Wednesday, May 25, 2005

New Beginnings

As some of you will have gathered by now, I have a new job. On Tuesday I start work as Chief of Staff to David Davis. I have therefore regretfully decided that I have to close down this Blog. I am sure you will all understand the reasons. It's my decision and my decision alone. Thanks to all who have contributed and become regular visitors over the last three years. I've really enjoyed doing the Blog and I am sure I will resurrect it again one day, but for now, it's over and out. If anyone wants to contact me in the future my email address is
Posted by Hello
PS. Someone has just posted a comment to ask what is happening to Politico's. Just to make clear, continues as normal. My partner, John Simmons, will be taking over the day to day running of the business.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Captions Please

In the absence of anything scintillating to write today I thought I'd invite your thoughts for a caption for this splendiferous picture of my old friend Gwynneth Dunwoody. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Lunchtime in Roughton

This lunchtime I held a thank you lunch for 60 of my campaign team who did so much for my election campaign. It was held in Roughton at the home of two people who have become very close friends, Bert & Sylvia. The weather held off and I think everyone enjoyed it. I said a few words and to be honest was very worried I might not hold it together as it was inevitably a little emotional. Anyway, I got through it and said what I wanted to say. There were some very special people involved in the campaign and I will never be able to thank them enough for all they did. Posted by Hello

Hoodless Hoodies

Charles Clarke is taken to task today in the Sunday Telegraph today for teling 6 lies in a 2 minute Today programme interview. Should provide ample ammunition for the Shadow Home Secretary in Home Office Questions tomorrow I would have thought.

Also, with the publicity surrounding the merits of hooded fleeces and the activity of 'Hoodies' I was amused to learn that the Director of the the Community Service Volunteers is Dame Elizabeth Hoodless. You couldn't make it up.

Auntie Auntie Shame on You

The David Davis for Leader Blog has an interesting post on today's antics by the BBC...

The BBC's report of its survey among Tory Party chairmen is a classic of BBC Bias.Its news bulletins and website lead on the proclamation: 'Most Tory Party constituency chairmen want Conservative MPs to choose the party's new leader, a BBC survey says.' Really? But surely-and correct me if I'm wrong- that would make it much harder for members' choice DD to become leader, wouldn't it? The BBC report goes on:'Ex-deputy PM Michael Heseltine said he was encouraged by the support to give more power back to MPs. He said...the survey showed a "deeper movement than perhaps one might have suspected". Which was good news because '....the voluntary party activists are relatively elderly and seemed obsessed with Britain's relations with Europe, which is why the pro-integration Mr Clarke had been defeated in a previous leadership challenge in 2001.' I see. Except...wait a second, what's this small print about the survey?' Sixty-six chairmen in the 197 Tory-held seats responded, with 36 saying party members should not be able to choose.' So in fact, the response rate was only 33 per cent, and of those, only just over 50 per cent said party members should not be able to choose. So when we say 'most Tory Party chairmen', what we actually mean is 36 out of 197. Now I know the BBC is staffed by a load of hopeless innumerates, but come on guys...But it gets worse: 'In the survey for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, David Davis was the most popular choice for leader. 'OK. Well, at least they got that right. Except...'However the small number of responses - only 26 chairmen chose to answer this question - made Mr Davis' popularity very unreliable, the survey suggested. 'What does that mean? 26 chairmen backed DD, and the rest didn't say?And why is it OK to base the screaming headline about 'most chairmen' on 50 per cent of a non-random 33 per cent sample, whereas the same rules aren't applied to the support for DD. Roll on privatisation.

But it is even worse than that. There are 650 odd constituency chairman, so a pathetic 6% took part in the survey. And to think that this has led their radio news bulletins all day.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Ready for the Weekend, Sir?

Just arrived in Swanton Abbott for the weekend after a tortuous journey. Because of the ridiculous roadworks on the A11 I drove up the A12 and A140.

The DD bandwagon gathers pace as Julie Kirkbride and Ian Taylor both declared themselves today. Julie had supported Portillo and Clarke in the last two contests and Ian Taylor is a solid Clarkeite but believes DD can unite the Party from a One Nation perspective. The broad coalition is beginning to build quite nicely and I expect to see some similar declarations soon.

