Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
The £2 billion scheme to encourage us all to insulate our lofts has received plaudits from many, although of course many in the environmental movement think it doesn’t go far enough.
‘Too little, too late’ is the constant mantra of Labour politicians to any initiative that the Government launches nowadays. But this really is the language of the vapid. In the case of the insulation scheme, it is also totally wrong.
At the last election, the Labour Party had a similar scheme in its manifesto which would have cost £60 billion. They wanted to insulate every home in the country in order to create lots of ‘green jobs’.
Laudable perhaps – but also very dangerous. Kevin Rudd’s Labour government in Australia launched a similar scheme in 2009. It led to an explosion of new home insulation companies, run by people who knew nothing at all about how to actually do it.
They hired lots of young lads, gave them little or no training – and the result was a spate of serious injuries and four deaths. The outcry from the public was massive, and the Government later abandoned the scheme in great ignominy. Be warned.
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You know public service broadcasting when you see it. It’s obvious. Any broadcaster covering news and current affairs is certainly carrying out public service broadcasting.
It’s a core part of the BBC’s remit. If it doesn’t cover politics news and current affairs in a way which commercial broadcasters never could, you wonder what the point of the Corporation is.
Over recent years, the BBC News and Current Affairs division has been massively impacted by cutbacks, to the extent that several of its political mainstays have been axed. This Week – axed. The Daily and Sunday Politics – gone. Victoria Derbyshire – gone.
It was announced this week that are to be major cutbacks in BBC regional television political coverage, with local radio also cut to be bone. And then as if this weren’t enough, it emerged that Politics Live is also on the chopping block.
The successor to the Daily and Sunday Politics had already been pared back to 45 minutes from an hour, with more chat and fewer films. But it attracted a bigger audience than the former ever did, and is a programme which is respected by both viewers and politicians.
In these days of niche audiences, it does exactly what it says on the tin – it caters for the political niche in a way that no other BBC show does. It allows the voices of backbenchers to be heard, and covers issues which you don’t see covered elsewhere.
If it goes, what is left of the BBC Millbank operation – just political journalists. And maybe they’ll be next for the chop. There was, we should remember, an attempt to cut the BBC Parliament Channel back to the core, with no original programmes at all, but this came to grief after a predictable outcry.
I hope the same happens with Politics Live. If this show goes, they might as well lose any pretence of being a proper public service broadcaster. Given that it probably costs less to produce annually that the salaries of four of the BBC’s top managers combined, it is a bit rich to suggest cutting a show like this only two days after the BBC proudly announced it is spending £100 million on diversity. You couldn’t make it up.
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Perhaps I’m missing something, but I don’t understand the fuss about Dominic Cummings visiting various security establishments. Surely, as the Prime Minister’s chief strategic adviser he should be free, and indeed encouraged, to visit any government organisation he chooses to.
No adviser can be an expert on everything, and by visiting and talking to people you build up your knowledge of areas you many not be too familiar with. If I had that job, I’d make it my business to talk to as wide a range of people as possible. Advisers who spent twenty hours a day in a Whitehall office are probably not very good advisers.
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My life this week has been dominated by book packing. My new book Why can’t we all just get along: shout less listen more is out on August 6th, but I got my physical copies last Friday.
Since then, I’ve been signing like a dervish, and packaging up the more than 300 orders for signed copies I’ve received so far via my website online shop. And I’m packing them all myself. I don’t have a crew of flunkies doing my bidding!
Forgive the blatant sales pitch, but if you’ve enjoyed my columns here over the last seven years, I hope you might want to read the book.
It has, I think, some important messages about the state of our public discourse, and while it’s not an autobiography, there are loads of anecdotes from the world of politics and the media, and a few laughs (and tears) along the way too. You can order the book here.