Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 31: When People Say Presenting a Radio Show is a Piece of P***...

1 Aug 2015 at 20:12

I’ve lost count of the times people say to me: “God, I wish I had a job as easy as yours. I mean, you just sit there and talk, which is what you love doing anyway.” Oh if only they knew. Yes of course, if you’re a talk radio host you like talking and hearing the sound of your own voice, but there is so much more to it than that. You don’t just have to know how to talk, you have to know how to listen too, and be able to hold an intelligent conversation, often about a subject you are by no means an expert on. Or sometimes know nothing about at all, or have no real interest in. Oh yes, it’s soooooo easy! Let me explain.

Presenting a talk radio show is a bit like being a swan. To the listener you need to appear completely calm and in control of everything. But although you might (or sometimes might not) be successful in doing that, under the water your feet are paddling ten to the dozen. Because for the whole of the three hours you’re in air (or four in my case – although that’s changing in September)* you’re effectively the personification of the word ‘multi-tasking’.

At any point in the show these are the things you’re doing or thinking…

* talking
* listening to an instruction/suggestion in your ear from the producer
* listening to an interviewee/caller
* thinking of the next question to ask
* looking at the clock
* wondering if you can fit another caller in before the news/travel junction
* monitoring texts or tweets and deciding which are good enough to read out
* thinking ahead to the next subject and how to tease it before a junction
* thinking ahead to the next hour, mulling over your talkup at one minute to the hour
* remembering to give the timecheck every so often – very important at Drive and Breakfast

And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head! It’s a real act of concentration, and it’s constant. Yes, there are news and ad breaks for you to get your thoughts together, have a chat with your producers in the gallery or pop to the loo, but make no mistake, there isn’t much time when your brain is working at its maximum capacity. I’ve never known anything as intense as this.

And of course you’re aware that anything you say, with just one word out of place, could spell the end of your radio career. You’re also aware that something an interviewee or caller might say might also take you off the air or lead to an Ofcom complaint. In some senses you know that for three hours you’re walking a tightrope. Some people walk it with ease, others fall off, and a few should never have been allowed on it in the first place.

I came into radio presenting comparatively late in life and have no formal training. But even seasoned broadcasters who’ve been doing it for years will tell you of the mental strain presenting a three hour talk radio/news show can bring. Drivetime and Breakfast shows are even more tiring than others because you have far more guest interviewees on subjects you know very little about. They’re much faster paced shows than a morning or afternoon show, which generally are more caller based rather than news based. For instance, this is how the first hour of the LBC Breakfast Show looks…

6.59 Talk up lasting 45 seconds telling the listener why they should stay tuned
7.05 Opener giving a taster of what you’re going to do in the next hour
7.06 Opening monologue introducing first news topic and punt for calls
7.07 Interview relevant guest
7.10 Interview guest with opposing viewpoint
7.13 Possible third interview or call
7.15 Throw to news and travel
7.20 Reintroduce phonein topic
7.21 News hit on new topic
7.24 Go through the front pages of the newspapers
7.25 Introduce paper reviewer and go through first story
7.28 Take call
7.30 Tease what’s coming up in next half an hour & introduce news
7.34 Reintroduce phonein subject & then go to business news
7.36 Second newspaper story with paper reviewer
7.39 Take two calls
7.45 Go to news
7.49 News hit
7.54 Call
7.56 Final paper review story
7.59 Talk-up to 8pm news introducing what’s coming up in the next hour

At Drive we don’t have a paper reviewer or a 20 past news hit, but we often do one after 5.30, so it’s just as frenetic. Breakfast is in some ways easier because a lot of it has been set up overnight. But on Drive the news hits are often inserted into the show while we are on air. We get a lot of breaking news happen between 4 and 8, again, often on subjects I as a presenter will know nothing about. I’m totally reliant on my production team putting info on my screen while I try to trawl through Twitter or various news sites to get the latest. All this while doing an interview or taking a call. It certainly gets the adrenaline flowing, especially on days when there is a huge breaking news story like the Woolwich murder of Flight MH370 dropping out of the sky. That’s when you’re really found out as a news broadcaster. You either sink or swim. I well remember the day when the Malaysian Airliner was shot down over Ukraine shortly before we went on air. It was something where I instinctively knew we’d go into breaking news mode, which means we concentrate on that one story almost to the exclusion of everything else. It really is broadcasting by the seat of your pants, especially when there isn’t much that you know, little has been confirmed and you’re aware that wild speculation is not only often highly inappropriate, it can be very dangerous as well, not to say with a high probability of making you look very foolish if your speculation is way off beam.

