Personal

Northbank Talent Management Signs Up A New Client - Me

26 Jun 2018 at 08:30

One of the things you never notice when you’re doing a job is what it takes out of you. When I left Biteback at the end of May I didn’t realise not only how much time it would free up, but also how much of a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I took very seriously the responsibilities I had to those who worked for me and to my principal shareholder. I’m not a natural numbers person so managing cashflow was always one of the things that took a lot out of me, and in the early days it was always a challenge. Publishing books is not a business for anyone interested in making a quick buck.

I don’t think anyone who’s never run a business understands the pressures on people who do. The present day narrative is that anyone who runs a business is just in it for themselves and wants to make the maximum amount of profit from those that they employ. It’s such a complete fallacy. What a pity it is that the few bad apples spoil the reputation of everyone else.

I’ve been thinking for some time what I should do with the rest of my working life. I know, sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, at 55 it’s probably wise! I’ve now been on the radio for eight years and I bloody love it. I did on day one. I do now. I’ve finally found something I think I have proved to be good at, and I hope I get the opportunity to continue doing it for years to come.

But in the last year I’ve started to do more TV too and enjoyed it much more than I used to. Maybe it’s because I’ve become more relaxed about it and know that I can give a reasonable answer to anything that’s thrown at me. When I got nervous about my first appearance on BBC1’s Question Time someone said to me they couldn’t understand it. After all, I spoke for three hours a day on subjects I often knew nothing about and no one seems to notice, so why should I be flummoxed by Question Time. Fair point, I thought. For the last year I’ve been doing CNNTalk, which generally concentrates on discussions about big global issues. Again a challenge, but in 14 months I honestly don’t think we’ve done a duff show. Perhaps that’s down to my fellow panellists Ayesha Hazarika and Liam Halligan, more than me! In recent weeks I’ve also been a panellist on The Wright Stuff a few times and have started doing some early morning slots on Good Morning Britain with Jacqui Smith and Ayesha Hazarika. I’d like to do more TV, maybe a bit of presenting and documentary making. Having said that, I have no desire to be a TV star. None at all. Like anyone who appears on the media, I have an ego, but I do not crave fame. I never have. However, I’d like to do things on TV I know I would enjoy and would stand a fighting chance of being good at. At my age I am beyond accepting everything I’m offered. What’s the point of doing something you aren’t comfortable with just for the fleeting glory of appearing on TV? There isn’t any point. So if I ever show any sign of going on Love Island, feel free to issue me with a reality check!

I’d also like to write a book, although I’m not quite sure what on yet. I always wanted to write the authorised biography of Cecil Parkinson, but maybe I ought to look at something more likely to sell a few copies. I did start a political thriller once, but the market for them is pretty limited. There’s always gay porn fiction, I suppose…

A few weekends ago I was invited to chair a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan. I rather enjoyed it and would like to do more of that sort of thing, as well as take part in panels. I used to do a bit of after dinner speaking but given I don’t finish on the radio until 7pm. But given what I know other broadcasters do, I think there are huge opportunities here.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that I have decided to sign up with Northbank Talent Management, who will act as my literary, broadcast and public speaking agency. I’ve never had a high opinion of agents, in whatever field. There are a few good ones, but an awful lot of charlatans. Northbank is a new agency started by Diane Banks, who I dealt with at Biteback, and backed by serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson – the man behind Pizza Express and Patisserie Valerie as well as former chairman of Channel 4. Diane has built a very impressive team and client list in a very short time. I went to a meeting with her and two colleagues determined not to agree to anything, but I was so taken by their ideas and what they thought they could do for me that I have signed up and am incredibly excited by the prospect of working with them.

I’ve made clear that my first priorities will remain LBC and CNN and nothing I do should interfere with my work for them. But there’s no doubt that my work on CNN has boosted my LBC audience, as has all the TV I’ve been doing. I know that, because of the emails and tweets I get.

Anyway, that’s my news.

Visit the Northbank Talent Management website

@Northbanktalent

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Challenges a Caller Who Thinks People Choose to be Gay

Mosad from Golders Green called Iain's programme to talk about gay marriage. He suggested that people choose to be gay. He got more than he bargained for in return...

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UK Politics

Extra NHS Spending: Where's the Money Coming From?

24 Jun 2018 at 09:34

I’m not a great fan of unfunded spending promises. I am, after all a fiscal conservative. So, I had thought, were leading members of the government. The chancellor likes to remind us of his fiscal rectitude so Christ alone knows what Jeremy Hunt has on him. Somehow, he was persuaded to go along with a £20 billion promise for the NHS. Now, imagine this scenario. Imagine Jeremy Corbyn had told us he wanted to spend £20 billion on something but wouldn’t tell us how he would fund it for another five months. We’d laugh in his face and utter inanities about a magic money tree.

Secondly, what about the timing of this announcement? Why do it on 16/17 June when the 70th birthday of the NHS isn’t until the beginning of July? Was it a diversionary tactic to take the Sunday papers’ attention away from the Brexit meaningful vote amendment? Surely things hadn’t got that bad?

Thirdly, since when did the Health Service ever get better just by throwing money at it? Admittedly the government has asked Simon Stephens for a ten year plan, but he’ll no doubt say he needs even more money. Given the failures of the NHS under his stewardship I’d rather someone else was in charge of producing this plan. Here’s a radical idea. How about an actual politician taking responsibility for this plan rather than an official? I know the modern trend is to sub-contract this sort of things to officials – look at what Theresa May has done with the Brexit negotiations. In theory David Davis is in charge, but you could be forgiven for thinking that Olly Robbins was. Even now.

