Sunday, January 31, 2010
There's no doubt about it, this film was reverential in the extreme and glossed over many of Mo Mowlam's weaknesses and faults. But I'm glad in a way. I'm not keen on biopics that tend to concentrate on negatives. Mo's fundamental humanity and ability to empathise with complete strangers was captured brilliantly. There's no doubt that she was an integral part in bringing about the Northern Ireland peace process, and although Blair didn't come out of it well, the film actually made the viewer understand why he moved her when he did. It seems reasonable to assume that he had noticed her gradual deterioration and needed a new face to enable the process to progress. The portrayal of Mandelson was glorious, although I imagine he was shifting uncomfortably in his seat if he was watching.
Gary Lewis, who played Adam Ingram, must be in line for an award for Best Supporting Actor, after putting in a stellar performance. I cannot say the same for the actor who played David Trimble. Anyone who has ever met Trimble would acknowledge that he is a very different character to the one portrayed in the film. Similarly, I had assumed the Peter Kilfoyle character was actually John Prescott, until they mentioned Kilfoyle's name. He hasn't had black hair since the 1970s.
The other negative point is that at two hours ten minutes, the film was at least 40 minutes too long. But that's nitpicking. It was a very moving (yes, I shed a tear) film which captured the essence of Mo Mowlam and her flawed genius.
I met Mo a few times. I even interviewed her once, for half an hour, when her autobiography came out. I started off the interview with a smart arse question and she reacted very badly. It taught me not to do that ever again. Once we got going, her real character came out. In fact, I've still got it somewhere on a CD. Perhaps I should upload it.
So, all in all, a great success for both Julie Waters and Channel 4 for commissioning it.
The latest edition of the Seven Days Show is now online.
In this week's podcast we look at the recession and whether it really is over, Blair’s appearance in front of the Chilcot inquiry; a hung Parliament and whether Cameron really would hold two election this year if he failed to secure a majority at the first opportunity; Labour and targeted spending and finally THAT Tweetminster report.
To listen to the podcast click HERE, or you can also subscribe to the show in the Tory Radio section in the podcast area of Itunes.
2. Phil Taylor wants to scrap the Audit Commission.
3. ConHome reports on the selection of John Glen for Salisbury.
4. I don't think Devil's Kitchen likes Ed Miliband.
5. Iain Martin on the haunting of Tony Blair.
6. Glyn Davies writes in praise of David Davies.
If this is true, it is surely a huge scandal. Are there really no companies in Tory held constituencies who needed help?
He has now written a very readable book designed to be as damaging to the party to which he owed his allegiance as it is possible to imagine, and especially so for the prime minister, Gordon Brown, who comes across — as he usually does on these occasions — as a psychologically damaged, sulking bully without a policy to his name. And at one point even as “bonkers”.
Watt, a Blairite through convenience if not conviction, dishes it out from page one and his particular target is Brown. The prime minister emerges as a man incapable of taking a decision, especially if it is a big decision. Even more damningly, Watt suggests on several occasions that Brown did not have a political thought in his head.
Watt relates the tale of a ghastly dinner party at No 10 that he attended with his wife. Before the guests were seated, Brown was called away to the phone. When he returned the guests had sat around the table and Brown said furiously: “I didn’t sit you all down!” Watt takes up the tale: “Then he swivelled in his chair, so that he almost had his back to everybody and leaned his head on his arm. For the rest of the meal he was monosyllabic, sulking because he had lost control of the seating plan. The plates had not even been cleared when, quite suddenly, without saying anything, he just got up and left. As Sarah had also disappeared by then we all quite literally had to show ourselves out. ‘He’s bonkers,’ Vilma [Watt’s wife] whispered, as we trooped out.”
Mind you, not many people come out of this book terribly well — except, in common with almost all of these rat-on-your-party memoirs we’ve seen in the past couple of years, John Prescott, whom everybody seems to like. Prescott emerges as humane and principled and kindly towards party workers. However, Watt cannot abide Harriet Harman and her constant “dog whistling to the left”, and has even less time for her husband, Jack Dromey, considering him duplicitous and self-indulgent.
Read the whole review HERE. You can buy the book HERE.
Public opinion is being polarised between those who think that a man with the morals of an alley cat should be dropped from the England team and be sacked as captain, and those who think that these issues have nothing to do with his football playing ability and his position shouldn't be affected. Until today I thought he could ride out the storm and keep his position, but if the Mirror revelations are true, I think it materially alters things.
The key here is the attitude of Wayne Bridge himself. Could he really play in the same team as Terry in the future? The Sunday Telegraph reckons that Fabio Capello will leave the decision to Bridge. If he says no, Terry will be sacked as Captain. But what happens if he says he can't even be in the same squad? It is almost unthinkable that John Terry would be dropped from the World Cup squad altogether. His talismanic status is legendary and there's no doubt that he possesses leadership skills many of his teammates simply do not. I am afraid the fact is that John Terry is more important to the team than Wayne Bridge, and Bridge knows that. If Capello does leave the decision to him, it will be interesting to see which way his decision falls. Interestingly, none of their teammates have spoken out. That's not a surprise, but Capello will no doubt be taking soundings from some of the senior players.
John Terry, of course, tried his best to ensure that none of us knew any of the details of what he has got up to. He deployed a Super Injunction, but ultimately it fell to pieces. A new government must look at the law in this area. The rich and famous should not be able to use the law in ways which are no topen to the rest of us. Super Injunctions appear to be used by celebrities to invoke a privacy law by the back door. I know of at least two other cases - one involving a footballer and one involving a media personality - which fall into this category.
