ConHome Diary: The Naughty Table at the Margaret Thatcher Centre Dinner

30 Oct 2015 at 14:42

On Tuesday night I went to the Margaret Thatcher Centre dinner at the Guildhall, along with 400 others. What a fabulous venue. I had never been there before. It was quite an occasion and raised a huge amount of money to go towards funding the activities of the Centre. All the tables were named after a Thatcher Cabinet Minister. I requested ours was named after my favourite, Cecil Parkinson. Ah, what might have been. Had he not had to resign in 1983 I reckon he would have been in prime position to succeed Mrs T, but alas it wasn’t to be. Had he become Foreign Secretary in 1983, I suspect many of the events later on in the decade which led to her downfall would not have happened. A nice counterfactual for someone to write.

Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister, was the guest speaker and he certainly delivered a hard hitting speech, which has been widely reported in the press. His main point concerned immigration and in some ways he out-Faraged Nigel Farage with his rhetoric and approach. He urged EU countries to copy the Australian approach and turn immigrant boats around. Easy to say, but the Med is not the Indian Ocean.

I was on the naughty table, which included Andrew Mitchell, Suzanne Evans and Heidi Allen. I’m not sure whether Stephen Parkinson, who’s just left Theresa May’s employ to campaign for the EU Leave campaign qualifies as ‘naughty’ or not. Seeing as he runs the Conservative History Group he’s probably the very definition of sensible’. Most of the time.

The Margaret Thatcher Centre is the idea of CWF head Donal Blaney. It’s a perfect example of someone making a real difference. Donal has been a leading figure in Conservative activism ever since his YC days and is the brainchild behind the Young Britons Foundation. His idea is to effectively fundraise enough money to build an actual physical Margaret Thatcher Centre as well as run courses to spread the gospel of Thatcherism both in this country and around the world. He’s put together an impressive array of supporters and there is a deep commitment to making this happen. I wish him every success with the project. Donal is one of those people who, as Richard Nixon might say, “makes a difference”. And in the end, isn’t that what we’d all like to do? Look back on our lives and think that in some way we made a difference?
So a date has finally been set for the publication of the Chilcot Report. It’s been so long in coming that unfortunately everyone has forgotten the evidence that was given back in 2009. The report will be more than 2 million words long, which means if one wants to read the whole thing, it will take more than 120 hours at average reading speed. That’s longer than Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher!
In a way it won’t make much difference what Chilcot’s conclusions are. Those who believe Blair to be a war criminal won’t be satisfied with anything less than a recommendation for an indictment at The Hague, and those who think Blair can do no wrong won’t accept any criticism of him anyhow. So we’ll more than likely be back to square one.

An invitation to a media reception at Number Ten arrives in my Inbox. Ah, so I haven’t been blacklisted following the publication of CALL ME DAVE. Sadly it’s timed from 5-7pm, exactly the time I am on the radio. Obviously a deliberate snub .
I wonder why it is taking the Daily Mail so long to appoint a new political editor to succeed James Chapman, who left in the summer to take over as George Osborne’s Director of Communications. It’s one of the plum jobs in political journalism, but also one of the most challenging. Surely there can’t be any lack of people interested in it, so why the delay?



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Video: Iain & Sally Bercow review the papers

Sky News, August 21 2010

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New Statesman Diary: A Visit to Frankfurt & Being Nervous About Speaking German

24 Oct 2015 at 09:23

This week I have written a diary of the New Statesman. Here it is…
And so to the Frankfurt Book Fair. I’ve managed to escape going for the last four years, but this year I thought I’d better make the effort. My company, Biteback (publishers of THAT book on David ‘Hameron’) has a stand there and the aim is to identify books from foreign publishers that might work in the UK and sell rights of our books to foreign publishers. I wasn’t sure what interest there would be in CALL ME DAVE from overseas publishers but I’m delighted to say that the book has attracted the keen interest of one of America’s biggest publishers, and we have an agent who thinks she can sell rights to most European countries. An Estonian publisher told me that our PM is very popular in her country. Who’d have thought!

I have to say my most enjoyable moment of the week was having to explain ‘piggate’ to an Israeli publisher. Strangely I doubt whether it will be appearing on the shelves of Israeli bookshops very soon.

Talking of Israel, our stand isn’t far away from the Israeli Publishers’ Collective. It’s the only stand with a permanent security presence of two men dressed in black with earpieces. I walk past it three times a day and I have never seen a single person on the stand smile. Even when they had a Falafel party (when the security presence increased to six men) no one seemed to be enjoying it. I resisted the temptation to wander by humming ‘don’t worry, be happy’. What a sad state of affairs it is when a publisher feels it needs to hire security because of the risk of an anti-semitic attack. In Germany of all places.
Thirty years ago this summer I graduated from the University of East Anglia (or University of Easy Access, as it was known in those days) with a degree in German. Having spent two years living in Germany, teaching and working as a nurse (no sniggering at the back) I became totally fluent in the language to the extent that whenever I told a German I was English they refused to believe me. In one case I had to prove it by showing them my passport. Sadly, though, having had few opportunities to speak the language in three decades, my oral abilities have declined somewhat, although I can still understand everything. So it was with some trepidation that I drove to Bad Wildungen at the weekend to visit old friends and the woman I call my ‘German mother’. In the end I needn’t have worried. We picked up as if the previous two decades hasn’t existed. And that’s what true friendship is all about, isn’t it? And my German hadn’t deteriorated quite as much as I had feared. In any case, even if it had, so many English (or American) words have been incorporated into German, I could have probably got by. We now have three new German verbs – downloaden, streamen and skypen. Ich downloade, du streamst, sie haben geskypt. Ausgezeichnet.

This was my first visit to Germany since 2011, but not a lot seems to have changed. The concept of corner shops which stay open all hours still hasn’t reached the country. Having last week attended my third speed awareness course, it’s been a delight to be able to drive like the clappers (I reached 130mph in my hired Volvo 4×4) on the autobahn without fear of being stopped by the police, and German radio still hasn’t climbed out of the 1980s. Politically, they still obsess about the English and their loss of empire, they scratch their heads in disbelief at why we are so Eurosceptic (although that’s gradually changing) and they want to know all about Kate. Really. Ask them about the VW scandal, though, and invariably the subject will be changed in the shortest time possible. The Germans know all about national guilt, and the VW scandal has brought it all back. “It has brought shame on the whole country,” said one friend. “No one believes there were only two people who knew about it. There must have been hundreds who just turned a blind eye.” Now, where have I heard that before?
This week I’m publishing a book by award winning journalist Alan Friedman on Silvio Berlusconi, called MY WAY. It’s the nearest thing Berlusconi will get to an autobiography, I suspect. He spent one hundred hours with Friedman talking about his life, experiences and the people he has met. It’s all on video too, and Friedman is releasing a lot of it concurrently with the book, including some fascinating footage of Vladimir Putin and other world leaders opining about Berlusconi. The former Italian premier gave Friedman total editorial control over the manuscript, although a few months before publication he bought the Italian publisher of the book! So far I haven’t received an offer I couldn’t refuse to buy Biteback… Although there has been an incident of a pig’s head…

Back in London on Monday, and it was the book launch much of Westminster had been waiting for. Altitude, on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower is a great venue for such an event, and it played host to 400 people eagerly awaiting Michael Ashcroft’s author’s speech. Sadly all they got was a speech from me instead. Unbeknown to anyone Michael has been seriously ill for the last month. In fact, at one stage it was touch and go. Thankfully he is on the road to recovery, but was unable to make the launch of CALL ME DAVE. I suspect he had to be strapped to his bed because I know that he would have been desperate to attend. Much has been said about him supposedly hanging Isabel Oakeshott and me out to dry by not doing any interviews about the book himself. Only she and I knew the truth, and for once we both kept our respective gobs shut. As it turned out, I read out the book launch speech Michael would have given, had he been there. It’s the only time in my life I have been asked to stand in for a billionaire. Michael finished by saying: “I have fought many political and business battles over the past half century but this is the first one – and, I trust, the last – in which I haven’t led from the front.” We both look forward to him rejoining the fray very soon. As I am sure does the prime minister.



