Friday, April 30, 2004


Tuesday: My first trip to London for some time and then down to West Sussex to buy some remainder books to sell on the Politico's website.
Wednesday: Spent the morning working in the office before leaving for Manchester for An Evening with Ann Widdecombe. I meant to leave at 2pm but in the event couldn't get away until 3, which meant that any traffic holdup could be rather disastrous as I had to be on stage for 8pm. I got there with only 20 minutes to spare after spending about 20 minutes negotiating a particularly ridiculous one way system. Got back to Swanton Abbott at 2.45am!
Thursday: Visited a special school at Sidestrand in the morning and spent the rest of the day in campaign planning meetings and interviewing for a new Admin Assistant.
Friday: Today I am visiting a junior school in North Walsham and then Ann Widdecombe is coming to speak at a fund raising dinner this evening. Tickets sold out months ago. I'm also taking her to Paston 6th Form College in North Walsham and to the Catholic Shrine at Walsingham, which I was rather surprised to discover she had never visited.

Monday, April 26, 2004


Took the train to London today and on the way back (standing all the way of course) I started reading Private Eye. I turned the page and there, staring out at me was my name. Gulp. Oh God, I thought, what have I done now. Racking my brain to think of anything that would have warranted a mention in Private Eye I felt as if everyone was watching me! It turned out to be a report an attack I made on Labour MP Austin Mitchell about him accusing me of shutting Politico's purely because I wanted to be an MP. Phew!

On Saturday night I went to dinner with some old schoolfriends near Saffron Walden and on Sunday spent the day working on various business and Norfolk related matters. Dreaded going to London today. It's amazing how little I have missed it.


I wrote to Tony Blair today urging him to forego his taxpayer aided holidays this year in some sunny climbe and instead come to North Norfolk. Fat chance, I know, but it's about time he gave a lead and took a holiday in this country. His last jaunt to Bermuda cost the princley sum of £27.50 a night. I know a good B&B in North Walsham that could compete with that very well.


Got a mention in Ann Widdecombe's new Agony Aunt column in The Guardian today. She says she is scared stiff of my driving and that I have a bag of crisps in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. What a gross exaggeration... She forgot to mention the can of Fanta between my knees! She even rang me up to ask if I had seen it. No wonder she is driving herself to Manchester to our next Theatre gig on Wednesday! On Friday she's coming to address the North Walsham Conservatives annual dinner. It sold out two months ago. I wonder whether I dare present her with one of our car stickers - it says "Going Howard's Way"!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2004


Who? Well, my friend Mark Fox, the candidate in Great Yarmouth informs me that the plural from Bottomley is 'Botti'. Who am I to argue. I collected them from the Furzedown Hotel in Yarmouth after breakfast and while Peter Bottomley went out on the streets of Hoveton with half a dozen of my colleagues, I took Virginia to visit an Abbeyfield home in Sheringham. On the way we stopped off at Potter Heigham and met a few people who were about to go out on the Broads. Somehow I found myself serving burgers in a burger van (at 9.30 in the morning!). As the diet's still going well I thought I'd beter not stuff my face. By the way, on the diet front I have lost 1 stone 9 pounds now in less than 2 months. Not bad eh? At last a politician who delivers on a promise...

Friday, April 23, 2004


I spent this afternoon in Fakenham campaigning with one of our Euro MPs Bashir Khanbhai. We stood outside Safeways first of all for an hour meeting shoppers - very worthwhile. We then went into the centre of Fakenham to talk to shopowners about their views on the possible new Tesco. Then had a hilarious encounter with a dozen or so young lads who were having a drink outside one of the pubs. Having promised them I would campaign for longer pub opening hours it wasn't that difficult to persuade them to vote for me! This evening we had a CPF dinner in Blakeney with Bernard Jenkin - great turnout.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


Just about to leave for the Hoveton Conservative Ladies Coffee Morning, then to Sanders Coaches in Holt to learn abou their operation. This afternoon I have a meeting at Kelling Hospital before attending a campaign strategy meeting in Cromer. My life was described on the Today programme on Tuesday in the following way: "Iain Dale is in his North Norfolk Constituency doing the things that Candidates have to do, like being interviewed by a guinea pig for his local paper and attending a wrestling competition with people clad in Spandex." Well I remember the first one, but for the life of me I can't remember the second... Sounds like the stuff of political nighmares, not to mention News of the World headlines!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


Had to get up at 5.30am to make my debut appearance on the ITV News Channel doing a paper review. Got a parking ticket for my troubles too. God I hate London sometimes. It's the first time I've been to London in three weeks and I have to say I hated every minute. Drove up to Norfolk this afternoon and did an hour on the doorstep in West Runton. They're a right wing lot there! I felt a positive liberal leftie, and it's not often I have ever said that! Later on I went to Smallburgh Parish Council. And to round off the day I hear the Daily Express has defected to the Conservatives. Hurrah! It'll be The Sun next...

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Last Thursday the Today Programme came to Cromer to interview me about the Listeners' Law poll on which I was a judge oiver Christmas. You may remember the so-called Tony Martin law won the day, yet Labour MP Stephen Pound reneged on his promise to introduce whchever law topped the Radio 4 poll. The aim of the interview was to ask what I as a candidate could do to promote the law now. I made the point that people do not feel the current law protects them and cited examples of where that has undoubtedly been the case, although was careful not to rise to the bait of promoting the use of firearms. They then had a clip with Norman Lamb who accused me of being "populist". Er, actually I was reflecting the strongly held concerns of ordinary law-abiding citizens. He went on to say rather pompously that "the law already gives someone the right to defend themselves if they use reasonable force". Try telling that to the Policeman who was sued by a burglar who attacked him and he fought back. I ended the interview by saying that if I am elected next year I will introduce a Private Member's Bill on this issue. It's a promise I aim to deliver on.

