Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Iain Dale Predictions for the Year Ahead


Conservative leader David Cameron asks Paul Gascoigne to be a consultant to a new Tory Commission on Alcohol policy. Gascoigne agrees that "we're all in this togethah, wy, aye man".


LibDem leader Charles Kennedy announces his resignation on the grassy knoll outside the Houses of Parliament. Wishing his successor luck, he says he intends to become the Real Opposition.


In his spring reshuffle Tony Blair promotes Beverley Hughes to the Cabinet as Chief Secretary only two years after her resignation as Immigration Minister. Speculation mounts that David Blunkett will replace her as Minister for Children.


Only a day after Tony Blair expresses his full confidence in her, Beverley Hughes resigns from the Cabinet. "I have done nothing wrong, which is why I'm resigning," she says in her statement to the Commons.


Reality television takes a new twist when John Prescott agrees to compete in Strictly Come Dancing, while Ann Widdecombe takes to the Australian Jungle only to find the other ten celebrities have already gotten out of there.


David Cameron appoints Julian Clary to his commission on Gay Rights. Sitting alongside Clary at a press conference he announces, "We're all in this, except perhaps in this case."


In an attempt to confuse the public the LibDems finally elect a David Cameron lookalike as their new leader. Nick Clegg tells his first meeting of the LibDem Parliamentary Party, "We're all in this together."


The Blairs spend 27 nights at Cliff Richard's villa (no charge) before spending two weeks in Italy with Silvio Berlusconi (free) and a week in Egypt (blagged). Mr Brown cancels his holiday on Cape Cod and declares, "I'm in Charge".


As the Blairs return from their holiday Gordon Brown announces he intends to "remain in charge". Blair just can't be arsed to argue anymore and resigns. Cherie is apoplectic and leaves for a lecture tour in India.


David Cameron announces a new Commission on the Conservative Party's Membership of the EPP. "We're all in this together, but not for much longer," he says.


On 5th November champion blogger Guido Fawkes unveils a plot to blow up Parliament. Arrested under the Government's new anti-terror laws Guido's blog remains worryingly silent for 28 days. Commenting on the issue, Opposition leader David Cameron says, "Remember, Remember, we're all in this together."


Fans of the West Wing are shocked when former British PM Tony Blair beats Democratic Candidate Matt Santos to succeed Josiah Bartlett as US President. Blair declares: "My fellow Americans, a new dawn has broken, has it not? But remember, we're all in this together!"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Knock, Knock

Wife: "There's trouble with the car. It has water in the carburettor."
Husband: "Water in the carburettor? That's ridiculous."
Wife: "I tell you it's true."
Husband: "You don't even know what a carburettor is. Where's the car?"
Wife: "In the swimming pool."

Made me laugh, anyway. Thanks to the Adam Smith Institute Joke of the Day for brightening my evening!

My Secret Shame

I have a secret addiction which I feel I now have to confess. I like reading football (auto)biographies. This Christmas I have read three, all of them excellent in their own way. Andy Gray's was perhaps a little too predictable and bore all the signs of having been ghost-written, while the other two were highly original and from the heart. Lee Sharpe's book in particular is a great read - at times quite emotional. It's very conversational without being irritating. Sharpe seemed to have it all. He joined Man U from Torquay having only played 6 games for the fourth division side and went straight into the Man U first team. He played for England and yet somehow never fulfilled his potential. I always hoped he might join the Hammers - instead, he now plays for Northern Premier league side Garforth Town and lives with the infamous Abby Titmuss. Hmmmm. A man of some taste then... Joe Royle, on the other hand, is more of a meat and two veg man, but someone who seems to get deeply attached to whichever club he is managing. He's currently operating on a shoe-string at Ipswich, a club I'm delighted to say that West Ham have beaten twice in the last two play-off semis. Andy Gray is an alpha male Glaswegian who now stars as one of Sky Sports' main soccer presenters. He is one of the best analysers on TV and his doubel act with Richard Keys is always entertaining. While I enjoyed his book it was probably the weakest of the three.

So what's your secret shame? Feel free to share!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

And the Winner Is...

Well for lack of anything better to do this evening (I should be at Upton Park watching the Hammers v Wigan but the roads are very icy here...) I thought I'd do my annual political awards...


David Cameron - need I say more?! And this is not just a blatant attempt to curry favour to get on the A List! Having risen from nowhere, DC's first few weeks give us all hope for the future.


Dominic Grieve - proof that nice guys can do well in politics. I've worked with him over the last six months and his work on the Home Affairs team should have elevated him to the Shadow Cabinet.


Hazel Blears - can she really be as cheerful as she always looks? She's like a little chipmunk at the Despatch Box. I love her!


Er... can't think of one who merits the description. Oh alright then, John Hemming, for his services to the family...


Guido Fawkes at for providing us with gossip and laughs, together with the odd dose of irritation...


Matthew D'Ancona - one of the few must-read columnists in the Sunday Press. Consistently insightful and informative.


Anthony Worrall Thomson - although Jenny Tonge runs him a close second


The Daily Politics - the winner by a mile. Can anyone explain the point of Ed the Bookie?


"The EU rebate is not up for negotation. Period." Our beloved Prime Minister, in June.

