political commentator * author * publisher * bookseller * radio presenter * blogger * Conservative candidate * former lobbyist * Jack Russell owner * West Ham United fanatic * Email iain AT iaindale DOT com
Friday, March 31, 2006
Blair's Dentistry Policy Starts to Bite
Another Senior Tory MP to Stand Down
EXCLUSIVE: LibDem Seeks New Job: Proven Fundraising Skills
The Liberal Democrats have tried to paint themselves as whiter than white over the recent political funding saga. But some of us remember how they were slapped over the knuckles by the Electoral Commission for the way they handled the £2 million donation from the bizarre character Michael Brown. It's interesting to note that Charles Kennedy's former Head of Office, the redoubtable Anna Werrin, is making great play of her political fundraising skills in the CV she is circulating to would-be employers, now that Kennedy no longer has a job for her.
Among the many skills she displays is "playing a leading role in the fundraising activities of the Party". And it seems she played a very leading role indeed. She goes on to boast that one of her key functions was "representing the Leader at all fundraising functions and acting as the link with key donors (e,g, personal responsibility for “pitching” at major donors and securing donations to the Party of £3,000,000 plus in the last five years)". Quite a boast.
Now I have never worked in a Leader's Office, but if I had, and I was Head of the Office, I'd make damned sure I steered clear of "pitching", as she puts it, to major donors. Surely that is not the job of an apparatchik, let alone the apparatchik who was regarded by everyone as Charles Kennedy's representative on earth. But more to the point, what a stupid thing to put on your CV at the moment.
Another key skill Ms Werrin is keen for a future employer to be aware of is "managing the Leader’s relationship with key party management committees to include assisting with the election of individuals to key posts". Now what on earth can she mean by that? Particularly the last bit.
We should not forget, however, that Charles Kennedy thought extremely highly of Ms Werrin. In his resignation statement he thanked friends and colleagues, saying: "They are far too numerous to mention individually, save one - and that person is Anna Werrin. A finer friend and colleague you could not wish for - throughout my first 23 years in politics! High praise indeed.
Read Francis Maude's Statement in Full
On Radio 5 Live at 11pm Tonight
Who Carved an Anti-Blair Slogan into the House of Commons Woodwork?
"In the House of Commons chamber, the table in the centre - given by the people of Canada - has a stack of books laid out directly in front of Tony Blair. The books weren't there a few years ago... Around the time of Otis Ferry's invasion, someone - and no-one knows (or is any closer to discovering) who - carved on it the legend: 'Tony Blair Is A C**t!' Because it's carved into wood and leather, it's a bit tricky to patch up: hence the stash of books."
A challenge to any MP reading this blog - take a peek under the books and tell us how true this is.
Apparently I'm Running a Tory Slush Fund!
Tory Lenders: Big Deal About Nothing
Henry Angest £550,000
Lord Ashcroft £3.6m
Dame Vivien Duffield £250,000
Johan Eliasch £2.6m
Alan Lewis £100,000
Cringle Corporation Ltd £450,000
Graham Facks-Martin £50,000
Michael Hintze £2.5m
Lord Laidlaw £3.5m
Victoria, Lady de Rothschild £1m
Raymond Richards (deceased) £1m
Lord Steinberg £250,000
Charles Wigoder £100,000
I hope that the media will now understand that there are differences between these loans and those made to Labour. I list the reasons in an earlier post today.
Goldsworthy & Mandelson: Spot the Difference
In my never-ending quest to boost the career of LibDem MP Julia Goldsworthy I feel duty bound to report what Kevin Maguire says in this week's New Statesman diary. He says that fellow female MPs think she'd do rather well in a Peter Mandelson look-a-like contest. I can think of few worse insults. If I were Mandy I'd be consulting my lawyers.
