Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Daley Dozen: Thursday


1. Lefties go mental at Toby Young.
2.
Jerry Hayes thinks Baroness Warsi has become a liability. I disagree.
3.
A Pint of Unionist Lite says no to an English Parliament.
4. Twitter obsessed?
Nadine Dorries is not.
5.
Tim Dodds asks English or British?
6.
David Skelton agrees with me that Andy Burnham was the real threat.
7.
Cicero's Songs questions corruption in Estonia.
8.
Paul Goodman defends the "squeezed middle".
9.
Max Atkinson has some practical tips for Ed Miliband.
10. BBC journos don't want to strike according to
James Forsyth.
11. Can you guess
Guido's runners and riders?
12.
Iain Martin thinks Cameron has a good week ahead of him.

On My LBC Show Tonight From 7...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm How can we make our roads safer for cyclists? Guest: Andrew Gilligan

8pm Should private schools have their charitable status withdrawn? Guest: Fiona Millar

9pm The LBC Legal hour with top lawyer Daniel Barnett. Phone in your questions on any aspect of the law

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Quote of the Day


"I wouldn't be caught dead marrying a woman old enough to be my wife."

Tony Curtis

Doctor Dale?


I was intrigued to see the blog headline: BBC LEAK: IAIN DALE TO APPEAR IN DOCTOR WHO.
I always fancied myself as The Master. Or Davros.
Mark Pack has more HERE. Or perhaps less.
Graphic courtesy of London Spin.

The Top 100 Left Wingers 2010

Today, the Daily Telegraph publishes our 2010 list of the 100 most influential left wingers in the country.

1-25
26-50
51-75
76-100

And this is the
accompanying article written by Brian Brivati and myself...

Ed Miliband’s narrow victory propels him to the top of the list but even if he had lost, he would have transformed his personal position in the party and altered the political dynamic of the internal party debate. His blessing is now necessary for the shape of the party to come.

He largely won the argument on the election and on the need for a reconnection with Labour's core vote and each time a New Labour big gun came out to knock him, his vote went up. He has had the best post election period.

Harriet Harman must be kicking herself for not running for the leadership in what turned out to be a more open race than many expected. She has been competent if unexciting as leader and could conceivably have come through the middle of the Miliband brothers.

As it is, the question marks over David Miliband's ability to win a general election and resentment at the Blairites' presumption that their candidate should win, combined with a nagging doubt as to if David can do human or not.

Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott have shown they both can, even Ed Balls seemed to discover the ability to appear human at some of the hustings. Abbott is back as a serious (ish) political figure if she wants to stay. She comes into the list at 36 but we may not see her again next year if TV beckons.

The irony of the Labour leadership election, reflected in these lists, is that David Miliband is the only candidate not to have markedly improved his position and standing in the party. Beyond the runners and riders, the Labour list becomes so much calmer and simpler now that power is gone.

Few general elections have shifted the continental plates of political influence as much as the 2010 election. The expenses election transformed the complexion and membership of the House of Commons. The generations shifted as old-New Labour went out and Next-new(ish) Labour came in.

This was no ordinary change of government election. Labour had been in power for so long that some people on this list have only really known active politics while Labour was on the rise or in government. There is a huge psychological adjustment taking place. Some are coping with it better than others.

In parallel the new political generation is taking hold of the party apparatus and the search for new political ideas has pitched key campaigners up the order. The big unions still matter but in a way they have not yet flexed their muscles against the Coalition sufficiently to have redefined the left away from government and towards protest. That will come in the next year or so, for now, the flotsam and jetsam of the New Labour "Project" fight over the shape of the future and some of the stars of that future emerge.

The moths attracted by office have fallen away or in some cases, like former Demos director Richard Reeves, fluttered over to the Coalition lists; the committed remain and pick over the debris. And so many busted flushes....Mandelson has gone from number 1 to number 45 and falling. Politics without Mandy. This is a difficult concept for a political anorak to grasp. But then imagine how he feels. It remains to see if he has a fourth and a fifth act.

Brown's book will be much more substantial but he does not hold the field in the way that Thatcher and Blair did on personality and policy after they fell from power. He will emerge in a big global job, not quite father of thenation, but a world statesman and finally in a role that uses his intellect but does not need his personality. Jack Straw is down from 6 to 43 and among all the former Ministers, he seems to happiest about it. Straw actually seems to like being a backbench MP and I would bet on him being father of the House one day.

The biggest comeback is for Stephen Twigg. A key part of David Miliband's campaign and back in at 24 – he will still do well under Ed. Lower down the food chain, the SPADs and Brownite enforcers like Dan Cory and Wilf Stevenson are gone. The apparatchiks in the great struggle between Brown and Blair, like Neal Lawson of Compass (down to 86) and Jessica Aseto of Progress (out of the top 100), are down. Many of these will be back in the future. Some have already hitched their fate to a rising star or a passing Miliband.

The future is taking shape, though it was noticeable that in the panel discussion this year, while there was a struggle to agree on the top twenty, there were many candidates for lower down the order. The biggest climb is for Sadiq Khan, a star of the leadership election and destined for the front bench. In opposition the policy debate in the party is going to count for much more than it did in government.

Martin Bright has made waves with his New Deal for the Mind and comes in at 85. Fiona Miller's campaigning on schools sees her re-enter the list at 81. Will Straw in at 30 for his top ranked blog, Left Foot Forward. Jason Cowley is in at 50 for taking the Statesman from irrelevant to readable again and Mehdi Hasan in at 26 for being the bits that are readable and doing a reasonable impression of a young Tariq Ali on TV.

The new crop of MPs also has some stars of the future who are worth watching. Rachel Reeves comes in at 73, Stella Creasey at 90, Kate Green at 97 and Tristram Hunt (proving that the People's Party is not prejudiced against public school educated intellectuals) comes in 100.

Usually when the Labour Party lose office they swing to the left. It happened in 1931, 1951, 1970, and 1979. This list does not feel like a more left wing list than previous years. This might be because these labels are now meaningless. What has happened is a shift in generations and the beginning of the clearing out of the old guard who have dominated Party and politics for the last twenty years. New Labour is definitively over, new generation Labour is taking shape.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Daley Dozen: Wednesday


1. Stephen Tall is fed up with Ed Miliband’s hypocrisy.
2. The TPA declares war on the Carbon Trust, but Guy Shrubsole jumps to its defence.
3. Longrider couldn’t care less if Rooney smokes.
4. Paul Waugh uncovers Ed Balls’ application for Chancellor.
5. Archbishop Cranmer on another Labour leader who doesn't "do God".
6. The Lurcher thinks Liam Fox was right.
7. A Very British Dude translates Red Ed’s speech.
8. The FT reports Nick Brown was pushed.
9. Norman Tebbit likes Kate Humble mudslinging.
10. Roger Helmer is astonished by BBC bias. I’m not.
11. Liam Rhodes does a Mystic Meg.
12. Courtesy of
Working Class Tory, the picture of the day...