Feel free to add your own awards in the Comments section.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Christmas to You All

A very happy Christmas to all my readers. It's been great restarting this Blog after my six month sojourn on the Tory leadershop contest. And you all seem to be enjoying it. Well, apart from one or two recalcitrant North Norfolk LibDems. If you have your own blog or website and you'd like to link to me that would be great. I am constantly astonished by the number of 'hits' my site is getting. A constant source of entertainment is looking at what people type into Google to get here sometimes. The one I really appreciated was iain+dale+wanker. Obviously a fan..

The Message is to be Medium

As I wait to tuck into my Roast Turkey at my parents' in Essex, I have been having a flick through a number of other Blogs and have just read this little masterpiece from the Adam Smith Blog, written by the excellent Madsen Pirie. I hope he's right.

For UK Conservatives the most devastating finding of the last election was that even voters who liked their policies, subsequently rejected those policies once they knew them to be Conservative ones. The name carried such negative loading that it tarnished every policy it touched. That, as the PR men say, constitutes an image problem.New Tory leader David Cameron is not bothering to spell out details of policy yet. What would be the point if electors would promptly reject them? What he and his group are trying to do is to project a different look and feel to the party so they can shed that negative loading. The pruning of the present candidates list, and the insistence on more women and ethnic minority candidates is part of that. Overtures to the Liberal Democrats come under this heading, as does the symbolic gesture of urging us all to spend a 'green' Christmas.He has to project to the public at large that the Tories are not an alien crowd of unpleasant zealots, unrelated to the lives of ordinary people, but a more relaxed and easy-going bunch rather like themselves. They have to look moderate; not necessarily occupying the centre ground, but coming across as a decent, tolerant crowd, putting people and their needs ahead of ideology.The Tories will address the needs of those on welfare and on inner city estates, not because they seriously expect to win over their votes, but because that is what other electors want to see. Ordinary voters want to support a party that has a humane outlook and a concern at the plight of those who fall behind.Is this pure spin? In the limited sense that all image projection is spin, it is. But it is more. Part of it is aimed at his own party, at making them soften up and lighten up, and at making them be what they want to seem. Another part is aimed at the country, at having people associate their best values with those of the Conservatives, at seeing them embody a sense of fair play, respect for others, and the basic decency and civility which people show toward each other.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Here's a laugh. Think for a moment which celebrity you think you look like. Now CLICK HERE and follow the instructions... I'm almost too ashamed to tell you who this piece of software says is my 'lookylikey'. My number one match is Johnny Carson, and number two is... er... well... Danny De Vito. Just bear in mind I'm 6'2 in my socks...

Thanks to Labour Councillor Bob Piper for the tip

Cancelling Christmas?

The British government have put forward the Winter Festival Bill in preparation for next years Winter Festival. A Labour spokeswoman said "The Winter Festival Bill aims to open up the present distribution network to competition, to bring the operation into line with European health and safety regulations and to ensure that the Winter Festival is more responsive to the needs of our modern, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and diverse society." The Winter Festival Bill was devised by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister following a 48 hour consultation period with representatives from minority groups and the European Union. The Bill will require all homes to complete a health and safety assessment and obtain a Festive Visitor insurance certificate before presents will be delivered for the Winter Festival. When questioned about the cost of the new regulations, Chancellor Gordon Brown said "A tax will be introduced to pay for the administration of the new regulations in England. An extra £5bn has been allocated to cover the cost of the scheme in Scotland and Wales." An investigation by the EU Competition Commission has found that Santa Holding Corporation is operating a monopoly on the delivery of gifts for the Winter Festival and has ordered the industry to be opened up to competition. To this end, the Winter Festival Bill will provide for the establishment of regional franchises which will be tendered for by interested providers. The EU has set aside €300m to help subsidise deliveries to the less profitable regions of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Deliveries across the English regions will not be subsidised but will instead be staggered throughout the end of December and the beginning of January. A spokesman for the SNP immediately objected to the bill on the grounds that gift delivery should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and demanded that an extra £3bn be allocated to Scotland to offset the costs of the new regulations, whatever they might turn out to be. Under the bill, four new agencies will be set up to administer the operation of gift deliveries under the Winter Festival Bill. Winter Festival Scotland, the Welsh Winter Festival Observatory Body, Your Winter Festival Northern Ireland and Winter Festival Britain will take over the regulation of Winter Festival gift deliveries with effect from the 1st January.

You couldn't make it up. Actually, Wonko's World just did. Got you going though, didn't it?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Save Charles Kennedy!

Remember I posted news of The Liberal Magazine starting a website petition to dump Charles Kennedy? Well, I bring good news. Someone has started a Save Charles Kennedy Website petition which you can sign up to by CLICKING HERE. In fact, I would urge all your friends to do so rather quickly as only 3 people have signed it so far! Rumours that one of the three is David Cameron have been hotly denied.

Cherie for PM? Yeah, but, no but...

The country heaves a sigh of relief tonight as Cherie Blair reveals she won't follow her husband into politics. Not enough freebies, you see...

hat tip for graphic to

Spot the Difference No 94

"We've got to be much clearer that we really are committed to social justice, we really are committed to redistribution of wealth and income, that we really are trying to narrow the gap between those at the top and those at the bottom."

"Of course it should be an aim to narrow the gap between rich and poor. We do redistribute money and we should redistribute money."

One of these quotes is by Peter Hain and other from Oliver Letwin. New Labour, New Tory.

