DALE Iain Krieg illustration square

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

In my latest series on how CCHQ wins friends and influences people, let me bring you this email which was sent to Team 2015 miscreants who, in their opinion hadn’t turned up often enough to campaign for the party in marginal seats…

“Dear xxx -

We’ve been sending you a few emails recently – more than a few! – inviting you to attend campaign rallies, action days, and other crucial events to help our local Conservative candidates.

However, it seems from our records that you aren’t yet among our regular volunteers, who spend time in our most marginal seats.

Is that right, xxxx? We’d love to know why. Do you have 10 seconds to tell us what’s holding you back?

What did they think they would achieve by sending that email. So many people have forwarded it to be that I can say without fear of contradiction that people have been far from impressed, to say the least. One contact told me: “I cannot believe that CCHQ don’t have anything better to do but this at this stage in the campaign! It is just so counterproductive. I’m sorely tempted to reply and say I’m not a volunteer I’m a conscript!”

- – - – - – - – - -

I’ve always believed it’s probably best not to defecate on your own doorstep, but here goes anyway. Ken Livingstone is a presenter colleague of mine at LBC, so whenever I’ve interviewed him I’ve always felt slightly restricted in how far I can go.

But on the day when Ken’s bessie mate Lutfar Rahman was found guilty of corrupt practices as Mayor of Tower Hamlets I let rip. He had previously accused Rahman’s accusers of being racist. I asked him live on air if he thought the judge was racist, and it went downhill from there.

Quite frankly, Ken’s whole stance on Rahman is a disgrace. In his view, the ex-Mayor (and how good does that sound?) can do no wrong, and if he was a Catholic he’d be well on the way to sainthood. How Ken survives as a member of Labour’s NEC is anyone’s guess. He ought to be up before its disciplinary committee for bringing the party into disrepute. And not for the first time.

So all this means there will be a new mayoral election in Tower Hamlets. There won’t be a Tower Hamlets First candidate as the Electoral Commission has finally grown a pair and banned them as a political party. John Biggs will re-stand for Labour with Peter Golds carrying the Tory flag. However, media-savvy Imam Ajmal Masroor, a regular interviewee on my LBC show, is deciding whether to throw his hat into the ring as an Independent. He’s written a long post on his Facebook page about it. But it was this passage which caught my eye…

“In 2005 I tried to become the parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats and it was during the selection process I witnessed the most colossal abuse of ballot boxes.

During the final selection hustings event one candidate was able to pull together members from the thin air. He was able to sign up over 750 members only for his use during the selection process. We were standing there and watching as his families and friends from all over the country came to vote in busses and cars. Before the hustings had even taken place, he already had the seat secure in his bag. This candidate did not even speak English adequately and when he was asked questions during the hustings his answers were absolute nonsense.

The Liberal Democrats didn’t do anything about the total misuse and desecration of the democratic system that took place right in front of the eyes of Liberal Democrat election officials. In fact that year during the party conference he was awarded a prize for recruiting the highest number of members. I still remember feeling being slapped on the face by the party that I had so excitedly joined back then. He was rewarded for his misdemeanour…Of course I could not take anyone to a civil court as I had no money.

I wonder how often this sort of thing is happening. I suspect the LibDems were too frightened to do anything about it for fear of being accused of racism – as in the Rotherham child abuse scandal. These issues need to be confronted by everyone wherever they raise their head.

- – - – - – - – - -

Nick Clegg was on TV last night proclaiming the virtue of his party’s policy of raising the personal tax allowance – which has been lifted to £10,600 in this Parliament; in the next one, they are committed to pushing it up to £12,500. He conveniently ignored the fact that it was Conservative policy, too. What really made me angry, though, was his utter lie that “everyone” benefits from this policy.

Now I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me over this, or indeed anyone in my position, but did you know that if you earn between £100,000 and £120,000 your personal allowance goes down by £1 for every £2 you earn.

And if you earn more than £120,000 you get no personal allowance whatsoever. You’re taxed on every single penny of your income. I think this is outrageous, and totally unfair. But who’s going to shed any tears for anyone in that position? Correct, no one. If George Osborne announced that high earners were going to have their personal allowance restored, imagine the outrage from Ed Balls. That’s why it will never happen. It’s still outrageous, though.

