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  • 4.45pm Interview with Lord Tim Bell on the Tory election campaign
  • 5.00pm Labour grabs the initiative on housing by helping first time buyers and promising to introduce rent controls. But do the policies stack up and will they have the desired effect?
  • 5.30pm Nick Clegg interview
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Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 22: When A Caller Turns the Question Back onto the Presenter

27 Mar 2015 at 22:47

Today on my LBC show I tackled quite a difficult subject – why 100,000 students are funding their degree by going on the game or selling various ‘services’ in the sex industry.
This is a call I took from Dave, who shall we say, did very well in turning my questions back on me. It’s one of the funniest calls of my career on LBC and it ends with him offering me a modelling contract.

So have a listen!

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

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

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Diary

ConHome Diary: When Answering a Straight Question Can Work

27 Mar 2015 at 14:34

Those of you of a certain vintage will remember Sir Anthony Garner, the formidable Director of Campaigning in Central Office in the 1980s. I am very sad to tell you that he has died. I remember attending a Saturday campaigning seminar at CCO in Smith Square back in 1986. Sir Anthony has invited me to give a presentation about how Norwich North, where I was working, was pioneering the use of targeted Direct Mail. So there I was, in front of all the party’s leading agents and campaigning bigwigs, essentially telling them how to do their job. Direct Mail seems a bit old hat nowadays, but, believe me, in those days it was cutting edge stuff. Sir Anthony was genuinely feared and respected in equal quantity. In those days I suppose I had ambitions of working in the campaigns department at CCO and when Sir Anthony told me I had done very well and “done myself a lot of good” it genuinely meant a lot. Thirty years on the professional side of the party has become a husk of what it used to be. The number of professionally trained agents is pitiful. Their decline since 1992 has been shameful. It also coincides with the period when the Conservative Party has failed to win a single election. Funny that. Sir Anthony’s son Chris tells me there will be a Memorial Service for the great man after the election. I will let you know details when I have them.
*
Simon Jenkins is an archetypal member of the establishment. He is a former editor of The Times. As a prime example of ‘the great and the good’ he moves smoothly from one public appointment to another with graceless ease. He pops up on our TV screens to impart his wisdom on whatever subject he has a view on, even when he has apparently very little expertise on it. He’s eloquent and oftentimes very interesting, but I’m afraid I found his appearance on Newsnight, up against Admiral Lord West of Spithead excruciating. He was there to talk about increased funding for the defence of the Falkland Islands. To be honest, his views were all over the place and Alan West wiped the floor with his Guardianista views on defence spending. When Jenkins said “Frankly I’d spend next to nothing on defence,” my jaw almost hit the floor. What a cock. Surely maintaining the nation’s defences is the first priority of any government, whatever colour? A lot is talked about the NATO recommended defence spending level of 2% of GDP. It is frankly astonishing that we have a Conservative government which can’t even commit to this, despite it being agreed at the recent NATO summit in Wales. In 2016 our spending will fall below that level. It’s a cause for national shame and embarrassment. We’re happy to commit to 0.7% of GDP being spent on international aid, something I should say I fully agree with, but we can’t make that kind of commitment to defence spending. No wonder we won’t have an operational aircraft carrier until 2020. If the Argentinians did decide to launch an attack on the Falklands an aircraft carrier would be necessary to retake the islands. I know that. You know that. And so, no doubt does the Argentinian military.
*

This week I was introduced to the delights of OneMinuteFox.com by the man himself, Liam Fox. I was having a gossip with him in his Commons office (which is massive, by the way!) when I noticed some business cards with the website address www.oneminutefox.com written on the front. It turns out to be a Youtube Channel here Liam records one minute videos on any subject which takes his fancy – local to his constituency or of national importance. I picked up on the business cards and said “I’m not sure if I were you I’d want to be known as One Minute Fox,” raising a double entendre-tastic eyebrow. “No, indeed,” he replied without blinking. “My wife says I’m boasting.” B’dum tish.
*
Enough has been written about the Prime Minister’s blurt-out this week, so I won’t detain you long. There are some people, believe it or not, who genuinely think it was all part of a cunning plan and that James Landale was encouraged to ask the question. What utter bollocks. Landale got himself a first class scoop and that’s all there is to it. He asked a question and the PM answered it rather more directly than Landale expected him to, and then compounded it by speculating about his successor. Unprecedented. When I heard about it I thought Cameron had taken leave of his senses. My LBC listeners took a rather different view. “He was asked a question and he answered it. Isn’t that what we want of politicians?” seemed to be the general consensus. Lucky generals win wars. Perhaps lucky politicians win elections, and you have to say that Cameron is a politician who sometimes rides his luck. What I think he should do now, though, is to make very clear that he will serve a completely full term and stay as Prime Minister until the day of the 2020 election, rather than hand over mid- term to someone else. The party could still hold a leadership election, maybe in the autumn of 2019 and the winner would become party leader designate. This would mirror the American system in some ways. There might, however, be a constitutional reason as to why this would be impossible. If a new leader was elected, even as a designate, wouldn’t the Queen have to immediately invite that person to immediately become prime minister. Perhaps greater constitutional brains than mine might give some thought to that.
*

