Books

Book Review: Red by Gary Neville

25 May 2013 at 15:26

I’ve never met Gary Neville. But I’ve never liked him. Until now. His football punditry is excellent, insightful, and he displays a sense of humour we never knew he had. And it’s all present in his autobiography RED. OK, it was co-written with footie journalist Matt Dickinson, but it still carries Neville’s voice. Football auto biographies are very variable and I read a lot of them. I try to steer clear of ghosted books, but this one is better than most.

Neville revels (see what I did there?) in the fact that most non Man U fans can’t stand him. But they should still read this book, as it is a fairly honest and insightful account of twenty years of Manchester United dominating British football. Of particular interest is his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson. he clearly idolises the man, but they certainly had their differences.

He is especially good at analysing our various international failures. He thinks both Hoddle and Keegan got the job too early. He thought a lot of Sven but it’s clear that he felt he was too weak in his management style.

Anyway, this is a good book, not a great book. Eminently enjoyable sitting on the toilet.

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LBC 97.3 Iain talks to David Aaronovitch about Ed Miliband

David Aaronovitch gives his analysis of Ed Miliband's failings

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Diary

ConservativeHome Diary Week 7: Here's an Election Winning Idea!

24 May 2013 at 17:26

I’m not quite sure what has happened to the Bow Group. It seems to have disappeared up its own backside, putting out daily press releases which seem designed to undermine the Conservative Party leadership at every opportunity. I remember when it considered itself a pseudo think tank, coming up with worthy (but often very dull) policy proposals, some of which were even adopted by Tory governments. It’s a long time since that happened. The Bow Group has now come under the control of a self-publicist who goes by the name of Ben Harris-Quinney. He doubles as director of Conservative Grassroots. Press releases from the latter organisation are sent from Bow Group email addresses, thereby blurring the two organisations, who, I would have thought, have very different aims. Mr Harris-Quinney’s main aim seems to take the government to task for its stance on gay marriage and his main weapon is to persuade 30 rather elderly Tory constituency chairmen to deliver regular letters to the doorstep of Number 10. Quite how pictures of 30 elderly gentlemen standing outside the Prime Minister’s home is meant to further whatever aim Mr Harris-Quinney has, only he can explain. Former Bow Groupers are said to be horrified at what has happened to a once august and respected organisation.


With less than two years to go before the next election it’s around now that the party starts creating policy groups to think up vote winning wheezes for the next manifesto. Let me suggest one which could help retain several Tory marginal in south Essex and north Kent. It’s a simple one, really. Abolish tolls on the Dartford crossing and remove the toll booths and barriers. Congestion would disappear overnight and local commuters would save money. It would cost a piffling amount of money which could easily be absorbed into the roads budget. This week Transport Minister made the welcome announcement that he is consulting on a new, third crossing, but that wouldn’t be built for another ten years. Long suffering motorists were promised that the tolls would disappear once the bridge was paid for. That happened in 2004, so what happened? Well, the Labour government said it was no longer a toll, it became a congestion charge, thus conveniently ignoring the fact that were it not for the toll barriers, there wouldn’t be any congestion. So if I were Gary Johnson, Mark Reckless, Jackie Doyle-Price, Stephen Metcalfe, Adam Holloway or Tracey Crouch I know what I’d be doing now…


I regard Gerald Howarth as a mate. He’s a distinguished parliamentarian and great company. But when he talks about gay issues the pink mist descends. It’s as if he is having an out of body experience. I hesitate to use the description ‘swivel eyed’ fear of any journalist listening. And so it was on Monday that he warned us that if the “aggressive homosexual community” had its way on marriage law reform it would “be a stepping stone to something even further.” It was a pity he didn’t spell out just what he meant by that. Presumably he thinks it could lead to us forceful gayers demanding the right to sleep with three year olds, or that we should be able to marry our grandfathers, or something even more ridiculous. Actually Gerald, all people want is the same chance that you had. To marry the person you love. And as for the concept of “aggressive homosexuals” I can imagine pink badges already being manufactured, simply festooned with the word ‘boo’. I think I can safely say that the only aggressive demand to be made by the gay community is for the Eurovision Song Contest to be made monthly, rather than annual. It’s not much to ask, is it?