Book Review: DC Confidential by Sir Christopher Meyer

Christopher Meyer is certainly a colourful character, some would say rather unsuited to the world of diplomacy. But this is an entertaining, if at times infuriating, account of his career in the Foreign Office. Should he have been allowed to write such a book? My view on this vexed issue is quite simple. A government which has revelled in politicising the civil service can hardly complain about civil servants who seek to defend themselves and their reputation. The simple truth is that Meyer handed in the manuscript to the Foreign Office and they cleared it. End of story. The same cannot be said of Sir Jeremy Greenstock's book, which the FO altered so much that the publishers cancelled its publication. One wonders what he has said that Chris Meyer left out. I'm not sure how much more we learned about the run up to the Iraq war that we didn't know already. Meyer confirms what Bob Woodward says in the excellent Plan of Attack, that both Blair and Bush were both set on war from a very early stage and that little post-war planning was undertaken. Bush comes out of it as a much more sympathetic figure than most Ameri-sceptic Europeans would imagine. I have always believed that Bush's major strength is that he is constantly underestimated by European politicians who continue to believe he is verging on stupid. He isn't. This book is full of little snippets of human observation and gossip, which in many ways are its redemption. Some fairly turgid prose is often broken up by an acid aside, for which the reader is too often rather thankful. Meyer attributes much of his success in Washington to his wife Catherine, whose trials and tribulations over the custody of her German born children are both heart wrenching and irritating at the same time. Irritating, because Meyer doesn't really go into enough detail to enable the reader to judge either whether Lady Meyer entirely had right on her side or whether she was using her position inappropriately. Perhaps her own book is more illuminating. As you can tell, I'm in two minds about whether I enjoyed this book. Perhaps the fact that it took me three weeks to finish says it all. But then again...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Giggle the Guinea Pig, RIP

RIP Giggle, editor of the Sheringham Guineapendent. Just received word from my friend Tabitha Van der Does that my biggest fan in North Norfolk, her guinea pig has died. Giggle interviewed me for Tabi's Sheringham Independent magazine once. A unique experience. As a tribute to Giggle, here's the interview from 2 June 2004. Enjoy...

Giggle: You have very nice teeth Mr Dale. How do you keep them clean?
Iain: Contrary to popular rumour I do not bite my opponents. I am on a strict diet and eat lots of fruit so that keeps my teeth nice and healthy. My new campaign slogan is DOWN WITH MARS BARS!

G: How many carrots do you eat a day?
I: Not as many as you.

G: What is a Conservative and do they have any policies on guinea pigs?
I: A Conservative was once described as a man who sits and thinks - mostly sits. We believe in freedom for Guinea Pigs everywhere. We totally reject the LibDem policy of taxing every squeak a Guinea Pig makes.

G: Have you ever lived with a rabbit?
I: No, but my friend Jenny lives with one. She lets it roam around the house. I think she believes it is a dog.

G: Do you think I’m on Freddie Starr’s hit list?
I: I think he has a mild preference for your cousin the Hamster. I would be more afraid of a visit from John Prescott if I were you.

G:I have heard you bred guinea pigs? For what purpose? I:
As a good Conservative I bred them to make money. I was only 10 years old and we had about 50 at one stage. We used to sell them for 5p each. That was in the days before the rampant inflation in the late 1970s. It would be about £1 in today's money.

G: My favourite Shakespearean quote is “Over hill, over dale” What’s yours?
I: I am not very conversant with Shakespeare, I prefer Goethe. My favourite Goethe quote is Man tue was man will (Do what you want).

G: Do you agree with the philosophy of George Orwell’s ‘Four legs good, two legs bad?
I: Animal Farm is one of my favourite books, so yes, I do agree. My best friend has four legs. His name is Gio and he is my Jack Russell. I wouldn't get too near him if I were you. It might be the last thing you ever do!

G: Thank you Mr Dale.
I: You are welcome, Miss Giggle.

As you can imagine, this was one of my more memorable interviews...

LibDem MP on the Make

I am indebted to today's Whip column in the Sun for informing the great British public about an expenses claim of the LibDem MP for Hereford, Paul Keetch. It tells us that he has submitted an expenses claim to the House of Commons authorities for, among other things, a cheese grater, three alrge bottle stoppers, a white pudding basin and a retro-style food mixer. These are all for use in his second home in his constituency. Much as I would like to think Mr Keetch was alone in claiming for such 'essentials' I suspect he is not. Nevertheless, he should be ashamed of himself for using taxpayers' money for such items. My friend Virginia Taylor failed to unseat Mr Keetch by only a few hundred votes at the last election. At least she's got enough material on him for her next election leaflet. I hope she stands again and boots him out!

