Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
The fire in Notre Dame on Monday was a tragedy in so many ways – but one which unusually didn’t involve any loss of life. In a slightly twisted way, it’s probably an event which will work to the political benefit of Emmanuel Macron.
His popularity ratings are at an all-time low. Just 27 per cent of the French people approve of the job he is doing. They think he’s getting increasingly regal – not unknown for a French President (think Chirac, Mitterand) – and they have no confidence in his economic reforms. They see the havoc wrought by the Gilets Jaunes each weekend for the last six months, and realise that their President not only in large part caused these protests but also has no idea how to quell them.
Politicians are often judged by how they react to national tragedies and disasters. They present a real opportunity to either fall flat on your face if you strike the wrong tone, or capture the mood of the nation if you get it right.
Macron lost little time in visiting the scene. I suspect his presence wasn’t exactly welcomed by the ‘Pompiers’ who were still trying to douse the fire, but he would have been damned if he hadn’t turned up promptly…and was no doubt damned anyway for turning up with what some saw as indecent haste.
It will be interesting to see whether the Gilets Jaunes decide to cancel their protests in Paris and around the country this weekend. If they do, it could provide some much-needed respite for the beleaguered President.
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One consequence of the fact that Britain will now have to take part in the European elections is that Nigel Farage can’t present his LBC show for the next seven weeks. Under OfCom rules, candidates are not allowed to present radio or TV shows during the campaign. So bang go my weekends – as I’ll be covering for him on Sunday mornings, while Eddie Mair will cover his weekday 6-7pm hour.
Last Sunday, I had Anna Soubry in the studio for an hour doing a 30 minute interview and then taking calls for another 30 minutes. She was in typical robust formm but was rather skewered by the final caller who asked her if it was true that one of her reasons for wanting to remain in the EU was because she wanted to reform it from the inside. Yes, she said. That was certainly the case.
The caller then said: “Well why haven’t you applied the same principle to remaining in the Conservative Party, Anna?” All I could think of was why hadn’t I thought of asking her that question! And that’s why phone-ins are the perfect example of the concept of “Wisdom of Crowds”. #BackInMyBox
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According to Guido Fawkes, the number of Conservative Party members has increased by 30,000 in recent months to 150,000. Some fear that is proof that there is “entryism” from people who have only joined because they want a vote in the coming leadership election.
If many of these people are ex-UKIPers, can they really be described as ‘entryists’, given that they were almost certainly Conservative supporters before they defected to UKIP. Surely the party should be embracing them with open arms and welcoming them home?
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The Conservative leadership contest is well and truly underway – though, for all we know, it could last for the rest of the year. This week, Sajid Javid has made an impact with his speech on crime.
The more personal part of his speech, where he claimed he could easily have been drawn into a life of crime, really hit home with a lot of people. Some say that he lacks the emotional intelligence to be a political leader, but this speech did a lot to address that. Expect him to do much more to show his personality and character over the coming weeks.
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On Wednesday, it was announced that I’m doing a show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. It’s called Iain Dale – All Talk… and I’ll be doing ‘In Conversation’ style interviews with all sorts of people from the world of politics and the media.
My guests will include: Nicola Sturgeon, Sadiq Khan, Kirsty Wark, Christiane Amanpour, Sayeeda Warsi, Sarah Smith, Johnny Mercer, Heidi Allen, Layla Moran, Alan Johnson, Fi Glover, Sarah Smith, Jacqui Smith, Louise Casey, Jess Phillips and John McDonnell. It will runs from 31 July-11 August at 4pm each afternoon at the Gilded Balloon. Tickets are available from the Gilded Balloon website.