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to John Bird & Judith O'Reilly

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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ConHome Diary: When the PM Signed 'Call Me Dave' & A Tribute to Michael Meacher

23 Oct 2015 at 14:43

David Cameron seems to have become remarkably more relaxed about the Ashcroft/Oakeshott book CALL ME DAVE. On Monday he sat down in the Commons tea room with a group of Tory MPs for a chinwag, and noticed the book on the table. Keith Simpson had a copy as he is reviewing it for Total Politics. Cameron asked Keith what he thought of it (I’ll leave you in suspense on that) and then Keith found himself suggesting to the PM that he might like to sign it. “Why not,” replied the PM, adding a comment which read “Don’t believe everything you read!”

Monday saw the launch of CALL ME DAVE at Altitude, the party venue on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower. I’ve rarely been so nervous before a booklaunch before. It’s not often that such an event is held when the host and co-author will be absent. I was one of only three people who knew that was going to be the case, and although I have a mouth the size of the Mersey Tunnel, I did actually manage to keep the secret. Everyone now knows that Michael Ashcroft has been extremely ill and had suffered a near death experience, which is why he hasn’t been able to defend his own book. He is actually quite a private person and understandably didn’t want his condition to be widely known about until he was out of the woods. So when accusations were made that he had hung Isabel Oakeshott and myself out to dry by not doing media interviews, it was extremely difficult not to react. All one could think was “if only you knew”. I suspect even now he’d have preferred people not to know, but we just couldn’t cancel the launch event and rather than come up with some unbelievable reason as to why he could be there, it was far better to tell the truth. I was tasked with delivering his speech in his absence – the only time I have ever stood in for a billionaire – and introduced a video from Belize TV, which was to be aired later that night on their main TV news show. I think many of those attending the launch thought it was some sort of elaborate spoof, until it dawned on them that the detail given couldn’t possibly have been made up. When the video finished, there was total silence in the room among the 300 guests. No one quite knew what to say. The many journalists present rushed out of the room to phone their respective news desks. The Sun’s Harry Cole got it on their front page, although rather laughably with an ‘Exclusive’ tag.

There was quite an eclectic group of guests which included Nigel Farage and Labour MPs John Spellar and Michael Meacher. It was the last public event attended by Meacher before his sudden death on Wednesday. More on him in a moment.

Although there were a fair few Tory MPs there – I won’t name them for fear of reprisals – many were noticeable by their absence. Loyalty is an increasingly rare thing in politics. Various pulled out at the last minute with a whole host of pathetic excuses. Lily livered cowards, the lot of them.
I first came across Michael Meacher when I was a lobbying back in the late 1980s. I was advising the port employers on their campaign the rid the industry of the iniquitous National Dock Labour Scheme. We held a lunch with Meacher, who was then Labour’s Shadow Employment Minister, to explain the damage the scheme was doing to ports like London, Liverpool and Southampton in terms of jobs and economic growth. Being an ardent trade union supporter and on the left of the party we knew we were on a hiding to nothing, but he listened politely, asked all the right questions and at the end of the lunch parted by saying: “I agree with a lot of what you say, and understand your reasons for wanting to get rid of the scheme, but you’ll understand that when I leave this room I’ll be denouncing you to the journalists outside.”

Over the last two or three years I got to know him a little more as I published his last book THE STATE WE NEED. It is a left wing treatise about reforming the economy. Needless to say I didn’t agree with a word of it, but I suspect it’s now regarded as an economic blueprint by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Despite the fact that we’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum, I really liked Michael Meacher. He may have been known as ‘Tony Benn’s representative on earth’ in the early 1980s but he was a kind, polite man, who truly believed in what he said. He always seemed genuinely perplexed that not everyone agreed with him, as if he must have explained it wrongly. He’ll be much missed.
On Wednesday I trotted along to the Foreign Office who were hosting the Pink News awards dinner. I had been nominated for Broadcaster of the Year, along with Jeremy Kyle (I kid you not), Victoria Derbyshire, Vicky Beeching, Anna Richardson and Reggie Yates. I reckoned Victoria or Vicky would win, and I was right as it went to Victoria Derbyshire. As many will know, she has just gone through a pretty awful few weeks with breast cancer, so it was great to see her there and in such fine form. She absolutely deserved to win. And while I am at it, many congratulations to Ben Cohen on ten years of Pink News. It’s a fantastic resource and he should be very proud of what he has created.



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Iain Dale talks to Mary Beard

Professor Mary Beard talks about the book of her blog ALL IN A DON'S DAY

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 40: When a Caller Tells You She Thinks You Should Be Killed...

21 Oct 2015 at 22:42

If you think the battle for gay equality is won, listen to this shocking call from Zainab, a 22 year old muslim woman who truly believes gay muslims (and presumably all other gays) should, a la Isis, be thrown off the top of buildings and be killed. She is followed by Sohail who tells her why she is so misguided.

I tell her that her parents should be ashamed of themselves for indoctrinating her in this way. I kept my cool but I let her hav it in no uncertain terms. If I was on the BBC I’d have probably been suspended. What a truly disgusting individual.

Sohail and his two friends are the heroes of this story. Today they set up a stall outside Whitechapel tube station to tell their fellow muslims why it’s OK being muslim and gay, Men of true courage.


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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale interviews Polar Explorer Dwayne Fields

Dwayne Fields is embarking on a trip to the South Pole. He tells Iain Dale why.

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Attitude Column: What Makes Long Term Relationships Work?

20 Oct 2015 at 09:29

At the end of August my partner, John, and I marked our twentieth anniversary together. In many ways this is unremarkable. Virtually every male couple I know are in very long term relationships – even friends of mine who are in their twenties or thirties seem to be destined to be ‘togethah forevah’. Why is this notable? Simple. Because even nowadays there is this perception that gay men are incapable of maintaining long term relationships and that they are more interested in one night stands and a life of bedhopping than establishing deep roots with one other person.

I’ve never thought gay men (or women, for that matter) are any more hedonistic that their straight counterparts. I think gay men got a reputation for shagging anything that moves because of the ease of access to sex if you wanted it. But as we see from the success of sites like Ashley Madison, PlentyOfFish, Tinder and countless others, straight men and women now have exactly the same opportunities.

Every relationship is different and there is no real secret which can explain why some endure and others come to grief after a relatively short time. Some relationships thrive on volatility, others on consensus. Some need an injection of excitement every now and then, others thrive on routine. There’s no handbook you can read on how to ensure your relationship endures, but there is one word which I’d say is vital to any long lasting partnership, and that’s ‘compromise’.

