Friday, May 16, 2008

Eric Pickles is My Twin

After a six hour journey, and an exhausting day, I have finally got home from Crewe. The day did not get off to a good start, when my Telegraph TV Camerawoman Debra and I arrived in the town centre to find that Miss Great Britain had taken to her bed. Interview number one cancelled. We then did some Vox Pops in the street, showing voters four Labour election leaflets, which are among the most disgraceful I have ever seen. All they did was thrown cheap personal abuse at the Conservative candidate in the most purile and idiotic manner. John Harris had it right, when he described New Labour as the new 'nasty party' in the Guardian. Anyway, we interviewed about 25 people and most of them were appalled by the leaflets. Out of the 25, six were committed Labour voters who intended to go to the polling station next Thursday and vote Tory. Two more said they had only voted Labour because of Gwyneth Dunwoody, but wouldn't be doing so again. I don't pretend this was a representative sample.

We then interviewed William Hague, Edward Timpson and the chairman of the local Tory Party, Donald Potter. I take back what I said yesterday about not seeing any posters. Nantwich and the surrounding roads and plastered with Tory posters, in exactly the sort of houses which in previous by elections would have been plastered with LibDem posters.

The other interview was with Eric Pickles, who has been masterminding the Tory campaign. After we had finished someone came up to me and started asking me about the campaign and what was going to happen in the next few days. Bizarrely, this person had mistaken ME for Eric Pickles! I ask you. Mrs Pickles, I suspect, would not be a happy lady.

So, after a day and a half what do I make of things in Crewe & Nantwich? I'd make the following points...

  • The Conservative campaign is the best organised I have ever seen
  • The number of people pouring into the constituency to help has to be seen to be believed
  • I didn't see a single LibDem or Labour campaigner on the streets in the entire time I was there
  • The level of personal dissastisfaction with Gordon Brown is palpable
  • There is a level of disgust at the Labour campaign
  • It's the first time I have heard the phrase: 'I've voted Labour all my life, but...' since the days of Margaret Thatcher
  • Press interest in this by election is huge
  • The lobby is split. Half believe the by election is in the bag for the Tories, half think it's too close to call
  • The Tory campaign is trying hard to manage expectations
  • Turnout will be crucial. The Tories have to get their vote out in the outlying villages & in Nantwich. If turnout is low in Crewe and high in Nantwich, it's good news for Edward Timpson
  • What happens to the LibDem vote us crucial. If they have given up (and decamped to Henley) it's not good news for the Tories. There is a type of Labour voter that will never vote Tory, but may vote LibDem to poke Brown in the nose.
  • If anyone is going to Crewe over the next week do visit an Italian restaurant called Giovanni's. It's the best meal I have eaten anywhere in many months. And the Premier Inn is highly recommended too!
All my interviews will be shown on Telegraph TV from Monday through to Thursday next week.


Ted Foan said...

Nice one, Iain. Look forward the TeleTV progs.

Ted Foan said...

Or should that be "Tele Tubbies' TV"?

You're the one on the left aren't you?

Chris Paul said...

I think you mean Turnout but you've got what looks like Tumour.

You will find visitors from all the main parties saying they've not seen each other and that they have 100s out. Could even all be right.

Dave Cameron masterminded the Howard campaign did he not? With all those dog whistles? And I've still not heard any Tory explain how local government campaigners for your party were also sticking out Hizb_ut-Tahrir leaflets ...

Probably won't be doing that in Crewe and Nantwich however.

Anonymous said...

Blue shirt, grey jacket, specs, and hair undergoing a tactical withdrawal. Quite, quite different.

Johnny Norfolk said...

In your photo is it you on the left or right as its hard to tell. I should be able to tell in the flesh as I think you carry more weight than him.

The Tories must be doing well as there is nothing about it on the BBC as they wont want to upset Labour.

Anonymous said...

Even spotted you and Debra outside the Nantwich office while we were getting leaflets-she's a dab hand with the hand held. Good place to have a light lunch in Nantwich is in the bookshop near to the Nantwich office -good food and quick service. The book owner saw William Hague grabbed a copy of the Wilberforce book and got it signed for resale back in the shop!

Saw only one labour person and we thought their latest leaflet had been delivered by the postie as it was poorly shoved through the letter boxes.

