Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.
“I am your leader, let me follow you.” That sentence seems to sum up the new Brexit policy of the man who aspires to become Prime Minister. Yet again, Jeremy Corbyn thinks he walk along the middle of the road on Brexit. The trouble is, if you do that you will inevitably get run over.
The Liberal Democrats have a clear policy (more on that later); the Conservative have, too. Everyone kows what the Brexit Party policy is – it does what it says on the tin. But Labour’s policy remains – if I can use that word – as clear as mud. How can a party leader fail to take a position on the biggest political issue of the day?
It’s all very well to try to emulate Harold Wilson, but Corbyn doesn’t have the political skill to pull it off. I said on Question Time recently that I thought Emily Thornberry’s position on negotiating a ‘good Labour deal’ and then advocating voting Remain in a referendum was utterly ridiculous. But at least she has the merit of declaring what she believes in.
Corbyn doesn’t have the guts to do that. No wonder he doesn’t like doing interviews, because if he did, his position would inevitably collapse within minutes.
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Jo Swinson’s position on revoking Article 50 may be seen as illiberal and anti-democratic, and it might appear that she is transforming the LibDems into the Remain equivalent of UKIP – but it does have the benefit of clarity.
I wonder, however, if it will put off any more Conservative MPs from defecting to her party. It’s one thing to believe in a second referendum; quite another to advocate cancelling Brexit altogether. And this from the party that was the first to advocate an in/out EU referendum back in 2007.
Mind you, it is probably a good idea for the party to move away from the idea of a second referendum, since it has a leader who says that she wouldn’t accept the result even if Leave won again. Swinson’s position of insisting that she would revoke Article 50 in the event of the LibDems winning a general election has the superficial appeal of it being at least arguable that she would thus have a democratic mandate.
It does, however, retain a different problem for her. How can she possibly argue against a second Scottish referendum, given that one was proposed in the SNP’s election manifesto in 2016? She was asked that question in an interview this week and ended up gulping like a goldfish. It was something she had clearly given no thought to.
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I’ll be spending a couple of days in Brighton next week at the Labour conference. I’m broadcasting my LBC show from there on Monday and Tuesday, but we’ve already been informed we won’t be getting a interview with Jeremy Corbyn.
He hasn’t done a live interview with me, or anyone else for that matter, on LBC since he became Labour leader four years ago. Boris Johnson gets a lot of flack from broadcasters for not doing may interviews, but he’s positively prolific compared to Corbyn.
I’d have thought that he would want to talk to LBC’s 2.4 million listeners, because I doubt he can win an election without the support of a good proportion of them.
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Fraser Nelson and I have at least one thing in common. He and I are both celebrating ten years in our respective jobs. He’s been editor of the Spectator for a decade, and I presented my first show on LBC ten years ago this week.
Fraser was on the Media Masters podcast this week, and it was fascinating listening to him explain how the Spectator has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. The conventional wisdom is that print media is dying off. In newspapers, you get the impression that this is indeed happening, yet in the magazine world it’s not necessarily the same.
The key point for the Spectator is that their digital offering has led to an increase in print subscriptions. If anything, I’d say that it has increased its political influence over the last five years or so. Its design hasn’t changed much, and the content isn’t radically different, but somehow it’s smarter and more welcoming.
I always used to find the it a little stuffy and intimidating. That’s not the case nowadays. And its political coverage is second to none. So happy editing-birthday, Fraser. Keep up the good work.