Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publications, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
So I wonder which crass Damian McBride wannabe in Downing Street was so stupid to send this text to Tim Montgomerie, late of this parish. It read: “Tim, “Just seen your Tweet. Do you want to be a Tory MP? No chance now.” Anyone who knows Tim knows that he has never wanted to be an MP, so his reply was hardly a surprise. “I don’t, and I’ll cope.” Good on him.
Tim had earlier tweeted that he had been Parliament on Tuesday, spoken to 30 Tory MPs and had “never known an unhappier Party”. This came as a little bit of a surprise to some of us who remember the dark days of October 2003 in the later days of IDS’s leadership. You may recall who was his chief of staff in those days… Mr Timothy Montgomerie. If Tim really thinks the mood of the parliamentary party is worse now than then, it explains a lot.
I worked out the other night (because I have nothing better to do) that after next Wednesday I will only be spending five of the next 30 nights in my own bed. (Puts on his best Frankie Howerd voice}: No! Stop it!
On Thursday I’m off to Scotland to present LBC’s results coverage and my Drivetime show from there, then it’s straight down to Manchester for the Labour Party conference, then the Tory conference in Birmingham, then the LibDem conference in Glasgow…and then straight off to Frankfurt for the Book Fair, which I haven’t been to for three years.
There’s part of me that dreads the party conference season, but obviously once I’m in the thick of it I enjoy it hugely. The best part is meeting up with people who for whatever reason you only see at the conferences. Thank goodness there are no seafronts to encounter this year. Insert your own joke here.
I guess we’d better get used to the fact that there will be no domestic news other than Scotland for the next week at the very least. It’s only during the last seven days that the London media has woken up to the fact that the United Kingdom could be on the verge of breaking up. The speed with which reporters have been quickly dispatched to Edinburgh has been breathtaking.
What a shame it’s taken media organisations so long to catch on that the biggest political story for years was happening right under their noses. Only when YouGov published a poll showing a slight majority for support for independence did London editors realise what could happen. English readers, listeners and viewers have been shortchanged by their London-centric media for far too long. Had it not been for the internet, the rest of us wouldn’t have realised what was going on either.
I have said repeatedly that Alex Salmond wasn’t to be underestimated and that’s how it has turned out – because even if there is a narrow No vote on Thursday, he’s still won. Whatever happens Scotland will either become totally independent or have a pseudo-independence. And Alex Salmond will be grinning from here to Auchtermuchty.
I am a quarter Scottish. My Christian name is spelt the Scottish way and my middle name is Campbell. Believe it or not, I am also a direct descendent of Robbie Burns – at least, that’s what my family tree tells me. I suppose the fact that my writing can be as indecipherable as his poetry adds to the burden of proof. Thought I’d say that before you did.
And yet I have never felt remotely Scottish or even had an affinity towards the country of my ancestors. Even when I visited the old family homestead in New Cumnock in Ayrshire, I felt no twinges of sentimentality at all. Indeed, whenever I visit Scotland I always feel as if I am in a slightly foreign land – totally the opposite of what I feel when I am in the United States, where I feel completely at home. I cannot explain why this should be.
If Scotland votes Yes and Alex Salmond still insists he should be able to keep using the pound, I have a suggestion. Let’s have a referendum of the whole United Kingdom as to whether his wish should be granted. I shall vote for Scotland to return to the Groat. It’s what Robbie Burns would have wanted.
At the Conference in Birmingham I am comparing An Audience with Christopher Biggins. With what, I hear you ask? Honestly. You’d have thought well-educated Tories might know the difference between the words ‘compare’ and ‘compere’, wouldn’t you? Whenever I spell something incorrectly or use grammar wrongly I always blame the fact that I was educated under Shirley Williams. I wonder what the excuse of LGBT Tories is. Best not to ask, I think. I’m told tickets are still available. Surely not.