Books

My Christmas Book Recommendations 2016

4 Dec 2016 at 16:30

Given that there is only one bookshop chain left in this country, a lot of people who are interested in political books often miss out on books they would love to read if only they knew they existed. So I thought I’d give you all some ideas for some Christmas presents for friends and family alike. Here are some of the books I have enjoyed reading and publishing this year…

Remember, if you order any of them from the Biteback Publishing website you get free postage for all overs for £20 and over.

COALITION
DAVID LAWS
Biteback
Hardback
£25

A doorstop of a book, this is without doubt the best account of the Coalition to date. Laws clearly comes at it from a LibDem viewpoint, but the book rarely descends into a party political treatise. Written with a light touch, Laws has a style which engages the reader from page one. The book is based on his own diaries and he also had access to Nick Clegg’s. Somewhat unexpectedly, George Osborne emerges from the book with a lot of credit, but David Cameron does not. Laws is also brutal about some of his own LibDem colleagues.

BUY HERE

OUTSIDE INSIDE: VOLUME 5 OF THE ALASTAIR CAMPBELL DIARIES
ALASTAIR CAMPBELL
Biteback
Hardback
£25

The reviews invariably describe this as the best volume of Alastair Campbell’s Diaries so far. And they’re right. They cover the two years following his departure from Downing Street, but as the title suggests, he never really left. His accounts of the TB/GBies leave the reader open-mouthed. Campbell is nothing if not brutally honest about his own sense of lack of direction now that he is no longer in Number 10, and his battles with depression reveal a much more sensitive side to his character than we’re used to.

BUY HERE

KIND OF BLUE
KEN CLARKE
Macmillan
Hardback
£20

This is exactly the kind of book I hoped Ken Clarke would write. It’s authentically him, by which I mean you can tell he was written it himself by its tone. When I finished it, I almost went through a mini grieving process. Every chapter contains some gems and he even makes being a junior Transport Minister sound quite interesting. He can be devastating about some of his colleagues, but he’s never cruel. A really elegant book.

BUY HERE

ALL OUT WAR
TIM SHIPMAN
HarperCollins
Hardback
£20

Of all the books written about the EU Referendum this is not only the most definitive and all encompassing, it’s the best. Shipman knows all the main players and got them all to talk – and spill. His writing style keeps you interested and he’s brilliantly anecdotal without being judgemental. This book book deserves to be a bestseller and the author deserves many awards for it, not least for managing to complete it in a few months. It’s certainly not a slender tome either.

BUY HERE

UNLEASHING DEMONS
CRAIG OLIVER
Hodder
Hardback
£20

This book was very unfairly traduced by a series of reviewers with many an axe to grind. It’s written from the Remain viewpoint, and very interesting it is too. It demonstrated how Downing Street was really running the Remain campaign and what a hash they made of it. Oliver is very good at identifying all the faults of the Remain campaign – and there were many – but rarely holds himself to account for any of them. Given the breakneck speed at which this book was published, it is excellent, and at times emotional. Ignore the bad reviews, it’s well worth a read.

BUY HERE

SPLASHED!
TOM MANGOLD
Biteback
Paperback
£12.99

Tom Mangold is one of those gnarled old reporters who’ve seen it all. Until I read it, I had no idea that he had had a very successful career on Fleet Street before joining Panorama, where he spent several decades as a roving reporter. His tales of derring do invariably leave the reader open-mouthed and astonished. He finds himself in some right old scrapes and tells of some fascinating encounters with some right wrong ‘uns. They don’t make them like Mangold anymore, unfortunately. His chapters on the Profumo scandal (He was with Stephen Ward the night before he took his own life) and meetings with the Krays are especially memorable.

BUY HERE

SPEAKING OUT
ED BALLS
Hutchinson
Hardback
£20

This is one of my favourite books of the year. Anyone expecting a worthy tome of economic treatise will be sadly disappointed. What the reader gets is a very honest and forthright account of a political career which ended in ultimate failure. I say ‘honest’ because Ed Balls is incredibly honest about his own political failings and human frailties. It’s as if he came of age in his late forties. It reveals the human side of Ed Balls, which some of us always knew was there, but others only got to see on Strictly Come Dancing. I love the way he writes the book as a series of lessons for aspirant politicians.

BUY HERE

PRIME MINISTER CORBYN & OTHER THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPENED
DUNCAN BRACK & IAIN DALE
Biteback
Hardback
£14.99

This is a book of 22 political and historical counterfactuals. Forgive the indulgence of including it in this list, since I am the co-editor. It’s the fourth in the series and contains Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Britain had lost the Falklands War, or Scotland had voted ‘Yes’ in 2014 or if German reunification had never happened, or if the Conservatives had won an overall majority in 2010, or if Lyndon Johnson had been shot down in 1942, or if David Miliband had beaten Ed Miliband to the Labour leadership. Then this is the book you’ve always wanted!