The whole NHS announcement was slightly dominated by the prime minister’s insistence that it will be funded in part by a Brexit dividend. It is true that there will indeed be a Brexit dividend, but that’s not going to become apparent until after the transition period, and let’s face it, the £9-10 billion will have many competing bids. What this also means is that the chancellor has been able to rather over-gleefully inform his cabinet colleagues that there is no spare money for anything else. Nothing for education. Nothing for defence. Nothing for anyone.

The next few months are going to be dominated by speculation about how the chancellor will raise the extra money that has been promised to the NHS. A blanket income tax rise is out of the question. I suspect it is the better off that are going to cop it again. The most likely measure is to slam more on national insurance. It will be employers who end up paying the largest share, mark my words. In addition I suspect the upper earnings limit on national insurance will be extended or abolished. In the 1970s and 1980s we used to talk about ‘incentives’. Some people in government need reminding about the true meaning of that word.

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Did I Put the Thought of Running for Leader Into Jeremy Corbyn's Head?

Maybe

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Books

Book Review: No Nonsense by Joey Barton

23 Jun 2018 at 11:52

I read a lot of football biographies and autobiographies. And I mean, a lot. Many of them I don’t finish because they’re totally fake. They’re usually ghosted by someone who clearly hasn’t taken the trouble to get inside the head of his subject. On rare occasions as a reader I forget that the book has been ghosted. This is one of them.

This book is the real Joey Barton – and I mean that in a good way. Joey Barton has a reputation as a bit of a thug – someone who thought nothing of stabbing a cigarette into the eye of an opponent. In this book you get warts and all. But it’s far more than a mea culpa, it’s an attempt to explain who Joey Barton is – the good the bad and the sometimes very ugly. It’s also a book of what might have been. Barton played at the top levels but given his skill and strength he should have been an England regular. In the end he only played once for England. Criminal.

There’s a lot about his damaged childhood. While his childhood can go some way to explaining his attitudinal difficulties of his adult years, it doesn’t go the whole way. It was a childhood brimming with violent episodes in which he had to grow up way before he should have done. The streets of Liverpool were not an easy place to be for a boy growing up in the 1980s. He wasn’t helped by the escapades of his father, although his ‘hard nut’ reputation was certainly burnished by learning at the feet of a man who was filled with anger. Father Barton was a bit part lower league footballer who never fulfilled his undoubted potential.

Joey was determined to make it as a professional footballer even though he had several rejections in his teenage years, most notably from his boyhood club, Everton. It was Manchester City where he got his big breakthrough. He showed the determination to succeed which later developed into an ability to bounce back from the most terrible situations, many of which were completely his own fault, but some of which were not. In the book he doesn’t make excuses, he invites the reader to form their own judgement.

There’s quite a lot about Joey’s views on life, liberty and the universe, some of which is rather overwritten. He’s clearly got strong views on a multitude of issues, which was the reason he came to be invited onto Question Time a few years ago. They’re often well thought out, even if the reader disagrees with him, but there’s probably a bit too much of this in what is essentially a football autobiography. I found myself skipping a few pages when it got too much.

Possibly the most enjoyable chapters are those when Joey is at Marseille and QPR. It’s when the reader starts to think that he would possibly make a very good manager. Well, this season we’ll find out as he’s been appointed manager at Fleetwood Town in League 1. It’s his first step back into football following his long ban for betting offences. That episode happened after the book was published, although maybe it features in the paperback.

I’m going to adopt Fleetwood Town as one of the teams I now look out for. I guess that proves that I very much enjoyed the book and find Joey Barton a fascinating character.

No Nonsense by Joey Barton is published by Simon & Schuster. Buy it HERE

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Jennifer Saunders

Iain talks to Jennifer Saunders about her new autobiography 'Bonkers'.

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Diary

ConHome Diary: The Shame of the DCMS Select Committee & Why Brexiteer Ministers Need to Evangelise

15 Jun 2018 at 14:29

Philip Lee’s resignation came as a bolt out of the blue, according to many learned commentators this week. Well, on this issue maybe, but several people have told me of his unhappiness at being overlooked for promotion to the Cabinet. I think most politicians are only ever a couple of steps from resignation, but few have the balls to ever go through with it. If they do, they will have gone through utter contortions on the way to reaching the decision. I may not agree with Philip Lee’s resignation, but I respect his reasons, even if I think he has drawn the wrong conclusions. It has been disappointing to see some people trashing Philip’s reputation over the last few days. I suppose we all have to appreciate that all politics is tribal, and when someone does something to damage the tribe, others are going to react accordingly, but even so, some of it has been pretty distasteful.
One thing I would say, though. If an MP is going to make a major decision like resignation, the first thing you do is ring your constituency chairman and explain why you’re doing it. He/she can then ring round the key officers and members and get them onside. The Telegraph’s Christopher Hope reported on Tuesday morning that the chairman of Bracknell Conservatives found out about his MP’s resignation through social media. Understandably, he was a tad miffed.
Older readers may remember that I was up against Philip Lee for the Bracknell selection in the autumn of 2009. There were seven of us in the final with Philip, Rory Stewart and me contesting the final three. At that point I knew it was curtains for me. I realised that if they wanted a risky choice they’d go for Rory and if they wanted a safe local choice they’d pick Philip. I knew I couldn’t come through the middle. I still get people who were at the selection meeting telling me that they voted for me! I often wonder what might have been…
*
I am a big fan of select committees. When they are well chaired and MPs are on top of their briefs, they do a superb job of holding the Executive to account and they are capable of shining light into some very murky corners indeed. Sadly, the DCMS Select Committee displayed none of these attributes when they interviewed Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore from Leave.eu. It was a shambles of a hearing and brought the whole select committee system into disrepute. Banks and Wigmore, who had legitimate questions to answer about all sorts of things escaped, not only totally unscathed but arguably with their reputations enhanced. It takes a particular brand of incompetence to allow that to happen. Of the 11 members of the committee, only 7 turned up. Given the MPs who were absent will have known this was a high profile witness session one wonders what other urgent business they may have had. One MP turned, Rebecca Pow (no, me neither), turned up late and when she started asking her questions she started talking about the Electoral Commission, something the chairman had instructed his colleagues not to do due to ongoing legal cases. Not a single one of the MPs laid a glove on Banks or Wigmore. Indeed, it was the other way around. I do hope Damian Collins has watched back the entire three hours, ideally while he was sitting next to Nicky Morgan. She might have then given him a few tips about how to do it properly. Meanwhile, the rest of the committee should resign in embarrassment and let someone else have a go. Their replacements couldn’t possibly do a worse job.
*

