ConHome Diary: A Comeback for Dr Fox & Where's Theresa?

3 Jun 2016 at 13:59

Last week I wrote that I thought Andrea Leadsom had been a star of the Leave campaign. Let me this week sing the praises of Liam Fox. In terms of putting the Leave case, he has been calm, assured and believable. He hasn’t indulged in stoking up ‘Project Fear’ and has been excellent in head to head debates. This won’t have gone unnoticed in Downing Street, who, when the referendum is over will surely be looking to unite the party. One way of doing so may be to bring Liam Fox back into the cabinet. I’d say this was a possibility rather than a probability. After all, the way he was treated last time may well mean he’d tell them to sling their collective hooks. For those who don’t remember, having been asked if he would like to return to government he was called by Downing Street – not by the PM himself – and offered a Minister of State job at the Foreign Office. Indeed, it was the same job he had held as a young MP in the early 1990s. A total insult.
On the Remain side, people are asking what on earth has happened to Ken Clarke? I expected him to be on the TV 24-7 during this campaign, but I’ve barely seen him. Same for Michael Heseltine. Aren’t these the big beasts of the jungle who are most respected by the electorate. I suppose it’s possible that they are being saved up for the last two weeks, but it’s most odd that they haven’t appeared much so far. And while I think of it, what on earth has happened to Theresa May? Totally invisible in this campaign. Very odd for one of the big three cabinet ministers and someone who aspires to lead the Conservative Party. Perhaps she thinks that it’s least said soonest mended. She may be right,

Is the country actually being governed at the moment? I only ask because I can’t actually remember reading a news story about anything else but Brexit in the last two weeks.
On Wednesday I did an hour long live interview with Mark Regev, the new Israeli Ambassador to London. I first interviewed him on the late lamented 18 Doughty Street in 2006. I wrote at the time: “Anyone who heard him would have been impressed, regardless of where they stand on the current dispute. Calm, honest and assured he answered every question put to him with a dignity and honesty unusual in Government spin doctors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a great future in Israeli politics.” I stand by every word. I may not agree with everything he says – it would be strange if I did – but if every Israeli spokesman had his capabilities, I suspect Israel might have a much better reputation in the world than it currently enjoys. He has a fascinating back story in that he arrived in Israel at the age of 22 to join the Socialist Zionist Movement. Latterly he was a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry and has spent the last eight years as Benjamin Netanyahu’s official spokesman. London is a plumb diplomatic posting and I suspect will be a stepping stone, either to the Ambassadorship in Washington or to going into Israeli politics. It wouldn’t at all surprise me to see Mr Regev reach the top of Israel’s greasy pole.



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Iain is Interviewed by Alex Foster of LibDem Voice

At the LibDem Conference

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WATCH: Mark Regev Interview

1 Jun 2016 at 21:49

Here’s my 30 minute interview with Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev. We covered a lot of ground!



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Iain Dale talks to the Fleet Street Fox

Susan Boniface, aka The Fleet Street Fox, joins Iain to discuss her life as a blogger, tweeter and tabloid hack.

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Labour Politics

Corbyn 'Fly on the Wall' Illustrates Problem With Seumas Milne's Broadcast Media Strategy

1 Jun 2016 at 09:00

Vice News have been given privileged access to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and the result is this thirty minute documentary. It’s presented by self-confessed Labour Party member and Corbyn supporter Ben Ferguson. It’s all fairly harmless stuff but ultimately tells us little that we didn’t know before, apart from one thing. It tells us an awful lot about Seumus Milne’s media priorities.

If you’re going to grant this kind of access, why would you give it to a little watched website? This film may get several hundred thousand views, but I doubt whether many of them will be floating voters. Most of them will the kind of people who think Jeremy Corbyn represents the second coming. Or they will be professional Corbyn watchers like me. Surely it would have been better to let a proper journalist in – someone like Michael Cockerell – who would have done the job properly.

Ben Ferguson seems like a nice guy, and it’s a perfectly watchable film but he doesn’t ask Corbyn a single searching question which would force Corbyn to provide an answer he hasn’t given several times before. We learn little about Corby as a human being, what motivates him, how he deals with the frustrations of the job. We do get to meet his wife, and we get to know his hapless events officer, Gavin. I suspect poor Gavin will cringe a little when he watches this. “The best way to get Jeremy out is to let him fail in his own time,” was one of his more memorable comments. With friends like these…

We knew that the Corbyn camp operated under a siege mentality, and this was certainly confirmed through his little anti-BBC rant towards the end. Indeed, it seems he and his entire team believe the media is out to get them. That’s why they operate in a bunker, only to peep out occasionally when a friendly journalist promises not to be too nasty.

