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

UKIP has finally flipped. On Wednesday morning, it suspended Suzanne Evans for six months, because of her so-called ‘disloyalty’. The aim of this was twofold: to take her off the party’s candidates list for May’s Greater London Authority elections, and to prevent her standing for the leadership if Nigel Farage quits after the Referendum.

Evans wasn’t taking this lying down and went to the High Court, but her bid to quash the suspension failed as the court couldn’t see how any UKIP rule had been broken. Having seen the court papers, it’s quite clear that, ever since Nigel Farage made her ‘interim leader’ for all of several hours on the day after the election, there has been a constant campaign within UKIP circles to undermine her.

Outsiders scratch their heads and wonder why. She is one of the few UKIP figures to have a media profile, and she is very much seen as the sensible face of the party. She’s also one of the few women in its upper echelons. Yes, she has occasionally had the temerity to disagree with Farage, but suspending her like this is rather as though Iain Duncan Smith had suspended Ken Clarke in 2003 for daring to disagree with him.

This suspension is intended to mute Evans. If she holds no official position within UKIP, it’s difficult for TV and radio shows to justify inviting her on. And of course having ‘got’ Evans, the Faragistas are unlikely to stop there. Watch out Douglas Carswell – they’re coming for you next.

Why in the aftermath of the Brussels terror attack is no one now proposing the suspension of Schengen? Surely it is clear as night follows day that reimposing border controls between all European countries would at least make it more difficult for terrorists to move around Europe with the ease that they do at the moment. The suspension need only be temporary, but I just don’t understand why it wasn’t even on the agenda of yesterday’s EU Interior Ministers meeting.

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So the junior doctors have announced another two day strike, and this time they won’t even provide any A&E cover. What an utter disgrace. And their leaders have the temerity seriously to suggest that patient safety won’t be affected. Pull the other one. I had a very sparky exchange on my LBC show on Wednesday night on this subject. [Please listen to the audio at the top of this item].

Even if consultants are brought in to provide cover, can anyone seriously believe that patient safety will be unaffected? Mike Durkin, the NHS’s National Director of Patient Safety, doesn’t believe so, yet his concerns have been dismissed by the BMA.

It is clear that the Hippocratic Oath has come to mean nothing to those who will strike. I don’t pretend that the Government has covered itself with glory on this issue. It hasn’t. But given that the only issue outstanding is pay for Saturday working, this strike just cannot be justified in any shape or form.

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Did you know you are 22 times more likely to be killed by a cow than be killed by a shark? Just thought I would pass that on.

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I don’t know who it was who said that successful generals are invariably lucky generals. David Cameron is certainly a lucky Prime Minister.

On Monday, Jeremy Corbyn had an open goal in front of him and he managed to do a Diana Ross and miss the goal altogether. He didn’t even mention Duncan Smith in his reply to Cameron in the Commons.

On Wednesday, PMQs should have been an altogether different ball game but, that morning, The Times published Corbyn’s ‘Little List, the Nixonian piece of paper which sought to categorise Labour MPs by their loyalty to the leader.

Cameron had great fun with it and the look on Labour MPs’ faces was a joy to behold. And, five days on, the old joke is doing the rounds…

“Knock, Knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“IDS who?”

“That’s Politics.”

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The media consensus is that George Osborne’s prospects of winning the Conservative leadership were holed below the waterline by Duncan Smith’s resignation. I think people are writing his obituary rather too early. He’s had setbacks before and bounced back. It could well happen again.

The trouble is that with Osborne there are few shades of grey. He’s either seen as a political titan or the Conservative equivalent of Eddie the Eagle, with little in between.

There’s no doubt that he’s been very damaged by the budget aftermath, but to wrote off his chances of succeeding Cameron is rather silly. Just as regarding Boris Johnson winning it as a dead cert is equally silly. Yes, he’s in the ascendant, but anyone who saw his performance in front of the Treasury Select committee this week will have come away wondering if he is up to it.

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I remain of the view that Michael Gove might well enter the leadership stakes at some point. He protests that he doesn’t think he’s up to it, but I suspect he might be persuaded to change his mind. If Osborne falls by the wayside, as Keith Joseph did in 1974, I wonder whether Gove would step up to the mantle like a certain Margaret Hilda Thatcher did, all those years ago.

I think he would attract a huge amount of support both with the Parliamentary Party and among the membership. He’s got a fantastic brain, is politically brave, is a man of conviction and is thoroughly nice. Those four qualities would help him develop into a fine leader.