Sunday, October 31, 2010

Podcast: 7 Days Show: Episode 47

The latest edition of the Seven Days Show is now online.

In the show this week we discussed trick or treating and why we are both against it; Bonfire Night and the strike planned by London’s fire fighters; the EU budget rise and whether it can be justified; the UK Youth Parliament and Connor Morgan; Harriet Harman and the Ginger Rodent incident; Gordon Brown speaking in the Commons on Monday and finally putting the clocks back today.

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.

Sitting Next Door to Alice

Someone just texted me...

What a bizarre sandwich to be the filling for...

Indeed. I must admit, when they told me I would be doing a paper review on Andrew Marr with Alice Cooper I did wonder how it would go. I was reassured that Helena Kennedy would be there too. She and I have done this before and I've always got on very well with her, partly because she's so transparently nice but we share a similar outlook on civil liberties issues.

I arrived at TV Centre at 7.45 and slipped in behind Alice Cooper and his entourage of four. The BBC runner thought I was his bodyguard, I think. I chose my three stories - firefighters, ginger rodents and Ann Widdecombe while Alice was getting his makeup done. I don't think I am talking out of school to say that it took him considerably longer than it took me. The make-up woman said what all make up artists say to me: "Ooh, you've got a lovely colour, have you been on holiday?" Inwardly, I sigh. "No, it's my natural colour," I reply, wondering at the same time if that sounds awfully pretentious. I think I have some southern French blood in me somewhere. My mother's maiden name was French.

Anyway we had about 20 minutes to go before the programme started so we talked a bit about Alice Cooper's show at the Roundhouse tonight - and no, he didn't offer Helena and I free tickets, before anyone asks. He also told us about the time he thought he might be in the Big Brother house with Ann Widdecombe. "You must tell that on air," Helena and I chorused together. And so he did.

Just before 9 we were taken into the studio and sat on the famous sofa. I felt a little odd sitting in the middle, but before I had time to be nervous, off we went. I won't recount the conversation but I think of the four or five times I have done the Frost or Marr programme, this was the most enjoyable. Sometimes, when there are three paper reviewers, one gets a bit left out - and that happened to me the first time I appeared with David Frost back in 2003 when I was on with Polly Toynbee and the man who plays Trigger from Only Fools & Horses. And I have to admit, when I am on with two people who are far better known than me, I have a tendency to defer to them. But today, I felt we all got a fair crack of the whip and had a genuinely interesting conversation. At least, that's how it felt sitting on the sofa.

Unless, of course, you know different!
UPDATE: If you want to watch the paper review part of the programme, click HERE and scroll in 6 minutes. It lasts 14 minutes.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Saturday

1. Anna Raccoon undergoes a Cranmer-like resurrection.
2. Gaby Hinsliff is under child pressure.
3. Mr Eugenides departs the blogosphere. For shame.
4. Lord Norton has news of some forthcoming books.
5. Jerry Hayes describes how Boris puts the 'dick' in unpredictability.
6. Crossfire explains how the Conservative Party has died.

Twenty Years Ago Today...

No! No! No!

Connor Morgan's Speech to the House of Commons

Readers will recall that yesterday I wrote about Connor Morgan, the young Sinn Fein supporter, who spoke yesterday in the House of Commons UK Youth Parliament debates. Someone has just posted his speech on YouTube. It's a good speech, eloquently delivered and spoken with passion. And I agree with some of what he said about tuition fees.

There was quite a lot of reaction to what I wrote yesterday. I tried to put both sides of the argument but made clear that I was uncomfortable with him speaking. But I didn't actually say he should be banned from doing so contrary to what most people seemed to think. I think it's another case of people reading what they thought I was writing, rather than what I actually wrote. But I'm used to that.

I understand that he was dissuaded by Mr Speaker from making his whole speech in Irish Gaelic. Instead, he said about three sentences and then translated them into English.

As an aside, it was very odd to see people clapping in the chamber of the House of Commons. I have to say the traditionalist in me didn't like it at all. What is the point of the UK Youth Parliament sitting in the chamber of the House of Commons if those participating in the debates don't follow the same rules of the chamber as normal MPs? They might as well hold their proceedings in the QEII Conference Centre.

But back to Mr Morgan. I hope he doesn't suffer adverse reaction from his more diehard Sinn Fein colleagues, some of whom would have been very angry indeed at seeing one of their own speak at the Dispatch Box of the House of Commons. Connor has put his head over the political parapet and will know, as I know to my cost, that if you do that you must be prepared for some people to want to cut it off. The critique I offered yesterday, I suspect, may be very tame compared to what he may face next time he goes home.

But it would be churlish not to admit thay yesterday he put in an impressive performance. If he can help bring his party into national British mainstream politics he will achieve something. If he can speak in the House of Commons, why can't Gerry Adams or Martin McGuinness?

A Crackpot LibDem Idea? Surely Not...

Am I missing something here? Why do the Liberal Democrats want to impose penalties on students who want to repay their tuition fee loans early? Seems crackers to me. Surely we should be encourging people to come out of debt at the earliest opportunity?

Visiting IPSA

On Monday, I have been invited to spend the morning with IPSA at the invitation of one of their board members, Ken Olisa, who readers might remember has come under some criticism from me here.

Should any MPs or their staff have information they think I might useful, my email inbox is always open...

I'm interested in knowing how IPSA's systems are still failing and what MPs and their staff think can be done to improve things.

Vote for Your Top Political Journalists

This year Total Politics is running its Top 100 Political Journalists Poll again. This is the third year.

I'd like to ask my blogreaders to take the same poll, although the results won't be included in the main poll, but instead will be posted on here separately.

Click HERE to vote.

You need to rate each journalist with a mark out of ten. The survey will remain live until midnight on Tuesday.

The survey will take about ten minutes to complete. You will be asked to rate reporters, commentators, columnists, TV journalists, radio journalists, regional journalists and bloggers.

NOTE: If you are a lobby journalist or parliamentarian, you will have been emailed separately with a link to the bespoke Total Politics survey, so please don't fill this one in. If you haven't received an email please get in touch and I will send you the link.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Friday

1. Charles Crawford does his best to fall out with Craig Murray. Again.
2. Tom Harris reveals what Boris meant to say.
3. David Allen Green asks which side is abusing power in the Londo firefighters' strike.
4. Heresy Corner asks what's offensive about a pregnant nun?
5. Vote for your favourite political journalists in the Total Politics poll.
6. Peter Kenyon minds his language.