The Telegraph reports today that the Candidate's List is to be reduced from 1,000 to 150. I don't understand the rush. Surely this sort of thing should wait until a new leader is elected? I have some fairly strong views about how the Candidate's List should be run in future - which I'll keep to myself for now - but antagonising most of the people who did the spadework during the last election is not a good idea. These are the very people whose talents and commitment need to be utilised over the next couple of years, yet this move risks not only alienating them but made to feel they've been wasting their time.

Tomorrow I'll be going to see some old faces and then on Sunday lunchtime I have a thank you get together for about 70 people involved in my campaign.

Anyone seen my article in the New Statesman?

And next week I'll be tieing things up before starting my new job. I could tell you what it is, but if I did, I might have to shoot you...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Portillo & Osborne

Got the shock of my life tonight when Michael Portillo said nice things about David Davis on the Andrew Neil programme. He certainly gave the impression he would support him over David Cameron. A great surprise. And apparently in tomorrow's Telegraph George Osborne rules himself out of the leadership contest. More interesting will be who he hitches himself to. May I make a suggestion...?!

Bad Road Day/Week/Month

I really can't believe this. Apparently the A11 is going to be closed for 9 weeks from 8pm to 6am for an eight mile stretch between Barton Mills and Thetford. They are resurfacing it. Do these people not understand the misery and chaos that will cause, just as the holiday season gets underway? The Highways Agency should be had up in court for this. Having spent a the week at Politico's I am up off to Norfolk tomorrow night. Guess I'll be going up the A12 then.

Bad Hair Day

Have you seen Anne McGuire's hair on Question Time?!!! To think, she probably paid some Edinburgh 'stylist' a fortune for that!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Depressing Debate

I have just witnessed the most depressing debate on Newsnight about the European Constitution. Paxo had wheeled in two twenty somethings who were the respective heads of Britain in Europe and the Vote No Campaign, neither of whom were on top of their subject and came out with some utter balls. Matthew McGregor from Vote No even managed to say that his organisation didn't object to a Constitution in principle. Well that gives away one of the stringest arguments they have! Surely one of the reaons for objecting to it is the fact that a Constitution implies Statehood and we do not believe the UK should be signing up to a United States of Europe. Lucy from Britain in Europe had Paxo lost for words when she said the referndum had nothing to do with Europe! I hope the debate improves a little on what we saw tonight.

Going Up!

'Kin awesome, as they say in the East End. Zamora's second goal was out of this world. Cardiff here I come! 2-0, by the way. I feel another episode of West Wing coming on...

Come on You Irons!

This evening will be spent biting my nails as West Ham aim to beat Ipswich to claim a place in the playoff final in Cardiff next weekend. And if they do I shall be off to Welsh Wales to visit my friend Matthew Lane. Matt was Area Campaign Director in Norfolk & Suffolk before he was made Dirctor of the Party in Wales at the grand old age of 28. Mind you, he looks about 48. Just havin' a giraffe! Come on you Irons! Wouldn't it be great to pass Norwich City on the way up to the Premiership? ALAN PARDEW'S CLARET & BLUE ARMY!

Low Taxes

I was once described in The Observer as a "Total Taxcutter". Madsen Pirie of the excellent Adam Smith Institute has an interesting post on the ASI Blog (see link on the left hand panel) on the fact that cutting taxes can raise revenues. I'd like to see a real debate about taxation over the next few years. Too many people on the right have fallen for the 'big government works' agenda of the soft left. What they forget is that it has to be paid for. And paid for by us, the taxpayers. It is appalling that we as a Party seem to have accepted that the public expenditure should increase remorselessly. If we want smaller government we need to cut public expenditure. Much of it can be achieved by cutting waste and bureaucracy but let's not pretend that there are not whole areas of government which should simply be abolished. So, onto the piece from Madsen Pirie...

