Diary

ConHome Diary: Bullying Tories, I say 'Daesh', you say ISIS & More Travails for Mr Corbyn

20 Nov 2015 at 14:11

So Mark Clarke has been expelled from the Conservative Party. For life. Within minutes of that being announced by CCHQ I interviewed the father of Elliott Johnson, the young man who took his own life back in September, and who had made complaints (not acted on) by CCHQ. Ray Johnson firmly believes that a cover-up is underway and that the internal inquiry ordered by Andrew Feldman will be a whitewash. I’d like to think he will be proved wrong and that some sort of justice will prevail. Am I confident about the outcome? No I am not. Ray Johnson is right. This inquiry should have been carried out by someone independent of the Conservative Party, rather than an Old Etonian who is a Friend of Dave.

On Wednesday Newsnight did a film on the whole sorry saga and made a good fist of pretending that it was they who had uncovered all this rather than the Mail on Sunday. However, they did have one new thing and that was the MP for Bath, former Conservative Future chairman Ben Howlett, opining about Mark Clarke and the bullying culture which was endemic within parts of Conservative Future. He made the point that no one acted on it because they didn’t want to rock the boat in advance of a general election. But the question remains why nothing has been done since then and that all complaints were ignored, and it seems there were a lot of them. Strangely CCHQ say they can find no record of them. Well I hope this internal inquiry talks to all those who made complaints and ascertains how they made them. One imagines they were by email. If so, it must be easy to find out who they went to. What is less clear is why no one acted upon them.

Ray Johnson is understandably determined to get justice for his son. Any father would. If anybody reading this has information that will help him do so, they should come forward without delay. At the end of my interview with Ray I told him I had met Elliott a couple of times and offered him my condolences. I found my voice cracking. Even writing this I have moist eyes. The whole thing is such a tragedy. And it may well have happened because supposedly good people did nothing. If so, they should never be allowed to forget it.
*
This is the moment to put a motion to Parliament for it to ratify military action in Syria. Not next month. Not at Christmas. Now. When one of your closest allies asks you for support after a major attack, you at least owe it to them to react and react quickly. Britain is becoming a bit part player in these issues and it’s embarrassing. Either we withdraw into our isolationist shells or we do what we have always done and step up to the plate. Up until now I have had little time for President Hollande but his response to the terror attack last Friday has been exemplary, decisive and timely. It’s time for David Cameron to make clear that Britain will play its part in building an international coalition against Daesh and do what is necessary.
*

Yet again, another bad week for Jeremy Corbyn, and yet there are some who think we in the media should ignore his self-inflicted wounds. Some of my listeners genuinely think that we should stop being beastly to the poor man and that he’s doing his best, as if someone he should be beyond scrutiny. Some think no one should question his appointment of Ken Livingstone to co-chair the Labour defence review – something that was done without even consulting the Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle. Quite why she hasn’t told Corby to stuff his job, I do not know. The same goes for her deputy Kevan Jones, who was understandably furious with Ken Livingstone for the outrageous way Livingstone cast doubt on his mental health. If Kevan Jones was so outraged by Livingstone’s appointment, due to his lack of experience of defence issues, why didn’t he fall on his sword? Yet again Labour have been shown to be ferrets fighting in a sack. As Alastair Campbell pointed out, it’s all very well not to be elected because of people’s lack of trust in your economic policies, but if they also doubt you on defence, it’ll be a rout. Just as it was in 1983.
*
Tim Farron, bless him, made a speech laying out Liberal Democrat economic policy yesterday. As if it matters.
*

What to call, them… IS, ISIS, ISIL? No, we should call them Daesh, just as the French always have done. Some people think I’m being politically correct calling them that, because it doesn’t mention the word ‘Islamic’. No. Even though it’s literal meaning is exactly the same as ISIS, we should call them ‘Daesh’ because apparently they don’t like being called ‘Daesh’. And if it annoys them, that’s good enough for me. So ‘Daesh’ it is.
*
The left have clung onto the fact that the passport found by the side of one of the dead terrorists proved to be a fake. Ergo that proves he wasn’t necessarily a Syrian who had got to France via a Greek Island. Ergo none of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have come via that route are terrorists, as Nigel Farage warned they might be. There’s just one problem. The terrorist’s fingerprints prove he did indeed pass through the Greek Island of Leros on October 4th. No doubt they will come up with a reason why that doesn’t really matter.

