Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Daley (Half Dozen): Wednesday

1. Left Foot Forward agrees with David Cameron on community organisation.
2. Iain Martin on that old Blair magic.
3. The Spectator reports unrest about the selection of Tristram Hunt a Labour candidate in Stoke.
4. Max Atkinson wishes the BBC would do less interpreting.
5. Michael Savage thinks James Purnell won't be regretting his decision.
6. Stephen Glenn thinks Nick Clegg could be PM because, er, Howard Dean says so.

Let Sunshine Win the Day

I was hoping to go to see David Cameron deliver his BIG SOCIETY speech this morning, but work issues held me up. So I was delighted to read Pete Hoskin's account of it HERE. Why delighted? Because if conforms to Dale's law of elections. What is Dale's law of elections, I hear you ask like a baying crowd? It's simple.

Optimistic politicians win elections, pessimistic politicians don't.

Of course, you can't radiate optimism all the time, and you have to face up to the enormous challenges which face you, but if you can be honest about the challenge AND optimistic about the result of meeting that challenge, I reckon you will usually triumph over those who radiate pessimism and negativity. It's why Reagan beat Carter. It's why Kennedy beat Nixon. It's why Thatcher beat Callaghan. It's why Clinton beat Bush. It's why Blair beat Howard.

And it is why Cameron will beat Brown.

UPDATE: You can read David Cameron's BIG SOCIETY speech HERE.

Book Your $650 Tony Blair Ticket Now!

How could you resist? Sadly you have missed the discounted rate of a mere $180, though...

This looks more like a poster for a Billy Graham rally.

Tories Hit Back In Poster Wars

Well, it looks as if the Tories aren't going to be reticent in hitting back when Labour get personal about David Cameron. This new poster is designed as a retort to the Labour poster yesterday and is the latest work from the Tories' ad agency EUROS, who were also responsible for the Tory death tax poster.

UPDATE: James Davenport has sent me a new version of the original Labour poster. I like it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Daley (Half Dozen): Tuesday

1. Mr Eugenides thinks Sainthood for Vince Cable can wait.
2. Max Atkinson on how Yaboo politics can work for the LibDems.
3. Conservative History Journal on a clutch of anniversaries.
4. Nick Assinder remembers the election battlebus.
5. A Stratford Conservative on why Labour blocked party funding reform.
6. Tom Harris on blogging the election campaign.

EXCLUSIVE: Gordon Brown Makes It Up

When Labour poster makes f*** up, they really do it royally. Above is their latest effort, attempting to take the mickey out of David Cameron for allegedly wearing makeup on the so-called "airbrushed" poster. Cameron, incidentally, denies it was airbrushed at all. But of course all politicians use makeup when they go on TV or have official photos taken. And whaddaya know, here's the proof. It shows Gordon being made up on an airplane.

And if that's not enough proof for you, what about this photo, showing a huge great orange blotch of makeup

And of course last year, GB's makeup instructions were left in the back of a taxi by one of his aides, as The Sun, helpfully reminded us...

1. Transparent Brush. Foam all over. This is believed to be an illuminating foam to give the PM's face that certain glow.

2. Small pot under eyes, dimple, creases, blend in. This refers to the use of concealer to smooth out facial bumps and blemishes.

3. Clinique. Super balanced make-up. All over again, like painting a wall, and ears. Shut eyes over lids then with make-up pad smooth over liquid. This tells the PM to trowel foundation over his whole face.

4. Powder (dark brush) terracotta Guerlain, all over. Slap on fake tan bronzer.

You really couldn't make it up...

Does Vince Agree With His Own Policy?

Vince Cable has received plenty of plaudits for his performance in the Chancellors’ Debate last night but, in part, this is due to the lack of scrutiny he receives for his policies. Imagine if Alistair Darling or George Osborne got themselves into the following tangle over child benefit.

About 9 minutes into the debate, Vince said this:

‘We‘ve spelt out very specifically, the only one of the three parties to do so, £15b of cuts we think have to be made. Painful and difficult, it involves discipline in public sector pay, looks at key areas of welfare services: getting rid of the child trust fund and child benefit for very high earners…’

This is not the first time he has proposed this policy. In a paper published by Reform in September 2009, he stated the following:

‘It is certainly incongruous to many people that the very rich receive child benefit. The IFS estimates that £5 billion or more could be saved by no longer making child benefit universal. The implication, however, of the tapering of child tax credit and the loss of universal child benefit, would be a loss of income for some middle income families. Such a reform would be easier to make if income tax were cut for standard rate payers. I favour making this reform in principle, but more work needs to be done on how to manage offsetting tax cuts.’

The position appeared to be backed by Nick Clegg in an interview in the Guardian, 19 September 2009.

‘I find it odd that people on multi-million pay packages from the city get child benefit. That's patently silly and patently unfair.’

However, during the Lib Dem party conference, the policy was ruled out (and mocked) by its DWP spokesman, Steve Webb:

“We’ve been able to conduct the review speedily over the last 24 hours – and I am pleased to say that the policy won’t be changing. I read…..we were going to look at ‘middle class child benefit’. I have looked at it – and I have rejected it.”

And on 7 March, Nick Clegg made it clear that he no longer thought it ‘patently silly and patently unfair’ that ‘people on multi-million pay packages from the city get child benefit’ but actually rather important when he said:

"We will not question the universality of child benefit. There are some benefits – and child benefit is one of them – I think it is quite important that everyone feels they have a stake in."

And child benefit is not listed amongst the cuts proposed by the Liberal Democrats.

So does Vince Cable not know what his own policy is? Or was he deliberately opposing his own party by pursuing his personal policy? Either way, if either George Osborne or Alistair Darling had done this, we would be hearing a lot more about it today.

Calling A Level Politics Teachers

I'm hoping someone out there can help me with this. Back in the second half of 2008 I spoke at a conference of A Level politics teachers at the British Library on Euston Road. Unfortunately, I can't remember the organisation which put it on - I think it was some kind of Association of Politics Teachers. The name Jim Iley comes to mind, but I might have invented that.

Can anyone shed any light on this? Is there an organsation which brings A Level politics teachers together, and if so how can I get in touch with them?

I thank you.

Politics, Speeches & Audiences in the Age of Celebrity

Last week I spoke to a group of speechwriters. Several people have asked if I would post my speech, which took as its subject “Politics, Speeches & Audiences in the Age of Celebrity”. Here's an abbreviated version...

The best speeches are made like I sing in the shower. With no notes. Anne Widdecombe taught me that. Let me pause for a moment, while that image sinks in...

When was the last time you heard a political speech, and you thought, "wow"! It probably wasn’t made in the House of Commons, it probably wasn’t at a political conference. And I suspect it was made by Barack Obama. Obama is a politician who has a unique ability to use rhetoric to whip up an audience into an almost orgasmic frenzy of optimism and hope. Why is that? Why can he do what no British politician seems able to? Inspire.

I do think it has something to do with the way Americans are completely unembarrassable at the way they use language. They allow rhetoric to soar away into areas that would be no go areas for most British politicians, whose use of language tends to be functional and pedestrian to say the least. In recent years in this country, only Tony Blair has attempted to use language and rhetoric to reinforce a political message. Obama is the Ronald Reagan of his generation, at least in terms of the ability to make a speech which lives on in the memory.

The thread which binds the two is the ability to act, and the possession of the golden halo of celebrity. Reagan and Obama are of course politicians, but people – and I am not just talking about devoted, diehard fans – people see them on a different plane to ordinary mortal politicians. And that is in part because of their ability to act, to ham up, to convince.