A minor statistic on tax revenue might pass unnoticed, but not by Neil Collins (Telegraph). There has been an unexpected jump in US tax revenues following President Bush’s action to cut the top rate from 39% to 35%. Laffer is having the last Laff. The Federal Government recorded a $57billion surplus in April and income tax revenues leapt 16pc compared with last year, as Americans worked harder and made less use of tax loopholes. The annual deficit remains but the boffins at Morgan Stanley are so impressed they have just cut their forecast for this year from 3.6pc of GDP to 2.8pc. The rise in tax revenues was not unexpected to all of us, in that it happens fairly regularly. Lower taxes give earners less reason to avoid and evade tax, and more reason to put in extra effort. The result is quite regularly more growth, more wealth, more jobs, higher tax yields, and a higher percentage of the tax bill paid by the top earners. No surprise there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

DD Blog

For those interested in these things there is now a David Davis Blog, which you can find in the links down the left hand side. And before anyone else suggests it, no I'm not behind this particular blog!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Promotion for Norman

I see Norman Lamb has been appointed Trade & Industry spokesman in Charles Kennedy's new team. Congratulations are in order, but North Norfolk will have to get used to seeing a lot less of its MP if he is to fulfill his role on the LibDem front bench properly. Having said that, I thought the LibDems wanted to abolish the DTI!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Two new Blogs

There's a new Conservative Leadership Blog and also an interesting new one from my friend Tim Montgomerie who runs See the panel down the left for links to them.

More EU Madness

To understand why this country should question its whole relationship with the EU click on this link;sessionid=D2W5JUKRTJ5JVQFIQMGCM5WAVCBQUJVC?xml=/news/2005/05/15/nbook15.xml&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=6856#1

I defy even the most ardent Europhile to defend this.

Tieing up the Modernisers

I've just watched the Politics Show piece by Jo-Anne Nadler on what the word 'Moderniser' means in the Tory Party. Judging from recent TV appearances the definition of a moderniser is someone who thinks they should do a political interview without wearing a tie. Andrew Lansley hasn't got one on being interviewed by a tieless Jeremy Vine. Liam Fox was desperately trying to show some chest hair on GMTV earlier and Francis Maude seems to believe wearing a jacket and tie at the same time is some sort of heinous sin. They should all be asking themselves before going on TV without a tie: "What would my mother say?" I tried it once, while doing a newspaper review on the BBC and got a right good telling off. And deservedly so.

The Sunday Papers

Much about the Tory leadership in the Sunday papers. David Davis will have rather liked the flattering, nay fawning, profile of him by Melissa Kite in the Sunday Telegraph, although I suspect David Cameron will have winced a little while reading Martin Bentham's interview with him in The Observer. It's quite revealing that Cameron chose The Observer to give an interview to. I wonder how many Tory MPs or party members actually read The Observer. It's ironic that David seems to be very defensive about his schooling at Eton. He shouldn't be. Matthew D'Ancona has the best analysis (not for the first time) in The Telegraph. He believes that Davis will attract a coalition of support which the other candidates will not be able to. He urges us to watch out for the first Moderniser to publicly declare for him. John Rentoul in The Independent looks at why DD provokes such strong feelings among his detractors.

And most importantly of all, two appearances for this Blog in Atticus in the Sunday Times today. What a reputable column it is...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Nanny Statism

Classic feature headline in The Grauniad today...

Turnout is Really About Class - Compulsory Voting would Give the Less Well Off a Stronger Political Voice

I loathe the idea of compulsory voting. We are compelled to do enough things by the State. If people can't be arsed to vote they have no right to complain about what is done in their name afterwards. At least in North Norfolk we had the second highest turnout in the country.

Starring on the Newsquiz

It seems one of my election anecdotes graced the airwaves of Radio 4's Newsquiz yesterday. They rehashed the Atticus story which read...

