Radio

DOWNLOAD: The Launch of 'Iain Dale's Brexit Briefing'

2 Dec 2016 at 10:13

Today sees the launch of a weekly podcast, imaginatively titled ‘Iain Dale’s Brexit Briefing’. Each week I’ll be talking to two prominent voices on either side of the Brexit debate, we have a roundup of Brexit news of the week and other features too. It contains far more than we include in the live programme at 6.30pm on Thursdays. This week the podcast features a 15 minute debate between Michael Gove and Alastair Campbell, an interview with 5 Star MEP Ignazio Corrao and a report from LBC’s Scotland reporter Connor Gillies.

Please do download it via iTunes HERE, and leave a review. Also do spread the word so we can get it rising in the iTunes charts.

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Iain interviews a tearful Harvey Proctor

Harvey Proctor is destitute

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Diary

ConHome Diary: How the Left Is Trying To Call Us All Fascists & Populists

27 Nov 2016 at 23:55

After Brexit and the election of Donald Trump I have noticed a worrying trend in the use of language by the left, and it’s potentially quite insidious. The left are now trying to define anyone right of Tony Blair as a ‘far right’, or Alt right, or a far right extremist. Or a fascist. Even the normally mild-mannered and sensible Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, describes Donald Trump as a neo-fascist. They are also trying to appropriate the word populism and declare it ‘a bad thing’, and associate it with people they disapprove of. Apparently only semi-fascists are populist. I’ve never subscribed to the theory that populism is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, how dare a politician come up with a policy that appeals to the masses. What they mean is that a policy that appeals to the masses by the Islington elites disapprove of, must of itself be a bad thing. In my experience, it’s often a very good thing. Oh dear. Does that make me a fascist? The trouble is that people who use that word willy-nilly often haven’t got the faintest idea what it actually means. The left associate the word ‘fascism’ with the far right, whereas anyone who has studied fascism will know it has just as much [some would say more] in common with the left as it does with the right.
*
It seemed to come as a surprise to most that during the Autumn Statement Philip Hammond was able to display a sense of humour. Anyone who has ever met him will tell you that he can be quite funny and usually has a twinkle in his eye. If he had been able to put his funny side on public display more often, I suspect he would perhaps have been better placed to stand in this summer’s Conservative leadership contest.
*

This autumn has been a great one for political books. I’ve just finished reading Ken Clarke’s memoir KIND OF BLUE and am making a start on Tim Shipman’s account of the EU referendum, ALL OUT WAR. My problem is that I don’t have a lot of time to read for pleasure because my job at Biteback Publishing means that reading author manuscripts has to take priority. This means that sometimes it takes me a couple of months to finish a book that I read for pleasure, as I only do that just before I go to sleep. Often I only manage a couple of pages before the Sandman comes. Quite often I wake up at 4am with the light on and still holding the book open at the page I was at when I fell asleep. I have piles and piles, shelves and shelves of books that remain unread, and will probably do so for many years to come. Whenever I look at those books, retirement becomes an all to appealing prospect.
*
On Wednesday Thomas Mair received a whole life tariff for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. Let’s not beat around the bush, this wasn’t an ordinary murder, it was a pre-planned terrorist murder. It wasn’t just the callous murder of a mother of two children, it was an attack on the state. It was an attack on our democracy. That’s why I think a whole life sentence was the right one. Personally, I think too few of these are handed out. On the same day Stephen Port was found guilty of murdering four young, gay men. Maybe he will get a whole life tariff, maybe he won’t. But he certainly should. It’s astonishing that there are only 65 people in UK prisons serving a proper whole life sentence. As Thomas Mair joins the likes of Ian Brady and the Yorkshire Ripper I do wonder whether our murder laws need reform. Most other countries have degrees of murder. Surely the murder of an MP has to be considered differently to the murder of a someone during a robbery. I am not saying that one human life is worth more than another, but the murder of a police officer or an MP surely has to be treated by society in a different way.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Has a Row With an Argie Apologist

Professor Guillermo and Iain were supposed to talk about the Falklands. They really didn't get on.