But let’s not go too far. Both Obama and Reagan were capable of making perfectly ordinary speeches too. Not every speech was a masterpiece, but when the occasion called for it, they could rise to it. Think of Reagan after the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up.

"The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God."

You could just about imagine Tony Blair saying that, but any other British politician? I doubt it.

Of course, they weren’t Reagan’s words. They were Peggy Noonan’s, probably the finest speechwriter of her generation – and if you haven’t read her book WHAT I SAW AT THE REVOLUTION, you should.

Obama’s speeches are also not entirely his own, but one incredibly important aspect of Obama’s success and Reagan’s is that their respective speechwriting teams managed to get inside their heads. They knew what their subjects were thinking or would think – and that I think is a large part of what makes a successful speech.

Successful politicians know their own minds, and successful speechwriters know them too. A framework still needs to be set for the speech, and that’s up to the politician, but then it’s time for the speechwriters to get to work. As relationships develop and confidence grows, a system evolves. A degree of mutual confidence is established.

But what when it all goes wrong. Some of you may know that I was chief of staff to David Davis during the Conservative leadership contest. I was never a speechwriter, but I saw at close hand how not to run a speechwriting team. There were too many people involved, who often disagreed with each other about policy issues. That mattered because in retrospect it is clear that they were not given a clear enough steer of what David wanted to say, and they didn’t know his views well enough. Was that their fault or his? Perhaps it was mine for not gripping the process.

But what was Cameron’s appeal at the same conference? That he was young? That he could make a speech with no notes? Indeed, it seemed to have been the latter. Making that speech, seemingly off the cuff took some balls of steel. But all he was doing was emulating what Ann Widdecombe had done at the same conference seven years earlier. And Cameron has used the same technique twice since, at the conference in Autumn 2007 just before the election that never was, and just recently at their Spring Forum in Brighton. But it’s a party trick which can look a little jaded if it is deployed too often. Cameron seems to use it when he has his back against the wall.

Other members of the Shadow Cabinet have started to do it too. And in a way it has freshened up politics. Welcome to the Age of Political Informality. Giving a set piece speech like this with no notes sends several subliminal messages. Hey, look, no notes is the less subliminal one. I’m as good as Dave! I’m one of you. I could present the Jeremy Kyle show is another message.
The problem is, if you do a setpiece speech like that with no notes, as a politician you take several risks.

1. You forget to announce a major policy.
2. You announce a policy you hadn’t intended to
3. You announce a policy that isn’t policy
4. You annoy your speechwriters because you forget to say the best lines they had written for you.

But people are always impressed if you don’t use notes. They will never realise all the bits you forgot to say or all those bits you added in because they just came into your head. But it doesn’t always work.

I don’t have the luxury of a speechwriter. But over a number of years I have worked out what works for me. I’ve done a number of parliamentary selections in recent years, where I have half an hour to impress the selectorate - a 5 or 10 minute speech followed by questions. I normally never script these speeches on the basis that if you can’t speak for 5 minutes without notes you ought not to be in the game. I normally think of a couple of things I want them to understand, think of one funny line and just go in and do it. It works well normally, but a few weeks ago I was in the running, against 5 others for East Surrey.

I broke the habit of a lifetime and took advice from a candidate who had just won a selection. “They’re looking for a cabinet minister,” she said. “They want weight and gravitas. Write a speech and memorise it.” And that’s where the alarm bell should have rung. I’m not very good at memorising anything, let alone 5 minutes worth of weighty prose. Anyway, to cut a long story short, it didn’t go well. Most of the words came out, but not necessarily in the right order. My delivery was therefore stilted as I tried to get back on track. It wasn’t a disaster, but I was only operating at about 50% capacity.

Publicly, I put it down to an off day at the office, but in reality it was because I broke a winning formula. It won’t happen again.

The problem politicians face nowadays is that unless they are a grade 1 premier league celeb politician, they can make the greatest speech ever, but no one is listening. The media pack are only interested in the party leaders. If you are a front bencher you really have to go that extra mile to get noticed, and if you are a backbencher, well forget speechmaking. Go on Celebrity Fit Club.

So being a speechwriter for a politician is one of the most thankless jobs in Britain. Fern Britton’s dietician has an easier time of it. You’d get more job satisfaction out of being Stacey Slater’s gynaecologist. And it’s because we are all searching for an audience, and the audience is searching for inspiration. The age of celebrity is here but no one in politics has yet determined what it means for political oratory.

We’re constantly told that people’s attention span is only a couple of minutes nowadays – which is why we constantly hear from radio & TV interviewers that very irritating phrase “I’m sorry, that’s all we’ve got time for”. In the House of Commons there is now a rule that backbench speeches must last no longer than 10 minutes – sometimes 5. You try explaining the differences between Labour’s macro fiscal approach and their micro fiscal policy in less than 5 minutes.

Most political speeches can only ever hope to garner a maximum 20 seconds on the evening news, so the need for inspiring rhetoric throughout a speech goes out of the window. Our habits in media consumption are dictating the kinds of speeches we get from our politicians. 120 years ago, tens of thousands of people would be happy to stand for hours and listen to Gladstone. And it would be a speech of uniform rhetorical quality from start to finish. Nowadays if a politician gets an audience of one hundred to make a 20 minute speech to he thinks he is on a winner.

But we are rapidly approaching the day when political speeches may be a thing of the past. Candidate selections now concentrate on the ability to interview rather than the ability to speak. As MPs come to terms with the internet as a means of communicating, the role of the speech in political communication will diminish even further. Politicians, in the end, will seek out their audience. And the internet provides a willing audience. They used to turn up their noses at bloggers who got 500 readers a day. But when you ask them how many times they have addressed an audience of 500, they look at you blankly, until suddenly, a light goes on.

So most politicians will have fewer and fewer opportunities to make speeches. Maybe in the council chamber, or the chamber of the House of Commons or to their constituency AGMs.
For speechwriters this is a dire situation, as the opportunities for paid work diminish by the year. Or at least, that’s the way I see it. I regret it because I think inspirational speechmaking is an incredible way of engaging people in politics. I remember the reason I joined the Conservative Party in 1978 was because of a speech I had heard Margaret Thatcher make. I can imagine an 18 year old Iain Dale in Wichita, Kansas did the same a couple of years ago listening to Barack Obama.

I still live in hope that the whole country may, one day, have the same experience.

All for Charidee

Last night at the City Inn, I compered a political quiz night in aid of a homeless charity. There were 17 teams and we raised £2,000 to help the Acton Homeless Shelter. I set twelve rounds of questions including three rounds with audio clips. There were a variety of teams from the world of politics, lobbying and the media. The one everyone thought would win, from Sky News, featured Adam Boulton and his wife Anji Hunter, Niall Paterson, YouGov's Peter Kellner among others. But they only managed to come fourth. The winners put the rest to shame - they were from Indigo Public Affairs but only had two members in their team, one of whom was David Boothroyd who is a regular commenter on this blog.

Out of the 120 questions I set, I think there were only four which caused some controversy - and three of them had been sent to my by others. That'll teach me! The one which I still can't decide whether I was right to relent on was which of Fine Gael or Fianna Fail is more left wing. I said it was FG, but others disagreed.

Anyway, a good night was had by all, and hopefully the quiz will become an annual event. Well done to Vanessa Canzini for organising it and thanks to the City Inn, InHouse PR and APCO for their sponsorship.