On my LBC Show From 7pm...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm The coming tube strike. Who's to blame and how can it be sorted out? I'll be talking to Ken Livingstone.

7.50 An interview with John Rentoul about David Miliband's decision.

8pm A Norfolk council has decided to stop the pay of its employees who nip out for a smoke. What next? Docking people's pay for going to the loo? The guest is Simon Clark from Forest.

8.30pm Have we lost our appetite to protest in this country? Peter Tatchell thinks not.

9pm The LBC Parliament is convened. An hour of political discussion with Tory MP Mary Macleod, Labour MP Gareth Thomas and Helen Duffett from LibDem Voice

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

David Miliband: The King Over the Water

Well I for one regret David Miliband's decision to withdraw from frontline politics. Whatever one's political stance, it's always sad to see someone who is talented leave the scene. I understand why he has done it but it is a decision the Labour Party will come to regret.

I am not sure it will fulfill his aim of letting Ed Miliband get on with the job of leading the Labour Party in his own way. While David remains in Parliament his supporters will continue to press his case in the media and he will be seen as the King over the water. His every utterance will be pored over for signs of disloyalty to his brother.

As long as he sits on the backbenches there will be many of his acolytes who will believe that his day will still come.

Who Leaked the Liam Fox Letter?

The Telegraph has splashed with a leaked "For Your Eyes Only" letter from Liam Fox to David Cameron. It is strongly worded and is proof, if it were needed, that the MoD are at loggerheads over the spending review. Without going into the whys and wherefores of the issue itself, it is deeply worrying that this letter has been leaked. A FYEO letter can only have been leaked by one of four different individuals unless there has been some sort of electronic skulduggery.

Either it was leaked by an MoD civil servant, a Number Ten official, an MoD special advisor or Liam Fox himself.

Ben Brogan thinks people should 'relax' as Cameron wants the debate over defence cuts to be in public anyway. He's not suggesting that Cameron would have wanted this letter to leak, but he thinks in order to get 'buy in' the public needs to be part of the debate.

I have just seen Liam Fox interviewed outside the MoD. When asked "will you resign?" he avoided the question and instead talked about how it's important that everyone played as a team. I found that non-denial deeply worrying.

I doubt whether the leaker of the letter will ever be identified. They rarely are. But whoever it was should examine their motives for doing it. Because it may have far reaching consequences, way beyond those intended.

UPDATE: Having thought about this a little further I just cannot conceive that it was a political person who leaked this. It just doesn't stack up.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From 7PM tonight on LBC



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm Ed Miliband: What did you think of the speech? I'll be talking to Jack Straw and Steve Richards.

8pm The French government has introduced a new law which would enable them to eject naturalised citizens who are abusive to the police, and immigrants who indulge in "aggressive begging" are a strain on the welfare state.

9pm The LBC Medical Hour. Phone in your medical questions to our resident GP.

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

The Daley Dozen: Tuesday


1. Benedict Brogan thinks Red Ed is in fact Brown.
2.
Eamonn Butler isn't happy that people are being arrested for burning the Koran.
3. The
IEA on why John Humphrys is wrong on education.
4.
Douglas Carswell proposes higher interest rates.
5.
Tory Radio says David Miliband has to go.
6.
Francis Beckett thinks Ed M is Labour's way of putting two fingers up to Blair.
7.
Tim Montgomerie is disappointed at the Coalition's lack of tax cuts.
8.
David Blackburn thinks the Defence Review is a cost cutting exercise.
9.
Laurie Penny believes it is time for Young Labour takeover.
10.
Michael Crick questions whether young families are suitable for politics.
11.
Ed Staite gives a professional critique of Ed Miliband's speech.
12. However
Conor Ryan thought it was clever and well constructed.

Quote of the Day


"It is time to bury the old Blair-Brown thing six feet underground with six feet of concrete on top. We must all unite and pull together. I am oozing loyalty."

Paul Flynn MP after his 5th preference candidate, Ed Miliband, won the Labour Party Leadership

Ed Miliband Needs to Cut Loose

Well on that performance I am not sure the Conservatives have an awful lot to worry about. I genuinely thought Ed Miliband would rise to the occasion, but right from the off he seemed to be very downbeat. He wasn't helped by the autocue appearing not to start on time.

Miliband can be a great platform speaker when he's doing his own thing. But today he was clearly speaking the words of others. And it showed. The speech was ponderous, lacked pace and at times you could see the audience wondering when it was going to finish. He said the things he was expected to say, but said very little that was a surprise. I don't know what the top line from this speech was. Do you?

At one point I expected him to mutter something about the quiet man turning up the volume. Ed Miliband needs to make speeches in the style he is most comfortable in. And that is not behind a podium or reading from an autocue.

Biteback nominated for Sports Book Award

I am delighted to announce that a Biteback book, We Ate All The Pies?: How Football Swallowed Britain Whole, has been shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. We Ate All the Pies is written by John Nicholson, gonzo sports writer and star columnist for Football 365.

Drawing on his life as a devoted football obsessive, John delves into the culture that surrounds the game to discover how and why it has got under the skin of the British public like no other sport. From the crucial role booze and food takes, to the importance of shirts and merchandise, John also considers how football helps define who we are, who we think we are, how we behave, how it affects our relationships in life and how the game is used by people to vent their everyday frustrations and emotions. This is a unique, funny, warm and thought provoking excursion into our football lives, told in John’s trademark off-beat, powerful and irreverent style.

This is a fantastic achievement for Biteback Publishing, this is only our third sports book and this nomination is a testament to the hard work put into the book. If you would like to buy "We Ate All The Pies", you can find it HERE

Ed Miliband's Impossible Task

Trevor Kavanagh has just said that he thinks Ed Miliband faces an almost impossible task with his speech this afternoon. He is speaking to so many different audiences that he will find it very difficult to please them all. As Trevor said, you wouldn't envy the speechwriting team, would you?

I think the performance is as important as the content. It really does need to be the speech of his life. Ed Miliband is at his best when he is not reading from a script, but I doubt whether he will dare to do a Cameron and wander round the stage. It would be a high wire act, but he would win a lot of respect if he did it.

Another way he would steal the show is if he was able to announce that his brother had decided to serve in his shadow cabinet. I somehow doubt that will happen, but you never know.

The Thoughts of Edkita Milischev

Dizzy has some thoughts on Edkita Milischev's speech this afternoon.

Top 100 Lefties: 75-51

The Daily Telegraph Top 100 Influential People on the Left list continues today with numbers 75-51 HERE.