I much enjoy Michael Fabricant’s tweets. They are often hilarious. When he started tweeting I remarked to a friend that it seemed to me his tweets had one aim in mind and that was to be invited on Have I Got News For You. It seems I was right. This week, for lack of anything better to do, I caught up with his appearance a couple of weeks ago on the programme. It was a car crash. Humour never works when you appear to be trying too hard. At times I wanted to hide behind the sofa, it was so cringeworthy. A few years ago I got invited onto the Irish version of HIGFY in Dublin. Imagine it, a British Tory on an Irish comedy programme. It was never going to work, was it? I soon discovered that I wasn’t quite as funny as I thought I was and I couldn’t wait for it to end. I suspect Fab went through a similar epiphany on HIGFY.


Just how does Boris do it? This week we discovered that he had fathered another child out of wedlock. It caused barely a ripple in the press. Even the Daily Mail relegated it to page 5. Is this a post Leveson effect or simply another example of the Mayor of London proving that he can get away with things no other politician could?


Theresa May did a most odd thing when responding to the Woolwich terror attack. She tried to pretend she was being interviewed, but clearly wasn’t. She was looking at someone who was clearly pretending to be a mute interviewer, and she then gave a series of answers to questions which hadn’t actually been asked. It looked very odd indeed. Don’t do it again, Theresa. Either do it straight to camera, or allow yourself to be interviewed. Elementary PR advice.
**********

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale's Mental Health Special

A special phone in on dealing with mental health issues.

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Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter: No 10 - Freebies

24 May 2013 at 14:38

Back in the hey-day of music radio, when men were men and children should have been very afraid, I’m told that virtually every day radio presenters would be sent loads of freebies. Free clothes, free food, free whatever. Those days are long gone, and rightly so. But we presenters do still get sent the odd thing. It’s usually food. A couple of weeks ago I got sent a nice mini hamper from Regents Park Open Air theatre.I don’t quite know what they hoped to achieve by it though. Did they really think it would get them a mention on air? Some of us are not so easily bought. I have a policy with these things. I never take them home. I open them and leave them for LBC producers (mainly Carl McQueen) to gannet themselves on. Cos I’m thoughtful like that.

But yesterday, I saw in the Global Radio reception a huge box, measuring about 3×3×3 feet addressed to me from something called a Foodie Festival. Goody, goody I thought. More food for Carl. Anyway, someone had brought it up to LBC when I came off air last night so I decided to open it. Inside this huge box was a white balloon, a bar of chocolate and a small tin of tea. To say it was underwhelming would be an understatement. Carl will now have to starve.

What did the Foodie Festival PR geniuses hope to achieve by leading me to think it was going to be a box of foodie delight? All they achieved was to instil a sense of complete letdown and to encourage me to write a snide blogpost.

What will really be interesting is to find out what happens tomorrow morning when Ken Livingstone and David Mellor fight like ferrets over who is to have the chocolate and who is left with the tea. Probably best if Carl keeps the box for himself. Which he probably would have anyway…

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LBC 97.3: Iain takes James Purnell to Task

James Purnell is the former cabinet minister and now the Director of Strategy and Digital at the BBC. He is very uncomfortable talking about his £295,000 salary (more than twice what Maria Miller gets as Culture Secretary) and is unable to tell us how much the BBC’s move to Salford cost. Well, at that salary you wouldn’t expect him to be a details man, would you?

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Personal

Dude, I Need a New Laptop!

23 May 2013 at 23:19

Dude , I need a new laptop. And it’s all your fault. In case you think I’ve gone mad, Dude is my Jack Russell, and thanks to him I’m going to have to trot off to the Sony Centre and buy a new Vaio. And before you start, don’t even think of suggesting I get a Mac. Invention of the devil. A few months ago Dude knocked my laptop off the sofa, an event which resulted in the power lead never fitting properly. It keeps dropping out of the hole, if you’ll pardon the expression. Yesterday he surpassed himself by walking across the keyboard, his paws managing to dislodge the Function key in the process. Now I can’t fix it back into its rightful place. Naughty Dude. I think that’s a perfect justification for a new computer, don’t you? I’m sure Dude does.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Gets a Scoop From Owen Paterson

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary addresses the horse meat scandal and tells Iain it could contain products "injurious to human health"

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Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter: No 9 - Handling Breaking News of a Potential Terror Incident

22 May 2013 at 20:48

I’m writing this forty five minutes after coming off air from possibly the most challenging four hours of radio I am ever likely to be faced with. So forgive me if this is at all rambling or disjointed.

