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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 GraphicIt’s difficult to say much about the Nigel Evans
case without prejudicing his trial, but one thing is for certain. Over the last
few months he has found out who his real friends are. And that will be even
more the case over the months leading up to his trial. I know several people
involved in political scandals over the years and the common thread among them is
their shock at how easily people they had regarded as lifelong friends cast
them by the wayside at the first sign of gunfire. I well remember when my
friends the Hamiltons were accused of raping a woman in Ilford and I took to
the television studios to defend them. I was told by several people that I
should stop doing so. "Why?" I asked. "Because it would not be good for your
career". I gave a pretty dusty response and said somewhat forcefully that a
friend is a friend is a friend, and that you wouldn’t be a very good friend if
you abandoned a friend at their time of dire need. And that is what I and no
doubt many of you will feel about Nigel Evans’s situation. Small messages of
support can mean a huge amount to someone in his position. His world will have
been rocked to its foundations. He has had to resign from the job he loved and
is now facing calls to resign his seat too. He must resist them. The concept of
being innocent until proven guilty must be adhered to, and it is for his
friends to defend his right to remain Conservative MP for Ribble Valley pending
the trial verdict. Nigel protests his innocence. I believe him. And before
anyone suggests otherwise in the comments (because I am sure they are will), it
has nothing to do with him being gay. It has nothing to do with him being
accused of sex crimes. It’s that I don’t believe the Nigel Evans I know would
hurt a fly. P.S: If you do comment on this below, please be aware of the laws of
contempt of court.

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Poor old Rachel Reeves. She’s been badly let
down by the Labour Party’s media team. Quite what on earth they thought they
were doing by demanding a full public apology from Ian Katz, Newsnight's Editor, for his tweet which described Reeves as "snoring boring" I just do not know. It
made a drama out of a non-crisis. The best way to handle these things is to
laugh them off, not ramp up the rhetoric. Sending a normal tweet as opposed to
a direct message is a very easy thing to do and many of us have fallen prey to
this over the years, me included. It happened to me recently. Luckily I
retrieved my tweet within 20 seconds of sending it and no one seemed to have
noticed.  Sadly for Rachel Reeves, she will now become the Steve Davis of
politics, and the word "boring" will forever be associated with her. The truth
is she is nowhere near making any Top Ten List of boring politicians. She is
very good company indeed, but when she goes on the media she is so on message
that you wonder if she has been programmed by Peter Mandelson. When I
interviewed her in February she managed to say the same thing 18 times in a
five minute interview. If you’re in doubt, you can listen here. Once described as "having the face of an angel and the voice of Pat
Butcher", Reeves has suffered from being promoted too early. She needed to
learn her trade on the back benches and in junior shadow positions, but like
Chuka Umunna she has been thrust into the limelight far too soon. One or two
Conservative junior ministers, who are pushing for immediate promotion to the
cabinet, might learn something from this. Be careful what you wish for.

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Still no reshuffle, then.

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I approach this weekend with some foreboding. I
normally look forward to the conference season. It’s a time to meet old
friends, indulge in some heavyweight political gossip sessions and rejoice in a
gathering of likeminded political tribes. But this year the Liberal Democrats
are in Glasgow. Don’t get me wrong, I have got nothing against Glasgow, having
only been there once before…but Glasgow? For a party conference? Apparently,
delegate numbers are way down on the norm and commercial exhibitors will also
be far less prevalent than in the last couple of years. To put it bluntly, it’s
a bloody long way to go. Even further than Blackpool was! I’m told that the
LibDems will also be returning there next year for their pre-election
conference, a decision which completely defies logic. But I am told all of the
other venues they normally use were booked up. Further proof that the LibDems don’t
really do long term planning.

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I am well aware that my political interviewing
style is closer to that of the late Sir David Frost rather than Jeremy Paxman,
but just occasionally I surprise people by baring my teeth. It happened this
week with Sajid Javid, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury who had come on
to talk about George Osborne’s speech on the economy. All was going well until
he queried my figures on the deficit. OK, I said, how much did it reduce last
year, I asked, quite reasonably. "Well the important thing is that it’s
falling," he said. Maybe, but that didn’t answer my question. It turned into a
mini Paxman-Michael Howard moment. I don’t think it is unreasonable for a
Treasury Minister to have those figures at his fingertips. I regard Sajid as a
friend, but friendship has to go out of the window when you’re being paid to do
a proper journalistic job, as Sajid no doubt realised. Credit to him, though.
Unlike Rachel Reeves, he responded in exactly the right way and texted me making
light of the whole thing. It’s never a good idea to fall out over something
like this. You can hear the exchange here.

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