On my LBC Show Tonight From 7pm

On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm The Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council says Margaret Thatcher should burn in hell. Nice. How is it that 20 years on she still dominates our politics? Guests: Conor Burns MP & Kevin Maguire

8pm It's Halloween this weekend? Does it encourage crime and isn't it time we abolished it? And have you ever got into trouble on the internet?

9pm The LBC gadget hour Hour.

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North & North West, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Quote of the Day

"PM says he "hit the phones" at EU summit yesterday. A nice change from the last PM, who used to hit people with phones."
Nigel Fletcher on Cameron's EU negotiations

Is This My Future?

A kindly meant (I think) Tweet from @neillindsay...

@iaindale You in a few years time?:) Alan Partridge is back, this time as a DJ on NORTH NORFOLK Digital radio.

What he may not know is that there is a real North Norfolk Radio, which I used to be interviewed on regularly when I was a candidate there.

Sinn Fein Member of the UK Youth Parliament to Speak in House of Commons Chamber (in Gaelic!)

As some of you may already know, the United Kingdom Youth Parliament is debating in the House of Commons Chamber today. The fact it is allowed to sit in the chamber at all is looked upon by traditionalists with some disdain. What I am about to say with fill them not just with disdain, but horror.

I am told that a young Sinn Fein member of the UK Youth Parliament named Connor Morgan (pic, right) will be speaking in the House of Commons chamber today. Yes, you read that right. A Sinn Fein member speaking in a UK Parliament. There are two ways of looking at this. You can take the view that it is a sign of how far the peace process has come that a Sinn Fein member is a member of a UK (emphasis on the UK) Youth Parliament, let alone is being allowed to sit on the hallowed benches of the Mother of Parliaments. Or alternatively it will make you sick to your stomach that someone who presumably agrees with the views of Messers McGuinness and Adams and would refuse to swear the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen is allowed to set foot in the place.

But this story has two twists. Connor Morgan told my assistant, Grant Tucker, yesterday that he would be making a speech during the proceedings today and he would be doing it while speaking Irish Gaelic*. Not only that, but according to Morgan, Mr Speaker Bercow had readily given his permission to do that. If that is true (and I emphasise, IF), it's incredible and will undoubtedly have consequences.

Mr Morgan has a charming turn of phrase. On his Facebook page he says, referring to George Osborne...

Gideon, get off my TV, you're a c*nt.

Of course if young Mr Morgan (pic, centre) used that word in the House of Commons today, no one would know, as no one else would be able to understand a word he would be saying.

As far as I am concerned if you can’t pledge your oath of allegiance to the Queen you shouldn’t sit in the House of Commons. Simples. But the fact that Sinn Fein are allowing him to speak in the Chamber is even more shocking. Or perhaps they remain in blissful ignorance.

The second twist is to question Mr Morgan's sense of good taste. On his Facebook page he is pictured taking part in a Hunger Strike protest, wearing what I am pretty sure is an RUC uniform, and carrying a gun. Next to him is someone with a sawn off shotgun, if I am not mistaken. A UUP friend of mine said last night he found it "sickening for them [the uniforms] to be used in this manner".

So on the twentieth anniversary of the IRA murder of one of the House of Commons' finest MPs, Ian Gow, the chamber in which he was so proud to sit is about to be spoken to by someone who clearly has at least a modicum of sympathy with those who took his life.

I applaud the peace process. It is remarkable what has been achieved on both sides of the political divide. But the fact that Sinn Fein MPs do not take their seats still shows what a divided place Northern Ireland is. I have tried to write up this story in an unemotional manner but believe me, I am tempted to write it very differently. For my heart still tells me this is wrong. That a supporter of a cause which took the lives of Lord Mountbatten, Airey Neave, Ian Gow and so many more besides, should today be sitting beneath the plaque to Airey Neave in the chamber of the House of Commons, leaves me cold.

* I believe the only MP to speak Gaelic in the House of Commons was the LibDem Ray Michie, who swore the oath in Gaelic when she took her seat in 2001. Unless, of course, you know different.

UPDATE: Another two lovely status updates from Connor Morgan's Facebook page...

Connor Morgan Facebook "Connor is attending global celebration when maggie thatcher dies. • RSVP to this event"

Connor is attending Having a Party when Thatcher Dies. • RSVP to this event

Connor Morgan "Happy birthday you old bastard" (Thatcher)

What a charming lad he is.

UPDATE: LibDem blogger Stephen Glenn explains why I am wrong. Tory Radio on why I disgust him.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Daley Dozen: Thursday

1. Mark Wallace thinks something must be done.
2. Jonathan Sheppard has a rather funny anecdote about an MP.
3. Martin Kelly gives some rather "radical" advice on cutting the deficit.
4. Working Class Tory isn't pleased with Ken Clarke.
5. EU Referendum isn't getting the Wright stuff.
6. CityUnslicker wants to devalue his home.
7. Phil Taylor has another ridiculous council story.
8. Tom Watson MP has the cost of Labour's Ministerial cars.
9. Douglas Carswell is not convinced by EU spin.
10. Tim Dodds illustrates why it is so important to reduce the deficit.
11. Red Rag calls for an end to democracy.
12. And finally, Liberal England has Susan Kramer's Campaign video...

Not exactly riveting.

On My LBC Show Tonight From 7pm...

On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm has the educational establishment failed our schools? Can Michael Gove's reforms succeed in the face of opposition from his own civil servants? Guests: Benedict Brogan & Fiona Millar

8pm How should sex education be taught in schools? Guests: John Bangs & Susan Quilliam

9pm The LBC legal Hour.

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North & North West, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Mitchell's Firm Grip of DFID

Guido reckons Andrew Mitchell has gone native at DFID. I have evidence to the contrary. This very day, for the first time ever in the history of Dfid, a huge picture has gone up in the main reception. Of Her Majesty the Queen!

To my mind, Mitchell has been one of the success stories of the coalition. A man on top of his brief who has shaken up his department and completely reconfigured our aid policy. And if anyone really thinks he has gone native, they should read his speech to the LSE on wealth creation. Very sound.