Sometime after 3pm this afternoon our Classic FM newsreader came over to my producer Matt Harris and said there was an ongoing incident in Woolwich. It looked as if someone had been killed with a machete or samurai sword and that armed police had shot the two people behind the attack. Eavesdropping, it was clear to me that this was a story which would dominate my four hour Drivetime show. At that point it had never entered my head that it could be a terror incident. As details started to come in I tweeted out asking for witnesses to phone our newsroom – frankly it was more in hope than expectation, but at around a quarter to four I noticed Matt was deep in conversation with someone on the phone. As the clock edged toward 4pm I wondered what on earth he could be talking about seeing as we needed to head down to the studio. It soon became clear. “Do a short intro telling people what we know – then get into the call quickly. James was there. He can tell us everything.”

And indeed he did. I’ve done some emotional interviews in my time. As it went on I thought to myself: “He’s still in shock”. It was gripping listening and in some ways very upsetting. I suspect I wasn’t alone in trying to hold my emotions in check. And for once I succeeded. I won’t go through exactly what James told us, but you can listen for yourself. It really is worth listening to the whole thing.

It was clear to me that this was far worse than we had ever contemplated. Calm, I thought. Just keep calm. Stick to what we know and don’t say anything unnecessarily provocative. The thing I hate in breaking news is when presenters hype up a story and keep on giving out unverified information. I was lucky to have my LBC colleague John Cushing in the studio with me, along with security expert Will Geddes. We then took a couple more eyewitness calls, including this one from Lauren, who had been on a bus which arrived at the scene shortly after it had happened.

We were later joined by Robert Fox, the Evening Standard’s defence correspondent and talked on the phone to various police, armed forces and security experts. It soon became clear that the Met and the government were treating it as a terror incident so our coverage needed to change to reflect that, and I hope we transitioned into that in a manner which our listeners found informative.

I then decided to give our muslim listeners an opportunity to tell me their reaction to what had happened. If I were a muslim my heart would have sunk and I’d have been thinking ‘here we go again’. We have a lot of calls, most of which I couldn’t get to, but they all had the same message. Not in our name.

By this time, the Daily Mail were using our interview with James, and Sky News flashed up a giant LBC logo as they replayed part of it. I was being deluged with texts and tweets from other journalists asking or James’s number. I’m afraid I had to say that he was in no condition to do more interviews, especially as I had finished my interview by telling him I thought he could do with talking to someone who could counsel him properly. It was the responsible thing to do, I thought.

So, as I travel on the train back to Tonbridge the professional radio presenter in me was grateful to have been on air during such a major breaking news story, but there’s a small part of me that keeps thinking ‘could I have done that better? Did I strike the right tone? Was I asking the right questions?’ Judging by the reaction on Twitter I did, but I’m sure as my head hits the pillow tonight I will be thinking of that one thing I wanted to say but didn’t.

A quick thank you to the superb LBC team today – Matt, Laura, Chris, John, Tom and Rachel in particular. And that’s what it was. A team effort. Without a cross word! Not bad over four hours. I love live radio!

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ConservativeHome Diary Week 6: Who Are The Harlots of British Politics?

19 May 2013 at 10:25

Back in 2009 I published Nigel Farage’s autobiography. Not a single bookshop chain would stock it. Booksellers have always been of a leftish persuasion and they proved impossible to shift. In late 2011 we published an updated version, called Flying Free, which contained three added chapters, including the full story of his plan crash on election day. He had also regained the leadership of UKIP, but Waterstone’s still weren’t interested. Of all the books I have published, this book has sold the highest per centage on Amazon, largely because bookshops wouldn’t stock it. However, out of the blue last week Waterstone’s have placed a large order and you should now find the book in most of their stores. Even they can now see very clearly which way the wind is blowing. I emailed Nigel to tell him the good news and he replied by saying: “Thank you for the good news. You are now represented by a UKIP councillor.” Which indeed, I am. I will leave it to your imagination to guess which one of the three members of the Dale household helped bring that about.


Unfortunately I missed the party of the week, held in David Davis’s office. I was too busy not winning a Sony Radio Award. The bash was imaginatively titled “the Return of the Prodigal Daughter Party”, and it was to welcome Nadine Dorries back into the fold. Quite unbelievably, people in Number 10 tried their best to ensure a non-attendance from the 2010 intake by making veiled threats like “remember there’s a reshuffle coming up” and the like. They even called a meeting of backbenchers in Number 10 to try to scupper the attendance. Perhaps they should take a leaf out of David Davis’s book and embrace sinners that repent. I well remember the day in October 2005 when Nadine, who had been one of David’s proposers in the first round, came down to his office to tell him face to face she was supporting Cameron in the second round. At least she had the courage to do it to his face, unlike one of her female contemporaries who decided to announce it on the World at One. I remember ringing her and saying it might have been nice to tell David himself before she went on the media. “Oh, really?” she said, it clearly never having crossed her mind. She quickly sent a handwritten note down. I threw it in the bin.


