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Iain Dale

I face a real dilemma. I opened my postal vote yesterday, but just can’t bring myself to vote Conservative. The reason is simply that Marta Andreasen is the fourth placed candidate on the ballot paper for the Tories. And one place above her is Richard Ashworth, a lovely man, but so far as I can determine, a complete Europhile.

Luckily, I have another option, to vote in the Eastern Region. But what do I find there? Below the excellent Vicky Ford on the list is Geoffrey Van Orden, a man known to East Anglian Conservatives as Geoffrey Van Ordinaire. And then below him is the ultimate re-ratter David Campbell-Bannerman. What’s a boy to do? Spoil his ballot paper? Vote UKIP? I suppose that in the end I will hold my nose and do the “right” thing, but if I do, it will be Dan Hannan or Ford who gets my vote. Not the others. OK, I know that’s not how it works, but it’s the only way I can justify what I am about to do.

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All of this points to the fact that a future Conservative government should change the voting system for future European elections. If we have to have PR, let’s at least have a form of PR where the candidate matters. Let’s change to a system of PR where, if there are eight seats in a region, we can allocate the eight votes to the candidates of our choice. Yes, we could vote for candidates from different parties, but what’s so wrong with that? It would allow people in my South East region to vote for Hannan, Nigel Farage and Diane James. And I suspect that would be the choice of many, many Tories.

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I once spent three hours with Nick Griffin, interviewing him for a magazine piece. It was a fascinating experience because after the first 20 minutes I realised that there was nothing to him. He was an empty vessel. Once I got beyond his normal subjects of race and immigration there was literally nothing there. Ask him about schools or the health service, and he just couldn’t answer the question. And this is where broadcast media interviewers go wrong with him. They play into his hands and quote ridiculous things he has come out with from 1984 or 1996, and they then spend a few minutes going back and forth until they have done their requisite four minutes. And the audience is left none the wiser. Evan Davis did exactly that on Today on Wednesday. It was a waste of four minutes. I’ve decided I’ll have Griffin on my programme in the next few days too. I will, however, try to at least let the listeners make their own minds up about him, and conduct the interview just how I would with any other party leader, no matter how repulsive I might find them.

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It’s rare that a battle for a select committee chairmanship is anything other than incredibly tedious. Not for the Defence Select Committee. The fight to replace James Arbuthnot has been fascinating to watch, with several of the candidates using some very black arts indeed to discredit their opponents. There seemed to be so many contestants that I rather lost count of who remained in the battle, but from memory they were James Gray, Bob Stewart, Keith Simpson, Julian Lewis, Julian Brazier and Rory Stewart. Have I missed anyone? I have so far spoken to three MPs who have said that although they signed the nomination papers of one candidate, they would be voting for another. Who said Conservative MPs were the most duplicitous electorate in modern Christendom?

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A couple of weeks I wrote a blogpost entitled “The Truth About Mo Ansar”.  Over the last 48 hours three others have followed suit, with their own takes on Ansar’s fakery, fraudulent claims and bullying behaviour. Since my own experience with him – he reported me to the police – I have been determined to expose him and hold him to account for what he has done. I want to bring to the media’s attention what kind of person he really is, and to make editors and producers question why they invite him to appear on their programmes. I would challenge anyone to read my article and those by others, and still want him to appear on their airwaves. But in the end, we must all make our decisions and stand by them.

1) Nick Cohen has written a column in this week’s Spectator headlined:  “The curious case of Mo Ansar: How did a former bank employee from Hampshire become the voice of British Islam?”

“If producers dropped Mo Ansar, he would have nothing to fall back on. He would become what those who have felt the thrill of fame fear most: just another face in the street. Some minor celebrities respond to insecurity by being brittle and melancholic off camera. Others go on the attack. No one has experienced Ansar ‘s fury like the men who have threatened his career as an ‘opinion former’. His vindictiveness and self-regard will be his undoing. Broadcasters are a tolerant bunch. But they take exception to guests who try to set the cops on them. BBC Radio 5 will not have him on. Meanwhile everyone in commercial radio knows Iain Dale’s story. Maybe the Russian and Iranian propaganda channels will return his calls. Apart from that, it’s over.”

2) Milo Yiannopolous has written a piece on his blog called: “Mo Ansar: The bogus Muslim theologian who defends slavery and says Muslims discovered America in 1100 AD while claiming benefits and appearing on the BBC

“I have been looking into Ansar for the past three weeks, and my investigation has revealed that Ansar has fabricated an extraordinary number of jobs, lied about professional qualifications and invented work experience, causing distress and harm to many, misleading the public. British Muslims find it laughable that Ansar claims to represent them. I could not find a single journalist, community organiser, imam, activist or foundation head who said they supported Ansar’s views or that he spoke for any sizeable number of Muslims or any local or national community. Most expressed confusion that Ansar was given such a prominent platform by the BBC, particularly in light of his widely-loathed behaviour on social networks…He is a Frankenstein’s monster that the media created.”

3) And finally has Jeremy Duns has written on his blog about “The Dangerous Mr Ansar”

“With no serious base of expertise to draw on, he has created a media profile for himself built on sycophancy, evasion and deception. He has smeared perceived rivals, promoted extremist views and inflamed tensions. He may seem like a buffoon at times, but his ruthless pursuit of more airtime has been toxic… The rise of this narcissistic, faux-pious conman as the media’s go-to Muslim pundit is a bizarre one. It has been almost entirely fuelled by his online presence. Many have written about Mo Ansar online, and there will be more to come in print shortly. But for all the comic absurdity of his claims to be a lawyer, an LGBT activist, an ‘educationalist’, a lecturer and seemingly dozens of other professions, the details of which he never wants to substantiate, don’t make the mistake of thinking him harmless. He is a dangerous fraud, and has knowingly spoken in a way to incite death threats against others, for petty revenge.”

In future, any producer who books Ansar to appear on a radio or TV show needs to justify to their editor and audience why they have done so. He is an embarrassment to most Muslims, represents no one but himself and has been shown to be a complete fake. There are some brilliant Muslim representatives out there if you look. What he tried to do to me, he has done to many others. We’ve now seen the real face of Ansar and he needs to be recognised for what he is – a charlatan, a fraud and a rather ignorant gob on a stick.

46 comments for: Iain Dale: I’ll vote for Ford and Hannan – but not Andreasen, Ashworth, Van Orden or Campbell-Bannerman

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