I hope politicians and lawyers will examine this aspect of the law, and question whether it should now be reformed.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
2. Cranmer calls Douglas Alexander on his Catholic hypocrisy.
3. Letters from a Tory has an iPAD Downfall video.
4. J Arthur MacNumpty on John McFall's decision to quit Parliament.
5. Dick Puddlecote wants to bully the Bully State.
6. Colleen Graffy on the legality of the Iraq War. She was Asst Secretary of State in the Bush Administration.
Unless you're a LibDem activist you've probably never heard of him. But he's been a leading light in the LibDems for more years than he cares to remember. He was Head of Policy under Paddy Ashdown and for several years now has been chairman of the party's conference committee. It's safe to say that he is on the 'beard and sandals' wing of the LibDems and viewed Charles Kennedy's leadership with barely disguised contempt. He is no more likely to say "read the Orange Book, it's got some great ideas" than to vote Conservative. He is also one of the driving forces of the thriving LibDem History Group. I've also pubished several excellent books which he has written or edited and he's an author who is both professional and a pleasure to deal with.
Why am I writing this? Why am I am paying tribute to a LibDem? Partly because tonight I am attending Duncan's 50th birthday bash, but mainly because Duncan is one of the unsung people in this country who make politics tick. He's a man of integrity, intellect and dedication. And I don't say that about many LibDems! But more important than that, I am proud to call him a friend.
And if the LibDems have any sense, it won't be long before he changes his name to Lord Brack of Streatham!
Happy birthday, Duncan.
Also interesting to note is that where they are being replaced by all women shortlists, in many cases only 3 or 4 women are applying.
Would all this be happening if they expected to win the next election?
Mind you, the latest YouGov poll in today's Telegraph doesn't make very happy reading. It shows the Tories down to 38% and Labour up to 31 - real hung parliament territory. An Ipsos Mori poll also shows a similar lead of eight points. Although yesterday the Angus Reid poll showed a lead twice as big. You pays your money...
Friday, January 29, 2010
2. Everything Christian asks if loyalty is a virtue.
3. Independence Home says UKIP is backing Boris Island.
4. Oxford Spring comes to a surprising conclusion on divorce rates.
5. Melanie Phillips think Tony Blair has been a class act today.
6. Rob Halfon welcomes a LibDem defector in Harlow.
7. Party Lines speaks to Nadine Dorries about her council estate TV experience. And there's a review of the series HERE.
8. Paul Waugh on a vintage performance from Tony Blair.
9. Tim Montgomerie backs John Glen for Salisbury. FWIW so do I.
10. Luke Akehurst on parliamentary selections and the hard left.
11. Shane Greer has evidence of his wife's influence on the new Tory marketing strategy.
12. Danny Finkelstein signs up for the Brandreth for a Peerage campaign.
- Last night I spent a very pleasant evening addressing the Curzon Supper Club organised by Surry Heath Conservatives. I had to ditch some of my usual jokes as there were a few people there who have heard me speak before! Whenever I go to local Tory party dos I always try to be fairly informal and not speak for too long, as I always enjoy the questions more than making a speech. Last night's questions were particularly incisive and one or two were very difficult to answer concisely - or honestly! Who would I vote for, Bercow or Farage? Should Ken Clarke be Chancellor? What strategy would I now advise David Cameron to adopt to ensure the election is won? On that one I said that as I have never actually won an election, I'm not sure I am the best person to offer advice to him...! Anyway, the Lightwater blog has a write up of the evening, complete with a picture that makes me realise I had better restart the diet...
- Yesterday, Suffolk Coastal Conservatives met at CCHQ to draw up their shortlist to succeed John Gummer. The hoped for phone call telling me I had made it never came, so when I saw the actual shortlist on ConHome today it didn't come as a surprise. That may well be curtains for me. It was the last seat operating by the old rules. All other seats are now being selected by the new system in which Eric Pickles nominates a shortlist of at least three. It has already been made clear that the same names will not keep cropping up in this process (and rightly so) so if I get one chance, I'd better make sure I take it.
- I've had to spend most of the morning doing my tax return. Why do I always leave it until the last minute? It's not as if it comes as a surprise.
- I'm doing the Sky News paper reviews this evening at 10.30 and 11.30. I wonder who my partner in crime will be - hopefully Yasmin A-B. I can imagine her self combusting about Blair's evidence.
- I see the Richard Kay column in the Mail is predicting that David Davis wants to succeed Boris as London Mayor. Where do they get these preposterous ideas from? Or do they just make them up? I can imagine the roar of laughter I will hear when I raise it with DD.
- This afternoon I am starting to read the Why Vote series of books which Biteback are publishing at the beginning of March. There's one for each of the main three parties, the Greens, UKIP, Plaid and the SNP. We considered doing a Why Vote BNP book, in which all the pages would be blank. :). The books will be very short and priced very low and are aimed at floating voters and those who wish to better inform themselves about the different parties' policies.
Whatever one's view of the Iraq war, I don't think many people could allege that Blair didn't believe what he was doing was right. His evidence so far demonstrates an absolute certainty of aim and objective. There is clearly little self doubt in his persona. Sometimes in life that can be a dangerous thing. In government and politics it is an asset. Compare Blair - a man willing and able to make decisions - to Gordon Brown, a man permanently struck by dithering and indecision.
A Prime Minister needs to take a broad, big picture view and not be burdened by intricate detail. Brown is a bad Prime Minister in part because he is pathologically incapable of making decisions when they need to be made. By the time he makes a decision the moment has often passed.
I would far rather have a Prime Minister who had the courage to make decisions, even if, on occasion, he gets them wrong.
Yes, I admit it. I miss Tony.
STATISTICAL PRESS NOTICE - NHS INPATIENT AND OUTPATIENT WAITING TIMES FIGURES - 31st December 2009
I nearly didn't bother to look, but suspicion got the better of me. It turns out that patient waiting times have increased dramatically in 2009.