LibDems Turn on Kennedy Part 94

I thought long and hard about whether I should give publicity to this - it is the season of goodwill to all men, after all. Yes, even to LibDems. But I am afraid things got the better of me and I must tell you about a new website calling on Charkes Kennedy to resign. Nothing particularly newsworthy in that, you might think. But think again. The Liberals still see their leader as a Social Democrat, rather than a proper Liberal in the sandal-wearing tradition. The website, is actually run by The Liberal magazine, which has become almost the in-house journal of intellectual LibDems. They give no reason, they just encourage you to sign up to a petition, which they will no doubt be presenting to CK on Christmas Day at his highland croft. If I were CK I'd tell them to bugger off and carry on with my well earned wee dram...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Congrats to Sir Elton and Lady David

Earlier on 5 Live Jane Garvey kept apologising for saying Elton John and David Furnish had got married. She kept correcting herself to say "entered a civil partnership". No doubt this was a result of a lot of people emailing in to complain. Big deal. Why can't people just be happy? Sure, no one should pretend a civil partnership is the same thing as marriage. It isn't. Marriage is between a man and a woman. But to get hung up on it perhaps reveals more about the people who complain than anything else. Today I am just happy that people who wish to express their love for each other and commit themselves to each other have a public way of doing so. Hats off to the Government for allowing them to do so and hats off to the Conservative Party for having the courage to support it.

Later I caught a few minutes of a discussion on Sky News between Michael Brown (gay former Tory MP), Ben Summerskill from Stonewall and some homophobic cow called Lynette. The subject of discussion wasa civil partnerships. Brown and Summerskill could hardly believe the things she was saying, but it is, after all, a free country. I think it was her who had a visit from Inspector Knacker of the Yard after some choice comments she made on Radio 5 Live a few days ago. She seems to think that anyone who's gay should keep themselves locked up in a dark cupboard and pretend somehow to be straight. She then came out with a line which might provoke another visit from the Thought Police when she said "Asian and Black people can't help it." Dear oh dear. Keep digging...

hat tip to

You're Beautiful, You Are

I keep being annoyed with myself because I rather like James Blunt's 'You're Beautiful'. It's one of those songs that gets embedded in your brain and you just can't get rid of it. Still, I suppose it's better than the music I seem to be renowned for. Yesterday in the post a good friend from Norfolk sent me a 2006 Abba Calendar, and today at work I was given a Cliff Richard 2006 calendar! Both will take pride of place, er, somewhere.

Hat tip for graphic to Adam J on

One for the Ladies

I have just found the er, 'interesting' blog of LibDem MP John Hemming. If I didn't know better I'd have thought it was a spoof. Mind you, I suppose that's been said about this blog too! Can someone explain to me please what women see in this man?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Edwina Hits a Brick Wall

The article below appeared in this week's Sunday Times News Review. It describes Edwina Currie's experience when she applied to be a Non Executive Director of her local NHS Trust. I don't normally reprint articles in full, but this is worth it. Make sure you read the whole thing.

There’s no dispute that the National Health Service has had a great deal more money since Labour came to power. Spending is up from £65 billion in 2002-03 to £87 billion now, and will reach £105 billion by 2007. But while Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, claims that waiting times are down and derides “screaming headlines”, a memo from the chief medical officer warns of impending disaster and demands a freeze on all new commitments for this and future years, across all programmes. The deficit, we are told, will soon reach a staggering £7 billion. Most of the extra money has gone on higher pay, higher pensions, changes in contracts and negligence claims. Ministers should have expected this and known that huge hospital building programmes needed watching or budgets spectacularly overrun; they always do. In the next few months those struggling with nasty choices about what to cut and what to save will be the local boards of NHS trusts and their chief executives. But they haven’t a hope in hell, not as long as the system keeps appointing people whose main qualification, it seems to me, is sympathy with the current government. Let me explain.
As a junior minister under Margaret Thatcher, my duties included filling thousands of places on public boards. I took pains to ensure balance of political affiliation, of age and gender, and insisted that appointees’ backgrounds be a fair reflection of the communities they wished to serve. More than once I flung the list back at my civil servants: “Get me more women!” or “Go find a trade unionist,” and the like. It was crude but effective, and we had no complaints whatsoever. When Tony Blair became prime minister the criticisms mounted. Tony’s cronies filled every available position; only card-carrying new Labour enthusiasts stood much chance. In response to official rulings of bias from Dame Rennie Fritchie, the commissioner for public appointments, the government set up a new quango, the NHS Appointments Commission, with offices in Leeds and staff at salaries that would make a hospital porter weep. Its sole purpose is to “vet” applicants and to run the elaborate selection process now required. When I saw that the NHS trust for Surrey and Sussex needed two new non-executive directors, I was curious. I’ve lived in Surrey for five years; East Surrey hospital is our local hospital. In the Healthcare Commission performance ratings for 2005, Surrey and Sussex had zero stars. On a string of targets, especially those concerned with patients, “significantly under-achieved” or “poor” was the verdict. The trust is £68m in debt; non-emergency surgery has been cancelled until March; it’s had half-a-dozen chief executives in recent years. They have £135m to spend every year, which should be sufficient. When a neighbour sat in our kitchen in tears because a much-needed operation on his arm had been postponed, it was time to do my bit. So I put in an application.
When I was the chief selector, had I been informed that a former health minister was interested, I’d have appointed him on the spot, whatever his politics. The NHS needs all the help it can get. The interview was conducted with much formality. I was asked about teamwork and about leadership, which struck me as odd: this is not an interview for employment, but for a public service volunteer. The only qualities needed are a willingness to serve plus the intelligence, integrity and time to do it. At the next question, “Suppose the staff have put down a motion of no confidence in the chief executive, what would be your approach?”, perhaps I should have protested. Instead I replied that in my experience in the Department of Health and as former chairman of the central Birmingham health authority, NHS staff seldom make a fuss unless there is some real grievance. I’d talk to people to find out what was eating them, then ensure it was well aired and dealt with. Chief executives can get on their high horse; board members, as influential outsiders, can help them climb down with their dignity intact. Glances were exchanged across the table. When I asked how the trust planned to deal with its deficits, the chairman barely shrugged. “We can’t,” he said simply. The letter arrived. “On the advice of the interview panel and the recommendations of the regional commissioner . . .” it was decided that other applicants “best demonstrated the qualities required”. Sod off, in other words. Instead they’ve appointed four, not two, non-executive directors: one Labour councillor and three non-aligned, which is weird in a county where every parliamentary seat and most councils are held by the Tories. Indignant, I wrote to a newspaper, only to receive a reply from Dr Roger Moore, chief executive of the NHS Appointments Commission. He spelled my name wrong and sent it to the wrong address, but wrote, “In the information pack (it stated) we were looking for people with particular financial and commercial skills . . .” So how come two of the four were a biologist and a clinical psychologist? In any case, I’m an economist, I’ve taught economics and business studies, and I’ve run my own business and pension fund since 1992. I’ve handled budgets in the millions and staff in their thousands (45,000 people work for the NHS in Surrey and Sussex). I’m a trustee of the Patients Association and a fundraiser for our local hospice. But I’m a member of the Conservative party. And I’m mystified. Why seek financial and commercial skills in the volunteers? This isn’t a business, it’s a public body funded wholly by the taxpayer. It doesn’t have a profit and loss account. It employs accountants, too many perhaps: hence the closure of wards and cuts in cleaning and catering budgets instead of management posts. As for commercial skills — exactly what do they think they are selling? The customers are queuing up and having to wait ages for an over-burdened service. It just doesn’t make sense. Moore, it turns out, knows me well. In Thatcher’s Britain he was one of my officials, doing a vital job with responsibility for the National Blood Service. Maybe I should have asked him for a reference. Perhaps the adverts should make it clear: experienced adults of a right-wing persuasion who care passionately about the quality of service in their local hospital need not apply. Unless, of course, they’re willing to connive in the waste of public money without turning a hair.