Having said all of that, I still don't think the DFID budget should have been ringfenced...

Caption Competition

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can BBC Journalists Be Influential? The Evening Standard Thinks Not

The Evening Standard Londoners' Diary had a very peculiar item tonight...

TORY blogger Iain Dale is running a survey on the most influential political
journalists. It includes questions about the influence of BBC presenters Huw
Edwards, John Humphrys and Eddie Mair. Isn’t the whole point of BBC presenters
that they do not betray their political leanings and are therefore dispassionate
and non-influential?

The truth is that I am not running any such survey. Total Politics is. I haven't had any involvement in it this year. Ben Duckworth, the editor, is running it. But the assertion that John Humphrys et al are not influential is as laughable as it is preposterous.

I suppose in order to introduce at least a hint of accuracy to the Evening Standard's story I could run the same survey on the blog. Just to be kind, you understand.

The Daley Dozen: Wednesday

1. Ed West doesn't think Polly Toynbee's version of Schlinder's List would be much good.
2. David Mills thinks the PM debates belong to voters, not politicians.
3. Jim Pickard looks at the Tory rebels.
4. Max Atkinson has some free tips for Ed Miliband.
5. Katharine Birbalsingh has quickly learnt who her true friends are.
6. Simon Clark wants to stop government giving money to lobbyists.
7. Dizzy investigates some hypocrisy of the worst kind.
8. David Osler has some advice for the British Tea Party.
9. Even Rob Carr thinks the FBU are making a mistake.
10. Laurie Penny is not sure the left is going in the right direction.
11. Subrosa welcomes the scrutiny of the Scottish electoral count.
12. Harry's Place says bollocks to Ed Miliband.

On My LBC Show Tonight From 7pm

On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm Will the housing benefit cuts really lead to social cleansing, as Jon Cruddas and Ed Miliband have suggested? Guests: Alison Seabeck MP and Phil Hendren aka Dizzy Thinks

8pm Will we get an EU Referendum after all? Guests: Andrew Turner MP and Denis MacShane MP

9pm The LBC Parliament with Stephen Timms MP, Lynne Featherstone MP and Tim Montgomerie.

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

A Night with Nigel Lawson

Last night I attended a brilliant event hosted by Total Politics called, “In Conversation with Nigel Lawson”. Now it is not hard to imagine what the format was, the Total Politics’ Editor, Ben Duckworth, interviewing Margaret Thatcher’s Chancellor, Nigel Lawson. If I am honest, I was rather sceptical about how the event would pan out, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was very interesting to hear what it was like at the heart of Thatcher’s government and Lawson has a very good sense of humour.

Margaret Thatcher said she used to marvel at his intellect, and you can tell why just by listening to him for an hour, he has a way of reducing the most difficult topics into ‘man on the street’ language. He recalled his time in government with extraordinary detail; it was rather amusing to hear that he thought he had invented the word Thatcherism during his 1981 speech in Zurich, but was sadly informed some years later that a Marxist magazine had used it describe everything they were against.

He went on to discuss his time as Energy Secretary, and how he helped prepare the country for a miner’s strike. It was particularly revealing to hear that the cabinet were initially hostile to his plans to stockpile coal at the power stations, thinking this would be a provocative act to the unions. However Lawson used the argument that instead of provoking the strike, this would deter strike action, as the unions could see the government was prepared. As you know the rest is history. There was a miners’ strike and Britain won. Lawson paid a special tribute to Joe Gormley, the former NUM President; Lawson had convinced Gormley that the strike would be bad for mineworkers which led to Gormley writing an article in the Daily Express. This led opinion against Arthur Scargill and the Nottinghamshire Miners decided not to go on strike, which would prove decisive in the government’s efforts to end the main strike. On Lawson's advice, Gormley was given a peerage by Margaret Thatcher - the only peerage given to a NUM President by a Prime Minister. How ironic.

Lawson went on to talk about his time as Chancellor, and the proud achievements he has from that period. He mentioned two things in particular; reducing tax and the “Big Bang” in the City of London. Firstly he said that he is a committed believer in the Laffer curve, and that theory was proven during his period in charge of the economy when he reduced the top rate of tax from 60% to 40%, resulting in an increase in tax revenue. It is important to note that Margaret Thatcher was nervous about reducing it to 40%, Lawson said she was more comfortable with the idea of a 50% top rate but Thatcher was persuaded by Lawson in the end.

Questions were then opened up to the floor and inevitably questions about today’s economic situation were raised, ranging from Margot James MP asking about quantitative easing to a question on the banking crisis. He stood firmly by his Big Bang reforms of the 1980s and said the City of London was, and still is, a huge asset to Britain and the economy. A more interesting question was asked about his opinions on the few departmental budgets that have been ringfenced from cuts. Lawson was not happy at the government’s decision to ringfence international aid, calling the 0.7% UN target “absolutely irrelevant” and claimed it was plucked out of the air. He went on to say the reason why we are the only country which will achieve the 0.7% target is because we are the “only country stupid enough” to do it. He then questioned the effectiveness of international aid itself, claiming in some cases it actually stopped countries progressing and recommended Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid for further information about that topic.

To learn more about Nigel Lawson’s experience at the heart of the Thatcher government and his opinions on the Coalition government you can buy his new book, Memoirs of a Tory Radical, HERE.

I will leave you with this quote from Nigel Lawson:

“[Thatcherism] is a mixture of free markets, financial discipline, firm control over public expenditure, tax cuts, nationalism, 'Victorian values', privatization and a dash of populism.”

Draconian Housing Benefit Cuts? Do Us a Favour...

I just received this from a reader, which I thought I'd share with you...


Maybe I shouldn't get so worked up about these things but I do.

I've lived in London since I graduated and worked damn hard to be able to afford to be able to live here, in relatively nice accommodation, but nowhere near the centre of town (I've lived in Ealing, Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush and Fulham in my 6 years here).

I now see claims from people like Simon Hughes regarding the 'draconian' nature of only giving people £400pw to spend on a 4 bed property in London and hear all the tales of the ghettoisation of the poor and the segregation of society.

