Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
Some of my best ideas come to me while driving round the M25. Last Friday, after appearing on Good Morning Britain, I was a bit bleary-eyed, listening to the radio reports about Theresa May’s resignation announcement, when it hit me.
Given that it looked like there would be up to eight (so I then thought) candidates running, why not get them into the LBC studio for a hour long interview and phone-in?
So at 7.30am I texted all the candidates, or their media SpAds, to test what they thought of the idea. Rather to my astonishment, I got three candidates saying yes within five minutes. And so it continued. No one refused – and as I write we have ten of the eleven declared candidates signed up with definite dates.
However, given we don’t know yet when the first ballot will happen, I am a bit worried that one or two candidates may have fallen by the wayside before I get to do the interview.
I’m still hoping Boris Johnson will agree to be interviewed. His team haven’t said no, but they also haven’t said yes. I understand the reluctance of a frontrunner to do anything which might be considered a risk, but this is a contest in which every candidate has surely got to submit themselves to scrutiny.
I remember that in 2005 Michael Cockerell was mad keen to do a fly on the wall documentary on David Davis. I was and remain a huge admirer of Michael’s work, but I told him right from the outset there was no way it was going to happen. He was very persistent, but I didn’t weaken for the simple reason that no good could have come from it.
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Watching May become a tad emotional last Friday was not an easy thing to watch for anybody. It was something many didn’t think she was capable of, despite various reports of it happening on several occasions before.
Politicians are human beings, just like the rest of us. We all have breaking points. May has never been given to public displays of emotion, but there have been enough examples to show that she is far from the Maybot that people imagine her to be.
But just as it suited Margaret Thatcher to be known as the Iron Lady, I have always thought it rather suited Theresa May to be seen as someone who had a bit of iron in her soul (even if it is robotic iron).
I have no idea how you cope with ending your time in office with a reputation as the worst Prime Minister in modern history – because that is what she will be tarnished with, however fair or unfair such a verdict may be. Future historians may give her a kinder hearing than today’s commentators are willing to, but I doubt it.
Since she is leaving office at the age of 62, I hope she finds something to do which will give meaning to her post- Number Ten days. Perhaps she will stay in the Commons. I hope she does, and is able to build a platform for herself. In this country, we have never been very good at utilising the talents and skills of former Prime Ministers. In America, they do.
They even get enough money from philanthropists to build their own presidential libraries to enable future generations to learn about their presidencies and to guard their reputations. Here, there’s none of that.
OK, a Theresa May Prime Ministerial Library might not exactly set the pulses racing, but I wonder whether it isn’t time for someone to set up a National Political Museum of some sort. Now there’s a thought. Anyone got a spare £20 million?
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It used to be: “so what’s going to happen with Brexit, Iain?” I’d get stopped in the street and asked that by random strangers – or by friends when frankly I’d rather be talking about West Ham or anything else other than bleedin’ Brexit.
The question has now changed to: “So is Boris going to win, Iain?” As with Brexit, I have to reply that I haven’t got a clue. It’s then followed up by: “Who do you want to win then?”
You want the truth? I don’t know. Which is just as well, given I will be interviewing all the candidates. I’ll be using the experience, just like listeners and viewers, to judge who I think is the right person to lead not just the Party, but also the country. We will make all the interviews available as podcasts and Youtube videos for any of you that can’t listen to them live each evening.