Sometimes you read comments on internet forums where people complain that a presenter didn’t seem very knowledgeable about a particular subject and why hadn’t they prepared better? An understandable complaint sometimes maybe, but on a breaking news programme you have to rely on your general knowledge a lot. That’s why it pays to have a few grey hairs – a bit of life experience. I usually get into LBC three hours before my show starts, but if I present Breakfast I’ll only have an hour to prepare. On Breakfast you get a lot of overnight briefing papers from the set-up producer. On Drive you don’t have that luxury. At 1pm I have no clue what we’re going to be doing at 4pm. I sit down with my producers and we go through the news of the day and try to set up a four hour show bringing something new to whatever stories we decide to cover. I try not to repeat subjects which have been covered already unless we can think of a new angle on them, but our rule of thumb is that on the 5pm hour we cover whatever the biggest news story of the day is, even if it has been done before by James O’Brien or Shelagh Fogarty. It’s very rare we can’t think of an original question to ask. The challenge is to make compelling radio on a very light news day. When I was doing the evening show it was easier to do slightly more esoteric or lighter subjects, but on Drive and Breakfast people expect to be told what’s going on in the world, why it’s important and why they should phone in and give their views.

Nowadays, of course, in our new multimedia, multicamera studio we often either livestream a programme, or programme segment on our website, or record it to put out on social media. This means that as well as conducting a radio show, you’re also effectively conducting a TV show. No stripy shirts. No T shirts. No wanker signs to your producer. No facial signs if you think a caller is barking mad. No pressure!

So all this is a roundabout way of saying that when 8pm comes round I am dog tired. Good for nothing. I might as well have run a 10k. I go home, have something to eat. Then intend to watch some TV, but I rarely get past 20 minutes without falling asleep. And then an hour later wake up and slink off to bed. And then the next day I get up and do it again.

I absolutely love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything. But I do smile when I hear people that that what I do is a piece of p***.

John Stapleton, who is one of the nicest people i have met in broadcasting, and has been around the block a bit told me once that he doesn’t know how I do four hours a day five days a week. Someone else who is a highly experienced broadcaster reckons presenting my type of show is the most difficult thing to do in live broadcasting. I’ll take their word for it as I haven’t got a lot to compare it with.

One thing I do know is that it’s certainly not a piece of p***!

If you’d like to read the other articles in the ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Radio Presenter’ series click HERE

*UPDATE: I mentioned above that I will be moving from 4-8pm, which I have been doing since March 2013. I will in future be hosting Drive from 4-7, which moves me in line with the length of all the other shows on LBC. And it will mean I can actually go out in the evenings and have a social life again! And be less tired :)

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ConHome Diary: Jeremy Corbyn is a Modern Day Harry Perkins

31 Jul 2015 at 14:03

OK, I’ve got to say this. I can’t stand Sir Alastair Graham. Whenever there’s any political scandal, up he pops to dispense his holier than thou brand of puritanism. Yes, Lord Sewel was stupid, yes he broke the law, but for God’s sake, apart from the feelings of his wife and family, no one was hurt, no one was stolen from, no one was murdered.
One day someone is going to top themselves over something like this, and it won’t just be partly the fault of the newspaper who does the sting, it will be the fault of gobs on sticks like Sir Alastair Graham who lose no opportunity to prey on a rotting political corpse.

I mean, he left his role as chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life eight years ago. And yet, we, the media beat a path to his door every time any politician does something wrong, or when there’s a scandal about MPs’ pay.

It’s not as if we think he’s actually going to say anything of interest. We know what he’s going to say. ‘So and so has some serious questions to answer’. ‘They need to look themselves in the mirror’. ‘It shows how politicians don’t get it’. Well thanks for that unique insight, Sir Alastair.