Seumas Milne has a lot to answer for. It is he who is intent on not allowing Jeremy Corbyn out of the bunker any more than he has to. When he was a backbench MP I would interview Jeremy Corbyn at least once a month, sometimes more. He loved coming into the LBC studio and was a regular guest on my late, lamented Parliament Hour. He knew he would always get a fair hearing and fair treatment. Since Jeremy Corbyn has been leader not only have I not interviewed him once, I don’t think he has ever appeared on LBC – a station which he always regarded as a friend. And it’s not for want of trying.

John McDonnell only ever agreed to appear on Ken Livingstone’s show, and now that that’s gone, I don’t suppose he will talk to any of the rest of us. Our experience is not unique. The thing is, a regular Phone Jeremy programme would do him the world of good, but in Seumas Milne’s world, LBC is no doubt considered a proto-fascist organisation and all part of the capitalist conspiracy. Back in reality, all we want to do is quiz leading politicians on their views and allow our callers to put their questions direct. You’d have thought Jeremy Corbyn would find that “a different way to do politics”.

There will come a time when Jeremy Corbyn’s team realises that it needs to deal with the broadcast media in a very different way. How long it will take is anyone’s guess.



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When Sajid Javid Couldn't Answer My Question

The Treasury Minister flounders

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LISTEN: Gyles Brandreth on the 'Stairway to Heaven'

31 May 2016 at 09:05

My first appearances on LBC were on Gyles Brandreth’s Sunday afternoon arts and culture programme. One of his features was a sort of Desert Islands Discs or This is Your Life feature called ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Well, one week instead of Gyles interviewing a guest, I interviewed him. It was the first interview I had ever done on LBC. I think you’ll find it very entertaining.



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale deals with an Anti-American caller

Darren from Walthamstow isn't a fan of the USA. Iain begs to differ.

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LISTEN: Counting Chickens - Great Election Night Moments

30 May 2016 at 22:19

Back in 2001 I was an occasional presenter, with Fi Glover and Charlie Whelan, of Radio 5 Live’s ‘Sunday Service’ programme. I just discovered this recording on an old computer. It’s a documentary I made, which was broadcast on election night in June 2001. It’s a programme about election nights past and great moments that we all remember.

Excuse the background hiss. I promise I didn’t record it off medium wave.



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Jonathan Dimbleby

Jonathan Dimbleby talks about his new book DESTINY IN THE DESERT

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The Self Indulgence of Some Tory MPs

29 May 2016 at 16:50

All political parties go through spasms, but the Conservative Party seems to suffer from them more than most. It is about to have another one.

It was inevitable that the EU Referendum campaign would divide the party. With 143 Tory MPs defying their leader and supporting Brexit, divisions don’t come much bigger than that. Even so, it was possible to think that both sides could respect that the other had deeply held views. It was possible to think that there could have been a calm debate, lacking in personal insults. OK, maybe it wasn’t.

Instead, Project Fear from both sides has meant that the personal insults from each side have increased as the weeks have dragged on. I won’t bother to list the insults here as I am sure we can all recall them.

But today it’s reached a different level. MPs Andrew Bridgen and Nadine Dorries have called for David Cameron to be overthrown whatever the result of the referendum. Yes, you read that right. The political titans Andrew Bridgen and Nadine Dorries think they know better than the people who voted for David Cameron last May. The irony is that Nadine Dorries actually voted for David Cameron to be Tory leader back in 2005. Indeed, most of the more swivel-eyed Eurosceptics on the Tory backbenches did the same, believing that his Eurosceptic credentials were greater than those of David Davis. They always did have such impeccable judgement.

These two MPs are wallowing in their own self-indulgence in the full knowledge that saying something like this will guarantee them acres of media coverage. Nadine even shared with us that she’s already sent a letter to Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee. She was, however, rather coy about its contents. How funny is that?

Iain Duncan Smith is surely right when he says that everyone should concern themselves with campaigning in the referendum rather than trying to undermine the democratically elected Prime Minister of this country. Any sensible politician should be able to deflect speculation about post-referendum leadership issues. It’s hardly rocket science.