- The number of inpatients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 13 weeks at the end of December 2009 was 57,600, an increase of 12,300 (27.3%) from November 2009, and a rise of 18,000 (45.3%) from December 2008.
- The number of outpatients, for whom English commissioners are responsible, waiting over 8 weeks at the end of December 2009 was 74,100, an increase of 11,700 (18.8%) from November 2009, but a rise of 26,900 (57.0%) from December 2008.
Shouldn't the press release have been headlined...
Labour Increases NHS Waiting Times by 50%?
UPDATE: The Dept of Health has been in touch to deny this is burying bad news. They say that these figures always come out on the last Friday of the month.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
2. ConHome asks if Operation Black Vote has a problem updating its website. Well, Lester? UPDATE: The reply is HERE.
3. UK Polling Report turns Voodoo Corner.
4. Tory Bear reports an "embarrassing" Twitter climbdown.
5. Stephen Glenn finds his role as the nearly man of political blogging has finished.
6. Party Lines interview political academic Tim Bale from the University of Sussex about his new book on the Conservative Party's recent history.
7. Tory Radio thinks Twetminster need to explain themselves and their methodology.
8. Norfolk Blogger is fed up with government adverts.
9. Paul Waugh thinks Mandy is first class... and he has 20 questions for Tony Blair.
10. Spectator Coffee House on Baroness Ashton's dreadful start.
11. Peter Kenyon on the slow progress of Labour candidate selections.
12. Iain Martin on the 5 questions Blair must ask.
It is, of course, balls. I'd say that there are plenty of women who are 'guilt-free zones', just as there are men. In the end it all comes down to individual personality and individual conscience. I do believe it to be a sad fact of life that those who don't feelings of guilt trouble them tend to get on in life a little better. In other words, it pays to be a 'hard bastard'. I can think of several instances in my life when, if I had been 'harder' or less honest, my life might have taken a somewhat different turn.
So, what makes you feel most guilty, most often? Here are my contributions...
1. Not seeing my parents often enough
2. The amount of chocolate I eat despite my diabetes
3. Wasting money on needless things, like DVDs I will never get round to watching
4. Losing my temper when my brain tells me to shut the **** up
5. Spending so much time on work and politics to the neglect of everything else
6. Saying no to speaking invitations
I won't make this into a blog meme, but feel free to share your own guilty secrets either in the comments or on your own blog.
The Morning Star has an interview with Nancy Platts, one of Labour's Brighton candidates. She says:
"The links have been weakened, but Labour remains a route into government for
the union movement."
A great message. "Standing up for special interests!" etc. Imagine what people would say if a Tory candidate said:
"The Tories are the main route into government for big business."
It would be seen as sinister, to say the least.
Every parliamentary chamber needs colour, and who better to provide it in the House of Lords than Gyles Brandreth?
Gyles was Conservative MP for Chester from 1992 to 1997. Latterly he served as a government whip. He details his experience of political and parliamentary life in his diaries, BREAKING THE CODE, which I still regard as the best political book of the last decade. Some of his colleagues weren’t happy for breaking the whips’ code, and refuse to speak to him to this day, but the rest of us are grateful to him for shining an entertaining, but respectful, light on the inner workings of the ‘usual channels’.
Since he lost his seat, Gyles has remained totally loyal to the party and remains one of the most sought after speakers. He is an adept fundraiser and has remained a leading light in the world of TV and literary entertainment. He would bring a huge knowledge of the arts and entertainment world to the chamber of the House of Lords and it is easy to imagine him becoming a minister at the DCMS. He has proved himself at every turn, whether in the world of books, TV, business or politics. Parliament needs character, and they don’t come much larger than Gyles Brandreth.
"And he would look superb in ermine!"
Who would you nominate? I've always thought Lord Dale of Tunbridge Wells had a certain ring to it :)
One very strong theme which emerges from the book is the conflict between Peter's job and his family responsibilities. Those of us who get wrapped up in the political world sometimes forget what we put our families through. I, for instance, haven't been home since Sunday due to various work related activities. Peter details the strains on his marriage and I am pretty certain that if he hadn't left his job as General Secretary of the Labour Party when he did, his marriage may well have ended by now. It was a pleasure to meet his various children and mstep children. He and his wife also foster children, and as Michael White once said: "None of us are in a position to criticise Peter Watt. His fostering shows he is a better person than most of us will ever be." Or words to that effect.
I didn't expect to see many Labour MPs or party hacks there last night, but one MP who did turn up was Charles Clarke.
The good news is that the book really seems to be selling. Several people told me they had tried to buy the book at various branches of W H Smith but they had all sold out. That concurred with other anecdotal feedback I have had. We now have no copies left to send to bookshops - all 8,000 are spoken for, so we now have to decide whether to action another print run.
Amazon still have some copies left, so if you haven't got yours yet, you can order it HERE.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
2. Iain Martin blogs in defence of SPADs.
3. FT Westminster Blog on why Geoff Hoon won't be deselected.
4. Tory Bear holds Tweetminster to account.
5. Gaby Hinsliff on signs you're spending too much time with the children.
6. Peter Kenyon reports on a mystifying pep talk to Labour's NEC by Peter Mandelson.
7. Spectator Coffee House thinks William Hague didn't need to try too hard at PMQs.
8. Rene Lavanchy on how Jack Dromey has lost his parachute.
9. Chris Whiteside says if you're thinking of voting Labour, read THIS.
10. Wales Online examines Tory prospects in Wales.
11. Malc in the Burgh asks: what if Labour win?
12. Broadcasters should be allowed to be biassed, says Hopi Sen.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s the party convened backbench committees who would shadow the work of each government department. They would meet once a week and membership would be open to any backbench member of the parliamentary party. PPSs, special advisers and CRD officials would also attend, and each group would have a Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary - all elected. The Secretary would be responsible for inviting a speaker each week. The officers would meet with the relevant Department's Ministers once every three months and advise them of any concerns among backbenchers, and the group's chairman would often get quite a lot of media coverage in the subject area concerned.