Talking of the “Prodical Daughter”, as she shall henceforth be known, it is very interesting to compare her fortunes over suggesting Tory MPs stand on a joint ticket at the next election, to that of the rising star Nicholas Boles. In his book Which Way’s Up he suggested that at the next election Tory MPs should, in some circumstances stand on a join Conservative/LibDem ticket. Nadine has now suggested that they should stand on a Conservative/UKIP ticket. Nick Boles was promoted, while the usual Tory sources treat Nadine with derision. It is perfectly easy to argue a political case against what Nadine is suggesting (something I have to say I don’t agree with any more than I agreed with Nick Boles), but what is not acceptable is this idea that anything Nadine says or suggests should be dismissed as something coming from a dippy woman.


Have you ever read a column in a newspaper and thought “Damn, I wish I had written that?” I had that moment on Wednesday morning when I read Iain Martin’s Telegraph column “Cameron and his party conspire to create a Euro shambles”. It encapsulated the very thoughts I was too inarticulate to put down on paper. I would truly love to know what the Prime Minister’s real view on Europe is, because after the last few days I am buggered if I know. I would have thought he would have learned from the Major years, but it appears not. John Major’s view was shaped by whatever was said by whoever spoke to him most recently. One moment he was the “most Eurosceptic member of the Cabinet”, the next he wanted to be at heart of Europe. Time to choose, Prime Minister. No one respects someone whose main aim on this issue seems to be to follow public opinion rather than lead it.


Quelle surprise that the BBC has appointed a Guardianista, Ian Katz, to be the new editor of Newsnight. Employing its former political correspondent clearly wasn’t enough for them. What Andrew Marr called the BBC’s ‘liberal mindset’ is clearly alive and well in Broadcasting House. It’s an odd appointment in many ways as Katz has absolutely no experience of working in television. He’s actually a very nice guy and in my experience isn’t particularly lefty and I wish him well. He certainly leaves a hole at The Guardian. Perhaps they might dare to promote a woman to replace him. That would be a first.


The LibDems have always been the harlots of British politics but their stance on a European referendum really has to come under closer scrutiny. They try to pretend that their policy of offering an In/Out referendum was always linked to some dramatic power push by Brussels. No it wasn’t. It was independent of any treaty change. The leaflet that Edward Leigh held up at PMQs was clear. No mention of treaty change. Clegg tried to wriggle out of it, but no reasonable person could interpret their words in any other way than I have. “Only a referendum on British membership of the EU will let the people decide out country’s future.” It continues “Labour don’t want the people to have their say.” No change there then. And this is the next sentence: “The Conservatives only support a limited referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Why won’t they give the people a say in a real referendum?” That’s about as clear as it can be. And it’s why Cameron should have used government time to put his Draft Referendum Bill to Parliament in government time. It would have flushed out the LibDems and also put Ed Miliband in a quandary. But once again the children in Downing Street have flunked it.

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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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UK Politics

The Swivel Eyed Loon Cameroon Should Be Named & Shamed But Our Journos Are Frit Because of Leveson

18 May 2013 at 09:50

The Times and Telegraph regale us with front page stories of a Cameron ally who has called Conservative Party activists ‘swivel-eyed loons’. This is how James Kirkup in the Telegraph reported it.

Grassroots Conservative activists are “mad swivel-eyed loons” who are forcing Tory MPs to take extremist positions opposing gay marriage and Europe, one of David Cameron’s closest allies has said. The comments, from a member of the Prime Minister’s inner circle, come amid recent rifts between Mr Cameron and his party over Coalition policies. The remarks were made by a senior figure in the Conservative Party who has strong social connections to the Prime Minister. “There’s really no problem,” the Conservative figure said about the parliamentary turmoil. “The MPs just have to do it because the associations tell them to, and the associations are all mad swivel-eyed loons.”

Nothing like exaggerating to make a point, eh? Of course there are swivel eyed loons among the Tory Party membership. Just as there are in any party. It’s just a shame that the Liberal Democrats have more than their fair share. Just go to a LibDem conference and you will see what I mean.

