Thursday, January 29, 2004


As stated below, yesterday my mobile phone was stolen so until I get a new phone (I'll keep the same number) please use my home number in Norfolk 01692 538180. I'll check the messages regularly.

Yesterday was one of those days you just wish would end. At about mid day I got a call from my accountants to say that I had to be double the amount of tax I thought I had to pay - and all by Saturday if you please. We then had the Hutton Report (or do I mean whitewash?). I then set out for Norfolk and idiotically didn't lock my car while paying for petrol in an East London Texaco garage. Cue stealing of mobile phone. Worse than that the phone contained my entire diary and contacts. And on top of all that it took four and a half hours to get to Norfolk, so I got to bed at 2am. Do you ever get the feeling your biorhythms are working against you?

Today was rather better - lunch near Fakenham and then a meeting in Dereham to discuss the Boundary Commission report on Norfolk. After the next election they're hacking a bit off the west side of the constituency (Fakenham, the Raynhams etc). Labour want that bit to stay and six wards in the East to go. Strangely the Libdems are staying silent. In actual fact they are trying to get Labour to do their dirty work for them. After all, Norman Lamb wouldn't want voters in the east to think he wanted to get rid of them would he? Perish the thought...

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


We must all accept the conclusions of the Hutton Report but there are many issues which the Report does not cover about whether or not weapons of mass destruction exist and what the Government told the country in the run up to war. There must surely now be an independent inquiry into these wider questions beyond Lord Hutton’s remit. The Report finds that on one level the September dossier was indeed “sexed up”. That is a very serious finding with grave implications for the reliance which can be placed on any published intelligence material in the future. Lord Hutton also concludes that the decision to issue the statement which said that a civil servant had come forward was taken by the Prime Minster at a meeting in No 10 Downing Street on 8th July. The consequence of that decision was that Dr Kelly was named, as Lord Hutton recognises. That is the issue which goes to the heart of the Prime Minister’s involvement in the issue. Lord Hutton can “cast no light” on the answers given by the Prime Minister to journalists on the plane about his role in that strategy. But it is clear that the most charitable interpretation about those remarks is that they are completely at odds with Lord Hutton’s conclusion that the press release authorised by the Prime Minister led to the naming. The Report paints a vivid picture of the way this Government conducts its business – from which it cannot emerge with pride. Lord Hutton states clearly that he has made criticisms of Government about the treatment of Dr Kelly and hopes it takes note of them. The Report’s findings about the BBC speak for themselves. I have always argued that the BBC Board of Governors cannot both run and regulate the BBC. There is now therefore an even stronger case for independent regulation of the BBC. There must also be a proper investigation into the disgraceful leak of the inquiry to The Sun. Only the police can conduct an investigation that will maintain the confidence of the public. I wouldn't dare speculate who might have leaked the report but it's quite clear who stood to gain from it. The laws od libel prevent me from going further!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


I had a chat with Peter Riddell of The Times at lunchtime and predicted the Government would win tonight's vote on tuition fees by 5 votes. He demurred and thought it would be by more. Perhaps I should be writing his column tomorrow. In some senses the Govermnment has now got the worst of all worlds as the tuition fees furore will go on for months now as the Bill wends its way through both Houses. I don't think Charles Clarke will be having a very happy year. But the fact of the matter remains that the Government only got this tawdry measure through with votes from Scottish MPs who should be ashamed of themselves for burdening English students with this level of debt. I truly believe that today is a watershed day for Tony Blair. He has reached his so-called 'tipping point' and his tenure is nearer its end than its beginning. Wishful thinking? Possibly, but in politics you never know.

Monday, January 26, 2004


As I type this I am watching the first few minutes of the new series of I'm a Celebrity... Yes, I know I shouldn't but a friend of mine appeared on the first series (I'll leave it to you to guess who...) so I can't help myself. It set me to thinking about a perfect lineup for a political version of the programme. Do you think this lot would give some entertainment? Mo Mowlam, Nicholas Soames, Bill Cash, Margaret Beckett, Betty Boothroyd, Norman Tebbit, Ron Davies, Dianne Abbott, Helen Brinton and of course Norfolk's very own Keith Simpson. I know who my money would be on to go first... As you can see it's been a slow day today, spent at work at Politico's. As the title of X-Files episode says, "Nothing much happened today".