These groups served several purposes. Firstly, they allowed MPs with particular interests to join a relevant policy group, and secondly, they were quite helpful in coming up with new policies for the government to consider. Thirdly, it provided an opportunity for new MPs to make their mark and develop more expertise in particular policy areas.
The groups fell into abeyance in 1997 when the party went into opposition. I suggest that if we get back into government, they should be reformed with a clear mandate and objective.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
2. Tory Radio on who the real Twitter influencers are.
3. Charles Crawford calls Craig Murray a 'drama queen'. Ooh, er.
4. Jeff Peel on Stormont and the master fryers.
5. Glen O'Glaza on trouble for Jack Straw and Lord Goldsmith.
6. Left Foot Forward seems intent on replicating Labour's 1983 manifesto.
7. Nadine Dorries on why an election won't be held in June.
8. And Ben Brogan on why it could be held in April.
9. And Dizzy trumps him by suggesting it could be March, or even February.
9. Big Brother Guido is watching you!
10. The Staggers question how strong Labour's left wing will be after the election.
11. Tom Harris on the post democratic era.
12. Mark Pack names rthe four journalist who have broke parliamentary rules on declarations.
Ken Clarke and Peter Mandelson have appeared together for the first time - and I suspect the last - on Channel 4 News. I think it is safe to say that Ken wiped the floor with Mandelson. Watch and enjoy. The full interview will be on tonight's Channel 4 News.
This is a trailer for the film I have a short cameo in. It's a fairly low budget movie, but judging from the clips they showed me on Sunday I reckon it could be quite a success if they can get the distribution right.
Click HERE to take part in a one question poll which asks if you would go to see I AM A GREAT MAN based on this trailer.
Let's not split hairs though. It is good news that we are emerging from recession, even if we are the last major country to do so, and even if it has cost us far more than other countries to get to this point.
But the fact that it has taken so long should be a warning signal to everyone, rather than a clear sign of encouragement. It is a signal that internationally, people are still very nervous about the state of the British economy and are still not putting their money here? Why? Because they fear that our out of control government spending may well result in our triple A credit rating being reduced sooner rather than later.
We are not out of the woods yet, and I note an absence of Labour Ministers on our TV screens in the last 15 minutes crowing about their wonderful triumph. They would be well advised to remain silent.
1. - Boris Johnson 64, 124
2. +3 Jonathan Sheppard 21,737
3. -1 Conservative Party 18,555
4. -1 Iain Dale 7,604
5. +1 Grant Shapps 5,754
6. N TrueBlueBlood 4,908
7. -3 James Cleverly 3,710
8. - Tim Montgomerie 3,261
9. +4 Louise Bagshawe 2,387
10. +2 Tory Bear 2,172
11. N Eric Pickles 2,156
12. N Danny Finkelstein 1,889
13. -3 Craig Elder 1,837
14. N Henry Macrory 1,817
15. N Dan Hannan 1,552
16. N Nadine Dorries 1,538
17. N Samuel Coates 1,486
18. N Tory Politico 1,332
19. -4 Jonathan Isaby 1,315
20. -4 Shane Greer 1,278
If you know a Conservative who should be in this list please tell me in the comments.
I have also compiled the Top 20 Labour tweeters. This list is probably more inaccurate, so please, again let me know if you know of Labour members with more supporters than any of those listed below.
1. Sarah Brown 1,121,525
2. Alastair Campbell 14,328
3. John Prescott 12,888
4. Tom Watson 7,314
5. David Miliband 7,186
6. Ed Miliband 5,686
7. Lord Drayson 5,448
8. Ed Balls 5,029
9. Kerry McCarthy 4,827
10. Sadiq Khan 3,876
11. David Lammy 3,637
12. LabourList 3,419
13. Ben Bradshaw 3,042
14. The Fabians 2,975
15. Tom Harris 2,839
16. Stuart Bruce 2,718
17. Kevin Maguire 2,680
18. Cath Elliott 2,611
19. Ellie Gellard 2,177
20. Sion Simon 1,945
Mark Reckons has compiled a list of the Top 20 LibDem Tweeters HERE.
Labour bloggers have been happily retweeting all evening that the next election on Twitter will be between the "Tory machine" and "Labour's grassroots activists". This was the way Tweetminster put it in their report, published today. Assuming that party officials, candidates and MPs are defined as the "party machine" I'd say Tweetminster have got it the wrong way round judging by these two lists. Twelve out of the Top 20 Labour tweeters are in the party machine, compared with 11 Tories.
The full tweetminster report can be read HERE. Unless you have a life.
UPDATE: Tweetminster have written a response to this HERE. I don't really disagree with it. Of course being retweeted and mentioned confers influence. I never denied that. But I do think they underestimate the influence of the number of actual followers. I accept that if a proportion of those followers are Spam Bots, it is a problem, but I always vet my new followers to prevent that being an issue, and if I spot any, I block them.
Monday, January 25, 2010
2. Capitalists@Work have a poem for Brown and Blair.
3. Mark Pack has some ideas for the leaders' TV debates.
4. James Cleverly asks if prison works.
5. Tory Bear asks how low the Guardian will go.
6. Catherine Flinn reviews Dilly: The Man Who Broke Enigma.
If you live in the Surrey Heath area and would like to come and hear me speak at the local association's Curzon Supper Club this Thursday 28 January, phone 01276 471068. More details HERE. I can't belieeeeeve they're only charging £15!
UPDATE: Only a few tickets left, they tell me!
Labour has doubled the number of special advisers since 1997. Clearly this has gone too far, but the Conservatives shouldn't underestimate the role they have been able to play in driving through Labour's agenda. If the Tories haven't got the same resources available to them, they shouldn't be so naive as to think that ministers will be able to do it all by themselves.