Nicking the LibDem Leadership?

Nick Clegg seems a bit too good to be true. But if the LibDems have any sense, he is the one they'll pick to take over from the bealeagured Charles Kennedy. I suspect that they'll actually go for Ming Campbell, but this would be an error.

The LibDems needs their own Cameron and Nick Clegg is the one that fits the bill. He looks the part, he's got the experience (despite only being elected in 2005 he has gained good experience as an MEP - if that's not an oxymoron) and he's got the charisma and sense of humour. Hughes would be the choice of every Conservative I know of. Oaten doesn't frighten us and Ming Campbell would just be a stop-gap. People say he gives the LibDems much needed gravitas, and to an extent that's true, but he is totally disinterested in domestic politics and the economy and that would become clear very quickly. Nick Clegg is the only one who, as a Conservative, I would not look forward to fighting.

UPDATE 1: Just seen Ming Campbell and Nick Clegg in deep conversation over a coffee in Portcullis House. Can't imagine what they are discussing.

UPDATE 2: Ran into Mark Oaten at lunchtime who was yawning his head off. Question: why is he so tired? Is it a) because he was up all night preparing for today's police debate, or is it b) because he was putting together his leadership campaign team?

UPDATE 3: The Daily Telegraph said this morning that a LibDem Shadow Cabinet member was on the brink of resignation but he was waiting to see if CK went of his own volition. I've been tipped the wink as to who this person is. I'm just waiting for the second source before naming him.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Ideal Blairite Xmas Pressie

Here's an idea for one of those last minute Christmas presents...

Hat-tip Adam J from

The End of Leo McGarry

Very sad news for all West Wing fans. John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry, died on Friday from a heart attack. I met John a couple of years ago when he was in London doing a West Wing promotional appearance. What a nice guy. I think back to the episode when he suffered a major heart attack. He really put his all into it and said afterwards that it was a very painful episode to film. The fact that in real life he went the same way goes to prove that life imitates art I suppose. Here are a few classic Leo quotes...

"We're the only super power left you can conquer the world like Charlemagne. But you better be prepared to kill everyone and you better start with me, 'cause I will raise up an army against you."
"There are two things you never want to let people see how you make 'em: laws and sausages."

"This is the time of Jed Bartlet, old friend. You're gonna open your mouth and lift houses off the ground. Whole houses, clear off the ground."

"The President likes smart people who disagree with him. He wants to hear from you. The President's asking you to serve... and everything else is crap."

"I'm an alcoholic, I don't have one drink. I don't understand people who have one drink. I don't understand people who leave half a glass of wine on the table. I don't understand people who say they've had enough. How can you have enough of feeling like this?"

"I'm not prepared to think about politics while we're under terrorist attack. The republic comes first."

"Men died for us. We had a responsibility to live our lives with integrity and honesty to honor their sacrifice."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cameron 4 LibDems?

Full marks to those rascally LibDem Youth & Students for this instant reaction to Click HERE to see it.

Martin Kettle of The Guardian has an excellent analysis of this week's LibDem leadership woes. It confirms what I alleged below about Norman Lamb's views. Click HERE to read more.

Sold Down the Tube

Take a look at these two Underground Stations. One is located in Poland and one is in London. Which do you think is most in need of the largesse of the British taxpayer? Clue: Tony Blair thinks it's the one on the right...