If I never interview him again, it will be too soon.

So glad to get that off my chest.

Back to watching Series 3 of The Newsroom.


I remain of the view that in the coalition Eric Pickles was one of the best, if not THE best ministers in terms of achieving things. But one thing that I wish he hadn’t done was to change the law to enable office blocks to be turned into blocks of flats. I can see why he did it because around the country there are many offices that have been empty for years, so why not change their planning use? In London, however, so many office blocks are being converted into flats that the supply of offices has almost dried up and as a consequence office rentals have shot up exponentially. The latest building to be emptied of office tenants is none other than Millbank Tower, previously home to New Labour, and indeed the Conservative Party. The block will be turned into flats and hotels. It won’t be long before smaller companies won’t be able to afford to stay in the capital and will have to move out. My publishing company’s lease comes to an end in August. It has been impossible to find anywhere to move to and we seriously considered moving out of London to Kent. In the end we have negotiated to stay where we are, but our rent has gone up by a massive amount and we will be paying around £50,000 extra just to stay put. I’ve negotiated six or seven leases over the last two decades and each time have got a bit of a bargain deal just by being hardnosed. Those days are over. So now I have to work out how I can find £50k of cost savings or extra revenue. Not exactly my favourite activity.
*
Perhaps signing up David Laws to write a new book might go some way to easing the pain of increased office costs. He’s going to write a book called COALITION! To be published in the spring. Snappy title, eh. It’s what I call a Ronseal title. It does what it says on the tin. If it sells anything like his last book, 22 DAYS IN MAY, I shall be a very happy publisher. I think David is a real loss to Parliament, but I suspect he’s quite relieved that he’s no there are one of the 8 LibDem MPs. I suspect they’re not enjoying life at all.
*

Well at least I won’t have to write about Ivan Massow any longer. His shambles of a London mayoral campaign was snuffed out by the interview committee last Saturday and we’ll no longer have to endure any of his “butt cock” clenchingly awful videos. He reckons, according to Sterpike column in The Spectator that he didn’t get through because of his outspoken attacks on Section 28 back in the late 1990s. No Ivan, you didn’t get through because they thought you were a bit of a dick. Perhaps the fact that he has 32 portraits of himself on the walls of his London house gave them a bit of a clue.

As predicted by me last week, four candidates went through to the final selection, although Philippa Roe didn’t make it and Andrew Boff did. That, of course, has given Labour a stick to beat the Conservatives with as there are no women in the final four. Roe must have performed disastrously not to make it, as there was little doubt that CCHQ were desperate for her to be on the final list.
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Do you remember Chris Mullin’s novel A VERY BRITISH COUP, which was made into a drama by Channel 4? I reckon Jeremy Corbyn is a modern day Harry Perkins…

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LISTEN: Am I Really Responsible for Putting the Idea of Running for Leader into Jeremy Corbyn's Head?

28 Jul 2015 at 09:05

This audio suggests so. It’s an interview I recorded with Jeremy Corbyn on May 9th, the Saturday after polling day. Scroll in 14.10…

Surely, Prime Minister, that’s got to be worth at least a Knighthood?!

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LISTEN: Political Books Podcast with Andrew Roberts

27 Jul 2015 at 13:44

I talk to historian Andrew Roberts about his critically acclaimed book Napoleon the Great. We discuss Andrew’s favourite periods of history, our very individual writing processes and why Andrew – contrary to popular portrayal – believes Napoleon to be a benevolent dictator. We also discuss the future of the Conservative Party, Andrew’s upcoming projects and the three books that he intends to read over the summer.

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter: The Complete Series 1-30

26 Jul 2015 at 15:34

A few years ago I started writing about lessons I have learned while presenting on the radio. A friend suggested I should bring them altogether in one blogpost, so here you are. Looking back there’s some hilarious moments here, as well as some instructive ones. This isn’t a ‘how to’ guide, possible more of a ‘how not to’ one. But the various experiences I relate here do go some way to showing the kind of challenges you come up against while presenting a live news-based talk radio show. For instance, I never thought I my tongue would get so tied that I would introduce Justin Welby as the Archbishop of Cunterbury – that’s No 5. It made page 4 of the Daily Telegraph. Well if that doesn’t whet your appetite to click on the links below, nothing will!

