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

So Theresa May has announced she intends to fight the next election as Conservative leader. Cue a legion of the usual suspects appearing on radio and TV questioning the likelihood of that actually happening. It was an audacious announcement for the Prime Minister to make, as she will have known what the reaction would be. And, given her wording to ITV News, it looked to me as though her answer was pre-planned, rather than a spontaneous.

It is a measure of the way she has recovered her position that she felt confident enough to do this. That’s partly because there is no obvious challenger to her: no-one who Tory MPs and party members can rally behind. And frankly, I don’t see that changing for a very long time. The moment to challenge her was in the immediate aftermath of the election result, yet no one had the cojones to do it. And they still don’t.

There will now be some inevitable speculation about whether the Prime Minister will have the courage to conduct the reshuffle she didn’t daren’t carry out just after the election. I wouldn’t bet against it. It would result in her creating a few more enemies on the backbenches, but she’s never particularly worried about that. She seems to be saying, “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”.

Nicky Morgan has helpfully appeared on the BBC saying she won’t fight the next election, and Grant Shapps, even more helpfully, gave us the benefit of his views on the Today Programme. Of course, “senior Tory MPs” have been at it too, giving anonymous quotes (aren’t they courageous) to journalists like this one to Sky’s Lewis Goodall: “My concern is that she actually believes what she is saying. She is delusional.”  They just can’t help themselves. At least Morgan and Shapps have the balls to go on the record.

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Well, the Brexit talks are going incredibly well, aren’t they? The attitude of Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker stinks. Their patronising condescension reinforces all the reasons I voted to leave the EU. If ever I had any doubts about my decision (and I didn’t), the way they talk down to us as if were some recalcitrant child has allayed them. I’d love David Davis to look Barnier in the eye at one of their press conferences and call him out on it. It would be quite a moment.

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I’ve been most amused by this new so-called Tory equivalent of Momentum, which is called Activate. Judging from some of the Whatsapp conversations reported on Guido Fawkes it’s populated by a group of spotty youths, who probably spend too much time in their bedrooms indulging in semi-permanent onanistic activities. In any case, Activate sounds more like a dermatological face cream. How very appropriate.

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It’s sad to see Michael Heseltine on the decline. Yesterday on Sky News he was asked about the fact that hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created since the Brexit vote. He replied that they had been created through credit and debt. Er, excuse me? Tell that to Aston Martin, Nissan, Toyota, Siemens, etc. They have created jobs because of their confidence in Britain and the British economy. It’s strange that Heseltine can’t bring himself to acknowledge that fact.

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Next week my panel meets to compile this year’s Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right. If you have any suggestions for new entries or high climbers, please do leave them in the comments and we’ll consider your ideas.

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There are many things I regret about the way we consume our news and politics at the moment, but most important is that many people increasingly seem to do so only through the prism of journalists, commentators or news programmes whose editorial line they generally agree with.

I suppose this has always true been to an extent, but the phenomenon is becoming worse. Lefties read the Guardian, righties read the Daily Telegraph. In the US, righties watch Fox and lefties CNN. And you can extrapolate this to all forms of media.

I’ve seen this this week on Twitter with people saying they won’t listen to my show this week because Nigel Farage is presenting it. Ridiculous. Know thine enemy, would be my advice. If you refuse to listen to or read people you disagree with, how can you possibly be informed enough to know how to argue against them?

One of the biggest compliments I can receive is for someone to contact me saying: “I disagree with you on almost everything, but…” They’ve actually taken the time to listen, and then to work out how and why they disagree. That’s public discourse at its best. I much prefer to have a phone-in where most of the callers don’t agree with me. It makes for an interesting conversation rather than the kind of echo chamber you get on some shows.

Some presenters take great delight in ridiculing people they disagree with. Nigel Farage has a different approach. He charms them. And it makes for good radio. I’m back on the air on Monday after a break in Norfolk.

168 comments for: Iain Dale: May has recovered her position

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