Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
I’ve never quite worked out why it is that people in politics tend to indulge in inter-political shagging in a way that just doesn’t happen in other sectors. At least, I don’t think it does. Certainly, publishing and radio are chaste by comparison.
Or maybe it’s just that I’m ignoring the bleeding obvious. UKIP seem to be at it like rabbits. For example, take Roger Bird, the suspended UKIP General Secretary. He’s an amiable chap, but not exactly Brad Pitt in the looks department.
So how does he do it? As soon as he splits up with the gorgeous Suzanne Evans, he takes up with the equally fragrant Natasha Bolter. Sadly for him, she seems determined to ruin his career. He’s been suspended for his job, but has come out fighting, releasing texts between the two which appear to substantiate his position – that far from sexually harassing her, they were in a loving and sexual relationship.
Bolter appeared on Newsnight in what even for that programme was a bizarre interview, in which she gave several hostages to fortune. She is clearly finding it difficult to dig herself out of the hole she dug for herself. Even so, it will be interesting to see if Bird can survive this. Even if he’s 100 per cent in the right, there will be people in UKIP who will believe he has become a liability. Politics is unfair like that. The lesson for this for everyone, I suppose, is that if you form relationships with people in the workplace or who you hold some degree of power over, be very careful indeed…
I see Nigel Farage’s new pitbull press team has hit the ground running. Rumour is that they are the ones behind the anti-Neil Hamilton smear stories which hit the internet on Wednesday evening, the very evening Hamilton was due to appear in front of the South Basildon & East Thurrock selection committee.
In the end the former Conservative MP withdrew, having turned up to the meeting only to find that Kerry Smith, the previously selected candidate, was also on the ballot paper. He decided to withdraw and Smith was duly selected.
I cannot understand why Hamilton continues to be active within UKIP. It’s a party which has done its best to frustrate his ambitions, and Farage clearly wants him nowhere near any position of influence. Some will no doubt be very supportive of Farage’s position, but one day this is all going to blow up in UKIP’s face. And it won’t be pretty.
So Nick Clegg has backed calls for a full judicial inquiry into British involvement in torture. Is there any bandwagon he won’t jump on? Yet again, he proves himself totally out of touch with public opinion. Most people would happily lynch a terrorist if it meant getting information out of them which might prevent a future terror attack.
I’ve just started reading Julia Gillard’s autobiography. Let’s put it this way, she’s a better writer than she was a Prime Minister. Not difficult, it has to be said.
Back in September, Biteback published a series called ‘Why Vote’? We got Nick Herbert, Dan Jarvis, Jeremy Browne and Suzanne Evans to write the four books, which are guides for undecided voters as to which party they should vote for at the election.
Waterstones aren’t stocking them until January, but sales figures so far are quite interesting. In percentage terms, Labour have marginally overtaken UKIP and are on 31.8 per cent, with UKIP on 31.7 per cent. Trailing in third place is Why Vote Conservative on 21 per cent, with Why Vote Liberal Democrat on 16 per cent – which, let’s face it, is a bit of a result for them! All four authors are appearing on the Daily Politics on Monday. It’s a wicked thought, but if you have a very good friend who is a UKIP supporter, why not buy them Why Vote Liberal Democrat for Christmas? J
Ed Miliband made a speech yesterday where at least he remembered to mention the word ‘deficit’. Well, he had to really. The whole speech was about the deficit. It was full of fine words and fine commitments to balance the budget.
The trouble is, there was no detail of how Labour are going to do it. It’s all very well promising to increase the top rate of tax and axing the winter fuel benefit for rich pensioners – that gets a few hundred million at best. But what about the rest of the £90 billion? Ed Balls promises that departmental budgets will have to be cut, but how far. Which ones?
They can criticise George Osborne all they like, but at least he has had the balls to lay out where sone of the cuts would fall. Labour simply cannot get away with this sophistry for much longer. Whenever I interview a Labour politician, I have to say it is so easy to tie them up in knots over it. They simply don’t have any answers and people can see through it. It’s no good saying the detail will come in the manifesto. By then it will be too late. No wonder Osborne & Cameron continue to outpoll Balls and Miliband on economic competence.
Fourth in the league. Four points ahead of Arsenal. Seven ahead of Spurs. Life doesn’t get much better than this for a West Ham supporter. Over Christmas we play Chelsea and then Arsenal. Those two matches may well determine if West Ham’s season comes down with the Christmas decorations.
Courtesy of Harry Phibbs we learn that in 1935, state spending was £1.3 billion, the equivalent of £81 billion today. Public spending this year is £731 billion. Yeah, back to the 1930s. A pathetic attempt by Ed Miliband to scaremonger. Or did he just not bother to research the figures?
So Alan Rusbridger has stepped down as editor of The Guardian after a mere 20 years in the job. He’s clearly got no staying power. Editorially, it can’t be denied that he’s presided over some massive scoops, but as a business, The Guardian is a basket case. If it were a normal private sector company it would have been shut down years ago, and that’s almost entirely due to Rusbridger chasing internet clicks without having any plan to convert them into money. I wonder if he’s getting out just in time. There’s a lot of speculation about his successor. You can get 16/1 on former Guardian deputy editor and current Newsnight editor Ian Katz. Were I a betting man…