a cleft stick because Parliament has every right to question ministers on progress in these areas but on the other hand they are going to have to play the straightest of bats for fear of giving away too much detail about our negotiating position.
So the Conservatives are to go back to the future on grammar schools. Opinion is split on whether they are bastions of social mobility or rather divisive institutions which condemn the less able to failure at the age of eleven. I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what a school is called. What I do care about though is that we shouldn’t consign a whole generation of children onto an educational scrapheap at such a young age. Having said that we also need to find ways of letting the tallest poppies grown as tall as they can. If comprehensive schools aren’t doing that them we need to find ways of enabling them to do so. To create schools for academically clever kids, and separate schools for the less academically abled is surely not the way forward. We already have an educational split in this country between private and state education. Why on earth would we try to create another one?

Just imagine the outcry if someone created an organisation called WHITE LIVES MATTER. And it’s perfectly possible given that white working class youths are now the most underprivileged in both our education system and society in general. They underperform their BME counterparts in many parts of the country by a country mile. It’s why they have forsaken the Labour Party for UKIP in many parts of the north. I say this because I am very disturbed the creation of a group calling themselves BLACK LIVES MATTER UK. They have been formed on the back of the BLM movement in the US which seeks to highlight the disgusting number of black people shot by police or who die in police custody. The UK group seem to be saying we face a similar situation in this country. We just don’t. If you look at the number of black or Asian people who die at the hands of the police in this country it is very small. Indeed, in 2016 so far 29 people have died in police custody – two of them black. The proportions are similar, or even lower, for each of the last five years. BLACK LIVES MATTER UK are trying to create division where there is none and fuel the racial divide. And this week we saw the ludicrous spectacle of nine protesters invading the London City Airport runway to protest about how aircraft emissions disproportionately affect black people. The irony that the nine protesters were all white was clearly lost on them. The lesson here is that ALL LIVES MATTER, black, white, brown or yellow.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Video: Iain & Jeremy Nicholas Discuss Their West Ham Books


Listen now


WATCH: A Frankly Excellent Interview with Ed Balls!

6 Sep 2016 at 20:38

Earlier this evening I interviewed Ed Balls for twenty minutes about his new book SPEAKING OUT: LESSONS IN LIFE & POLITICS. I had just finished doing one of my more ‘robust’ interview with the Vice Chairwoman of Momentum, so perhaps that wasn’t the best preparation to have a dignified conversation about a book, but I was really pleased with how it went. Indeed, I think it was one of the best interviews I have done recently, even if I say so myself. There’s a lot more to Ed Balls than his public image as a bit of a political bruiser, and I hope that comes across in this interview.



Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Interview with Sir Nicholas Soames on Winston Churchill

25 minutes with Nick Soames on the 50th anniversary of his grandfather's funeral

Listen now


WATCH: Iain Tells Newsnight Why Keith Vaz Should Quit

6 Sep 2016 at 13:46

This was a discussion I had on Newsnight last night about the Keith Vaz scandal. Ian Dunt from politicos.co.uk was my fellow guest. I explained why I thought Keith Vaz has to stand down as chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Ian disagreed. Emily Maitlis asked the questions and had some lovely shoes.


1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.


Iain Dale talks to Charles Clarke & Julia Neuberger

A 45 minute discussion asking should there be any limits to religious freedoms?

Listen now