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

Sometimes you wonder how perfectly sensible politicians score such obvious own goals. How David Lidington thought it was at all sensible to try to persuade Conservative MPs that the Government should be given full authority to rig the EU referendum is anyone’s guess.

The surprise was that only 27 Tory MPs had the courage to vote with their consciences. But this was actually far more important than anyone seems to realise. Why? Because there can now be no doubt whatsoever that the whole government machine will covertly support the ‘Yes’ campaign.

And there is no doubt that the Prime Minister himself will support staying in, no matter how little he gains from his renegotiation. It’s a bizarre negotiating position for him to adopt vis a vis his European counterparts. What he’s saying is “give me what I want or, er, I’ll recommend we stay in”. Not sure David Cameron would be a good poker player.

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I wonder how many Tory supporters have paid their £3 so they can vote in the Labour Party leadership election, and throw their weight behind the obvious standout candidate – er, Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour’s head honchos must have had their heads in their hands on Monday when it was announced that he had scraped onto the final shortlist. It was he who the media talked about for the rest of the day, to the almost total exclusion of the other three.

I have to say I lost a lot of respect for Sadiq Khan and Gareth Thomas, both of whom running to be London Mayor. They gave their nominations to Jeremy Corbyn in a blatant attempt to curry favour with the Left and get their second preferences in the mayoral contest. They may think it was clever politics but, in Khan’s case, it may well come back to haunt him.

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The first Labour leadership hustings were something of a let-down – held in a hall in Nuneaton on a set which must have cost the BBC all of about £5.

None of the four candidates really outshone the others, although Liz Kendall had the best line of the night when she had a great put-down for Andy Burnham, who had told the audienc:e “The Party must always come first”. Quick as a flash she said, “No, Andy, the country comes first.”

Ian Leslie tweeted yesterday that “Andy Burnham seems comfortable with himself but looks as if he’s never convinced himself that he has something new to say.” It’s a good point. Yvette Cooper didn’t do anything wrong in the debate but she doesn’t half come out with some banalities. Her strategy is clearly to win on second preferences, just like Ed Miliband did. And that went well, didn’t it?

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Yesterday the Institute of Economic Affairs celebrated its 60th birthday. Happy Birthday to everyone associated with a think tank that has done more than any other to promote the benefits of the free market and liberal economics. Long may it thrive.

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As well as the IEA’ birthday, yesterday was also the 45th anniversary of the surprise Conservative victory at the 1970 general election and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. It made me think how little I know about a battle which was a crucial event of the century before last. Had Wellington and Blücher not triumphed it’s a fairly safe bet that we’d all be speaking French now. Sacre bleu! Wouldn’t that have been a domage!?

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Remember that spat between David Mellor and a taxi driver. It covered acres of space in the papers at the time. B*r*s does the same thing and tells a cabbie to “f**k off and die, and preferably not in that order” and he merits only page seven of both The Sun and the Daily Mail. No calls for him to quit, it was just ‘good old B*r*s’ standing up for himself. Just how does he get away with it? They said Ronald Reagan had a Teflon quality. Well you can say that in spades about the London mayor. I wonder how long it can last.*

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Go on Zac, you know your duty…

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So a white man is behind the terrible shooting of nine people in South Carolina. I read that he is being described as a “troubled loner”. If he were a Muslim he’d be described as a terrorist. People would be calling on all Muslims to condemn and apologise for the murderous act as if they had somehow been complicit. The Koran would be called in evidence of Islam being a religion motivated by violence.

As proof of how our modern media like to report incidents like this, read this exchange between an American journalist and someone who saw the gunman escape.

“He’s white”.

“You sure?

Could he not be fair skinned?”


“Did he at least have a beard, work with me here!”

Think on that.

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Britain has one per cent of the world’s population, three per cent of the world’s GDP and pays seven per cent of the world’s benefits, according to the Chancellor. So if we all went down to a three day week we could cut our benefits bill! Result! It can only be a matter of time before Liz Kendall latches onto this as a winning policy.

* Editor’s Note: In line with editorial policy, we are blanking out the vowels in the Mayor of London’s name for a week.