No Heat, Little Light

I have only seen clips from the Chancellors debate last night and judging from most of the comments I have read, it's not worth my while watching the whole thing! In fact, at 1am last night I tried to but it wasn't available on the Channel 4 website, or if it was I couldn't find it.

Having trawled round a few websites and read the newspapers, it seems that most people thought Vince Cable "won" by a short head. He won the audience by using his usual brand of populism. Incredibly, it seems his own policies didn't come under scrutiny at all. Very few people seem to have thought Alistair Darling did particularly well, which I think was a bit of a surprise.

Michael Crick and talkSport's Sean Dilley both thought George Osborne shaded it, partly because of the gaffe he drew Alistair Darling into making on the so-called Death Tax and partly because he vastly exceeded the Commentariat's low expectations - something even his enemies have grudgingly admitted. Here's the exchange on the Death Tax...

George Osborne: You can just answer a very simple question on the death tax. That’s what we were discussing…is that an option that a Labour Governmentt if elected in 4 or 5 weeks’ time will keep on the table?

Alistair Darling: No it’s not….no…for the next Parliament….(speaking over each other) it’s now…I have been accused of not agreeing with him and it’s an option he’s now just ruled out….(laughter)

AD: I said of the options being looked at…er.. the it so happens I think there will be an announcement about, about long term care.. what we propose about long term care for the elderly pretty shortly……..(more noise over) (Ask the Chancellors, Channel 4, 29 March 2010)

This comes after months of suggesting it was their preferred option. In addition, Osborne picked Darling up on his misrepresentation of the Tory policy on taking child tax credits away from people earning more than £50k.

Alistair Darling: “George you are proposing taxing tax credits away from people are earning just over £30,000 a year.”

George Osborne: “It’s very important that I correct what Alistair said because it is not a proper representation of Conservative policy. We believe very much in the tax credit system, we will keep the tax credit system but we don’t believe you should pay tax credits to people earning over fifty thousand pounds and we would taper them away from people on forty thousand not thirty like he says. And to claim that somehow taking tax credits, means tested credits, which everyone is paying for, away from people earning over fifty thousand pounds is going to somehow damage the fight against child poverty is simply wrong.”

The Tory post match spin maintainted that Darling looked evasive, Vince played to the gallery and George spoke to people at home.

I can't remember where I saw it, but one site had a post match poll which came out 36-32-32 in favour of Cable. From the clips I have seen and the writeups I have read, it was a no score draw. Very little light was shed on anything and I doubt very much whether it changed many votes among the 1.8 million TV audience.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Monday

1. Jonathan Isaby on the Labour candidate who gives Nazi salutes.
2. Iain Lindley on receiving a strange letter from Derek Simpson.
3. UK Polling Report on a growing Tory lead.
4. Tom Bradby's verdict on the Chancellors' Debate.
5. Peter Kenyon is far from impressed by Labour's selection battle in Stoke.
6. Iain Martin on Vince Cable's easy ride.

Shapps Exposes Citizen Jury Sham

Shortly after his anointment as Labour leader and Prime Minister, Gordon Brown published the Governance of Britain Green Paper which set out how his Government would ‘forge a new relationship between government and citizen’.

In a flash of publicity Gordon Brown announced the introduction of Citizens’ Juries heralding a “new kind of politics.” So enamoured was the PM with citizens’ juries, that the document promised that the Ministers would consider placing on Ministers a ‘duty to consult on major decisions through mechanisms such as citizens’ juries’.

In a September 2007 speech Brown said: “Citizens juries will help government shape the policies in ways that the people for whom they are created want. So this is a new kind of politics. It is not an easy politics. It is not about gimmicks. It is about doing things the hard way - to find real solutions to the challenges we face.”

Unfortunately it appears that Citizens’ Juries were exactly that – a gimmick. Recent replies to Parliamentary Questions put down by Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps MP reveal that not one Citizens’ Jury has taken place since October 2008 by any government department.

Grant Shapps said: “Another Gordon gimmick has been exposed – Citizens’ Juries were nothing more than a desperate attempt to grab the headlines and make out like the Prime Minister was actually listening to the public."

Surely not. Actually, I am glad Citizens' Juries aren't being held anymore. They were hugely expensive, they did not involve ordinary members of the public and the audiences were handpicked. It seemed to me that they were not genuine exercises in consultation but instead they became vehicles for government PR.

Think of a Song...

My colleagues at Total Politics have had a great idea to encourage voter turnout. But we need your help.

Can you think of a fairly well known pop song which has lyrics which lend themselves to encouraging people to vote?

Former Labour MP Joins the Welsh Tories

Former Wrexham Labour MP Dr John Marek has joined the Welsh Conservatives. Dr Marek also served as a Welsh Assembly Member from 1999 to 2007. He sat in Parliament between 1983 and 2001. Here is his statement...

"Today I am joining a party which has changed, which has ideas, energy and vision, and which is serious about changing this country’s fortunes after 13 years of Labour failure.

The Labour Party and I parted company shortly after Tony Blair became Prime Minister and I have never regretted my decision.

New Labour has lost all purpose and authority – facts clearly demonstrated in the sight last week of former ministers seemingly more worried about lining their own pockets than serving the people who elected them.

The country needs change. And in Wales we need a multi-party democracy which has been denied to us for too long.

I believe it is time the Conservative Party is given a chance to show how it can govern in the interests of all the people of Wales and all the people of the United Kingdom.

I am pleased to be joining the Conservative Party which is now in the centre of the political spectrum and on a number of issues is to the left of Labour.

David Cameron’s social conscience is at the heart of my decision to join the Conservative Party.

He understands the difficulties faced by ordinary people and I am convinced that as Prime Minister he will govern for everybody.

Under Labour every household and every business in the country is paying the price for Gordon Brown’s boom and bust.

Our personal civil liberties have been eroded, and the government has created a vast army of administrators which are providing poorer services today than before 1997.

We need change and I am convinced the Conservative Party will achieve this.

I believe it is only through a Conservative government that we can fix our broken economy, restore our civil liberties, ensure our public services meet the public’s expectations, and tackle the big national and international issues facing our country today.

I am delighted to be working with Nick Bourne and Cheryl Gillan again. They are people for whom I have the highest respect.

There is no keener, hard working champion for Wales at Westminster than Cheryl Gillan.

And I know that in Wales under Nick Bourne’s pragmatic leadership in the Assembly we can look forward to Conservatives in government.”

Vince's Halo Slips

I don't know what they are putting in MPs' water at the moment, but it is certainly provoking them to boast a lot. Last week we had Stephen Byers talking himself up to gain a lobbying contract and then we had Vince Cable boasting that the Treasury had called him in to seek his sage and wise advice.

It actually turned out that Vince had requested the meeting with the Treasury Permanent Secretary himself and the meeting had lasted a mere 20 minutes. Vince has now been forced to write a grovelling letter of apology.

The halo is, at last, slipping.

PS An afterthought. I wonder whether Vince might like to apologise to The Observer. After all, he got a front page out of them for a completely bogus story and made them look like idiots. I hope they remember that next time he comes a knockin'...

A Big Day For George Osborne

This is an important day for George Osborne. Today he made possibly the boldest policy announcement so far, promising to abolish Labour's tax on jobs and this evening he will be taking part in a live TV debate with Alistair Darling and Vince Cable.