The Times have four journalists – Sam Coates, Laura Pitel, Ruth Gledhill and Roland Watson – who have put their name to the story – a classic trick if a single journalist fears retribution. Quite why their religion correspondent is a contributor to this is anyone’s guess.

Tory activists are “mad, swivel-eyed loons”, according to one of David Cameron’s closest allies. The incendiary comment made at a private dinner this week is likely to plunge relations between the Prime Minister and his party to a new low. It offers a rare insight into the disregard and irritation felt by the Prime Minister’s inner circle towards Conservative Party members up and down the country. The senior figure, who has strong social connections to the Prime Minister and close links to the party machine, blamed grassroots members for the rebellion by MPs on Europe this week.

Neither newspaper sees fit to name this individual, thus again proving how insidious the lobby system is. Does anyone seriously imagine if Nadine Dorries had made these comments at a private dinner she wouldn’t have been named? One rule for her… Ah, but it was an off-the-record-comment, the journalists bleat. That’s how it works. What hogwash. Remember when Cameron told a private dinner with News International in 2005 that he saw himself as the ‘heir to Blair’? Did any journalist quiver before naming Cameron even though it was an off-the-record private dinner? No, of course they didn’t. So why not name this name now? Could it be anything to do with them or their editors being intimidated by Leveson? But as Isabel Oakeshott says on Twitter…

Re.identity of swivel eyed loon culprit, seems to me it’s a when, not an if, they will be unmasked. Too many senior journalists know

Quite a few people on Twitter are naming one particular Cameron groupie as the culprit on the basis that he is in the ’PM’s social circle’ and ‘close to the party machine’. However, we all know there are quite a few other people who also fit those criteria. So if it isn’t him he is being unfairly traduced.

One thing we can be sure is this. Whoever it is will be shitting bricks this morning that they will be named in the Sunday papers. And so they should be.

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Iain Hosts a Phone-In on Female on Male Domestic Violence

Breaking another taboo, Iain takes some moving calls on domestic violence.

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Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter: No 8 - Interviewing at Short Notice: Tia Sharp's Grandmother

16 May 2013 at 12:24

“Can you get here in 30 minutes. You’re doing an interview with Tia Sharp’s Grandmother and stepdad.” This phone call from my LBC producer came the day after Stuart Hazell, Tia’s Grandmother’s ex-partner had been sent to prison for 38 years for Tia’s brutal murder. They hadn’t done any other radio interview, so for us it was a big deal. I knew the basics of the case but I knew I hadn’t got the detailed knowledge that any interviewer likes to have before doing an interview like this. My basic rule in these circumstances is to think what the listener would be asking if they had the chance. So I jotted down a few ideas and one of our reporters who had been following the case briefed me. Before I knew it they walked into the studio and off we went.

It’s probably the most awkward interview I have ever conducted. By awkward, I mean that initially a lot of their answers consisted of one word. Yes, or no. I didn’t blame them for being suspicious, and I had to bear in mind that they weren’t used to being interviewed. But I ploughed on and asked some pretty tough questions. The key one was whether we really could believe that Christine, as Tia’s grandmother, really had no idea that Stuart Hazell wasn’t safe to leave with Tia. She adamantly denied that she could have known anything. I pressed her and brought up his drug dealing conviction and the fact he walked around their estate with a machete. I knew he smoked dope in front of Tia, so I brought that up too. Christine seemed to think that was perfectly normal behaviour. I replied that wouldn’t be the view of mot normal people.

It became clear that the lifestyle this family led was one which Tia’s grandmother felt was perfectly normal and appropriate. The disconnect between that and what society regards as normal is clearly immense.

They accused the police of treating them like dirt, and maintained that if they been posh, the police would have acted very differently. I found this a bizarre accusation and reminded them that many of the police officers who had worked hard to find Tia would have been from a similar background. It was indeed very wrong that it took three searches of Hazell’s attic before Tia’s body was found, but that was surely an example of crass incompetence rather than anything more sinister.

When we played out the interview on my drivetime show the overwhelming reaction was that they had not covered themselves in glory. They had shown precious little compassion or contrition. In fact. A lot of people felt they sounded downright weird. One or two people accused me of sensationalist journalism and trying to be like Jeremy Kyle. It’s nonsense, of course, because all I was doing was giving them a chance to put their side of the story. If you’d like to judge for yourself, listen to the interview, and let me know what you thought.