So here's an idea. If there is a Conservative government with a reasonable majority, it is important to find things for backbenchers to do, if only to keep them out of mischief. So my suggestion is this. Instead of appointing one PPS to a Cabinet Minister, each one should have two. They would be unpaid (as now), but one of them would effectively fulfil the role of a second special adviser. The advantages to a Cabinet Minister are clear, but it would also be good for more backbenchenchers to gain experience of how government operates. These PPS's should be carefully chosen, rather than the random process which exists currently. Ideally, they should have some knowledge of the subject area of the department they would be working within.
PPSs need to be more than the proverbial bag carrier. They also need to be more than a Minister's eyes and ears in Parliament. A second PPS in a department will need to augment the work of the Minister's SPAD and to take on an light enforcer and progress chasing role.
UPDATE: Some interesting comments. The way to avoid increasing the payroll vote is to reduce the number of ministers in the first place. Also, Jimmy's point is (as usual) fatuous as nowehere was I advocating that each and every Minister should have their own dual PPSs. PPSs are normally only allocated to Cabinet Ministers and perhaps five or six senior Ministers of State.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
2. O'Conall Street has some serious questions for Gerry Adams.
3. Tory Story NI pleads with Owen Paterson to clear the air about discussions with the DUP.
4. And Jeff Peel is equally unhappy.
5. John Rentoul and Fraser Nelson disagree about the polls.
6. Iain Martin thinks the Tories should do more negative campaigning.
7. Craig Murray on the "murder" of David Kelly.
8. PlayPolitical has the video of Tony Benn and David Davis at the launch on Big Brother Watch.
9. Red Rag has a new Tory election poster.
10. Peter Kenyon thinks Labour NEC members should declare their interests.
11. PoliticalBetting asks if the Tories are planning a decapitation strategy.
12. EU Referendum on another failure by the IPCC.
There are many reasons to celebrate Iain Dale. The author, journalist and aspirant politician for the Conservative Party is not only a much-valued contributor to GQ, he’s also the publisher of Total Politics magazine and has become something of an online deity because of his celebrated blog, Iain Dale’s Diary.
Always trenchant, rarely out of step, Dale is one of those political commentators who relies more than most on common sense. Take this, from November last year: ‘I couldn’t care less where our Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition went to school, and frankly I care even less where political journalists got their education – assuming most of them actually had any.
‘Yet lobby hacks seem obsessed with the fact that David Cameron went to Eton, along with 5.5 per cent of Tory MPs. It’s a convenient way for some of them to dub Cameron as a Tory Toff. They produce charts showing that 13 of Cameron’s front-bench team attended Britain’s leading public school too, as if they had somehow committed a crime.’
He then goes on to talk about class, education and politics. Anyway, forgive me for quoting this, but it makes a nice change from the bollocks that people usually write about me.
I spent much of today in front of a camera. Nothing new there, you may think, but you'd be wrong. This time it was to appear in a feature film! Admittedly, it's not exactly a starring role, but the experience was good - and different! - nonetheless. The film, which will be released in April, is called I AM A GREAT MAN and is all about a man, Leonard Cartwright, who forms a new political party, Publicus, which, after a general election, holds the balance of power. It's a drama-comedy, but shot as a "mockumentary". I play a TV news anchor who also presents the general election night coverage. I had to shoot in all in front of a green screen, so I can't wait to see the graphics they insert in the editing process.
I had to shoot six short clips at a studio in Camberwell, and one even involved a swingometer. I tried desperately not to do my Peter Snow impression. One thing I did learn was that I am hopeless at learning lines - even if it's just a couple of paragraphs.
A trailer for the movie will be released next week, but in the meantime you can find out more about it via their Facebook Group, Youtube Channel and Twitter feed.
The whole experience today has made me think about what I want to do on election night if I am not a candidate. It reinforced my desire to investigate the possibility of repeating last year's Play Radio experience - all I have to do now is find a radio station who will give me a studio and an internet stream, and then I can recruit my election night posse. Unless, of course, I am spending election night at my own count! We'll see.
The latest edition of the Seven Days Show is now online.
In this weeks episode we spoke about Have a go heroes – with particular reference to Munir Hussein; Cadbury and their takeover by Kraft; Broken Britain; plans for the manifesto, and whether I'm is going to add football club ownership to list of interestes!
To listen to the podcast click HERE, or you can also subscribe to the show in the Tory Radio section in the podcast area of Itunes.
They all expect Labour to lose.
The second area of concern is the format of the debates. According to the News of the World there will be absolutely no audience interaction, with people being discouraged from clapping, let along asking questions. This is a pity. I'd far rather audience members got a chance to quiz the leaders with no input from an interviewer at all.
But it is the fact that Labour are apparently insisting on having the lion's share of the audience, on the basis of their parliamentary majority! Astonishing. Or maybe not. Perhaps we should expect it of them.
I'll be discussing the scheduling issue on the Stephen Nolan Show on 5 Live just after 11pm tonight.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
2. Donal Blaney doesn't think much of the LSE's new "Carbon Reduction Manager".
3. Craig Murray on the Islamic threat from Central Asia.
4. Next Left on Rod Liddle and THOSE jokes.
5. Daily Referendum on why we need an election now.
6. PoliticalBetting on the 'blowing' of Brown's master strategy.
Friday, January 22, 2010
2. Norman Tebbit wants an amicable divorce with the EU.
3. Joshua Chambers thinks Nick Clegg is doing well.
4. Tom Harris is asking questions about bonuses for local authority returning officers.
5. Three Thousand Versts thinks th DUP may stand down in favour of the UUP in two seats.
6. Stephen Glenn on how Fife Social Services 'kidnapped' a child.
7. The EDP reveals which Norfolk constituencies will be counting on election night. All 2 of them!
8. Craig Murray accuses Jack Straw of lying to Chilcott.
9. PoliticalBetting thinks Chilcott makes May 6th a certainty.
10. Hopi Sen on a bit of bad projection.
11. Party Lines on defining the core vote.
12. John Rentoul is rubbish. So he says.
There's going to be no leadership election because we're going to win the election and Gordon Brown's going to be leader.