1. Abusive emails
2. Dealing with a shouty guest
3. Being recognised
4. Reacting to a guest’s faux pas
5. Turbulent priests
6. Reluctant guests
7. Beware of breaking news on Twitter
8. Interviewing at short notice: Tia Sharp’s grandmother
9. Handling breaking news of a terror incident
10. Freebies
11. Interviewing badly briefed MPs
11b. Winning radio presenter of the year
12. When a minister won’t answer the question
13. Should you have gone to Specsavers, Prime Minister?
14. When the RMT lies to you
15. Going national, new imaging music & Rajars
16. Losing a star producer
17. Avoiding the N Word
18. Winning a Silver Sony
19. A veritable feast of loose tongues
20. Rajar – What goes up, may come down
21. The perils of outside broadcasts
22. When a caller turns the question back on the presenter
23. The power of talk radio
24. Hosting an election debate
25. Breaking the Official Secrets Act & protecting an an interviewee
26. Reviewing the Jon Gaunt podcast
27. Getting off to a good start on election night
28. Should you ever disagree with a fellow presenter on air?
29. When a caller says Jews should get over the Holocaust
30. Hosting a Labour leadership hustings

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 30: Hosting a Labour Party Leadership Hustings

25 Jul 2015 at 15:27

A few people have asked what it was like hosting the Labour Leadership hustings debate and how I prepared for it, so I thought I’d jot down a few notes about what happened both in the runup to and at our live 90 minute debate on Wednesday.

I have seen several of the other hustings and found them rather uninspiring. A major reason for this was the format – opening statements, followed by questioning from an interviewer followed by closing statements. Boring, snoring. The format didn’t enable the candidates to really get stuck into any issue. Partly due to time constraints too, there was little interaction between the candidates, and the opening/closing statements were a complete waste of time as the candidates just trotted out well worn cliches and phrases which they had used in previous hustings.

Somewhere in the deep mists of time I remember seeing a US Presidential Primary – a republican one, I think – where the candidates were allowed to quiz each other. We used that format in the Women Leaders Debate and Business debate during the election, and it worked brilliantly. The politicians liked it and so did the listeners, so we thought we’d use it here too. I wasn’t sure that the four campaigns would go for this so we didn’t actually give them a choice – we just told them that was happening and none of them argued. In order to avoid repetition of questions we asked them all to provide their questions to us in advance. When they started to come through I was fairly confident this was going to be a sparkier affair than the previous hustings. One of the candidates in particular had a question which I thought could be incendiary. Unfortunately, when it came to it, that particular candidate wimped out of asking the question and asked a much more watered down version. Shame! You can watch the four ‘Ask me Anything’ sections HERE but here’s Jeremy Corbyns’…

I also made a deliberate decision not to do any preparation whatsoever. I had no notes, no reams of briefing material in front of me. All I had was my laptop, which came in very useful at one point when Andy Burnham was talking about privatisation in the NHS and how he would reverse it all. I was pretty sure that he had been Health Secretary when the decision was made to privatise Hinchingbrooke Hospital. I googled it and sure enough, I was right. His defence was that it had actually happened in 2011, after he had left office. Ah, I said, but you took the decision, didn’t you. It was one of his more uncomfortable moments.

You might be rather shocked and surprised that I did little preparation. I think interviewers and hosts are often more obsessed about following their instructions and trotting out embarassing quotes that their producer has found and spend the whole time trying to trip people up than actually facilitating a proper debate. I didn’t want to do that. Although I think I intervened at appropriate moments and pushed the various candidates when I thought they were blustering, the 90 minutes was about them and not about me. Seeing as I had to present my normal show between 4 and 7, it was just as well I wasn’t paranoid about preparing, because I had no chance to anyway! Can you imagine Andrew Neil, doing that? No, me neither. It’s rather different doing these things outside the BBC. I had one producer working on the hustings show, and two on the rest of the programme. I’ll leave it to your imagination to imagine how many Andrew Neil had helping him prepare for the Sunday Politics hustings. And I say that not by way of complaining in any way whatsoever. I rather like our ‘just in time’ working patterns. As a presenter, it certainly keeps you on your toes!

