DALE Iain Krieg illustration square

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

On Tuesday night I went to the Margaret Thatcher Centre dinner at the Guildhall, along with 400 others.

What a fabulous venue. I had never been there before. It was quite an occasion and raised a huge amount of money to go towards funding the activities of the Centre. All the tables were named after a Thatcher Cabinet Minister.

I requested ours was named after my favourite Thatcher Minister, Cecil Parkinson. Ah, what might have been. Had he not had to resign in 1983 I reckon he would have been in prime position to succeed Mrs T, but alas it wasn’t to be.

Had he become Foreign Secretary that year, I suspect many of the events later on in the decade which led to her downfall would not have happened. A nice counter-factual for someone to write.

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Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister, was the guest speaker and he certainly delivered a hard-hitting speech, which has been widely reported in the press. His main point concerned immigration and in some ways he out-Faraged Nigel Farage with his rhetoric and approach.

He urged EU countries to copy the Australian example and turn immigrant boats around. Easy to say, but the Med is not the Indian Ocean.

The Margaret Thatcher Centre is the idea of Donal Blaney, the Chairman of Conservative Way Forward, and a perfect example of someone making a real difference. Donal has been a leading figure in Conservative activism ever since his Young Conservative days, and is the brainchild behind the Young Britons Foundation.

His idea is to effectively raise enough money to build an actual, physical Margaret Thatcher Centre, as well as run courses to spread the gospel of Thatcherism both in this country and around the world.

He’s put together an impressive array of supporters, and there is a deep commitment to making this happen. I wish him every success with the project.

Donal is one of those people who “makes a difference”. And in the end, isn’t that what we’d all like to do? Look back on our lives and think that in some way we made a difference?

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So a date has finally been set for the publication of the Chilcot Report. It’s been so long in coming that unfortunately everyone has forgotten the evidence that was given to it back in 2009.

The report will be more than two million words long, which means if one wants to read the whole thing, it will take more than 120 hours at average reading speed. That’s longer than Charles Moore’s latest biography of Margaret Thatcher!

In a way, it won’t make much difference what Chilcot’s conclusions are. Those who believe Blair to be a war criminal won’t be satisfied with anything less than a recommendation for an indictment at The Hague, and those who think he can do no wrong won’t accept any criticism of him anyhow. So we’ll more than likely be back to square one.

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An invitation to a media reception at Number Ten arrives in my inbox. Ah, so I haven’t been blacklisted following the publication of Call Me Dave. Sadly it’s timed to take place from 5-7pm – exactly the time I am on the radio. Obviously a deliberate snub.

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I wonder why it is taking the Daily Mail so long to appoint a new political editor to succeed James Chapman, who left in the summer to take over as George Osborne’s Director of Communications.

It’s one of the plum jobs in political journalism, but also one of the most challenging. Surely there can’t be any lack of people interested in it, so why the delay?

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