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Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 52: Going Ten Rounds With Sajid Javid

23 Nov 2016 at 21:19

Long time readers may remember an interview I did in 2013 with the then Treasury Minister Sajid Javid. [audio of that is at the end of this piece]. It was, shall we say, a textbook example of how, if you’re a government minister, not to deliver the ‘line to take’. He took it in good humour as I think he realised he was on a bit of a losing wicket.

Today we had a bit of a repeat showing when I interviewed him about the Autumn Statement. We warmed up by having a bit of a row about the reason for increased borrowing, but I then asked him this question…

“What’s your view on Philip Hammond’s announcement that tenants shouldn’t have to pay letting fees, landlords should have to pay that? Because your Housing Minister Gavin Barwell tweeted a few weeks ago (now deleted) that he thought that was the wrong thing to do.”

Javid stood by Hammond’s announcement, so I pressed him on Gavin Barwell’s clearly different opinion: “It’s pretty embarrassing, isn’t it?!”

I pressed, and pressed and pressed. In the end, though, I had to call it quits.

So what conclusion do we draw from this? That when you’re in a hole, put your hands up and admit it? Isn’t that the only way to stop digging yourself a deeper hole?

Anyway. for your enjoyment and delectation, here’s the 2013 interview with Sajid. Enjoy.

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Iain hosts a Women Leaders' Debate during the General election campaign

Harriet Harman, Nicky Morgan, Diane James & Lynne Featherstone

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Books

Book Review: Kind of Blue by Ken Clarke

19 Nov 2016 at 16:47

This book is like a fine old wine. It is to be savoured. Whenever I finish reading a really good book, I get a sense of grief when I read the final page. And so it has been with Ken Clarke’s memoirs. To be paid an advance of £400,000 was quite something. No one was more shocked than Ken Clarke himself. I cannot possibly see how the publishers will make the money back, even though I am sure it will sell well. It ought to given that at the time of writing Amazon are selling it for £6.99. The recommended price is £25.

Ken Clarke didn’t actually write this book, he dictated it into a dictaphone. It was then transcribed and edited. Whoever edited it did a fine job as the whole book is authentically Ken. His voice rings through every paragraph, sentence and word. He’s a man who is clearly content in life and has enjoyed more or less every minute of his long and successful political career. He’d clearly like to have been prime minister but the fact that he never got to be doesn’t eat away at him in the way that I suspect it does with Michael Heseltine.

This is not a score-settling book, but Ken Clarke doesn’t hold back in his criticism of his contemporaries where he feels it is warranted. David Cameron will certainly find the chapter on the EU referendum a difficult read, for example.

Perhaps the main strength of this book is that it is consistent. Some memoirs have chapters that are far more interesting than others. In this memoir every chapter has a quality to it. I can’t think of a chapter which I was wishing to end. He even makes being a junior transport minister interesting.

For me the highlights of the book, and where I learnt more than I knew before, were his reminiscences from his periods as a cabinet minister in the Thatcher, Major and Cameron governments. His relationship with Margaret Thatcher was certainly robust and there was an obvious mutual respect. He wasn’t afraid to have a row with her, when necessary and she clearly saw him as a minister who could drive through controversial reforms. His passages about the NHS and why it needed reforming were particularly enlightening. In some ways that word ‘reformer’ sums up his political career. Not for him the status quo. He didn’t mind attacking vested interests and sometimes even relished it. Although he enraged the health service unions and teacher, his natural bonhomie enabled him to achieve things which other, less human politicians, might not have been able to do.

Although he mentions his love of birdwatching a lot, as well as his love for jazz, he never really lets the reader in to those parts of his life. He talks a lot about his wife Gillian but it would have been nice to have had the door opened a little bit wider, rather than just repeat ad nauseum that she was a great support to him. We rather took that for granted.

That is about the only criticism I have for this book. At 500 pages, it is already quite long, so maybe there wasn’t room for much more personal stuff.

Historians will view Ken Clarke as one of the key politicians of the last forty years. He could have been an even bigger player had he been willing to compromise on his devoutly pro-european views. In many ways, it is to his credit that he steadfastly refused to. There are too many weathervanes in British politics. Ken Clarke remains a signpost.

This is one political memoir which will have a reach beyond the political geeks of this world. But political geeks will enjoy it too. It is resplendent with amusing anecdotes and it leaves the reader wanting more.

