Personal

Memories of Christmases Past & a Happy Christmas To All My Readers & Listeners

24 Dec 2014 at 23:17

As a child I used to love Christmas. Like all families we had our Christmas rituals. We woke up to find stockings at the end of our beds, filled with things that nowadays children would no doubt turn their noses up at. A Mars Bar, an orange, a pencil sharpener and the like. We’d then have half a fresh grapefruit followed by sizzling sausages for breakfast. How that became a ritual, I do not know, because we’d never have either of those things on any other day of the year. I write this at 11pm on Christmas Eve, at my parents house near Saffron Walden, remembering those good times, wishing they could return, but knowing they never will. My inner child always rears its ugly head at this time of the year. I want to find the sitting room door locked, with us queuing up, desperate to be allowed in to each find a pillowcase stuffed full with presents. We all had to take it in turns to open a present and note down who it was from.

And then came the special Christmas lunch. My mother was the best cook in Britain. Anyone who ever tasted her roast dinners would tell you the same. She never weighed any ingredient. She just knew what to do and how much to put in. And everything was ready at the same time. And it always tasted perfect. Even in her latter years, when she was on crutches, she would want to personally dish everything up and deliver the various bowls of delicious food to the table herself. Her Christmas puddings were unique, and no one else’s will ever live up to them.

Then back we’d go into the sitting room, fire ablaze, to open yet more presents. I always wondered why Dad got fewer than anyone else. Now I’m his age, I know. Because once you become an adult, the presents become fewer and fewer. Not that I’m bitter, you understand.

In the week after Christmas we’d have relations to ours, or go to visit them. Some of these visits were looked forward to rather more than others. But one thing we all loved was the card games. We’d hold mini whist drives or play Newmarket, or Rummy or some other game. Racing Demons was a huge favourite of my sisters and mine. It was apparently the Queen Mother’s favourite card game. It can get rather violent. I remember not that long ago eight of us were playing including my two young nieces. I ended up shouting “bitch” at one of them, when she slammed down a card on the very pile I had been about to put one of my cards on! Guess you had to be there. Uncle Iain behaved himself for the rest of the evening.

When you grow up things change, and I always remember the first Christmas when we weren’t altogether. My sister Tracey spent Christmas Day with her boyfriend’s family. Somehow it was never the same after that. That’s not to say we didn’t all have a good time and enjoy ourselves. We absolutely did. But our childhood was over.

My partner John and I have been together for 20 Christmases, yet we have never yet spent a whole Christmas Day together. Neither of us could bring ourselves to let down our respective parents. Both of us had that terrible feeling that the very year we would break tradition would be the very year that one of our parents might die. I know it sounds stupid, but I suspect a lot of people feel like that if they honest. Both of our mothers have died in the last few years, but still we haven’t spent Christmas together. As I write, he’s with his Dad in Tunbridge Wells and I am with mine in Essex. He’s asleep, since you ask. I’ll stay here for breakfast and then drive back to Kent later in the morning.

Anyway, this is a rather long winded way of wishing all my readers and listeners a very Happy Christmas. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings this year. I’ll be ramping up the frequency of the blogposts after Christmas. You have been warned.

Now where’s that mince pie? Did I tell you about the Christmas Day one year when I ate 36 mince pies in one go. Maybe I’ll save that one for later. And I wonder why I am now a diabetic…

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 6: Bedfordshire

24 Dec 2014 at 09:01

This is the sixth in a series of blogposts (scroll down for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 6
Current Political Makeup: Con 4, Lab 2
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 3, Lab 3

1. Bedford

2010 Result:
Conservative: 17546 (38.9%)
Labour: 16193 (35.9%)
Lib Dem: 8957 (19.9%)
BNP: 757 (1.7%)
Green: 393 (0.9%)
UKIP: 1136 (2.5%)
Independent: 120 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 1353 (3%)

Sitting MP: Richard Fuller (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Labour gain

This seat was Labour during the Blair & Brown years and only narrowly went Tory last time. With a substantial LibDem vote to eat into, it’s difficult to see Labour failing to win this seat. If they do fail, it spells big trouble for Ed Miliband.