- – - – - – - – - -

Another example of the CCHQ charm offensive reaches my inbox. You really couldn’t make it up. On Monday, CCHQ called candidates in unwinnable seats and told them that they had to step up their game in supporting the 40/40 target seat candidate (as reported by Mark Wallace today) – to the extent that they are now required to send reports on their work every night. What’s more, if they refuse to do so because of family and work commitments, they have been told to e-mail the party hierarchy to tell them why they won’t be sending these daily reports.

Add to that the stories I’ve heard at first-hand from candidates in unwinnable seats about them having to pay for their own election addresses (in one case from their redundancy money) because they’ve been told if they don’t pay, nobody else will…and it all adds up to a lot of extremely unhappy candidates out there, all terrified of speaking out through fear of being removed from the candidates list.

If this was all happening in the workplace it would be considered workplace bullying, but in the workplace those being bullied get paid. In this case, those being bullied are effectively party donors contributing thousands of pounds to the party’s cause. And a fat lot of thanks they will get for it.

- – - – - – - – - -

If, like me, you sneered at Ed Miliband creeping into Russell Brand’s flat late at night to do an interview on his God-awful Trews Youtube channel, think again. I can’t stand Brand, and think he’s a nasty, messianic, narcissistic fool. His book is unreadable and his despicable prank on Andrew Sachs shouldn’t be forgotten either.

However, when I discussed this on my radio show I got a right going over from my listeners. 90 per cent of the people who rang in, emailed, texted or tweeted not only though Miliband was right to do it, but think he came out of it well. The world has truly gone mad.

- – - – - – - – - -

I’m in the middle of revising my seat by seat election predictions. I’ll give you the final totals in next week’s column, as it will have been written before polls close, but at the moment I have the Conservatives on 282, Labour on 272, LibDems on 25, the SNP on 42 and UKIP on five.

I haven’t revised my Scotland figures yet so expect the Labour total to decline a bit. It’s getting to the point where Miliband still won’t have enough for a majority even with the SNP. The Tories need to get to near 290, and hope the LibDems with around 25 seats and the DUP on nine can get them over the line in a rather ugly three way coalition.

- – - – - – - – - -

I just cannot for the life of me imagine why the Tax Lock promise wasn’t announced at the beginning of the campaign or wasn’t in the manifesto. Surely the electorate discount measures like this so late in the campaign? All it says is: “well, we know you don’t trust us to keep our promises, so we’ll legislate to convince you.”

The trouble is that few will be convinced by it because just as you can pass a law, you can also repeal one. Imagine there is another world financial crash in 2017 or 2018: does anyone seriously imagine taxes wouldn’t have to go up again in such circumstances?

I’m a massive supporter of a low tax economy and it’s a shame that the Conservatives have lost their reputation as a low tax party, but that reputation won’t be one back by announcing fatuous gimmicks like this.

- – - – - – - – - -

One final crumb of comfort for the Prime Minister and Lynton Crosby. I think the SNP threat may be cutting through to floating voters. There’s been scant little evidence for it in the polls, except for yesterday’s Evening Standard Ipsos MORI poll which put the Conservatives five points ahead.

However, anecdotally, I think it may be having an effect. Someone tweeted me the other day to say he’d overheard four guys discussing the SNP threat in the gym, and they all said they were voting Tory. I tested this out in the office and several people who had previously voted Labour all said they were worried by the SNP and would cast their vote accordingly. I wonder if we might see tactical voting, not just in Scotland but also in England, and this time to the benefit of the Conservatives.

- – - – - – - – - -

You will have a huge choice on election night, not just on TV but on the radio. I’d love you to join Shelagh Fogarty and me on LBC from 10pm through till 5am when Nick Ferrari takes over.

We’ll be joined throughout the night by four resident pundits, Damian McBride, Tim Montgomerie, Miranda Green and Alexandra Swann. Our resident psephologist Gareth Knight will interpret the results and we’ll also have Peter Riddell from the Institute of Government, Rory Bremner, Sarah Vine as well as reporters at more than 100 counts. It’s going to be fun. I promise. And feel free to send me messages throughout the night from your own counts. You can email, tweet me at @iaindale or text 84850.

- – - – - – - – - -

And finally, good luck to anyone standing for election. Polling day is always stressful. Try to remain calm, keep your sense of humour, and at the count retain your dignity at all times. And if you lose unexpectedly, be gracious to your opponents in your concession speech. See you the other side.

34 comments for: Iain Dale: My hunch is that the Tory message on the SNP is getting through to voters

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.