For the first time I really fear that the government is about to deliver something they will call Brexit, but to any normal observer, it won’t look like Brexit at all. Remainers in Parliament look as if they are to deliver an almost fatal blow to a clean Brexit by wresting back control of the saga from the government. It looks to me as if we are going to head for the softest of soft Brexits, where we abide by many of the most pernicious rules of the EU, pay into the coffers but have no say in what happens. Of course, this has been the agenda of Olly Robbins, the PM’s chief Brexit adviser, all along. And when you hear a Remain supporting MP say: “Of course we respect the result of the referendum, but…” we all know full well that their agenda is not to make a success of Brexit, it is to frustrate it and ideally put a stop to it. At least Andrew Adonis had the balls to admit it. The rest won’t. But that’s their agenda. And for the first time I now wonder whether they might not succeed. Andrew Lilico wrote a superb article for CAP X on Wednesday in which he essentially said that if we’re not going to get a Brexit worth the name, and it’s a half way house, that would be the worst of all worlds – worse than remaining a member of the EU. I tend to agree. But we’re in this position for several reasons. Number 1 is that the Prime Minister didn’t get a majority in the election which totally undermined David Davis’s negotiating position. It all went downhill from there, not that things had bene particularly impressive prior to that. But we are also in this position because all the leading Brexiteers seem to have given up on explaining why Brexit is not only a good idea and why Britain can make a success of it. They have been lamentable at countering the Remain propaganda about various issues, but in particular about Northern Ireland and the Customs Union. Boris has a had a go on occasion but usually fucks it up due his inability to do it while retaining a semblance of loyalty. Where are the others? It can’t all be left to Iain Duncan Smith or Jacob Rees Mogg. Every single Brexit supporting minister and MP needs to get out there and sell the product. The Remainers have their tails up. They’re setting the agenda. If I sound frustrated, it is because I am. I have lost count of the number of people who have called into my radio show, texted, emailed or tweeted me to tell me that if Brexit isn’t implemented they not only won’t vote Conservative, they won’t bother voting ever again. I really fear for our democracy. I don’t want a Donald Trump figure to emerge here, but that’s where we are heading. People will not forgive a whole class of politicians who betray them by not respecting the referendum result. There will be a fierce backlash if that happens. And if that happens, I know who to blame. And so do you.

  • Last week I wrote a piece about the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the fact that he had only recently started attending board meetings of Transport for the North. I wrote that he could have attended all the meetings since his election last May but had chosen not to do so. While in theory this is true, in fact, Deputy Mayor Sir Richard Leese was the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) representative on the TfN board until late March. The GMCA meeting on 29 March agreed that Andy Burnham would in future be the GMCA representative and since then he has attended every meeting and teleconference. I’m happy to clarify.

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Video

WATCH: CNN Talk - Is Brexit Doomed?

13 Jun 2018 at 14:09

This is today’s 30 minute CNN Talk in which Liam Halligan, Ayesha Hazarika and I discuss the latest state of Brexit, following yesterday’s votes in the House of Commons.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Margaret Beckett & John Rentoul

Discussion on Tony Blair's speech on Britain's need to remain at the heart of Europe.

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Diary

ConHome Diary: One Year On...

8 Jun 2018 at 15:33

Today marks the first anniversary of the 2017 general election result. I think we all remember the sense of astonishment we all felt as it became clear that Theresa May’s majority was disappearing down the swannee. Looking back on the last twelve months, it is difficult to do so with any sense that it has been a year of achievement. Number Ten can point to wins at the December and March EU summits, but they appear to be proving rather illusional given the current state of the Brexit talks. In domestic policy terms, again, there seems to have been little sense of activity or dynamism. Some parts of the media try to imply that this is the most right-wing government in history, yet in many areas like health and business, the narrative seems to be that ‘nanny’ knows best. Five cabinet ministers have resigned. The rail system seems to be in a permanent sense of chaos. Violent crime is mushrooming. I could go on. And yet all the polls show the Conservatives are a few points ahead of Labour. In any normal political circumstance Labour would be 10-20 points ahead. Peak Corbyn. Indeed. And yet few people in the Labour Party appear to recognise this as a problem for them. Unfortunately, it also engenders a sense of complacency among some Conservatives, almost as if being able to govern is some sort of divine right. Conservatives cannot just rely on Labour to lose the next election by themselves, even though it’s perfectly possible that might happen. There has to be a vision. The Prime Minister displayed that vision on the steps of Downing Street on the day she became Prime Minister. She needs to rediscover that sense of domestic policy mission and be able to communicate it, not just to her MPs, but to the country at large.
*
After twenty years the Cabinet has finally agreed that a third runway at Heathrow should be built. I’ve been following this story since around 1993 (25 years ago!) when I organised a big conference on runway capacity in the South East. The arguments haven’t changed a lot in that time, to be honest. Personally, I wish the government had had the same vision as Boris Johnson and decided to build a brand new, state of the art airport somewhere in the south east. Boris wanted to build it in the middle of the Thames Estuary, but despite it having many attractions it was never really treated very seriously by Sir Howard Davies’s Airports Commission. But imagine this as a scenario. Theresa May isn’t Prime Minister any longer and Boris succeeds her. Can we imagine a scenario at his first cabinet meeting where he announces he’s withdrawing the Heathrow expansion plan, and asks the cabinet for their support in proceeding with plans to build Boris Island? What japes!
*