What these two MPs have done is totally undermine the Vote Leave campaign by deflecting discussion onto David Cameron’s (or Boris Johnson’s) future. That’s what will be on tomorrow’s newspaper front pages and what will headline the Today Programme. They’ve given every media outlet an excuse to ignore the issue of the day for the Leave campaign and instead indulge in leadership speculation. Well done guys!

I suppose at least Bridgen and Dorries have the bollocks to say all this on the record, unlike the anonymous Tory MP who is quoted in today’s Sunday Times…

“I don’t want to stab the Prime Minister in the back. I want to stab him in the front so I can see the expression on his face. You’d have to twist the knife, though, because we want it back for Osborne.”

Certifiably insane. Did that MP get off on appearing important to Tim Shipman? Why would you give the media that kind of ammunition if you had any semblance of a brain?

Priti Patel’s comments about some people being “too rich” to care about immigration were also unwise in the extreme. She didn’t name Cameron and Osborne and will no doubt deny she had them in mind, but it’s quite clear to anyone what she meant. And she’s no backbencher, she attends Cabinet. For now.

This referendum is a once in a lifetime event. There are many people for Eurosceptics to blame if it all goes wrong and Remain win by a narrow majority. The leaders of the Leave campaign may be blamed for many strategic mistakes and decisions – not least the decision not to unite with Grassroots Out – but those who indulge in post referendum leadership fantasy will also have blood on their hands and won’t easily be forgiven by many of their colleagues.

On June 24th the leadership issue ought to be quite settled. If Remain win, Cameron wins and stays. If Leave win, Cameron will resign. Yes, there will be deep wounds to heal in either scenario, but if the Prime Minister is on the winning side it is difficult to think the electorate would understand a leadership spill (as the Australian’s delightfully call it).

Having said that, there is part of me that thinks that Cameron’s way out of this may be to do a John Major and put himself up for re-election by his parliamentary party. If he did, I have little doubt he’d win with a bigger majority than John Major had.



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Iain Clashes with Stephen Green over Tom Daley's Sexuality

And it isn't pretty...

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The Ups And Downs of Life

29 May 2016 at 14:30

In December last year I wrote about the Greatest Experiences of My Life, which you can read HERE. It was a rather nice article to write. Anyway, life is all about ups and downs, so I thought it only right to write about things that haven’t been so great in my life. I suspect there are a few things here that most people will be able to relate to. So, in no particular order, here are some of the Worst Experiences of My Life…

Mum’s death
I don’t think anyone gets over the death of a parent. My Mum died four years ago and life has never been the same. I so miss phoning her after I go on Sky News. She’d always tell me I’d been brilliant, even when I hadn’t, because she genuinely thought I was! She gave me everything and without her I would be nothing. I still tear up more or less every time I think of her. I know how proud of me she was, but I know I often let her down.

Failing Physics
When I was at school it was always intended I would follow my Dad into farming. To do that I needed to go to agricultural college, and therefore needed to do some Science ‘O’ Levels. Big mistake. I got a D in Biology, but Physics proved to be my nemisis. I just couldn’t understand anything. And I mean anything. I even had extra lessons with my teacher Mr Fitton. I ended up with a U – ungraded. And that was being generous. Whenever I passed Mr Fitton in the corridor after that he’d just look at me, shake his head and walk on. Apparently I was his only failure in 20 years of teaching.

Brighton seafront
I think most people know what happened there. It was September 2013 and I was accompanying Damian McBride to a TV appointment. A protester kept getting in the TV shot. I intervened to pull him away. We fell over. His Jack Russell bit him. Later that day, while I was broadcasting, the Police came for me and I ended up with a Police caution for assault even though, unlike the protester I hadn’t thrown a punch or even kicked out. Nevertheless, I’m officially an idiot.

Losing North Norfolk
I was so proud to have been selected to fight the 2005 election in North Norfolk. I genuinely thought I could win it, even though I was warned what I was up against. I know I fought a textbook campaign and couldn’t have done more, but I knew in the February, three months before the election, I was going to lose. I spent an afternoon canvassing in the coastal village of Overstrand – a village which should have been strong Tory territory. Every house I knocked on said they really wanted to vote for me but that nice Norman Lamb was such a good MP. Game over. On the night I lost by 10,000 votes. I expected to lose, but the margin was a total shock.