To start with, a quick look on gumtree shows no shortage of 4+ bedroom properties in London. Yes, they might not be in Kensington but why should they be? I doubt I will ever be able to afford to live in Kensington at any point and I earn a great deal more than the median wage mentioned as the cap. Just because people on benefits can't live in central London doesn't mean they all have to congrigate in one big ghetto. Here's what you can get for £400, all advertised in the public domain, I can provide links if needs be:

Putney: 4 bedroom flat located in a desirable area of Putney. The property benefits from 4 double bedrooms , 2 bathrooms and private balcony. The property has been Renovated last year and is in very good condition. Close to Transport link (East Putney tube station and Putney Rail) and shops. To Arrange a viewing please call our letting team (£365pw)

Brentford: well maintained four bedroom semi detached house with garden in sought after location of Brentford - Enfield Road. The property on the ground floor consists of huge living room with fireplace and dining section, conservatory leading to low maintenance garden with shed, fitted kitchen, roomy bathroom with whirlpool bath. Upstairs there is a master bedroom with fitted wardrobes, single bedroom with roof terrace and two additional bedrooms (one is a loft room). The house benefits from double glazing, real wood flooring through and gas central heating. There is parking available on the street. (£356pw)

Lewisham: An absolutely superb opportunity to rent this luxurious house situated in the much sought after residential road. Being extremely spacious , the property comprises: security video entry system, welcoming entrance hallway, superbly designed lounge and dining room, luxury fitted kitchen with granite worktops and built in appliances, study, guest cloakroom, master bedroom with ensuite bathroom having fabulous fitted bathroom and dressing room, second double bedroom with ensuite shower room. (£400pw)

I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea.

Next, the cap of £400pw is the equivalent of £1,738pcm or £20,857pa. I'm pretty sure that someone earning the median wage wouldn't be able to afford that amount after taxation is applied to their £26,000, let alone living costs. But to make someone out of work rent for such an amount is 'draconian'? Do me a favour.

I really can't believe the furore over this and in fact if anything the furore should be produced over the amount that is still being offered when people who have worked pretty damn hard can't afford a place themselves as rentals are kept artificially high in London due to DSS/housing benefits paying these amounts.

Maybe I've missed something but it still seems pretty extravagent to me

Best regards


Well he certainly makes some good points, doesn't he?

UPDATE: Dizzy takes Labour MP Andrew Gwynne to task on housing benefit.

Keeping My Balls in the Air

Bill Rogers of the WDR Consultancy blog has written a piece wondering if I can keep my blog and radio interests "in balance". He has identified something which I have always known would be a real challenge, and I don't pretend I am finding it easy to maintain the blog as I used to before the election. Even with the addition of Grant Tucker to the team, I know I am not being as prolific as I used to be. Here's what Bill says...

Dangerous ground for a minnow of a blogger, but is there a slight drop-off in
the range and impact of Iain Dale's Diary ? One of the "daddies" of UK political
blogging, Iain is now also almost a full-time host on LBC, and more and more of
his posts are trails for his show, or tales about interviews. Can he keep radio
and blog in balance ?

Alexa, one of the big sites tracking website data, says the diary is down 7% in daily reach over a month, and 31% over three months. I also quite enjoyed this analysis. has a three-month global Alexa traffic rank of 123,471. About 82% of visitors to the site come from the UK, where it has attained a traffic rank of 5,524. It has a relatively good traffic rank in the cities of Sutton (#38) and Thame (#39). Compared with all internet users, appeals more to users who are aged 35–45 and over 55; its visitors also tend to consist of childless, highly educated men earning over $60,000 who browse from work.

I suppose with traffic figures you pays your money and makes your choice. If you use Google Analytics traffic is actually up 9% in October compared to September (117,000 absolute uniques over the last 30 days), although it is 15% down if you compare the last 3 months with the previous 3 months. Actually, that's not as bad as I had expected because the previous three months included the election and coalition building period.

Doing two full time jobs (Biteback and LBC) was always going to have some sort of impact on blogging. The fact is, I used to do a lot of blogging in the evenings at home. I'm now never home in the evenings, and frankly, when I have finished doing a 3 hour radio show, the last thing I want to do is sit down and think of something to blog about. I am sure readers understand that.

This is and will remain primarily a political blog, but it is also a diary, which is why I do write blogposts if anything unusual happens on my LBC show. I is a big part of my life now, so of course it will figure here. A blog is evolutionary. If it remains static it will lose appeal. Part of the appeal of this blog, I think, is that it has always been quite prolific. Fifty per cent of you come back three times a day and expect something new to read when you return. I'm very conscious of that, and will try to satiate your appetites, but some days, I am afraid it's just not possible, and I am sorry about that.

I am never going to get Grant to write blogposts in my name as I think that would be cheating my readers. If he posts on the blog, it will be in his own name. Maybe I should ask him to do a bit more of that. What do you think?

Let's Ban 'Lobbying' Money to Pressure Groups

Simon Clark from the pro-smoking group FOREST has an article today on ConservativeHome which makes for interesting, and alarming, reading. It reveals the millions of pounds the government gives anti-smoking groups. What do they do with it? Use it to lobby the government!

It has been a hallmark of this government so far to ban quangos from employing lobbyists to lobby the very government departments which they report to. This ban should be extended to pressure groups in receipt of government funds too. If they want to lobby the government they can do what everyone else does - pay for it themselves.

Note: I am not a smoker. I hate smoking. But I do believe in freedom of choice.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Daley Dozen: Tuesday

1. Tom Harris MP declares he is not a tory.
Oscar reports on the French "Winter of Discontent".
David Elstein is hoping for the end of the licence fee.
Archbishop Cranmer might make an exception on the death penalty.
Jim Jepps defends migrant workers.
Benedict Brogan doesn't seem pleased the Tea Party like Cameron.
Not a Sheep thinks inviting Tony Blair back to Chilcot is nonsense.
8. Guido discovers the London Fire Strike has some illegal support.
Political Scrapbook isn't so sure about Gove's free schools.
Public Bar Wisdom has more worries about Big Brother.
Richard Stay wonders when the Coalition will start regretting the Equalities Act.
Squiffy is appalled at the Fire Brigade Union.

On My LBC Show Tonight From 7pm...

On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm It's been called the 'Promiscuity jab' in today's Daily Mail. Should we pay teenage girls to encourage them to have cervical cancer jabs?

8pm Ed Miliband's first month as Labour leader. How's he doing? Guests: Dan Hodges (Labour Uncut) and John Cryer MP

9pm The LBC Medical Hour with Dr Rob Hicks. Phone in your health questions on 0845 60 60 973.