Loans Spotlight Should Switch Back to Labour
AFTERTHOUGHT: Several people in the Comments section (Labour/LibDem supporters, natch) have questioned why Tory loand are any different to Labour ones. For a start, the Labour Party Treasurer clearly thought something was awry as he didn't even know about them. They had been hidden from him and others. That was not the case with Tory loans, the existence of which was already public knowledge. Indeed, there had been newspaper articles about the Party having loans some time ago. Secondly, no one has established a link between Tory loans and honours. We must await for the full list this afternoon, but I will be astonished if they mirror the Labour situation, where four of their Peerage nominees had been lendors to the Labour Party. As Guido helpfully points out "No. 10 civil servants assisting in the procuring of honours for "loans" on behalf of Blair without going through the Labour party machine is very different from Tory treasurers raising money as per normal either by donation or loan."
What Does Being a 'Change Agent' Mean?
Tony Blair: It's Nearly All Over
I'm nailing my colours to the mast. I think Tony Blair will step down as Prime Minister at the Labour Party Conference, and may well announce it much earlier to allow a leadership contest to take place over the Summer. Prescott's remark at PMQs this week has re-enforced my view. Hague asked him when Blair would go and he replied "that's for me to know and you to guess". Would he have said that if he really had no clue? The papers today are also full of stories that Brown knows the date and is annoyed the PM hasn't made it public yet. I think there is a strong chance his departure could come even earlier than the Summer. The fact that Labour MPs and even MPs on the government payroll, like Ashok Kumar, haven't been disciplined for calling on him to go and the fact that he has also not held his long awaited reshuffle all point to an early departure. Unless, as Esther Rantzen used to say, you know different...
EXCLUSIVE: Alastair Campbell's Diaries May be Banned
Harriet Harman Speaks on Debt Management!
"First of all, a person receives a wrong; then, they make the effort to go to court; and then the person who did the wrong cocks a snoop at the whole system and refuses to pay. That is a major problem. We ought to recognise that the problem is that many people think that they just do not have to pay. Many agencies and organisations have to spend time chasing people who think that even though they owe somebody something—because they owe them a debt or have done them a wrong—they can just walk away from it. We should all condemn those people who do a wrong to someone and think that they do not have to provide recompense."
As Ken Dodd might put it, it's "Hatti-filarious"!
Which Journalist Will Have Egg on His Face?
TORIES REFUSE TO NAME THE DONORS WHO GAVE MILLIONS
by Colin Brown
Well first of all, the sub who wrote that should be fired. The Tories have named all donors who "GAVE" them money. And from today's Times...
CAMERON GIVES IN TO PRESSURE OVER NAMING LENDERS
By Andrew Pierce
They can't both be right, can they?
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Poll Result: If Gordon Brown Didn't Exist...
Check out the new poll: Do you think that some sort of State Funding for political parties should be introduced?
And don't forget to listen to my latest podcast (click the icon on the left) with Cheryl Gillan.
LibDems: Free Cod Liver Oil for All
"Unconfirmed reports from Cowley Street indicate that new Lib Dem policies will include "cod liver oil for all", "a pacemaker in every community" and "bringing back that nice Mr Gladstone".
Mr Monkey is a far-sighted primate. He obviously didn't realise that one of the LibDems' vote-catching policies at the last election was indeed to provide Cod Liver Oil on the NHS, if I recall it correctly. It proved extremely popular in North Norfolk!
Check Out this Aussie Political Blog
Teddy Kennedy's Terrorist Loophole
Conservative History Group Launches new Blog
Ellee Seymour Has a Blog
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
LibDems Elect 'Grumpy Old Men' as Dream Team
So Peter Mandelson is the 'Right man in the Right Place'!
Caspar Weinberger: Defender of Freedom
EXCLUSIVE: UNISON Seeks to Blackmail Labour MPs
Some have contended that the Labour Link structures lack democracy and accountability to the wider union and membership. The consultation has shown that there is certainly a lack of knowledge and involvement in Labour Link structures in some branches and more widely in the union.