At his press conference, George Osborne called Labour's proposed hike in national insurance in April 2011 the "economics of the madhouse", and it's not difficult to see why. If you are an employer and see your staffing costs rising by 1%, you are less likely to take on new members of staff and more likely to downsize the ones you already have. It really is a tax on jobs. Osborne has already promised to give new companies who take on up to ten employees an NI holiday. It's difficult to see what better signal there could be that the next Conservative government will have enterprise at its core.

Ah, Labour say, but how will all this be paid for, which, when you think about it, is a bit of brass neck for a party that has plunged us into such levels of debt. However, it's a question which is a fair one, and which got a detailed answer from George Osborne this morning. His answer was in sharp contrast to Labour, who say they want to cut £11 billion of waste and efficiency savings out of the cost of government - but not until 2011-12! Why not immediately? Cutting out waste, and being more efficient cannot jeopardise us coming out of recession.

The announcement puts Labour back too where they were in 1992 - defending a tax rise on people earning £20,000 a year. And £20,000 is not what it was back then...

I am hosting a charity political quiz night tonight, so I won't be able to see the Chancellors' debate (8pm, Channel 4), but I have every expectation that George Osborne will perform well. Yes, he needs to, but so do the other two. What will be interesting is whether, if he performs well, his enemies will be able to bring themselves to acknowledge it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Podcast: The 7 Days Show Episode 18

The latest edition of the Seven Days Show is now online.

In this week's show we discuss the Dispatches programme shown last week on the subject of “lobbygate”; The Budget announcement; Labour’s election pledges; The Times charging for online content; and the Conservatives changing their ad-agency – including what Tory bloggers and tweeters should now be doing.

To listen to the podcast click HERE, or you can also subscribe to the show in the Tory Radio section in the podcast area of Itunes.

The Public Meeting

I've just listened to an excellent programme on the revival of the public meeting, presented by Radiuo 4's John Beesley. I had forgotten giving an interview for it! It's only 15 minutes long, and you can listen to it HERE.

Questions for Adam Boulton

For the special election edition of Total Politics, I thought it would be wrong to interview a party politician, so for the first time I am doing one of my IN CONVERSATION interviews with a political journalist, and Sky News's Adam Boulton has drawn the short straw kindly agreed to subject himself to my questioning.

I'll be doing the interview tomorrow afternoon. As usual, on the basis that many minds are greater than one, I am soliciting advice on questions you might like me to ask him.

Do suggest them in the comments.

Tory Lead Among Women Voters is 14%

The one thing which jumped out at me from the polls this morning was the headline from the BPIX poll in the Mail on Sunday. That was that the Tories have a lead of 14% among women voters. One of the main reasons for the Tories' dire performances in the last three electioons has been the failure to attract female voters. According to BPIX the Conservatives lead by 41-27.

Forget the slightly widening Tory lead, this is the stat which will give most cheer to the Tories this morning.

Welcome Back to Thirteen Senses

Once in a blue moon, a new band comes along which literally takes your breath away. Thirteen Senses did that to me a few years ago. They had a very successful first album THE INVITATION. Their second album, CONTACT, released in 2007 was less successful.

They seemed to disappear off the face of the earth, but last night I stumbled across their new album, available for free to listen to on their website. The title track, CRYSTAL SOUNDS is brilliant. Have a listen to the whole thing HERE.

Crystal Sounds - Full Album Stream by ThirteenSenses

Thirteen Senses are from Cornwall, and are apparently the only Cornish band to ever have a top ten hit!

I've always wanted to see them in concert and I thought my luck was in as they are playing in London on 8 June. But typically, I am busy that evening hosting an Ann Widdecombe evening in Chelmsford.

I know most of you consider my musical taste somewhat dodgy - and for good reason. But do yourselves a favour and at least have a listen. If you like Embrace, Athlete, Radiohead or the Killers, you might well like them.

Here's an acoustic version of one of their hits, Follow Me.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

That Labour Pledge Card in Full

Create your own Labour pledge card HERE.

How You Can Make David Cameron Number One!

Today, The Corrigan Brothers released this song on a single. It's called THERE'S No ONE AS IRISH AS DAVID CAMERON. I wonder if an internet campaign can get it into the charts! Paddy Power are giving odds of 12-1 on a UK Number 1 and 3-1 on a top ten hit!

You can buy it HERE on iTunes.

Your Views on Future Peers

Further to yesterday's post about the House of Lords, here are the results of the survey, which more than 1,000 of you voted in.

1. Do you think the House of Lords should be...

Wholly elected 35%
Partially elected/partially appointed 33%
Wholly Appointed 19%
Wholly Hereditary 13%

How urgently should David Cameron treat the issue of further House of Lords reform?

Should be addressed in the first term of a Tory govt 46%
For a second term 33%
Kick into the long grass 21%

Do you agree with this statement. "David Cameron should avoid giving peerages to any retiring MP involved in the expenses scandal?"

Agree 86%
Disagree 14%

4. The top ten retiring MPs you would like to see in the House of Lords are...

Ann Widdecombe 81%
Michael Howard 80%
Michael Ancram 41%
Sir Patrick Cormack 34%
John Gummer 32%
Sir Michael Spicer 21%
Michael Mates 18%
Douglas Hogg 17%
Angela Browning 14%
Michael Lord 14%

5. The top ten people from the ConHome 100 Peers survey you would like to see in the House of Lords are...

Sir John Major 76%
General Sir Michael Jackson 59%
Sir Tim Berners Lee 52%
Matthew Parris 47%
Michael Portillo 46%
Sir Stuart Rose 43%
Gyles Brandreth 39%
Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks 35%
Ruth Lea 34%
Frederick Forsyth 29%

You also suggested some intriguing names who should be considered for Peerages. Among them were...

Merrick Cockell. Ian Hislop, Peter Riddell, Guido Fawkes, Tim Montgomerie, Willie Walsh, Patrick Minford, Joanna Lumley, David Starkey, Michael Nazir-Ali, Tim Collins,
Camilla Batmanghelidjh, Carol Forth, Donal Blaney, James Dyson, Judi Dench, Carol Vorderman, Daniel Finkelstein, Melanie Phillips, Kit Malthouse ... and me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Friday

1. Charles Crawford says the Germans shouldn't shoot the messenger.
2. Norman Tebbit pays tribute to Baroness Park.
3. Coffee House on why Stephen Byers ought to be a worried man.
4. Guido wonders if you fancy bunging Nick Clegg £7,500.
5. Lazy Hyena has spotted a rather appropriate journalistic byline.
6. Paul Waugh on why Gordon is running scared of Paxman.

Who Would Make a Good Conservative Peer?

Jonathan Isaby has blogged this morning about who David Cameron should put in the House of Lords following a Conservative election victory. Clearly, he will need to create some Tory Peers if he is to be confident of getting his legislation through. Currently, there are 704 Peers, but only 188 of them are Conservatives. They include 39 hereditaries, whose attendance shall we say, is indiscriminate. Labour has 211 Peers. There are 72 LibDems and 149 Crossbenchers.

Jonathan has asked ConservativeHome readers which of the retiring Conservative MPs they think should be elevated. Mark Field MP has argued that no retiring MPs should be made Peers unless they are going to be ministers, and others have suggested that any MP involved to any serious degree in the expenses scandal should be ignored.

Anyway, rather than ask you for you nominations, I thought I'd ask you to vote who you think ought to be nominated for a Peerage after the election, assuming there is a Conservative government. My own view is that no one who coudn't promise to devote a lot of time to being a Working Peer should be considered.

There are only six questions. The survey won't take long to complete.