Share:

1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_alogo

Iain Talks to Nigel Evans MP After His acquittal

Nigel Evans tells all.

Listen now

Video

Why I call IS 'Daesh' and Will Continue to Do So...

18 Nov 2015 at 16:04

And it’s nothing to do with political correctness!

Share:

1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_lbclogo

LBC 97.3 Book Club: Iain talks to Fern Britton

Fern Britton talks about her novel 'The Holiday Home' and her TV career

Listen now

World Politics

Sixteen Things Britain & The World Must Do To Beat ISIS/Daesh

14 Nov 2015 at 10:30

At times like this we all try to think about how we can beat those who seem intent not just on murdering innocent people but on attacking our very way of life. The bombing of the Russian plane and terrible events in Paris and Beirut demonstrate that the policy of trying to contain ISIS isn’t working. So here’s what I would do…

1. Accept this is a war, and act accordingly.
2. Invoke Article 5 of the NATO constitution and make every effort to include Russia in a coalition of interests with a single aim – to defeat ISIS militarily. It will mean parking the issue of Assad’s future.
3. Launch a total war on ISIS targets, initially through huge bombing campaigns, but also using ground forces from as many countries as possible, especially Arab ones.
4. Next week David Cameron should introduce an emergency motion in the House of Commons, which, if passed, would give parliamentary approval for military action in Syria alongside the US and France.
5. Drive a stake through ISIS’s heart by taking Raqqa by force in a surprise strike, using thousands of special forces and paratroopers.
6. Britain and other western countries should follow Austria’s lead and ban the foreign funding of mosques. This may mean having to ban foreign funding of all religious institutions, not just mosques. Immediately follow Tunisia’s lead and shut down any mosque linked to extremism. Ban mosques from employing Imams from Saudi Arabia.
7. Theresa May should massively increase the budget of the UK Border Force and immediately recruit several thousand new border guards. US style border checks should be introduced at key locations, but especially Calais and major airports.
8. The Prime Minister should announce an immediate 33% increase in the funding of the security services, giving them an extra billion pounds a year. This should primarily be used to increase surveillance of terror suspects.
9. Confront Saudi Arabia over its overt and covert support for ISIS and Wahabi extremism. If Saudi Arabia fails to act, impose sanctions and make arms sales to the country illegal.
10. Make London a very uncomfortable place for radical extremists and reverse its reputation as ‘Londonistan’.
11. Encourage muslim role models to go into schools and mosques to launch a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign and explain to muslim teenagers why extremism is wrong.
12. Confront head on the myth that western foreign policy and the invasion of Iraq led to the rise of ISIS.
13. Encourage the EU to abandon Schengen and lead moves to reimpose border controls between each EU country.
14. Build refugee camps along the North African coast. Handle asylum application within the camps. Impose high profile EU coordinated naval patrol along the North African coast and turn back the boats.
15. Develop comprehensive plan to deal with Syrian refugees who arrive from Turkey.
16. Develop a Marshall Plan to enable Syria to rebuild following the end of the conflict, and identify other countries which need a similar plan in order to persuade their citizens not to flee, and in the long term designed to persuade them to return.

I realise this is just scratching at the surface in some ways, but we have to recognise that the terms of the debate have changed. Talk of containing ISIS will no longer wash. They and their unique brand of evil needs to be confronted. In the 1930s we had, in the end, to recognise that the only way to beat Hitler was to stand up to him. We are in a similar position now. You can’t sit down and talk to these people. No amount of appeasement will work. Difficult decisions must now be taken in the full recognition that the world order has changed and that further loss of life will inevitably happen. Time will tell if the British people have the stomach for the fight or if we have the politicians who have the courage to impose the measures needed if we are to pull through.