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Book Review: Peter Mandelson's The Third Man

I don't mind admitting it. It's taken me a long time to finish off Peter Mandelson. His book, I mean. And I have to say, I have immensely enjoyed it. Why? Because it is so authentically Peter Mandelson writing it. Well, of course it is, you may say. It's his autobiography. OK, fair point, but the fact is that many autobiographies are written with the intention of glorifying the role played by the author in the affairs of the nation that you wonder why you bothered reading the book in the first place. I am not saying this book is without its vanities - in fact, it is full of them. But unusually for a politician Peter Mandelson is unashamedly honest about his own strengths and weaknesses.

The title of the book gives it away. Peter Mandelson really did see himself as the Third Man - the third most important man in New Labour and possibly the third most important politician of the New Labour years. He makes a persuasive argument. And yet one cannot escape the thought that at times he was a major escalator of the rows which took place between the two men who sought his approval and political help - Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He recognises this himself and catalogues the occasions where he knew that his very presence was not conducive to a good relationship between the Prime Minister and his Chancellor. At times he would completely absent himself in the hope that peace would prevail. As we all know, it was a vain hope.

Without doubt, the most entertaining parts of the books are the chapters detailing his return to the Cabinet in 2008, the 2010 election and the coalition talks. Although he was right at the centre of events, he writes about the events almost as a political commentator, watching them with some wry amusement.

He is painfully honest about his relationship with Gordon Brown and completely up front about his political and personal weaknesses. Almost completely. In the chapters on his return to government you sense that he would like to say more but he doesn't want to hurt his old political friend (and foe) any more than he has to. I can hear his editor saying "But Peter, we need just a little more here," on more than one occasion. But I don't blame him for that.

The truth is that Peter Mandelson very nearly helped pull off an unlikely victory for Gordon Brown. At times, it looked almost possible. But in the end you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and Brown's inadequacies rendered the Mandelson rescue mission impossible, a fact he implicitly acknowledges at the end of the book.

We don't learn an awful lot we didn't know about Peter Mandelson's personal life that we didn't know, which is a shame. His partner Reinaldo gets the odd passing mention but that's about all. One senses that there is still a certain reticence there, a feeling that such things are not talked about in polite society. I understand it, but from the reader's point of view, I regret it.

I don't see how anyone can possibly fully understand the New Labour years without reading this book. But it's not a book you ought to feel you must read out of a duty. It really is a pleasure. Mandelson writes well and although it is one of the vainest autobiographies I have ever read, it is no worse for it. As a political stragegist and one of the architects of New Labour, Peter Mandelson has a lot to be vain about.

Buy the book HERE.

Strictly Ann Widdecombe in Clacton

Just thought I'd tip off my Essex and Suffolk readers that I will be hosting another Audience With Ann Widdecombe at the Princes Theatre in Clacton on Sea on Monday November 29th. It's hosted by the Clacton Arts & Literature Society and tickets are £8 on the night. From their website it doesn't look as if you can pre-book.

I have an awful feeling we're going to have to alter our tried and tested opening routine to include some sort of dancing. You probably didn't think there was a worse dancer in the country than Ann. But I can assure you there is....

The Art of Whipping

Paul Goodman has a really excellent interview with Patrick McLoughlin, the Chief Whip on ConservativeHome today. I hope this marks the beginning of a series as Paul has a real talent as an interviewer. It's not often a chief whip ever gives an interview so for anyone interested in the way government works, it's a real must-read.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Handling My First Breaking News Story

Tonight told me why I love radio presenting. There's nothing like it when you have to cover a breaking news story, especially when you know the main protagonists are listening. At 6.15 I thought I knew what we'd be covering tonight - pensions, Ed Miliband's first 30 days, and the banning of miniskirts (no, really). At 6.16 I went down to the studio to pre-record an interview on pensions with Baroness Hollis. When I came back up to the newsroom I was told that the Fire Brigades Union had called a strike on Bonfire night, November 5th. "You're having me on," I said. "They wouldn't". Shows how much I know.

So I had less than half an hour to prepare and get my head round what was happening. No time to write any script or even notes, just to decide with my excellent producer Carl how to handle it. And to think, an hour earlier we had been bemoaning the fact that there was bugger all news around and had been reduced to thinking about covering the fact that the mayor of an Italian town, Castellodemarre di Stabio, had decided to ban local women from wearing mini skirts. No doubt he'd quite approve of the burkha...

James Whale, who's on before me, was interviewing a union rep so we thought we'd go to the employers. When Carl rang them it seemed they had been caught on the hop. They hadn't heard of the FBU decision. I thought what I'd do in their position. Take legal advice. Let's get a lawyer on, I thought.

In the end, though, we decided to initially go combat. By which I mean, not get any guests on, just let's find out what Londoners thought. So we went straight to the phones. Some people, like me, couldn't understand why firefighters would put people's lives at risk by striking on the busiest day of the year from the fire brigade. Others defended their right to do it. I made my views perfectly clear but I hope in a way which even those who disagreed with me could respect. Some calls got quite firey (excuse the pun), but most were thoughtful. With one exception every firefighter who phoned in supported what their union was doing - slightly to my surprise. We decided to take it over the eight o'clock hour - normally we only do an hour on any one subject. But the calls kept on coming. We had a full switchboard from minute one, to the end of the show three hours later. I could compile a book from the number of tweets and texts we got.

Just before 9 Ian Leahair called. He's on the executive council of the FBU. I don't mind admitting, I gave him a bit of a grilling. It was a far more aggressive interview than you'll normally hear me give, because I felt I had to reflect the anger which people were clearly feeling. He gave as good as he got and in the end admitted that if someone died on Bonfire night as a result of there being a lack of fire cover he would have to examine his conscience.

While I was speaking to him I saw on my screen that Brian Coleman was phoning in too. You know you are doing something right when the two leading protagonists feel the need to call in and speak.

Brian Coleman is a man who polarises views. No one has a weak opinion about Brian. He's the ultimate marmite politician. He made it clear that no ground would be given. Indeed, when I put it to him that he was trying to do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers, not only did he not deny it, he seemed to revel in the comparison. I pressed him several times on the fire cover which would be available on 5th November but he was unable to reassure me that the cover would be any better than it was on Saturday. I accused him of deploying the same bullying tactics the union were deploying, which he denied.