However, the plot thickens. If we are to believe James Macintyre, Gordon intends to stay on as Labour leader even if he loses. ROFL. Sunder Katwala thinks this is a rather good idea on the basis that you should take at least six months to choose your new leader if you go into Opposition. Actually, I think he has a point. Labour does indeed need to take time over the choice of its next leader and have a full and frank debate about the direction of the party. Assuming, of course that bankruptcy doesn't intervene in the meantime.
- Calls Nigel Farage a 'thoroughbred' and describes himself as a'carthorse
- Describes what went on with Lord Strathclyde and the referendum offer
- Hints that Stratchclyde was all in favour of accepting
- Refuses to guarantee that Better Off Out members won't have UKIP candidates against them
- Admits to needing (and having) media training
- Reveals he has invited Geert Wilders to speak at a conference in March
ID: So what on earth made you decide to stand for leadership of UKIP?
LP: There was quite a lot of arm-twisting from a number of leading people within the party and from several of the major donors.
Because you haven't actually been in the party that long... No, I have only been in the party a couple of years because before that I sat as an Independent Conservative after being sacked from the Conservative Party in great disgrace.
How much of a wrench was it to leave? I was always a rebel. I said I would be loyal to Margaret Thatcher and I remained loyal to her, but that wasn't the same thing as being loyal to Mr Major. I'd been the most rebellious backbench peer in the Lords and when I was sacked for suggesting people should lend their vote to UKIP in the European elections, it was actually a great relief. I have always been a bit of a maverick, so I'm afraid it didn't trouble me at all. I kept my personal friends in the party, not that there's very many of them.
It's slightly ironic though, isn't it, because the Conservative Party is more eurosceptic now than it has ever been?
The Conservative Party, the leadership, isn't nearly eurosceptic enough. The project of European integration, as originally envisaged by Monnet, is complete and everyone knows that. Cameron is simply not telling the truth when he pretends a sovereignty act to prevent further losses of sovereignty to Brussels is meaningful. I think they know he's talking nonsense when he says he can reclaim various powers from Brussels.
But surely he would only be misleading people if there was no further sovereignty to secede to Brussels but there clearly is? What further sovereignty?
Economics and taxation for example.
Well they've got that if they want it.
Well, they don't have the power to raise taxes.
I believe they do. You only have to look at their use of Article 308 [allows EU Council to act on a proposal with extra powers], which they have been using since the French and Dutch rejection of the original constitution, to do anything they wanted, in fact.
But under that Article everything has to happen unanimously. A British prime minister can veto it.
He can, but the British government has not been vetoing it.
No, but a Conservative government could. Yes, for anything new - not what's already been done. Don't forget our old friend the ratchet - the Aquis Communitaire [EU law made so far]. Our position is they don't need anything new now and even if they were to, they are already talking about raising tax and I'm not aware that either Cameron or any of the established parties have screamed about that.
So if all that is true then basically the game's up - what's the point of UKIP?
Because the only way out is the door and the point of UKIP is, in the next general election campaign, to try and inform the public more precisely about why we are in this position. The people have got the point about why this has gone seriously wrong. Even the lawyers and the accountants in the City of London have now got the point. They never cared about the fishermen or any other industries that have been damaged, sometimes to the point of extinction, by our membership of the European Union. But they have now got the point because of the Hedge Fund Directive. People are beginning to see clearly what this project has always been about.
Isn't part of the problem though that you can wax lyrical about Section 308 of the Treaty of Rome or the Hedge Fund Directive all you like, but you've actually got to appeal to people's hearts and minds? Isn't the problem with UKIP that it looks less like the rest of the British people?
Well, that's not what the latest opinion polls would tell you. A large majority of people wish to go back to free trade and friendly collaboration with the European Union. If you ask a slightly different question - do you want to come out? - then that's more frightening. In the general election campaign we are simply going to deliver two messages that are incredibly simple. One is that your democracy has removed your right to elect and dismiss those who make your laws. We are also going to run another idea which hasn't really been tested in the political world and it runs right alongside getting out of the European Union. The idea is direct democracy, power to the people, the Swiss system of referendums and the Daniel Hannan/Douglas Carswell plan. The British people are fed up with all the regulation that is coming at them from Brussels and, to a certain extent, Westminster.
This is where I think you personally have a problem. I could accept a lot of what you say as could most people if it came from Nigel Farage, but people will have more difficulty taking it from an unelected member of the House of Lords.
I've been elected to the leadership and Nigel's one commitment to me is he will remain the chief party spokesman. He's going to be in charge of media relations and he is our front man with the media. Obviously Nigel's a genius, he's a great man and a great politician and I don't pretend to be. He was a Derby winner. UKIP have now got a sort of carthorse [laughs]. We know that and I accept that and I have said that all the way through the hustings.
But we all know that dual leaderships never work. Nigel will be our spokesperson and obviously if I am called upon because I'm the leader then I will speak. I don't detect people are holding my background against me and if they are then there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not going to apologise. I'm not going to resign from White's Club. I'm not going to stop shooting and stalking and I'm going to carry on because I never wanted to be a politician. I have always said I'm not a politician and I'm not and I can't pretend otherwise. And so I make gaffes, I talk about the 'disband' word when what I meant was get together and fight. I've accused the Muslims of breeding ten times faster than us when what I really meant was their population is going up and so on. I've made mistakes and I will probably make more. I try and do better but that's where we are.