No money is given directly to Labour MPs. It is all filtered through sao-called Constituency Development Plans (CDPs) to build organisation and for joint campaigns. There are 53 of these agreements across the country with constituencies – several of which do not have Labour MPs. I do not know if funding has been cut off for all 53, but I suspect that is the case. The scale of the funding is also unclear, although a post on the Labour Watch blog says that Wallasey gets £1500. I haven't had time to check with the Electoral Commission website for the details.
As I said yesterday, UNISON obviously believe that if they cut off funding the Labour Party will see the error of its ways and reverse the policy. It's blackmail and it stinks. Perhaps Inspector Knacker should look at this too. The rate we're going, he'll have to create a full time political corruption investigation. And to think we used to piously think this sort of thing only happened in Italy.
Prescott Comes out Fighting in Hague Duel
By the way, I am now back from the USA. Not that you're interested!
Deepcut: The Questions Still Remain
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Who Will Succeed George W Bush?
Jodie Marsh Eats Phil Willis MP for Breakfast
EXCLUSIVE: Gordon Brown Tours the Tearoom - What Can it All Mean?
Julia Goldsworthy MP is the Abi Titmuss of Westminster Says Constituent
Tony Digs In as Gordon Meets Bill
Labour Marginals Fear Union Funding Backlash
Imagine the outcry there would be if a businessman admitted funding individual election campaigns as long as the Tory Party played ball on promoting private pensions. Today UNISON announced it was withdrawing funding from Labour MPs in marginal seats in the North West unless Labour reversed its policy on public sector pensions. Most affected will be Labour MP David Borrows whose South Ribble constituency has a wafer thin majority. Borrows now faces a dilemma. Does he tell UNISON to sod off and risk having no funds available to fight the already very active Tory candidate Lorraine Fulbrook, or will he speak up for his union paymasters? We'll be watching with interest.
Brian Hayes to Leave Radio 5 Live
Monday, March 27, 2006
EXCLUSIVE: Simon Hoggart Has a Snooze
Simon Hoggart is a very great man, and I count him as a friend, so what follows is written with great affection! Sketch writers take great pleasure in pointing out MPs who take the opportunity of a post prandial snooze on the green benches, but today during Defence Questions it was poacher turned game keeper. Tory MPs were much amused to observe The Guardian's sketchwriter extraordinaire catch a few zzzzs during Dr John Reid's tour de force. "Simon looked like a benign toby jug," said my MP snout. "We love him to bits but it did destroy our concentration a little." I wonder if he'll mention it in his sketch tomorrow!
Let your email find you with BlackBerry from Vodafone
Margaret Beckett: You are a Hypocrite
My Weekend in Washington DC
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
A good definition for modern conservatism? The World War II Memorial reminded me of one I visited in Normandy. It's not grandiose, but it is very moving. Even at 10pm there were many people there, some deep in thought. It contains a pillar for every State of the Union, commemorating those who died to protect our freedoms.
Today I'm off to Georgetown and then I'm going to try to get to the Holocaust Museum this afternoon. And for those who are interested - I'm back in England on Wednesday, so normal service will be resumed!
Sunday, March 26, 2006
PodCast 3: Interview with Cheryl Gillan MP
Podcasts coming up in the next few weeks: John O'Sullivan on the Anglosphere, Daniel Forrester on the power of blogs, Mark Milosch on Franz Josef Strauss and a special on Frank Sinatra and politics. Now that's what I call an eclectic lineup!
Tony Blair Visits His New Zealand Soul/SleazeMate
Prescott Demands (and gets) BBC Right of Reply
Saturday, March 25, 2006
The Conventional Wisdom Index Week 1
Tony Blair ↓
Loans for lordships. Need we say more? Authority continues to ebb away.