Failing to be selected in Bracknell & East Surrey
After the disaster of losing in 2005 I decided to have one more go at trying to be an MP. I took two years out of selections when I started Total Politics as I didn’t feel I could do that and be a candidate. However, in mid 2009 I applied for a few seats. Bracknell was the one I felt ideally suited to and I really felt I could do it. I was up against 6 others in the final, which was an open primary. I made a good speech and answered questions well. But when it got down to three I felt I wouldn’t make it. The safe option was a local GP, Philip Lee, and the risky option was Rory Stewart. I was somewhere in the middle. I was gutted to miss out. I only had one more chance – East Surrey, which is very near where I live in Tunbridge Wells. I was expected to win, or come close. In the end I came last of 6 as I made a disastrous speech. And that was it. I made the decision there and then that I wouldn’t be trying again, and after the 2010 election came off the Tory candidates list. It’s a decision I thought I might come to regret. But I haven’t.

Being diagnosed with diabetes
During the 2005 general election campaign I joined Keith Simpson in Aylsham Marketplace one Saturday morning. They had a mobile diabetes diagnosis unit there, so Keith and I were tested. My blood sugars were very high. I didn’t think a lot about it as I had just eaten a burger. Two years later I diagnosed myself. I had numbness in my legs and I was constantly thirsty, and would have to get up every night to have a pee. My GP confirmed it. And I’ve struggled with it ever since.

Car crash on my 20th birthday
I was driving with my sisters to a local pub to celebrate my birthday in my orange Ford Cortina Mk III. I approached a bend and found a white transit van on my side of the road. It was in the days before compulsory seatbelts. I hit it head on at 50 mph. How we weren’t all killed I just don’t know. One of my sisters was screaming, mainly because her front teeth had been knocked out when the front of her head collided with the back of my other sister’s head. I had gripped the steering wheel so tight it was totally mangled. I ran to a local house to call 999. I was in total control until my father arrived on the scene, when I broke down completely. Once the ambulance had taken my sisters away he led me to his car and then made me drive. It was the best thing he could have done.

Being sacked from Waterfront
In 1990 I started a transport based lobbying company with a former boss. It went well, but in 1996 we had a big falling out. I won’t go into the details, except to say that he now admits I was in the right. I made up my mind to leave, but had to get my ducks in a row first. I did just that and then went on holiday to the US for two weeks. I had decided to resign the day after I got back, but he beat me to it. A letter effectively sacking me was already waiting for me. It led to six months of unemployment while I put together a business plan to start Politico’s.

Not being able to sell my Walthamstow flat
I bought a two bedroom flat in Walthamstow in 1988, mainly because I felt if I didn’t get on the housing ladder then it would be too late. I paid £58k for it, with a £54k mortgage. Those were the days! Unfortunately the mortgage company failed to pick up that it suffered from subsidence. I tried to repeatedly sell it, but at the survey stage all the buyers pulled out. I moved out after 6 years but it took another four to sell it – for, yes, you guessed it, £58k. I must be the only person never to have made money out of property in the 1980s/1990s. I looked on Zoopla the other day and they valued the same flat at £274,000.

Having my car stolen
This happened in Walthamstow. It was a company car – a Ford Orion Ghia something or other. It was incredibly fast and had a little computer. I walked out of my door one morning and it had gone. Disappeared. I had a lot of trouble with cars living there, with people smashing the windows or keying the car. It was one of the reasons I decided I had to move.

Ingrowing hair
I woke up one morning and there was a lump, the size of half a tennis ball, just bellow my tummy button. And it hurt. I couldn’t put trousers on. I had to put trakkie bottoms on and wandered round to the doctors surgery in the next door road. They refused to let me see a doctor as i wasn’t registered there and hadn’t got an appointment. In the end I had to effectively flash at them. They sent me to A&E and it turned out to be an ingrowing hair which had gone septic. They stuck a syringe in it and drained it of gunk. Yuk. Very painful.

Pitchfork through my foot
I was seven years old and was helping my Dad spread hay around one of the cattleyards using a pitchfork. Somehow I contrived to stick it right through my big toe. Right through. I wasn’t sure whether I should pull it out. I suppose I must have done. I remember standing in the kitchen with my mother bathing it. I don’t remember crying or going to hospital, but I suppose I must have done.