Nice kitchen, by the way, Prime Minister.
*
Nigel Farage’s book, THE PURPLE REVOLUTION is threatening to become a bestseller and my company, Biteback, is about to press the button on a second reprint. Twelve thousand copies of it have flown out of our warehouse near Oxford and thousands more have been downloaded as an eBook. Could it overtake Damian McBride’s book as our best ever seller? I wouldn’t bet against it. Like Damian’s book, it benefits from being a bloody good read.
*

I see overtly aspirant LibDem leadership wannabe Vince Cable has fraternally been laying into overtly aspirant LibDem leadership Tim Farron. Vince has never been one for self-awareness. The thing is, neither of them realise that out there in the wider world, no one gives a monkey’s arse about either of them and their ambitions. One thing I will say for Farron, though, is that he is a very likeable chap, even if the “I’m a blunt northerner who tells it like it is” act wears a bit thin from time to time. By way of contract, Vince Cable is the most disliked member of the whole cabinet, including by his own side. He’s not as cheerful as he looks, you know.
*

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Princess Michael of Kent

HRH Princess Michael of Kent talks about her new book THE QUEEN OF FOUR KINGDOMS

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UK Politics

Labour Triumph Over Channel 4/Sky Debate Format

27 Mar 2015 at 13:51

In the post below I mused as to why Ed Miliband didn’t face Jeremy Paxman first and answer audience questions second, like David Cameron did. It seemed very odd that the format was different for both leaders.

I’ve now found out the reason. According to a souce close to the event negotiations it was very simple. The reason Milibandi went last with Paxo is because he won the toss and apparently his people insisted he went last with Paxo so audience wouldn’t watch him being interviewed and then quiz him on whatever transpired. It was a Labour deal breaker apparently. In addition they were keen that any potential Miliband Paxoing wouldn’t be shown in any of the News at Ten bulletins. Channel 4 and Sky weren’t in any mood to argue, as it would have risked the entire event. It makes you wonder why on earth Craig Oliver at Number Ten agreed to that, though.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Hosts a Phone in on Male Attitues to Rape

Is rape something only a woman can understand? WARNING: Listeners may find some of the content upsetting.

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UK Politics

Miliband v Cameron Live: Miliband Shaded it But Will It Change Anything?

26 Mar 2015 at 22:56

In some ways that was a prime example of how not to produce a programme. The format didn’t work, the selection of audience questions was lax in the extreme and the whole thing was clunky. Why on earth did Sky and Channel 4 not ditch their adverts? The programme wasn’t 90 minutes long, it was 72 minutes long. We’d have learned far more about the two men if Paxman had been able to quiz them each for 45 minutes or even an hour. Trying to cover so much ground in 18 minutes was never going to be highly illuminating, so Paxman did as well as he could in the time he had. Seeing Paxman again made us realise what we lost when he left Newsnight. Surely he needs to be found a proper interviewing perch again. Taking over Question Time from David Dimbleby might be a good start. Anyway, I digress.

I missed Cameron’s interview with Paxman because of a late running train, so I watched that after the whole thing had finished. It was very odd that Miliband took audience questions first and then was interviewed by Paxman, yet Cameron did it the opposite. I suppose there must have been a reason for that but I am buggered if I can think what it was.

Neither of the two protagonists made a gaffe. Miliband had the more memorable lines, especially in the Paxman interview, but will it mean anything in the long run? What will floating voters have made of it? I suspect those who were veering away from Miliband will have had cause to pause for thought, and in a sense that’s probably all Labour’s strategy team can have asked for.

Expectations of Ed Miliband before tonight were low. He surpassed them, but there were enough uncomfortable moments for Ed Miliband for the Tories to believe that their man more than held his own.

