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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.

In many ways Chuka Umunna, for many Conservatives, is the acceptable face of the Labour Party. He’s a free marketer and gets what an entrepreneurial society is all about. He’s not particularly tribal, and is quite happy to pay tribute to political opponents when he thinks they have done something good.

Let me tell you that whenever he comes on my show I get a lot of emails and texts from people saying that they would vote Labour were he the party’s leader. There’s little doubt that if Ed Miliband loses the election, Umanna will be a leading contender.

But he does need to rid himself of an image of loving himself just that little too much. This came to the fore again in a House Magazine interview where he rather inadvisedly answered a question about how good looking he is. Instead of saying “not going there”, he launched forth and talked about how awkward he feels when women say he’s gorgeous.

Well, you can imagine that I wasn’t going to let that go without comment when he came in to do his monthly phone-in on Wednesday. Suffice to say, he didn’t disappoint. #awkward #squirm.

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There’s been a lot of criticism of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe this week for telling the Home Affairs Select Committee that the three girls who went to Syria would not be prosecuted if they return home.

Most of my listeners were up in arms when I said he was absolutely right. These girls are children. They were clearly groomed and brainwashed into going.

So what would be the point in prosecuting them? If they had been victims of child sex abuse, and groomed for it, no one would remotely suggest they too should be prosecuted.

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This evening, the good burghers of Kensington will choose their new candidate. I know all three contestants and each one of them would bring something different to the job, and they all have their own negatives. Wasn’t it ever thus, I suppose?

Charlotte Vere is a very independent and outspoken woman who would make a fantastic MP. She’s been in a lot of finals and not quite made it, something Kensington Association members may wonder about.

Shaun Bailey was expected to win last time in Hammersmith but didn’t. He’s a hugely talented social entrepreneur and an original thinker. The Conservatives already have far more ethnic minority candidates in safe seats, but it would still send a very powerful message were he selected.

Victoria Borwick is transparently nice, and if being local had anything to do with it, she’d have it sewn up. As Deputy Mayor of London, she’s also been endorsed by Boris, which might well count for something on the night. However, hiring a PR firm to boost her profile may not have been the wisest move.

Actually, any one of them would be a good choice. I’m not going to put a jinx on any of them by saying who I would vote for were I there – and in any case the truth is I don’t know. I think I would be typical of many Kensington members in going along with an open mind, and then supporting whoever most impressed me most on the night.

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Nice to see the Liberal Democrats geting their comeuppance in this latest donations sting. They’ve always been sanctimonious about donations even when they were shown to be, shall we say, less than clean – remember Michael Brown? All parties have issues with dodgy donations, but the LibDems have always tried to make out they were whiter than their competitors.

The man featured in the Daily Telegraph‘s video, Ibrahim Taguri, was not only the Lib Dem candidate for Brent Central (and successor to Sarah Teather), but also a former chief fundraiser for the party. A candidate might be forgiven for making errors about soliciting donations – local candidates probably aren’t acquainted with every rule from the Electoral Commission – but party chief fundraisers have to be.

And that’s the awkward question the LibDems now have to answer. Can they be confident that all the other donations he has solicited are in order? We may soon find out.

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I think over the next couple of weeks I am going to have to revisit my seat by seat election predictions, especially in Scotland. I had the SNP down for 18 seats, but that is clearly going to have to be revised upwards. I am still not convinced that they can get the 40 or 50 seats the polls are predicting, but until I look at each individual seat I’ll reserve judgement on an overall total.

I also have UKIP on five. I don’t see that changing much, but I am starting to wonder about how safe Castle Point is for Rebecca Harris, and also whether Dudley North could be another UKIP gain. I have the LibDems on 24, but my gut feel is that if anything they are on the way down. I saw Nick Clegg the other day, and he was absolutely adamant that I’m totally wrong in my predictions for his party. Well, we’ll see in 55 days!

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I’m a petrolhead. I love Top Gear, and I want Jeremy Clarkson to continue to present it. But if I were his employer, I’d probably feel I had no alternative but to sack him. Why? Because if it had been the producer who had hit Jeremy Clarkson, I think we all know what the outcome would be. And in the end, that’s the game, set and match argument.

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Next week’s budget is a tricky one for George Osborne. It’s so close to the election that everyone will see it through the prism of winning short term votes. Some reckon it will be the most boring budget in living memory. Those people don’t really understand a man who is one of the most political chancellors, since, well, Gordon Brown.

I fully expect a few rabbits to be pulled out of the red box, although I’m not sure what they will be. I suspect that pushing up the tax free allowance beyond the level originally planned may well be one of the things he will be allowed to do by the LibDems. This won’t be a giveaway budget and I suspect will be revenue neutral.

So on that basis it might be a little bit boring, but even so there will be two or three headlines aimed at the usual “hard-working families”. Perhaps we should have three guesses as to how many times he will mention the “long term economic strategy” in the speech. Rather too many, I suspect.

157 comments for: Iain Dale: The game, set and match case for sacking Jeremy Clarkson

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