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

Well, thank God that’s over. Three weeks of party conferences, plus the Scottish Referendum, is quite enough even for someone as politically geeky as your humble servant. Whatever the plural of knackered is, that’s how most political journalists feel. I’ve done 39 hours of broadcasting from the conferences and the referendum, and having caught the obligatory conference cold, my voice is now beginning to sound like a watered down version of Rod Stewart.

It wasn’t even as if we could save the best till last. The Lib Dems were in Glasgow, which has the worst conference centre of them all. Cavernous, hot, lacking in atmosphere, it almost swallowed up the Lib Dems. Bearing in mind they’re politically f***** they seemed in remarkably good humour, as if they had a collective belief that it would all come right in the end. Sorry, guys. It won’t. I spoke at a fringe meeting where I went through all their constituencies and told them if they retained more than half of them I’d be very surprised indeed. I thought I might be lynched, but no, not a bit of it. There were 250 people there and it was standing room only. After I told them my joyful analysis Peter Kellner from YouGov went on to tell them they were destined to become a party of 8 per cent-12 per cent of the vote for some generations to come. It was then Tim Farron’s turn to tell us we were both wrong, but you could tell that in his heart of hearts he knew what we were saying had some basis to it. Poor sods. It all reminded me of my childhood, when I would stand by and watch the calves being loaded into the cattle truck to be taken to the abattoir. They cheerfully trotted up the ramp, probably knowing what their fate was, but remaining quite cheerful nonetheless.


The Lib Dem conference was the whitest conference  I have ever been to. At the fringe meeting I addressed I counted only five non-white faces in the audience of 250. Walking round the conference centre you almost stared if you saw anyone who wasn’t white. It’s a real problem for the LibDems. No one quite knows why it is, or what they can do about it. It was also quite an elderly conference. One thing many people remarked upon in Birmingham was how many young people were there. You certainly couldn’t say the same about Glasgow.


Sir Ming Campbell told me on Wednesday evening that he thinks there should be an immediate parliamentary vote on Britain intervening in northern Syria against ISIS. Furthermore, he’d vote for it. He’s right. I was against action in Syria last year but taking action against ISIS in Iraq and not Syria just isn’t logical. If you want to kill a snake, go for its head, and its head is in Syria. According to Michael Fallon the vote would be lost. That is no reason for not holding it.


So it’s alleged that the hapless Police & Crime Commissioner for Kent, Ann Barnes (for it is she) was driving uninsured when she had an accident. Is this woman for real? She seems to have that bit of her brain removed which controls her embarrassment threshold. If you saw the fly-on-the-wall documentary about her then you’ll know she’s not fit to hold the post. She is the living personification of all that is wrong with politics. If she had any self-knowledge she’d quit and then hide away, never to be heard from again.


I write this before the result of the Clacton by-election has emerged. Assuming Douglas Carswell has won, it will be very interesting to see where he takes his seat when he returns to the House of Commons. I assume he will sit on the opposition benches with the SNP and Northern Irish MPs, but I suppose old habits may die hard and he might make for the Tory benches after all. I suspect his old muckers might forcibly tell him politely where he can go.


I’ve just booked a trip to Paris at the beginning of November to visit Valerie Trierweiler, the former first lady of the Elysee. I’m publishing her book, Thank you for the moment, which tells the story of her life with Francois Hollande. I don’t speak French so it’s the first time I have ever bought a book without having read a page of it. It’s twenty years since I went to Paris so I’m really looking forward to it, but isn’t Eurostar unbelievably expensive?! It was so expensive that I’m thinking of driving instead. Well, I was seriously considering it until everyone I know tells me I am mad to even consider driving in Paris. Zut alors!

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