The instant poll for The Guardian called the debate 54-46 for David Cameron. I would call it the other way. I thought Ed Miliband shaded it, but not in any decisive or election result-changing way.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to David Baddiel

Football funny man David Baddiel chats to Iain about the relationship between football and politics.

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UK Politics

My Twenty Pieces of Advice to General Election Candidates

22 Mar 2015 at 20:42

This is a rehash of a blog I wrote at the beginning of the 2010 election campaign, having just re-read my blogposts from the 2005 election, when I was Conservative candidate in North Norfolk. The experience brought back lots of memories – not all of them bad! But it did make me think about the pitfalls of being a candidate and how to get through an election campaign intact. For what it’s worth, here’s my advice to first time candidates…

1. You can’t do everything yourself. Let others take the strain. You are the leader of the campaign. Act like it.
2. Keep your cool. There will be moments in the campaign when you want to scream your head off. Resist the temptation. Count to ten. Then count to twenty. Ignore the temptation to hit your agent when he/she calls you a “legal necessity”.
3. Your campaign workers are volunteers. They don’t have to turn out to help you. They do it because they want to. Motivate them. Treat them well. Make sure you stop for lunch and that they don’t do too much. It’s a long campaign. Don’t wear them out after the first week.
4. Make sure all your literature is proof read. Three times. And not by you.
5. If you have a campaign blog, never write a spontaneous blogpost. Always run it by someone else first. Be incredibly careful what you tweet. Imagine your name in bold print in the Daily Mirror. If you hesitate before pressing SEND, it probably means you shouldn’t.
6. Make sure you keep to your normal sleep patterns. You may think you are Superman/Superwoman, but you’re not. You need your sleep. Make sure you get it.
7. You don’t need to hold a long campaign meeting every morning. Three times a week is usually enough. Make sure that the only people who attend are those who really should. Restrict meetings to half an hour.
8. Posters do not gain extra votes. But they make your local party feel good and give your campaign the appearance of momentum. Do not put them up too early. And do not put them up all at once. And if they get ripped down, make sure your campaign team has a strategy for replacing them within 24 hours.

9. Personalise your Sorry You Were Out Cards. Include your ten campaign pledges on them. And include an apparently handwritten message and signature.
10. Do not drive anywhere yourself. Especially, do not drive your campaign vehicle. Appoint a PA who will drive you everywhere. Think of the bad publicity if you are involved in an accident, or even a broken down car or flat tyre. The last thing your campaign needs is for you to be involved in a public argument with another irate driver. If someone else is driving, you can walk away when another car is arranged for you.
11. Make sure you eat properly, and regularly. McCoys, Coke and Mars Bars do not a healthy diet make. Do not drink any alcohol during the day. Never buy anyone a drink. It’s against electoral law and counts as treating
12. If Party HQ offer you the chance of a visit from a politician even you have barely heard of, turn them down. Even if you have heard of them, consider turning them down. Visits from national politicians use up too many resources and rarely attract a single extra vote.
13. Don’t canvas before 10am or after 8.30pm. It looks desperate and annoys people. And be very careful about canvassing on Sundays. People don’t like it. Use Sundays to catch up on deliveries in areas with no deliverers.

14. Resist the temptation to strangle the next person who asks “How’s it going?” or “Are you going to win?”. They’re only being polite.
15. If you’re in a high profile marginal seat which the media find interesting, avoid spending half your day giving them interviews. Your only media focus is local. Ignore Michael Crick. He’s not there to help you.
16. Avoid the natural desire to believe what voters tell you on the doorstep. Most of them will tell you what you want to hear in order to get you off the doorstep. If they say “I’ll see how I feel on the day” you can safely put them down as a Liberal Democrat.
17. Your Get Out The Vote operation is more important than anything else you do during the campaign. Satisfy yourself that your Agent and Campaign Manager have it in hand and they know what they are doing.
18. Ignore those who tell you not to appear at your count until it is well underway. It’s your moment. Relish it. Prepare your speech. If you lose unexpectedly, you will be remembered for how you react. Act graciously towards your opponents during the counting and in your speech.
19. If you lose, you will be tempted to blame someone. Your party leader. Your local party. Anyone but yourself. Don’t. Whatever your personal thoughts, no one likes a bad loser. Be dignified and take it on the chin. If you win, hubris may take over. It really wasn’t all down to you, you know. And make sure others know you know that.
20. Make sure you write a personal thank you letter – and I mean write, not type – to all those who helped on your campaign. Do it within a week of polling day. You really could not have done it without them.