‘Kind of Blue’ by Ken Clarke is published in hardback by Macmillan at £25

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"I'm scared of muslims on British streets" Caller Tells Iain

Wow

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Diary

ConHome Diary: Harvey, Donald and Nigel

18 Nov 2016 at 13:54

I cannot imagine what it’s like being accused of not only being a child sex offender, but also of murdering three children than I was supposed to interfered with. Especially if the allegations are a tissue of lies, but a tissue of lies which the Police tell the public are both “credible and true”. That’s what has happened to former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor. When the allegations were first made public, when his home was searched by the Police (who naturally tipped off the media), he lost his job on the Belvoir Estate and his home. He is now penniless and more or less destitute. He felt he had no alternative but to leave the country, but he’s now back, but living a hand to mouth existence. Last week he got a personal apology for the way he had been treated by Operation Midland from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe. On Tuesday, they met in person. Proctor told him to his face he should resign.
I haven’t known Harvey Proctor for long. I published his book, CREDIBLE & TRUE which makes for a harrowing read at times. It hasn’t been a bestseller. Books about miscarriages of justice, or wrongful accusations of child sex abuse, rarely are. But it’s a book which ought to be read by every member of Operation Midland and when they’ve done so they should feel free to hang their collective heads in shame. Five of them are now being investigated by the IPCC. No doubt deputy heads will roll.
When I interviewed Harvey on my LBC show last week, I ended the interview by asking him what his lowest moment was. He slightly broke down. In the half hour following I had dozens of people get in touch wanting to help. I decided to set up a JustGiving page so people could donate to help Harvey get back on his financial feet. So far nearly £5,000 has been raised. If you’d like to make a donation, however small, you can do so HERE ].
*
So, Donald Trump won. It suddenly dawned on me last weekend that four years ago I interviewed Donald Trump, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was about or what he had said. So on Monday we found the interview in the LBC archives. It was 11 minutes long, and I have to say showed Donald Trump in a very different light. He was chatty, funny, warm, engaging, thoughtful – all the adjectives most people wouldn’t think of using about him nowadays. I wonder if that’s the Donald Trump we are going to see more of over the next few years. One point he did make to me back in 2012 was that he felt Mitt Romney wasn’t hard enough to fight against what he called the ‘nasty’ Democrat attacks. It was as if he knew at that point he was going to fight a very negative campaign and wouldn’t be out-dirtytricked by the evil Democrats. Well, he certainly delivered on that, didn’t he?
*

I don’t know why everyone is so uppity about Boris Johnson saying that Britain is almost certainly going to leave the EU Customs Union. It’s a statement of the bleeding obvious. The reaction from many commentators and journalists demonstrates that they don’t really understand what a Customs Union means. One of the consequences of the customs union is that the European Union negotiates as a single entity in international trade deals instead of individual member states negotiating for themselves. If we stay in this Customs Union then you have to wonder what the point of Liam Fox is. Now it might – and I repeat, might – be possible to negotiate to remain part of the customs union but get an opt out allowing us to forge our own way in trade deals, I suppose, I wouldn’t bet my house on it happening.
*
The other media tizzy this week concerned Nigel Farage. The liberal elites got themselves into a right lather over the fact that the former (or is it interim?) UKIP leader managed to become the first foreign politician to get an audience with the President Elect. It was a snub to Theresa May, we were told. He should have refused the meeting. Yeah, right. Like any sane person would say, “No, sorry Mr President Elect, I can’t accept your invitation to the 56th floor of Trump Tower unless you see my prime minister first.” I mean, honestly. Do these people who write this guff understand how politics works at all? If the government have any sense they will use Farage behind the scenes, because he clearly has an ‘in’ with the Trump team that diplomats in the Washington Embassy could never hope to replicate.

And yes, Theresa May should give a peerage to Nigel Farage. If the signals I am picking up are correct, it wouldn’t take much for him to rejoin the Conservative Party as well… Now that really would set the cat among the Carswells, wouldn’t it?
*
As I write this, I’ve just had the sort of evening that I sometimes have when I think it would be so nice to have a 9-5 job that I didn’t have to think about outside those hours. But of course if I did, I know I’d miss what I do now, even on days like this when I could have cheerfully strangled at least three people. As the Germans would say, ‘Immer mit der Ruhe…’. [Calm at all times].

