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

As I write this, Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones are heading towards Brussels to meet Michel Barnier.

It’s a quite extraordinary action for them to be taking, and you have to ask what they hope to achieve by it. Because as far as I can see the only thing this trip will achieve is to undermine the negotiating position of David Davis.

If they want to lobby anyone, surely it should be him. There’s a word for behaviour like this…

– – – – – – – – – –
Ten years ago, I was on a flight to the US and, for lack of anything else to do, started tapping out a chapter of a putative autobiography.

Not that I actually intended to write one, let alone publish it. I mean, who would want to read it? So there I sat, over the Atlantic, typing on a Blackberry. I remember emailing it to myself, so I wouldn’t lose it. But lose it I did. I saved it somewhere on my computer but, until last night, I could never track it down.

Well, I was looking through some old files last night, and there it was: a chapter on German and Germany, two thousand words or so. I’m now mulling over whether to put it on my blog, and maybe even write another chapter about an episode of my life.

If I ever finish the German chapter, I’ll need to find all the letters I wrote to my mumduring my various trips there, and the two separate years I spent living there. I know she kept them, but I haven’t unearthed them yet. They would certainly help me expand the chapter a bit.

One day I will write a full autobiography, but in the full knowledge that it’s unlikely to sell a huge number of copies. I think it would be quite therapeutic. The trouble is…how do you write a book like that and be honest without hurting people? Because if it isn’t warts and all, you’re cheating the reader.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow I “celebrate” my 55th birthday. There’s something rather horrifying as you approach the dreaded age of 60. You start to become aware of the ageing process. You start to become aware that your working life will inevitably start to wind down. You start to become aware that you’re not as young as you were.

That might sound like a statement of the bleeding obvious, but it’s the little things that remind you, mainly to do with your health. None of them applied to me before the age of 50.

You also start to become aware of your own mortality. If I live an average life span, I might only have five or six football World Cups to watch! I know that people always trot out the old clichés such as you’re only as old as you feel…but it’s so meaningless when some days I feel I’m still 25, and on others I might as well be 80. Today is a ‘25’ day.

– – – – – – – – – –

My company, Biteback Publishing, celebrated its eighth birthday this weekthe same week in which we published our 600th book. Publishing is an increasingly difficult environment to work in, since the number of independent bookshops is in permanent decline, and there is only one remaining bookshop chain, Waterstones. Even eBook sales appear to have plateaued.

So the challenge for us has been to create alternative revenue streams, which we have very successfully done during the last two or three years. Actual, physical bookshop sales form an ever decreasing percentage of our turnover, and I don’t see that changing. One other issue is that book prices have barely changed since I published my first book at Politico’s in 1998, yet inflation has risen by 67 per cent. A £20 hardback book should now in theory cost £33. Instead, it costs £20.

It’s mad, especially since Amazon didn’t even exist in 1998. It’s even madder when you think that people expect to get a big discount on a £20 book. So, in effect, we’ve had reverse inflation in the book trade. A small publisher can’t resist these trends. The trouble is that they suffer because of the cowardice and weakness of the big publishers, who have been cowed by the Amazon monolith. At some point, the publishing industry will need to grow a pair, but at the moment it shows little sign of doing so.

– – – – – – – – – –

I’ve never flown with RyanAir, and I never will. Yes, you have to admire Michael O’Leary for building his airline into the huge company it is today, but my admiration is limited when I ponder some of his methods.

This week, he has also said that it’s very likely that, after Brexit, British passengers won’t be able to fly from Europe and his airline will pull out of the UK. Does he really think anyone takes this kind of bullshit seriously? Project Fear really is back in full swing at the moment.

– – – – – – – – – –

The results of the Select Committee elections proved one point: that the 2015 and 2017 intakes of MPs are making their voices heard. Looking down the list of winners and losers, that much has become apparent. Julian Lewis survived a challenge from Johnny Mercer on the Defence Select Committee, but otherwise it was mostly change.

Nicky Morgan held off a strong challenge from the Cult of Mogg to win the Treasury Select Committee race. Just think of the fun she will have. Actually, I think she will do incredibly well in that job. I’m also delighted that Rob Halfon got the Education Committee post. I suspect the Chief Whip may live to regret sacking him from his ministerial job in that department – a totally bizarre decision.

The biggest name to lose was Crispin Blunt on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, who was roundly beaten by Tom Tugendhat. It’s a loss that will hit Crispin hard as he clearly loved the job. Politics is a cruel game sometimes.

– – – – – – – – – –

I interviewed Chris Bryant this week on LBC. He called David Davis the biggest gossip in politics. “Have you looked in the mirror lately, Chris?” I asked. “Have you, Iain?” He responded.

Fair point. But the answer is – no, I haven’t. Not at the age of 55…I don’t even like to when I’m shaving…