In writing this, I also recognise I will be called a lot of things, no doubt primarily ‘warmonger’. I’ve said right from the start that ISIS need to be taken on and we are at war so at least I am consistent in that. Let’s have the debate and recognise that although there will be differences of view, the debate can at least be conducted in a civil manner. At least in this country we can still have an open debate, unlike in areas controlled by ISIS. Those who disagree with me will have to explain how they would protect the very freedoms that ISIS is seeking to take away from us.

Share:

20 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_captiolhil

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale's Washington Diary

From Iain Dale's Sunday morning programme in Washington DC for the US presidential election.

Listen now

Sport

Aujourd'hui, nous sommes tous français

14 Nov 2015 at 09:10


This morning I woke up, looked through my Twitter timeline and shed a tear. This morning, we are all French. We imagine if we had been at the France v Germany match and we imagine the thoughts of those who were. We think of those who lost their lives, not just at the match, but at the other incidents in Paris. We think of the hundred or so people slaughtered at a concert venue, whose only crime had been to go out for the evening.

The world changed last night. I feel the same this morning as I did the morning after the 7/7 attacks. As I wandered down the Embankment to my office in the House of Commons, almost directly under Big Ben, listening to the police sirens and the helicopters overhead, I remember thinking “This is not the London I love. Things will never be the same.” I imagine that’s how many Parisians are thinking this morning.

A friend of mine tweeted this, and it reflects how many feel this morning…

What kind of person must you be, and what kind of god do you serve, to believe that massacring innocents finds you favour in the after life?

I imagine that the FA is thinking of cancelling Tuesday’s international friendly match at Wembley against France. Obviously they will be consulting their French colleagues but I really hope they don’t. We simply cannot give in to terror. If we do, the bastards win. Sport is something people that can unite people across borders.

The show must go on.

Share:

2 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_olivia_newton-john_-_live_at__kokusai_forum__tokyo__4_april_2003__sbd_

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton John discusses her new cook book and her career in entertainment.

Listen now

Diary

ConHome Diary: The Tory MP With Balls of Steel

13 Nov 2015 at 14:11

So, David Cameron’s letter to Donald Tusk… Where to start? Bear in mind that I write as someone who hasn’t yet made up his mind how to vote in the referendum, I find the whole thing a bit of a charade. Cameron’s speech at Chatham House outlining his renegotiation strategy was more of a ramble than a speech. Full of PR bullshit, but little substance. He’s clearly taken the view that he’ll never be able to get enough from Brussels to satisfy Bill Cash so he might as well only ask for things the EU would be a fool not to give him anyway. It’s a motherhood and apple strategy – only go for things you know they’ll agree to because they are more or less meaningless anyway. Brussels bigwigs are happily playing along, muttering about some of his demands being ‘problematic’ and ‘difficult’. Yeah, yeah. I’m not normally into conspiracy theories, but part of me wonders if a deal hasn’t already stitched up. I can just see it now. After the December EU summit, David Cameron gets of the plane at Heston Airport waving a white piece of paper declaring that he brings “an agreement for our time”. He then announces that the referendum will be held in June 2016, a full eighteen months before the end of 2017, his original deadline.
Charades like this push me a little further to planning to vote ‘Leave’. It’s further evidence that the EU can never really bring about proper change in its institutions, structures and aims. It really is a wretched organization and I am already fed up with all the scare stories about what will happen if we leave. The latest was on the front page of Thursday’s Guardian. Apparently a Brexit would wreck all the scientific research carried out in our universities because they wouldn’t have access to EU research funds. No, really. We’ve got another 18 months of this.
*
A dozen years ago I published a book of political counterfactuals called PRIME MINISTER PORTILLO & OTHER THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPENED. Since then I’ve brought out two similar collections using AL GORE AND BORIS JOHNSON in the titles. Next year it’s the turn for ‘Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn’ to get the treatment, but we are also looking for twenty or so other subjects for people to write about. So if you fancy yourself as a political fantasist, do get in touch with a suggestion. My favourite one so far is What Would Have Happened if The Anglo-Russian Convention had not been signed in 1907?
*

