Music

Mango Groove Coming to London!

30 Nov 2014 at 20:15

I had some brilliant news yesterday. Mango Groove are coming to London to play a concert at the Hammersmith Apollo on Saturday 7 March 2015. So who are Mango Groove, I hear you asking. Well, they are probably the best band South Africa has ever produced. I first got to know their music in the 1990s and have been a devoted fan ever since. I’ve put some Youtube videos of some of their work at the end of this post. They present a unique mix of South African pennywhistle music which someone combines brilliantly with a western pop sound. They’ve played an important part in South Africa’s development into a democracy.

From their first, multi-platinum release in 1989, the band has gone on to sell over a million copies in South Africa alone, and has garnered a host of South African and international music and recording awards. As a young non-racial music group formed in 1985, the band has gone on successfully to straddle the tumultuous decades of ‘80’s South African protest pop, the miraculous transitional years of ’90’s South Africa, and the post millennial shaping of a truly representative South African music culture.

To this day, Mango Groove continues to occupy a very special and unique place in South African music history. It performs to capacity concerts in South Africa and continues to touch the hearts and minds of all South Africans of all ages. Today the group stands proud as a powerful symbol of the great South African journey: where the country has come from, and where it is going.

The group’s many career highlights have included the following:

• Providing the sound track to the worldwide broadcast of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison after 27 years.
• Headlining the concert celebrating Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as the first ever democratic president of South Africa
• Performing at the Hong Kong Handover concert in 1997
• Playing at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, linked by satellite to London, and broadcast to over a billion people
• Performing to over 200 000 people at the SOS Racisme concert in Paris.
• Receiving several encores at the iconic Montreux Jazz Festival
• Claire Johnston’s strong association with SA Rugby through the years: performing the national anthem at several international rugby tests, and recording the official 2003 Rugby World Cup song
• Headlining the legendary Oppikoppi Music Festival in South Africa in 2013, drawing the festival’s single biggest crowd ever to one stage, and receiving one of the only encores in Oppikoppi’s 20 year history.
• Selling out the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with their own concert in 2013.

The longevity of Mango Groove is certainly something astonishing, and it bears strong testimony to the band’s ongoing popular appeal. Mango Groove has both retained the huge loyalty of its original fan base while continuing to reach new markets and new generations. Many factors have shaped this success through the years, of course, but a lot of this is to be found in the Mango Groove Sound: an utterly unique and bewitching blend of influences that is unmistakeably South African and yet amazingly universal.

The eclectic pop cocktail that is Mango Groove is instantly recognisable: A rich blend of contemporary pop styles combined with South African Kwela and Marabi influences from the townships of South Africa in the ‘40’s and 50’s. The bittersweet sound of the pennywhistle, the big brass arrangements, the lashings of doo-wop harmonies and the thundering swing and gumboot rhythms… Feed into this a modern pop sensibility and front it with the inimitable and soaring voice of Claire Johnston and the end result is a sound that is utterly infectious and utterly unforgettable. Quite simply, nothing sounds like Mango Groove!

If you want to know more, their website is HERE and you can follow them on their new UK Twitter Feed HERE.

You can buy tickets from the Hammersmith Apollo HERE

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18 Doughty Street: The Class of 2005

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VIDEO: With Stephanie Flanders on the Andrew Marr Paper Review

30 Nov 2014 at 12:28

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Diary

ConHome Diary: Three Days With Valerie Trierweiler

28 Nov 2014 at 14:39

I spent most of Sunday to Tuesday with Valerie Trierweiler, former First Lady of France, who was over in London publicising her book, which I have published. Virtually the whole time she was here, she was followed by the French press pack. Most of the time they kept a discreet distance, but I was constantly astonished at how they seemed to know where she would be and when. Even before she arrived they were harassing customers at Hatchards Bookshop on London’s Piccadilly. One matronly type was happily answering their questions until even she became exasperated and blurted out: “Well if you French could keep it in your trousers, there wouldn’t be any need for a woman to write a book like this!”
I dread and hate booksignings, mainly because you can never guarantee if anyone will show up. I well remember organising a signing for Ted Heath at Politico’s twelve years ago or so. His memoirs had not received huge critical acclaim and I remember trying to make polite chit chat while my colleagues attempted to find people who might actually like to procure a signed copy. They weren’t very successful. In Valerie’s case I needn’t have worried, as there was a nice long queue of people eagerly waiting her arrival at Hatchards on Tuesday lunchtime.