"A surprise on the campaign trail for gay Tory candidate Iain Dale. Knocking on doors in the North Norfolk seat, he met an elderly lady who wondered if he might help her. Dale, fighting a Lib Dem majority, was naturally happy to oblige. “Thank you,” said the lady voter. “You’ll find the Durex on the sideboard.” Well now, it might be a small majority but there are limits. Luckily, the sideboard contained only Duracell. She wanted her clock battery changed."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Simpson & Dale Get Excited Over Tory Leadership Contest

Delightful pic sent to me by Pepi Simpson, wife of Mid Norfolk MP Keith and obsessed Will Young groupie. I went over to see the Simpsons in Reepham last Sunday to be cheered up. As you can see, it worked! Keith and Pepi have been very good friends to me and John over the last few years - the mark of a true friend is that you can fall asleep in their company and not worry about it afterwards! Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Question Time

I've just watched the first half of Question Time and am bored to tears by it. Boris is blustering, the LibDem Posh Spice woman is dreary beyond belief, Harriet Harman is, well, Harriet Harman and the other two aren't sparking either. Yawn. Robin Day would have livened it up by now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The A1 rule

Over at they are musing on the fact that for the last twenty-six years whoever has been the Prime Minister has sat at Westminster for a seat on the A1 trunk road. Margaret Thatcher’s Finchley rests at the southern end of the main route to Edinburgh; John Major’s Huntingdon is on the A1 as it goes through Cambridgeshire and Tony Blair’s Sedgefield covers both sides of the highway in County Durham. Looks like good news for Alan Duncan, William Hague or Alan Milburn then...

I've seen the future...

David Davis has a thoughtful article in The Telegraph today. Click on the link below.;sessionid=PZEF3IKGLHTOFQFIQMFCM5OAVCBQYJVC?xml=/opinion/2005/05/11/do1102.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/05/11/ixopinion.html

Notting Hill

Matthew Parris, the former Tory MP and Times columnist said earlier this year of the Notting Hill Set:

“They are the sort of Tory you would be happy for your daughter to invite for the weekend: young, moderate, rather metropolitan, nicely presented and eminently sane. “They are smooth rather than inflammatory: the Classic FM of politics. They adore the word ‘mainstream’. They love metaphors about ‘common ground’. They are hugely caring and compassionate. They do not cut themselves when shaving, as other men do. They are, in short, delightful and clever young men. And they talk a load of balls.”

He might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment! I should at this point make clear that George Osborne lives in Bayswater, not Notting Hill!

Mixed Bag

Peter Briffa at Public Interest has an interesting take on David Davis's chances...

"If the Tories choose anyone other than David Davis, then they are madder than even I imagine. He is seriously right-wing, eurosceptic, cuddly and human, yet has the ability to kill people with one little finger. There aren't many of us around. Moreover, he's got the likes of Iain Dale, Ian Taylor, and Ken Clarke in the bag too. That's no mean feat. Also, he oozes ambition. No point in picking a wallflower."

Not sure where his info is coming from, as I am not aware that Ken or Ian Taylor have declared themselves.

Timetable for InAction

So we now have a Timetable for the Leadership election, or a Timetable for InAction. The new rules, whatever they are, will be put to the National Convention at the Party Conference and a leadership contest will then follow. It seems to me that there are two options. Flip the system, so the Party members choose the shortlist of three, who are then voted on by MPs, or have an electoral college. The latter would be fraught with complications - should Councillors have a say, should MEPs have 5% of the college? Lord only knows how that would be sorted out. I feel very angry that the Party has been put in this position. We're going to waste five months of internal examination when we should be hitting Blair where it hurts. The only advantage is that it will sort the men from the boys (let's face it, there won't be any women). Those without vision will rule themselves out. Those who can't cope with their new jobs will be found out.

Back to The West Wing...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sha la la la la la la la, hey!

Take a flight to Dallas. Hire a car. Head north to Oklahoma. Go west to Texas. Pick up signs for Interstate 35. That's the f***ing way to Amarillo, OK?

Now, I got that on a text message earlier and then forwarded it to about 30 contacts of mine in Conservative politics. Half of them texted me back wondering what on earth I was on about. I wonder if this illustrates the problem the Conservative Party has at at the moment, as it shows that half of my friends have no idea which song has been at the top of the charts for the last two months.

And some of you will be reading this and scratching your heads. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Shuffling the Pack

Another pleasure of having lost means that I can catch up on Series 5 of The West Wing - one of my all time favourite TV shows. Shame that Rob Lowe isn't in it anymore - he was the character I identified with most of all. Pity I don't have his looks!