Being Stalked
When I had my blog I ended up being harrassed and stalked by someone who shall remain nameless for these purposes. One evening he phoned me 40 times. He threatened to come round to my house. He denies to this day he stalked or harrassed me, but I know how I felt at the time and to me it was stalking.

Having to sack people
Telling someone they no longer have a job is a terrible thing to have to do. I have had to do it five or six times in my life and it never gets easier. Once I actually even shed a tear while doing it. However much you tell yourself you’re doing the right thing, it’s always traumatic and you always question your decision.

Gio dieing
In 1997 John and I got a lovely Jack Russell puppy called Gio from Battersea Dogs Home. He meant the world to us. But in 2008 his health took a turn for the worse. He wasn’t able to exercise much because he had broken two of his leg joints and wasn’t allowed to run, so he had bulked up. One night he had a stroke by the back door. I knew something was wrong when a friend of mine collected me from the station rather than John. “It’s Gio,” he said. When I got home he was still by the back door, eyes open, but expressionless. We comforted him as much as we could but when the vet came we both knew what had to be done. It’s one of the few times in my life when I have genuinely howled. The grief we both felt was unbearable.

Gio being run over
Talking of Gio, I remember the time I took him for a walk round the local park and as we emerged from the park I was day dreaming and I suddenly heard a car approaching. I looked round and Gio was quite a few steps behind me on his extendable lead. It happened in slow motion. I screamed his name but I heard a thump. Gio then emerged from the other side of the car and sat down holding his paw up, which was bloodied. I scooped him up and ran home. We took him to the vet and luckily he hadn’t been badly injured – just his foot. I was a wreck.

Seeing Eleanor for the last time
Eleanor was my Godmother. She wasn’t my mother’s blood sister, but she might as well have been. She was an integral part of our childhood and we loved her dearly. She suddenly got cancer and my sister told me I needed to visit her in hospital to say goodbye. We all spent two hours with her telling her how much we loved her and how wondeful she had been to us. She kept whispering to us not to get upset. She had come to terms with her imminent death. I remember kissing her goodbye, then turning back at the door to look at her one last time, and then going back to kiss her again. She was a very remarkable woman.

Coming out to my family
Anyone who’s been through this knows how hard it can be. For me it was even worse. I was 40. Everyone said that they would know and it wouldn’t come as a surprise. Suffice to say it did. I just wish I had had the courage to do it in my teens or twenties, but things were so different in those days. And that’s as much detail as you’re going to get!

Being on the Irish HIGNFY
What could possibly go wrong. It was around 2007 and I got invited to Dublin to appear on a rough equivalent of ‘Have I Got News For You’. An English Tory blogger against four Irish comedians with a live theatre audience. What could possibly go wrong? I found out I wasn’t as funny as I thought I was.

Presenting LBC’s Olympic Opening ceremony show
What should have been the highlight of my broadcasting career so far, became a nightmare. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Our vantage point was supposedly overlooking the Olympic Park. Well, if you walked along the end of the balcony and craned your neck you could just about see the Olympic Stadium. Just as I was about to go on air the line went down. The newsreader talked into packages which weren’t there. The opening bed music didn’t fire. But the show had to go on. It started to rain. We had a Gazebo but it leaked. Onto my head. Down my back. While I was live on air. Jo Phillips was my co-broadcaster. She and I got a cab home afterwards and sat in silence for most of the journey. Until I warned the cab driver (Addison Lee, since you ask) that he needed to slow down as there was a roundabout up ahead. He turned round and called me a “motherfucking cunt”. Nice. I got him fired the next day.

Going across the channel in a force 9 gale
It was April 1977 and we were heading to Germany on a school exchange trip. We got the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. As the voyage continued, the wind got worse and so did the waves. Virtually everyone was heaving. We didn’t have cabins, so I decided that it was probably best to lie down on the floor by a row of seats. Big mistake. After a few minutes I heard the sound of someone about to throw up. They did. And it landed within an inch of my head. Well that set me off. I’ve never been a good sailor since.

It was 2009 and Carol Thatcher had used the word ‘golliwog’ on the One Show. I went on the Today Programme and tried to explain that people of her generation might use that word without meaning to be racist. I thought I’d done quite well. Derek Draper, who had just started the Labour List blog then took me to task and said I must be racist too. Unbeknown to me this smear was dreamt up in Downing Street by Damian McBride and Draper. A few weeks later, after an FOI request, the truth came out and McBride resigned. There was a happy ending, though. Damian wrote me a letter of apology and I ended up publishing his book, POWER TRIP. It became the biggest selling book pubished by Biteback.

