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My company, Biteback Publishing, is five years old this week. Happy birthday to Us. For any small publisher to make it to five years is a minor miracle in today’s publishing environment, especially when you have companies like Amazon apparently about to tell us that we’re not allowed to sell books on our own website at a cheaper price than them. It’s only now that I realise what Ed Miliband meant by “predatory capitalism”. To be honest they can go stuff themselves. It’s about time the publishing industry grew some giant cojones, and told Amazon just where they can stick their threats. Don’t get me wrong; in many ways they are brilliant. Their reliability and service are second to none from a customer’s viewpoint. They already get a 60 per cent discount from us on our books. What more do they want? Blood?

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The selection for Thanet South is underway, with the final three candidates going through the trials and tribulations of the process this weekend. I know two of the three candidates, so I won’t say who I think will win, but if I were on the selection committee I would cast my vote using one criteria: which of them is best placed to hold off the seemingly inevitable challenge from Nigel Farage? This seat doesn’t need a shrinking violet – it needs someone who will go out there and take the fight to Farage, rather than lie back and think of England.

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So farewell, then, Graeme Archer, the latest writer to be let go by the Daily Telegraph. Are they stark raving bonkers? He’s one of the most talented right of centre writers around, and yet they now consider him surplus to requirements. Madness. Almost as mad as ditching James Kirkup’s excellent evening email and turning Ben Brogan’s (also late of that parish) into something totally unreadable. Why would you do that if your strategy was now giving primary importance to digital products? What on earth is going on at the Telegraph? Since Tony Gallagher and Ben Brogan left the building, the paper has gone inexorably downhill to the point where I worry about its future. It is a shadow of its former self.

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On Tuesday, I got very excited during my radio show when my producer said in my ear “We’ve got Rahman coming on”. Ever since the May elections, I have been trying to get to interview Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman, but he’s only willing to appear with his mate Ken Livingstone on LBC. He gives me a wide berth because he is afraid to answer the kind of direct questions he knows I would put to him. My excitement abated somewhat when I was told it wasn’t Lutfur but his deputy Olidaur Rahman, who would be coming on to explain how his administration had been totally vindicated by the Electoral Commission. Except of course it hadn’t. I think after the interview he rather regretted coming on at all, as I gave him a bit of a going over. You can listen to it here.

Rahman and his cronies need to understand that I and others won’t let this rest until someone gets to the bottom of what went on at that recent election in Tower Hamlets, which has been dogged by allegations of rigging. The Electoral Commission are hopeless, and their report didn’t even go into what happened prior to the count, so let’s hope the Police inquiries yield something, because the truth is that if nothing is done now, ordinary people in Tower Hamlets may well not bother voting at the general election because they believe their election will be stolen from them yet again.

The Tower Hamlets Returning Officer, John Williams, must have the hide of a rhino. Otherwise he’d have resigned in disgrace by now. His incompetence seems to know no bounds. If I had been criticised by the Electoral Commission in the way he has, I’d consider my position untenable.

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So, still no reshuffle then…

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Can it be long before Jon Cruddas, Labour’s policy chief, falls on his sword? He describes himself as a “romantic”, and it’s clear he’s right. He is psychologically ill-fitted to holding any position of responsibility whatsoever, a fact that he recognised himself when he turned down several posts in the Brown government. His outburst at the Compass conference last week, in which he complained about the “dead hand” within his party strangling any innovative policy idea at birth, was widely interpreted as an attack on Ed Miliband. Mary Riddell thinks he meant Labour’s electoral machine, rather than her hero, Miliband – but then she would, wouldn’t she? From what I hear, Cruddas would dearly love to return to the backbenches and join Frank Field in thinking the unthinkable. But he knows the embarrassment that this would heap on both the Labour leadership and himself.

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Britain’s Andy Murray, eh? Has he gone back to being Scottish now?

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So Labour are demanding the Conservatives release details of the guests at their summer ball at the Hurlingham Club. Apparently, we all have a right to know who is whispering sweet nothings in the prime Minister’s ear. Funny, that. I don’t remember Lord Levy releasing the guest list at all his fundraising events for Tony Blair. Of course they’ll never admit this, but all politicians hate and loathe these money raising events. It’s pure purgatory having to make polite conversation with people they have little in common with, and in many cases regard with utter contempt. But needs must. All politicians would secretly love to have state funding of political parties because they could tell their donors where to go. And they’d form a queue to do so, too.

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So after conquering Baghdad, the new leader of the Caliphate, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, has his sights set on Rome. It seems he wants to party like its 999. AD, that is. Perhaps he’ll stop off in Constantinople on the way…

29 comments for: Iain Dale: The real secret of party fund-raising – politicians hate donors

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