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Video: Iain at the Dublin Web Summit

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Diary

Why I am Raising Money to Help Harvey Proctor - And How You Can Help Too (If You Have Any Human Compassion Within You)

12 Nov 2016 at 13:58

Harvey Proctor is penniless and destitute. He was cleared of all charges of child sexual abuse through Operation Midland and the Metropolitan Police has now issued a full apology. But apologies do not pay the bills.

I published Harvey Proctor’s book CREDIBLE AND TRUE. On the day of the Met’s apology, I conducted a heart-rending interview with him on my LBC Radio show. You can listen to it above. At the end of the interview, Harvey breaks down and cannot continue.

Dozens of my listeners got in touch to ask what they could do, as they wanted to help him.

I have therefore set up a JustGiving page to enable anyone who’d like to help Harvey to do so. Every penny will go to Harvey and help him get back on his feet. I have told Harvey that I am doing this and he is incredibly moved by the outpouring of support.

If you’d like to donate, click HERE

Terrible things were done to hundreds of children over many years. The perpetrators of that abuse should and must be brought to justice. But a great injustice has also been done to those falsely and maliciously accused of these heinous acts. Paul Gambaccini suffered two years of psychological trauma. Cliff Richard went through the same. Harvey Proctor’s suffering was in some ways worse. He lost his job, he lost his reputation and he’s now penniless and destitute.

I am aware that Harvey wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea as a Tory MP. But whatever your views of him in the past I defy you to listen to the interview above and not to be moved. If you are, and have an ounce of human kindness within you, please do help him by DONATING even just a small amount. You can do it anonymously if you wish.

I’ve had quite a bit of criticism for doing this, but I remember back in the early 2000s when Christine & Neil Hamilton were arrested by the police over false allegations of rape. I was advised by some friends not to defend them on Television as it “could harm your career”.

If you’re a true friend, and you believe in the innocence of your friend, then you do what you can to help them. That’s why I’m doing this. If there were any justice the Metropolican Police ought to be paying compensation for the trauma they have put this innocent man through. Hopefully they will. But until they do, it’s up to others to help Harvey through some very difficult months.

Over to you.

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When Sajid Javid Couldn't Answer My Question

The Treasury Minister flounders

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UK Politics

EVENT: If You're in Norwich on Thursday Come & See Me Explain What Brexit Means Brexit Means!

12 Nov 2016 at 11:49

I spent four of the best years of my life at the University of East Anglia in the early 1980s. I studied German and Linguistics, and it was there that I got involved in politics. I wouldn’t be who or what I am today without the education UEA gave me. So when I was told, earlier this year, that they wanted to offer me a visiting Professorship in politics & Broadcasting, you can imagine how pleased and proud I was.

If you live in Norfolk, I hope you might attend an event at UEA I am speaking at this Thursday at 6.30pm in the Thomas Paine Study Centre Lecture Theatre on the UEA campus. I and three UEA politics tutors – Chris Hanretty, Alan Finlayson and Marina Prentoulis – will be attempting to answer the question: What does Brexit Means Brexit actually mean?

This series of public lectures – this is the first of three before Christmas – brings together academics and practitioners to discuss issues of key economic, political and social importance to the UK in negotiating its future outside the EU. It asks: What is at stake? What are the options? What kind of Britain do we want?

Tickets are free, so if you are in Norwich on Thursday, do come along! Full details HERE

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Caller Tells me We Should 'Get Over' the Holocaust