I only imposed myself into the debate when I thought I should or when I was prompted by my producer, Matt Harris, to do so. Matt and I have a brilliant understanding. He knows when I might be tempted to avoid going in for the kill and he often comes up with brilliant questions in my ear, that I might not have thought of. Every presenter needs a producer who knows them inside out, knows how their brain works and when they need a bit of help. I often joke that I am but a mere mouthpiece of Matt Harris. It’s not really like that, because believe it or not I do have a mind of my own (!), but his interventions make me appear much better than I really am.

Some of the best moments in the debate were when I just sat back, said nothing at all and let the four of them go at it. I can remember four of five occasions where I just thought, no, don’t intervene, the listener will get far more out of this if I just remain silent. Obviously when they are all speaking at once, you have to intervene to restore order, but in this type of format the presenter should think of themselves as the conductor of the orchestra, rather than the chief violinist.

We were also determined to introduce subjects and questions which the candidates would probably not have been asked before. Most of the previous hustings had covered the same ground and we saw little point in choosing questions about whether Labour had spent too much in office etc as by now they would all have well rehearsed answers on those subjects. So most of the questions – all submitted by listeners – were somewhat different and more original. We had created a page on the LBC website where we invited listeners to submit questions, and around 1000 people did, especially in the 48 hours in the runup to the event. Many of those were on the welfare bill vote on Monday evening, which had clearly annoyed a lot of people. That was the question we kicked off with. But a good example of the sort of ‘different’ question we wanted was one on religion. Did the candidates ‘do God’?

Most of the questions came from listeners who had pre-submitted them, although we did take a couple of live ones on the night. One of those was from ‘Nigel in Kent’, aka Nigel Farage.

Every programme needs moments like that and the candidates seemed to enjoy being able to have a go at a political opponent.

As a presenter, I am normally the very worst judge of how an interview or show is going, but in this case I knew it was going well almost from the off. It had pace and a real sense of liveliness. I decided that apart from mentioning the four names in the talkup/introduction I wouldn’t even say hello to them as the chit chat at the beginning is usually slightly forced and achieves nothing. So I went straight to the first question on the welfare bill.

The studio format, and the fact that they were all sat within a couple of feet of each other meant a degree of intimacy was achieved, which would not have happened if we had staged this in front of an audience at an outside venue. They would have all been behind podiums or sat awkwardly on stools. Initially, I was keen to host it elsewhere as an outside broadcast, but I am glad my colleagues won the debate about doing it in our rather space-age new studio, It was the right decision.

We streamed the event live on our website in HD, and we had our highest ever audience in terms of numbers of people who streamed the event live on their phones, tablets or PCs. We were also trending number one on Twitter in London. Our web team did a brilliant job in chopping up the best bits and getting them on the website (see HERE) and the whole 90 minute programme was available for people to download within a very short time of it finishing (see HERE.

Obviously this was a radio show, but we now have this magnificent multi-media studio, so as a presenter you have to get used to the fact that you’re actually presenting a TV show too. I was told there would be a camera on me the whole time, which obviously makes it diffiult to communicate by gesture, or facial expression with the gallery. That proved especially diffiucult when it was clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s iPad kept making audible noises, something he seemed blissfully unaware of. Then Andy Burnham’s mobile also started making noises. We all had to have makeup, which sounds ridiculous for a radio show, but when everything is being filmed in HD, let’s face it, some of us needed it more than others. I had my makeup applied in the 530 and 545 news and travel breaks. It took longer than when I do the Sky News paper review!

So who won? The truth is I don’t know. I haven’t watched the whole thing back yet. Most people think Jeremy Corbyn did better than the others and they think it was summed up in this exchange on the question of whether they would have Ed Miliband in their Shadow Cabinets…

I actually thought Yvette Cooper did better than most other people did. But she really does need to learn to come off that fence more. Andy Burnham was more subdued that usual and he really needs to get away from just relying on the appeal of a blunt-speaking northerner. Liz Kendall had some flashes of what impressed people in the first weeks of this leadership race but I think she also needs to expand her appeal beyond appealing to Blairites.