It’s very rare that two people share identical interests or identical personalities. Most of the time one part of the duo is interested in something that the other just can’t understand or abide. One might be more career minded than the other. There will always be massive differences. The art is to navigate them without falling out, and the way to do that is compromise. It’s not a word which tends to feature in my everyday lexicon. I’m a black and white person. Margaret Thatcher once said: “consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles and values.” Well, she had a point in the political world, but in the world of relationships she’s wrong.

My partner is placid. I’m volatile. Apart from dogs and cars, we have few interests in common. I like travel. He’s a home boy. I love sport. He hates all sports. He collects glass. I collect speeding tickets. We have entirely different tastes in music and film. I like going to the cinema. He prefers to watch a DVD at home. I am a West Ham season ticket holder. He precedes every mention of the word ‘football’ with the word ‘fucking’. I could go on. At length.

And yet it works. We rarely have an argument. In twenty years together we’ve never had a door slamming, screaming row, and for anyone who knows me, they’ll no doubt raise an eyebrow at that. But happens to be true. Somehow, it works. Just as I am sure that at times I drive John to distraction with some of the things I do or say, I too sometimes bite my tongue or don’t say what I am thinking. The trouble is that he knows me too well, and knows exactly what I am thinking, sometimes before I think it!

But that’s what I mean about compromise. If one part of the relationship is intent on always getting their own way, the other one is effectively acting as a doormat. It’s almost abusive. No relationship like that can survive in the long term. At least, I don’t think it can, and even if it does, why would anyone want it to?

John and I have a (straight) friend who appears to row with his girlfriend most days. Every other day she splits up with him. Once a week she even packs his clothes into a suitcase. But then they kiss and make up. I couldn’t be in a relationship like that, but each to their own. What works for one couple doesn’t work for another.

In twenty years I haven’t once seriously considered splitting up and I am as sure as I can be that John hasn’t either. After all, who would get custody of the dogs?

This article appears in the November issue of Attitude Magazine



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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Simon Callow

Simon Callow talks about his new book on Charles Dickens.

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ConHome Diary: Sajid Javid's Charisma & Why Tom Watson Shouldn't Be Unreservedly Condemned

16 Oct 2015 at 14:12

It was obviously a cunning plan by the Prime Minister to let Jeremy Corbyn get the better of him at PMQs yesterday. A clear sign of the government’s ‘Keep Corbyn in Place’ plan. Clearly.
I’m writing this diary in my hotel room in Frankfurt, the very definition of a soulless city. I hate the place. It’s four years since I’ve been to the annual book fair, which is the largest one of its type anywhere in the world. For a week, Frankfurt gets taken over by booky people, and even that doesn’t really add to its charms. One thing the city authorities have introduced, though, is free train and bus travel for anyone attending the fair. Can you imagine Boris Johnson doing something similar? Me neither. Frankfurt’s taxi drivers are none too impressed, though. They went on strike. Imagine what they will do when Uber comes to Frankfurt.

The cynics will look at Nicky Morgan’s decision to allow a new grammar school in Kent to be opened through the prism of a future leadership campaign. Technically it is not a new school, merely an annexe of an existing one, although the existing one is ten miles away from the new one. With me so far? The decision is a long time coming, and it will certainly do Nicky Morgan’s reputation no harm in certain quarters.
The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Ed Llewelyn is a man of many talents. He’s done the job for ten years now and is undoubtedly one of David Cameron’s most trusted confidantes. Urbane, charming and ultra-clever, he’s just the sort of man you’d want batting for you in a negotiation. But he’s a confirmed Europhile. So the news that he is in charge of EU renegotiations, is, it has to be said, not likely to inspire confidence on the part of those who want a substantial renegotiation, rather than a cosmetic one. The fact that no one can actually identify the issues we’re actually renegotiating says a lot. I belong to the school of thought that these negotiations are pretty irrelevant anyway and that the In-Out referendum will be just that, rather than a vote of confidence or otherwise in what has been negotiated. There is nothing that the Prime Minister can do to satisfy John Redwood or Bill Cash, so there’s little point in trying. The EU will give Cameron one headline success and three or four token concessions that will be enough for him to triumphantly declare them all as a game-changer. But they will amount to little. I hope in two years’ time I will be proven wrong, but I have my doubts.

Credit to Stephen Tall for doing something that Dan Hodges, Danny Alexander and I wimped out of – running down Whitehall naked. Well, almost naked. In doing so he raised … no sniggering at the back … around £8,000 for charity. The thing is, Stephen could get away with it seeing as he has a body which wouldn’t feature on that Channel 4 show ‘Embarrassing Bodies’. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for myself. And let’s be honest, no one wants to see Danny Alexander’s ginger nuts swinging their way down Whitehall, do they? Apart from possibly a rather specialist audience.
Sajid Javid is often accused of lacking the charisma to be next party leader. Well not according to an email correspondent of mine who wrote to me this week. This is what he said: “Just want to mention how impressed I was by Savid Javid who re-opened our local Internet cafe last Friday. Knowing how busy the man must be he took the time to speak to every age group there including my wife and I who are pensioners. We were there to sell our CDs ‘a taste of skiffle’ and he came over to us and bought one in cash. We’re a 4 piece skiffle band who play to raise money for the British lung foundation and we also play at the Internet cafe regularly to raise money for their several youth projects. I’m not normally a Tory voter but I was bowled over by Mr Javid who has charisma by the bucket load and deserves all the success and could be the next prime minister. Many thanks, JD of the ‘6-5 specials’ skiffle band.”

It is entirely right for people to call on Tom Watson to issue a fulsome apology to Lady Brittan. His mistake was to make the accusations in public via Exaro News before actually sending the accusations he had received to the Police. And then he went totally OTT in his remarks in the Commons. However, we should also bear in mind that through the other allegations that Watson sent to the police there have been several convictions. The trouble is that nowadays this whole issue has become rather binary. We either believe the whole establishment were at it and that if someone’s name is mentioned there must be something in it, or we believe the whole thing is a put up job by mentally ill fantasists. It is, of course, neither one thing nor the other. The truth lies somewhere in between. So before we all condemn Tom Watson totally, or like Alice Thomson in The Times, call for him to stand down as an MP, we ought to pause for thought a little.



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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Harry Redknapp

Football manager Harry Redknapp talks about his autobiography

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 39: And Over to the Travel

10 Oct 2015 at 09:16

For reasons best known to myself I have always wanted to read a travel bulletin. Well, on Thursday I did! I blackmailed James Rea, Managing Editor of LBC, into letting me do it on Shelagh Fogarty’s show by offering to donate money to the Global Radio Make Some Noise Appeal. He demanded double what I had offered, but we came to a happy compromise… So Jay Louise Knight wrote me a script and off I went. She helpfully included some Welsh names and towns called Weeford and Cockermouth in order to try to make me corpse. Watch the clip above and see how I did.

And as a special treat, here’s the video of me doing Karaoke on Thursday with my two LBC colleagues, Michael Keohan and Chris Hemmings, also to support Make Some Noise. Our rendition of I WANT IT THAT WAY was the hit of the day. Ahem.

Make Some Noise: Iain Dale Does The Backstreet Boys

Iain Dale sings the Backstreet Boys for Global's Make Some Noisehttp://l-bc.co/XHCMmr

Posted by LBC on Thursday, October 8, 2015



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to a Rather Repetitive Rachel Reeves

A very on message Rachel Reeves manages to make the same point 8 times in 80 seconds.