Being bullied at school
I was always taller than other boys and you’d have thought that would protect me from bullies. But I never liked physical confrontation and so would allow myself to be bullied. At primary school it was Robin Brice. At secondary school it was Michael Owen. No, not that one. It was pretty tame stuff, but it was horrible at the time.

Jane Grey
Jane Grey was in my German class at secondary school. She was a bit of a loner and very academic. A lot of the kids enjoyed taking the mickey out of her. I remember one day someone posted up the details of a mixed doubles tennis tournament. I looked to see who I was paired with and it was Jane Grey. Ever one to play to the crowd I shrieked: “Oh, no look who I’ve got, Jane Grey!” Guess who was standing behind me. I was mortified.

David Steel
In 1986 I was working for Conservative MP for Norwich North, Patrick Thompson. We had a business group who paid £35 a year to attend a lunch at the House of Commons with a government minister speaking. I had done amarketing leaflet to encourage other business to join the group. Unfortunately I used the phrase “with direct access to government ministers”. One Tuesday David Steel, leader of the Liberals, rang Patrick to tell him he would be raising this leaflet with Margaret Thatcher in PMQs that afternoon. He immediately went to see Mrs T. He told her what had happened. “I see,” she said. “Don’t worry about it Patrick. I’ll deal with that little twerp”. She meant Steel, not me. And indeed she did.

Shaking hands with the IRA
I was standing outside the Tv studios at 4 Millbank when I encountered a PR agent I knew called Wendy Bailey. We chatted for a moment, then said intriduced me to the man she was with. “Do you know Patrick?” she asked. “No I don’t,” I said and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you.” It was only a minute later after I had left them that I realised I had just shaken hands with the Brighton bomber, Patrick Magee. I felt as if I need a shower. I texted Wendy to tell her exactly what I thought of what had just happened.

Archbishop of Cunterbury
It was March 2013. It was my first day presenting LBC Drive. The Archbishop of Canterbury was my big name interview on my first programme but it had to be a prerecord. that day he had been reported as being highly critical of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms. As I walked into the studio the first thing he said, without even saying ‘hello’, was “No questions on welfare reform”. I was rather taken aback. No politician had ever laid down any preconditions. When I came to introduce the item, I said… “Earlier today, I met the Archbishop of Camterbury…”. Well, that was what I was supposed to say. I actually said, live on air, “Earlier today, I met the Archbishop of Cunterbury…”. I genuinely thought no one had noticed. It made page 4 of the next day’s Daily Telegraph. Served him right though, for being a bit of a c…. naughty archbishop.



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Joan Rivers

48 minutes of comedy chat with the Queen of Comedy, Joan Rivers.

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UK Politics

Why Have I Already Received my Postal Vote?

28 May 2016 at 12:24

So, the day after purdah kicks in I receive my postal vote ballot paper. I’m not normally one for conspiracy theories, but I smell a rat. In a general election you get the ballot paper a maximum of two weeks in advance, I believe. So why is it different in the referendum?

Cynics might suggest that it’s due to Project Fear at its maximum impact. Now that Purdah has started the government is prevented from launching any more Project Fear initiatives.

As I say, I don’t normally go in for conspiracy theories, but I’d love to know the real reason for ballot papers being sent out 28 days before polling day, especially when voter registration doesn’t close for another 11 days.

Perhaps someone could enlighten me.

UPDATE: The Electoral Commission have set out the timetable HERE. They say postal vote ballot papers were always planned to go out from 27 May.

A respondent on Twitter says they have done it earlier because there are no candidate nominations.



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Has a Testy Encounter With Anjem Choudary

Radical cleric Anjem Choudary is taken to task for his extremist views and is questioned about The Sun's sting on him.

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ConHome Diary: A Good War for Andrea Leadsom & Do I Mix With the Wrong People?

27 May 2016 at 15:42

As you can imagine, as a radio presenter I do like to keep an eye on the opposition, so it was with more than a passing interest when I read this tweet from BBC Radio London’s Drivetime reporter Anna O’Neill.