BUY HERE

THE BAD BOYS OF BREXIT
ARRON BANKS
Biteback
Hardback
£18.99

The so-called Bad Boys are Arron Banks himself, his comms manager Andy Wigmore, Leave.eu donor Richard Tice and of course, Nigel Farage. This is partisan politics at its best – four naughty boys try to usurp the political establishment – and it’s great fun. It has many laugh out loud moments as the bad boys try to create havoc in the political media and launch a campaign to win the referendum. Banks takes great pleasure in insulting his opponents and colleagues alike, and very few characters in this book escape with their reputations intact.

BUY HERE

POWER & PRAGMATISM
MALCOLM RIFKIND
Biteback
Hardback
£25

Possibly not the most alluring book title of any memoir I have ever published, but this is a very elegantly written book, just as you would expect from someone with Rifkind’s background. His early life is just as fascinating as his accounts of battles with Margaret Thatcher. In both the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, during some of the most turbulent years of the late twentieth century, he had a ringside seat at Margaret Thatcher’s historic summit with President Gorbachev, was in charge of British troops during the Bosnian conflict, helped change Polish history during the Cold War, and held secret negotiations on the Falklands with the Argentinians. For his robustness against the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine, he is currently banned from Russia by President Putin.

BUY HERE

CREDIBLE & TRUE
HARVEY PROCTOR
Biteback
Hardback
£25

Bookshops wouldn’t stock it, there were very few reviews, but for me this was one of the best books I published in 2017. It’s certainly not a conventional memoir, but it’s written straight from the heart and it puts into question many aspects of a criminal justice system we all take for granted. However, it’s not all about the events of the last couple of years, it’s a complete autobiography and a bloody good read. He’s very open about his homosexuality and how he came to be convicted in 1987 of having sex with a 19 year old, something which of course wouldn’t an offence nowadays.

BUY HERE

THE BREXIT CLUB
Owen Bennett
Biteback
Paperback
£12.99

Written by one of the brightest young, up and coming political journalists of our age, Owen Bennett has written the inside story of Leave’s victory. As D-Day drew near,Bennett went deep into Leave territory to reveal the inside story of the battle for Brexit. Behind a campaign promising hope and glory – but seemingly mired in blood, sweat and tears – Bennett discovered a plethora of Leave groups, all riven with feuds: the Tory ‘posh boys’ against the ‘toxic’ hardliners; UKIP’s only MP against the rest of the party; Michael Gove’s former lieutenant Dominic Cummings against almost everyone else. Charting the crusade from the massing of the UKIP foot soldiers after the general election to the arrival of the Cabinet cavalry after Cameron’s Brussels deal and the dramatic final weeks’ fighting on battle buses, The Brexit Club reveals the truth behind the campaign that divided friends, families and, ultimately, the country.

BUY HERE

WE ARE ARRESTED
CAN DUNDAR
Biteback
Hardback
£16.99

Following the dramatic events of July 2016, the global spotlight has fallen on Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. International observers fear the attempted coup has given Erdogan, already known for his attacks on press freedom, an excuse to further suppress all opposition. In November 2015, Can Dündar, editor-in-chief of the national Cumhuriyet newspaper, was arrested on charges of espionage, helping a terrorist organisation, trying to topple the government and revealing state secrets. His transgression? Publishing photographic evidence of a highly illegal covert arms shipment by the Turkish secret service to radical Islamist organisations fighting government forces in Syria – a crime that was in the government’s interest to conceal, and a journalist’s duty to expose. Arraigned by the President himself, who called for Dündar to receive two life sentences, he was held in solitary confinement in Turkey’s Silivri Prison for three months while awaiting trial. We Are Arrested is Dündar’s enthralling account of the newspaper’s decision to publish and the events that unfolded as a result – including would-be suicide bombings, assassination attempts and fierce attacks from pro-government media – as well as the time he served behind bars for defending the public’s right to know.

BUY HERE

VICTORIA CROSS HEROES II
MICHAEL ASHCROFT
Biteback
Hardback
£25

The Victoria Cross is Britain and the Commonwealth’s most prestigious gallantry medal for courage in the face of the enemy. It has been bestowed upon 1,355 heroic individuals from all walks of life since its creation during the Crimean War. Lord Ashcroft, who has been fascinated with bravery since he was a young boy, now owns 200 VCs, by far the largest collection of its kind in the world. Following on from the bestselling Victoria Cross Heroes, first published in 2006 to mark the 150th anniversary of the award, Victoria Cross Heroes: Volume II gives extraordinary accounts of the bravery behind the newest additions to Lord Ashcroft’s VC collection – those decorations purchased in the last decade.