Monday, April 19, 2004


It is to Tony Blair's credit that he has done the most astonishing U Turn and agreed to have a referendum on the European Constitution. But let's not crow too quickly. He will no doubt try to put the referendum off until after the next election and then come up with a question which invites only one answer. Spin is not dead in Downing Street. It does make me wonder if an election might now be earlier rather than later. I'm keeping October free in my diary...

Saturday, April 17, 2004


I shall be on the Today Programme on Radio 4 on Monday talking about householders' rights to defend their property. Hopefully it'll be on at 10 past 8 rather than 6am!


Yesterday we had a visit from Shadow Agriculture Secretary John Whittingdale. We did an interview on North Norfolk Radio and then went to visit a farm near Saxthorpe run by Peter Seaman, who it is safe to describe as a real Norfolk character! We talked about his business and diversification and he showed us a new venture he has started - worm farming! It's all to do with composting, and obivously hugely successful. We then went on to the Farmers' Forum Maureen Cushing and I had organised at Holt Rugby Club. To be honest I wondered if anyone would turn up as the weather was so superb. I thought that most of the farmers would have better things to do but to my amazement more than 70 showed up. We had two senior officers from the council to talk about planning issues relating to farming and the reaction seemed to be hugely positive. In the evening I went to a dinner party in Tunstead. All in all a very satisfying day. Today I was out on the doorsteps of Bacton and Happisburgh. Recruited several new party members. Great stuff!

Thursday, April 15, 2004


I spent most of the Easter period getting the new Politico's internet and mail order business up and running. Last weekend was the first weekend in six months that I hadn't been on the campaign trail, so I hope I can be forgiven for that! Yesterday evening I attended the inaugural meeting of our new Conservative Branch covering Overstrand, Northrepps and Trimingham. It was a very enthusiastic meeting and I know I'm going to get a lot of support from the people there. Today was mainly catching up with correspondence, interrupted by a visit from Radio 4's Today Programme who did an interview with me about law and order issues. It'll go out on Saturday I think. This evening I went over to Wicken Green on the far west side of the constituency to meeta few people. Tomorrow it's agriculture day as we have a visit from Shadow Agriculture Secretary John Whittingdale.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


I read in the EDP how the LibDems have been indulging in a typical piece of character assassination against the South Norfolk Conservative MP Richard Bacon. They seem to think they are in with a chance of winning hi sseat next time. I think not. Apparently they started off a recent conference in Norwich with Bacon Rolls (very droll) and their candidate jested "We're looking forward to eating the opposition". I sense a career on Have I Got News for You - or not. Perhaps they have forgotten the name of their representative in North Norfolk? Now of course, I would never stoop so low as to make fun of Mr Lamb's name. No Siree. Have to rise above that sort of thing. Wouldn't do. Not cricket. I'd be slated. It'd be like taking a Lamb to the slaughter...

Sunday, April 04, 2004


I didn't realise the nation's national newspaper journalists were avid readers of this Blog, but if you read today's Sunday Times you'll see I was wrong. It reports on my previous posting...

"Is Iain Dale, owner of Politico's, absolutely sure he wants to swap the gentle pace of bookselling for the thrusting world of politics? On his web diary the Tory candidate for North Norfolk recounts what seems a fairly typical candidate's day: visit to a police station, discussions at a health truyst, school governors meeting, talks with business leaders. And how do you think that all went Iain? He reports simply: "I'm knackered." Guilty as charged m'lud. Perhaps I should have mentioned the four hours paperwork and 300 miles I drove that day as mitigation! I never realised "politician admits being tired" would make the Sunday Times, but I suppose it must have been a light news week on the Sunday Times diary.


Regular readers of this Blog will know that I have embarked on a sponsored diet. It's been going for 5 weeks now and I have lost well over a stone, so I'm already half way there. My bathroom scales say I have come down from 18 stone 2 to 16 stone 7, but I'm not sure I trust them. I have an official weigh in on 15 April, so more news then! I must say I feel very much better for it. I'm almost half way to having a flat stomach for the first time in 10 years, not that I'm vain... The downside to losing this amount of weight is that I am going to have to buy a lot of new clothes. Try not to picture this vision in your mind but I put a pair of jeans on the other day, did them up and they prompty fell to my ankles. Not a pretty sight.


Beverley Hughes must be one of the most useless Ministers in living memory - although with this lot she's got a lot of competition. But to hear her bleatings in the debate about not being incompetent and acting with total integrity you wonder whether she was pulling an onion out of her pocket. I know Ministers have a lot of paperwork but put yourself in her place. If a fellow Minister wrote to you alleging the kind of scam that was going on in Bucharest and you then replied to that Minister promising action, don't you think it would stick in your memory? That's why I believe that she is not only incompetent but a liar too. And that's par for the course with New Labour.

Thursday, April 01, 2004


What a day. BBC News 24 paper review at quarter past midnight then off to Norfolk for an early start visiting Norfolk Police HQ at Wymondham where I was given a tour of the forensic labs, firearms section, control room and fleet control. Fascinating. Then to Norfolk Mental Health Trust to meet the people responsible for planning the future of Rebecca House in North Walsham. At 3pm I met the former North Norfolk MP David Prior for a chat - he now runs the University Hospital in Norwich so I wanted to talk to him about the new Cromer Hospital. Then off to Sheringham for a word with sme local business people and finally back to Cromer for my first meeting as a governor of Cromer High School. All in all I'm knackered. Tomorrow I'm visiting Broadland High School, a printing company in North Walsham and then speaking to the South NorfolK Conservative Association Annual Dinner for Richard Bacon MP.