See 100-76 HERE.

Why I Voted Green...

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Rousing (But "Terrible") Pat McFadden

From a reader...

Just though I’d share the live coverage on BBC Parliament...

Pat McFadden finishes his “rousing” speech at the Labour conference, the camera cuts to a close up of two female delegates clapping. One turns to the other and
clearly says “That was terrible”. You didn’t need to be particularly proficient
in lip-reading.

Bless.

From 7pm Tonight on LBC...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm Ed Miliband: What are your first impressions, and is New Labour dead?

8pm Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray is promising to put the Scottish minimum wage up by 20% to £7. Guess who's going to pay? What should the minimum wage be?

9pm When was the last time you saw a male primary school teacher. How important are male role models to kids?

9.30pm A new survey reveals that most of us only take a 16 minute lunch break

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Introducing My New Assistant...

A few weeks ago I advertised that I needed an Executive Assistant to help me in my work now that I have permanent slot on LBC. I had a huge amount of applications, and I am delighted to announce that Grant Tucker is my new Executive Assistant starting from today.

I would like to thank all who applied, there were many high calibre candidates and it was an extremely difficult decision to make. Grant is a highly articulate and knowledgeable young man; he has been involved with the Conservative Party for several years in South Wales and has now made the move to London. He will be helping me out with all my day-to-day activities, including this blog and will be at Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham next week.

I want to make clear that Grant will be responsible for the resurrection of the Daley Dozen starting tomorrow and he will also be contributing other pieces to the blog. However, he will NOT be writing my blogposts - I will continue to be doing that in my own name, but he may from time to time write pieces under his own name. The intention is that by employing him I free up a little more time to write more here myself, as I am aware that in recent weeks I haven't been as prolific as normal. I know that more than half of you come back here more than three times a day and expect to see something new when you do! He will also be moderating comments, so they will appear much more quickly to enable more debate to take place.

Anyway, I hope you will welcome Grant to the team and if you would like to follow him on Twitter you can do so HERE. You can email him with ideas for the blog grant AT iaindale DOT com.

The Daley Dozen: Monday


1. Charlotte Gore questions whether Ed M is tough enough to control Labour.
2.
Lee Rotherham writes to NICE about their idea to pay people to lose weight.
3.
John Redwood offers an alternative view on public spending.
4.
Guido claims the Unions broke electoral law during the Labour Leadership Contest.
5.
Peter Hitchens defends Russia against the Ukraine.
6.
Party Lines looks at the impact AV will have on smaller parties.
7.
Toby Thomas investigates potentential Labour plans for deficit reduction.
8. Labour Shadow Cabinet could be half women reckons
Lord Toby Harris
9.
Peter Hoskin reports that the IMF are backing George Osbourne.
10.
Paul Waugh explains how disastrously Ed Miliband polled in the South.
11.
Mark Wallace hopes he doesn't get shot at Labour Party Conference.


12. And finally, courtesy of Liberal England...



Quote of the Day


"I see some [foreign investment funds] looking for returns of 20 or 25% at a time when fellatio is close to zero."

France's ex-justice minister, Rachida Dati, during a TV interview.

The Top 100 Influential People on the Left: 100-76

Click HERE to read the first installment of the Top 100 People on the Left list which Brian Brivati and I have compiled for the Daily Telegraph.

An Invite to a Party...


If you sign up to the party on Fringe List HERE you'll get a free SMS reminder.

Those Miliband Achievements in Full

An interesting call in on 5 Live just now. Here's how it finished...

CALLER: Name me one achievement of either Miliband outside politics...

CALLER 2: Er......

CALLER 1: OK then, name me one achievement of either Miliband while they were ministers...

CALLER 2: [long pause] Er, Ed Miliband attended the climate change conference in Copenhagen...

Says it all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Podcast: 7 Days Show: Episode 42


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

In this week's episode recorded from behind enemy lines (well at Labour Party Conference in Manchester) we spoke about the election of Ed Miliband as Labour leader; what price if any the Unions will want; have we seen the death of New Labour; was it a shock that Lord Prescott didn’t become Labour treasurer, or is it further evidence of Union influence; is there any irony that the leaders of the three main political parties are young(ish) fresh faced white males; wasn’t the selection of Ken Livingstone to take on Boris always going to happen and doesn’t Boris have to portray himself as independent of the party.

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.

Sunny & Iain on Ed

If you'd like to listen to an 18 minute conversation recorded this afternoon by the nice people from Tweetminster between me and Sunny Hundal from Liberal Conspiracy on the Ed Miliband leadership issue, click below. Or you could stick needles in your eyes. Up to you.

Listen!

A Weird Conference Experience

Sitting in the foyer of the main conference hotel, and having wandered round the commercial exhibition for half an hour (something I could easily have done in ten minutes) I wonder if I have come to the right conference. There just doesn't seem to be anyone here. I've never experienced such a quiet conference.

You'd think that the day after a new leader was elected there would be a buzz of excitement around. Instead, there's a slightly weird nervousness where people seem unwilling to commit themselves as to what should happen next. In some ways, perhaps this is not surprising. After all, the conference will now be dominated by a series of speeches by shadow ministers on subjects they all know they won't be covering in a fortnight's time.

Interestingly, there are quite a few ex MPs here. I've spotted four or five of them so far - including Jonathan Shaw and Tony McNulty. Clearly they are going to have another tilt.

Apart from the miniscule cmmercial exhibition another sign that this conference is not what it once was is the much smaller than usual fringe. I thought I'd find one to attend this lunchtime but there are only six, yes six, to choose from. And frankly, In Conversation with Oona King, Unite Against Fascism and How Labour's Labour don't really get my juices flowing.

The funny thinkg is that no one seems to want to talk politics. I bumped intp Tom Watson earlier and he was very keen to chat about West Brownich Albion's victory at the Emirates yesterday and West Ham's win over Spurs. As were several others.

All in all, this is a bit of a weird experience.

One Prediction I Got Right

Just received a nice text from someone high up in the Ed Miliband campaign.

"You were the first to predict. Thank you."
This is a reference to the profile of the two Milibands I did for GQ a couple of years ago in which I concluded that Ed, not David, was the more likely of the two to reach the top.

It's not often I get predictions right, so excuse me if I feel a bit smug about this one!

That Andrew Marr/Ed Milibrother Interview in Full

MARR: Good morning, Mr Milibrother. What would you like to say to the nation this morning?

MR ED: Good morning. I'd like to win the next election. Thank you. That is all.

MARR: Are you a Communist?

MR ED: Andrew, that's ridiculous. All Milibands are equal. But some are more equal than others.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ashcroft Publishes Labour Research

Michael Ashcroft has tonight published a research paper titled What Future For Labour, in a bid, no doubt, to be very helpful to the new Labour leader. It shows the Labour movement at odds with swing voters. You can download it HERE.