Now to the reshuffle. Bits of it are quite clever. Several of the leadership contenders will either shine or fail. George Osborne must have gulped a bit when he was offered the Shadow Chancellor's job. Talk about being put in the firing line. The appointment I find most intriguing (at least I think that's the word I am looking for) is Francis Maude as Party Chairman. Francis is the moderniser's moderniser and to put him in charge of CCO at this time is either a red rag to a bull or a calculated gamble. It could put CCO on a direct collision course with the constituency parties, which is frankly the last thing we need.

I think the appointment of Malcolm Rifkind to shadow Blunkett is inspired. This could be one of the most interesting battles to observe in the next few months.

I'm glad Alan Duncan has been promoted to the Shadow Cabinet - long overdue, and I am pleased to see my friend Andrew Mitchell joining the top table. I do feel it could all have been a little more radical to breathe some new life into it. I would have liked to have seen Julie Kirkbride and Damien Green brought back - and, dare I say it, Boris Johnson. I see little point in retaining anyone who won't be around in three years time.

In a way I am more interested to see what happens to the junior spokespeople who will no doubt be shuffled tomorrow.

Back on the Media

Just done a couple of TV interviews on the ITV News Channel and Sky News on what's happening in the Conservative Party and also whether MPs should have outside interests. I made the point that we said we would have a Timetable for Action in government, yet Michael Howard has failed to set out a Timetable for a leadership election. Just when we should be at Labour's throats we have all sorts of people setting out their stalls for a leadership contest. Some of their ideas are quite interesting and John Bercow's article in the Indy this morning will certainly have set a few pulses racing. If he plays it right, John could play a leading role over the next few years. I've known him for close on two decades and it's fair to say that he has changed quite a lot over the last couple of years. He's a great speaker and has an interesting mind but he needs to direct it properly now to the good of the Party generally. It's interesting that although he is seen as a 'moderniser', he seems very antagonistic towards the so-called Notting Hill set. In a sense we're all modernisers now. David Davis's campaign slogan in 2001 was Modern Conservatives. Ahead of his time, perhaps?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Runners & Riders

It looks as though there will be a very crowded field of runners & riders in the 2005 Conservative Leadership Stakes. Quite why some of them are bothering can only be known to them. By my reckoning we could be looking at...

David Davis - Liam Fox - Malcolm Rifkind - Tim Yeo - Alan Duncan - Michael Ancram - John Redwood - Ken Clarke - William Hague - David Cameron - Theresa May - David Willetts - John Bercow - Andrew Lansley - George Osborne

I gather the so-called Modernisers are meeting tonight to decide on their preferred candidate. I suspect that in the absence of strong candidate they will throw their weight behind Malcolm Rifkind. That should do for him, then.

I think Michael Howard has made a major mistake by announcing he will step down in this way. We're now going to have several months of leadership stories when what we should be doing is concentrating our fire on a very unstable Labour government. It is clear that the rule changes will take several months to agree, so this could go on way past the Party conference in October. Madness.

It won't surprise you to know that I shall be backing David Davis. His vision of modern Conservativism is one I believe will not only be attractive within the Party but outside too. He's the only one of the candidates who I believe can reach out beyond the Party and attract Labour & LibDem voters.

Back at Politico's

I'm back at work today after about 6 weeks away from the office. I suppose I can be forgiven for the odd melancholy thought about the new MPs going through their induction today in the Commons. However, I don't have too much time to dwell on what might have been as I have an abolsute mountainous intray to wade through. Mostly invoices, unfortunately.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Comments are Back!

I have switched the Comment facility back on, so feel free to comment on anything I have said. Please keep it within the bounds of reasonableness though!

I've been on Radio 5 Live this morning talking about what it's like to lose. I was on with the LibDem David Walter who lost in Devon. Strangely enough I published his book on the Strange Rebirth of Liberal England. Ironic that he lost and so did I. He's a nice guy and I hope he'd say the same about me. Also with us was the ex Labour MP for Croydon. He was asked why Tony Blair did not appear on any of his election literature and he came up with a classic - "I wasn't trying to hide him under a bush"! I said that was an unfortunate turn of phrase to say the least.