David Cameron ↔
Strong budget speech offset by negative publicity on failure to disclose donors
Ming Campbell ↓
Ming who? anonymous week for the new LibDem leader
Gordon Brown ↔
Standstill budget fails to inspire but GB manages to stay out of loans scandal
Labour Party ↓
Headlines dominated by loans scandal. More Labour MPs call for Blair to go
Conservative Party ↔
MPs buoyed by Cameron budget response but ICM poll still puts Tories in mid 30s
Liberal Democrats ↔
Exclipsed by other stories but manage to remain out of the loans story
George W Bush ↔
Finally starts to 'sell' the war on terror round the country but loses battle over Dubai Ports
The Reputation of Politics ↓
EXCLUSIVE: LOAN TORY CHOOSES THIS BLOG TO GO PUBLIC
The man behind the £2.5 million Tory loan "revealed" in The Times today will come as a big disappointment to anyone looking for a Tory-troubles story. I can exclusively reveal that the man behind the loan is Michael Hintze, an Australian, who lives with his family in London, where he votes, and the loan to the Tory Party is only a very small proportion of his financial support of worthy causes in his adopted country.
Mr Hintze, who is already a declared donor to the Conservative Party, has given multiple millions to a large number of British charities in recent years. Together with his wife, he is behind the new sculpture gallery at The V & A, which opens in the next few weeks and is named as The Dorothy & Michael Hintze Gallery, and has been made possible by a £1.5 million donation from their charitable trust. Mr Hintze turns out to be a major financial donor to a wide range of admirable causes, none of which have been widely publicised, with the exception of the V & A Dorothy & Michael Hintze Gallery. His philanthropy has seen him supporting a vast number of causes, including his local Trinity Hospice, to which he is the biggest donor. The Evelina Charity at St Thomas's Hospital, where all four of his children were born, has also been a benefactor of his generosity. In the area of the arts he has given significant sums to: The Old Vic Theatre, The Donmar Theatre, The National Theatre and The Cartoon Arts Trust. In addition, he supports The Water Meadow Trust in Salisbury, the local churches where he and his family live and is a major donor to The Princes Trust and The Princes Foundation.
Next week, my sources inform me, Mr Hintze will be in Sydney, where he is funding a Chair in International Security at Sydney University. He is also behind the restoration of Michael Angelo's famous fresco in The Pauline Chapel in The Vatican, which has cost over £1 million.
When I contacted Mr Hintze, who I met at a recent Conservative Party dinner, he was totally up-front about his support for the Conservative Party saying: "I am very proud of this country and acknowledge the debt I owe to it. I am very fortunate to be in the position which allows me to put something back to many charities and causes in this country and have been keen to do so by supporting some of Britain's great institutions". He continued: "My support for the Conservative Party is something I am immensely proud of and I am pleased to be able to help, both with the declared donations I have made and through the loan from the UK based trading company, Morain UK, of which I am an ultimate beneficiary and which responded to the Party's need for support by agreeing to a secured loan on commercial terms last year".
He ended his comment by telling me: "I have supported the Conservative Party because I can and the law allows me to do so. I truly believe this country needs a strong opposition."
Out and About in Washington DC
My Interview on US Shock Jock Radio
Italian Election: Silvio Berlusconi Comes From Behind
Friday, March 24, 2006
I'm Reading Chris Patten's Book...
I'm sitting in the Center Cafe at Union Station reading Chris Patten' book, Not Quite the Diplomat. The first few pages were quite entertaining but I'm now finding my eyelids drooping. Is it worth persevering with? Guidance is welcome!
Hammers Get Good Semi Final Draw
Labour's Spectacular Council Poll Failure
Is Google Having a Larf?
1. Google: gossip, jack, straw, beverley, hughes
2. Yahoo: why, garth, crooks, irritating
3. Google: nude, shots, kirstie, location, location, location
4. Google: ann, widdecombe, gay, rights
5. Google: soames, wardrobe, key
6. Google: jenny, scott, daily, politics, naked pics
I can't think what number 1 can be alluding to. I wasn't aware either of them had been holding talks in Uganda lately. Number two is presumably rhetorical. Number 3 leads me to ask why Google chose this site to direct them to. The first two words in number 4 are mutually exclusive to the second two. Number 5 hardly bears thinking about. For number 6 see number 3. Hilarious.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Lax Security on Capitol Hill
Profumo 'Memoir' to be Published in September
Jeremy Vine: You're No Jeremy Paxman
Tories: To Move or Not to Move?
