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Iain Dale presents LBC 97.3 Drivetime programme 4-8pm every weekday. He also blogs at www.iaindale.comFollow Iain on Twitter.

Iain Dale GraphicIf you were drawing up a list of the 20 nicest
MPs, Labour’s Alan Johnson would get more than his fair share of nominations.
He is a formidable politician who surely still has a future in front line
politics. But last Friday, when I was interviewing him about his new book, This Boy, he categorically ruled out a tilt at securing Labour’s nomination for next
London mayor. I am sure I heard Sadiq Khan exhale a sigh of relief. But the
question remains: will Ed Miliband will offer him a seat on Labour’s front
bench in his coming reshuffle? Miliband is said to want to rid himself of
people associated with the past and doesn’t want to bring back Johnson or
Alistair Darling. He’s deluding himself if he thinks a shadow cabinet of thirty-somethings is going to cut the mustard with an electorate which is tiring of
youth-obsessed politics. Perhaps he should bring back Gordon Brown. After all,
Ed Balls insists that he saved us. Anyway, back to Johnson. His book is
superb, and tells the story of his poverty stricken childhood in 1950s Notting
Hill. His sister, who brought him up from the age of 13 after his mum died
emerges as the true heroine of the book. It’s been a surprising bestseller and,
on the strength of it, he is planning to pen two further volumes before he gets
to writing about his political career. You can listen to the interview here.

******

A month on from Tom Watson resigning as Labour’s
campaign coordinator…and there is still no white smoke emanating from Labour HQ telling
us who his successor will be. Wee Dougie Alexander was originally touted as a
possible replacement among a few MPs, but faced a backlash as a famous three times
loser (Euros 2009, General 2010, David Miliband campaign 2010). Also, Jim Murphy
and Michael Dugher have been promoted by some. However, after the overseas hires
of Lynton Crosby and Jim Messina by the Tories, Labour are desperately looking
for their own person from the Obama team. I’ve heard Marlon Marshall’s name a
few times. He was Deputy National Field Director for Obama. I’m told he
came to London a few months ago and had a few private meetings with staffers in
Parliament and Labour HQ, and think tanks. Make of that what you will.

******


Godfrey Bloom, the outspoken UKIP MEP, says his
main job in life is to drive the BBC and the Guardian to distraction. Well, he
should certainly get a bonus for his comments this week on "Bongo Bongo Land".
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley waded in and said that he couldn’t see what
all the fuss was about and why people might be offended, but perhaps Bloom’s
remarks were ill-judged. I think that’s called having your cake and eating it.

******

Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to dislike
Polly Toynbee. Whenever I interview her, I think to myself "right, this time
I’m going to monster her", and then she completely disarms me, not just by
being nice, but because sometimes, just sometimes, she does have a good
argument. And so it was on Wednesday. "Afternoon Polly", I started. "Hello
Iain, can I just say, I’ve always wanted to be on your programme". Well, how
can you be nasty to someone after that?! I was talking to her about her column
on misogyny and while I gave as good as I got in terms of arguing that misandry
in our society was almost as prevalent as misogyny, I just couldn’t bring out
my inner Paxman, which, believe it or not, does rear its ugly head from time to
time, as the Labour MP Barry Gardiner will testify to. The truth of it is, I like
Polly Toynbee despite the fact that I barely agree with a single word she
writes. I don’t know what it is about lefty women like Polly, Yasmin or Zoe
Williams. I clearly have a weakness for them.

******

I did an hour long phone-in with Eric Pickles
the other night. Reading between the lines, it’s clear he is no big fan of
these immigration vans that have been touring six London boroughs urging
illegal immigrants to go home or face arrest. He said it was a trial and he
would "take a lot of convincing" before the trial was rolled out nationwide.
You can listen to his remarks here. It’s interesting that Crosby isn’t a fan of the vans either,
according to the Sunday Times
. No one will argue that illegal immigrants
shouldn’t be deported, but it isn’t just people from ethnic minorities who felt
that the vans were just plain offensive. In my experience, people who come to
this country legally are the first to want to pull up the drawbridge to those
who try to come here illegally, and rightly so. But these vans are just not
British.

******

The Guardian’s Suzanne Moore is never one to
ignore an opportunity to have a go at men, so on the back of Polly’s article on
misogyny she has written an article titled Ten rules for managing your penis. Some of us are quite capable of thinking for ourselves on that issue. Just
imagine the outcry if I had written a blog entitled "The rules for managing your vagina". Just think about it. We’re getting to a situation where men can barely
speak about women for fear of being told we are women-hating bastards. If the
great cause of feminism is to hound a reputable CPS prosecutor out of his job
because of some ill-judged remarks in a case whose details none of us can know
the full details of, then I venture to suggest that feminism has won the day
and the feminist movement can quietly abolish itself. Ah, they say, but what
about all these vicious internet trolls who abuse women. Yes, they do. And they
abuse men too. I know. I’m one of the abused. As the comment thread on this
site will no doubt prove!

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