Good luck, and try to enjoy it!

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LBC 97.3: Iain talks to Gyles Brandreth about the Royal Baby

Hilarious.

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UK Politics

Who Would Be in a Cameron Cabinet After 7 May?

22 Mar 2015 at 13:53

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to look at a few post-election scenarios in terms of possible cabinet line-ups and who might stand in any of the various leadership contests the election result might throw up.

Let’s start by looking at a possible Cameron Cabinet. I’m going to compile it on the premise that Cameron is running either a majority or minority administration, with no coalition partner. The first thing to say is that Cameron has little room for manoeuvre in the top jobs. George Osborne made very clear to me in my interview with him on Friday that he wants and expects to stay at the Treasury. Philip Hammond is a relatively new Foreign Secretary and would not expect to be switched. But if he stays put, would Theresa May really expect to start another five year stint at the Home Office? She’s done a remarkably good job, and I reckon she would be moved to the Foreign Office with Philip Hammond maybe moving the other way or moving to Business.

It’s striking how David Cameron has stuffed his Minister of State and Parliamentary Under Secretary jobs with a succession of mediocrities. There are a few brighter lights but by aand large they are people who will never get into the Cabinet. It’s a major mistake. All Minister of States should be people who ought at some stage to be in the Cabinet.

Chancellor of the Exchequer: George Osborne
Foreign Secretary: Theresa May
Home Secretary: Michael Gove
Business Secretary: Philip Hammond
Education Secretary: Sajid Javid
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Liz Truss
Work & Pensions Secretary: Mark Harper
Transport Secretary: Matthew Hancock
Leader of the House of Commons: Grant Shapps
Defence Secretary: Michael Fallon
Justice Secretary: Nicky Morgan
Energy & Climate Change Secretary: Andrea Leadsom
Culture Secretary: Priti Patel
Health Secretary: Jeremy Hunt
Local Government & Communities Secretary: Nick Boles
International Development: Jo Johnson
Leader of the House of Lords: Baroness Stowell
Chief Whip: Greg Hands
Chariman of the Conservative Party: Claire Perry
Defra Secretary: Greg Clark
Scottish Secretary: David Mundell
Welsh Secretary: Stephen Crabb
Northern Ireland Secretary: Mike Penning
Minister without Portfolio: Boris Johnson

This means that Chris Grayling, Eric Pickles, William Hague, Justine Greening, Patrick McLoughlin, Iain Duncan Smith and Theresa Villiers would all leave the Cabinet. Seven out of 25 Cabinet Ministers would be women. If Esther McVey wins her seat, she would definitely be in a Cameron cabinet, but as I have projected her to lose her seat, as has Lord Ashcroft, I haven’t included her here.

I have to say this isn’t the Cabinet lineup I’d necessarily pick myself, but I think most of the people I have included are ones which David Cameron is likely to, even if they’re not necessarily in the right jobs! I did get more right than other commentators in the last reshuffle, but in this game you’re only as good as your last prediction. If I had the choice I’d keep Grayling and Pickles in the cabinet, but I suspect they will be sacrificed for more women. As for IDS, I don’t think he’d want a different job and I suspect he will think five years of welfare reform is more than enough for anyone.

COMING NEXT: Who would be in a Labour cabinet?

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Paul Gascoigne

Gazza discusses his latest book of memories.

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions: My Final Revised Seat Totals Could Lead to a Nightmare for the Country & the Economy

21 Mar 2015 at 22:13

Back in January I released a seat by seat prediction for all 650 parliamentary constituencies at the general election. It attracted a lot of comment, largely because I was the first to do this. “How do you come to those conclusions?” people asked. “What methodology did you use?” The honest answer is that there was no scientific method. I did look at polls, I looked at what other informed commentators were saying, I looked at local government election results since 2010. But in the end, a lot of my predictions were based on good old fashioned political intuition and hunch. Some people may therefore conclude that my predictions are a complete waste of time, and they may turn out to be right if I turn out to be way off beam on May 8th.