Gordon Brown Would Frown
M Street in Georgetown is one of my favourite places in the world. Sad to say though that since my last visit they have installed parking metres right along the length of it. I've rented one of those Chrysler retro cars - it's not quite an SUV but I am sure Gordon Brown would not approve. As if I care... I've just had a very enjoyable dinner with John O'Sullivan at a French Bistro on M Street. John edited National Review Magazine for 9 years and was in Mrs T's policy unit in the 1980s for a time. He's a very big cheese in Conservative politics in the US and we recorded a 15 minute Podcast which I hope you will find interesting when I upload it in a couple of weeks.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Book Review: Frank Lampard: The Biography
A Change of Spin tactics by Gordon Brown's Little Helpers
Post Your Comment on the Budget Here!
As I won't get details of the budget and PMQs until I get to my hotel at about 11pm tonight (UK time) feel free to post comments about what you thought. I'm staying at The Watergate so I'm sure you might have thoughts on that too! Better go now as we are about to take off!
Let your email find you with BlackBerry from Vodafone
Off to Washington DC
Fear not, though, I shall be blogging regularly from Washington and also recording the odd Podcast or three. Tonight I'm having dinner with John O'Sullivan, who many of you will know as a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and editor of National Review. And tomorrow I'm seeing Iain Murray who got me into blogging in the first place. I'll try to persuade him to resurrect his excellent Blog, the now defunct Edge of England's Sword!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Why Did Labour's National Executive Meet in the Commons?
New Poll: If Gordon Brown Didn't Exist...
The result of the last poll was that 72% thought Tessa Jowell should resign. More than 320 people took part.
Why Jenny Tonge Should be Abolished
Check out Guido Fawkes...
Tory Conference Date Change
Charles Clarke in a Glass House
UPDATE: 5.30pm I'm told my my House of Commons snout that Charles Clarke was speaking at a lunch of female journalists - he shiould have known better. Nothing good ever comes from these lunches, known by their male colleagues as "Virago feasts" and several leading politicians have lived to regret accepting the invitation. Apparently Clarke caused further consternation by predicting that Tony Blair would stand down in the summer of 2008. By my reckoning he'll be two years out. But what on earth would possess him to start speculating? In one good lunch he's taken two opportunities to stick needles in Gordon's eyes. No doubt Gordon will excact his revenge in the way only he knows how. This has all the hallmarks of the dying days of the Thatcher government. And we all know how that ended.