2. Luton North

2010 Result:
Conservative: 13672 (31.8%)
Labour: 21192 (49.3%)
Lib Dem: 4784 (11.1%)
BNP: 1316 (3.1%)
Green: 490 (1.1%)
UKIP: 1564 (3.6%)
MAJORITY: 7520 (17.5%)

Sitting MP: Kelvin Hopkins (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

This used to be a safe Tory seat until boundary changes made it a safe Labour seat. Kelvin Hopkins’ majority should increase as he takes a few thousand votes from the LibDems.

3. Luton South

2010 Result:
Conservative: 12396 (29.4%)
Labour: 14725 (34.9%)
Lib Dem: 9567 (22.7%)
BNP: 1299 (3.1%)
Green: 366 (0.9%)
UKIP: 975 (2.3%)
Independent: 1872 (4.4%)
Others: 1016 (2.4%)
MAJORITY: 2329 (5.5%)

Sitting MP: Gavin Shuker (Lab)
Prediction: Labour hold

Esther Rantzen stood here last time and there are around 4,000 votes from her and other independents going begging. The Tories might think they are in with a chance of taking this, but the demographics of the seat count against them. Shuker has bedded himself in and it’s not likely he’ll be shifted.

4. Mid Bedfordshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 28815 (52.5%)
Labour: 8108 (14.8%)
Lib Dem: 13663 (24.9%)
Green: 773 (1.4%)
UKIP: 2826 (5.1%)
English Dem: 712 (1.3%)
MAJORITY: 15152 (27.6%)

Sitting MP: Nadine Dorries (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

A split opposition vote should mean a bigger majority for Nadine.

5. North East Bedfordshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30989 (55.8%)
Labour: 8957 (16.1%)
Lib Dem: 12047 (21.7%)
BNP: 1265 (2.3%)
UKIP: 2294 (4.1%)
MAJORITY: 18942 (34.1%)

Sitting MP: Alistair Burt (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Ditto Nadine.

6. South West Bedfordshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26815 (52.8%)
Labour: 9948 (19.6%)
Lib Dem: 10166 (20%)
BNP: 1703 (3.4%)
UKIP: 2142 (4.2%)
MAJORITY: 16649 (32.8%)

Sitting MP: Andrew Selous (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Safe seat. End of.

To see the complete list of predictions click HERE

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UKIP Politics

Roger Bird Could Be UKIP's Olly Grender

23 Dec 2014 at 15:55

I feel very sorry for Roger Bird. Despite being found innocent of any wrongdoing in the UKIP inquiry, he’s had his character traduced in the media by someone who has clearly displayed fantasist tendencies. And even though he has been found innocent he and UKIP have mutually agreed to part company. This doesn’t surprise me but it is more for UKIP’s benefit than Bird’s. No matter what the facts are, when people hear the name Roger Bird they will associate him with this incident. He’s behaved well throughout and although one may call his judgement into question for entering into a relationship at work, it’s hardly a sackable offence.

So what now for Roger Bird? He’s standing by UKIP and he says he will do all he can to support UKIP candidates at the election. It strikes me that he might consider carving out a little media niche as the go-to pundit on UKIP matters. He’d do quite well in the runup to the election because basically he would have little competition. He knows the party and its personalities inside out, and there aren’t many who can say that. In essence he could do for UKIP what Olly Grender did for the LibDems in the runup to 2010 – provide the media with an informed, amusing and insightful voice on all matters pertaining to UKIP.

I’ll give him his first booking when I am back on the radio on 5 January. Unless someone gets there before me!

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 5: Hertfordshire

23 Dec 2014 at 09:15

This is the fifth in a series of blogposts (scroll down for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 11
Current Political Makeup: Con 11
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 9, Labour 2

1. Broxbourne

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26844 (58.8%)
Labour: 8040 (17.6%)
Lib Dem: 6107 (13.4%)
BNP: 2159 (4.7%)
UKIP: 1890 (4.1%)
English Dem: 618 (1.4%)
MAJORITY: 18804 (41.2%)

Sitting MP: Charles Walker (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Safe as houses.

2. Hemel Hempstead

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24721 (50%)
Labour: 10295 (20.8%)
Lib Dem: 11315 (22.9%)
BNP: 1615 (3.3%)
UKIP: 1254 (2.5%)
Independent: 271 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 13406 (27.1%)

Sitting MP: Mike Penning (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

In 2010 this seat saw the biggest swing from Labour to the Tories in the country – more than 14% – pushing Conservative support above 50% and Labour into third place. Astonishing bearing in mind that between 1997 and 2005 this was a Labour seat. Mike Penning is as safe as safe can be.