Jon Craig from Sky News told me afterwards that all four had told him they thought this was the best and liveliest hustings so far and they were really happy with how I had coordinated it all. They all certainly seemed happy as we went off air. In fact there were lots of hugs!

For me, I felt I came of age as a presenter that night. That might seem a funny thing to say, but I still regard myself as a bit of a ‘newbie’ at all this. I saw very few people criticising me for being a biased (which is the usual accusation of my detractors) and most people seemed to think I had been fair to all candidates. I know for some people I will never escape my Tory past, and frankly I have given up trying to, but on Wednesday even some of my usual critics grudgingly admitted that they couldn’t justify their usual line of attack.

All along I felt I had got the balance about right between rigorous interviewing and lightheartedness and that’s what other people seemed to think too. What some people don’t understand is that you don’t have to shout at politicians when you push them for an answer. If you do, they invariably put up the shutters. I think a conversational approach works far better, and I think the style I deployed on Wednesday was totally reflective of the way I normally do individual interviews.

This blogpost has turned out to be rather longer than I had intended! So let’s finish with some thanks to all those who were involved in setting up these hustings. To the Labour Party for being incredibly easy to deal with. To the candidates who were all enthusiastic about the format. To the LBC management who backed us all the way in putting on the hustings. And finally thanks to my three LBC producers, Matt Harris, Jagruti Dave and Axel Kacoutie. We’ve worked together on Drive now for two and a half years and have become a real team. And that teamwork was what made Wednesday evening such a success.

And now we turn our attention to delivering equally enjoyable hustings programmes for the London Mayoral candidates from the Labour and Conservative parties. Watch this space.

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WATCH: The Youtuber Who Jumped Off Tower Bridge

24 Jul 2015 at 18:32

Faisal Shinwari jumped off Tower Bridge yesterday. In this interview he tells me why he did it and that he regrets being so stupid. And then came Lucy from Reigate who didn’t hold back…

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ConHome Diary: A "Butt Cock" Clenchingly Awful Video