Do you not think though that you might be seen as the Ming Campbell of UKIP?
Possibly. I am 67 years old. I have never been much involved in party politics. I've done a bit of canvassing but that's all, so therefore when I look at the structure of a political party I have to learn as I go along. The trouble with UKIP is that its success has outgrown its infrastructure and that needs putting right. Now that's not Nigel's scene. He's not an organisation chart man. He's a political genius and a brilliant man. Organisation charts are not his strong point and he's very happy to leave that to me.
The party itself historically has been a shambles hasn't it, organisationally?
I wouldn't dare use that expression but it has certainly not been very well organised. Our communications have been bad. People have been learning things in the press that they ought to have known about in advance. A proper organisation chart and proper communication is not difficult and we are going to do that. We will have a more efficient fighting machine.
But isn't part of the problem that to do any of what you just said, which is obviously necessary, you have to have money and UKIP has not got the money to do it. In fact, it's got to pay back £360,000.
We have that covered already and I will try and raise more money for the rest of it. One of the reasons I stood for leadership was that I thought, as leader, I would be better able to raise money. As leader, I would be able to raise the sort of money we need or would be more likely to be able to than if one of the other candidates had become leader. When I stood for leadership I didn't have a single enemy. But as leader of course one is bound to make a few. Such as those who find it an anathema that David Willoughby de Broke and I made the offer to the Conservatives which was: Give us a binding referendum on an agreed wording on our membership in the European Union and we will make sure you are in a position to deliver.
I thought the offer was on the Lisbon Treaty?
No, never! Lisbon Treaty was always a red herring really.
You couldn't have seriously expected the Conservatives to accept that. Wasn't that just a bit of trouble-making? No, not at all. Our position in the European Union is now so desperate, the only way out is the door. It is unthinkable that Cameron will get anything worthwhile in any form of renegotiation.
Fair enough. But all I'm trying to understand is your thought process before you put that offer to Lord Strathclyde, the Tory leader in the Lords. You hadn't cleared this with your party colleagues as such. That is not so. This was, we thought, a settled policy from Nigel. He had the support of the National Policy Committee for it. He'd mentioned it at conference, he'd mentioned it live on the Politics Show and certainly to a large lunch I had attended. He was actually cross-examined at the lunch by Freddie Forsyth, who said: "Nigel, did I get this right - what are you saying?" And Nigel said: "A binding referendum with wording we agree, free vote for the Conservative Party and we will..." Nigel did not say disband. I said disband at the end of the conversation with the lovely Alice Thompson and Rachel Sylvester. I should never have used that word. Tom [Strathclyde's] answer to us was: "Are you sure you want this referendum because we will have the new prime minister. Presumably we will be in a honeymoon period. You will have the whole Labour and the whole Liberal Democrat machine against you. Ok, you will have the Conservative activists with you..." My reply was: "I couldn't imagine anything better." Fighting an issue against the whole political class would be wonderful.
And then you heard nothing from them?
No, not a squeak. I went back to Tom as he was seeing David Cameron two days later in a one-to-one, and I asked Tom what had happened the next week. He had said: "Oh, it's all too bloody awful" and disappeared. I mean Tom's a lovely man, but he is part of the Conservative leadership apparatus in that sense.
Did you get the impression that Lord Strathclyde was in favour of it?
Well, he thought we might lose [laughs]. He actually said we might lose, and we said we would have trusted the people. So then I asked someone else who sits on the frontbench, who had better remain nameless: "What's happened to this? We have given this offer and absolutely bloody silence?" They said the Norwich North by-election is coming up and the hope is you will fall back to two or three per cent and we can forget it. Well, we got 13 per cent in Norwich North and in fact 43 per cent in some Cambridge council seats that day. But we have heard no more. And since then, we have got our answer because Cameron has ruled out any referendum for five years thereby slapping in the face the whole of that part of the Conservative Party that actually wanted a referendum, even just on Lisbon.
Would you again now stand against every Conservative candidate including the Better Off Out people?
I hope not.
That's the logical thing to do now.
No it wouldn't be. Let's go back to square one. We must start to build in the House of Commons a genuine come out group of MPs so we will not be standing against Philip Davies, Richard Shepherd and Douglas Carswell, although I'm slightly talking out of turn as I haven't had time to clear this with the relevant constituency chairman and parties.
But this is an existing policy, isn't it?
It is existing policy but it is resisted by some people who want to fight absolutely everything. But if we fail to get a referendum then all you can do is to start building people in the Commons. If there's a seat where we don't think we can get in and there is someone who could get in with our support, who will fight for it, when they get in and not be wishywashy Better off Out of it.
What's wishy-washy about that?
How energetic are these people in the Commons? What questions do they put down? Will they actually fight in the House of Commons for Britain to leave?
You're putting another hurdle in front of them, aren't you?
Yes I am. But each constituency is different, each individual is different, each UKIP political party is different and each individual case has to be looked at on its merits. But it is madness if we put up a candidate against Philip Davies and he doesn't get back into the Commons.
What have you learnt from your first few weeks of being leader? You've had a bit of a baptism of fire. The Daily Telegraph has had a go at you. Was there a point when you thought what on earth have I done?
Oh yes, but I think I am over that now. The 'disband' word and 'breeding' weren't very clever, so I have learnt that one word out of place can cover the whole of the picture on a newspaper. So I have to learn to do better and do less badly in future. I am having media training. What that will do I don't know because a lot of people say that I shouldn't be like 'them'.
You will inevitably be compared with Nigel Farage, won't you?
Yes, and it's a great tragedy he's gone. I didn't want him to go. He was overworked with his job in the European Parliament. I tried to stop him going and I wish he had stayed on as leader, but he hasn't and he is now our spokesman. People will make of me what they make of me and I can't change that in any way and I'm not really going to apologise for it.