* How would you like to see the Lords reformed
* What should the timetable be?
* Do you think MPs involved in the expenses scandal should be considered for peerages?
* Which of the retiring Tory MPs do you think should be considered?
* Which of ConHome's List of suggested Peers would you support
* Nominate your own peers

Click HERE to take part.

Should I Follow The Times' Example?

More than 1,000 of you have responded to the poll below about paying for access to The Times & Sunday Times websites.

98% of you say that you access the websites.

But only 4% of you intend to pay to do so in future.

I can't seem to find how many absolute unique users The Times website has - they always seem to refer to page impressions or unique users. But let's, for argument's sake, say they have 2 million users. A four per cent take up would give them an annual revenue of £8.3 million.

Now, here's a thought. If I asked my readers to pay for reading this site and charged them half what The Times intends to, and four per cent of you decided to take me up on the offer, my annual income from this blog would be £270,000.

Don't worry, it's not going to happen, but it makes you think!

Things You Learn from PROSPECT: No 94

It's amazing the things you learn from Prospect Magazine. In a recent issue, their 'In Fact' section informs us...
The entrance of the vagina has specialised nerve endings called Merkel receptors.
There has to be a joke there somewhere, but I am damned if I can think what it is. Perhaps my readers can assist (in their normal, tasteful manner, natch).

Will You Pay To Read The Times Online?

News International has announced that in order to access the Times and Sunday Times sites readers will in future have to pay £1 a day or £2 a week. I wonder how many people will be taking them up on their kind offer. I suppose I will have to for professional reasons, but if I didn't do what I do, I most certainly would not be willing to pay £104 a year.

I predict that their web traffic will plunge by 95%.

Would you pay? Click HERE to vote.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Thusday

1. LibDem Voice exposes a Labour MP's bully boy tactics over her expense claims.
2. Political Promise on why Greece demonstrates why the Pound must stay.
3. John Redwood says there were no cuts under Margaret Thatcher.
4. Walaa Idris writes an open letter to unselected Tory PPCs.
5. Peter Kenyon on how Harriet Harman is stitching up Labour PPC selections.
6. Your Freedom & Ours pays tribute to Baroness Park.

Why the A21 Must Be Fully Dualled

Anyone who knows the A21 between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells will know what a treacherous road it is. It's the bit where the dual carriageway goes down to a single lane each way, near Pembury (where we live). There's a steep stretch of hill with a bend half way up.

About half an hour ago, we were driving up Castle Hill on our way home from London. I was asleep in the passenger seat, when I awoke with a jolt as the car braked sharply. Ahead of is a 4 x 4 was ploughing straight into the front of the car in front of us, a Vauxhall Cavalier. Luckily for us, we were about 20 yards behing and managed to stop before we ploughed into the back of the Cavalier. There was glass and debris all over the road. A man got out of the Cavalier, rubbing his leg and grimacing in pain.

As John got out of the car to check that people were OK, I dialled 999. As it turned out - and completely coincidentally - that there was a police car right behind us. I had just got through to the emergency number when it put on its flashing lights.

Why do I bother mentioning this? Mainly because it is yet another example of a very bad accident on a road which has experienced many fatalities over the last few years. Greg Clark has been trying to get the Department of Transport to bring forward plans to dual this mile long stretch of the A21 which were first announced back in 2003.

We're sitting here watching the News at Ten thanking our lucky stars it wasn't worse. But I guarantee there will be more serious accidents on this piece of road this year - probably fatal ones.

Balls Out!

LongListed for the Orwell Prize Again

For the second year running this blog has been "longlisted" for the Orwell Prize. One hundred and sixty four blogs entered and the long list consists of the following fourteen blogs. Congratulations to the other thirteen!

Dave's Part
David Smith Letter from Africa
Gideon Rachman rachmanblog
Hopi Sen
Jack of Kent
Laurie Penny, Penny Red
Madam Miaow Madam Miaow Says
Mary Beard A Don’s Life
PC Ellie Bloggs A Twenty-First Century Police Officer
The Bad Old Days Will End
Tim Marshall Foreign Matters
Winston Smith Working with the Underclass

The shortlist of six will be announced in mid April. I'm not wholly familar with some of the others, but I think I am the only representative from the right of centre blogosphere, which I suppose is hardly a surprise given the name of the prize. Thanks to all those on Twitter who have offered their congratulations for making the cut for the second year running.

PS Apologies that blogging has been and will be very light today. Back to back meetings and a speech to complete. I'm speaking to a group of speechewriters this evening on the subject of "Politics, Speeches & Audiences in the Age of Celebrity".

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Daley (Half Dozen): Wednesday

1. Capitalists@Work spot a swipe at Brown from Darling.
2. Skipper asks: whatever happened to Labour humility? Buggered if I know...
3. Tom Harris on, gulp, fornication.
4. England Expects on when Nigel met Yves.
5. PoliticalBetting on Brown being back in the 60s.
6. Trixy can't believe who the Interviewer of the Year is.

The Nick Griffin Interview: Now Online in Full

The full Nick Griffin has now been posted on the Total Politics website, all 5,000 words of it. The reaction so far on Twitter has been quite interesting, with hardline "no platformists" maintaining their view that I was wrong to do the interview in the first place, but others tweeting how revealing they found it. Several political opponents have tweeted to compliment me on it. I recognise that it is an interview which will polarise opinion, but I have absolutely no regrets, apart from the fact it had to be edited down to 5,000 words - but that's four times as many as you'd get in a national newspaper for this type of interview.

In the interview you did with Andrew Marr last year you said that you found Mein Kampf very dull but enjoyed one chapter of it. Which chapter was that?
That was the chapter on propaganda - that was interesting.

In what way?
Because it's a long time since I read it, I can't remember it. The only thing I can remember is repetition. But I suppose perhaps the Nazis were ahead of their time in now standard advertising's irrelevant really.

How do you react to being called a fascist?
We're not fascist. If fascism is defined in its proper sense, it's about worship of the state or of a man that personifies the state. Our tradition is very much in the British tradition of limited government with checks and balances and so on.

You could have fooled me. Half your policy programme involves a larger state.
We're not fascist in that regard. It's about a close, almost incestuous relationship, between the state and the corporations. It's corporate fascism. The Thatcherite, Blairite PFI - that's fascist. Another defining factor of fascism is the use of political violence as a political weapon against your opponents. And we're the victims of a Marxist fascism - we do not practise or want to practise violence against anyone else.

Apart from throwing journalists out of press conferences...
Apart from throwing out lying journalists when they're asked. I've been instructed that the fellow that quite gleefully grabbed his nose and twisted it shouldn't be put on duties like that anymore, because that was over the top. But the journalist was still breaking the law and he was removed with the minimum force necessary.

When did you stop denying the Holocaust?
I've never actually denied the Holocaust. I've said some terribly rude things about it and the way it's exploited.

You said: "It's well known that chimneys from the buildings at Auschwitz are fake."
Ah, but I also said in the piece that huge numbers of Jews were persecuted or murdered by the Nazis and their allies just because they were Jewish in one of the great crimes of the twentieth century. To deny the Holocaust is presumably to say that no one was killed, that the camps didn't exist. Obviously that would be nonsense.

Do you believe six million Jews were killed?
That's the same old problem. I genuinely cannot discuss it with you because European law forbids it.

That's bollocks.
It's not bollocks. European law....

What you're saying then is you don't believe six million were killed.
There are defence lawyers in Germany in prison now because they've explained in court what their client said.

It's a simple enough question. You either believe that six million Jews died in the Holocaust or you don't.
The Holocaust happened.