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LBC Parliament: With Hilary Devey, Peter Tatchell & Melanie Philips

The LBC Parliament is broadcast every Thursday from 7-8pm

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Random Thoughts

A New Way of Measuring Economic Activity - Full Station Car Parks!

15 May 2013 at 09:38

In October 2008 I wrote a blogpost where I suggested that the number of spaces free at Tonbrige Station car park of a morning was a decent indicator of economic activity. In the five years up to then, the car park had been full, or nearly full by 8.15 in the morning. But after that, it never was. You could arrive at 10am and still be fairly sure of getting a space. And that’s how it’s been until the last few weeks. But recently I have noticed that it’s been more and more difficult to find a space. This morning disaster struck and there wasn’t a space to be had. It’s the first time that has happened for years. Scoff all you like, but that is surely a sign that economic activity is increasing, with more people needing to travel to London early in the morning.

So this morning I had had to park where I shouldn’t. Hopefully the local traffic warden has got the day off.

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Video: Iain talks West Ham with Tommy Wathen

Tommy Wathen TV

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Gongless at the Sonys

13 May 2013 at 23:58

I wish I could say I am a good loser. But I’m not. “Oh you’ve done so well to be nominated,” they kept saying. “You’ve only been doing radio for two years, it’s great to be shortlisted.” Well, yes. Up to a point, Lord Copper. It really was both a surprise and an honour to be shortlisted, to be in the top 5 of what I am told were more than 50 entries for Best SPeech Radio Programme at the Sonys.

But anyone who sits at an awards dinner and doesn’t want to win is lying. And I am no different. And I was gutted not to be in the top three, even if the glass awards were particularly hideous! I’m really not being a sore loser. At all. But I knew what I wanted to say if I had had the opportunity to get up on that platform and I was hugely disappointed not to have had the opportunity. I wrote it down last night just on the offchance I might get a chance to say it. I wasn’t going to read it out, but I wanted to write it down so it was clear in mind. You might think this a rather crass thing to do, seeing as I didn’t win. But here’s what I wanted to say.

I’d like to thank my fabulous producers, Laura Marshall, Carl McQueen and Matt Harris (all pictured) for their patience, guidance and inspiration. And to Joe Pike, Caroline Allen, Christian Mitchell, Rebekah Walker, Hollie Atherton, Tom Cheal, Tom Swarbrick, Dan Freedman and Raj Pattni, who have all, over the last year, showed what a brilliant, young team we have at LBC. Thanks to Richard Park, Ashley Tabor and Stephen Miron for giving me the chance to do what I do. I just wish I had been able to do it 10 years ago. It’s so much more fun than trying to become an MP. And failing.

I want to pay tribute to a man many of you in this room, who have worked at LBC over the last quarter of a century, will know and love. A month ago he celebrated 25 years with us. His name is Chris Lowrie. He lives and breathes LBC and has made me a better broadcaster than I ever thought I could be.

I’m indebted to James Rea for believing in me and encouraging me to be the best I can be. James has this rather David Brent-esque saying that our callers are our hit records. But it’s true. They are what speech radio is all about.

So to Bill on the M25 who I spent twenty minutes talking to, he having told me he was about to commit suicide live on air, I hope I said the right thing. To Anne in Enfield, who told me about her rape eleven years ago and that she hadn’t told her husband – who then phoned back the next night and told me she had now told her husband and she felt as if she could see the blue sky again, I’ll remember your call until the day I die.

And to all those callers who start their calls by saying ‘you don’t half sound like Rick Stein’, thanks for making me smile.

My mother died nearly a year ago. Mum, I hope I’ve made you proud.

And that’s what it was all about. Making my Mum proud of me. Silly old Hector.

Awards evenings are funny things. Tonight there were 31 awards doled out. Far too many. It was a conveyor belt. They could easily delete ten of them and no one would notice. The highlight of the evening was meeting Billy Ocean. I’ve got all his records – Red Light Spells Danger, When the Going Gets Tough, Love on Delivery. The whole lot. And what a lovely man.

I heard last week I had been nominated for Radio Presenter of the Year at the Arqiva Awards in July. I’m up against Frank Skinner and a double act from Real Radio, Dixie & Gayle. These awards are for commercial radio only, which is probably just as well, because at the Sonys the more the evening went on, the more it seemed you had to be a BBC programme to win!

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale on Brian Haw

Iain discusses with sculptor Amanda Ward whether a statue should be built in Parliament Square to commemorate Brian Haw

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