Had to laugh at her slogan - "Vote Dunwoody -she's one of us", as none of the people in Crewe have ever lived in Wales before bagging a seat only on the strenght of her mother's coat tails.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. Well, I'm not gay, but if I did have to pick a bloke to shag, I think you would just about still shade it..

And to think after all that effort you put into the diet ;-)

The tie and suit combo looks, as Eddie Murphy might say..'Smokin'...

Anonymous said...

Was the abuse as cheap and puerile as the Tories suggesting that Tamsin was only in it for the sympathy vote.
No wonder the weather has been warm there, with all that spluttering faux indignation being puffed about.

Anonymous said...

I've just had a call asking me to make an entrance into the Crewe election on tuesday and take my team with me.

This means that it is over for the Conservatives.

Crewe is my patch and I know it well, so well I applied for the job.

Tamsin must win,if not, Gary is ready with a massive team of support.

I don't always play the fool you know, but poltics should be more fun than it is.

I'll buy the drinks if anyone is around on that day.

yours Gary

Liz said...

I've heard the 'I've voted Labour all my life, but...' line twice in the last month or so, once from a cab driver and once from a friend who happens to be a policy wonk. Crewe and Nantwich is a fantastic spectator sport.

Either your weight loss is going much better than I'd realised, or Pickles is about three times the man I thought he was.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

On an unrelated subject.
I drove through London this evening on a regular route.
Was it my imagination, or have all the traffic light cycles been speeded up?
Has Boris been doing his stuff with the traffic engineers, lifting the curse of Ken and speeding everybody's journeys?

Is this wishfull thinking?

Scipio said...

Iain - where did Eric get that nice tie from?

Thanks for the tip on the restaurant - they don't do Calf's Liver do they?

God, I am actually getting excited now!

Chris Paul - yawn!

Anonymous said...

Iain - best laugh I have had today is this article in the Guardian by Lucy Powell, Labour's PPC for Manchester Withington.

She gives her observations of the campaign, and tries to get a bit of a dig in, in line with current Labour tactics:

"The view, in Crewe at least, seems to be that local people want a local champion, someone who will stand up for them in parliament, who is in touch with their concerns and will deliver for them. In this Labour town, they're not convinced that the Tory candidate will do this. (Driving around campaigning in Bentleys isn't helping...)"

She's so keen to get a posh jibe in, but is completely ignorant of the fact that the Bentley factory is in Crewe!

The Mirror also made prats of themselves with the same class fueled story, and revealed at the same time they no nothing of the area at all!

Anonymous said...

Eugh, I just wrote a long comment and Blogger had a techie problem. My abridged version:

Check articles from a Labour PPC and the Daily Mirror which attempt the current "toff bashing" line from Labour, but which amusingly reveal instead a total ignorance of the fact that Bentley cars are made in Crewe.

John Pickworth said...

Well done Iain for doing your bit...

Funny you mention the lack of presence from the other leading candidates on the streets of Crewe, someone said the same thing to me today. Seems Labour's bunch are only around now when the cameras are out (or is it the sunshine?).

I think after being continually harangued on the door step about their wonky policies and the 10p tax fiasco by a hostile public the canvassers have simply given up 'meeting the people'. Can't blame them I guess.

Clearly Labour are relying now on stuffing letterboxes with their 'dodgy dossiers' and little else. I have though noticed a sudden increase in noises on the internet from their hard-core supporters this past couple of days... obviously a symptom of idle hands!

Pleased to hear you had a good time in Crewe and Nantwich and look forward to your broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

After my last post Miss Great took it upon her self to contact me and I have to confess to only just getting home after conducting a lengthy interview myself.

Newmania said...

Iain I `m glad you picked up on that article in the Guardian. I have been telling Hopi Sen that he ought to be ashamed of himself , he is actually up there stirring up anti Polish feeling in the face of all logic with this ‘Tories are soft on immigrants’ line they are disgracefully spinning . Add to that the transparent promotion of Gordon Brown`s survival over the nation’s interests and you have a very dirty by -election indeed from Labour.

I have always thought Simon Hughes running as the “Straight Choice For Bermondsey “ against Peter Tatchell was about the most invidious filth thrown in the air by anyone (ironically as it turned out ).