But you're not willing to say that six million Jews died?
Precisely six million?

Around six million - that's the accepted number by historians.
I don't think that there should be any restrictions on historical inquiry. Nor should it be an offence to be wrong. But since it is an offence to be wrong - it's an offence to discuss what I used to believe or even the extent to which I've changed my mind - and I have done. I really can't talk about it.

You can talk about it to the extent that you can say whether or not you believe that around six million Jews died.
I can't tell you because it's - look, I'm not going to be interrupted and left with something that I've said that I wasn't...

This won't be edited.
I suppose I can tell you that the reasons for my doubts were, specifically with the six million figure. The problem was the way it was used as a moral club to prevent any sensible debate about immigration. That's the issue. It's nothing to do with anti-semitism or anything. And there's been people, including Jews and former concentration camp inmates, who've said that aspects of this history have been exaggerated and so on. So that's the base line. When I was at school, the figure of six million was made up of four million murdered at Auschwitz and two million murdered elsewhere. That's six million.

Well, that's not true.
That was the fact as presented to people in the 1970s. Then it emerged that the authorities of Auschwitz downgraded the scale of the murders there from four million to a still shattering and appalling 1.1 million. So you're 2.9 million short.

There were lots of other death camps, not just Auschwitz.
No, the figure of six million came from the idea that in all the other death camps and elsewhere, two million died and in Auschwitz there were four million gassed and cremated - that's where the figure was made up from. Take the noughts off. If you have six and take away 2.9, do you still have six? No one would say where they came from. All they would do is persecute anyone who said six, take away 2.9, does not equal six. They were put in prison, beaten, had their houses firebombed, driven from their jobs. That greatly offended me and made me take up the issue of their behalf. But what I will say now is I believe that the evidence that came from British intelligence of German operations behind the lines on the Eastern front makes it quite possible to believe that a million people were shot to death on anti-partisan warfare, mainly as hostages and that the Germans, naturally enough, didn't pick white Russian or Belarussian peasants, who were quite often on their side. They picked the local Jewish community because most of the partisans were Jewish, which again you can't really be surprised about, as it's one of these cycles of horror. So therefore, you are no longer missing the 2.9. You are missing nearly two million. That's all. It would be interesting to be told where they come from. But because the powersthat- be are so convinced that it's true and have passed laws to say that it's true, and because it is irrelevant and because it's deliberately misunderstood, anyone who questions this is held up as anti-semitic. Whereas, it's nothing to do with antisemitism at all. It's about the rights of free speech, or the right of the states and powerful vested interest groups, to prevent free speech. That's what it's actually about. But because everyone's misunderstood or it leads one to jail, I have no doubt whatsoever that the others, the missing ones, must have been there so clearly the six million figure is correct.

Can you think of one positive aspect of immigration?
Well, a wide range of curries is a plus. But there again, I've got the recipes.

The reason I ask that is when you look across the range of policies you outline on your website, almost every one you look at - and you demonstrated it earlier with the environmental stuff - leads back to immigration.
It's a fair summary of the situation, as all things are interconnected. Secondly, it's a failing of ours and a failing of quite a lot of our writers, as they are all virtually untrained and virtually all volunteers. They write about things with their own glasses and perspectives on. We'd be better as a propaganda machine if we did have it separated out and even where you could see a connection we didn't point to it. But we're not a spin party.

Even though you like the spin chapter in Mein Kampf so much. In your 2005 manifesto you said: "We will end immigration to the UK and reduce our land's population burden by creating firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home." What does "firm" mean and what does "home" mean, because they are quite difficult to define?
Firm would mean that certainly in the case of serious criminals and illegals and people whose right to work was removed. For instance, when we left the European Union, there wouldn't be a choice about it. They would have to go.

If we are talking about the Eastern Europeans, who have got the right to come here, it is obvious where home is. With most people, it is clear where they have come from. If people have entered this country and torn their documents up, then even if they have been granted asylum, they shouldn't have been, and we would reverse that.

But if you don't know where they have come from, you can't return them there.
If you want to, you can virtually find out which village they come from in Africa with DNA tests. Someone has got to take them. But their presence here isn't fair. And it is not legal.

Just because you want to send them somewhere, doesn't mean that the state you want to send them to has to accept them. What do you do if they say no?
Well... we'll find some silly European liberal state which will happily take them. Someone will take them.

You reckon?
Yes, someone will take them.

"Firm but voluntary incentives for immigrants and their descendants to return home..." Is that policy still your policy now?
Yes, broadly so. Let's reword the bit in the case of ones who have no right to be here. It would be firm. It wouldn't be brutal, it would be firm. In the case of people who have come here legally, who are integrated into our society, we would say: "Look it is on the table. If you want to take it, you can take it."

There are about 5.5 million British people who have emigrated or are working abroad. Do you think that the countries in which they live should encourage them to return here?
That is up to them. That's their right. We have African leaders all over Southern Africa, begging Britain to stop poaching our NHS staff. They use them as cheap labour. They often aren't up to the skill levels that are the best that we can produce. Once they have been here, if we could say to those countries: "Here is money for infrastructure and so on. We will help you with foreign aid because you will have a larger population." We would use it partly to undo some of the damage that mass immigration has caused.

Read the full interview HERE (this extract is only about a third of it)

Bank Accounts For All - Brown in 2000

Dizzy, who had the idea of crowdsourcing the budget, has just posted that the idea of providing a basic bank account for all isn't a new idea at all. It was heralded in Brown's 2000 budget, and not acted on for ten years! More HERE.

Dizzy has also found some small print which suggests VAT is going to be put on stamps from 2011. More HERE.

The Chancellor Who Said Nothing

I actually fell asleep at one point in this budget. Seriously. That's how exciting it was. Pre-election budgets are usually rather more interesting than others. You would have thought that with the state of the economy, this ought to have been the most exciting for years. You would have thought the Chancellor would be outlining specific measures designed to get public debt under control. You would have thought he would have outlined a number of specific tax raising measures designed to cut borrowing.

Not a bit of it.

He couldn't do that, because if he told the truth about the measures he really needed to take, he would have frightened too many electoral horses. The closest he got to doing that was to add another 10% tax on cider, this upsetting the whole of the west country and half of the nation's teenagers at the same time.

This was the budget of a Chancellor who dared to say nothing for fear of losing more votes. He said nothing about income tax, nothing about VAT, nothing about thresholds, gave no information beyond what has already said about how borrowing will be cut, refused to take back the NI increase, commonly known as a tax on jobs.

He announced that stamp duty would be free for first time buyers buying properties under £250,000 - existing Conservative policy, I believe, while stinging properties worth over £1 million.

There were no measures to encourage the banks to lend. It's all very well forcing Lloyds and RBS to do so, but it is the other banks who need the confidence to release liquidity. At the moment they are not doing so - and in some ways understandably. There is nothing in this budget to encourage them to loosen their lending policies.

Darling made a great deal of the fact that Treasury projections say that borrowing will be £11 billion lower this year than predicted. That would be fine, if borrowing was £22 billion. It's not. Projections have reduced from £178 bn to £167 bn. This is not a cause for rejoicing. It's still the highest borrowing of any G7 country.

This seemed a much longer budget than usual, despite the fact that the Chancellor had absolutely nothing to say. Cathy Newman tweeted that he hadn't pulled any rabbits our of the hat. That's because he not only had no rabbits, he didn't have a hat.

It doesn't really matter what commentators like me think. What matters is the reaction of the financial markets. Will they think Darling has done enough to satisfy them and their colleagues about tackling the deficit? We'll soon see.