Blair Surrenders

It almost makes you ashamed to be British. Blair has just landed the British taxpayer with another £1 billion a year bill to fund the charade that is the EU budget. And in return? He gets a 'promise' from the French that they will 'review' the CAP in three years time. You can imagine the conversation...

Chirac: “OK, so we are reviewing the CAP”
French Farmers: “Looks fine to us as it is”
Chirac: “OK, it’s reviewed, we kept our promise…”

But that's OK, Gordon Brown will have to cope with that... IDS was ahead of his time. He used to say of Blair "No one believes a word he says". Remember the promise a few months ago that he wouldn't negotiate away Margaret Thatcher's hard-won EU rebate "period"? Chirac must be cracking open the champagne...

Hat tip for the conversation - The Milky Bar Kid on

Liam Gets Hitched

Liam Fox gets married today to Jesme Baird. My very best wishes go to them both.

Silence of the Lamb Part 2

An horrendous thought I know, but imagine you were the leader of the Liberal Democrats, there were mutterings from some of your colleagues about your future, so you called your Shadow Cabinet in one by one to ask for their support. You have a few robust conversations with the likes of Oaten, Hughes and Sir Ming and the next one through your door is your Trade & Industry Spokesman, one Norman Lamb (LibDem MP for North Norfolk and triumphant victor over your humble blogger in May). You think to yourself, "Norm'll be OK, after all I made him, I promoted him to Overseas Aid and then made him my PPS. He's not one to rock the boat." Or is he? The silence from Mr Lamb has been deafening this week, which has caused his local newspaper, the Eastern Daily Press much consternation. So used are they to receiving his twice daily "Lambograms" they thought he must be ill this week when no contact had been forthcoming. Phone calls were made but never returned. Very unlike him, they thought. But what's this? A giveaway line in a national newspaper alleging that Norman had told Kennedy to quit. Is there no gratitude in this world? It makes you think back 15 years to all those conversations Margaret Thatcher had with the likes of Peter Lilley, John Gummer, William Waldegrave and Michael Howard. She had made them all, yet when it came to the crunch, they ratted on her. Nice to know the LibDems are just as duplicitous.

Graphic hat-tip Blimpish

Friday, December 16, 2005

I will if you will...

Says it all.

Farewell to Nanna Moon

So Nanna Moon has karked it. I remember her best from Citizen Smith. "Wolfie!", she'd cry. Not a dry eye in the house. Bless her.

Now this is what I call class. David Cameron today launched a blatant raid on the LibDems today and even launched a Libdems4Cameron website. Super stuff. We've got 'em worried. I just heard Charles Kennedy spluttering about it on Sky so it has certainly got under their skin. What they're really concerned about is the dozen or so Orange Bookers who would feel more at home in a Cameron Conservative Party than a Simon Hughes led LibDem Party. I feel some defections coming on...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: Kofi or Black Coffee?

Now if I were a member of Her Majesty's Press digging around the Charles Kennedy story I might well be trying to find out what happened when Kofi Annan visited Charles Kennedy at Cowley Street. It has suggested the UN Secretary General found the LibDem leader (sic) in an, ahem, er, 'unprepared' state. His aides were mortified.

Thank You, Mr Widdecombe

Just arrived with Ann Widdecombe on the Isle of Man. Great hotel (The Sefton, in Douglas) which has wireless internet access. Just about to go to lunch with the Governor. Hilarious moment at Gatwick when I gave my boarding card to the lady at check in. "Thank you, Mr Widdecombe," she said. I'd better not describe the various thoughts going round in my head... Ann's face was a picture. Best thing of all, they don't have the Human Rights Act in the Isle of Man. Not quite sure what I can do to take advantage of that, so any ideas, please feel free to post a comment.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

To the Isle of Man with Widders

Tomorrow there won't be much blogging, I'm afraid, as I’m off to the Isle of Man to host An Evening with Ann Widdecombe for a local charity. I’m ashamed at how little I know about the Isle of Man and its history and relationship with the rest of the UK. Widders and I have been invited to lunch with the Governor, who apparently knew her father. It’s commonly thought that homosexuality is still illegal among Manx-kind, but that’s a misnomer. It was decriminalised a decade ago. But they do still have a law similar to our old Section 28 – in their case it’s Section 38. It forbids the public promotion of homosexuality. Perhaps I should warn the governor that by inviting me to lunch he might be breaking his own law. But I suppose if he doesn’t tell anyone it won’t matter. So that’s alright then.

Daisy, Daisy...

This is Daisy McAndrew (nee Sampson). She is ITN's Chief Political Correspondent. She used to be Charles Kennedy's Press Secretary. She just presented a 4 minute report on Charles Kennedy's leadership crisis on the ITV News at Ten. An odd thing for her to do considering until three years ago it was her job to spin him to the press. I can't say her report was an unbalanced one, but I'm still not sure her editors should have put her in that position. It's like Alastair Campbell doing a piece on whether Blair should resign. Quite unthinkable.

Tom Watson Defends the Welsh Birdie

Tom Watson is one of the good guys. He's a Labour MP. He's a blogger. He's a Labour Whip. And according to his blog he want's people to lay off Cheryl Gillan. I quote: "She'll make an excellent Shadow Secretary of State for Wales." I totally agree. But I do wonder what his fellow whips will make of such an honest comment. Don't do it again soon, Tom, mate. You may live to regret it. Promise I won't tell Hilary.