To those on the left who bleat on about the Tories always favouring their mates and refusing to close tax loopholes, clearly they haven’t studied the Chancellor’s last budget very well. There was a measure in it designed to hit freelancers who run service companies. People like me. From April 2016 any dividend income paid will be taxed an extra 7%. This is on top of the fact that he abolished the tax free income allowance for people who earn above a certain amount (I think it’s £100k), so they pay tax on all their income including the first £10,600. And yet the lazy media and left wing politicians just concentrate on the fact that he reduced the top rate of tax to 45p, without mentioning any of the other things he has done to hit the relatively well off. And I use that phrase deliberately. What this government has done is actually penalize the relatively well off, rather than the rich or super-rich. And with the tax credit proposals it seems determined also to penalize the working poor. I absolutely realise austerity affects us all, but the politics of all this may reap their electoral rewards if they’re careful. If only the Liberal Democrats and UKIP realized what an opportunity lies ahead for them.
*
Should female MPs be allowed to breastfeed in the chamber of the House of Commons. I spent an hour discussing this major topic of state with my listeners on Wednesday. John Bercow says yes. Therese Coffee says no. I can’t think of any female MP who would actually want to do it, but I suppose in certain circumstances needs must. For example, if there is a debate concerning your constituency and you need to speak in it, you need to be in the chamber for the whole thing otherwise you won’t be called. So why should an MP be prevented from listening to the debate and taking part in it just because she has a sprog? Strangely, it was the majority of my female callers who thought it wouldn’t work. What if the baby started screaming, or projectile vomiting over the MP in front of them? It might not be very decorous if the baby couldn’t latch on immediately. What about the TV cameras? So many questions… I then took a call from a local councilor called Candice who said she had had to breastfeed in the council chamber, and no one had a problem with it. And with that, all the arguments against seemed to deflate. Aren’t you proud of me for getting through this whole section without making a breast joke?
*

Stephen McPartland is certainly an MP with balls of steel. Not only has the Tory MP for Stevenage rebelled on tax credits, he had the temerity to boycott a visit to his constituency by the Treasury Minister David Gauke. For an MP in a marginal seat he’s playing with fire, as the traditional response would be for the whips to make very clear to the cheeky bugger that any CCHQ support at the next election might well not be forthcoming. Many modern day MPs, it seems, are quite willing to tell the whips to sling their hook. Oh what joys we are in for during the rest of this parliament.

Share:

1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_alogo

Charles in Enfield & Iain Go Head to Head Over McDonnell & Corbyn

I'm a repeater apparently.

Listen now

Diary

ConHome Diary: Another Establishment Snub for Mrs T

6 Nov 2015 at 14:35

You couldn’t make it up. The Egyptian President started his visit to London yesterday, only hours after Britain had angered his government by cancelling all flights to Sharm-Al-Sheik. The resort’s bookings were already well done, with some hotels almost empty. This move will almost guarantee that few British holidaymakers will want to go there in future.
I think it’s rather appalling that President Sisi is having the red carpet rolled out for him. He ousted a democratically elected president and his regime has committed some terrible human rights abuses. I completely understand that ‘realpolitik’ dictates that we have to deal with regimes we don’t much like, but does that really have to involve inviting their leaders to Number 10 Downing Street? I’m not naïve enough to think we can run what Robin Cook used to call an ethical foreign policy, but this visit is surely something which could have been avoided.
*
What a shame it is that yet again the British establishment snubs Margaret Thatcher. The V&A obviously can’t look a gift horse in the mouth. It has snubbed the chance to host a collection of Margaret Thatcher’s clothes, and it seems as though the whole lot will now be auctioned off to individual buyers. This is the same museum that thought it relevant to host a collection of Kylie Minogue outfits, so I’m told.
However, it’s not just clothes that will be auctioned. There are some very interesting artefacts including one her red boxes. I might just try to bid for that if I can scrape together the £3-5,000 which is being estimated to sell for. Best not tell my partner, though. Shhhhh.
*