PMQs this week was a painful experience for Tory MPs to watch, as yet again the PM floundered on Brexit, which ought to be a subject on which she should wipe the parliamentary floor with Corbyn. But for the third time in a row she failed to do it, and Corbyn managed to ask questions to which she had no answer. You could almost feel the sense of deflation on the Tory benches. It could be argued that there are things that the PM can’t say in public for fear of undermining the government’s position but the tactic of answering a question from Corbyn by changing the subject and asking him a question back is not one which looks good to the watching public.
*

As the train timetable debacle on Northern Rail unfolded riding to the rescue of customers was Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham. In calling for the Transport Secretary and Northern to be sacked, he somehow failed to mention that the franchise is managed jointly between TfN and DfT. Laughably, Burnham is on TFN’s board. Despite his influential position, sources report that until recently he had failed to attend a single board meeting. No wonder he is happy to grandstand. Perhaps sending an open letter to the chairman of TFN this week was another opportunity for him to blame someone else rather than to fix the problem he should have seen in advance and been resolving himself – but if you don’t attend board meetings I suppose it’s difficult to be on top of the subject. I don’t think it’s unkind to say that given Andy Burnham is advocating that he is given additional powers to run the railways in and around Greater Manchester, he has rather undermined his case.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale's Mental Health Special

This was Iain Dale's nomination for Speech Radio Programme of the Year in the MIND media awards 2012

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Books

The Top 25 Books I Published at Politico's & Biteback

2 Jun 2018 at 23:15

Last week I announced I was leaving Biteback Publishing, the company I founded back in 2009. It marked an end to twenty years in publishing. Back in 1998 I started Politico’s Publishing, having spotted that there was a real gap in the political publishing market. My colleagues Sean Magee and John Schwartz and I published some brilliant books, but I made a very big mistake in 2003 by selling it to Methuen. I thought I had taken it as far as I could and the list would benefit from being part of a bigger company. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Within two months I knew I had done the wrong thing and I left the company. The new owners ran it into the ground and within a short time it ceased to exist in any meaningful way. It is now totally defunct.

Five years later I started Total Politics Magazine and within a year we had decided to revive the art of political publishing. There was a gap in the market and I decided to fill it. Again. And so Biteback Publishing was formed. Since then we have published more than 600 books. I don’t know how many we published at Politico’s in the five years I owned it, but it must have been around 100.

I’ve worked with some brilliant people over the years at Politico’s and Biteback. James Stephens has been with me from day 1 at Biteback and I truly couldn’t have done it without him. Hollie Teague and Olivia Beattie have been fantastic managing editors. They both send me cards when I announced I was leaving with the most lovely sentiments, which I have to admit brought more than a tear to my eye. I’m also very proud that we have given jobs to many people who started with us as interns and after getting a grounding with us have gone on to achieve great things in the publishing industry. Nam Kwan Cho is the best cover designer in the business, and on the PR and marketing side Suzanne Sangster (now at Head of Zeus) and Katy Scholes (now travelling the world after a successful stint at Sky News) were brilliant to work with. I’ll never forget their outstanding work in creating and running the Political Book Awards. Isabelle Ralphs, who currently handles the press side at Biteback is a star in the making and really stepped up to the plate at a difficult time. Andy McNab is inheriting a talented team.

So, to get to the point, given it’s unlikely I will ever return to publishing books, I’ve decided to choose the best 20 books I have ever published. These aren’t necessarily the best selling ones, or even the best, but they are books which I got a huge satisfaction out of publishing and many would not have made it onto the bookshelves without me taking them on, seeing as virtually all the large publishers have dumbed down to such an extent that they ignore political books nowadays…

Coalition by David Laws

Biteback, 2016
When David Laws approached me about this book, it took me a nanosecond to say yes. His previous book on the Coalition negotiations back in 2010 was one of the first books I published, and it sold very well indeed. One reason why I was so quick to say yes was because David told me he would have full access to Nick Clegg’s diaries. He was obviously keen to get the LibDem version of the coalition out there before anyone else did, and he knew we could publish quickly. The book came out only 10 months after the coalition ended. It got rave reviews and sold well in both hardback and paperback, which is a rarity nowadays. Last autumn I also published his Coalition Diaries, and next year he’s got a biography of Lord Kitchener coming out with Biteback. And he’s been an absolute pleasure to work with.

Power Trip by Damian McBride

Biteback, 2013
Bearing in mind my history with Damian (I was one of those smeared in ‘Smeargate’ in 2009) many thought it was deeply ironic I published Damian’s story. But I chased him for around 18 months before pen was put to paper on the contract. Damian was an absolute model author. He delivered the cleanest manuscript we had ever received. It almost didn’t need an edit. It has so far proved to be our second best selling book ever, selling more than 25,000 copies.