Sunday, January 25, 2004


This Friday (30th) David Willetts will be coming to Cromer to a Pensioners' Forum. If anyone would like to attend the event, it will commence at 2.30pm at 8 Louden Road. Please call 01263 512117 to register. It's open to anyone with an interest in pensions issues. David is also responsible for drafting the next Conservative manifesto.

A bit of a lazy Sunday, ploughing through the newspapers and then driving south to prepare for the week ahead. I guess I'm not quite so apprehensive as Tony Blair about next week. It's entirely possible that he might not be Prime Ministe by the end of it. Having said that I doubt very much whether that will be the case, but you never know. I have the good fortune to review on the newspapers on BBC News 24 Wednesday evening, the day the Hutton report is published. However, my main preoccupation today will be whether West Ham can beat Wolves and go through to the 5th round of the FA Cup. Well, you've got to get your priorities right, haven't you?

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Just off out to Stalham where we're going to do a high street petition and then go canvassing in Catfield. Yesterday I visited Paston College in North Walsham - it's a 6th form and FE college and a very impressive one at that. Peter Mayne, the Head Teacher almost bubbles over with enthusiasm for what he is doing. Apparently Nelson went to school there! I then drove to Blakeney to get a local government briefing from Bernard Crowe, one of our District Councillors. In the evening I attended a public meeting in Cromer about the new Cromer Hospital, chaired by my opponent Norman Lamb. David Prior (former Tory North Norfolk MP) was there in his capacity of chairman of the Norwich & Norfolk Hospital Trust. I joked to LibDem councillor Simon Partridge that it was a case of past (David P), present (Norman Lamb) and future (me!). Strangely he didn't agree. Simon is about 6 foot 8 and absolutely towered over me. I'm 6'2 so it's not that usual!

Just as an aside I always thought that Jenny Tonge was a bit mad, and her suicide bomber comments have proved it. Quite astonishing. She's one of those politicians who, when watching Question Time, make you cringe so much you feel you want to turn the TV off.

Thursday, January 22, 2004


I keep being asked by people about my 'expenses'. They seem to think that as a candidate all my expenses are paid. I wish! I am obliged to tell such people that as a candidate you don't get any recompense from anyone whatsoever. Your only reward comes when the electorate, in their wisdom, decide to elect you! Today I seemed to spend half the day in the car criss-crossing the constituency. My journey went as follows:- Swanton Abbott - Cromer - Hindolvesten - Thursford - Smallburgh - Briningham - Swanton Abbott. I reckon that's the best part of 120 miles. Just as well I enjoy driving I guess. Tomorrow I am visiting Paston College, a sixth form college in North Walsham and then meeting one of our district councillors to talk about local government matters.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


I have just finished watching a superb edition of Panorama on the Hutton Report. It is quite clear that although the BBC made mistakes in their reporting, Blair and Hoon are in it up to their necks. My fear is that Hoon will be used as Blair's fall guy and I think Hoon himself knows that is what is going to happen. Apparently the Hutton Report itself will cost a massive £50. My company is publishing a book on the Report within two weeks of publication. A few people will certainly be burning the midnight oil.

My good friend Shailesh Vara has been selected as the Conservative Candidate in North West Cambridgeshire to succeed Brian Mawhinney. The fact that a Ugandan Asian has been selected in a safe seat, an Indian has been selected in Enoch Powell's old seat and British West Indian has been selected in Windsor must surely put to rest the old canard that we only select married white males with 2.4 children and a Volvo in the drive. A quarter of all our candidates are now women. And we've done this with no positive discrimination at all. The LibDems have virtually no women in safe seats and no ethnic candidates either.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


A very dreary and wet day in London. Today I have to play "Select Committee Chairman" again, and then later on tonight it's off to the BBC to review tomorrow's newspapers on News 24. If you're an insomniac I'll be on at around quarter past midnight. Caught up with the Alan Clark Diaries last night on video. Can't have been very good as I was snoozing after ten minutes. I knew Alan Clark a little. When his book The Tories came out he invited me to lunch at The Ivy (my one and only visit!). To be honest I was rather dreading it asI couldn't imagine getting on with him. How wrong I was. I met him a few times after that, often with his wonderful wife Jane. I even got the point of putting my hat in the ring as the author of his authorised biography. In the end I decided that I just wouldn't have the time to do it and to be honest, for my first biography, I thought I might not be able to do him justice.

