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DALE Iain Krieg

First of all, an apology. Several of you have been in touch to express your disappointment that this column has been less smutty of late, compared to its previous standards. I suspect you won’t have cause to complain this week. Others may though…

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Apparently Alex Salmond and the BBC don’t get on. The SNP leader has been known to have a volcanic ‘tantie’ at the coverage that the Beeb gives to the Yes campaign. Well, his spin doctors and the head honchos at the BBC in Scotland decided to have a peacemaking meeting. It didn’t exactly get off to a good start when Salmond marched into the room and boomed: “Before we start I just want you all to know that if the BBC was on fire, I wouldn’t piss on it.” Hear hear, I hear many ConservativeHome readers thinking.

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Poor Cleggy. You’ve got to feel sorry for him. It can’t be nice to know that at the age of 47 it can only go downhill from here. At the time of writing, he is clinging to his job by the skin of his teeth, but it’s not inconceivable that he could be replaced as Liberal Democrat leader, even though the attempts to depose him have so far been ridiculously badly executed. Know him by his enemies, I suppose, and he is very lucky to have the cackhanded Lord Oakeshott as his enemy-in-chief. Oakeshott is best friends with Vince Cable, who just happened to plan a trip to China to coincide with the announcement of the European election results. At least he didn’t have a John Major-esque toothache issue, but the effect was the same. Not that it was pre-planned of course.  Never let it be suggested. It was, of course, a happy coincidence. But not even Cable could have reckoned with the idiocy of Oakeshott. But just because Oakeshott failed, that doesn’t mean Clegg is safe. LibDem Voice polled 1000 LibDem members and only 54 per cent wanted Clegg to remain as leader. That is not a good position to be in. At all.

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If Clegg did go, I am told by sources at Number Ten, that this would spell the end of the coalition and  it would not continue under a new LibDem leader. If that’s the case, you just wonder why they don’t call it quits now and go their own separate ways. The Number 10 Tory operation to shore up Clegg was quite a sight to behold. Backbenchers were ordered to stop criticising Clegg and to desist in revelling in his woes. Cabinet Ministers, led by Ken Clarke, went on the media to praise him. A wag on twitter suggested Clarke would make an excellent new leader of the LibDems. Or maybe the Tories could let him go on a free transfer.

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It’s not often I am stuck for words, but when I rang someone last week to invite them onto my LBC Drivetime show, I was. This was their answer: “Yup, happy to come on, but I want you to know I will be interrupting my afternoon f**k for you.” What does one reply to that? “Oh, sorry, it’ll only be a quick in and out.” Or “Don’t worry, I’ll get you off quickly.” Or maybe, “Well, on the radio all I can do is promise you a bit of oral entertainment…”. Perhaps I’ll stop there. After all, I don’t want this column to reach a premature climax, do I?

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Just for the record I did actually vote Conservative last week. A year ago I had fully intended to back Nigel Farage, but in the end I just couldn’t stomach UKIP’s anti-immigration rhetoric. Parts of it sickened me. I don’t believe it was racist, and I don’t believe Farage himself has a racist bone in his body, but those terrible posters were the final straw. On my way back from the Sky News paper review a couple of weeks ago I had a Romanian driver. I talked to him all the way back to Tunbridge Wells about his life in this country and his motives for coming here. I just wish Farage had been sitting in the car with me. My Romanian friend said he had never claimed benefits and knew no one else from his country who had. He came here to better himself and his family, and in the end isn’t that would anyone would do? He held profoundly conservative values and his work ethic was transparent. He wasn’t scrounging off anyone, he was proud that this country had welcomed him, although he did say that friends of his had encountered some hostility in the last few weeks from people who ought to know better.

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On Sunday I did the Andrew Marr Show paper review with Sheila Hancock. Call me Mystic Meg, but I had a premonition that we wouldn’t get on, and so it proved. She’s a great actress but a typical lefty luvvie. And bloody rude. It wasn’t until I watched it back that I realised that throughout everything I said she sat there rolling her eyes and sneering. We didn’t get off to a good start, when right at the beginning she said she was fed up with the “celebrations” of the hundredth anniversary of World War One. I leapt in and corrected her and pointed out they weren’t celebrations, they were commemorations – and the two were very different. It all went downhill from there. Chemistry really is important in paper review pairings. I work really well with Jacqui Smith on Sky because we can spark off each other and have a laugh even when we are daggers drawn. I’m afraid that was never going to happen with Ms Hancock. Normally on Marr I am paired with Helena Kennedy or Polly Toynbee. Sitting next to Sheila Hancock made me miss them more than I thought possible. You can watch the Marr paper review here.

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When Paul Goodman asked me to resume this column at the end of March I said I’d do it until the European elections and then decide whether to continue. Well, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for a bit yet. And with my smut. Whether you like it or not.

65 comments for: Iain Dale: The idiocy of Lord Oakeshott

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