It was a budget which failed to attack the intrinsic weaknesses of the British economy. It wasn't a budget for growth. It wasn't a budget for savers. It wasn't a budget for business. It wasn't even a pre-election budget. No, the best you can say about this budget, is that it was a Non Budget from a Chancellor with nothing to say.

Lobby Journos Write a Play

It's not often that lobby journalists become playwrights, but that's what's happened to Metro's John Higginson and The Sun's Clodagh Hartley, who have penned a play called STIFFED, which will run at the Tabard Theatre from 14 April through to 9 May. The website blurb gives a clue as to what the play is about - as does the title! Whisper it, but the lead female character is said to be based on a certain female former Home Secretary...
Stiffed! is a brand new satirical comedy written by two Westminster insiders who have experienced first hand the workings of politics.

A tale of MPs mischief set in the largest Wendy house in the land. The progressive Quentin Dellaware has just picked up a Tory seat in a landslide by-election. Keen to make a difference, he is swiftly shown the status quo by his old school chum George Moore-Lys.

Meanwhile, Labour front-bencher Paula Stiff is pressing for a fairer Britain with the help of her husband-cum-aide Marty whose real passion is toy trains. Which would all be politics as usual except that young Sally Pauper, an aspiring journalist, aims to make her mark by uncovering the biggest parliamentary story since the gunpowder plot.

Written by John Higginson (Political Editor for Metro) and Clodagh Hartley (Whitehall Editor of The Sun) Stiffed! is a riotous satire on the inner workings of parliament, the press and politicians.

So if you fancy a night out at the Tabard Theatre in Turnham Green, W4, book your tickets HERE.

Nick Griffin: "We're Not Anti Gay, But Men Kissing is Creepy"

Later today my full interview with Nick Griffin will be posted on the Total Politics website. In the meantime, here's an extract which didn't make the final edit, but appeared yesterday on Pink

Why is the BNP so anti gay?
We’re not drastically anti gay. We were, but it was just a reflection of white working class culture of the 70s and so on. Its unfamiliar, it’s odd and I’m afraid it is creepy. Grown men kissing in public is creepy to most people. You don’t often see it but if you do see it, it’s not a matter of homophobia, it’s odd and you have to explain it to little kids and so on – that’s strange. We’re not anti gay. I took over a party which had a total ban on homosexual members. We’ve got gay members now and people know who they are, but it’s don’t ask don’t tell.

Why should it affect anything?
Because it does affect because of the actions of the militant gay lobby.

Who are about as insignificant as the number of terrorist muslims...
All muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are muslims and as for gays, not all gays are militant and want to shove it down everyone’s throats... to speak...
Indeed. And force sex education on young children, and of course isn’t just a gay thing, it’s a leftist break up of the family. It’s Marxist in origin, but it’s the rainbow alliance of Marxists and gay activists and so on. There is a hetrophobia amongst some of those people when they refer to us as ’breeders’ and so on.

Amongst about a quarter of a per cent.
I know its a very small number.

You are generalising...
...but you were asking where it came from and that’s where it came from. The simple fact is that the party that I took over had a policy of persecuting gays in the party, and was homophobic and also had a policy of re-imposing the 1968 ban on homosexuality. The position we have moved to which has taken some doing because there are people who didn’t like it, wouldn’t change the old reactionaries, the gays in denial. Different people fought it tooth and nail and accused me of all sorts of selling out and wondered: ‘is he a fag himself?’ We are now in a position where we simply say what people do in private amongst consenting adults is their affair and their affair only and that the state has no right to either have a window into men’s souls.

Would you reverse civil partnership legislation?
Yes, but that’s not to do with wanting to persecute homosexuals. Marriage is between a man and a woman and rearing their own children is not perfect but it’s the best model and basis for a society. So therefore, the civil partnership between a faithful stable and gay couple just as a civil partnership perhaps between two elderly sisters in terms of inheritance and so on, they have to be, regrettably be collateral damage, because you have to put the family above everything in order to say: this is what our society aspires to. Marriage is only between a man and a women and ideally with kids.

But a civil partnership isn’t a marriage.
I know it’s not but it’s part of the left’s war against marriage and the family. I find it hard to grasp people who are essential conservative with a small c who can’t get the point that most of what’s been done to our society been deliberately done by a hard core Marxist left who have infiltrated their ideas into all aspects of our society.

I accept that could be the case with some things but to normal people who just think stable relationships, whatever kind they are, are a good thing for society...
I agree it’s better if two gay men are in a stable relationship rather than cottaging all over the place.

So why can’t society recognise that?
Well perhaps you can recognise it in some way, but not by creating this bogus leftist alternative to marriage whose purpose is to help to break up the family. That’s the cause of the left.

It genuinely isn’t.
That’s where I believe it has come from and it has that effect.

If you believe that homosexuality was quote “curable” I would accept your argument but if you believe that people are either born gay or their not then why should that group of people - and we are talking about who knows what the per centage is, say somewhere between five and ten per cent of the population - why should those people be disadvantaged by society from actually being recognised in stable relationships.

Because the effects of that are to devalue marriage.

No, you’re wrong. If you have a choice between a child being brought up in a children’s home or between two people of the same sex in a stable loving relationship then I would argue I would rather that child was brought up in the latter. Because I think they are more likely to emerge as a normal member of society than in a children’s home.
Yes. But it is not necessary to do that because there’s a huge number of straight couples who want to adopt kids who can’t or allowed to. There is a shortage. So therefore, if we reach the stage where there are so many children in children’s homes that you run out of would-be adopted ideal families, then I would be inclined to agree. But we are not at that stage. It is regrettable that it is collateral damage of the family.

I am now going to ask you a question in which you are either not going to answer or hit me. I have seen videos on YouTube of Martin Webster, the former leader of the National Front, alleging that you and he had had some kind of affair which involved gay sex.

It is bullshit. It was an old trick.

I have to say, it looked fairly convincing.

Yeah, but it is balls.

So you are not going to give me a Michael Portillo moment?

No, indeed I am not. It was an old trick. It’s to say: ‘Oh, that person I had an affair with them. It embarrasses or used to embarrass more straight people.’ It was quite often done. When I and several other members of the National Front ousted him from his utterly dominant position, we did so, partly because it was creepy, when he would come and put his arm around you in the office and so on. And when you are 22 and straight, you don’t really like that. And you had no choice because he had all this power and so on. But that was a tiny fraction of it. Basically, he was a bully and not politically on message. He really was a racist bigot and so on, and a really crazed anti-semite. So we got shot of him for organisational reasons. But when we got shot of him we thought actually he was very old and we were very grown up. We were actually in our early 20s and he was about 35 at the peak of his powers and so on. He was ousted by a group of kids. We used to say the balls had just dropped. So he would never ever forgive those of us who ousted him from that position. So it is a good way to hit back. That’s where that came from.

You didn’t hit me.
No, it doesn’t bother me. I know what I am. I am perfectly comfortable.

Did that whole sort of thing colour your views on the subject of homosexuality in anyway?

Did it? I don’t know really. To say that people are condemned to hell because of the way that nature or god made them, that’s actually grotesque. That’s not right. But still I think the homosexuality thing is overplayed. I do think that, well, as a male, although obviously females can be wonderfully promiscuous and great fun. Nevertheless, wanton, rampant promiscuity is more of a male thing than a female thing. Therefore it is entirely logical that homosexuals tend to be more promiscuity but only because of the opportunities.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Gay Row That Exposes Bradshaw's Hypocrisy

I get very frustrated when the likes of Ben Bradshaw try to play politics with gay issues and try to make out as if all Tories are latent homophobes. I gather tonight Little Ben was at it again after an interview David Cameron gave to Gay Times and which was picked up by Channel 4 News.