Margaret Thatcher used the phrase ‘the enemy within’ to describe the extremists who carried out picket line violence during the miners’ strike. I used the phrase to describe one of my LBC callers this week. His name was Khan from Ilford, and he rang in to accuse me of ‘demonising’ ISIS. I could hardly believe what I was hearing, so I took him on good and proper. The thing with people like this is that they will rarely answer a question you put to them. They always deflect it onto America or Israel, as if they’re somehow to blame for the fact that ISIS commit such terrible atrocities. Have a listen to the call, as you’ll be horrified. I had huge numbers of texts and tweets afterwards urging us to report him to the security services as an ISIS sympathiser. The big question is how many other people in this country would sympathise with his abhorrent views and how many of those would act on them. This growing view that everything that’s wrong in the world is down to America and Israel has to be countered, and so far no one is doing it very well. Even perfectly sane, rational people think there’s something in it.
*
I get some astonishing press releases from PR people who seem to think I’ll be remotely interested in putting them on the radio. Today’s missive came from someone who was keen to publicise their research which shows that most of won’t poo at work in case someone hears or smells us. I ask you. I suppose the Today Programme wouldn’t exist without one of their presenters saying every five minutes “a new report out today says…” or “new research shows that…”. Most of it is conducted by left leaning pressure groups or quangos who want to slag off the government or throw some shit at a right leaning politician. See what I did there?
*

So Nicola Sturgeon says that changes to the Scotland Bill will give the Scottish government the power to restore changes to tax credits. Fair enough. Just don’t expect English taxpayers to foot the bill, as we usually do.
*
The behaviour of the left wing trade union, the British Medical Association, becomes more disgraceful by the day. Jeremy Hunt offers their members an 11% raise on their basic pay and they accuse him of going over their heads directly to their members. Well you can hardly blame him, when the BMA consistently refuses to even talk to him. They accuse him of indulging in “megaphone diplomacy”, which is a bit rich coming from them. The BMA consistently lie about the Health Secretary’s position and it’s about time they were called out on it. If they won’t sit down and talk to him, is it any wonder Hunt is left with little option but to impose a settlement. There is an increasing number of junior doctors who are fed up with the extremists who are running the BMA. Hopefully they will have the courage to make their voices heard.

Share:

3 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_alogo

Iain Hosts a Discussion on Suicide After Clarke Carlisle Tries to Take His Own Life

An emotional discussion

Listen now

Diary

ConHome Diary: The Naughty Table at the Margaret Thatcher Centre Dinner

30 Oct 2015 at 14:42

On Tuesday night I went to the Margaret Thatcher Centre dinner at the Guildhall, along with 400 others. What a fabulous venue. I had never been there before. It was quite an occasion and raised a huge amount of money to go towards funding the activities of the Centre. All the tables were named after a Thatcher Cabinet Minister. I requested ours was named after my favourite, Cecil Parkinson. Ah, what might have been. Had he not had to resign in 1983 I reckon he would have been in prime position to succeed Mrs T, but alas it wasn’t to be. Had he become Foreign Secretary in 1983, I suspect many of the events later on in the decade which led to her downfall would not have happened. A nice counterfactual for someone to write.

Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister, was the guest speaker and he certainly delivered a hard hitting speech, which has been widely reported in the press. His main point concerned immigration and in some ways he out-Faraged Nigel Farage with his rhetoric and approach. He urged EU countries to copy the Australian approach and turn immigrant boats around. Easy to say, but the Med is not the Indian Ocean.

I was on the naughty table, which included Andrew Mitchell, Suzanne Evans and Heidi Allen. I’m not sure whether Stephen Parkinson, who’s just left Theresa May’s employ to campaign for the EU Leave campaign qualifies as ‘naughty’ or not. Seeing as he runs the Conservative History Group he’s probably the very definition of sensible’. Most of the time.