Oh dear

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Diary

ConHome Diary: 2016 is 1968 and a Trumptastic Week

11 Nov 2016 at 23:20

In political terms 2016 is turning out to be every bit as important, in historical terms, as 1968. In Britain and America a revolution has happened, and it is one that few saw coming. Yet again it wasn’t just a political party or cause that was defeated, it was the political classes themselves, especially the pollsters and pundits. Yet again they got it catastrophically wrong. Even the betting markets called it wrong, with one company (William Hill) saying they may pull out of political betting because it is too risky. I wonder how many polling firms might also decide to stop political polling. They make no money out of it, and in normal times they do it to get their names in the newspapers. This time, for all the wrong reasons.
So why did we get it so wrong – and I include myself in that? From my own point of view, I just couldn’t take Trump seriously as a candidate. With every passing day he’d make an even more ludicrous and extreme speech. He’d make a fool of himself. He’d say something hateful, nasty and divisive. But what we all failed to see was that his wasn’t just a message of hate, it was a message of hope to a group of Americans who had become economically disenfranchised. To white, working class, blue collar Americans, many of whom had lost their jobs or seen their wages depressed over the last 20 years, he represented hope. Somehow they didn’t see him as part of the establishment, even though he patently is. He’d never held office and had never been part of the Washington establishment, and that was good enough for them. They lapped up Trump’s xenophobia because it reflected their own. They blamed Mexicans for taking their jobs. Even Trump’s ‘grab a pussy’ comments were discounted as just the sort of locker-room banter that is part of every-day banter on the factory floor. Trump was immune to infections that kill of other politician’s careers, and the media classes failed to understand why. He got more black votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012. He got more Latino voters. He got more young voters. Who’d have thought. Among whites with no degree Clinton only got 28%. Trump got 67% and that’s why Trump won many of the swing states, especially in the so-called Rust Belt.

So, what should we in Britain make of it? Many will see Trump as a threat, not an opportunity. They are wrong. To quote Alastair Campbell’s comments to Sir Christopher Meyer in 2000, when the UK Ambassador asked what his role should be vis a vis the new President, George W Bush, he was told “Get as far as you can up Bush’s arsehole and stay there.” The Germans and French have been very lukewarm in their welcome for President-Elect Trump. Theresa May, the opposite. She’s right to embrace him. He will move Britain to the front of the queue in terms of a free trade agreement. He may be a protectionist, but it is clear that he is an admirer of this country and a huge fan of Brexit. I suspect Liam Fox is already planning his next visit to Washington DC.

UKIP MEP William Dartmouth has suggested Nigel Farage be appointed to Washington. I suspect that might be one step too far, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Trump appointed Farage to some sort of advisory role. On my LBC election night show he suggested he might like to be Trump’s Envoy to Brussels. And I suspect he was only half joking.
Mario Cuomo once said that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. In Trump’s case he is now no more than The Apprentice. Let’s hope he can learn on the job.
*
Over 27 hours on Tuesday to Wednesday I presented 13 hours of programming. I admit that by the time I came off air at 7pm on Wednesday my brain could hardly string a sentence together, but if you can’t enjoy yourself and cope with the pressures in these circumstances, you shouldn’t be doing the job. Obviously I didn’t listen to the competition on the BBC, as I was behind the microphone, but I’ve been told that we did a brilliant job in explaining what was going on and informing our audience in an accessible way. Clearly we don’t have the resources of the BBC, but sometimes, just because you’ve got those resources you tend to overcomplicate things. This is especially true on TV, where some of the graphics and computer wizardry can look incredibly impressive, but to the viewer can be incomprehensible. On radio, we felt that we just needed to tell our audience what was happening and why. And hopefully we achieved that.
*

Quite what Trump’s election will mean for the rest of the world is anyone’s guess. The fear is that he will play to the isolationist gallery and withdraw from America’s traditional role in world politics. We can take as read that NATO will change. America’s funding is likely to decrease, which will mean that European members will have to contribute more. His policy to Russia will be very different to Obama’s. Don’t bet against Putin being one of the first world leaders to meet Trump. The big unknown is how he will change America’s policy in the Middle East. The Israelis will be cheering Trump to the rafters, having finally seen the back of Obama, a man Netanyahu doesn’t get along with. But what Trump will do about ISIS, who knows.
*
Many of us look upon Trump with undisguised horror and contempt. But for those of us in the media world, we ought to be very excited. Trump is going to give us four years of wonderful copy. God Bless America.

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Iain Interviews Harvey Proctor

Proctor denies the allegations against him

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UK Politics

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 51: When a Scoop Slips Through Your Hands...