The Most Boring Leadership Contest in History Ends

I am still at a bit off a loss to explain the reason why the Labour leadership contest has bored most people rigid - even those who have taken part in it. Most of my Labour friends say it has inspired no one and been a total letdown. The only explanation I can think of is that Labour is now in the position the Tories were in 1997 - no one's really interested in what they've got to say.

Well, this afternoon we find out which Milibrother has won. From the start I thought Ed Miliband might pull through on second preferences and the betting markets seem to agree.

If it is indeed him, he has an astonishingly difficult task ahead of him. I joked the other day about him being 'Red Ed'. I don't axctually believe that for a minute. He's done what he had to do to get votes among Labour members and trade unionists. Cynical maybe, but in the end probably effective. If he shows that same degree of electoral planning as leader, the Tories may find themselves with a more formidable opponent than they had imagined.

I won't be able to blog the result live as I shall be ensconced in my seat at Upton Park and then I'm driving up to Manchester. But please use this thread to discuss the events of the afternoon.

Thanking Our Troops



"One Day's Service, A Lifetime's Support"

Last night on my LBC show we discussed the issue of how we treat our armed services, and in particular war veterans. It is never good when a presenter breaks down in tears on air, but last night it nearly happened to me twice. Once when reading out a heartfelt text and another time when an elderly lady phoned up to tell me that her husband had been held by the Germans in the Hartenstein Hotel I had visited with my Dad in Arnhem last week. There were several other callers who were outraged at how we treat our veterans, a subject I discussed with retired army officer Dick Bland.

I spoke to Colonel Richard Kemp who wants the government to introduce and equivalent of America's Purple Heart medal, to recognise the valour of those who are injured in combat.

But that's not the reason for this post. During the hour I told of how, when I was in Arnhem last week, we visited the museum at the Hartenstein Hotel, which housed the German command centre during WW2 for that part of Holland. While we were there, about 100 British Army soldiers were visiting too, along with several dozen cyclists who had been taking part in a sponsored bike ride from the UK to Holland in aid of Help for Heroes. Two of them had lost both legs while fighting in Afghanistan. Another was blind in one eye. I so wanted to go up to them and shake their hands and thank them for what they had done. But I didn't. I wanted to talk to the guys in their uniforms and let them know people like me appreciated what they were doing for our country. But I didn't. And I was ashamed of myself. Part of it was a slight embarrassment, part of it was the fact that I knew I would well up like a wuss and part of it was ... well, it's not the sort of thing we do in this country is it? In America it's different. There's no reservation at all. There's an outgoing nature among Americans which we just don't have. That's why you see videos on Youtube of troops being clapped through airports. But it's more than that, they treat their soldiers and veterans with a respect we don't. Soldiers are invited onto aircraft to take their seats first. They're honoured at sports games. In their hometowns their treated like minor celebrities. In Britain our troops are told not to wear uniforms outside barracks in case they are attacked. What kind of country does that makes us? Charities like SSAFA and Help For Heroes have to step in and do the things for veterans which in America would be done by the Department of Veteran Affairs. They do a great job but too much is put on them.

Later in my programme I talked to Colonel Richard Kemp, who told me he had been following my Arnhem trip on Twitter. He reckoned that he and I should start a campaign to encourage people to thank our troops. To go up to individual soldiers and shake their hands, to do anything to let them know how appreciated they are. Something as simple as if you're passing a lorry carrying troops, give it a toot and a wave. It's simple things like that which make a difference. Richard has started a Twitter hashtage #thanktroops.

It was amazing to hear the calls which followed this suggestion. People described their own experiences in America at airports and sports games. One man rang in and was almost in tears describing how he, like me, was ashamed that he had never had the courage to make his feelings known to individual soldiers he had met.

So come on people. Next time you see someone in uniform, do it. Tell them how grateful you are. Shake their hand. Wave at them. Smile. But let them know. And when you do, come back here and tell us what the reaction was.

#thanktroops



Note: The top video was real. The one at the bottom was for a Budweiser commercial.

Friday, September 24, 2010

From 7pm on LBC...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm The government seems to be intent on halving the 28 day period suspected terrorists can be held without trial. Are they right? I'll be speaking to David Davis and Hazel Blears.

8pm Do we treat our veterans well enough?

9pm The gadget Hour with LBC Gadget Guru Darren Tossell. Phone in with all your gadget related queries.

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Another Reason to Hate My Bank

I have a Lloyds TSB Gold Account. When they offered it to me some years ago I was told it offered me all sorts of benefits. Since then, every few months I get a letter telling me of "important changes to your account". Funny how these changes are never in my favour. The letter I got today is typical.

From now on they will charge £5 a month if I use my overdraft facility on top of the extortionate rate of interest they already charge. And right at the bottom of the letter they tell me that they will no longer be paying interest on the money in the account.

I think they should remove the word Gold from the name of the account and call it what it actually is. A currrent account.

Back to the Future With The Michael Foot Tribute Act

I wonder whether the Labour Party isn't indulging in a bit of 1980s nostalgia by selecting Ken Livingstone today to be their London mayoral candidate, and in all probablity 'Red' Ed Miliband tomorrow as their new leader. Perhaps they could form a Michael Foot tribute act, as suggested by one of my Twitter followers.

The fact that Ken Livingstone won by such a large margin (69-31) shows that he had the union vote totally stitched up. And they will no doubt be funding his campaign. And it's a further sign that New Labour is well and truly dead. It has ceased to be.

Geraldine Dreadful MP Writes ... to Ed Miliband



Dear Ed,

First of all, let me be the first to congratulate you on your glorious and welcome success in the election to become leader of our great and valuable party. It is a revolutionary victory for socialism, it was an enormous honour to have supported your campaign the whole way through the election, and it was an absolute joy, when asked who I had voted for and who I was supporting, to reply 'the more attractive of the Miliband brothers'.

Now the festival of democracy that is our party's internal election machine is completed, it will of course be time for you to fill the key positions within your shadow cabinet; it is vital for you to understand who is loyally willing to stand by your side in the great enterprise of bringing our Labour Party back to power.

You will of course be aware of my involvement in the Labour Party Justice for Malta group, the All-Party Group for a Focus on Cypriot Tourism, the Trade Union Friends of Bodrum group and the Labour Co-Op Costa Del Sol Human Rights Watchdog. I have made it my business to engage in international affairs from a very early age, and consider the tan from the various fact finding trips I have made in solidarity with those causes (some 43 trips in all) a scar of battle.

I think you will agree that this marks me out as someone uniquely qualified to take on the hated adenoidal toff William Hague in the House. As Foreign Secretary, (a racist term which should be amended) I believe I would forge a distinctive and coherent identity for Labour's foreign policy, in line with the best traditions of Marxist-Bevanite-Kinnockism.