Here Today Gone Tomorrow by John Nott

Politico’s, 2002
John Nott hadn’t been seen in politics for more or less twenty years but when he approached me to publish his memoirs I was very keen indeed. He proved to be a difficult negotiator on the contract and I remember spending two hours going through it with him line by line. At the end I said to him: “You do realise I haven’t agreed to a single change, don’t you?” “Yes,” he said, “but it’s been good fun, hasn’t it?” I realised he really missed the cut and thrust of politics and business. It was a very honest book and very odd in some ways in that the first chapter was all about his ancestor taking part in the Afghan Wars of the 19th century, and the last was all about his views on supermarkets. But it sold very well, and despite being a cantankerous old bugger, he was a pleasure to deal with.

Fourth Among Equals by Bill Rodgers

Politico’s, 2000
We had a lot of trouble over the title of this book. Bill Rodgers was the least well known of the so-called Gang of Four who launched the SDP, but Bill is a very proud man and took a bit of convincing. It remains one of the best political autobiographies I have ever published and as an author he was a delight to deal with.

Getting out Alive by Roger Mosey

Biteback, 2015
This book was published in July 2015 and I’d class this as one of the most elegantly written books I’ve published. Roger has held virtually every senior post there is to hold at the BBC without actually becoming DG. Given his career path I am astonished that he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. I’d have thought 30 years in the higher echelons in BBC management would have turned him into an egotistical narcissist, but not a bit of it. He hasn’t sought to diss the BBC at all, but despite that this book is a real page turner for anyone who has worked in the media.

The Alastair Campbell Diaries

Biteback, 2016 & 2017
Random Hous epublished the initial four volumes of the Campbell diaries, but they seemed to lose interest. I read every one of them and thought they were fantastic. I had got to know Alastair over the years, mainly through my LBC show, and I had told him I’d happily publish the diaries if ever Random House didn’t want to continue. When that moment came I instantly signed up the next four volumes. Volume 5 and 6 have now been published, with Volume 7 coming out this autumn, covering the Brown years. Alastair is an absolute pleasure to publish. He’s a perfectionist and knows how to sell books. Some authors think their job is over the moment they deliver the manuscript. Alastair knows the most important bit is yet to come.

Tory Pride & Prejudice by Michael McManus

Biteback, 2011
This history of homosexuality and the Conservative Party remains one of the best books I have published. I wanted to call it QUEER BLUE WATER but Michael wouldn’t have it, and I have a policy of never forcing a title on an author, although this is the closest I have come to it! When I read the manuscript for the first time I rang Michael and told him: “Even if this book never sells a single copy, you should be very proud of writing it.” Its sales figures were very disappointing, but I stick to the view that this book is a fantastic piece of work, which anyone interested in gender politics or the modern history of the Tory Party should read.

Clean Brexit by Liam Halligan & Gerard Lyons

Biteback, 2017
Liam Halligan approached me at the beginning of 2017 with an idea for a co-authored short paperback on how Brexit could be achieved cleanly and quickly. His idea was to write 50,000 words to be published on the first anniversary of Brexit in June 2017. Well, it quickly became a much larger project as Liam and Gerry really got into it. It quicly transformed itself from a short £8.99 paperback into a £20 140,000 word long hardback. But it was the right thing to do. It’s the best researched and best written book on Brexit on the market. Even Remain supporters have acknowledged what an important book it is.

Breaking the Code by Gyles Brandreth

Biteback, 2014
I remain of the view that this was the best political book of the 1990s and that’s why I republished it last year in hardback, with a couple of up to date chapters. Even as a £25 hardback reprint it did amazingly well so we then brought out a paperback version this year. Gyles has a brilliant way with words, and these diaries are massively indiscreet and brilliantly written. If you want to understand the Major government, this is a book you simply have to read.

Second Term by Simon Walters

Politico’s Publishing, 2001
I love reading novels with a Westminster based plot, which is why I agreed to publish this book. I don’t really normally publish political fiction because it is a very difficult genre to sell into bookshops and it’s easy to catch a financial cold. But this book was so good – and prophetic as it turned out – I took a big risk with it. In the end it sold out in hardback (2000 copies, which is great for hardback fiction) and Simon went on to get a five figure advance from a publisher which sadly soon went out of business – mainly because they kept paying five figure advances!

Betting the House by Tim Ross & Tom McTague

Biteback, 2017
Tim Ross wrote a superb account of the 2015 Tory election win called WHY THE TORIES WON. When the 2017 election was called we were delighted he decided to team up with Tom McTague. We were determined to beat Tim Shipman and get this book out first. In the end though, it didn’t appear until early November despite the serialisation occuring in mid Septemer. They kept getting new information, which meant that at Biteback Towers we were tearing our hair out. But that’s often the case with instant books. Anyway, the end product spoke for itself, and I still believe this was one of the best books of 2017.

You Alone May Live by Mary Blewitt

Biteback, 2010
Back in 2007 I went to Rwanda to report on a Conservative Party social action project. Before I went I met Mary Blewitt, originally from Rwanda but now living in London. Many members of her family had been killed in the 1994 genocide. She accompanied us to Kigali and her story really affected me. In an interview with her we both broke down. Hers was one of the first books I published at Biteback, and although sales were disappointing, her story is incredibly powerful and it is a book I am proud to have published.