3. Hertford & Stortford

2010 Result:
Conservative: 29810 (53.8%)
Labour: 7620 (13.8%)
Lib Dem: 14373 (26%)
BNP: 1297 (2.3%)
UKIP: 1716 (3.1%)
Independent: 325 (0.6%)
Others: 236 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 15437 (27.9%)

Sitting MP: Mark Prisk (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Another Hertfordshire seat that is as as safe as it could be.

4. Hertsmere

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26476 (56%)
Labour: 8871 (18.8%)
Lib Dem: 8210 (17.4%)
BNP: 1397 (3%)
Green: 604 (1.3%)
UKIP: 1712 (3.6%)
MAJORITY: 17605 (37.2%)

Sitting MP: James Clappison (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

A massive majority for James Clappison’s successor. This used to be the seat held by Cecil Parkinson, and the majorities haven’t changed much since his day.

5. Hitchin & Harpenden

2010 Result:
Conservative: 29869 (54.6%)
Labour: 7413 (13.6%)
Lib Dem: 14598 (26.7%)
Green: 807 (1.5%)
UKIP: 1663 (3%)
Independent: 109 (0.2%)
Others: 248 (0.5%)
MAJORITY: 15271 (27.9%)

Sitting MP: Peter Lilley (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Any reduction of the LibDem vote here is bound to give the Conservatives a bigger majority, assuming UKIP don’t take too much of the Tory vote.

6. North East Hertfordshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26995 (53.5%)
Labour: 8291 (16.4%)
Lib Dem: 11801 (23.4%)
Green: 875 (1.7%)
UKIP: 2075 (4.1%)
Independent: 209 (0.4%)
Others: 179 (0.4%)
MAJORITY: 15194 (30.1%)

Sitting MP: Oliver Heald (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

And possibly an increased majority here too,.

7. South West Hertfordshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 30773 (54.2%)
Labour: 6526 (11.5%)
Lib Dem: 15853 (27.9%)
BNP: 1302 (2.3%)
UKIP: 1450 (2.6%)
Independent: 846 (1.5%)
MAJORITY: 14920 (26.3%)

Sitting MP: David Gauke (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

And so the story repeats itself.

8. St Albans

2010 Result:
Conservative: 21533 (40.8%)
Labour: 9288 (17.6%)
Lib Dem: 19228 (36.4%)
Green: 758 (1.4%)
UKIP: 2028 (3.8%)
MAJORITY: 2305 (4.4%)

Sitting MP: Anne Main (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

The LibDems had high hopes of winning this seat in 2010 and the more optimistic of them still think they’re in with a chance this time. The LibDem candidate, Sandy Walkington, is not to be underestimated but they are surely bound to lose vote share, especially after some bad local election results.

9. Stevenage

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18491 (41.4%)
Labour: 14913 (33.4%)
Lib Dem: 7432 (16.6%)
BNP: 1007 (2.3%)
UKIP: 2004 (4.5%)
English Dem: 366 (0.8%)
Independent: 80 (0.2%)
Others: 358 (0.8%)
MAJORITY: 3578 (8%)

Sitting MP: Stephen McPartland (Con)
Prediction: Very narrow Labour gain

Another bellweather seat, held by the Conservatives from 1983 to 1997 and Labour from 1997 to 2010. Stephen McPartland will do well to hang on here if Ed Miliband comes within a sniff of Number 10. Could be one of the closest results of the night.

10. Watford

2010 Result:
Conservative: 19291 (34.9%)
Labour: 14750 (26.7%)
Lib Dem: 17866 (32.4%)
BNP: 1217 (2.2%)
Green: 885 (1.6%)
UKIP: 1199 (2.2%)
MAJORITY: 1425 (2.6%)

Sitting MP: Richard Harrington (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Labour gain

A genuine three way marginal, this rates as one of the LibDems’ top targets. They have a strong popular local candidate in the mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill, but in reality the contest is likely to be between Labour and the sitting Tory MP. Rather like Stevenage, if Ed Miliband is doing well, this is the kind of seat he will expect to win.