In addition, I have my passport and my full complement of vaccinations, as well as ESTA travel clearance to the USA for the next six months. And a pass in O-Level Francais.

Please let me know what you think.

Geraldine Dreadful MP
Sickle and Hammer East

Cc: Rt Hon David Milliband MP
Cc (amended): Rt Hon Ed Balls MP

Thursday, September 23, 2010

From 7pm on LBC...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm Has President Barack Obama been a disappointment?

7.50pm DfID Secretary Andrew Mitchell on what he and Nick Clegg have been doing at the UN in New York

8pm A new survey reveals that many of Britain's carers are in dire financial straits and don't know how to cope. What does this say about the Big Society?

8.30pm As Foyles Bookshop makes a profit for the first time in five years we ask if this is a sign of a revival in bookselling, or is the future of the book on a computer screen? We talk to the chief executive of Foyles Bookshop.

9pm The Legal Hour with LBC legal expert Daniel Barnett. Phone in your legal questions!

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

The Importance of Shipping

As some of you may know, my first proper job back in the 1980s, was in the ports industry and it’s an area I have retained an interest in ever since. Indeed, if I had ever been an MP I’d love to have been Shipping Minister! So I was intrigued to learn that last night, Maritime UK, an organisation made up of 65 of the biggest names in the industry held a dinner where discussions were held about how the industry should ramp up its lobbying in the coming weeks over the Strategic Defence & Security Review. There is concern in the sector that, amidst the talk of the cost of Trident and carriers, one of the most important functions of the Navy – ie protecting UK trade – is being forgotten. Energy and trade security are almost as important as national security.

1) Everything from the energy that lights and heats our homes, to the food and goods we buy on the high street, is imported by sea.
2) Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), imported by sea, provides a rapidly increasing proportion of our energy supply – 35% by 2030
3) The UK flag fleet has grown by 530% since 2000
4) The growth in the UK commercial fleet contrasts starkly with the shrinking global footprint of the Royal Navy, whose primary purpose is to safeguard our trade and security.
5) British ships carrying our energy supplies, medical supplies, food and other goods, regularly pass through treacherous stretches of water, such as the Gulf of Aden. A strong and viable navy is vital to protect them and ensure those goods reach the UK

If this sounds like a lobbying pitch for British shipping, that’s because it is. And I hope Maritime UK, the Chamber of Shipping and the UK’s port’s sector get their lobbying efforts together to ensure that the sector is fully plugged into whatever consultations are being held during the SDSR. Because if they don’t, and the threats to our merchant shipping are ignored, it won’t just be the shipping and ports sector that will suffer. It will be the entire economy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lembit: You Cannot Be Serious

Well that was a bit odd. Every Wednesday on my LBC programme we have an hour at 9pm called the LBC Parliament. Three politicos come into the studio and we talk about the political stories of the week. Tonight we booked Labour blogger Hopi Sen, Tory MP Nick de Bois and LibDem aspirant London mayoral candidate Lembit Opik. Bear in mind that if you're hoping to become London mayor, an hour on London's premier radio station provides you with quite a good audience to win over.

We had several people email and text in to question how serious Lembit was about this. They questioned his apparently insatiable desire to be a celebrity. Lembit made a passionate plea to be taken seriously and explained why people should do just that. He said how committed he was on important issues ... and then half way through the hour he upped and left to go to a nearby comedy club rather than talk about them. Admittedly he had a good excuse - Stephen Pound MP was making his standup debut - but I'm afraid LBC listeners were less than impressed. By doing what he did he just confirmed people's prejudices that he just isn't serious.

Lembit was kind enough to phone in at the end of the programme to hand the phone to Stephen Pound who in his own inimitable fashion described how during his stand up routine he called Michael Gove a c***. Well I'll bet that had them rolling in the aisles.


I like Lembit, I really do, and I really wish him well. But if he wants to run for a serious office he's got to play the part. He's a very funny guy, but he needs to learn that he can do 'funny' or he can do serious politics. He can't do both. He might recall that when a certain Boris Johnson realised that, he went on to win the mayoralty. He still remained himself, but he adapted his character to the campaign he was running. He compromised. Lembit shows no sign of doing that and it will take a very persuasive campaign manager to make him do so.

But in the meantime, all this will be grist to the mill of the LibDems who want 'anyone but Lembit'.

Tonight on LBC From 7pm...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm A south east london hospital is closing for the winter, wait for it, because it can't recruit any staff. I'll be talking to local MP James Brokenshire

8pm Jobseekers are now willing to take pay cuts to get jobs, or keep their existing one. Is this a sign of things to come?

8.30pm A new survey reckons Britain is the worst place to live in Europe. Rubbish, say I. What do you think?

9pm The LBC Parliament convenes, with Lembit Opik, Nick de Bois MP and blogger Hopi Sen discussing the week's hot political potatoes

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

Police Apologise to Former Tory MP

I've just seen this on ConservativeHome.

It was reported in 2008 that Nigel Waterson, then the Conservative MP for
Eastbourne, had been arrested for allegedly assaulting his teenage children.

The Metropolitan Police has now apologised to Mr Waterson, and agreed to
pay him damages and costs. It accepts that the accusations made against him were
"wholly unfounded", and apologises for any distress caused.

Mr Waterson said -

I welcome the apology from the Metropolitan Police. They now accept that there was no basis for my arrest. I have always been a great supporter of our police. But this sort of incident can undermine the public’s faith in them; especially as at the time my arrest was leaked to the media.

My family and I can now put this distressing episode behind us.


I do hope those who wrote some terrible things about Nigel Waterson at the time, might have the good grace to follow the Met's lead and apologise.

The Dysfunctionality of Brown's Number Ten

Next week, Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley publish their long awaited book cataloguing the 2010 general election. It's not out for a couple of weeks but I think this passage from the book sums up perfectly the disfunctionality of Brown's regime at Number Ten...