When my Husband Does the Dishes by Kerry Sackville

Biteback, 2011
I met Kerri Sackville on a trip to Australia in June 2011 when I interviewed her at 4 in the morning when I was broadcasting my show live back to the UK. She made a real impression on me and her book, which was a bestseller in Australia was brilliantly funny. I signed a two book deal with her, for what was a massive amount of money for us at the time. Sadly neither book did the business for us, but I remain of the view that they deserved to do much better. Somehow the British media just didn’t want to support the book, which is all about the life of a woman with two young children and a husband who does the dishes only when he’s after a bit of rumpy pumpy. One of the lowlights of my publishing career was when Mumsnet demanded £5000 to run an interview with Kerry on their website. They were told where they could stick it.

Prime Minister Portillo & Other Things That Never Happened ed Duncan Brack & Iain Dale

Politico’s Publishing, 2003
I’ve always loved counterfactual history so in 2003 Duncan Brack and I commissioned fifteen or so writers to write a series of essays on political events that might have turned out differently. I wrote the title chapter and wrote it as fiction, rather than an alternate history. The book did reasonably well and it was followed by President Gore and Prime Minister Boris. In mid 2016 we published a sequel ‘Prime Minister Corbyn and Other Things That Never Happened’.

Out in the Army by James Wharton

Biteback, 2013
James Wharton was a soldier in the British army, and he was gay. I met James at a function in London and he told me he was writing a book. I was like a rat at a trap and was delighted when he signed up with Biteback. It’s a warts and all story, very moving at very emotional. There’s little doubt that James played a big role in encouraging the upper echelons of the army to think seriously about gay equality and his subsequent celebrity is a mark of the importance of him blazing a trail for others.

Jim Bleat for Prime Minister by Margaret Woodhouse

Politico’s Publishing, 2001
I signed this book up at the 2000 Frankfurt Book Fair from a New Zealand author. She uses the story a sheep to explain politics to young readers. I thought it was a brilliant way of doing it, but sadly British bookshops just couldn’t see it, and nor could schools. We recorded a CD with politicians reading different chapters (including John Redwood, whose ‘baaing’ was magnificent.

Exceeding my Brief by Barbara Hosking

Biteback, 2017
It’s this kind of book which I am most going to miss. Back in the middle of 2017 one of my other authors, Martin Stanley emailed me to put me in touch with a 91 year old former civil servant, who had written her autobiography. Despite my initial sceptism Martin was insistent that she’d have a fantastic tale to tell, not least because she had recently outed herself as a Lesbian. So off I toddled to meet her at her Westminster flat. She had only uttered a few sentences before I knew Martin was right. Her book is truly captivating and tells the story of an incredibly poor childhood in Cornwall, moving to London and getting a job with the Labour Party in the 1950s and then moving into the civil service and working for Harold Wilson and Ted Heath. The book is in its second reprint, and the look on Barbara’s face at the launch was on its own worth publishing it.

Hate by Matthew Collins

Biteback, 2011
Matthew Collins used to a self-confessed racist. He even took part in a violent racist attack. But he then saw the light and renounced his previously held views and became an evangelist for anti-racism views. When he came to see me to suggest the book I was in two minds as to whether it would work, but work it did. His story is very rough and ready. I think in the original manuscript there were 94 ‘fucks’ and 10 ‘cunts’. I insisted they all stayed. Indeed, until I had met Matthew I had never called an author a ‘cunt’ – well not to their faces anyway. His reaction demonstrated to me we were going to get on. And we did. It’s a really important book for anyone wanting to understand and combat racism.

Journeyman by Ben Smith

Biteback, 2015
This book topped the Amazon football charts for three weeks, and it’s one of Biteback’s all time bestsellers. Ben Smith was a lower league footballer who playd for more than a dozen clubs. He approached us saying he wanted to tell his story, which would be an antidote to all the celebrity footballer books. It was certainly that, mainly because he tells how it really is as a lower league footballer. He promised me it would sell at least 10,000 copies. I didn’t believe him, but it’s actually now sold more than 15,000.

Stand Up for Your Manhood by Peter Lloyd

Biteback, 2014
I’ve always thought it was about time someone wrote a book defending men, masculinity and all that goes with it. This is that book. It’s not an anti-feminist book, and it’s not anti-women but what it is is pro men. It’s also very funny. It looks at all sorts of issues men have to cope with and it’s a book that ought to be required reading for any woman wanting to understand men. But then again, so few do!!! Controversial! Peter Lloyd is now editing a new ‘Male’ section of MailOnline. All power to his elbow!

The Welfare State We’re in by James Bartholomew

Politico’s Publishing, 2004
I commissioned this book in my final days at Politico’s and it remains a book I am really proud to say that without me it probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day. It’s sold very well and we’ve now reissued it at Biteback. To question the very essence of the welfare state is considered almost beyond the pale in this country but in this book James Bartholomew cites the evidence which he says proves that many aspects of the welfare state have merely accentuated society’s problems rather than helped solve them. Whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions no one could deny that this is a hugely important book.

When One Door closes by Peter Sissons

Biteback, 2012
Peter Sissons has always been a bit of a broadcasting hero of mine so when he came to me asking me to publish his memoirs I was very keen. I was even keener after I read the draft manuscript as I knew it would create many waves in the media sector. Peter has had a stellar career as a news reporter and news reader. He also has very strong views about how the news sector works, or often doesn’t. He made some very critical comments about the BBC and how it works, and how its news judgement can be defective and at times biased. He knew he would get it in the neck from liberal traditionalists and sure enough, that’s what happened. But they all knew he was right, even if they couldn’t admit it.