One person who might not have been so pleased was the new French Ambassador to the Court of St James, who, at the very time the booksigning was taking place, was presenting her credentials to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Normally the French press contingent in London would have been there, but instead, they were at Hatchards. I wonder if the Queen asked the Ambassador if she had read the book. One can but hope. I imagine the Ambassador, having presented her credentials to the Queen, left with the words “Merci pour ce moment”! Or maybe not.
*
I was interested to read Paul Goodman’s piece on the apparent leadership ambitions of Theresa May and Sajid Javid [add link http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2014/11/may-and-javid-a-tale-of-two-future-conservative-leaders.html ]. After eight years in the job, it is hardly surprising that people are speculating on a successor to David Cameron. The only surprise is that there isn’t more speculation and that it has only started happening this year in any meaningful way. Margaret Thatcher suffered from in almost from Day 1. Although Paul Goodman only talks about May and Javid, the other two current frontrunners would surely be Boris Johnson and George Osborne. The Chancellor’s chances of inheriting surely rely on a Conservative victory in 2015 and Cameron deciding to step down in 2018. If Cameron loses the election it is difficult to believe that Tory MPs will ask for more of the same. By contrast Boris Johnson’s best chance of becoming leader is if Cameron loses in May and steps down immediately. His chances of success partly depend on whether the new intake of MPs, and indeed the current batch, see him as an election winner. Boris has made precious little effort to schmooze MPs, and he would do well to remember that it’s not automatic that he would come in the top 2 among MPs. I have little doubt that he would win the majority of party members, but he’s got to get to that stage. The only MPs that really know Boris are those who served with him in Parliament between 2001 and 2010. And believe me, not many of them liked what they saw. How far that will damage his chances, I don’t know. But coupled with the fact that very few of the 2010 or 2015 intake will have ever met Boris, let alone got to know him, you’d have to say he might have a battle on his hands to get through the initial stage.
*

“I’d like to see taxes at the lowest level possible. I didn’t go into politics to tax people.” Who said that? Ronald Reagan? Margaret Thatcher? Douglas Carswell? Nigel Farage? Nope. Guess again. It was Labour’s Chuka Umunna on my LBC show on Wednesday. I do hope he has a word with some of his colleagues whose only policy ideas seem to involve new or increased taxes. Chuka really is setting himself up as a modern day Tony Blair – someone who won’t frighten Tory voters. Good luck with that.
*
Make sure you get this week’s Sunday Telegraph. They’re serialising the referendum diaries of their Scottish Editor, Alan Cochrane. His book ALEX SALMOND: MY PART IN HIS DOWNFALL is published next week and to say it’s very readable would be somewhat of an understatement. I’ve described it before as Alan Clark on crack. No sex, but hilarious anecdotes, great gossip and real insight from a man who seemed to be at the centre of every single important meeting or event in the campaign. You can’t learn to be a great diarist. You just are, or you’re not. Gyles Brandreth is. David Blunkett isn’t.
*

Talking of Scotland, this announcement that the Scottish government will be able to set income tax rates and bands but not the threshold is about as good an equivalent to a dog’s breakfast as you can get. And it surely makes independence at some point in the future more likely. It will also make people like me much more shouty about powers for England, which the three main parties dismiss as if the argument is madness personified. The SNP must be laughing their heads off at the idiocy of their counterparts south of the border, who continue to play into their hands.
*

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Princess Michael of Kent

HRH Princess Michael of Kent talks about her new book THE QUEEN OF FOUR KINGDOMS

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Books

Biteback Publishing - It's Clearly Not Size That Counts

23 Nov 2014 at 13:52

It’s been quite a weekend for my company Biteback Publishing. Bearing in mind we are a company of 14 people, with a publicity department of 2, the coverage for our books in the media this weekend has been little short of outstanding, and something I doubt many of the big publishers could compete with. Today e had three separate newspaper serialisation for different books, plus three feature national newspaper interviews with Valerie Trierweiler, who also appeared on Andrew Marr. yesterday we had four books in the Telegraph Books of the Year. Well done to our publicity director Suzanne Sangster and her assistant Sam Deacon, and also to my deputy James Stephens who negotiates our serialisation deals. Anyway, here’s a rundown of what has happened this weekend.