I would merely point out that if my predictions are a waste of time, so are the plethora of polls that we are seeing on a daily basis. They are all over the place. I don’t know how much the newspapers pay for these polls but they are a complete and utter waste of their money. With the advent of five party politics it is impossible to take national opinion polls seriously. There will be no national swing. There may not even be a regional swing, so it is important to look at each constituency as an individual polling entity. Michael Ashcroft spotted this very early on in this Parliament and his constituency polls provide an invaluable snapshot of public opinion in that constituency at a particular time. They have certainly informed my seat by seat predictions but I have tried not to be dominated by what those polls project. Where there is less than a five per cent margin, anything is still possible.

Back in January I projected…

Conservative 278 (-29)
Labour 301 (43)
Liberal Democrats 24 (-33)
SNP 18 (
12)
UKIP 5 (5)
Plaid Cymru 3 (-)
Green 1 (-)
Respect 1 (-)
DUP 9 (
1)
Sinn Fein 5 (-)
SDLP 3 (-)
Independent 1 (-)
Speaker 1 (-)

Since then we have seen the emergence of the Greens as a stronger force in the polls and while they won’t gain any extra seats (and if they do, Bristol West and Norwich South would be the two most likely gains) they may well leech some votes from the LibDems or Labour, or be attractive to people seeking to register a protest and who couldn’t stomach voting UKIP.

Back in January, I was convinced that the polls which put the SNP on 45% or thereabouts would not turn out to be sustainable. This is what I wrote…

“In Scotland I just cannot see how the SNP can gain the number of seats many people are predicting. Some pundits predict with straight faces that the SNP will sweep the electoral board and end up with 30 to 40 seats. They have 6 at the moment, and try as I might I can’t get them above 18. If they do achieve more than that that it would be a political earthquake of epic proportions. They would be overturning Labour majorities of 15-20,000.”

Since then, many respected pundits have seriously predicted that the SNP could actually win more than 50 out of the 59 Scottish seats. I’ve had to accept that I have vastly underestimated the impact the SNP will have, not only on seats in Scotland, but in the likely final result.

In my revised predictions, quite a few LibDem seats have changed and this has resulted in a net gain of one seat. It would have been more but I project that they will lose all bar three of their Scottish seats.

With regard to UKIP I have upped my prediction to eight seats from five. This may turn out to be an overestimate but in each of the eight wins I predict (and I don’t include Rochester & Strood in the eight) there are solid reasons for doing so.

So here is my revised prediction

Conservative 275
Labour 275
LibDem 25
UKIP 8
SNP 42
Plaid Cymru 4
DUP 9
Respect 1
Green 1
Sinn Fein 5
SDLP 3
Others 2

So, a dead heat between the two main parties, making it more or less impossible for the Conservatives or Labour to form a coalition with anyone. I have always thought a minority government is the most likely outcome of the next election and I am becoming more convinced of this as every week passes. From a political spectator’s point of view this is very exciting and provides us with acres of talking points. For the country, though, and especially for the economy, it could be a living nightmare.

And for whoever becomes prime minister of a minority government, it’s not going to be like 1974. You can’t just call a quick snap election at a time when you thing it might be advantageous to do so. The Fixed Term Parliament Act makes this quite difficult. But that’s a subject for another time.

Last time I predicted only 94 out of 650 seats would change hands. I am now predicting that has increased to 117 (18%). 37 of them are in Scotland. That’s where the election night action is going to be.

To see my revised predictions here are the links to each region. I identify each seat where I have predicted a change from the one I made in January.

Scotland (SNP + 24, Labour -22 LibDem -2)
North West (LibDem +1, Conservatives -1)
Yorkshire & the North East (UKIP +1, Labour -1)
West Midlands (UKI +1, Labour -1)
Wales (Conservatives +1, Plaid Cymru +1, LibDems -2)
London (LibDems +2, Labour + 1, Conservatives -3)
East Midlands (No change)
South West (No change)
South East (LibDems +2, Conservatives -2)
East Anglia (Conservatives +1, UKIP +1, Conservatives -1. Labour -1)

I shall do a final revision of my predictions in late April.

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LBC 97.3: Iain talks to Gyles Brandreth about the Royal Baby

Hilarious.

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General Election Predictions

Revised General Election Predictions for the North West

21 Mar 2015 at 18:28

There are 75 constituencies in the North West, which includes Cheshire, Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria.