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ConHome Diary: The Tory MP Who Imagines Boris & Putin Mudrestling

9 Oct 2015 at 15:02

The Conservative conference was never going to be exciting. Party strategists decided to make it as boring as possible. Yes, there would be the odd big policy announcement, but in general if the Tories could escape Manchester with no adverse headlines, it would be a job well done. Things, however, are never quite that simple.
Most of the media looked at this entire conference through the prism of who will succeed David Cameron when the time comes. It may be four years too early, but hey, it keeps people like me in work.

At the end of the conference we know little more than we did at the start. We know George Osborne is taking on more and more domestic policy responsibilities and that he wants to position the Tories to eat into the working class Labour vote. He gave an accomplished performance on Monday and left no one in any doubt as to whether he sees himself as Cameron’s natural successor.

On Tuesday it was the turn of Boris Johnson and Theresa May to impress. Or not. Theresa May surprised us all by giving a very right wing speech entirely about immigration. Having warned the Tories at their 2002 conference they were in danger of seeing the nasty party, thirteen years on she seemed determined to prove the truth of that remark. It may have gone down well with a certain group of Tory members, but the Westminster media hated it. She’s clearly calculated that neither Boris Johnson nor George Osborne will be the candidates of the right, so she might as well slip her kitten heals into that gap.

Boris Johnson gave the undoubted hit speech of the conference, and he needed to. His stock has fallen since his return to Parliament and in ConservativeHome polls he has dropped to third place in the leadership stakes. He seemed to have lost his MoJo (or possibly BoJo) and has done little to impress. Three or four years out from a leadership election, this is still important. If he is to make the final round, he needs to win the support of his fellow MPs and he knows he has a mountain to climb. The 2015 intake don’t know him and are slightly in awe of him. He’s failed to cultivate the 2010 intake, and those who served with him when he was last in parliament remember his shambolic performance on the front bench and his inability to be part of a team.

But it was David Cameron’s speech that most will remember from this conference. He showed them what they will be missing when he departs in a few years’ time. His articulation of the case for liberal social reform was quite something, especially the passage on equality being the key to opportunity. His forceful denunciation of ‘passive tolerance’ of extremism went down well in the hall, but many [even on the left] will have cheered him out in the country.

What those of us inside the Westminster bubble noticed, though, was the way Cameron bigged up Boris Johnson, George Osborne and Michael Gove. But for Theresa May there was nothing. And after her immigration speech, it was more than she deserved. That may seem cruel, but as someone who has been a fan of hers for many years, I could not have been more disappointed in her.

Heidi Allan is a new MP who hadn’t come across my radar until this week’s conference. Within two minutes of meeting her, she became one of my favourite MPs to interview. She was appearing on my end of day conference panel, when I asked her what she thought of George Osborne’s speech, and whether she thought he could be the next leader. “Nah, too smooth,” she replied. Having picked my jaw up off the floor, I thought I might be on a rich vein of quotery here, so I asked her about her view of Boris. I can’t do her justice by repeating what she said in words, so listen to the clip, but suffice it to say it involved mud wrestling and Vladimir Putin. But then there was more. She compared Theresa May to Edna Mode from the Incredibles. A quite astonishing debut on the radio, but one which has guaranteed repeat bookings! Now, from the feedback I’ve had on social media from listeners, they loved her too. They liked the fact she gave her real views in a humorous way and was unspun. I’m sure the party media managers won’t have been too impressed, but they are living in the wrong era. People want genuineness, and with Heidi Allan they got it. Even Theresa May saw the funny side when I put it to her. Good on her for that. Darling.

So Zac won. That was a surprise, wasn’t it?! How odd, though, for the conference organisers to put Zac and Boris on together. Zac may be many things, but he can’t compete with Boris for oratory. I felt rather sorry for him, although he delivered a perfectly fine speech.

So what’s Nicky Morgan up to, then? That was the question on a lot of people’s minds this week after her hint last week that she would stand in the forthcoming leadership contest. When I interviewed her on Tuesday she went further than a hint. “It would be an honour to lead the Conservative Party,” she told me. Well, it was a straight answer to a straight question. There’s nothing wrong with ambition and seeing as David Cameron has fired the starting gun, why should she be criticised for stating the obvious? When Nicky became Education Secretary I wrote that depending on how she performed in the role, she could go all the way. I still retain that view. She hasn’t showed up yet what kind of Conservative she really is, but there’s time for that. She has time to prove herself. In 2008 I was the first one to tip Ed Miliband as the next leader of the Labour Party, so I have a bit of form here. I’m not ready to say Nicky Morgan WILL be the next leader, but I genuinely believe it’s a possibility if she plays her cards right.

What on earth was Jeremy Corbyn thinking? This week he turned up in Manchester to address the baying mob who had spent the week spitting at, insulting and in a few cases assaulting Conservative conference go-ers. People will have rightly drawn their own conclusions. OK, it was only a small minority who did these things, but there was some pretty nasty stuff going on. Threats of rape. Telling a jewish man to ‘go back to Auschwitz. Scum. But I was appalled by Manchester Police. They were clearly loving watching the wicked Tories running the gauntlet each afternoon, and did little to prevent some of the more unruly scenes. The protesters only every appeared in the afternoon, presumably because they were still in bed in the morning.

Next Tuesday I am going on a speed awareness course, then going to see Cliff Richard at the Royal Albert Hall. Insert your own joke here.



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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to David Baddiel

Football funny man David Baddiel chats to Iain about the relationship between football and politics.

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Conservative Politics

The Top 100 Most Influential People on the Right 2015

6 Oct 2015 at 10:00

1. (+1) David Cameron
Prime Minister
Having won an unexpected majority at the election, David Cameron takes over the top place in this list once again, having lost it to both Nigel Farage and George Osborne in recent years. He now has two to three years to create a lasting political legacy. Will he be the prime minister who leads us out of the EU, or seals our place at the heart of it?

2. (+1) George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Like Lynton Crosby, George Osborne is at the height of his powers. His image has been transformed. The economy is on the up. He’s effectively running the government’s domestic policy. He’s also taken over the mantle of favourite to succeed David Cameron, a dangeous position to hold as he well knows.

3. (+2) Lynton Crosby
General Election Campaign Director
Tim Ross’s forthcoming book WHY THE TORIES WON lays bare the contribution Lynton Crosby made to the Tory victory in May. Revered as a God-like figure in CCHQ, Crosby is at the peak of his powers and the next Tory leader will prostrate themselves in front of him, begging him to return to run the campaign in 2020, and rightly so.

4. (-3) Nigel Farage
Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party
It’s been a funny old year for Nigel Farage. Nearly 4 million votes, yet only one MP to show for it. The disaster of his post election non resignation is still a millstone around his neck and he shows little sign of being able to unify his warring forces.

5. (+1) Theresa May
Home Secretary
Now the longest serving Home Secretary for decades, it was in some ways a shame that Theresa May wasn’t made Foreign Secretary in the post election reshuffle, giving her more experience of issues she’d need to be on top of if she succeeds David Cameron. Her weakness is the lack of identifiable ‘Mayites’ on the backbenches. She’s got a couple of years to work on that.