11. Welwyn & Hatfield

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27894 (57%)
Labour: 10471 (21.4%)
Lib Dem: 8010 (16.4%)
Green: 796 (1.6%)
UKIP: 1643 (3.4%)
Independent: 158 (0.3%)
MAJORITY: 17423 (35.6%)

Sitting MP: Grant Shapps (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Hard to believe that this was a Labour seat from 1997 to 2005 but Grant Shapps has built up a formidable campaigning machine which has reduced the Labour vote from 47% to 21%.

To see the complete list of predictions click HERE

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TV/Film/Theatre

I Really Wanted to Like the US 'House of Cards' But I Don't

22 Dec 2014 at 12:11

Ok, I’m late to the party. I meant to watch House of Cards when it was shown on Sky Atlantic, but somehow didn’t. I’ve had the DVD on my shelf for two years but somehow it’s always been overtaken by something else – Covert Affairs, 24 and others. Anyway, a couple of nights ago I sat down to start the marathon. It didn’t hook me in the first episode. Or the second. I’m now on the ninth and and although I am not not enjoying it, I’m not really enjoying it! I just don’t find Kevin Spacey convincing at the Francis Urquhart character. And save us from those oral sex scenes. Were they really necessary? Yuk.

The trouble is that although the original House of Cards seems very dated now, it is still head and shoulders above the Spacey version. He doesn’t channel the sinisterness of F.U as well as Ian Richardson and the plot veers too often towards the ridiculous. Does anyone seriously imagine that any political party in the US would pick a gubernatorial candidate like Peter Russo? No, me neither.

The one character I do like is Clare, Francis Underwood’s wife. A striking looking woman, she plays the part brilliantly and is quite sinister in her own right.

I’m going to stick with it, and will no doubt watch the second series as well, if only to see if it gets any better. I’m not hopeful.

Meanwhile, I am very much looking forward to season 4 of Covert Affairs. If you haven’t tried Covert Affairs, give it a go. It’s about a female CIA operative who gets herself into all sorts of pickles. It’s got echoes of 24, but with some great humour and some fantastic characters. President Logan from 24 is one of the key characters.

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 4: Cambridgeshire

22 Dec 2014 at 10:39

This is the fourth in a series of blogposts (scroll down for the others) which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Seats: 7
Current Political Makeup: Con 6, LibDem 1
Predicted Political Makeup after May 7: Con 6, LibDem 1

1. Cambridge

2010 Result:
Conservative: 12829 (25.6%)
Labour: 12174 (24.3%)
Lib Dem: 19621 (39.1%)
Green: 3804 (7.6%)
UKIP: 1195 (2.4%)
Independent: 145 (0.3%)
Others: 362 (0.7%)
MAJORITY: 6792 (13.5%)

Sitting MP: Julian Huppert (LibDem)
Prediction: Narrow LibDem hold

A genuine three way marginal, this seat has been held by all three parties in recent memory. It went LibDem in 2005. If you look at the size of the LibDem majority here, Julian Huppert ought to be considered very safe, but this is a seat which swings with the wind, and if the wind is blowing towards Labour you can see it returning to them. It obviously has a high student vote and this may determine the outcome. However Huppert has been a strong performer both locally in Parliament and if anyone can hold this seat for the LibDems, he can. But bearing in mind the LibDems’ calamitous results in May I’ve now changed my mind and think Labour will win here. UPDATE: 16/1/14 And I’ve now changed it back due to more information received about the Labour campaign and candidate, as well as the efforts the LibDems are making here. I now think the odds may be marginally in favour of Julian Huppert.

2. Huntingdon

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26516 (48.9%)
Labour: 5982 (11%)
Lib Dem: 15697 (28.9%)
Green: 652 (1.2%)
UKIP: 3258 (6%)
Independent: 1432 (2.6%)
Others: 729 (1.3%)
MAJORITY: 10819 (19.9%)

Sitting MP: Jonathan Djanogly
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

No words necessary.

3. North East Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 26862 (51.6%)
Labour: 9274 (17.8%)
Lib Dem: 10437 (20%)
BNP: 1747 (3.4%)
UKIP: 2791 (5.4%)
English Dem: 387 (0.7%)
Independent: 566 (1.1%)
MAJORITY: 16425 (31.5%)

Sitting MP: Stephen Barclay (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

One of the safest of safe Conservative seats.

4. North West Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 29425 (50.5%)
Labour: 9877 (16.9%)
Lib Dem: 12748 (21.9%)
UKIP: 4826 (8.3%)
English Dem: 1407 (2.4%)
MAJORITY: 16677 (28.6%)

Sitting MP: Shailesh Vara (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Even safer than the previous one.