The Margaret Thatcher Centre is the idea of CWF head Donal Blaney. It’s a perfect example of someone making a real difference. Donal has been a leading figure in Conservative activism ever since his YC days and is the brainchild behind the Young Britons Foundation. His idea is to effectively fundraise enough money to build an actual physical Margaret Thatcher Centre as well as run courses to spread the gospel of Thatcherism both in this country and around the world. He’s put together an impressive array of supporters and there is a deep commitment to making this happen. I wish him every success with the project. Donal is one of those people who, as Richard Nixon might say, “makes a difference”. And in the end, isn’t that what we’d all like to do? Look back on our lives and think that in some way we made a difference?
*
So a date has finally been set for the publication of the Chilcot Report. It’s been so long in coming that unfortunately everyone has forgotten the evidence that was given back in 2009. The report will be more than 2 million words long, which means if one wants to read the whole thing, it will take more than 120 hours at average reading speed. That’s longer than Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher!
In a way it won’t make much difference what Chilcot’s conclusions are. Those who believe Blair to be a war criminal won’t be satisfied with anything less than a recommendation for an indictment at The Hague, and those who think Blair can do no wrong won’t accept any criticism of him anyhow. So we’ll more than likely be back to square one.
*

An invitation to a media reception at Number Ten arrives in my Inbox. Ah, so I haven’t been blacklisted following the publication of CALL ME DAVE. Sadly it’s timed from 5-7pm, exactly the time I am on the radio. Obviously a deliberate snub .
*
I wonder why it is taking the Daily Mail so long to appoint a new political editor to succeed James Chapman, who left in the summer to take over as George Osborne’s Director of Communications. It’s one of the plum jobs in political journalism, but also one of the most challenging. Surely there can’t be any lack of people interested in it, so why the delay?

Share:

3 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_steph

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Stefanie Powers

Hart to Hart star Stefanie Powers talks about her autobiography ONE FROM THE HART

Listen now

Diary

New Statesman Diary: A Visit to Frankfurt & Being Nervous About Speaking German

24 Oct 2015 at 09:23

This week I have written a diary of the New Statesman. Here it is…
*
And so to the Frankfurt Book Fair. I’ve managed to escape going for the last four years, but this year I thought I’d better make the effort. My company, Biteback (publishers of THAT book on David ‘Hameron’) has a stand there and the aim is to identify books from foreign publishers that might work in the UK and sell rights of our books to foreign publishers. I wasn’t sure what interest there would be in CALL ME DAVE from overseas publishers but I’m delighted to say that the book has attracted the keen interest of one of America’s biggest publishers, and we have an agent who thinks she can sell rights to most European countries. An Estonian publisher told me that our PM is very popular in her country. Who’d have thought!

I have to say my most enjoyable moment of the week was having to explain ‘piggate’ to an Israeli publisher. Strangely I doubt whether it will be appearing on the shelves of Israeli bookshops very soon.

Talking of Israel, our stand isn’t far away from the Israeli Publishers’ Collective. It’s the only stand with a permanent security presence of two men dressed in black with earpieces. I walk past it three times a day and I have never seen a single person on the stand smile. Even when they had a Falafel party (when the security presence increased to six men) no one seemed to be enjoying it. I resisted the temptation to wander by humming ‘don’t worry, be happy’. What a sad state of affairs it is when a publisher feels it needs to hire security because of the risk of an anti-semitic attack. In Germany of all places.
*
Thirty years ago this summer I graduated from the University of East Anglia (or University of Easy Access, as it was known in those days) with a degree in German. Having spent two years living in Germany, teaching and working as a nurse (no sniggering at the back) I became totally fluent in the language to the extent that whenever I told a German I was English they refused to believe me. In one case I had to prove it by showing them my passport. Sadly, though, having had few opportunities to speak the language in three decades, my oral abilities have declined somewhat, although I can still understand everything. So it was with some trepidation that I drove to Bad Wildungen at the weekend to visit old friends and the woman I call my ‘German mother’. In the end I needn’t have worried. We picked up as if the previous two decades hasn’t existed. And that’s what true friendship is all about, isn’t it? And my German hadn’t deteriorated quite as much as I had feared. In any case, even if it had, so many English (or American) words have been incorporated into German, I could have probably got by. We now have three new German verbs – downloaden, streamen and skypen. Ich downloade, du streamst, sie haben geskypt. Ausgezeichnet.
*