Mogadon Ming Strikes Again
Matthew Parris and the Confidence Trickster Called Blair
What now for Blair? On this question I sense that from contrasting corners of the political spectrum, opinions are now converging upon the next step. My ancient doubts are less important than new doubts among new Labour’s friends, but let me put my own opinion delicately. I believe Tony Blair is an out-and-out rascal, terminally untrustworthy and close to being unhinged. I said from the start that there was something wrong in his head, and each passing year convinces me more strongly that this man is a pathological confidence-trickster. To the extent that he ever believes what he says, he is delusional. To the extent that he does not, he is an actor whose first invention — himself — has been his only interesting role. Books could be written on which of Mr Blair’s assertions were ever wholly sincere, which of his claimed philosophies are genuine, and how far he temporarily persuades himself that each passing passion is real. But deconstructing Mr Blair’s mind is hopeless. Suffice it to say that I used to believe that, at the moment of saying anything, our Prime Minister probably thought that what he said was true — that there was no secret, internal wink. Today I have lost confidence even in that. Small things as much as large have formed my view. What kind of a man would walk out of the Chamber as his former ally, Frank Field, rose to offer a patently heartfelt explanation of his reasons for standing down? Knowing what we do today about Mr Blair, would he still get the benefit of our doubt over the Bernie Ecclestone affair? What kind of a man would employ Alastair Campbell as his mouthpiece to history? What kind of a man would have given journalists on a plane to China the clear and false impression that he had had nothing to do with the outing of Dr David Kelly? What kind of a man makes Silvio Berlusconi his friend and incurs a personal debt of gratitude to that bad, bad man? What kind of a Prime Minister neglects the courtesy and gratitude owed to his man in Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, quitting early after heart trouble? What kind of a man leaves friends as different as the late Roy Jenkins, Paddy Ashdown, and his own Chancellor privately despairing that they can ever rely on the Prime Minister’s word again? And what kind of a man dispatches his “personal envoy to the Middle East”, Lord Levy, to drill vast sums of money from little-known tycoons with hopes of taking life peerages, and hushes it up? We may never discover what so discreet an operator as Lord Levy has said to these people but we know something they wanted from Tony Blair, and we know something Tony Blair wanted from them. Did more need to be said? Another thing we know is that the Prime Minister recognised that if a gift were declared then the chain of events would be judged disgraceful. So the money was hidden: hidden even from his own party treasurer. Now his treasurer has blown the whistle, and his treasurer’s wife, the Solicitor-General, has arranged a separation not from her husband, but from much of her ministerial portfolio. Love, then, is not dead; but if Ms Harman’s Chinese wall is appropriate now, why not when the PM appointed her? And if Mr Blair believes now that the funding of parties needs reform, why not earlier — in his recent manifesto, for instance? You know why. He never meant to put matters right. He has been caught out. The genius Mr Blair showed this week in extricating himself from this latest corner was breathtaking. If a burglar, caught red-handed, should by effrontery and oratory make from the dock so stirring a call for the fundamental reform of the Theft Acts that the whole court were distracted from the charge and persuaded to “move on” . . . then the tour de force would hardly be more impressive. Our PM has the magician’s knack of drawing the eye away from the trick. Should a fraction of his talent for getting himself out of trouble be deployed in some wider national purpose, Britain would probably have conquered the universe by now. He reminds me of those schoolboys whose form masters report that if they devoted to their homework half the dedication they devote to getting out of doing it, they would be the envy of the school. But he already is. Tony Blair has lived before. Dickens has recorded the life in David Copperfield. The character is Copperfield’s one-time school-friend and (until he betrays him) hero: the engaging, handsome and popular James Steerforth. Read the book. It is occasionally reported that some poor woman falls in love with a professional fraud and remains his wife for years without realising what she has married. The British electorate are such a woman. Mr Blair’s misdeeds are persistently overlooked, and his excuses credited. By the time we wake up he may have torn his party and its programme apart. Close colleagues and Labour MPs mostly know already what he is. Forget the bleatings of the hard Left, the Tories and the likes of me: it is Tony Blair’s political allies who should now act. They must accept that he is no longer an asset to the new Labour cause and that, if they do not cut him loose soon, he may drag a whole brave political project down with him. There is not much time to lose.
Launch of The Conventional Wisdom Index
George W Bush
The Reputation of Politics
The European Union
I you think I should track any other individuals, institutions or concepts, feeel free to suggest some.
Francis Elliott Wins Political Journalist of the Year
Monday, March 20, 2006
My Top Ten Political SitComs
1. Yes Minister /Yes Prime Minister
Unrivalled comedy expose of the civil service at its finest. I often think they should do a remake, but the trouble is they could never improve on the original.
2. New Statesman
Rik Mayall's charcterisation of an on the make Tory MP was excruciatingly brilliant. His humiliation of Piers Fletcher Dervish a joy to behold.
3. Spitting Image
Possibly outstayed its welcome in the end but could be stinging in its satirical wit when it was on form. The voices were often more hideous than the dummies.