EXCLUSIVE: Charles Kennedy's Westminster No Show

Rumours were sweeping Westminster tonight that Charles Kennedy's appearance before the LibDem Parliamentary Party this afternoon had taken more out of him than first thought. He was due to read the lesson at the Westminster Carol Service this evening but didn't show up. I daren't even print some of the speculation that was going round the building about the reason for his shyness. He was due to read from Luke. One of the lines I am told he was due to read was "For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink." Indeed, indeed. Wise advice for any leader in trouble. Hic.

Edwina's At It Again!

Is there no stopping her? My friend Edwina Currie had extracts from her second volume of diaries published on Sunday. A whisper reaches me that she will be relating saucy details of a second affair this Sunday in the Mail on Sunday. Now it's not quite on the scale of the revelation of her affair with John Major, and sadly it's not with another politician. I understand the gentleman concerned is none too pleased and is threatening legal action. For that reason, discretion (and fear of a call from Inspector Knacker) prevents me from revealing the identity of her second amour.

Jack Straw in Hicksville, USA

A friend of mine in the Commons who's an American Intern decided he'd introduce himself to Jack Straw this week - well, you know how forward Americans can be. Anyway, the Foreign Secretary was very friendly and told my mate about his recent trip to America. "Where are you from?" he politely enquired. "Kansas," my friend replied. "Ah, I wasn't far from there recently. I went to Iowa with Condi Rice," said Straw. "Whereabouts were you," enquired my friend. Now at this point, this anecdote proves itself better suited to radio than a blog. When you read the next bit, imagine Straw says 'Dez', as in Des Lynam - then you might get the point. "I went to a place called Des Moines." Get it? He said Dez Moines and sounded the s. Confused. So am I. I'll just get my coat...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: LibDems Plan No Confidence Vote in Kennedy

Sources in the LibDems tell me that a No Confidence vote in Charles Kennedy could be launched as early as tomorrow's meeting of the LibDem Parliamentary Party. I understand two national newspapers might run the story tomorrow, but LibDem officials are frantically trying to head them off and kill it. Let's see if they're successful. If they're not, I suspect it will be all out war between the Orange Bookers and the Sandal wearers. Expect an Oaten v Hughes runoff. Although if they had any sense they'd go for Nick Clegg or David Laws...or, dare I say it, Norman Lamb!

UPDATE: 22.05 Just spoken to another contact who confirms that there was a heated discussion in LibDem Shadow Cabinet today about the Andrew Neil comment (see below) and that Kennedy issued a back me or sack me threat. I'm told there were many raised voices. The level of unhappiness with Kennedy is, to quote my source, "the worst I have ever known it."

Rod Liddle on Form

Thanks to Stephen Pollard for this excerpt of Rod Liddle's article in today's Times headlined RIGHT LADS, HOW CAN WE INSULT PARAQUAY? Liddle is an acquired taste but he's often hilarious. And this is Liddle at his best.

"The funniest chants directed at blameless foreigners occurred in a game which, mercifully, never actually took place. Somebody with what we might kindly describe as a sense of mischief thought that it would be a good idea for Millwall to play a pre-season friendly against Iran at the New Den. Common sense — and, I suspect, representation from the Metropolitan police, British and Iranian governments and, possibly, the United Nations — prevailed and the game was eventually called off. But the songs had already been written and were doing the rounds on the various Millwall fans’ websites. “You’re Shi’ite and you know you are,” is, by any token, pretty good. The politically acute, dark and baleful “you’re next and you know you are,” is even better. But best of all was the one to be directed at Iran’s female supporters, a chant which combined in seven short words not just gratuitously offensive sexism, but an incitement to racial and religious hatred: “Get your face out for the lads.”


The Strange Case of Menzies Campbell

A few days ago Andrew Neil announced to the nation that he had it on very good authority that Charles Kennedy would resign in March next year. Strange that this happened the night after Menzies Campbell was reportedly the only LibDem present at Andrew Neil's Christmas Party. Very strange. And no doubt purely coincidental.

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Labour New Fascists II

So I go down to the bank. Take out £1000 in cash. A few minutes later I get stopped by the Police. They find the cash in my wallet. They arrest me for no other reason than I have £1000 on me. It's up to me to prove my innocence. Is this really what we've come to? Are we really going accept this type of semi-fascistic governance? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Slowly but surely we are losing our freedoms. I watched Tony Blair announce this new 'crackdown' on the Ten O'Clock News just now. The manic look in his eyes said it all. This is a man who is convinced he knows what is best for us. And so said many a dictator. Be warned.

New Labour New Fascists

This article by Philip Johnston in today's Daily Telegraph shows how we are gradually losing our freedom of speech.