This was my first visit to Germany since 2011, but not a lot seems to have changed. The concept of corner shops which stay open all hours still hasn’t reached the country. Having last week attended my third speed awareness course, it’s been a delight to be able to drive like the clappers (I reached 130mph in my hired Volvo 4×4) on the autobahn without fear of being stopped by the police, and German radio still hasn’t climbed out of the 1980s. Politically, they still obsess about the English and their loss of empire, they scratch their heads in disbelief at why we are so Eurosceptic (although that’s gradually changing) and they want to know all about Kate. Really. Ask them about the VW scandal, though, and invariably the subject will be changed in the shortest time possible. The Germans know all about national guilt, and the VW scandal has brought it all back. “It has brought shame on the whole country,” said one friend. “No one believes there were only two people who knew about it. There must have been hundreds who just turned a blind eye.” Now, where have I heard that before?
*
This week I’m publishing a book by award winning journalist Alan Friedman on Silvio Berlusconi, called MY WAY. It’s the nearest thing Berlusconi will get to an autobiography, I suspect. He spent one hundred hours with Friedman talking about his life, experiences and the people he has met. It’s all on video too, and Friedman is releasing a lot of it concurrently with the book, including some fascinating footage of Vladimir Putin and other world leaders opining about Berlusconi. The former Italian premier gave Friedman total editorial control over the manuscript, although a few months before publication he bought the Italian publisher of the book! So far I haven’t received an offer I couldn’t refuse to buy Biteback… Although there has been an incident of a pig’s head…
*

Back in London on Monday, and it was the book launch much of Westminster had been waiting for. Altitude, on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower is a great venue for such an event, and it played host to 400 people eagerly awaiting Michael Ashcroft’s author’s speech. Sadly all they got was a speech from me instead. Unbeknown to anyone Michael has been seriously ill for the last month. In fact, at one stage it was touch and go. Thankfully he is on the road to recovery, but was unable to make the launch of CALL ME DAVE. I suspect he had to be strapped to his bed because I know that he would have been desperate to attend. Much has been said about him supposedly hanging Isabel Oakeshott and me out to dry by not doing any interviews about the book himself. Only she and I knew the truth, and for once we both kept our respective gobs shut. As it turned out, I read out the book launch speech Michael would have given, had he been there. It’s the only time in my life I have been asked to stand in for a billionaire. Michael finished by saying: “I have fought many political and business battles over the past half century but this is the first one – and, I trust, the last – in which I haven’t led from the front.” We both look forward to him rejoining the fray very soon. As I am sure does the prime minister.

Share:

0 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_lbclogo

Iain Talks to Mango Groove's Claire Johnston About Nelson Mandela

Part of a Nelson Mandela special programme

Listen now

Diary

ConHome Diary: When the PM Signed 'Call Me Dave' & A Tribute to Michael Meacher

23 Oct 2015 at 14:43

David Cameron seems to have become remarkably more relaxed about the Ashcroft/Oakeshott book CALL ME DAVE. On Monday he sat down in the Commons tea room with a group of Tory MPs for a chinwag, and noticed the book on the table. Keith Simpson had a copy as he is reviewing it for Total Politics. Cameron asked Keith what he thought of it (I’ll leave you in suspense on that) and then Keith found himself suggesting to the PM that he might like to sign it. “Why not,” replied the PM, adding a comment which read “Don’t believe everything you read!”
*

Monday saw the launch of CALL ME DAVE at Altitude, the party venue on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower. I’ve rarely been so nervous before a booklaunch before. It’s not often that such an event is held when the host and co-author will be absent. I was one of only three people who knew that was going to be the case, and although I have a mouth the size of the Mersey Tunnel, I did actually manage to keep the secret. Everyone now knows that Michael Ashcroft has been extremely ill and had suffered a near death experience, which is why he hasn’t been able to defend his own book. He is actually quite a private person and understandably didn’t want his condition to be widely known about until he was out of the woods. So when accusations were made that he had hung Isabel Oakeshott and myself out to dry by not doing media interviews, it was extremely difficult not to react. All one could think was “if only you knew”. I suspect even now he’d have preferred people not to know, but we just couldn’t cancel the launch event and rather than come up with some unbelievable reason as to why he could be there, it was far better to tell the truth. I was tasked with delivering his speech in his absence – the only time I have ever stood in for a billionaire – and introduced a video from Belize TV, which was to be aired later that night on their main TV news show. I think many of those attending the launch thought it was some sort of elaborate spoof, until it dawned on them that the detail given couldn’t possibly have been made up. When the video finished, there was total silence in the room among the 300 guests. No one quite knew what to say. The many journalists present rushed out of the room to phone their respective news desks. The Sun’s Harry Cole got it on their front page, although rather laughably with an ‘Exclusive’ tag.