4. The Thick of it
A stunningly accurate satire of New Labour's style of government, but then I would say that, wouldn't I?!
5. No Job for a Lady
Penelope Keith starred as MP Jean Price. Slightly predictable sitcome about the trials of being a female MP. Provokes smiles rather than outright laughs. Never been out on DVD.
6. Citizen Smith
The Tooting revolutionary was played by a young Robert Lindsay, whose landlady was Nanna Moon, who always called him Foxie.
7. My Dad's the Prime Minister
Although this started out as a kids' sitcom it developed into quite a funny take on life in Blairite Downing Street.
8. Absolute Power
More about the world of PR than politics perhaps, but a very good satire on the world of spin and manipulation.
9. Annie's Bar
Shortlived Channel 4 sitcom about the goings on in Annie's Bar in the House of Commons.
10. Spin City
American political sitcom which originally starred Michael J Fox.
Que Sera Sera...
Forgive me if I Lose Control...
UPDATE: 8.48 I just became highly emotional. Dean Ashton I love you. Up the Hammers!
UPDATE: 9.23 What a ridiculous sending off. I have sympathy for Man C. But only fleetingly.
UPDATE: 9.35 Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!
UPDATE: 9.59 Bloody BBC commentator is willing City to score. Tosser.
Tony Blair to Star in New Hollywood Movie
I know it's puerile and schoolboy humour and I shouldn't find this funny.
But I do. It's a free country. Sort of.
Praise for This Blog from The Independent
..."it makes for a fun, politically oriented blog that's as happy to tackle the inconsistencies of the Blair government as it is the recklessness of a Marlon harewood tackle. Dale's also no stranger to a podcast, making him something of a favourite among fellow iPod addicts."
So it's been a good few days for this Blog. Last week I got the highest number of hits ever in one week (amazing, considering there were no LibDem scandals!) and I learnt that my Podcast gets more downloads than Ed Vaizey's or Jo Swinson. So I can swan off to the States on Wednesday feeling happy. Ain't life great?
The feature can be read HERE - but you'd better be quick before they put it on subscription.
Ming Campbell Blog Vanishes
Come in Alan Rusbridger - Your Time is Up
Alan Rusbridger is editor of The Guardian. Today his newspaper calls for Tony Blair to step down. Rusbridger declares: "Nine years is long enough". Hear, hear, we all chorus. But hang on a cotton pickin' minute. How long has Rusbridger been sitting in The Guardian's editor's chair? A stonking 11 years! The words kettle, pot and black come to mind but not necessarily in that order.
Hattip Londoner's Diary
Labour MP Almost Self Combusts in Chamber
Another Senior Tory to Step Down at Next Election
Who Killed Cherie Blair's Pussy?
LibDem Elections are Like Buses
Three LibDem elections in one month is too much for anyone to endure, but following hot on the heels of the leadership election, this week the 63 MPs will choose between Paul Burstow and Richard Younger-Ross for their new Chief Whip. Sadly I will be somewhere over the Atlantic when the result is announced. I shall try to contain my disappointment. Next Wednesday sees the election for Deputy Imperial Leader. Vince Cable, Matthew Taylor and David Heath are fighting it out. I suppose Cable is the favourite but you'd have thought being Treasury spokesman would keep him busy enough.
Let your email find you with BlackBerry from Vodafone
Definitely more 'Andrew' than 'Adonis'
I'm told Labour MPs were spluttering into their porridge this morning after hearing Lord Adonis say on the Today Programme that Tony Blair is "a servant of the Labour Party". As someone once said of the spindly noble Lord,"he's definitely more Andrew than Adonis". Can you think of other politicians who fail to live up to their names?
Rik Mayall to Make Comeback?
I have just seen Rik Mayall in the Atrium about to do some New Statesman filming - well that's what it looked like. He was with his screen wife and lots of girls wearing B'stard red rosettes. Maybe he's defected to New Labour! Can anyone shed any light?