Sometimes, you wonder whether the police have taken leave of their senses. First, they arrest a woman for reciting the names of British troops killed in Iraq in an otherwise peaceful protest near the Cenotaph. Maya Evans, who had fallen foul of a clause in the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act, was duly convicted last week, given a conditional discharge and left with a criminal record. Then, an author taking part in a broadcast discussion about gay adoptions was telephoned by a policewoman and informed that her name had been noted following a complaint that she had made a "homophobic" remark on air. Lynette Burrows had offered her opinion that two homosexual men should not be allowed to adopt a boy, which is a view with which you may agree or disagree, but does not warrant a call from the local constabulary. She was told that, although a crime had not been committed, it was policy to record details of such complaints, so Mrs Burrows is now, presumably, on some sinister register of people who express views that are not considered acceptable. Needless to say, she was flabbergasted to receive such a call. "This is a free country and we are entitled to express opinions on matters of public interest," she said. But this is no longer true, though it is not the fault of the police. It is the fault of the Government for promoting laws that criminalise opinions judged unfashionable or objectionable, and of Parliament for passing them. The police are often merely upholding an asinine measure that should never have been introduced in the first place. Ludicrously, they are - as in the case of the restrictions on demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament - left to interpret the law as they see fit. The measure under which Miss Evans was prosecuted (and there are another 20 or so cases pending) was inserted in a Bill whose main purpose was to establish a new FBI-style agency to tackle Mr Big criminals. The Government decided to use this legislation to create a security cordon around Westminster and framed the law in such a way that it would apply to individuals, and not just gatherings of people. This was done to gag Brian Haw, the man whose long-standing vigil in Parliament Square has so irritated MPs. It soon transpired, however, that Mr Haw is the only person in the land immune from its impact, since the courts ruled it could not be made retrospective and, therefore, his protest continues. However, because of the way the clause was drafted, anyone else who takes part in an unauthorised demonstration within one kilometre of the Palace of Westminster can now be prosecuted, even if they are simply standing on their own, neither posing a threat nor inconveniencing anybody else. The justification given for this extraordinary measure is to protect MPs from possible threats to their security and to ensure they are able to go, unhindered, about their daily business of passing increasingly outlandish legislation. Yet the area covered by these restrictions is so extensive that a nurse protesting against pay and conditions outside St Thomas Hospital on the other bank of the Thames would be breaking the law unless authority had been obtained in advance from the police. The Act deliberately does not define what is meant by a demonstration - so a judgment of whether one is taking place is left entirely to a constable. In the case of Miss Evans, an officer decided that ringing a bell and reciting a list of names constituted a protest for which an arrest could be made because prior authority had not been sought. How could Parliament pass such a law, when it is so patently inimical to the freedom of speech that this country once considered fundamental? Why did MPs, who are meant to be the custodians of our values, let it happen?
Although the general principle behind the new law was contained in the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act, the actual order that put it into effect was passed using delegated powers by a special standing committee, which is stacked in the Government's favour so that it can get its legislation through. When the committee debated the measure in October, serious concerns were voiced on all sides, but Paul Goggins, the Home Office minister, saw nothing wrong. He said: "We value the importance of demonstrations. In a democracy, we have a right to be able to demonstrate our opinions and our views… I therefore make it absolutely plain that that is my belief and that is the view of the Government, and nothing in the order changes any of that." But it quite clearly does; and it is absurd that the police have been left to define what is meant by a demonstration, a worrying trend that is to continue when the Government gives the police the power to dispense summary justice in certain circumstances. Mr Goggins said constables would exercise their good sense and only acts that a "reasonable person" would regard as a demonstration would fall foul of the law. So, what definition could Mr Goggins offer? "The whole point of a demonstration is to convey a point of view," he said. "Someone demonstrates their point of view; that is a demonstration. It can be an individual person who so arranges their demonstration that they make their point." By this measure, any expression of an opinion close to the Houses of Parliament - including, presumably, one laudatory of Tony Blair, not just critical - is to be considered a demonstration and, therefore, an arrestable offence if prior authority has not been obtained from the police. Had Mrs Burrows made her remark in Parliament Square, rather than in a radio studio, she might have received more than just an offensive ticking-off from the local thought police. Let us give the Government the benefit of the doubt and assume that the way this law is being applied was not its intention. In which case, we look forward to its immediate repeal.

Ever Seen These Two in the Same Room?

Courtesy of

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Shut it

Today Ken Clarke tried to rock the boat in his inimitable and rather tiresome fashion by disagreeing with David Cameron on the issue of the EPP. That battle has been lost. Cameron has a mandate to implement his policy. A message to Ken Clarke. Shut it. Your time has been and gone. Get off the stage if you have nothing positive or constructive to say.

Now here's to you Mrs Hamilton

Gay icon Christine Hamilton tells me she has been invited to three civil partnership ceremonies next week. “The stiffies came in the post this morning,” she shrills. The mind boggles…

That would have appeared in the Indy diary today, but CHristine then went and blurted it out to Andrew Neil on Thursday. I had three brilliant diary stories lined up, all of which had to be trashed because someone got there first. Now I understand about the trials of Sunday newspaper journalism!

No naughty comments about Mrs H's picture please...

Just When You Thought it Was Safe

Flicking through my Mail on Sunday today I see Edwina Currie is serialising a second batch of her diaries. Sadly there is no accompanying book. I think I was the only person in Britain to enjoy her last offerings. I remember ordering 300 copies to sell at the Blackpool Conference in 2003 and selling only 14. Mind you, this was partly down to a certain Miss Ann Widdecombe who spent the entire conference contrasting her new novel with Edwina's tome. "Very clean novel, VERY DIRTY DIARIES," she would trill, pointing at Edwina's book. Ah, those were the days...