Where does this figure in your grubbiest by-election list ?

Anonymous said...


"I've just had a call asking me to make an entrance into the Crewe election on tuesday and take my team with me."

No you haven't. Stop lying.

Unsworth said...

Nice analysis.

Miss GB may have taken to her bed with a diplomatic illness. It appears that she's managed to upset a few people:

Of course there may have been a misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...

At first I was going to sue for your use of my famous picture of Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

Then I realised it was Iain and Eric - much scarier!

So - some photo tips for future snaps of yourself, Iain:

(1) Never shoot a photo like this against a sky background (unless you're using a flash.) It will throw the camera's light meter and will leave the foreground under-exposed.

(2) Photos of men who have anything other than a male model physique are better taken from above. It, um, helps to lose the chin(s).

(3) Black and white is more flattering the older you get.

(4) Nobody over the age of 30 benefits from software sharpening a portrait photo of them.

Anonymous said...

So why didn't you take to Miss great Britain's bed for an interview?

Anonymous said...

I wondered if the Tories should not be making more of the fact that Gordon Brown will not be visiting Crewe and Nantwich. After all I understand they wish to make this by-election into a referendum on Brown.

I remember reading about a senate race in the early 1980's which used a very subtle but effective tactic. It would involve plastering C&N with posters justing stating "Where's Gordon?". It would help highlight Brown as an issue in the campaign. The residents and visiting press would be able to ask Labour campaigners wheres Gordon and why is he not campaigning there. We saw on the YouTube video how reluctant Tamsin Dunwoody was when asked was Gordon Brown an asset.

Anonymous said...

Tone made me do it said...
"Was it my imagination, or have all the traffic light cycles been speeded up?
Is this wishfull thinking?"

Boris has had no influence on the traffic lights yet.

Most traffic signals in London are computer controlled. If signal phases were shorter then that is simply a pre-programmed response to the traffic conditions along your route yesterday evening.

Anonymous said...

Twins? Yes. Apart from Eric Pickles being jowlier (jollier?) you are almost identical.

Anonymous said...

Like two cheeks of the same ar**

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose you met the Not So Solid Crewe then?

Anonymous said...

Iain, you are looking really fit.

Anonymous said...

"Today" on R4 this week covered the byelection - it was a joy to hear. Being the BBC they tried and tried to get members of the public to say they were going to vote Labour, and couldn't find one who would do so. The interviewer kept suggesting to one chap that "He was a Labour voter", man agrees, "Always been a Labour voter", man agrees again. Then the killer question "Are you going to vote Labour this time" - firm answer "I haven't decided"! Which rather sounded like a No, I thought.............

Anonymous said...

So the 'divine' leader has called upon his faithful storm-troopers, the Cabinet, to go over the top to die for him in Crewe, while he is safely behind lines up in Scotland grandstanding his 'vision' to the Kirk. I wonder what the Church fathers really think of him?

Anonymous said...

Eric Pickles and Iain Dale - separated at birth.

Iain, You're old before your time!


Anonymous said...

Re Gary Elsby's support
Please don't let him help. We are in enough trouble as it is.

Anonymous said...

Hey, that was a good one. 'Stop lying'.

Gee up! I lie about knocking on doors or leafletting? Wow.

The edge that I have over Tamsin is that I do know what is going on (all year round) and know the area like the back of my hand and I'm involved with the whippets and meat pie classes and also the business community.

It's a long story.

So to you who says I'm lying, well, the proof is in the pudding.

I am here and I shall be there.

Anonymous said...

Gary E "... I don't always play the fool you know, but poltics should be more fun than it is.....

Sehr geEhrter Iain

The resemblance with the heroic Mr Pickles is obvious. Each of you has :

* 2 eyes

* one note

* a similar height

* hair

but Perhaps the tie might have drawn some attention

Es macht man denken, nee
Das ist es, doch

Meanwhile, keep up the Good Work. I hope that you will be there to enjoy a Good Result

- if so, with your customary generosity of spirit, I hope you will have the opportunity to buy our friend Gary a drink

With so many Brown chickens coming home to roost, Gary is going to need some stiff drinks in the coming months

If contrary to expectation & desert, the Comrades emerge triumphant, you should drop in here in Derbyshire on your way to the Deep South - because we would then all need Strong Drink

Alles Gute

G Eagle

Mulligan said...


the game's up mate , when the bloke who lost Abbey Green to the BNP brings his team into Crewe how can Labour possibly fail?