BUY HERE

THE CABINET OFFICE 1916-2016
ANTHONY SELDON
Biteback
Hardback
£25

Since its creation in the depths of the Great War in December 1916, the Cabinet Office has retained a uniquely central place in the ever-changing political landscape of the last century. While the revolving door of 10 Downing Street admits and ejects its inhabitants every few years, the Cabinet Office remains a constant, supporting and guiding successive Prime Ministers and their governments, regardless of their political leanings, all the while keeping the British state safe, stable and secure. Written with unparalleled access to documents and personnel by acclaimed political historian, commentator and biographer Anthony Seldon, this lavishly illustrated history is the definitive inside account of what has really gone on in the last 100 years of British politics.

BUY HERE

FORMAN’S GAMES
LANCE FORMAN
Biteback
Hardback
£20

A full, unexpurgated account of his fight to keep the firm alive, Forman’s Games lifts the lid on the fierce battle that pitched Forman’s, the country’s finest purveyor of smoked salmon, against the combined might of the UK authorities and the IOC in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics. It is a story of skulduggery and bullying mounted against 350 local businesses, employing over 12,00 people, who stood in the way not just of the world’s most famous sporting event, but of an opportunity to develop the land on which they had successfully run businesses over decades.

BUY HERE

STOCKING FILLERS

THE MARGARET THATCHER COLOURING BOOK
NATHAN BRENVILLE
Biteback
Paperback
£8.99

For anyone who’s ever wanted to express their feelings for Lady Thatcher through the medium of colouring in… You know you want to. An ideal stocking filler for the discerning Corbynista. Bound to get Christmas Day off with a bang… At long last, The Margaret Thatcher Colouring Book offers our proud do-it-yourself nation the chance to decorate the Iron Lady in the technicolour magnificence she deserves. Featuring a cast of luminaries including Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, General Pinochet and Jeremy Corbyn, this brief, beautiful and completely inaccurate illustrated biography of Britain’s first female Prime Minister promises hours of creative gratification.

BUY HERE

IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE
MAUREEN LIPMAN
The Robson Press
Hardback
£9.99

Have you ever wondered what the wizarding world might look like if it were graced with a character like Harry Otter? Or what American politics would be under the administration of Squirrelly Clinton? Maureen Lipman has. Inspired by her doodle of Oscar Wildebeest – a steer in a dinner jacket – the renowned author and actress began dabbling in the dark art of the unholy celebrity/animal mashup. When she woke at 3 a.m. and said out loud, ‘Tuna Stubbs!’, the die was cast. A book was born. lt’s a Jungle Out There presents a dizzying array of stars as you’ve – really – never seen them before. Featuring such luminaries as Leonaardvark DiCaprio, Giraffa Nadal and Ellafantz Gerald, this otterly brilliant collection is guaranteed to quack you up.

BUY HERE

*MORE SEX LIES & THE BALLOT BOX
PHILIP COWLEY & ROBERT FORD
Biteback
Paperback
£14.99

Have you ever wondered how people feel about sleeping with the political enemy? Or whether gambling markets are best at predicting political outcomes? Or who Santa Claus would vote for? Then look no further. More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box brings us another collection of concise chapters penned by leading political experts and delving into the fascinating field of electoral politics. Following on from the success of its bestselling predecessor, this illuminating book shines a light on how we vote in Britain and around the world. You’ll learn about the shifting landscape of party politics and the perceptions and misconceptions that shape our opinions of our politicians and of each other. You’ll learn about the factors informing voter habits – from class, race and gender to the internet and the weather. You’ll also learn which political party has the most sexually satisfied supporters.

BUY HERE

LITTLE RED BOOK OF CORBYN JOKES
JASON SINCLAIR & JOHN RAIN
Biteback
Paperback
£6.99

Whichever side of the Labour Party you’re on, you could probably use a good laugh right now… So rejoice, comrades, for we have the solution. Packed with devastating wit, this priceless compendium has all the finest jokes, scenes and anecdotes to see you through a long, hard political winter. The Little Red Book of Corbyn Jokes – putting the ‘ha’ into the hard left. Boom boom. A socialist lion walked into a bar. The barman said, ‘What’s the big Clause Four?’

BUY HERE

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale interviews Conrad Black

Half an hour with the former Telegraph publisher, talking about his new memoir, A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE.

