Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
If each part of this diary column had its own headline, this one would be titled ‘Mayoroplane’. Back in 2008, in those halcyon days when Boris was a virgin mayor of London, he attracted his very own stalker. At every public event, or Mayor’s Question Time, the same man would appear, muttering in a rather nasal tone. Boris could never quite make out what he was saying, but every utterance began with the words ‘When I was Mayor’. Yes, it was Red Ken himself. Eventually Ken realised he was making a bit of a dick of embarrassing himself and decided to absent himself from encounters with Boris, presumably on the grounds he came across as a bit of a saddo.
So imagine the scene: the entire Johnson clan board their Easyjet flight heading for their summer holiday earlier this week. Finally Boris can relax and stop thinking about the speech he’s going to give to Uxbridge Conservatives in a few weeks. The only thought in his head is the fact that he’s forgotten to pack the Factor 42 suncream. He’s sat in his slightly too small seat – no business class on this flight to the sunshine, looking out the window, leaving Marina to sort out the children…
And then… And then… he hears this slightly nasal tone shout out: ‘Hello Boris!!!’. He turns round and standing in the aisle is the man who he vanquished twice. Yes, it’s Ken Livingstone. It turns out they’re on the same flight, heading to the same Mediterranean island for some sun, sea and, er, probably Sangria. ‘Joy of joys,’ thinks Boris as he mutters some pleasantries before summoning the air steward and ordering a triple vodka. I made that bit up. But these rest is true. Talk about a small world…
I wonder if they are in the same hotel. It would make a great fly on the wall documentary. When Boris met Ken in Magaluf. Hardly bears thinking about.
I did my ‘O’ Levels in 1978 . I got three ‘B’s and 3 ‘C’s. I failed Biology with a ‘D’ and Physics with a ‘U’. Both my parents and I were delighted. Today I’d be considered a failure. Go figure.
Well, I never thought I’d see the day when I’d feel sorry for Janice Atkinson. And it still hasn’t happened.
However, the hypocrisy of the BBC never ceases to amaze. Yesterday BBC South East were outraged – outraged I tell you – by the EKIP MEP Atkinson calling the Thai wife of one of her party members “Ting Tong from somewhere”. They had recorded her saying it in an unguarded moment off camera. This article then appeared on the BBC website and is now all over social media.
Nowhere does the BBC acknowledge in the article that the term originated from …cue drum roll … a BBC TV comedy. In Thai, “ting tong” means mentally ill. The name was given to a transsexual in Little Britain. Oh, how I laughed. So how is it acceptable for it to be used to make fun of Thai transsexuals on Little Britain and yet, when a UKIP politician uses it, the BBC goes into an orgy of attacking UKIP? They even produced Professor Tim Luckhurst on camera to allege that, well, if one of them says it, it’s likely they’d all say it. I ask you.
I point this out not to defend Atkinson (I never like turncoats), who is in many ways a rather ridiculous character, but to point out the BBC’s downright chicanery and double standards. It is the BBC Comedy Department who need to be held to account here for their blatant racism, not just the idiot politician who saw fit to quote them.
It was JAtkinson, you will remember, who gave a journalist the finger and told them to eff off during the European Election campaign. I remember that when she defected to UKIP, and they took her on as their Director of Communications, I told Nigel Farage he could expect trouble from her. I didn’t quite realise what a good prediction that was. I wonder how many people expect her to last the full five year term as a UKIP MEP.
When she was in the Conservative Party Atkinson (who was then known as Janice Small) was Tim Yeo’s press officer, espousing the virtues of more European integration. But at least she recognised that people didn’t much like her. After failing to get nominated for a Tory marginal in Kent, she asked the local party agent: “Why don’t people warm to me?” I think we can now all see why.
Today’s my last day at work before a two week holiday starts. I love my work, but I am very much looking forward to some time to myself.
Whether I will be able to completely switch off is a moot point. I have to finish compiling and editing our Guide to the Election, and will still be writing this column. I’m spending the first week at our house in Norfolk, but on Monday week I am taking my father, my sisters and their families to Belgium for two days.
No, don’t laugh. Recently I found out where the grave of our great uncle is. He was killed, at the age of 19, ten days before the end of the First World War. We’re going to pay our respects. A strange way to spend part of your summer holiday, but I’m immensely looking forward to it. I used to go across the Channel by car every year, but haven’t been for nearly 20 years. One thing I’m keen to witness is the Last Post being played at the Menin Gate at Ypres, which they do every day at 8pm. I’m sure there won’t be a dry eye in the Dale clan.