6. (+3) Jeremy Hunt
Secretary of State for Health
On election night, when they thought the Tories would lose, there was a conversation around the Cameron dining table in which he and his colleagues identified Jeremy Hunt as Cameron’s successor. If he discovers a harder political edge, it could still happen. The outsider often wins in the end.

. (+4) Samantha Cameron
Wife of the Prime Minister
Evidence grows by the month of the quiet, behind the scenes influence Samantha Cameron has on her husband. She knows her own mind and she’d not be human if she didn’t use every opportunity to get her husband to do what in her mind is the “right thing”, especially on humanitarian intervention in the Syrian crisis.

8. (-) Sajid Javid
Secretary State for Business, Innovation & Skills
A smooth operator, Javid is being talked about as one of the leading contenders to take over from David Cameron. He’s in a job which will allow him to shine, and his response to the Redcar steel crisis has been impressive. We now need to see more of his personality and personal narrative.

9. (+33) Ruth Davidson
Leader, Scottish Conservatives
Ruth Davidson has had a stonking leader in charge of the Scottish Conservatives. They may only have one MP but she expects to increase the number of MSPs in the Scottish elections next May. If she were in Westminster she’d be a serious candidate to lead the UK party.

10. (-6) Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
Not the best of years for the newly elected MP for Uxbridge, but no one should write him off. Still the darling of rank and file Tories, he’s got time to rebuild his reputation and bounce back, but his main challenge is to convince his fellow MPs that he should be in the final two in a leadership contest.

11. (+1) Michael Gove
Secretary of State for Justice
Gove has shaken himself off and dusted himself down and got on with the job. He’s abandoned some of Chris Grayling’s reforms, and struck a very different tone on prisoner rehabilitation.

12. (-5) Philip Hammond
Foreign Secretary
A rather quiet year for Philip Hammond, which is odd given the situation in the middle east and Europe. If he’s to be a leadership contender he needs to define himself more and market his ideas and appeal. He’s actually got a really funny sense of humour. He should show it more.

13. (-3) Lord Michael Ashcroft
Businessman & Philanthropist
The fuss over Michael Ashcroft’s & Isabel Oakeshott’s book is testament to his continuing influence on matters Conservative. His political business interests and ownership of ConservativeHome mean that he’s unlikely to disappear from the political scene, however much his detractors in Downing Street might relish the prospect.

14. (-) Michael Fallon
Secretary of State for Defence
Mr Dependable, Fallon is often sent onto the airwaves to defend the impossible, but he does it with panache. Can he, though, be the Defence Secretary that finally reverses the defence cuts?

15. (NEW) Mark Harper
Chief Whip
A remarkable renaissence for this very popular Conservative MP and proof that if you play it right there is a way back after a resignation. An inspired appointment, Harper is a uniting force but knows how to be firm and impose party discipline.

16. (+31) Zac Goldsmith
Conservative candidate for Mayor of London
This time next year Zac will either be in the top ten, or a bit of a busted flush. The seven month long campaign will tell us a lot about whether this idealist and original thinker can become a top flight politician or not.

17. (-) Chris Grayling
Leader of the House of Commons
A great survivor, Chris Grayling is revelling in his new role, away from the bed of nails that is the Ministry of Justice. He will be an influential player in the EU referendum campaign, and it’s even rumoured he may even resign to support the ‘No’ campaign – a prelude to a leadership bid as the standardbearer of the right?

18. (-) Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Work & Pensions
Undoubtedly the most radical reformer in the government, he has taken a huge amount of flak, but it washes him like water off a duck’s back. He has pursued his reforms with a zeal other cabinet ministers could learn a lot from.

19. (-) Nicky Morgan
Secretary of State for Education
If she is to set herself up as the key female rival to Theresa May for the leadership, she will need to define her brand of Conservatism. Constantly underestimated by her rivals, Morgan is a good performer on the broadcast media, but she does need to acquire some idelogical grit.

20. (-4) Edward Llewellyn
_Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister
It had been thought Ed Llewellyn might depart for a diplomatic appointment, but it seems he will stay for the duration, or at least until the EU referendum, in which he will be a key influence on the PM, which is exactly what Eurosceptics fear.

21. (+10) Lord Daniel Finkelstein
Columnist, The Times
Danny Finkelstein is said to form one half of George Osborne’s brain. The two have been inseparable since working together in William Hague’s private office, and if Osborne does inherit the leadership expect Finkelstein to perform a leading role in his adninsitration.

22. (+37) Lord Andrew Feldman
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In many ways it’s quite outrageous that Feldman’s main qualification for this job is that he is David Cameron’s best friend, but he’s been very effective in his roles at CCHQ over the years and is now overseeing a root and branch overhaul of the party machinery, but his detractors maintain that his lack of background in the party means he can’t understand the consequences of some of his recommendations.

23. (NEW) Thea Rogers
Chief of Staff to George Osborne
Thea Rogers has almost singlehandedly managed the transformation of the Chancellor’s image in the last two years, and to great effect. If he becomes leader in 2019 it will be in part due to the fact that he has accepted her PR advice. She’s now taken over Rupert Harrison’s role as chief of staff, but let no one imagine she will be stepping back from advising the Chancellor on his image or media engagements.

24. (-1) Matthew Hancock
Minister for the Cabinet Office
It had been assumed that Hancock would have made the full cabinet, probably as chief secretary, but as with Grant Shapps, his loyalty didn’t quite get its full desserts. He now has to sell the trade union bill to his colleagues and the public, which will be no mean feat considering it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast.

25. (-3) Graham Brady
Chairman, 1922 Committee
The role of the 1922 committee chairman in a parliament where the Tories have a majority of only 12 is hugely important. The PM needs to know what his backbenchers are thinking and Brady tells him in no uncertain terms.

26. (-5) Oliver Letwin
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
He’s the Scarlet Pimpernel of the government – the media seek him here, they seek him there, but he never seems to give interviews and just gets on with his job of, well, being very quietly very effective.

27. (+19) John Whittingdale
Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport)
An inspired appointment, but he is showing worrying signs of going native on reform of the BBC and recanting on his previously strongly held views that the licence fee is an anachronism.

28. (+21) Robert Halfon
Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
One of the most popular members of the parliamentary party, Halfon has been given an important role at CCHQ. If he does it well, he’ll be heading for a top ministrial position within a couple of years.

29. (+1) Catherine Fall
Deputy Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister
Said to be the member of his staff that is most trusted by the Prime Minister. Discrete, loyal and never in the public eye, she hasn’t made a single error in ten years working for the PM.

30. (-5) Patrick McLoughlin
Secretary of State for Transport
A great survivor, many expected Cameron to despatch Patrick McLoughlin to the backbenches in the post-election reshuffle, but they underestimated him. He’s the ultimate safe pair of hands.

31. (+12) Greg Clark
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
The quietly spoken Clark is now a cabinet minister in his own right and heads a department where he can really make a mark. Some think he could use this position to be a dark horse candidate in the forthcoming leadership race.

32. (-3) Andrew Tyrie
Chairman, Treasury Select Committee
Tyrie has been an excellent chairman of the Treasury Select Committee. He may radiate calmness and niceness, but he has the forensic ability to question a witness which some of his colleagues sadly do not.

33. (+4) Daniel Hannan
MEP for South East England
His articulate advocacy of EU withdrawal will be vital to the Eurosceptic cause as the referendum draws ever closer. Once it’s over many expect him to make a bid to stand for Westminster in 2020.