5 Nov 2016 at 09:24

I don’t pretend to be a journalist, but there are obviously journalistic aspects to what I do. When my blog was at its height I’d break quite a few stories, and I got a kick out of being first to do so. It happened several times. But there was always that fear that you’d be scooped by someone else if you didn’t press SEND pretty damn quickly. Obviously that has its dangers, in that if you do it too quickly you might not quite have checked it out properly and stand to get a lot of egg on your face. I certainly remember one occasion when I got it very wrong.

On Thursday at around 5.30 I got a tip-off that Conservative MP Stephen Phillips was about to stand down from Parliament. ‘Well that’s a big story,’ I thought, and set about trying to stand it up. Trouble was, I was on air presenting my radio show, so phoning anyone was a bit difficult. Given who my source was (and no it wasn’t David Davis) I was 100% confident that the story was correct, but I wasn’t prepared to go with the story publicly until I had a second source. Just in case.

I have never met Stephen Phillips but quickly got hold of his phone number. No reply. I texted, but no response. My producers did the same. Nothing. We spent an hour and a half on it, getting in touch with anyone we thought might know something. Well, it got to 7pm and still we couldn’t get a second source, so I had to come off air without being able to announce anything. Damn and blast.

Over the course of the evening I spoke to several people who knew Phillips and none of them expressed particular surprise at what I told them. “He’s all over the place at the moment,” said one MP. “A tortured soul,” said another. “He can’t get over the fact that he hasn’t been made a minister,” said someone else. But still, I couldn’t get that second source. And of course the longer that was the case, the more likely it was that someone else would beat me to the story.

The next morning I learned that Stephen Phillips had sent a letter to his Conservative Association explaining his decision. In some ways that ought to have been enough for me to go public, but I still needed some sort of corroboration from a second source. I can’t say how I then got it, but events dictated that it was somewhat delayed. I was in an LBC meeting discussing our latest audience figures and had my phone on silent. When the meeting finished at around 11.10 I sat around chatting to new LBC recruit Maajid Nawaz and only then looked at my phone. MISSED CALL 10.54. I inwardly swore. I rang back. “Yes, it’s true,” said the voice at the other end. I then rushed down the stairs and broke the news on James O’Brien’s show at 11.20.

I saw afterwards that Guido had tweeted at 11am speculating that there was some interesting news surrounding Stephen Phillips and that he might resign. I beat Sky News by one minute but I think PA had got there before me.

Does it matter? Not really, I suppose. But every broadcaster likes to beat their rivals to a story. Do I regret not going with it even though it was only single sourced? Not really, because if it had turned out that he had changed his mind, it would have been highly embarrassing both for me and LBC.

If this had happened in my blogging days, I suspect I would have gone with it because I had 100% trust in my source, but if you work for a national broadcaster you just can’t take those kind of risks.

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Iain Talks to Actor Jason Watkins about Sepsis

Jason is from W1A

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Diary

ConHome Diary: Interviewing John Howard & Why the Government is Wrong on the Article 50 Court Case