No effective way had been reached of making Brown’s Number 10 function. Brown failed to define clear roles for his staff and was reluctant to delegate. As one of those departing complained, shortly before leaving: ‘Everything is so thoroughly disorganised. Politicians only turn to make the decision at the eleventh hour, and then only when they’re forced to, when there’s minutes to go … You start to feel deskilled working in here, you have to remind yourself that you’ve got good judgement, else it will soon suck all the confidence out of you.’ Or, as another put it: ‘It was distressing to work there. You’d look at it, and weep for the Labour Party.’
Complaints continued from other departments and MPs that Number 10 was not working well – ‘dysfunctional’ was the word used most often – and lacked leadership. One member of Brown’s team admitted, ‘We have a grid but we have no plan.’ ‘On every single issue’, complained one adviser, ‘there is a horrendous period of void, when the thing tumbles into No 10 … It’s like dropping a stone into a well, and waiting to hear how deep it is, and then realising it’s very deep – and anyway, your stone is now sitting on the bottom along with loads of other stones.’ A senior official who had worked in Number 10 under Blair and now advised Brown was aghast at what he found. Complaints about Brown’s personal style also began to circulate widely. Much of this behaviour, those who knew him well claimed, was born out of frustration, with himself, and his failure to achieve what he wanted. ‘There is’, one of Brown’s team claimed, ‘no worse critic of Gordon Brown than Gordon Brown.’ Or, as another of those to work in Number 10 put it: ‘I don’t think he can quite come to terms with the fact that he’s not good enough.’

You can order the British General Election of 2010 (Published on 30 September) in paperback by Palgrave HERE or hardback HERE.

The Right Wing Blogosphere Needs New Blood

This is the fifth year of the Total Politics Blog Awards and more people than ever took part. Bloggers and blog readers were asked to rank their top ten or top five blogs and them email them to Total Politics. More than 120 blogs from across the political spectrum promoted the contest on their sites and people voted for a total of 903 different blogs, compared to 940 in 2009 and 540 in 2008.

There were 17 new entries in the top 50, compared to 18 last year, with the top 20 contains many familiar faces along with seven new entries. They are FT Westminster, Left Foot Forward, Next Left and Liberal Conspiracy from the left; and Iain Martin, James Delingpole and Norman Tebbit from the right.

Dropping out of the top 20 are Devil's Kitchen (now renamed Devil's Knife), Tory Bear, Archbishop Cranmer, Old Holborn, Douglas Carswell, Ben Brogan and Obnoxio the Clown - every single one of them on the right. The most spectacular fall has been experienced by the now defunct People's Republic of Mortimer, down from 75 to 300 - a real shame for its talented and funny writer Alix Mortimer. The biggest climber is Al Jahom's Final Word, which climbs 182 places to 108, just missing the top 100.

The highest new entry will not come as much surprise. It is Will Straw's Left Foot Forward, which goes straight in at number three, above both ConservativeHome and the Spectator Coffee House. This is a considerable achievement and is indicative of the strides made by left-of-centre bloggers as a whole in this year's list.

Left-of-centre blogs take up four of the top 10 places and seven of the top 20. Last year there was only one left-wing blog (Tom Harris) in the top 10 and four in the top 20. So does this indicate the inevitable ascendency of the left and the retreat of the right? It's possible, but if you judge a blog by quantity of readers I understand that even Left Foot Forward is still only getting about a third of the traffic levels of ConservativeHome.

LabourList continues to be the preeminent left-wing group blog now that LabourHome seems to have become almost an irrelevance. Tom Harris continues to entertain and inform in equal measure, while Hopi Sen is a consistently excellent writer who deploys humour to often devastating effect.

It is always said that it is more difficult to blog if the party you support is in government. That was always the excuse given for the weakness of the left in the blogosphere. People believed that once the Tories got into government, the boot would be on the other foot, but I'm not so sure. In my own case, and indeed I think the same can be said of ConservativeHome, I don't believe my style of blogging has changed at all since the advent of the coalition government. If I have critical things to say, I still say them.

The comparative decline of the right is not because existing right-wing blogs have been performing badly, it is because there has been no new blood. Norman Tebbit apart - and he has taken to blogging like an unemployed person takes to a bike - there are very few notable new right-of-centre blogs. Even those who showed great promise last year have now fallen by the wayside. My colleague Shane Greer seems to be spending more time on his hair than on writing his blog, True Blue Blood, Tory Politico, Donal Blaney and Nadine Dorries have all departed. Tory Bear seems to have become distracted by other things, falling 18 places to number 29 in the chart.

But on the left, Political Scrapbook has pretensions to becoming the Labour Guido Fawkes, although the precedents for that aren't great. Remember Derek Draper? The New Statesman triumvirate of Mehdi Hasan, James Macintyre and the group blog, The Staggers, are doing very well after a comparatively short time in the blogosphere, while John Rentoul has also become a must read if you want to test the Blairite water.

And what of the Lib Dems? Plus ├ža change really. Mark Pack doubles as co-editor of Lib Dem Voice and the author of his own eponymous blog and is their highest new entry in the chart at 56, but there is one real sadness, and that is that Mark Thompson of the Mark Reckons blog has decided to give up blogging completely. He had risen to the dizzy heights of 34, and is the second highest Lib Dem blog and will be a real loss to the political blogosphere. He had also established himself as a valuable commentator on the radio.

Newspapers, radio and TV are all now using bloggers as regular commentators on political affairs. The breakthrough was really brought home to me on the evening of David Laws' resignation. Who did BBC News have as their studio guests for 90 minutes? Mark Pack from Lib Dem Voice and myself. This seemed completely natural to them. There was a time when they would have instantly called on a newspaper political editor. They still do of course, but they now regard bloggers as suitable equivalents.

Bloggers have left the subs bench and are now playing on the main pitch. You can probably name or recognise just as many bloggers who now perform on TV and radio as newspaper reporters or columnists. Go through the list of the top 20 and virtually all the bloggers listed now appear regularly. One of them has even got his own radio show on LBC 97.3...
.
This article was first published in Total Politics magazine.



The 2010-11 Blogging Guide is now available for purchase HERE.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tonight on LBC From 7pm...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10-8pm Ken Livingstone wants to tax millionaires at 80% and anyone earning £200,000 60%. Is he mad? What effect would this have on London's fragile recovery. I'll be talking to Ken Livingstone and Oona King.

8-9pm How much damage does divorce do to children, and should we be concerned that one in four children are bedroom diners. The family meal is disappearing. I'll be talking to Anne Atkins.

9-10pm The LBC medical hour with Dr Rob Hicks. Phone in your health problems or questions.
You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

The Top 50 Most Influential Liberal Democrats

As usual this, year Brian Brivati and I have been tasked by the Daily Telegraph with compiling this year's lists of top LibDems, people on the right and people on the left. Today the Telegraph published our list of the Top 50 Liberal Democrats, which we compiled with the expert advice of some leading LibDems including an MP, a blogger, a party insider and two pundits...

