Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
I thought Labour had become a laughing stock, but UKIP seem to be intent on giving them a run for their money.
What a shambles their leadership contest has become. Having disallowed the favourite, Stephen Woolf, from standing they’re left with five nonentities…and Diane James. I rather like James and tipped her to succeed Nigel Farage following her outstanding performance in the Eastleigh by-election. However, her performance in the EU referendum debate was less than assured, and her praise for Vladimir Putin in a radio interview with me didn’t do her any favours either.
So how on earth did UKIP manage to manufacture a situation where, apart from Diane James, none of their leading lights are standing? Suzanne Evans was inexplicably suspended. There was only one agenda – and that was to keep her off the leadership ballot. Douglas Carswell, Patrick O’Flynn and Paul Nuttall all decided to keep out of it. The gobby Lisa Duffy certainly talks a good game, but no one has heard of her. Elizabeth Jones. Who? And then there is Bill Etheridge MEP, Jonathan Arnott and Philip Broughton. Nope – me neither.
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Donald Trump. Where on earth do I start? How on earth has the Grand Old Party landed themselves with this narcissistic ignoramus?
In the last four or five days alone, he has said enough to disqualify him for even considering being President. I’ve always thought him divisive and ignorant, but now I think he’s positively dangerous. And the fact that he won’t endorse Senator John McCain’s re-election campaign tells you all you need to know.
I may not like Hillary Clinton. I may not approve of many of her policies. But if I had a vote in this election, I know where I’d be putting my cross. I predict a semi-landslide for Hillary. Maybe call it a Hillslip. She’s apparently three points ahead in Arizona, a state which Mitt Romney won by nine. Replicate that across the country, and it’s difficult to see how she can fail. But in this year of political surprises, I guess anything is possible.
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Earlier this week I finished reading Iain Watson’s Five million conversations. It’s one of those books I have been meaning to read, but have never quite got around to it.
I’m glad I persevered. It’s essentially a book about how Labour failed to win the last election, but it also covers Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the Labour leadership. It explains how this new system of electing a Labour leader is completely down to one man. Edward Miliband. He must be so proud that it looks like as though this will lead to the party he led either splitting or fragmenting.
What a complete Horlicks – and to think that not a single one of his advisers appeared to issue any warning at all as to what the consequences might be. Blaming Miliband entirely, though, is a bit harsh. He wasn’t one of the Labour MPs to sign Jeremy Corbyn’s nomination paper – unlike Sadiq Khan, Margaret Beckett and Frank Field. Or a host of others. Corbyn’s useful idiots, one and all.
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Earlier this week, I went to my first game at the Olympic Stadium to see West Ham take on the Slovenian giants NK Domzale. The atmosphere was good, but not quite as good as the last time I was there, which was the night at the Olympics when Greg Rutherford, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis all won golds for Britain. It was a night I doubt I will ever experience again.
I’m writing this before the West Ham game – so depending on the result you can imagine what my mood was like. The pitch is much longer and wider than the one at Upton Park, so I guess that will take a little getting used to. Of course tonight it is the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics. This brings back some unhappy memories from London 2012. When my boss asked if I would like to present LBC’s coverage of the opening ceremony, I though all my Christmases had come at once. I should have known better.
But what should have been the highlight of my broadcasting career so far, became a nightmare. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Our vantage point was supposedly overlooking the Olympic Park. Well, if you walked along the end of the balcony and craned your neck you could just about see the Olympic Stadium.
Just as I was about to go on air the line went down. The newsreader talked into packages which weren’t there. The opening bed music didn’t fire. But the show had to go on. It started to rain. We had a gazebo, but it leaked. Onto my head. Down my back. While I was live on air.
Jo Phillips was my co-broadcaster. She and I got a cab home afterwards and sat in silence for most of the journey. Until I warned the cab driver (Addison Lee, since you ask) that he needed to slow down as there was a roundabout up ahead. He turned round and called me a “motherf*****g c**t”. Nice. I got him fired the next day.
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Yes, ok, ok, I had a week in Spain in July – and now I am off for two weeks in August.
Some people seem to think that one week’s summer holiday is quite enough for a jobbing radio presenter. According to my Twitter followers, I should ‘man up’ and get back to work. Seeing as I had a grand total of two – yes, two – days off during the first six months of the year, I think I can justify a couple of weeks’ R&R this month.
And R&R it will be. I’m spending ten days in Norfolk doing absolutely sweet fanny adams, and then heading up to the Edinburgh Festival for my second visit. I’m not sure that going to 17 shows in three days is going to be entirely relaxing, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as much as I did last year, especially Margaret Thatcher – Queen of Game Shows!
The key is to try to schedule in all the shows you really want to see. I left booking tickets too late to get to see Rory Bremner, and sadly I arrive too late on Monday week to fit in the show F*****g men. Well, there’s a relief.