34. (-) Paul Goodman
_Editor, ConservativeHome.com
One of the few non MPs on this list who can phone up any cabinet minister and they’ll take his call immediately. He seems to have become more radical as the years go by and isn’t afraid to offer constructive criticism where he feels it is merited.

35. (-) Jesse Norman
Chair, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee
Possibly the most talented of the 2010 intake not to be promoted to ministerial office, Jesse Norman doesn’t deserve to continue to be blackballed by No.10 for his rebellion over House of Lords reform. He’s now decided to go in a different direction and won his battle to be chairman of his select commitee over stiff opposition.

36. (-9) Jo Johnson
Minister for Universities
The lesser known of the Johnsons, he drops a little in this year’s list, not least because so many people seem to think his two promotions happened in part because No. 10 knew they would irk Boris. Maybe unfair, but that’s how people think in the Westminster bubble.

37. (+8) Matthew Elliott
_Chief Executive, Business for Britain
Having run the sucessful No2AV campaign, Elliott was a natural to run the Business for Britain campaign, which argues the Eurosceptic case. He’s more back room than front of house but certainly knows how to campaign and lobby.

38. (+1) Lord Stephen Gilbert
Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
As Head of campaigns, Gilbert oversaw the CCHQ election campaign and was rewarded for it with a deserved peerage. He has been at the centre of things during the reigns o four successive leaders and is popular throughout the party.

39. (-24) Grant Shapps
Minister of State, Dfid
If there were any justice, having helped deliver a general election win, Shapps would have remained in the top 20 in this list. However, following a bout of unwelcome publicity he became too hot to handle, so No. 10 thought a period out of the limelight would be in order. Maybe they were right, but many think Shapps was dealt a raw deal.

40. (+18) Anna Soubry
Minister of State for Small Business
A highly effective media performer it can’t be long before Anna Soubry is promoted to the full cabinet. It was testament to her abilities that she held on to her highly marginal seat and increased her majority to more than 4,200.

41. (-28) William Hague
Former Foreign Secretary
William Hague has been largely silent since the election, adding fuel to the thought that he really has quit politics for good. He will, however, have enduring influence if, like John Major, he picks his time to comment on the great issues of the day.

42. (+31) Greg Hands
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Probably the least well known member of the cabinet, he has made a good start to his new job as George Osborne’s right hand man. Indeed, it is said that he and David Gauke are effectively running the show, while the Chancellor busies himself with gearing up for a leadership bid.

43. (+14) Neil O’Brien
The former head of Policy Exchange, O’Brien is the man behind the Chancellor’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and has come up with many of Osborne’s more populist ideas. Never one to seek the limelight, he’s been a top addition to the Chancellor’s team.

44. (-11) Douglas Carswell
UKIP MEP for Clacton
Nowadays he looks a fish out of water in UKIP and one can’t help wondering whether he has come to regret his defection. However, he still has a following within UKIP among those who have grown tired of Nigel Farage’s leadership.

45. (-9) Tim Montgomerie
Columnist, The Times
About to depart these shores for a sojourn in the United States covering the Presidential election, Montgomerie falls a few places in this year’s list. His work at Legatum and his Times columns, though, mean that he retains a large degree of influence over the direction of right of centre politics.

46. (+4) Donal Blaney
Chairman, Conservative Way Forward & Chief Executive, Young Britons Foundation
Blaney has transformed the fortunes of CWF and recruited hundreds of younge rmembers to its ranks, many of whom weren’t born when Margaret Thatcher left office. He has brought US campaigning methods to the UK and his teams of volunteers player a key role in marginal seats in the election.

47. (NEW) Graeme Wilson
Press Secretary to David Cameron
Wilson has managed never to become the story, and is completely trusted by his former colleagues in the parliamentary lobby.

48. (-4) Nicholas Boles
Minister for Skills
One of the few free thinkers within government, if talent was the only consideration, Boles would be in the cabinet. He carries his think tank history with him and delights in thinking the unthinkable.

49. (+48) Suzanne Evans
UKIP GLA Candidate
Having written the UKIP manifesto, and getting many plaudits for it, Evans was seemingly Nigel Farage’s heir apparent, but since the election he has done everything to undermine her. Despite this she has retained a sense of calmness and humour and remains firmly on the sensible wing of UKIP.

50. (NEW) Brandon Lewis
Minister for Housing
A protege of Eric Pickles, Lewis has performed well in his different roles at the DCLG and is often used as a government spokesman across government policy. Could well be in the cabinet before too long.

51. (-13) Mark Littlewood
Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs
Littlewood has had a successful period in charge of one of the oldest think tanks in the country, which has recently celebrated its 60th birthday. A pugnacious debater, he is one of the best advocates of free market economics.

52. (-14) Sir Edward Lister
Deputy Mayor of London
Eddie Lister is Boris Johnson’s indispensible chief of staff. If you want Boris to do anything you have to get past Eddie first. He’s the real power behind the Johnson throne.

53. (NEW) Fraser Nelson
Editor, The Spectator
Fraser Nelson was appointed editor at a comparitively young age, but he has more than lived up to both Andrew Neil’s and his readers’ expectations. An articulate exponent of right of centre politics, one wonders what his next move will be. Perhaps into elected politics?

54. (+15) Stephen Crabb
Secretary of State for Wales
Stephen Crabb has risen quietly through the Conservative ranks but his first year in the job has certainly been a success. One of the few front line bearded politicians, his challenge will be to be promoted within the cabinet out of the Wales job. It’s unlikely to happen soon, but don’t rule it out before the end of this parliament.

55. (NEW) Sheridan Westlake
_Special Advisor, No 10 Downing Street
Having spent many years working in the CRD and then for Eric Pickles, Sheridan Westlake has taken on a new enforcement role in Downing Street. His job is to read the small print, spot any bear traps or potential cock ups and make the machinery of government work.

56. (-8) Craig Oliver
_Director of Politics & Communications, No 10 Downing Street
One of the Prime Minister’s most trusted aides, Oliver has taken on a beefed up role since the election and now has a strategic role as well as being in charge of communications. Still viewed with suspicion by the print media, but his understanding of how the BBC operates is second to none.

57. (+6) Priti Patel
Minister of State for Employment
An undoubted rising star, she attends cabinet, but has become known for her slavish devotion to the party line, with an uncanny ability to parrot the CCHQ line like no other. If she rediscovers her independent spirit, she will be a force to be reckoned with.

58. (NEW) Amber Rudd
Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change)
A key ally of George Osborne, Amber Rudd has made an impressive start to her cabinet career. Eloquent on the media and able to strike a balance between greenery and economic realism, she did well to hang on to her marginal seat in Hastings.

59. (NEW) Tracey Crouch
Minister for Sport
If ever there was a round peg in a round hole as a minister, it’s Tracey Crouch. A qualified football coach, she has made a blinding start in her new job and is tipped for rapid promotion. The question is, could she bear to leave the one job in politics she’s always wanted.

60. (NEW) James Chapman
Director of Communications to the Chancellor of the Exchquer
Many raised an eyebrow when James Chapman left one of the top jobs in journalism (political editor of the Daily Mail) to move to the Treasury, but he’s clearly identified George Osborne as the next PM, and so far he’s doing a good job, building on the work of Thea Rogers who helped transformed the chancellor’s public image.