24 Jul 2015 at 14:50

I feel a bit like a dog returning to its vomit, as each week I write about the Conservative London mayoral selection, but how can I possibly let Ivan Massow’s new campaign video pass without comment [Insert embedded video here]. Delusional is one word to describe it. Creepy is another. Quite which of his campaign team (I assume he has one) came up with this ridiculous idea, I’d love to know so I could ridicule the shit out of them. But in the end a candidate is responsible for his own campaign and Massow is responsible for this abortion of a video. If he really doesn’t know what Londoners want, then you’d think he might actually visit a few areas and ask people in the street. Bearing in mind that D-Day for all the candidates is Saturday, when they all face their interviews, He only had about 5 nights to spend with Londoners anyway, after the release of the video. But frankly, what kind of weirdo would invite Ivan Massow to spend a night with them (nudge, nudge, arf arf)? After all, this is a man who has 30 paintings of himself adorning the walls of his house. I mean, what kind of narcissist would even think of doing that? I’m not exactly known to be shy in the ego stakes, but I don’t have a single picture, let alone a painting of myself on display in Simmons-Dale Towers. I don’t like to frighten any visitors. When I first saw the video on Sunday night I tweeted that I found it “buttock clenchingly awful”. Unfortunately the person who runs the LBC twitter feed didn’t quite read that correctly and tweeted out that I had said it was “butt cock clenchingly awful”. There are plenty of jokes there if you look hard enough. So many that I won’t even try. Luckily the tweet was removed rather quickly. Shame the video wasn’t.
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Oh what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall at the mayoral interviews on Saturday. Especially the bit when someone questions the fact that of the 7 declared candidates they’re only allowed to put through two or three. I’d be willing to bet that in the end four candidates will go through the final, and they will be Zac Goldsmith, Syed Kamall, Philippa Roe and Stephen Greenhalgh. We’ll soon see.
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One of the post-election pleasures that many of us look forward to is buying a copy of the Times Guide to the House of Commons. I can’t be the only one that is that sad. Come on admit it. You agree with me, right? However, as a Conservative I don’t much like change. I hated it when they changed the format and didn’t include biographical details of the losing candidates. I hated it when they changed the size. Call me semi-autistic but I like symmetry on my bookshelves. So I was less than gruntled when I got my 2015 copy this week to find that instead of the nice shiny paper they used to use, they now use a form of Izal Medicated loo paper. When you’re paying £60 for a book you expect a bit quantity as well as quantity. The 2010 Times Guide had 30 essays analysing the election – the 2015 edition has four. The photographs of the new MPs are miniscule. And-absolutely unforgivably, the constituency results don’t include the majority of the winning candidate. They’ve also gone all tabloid in the biographical details. And they misspelt Tracey Crouch’s Christian name in the Chatham & Aylesford section, forgetting the ‘E’ in Tracy. If that’s the only error, they can be forgiven. When you undertake compiling a mammoth reference work like this you wouldn’t be human if the odd error didn’t creep in. In our own ‘Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons’ we said that SNP MP Chris Stephens had been a loan broker. He got in touch to say it was news to him. Wrong Chris Stephens, apparently. He was a good sport about it. Anyway, if you can’t afford to pay £60 for an inferior Times Guide, fine, but you may think the Politicos Guide is more of a bargain at £19.99!!!
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On Wednesday night I hosted a Labour Party Leadership hustings debate with the four candidates. Having watched several of the TV hustings I was determined that we’d spice it up a bit, seeing as the TV hustings had turned into boreathons or had been largely about the interviewer/presenter and how clever they could be. If you missed it you can watch the whole thing HERE. I decided to let them slug it out and let them quiz each other for quite a lot of the ninety minutes and it really seemed to work judging from the comments I read afterwards. It was clear to me that Jeremy Corbyn won, in the sense that he was the one that gave consistently clear answers which appealed to the selectorate who will be voting. It’s astonishing that he’s made so much headway and is now considered a real contender to win. I am starting to wonder if Liz Kendall might pull out in order to stop him in his tracks. I’d imagine Yvette Cooper would be the beneficiary of that. Yvette’s trouble is that she has become the Ronan Keating of this campaign, believing that she says it best when she says nothing at all. It’s the kind of safety first Stanley Baldwin would have been proud of. But it may prove to be very clever in the end, as I suspect she could well win on second preferences.

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Iain Talks to Labour MP John Woodock About His Depression

John Woodcock explains his decision to go public on his depression.

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Video

WATCH: The LBC Labour Leadership Hustings Debate

22 Jul 2015 at 23:53

This is the complete video of the 90 minute long LBC Labour Leadership Debate with Andy Burnham, Yvetter Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall, hosted by me. It’s in three parts.

What did you think? Have to say I really enjoyed it. I’m told in the Green Room afterwards all four candidates said it was the best hustings they had done. They seemed to like the ASK ME ANYTHING sections.

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Iain is Interviewed by Alex Foster of LibDem Voice

At the LibDem Conference

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UK Politics

LISTEN/WATCH: Live from 7pm Tonight on LBC, the Labour Leadership Hustings

22 Jul 2015 at 13:56

Just to let you know that this evening (Wednesday) I will be hosting a 90 minute Labour leadership hustings on LBC Radio. It will be broadcast in HD on LBC.co.uk. You can listen in London on 97.3FM, nationally on DAB radio or on TV on Freeview channel 732 or Sky TV channel 0112.

The format of this hustings will be very different to previous ones. It will feature four ‘ask me anything’ slots, where each of the candidates will face questions from the other three. Listeners will phone in with their questions, and there will be a couple of surprises.

On the day that the Times shows Jeremy Corbyn with a commanding poll lead, could this finally be the hustings which sets the leadership campaign alight?

I do hope you will tune in or watch at LBC.co.uk from 7pm. And do tweet along with the show with your pithy comments. No, I said pithy!

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Simon Mann

Former mercenary Simon Mann discusses his new book.

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