At the end I asked what he would do if firefighters refused to sign the new contracts and it became clear that he really does intend to follow through on the threats to sack any firefighters who doesn't sign the new contracts which will be issued on 26 November. "What then?" I said. "We will rebuild the fire service," he replied. Later in the programme we spoke to the Fire Minister Bob Neill too, who said he wouldn't be getting involved but then proceeded to give the FBU a right royal slagging off.

And then, after 3 hours it was all over. It was my first experience of real breaking news. Could I handle it? Could I go for three hours holding a real conversation with Londoners, interview with main parties, give my own views and still maintain a balanced programme? Well, it's not for me to say whether I achieved all that, but I enjoyed every minute of trying. And judging from the reaction on Twitter, so did many of the audience. I'm not listing these tweets to blow my own trumpet, but anyone who's been through presenting a programme like this will understand how important it is to gauge audience feedback. All I hope is that all those who phoned in thought they were given a fair crack of the whip.

@iaindale I love listening to @lbc973 when a breaking story is on :) very exciting!

Iain Dale handling the Fire brigade union
boss very effectively. Unlike the BBC, Iain actually lets the interviewee speak!

Iain Dale's coverage of the FBU bonfire story will get me listening to LBC in the evenings again.

@iaindale @lbc973 Excellent coverage tonight. You were just right with how you dealt with both the callers and and the management, Mps and union. The time flew. I hope you can now enjoy a rest.

@iaindale really do like the show & your way of presenting iain. way too relaxed for a hammer!!

The Daley Dozen: Monday

1. Katharine Birbalsingh blogs about her visit to Eton.
2. Byrne Tofferings explains why students should back the Brown Report.
3. The Adam Smith Insititute is delighted their plans are becoming policy.
4. Bracknell Blogger has another email from a Lib Dem minister.
5. Mark Pack has some new stastics on gender and politics.
6. Walaa Idris wants a by election in Bristol East.
7. Hopi Sen wants some more beef from Cameron.
8. Slugger O'Toole thinks NI needs to face the cuts reality.
9. Steve Baker MP lays out his EDM reforms.
10. Keir Hardie thinks Ed Miliband is in his comfort zone.
11. Douglas Carswell wonder if the EU will take "corrective action".
12. Adam Collyer gives Paul Krugman a history lesson.

Tristram Hunt Is Gerald Dreadful MP...

Tristram Hunt, the new Labour MP for Stoke and sometime TV historian, once called me "cloyingly sanctimonious". As if.

Well, it seems he too has learned the art and, as Paul Goodman tweeted earlier, turned himself into Geraldine Dreadful MP's long lost brother.

His article in today's Daily Mirror is one of the stupidest things I have read in months (and yes, I include Sally B's twitter feed in that). Apparently the wicked Tories are going to bring back the Victorian workhouse... And no doubt send children up chimnies too. Oops, mustn't give them ideas...

I am trying to think of something cloyingly sanctimonious to call Hunt (maybe something that would rhyme?) but I am just too lost for words...

Channel 4 Young Blogger: Essex Boy Votes For Essex Girl

On Friday morning I spent a very pleasant hour in the company of Jon Snow, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Richard Bacon, Josh Halliday, Vicky Taylor and Benjamin Cohen judging the Channel 4 News Young Blogger of the Year. They had about 90 entries asked us to judge from a shortlist of about a dozen. I was very clear that there was one blog which was head and shoulders above the rest and found that most of the others agreed. In the end, most of the discussion concerned who else we should commend.

The winning blog was Teen Dreaming, written by my seventeen year old Essex compatriot, Louise Jones. Her blog is not hugely political but it is brilliantly written, with a great sense of humour and she inserts her personality into it totally, which I reckon is one of the key components for a successful blog.

Initially we were all sent one blogpost to judge from, and in Louise's case it was one she had written about 9/11.

Jon Snow, Presenter, Channel 4 News – who will interview Louise on this evening’s programme said: "Louise captured the world through a 17 year old’s eyes. Her blog was funny, topical – but most importantly, it felt like her immediate reflections on the world around her – not an essay or a print article. I know she will be a brilliant addition to our site – and I look forward to asking her more tonight."”

Krishnan Guru Murthy said he liked Louise’s blog because "she sounds like a teenager – she isn’t trying to sound older than she is."

Richard Bacon said: "I was looking for someone who sounded passionate, authentically young and who I would definitely read again and I will.", whilst Josh Halliday added; "Louise's blog is one that many teenagers can relate to. It had personality, wit – and it was news through the eyes of a 17-year-old. Very complementary to Channel 4 News' current site, I thought."

Louise, 17 lives in Brentwood, Essex with her family and started blogging in 2009. One day she hopes to write her own column for a magazine or newspaper. She has described the moment Jon Snow called her to let her know she had won: “I found out about the competition through Twitter, obviously, and it's taken over my life since the end of September. I thought about it, dreamt about it, talked (a lot) about it, wore it, ate it...well...maybe not the last two but you get my drift. I can't remember most of the conversation I had on the phone with Jon when he told me I'd won. I was too busy going !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in my head and saying 'Thank you so much!' over and over again. Sorry Jon…. Mum's said 'For goodness sake child CALM DOWN' about a trillion times in the last half an hour."

I’ve already added her to my reading list – I’m going to be recommending this girl. She has a great talent.

Part of the problem for many of the entries is that they just didn't blog regularly. Indeed, one or two had only two or three blogposts on their blog this year. OK, you don't have to blog every day, but if you only blog once a month, can you really be considered for an award? I'd say not.

The three blogs which we also commended were Renni Eddo-Lodge, Cory Hazelhurst and Jack Losh.

Here's what the judges thought about Louise's blog...


So well done, Louise. Your prize is very well deserved.

Interviewing Peter Mandelson

On Wednesday I shall be interviewing Lord Mandelson for my next 'In Conversation' interview for Total Politics. As usual, if you've got suggestions for what I might ask him, do feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Podcast: 7 Days Show: Episode 46

The latest edition of the Seven Days Show is now online.