Monday, January 19, 2004


Up at 4.30am to drive to West London to do Sky News's newspaper review at 7am. Normally I am quite a good 'morning' person but I have to admit that today I could happily have stayed in bed. I talked mainly about Geoff 'Buff' Hoon's future (or lack of it), tuition fees and the Government's plans to reform the Strategic Rail Authority. These plans seem to involve removing the SRA's stragetic function, which is a little odd seeing as the SRA was created by this government only three years ago. If it has no strategic function and isn't an authority they might as well get rid of it. I think we're moving back to a state owned rail and the bad old days of British Rail. Here's a quiz question: How many different Transport Secretaries have there been since Labour came to power in 1997? Answer: Eight. Amazing. No wonder there is no strategy.

Sunday, January 18, 2004


On Friday we got 40,000 copies of my first constituency newspaper, which we are calling North Norfolk Matters. It's a four page tabloid which is mainly about local issues which I have been involved in. It's also got a survey on the back for people to send back to me. And lots of lovely pics! If you'd like to see it, it's on the website as a downloadable PDF. Click HERE

The cold is going strong - just what I needed today as I try to get my Self Assessment tax form sorted out for my good friend Gordon Brown by January 31st. Got back at 3.30am this morning from my Stockton on Tees date with Miss Widdecombe.

Saturday, January 17, 2004


Had the first visitors to the new house this evening. Sylvia and Bert very kindly put me up for the first three months of my candidacy in North Norfolk and must be pleased to see the back of me! In fact four different people offered to put me up until I found a house, which bearing in mind they hardly knew me, was nice. Bert is from Texas and continually makes references to the Cattleman's Club and the Oil Baron's Ball. Fellow Dallas connoisseurs will remember the scenes fondly. JR turns to a lip quivering Sue Ellen and utters those magic words: "Sue Ellen, you're a drunk, a bitch, a whore and an unfit mother." Cue title music. Da da, da da, da da, da de da da... Time for bed methinks (or maybe the sanatorium). Off to Sheringham tomorrow for some heavy duty press fleshing in the market followed by a 220 mile drive to Stockton on Tees to appear on the stage with Ann Widdecombe. Best not to ask. The things I do to earn a meagre crust!

PS Cold still if anyone cares :(

Friday, January 16, 2004


Feeling very sorry for myself today as I have the mother of all colds. The move to Swanton Abbott went well yesterday - well, if you call unloading a lorry at 9.30pm in the pouring rain fun, I suppose it went well.

I seem to have upset the local Liberals twice this week. They've complained about my forthcoming appearance at the Little Theatre in Sheringham with Ann Widdecombe. Funny they never complained when Clement Freud appeared there. They've also taken great exception to my comments on the need for new legislation on the so-called Tony Martin law. I don't advise them to tune in to Anglia TV on Sunday at noon then.

This morning I went to the Conservative Group Meeting at County Hall. Guess I'd better not discuss it here otherwise I might be reported to the Standards Board... The rest of the day will be spent slaving over a hot keyboard and a hot toddy...

Thursday, January 15, 2004


Just a quick entry this morning as I am about to go and record a half hour programme for Anglia TV for their Sunday lunchtime slot (12.00pm on Sunday if you'd like to tune in). It's to discuss how legislation is made. Who influences the process and could we do it any better?I'm on with Labour MP Phyllis Starkey and LibDem MP Bob Russell. Anglia had asked my opponent Norman Lamb to take part but I gather he was none to keen to appear on TV with me. Hey ho.

After that's done it's off to Swanton Abbott to move into the new house. Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Here's a press release I issued today... If you'd like to give me your views or any examples email me at or write to me at 8 Louden Road, Cromer, NR27 9EF.

