Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
The appointment of Chris Wilkins as special advisor to Nicky Morgan is a very welcome one. I worked with Chris for six months when David Davis was running for Tory leader in 2005 and have huge respect for him. He’s quiet, measured, thoughtful and full of wise advice. It’s almost as if Nicky has said: “Get me the exact antithesis of Dominic Cummings.”
A final reshuffle story. Hugh Robertson, the former Foreign Office Minister, was on a ministerial visit to the Lebanon when he heard the fateful news that he was being sacked. As if that weren’t bad enough, the British Ambassador, upon breaking the news, said to him: “I’ve been asked by the Foreign Office to take your Foreign Office pass off you immediately.” Politics is a cruel world, isn’t it. I suspect that feeling of utter humiliation wasn’t exactly assuaged when Robertson found out he is to be awarded a Knighthood, ostensibly for his excellent work on the Olympics as Sports Minister.
As usual this week, Nick Clegg has shown all the leadership of a jellyfish. In response to David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP, tweeting that were he in Gaza, he too would probably be personally firing rockets at Israel, what did Clegg do about it? Sweet Fanny Adams. It’s not as if Ward is a first offender. And, for good measure, he also tweeted “Ich bin ein Palestinian” – as if he thought we would all ignore the use of German in an anti-Israel comment. Ward sits on a majority of 368 in his Bradford seat, which has a very high Muslim population. On election night this is one seat where, when I hear the words Labour Gain, I shall be silently cheering. The man is a c**t. And shame on Nick Clegg for not immediately withdrawing the LibDem whip. He gets an opportunity to show leadership – and he flunks it.
The Evening Standard headline screamed “Tory Ex-Minister tells of regret after police caution.” Who’s that, I wondered? I knew that David Ruffley had been expressing regret over being cautioned over a domestic incident with an ex-girlfriend, but surely there couldn’t have been another example? No, there wasn’t. The ‘Ex-Minister’ referred to was indeed Ruffley. Trouble is…being elected in 1997 he has never been a minister. The story, written by a “Standard reporter”, even said he was an ex Policing Minister. Bollocks. He held the position in opposition for a short while. To the Standard’s credit, within twenty minutes of me pointing out the error they have altered the headline to “Tory MP” and also changed the text. Even so, a pretty elementary mistakeadamakea.
Next Wednesday, I will be hosting another edition of Call Balls on LBC. I imagine someone will ring in and ask him about the fact that Sharon Shoesmith has just been awarded £670,000 for unfair dismissal. You may recall when Balls was Education Secretary he saw to it that she lost her job as Director of Childrens Services at the London Borough of Haringey, following the Baby P debacle. I cheered him at the time – and I do now. She ran a shambles of an organisation and deserved to lose her job. Sadly, an employment tribunal disagrees. Some say Balls acted inappropriately and outside the law. He didn’t. He spoke for all right thinking people in this country, and I hope he doesn’t regret it at all. We’ll find out at 5pm next Wednesday.
Apologies: this diary is shorter than usual. I am on holiday in Norfolk this week and, to be honest, entertaining my dogs has a higher priority at the moment than writing another 500 words!