Project Fear by Joe Pike

Biteback, 2015
All publishers dream of discovering talented new authors who are brilliant writers, and I feel this is what has happened with Joe Pike. Joe interned at Total Politics and I then worked with him at LBC. He’s now a political reporter for ITV . He approached me with an idea for a retrospective book on the Scottish referendum. To be honest I wasn’t keen and almost turned it down outright, but in the end I asked him to send a couple of sample chapters. They were brilliant. Joe writes non fiction as if it were dramatic fiction. He really knows how to tell a story and his sources were fabulous. This is without a shadow of a doubt the best book I published in 2015.

Call me Dave by Michael Ashcroft & Isabel Oakeshott

Biteback, 2015
For reasons I needn’t explain, this book attracted more publicity and sales than any other in my 17 years of publishing. The four weeks following its newspaper serialisation were somewhat surreal. I was attacked from all sides for publishing a book with a couple of single sourced stories. I mean, the crime. Journalists who should have known better didn’t seem to understand the difference between a book and a newspaper article. Most biographies contain countless stories that are not double sourced, but it seemed this book was always going to be judged in a different light to others.

In My Own Time by Jeremy Thorpe

Politico’s Publishing, 1999
In late 1998 I got a call from someone who said he was Jeremy Thorpe.‘Yeah, right,’ I thought. He was barely audible and spoke in a whisper. Anyway, it did turn out to be the former Liberal leader, a man my mother considered a bit of a hero until the trial of 1979. Thorpe hadn’t ever written a book and had been a bit of a recluse for 25 years. He invited me to his home in Orme Square and we discussed his idea for a book. Truth be told, the book wasn’t that good or revelatory, but the fact he wrote it was news in itself. It also put Politico’s Publishing on the map. John and I became friends with Marion and Jeremy and the six months I spent working with him on the book were fascinating. Despite his advancing Parkinsons Jeremy had lost none of his interest in politics and we had some fascinating conversations. I still treasure those memories.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Jessica Ennis

Jessica Ennis reveals what it was like to win a gold medal 12 hours previously.

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Books

Book Review: 'It's All About Clout' by Max Foster

2 Jun 2018 at 19:00

Clout is a strange word. It’s almost slang for a combination of ‘power’ and ‘influence’. If someone has to tell you they have clout, they probably don’t. It’s like charisma. You know it when you see it. You’ve either got it, or you haven’t. It’s difficult to learn how to acquire it. At least, that’s what I thought until I read the last chapter of this book.

This short but perfectly formed book by CNN International news anchor, and presenter of CNNTalk, Max Foster, is a fascinating look into the phenomenon of what he terms ‘cloutology’. He looks at six case studies – all people he’s interviewed or observed at close quarters and then uses the lessons drawn to advise the reader on their own ability to acquire ‘clout’.

Max’s subjects are quite a diverse group – Steve Jobs, Tracey Emin, Stormzy, Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor, Donald Trump and HM The Queen. He’s interviewed them all, apart from The Queen, who clearly doesn’t do interviews, but as CNN Royal Correspondent Max has observed her up close for many years. He uses his interviews to back up his thesis about how each of these people uses their ‘clout’.

In some ways this could be a seen as a ‘self-help’ book for those who are unsure about their own sense of ‘clout’. Indeed, the last chapter is all about self-analysis, using the six different criteria Max has applied to his six subjects. He thinks they all have 6 ‘C’s in common…

Cause
Credibility
Character
Conversation
Connection
Cachet

Max writes: “I’ve seen how people with clout aren’t held back by convention”, and he’s right. I think of all the people I know who I would say exude ‘clout’ and they’ve all been successful because at some point in their careers or lives they’ve dared to be different or they’ve defied convention. Think Adele. Think J K Rowling. Think Nigel Farage. Think Andrew Neil. Think Piers Morgan. Think Malcolm Turnbull. Think Pierluigi Collina. I could go on. Some of these people you will love and respect. Others you will loathe. But in their own particular fields, no one could deny they have clout.

This is one of those zeitgeisty books that could do rather well. It’s very short, at only 90 pages, but that makes it very digestible. Depending on the reaction to it, I wonder if Max might expand it into something bigger that one of the big publishers might take on. Perhaps I should become his literary agent…

Buy the eBook for £4.99 HERE
Buy the hardback for £19.99 HERE

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Robert Hardman

Daily Mail royal editor Robert Hardman discusses his new book on The Queen.

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Diary

ConHome Diary: Desert Island Dicks, How God Injured Mo Salah & Bad Parenting

1 Jun 2018 at 14:03

One of the moments of the week was Good Morning Britain stand-in host Richard Madeley terminating an interview with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, after he had avoided giving an answer three times as to whether he regretted telling the Russians to “shut up and go away”. When I saw the clip I have to say I wondered what all the fuss was about. When I appeared on GMB the following day Madeley was full of himself, explaining he had never had such a good press and how everyone agreed that he was right to do it. I begged to differ. Live on air I took him to task, looked him straight in the eye and said: “Richard, do you not feel that if you terminate the interview, you have failed as an interviewer?” Being the TV professional that he is, Madeley immediately retorted: “It’s a fair point,” but defended himself by saying it was a perfectly legitimate question because it was Williamson’s first TV interview since making the remark at a Policy Exchange event in April. It was indeed a fair question, and he might have got an answer if he had continued with his line of questioning. From Gavin Williamson’s viewpoint, he maintained a sphinx-like expression as Madeley told him the interview wouldn’t be going any further. However, he can be sure that whoever interviews him next will ask the same question as to whether he regretted the “shut up and go away comment”. All he needs to say is, “well, I could have put it better…” and job done. Issue dealt with.
*
Next week I am recording an edition of ‘Desert Island Dicks’. Yes, you did read that right. It’s a podcast that is the opposite of ‘Desert Island Discs’ in that instead of naming your favourite records etc, you name your least favourite people, records, least favourite food, drink, film, etc. It’s actually more difficult that you think to choose them. One other disadvantage is that all the other people to have appeared on the podcast are comedians. I may think I am funny but not everyone does. I remember once recording a live edition of the Irish equivalent of ‘Have I Got News For You’ in Dublin – me and four Irish comedians who had all week to script their jokes. I’d just turned up as the token English Tory… Well, I quickly discovered that I was not quite as funny as I thought I was!
*