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ConHome Diary: Me and Mussolini & Missing West Ham

2 Dec 2016 at 13:41

There I was, innocently presenting my radio show, when PING, an email came in which, at first sight, looked rather intriguing. The subject line was ‘Audition for Docudrama’. Well that certainly got my attention. So I opened up the email and I read on… “You have been chosen because of your resemblance to the character as there is very little, if any, dialogue. However, if script is relevant it will be filmed in German so it is imperative that you are able to speak it.” So who am I supposed to resemble? Benito Mussolini. I kid you not. Apparently the fact that I am 6’2 inches tall, whereas Mussolini was 5’4 doesn’t seem to have put them off. I do speak German, but even that is not enough to tempt me. I did suggest to Alex Salmond that he bears more than a little resemblance, and I’d happily give him my place in the auditions. He growled something back, but I didn’t take it as a yes.
*
Talking of Alex Salmond, he also told me in an interview he regards Tony Blair as a worse prime minister than Margaret Thatcher. Eight years ago I interviewed him for Total Politics and he made the great mistake of saying that there were some good things about Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies. The reaction in the left-wing Scottish media was explosive and the interview dominated the Scottish headlines for some days afterwards. In Scotland, at the time, you couldn’t utter a single word of praise for the Lady in public without being ritually denounced. Alex Salmond may be about to find out if things have changed.
*

This week I have started a new half hour weekly podcast called IAIN DALE’S BREXIT BRIEFING. You can subscribe to it or download individual episodes free of charge on iTunes. The first episode features a sparky debate between Michael Gove and Alastair Campbell. The idea is to provide a one stop shop where we review all the latest aspects of the Brexit debate on a Thursday evening. It’ll be live on my LBC each Thursday at 6.30, but the Podcast will feature extra material. I hope it may become part of your political listening. I don’t know about you but I have recently become an avid consumer of podcasts. On my train journey to and from London I now listen to podcasts on iTunes rather than music – which, given my taste in music may be just as well. Podcasts are less hurried than live radio and are inevitably quite niche. There really is a podcast for everyone.
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On Saturday night I’m giving a speech to Peter Lilley’s local constituency association. I don’t do many of these events nowadays and really only do them for MPs I know and like. When I accepted this one I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. West Ham are playing Arsenal that day, so I thought it would work quite well. Match finishes at 5pm, I then take a leisurely drive out to Hertfordshire and then drive home afterwards. Job done! I hadn’t bargained for the Sky Sports schedulers, who decided that this match should kick off at 5.30pm. So I now can’t go. Not pleased. Only a Hammers victory will put me in a good mood for the evening dinner If we lose, goodness only knows what I might say to the assembled throngs!
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I’ve just started reading Tim Shipman’s ALL OUT WAR, a book which really can be described as the definitive history of the EU Referendum campaign. If the Political Book of the Year Awards were still going (and I wish they were) then I have little doubt this weighty tome would win. Tim has a really engaging writing style which appeals both to the general reader and the political geek, and I hope this is his first book of many. My only regret is that I didn’t publish it. If you haven’t already bought it, you’re denying yourself hours of reading pleasure.
*
I’ve always thought a football manager needs to be a leader. Someone filled with charisma. Able to knock heads together. Yesterday England appointed Gareth Southgate. Draw your own conclusions.

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LBC at 40: Iain talks to Brian Hayes

LBC veteran Brian Hayes talks to Iain about his time at the station.

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DOWNLOAD: The Launch of 'Iain Dale's Brexit Briefing'

2 Dec 2016 at 10:13

Today sees the launch of a weekly podcast, imaginatively titled ‘Iain Dale’s Brexit Briefing’. Each week I’ll be talking to two prominent voices on either side of the Brexit debate, we have a roundup of Brexit news of the week and other features too. It contains far more than we include in the live programme at 6.30pm on Thursdays. This week the podcast features a 15 minute debate between Michael Gove and Alastair Campbell, an interview with 5 Star MEP Ignazio Corrao and a report from LBC’s Scotland reporter Connor Gillies.

Please do download it via iTunes HERE, and leave a review. Also do spread the word so we can get it rising in the iTunes charts.

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell talks about his new novel MY NAME IS...

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Diary

ConHome Diary: How the Left Is Trying To Call Us All Fascists & Populists

27 Nov 2016 at 23:55

After Brexit and the election of Donald Trump I have noticed a worrying trend in the use of language by the left, and it’s potentially quite insidious. The left are now trying to define anyone right of Tony Blair as a ‘far right’, or Alt right, or a far right extremist. Or a fascist. Even the normally mild-mannered and sensible Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, describes Donald Trump as a neo-fascist. They are also trying to appropriate the word populism and declare it ‘a bad thing’, and associate it with people they disapprove of. Apparently only semi-fascists are populist. I’ve never subscribed to the theory that populism is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, how dare a politician come up with a policy that appeals to the masses. What they mean is that a policy that appeals to the masses by the Islington elites disapprove of, must of itself be a bad thing. In my experience, it’s often a very good thing. Oh dear. Does that make me a fascist? The trouble is that people who use that word willy-nilly often haven’t got the faintest idea what it actually means. The left associate the word ‘fascism’ with the far right, whereas anyone who has studied fascism will know it has just as much [some would say more] in common with the left as it does with the right.
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It seemed to come as a surprise to most that during the Autumn Statement Philip Hammond was able to display a sense of humour. Anyone who has ever met him will tell you that he can be quite funny and usually has a twinkle in his eye. If he had been able to put his funny side on public display more often, I suspect he would perhaps have been better placed to stand in this summer’s Conservative leadership contest.
*