That was my second appearance on 5 Live in 12 hours. I'm hoping to rebuild my career as a political commentator which I had to give up once I became a Candidate.

It's actually rather nice being able to speak my mind again. I just had an email from someone saying "FWIW Lib Dems can get away with being pro-life becuase they believe inredistribution whereas Tories would like the poor to starve, ultimately. Pro-life tories simply want to make life tougher for people so they can develop virtue or some malicious nonsense like that." This idiot had asked me for my views on abortion and then, when I expressed a view which he didn't agree with, told me I should "mind my own bloody business"! I must admit I emailed him back and told him to 'go hang'. Couldn't have done that a week ago! Why is it that you simply cannot have a rational debate about abortion?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Shame on you Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer has written a poisonous piece in the Daily Mail today about the fact that Nick Boles and I lost both our seats - he blames it on the fact that we are gay and that people outside London don't like that sort of thing. Strange how he doesn't mention the fact that Nick Herbert, who won Arundel, is gay too and has a huge majority. I thought we had got beyond this, but it is clear that the media will sink to any level to be homophobic. I understand the Mail on Sunday will be writing a similar article tomorrow. In 20 months here I can count on the fingers of two hands the number of people who have had an issue with my sexuality. The very same people would have had a problem if I had been black, a single mother or anything other than a white Volvo-driving husband with 2.4 children. Frankly, if they didn't vote for me I'm rather glad. The Conservative Party can do without bigots.


Over the last twenty four hours I have received more than 250 emails, as well as dozens of phone calls from friends, colleagues and many people I have never met expressing their sympathy. I have to say it's a bit like being present at your own funeral, but they have certainly kept my spirits up. Having gone through a very difficult few hours and had a bit of sleep my mind is now turning towards the future - as one door closes, another opens. Which door that will be, who knows.

Here are a few of the emails I have received...

I was devastated to hear this news. Of all our candidates throughout thecountry, you especially deserved to win. It must seem indescribably hardafter your amazing efforts and first-class media campaign, which Iconstantly pointed out to other friends as an example of what a candidate should do. CKE

I am stunned. We have just arrived back from Stansted after a business visit to Spain. This was fixed long before the date of the election so we voted by post. All your friends and colleagues are will be devastated. The feeling I got from everyone I spoke to was that your campaign was hitting all the right notes. You certainly showed a powerful level of commitment with thoughtful and valid perspectives on both local and national issues of importance.Please do not lose heart; I know you will not RH

After so much hard work, effort and dedication the outcome of the election will have been devastating for you and a huge disappointment for all your active supporters. Public rejection must be a bitter pill to swallow and you would not be human if now you did not feel very low indeed. You have my sympathy and I must say I wonder sometimes why anyone would wish to take up politics as a vocation. I wish you good luck in the future and do remember dear old Winston Churchill. Maybe a little while in the wilderness for you now but then, as they always do, an opportunity will come along and you will then be ready again for the fray. Good luck and I'm sorry that my vote for you was not enough. PB

You know we all feel for you. Nobody could haveworked harder than you've done over the last two years and it's adreadful shame the ways things have worked out. BC

I have been inspired andmotivated by the huge amount of work you personally have put in and yourenthusiasm and the fact that you're a nice guy, approachable, human and avery real and accessible face of the Conservatives in this area. I am verydisappointed for you personally as well as your team and all theConservatives I know. You certainly didn't deserve the result you got. SA

My wife and I are so very sorry about this disastrous election result. After all your magnificent efforts for North Norfolk, putting your opponent in the shade, I might add, you did deserve to win. RD

I want you to know that there are morethan a few people who noted your support for the hospital; not just yoursupport but your intelligent, incisive, challenging words and ensuingaction. ie.getting national commitment to reopen the hospital.Secondly I want you to know that several of these people commented on yourevident talents:'he is a man for the future; he is 'ministerial' material;could he be a PM in this century?'It must be very discouraging to work so hard: -foot slogging door to door,day after day, rain after rain-- and then face overwhelming defeat. I sohope you will not allow yourself to be crushed and that we will hear that:your most evident talents and clarity of intellectual energy have found away into an MP position, somewhere, before long.I wish you well, so well. ST