1 2 Nick Clegg
2 5 Danny Alexander
3 3 Chris Huhne
4 1 Vincent Cable
5 27 Jonathan Oates
6 23 Simon Hughes
7 12 Polly Mackenzie
8 9 Tom McNally
9 6 David Laws
10 25 Steve Webb
11 4 Chris Fox
12 10 Paddy Ashdown
13 - Michael Moore
14 8 John Sharkey
15 Alastair Carmichael
16 13 Tavish Scott
17 21 Lynne Featherstone
18 26 Norman Lamb
19 31 Alison Suttie
20 7 Baroness Scott
21 - Lord Alderdyce
22 - Lena Pietsch
23 11 Lord Oakeshott
24 14 Evan Harris
25 15 Shirley Williams
26 - Richard Reeves
27 18 Duncan Brack
28 - Andrew Stunnell
29 33 Richard Kemp
30 22 Lord Shutt
31 20 Paul Burstow
32 100 Nick Harvey
33 - David Heath
34 - Tim Farron
35 49 Fiona Hall
36 35 Ed Davey
37 17 Lord Lester
38 24 Norman Baker
39 30 Sarah Teather
40 42 Mark Pack
41 29 Lord Carlile
42 75 Jim Wallace
43 51 Jeremy Browne
44 36 Ming Campbell
45 - Julia Goldsworthy
46 - Olly Grender
47 - Sean Kemp
48 - Colin Firth
49 - Miriam Gonzales-Durrantes
50 38 Kirsty Williams

The biographies for 26-1 are HERE and 50-26 HERE.

Here's the article Brian Brivati and I wrote for the Telegraph explaining the choices...

This year has forced a rethink of what it means to be a Liberal Democrat. As the anonymous panel met to compile the list, there was a sense in which that crisis of identity was still being played out. Not since the party was welded together from what was left of David Owen’s ego and David Steel’s “preparation for government” pipe dreams, have the joints between the activists and the power-seekers been more exposed.

The impact of government sits over the Liberal Democrat list as the defining moments of the last year are picked over. The two centres of power – government and party - pulled the discussion in different directions.

As in the debate about the formation of the coalition itself, it was power which won out over protest. The top ten clearly shows the impact of power: the leader is now number one, overtaking Vince Cable for the top spot.

He seized his moment and is now living through the consequences for himself and for his party. It is still too early to say if the prize was worth the sacrifice but it is safe to say the Liberal Democrats and British politics will never be the same again.

Nick Clegg, the Cleggster as some Liberal Democrats call him, is an unfolding psycho drama of compelling fascination. The last time a left of centre party entered a coalition with the Conservatives was in 1931. Many of those then Labour politicians who became National Labour seemed to become more like Tories than their Tory colleagues.

A Liberal Democrat critic of the coalition has compared it privately to the final scenes of George Orwell’s Animal Farm when the Pigs become interchangeable with the humans! Certainly while watching Clegg balance party and government, deal with sharp declines in his popularity and, a new experience for most Liberal Democrats, be actually hated for the decisions he is part of, it is hard not to have been impressed by the strength of Clegg’s character over the last year. What everyone in the Westminster village wants to know is for how long he can keep it up?

Clegg is supported by many backroom figures who suddenly find themselves at the centre of power. Two women stand out in this group: the leader’s brain, Polly Mackenzie (up 5 to 12) and his mouth piece, Lena Pietsch (new in at 22). Clegg and Pietsch talk to each other in German when they don’t want others to understand. These two sit on top of the new breed of players that government has taken to the top of the party rankings: the special advisers. The star here is Richard Reeves. He has managed the transition from contributing to discussions on constitutional reform inside Brown’s Number Ten, to working as a special adviser for the coalition with the complete ease of the truly ambitious power seeker.

But the highest new entry reflects the transformation that comes when the power seekers win out. The quiet and serious backbencher Michael Moore emerges as a safe pair of hands as Secretary of State for Scotland at number 13: and an effective new Ministerial career starts.

Vince Cable slips, not because of his position on cuts, he was an early and keen cutter, but because others have forced their way ahead of him. Some have been very lucky indeed. Danny Alexander was on the way up, a key player internally he has emerged as the number two man of the Liberal Democratic part of the government and is earning grudging respect from his Conservative counterparts. The change in perception of Alexander began during the coalition talks. He was the architect of the coalition and has gone from “nice guy but...” to the key player in the politics of cuts. This could cause him trouble down the road as he navigates between loyalty to his party boss Clegg and his Ministerial partner Osborne. His association with the exercise of power and what it might do to his political position and personality, is the second most fascinating to watch.

Luck has also played its part in the resistible rise of Chris Huhne. He has not made it easy for himself or for his leader but in the curious relationship between the media, politics and the sex lives of politicians, he somehow survived the changes in his private life to stubbornly hold onto his top three position.

Moore and Huhne’s luck was made in part by the bad luck of David Laws. Laws trusted that somehow the media spotlight would not illuminate his private life. He is down but he is by no means out. The Tories still love him, the party still need him and when the chance comes he will return to office.

Between the activist wing and the power seekers, the party grandees sit. Many have slipped back. Those who were lukewarm on the coalition like Paddy Ashdown and Ming Campbell have suffered as a consequence. Others who have actual experience of office might have been expected to rise but have gone rather quiet – like Shirley Williams.

Among the left, fates have been different. Simon Hughes sits amid the top ten like an unexploded bomb. There is no question that he will go off. The question is when and with what impact.

Tim Farron, a darling of conference and the activists, enters the top fifty for the first time because of his potential to rock the boat. But in general this is not the hour of the activist or the left. Much might change this week and in the year to come. But for the year that was and for the power that the Liberal Democrats now hold, the power seekers have won the day and topped the list.

Tom Harris Wants Your Vote (If You're a Labour MP And Have a Brain)


Tom Harris is Labour's best blogger by a long chalk. He's said on his blog that is he succeeds in his bid to be elected to the Shadow Cabinet he'll have to give up blogging. This would be a terrible loss to political blogging, so I am almost tempted to ask Labour MPs not to vote for him on that basis alone.
But if I were a Labour MP serious about wanting to get back into power, I'd read the email he's just sent out to his colleagues and think to myself, "yup, here's a guy who gets it - he understands what's needed to get us back into government". I think this is the second email he has sent out to his fellow MPs and he's clearly serious about his campaign.
And yet is he likely to succeed? I have my doubts. There are too many of the old guard standing and now there is this ridiculous quota whereby 25% of the members have to be women. So instead of Tom Harris lining up in a shadow cabinet photo alongside Ed Miliband, you're more likely to see Geraldine Dreadful.

If It Doesn't Happen Here...

Listening to Sky earlier I was horrified by the way they were reporting the tragic death of nine US troops in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. They were so keen to point out that none of the dead were British that the subliminal message was that it wasn't quite so serious if they weren't from this country.

This is not a new trend in the media. Think, for example, of the ferry accidents which happen regularly in South East Asia killing hundreds. They barely rate a mention on our news bulletins - yet if a single Brit is involved the news coverage increases hugely.

Even the coverage of the Pakistan floods was less than blanket, and yet it was one of the biggest humanitarian disasters in years.