This autumn has been a great one for political books. I’ve just finished reading Ken Clarke’s memoir KIND OF BLUE and am making a start on Tim Shipman’s account of the EU referendum, ALL OUT WAR. My problem is that I don’t have a lot of time to read for pleasure because my job at Biteback Publishing means that reading author manuscripts has to take priority. This means that sometimes it takes me a couple of months to finish a book that I read for pleasure, as I only do that just before I go to sleep. Often I only manage a couple of pages before the Sandman comes. Quite often I wake up at 4am with the light on and still holding the book open at the page I was at when I fell asleep. I have piles and piles, shelves and shelves of books that remain unread, and will probably do so for many years to come. Whenever I look at those books, retirement becomes an all to appealing prospect.
*
On Wednesday Thomas Mair received a whole life tariff for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. Let’s not beat around the bush, this wasn’t an ordinary murder, it was a pre-planned terrorist murder. It wasn’t just the callous murder of a mother of two children, it was an attack on the state. It was an attack on our democracy. That’s why I think a whole life sentence was the right one. Personally, I think too few of these are handed out. On the same day Stephen Port was found guilty of murdering four young, gay men. Maybe he will get a whole life tariff, maybe he won’t. But he certainly should. It’s astonishing that there are only 65 people in UK prisons serving a proper whole life sentence. As Thomas Mair joins the likes of Ian Brady and the Yorkshire Ripper I do wonder whether our murder laws need reform. Most other countries have degrees of murder. Surely the murder of an MP has to be considered differently to the murder of a someone during a robbery. I am not saying that one human life is worth more than another, but the murder of a police officer or an MP surely has to be treated by society in a different way.

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Charles in Enfield & Iain Go Head to Head Over McDonnell & Corbyn

I'm a repeater apparently.

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 52: Going Ten Rounds With Sajid Javid

23 Nov 2016 at 21:19

Long time readers may remember an interview I did in 2013 with the then Treasury Minister Sajid Javid. [audio of that is at the end of this piece]. It was, shall we say, a textbook example of how, if you’re a government minister, not to deliver the ‘line to take’. He took it in good humour as I think he realised he was on a bit of a losing wicket.

Today we had a bit of a repeat showing when I interviewed him about the Autumn Statement. We warmed up by having a bit of a row about the reason for increased borrowing, but I then asked him this question…

“What’s your view on Philip Hammond’s announcement that tenants shouldn’t have to pay letting fees, landlords should have to pay that? Because your Housing Minister Gavin Barwell tweeted a few weeks ago (now deleted) that he thought that was the wrong thing to do.”

Javid stood by Hammond’s announcement, so I pressed him on Gavin Barwell’s clearly different opinion: “It’s pretty embarrassing, isn’t it?!”

I pressed, and pressed and pressed. In the end, though, I had to call it quits.

So what conclusion do we draw from this? That when you’re in a hole, put your hands up and admit it? Isn’t that the only way to stop digging yourself a deeper hole?

Anyway. for your enjoyment and delectation, here’s the 2013 interview with Sajid. Enjoy.

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Zainab tells Iain why Daesh are Right to Kill Gay People

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Books

Book Review: Kind of Blue by Ken Clarke

19 Nov 2016 at 16:47

This book is like a fine old wine. It is to be savoured. Whenever I finish reading a really good book, I get a sense of grief when I read the final page. And so it has been with Ken Clarke’s memoirs. To be paid an advance of £400,000 was quite something. No one was more shocked than Ken Clarke himself. I cannot possibly see how the publishers will make the money back, even though I am sure it will sell well. It ought to given that at the time of writing Amazon are selling it for £6.99. The recommended price is £25.

Ken Clarke didn’t actually write this book, he dictated it into a dictaphone. It was then transcribed and edited. Whoever edited it did a fine job as the whole book is authentically Ken. His voice rings through every paragraph, sentence and word. He’s a man who is clearly content in life and has enjoyed more or less every minute of his long and successful political career. He’d clearly like to have been prime minister but the fact that he never got to be doesn’t eat away at him in the way that I suspect it does with Michael Heseltine.