Radio London has a budget several times that of LBC, so I’m told, yet its audience is a fraction of ours. Their entire weekly audience for all their shows added together is less than my show on its own. Looking at their tweet you can see why. Perhaps it’s due to the “unique way the BBC is funded”. So while we talked about Brexit, Putin and Syria, the BBC were discussing ‘bedwetting’. Public service broadcasting at its best.
The very same day we took a call from a lady called Marianne who works for B&Q and had attended the event in Eastleigh where the Chancellor and the PM turned up the volume on Project Fear. She met the Chancellor afterwards and had a selfie taken with him. The result of their conversation? She decided to vote Leave. Have a listen. It’s quite entertaining!


On Monday night I flew up to Edinburgh from London City Airport to do an interview the next morning. I left Leicester Square after my show at 7pm. By 7.45 I was through security at City Airport having a bite to eat. That’s why I love that airport, in as much as one can actually love an airport. I’ve never had a bad experience there. On the return journey we landed at 12.20. I was in a cab by 12.30. But, ssshhh. Don’t tell anyone, otherwise everyone will be travelling from there.
It’s very easy to look at the EU Referendum campaign and say who’s ‘had a bad war’. It’s less easy to discern who has emerged with any credit. On the Leave side I’d point to Andrea Leadsom who has represented her cause on the media with understated assurance and impressed everyone with her calmness under fire. In a campaign where female politicians have struggled to make their voices heard, she has, in my opinion, become something of a star. She’s also avoided too much ‘blue on blue’ action and manages to make her points without making it personal. Indeed, I don’t recall her making any overt criticisms of the PM. It’s something some of her more well-known colleagues might do well to emulate. The broken pieces of the Conservative Party have to be put back together again when all this is over, and too many politicians on the Leave side have made the mistake of turning all this into a personal vendetta against David Cameron. It is certainly true that his ramping up of Project Fear and the misuse of the government machine has been provocative, but sometimes people should think before they launch the next insulting attack. Sometimes you just have to rise above it.

Last night I was looking at a football website and clicked on a video. Before the video started up came a government advert encouraging people to register to vote in the EU Referendum. Nothing wrong with that, of course, it’s what you’d expect. However, what followed left me openmouthed. “Register to vote, or it could cost you up to £4300 if we leave the EU”. On what planet is that an appropriate thing for a taxpayer-funded advert to say? I have no objection at all to a voter registration campaign, but when it gets to the point that it becomes government inspired propaganda, questions need to be asked.
So the Prime Minister refuses to debate any of his opponents during the EU Referendum debate. His former ideas guru Steve Hilton has criticised him for that and he’s right to do so. Instead he will do Q&A sessions on the BBC and, next Thursday, with Sky News. The following night – Friday – Michael Gove will do the same for the Leave campaign. The PM has already won that particular encounter because frankly, who watches Sky News on a Friday night? He should have followed the PM on the Thursday night but no doubt Downing Street vetoed it. Frit. The Leave campaign should have refused to play ball.

The latest EU Referendum polling from Lord Ashcroft makes for fascinating reading . It shows the Leave vote hardening. So far in the polls, the Remain side have been shown slightly ahead. I may mix with the wrong people, but virtually everyone I know who is not directly involved in politics or the media is intending to vote Leave. Maybe I mix with the wrong people, but I really wonder whether the pollsters are yet again getting everything completely wrong. In many ways, no poll can get this binary referendum right because no one really knows what the turnout will be. The conventional wisdom is that the lower the turnout it, the more likely Leave is to win. Possibly, but in the end it depends on which side gets its vote out best. And that’s where Leave has an advantage, because people who want to vote for change often have something of the zealot about them. It’s far easier to persuade them to turn out to vote on a wet Thursday, than it is to persuade people to turn out for the status quo. At least, that’s the theory.
So the Leave campaign is going to spend the last month of the campaign ramping up the arguments about immigration. Because that kind of approach worked so well for Zac Goldsmith, didn’t it? #facepalm.

When I was doing the Sky News paper review on Wednesday I was regaled with how Brussels regulation dictate that they have to go to an advert break on the dot of the half hour, and that Brussels also dictates the length of their advert breaks. I’ve never heard this applying to radio, but why on earth should Brussels have any role in telling UK broadcasters when they must break for adverts, or the length of the break? It’s just this sort of regulation that gives the EU a bad name.



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WATCH: Jacqui Smith & I Debate the EU Referendum

26 May 2016 at 12:58

Jacqui Smith and I debate the EU Referendum on Sky News.

hattip to @liarpoliticians



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