5. Peterborough

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18133 (40.4%)
Labour: 13272 (29.5%)
Lib Dem: 8816 (19.6%)
Green: 523 (1.2%)
UKIP: 3007 (6.7%)
English Dem: 770 (1.7%)
Independent: 406 (0.9%)
MAJORITY: 4861 (10.8%)

Sitting MP: Stewart Jackson (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Conservative hold

This is Labour’s second biggest hope in Cambridgeshire and it is a seat which was held by Labour between 1997 and 2005 in the person of the notorious Helen Brinton. Jackson has had two terms to establish himself. Having said that the pro Tory swing in 2010 was way below the national average, and this has become quite an ethnically diverse seat. As in many other seats, this may come down to where the LibDem vote shakes down and how much UKIP eat into the two main party votes.

6. South Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27995 (47.4%)
Labour: 6024 (10.2%)
Lib Dem: 20157 (34.1%)
Green: 1039 (1.8%)
UKIP: 1873 (3.2%)
Independent: 1968 (3.3%)
MAJORITY: 7838 (13.3%)

Sitting MP: Andrew Lansley (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

Andrew Lansley may be standing down but the Tory majority here is likely to increase due to the massive LibDem vote shrinking, presumably to Labour.

7. South East Cambridgeshire

2010 Result:
Conservative: 27629 (48%)
Labour: 4380 (7.6%)
Lib Dem: 21683 (37.6%)
Green: 766 (1.3%)
UKIP: 2138 (3.7%)
Independent: 517 (0.9%)
Others: 489 (0.8%)
MAJORITY: 5946 (10.3%)

Sitting MP: James Paice (Con)
Prediction: Increased Conservative majority

James Paice is standing down but as in the previous seat, the Tory majority is likely to increase here due to the split opposition vote.

To see the complete list of predictions click HERE

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John Bird discusses his book THE NECESSITY OF POVERTY and 'Wife in the North' Judith O'Reilly talks about A YEAR OF DOING GOOD.

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General Election Predictions

General Election Predictions 3: Suffolk

21 Dec 2014 at 14:58

This is the third in a series of blogposts which will seek to predict the outcome of every seat in the run-up to the next general election. The notion of a universal swing in May 2015 can be totally discounted. Each seat has to be treated on its merits. I’m starting off by trying to analyse the counties I know best, but eventually will turn to ones I know very little about at all. Feel free to add your comments and tell me where you think I have got things wrong. I will return to update each county analysis when and if I get new information.

Number of Seats: 7
Current Political Makeup: Conservative, 7
Prediction for 2015: Conservative 5, Labour 2

1. Bury St Edmunds
2010 Result:
Conservative: 27899 (47.5%)
Labour: 9776 (16.6%)
Lib Dem: 15519 (26.4%)
Green: 2521 (4.3%)
UKIP: 3003 (5.1%)
MAJORITY: 12380 (21.1%)

Sitting MP: David Ruffley (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

The only time this seat has ever looked like drifting away from the Tories was in 1997 when David Ruffley only narrowly held on by 368 votes. Since then he has built up a more or less impregnable majority. He’s standing down but this is one to bet your mortgage on.

2. Central Suffolk & North Ipswich
2010 Result:
Conservative: 27125 (50.8%)
Labour: 8636 (16.2%)
Lib Dem: 13339 (25%)
Green: 1452 (2.7%)
UKIP: 2361 (4.4%)
Independent: 389 (0.7%)
Others: 118 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 13786 (25.8%)

Sitting MP: Dr Dan Poulter (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Again, nothing less than a political earthquake would shift Dan Poulter here, partly due to a split opposition.

3. Ipswich

2010 Result:
Conservative: 18371 (39.1%)
Labour: 16292 (34.7%)
Lib Dem: 8556 (18.2%)
BNP: 1270 (2.7%)
Green: 775 (1.7%)
UKIP: 1365 (2.9%)
Christian: 149 (0.3%)
Independent: 93 (0.2%)
Others: 70 (0.1%)
MAJORITY: 2079 (4.4%)

Sitting MP: Ben Gummer (Con)
Prediction: Narrow Labour gain

Another of those bellweather seats that tends to swing with the political wind. The fact that UKIP haven’t been very popular here in the past begs the question as to whether they can eat into the Labour vote to allow Ben Gummer to squeak through. The fact that the LibDems have also scored strongly in the past tends to suggest that a slab of their 18% at the last election will go to Labour as well. Gummer has provied to be a popular, independent minded MP, but has only had one term to build up a personal vote. Will that be enough? I suspect not.