When we appointed you, you told us you would not let us down and you didn't.No one could have worked harder or more effectively than you. Take your timeand you will have our support whatever you decide. CT

I am sure that all your friends and supporters feel for you in much the same way as I do. We watched as you put all your being into the contest, you could not have been more dedicated and hard working. You clearly demonstrated an affinity and keen concern for local issues. You have the very good fortune of knowing that you really truly did all that was possible to win and there is no need for any self discrimination caused by lack of effort or application on your part. PJ

I was leaving youto grieve in peace but I won't now as, more than anything else, I wouldlike to comfort you. You worked terrifically hard and you lead from thefront which is why you got all that grand support. I think you shouldcontinue to get a warm glow from that and the inspiration you have been. TA

I know you will be very disappointed. I was one of the 20,000 who voted for you,and am as fed up as I am sure you will be. I regret that Norman had worked hard inthe constituency for many years, and you had a very tough call. Thank you fortrying your hardest and let's hope we get a different result next time. Don't betoo self-blaming, I am sure you will be a successful Conservative MP yet. RH

I just wanted to drop you a note to say how sorry I was to hear that you weren't successful last night, I had to check the copy several times as I couldn't believe it. Every one who knows you - of whatever political persuasion - believes that you would make an excellent MP and be a real asset to constituents and parliamentary life alike and, although it might be too early for you to want to hear this, I'd urge you to consider standing again at the next election - I know how much that takes but you'd be such an asset. LS

Please accept my sympathy for the result. It is a very poor reward for the hard work that you have done over the past years. If it helps, a similar fate happened to Winston Churchill at Dundee in 1921 (so I believe) but he was Chancellor of the Exchequer within 3 years after fighting another Election. AD

I've travelled round the country quite a lot over the last four weeks and North Norfolk had more posters up than anywhere else I've been, so it was hard fought. You ran a good campaign, but you were up against an active sitting tenant who has done a lot for his constituents, which is a tough challenge, especially during a national swing to LibDems. So, despite losing, congratulations are in order; at least you have the consolation of having been mentioned on Have I Got News for You. DL

Friday, May 06, 2005

Morning after the Night Before

This is obviously something I hoped I wouldn't have to post. Last night's result was devastating for me personally and for the local Conservative Party. I have put body and soul into my campaign over the last eighteen months so to lose by such a margin was a bitter pill to have to take. But it wasn't just me. I have received the support of scores of local people who have campaigned with me, night and day, to win North Norfolk back for the Conservatives and it is to them I owe everything. I have received very loyal support from the local Party and I'd like to thank each and every one of them for their encouragement and backing. I'd like also to thank all those who have phoned or emailed me about the result. I'm very touched by your comments and will reply to each one.

Obviously the day after such a defeat is not the best time to contemplate the future, but I wish to make one thing clear. I am not about to disappear from the North Norfolk scene. I live here and intend to continue to do so. I'm going to take some time out to think about my future and what I should do next. Answers on a postcard please...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


I just heard Channel 4 News has tipped us to gain the seat. Also, I just had a fax from Margaret Thatcher wishing me well for tomorrow. Brought a tear to the eye. I had a nice letter from John Major the other day too.

Michael Howard came to Norwich this afternoon. He had to divert from Yarmouth because his helicopter could not land in the fog. It all went well. I have to say he looks great. I think I look exhausted at the moment but he looked fresh as a daisy. Got him to do a phone interview with North Norfolk Radio.

Off to my favourite restaurant now (Jacque) for a bite to eat. Feels like the Last Supper! I have to tell you I feel very odd now. Strangely calm.

Funny Canvassing Story No 4

Live from North Walsham:

Me: Would you like one of my leaflets, sir?
Voter: I'd rather drink my own urine.
Me: Strange habits, these LibDems...

Environmentally friendly I suppose....

Oh dear, Phil

I have just been told that Labour's last minute leaflet has a rather bad spelling error in it. The headline reads 'BRITIAN FORWARD NOT BACK'. Who was it who said 'Education, Education, Education'? I suspect Phil Harris will be none too pleased. Conservative agents have been shot for less...