But do you think you are going to have to curb your predisposition to be completely honest about stuff?
I hope not.
How will you attract votes from the broader left, not just the white working class left?
I think our policies do appeal to the broader left. Nothing will appeal to the intellectual left and the crazy idiotic political class which have been running this country for far too long. But direct democracy definitely appeals. It isn't just Labour voters we have to make sense to. Don't forget the 40 per cent who have given up voting.
As leader will you be inviting Geert Wilders back to this country?
Yeah, I hope he's coming back in early March.
What purpose does that serve?
We want a conference in London attended by the black Christian community; some of the black African bishops who are really living through what violent Islam means, for instance the wonderful Bishop of Jos in Northern Nigeria whose wife was recently publicly raped and dragged through the streets. These are people who can come and really warn what is in store from violent Islam. I want Geert and the black African bishops there and I also want the mild Islamic community there. I hope we will be producing a charter of Muslim understanding which will be an analysis of those verses in the Qur'an which uphold the disgraceful treatment of women and appeal to the Jihadists. I think our leading expression will be 'gender apartheid' and I think this country needs to address it. It needs to address it in cohesion with the vast majority of mild Muslims who at the moment are sitting there not doing very much.
Do you think there is a sort of apartheid operating in this country at the moment in some parts of our cities, where you have essentially got areas that are entirely inhabited by immigrant communities who have not assimilated into our society at all - what do you do about that?
Surely the minority which isn't trying to assimilate is the Muslim community and Sharia law is gender apartheid. It is accepted by all the Muslims and sometimes it takes precedence over British law. We should be teaming up with Peter Tatchell and the gay lobby and the humanist lobby and so on. It's wrong for all of us.
If we meet in a year's time, what will you hope to achieve by then?
We have to go for a complete re-alignment in British politics and I think the first step towards that has to be a hung Parliament. If we can help to achieve that I will feel we have done quite well. Now I know what they say against that, they say Dave needs a very large majority so he can cut public expenditure in a way to save the country. To which I say, I see no sign of Dave even pretending that he's going to do that. He's backing the 50 per cent tax rate, he's backing the tax on bankers and so on and therefore helping to cripple some of the life blood in this country, part of the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] that comes in through the City of London is oxygenated blood and it's madness to kill that. I don't see that he's talking of cutting anything like the amount that must be cut. So I think a hung Parliament will be fine. It will be a first step.
But how would that benefit UKIP?
We would then be free to join up with decent real people, Liberal Democrats in the south west.
And then you will have a more Europhile government than you had before.
If there's a hung Parliament, whoever it is will have to govern with the support of the Liberal Democrats who are the most Europhile party in British politics. If they are in a coalition, it's possible Nick Clegg could be foreign secretary.
So what? The people will get angrier...
...oh so you will be trouble-making?
No, it's not. It's answering what the people need. It's providing the only way out of all this which is UKIP at the moment. Conservative activists will agree with you on that and quite a lot of Liberal Democrats in the south west will agree with you, quite a lot of Labour in the north. What else can we do? What else have they left us with? They have turned down an offer where we put our country before our party. They have done the opposite. The people know that, the people aren't stupid. The people are a bloody lot cleverer than the political class now, which is why they should have binding referendums.
You can read the full interview HERE.
Scott Brown is the next Senator from Massachusetts. The turn of events that makes this event happen is stunning. While the pundits will suggest that this is a complete referendum on Obama, I think that is hype and not the full story. Here we have a candidate, Scott Brown, who defined himself at a time when his opponent literally went on vacation for three weeks. When something looks good to be true in America - a safe Senate seat that was a family heirloom, or even a young talented golfer with apparent super powers, then it is too good to be true. Coakley took the seat for granted.
In the end, all politics is local and there are feelings and dynamics alive in Massachusetts that are just not as national as they may seem at the surface. The symbolism of the win is what is national news - not the actually events within the race itself. This was branding and positioning 101 and the supposed winner and heir to Kennedy had no message to counter the brand.
It reminds me of Ted Kennedy's first run for President. He could never answer the question why he wanted to be President and the people never forgot. In this case the Democrat was never even asked the question as she didn't have anyone interested in asking. How sad a campaign. Clever man Mr. Brown. This early ad shows just how innovative his campaign was. The democrats laughed at him. They are not laughing now:
When the dust and the noise settles, there are some implications for Obama and his agenda and immediately around Health Care.This is a President who has tried to govern as fast as he moved during the campaign. It was former Senator Tom Daschle who told Obama to run for President when he was just in the Senate for a few minutes in 2006. Daschle actually told me once that Obama did not balk at his advice that Obama had to run as waiting even a few years would hurt him as he would be tied to votes and the inertia of being a Senator. In other words you would be tied to your experience and so we have a President with little experience but a once might brand. That mindset has been his hallmark once in power. Yet while governing, one discovers that speed can kill. Today we see that.
Remember in Massachusetts 97% of the people are insured without having Washington drive the agenda. So idea that this was a referendum on the current Senate Health bill, doesn't connect. But there is something alive in this vote that should give pause to this President as he steps on the pedal while burning through billions of dollars.
In the end, one candidate had a good and consistent message while his competitor sat the race out. Does this mean that the Republicans have a set of ideas to govern the country? Does this mean that the party is united? Does this indicate that Republicans have a central theme for 2010 and moving forward? The answer is no and or very unclear. George Bush will haunt this party for the next decade if there isn't a purge of the vapid selfish and big government thinking that has been the Republican party for the last 8 years. Republicans must realize this evening that in America they benefit as there are only two parties. America is as fed up with them as they are with Obama. If there was a meaningful third party in the US, they would wipe the floor with both parties. Reading into this event as a watershed is a big mistake.