4. South Suffolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24550 (47.7%)
Labour: 7368 (14.3%)
Lib Dem: 15861 (30.8%)
UKIP: 3637 (7.1%)
MAJORITY: 8689 (16.9%)

Sitting MP: Tim Yeo (CON)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

If Tim Yeo wasn’t standing down I’d have reduced this to the status of probable Conservative hold, but with the LibDem vote splitting to Labour it’s difficult to see this as anything other than a bet your mortgage Tory hold.

5. Suffolk Coastal

2010 Result:
Conservative: 25475 (46.4%)
Labour: 8812 (16.1%)
Lib Dem: 16347 (29.8%)
Green: 1103 (2%)
UKIP: 3156 (5.7%)
MAJORITY: 9128 (16.6%)

Sitting MP: Therese Coffey (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

A much safer seat than the figures show, mainly because of the high LibDem vote. Put your money on an increased majority for Therese Coffey.

6. Waveney

2010 Result:
Conservative: 20571 (40.2%)
Labour: 19802 (38.7%)
Lib Dem: 6811 (13.3%)
Green: 1167 (2.3%)
UKIP: 2684 (5.2%)
Independent: 106 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 769 (1.5%)

Sitting MP: Peter Aldous (Con)
Prediction: Probable Labour gain

Peter Aldous has a wafer thin majority. Formerly Jim Prior’s seat it went Labour in 1997 and if UKIP take more votes off the Tories than Labour, it’s likely to return to Labour, given that they will be the beneficiary of any reduction in the LibDem vote. Aldous will still feel there is all to play for and a Conservative hold can’t be ruled out, but the odds are stacked against them.

7. West Suffolk

2010 Result:
Conservative: 24312 (50.6%)
Labour: 7089 (14.7%)
Lib Dem: 11262 (23.4%)
BNP: 1428 (3%)
UKIP: 3085 (6.4%)
Independent: 540 (1.1%)
Others: 373 (0.8%)
MAJORITY: 13050 (27.1%)

Sitting MP: Matthew Hancock (Con)
Prediction: Definite Conservative hold

Seeing as this has been a Conservative held seat since the 19th century, it’s another Conservative hold to be your mortgage on.

To see the complete list of predictions click HERE

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Video: 18 Doughty Street's Greatest Hits

18 Doughty Street's final programme with Iain Dale & Zoe Anne Phillips

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List

My 100 Favourite Tweeters of 2014

21 Dec 2014 at 09:03

Each new year I do a list of people whose tweets I have most enjoyed during the previous 12 months. I follow about 1600 people on Twitter but these are the ones who have entertained, informed, educated, annoyed and, most of all, made me laugh most this year. So here are my Top 100, including 18 new entries, in no particular order…

PRINT JOURNALISTS

@ChrisDeerin – Journalist, Scottish Daily Mail
@ShippersUnbound – Deputy political editor, Daily Mail
@PaulWaugh – Editor, PoliticsHome
@DAaronovitch – Columnist – The Times
@ZoesqWilliams – Columnist, the Guardian
@MrMatthewTodd – Editor, Attitude magazine
@TimMontgomerie – Comment editor, The Times
@NeilWallis1 – Media commentator
@MehdiRHasan – Political Director, Huffington Post
@GraemeArcher – Columnist, ConservativeHome
@IanBirrell – Columnist, Independent, Daily Mail & Evening Standard
@JohnRentoul – Columnist, Independent on Sunday
@Gallaghereditor – Tony Gallagher, Deputy Editor, Daily Mail
@VinceGraff – Columnist
@Timothy_Stanley – Telegraph columnist (NEW)
@Y_Alibhai – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (NEW)

TV JOURNALISTS

@AFNeil – BBC presenter
@PiersMorgan – Presenter, CNN
@ReporterBoy – (Giles Dilnot), Reporter, Daily Politics
@MichaelLCrick – Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News
@KayBurley – Sky News presenter
@AdamBoulton – Presenter, Sky News
@FaisalIslam – Political Editor, Sky News (NEW)
@IanKatz100 – Editor, Newsnight
@DMcCaffreySKY – Political reporter, Sky News
@SimonMcCoy – Presenter, BBC News Channel
@AlStewITN – Presenter, ITN