In the Show this week we talk about Widders and her Strictly Come Dancing entrance (how could you not). Onto the serious issues of the week we look at the Strategic Defence Review; whether delaying Trident was a sop to the Lib Dems; The Comprehensive Spending Review; was it really anti women; whether cutting Council spending is a good thing; whether cutting jobs in the public sector is something the private sector is continuously doing; is Alan Johnson a weak link for Labour; what is fair about taxes; and finally how right IDS was to say people can get a bus to go and find a job..

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.

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Sunday

1. LibDem Voice analyses Nick Clegg's Desert Island Discs appearance.
2. James Forsyth on why the coalition might last beyond 2015.
3. Paul Burgin asks Walaa Idris 20 Questions.
4. Lord Tony Harris sides with Sayeeda Warsi. Not a sentence that is often written.
5. Jack of Kent on how he's going to judge next year's Orwell Blog prize.
6. Michael Heaver on why Nigel Farage must win.

And as a special "Brucie Bonus"...

On My Sunday Morning LBC Show From 10am...

On my LBC show this morning from 10am until 1pm (I'm sitting in for Andrew Pierce)...

10am Wikileaks: Guests Hamit Dardagan,Co-founder and principal researcher at Iraq Body Count and Patrick Mercer MP

11am Sunday paper review with Tony McNulty

12noon Should EMAs be abolished?

12.45 National Traflgar Day

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Saturday

1. Nadine confronts her critics.

2. Chris Whiteside on the Phantom of New Labour Debt.

3. Dan Hodges of Labour Uncut reckons Labour were crushed and humiliated by the CSR.

4. Charles Crawford fires the first shot at Craig Murray in another War of the Ex Ambassadors.

5. Ed Staite on Wikileaks and the arrogance of Hilary Clinton.

6. Burning Our Money reviews Warwick Lightfoot's new book: Sorry We Have No Money.

Tim Nice And Northern

This video is truly brilliant. Tim Farron is the LibDem MP who ousted Tim Collins in 2005, and you can see why. He's now standing to be the president of the Liberal Democrats against Susan Kramer. If I was her, I'd be worried. Forget some of the anti Thatcher rhetoric (I usually try to) in the video, just concentrate on the message he is putting over to his electorate - LibDem members up and down the country. And from what I can see he did the whole thing in a single take. Word perfect. Fluent. Articulate. And a bit northern.

Norfolk Blogger is not a fan of the coalition. At all. He hadn't been intending to cast a vote in the LibDem presidential election. He will now. For Tim Farron. If he can make this video truly viral, Farron may well do much better than many were predicting.

I'm glad to aid and abet him. Not because I agree with all of what he says. But I can recognise a brilliant campaign video when I see one.

Banning Strikes

By Iain Dale and Nicholas Finney

The Government's dire cuts to the public sector, coupled with the actions of the irrepressible trade union leaders like Bob Crow, have suddenly reactivated interest in strikes and perhaps more importantly whether they should be made unlawful in essential services.

It seems a long time since strikes were something we all had to worry about and even those strikes that have taken place have been organised on a more sophisticated basis to those grim days of the 1970s and 1980s when parts of the national economy were regularly threatened by long and fierce "withdrawals of labour" . More a French phenomena than a British malaise.
But such are the potential threats to the jobs and living standards of thousands of public sector workers that the strike banner is being raised again by militant public sector unions as a means of focusing the public's attention more generally to their members’ treatment.

All this has given rise to discussion about the legality of certain strikes. Boris Johnson is known to be publically concerned about the impunity with which Bob Crow manages to bring out members in London Transport Services , and other mutterings have been heard about , for example, whether London firefighters should be taking strike action as threatened.
Indeed, today London firefighters embark on two one day strikes. Why? Because, despite five years of negotiation with the Fire Brigades Union, employers have been unable to get agreement to new shift patterns. They want to have two 12 hours shifts, reducing the current night shift by three hours and increasing the day shift by the same amount. So, no increase in hours, no job cuts, no closure of fire stations, no change in rest periods, no reduction in pay. Yet the FBU sees this minor tinkering with shift patterns as a reason to bring its members out on strike and put the public at risk. Imagine what would happen if, God forbid, there was a major terror incident on a strike day.

Various ideas have been aired, some suggesting tougher balloting rules to secure an absolute majority of trade union members voting in favour of strike action.

But there is actually a lot more information available to guide the Government than so far seems to have been recognised. The United Kingdom is party to a number of International Labour Organisation's Conventions (ILO). These are binding agreements on member states to regularise their labour relations in a civilised manner .

Fundamental to the aspirations of the eight core ILO conventions are the freedom to organise and the right to collective bargaining. To citizens of the UK, these might appear to be rather outdated. They are the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour and the abolition of child labour. Anti discrimination conventions complete the primary undertakings.

But a lot of discussion and deliberation has gone into modernising many conventions (there are 180 in all) and one in particular stands out, namely Convention 87 which was revised in 1998 and which establishes that member states "should take all reasonable and appropriate measures to ensure that workers may freely exercise the right to organise". One hundred and twenty two member states have ratified this convention including the United Kingdom.

Inherent in these rights is felt by many trade unionists to be the right to strike but this right has not explicitly been guaranteed under C87. Indeed, there is quite a detailed debate concerning this subject within the ILO . This is because many countries still prevent public sector workers from taking strike action. Penalties range up to one year’s imprisonment. Many countries insist on compulsory arbitration with no strike clauses automatically imposed. The UK is very much in the liberal wing of member states on allowing strikes in essential services.

The tricky part however relates to the definition of essential services. The ILO defines these as "services where the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population."

That would appear to rule out strikes by firefighters. But the ILO's Committee on the freedom of association, whilst allowing essential services to include hospitals, electricity supplies, water supplies, the telephone service and air traffic control, has indicated that a whole range of services which the ordinary citizen might regard as essential, to be outside the scope of Member states to curb threatened strike action.

This "excluded list" includes transport, petroleum, ports, computer services for collection of taxes (nice one), mining, agriculture (has anyone thought how we could turn the cow off milk production if no one picked up milk from the farm?) and the supply and distribution of foodstuffs.

This list gives plenty of cause for debate and concern not least because major disruption to several of these services would quickly lead to serious dangers to health and safety.
It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that there is general unease amongst member states about these definitions and there are many examples of states simply ignoring the guidance issued by the ILO.