4 Nov 2016 at 13:08

For several years now, I have been trying to entice former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard onto my radio show. This week Dan Hannan kindly invited me to a dinner at the National Gallery where Mr Howard was being awarded this year’s Edmund Burke award. It really was a gathering of Britain’s right of centre clans. I first met John Howard twenty-five years ago when I went to Australia with my colleague from The Waterfront Partnership (a transport lobbying company we had both founded following the abolition of the Dock Labour Scheme) Nick Finney to advise the Australian Liberal Party on their own waterfront labour reform. John Howard was at that time Shadow Industrial Relations Minister. I remember being slightly underwhelmed by the meeting, and would never have predicted he would end up as one of the country’s longest serving prime ministers. In some ways he was Australia’s John Major, and I mean that as a compliment. He was a no frills politician who got on with the job with a great measure of success. I had 20 minutes with him in the studio, which for a Drivetime newsy show is quite a long time. I asked him about Brexit and he immediately declared that he would have voted Leave, had he had a vote. He also believed Britain will make a great success of Brexit, something you don’t often hear from any foreign politician. It was an honour to meet him.
*
On Tuesday I hosted the first live broadcast debate between the four contenders for the UKIP leadership. If I am honest I was a bit gutted when Raheem Kassam pulled out of the contest the day before. I thought without him to liven things up it might turn into a bit of a borefest. Boy was I wrong. If you listened to/saw it, you will know why. The new kid on the block in the contest was a complete unknown quantity. John Rees-Evans, or Jonathan as he used to be called, turned out to be quite something. So unknown is he that the other three – Paul Nuttall, Suzanne Evans and Peter Whittle – had never met him before. One suspects that after an hour with him, they wished it had stayed that way. Nuttall and Evans clearly couldn’t believe what they were hearing from him. As the host of the debate, nor could I. In the end I decided I had to challenge him on the nonsense he was spouting, which led to some people accusing me of treating him differently to the others. Well yes I did, and in retrospect I don’t regret it for one minute. How this man was ever allowed to stand for the leadership, Christ alone knows. He’s living proof that if you have enough money, you can subvert the debate for your own narcissistic means. I didn’t even have to bring up his claim that his horse had been raped by a gay donkey to ridicule him. He ridiculed himself by virtually every word he uttered.
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I’m a bit of a homebird. Once I finish my radio show I like to go straight home. This week, however, I’ve been out every night. Wednesday night saw the Spectator Parliamentary Awards take place at the Rosewood Hotel (no, me neither) in High Holborn. I have to say it was the most entertaining one of these I have been to. It’s always a bit of an honour to be invited to it, to be honest. The Guest of Honour was George Osborne, who made the funniest speech I have heard this year – full of self-deprecation and jokes at the expense of a whole host of his former Cabinet colleagues. If only he had appeared this human while he was chancellor. The first few awards all went to Labour politicians. I really felt for Rachel Reeves when she picked up the Speech of the Year award for her tribute to the late Jo Cox. It must have been a very hard acceptance speech to make, given that she’d have given anything not to have had to make the original speech which the prize rewarded. I had thought David Davis would win Comeback of the Year, but instead it went to former Spectator Editor Boris Johnson, who made a rather shambolic speech, the highlight of which was when he said ‘Brexit will be a titanic success’. Oh dear. The Prime Minister held her head n her hands. But it was she who stole the whole show, not just by wearing a hard hat and high vis jacket to accept the Politician of the Year award. Her speech was hilarious. She ripped into Sir Craig Oliver, who was sitting a few feet away from the podium. “We all read from Craig Oliver’s book how on hearing the result he went into Whitehall and was physically sick. We all know that feeling Craig. We all had it when we heard about your Knighthood.” Ouch. But she wasn’t finished. Responding to Boris Johnson’s joke about Michael Heseltine killing his dog, she pointed out that the dog was not strangled but put down – by a master who no longer needed it…” Wow. The woman has some balls. And a sense of humour, which I suspect we’re going to experience a lot more. Sometimes you only find out about a politician’s real character when they reach the top job. I’m seeing sides to Theresa May which, despite following her career quite closely, and knowing her (albeit not well) for many years, I never knew existed. And I have to say, I very much like what I am seeing.
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Next week is going to be a busy one. In the 27 hours from 4pm on Tuesday I’ll be on the radio for 13 of them. I’ll be broadcasting my normal show from 4-7pm on both days, but in between I’ll be co-hosting LBC’s US election night coverage with Shelagh Fogarty from 10pm through until 5am, when Nick Ferrari will take over. It promises to be quite a night. I’m beginning to believe that Donald Trump might actually win. It really is a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. A Trump presidency will be fantastic from a journalistic point of view. Hours of phone-in fun to be had. But oh my God. Pity the poor bloody United States of America if it actually happens.
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I think the government is making a mistake to appeal the Article 50 court ruling. Theresa May should call the bluff of those who seek to frustrate the Brexit process by immediately tabling a one line Bill to Parliament to trigger Article 50 by next March, and put it to a vote immediately. I suspect there would be fewer than 50 MPs would dare to defy the will of the people, but even if there were, at least they would be flushed out into the open. I doubt very much whether the House of Lords would be in a mood to create a 1910 style constitutional crisis, mainly because it would be signing its own death warrant. The Government should not be afraid of this process or in any way appear to be defensive.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Peter Hennessy

Professor Peter Hennessy discusses his latest book DISTILLING THE FRENZY

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