We might as well throw in the towel now.

Anonymous said...

Jamie said...
"I wondered if the Tories should not be making more of the fact that Gordon Brown will not be visiting Crewe and Nantwich. After all I understand they wish to make this by-election into a referendum on Brown."

There is a long-standing convention (broken only by Blair in 1997 and again in 1999) that PMs do not campaign at by-elections.

Alec Douglas-Home, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major never campaigned at by-elections when in office.

Anonymous said...

er...Travis...we didn't lose to Gideon's crew. lost to the BNP also..

What is it with Tories that makes them feel so good about themselves when Labour lose out to Nazi's?

It's a bit like a tory being blindfolded and tied to a post and laughing his socks off because the
Socialist tied up alongside him has just been shot.

Tories. Life would be miserable if we couldn't make fun of them on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

At least you are Eddie Murphy and not John Belushi. Suggest you get some pork pie hats and shades and form a tribute band. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, election rallies...

Anonymous said...

iain. you really are getting carried away with eric. clearly you didnt ask anyone but eric as to what his role actually is. tut tut

Scipio said...

Newmania - especially since Hughes is gay!

Scipio said...


1. Brown bottles the election
2. Brown bottled the referendum
3. Brown bottles the by-election

4. Brown has lost his bottle as well as his marbles!

Anonymous said...

Never mind Mrs Pickles, what about Mrs Dale? I'll bet he had a right hissy fit.

Anonymous said...

Eric Pickles gave a studio interview a few weeks ago. Strictly speaking he did not sit on the chair, better to say he was poured into it in a molten condition and forgot to say when.

You can look for similarities between the city of Paris and the village of Whitwell (East Midlands pop. 42). It seems a bit silly though, since continuous expansion over countless years has made Paris such a vast size compared to Whitwell.

Whitwell and Paris are twins.

(g eagle, it's das Werk. I won't comment on the rest)

Alex said...

"Miss Great Britain had taken to her bed"

Any other interviewer would have taken that as a challenge.

Anonymous said...

Adrian Yalland said...
"Newmania - especially since Hughes is gay!"

I see that the subtlety of Newmania's comment eluded you.

Anonymous said...

Jafo at 10.50am. Sorry, my experience as a canvasser tells me that if someone says that they have always voted one way, but this time they haven't made up their mind, it means that they will almost certainly vote that way again.

Anonymous said...

Quite right- I found it a good campaign-

Trouble is I still can't stand Donald Potter. He's the Cheshire Area Chairman and they're the ones who botched up the situation with Paul Offa in Chester and from various sources involved in trouble in Wirral South or West.

Still its great to be working with a good local candidate

Anonymous said...

'...but may vote LibDem to poke Brown in the nose.'

The expressions 'poke in the eye' or 'a bloody nose' are far more widely used.

Was this choice Freudian or deliberate?

Anonymous said...

Herr Dave H

Gut spottiert - sie haben mich geRumbliert !!!

Alles Gute


Anonymous said...

G Eagle esq -

So - you speak German and so does Iain.

Big deal....

Anonymous said...

10:02am Anon "G Eagle esq - So - you speak German and so does Iain. Big deal...."

Also, Merhaba, Effendi Anon [Buon Giorno, Signor Anono]

C'est la, n'est-ce pas

Salve [Hi]

It is admitted that Iain SchPeaks Excellent Deutsch

and that is a big deal

but der incisive und sagacious Dave H (like the perceptive but kindly Iain) has penetrated this Eagle's Guilty Secret, that he only writes Germanisch und Doppel-Deutsch

However, though I flatter myself that Iain & I agree on so many things, apart of course from religion and some politics,
but I rather think that Mrs Eagle would be surprised unless this Eagle chose a duller, Grayer choice of tie

Vale [Ciao]

G Eagle

Anonymous said...

g eagle esq

I'll bet you're the life and soul of any party

Anonymous said...

I've always thought Eric Pickles was a bit camp, anyway...