In my original predictions in January this was the state of the parties…

Conservative 18
Labour 55
LibDem 1
UKIP 1

This is the seats that I am revising…

Southport

2010 Result:
Conservative: 15683 (35.8%)
Labour: 4116 (9.4%)
Lib Dem: 21707 (49.6%)
UKIP: 2251 (5.1%)
MAJORITY: 6024 (13.8%)

Sitting MP: John Pugh (LibDem)
Prediction: Conservative gain
Revised Prediction: LibDem hold

This seat has alternated between the LibDems and Conservatives for years, although the last time the Tories won it was in 1992. Labour are nowhere here. UPDATE: I’ve changed my mind on this. I had missed the Ashcroft poll, which is fairly conclusive, with the LibDems on 37 and the Tories trailing badly on 24.

So the prediction becomes…

Conservative 17
Labour 55
LibDem 2
UKIP 1

Which means my countrywide predictin looks like this…

Conservative 275
Labour 275
LibDem 25
UKIP 8
SNP 42
Plaid Cymru 4
DUP 9
Respect 1
Green 1
Sinn Fein 5
SDLP 3
Others 2

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Entices Ed Balls to Play the Piano

The Shadow Chancellor tinkles the ivories at the Labour Party Conference

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General Election Predictions

Revised General Election Predictions for Yorkshire & the North East

21 Mar 2015 at 15:47

There are 56 constituencies in Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East. In January I made the following predictions…

Conservative 20
Labour 60
LibDem 2

I have only one change to make to those predictions.

Great Grimsby

Conservative: 10063 (30.5%)
Labour: 10777 (32.7%)
Lib Dem: 7388 (22.4%)
BNP: 1517 (4.6%)
UKIP: 2043 (6.2%)
Independent: 835 (2.5%)
Others: 331 (1%)
MAJORITY: 714 (2.2%)

Sitting MP: Austin Mitchell (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold
Revised Prediction: UKIP gain

A formerly very safe Labour seat this nearly went to the Tories in 2010. Ordinarily they might make a push this time, but there’s the UKIP fly in the ointment. Their candidate, Victoria Ayling, stood here for the Tories last time and is quite high profile. However, I just can’t see them taking this seat or coming anywhere near it to be frank. All I can see here is an increased Labour majority. UPDATE: I think I might have to eat those words. UKIP are putting in a huge effort here. An Ashcroft poll puts them only one per cent behind Labour. Austin Mitchell’s persistent undermining of the Labour candidate and his all female shortlist successor may just tip the balance away from Labour.

So that means the predictions for this region change to…

Conservative 20
Labour 59
LibDem 2
UKIP 1

Which changes the countrywide seat predictions to…

Conservative 276
Labour 275
LibDem 24
UKIP 8
SNP 42
Plaid Cymru 4
DUP 9
Respect 1
Green 1
Sinn Fein 5
SDLP 3
Others 2

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to David Jason

Iain talks to David Jason about his autobiography.

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General Election Predictions

Revised General Election Predictions for the West Midlands

21 Mar 2015 at 12:31

There are 59 constituencies in the West Midlands, which includes Birmingham and surrounds, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

In January I predicted the parties would end up with…

Conservative 29
Labour 30

This really is a key battleground and Labour needs to win more seats here if Ed Miliband is to become prime minister. I’ve now revisited my January predictions but I’ve only made one revision.

Dudley North

2010 Result:
Conservative: 14274 (37%)
Labour: 14923 (38.7%)
Lib Dem: 4066 (10.5%)
BNP: 1899 (4.9%)
UKIP: 3267 (8.5%)
Others: 173 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 649 (1.7%)

Sitting MP: Ian Austin (Lab)
Prediction: Increased Labour majority
Revised Prediction: UKIP gain

Ian Austin managed to hold off a strong Tory challenge in 2010 and should do so again if he can benefit from the decline in LibDem voters. However, polls show UKIP doing well here and they have opened a large campaigns office. UPDATE: This was UKIP’s best performance in a Labour seat and their council election performance has been very strong. A lot depends on how the Tory vote holds up. If it peals away to UKIP, they win. If it doesn’t, Ian Austin will pull through. Everyone I talk to in UKIP circles reckons this seat is almost a dead cert for them. I wouldn’t go that far, but all indications are that they have the Big Mo.

So this would mean…

Conservative 29
Labour 29
UKIP 1

And the UK wide predictions are updated to…

Conservative 276
Labour 276
LibDem 24
UKIP 7
SNP 42
Plaid Cymru 4
DUP 9
Respect 1
Green 1
Sinn Fein 5
SDLP 3
Others 2

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Video: Iain & Sally Bercow review the papers

Sky News, August 21 2010

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