Iain Dale, North Norfolk Conservatives’ Parliamentary Spokesman called for public sector workers across North Norfolk to send in their examples of waste and bureaucracy across local public services. Launching a new campaign in North Norfolk to highlight how taxpayers’ money is being wasted, Iain Dale said: “I invite public sector workers across North Norfolk to send me their own examples of how taxpayers’ money is not being well spent. We need North Norfolk’s public services run by the best qualified people – such as the nurses, the doctors and the teachers, in contrast to being controlled by the armies of inspectorates, commissions and czars that have become the problem rather than the solution. This is not just a question of money but also of morale. Constant micro-management and interference by bureaucrats creates a climate of frustration and disillusionment among our public servants. But armed with their professional insights and experience, we can apply our energies to rooting out waste, bureaucracy and incompetent administration in North Norfolk’s public services.”

Tomorrow I move into my new little cottage in Swanton Abbott. During my selection process I made a commitment to buy a home in the constituency as soon as possible. In the end it took me 120 days. I had hoped to complete the purchase before Christmas but it wasn't a good time to be looking. I must have looked at 30 different houses before I found this one. It really made me realise how difficult it is for first time buyers in Norfolk. I plan to become part of the local community as quickly as possible. My phone line isn't being put in until the 23rd, but if any constituent wishes to phone me, I'm quite happy to be phoned at home. The number will be 01692 538180. All part of the service!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


I spent the most peculiar afternoon pretending to be a Chairman of a Select Committee, grilling three people who have shortly got to appear before one. I think I put the fear of God into them. It was a bit like being on Star's in Their Eyes and saying: "And Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Gwyneth Dunwoody!" I have to say it was great fun though. Hopefully one day I might get to do it for real!

Here's a press release I've just issued which speaks for itself...

North Norfolk Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman Iain Dale today hit out at LibDem North Norfolk District Council's decision to close three local tourist offices in Fakenham, Mundesley and North Walsham and to increase car parking charges to subsidise the cost of wheelie bins.

Iain said: "I am appalled at this short-sighted decision by LibDem councillors. Tourism is a growing part of the North Norfolk economy and this decision will send all the wrong signals. If so few people are using the Tourist offices we should be asking why that is rather than taking a knee jerk reaction and closing them. I fully understand the need to save money but this can be done in ways which will not harm the local economy, like reversing the policy on introducing wheelie bins, for instance."

Commenting on the decision to increase car parking charges to pay for the expensive wheelie bins Iain said: "Increasing car parking charges will further hit the motorist and be a disincentive to local people to drive into town centres. By this act LibDem councillors are risking North Norfolk town centres becoming ghost towns. They should take a leaf out of Dereham's book, where car parking is free and Dereham town centre bustles with activity. By implementing the introduction of wheelie bins at a cost of half a million pounds the LibDems have made a rod for not only their own backs but for every council tax payer in North Norfolk."

Monday, January 12, 2004


Someone sidled up to me this afternoon and whispered furtively: "Do you realise you;re in Private Eye this week?" Images of a dramatic end to my political career flashed in front of my eyes... All it was was a silly little piece pointing out the the Conservative Party online shop (, which my company runs, is selling copies of Tony Martin's memoirs and surely this went against the grain of my own beliefs in compassionate conservatism. I've been called many things in my time...

I'm being a bit prolific today on the press release front...

Iain Dale, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for North Norfolk today welcomed an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons tomorrow (Tuesday) which will highlight the plight of rural Post Offices.

Iain Commented: "North Norfolk's rural communities depend on their local post offices. They are part of the living soul of village life and this Government's treatment of them is a scandal. Labour doesn't even pretend to understand the needs of rural areas and their plans to close yet more rural post offices signal another nail in the coffin for village life. I am pleased that my colleagues in Parliament are using a day's debate in the House of Commons to bring this issue to the fore. Henry Bellingham, MP for North West Norfolk, is playing a leading role in the debate and will be using examples from his own constituency to highlight the plight of the village Post Office."


I've just issued this to the local press:

Iain Dale, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for North Norfolk Conservatives, attacked the Liberal Democrats this weekend for threatening to withdraw grants for village halls next year.