Mrs Henderson Presents...A Triumph
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Tony Blair Resigns
OK, I've got the old Dale crystal ball out - and very painful it was too (!) - but I reckon Blair will go this year. The political commentariat seems to think it will be 2007 before we see the back of him, but with every week that passes his authority is gradually slipping away. The continual delay over the long awaited reshuffle is evidence of a Prime Minister who is unable to wield the power he once had. I suspect that he will resign when we all least expect it. My money, if I had any, would be on a summer announcement that he will step down at the Labour Party Conference. This would then mean a two to three month leadership campaign. But then again, I could be barking up the wrong tree completely. Or maybe just barking.
Harriet Harman to run for Brown's Deputy Leader?
Mark Oaten and the Jar of Honey
TV Review: Fantabulosa & The Harold Wilson Plot
Quite the reverse was true for The Plot Against Harold Wilson. It's not easy to make a drama/documentary a success, but this one certainly worked. James Bolam was very convincing as Harold Wilson, although his hair was a little odd. I have always been sceptical about the idea of a plot which was supposed to have lead to a coup, but parts of this programme did make me wonder. I don't think that Harold Wilson resigned because of this, but there are questions which still remain unanswered. BBC4 have made some very good documentaries recently. It's a pity they are raraely shown on BBCs 1 % 2.
Labour Has Doubled Income Tax Since 1997
Shock: Bob Piper & Iain Dale Agree on Something
Is there a more boring 'sport' on the face of the earth than Formula 1 motor racing? Well, maybe. I mean, horse racing must be worth a shout. 20 minutes of watching the horses troop around the parade ground, 3 minutes of watching them sprint down the straight. In reality though, horse racing isn't a sport, it's just an excuse for people to gamble. For me, Formula 1 gets the vote by a very long street.
Too right, Bob. Mind you, watching West Bromwich Albion would be up there with them. There I go again. Have to shatter this sweet moment of unity, don't I? Must be something in the water.
Party Funding Reform Is Now a Certainty
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Another 90 Minutes of Fun
I'm sitting in Row K of the Dr Martens Stand at West Ham freezing my nads off once again, about to watch a second string Hammers team play Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth. Stuck on the back of every seat is a poster which reads "Injury compensation - can you claim? Find out before it's too late!" I don't think this is aimed at Michael Owen but you never know. People love to hate lawyers anyway, but I think anyone can be forgiven for having a special amount of contempt for ambulance chasing compensation lawyers. Even journos and politicians come above them in the Most Hated Professions league table. I think.
Have you downloaded my second podcast yet? Come on you Irons!
New Book on Charles Kennedy
On News 24 Tonight
Friday, March 17, 2006
New PodCast Available for Download
Michael Howard to Step Down
Tales of Elspeth Campbell No 1
Simon Carr (Independent sketch writer: Are you going to have a baby to keep up with the other party leaders' wives?
Lady C: Are you calling me fat? (cue coquettish laughter)
Simon C then presses her further
Lady C: If I were to, it would have to be through IVF.
Simon C: Not while there's breath in my body, it wouldn't
And so say all of us. Should you have any amusing anecdote of my new favourite political lady (Hazel Blears, you have been replaced in my affections...sob) then please do email me and I will share them with a joyful nation.
Tory Radio Launched
I'll be uploading my second Podcast later on today for your delight and delectation. More on that later. I also recorded one with Cherly Gillan MP yesterday when I was in London, which will appear in a couple of weeks.
An Opportunity to Join the Ming Dynasty
Good understanding of and sympathy with the Liberal Democrats
Yep, I understand them only too well, and I have a great deal of sympathy for them after their recent traumas. Wouldn't anyone? Even better, if I got the job I would be reporting to Ming's Chief of Staff, someone called Norman Lamb! Excuse me while I update my CV...
Seriously (sort of), I wonder if this is a job for my estemmed blogging colleague Paul Linford?!