The Lion of Stiffkey

Well done to the voter who just phoned to tell me he had forgotten to get a postal vote and is driving back to Stiffkey tomorrow from London just to vote for me. Warms the cockles doesn't it?

On the Move

This morning we will be doing a final swing through all the market towns with the Battlebus. I might even use the loudspeaker if the mood takes me!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Just Say No

One more day of campaigning to go. This evening we got rather wet delivering letters to people in Walcott. All adds to the fun of campaigning! Very interesting to see The Sun attack the LibDems today on their drugs policy. Very direct and entirely warranted. To read the article follow this link,,2-2005200823,00.html

Poetic Justice

Here's a poem a supporter has sent me...

Iain stands to WIN the day
To bring North Norfolk to a better way
Fighting the Yellow, Red and Green
One obvious choice, it can be seen

Briging our area, back in the Blue
Making it better for Me and You
More Police to knock down crime
Chasing Councils to crack the grime

Hospitals, Doctors and Nurses too
Giving us all a LIFE anew
Cracking the drugs, saving our Kids
So at last they open their eye lids

Down with violence, Booze binges as well
Sending the yobs, back into hell
Life anew for Norfolk's fair land
All because Iain will WIN his stand.

Postal Votes

I have just been up to the Council Offices to see the postal votes being opened. Apparently there are 9,500 of them - about 12% of the electorate. This is more than double the number in 2001.

On a Knife-edge

More details on The Guardian/ICM poll. It shows a swing away from the LibDems in the LibDem/Con marginals to us of 1.5%. If you bear in mind that I only need a swing of 0.43% to win you will see that the result is very much on a knife-edge. The LibDem tactic of trying to persuade Labour voters to vote tactically seems to be failing. Certainly my experience is that we are picking up more Labour votes than I had expected. At last, a poll which reflects what I have felt on the ground.

Monday, May 02, 2005

How's it Going?

I understand the Guardian have done a poll in Haltemprice & Howden, David Davis's constituency, showing Con 45%Lib 38%Lab 12%. Presumably it will be in tomorrow’s paper. ICM conducted it. Interesting parallels can be drawn with North Norfolk.

I feel very sorry for Sir Patrick Cormack, who was possibly in line to be Father of the House, but due to the untimely death of his LibDem opponent the election in his seat will be delayed for a month.

Today we did a lot of delivering rather than spend the whole time canvassing. Spent most of the day in the villages. Tomorrow the postal votes will be opened and I will be doing a final debate at Paston College in North Walsham. The end is nigh. I think I will strangle the next person who asks me :"How's it going?!"

Bomber Thorpe

I am amused to see my old friend Jeremy Thorpe venture back into the political fray. He has suggested that Blair and Howard should sign a pledge never to venture into military action without the specific approval of the UN. Can this be the same Jeremy Thorpe who thought we should bomb Rhodesia in 1967 after Ian Smith declared UDI? It was then that he attracted the nickname of 'Bomber Thorpe'. I published a collection of Jeremy Thorpe's reminiscences seven years ago and had the unique experience of talking to him over a period of a year about his life. Absolutely fascinating. And the way he has coped with Parkinson's Disease certainly has to be admired.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Clowning About with Norman & Justo

Went over to visit Justo the Clown's circus this lunchtime to do a little bit with the press about encouraging people to vote. Justo has issued a challenge to other constituencies - to beat North Norfolk's voter turnout! I believe turnout here will be 73-75%, which may well be one of the highest in the country. Norman and I turned up but Phil was strangely absent, while Stuart Agnew showed up after we'd all finished. For those who don't know, Justo us standing as an independent candidate to protest against Labour's licensing law. Maybe that's why Phil didn't show. Posted by Hello

Can't say I am feeling my best this evening. I have a streaming cold coming on. Just what I need with four days to go... Not.

Polling Cards

We've been getting a lot of calls in our office from people who say they haven't received polling cards. Please remember that you do not need a polling card in order to cast your vote. The important thing is that you are on the electoral register. Any queries please call us on 01263 512117.