It must surely be time to revitalise debate about this important matter. Trade unions have an important part to play in trying to represent their members’ interests and individual rights should not be trampled on by the state. But there has to be some balance. Perhaps in return for those benefits which are decreasingly available to workers in the private sector, some greater measure of discipline and control should be exercised in a wider range of service sectors where the general public are entitled to continue to receive "essential services " however they are finally defined .

Let the debate begin.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Friday

1. Rhys Jones wants our money back!
2. Jonathan Sheppard is fed up of all this "fairness" nonsense.
3. Kerry McCarthy isn't very pleased with Mr Nuttall.
4. Ed Staite thinks we could have had a Tea Party here.
5. Sean Haffey defends the Lib Dems.
6. Rob Carr wonders where George Osborne has got to.

On My LBC Show Tonight From 7...

On my LBC show tonight from 7...

7.10pm The Child Vetting Scheme is about to be reviewed. Can we ever pprovide 100% protection for children? Guest: Lynne Featherstone MP

8pm Plain clothes parking attendants? Whatever next?!

9pm The LBC Gadget Hour. Phone in your gadget related questions

You can listen to LBC on 97.3 FM in Greater London, DAB Radio in the Midlands, parts of the North, Glasgow & Edinburgh, Sky Channel 0124, Virgin Media Channel 973 or stream live at

To take part in the programme call 0845 60 60 973, text 84850, Email iain AT lbc DOT co DOT uk or tweet @lbc973

If you miss the programme and want to download it as a podcast (minus the ads!) click HERE. There is a £2 monthly charge but you have access to the entire LBC archive and schedule.

Not Sure I Will Be on Sir George Young's Xmas Card List...

From yesterday's Hansard...

Hilary Benn: I thank the Leader of the House for his statement and the recess dates, but when will we know the dates for the rest of the Session? Last week I raised with the Leader of the House the fact that major Government announcements were appearing in newspapers before they were made to the House. This week-one of profound importance for the country-we find that exactly the same thing has happened again. Details of Tuesday's strategic defence and security review were in the newspapers over several days leading up to it. In other words, journalists got lots of advance information, whereas the Leader of the Opposition got the Prime Minister's statement only 15 minutes before it was made, and in recent days much of the comprehensive spending review has been leaked before the Chancellor got around to telling us about it yesterday.

21 Oct 2010 : Column 1134

It seems pretty clear now that Ministers believe that those who report on Parliament are much more important than those who are actually Members of Parliament. It has got so bad that the Conservative former parliamentary candidate and blogger Iain Dale has urged you, Mr Speaker, to take the Government to the cleaners over what has been going on. I wonder, therefore, whether the Leader of the House has plans to clean up this mess. He did not explain last week, but perhaps he can do so now.

Geraldine Dreadful MP Writes ... to George Osborne

Dear Chancellor,

Words alone cannot express the deep, festering, fetid anger I feel in the aftermath of the spending review announced this week, which is why the Sickle East Socialist Solidarity Marcel Marceau Appreciation Group is currently engaged in rehearsals for a mass lobby of Parliament through the slightly sinister medium of mime. Indeed, the people are preparing even now to board Unison sponsored buses to London; at this time of social crisis, Labour has much to be silent about!

There is an enormous amount of anger in this constituency, particularly around the deeply socially significant cuts you have made to the Union Modernisation Fund, which I understand were made three weeks ago, but the memo about which from Unison has only been delivered today.

I have lost count of the number of concerned constituents who have visited me to express their concerns about the end of the fund, which as you are no doubt aware was instrumental in supporting Unions' political solidarity and ensuring people like Bob Crow can be refurbished and modernized. The UMF has allowed the Unions to grow in leaps and bounds, to become more relevant and successful, and to become a significant force for the protection of the worker.

Suggestions by people in your party that the UMF was an enormous slush fund, which paid money from the treasury into unions, which was then pumped directly into the Labour party, were so far beneath contempt, we in my party felt Alan Johnson should simply refuse to dignify them with the sort of convincing response he threw down on you in the spending review debate.

The spending review is of course an outrage, but according to your nemesis, the future Chancellor Alan Johnson, we have to remain constructive in opposition and leave it to him to open a can of revolutionary whupass on you. We aim, as ever, to astound you with our innovation, in this case the innovation of silence. If at all possible we will also seek to be aloof and indignant, at least until Tony Woodley self-immolates on the Politics Show.

Yours sincerely,
Geraldine Dreadful MP

Caption Competition

Red Ken Wants To Tax Your Holiday!

After last month’s proposal of an 80% tax rate for bankers, Ken Livingstone has come up with another ingenious idea - tax people who go on holiday more than once a year! Cos they must be filthy rich, innit.

He made a speech at the Travel Convention in Malta this week (a nice paid gig if ever there was one), declaring that overseas holidays were "a class issue". He went on to say that he would like to see a tax imposed after the first outbound holiday of the year. He has clearly never heard of the word 'aspiration'.

Overseas holidays are certainly not a class issue in the 21st century. When you can get a £30 return to Rome with RyanAir you can hardly claim these holidays are to do with class. Taxing people to go on more than one holiday a year is a fatuous idea based on outmoded notions of what constitutes being rich and affluent. People should be free to go on as many holidays a year as they like. We are already taxed to the hilt when we abroad and don't need to be faced with even more charges.

Anyway, how on earth would it be policed? What constitutes a holiday?

We all know plenty of people who go abroad to visit their families. Does that constitute a holiday? These hairbrain ideas just show how out of touch Ken really is with modern day Londoners.

With policies like these, Boris had better watch out. Not.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Daley Dozen: Thursday

1. Brendan O'Neill points out the Greens have no right to lecture us on cuts.
2. Will Straw sums up why Paul Waugh is a better blogger than Nick Robinson.
3. David Thorpe does not want to see QEII.
4. The ASI think Osborne may have got his sums wrong.
5. Peter Black wants to move on.
6. Douglas Carswell says we're all in this together.
7. Harry's Place has some rather interesting information on Sayeeda Warsi.
8. Better Nation asks, are us Brits to lazy to protest?
9. The Daily Maybe gets it wrong on housing.
10. Neil Midgley is worried about BBC World Service.
11. Mark Wallace may have celebrated a bit too early.
12. Paul Goodman analyses Rupert Murdoch's manifesto.