This is not a score-settling book, but Ken Clarke doesn’t hold back in his criticism of his contemporaries where he feels it is warranted. David Cameron will certainly find the chapter on the EU referendum a difficult read, for example.

Perhaps the main strength of this book is that it is consistent. Some memoirs have chapters that are far more interesting than others. In this memoir every chapter has a quality to it. I can’t think of a chapter which I was wishing to end. He even makes being a junior transport minister interesting.

For me the highlights of the book, and where I learnt more than I knew before, were his reminiscences from his periods as a cabinet minister in the Thatcher, Major and Cameron governments. His relationship with Margaret Thatcher was certainly robust and there was an obvious mutual respect. He wasn’t afraid to have a row with her, when necessary and she clearly saw him as a minister who could drive through controversial reforms. His passages about the NHS and why it needed reforming were particularly enlightening. In some ways that word ‘reformer’ sums up his political career. Not for him the status quo. He didn’t mind attacking vested interests and sometimes even relished it. Although he enraged the health service unions and teacher, his natural bonhomie enabled him to achieve things which other, less human politicians, might not have been able to do.

Although he mentions his love of birdwatching a lot, as well as his love for jazz, he never really lets the reader in to those parts of his life. He talks a lot about his wife Gillian but it would have been nice to have had the door opened a little bit wider, rather than just repeat ad nauseum that she was a great support to him. We rather took that for granted.

That is about the only criticism I have for this book. At 500 pages, it is already quite long, so maybe there wasn’t room for much more personal stuff.

Historians will view Ken Clarke as one of the key politicians of the last forty years. He could have been an even bigger player had he been willing to compromise on his devoutly pro-european views. In many ways, it is to his credit that he steadfastly refused to. There are too many weathervanes in British politics. Ken Clarke remains a signpost.

This is one political memoir which will have a reach beyond the political geeks of this world. But political geeks will enjoy it too. It is resplendent with amusing anecdotes and it leaves the reader wanting more.

‘Kind of Blue’ by Ken Clarke is published in hardback by Macmillan at £25

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Iain Hosts a Phonein on How to Deal With Grief After the Loss of a Loved One

V emotional.

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Diary

ConHome Diary: Harvey, Donald and Nigel

18 Nov 2016 at 13:54

I cannot imagine what it’s like being accused of not only being a child sex offender, but also of murdering three children than I was supposed to interfered with. Especially if the allegations are a tissue of lies, but a tissue of lies which the Police tell the public are both “credible and true”. That’s what has happened to former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor. When the allegations were first made public, when his home was searched by the Police (who naturally tipped off the media), he lost his job on the Belvoir Estate and his home. He is now penniless and more or less destitute. He felt he had no alternative but to leave the country, but he’s now back, but living a hand to mouth existence. Last week he got a personal apology for the way he had been treated by Operation Midland from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan Howe. On Tuesday, they met in person. Proctor told him to his face he should resign.
I haven’t known Harvey Proctor for long. I published his book, CREDIBLE & TRUE which makes for a harrowing read at times. It hasn’t been a bestseller. Books about miscarriages of justice, or wrongful accusations of child sex abuse, rarely are. But it’s a book which ought to be read by every member of Operation Midland and when they’ve done so they should feel free to hang their collective heads in shame. Five of them are now being investigated by the IPCC. No doubt deputy heads will roll.
When I interviewed Harvey on my LBC show last week, I ended the interview by asking him what his lowest moment was. He slightly broke down. In the half hour following I had dozens of people get in touch wanting to help. I decided to set up a JustGiving page so people could donate to help Harvey get back on his financial feet. So far nearly £5,000 has been raised. If you’d like to make a donation, however small, you can do so HERE ].
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So, Donald Trump won. It suddenly dawned on me last weekend that four years ago I interviewed Donald Trump, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what it was about or what he had said. So on Monday we found the interview in the LBC archives. It was 11 minutes long, and I have to say showed Donald Trump in a very different light. He was chatty, funny, warm, engaging, thoughtful – all the adjectives most people wouldn’t think of using about him nowadays. I wonder if that’s the Donald Trump we are going to see more of over the next few years. One point he did make to me back in 2012 was that he felt Mitt Romney wasn’t hard enough to fight against what he called the ‘nasty’ Democrat attacks. It was as if he knew at that point he was going to fight a very negative campaign and wouldn’t be out-dirtytricked by the evil Democrats. Well, he certainly delivered on that, didn’t he?
*

