Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
I don’t know what Ed Miliband thinks he’s playing at, but he seems to be subliminally, and probably unintentionally, urging Labour voters in Rochester & Strood to vote UKIP. As a short terms strategy it might well be a jolly jape to give the Tories a bloody nose, but he should be careful what he wishes for.
If UKIP win this by-election (and I fully expect them to), they will have what George Bush senior used to call “The Big Mo”. Miliband should remind himself that, in the Euro elections, UKIP got 27 per cent of the vote, which is only three or four per cent less than the two major parties are polling at the moment. It is not outside the realms of possibility that with a fair wind, wafted by the incompetence of the three main parties, that they could poll far higher on May 7th than they currently are.
There are millions of white, working class voters ripe for the picking by Nigel Farage. Ed Miliband would do well to remember than when he fans the flames of the immigration debate as he so shamelessly did in PMQs this week. As Michael Deacon wrote in his Daily Telegraph sketch:
“He might want to apologise for the mess that Labour left!” shouted Mr Cameron.
“There’s only one person who should be apologising on immigration, and that’s him!” shouted Mr Miliband.
“I ask him again, get up and apologise for your record!” shouted Mr Cameron.
“Why doesn’t he just admit it, on immigration he has failed!” shouted Mr Miliband.
“What have we heard today? Not a single word of apology!” shouted Mr Cameron.
How very edifying. Another 50,000 UKIP votes sewn up. Somewhere in Brussels, Nigel Farage was lighting up a cigar and raising a glass to both Miliband and Cameron. He was the real winner of PMQs this week.
I spent Monday lunchtime grappling with Sadiq Khan in a dark room in Clerkenwell. Perhaps I should rephrase that. We were invited to take part in a political panel discussion, chaired by Matt Forde, which took place in a restaurant called Dans le Noir, and it does what it says on the tin. The whole place is in complete darkness. And I mean complete. You literally can’t see a thing. Even the person next to you, or the food in front of you. The idea is that it gives you an idea what it’s like to be a blind person. It was all a bit weird. Debating Sadiq when I couldn’t see his facial expressions or when he was about to interrupt was odd. I found myself being slightly more aggressive in the debate than I otherwise would normally be. It’s certainly not a restaurant you would take someone on a first date, just in case your hand went somewhere it shouldn’t. Best leave it till at least a third date!
So Russia Today has started a UK TV service. Or should I say propaganda service. There are two TV stations I refuse to appear on. Press TV is one and Russia Today is another. Guido Fawkes disagrees. He happily goes on the Iranian broadcaster and in his own subversive way names dissident bloggers and then asks for his fee to be paid to Conservative Friends of Israel. That’s my boy.
So the BBC has refused to include the Greens in the election debates on the grounds that they haven’t become discernibly more popular in recent times. I’d say having an MP, three MEPs and running a council and sometimes outscoring the LibDems in the opinion polls refutes that typically conservative BBC stance. I think the Greens are one stop short of Dagenham in many of their policies, but that doesn’t mean they can be ignored in the way that they have been in the past.
Jonathan Jones is a twat. He’s the art critic of The Guardian, and wrote this week that the poppy display in the Tower of London was “fake, trite and inward looking – and a UKIP style memorial”. In a typically elitist Guardian manner he also criticised the sculpture’s (for that is what it is) “mass appeal”.
The man is an idiot. Naturally, he refused to come on my radio show to defend himself or his stance, which seemed more designed to court publicity than anything else. I have never seen the point of art critics. They sit in their ivory towers and take issue with anything that normal people tend to appreciate. Instead, they laud praise on modern art which the rest of us regard as a joke.
On my LBC show I am launching a campaign to persuade the Tower of London to keep the poppies there until 11 November 1918, the hundredth anniversary of the armistice, assuming that the poppies can stand the weather. I wonder what Jones would say about that. But then again, who gives a monkey’s arse what he thinks.
Tomorrow I’m nipping over to Paris to have dinner with Valerie Trierweiler, the former French First Lady, whose memoirs I am publishing next month. The book has now been translated into English, and I finished a light edit yesterday. It’s true to say she doesn’t hold back in her feelings! Francois Hollande comes over as an egocentric weak, vain man, totally unsuited for presidential office. Even now, he texts her every day begging her to come back to him. So far, Valerie hasn’t done any interviews in France to publicise the book. She didn’t really need to – since as it’s already sold 600,000 copies and has been the fastest ever selling book in France. Some leftist bookshops refused to stock it, which tells you a lot. Will she come and do interviews in London? Well put it this way. I may not speak very good French, but I can be very persuasive when I put my mind to it. N’est ce pas?
I’ve signed up another memoir this week for Biteback – Neville Thurlbeck, the tabloid journalist It will come out in early April next year. Suffice to say that he knows where a lot of political and media bodies are buried, and he’s not going to be shy in telling us where. Cue certain people shifting nervously in their seats. As well they might.