BLOGGERS

@FleetStreetFox – Susie Boniface
@MrHarryCole – Editor, Guido Fawkes blog
@GuidoFawkes – Editor in Chief, Guido Fawkes blog
@PaddyBriggs – Sports & politics blogger
@Nero – Milo Yiannopolous (NEW)

POLITICS

@LordAshcroft – Businessman & philanthropist
@Jacqui_Smith1 – Former Labour Home Secretary
@Andrew_Kennedy – Conservative Party Agent in Kent
@JohnMcTernan – Former Political Director for Tony Blair
@NadineDorriesMP – Conservative MP
@NichStarling – Former LibDem leader on Broadland District Council
@Edwina_Currie – Former Conservative MP
@ThereseCoffey – Conservative MP
@Sarah_Hayward – Labour leader of Camden Council
@StewartWood – Labour peer
@Tony_McNulty – Former Labour MP
@Tracey_Crouch – Conservative MP
@EI Jake – Jake Morrison, Liverpool City Councillor
@JerryHayes1 – Former Conservative MP
@ThatchersRise – Real time account of Thatcher’s rise to the Tory leadership (NEW)
@LiarPoliticians – Anti politics tweeter (NEW)
@StirringTrouble – Alexander Nekrassov (NEW)

RADIO

@HattMarris84 – My producer on LBC
@StephenNolan – 5 Live presenter
@RichardPBacon – Former 5 Live presenter
@ShelaghFogarty – LBC presenter
@TheJamesMax – BBC London presenter
@JaneGarvey1 – Presenter, Woman’s Hour, Radio 4
@JuliaHB1 – Former afternoon presenter, LBC
@SuttonNick – Editor, World at One, Radio 4
@Rachel_Hump – Producer, LBC
@RobinLustig – Former Presenter, The World Tonight, Radio 4
@StanCollymore – TalkSport radio host
@CarolineFeraday – Former BBC London presenter
@TheJeremyVine – Presenter, Radio 2
@MrJamesOB – Morning show presenter, LBC
@Corrie_corfield – Radio 4 announcer
@NickyAACampbell – 5 Live presenter
@Tweeter_Anita – Presenter, Any Answers, Radio 4
@DuncanBarkes – Late show presenter, LBC 97.3
@BroadcastMoose – Ian Abrahams, Talksport presenter
@FiFiGlover – Radio 4 presenter
@JohnMyersTeam – Chairman, Radio Academy
@DavidLloydRadio – David Lloyd, Orion Radio
@HorneyMedia – Tony Horne, Radio presenter
@PaulEaston – Radio consultant
@CarolynQuinnCQ – Presenter, Westminster Hour, Radio 4
@IainLee – BBC Three Counties Breakfast Presenter (NEW)
@AccidentalP – Accidental Partridge (NEW)
@Grvlx001 – Jamie Angus, editor of Today (NEW)

SPORT

@Dean36Ashton10 – Former Norwich City & West Ham footballer
@Joey7Barton – QPR footballer
@CarltonCole1 – West Ham footballer
@HenryWinter – Football journalist, Daily Telegraph
@BobBallardSport – Radio sports journalist
@LeeClayton_ – Sports editor, Daily Mail
@NotBigSam – Sam Allardyce spoof account
@DavidGold – Co chairman of West Ham United
@ClareBalding – BBC & BT Sport presenter
@JimmyBullard – Ex footballer (NEW)
@BoringMilner – Spoof James Milner account (NEW)

MISCELLANEOUS

@WMaryBeard – Classics academic & author
@Alistairgriffin – Singer, songwriter
@AdamLake – Public Affairs Specialist
@Brit_Battleaxe – Christine Hamilton
@JamesWharton – Former Soldier & author of OUT IN THE ARMY
@JoshuJPE – Politically tuned funny guy
@MarkFoxNews – CEO, Business Services Association
@SallyHitchiner – Vicar
@GrantTucker – My former PA!
@GylesB1 – Gyles Brandreth (NEW)
@Modawah – Spoof Mo Ansar account (NEW)
@AwkwardGrindr – Cringeworthy moments from Grindr (NEW)

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

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UKIP Politics

Kerry Smith Speaks Out - UKIP Candidate Unrepentant About 'Chinky' Comments

20 Dec 2014 at 09:48

Yesterday evening I was conducting a phonein on whether women should be able to serve on the frontline in the infantry when I was told that after the 5.15 news and travel I’d be interviewing Kerry Smith, the former UKIP candidate for South Basildon & East Thurrock. Earlier in the day Nigel Farage had defended his comments about ‘chinkies’ and ‘poofters’, calling him a ‘rough diamond’ and this had become a big story on the news channels during the course of the day.

