Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
So he’s gone. The departure of Dominic Cummings from Number Ten eclipsed the concurrent departure of Lee Cain, and understandably so.
But it is the latter’s exit which is already being noticed in broadcast studios up and down the country. Downing Street’s former Director departed a week ago today, and by last Monday Matt Hancock was appearing on Good Morning Britain. The boycott had ended. However, rather than be welcoming and emollient, Piers Morgan did what Piers Morgan does, and gave Hancock a bit of a mauling.
There’s little doubt that the new regime headed by James Slack and Allegra Stratton is striking a very different tune. The tone is one of cooperation and helpfulness. And believe me, it’s a refreshing change.
The point that the Cain/Cummings regime failed to understand is that if Ministers aren’t put up to explain government policy, no one else will do it for them. It’s early days, but I hope the Slack/Stratton regime gets that. The early signs are good.
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It’s almost as though Boris Johnson has got religion. His zealous promotion of green policies have drawn widespread admiration from those involved in the environmental and climate change movements. And he’s done it without unsettling those on the Tory right who view the green lobby as the enemy.
His ten point plan contained some genuinely interesting proposals, albeit not fleshed out with a huge a amount of detail. I had to laugh, though, when Mishal Hussein on the Today Programme took Alok Sharma to task for “only” providing an extra £4 billion of money to fund the ten point plan.
It’s got to a pretty pass when £4 billion is considered a trifling sum. It wasn’t that long ago that £4 billion amounted to the entirety of the annual public sector borrowing requirement. Those were the days…
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The Prime Minister’s green credentials appear to have been burnished in recent times, and of course I’m scratching my head to think who on earth could have been whispering his ear…
Well, she has done a very good job, because it wasn’t so long ago that Johnson wrote a paean of praise to Piers Corbyn’s theory – yes, that’s Piers Corbyn, brother of you-know-who – that it is the sun’s activity rather than man’s which shapes our weather.
Here is an extract from a Johnson Daily Telegraph column in 2010:
“The question is whether anthropogenic global warming is the exclusive or dominant fact that determines our climate, or whether Corbyn is also right to insist on the role of the sun. Is it possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world? The sun is incomparably vaster and more powerful than any work of man. We are forged from a few clods of solar dust. The sun powers every plant and form of life, and one day the sun will turn into a red giant and engulf us all. Then it will burn out. Then it will get very nippy indeed.”
Five years later, in December 2015, he was at it again in the Telegraph. Concerned about an unseasonably warm winter, who did our future Prime Minister turn to again for some meteorological input?
Why yes, it was Piers Corbyn who was on Speed Dial One in the London Mayor’s office. The Jezzabrother reassured Johnson that the warm spell was “nothing to do with the conventional doctrine of climate change”. Johnson himself rejected any idea that recent changes in our weather were anything to do with man-made global warming.
I wonder if he holds that same belief five Decembers later? I’d love to ask him myself, but even despite the departure of Messers Cummings and Cain, I suspect I’m still on the naughty step.
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This week, I have been crippled by back pain. Anyone who has ever experienced it knows who awful it can be, yet those who haven’t can rarely resist the temptation to snigger. I’ve never understood why.
It culminated last Friday evening with me being able to barely put one foot in front of the other. Each night, after my radio show, I walk from Leicester Square to Charing Cross Station to catch the 10.10pm train. The walk normally takes me some four to five minutes.
I knew as soon as I embarked on the short trip, that I would miss my train. My strides became tiptoe steps of about six inches each. I shuffled along like a decrepit 90 year old. Halfway there, I was accosted by someone who recognised me and wanted to chat. I was almost in tears of pain by that point.
Eventually, I made it onto a train 20 minutes later. I sat down and realised the configuration of the seats would make the pain even worse. So I moved to a first class seat which had more support. I phoned my partner to ask him to come to collect me from the station as I knew I couldn’t walk to get my car in the station car park. Never have I felt so pathetic.
When the train arrived at Tonbridge I genuinely wondered if I would be able to get off the seat and get off the train. I managed it just in time. It took me five minutes to manoeuvre myself into the front seat of John’s SUV. I could barely string two words together I was in so much pain. I even wondered whether he should drop me off at the local A&E.
When we got home I then had to contemplate climbing the stairs of our house backwards. I went straight to bed, wondering if I could even lie down to sleep. I took my shirt off, and then the awful truth dawned on me. I couldn’t bend down to take off my shoes of my trousers. I had to call John.
It was at that moment that it all came out. I just started crying – not just because of the constant physical pain I was enduring, but because I realised I had turned into my mother. For the last 30 years of her life she was in constant physical pain due to terrible hip issues (she had five hip replacements), knee problems, osteoporosis and back issues.
But you always have to find humour in these situations. As John was pulling off my trousers I muttered: “I thought you’d be doing this in 20 years time, not now. But at least I’m not dribbling…” If looks could kill.