I don’t know why everyone is so uppity about Boris Johnson saying that Britain is almost certainly going to leave the EU Customs Union. It’s a statement of the bleeding obvious. The reaction from many commentators and journalists demonstrates that they don’t really understand what a Customs Union means. One of the consequences of the customs union is that the European Union negotiates as a single entity in international trade deals instead of individual member states negotiating for themselves. If we stay in this Customs Union then you have to wonder what the point of Liam Fox is. Now it might – and I repeat, might – be possible to negotiate to remain part of the customs union but get an opt out allowing us to forge our own way in trade deals, I suppose, I wouldn’t bet my house on it happening.
*
The other media tizzy this week concerned Nigel Farage. The liberal elites got themselves into a right lather over the fact that the former (or is it interim?) UKIP leader managed to become the first foreign politician to get an audience with the President Elect. It was a snub to Theresa May, we were told. He should have refused the meeting. Yeah, right. Like any sane person would say, “No, sorry Mr President Elect, I can’t accept your invitation to the 56th floor of Trump Tower unless you see my prime minister first.” I mean, honestly. Do these people who write this guff understand how politics works at all? If the government have any sense they will use Farage behind the scenes, because he clearly has an ‘in’ with the Trump team that diplomats in the Washington Embassy could never hope to replicate.

And yes, Theresa May should give a peerage to Nigel Farage. If the signals I am picking up are correct, it wouldn’t take much for him to rejoin the Conservative Party as well… Now that really would set the cat among the Carswells, wouldn’t it?
*
As I write this, I’ve just had the sort of evening that I sometimes have when I think it would be so nice to have a 9-5 job that I didn’t have to think about outside those hours. But of course if I did, I know I’d miss what I do now, even on days like this when I could have cheerfully strangled at least three people. As the Germans would say, ‘Immer mit der Ruhe…’. [Calm at all times].

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Video: Iain discusses his A List failure on Newsnight in May 2006

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Diary

Why I am Raising Money to Help Harvey Proctor - And How You Can Help Too (If You Have Any Human Compassion Within You)

12 Nov 2016 at 13:58

Harvey Proctor is penniless and destitute. He was cleared of all charges of child sexual abuse through Operation Midland and the Metropolitan Police has now issued a full apology. But apologies do not pay the bills.

I published Harvey Proctor’s book CREDIBLE AND TRUE. On the day of the Met’s apology, I conducted a heart-rending interview with him on my LBC Radio show. You can listen to it above. At the end of the interview, Harvey breaks down and cannot continue.

Dozens of my listeners got in touch to ask what they could do, as they wanted to help him.

I have therefore set up a JustGiving page to enable anyone who’d like to help Harvey to do so. Every penny will go to Harvey and help him get back on his feet. I have told Harvey that I am doing this and he is incredibly moved by the outpouring of support.

If you’d like to donate, click HERE

Terrible things were done to hundreds of children over many years. The perpetrators of that abuse should and must be brought to justice. But a great injustice has also been done to those falsely and maliciously accused of these heinous acts. Paul Gambaccini suffered two years of psychological trauma. Cliff Richard went through the same. Harvey Proctor’s suffering was in some ways worse. He lost his job, he lost his reputation and he’s now penniless and destitute.

I am aware that Harvey wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea as a Tory MP. But whatever your views of him in the past I defy you to listen to the interview above and not to be moved. If you are, and have an ounce of human kindness within you, please do help him by DONATING even just a small amount. You can do it anonymously if you wish.

I’ve had quite a bit of criticism for doing this, but I remember back in the early 2000s when Christine & Neil Hamilton were arrested by the police over false allegations of rape. I was advised by some friends not to defend them on Television as it “could harm your career”.

If you’re a true friend, and you believe in the innocence of your friend, then you do what you can to help them. That’s why I’m doing this. If there were any justice the Metropolican Police ought to be paying compensation for the trauma they have put this innocent man through. Hopefully they will. But until they do, it’s up to others to help Harvey through some very difficult months.

Over to you.

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Video: Iain on why politicians don't answer questions

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EVENT: If You're in Norwich on Thursday Come & See Me Explain What Brexit Means Brexit Means!

12 Nov 2016 at 11:49

I spent four of the best years of my life at the University of East Anglia in the early 1980s. I studied German and Linguistics, and it was there that I got involved in politics. I wouldn’t be who or what I am today without the education UEA gave me. So when I was told, earlier this year, that they wanted to offer me a visiting Professorship in politics & Broadcasting, you can imagine how pleased and proud I was.

If you live in Norfolk, I hope you might attend an event at UEA I am speaking at this Thursday at 6.30pm in the Thomas Paine Study Centre Lecture Theatre on the UEA campus. I and three UEA politics tutors – Chris Hanretty, Alan Finlayson and Marina Prentoulis – will be attempting to answer the question: What does Brexit Means Brexit actually mean?

This series of public lectures – this is the first of three before Christmas – brings together academics and practitioners to discuss issues of key economic, political and social importance to the UK in negotiating its future outside the EU. It asks: What is at stake? What are the options? What kind of Britain do we want?

