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Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

I’m not really sure how any politician can introduce plain paper packaging on cigarette packets and  maintain with a straight face that they are still Conservatives. What’s next? Plain packaging on cans of lager? Mars Bars? Packets of crisps? It’s the nanny state writ large. If cigarettes are so terrible then ban them altogether. That’s the only logical thing to do.

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Five years ago, Greece was at the centre of the then Euro crisis – and it is about to be again. Sunday’s general election could provoke yet another crisis for this doomed currency. The left wing, anti-Brussels Syriza Party is likely to emerge as the big winner, although it may have to try to cobble together a coalition before launching some kind of financial assault on Brussels. Syriza is capitalising on the disillusion and frustration that most Greeks feel at the way the political establishment has failed them over the past few years. Ring any bells?

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So in the last four months the Greens have increased their membership from 13,000 to something bordering on 50,000. Quite an achievement and it means that in membership terms they can now claim to be Britain’s third largest political party without their noses growing longer.

With increased profile comes increased scrutiny, as they are about to find out. Instead of moderating some of their policy positions, the Greens are standing by even their most whacky commitments. I promise you that their manifesto will make UKIP’s look positively sane.

What I’ve noticed as an interviewer, though, is that whenever you try to hold a Green politician to account, you get bombarded by tweets and emails which accuse you of giving the said politician a rough ride. The Greens, like UKIP before them, are developing a ‘teflon’ side to them. People are wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that the good people of Brighton did that, and then suffered the consequences when they elected a Green council. People should be careful what they wish for.

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Last weekend, I completed my predictions for the 650 Westminster constituencies. It ended up with a scenario whereby Labour wins 301 seats, the Conservatives 279, Liberal Democrats 24, SNP 18 and UKIP 5.

The reaction was huge, and most of it fairly positive. Only the LibDems reacted very badly. Some accused me of Tory bias, rather ignoring the fact that I was predicting Labour to get most seats. Even Nick Clegg, on the Andrew Marr Show, accused me of being “rather silly” by writing in the Independent on Sunday that I was 100 per cent that confident the LibDems would lose more than half their seats. I’m pretty sure I’ve read that Nick Clegg himself is only confident of retaining 30 of their 57 seats, so we’re not that far apart in our predictions.

One other thing that struck me while doing these predictions is that Tory votes are likely to pile up in seats that are already safe for the Conservatives. I think many Tories will see their majorities shoot up as LibDem votes crumble to Labour in seats where Labour has zero chance of winning. This could also mean that the Tories get by far the largest number of votes while being well behind in the seat count. This could be an election which results in many Tories reassessing their long term opposition to any sort of electoral reform.

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It is indeed a disgrace that the Chilcot Report won’t get a public airing until much later in the year. The Whitehall machine has again let down the public who should be able to go into this election with the full knowledge of what happened in 2003. Even Labour politicians appear to agree with that. How on earth it can take four years to compile this report since the last witness was heard from, in February 2011, no one can adequately explain.

However, let’s not kid ourselves that Chilcot will change anyone’s view. If you believe Tony Blair is a war criminal, you’ll always believe that. If you believe the war was illegal, there’s not a lot anyone can say to convince you otherwise. The trouble is that I have never yet managed to get anyone to tell me on what basis it was illegal and what law Tony Blair is supposed to have broken. To my mind there is no such thing as an illegal war. Just because it wasn’t wholly sanctioned by the UN (and even that is arguable) does not make it illegal.

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Next Wednesday, it’s the Political Book Awards. It’s the third year this event has been run and it’s already established itself in the political calendar. It takes a huge amount of organisation, and there’s always a big sigh of relief when it is over and there have been no mishaps. Rory Bremner is presenting the evening this year, and we have one or two surprises for the 500 strong audience at the IMAX. Last week we held the ten judges’ lunches, all of which proved to be highly entertaining. There was one category where the judges came to a decision in eight minutes – a record, I think.

95 comments for: Iain Dale: So you support plain packaging. Call yourself a Conservative?

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