What followed was thirteen minutes of radio gold. Mr Smith, it is fair to say, was unrepentant about his words, maintaining that they were the words that many people use. What I want to know is how he ever came close to being selected as a parliamentary candidate in the first place in a seat which UKIP reckon they have a good chance of winning. Not only that, but after he was deselected he was then reselected in order to stop Neil Hamilton becoming the candidate after the personal intervention of Nigel Farage, who, I am told on good authority knew all about the authority of the tape which was subsequently leaked to the Mail on Sunday. And UKIP reckon that they are different to the other parties and don’t indulge in this sort of skulduggery. Yeah, right.

Anyway, listen to the interview and judge for yourself whether Kerry Smith was ever fit to stand as a parliamentary candidate…

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to JoJo Moyes

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Personal

Knackered, Unfit & Overweight - Something Needs to Change in 2015

19 Dec 2014 at 20:37

Another year’s work complete. Now for two weeks off, and I can’t pretend I don’t need them. Basically, I’m knackered. I remember last Christmas, it wasn’t until I went back on the radio in the new year that I realised how tired I had got in the runup to Christmas. I have tried to pace myself a little better this year, but I can’t pretend that I’m not tired. I haven’t had any time off since August, and I know people must think that sitting there for four hours a day must be easy peasy. I mean, I get paid to talk. How difficult can that be? I don’t blame people for thinking that, but let me tell you that it’s the most knackering thing I have ever done. Not only does it require intense concentration, you have to be thinking and communicating several things at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I love more or less every minute of it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that when I get home of an evening all I usually do is fall asleep in front of the TV. Most weeks I start watching Question Time, fall asleep before the end of the first question and then wake up more or less at the end of THIS WEEK. Sorry David, sorry Andrew. No reflection on either of you, I can assure you.

But something has got to change in 2015. I can’t go on like this and let my health suffer. Sitting down for 4 hours a day isn’t good. I bought a pedometer which shows I walk a fraction of the number of steps I should walk each day. I eat the wrong food. I have a sweet tooth, yet I am a diabetic. My work commitments mean I don’t exercise enough. or is that just an excuse?

I have promised myself that things will be different in 2015. I’ve got to make time for things which are important, rather than keep saying yes to everything that comes my way. I have tried to start already. A couple of days ago I was invited to lunch by someone I know vaguely “for a catchup”. I emailed back to ask what was on the agenda. “Oh, nothing in particular,” came the reply. “I just thought it would be good to catch up”. Well I’m not being funny, but with two full time jobs and a home life, I just can’t be as sociable as I might once have been. I felt a bit rude emailing back to say I just couldn’t do it, but I have got to learn to say no. My partner says it’s my biggest weakness. No, Mars Bars are my biggest weakness. But I haven’t bought any chocolate for 13 months now. Or any sweets for 11 months. You see I do have some self control if I choose to exercise it. Sometimes.

I know people always make promises at this time of year to get fit etc once Christmas is out of the way, but I really have got to mean it and stick to it. I’ve been told if I don’t I will have to start injecting insulin and I really don’t want to have to do that, mainly because it apparently makes you put on weight and it can lead to hypoglycaemic attacks. Not good if you are a radio presenter.

So do I join a gym, or take up running? I hate running, but it’s easy to do and doesn’t involve prancing around with a load of muscle marys in front of mirrors. Perhaps I should get a personal trainer. I know somehow I need to force myself to have the discipline to get fit and lose weight. Maybe I’ll make it a feature on the radio show. Maybe a weigh-in every week. Not quite sure that would work on radio!

Anyway, I’ll be sure and let you know. All advice gratefully received.

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Ray Davies

Kinks frontman Ray Davies talks to Iain about all things American and his life in music.

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