There was quite an eclectic group of guests which included Nigel Farage and Labour MPs John Spellar and Michael Meacher. It was the last public event attended by Meacher before his sudden death on Wednesday. More on him in a moment.

Although there were a fair few Tory MPs there – I won’t name them for fear of reprisals – many were noticeable by their absence. Loyalty is an increasingly rare thing in politics. Various pulled out at the last minute with a whole host of pathetic excuses. Lily livered cowards, the lot of them.
*
I first came across Michael Meacher when I was a lobbying back in the late 1980s. I was advising the port employers on their campaign the rid the industry of the iniquitous National Dock Labour Scheme. We held a lunch with Meacher, who was then Labour’s Shadow Employment Minister, to explain the damage the scheme was doing to ports like London, Liverpool and Southampton in terms of jobs and economic growth. Being an ardent trade union supporter and on the left of the party we knew we were on a hiding to nothing, but he listened politely, asked all the right questions and at the end of the lunch parted by saying: “I agree with a lot of what you say, and understand your reasons for wanting to get rid of the scheme, but you’ll understand that when I leave this room I’ll be denouncing you to the journalists outside.”

Over the last two or three years I got to know him a little more as I published his last book THE STATE WE NEED. It is a left wing treatise about reforming the economy. Needless to say I didn’t agree with a word of it, but I suspect it’s now regarded as an economic blueprint by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Despite the fact that we’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum, I really liked Michael Meacher. He may have been known as ‘Tony Benn’s representative on earth’ in the early 1980s but he was a kind, polite man, who truly believed in what he said. He always seemed genuinely perplexed that not everyone agreed with him, as if he must have explained it wrongly. He’ll be much missed.
*
On Wednesday I trotted along to the Foreign Office who were hosting the Pink News awards dinner. I had been nominated for Broadcaster of the Year, along with Jeremy Kyle (I kid you not), Victoria Derbyshire, Vicky Beeching, Anna Richardson and Reggie Yates. I reckoned Victoria or Vicky would win, and I was right as it went to Victoria Derbyshire. As many will know, she has just gone through a pretty awful few weeks with breast cancer, so it was great to see her there and in such fine form. She absolutely deserved to win. And while I am at it, many congratulations to Ben Cohen on ten years of Pink News. It’s a fantastic resource and he should be very proud of what he has created.

Share:

0 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_watch

Video: Iain discusses his A List failure on Newsnight in May 2006

BBC 2 Newsnight

Listen now

Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 40: When a Caller Tells You She Thinks You Should Be Killed...

21 Oct 2015 at 22:42

If you think the battle for gay equality is won, listen to this shocking call from Zainab, a 22 year old muslim woman who truly believes gay muslims (and presumably all other gays) should, a la Isis, be thrown off the top of buildings and be killed. She is followed by Sohail who tells her why she is so misguided.

I tell her that her parents should be ashamed of themselves for indoctrinating her in this way. I kept my cool but I let her hav it in no uncertain terms. If I was on the BBC I’d have probably been suspended. What a truly disgusting individual.

Sohail and his two friends are the heroes of this story. Today they set up a stall outside Whitechapel tube station to tell their fellow muslims why it’s OK being muslim and gay, Men of true courage.

Share:

1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_alistair_darling_1235_19134768_1_0_7006990_300320x320

LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Alistair Darling

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling discusses his book on the financial crisis.

Listen now