At a meeting of Runton Conservatives held to discuss local issues Mr Dale pointed out that the Liberals are already considering withdrawing funding to help upgrade the very many village halls in the area.

“I urge every secretary of a village hall to ensure that they have applied to the Council by next Friday for their entitlement grant of up to a third of the cost of necessary improvements,” said Mr Dale. “What shocks me”, he continued, “is that the Liberals are already discussing withdrawing this help from villages. The whole of our area is a network of local communities and the village hall is so often the centre of social life. With new legislation being brought in to cater for the needs of the H.S.E., much needed access for the disabled, and, more often than not, roof repairs it seems more than a little spiteful to be making plans to cut these grants this early”.

Mr Dale urged Conservatives to highlight the ways in which the Liberals are trying to save pennies when they are wasting pounds in other areas.

I have just had an email inviting to display unknown talents to the nation by the Johnny Vaughan Show on BBC1. They say "Last year’s participants included: Damian Green, who performed keepy-uppies with a football, Baroness Cox showed off her talents at Campanology, MEP Den Dover performed magic, Robert Spink took to the potters’ wheel, Edward Leigh demonstrated a karate chop, and Alun Cairns, of the Welsh Assembly, took to the slopes for a ski jump. All of the participants said they enjoyed their filming with us.". I may be a media tart but the words barge, touch, wouldn't and pole come to mind...

Sunday, January 11, 2004


Went out to lunch today to a friend's near Crawley and when I got back continued watching the series Teachers on DVD. Never saw it when it first was on Channel 4. I always intended to be a German teacher. When I visited Sheringham High School last week I went into a German class and wondered what my life might have been like had I actually gone into teaching. Rather different I suspect. Great series on TV though!

On Friday night I gave a half hour lecture to about 125 Upper Sixth formers and teachers at Gresham's School in Holt. The title of my lecture was "What is the Conservative Party for?" I decided to keep it very serious and refrain from my usual jokes. I had 40 minutes of questions, which could easily have gone on for another half an hour. It was quite a challenging audience but a hugely enjoyable experience. At the end the teacher in charge carried out a vote. 7 Lib Dems, 10 Greens, 12 Labour and rest Tory! If only that would be reflected throughout the rest of North Norfolk!
A great day in Cromer yesterday. We did the first of our High Street 'Blitzes' collecting signatures for a petition on a referendum on the European Constitution. The response was amazing. Not only did we collect 300 signatures in an hour and a half, we also recruited some new party members. In the afternoon we went out canvassing in Cromer and again, were delighted by the response. There seems a real willingness on the part of the electorate - nay an enthusiasm! - to consider voting Conservative - and this from people who haven't voted for us in the last three elections. I think they recgonise that in Michael Howard we have a leader who can really take the fight to Blair. The other good thing, which appealed to my vanity if nothing else - is that I am getting recognised by people after a comparatively short time. One lady said when asked who she might vote for next time, "I'm voting for Iain Dale" rather than I'm voting Conservative. I think that's a good sign.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Oops, I've done it again. Here's a self explanatory press release...

As the controversy over the Radio 4 Today Programme Listerner's Law Poll continues, North Norfolk Conservative Candidate Iain Dale today revealed that the Tony Martin Law was shortlisted at his insistence. As one of the three judges whose task it was to shortlist 5 laws from the 7,000 suggestions from the programme's listeners, Dale says that his co-judges Stephen Piund MP and Julia Hartley-Brewer were both dead against including ths suggestion of a new law to enable people to protect their own properties.

Iain Dale says: "It was clear that there were lots of people who wanted this on the shortlist and I was determined it should be included. I applaud Kevin Marsh, the Today Programme Editor for agreeing with me. It is typical of a New Labour MP for Stephen Pound to renege on his promise to bring the law before Parliament. He shouldn't have agreed to take part in the programme if he was not willing to abide by the result. I know from North Norfolk people how strongly they feel on this subject and their views are obviously reflected throughout the country. People want to feel safe in their own homes and be able to defend their property should the need arise without fear of being accused of a crime themselves. As far as I am concerned, if someone puts a foot over your doorstep when they haven't been invited to they lose many of their natural legal rights. We need to think about the victims in these cases rather than the burglars."