61. Dominic Cummings
Communications Director, Business for Britain
Has introduced some rigour into the communications efforts of Business for Britain. He is a brilliant strategist, even if he does have a tendency to become the story. But the ‘Stay’ side of the debate will know that together with Matthew Elliott, Cummings is likely to make their life hell.

62. (+36) Stuart Polak
Director, Conservative Friends of Israel
One of the shrewdest single issue pressure group lobbyists around, Polak is about to join the Conservative benches in the House of Lords.

63. (NEW) Steve Baker
MP for Wycombe
As co-chairman of Conservatives for Britain, Baker has become one of the new faces of the eurosceptic right. Bright and articulate, he has a cavalier attitude to ministerial preferment and is the better politician for it.

64. (+36) Gavin Williamson
PPS to the Prime Minister
Williamson has built up a good reputation among Tory MPs and does his job as the eyes and ears of the PM very well. Is sure to get a ministerial job in the next reshuffle.

65. (NEW) Adam Atashzei
Deputy Political Secretary to the Prime Minister
Atashzai is a highly regarded recruit from CCHQ who is responsible for ‘lines to take’ and the famed Downing Street grid. Respected and trusted by everyone.

66. (-4) Paul Staines
Managing Editor, Guido Fawkes blog
The site everyone in politics loves to read, unless they feature on it. Staines has built up an impressive business and the guest list at last year’s 10th anniversary dinner was testament to his influence. Even the PM sent a video message.

67. (NEW) Katie Hopkins
Columnist, Mail Online
The woman people seem to love to hate, she’s actually quite a pussycat. She may have lost her Sun column, but she immediately bounced back by bagging a role on MailOnline.

68. (+15) David Gauke
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Said to be the real Chancellor, while George Osborne runs the rest of the government. Was one of the key Conservative faces on the media during the general election because he’s trusted to toe a line and not drop the ball.

69. (-41) Liz Truss
_Secretary of State for DEFRA
A square peg in a round hole, Liz Truss hasn’t been allowed to shine in this portfolio and should have been moved in the post-election reshuffle. Her all too obvious leadership ambitions will be thwarted unless she is able to show more of what she is undoubtedly capable of.

70. (+10) Syed Kamall
_Leader of the European Conservatives & Reformists in the European Parliament
Fought a competent campaign to get the nomination for Conservative candidate for London mayor, coming second. The question now, is will he go for a Westminster seat. Having been an MEP for ten years he could be forgiven for thinking his work in the European Parliament is done.

71. (NEW) Christopher Booker
Columnist, Sunday Telegraph
The leading brain on Eurosceptic and climate change-sceptic issues, vastly underrated. He ought to be regarded as one of the top journalists of his generation, but the liberal elites unfairly traduce him and his excellent work. Ought to be a must-read for everyone on the centre right.

72. (-52) Eric Pickles
Conservative MP for Brentwood & Ongar
One of the best performing cabinet ministers in the coalition, Pickles should never have been disposed of. But he’s bounced back by leading a task force on corruption and becoming chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel.

73. (-20) Dean Godson
Director, Policy Exchange
It’s been a slightly quiet year for Policy Exchange, although their influence on government policy remains immense. Perhaps it’s a deliberate policy not to shout about their influence from the rooftops.

74. (+4) Liam Fox
Former Defence Secretary
Even though there seems no way back for him into government while David Cameron is still prime minister, Liam Fox is certainly able to make his presence known. He was one of the leaders of the rebellion over EU referendum rules and given his treatment by No. 10, one suspects his rebellions may become more frequent.

75. (+7) Douglas Murray
Associate Director, Henry Jackson Society
A trenchant exponent of neoconservative views on international issues, and a thoughtful writer on social issues. Softly spoken he is one of the most articulate commentators on the right and doesn’t take any hostages when debating on the media.

76. (NEW) Charles Moore
Author & Columnist
His biography of Margaret Thatcher is superb and is released this week. He’s one of the few must read columnists for everyone on the right and his Spectator Notes are a delight.

77. (-2) Theresa Villiers
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
When she was appointed, many seemed flummoxed but according to some of the key players she has quietly got on with the job and won the respect of the various parties. She’s handled the recent troubles well and taken care not to inflame the situation.

78. (NEW) Simon Heffer
Columnist, Sunday Telegraph
He may not be a modern Conservative’s cup of tea but he’s umissable. A truly brilliant writer he gets to the nub of an argument more quickly than most and his books are unrivalled.

79. (NEW) Matthew Parris
Columnist, The Times & Spectator
For many he is the pre-eminent columnist of his generation. He can write entertainingly about anything and never bores, mainly because of his endearing unpredictability. Probably the most read columnist among Tory MPs.

80. (NEW) Arron Banks
UKIP donor
Banks is an acquired taste for many. A former donor, he switched his allegiances to UKIP and now funds the UKIP Leave.Eu campaign. Liable to shout his mouth of, he is a sworn enemy of Douglas Carswell, who he disgracefully alleged was ‘mentally ill’.

81. (-5) Sarah Wollaston
Chair of the Health Select Committee
The maverick’s maverick many of her fellow MPs don’t regard her as a team player. However, to others she is the exemplification of what a decent MP should be – open minded, willing to speak out against her own party if need be, diligent and honest.

82. (+14) Raheem Kassam
Editor, Breitbart London
Kassam first came to prominence as editor of The Commentator, then he launched Breitbart London. In the autumn of 2014 he became Nigel Farage’s personal press officer and it’s fair to say he became a lightning rod for the UKIP leader. A marmite character, he’s now back in charge of Breitbart.

83. (-6) David Davis
Conservative MP for Haltemprice & Howden
The one time leadership contender is concentrating on fighting the cause of human rights and civil liberties. Regarded as a serial rebel by some, he has shown himself to be adept in holding the executive to account and even won a legal victory over the so-called snoopers’ charter.

84. (NEW) Ameet Gill
Director of Strategy, No 10 Downing Street
In charge of the famous Downing Street ‘grid’, he’s described by some as the No. 10 ‘air traffic controller’.

85. (-21) Paul Nuttall
Deputy Leader, UKIP
He managed to stay out of the post-election leadership travails, but some ask what exactly he does apart from appear on the airwaves as Nigel Farage’s bit of Liverpudlian rough. It’s unfair because he’s an effective backroom operator and doesn’t have the same ego issues as others at the top of UKIP.

86. (NEW) Camilla Cavendish
Head of of the No. 10 Policy Unit
A recent recruit from the comment pages of The Times, Cavendish will bring some rigour to the Downing Street operation, and some much needed political nouse. It was a big mistake to staff the unit with civil servants.

87. (+3) Andrew Mitchell
Former Chief Whip
Mitchell has become an influential voice on the backbenches and has now put Plebgate firmly behind him. Careful to avoid being seen as a serial revel he picks his fights carefully.

88. (NEW) Peter Hitchens
Columnist, Mail on Sunday
A true marmite character, Hitchens has a devoted set of fans, most of him share his somewhat negative view of the prime minister and the Conservative Party. The trouble is his columns are very ‘samey’ with one overriding theme – that the Conservative Party is not conservative at all, and only he has the answers to the nation’s problems.

89. (NEW) Elliott Johnson
Conservative Party activist
Elliott Johnson took his own life on 15 September after allegedly being bullied by senior Conservative Party figures. His inclusion in this list is by way of tribute to a young man who loved Conservative politics but felt suicide was his only way of escaping the bullying. May his memory live long and his family find it in their hearts to forgive those responsible.

