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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.

I’m afraid that David Gauke’s weasel excuses for not himself launching a judicial review on the John Worboys case just won’t wash.

It should never have been left to two of his victims to have to bring a case, and no amount of wriggling on the part of the Justice Secretary will change that. Sometimes politicians have to lay the law down to their civil servants and advisors, even if political risk is involved.

If the victims could win a judicial review, then I’m damned sure that Gauke could have if he and his department had deployed the correct arguments. On the day that the victims launched their crowdfunding appeal, listeners on my show raised a five figure sum. One of the victims messaged me on Wednesday, following the verdict, to say that without us doing so they could never have launched the appeal.

I am proud to have played a part in enabling them to go ahead, but I am ashamed that the system let them down so badly. It’s now up to the Justice Secretary to put that right. And quickly.

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UKIP really does have a deathwish. This week they drew up the rules of their latest leadership election. These make for interesting reading, especially through the prism of ensuring that only candidates unpopular with the electorate will be able to stand.

Each candidate must put down a deposit of a whopping £7,000, and must have either served as an MEP or stood for Parliament, and have continuous party membership of at least five years. Well, that rules out Suzanne Evans and Patrick O’Flynn. Which I imagine was the point.

Betway have already closed the betting on the contest, and have made Gerard Batten, the acting leadrer, the favourite. He’s been largely anonymous since taking over the post, possibly because he has had to concentrate on rescuing the party’s finances. It’s entirely possible that the party could be bankrupt by the time voting closes, since it has to find £170,000 to pay to the High Court over a disastrous libel action brought by one of their MEPs, Jane Collins, against three Labour MPs.

So what happens if Batten wins? To quote the famous song, the only way is up. The party is down to one per cent in the polls, and is likely to lose very single councillor it won back at its high watermark in 2014. If Batten is to make any headwa,y surely he has to do things. First, abandon the anti-Muslim obsessiveness. Second, sack the odious Alan Craig, who was laughably appointed as Education and Family spokesman. The man is a Christian fundamentalist who has a record of religious bigotry and believes in gay cure therapy. I know several people who have left UKIP following his appointment. I hope there are many more who will follow.

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I can’t say that I’m, surprised that Mark Zuckerburg has turned down the DDCMS Select Committee’s invitation to appear before them. If you write a rudely worded letter to someone, don’t be surprised if they give you middle finger.

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I doubt whether there are many people who can deny that Theresa May has had her best fortnight in her time as Prime Minister. In fact, it’s so good that it wouldn’t surprise me if, on her walking holiday in north Wales, she decided to call an election…

I jest, of course, but had last year’s disastrous election not happened, I suspect that there would be a lot of election speculation going on right now. She’s secured Brexit progress that a lot of people predicted could never happen, and she’s show real leadership in her reaction against the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Her diplomatic skills have been on display for all to see. For nearly 30 countries to expel Russian spies is unprecedented, and it is almost entirely due to the way that she has led Britain’s diplomatic efforts.

The Foreign Office deserve a lot of praise too. Nick Boles tweeted about the fact that in January he went on record criticising the prime minister for a lack of domestic policy agenda and for a lack of ‘grip’. On Tuesday, he followed that up by declaring he was now satisfied that a firm grip was on the tiller and domestic policy was firmly back on the agenda. Long may it continue.

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Alex Salmond’s Russia Today show goes from bad to worse. I’ve just had a press release which informs me that his star guest this week is Lembit Opik. Need I say more.

The sooner this sorry show is pulled from the RT schedule the better. It will leave Alex time to try to recover his reputation. To take the Kremlin rouble at this time is simply unforgiveable. In other times we’d have dubbed him ‘Lord Haw Haw’.

I hope any Conservative MP who features on this channel in future will face deselection from their local party. All they achieve is to give succour and support to a rogue state. A state which is fast becoming an enemy state.

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I was going to write a vicious denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to anti-semitism and explain why he’s not fit to be Prime Minister. But why bother? He’s done it so well himself.

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If you live near Bath, I’ll be appearing at the Bath Festival with Jacqui Smith, where we’re recording a live edition of our For the many podcast. It’s at 11am on Sunday 20 May. Do visit the festival website if you’d like to come to see us.

230 comments for: Iain Dale: A revitalised and purposeful May heads for the Welsh hills to call an election (just kidding, folks)

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