I've now seen the video footage, and I think the inherent problem with the interview was that Cameron didn't know if he was giving a print interview or a film interview. That was why in the end he asked to start again, and make it one or the other. Frankly, he should never have been put in that position.

But let's address the substance. He was asked by the interviewer, Martin Popplewell about a vote in the European Parliament on a Lithuanian law which is apparently homophobic. Cameron clearly hadn't got a clue about the vote, and I doubt whether many people reading this website - or indeed any gay website - would have heard of it either. He was asked why Tory MEPs abstained in the vote rather than be whipped to vote in favour. It was a classic trick question. Is a party leader really supposed to know the ins and outs of every single vote in the European Parliament? It turns out that there is a convention that Conservative MEPs do not vote on issues relating to the internal affairs of other member states.

But even if there weren't any such convention, isn't it trying to have it both ways when you criticise parties for imposing too many whipped votes, and then criticise them when they don't whip a vote of your choosing.

Popplewell then tried another tack, and asked him about the vote in the House of Lords today on allowing civil partnership ceremonies to take place on Quaker premises. Cameron made the point that one of the signatories to Lord Alli's amendments was a Tory peer, Baroness Nokes. He said Tory peers had a free vote on it, but that wasn't good enough for Mr Popplewell who clearly thought there should be a three line whip. If ever there were a good example of an issue which was a clear conscience issue, I'd have thought this was one. I should say that to vote against religious premises HAVING to allow civil partnerships on their premises does not make one homophobic. Civil partnerships are just that - civil contracts. They are not religious services. If churches of any denomination which to allow civil partnerships then that is a matter for them. I would certainly welcome it, but as a libertarian I could not in all conscience vote to force churches to allow them. Does that make me a homophobe? In Ben Bradshaw's eyes, I am sure it does. But on this, as on many other issues, he does not see clearly and only looks for division rather than consensus.

Anyway as usual, up popped Ben Bradshaw to accuse Cameron of something only just short of being a homophobe...
"I think it’s extraordinary that anyone should suggest that a matter of equality and fundamental human rights should be a free vote. It hasn’t been for years in, in the House of Commons and that is a major gaffe and I think what it displays about David Cameron is that he’s talked a good talk on some of these issues, his voting record hasn’t been very good. He’s learnt a script, but when he’s actually scrutinised on it and he forgets the script, he doesn’t have the fundamental core belief to support him in his argument."
Except that his comments are complete and utter toss and don't stand up to any scrutiny at all. Why? Bradshaw's own government allowed a free vote in the Lords on the civil partnerships/church vote AND asked Lord Alli to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Alli’s amendment to the Equality Bill was Amendment 53, debated in the House of Lords on 2 March. It was co-sponsored by Baroness Nokes (Con) and Dame Butler Sloss (Crossbench). The amendment was designed to allow religious premises to be used for the celebration of civil partnerships.

Baroness Royall, speaking for the Government allowed a free vote on this, stating ‘on this basis, as noble Lords will know, we have a free vote on this amendment’ (House of Lords Hansard, HL Deb, 2 March 2010, c1439). More than that – she urged Lord Alli to withdraw the amendment and said it raised a number of problems.

Baroness Royall...

"I understand what my noble friend and the noble Baronesses are seeking to achieve. Like many noble Lords, I have great sympathy with their aims and fully recognise that civil partnerships are about commitment and loving relationships. However, while my heart supports the intentions of my noble friend, my head knows that the amendment raises a number of problems. I fear that it would not work in practice. It breaks the important link that we have always maintained between civil partnership and civil marriage. It blurs the line between what is a civil partnership and something that has elements of a religious partnership. It introduces ambiguity into the role of registrars and it is unclear what, if any, religious language would be able to be used during any civil partnership ceremony conducted in religious premises’ (HL Deb, 2 March 2010, c1437). I have today raised our concerns about how this would work in practice. I have made it clear that we are committed to taking the time to consider any changes carefully, and I therefore urge my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.”

And yet the media - especially many in the gay media - lap up what Ben Bradshaw says and print it without question. One day, just one day, I hope that even Ben Bradshaw might come to acknowledge what the rest of us know - that David Cameron has done wonders to change the Conservative Party's attitudes and beliefs on these issues in a very short time. After the next election there will be around 20-25 gay Tory MPs, who are unafraid to be described as such. Anyone who believes that the Tory Party will ever go back to the days of Section 28 just needs to look at the ConservativeHome survey of PPCs. They may be economic Thatcherites, but they are very socially liberal. Bradshaw should rejoice in that fact. But he's too small minded to do so.

What a shame. Instead of throwing petty insults at a politician who is a friend of the gay rights agenda, why doesn't he spend his time dealing with a party of real homophobes, the BNP.

Tune in tomorrow morning to read another extract of my interview with Nick Griffin, in which I ask him about his views on gay issues - and indeed, whether he has ever had gay sex himself. Brace yourselves...

The Daley (Half Dozen): Tuesday

1. Graeme Archer says "No poofs here, thanks very much".
2. Pink News is carrying an extract of my Nick Griffin interview on gay issues.
3. Charles Crawford on what's wrong with lobbying.
4. Dizzy on crowdsourcing the budget.
5. Party Lines analyses the Debate 2010 website.
6. Danny Finkelstein defends Hoon and Morgan.

How To Cut Public Spending (And Still Win An Election)

On Thursday this week, Biteback publishes a new book called HOW TO CUT PUBLIC SPENDING (AND STILL WIN AN ELECTION). It's desgined to advise all political parties on how they can cut government spending, borrowing and debt and still remain popular.

The Government is spending more than £5 for every £4 it raises in taxes, racking up hundreds of billions in new debts. The recession has exposed the parlous state of the public finances. Politicians irresponsible borrowing threatens to create a new economic crisis, driven by excessive, wasteful spending. If serious cuts aren't made then Britons face years of tax hikes and economic decline. All the major parties are planning to cut spending but none of them have set out a credible programme to make the tens of billions of cuts needed. In this book, the Taxpayers' Alliance presents the most thorough investigation yet of this vital issue and a plan to turn things around. Edited by Matthew Sinclair, their Research Director, it includes a detailed examination of the records of the major parties and sets out a detailed programme of potential cuts and essential reforms to ensure taxpayers get better value for money. Expert authors from around the world set out their experience of what it takes to successfully get a country s public finances in order.

You can preorder the book HERE. It should be in shops within a few days.

Will Brown Rule Out Peerages For Byers, Hoon & Hewitt?

David Cameron was absolutely right to say this morning that he won't be giving Sir John Butterfill a peerage. Several people have asked whether as former Cabinet Ministers and Privy Councillors, Hoon, Hewitt and Byer have an automatic right to a peerage. The answer is that they do not. While most Prime Ministers operate by a convention whereby ex Cabinet Ministers are indeed put in the Lords, there is no contitutional precedent for it. Sir John Nott is one former Thatcher Cabinet Minister who is not in the Lords, although I think that was originally his choice, rather than because it wasn't offered.

I would find it incredible if Gordon Brown offered a peerage to his three colleagues, and I imagine he will make clear very soon that it won't be happening. His successor as Labour leader, may take a different view, of course.