Tickets are free, so if you are in Norwich on Thursday, do come along! Full details HERE

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Iain talks to Andrew Marrr

Andrew Marr talks about his second novel, the media and politics

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ConHome Diary: 2016 is 1968 and a Trumptastic Week

11 Nov 2016 at 23:20

In political terms 2016 is turning out to be every bit as important, in historical terms, as 1968. In Britain and America a revolution has happened, and it is one that few saw coming. Yet again it wasn’t just a political party or cause that was defeated, it was the political classes themselves, especially the pollsters and pundits. Yet again they got it catastrophically wrong. Even the betting markets called it wrong, with one company (William Hill) saying they may pull out of political betting because it is too risky. I wonder how many polling firms might also decide to stop political polling. They make no money out of it, and in normal times they do it to get their names in the newspapers. This time, for all the wrong reasons.
So why did we get it so wrong – and I include myself in that? From my own point of view, I just couldn’t take Trump seriously as a candidate. With every passing day he’d make an even more ludicrous and extreme speech. He’d make a fool of himself. He’d say something hateful, nasty and divisive. But what we all failed to see was that his wasn’t just a message of hate, it was a message of hope to a group of Americans who had become economically disenfranchised. To white, working class, blue collar Americans, many of whom had lost their jobs or seen their wages depressed over the last 20 years, he represented hope. Somehow they didn’t see him as part of the establishment, even though he patently is. He’d never held office and had never been part of the Washington establishment, and that was good enough for them. They lapped up Trump’s xenophobia because it reflected their own. They blamed Mexicans for taking their jobs. Even Trump’s ‘grab a pussy’ comments were discounted as just the sort of locker-room banter that is part of every-day banter on the factory floor. Trump was immune to infections that kill of other politician’s careers, and the media classes failed to understand why. He got more black votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012. He got more Latino voters. He got more young voters. Who’d have thought. Among whites with no degree Clinton only got 28%. Trump got 67% and that’s why Trump won many of the swing states, especially in the so-called Rust Belt.

So, what should we in Britain make of it? Many will see Trump as a threat, not an opportunity. They are wrong. To quote Alastair Campbell’s comments to Sir Christopher Meyer in 2000, when the UK Ambassador asked what his role should be vis a vis the new President, George W Bush, he was told “Get as far as you can up Bush’s arsehole and stay there.” The Germans and French have been very lukewarm in their welcome for President-Elect Trump. Theresa May, the opposite. She’s right to embrace him. He will move Britain to the front of the queue in terms of a free trade agreement. He may be a protectionist, but it is clear that he is an admirer of this country and a huge fan of Brexit. I suspect Liam Fox is already planning his next visit to Washington DC.

UKIP MEP William Dartmouth has suggested Nigel Farage be appointed to Washington. I suspect that might be one step too far, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Trump appointed Farage to some sort of advisory role. On my LBC election night show he suggested he might like to be Trump’s Envoy to Brussels. And I suspect he was only half joking.
Mario Cuomo once said that you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. In Trump’s case he is now no more than The Apprentice. Let’s hope he can learn on the job.
*
Over 27 hours on Tuesday to Wednesday I presented 13 hours of programming. I admit that by the time I came off air at 7pm on Wednesday my brain could hardly string a sentence together, but if you can’t enjoy yourself and cope with the pressures in these circumstances, you shouldn’t be doing the job. Obviously I didn’t listen to the competition on the BBC, as I was behind the microphone, but I’ve been told that we did a brilliant job in explaining what was going on and informing our audience in an accessible way. Clearly we don’t have the resources of the BBC, but sometimes, just because you’ve got those resources you tend to overcomplicate things. This is especially true on TV, where some of the graphics and computer wizardry can look incredibly impressive, but to the viewer can be incomprehensible. On radio, we felt that we just needed to tell our audience what was happening and why. And hopefully we achieved that.
*

Quite what Trump’s election will mean for the rest of the world is anyone’s guess. The fear is that he will play to the isolationist gallery and withdraw from America’s traditional role in world politics. We can take as read that NATO will change. America’s funding is likely to decrease, which will mean that European members will have to contribute more. His policy to Russia will be very different to Obama’s. Don’t bet against Putin being one of the first world leaders to meet Trump. The big unknown is how he will change America’s policy in the Middle East. The Israelis will be cheering Trump to the rafters, having finally seen the back of Obama, a man Netanyahu doesn’t get along with. But what Trump will do about ISIS, who knows.
*
Many of us look upon Trump with undisguised horror and contempt. But for those of us in the media world, we ought to be very excited. Trump is going to give us four years of wonderful copy. God Bless America.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale's Tribute to Sir Simon Milton

Sir Simon Milton's death saddened the whole of London. Iain pays tribute to him.

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