You can take the view that these are far away countries of which we know little, and therefore it is to be expected that disasters won't be reported in such detail as they would be if they occured closer to home. Or you can bemoan the fact that the reporting of foreign news in this country is lamentable - and that's true across the mediam but especially true of television. Even BBC World is a shadow of what it ought to be. The truth is that the best all round world news coverage is provided on Al Jazeera English. If you haven't seen it, give it a try. It's a revelation. And frankly, it's what BBC World ought to be.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Top 50 UK Political Blogs

Today, Total Politics announces the top 50 political blogs.

You can see 51-100 HERE.

Here's the full list:

1 (1) Guido Fawkes
2 (2) Iain Dale
3 Left Foot Forward
4 (4) Conservative Home
5 (3) Spectator Coffee House
6 (15) Labour List
7 (10) Daniel Hannan MEP
8 (6) Dizzy Thinks
9 (8) Tom Harris MP
10 (14) Hopi Sen
11 (7) Paul Waugh
12 (5) Political Betting
13 Liberal Conspiracy
14 (13) John Redwood MP
15 (32) Next Left
16 Iain Martin
17 (20) Alastair Campbell
18 (103) FT Westminster Blog
19 Norman Tebbit
20 (74) James Delingpole
21 (16) Old Holborn
22 (9) Devil's Knife
23 Political Scrapbook
24 (27) Nick Robinson
25 (19) Obnoxio the Clown
26 (23) Charlotte Gore
27 (30) LibDem Voice
28 (113) Anna Raccoon
29 (11) Tory Bear
30 (28) EU Referendum
31 (17) Douglas Carswell MP
32 (35) Underdogs Bite Upwards
33 (25) SNP Tactical Voting
34 (49) Mark Reckons
35 (26) Luke Akehurst
36 The Staggers
37 (157) John Rentoul
38 (64) Working Class Tory
39 (45) Biased BBC
40 (39) Tim Worstall
41 (22) Burning our Money
42 (78) Dick Puddlecote
43 (53) Blog Menai
44 (67) Caron's Musings
45 Labour Uncut
46 (76) Penny Red
47 (136) Guardian Politics Blog (Andrew Sparrow)
48 (18) Ben Brogan
49 (12) Archbishop Cranmer
50 (40) UK Polling Report

If your blog is one of the ones featured above, please feel free to put one of the following buttons in your sidebar and link it through to this post:

Blogs

or for the Top 20



This list is the result of more than 2,200 people who voted in the Total Politics Annual Blog Poll during the second half of July.

Click on the name of any blog to visit their site.

All these lists, together with articles from leading blog commentators, will be published in the TOTAL POLITICS GUIDE TO POLITICAL BLOGGING, in association with APCO Worldwide. It will be published in October at £14.99. You can pre-order your copy HERE

Tonight on LBC From 7pm...



On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10-8pm Poll shows Boris twice as popular as Ken & Oona. I'll be talking to Boris Johnson himself and also Andrew Hawkins from Comres.

8-9pm What can Nick Clegg do to get your vote?

9-9.30 Kids are getting less pocket money than they were 7 years ago. Is it fair to cut Kids' pocket money?

9.30-10 Viagra at Tesco's? Whatever next? And apparently a quarter of young people have unprotected sex. What can be done about it?

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at lbc.co.uk

Clegg: The Right Government for Right Now

Listening to Nick Clegg's speech I am struck by the fact that I could imagine David Cameron giving more or less exactly the same speech, almost word for word. I suppose that's inevitable when you are in a coalition, but it's noteworthy nonetheless. I don't recall him pandering to his party at all. One of the opening passages stated that the government was not implementing a LibDem manifesto or a Tory manifesto, but a coalition one. "I stand by it," he said to realtively tepid applause. But this was the key question he challenged his party with...

"If we had turned away, how could we have then asked the voters to take us seriously?"

Quite.

It was a good speech, delivered well. The Number 10 team will be pleased.

Inside the Minds of Labour Politicians

More from Chris Mullin's unputdownable diaries...

"This evening, as I was departing, I ran into Chief whip Nick Brown. 'Between you and me,' I said, given that we are going to lose the election, we ought to be planting a few booby traps.' I had in mind a few modest measures such as the election of select committee chairmen.

'I think we've done that with the PSBR,' replied Nick, smiling wickedly."

Shameless. Utterly shameless.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Podcast: 7 Days Show: Episode 41


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

In the show this week we spoke about the possibility of an electoral pact as suggested by Nick Boles; Lord Ashcroft’s new book and whether he will remain involved in politics; whether collective responsibility applies to Lib Dem Ministers; if not having a Queen’s Speech next year is undemocratic; whether fixed term Parliaments are a good thing; whether Andy Burnham spoke the truth about cuts on Question Time this week; who will win the Labour leadership election; whether tax avoidance is bad; thoughts on the visit of the Pope; my new LBC job; and when my Conference party is.

Also don’t miss the exclusive story of the attacking squirrels and speculation about a certain politician and their knickers.

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.

For Us to Live All Their Tomorrows

I don't know how many of you have ever been to a World War II cemetery, but it is a profoundly moving experience. I'm typing this looking out at rows of gravestones at a graveyard in Overloon. It's a comparatively small one with around 250 graves.

Earlier this afternoon we visited the Reichswald cemtery over the border in Germany. Buried there are more than 7,600 British, Commonwealth and Polish war dead. The grounds are simply beautiful. If anyone ever suggests cutting the funding of the Commonwealth War Graves commission, I suspect it might not be good for their political health.

As you wander past grave after grave, your eyes are imevitably drawn towards the citations at the bottom of each one. As someone whose eyes tend to go moist during the first few seconds of a Lassie film, you can imagine what state I was in by the end of the visit. But it was this one which particularly moved me, as to me it summed up why we have come on this visit and why each year we remember those who died in conflict.

"He died to give us another dawn, for us to live all his tomorrows."

Simply beautiful.

UPDATE: The grave marked the final resting place of Flying Officer D Hopkinson, died age 22, 17 May 1943.

Remembering Arnhem 66 Years On

I'm typing this before the commencement of the service at Oosterbeek military cemetery, near Arnhem. Sixty six years ago this week hundreds of British, American and Polish airmen and soldiers gave their lives in the cause of the liberation of Holland. And it is they whom we remember and honour today.

Sixty six years seems a long time, yet in historical terms it is but the flicker of an eyelid.

My generation have been lucky never to have had to fight. For my Dad's generation, World War 2 defined them and their world outlook. My Dad was 9 when the war broke out and fifteen when it ended, but it defines who he is today. He may not have fought himself, but he is determined that those who fought so he could live in freedom should never be forgotten. It's why we are here today, and it's part of the reason I love him. Not, of course that- would ever tell him that to his face. We're British after all!