Remember that American preacher who maintained that the New Orleans floods were an act of God designed to punish homosexuals? Well, now we have our muslim equivalent. Liverpool star Mo Salah injured his shoulder during the Champions League final because he broke his Ramadan fast, according to Kuwaiti Imam, Mubarak al Bathali. Apparently, “God punished him” for eating before the game in Kiev against Real Madrid. He said that playing football “is not a legitimate excuse for breakfast” during Ramadan. There was no excuse because jihadists fast despite being “in a state of war and facing the enemy”. Dear oh dear. This is why I despise fundamentalists from whichever religion they hail.
*
The Health Select Committee report on childhood obesity makes for worrying reading. There can be no doubt that we have a huge problem in this country, but will it really be solved by banning Tony the Tiger or The Milky Bar Kid? No. It will only be solved when parents take responsibility for what goes into their children’s mouths. There are too many parents who seem to think they can’t say ‘no’ to their children and want to be their friends rather than be their parent. Solving the childhood obesity crisis is in part and ensuring that parents have the knowledge about which foods are ad for their children, and that has to start in Domestic Science lessons in schools. It’s also about encouraging children to get at least an hour of exercise a day and it’s also about encouraging food manufacturers to be more careful about what they put into processed foods. In short, there’s too much ‘stick’ in the approach of both government and campaigners in this area. There need to be more carrots.
*

A jury took a mere thirty minutes to clear former Conservative press officer and special advisor Richard Holden of a charge of sexual assault last week. The judge said he could walk from the court with his reputation unblemished. In an interview with my LBC colleague Tom Swarbrick on Monday it was clear what a terrible experience this had been for Richard. As he says, the Police and CPS need to be held accountable for this case ever going to court. The Police in particular deliberately ignored the evidence of witnesses which didn’t suit their case. How the case ever passed the CPS evidential test is anyone’s guess. Richard clearly wants to resume is career in politics, and he must be encouraged to do so at the highest levels of the party. He’s a talented guy and I hope he is getting all the support he needs.

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LBC97.3 Iain Talks to Peter Hitchens & Myles Dyer about Occupy London

LBC Discussion

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Books

ANNOUNCEMENT: After Ten Years, I'm Leaving Biteback Publishing...

22 May 2018 at 10:40

This is a press release I’ve issued this morning. Sad day.

Iain Dale steps down at Biteback and Andy McNab takes on advisory role to guide Biteback into next stage of growth

After ten years, Biteback Publishing Managing Director Iain Dale is to step down from the company in June to concentrate on his broadcasting career. Bestselling author and former SAS soldier Andy McNab will be leading the Biteback team to grow and expand the company’s publishing programme.

Andy McNab commented:

“When I was approached to become involved in Biteback, the opportunity to make Biteback’s range of books more accessible to a wider audience was irresistible. It is a great company with huge potential, and I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

Iain Dale said:

“I’m very proud of the independent publishing brand we have created at Biteback, and of the reputation we enjoy in the sector, but now is the right time to hand over the baton whilst I concentrate on my radio and TV work and do more writing. I am delighted that Andy McNab has accepted the role and that Biteback’s further growth and development will be supported by Andy’s considerable talents and experience.”

Notes to Editors:

Biteback Publishing is Britain’s leading publisher of political and current affairs titles. Recent bestselling titles include ‘Betting the House: The Inside Story of the General Election’ by Tim Ross & Tom McTague, ‘Rude’ by Katie Hopkins, and the latest edition of Alastair Campbell’s Diaries. Forthcoming titles include ‘The Briefing’ by Donald Trump’s former spokesman Sean Spicer, ‘Leo’, a biography of Irish Taioseach Leo Varadkar, and a biography of Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader by Andrew Liddle. This year the company will publish books across a number of fields including current affairs, politics, history, economics and football.

Andy McNab CBE DCM MM is a bestselling author and former SAS soldier. Awarded both the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM) during his career, McNab was the British Army’s most highly decorated serving soldier when he left the SAS in February 1993. Since then he has become one of the world’s bestselling writers. Bravo Two Zero is the highest selling war book of all time and has sold over 10 million copies in the UK alone. It has been published in 17 countries and translated into 16 languages.
Besides his writing work, McNab sits on the boards of various companies with interests ranging from technology to recruitment. He also lectures to security and intelligence agencies in both the USA and UK, works in the film industry, writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines and campaigns tirelessly as a spokesperson and fundraiser for both military and literacy charities. He was awarded the inaugural Ruth Rendell Award by the National Literacy Trust in 2016 for his tireless championing and advocacy of literacy and was also awarded the CBE, Commander of the British Empire, for his services to literacy and charity, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2017.

Ends

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Iain Hosts a Phonein on Downs Syndrome

Very emotional discussion

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