90. (+5) Mark Wallace
Executive Editor, ConservativeHome
Wallace brings a bright, pugnacious approach to ConservativeHome and rarely sits on the fence in his writings. He often has some uncomfortable messages for the Conservative Party.

91. (NEW) Paul Abbott
Chief Executive, Conservative Way Forward
Spent years working in CCHQ, latterly as special advisor to Grant Shapps. Donal Blaney recruited him after the election to run Conservative Way Forward and together, the two of them have given CWF a sharper campaigning edge.

92. (NEW) Tim Stanley
Columnist, Daily Telegraph
Tim Stanley is from the new breed of young historians who has brought a very welcome fresh new writing style to the Telegraph. He’s also become a bit of name as a pundit and has made some very impressive appearances on Question Time.

93. (-9) Baroness Tina Stowell
Leader of the House of Lords
A uniting figure, Tina Stowell is very popular with their Lordships and has done well to curtail some potentially serious rebellions.

94. (NEW) Christian Guy_
Number 10 Policy Unit
Recruited from the Centre for Social Justice, where he had done sterling work on welfare reform, Guy’s appointment to the policy unit shows how serious Camilla Cavenish is in recruiting the best talent on the right.

95. (-8) Jonathan Isaby
Director, Taxpayers’ Alliance
Isaby is but a shadow of his former self – not in influence, but in physical weight, having shed seven stones this year. It’s ben a quieter year for the TPA which, one feels, needs a new cause to fight.

96. (NEW) Giles Kenningham
Deputy Press Secretary to the Prime Minister
One of the most talented of his generation of CCHQ press office graduates, Kenningham is both liked and respected by his colleagues and journalists. But he can be tough as nails too.

97. (NEW) Julia Hartley-Brewer
Columnist & Broadcaster
A profilic columnist and broadcaster, Hartley-Brewer has really raised her profile since her departure from LBC nine months ago. She’s unpredictable, feisty and intelligent and some reckon she’d make a great MP.

98. (NEW) Andrew Kennedy
Conservative Party Agent
Acts as agent to a group of constituencies in West Kent and writes a brilliant blog (Voting & Boating) on his life and work. One of the party’s best campaigners, it’s likely CCHQ will tyr to bring him in house before too long, if only to silence his very caustic blog!

99. (NEW) James Marshall
Special Advisor to the Chief Whip
Possibly the most powerful person in this list you’ve never heard of. And with a majority of 12, he becomes an even greater influence on events.

100. Steven Woolfe
UKIP MEP & Migration Spokesman
Very much on the sensible wing of UKIP, Woolfe is seen by many as a good bet to succeed Farage when the time comes. If it comes. His moderate approach on migration issues has won him many admirers outside UKIP, although possibly not so many from within.

This list was first published on Breitbart. Click HERE to read the article in which I explain the rankings.


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ConHome Diary: Number Ten Bans Ministers From Ashcroft Book Launch

2 Oct 2015 at 14:18

The Labour conference was an odd experience, but I suspect next year’s will be even odder. Out with the smart suited twenty something men. In with the Trots. That’s if Jeremy Corbyn survives that long. My own view is that he will, but it was astonishing that more or less every single Labour MP I talked to was totally dismissive of their leader. Even on air. Lord Falconer wouldn’t even say he expected Corbyn to be the next Prime Minister, let alone a good one and he’s the Shadow Justice Secretary. Justice for Jeremy, that’s what I say. Any new leader deserves a bedding in period and the benefit of the doubt, but Jeremy Corbyn isn’t being afforded that by his parliamentary colleagues. It’s all very well to talk about “the new politics”, but it’s very difficult when you aren’t able to explain what that means beyond putting off difficult and dividing policy decisions.
Well the “kinder, gentler” politics didn’t last long. Tom Watson, the pugnacious new deputy leader of the party gave a rumbustious closing speech to the conference in the slot previously inhabited by Harriet Harman and before her, John Prescott. He reserved a lot of his ire for the Liberal Democrats. Well, you can’t really blame him, can you? He was forced into an apology… “I did go too far though when I compared the Lib Dems to a Banarama tribute band. Some people were angry, and I accept that I crossed the line. What I said was demeaning, unjustified and wrong. Siobhan, Sara, Keren – I should never have compared your tribute acts to that useless bunch of lying sell-outs, the Lib Dems and I’m sorry.” Boom, boom. He then had a go at the Conservatives, imploring his comrades to “kick the nasty Tories down the road where they belong”. But in a kind and gentle way. Obvs.

I’m told that Craig Oliver has been noticed wandering about Number Ten oinking. What’s that all about then?
Can there be anything more irresponsible that an aspiring prime minister telling our country’s potential enemies that there aren’t any circumstances in which he would press the nuclear button? Doing so undermines the whole thesis of our nuclear deterrent.

Some of you will have seen a rather public spat between me and Louise Mensch on twitter a few days ago. I’ve taken a lot of criticism over Lord Ashcroft’s book, not least on this site last week, and I can take it. But when Louise Mensch tries to take the moral high ground, I’m afraid I just have to laugh. I’ve always been a defender of hers but she has developed a habit of becoming completely obsessed by various causes. Last week her cause was trying to make me apologise for something I had no intention of apologising for. I was evil, so was Isabel Oakeshott, but of course we had led the noble Lord Ashcroft astray and it was all rather a disgrace. Well, it’s a point of view, I suppose. Her tweets became ever more regular and ever more unhinged. In the end I got fed up of reading her bile and poison and blocked her. And still she continued apparently. She’s still at it for all I know. Or care.
At the Labour Party conference I dropped into the News International reception. It was an event devoid of a single Shadow Cabinet member. Except the Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary, Owen Smith. Make of that what you will. I pointed this out to him and he roared with laughter. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. He’s one to watch.

I also ran into my old friend Tony Gallagher at the same reception. He is the new editor of The Sun. “You’ve been nasty to one of my columnists, I see,” he greeted me. “Yes,” I said. “Now that you’ve got rid of Katy Hopkins, you could do us all a favour and do the same with Louise Mensch.” I did laugh as I said it, but Tony didn’t really bite. He was far keener on discussing the merits of our mutual football team, West Ham United. A wise man.
Later this year I’ll be publishing a biography of Jeremy Corbyn, written by top political journalist Rosa Prince. I haven’t dared ask about his university antics…

Dammit. I said last week that all publishers get print runs wrong for any book they publish. I have printed 35,000 copies and as of Wednesday night, we have now sold 34,678, leaving fewer than 300. The books go on sale in shops on Monday, so it looks as if I might have to order a reprint pretty quickly.
I hear an edict has gone out to Conservative ministers that if any of them attend the launch of CALL ME DAVE on Monday week their career prospects might take a nosedive. Indeed, Number Ten have tried to ensure that few Tory MPs attend the event, having scheduled the English Votes for English laws to be debated in the Commons that night. Just as I predicted they would when the date was set several months ago. Predictable. And petty.

If you’re in Manchester on Sunday evening, do pop along to the Liberty fringe meeting at 5.30pm in Manchester Central. Shami Chakrabarti will be chairing a Question Time style panel featuring Dominic Grieve, Peter Oborne and myself. I keep telling Shami human rights is not exactly my area of expertise, but she can be very persuasive. So if you want to hear me make a fool of myself, be my guest.



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