DALE Iain Krieg illustration square

I really think some politicians are injected with some sort of serum before they go on the broadcast media, and that it turns normally sparkling, interesting people into complete drones whose only intention is to bore us to death about the “long-term economic plan” and “hard-working people”.

Step forward Priti Patel who is an exceptionally rabid addict of this serum. I’ve interviewed her seven or eight times, I suppose, and on each occasion I end the interview wanting to slit my wrists. If I feel like that, God only knows what the listener thinks.

And so it was on Saturday. She and Michael Fallon were doing the media rounds to comment on Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership contest, and both had clearly taken a strong dose. “Britain’s security is in danger,” they chirruped in unison. “So is the security of hard working families.”

Oh, pass the sick bucket. Both statements may have the benefit of being true, but the timing was all wrong. They should have shown a generosity of spirit, as the Prime Minister did on Wednesday at PMQs when he congratulated him – saying that while there were major divides between a Corbyn-led Labour Party and themselves this was not the time to air them.

This was Corbyn’s moment, and he should have been left to enjoy it. They would have got far more kudos if they had not come out with pre-prepared bitchy-sounding soundbites. It’s all very well trying to define your opponent from Day One, but doing it as they did made people not only ignore the point they were trying to make: it raised the spectre of the ‘nasty party’ once more.

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Having put the idea of running for the Labour leadership into Corbyn’s head, it was interesting to see him adopting an LBC radio phone-in format for his first PMQs.

It kind of worked for him. Having endured a torrid time, largely of his own making, at the hands of a foaming media, it enabled journalists to talk about something other than him not singing the National Anthem.

The trouble for Labour, was that Corbyn’s new style of PMQs also worked for the Prime Minister. It made it easier for him. With him asking six different questions, there were no follow-ups and no forensic interrogation. I suspect Corbyn will use this tactic from time to time rather than do it every week.

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Blatant book plug coming up: I enjoy talent spotting. I like helping young people to fulfil their potential. Sometimes you see someone who you think have the potential to really make it in their given field. Five years ago we took on a young graduate as an intern at Total Politics.

He was brilliant. Unfortunately we had no full time role to offer him when he completed his internship. I then advertised for a PA, and he applied.

Tempted though I was to give him the job, I thought he’d get bored and I advised him to look elsewhere. I then recommended him for a job at LBC as an Assistant Producer. He quickly rose through the ranks, and was soon on air as one of the reporters.

After three years he moved on to ITV News in Scotland – the job he’s still in. Earlier this year he approached me with a book idea. A retrospective on the Scottish referendum plus looking at how it all affected the General Election and the SNP landslide.

It was a good proposal, but I wondered how such a book would sell outside Scotland. I asked for a sample chapter. It blew me away. He has the writing style of Damian McBride, by which I mean the ability to tell a political story in the style of writing a thriller. When I received the full manuscript in late July, I can honestly say it was one of the best I have ever read from a first time author. It is, to coin a new word, unputdownable. The book is called Project Fear. The author is Joe Pike. I promise you if you buy it, you will love it.

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Last year the Cybernats were on the rampage, abusing anyone on social media who had the temerity to criticise the whole notion of Scottish independence. The hard left in England has clearly learned a lot from them. Utter even the mildest criticism of the Messiah that is Corbyn, and expect to experience the wrath of Hades on Twitter. Quote his words and attempt to scrutinise them, and you’ll be accused of bullying or being a right-wing stooge.

Comment on his appearance, even when you’re only trying to offer some helpful advice, and you’ll be trampled under the weight of a thousand tweets. Host a radio phone-in asking if he should have sung the national anthem, and you’re shameful. It’s a sign of things to come. Some of us are not so easily put off though.

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Caroline Pidgeon has been selected as the London mayoral candidate for the Liberal Democrats. In case you missed it. Just trying to help.

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I’ve never been a great fan of Tony Abbott, but you’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel sorry for him. Like his two predecessors as Prime Minister, he’s been unceremoniously dumped by his own party, get this: they did it four days before he would have served long enough in office to become entitled to a lifetime annual pension of $250,000.

And, what’s more, in his place they’ve elected a man who has already led their party and was an ignominious failure. Malcolm Turnbull may be a man of many talents, but uniting a team is certainly not one of them. He may be marginally more electorally popular than Abbott, but they would have done far better to have gone for the deputy leader and foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

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