VALERIE TRIERWEILERTHANK YOU FOR THE MOMENT Buy HERE

Front cover of the Saturday Times Magazine and lengthy feature interview, Times editorial & Extract (next extract on Monday) – Read HERE
Interview on the Andrew Marr Show – Watch HERE
Interview with Elizabeth Day in The Observer – Read HERE
Interview with Gyles Brandreth in the Sunday Telegraph – Read HERE
Mention in the Rachel Johnson column, Mail on Sunday

YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWNREFUSE THE VEIL Buy HERE

Extract in the Sunday Times – Read it HERE

PETER LLOYDSTAND BY YOUR MANHOOD Buy HERE

Extract in the Mail on Sunday – Read HERE HERE

And next week we have Alan Cochrane’s Diaries, ALEX SALMOND: MY PART IN HIS DOWNFALL to look forward to. It never stops!

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18 Doughty Street Crosstalk

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VIDEO: Valerie Trierweiler Interviewed by Sophie Raworth

23 Nov 2014 at 11:26

Valerie Trierweiler was interviewed by Sophie Raworth this morning on the Andrew Marr Show. Tomorrow night she is on Newsnight.

You can order signed copies of Valerie’s book HERE

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Peter Hain & Toby Harnden

Peter Hain discusses OUTSIDE IN and Toby Harnden talks about his history of the Welsh Guards.

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ConHome Diary: Are Tory MPs About to Commit Knuckle Dragging Acts of Masturbatory Self Indulgence?

21 Nov 2014 at 14:02

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have come up to me in the last couple of weeks and in whispered tones asked if I think there will be 46 MPs writing to Graham Brady after the Rochester & Strood by-election. I look at them as if they have lost complete leave of their senses, shake my head in a slightly patronising manner and then say “er, no”, and then add for good measure, “not unless the Conservative Party has a collective deathwish”. There may be one or two knuckledraggers who commit a masturbatory act of self-indulgence on a grand scale, but Christ knows what they think the consequence would be, apart from sending a message to the electorate that they don’t care how disunited the Conservative Party appears six months before a general election. There is clearly no helping some people.
*
If you were rather bored by news bulletins yesterday, blame Ofcom. On a by-election day broadcasters aren’t allowed to broadcast any real political news for fear of affecting the result. So I couldn’t do a phone-in asking listeners what they think of UKIP’s immigration policy or the Mansion tax. Instead we have to ask really searching questions like ‘what do you think of the weather this time of year?’ OK, I exaggerate to make a point. But of course the newspapers can print what they like and you can say what you like on social media. Well, at least you can, but I can’t. The rules governing what can be broadcast at election times really do need to be overhauled, along with those which govern political advertising. It is ridiculous that a political commercial can be shown in cinemas, but not on TV, for example. The electorate continue to be taken for fools.
*

Think about this. We keep being told by UKIP that when they have won Rochester & Strood, there are at least two Tory MPs ready to defect. They may well be right, but think about the mentality of someone who waits to see which way the political wind is blowing before they make the leap. Weak, weak, weak. The backbone of a goldfish and the principles of a harridan. Anyone who defects in those circumstances is a political opportunist and would command little respect from their new comrades. Let’s put it this way, they are not people you’d go tiger hunting with, are they?
*
Talking of potential defectors, John Baron’s name seems to come up a lot as a possibility. It was therefore quite nauseating to hear the Prime Minister crawling to him in PMQs this week, going out of his way to say he would take seriously his request for £25 million for veterans of the 1950s nuclear tests. It was so over the top my colleague nearly passed me a sick bag. Needs must, I suppose. Is £25 million the going rate to stop a defection? It seems so. I wonder what little wheezes some of the others have up their sleeves. Philip Hollobone is the bookies 2/1 favourite to be the next defector but I wonder whether he’s got the balls to do it. Of the names being mentioned in despatches, if you want to place a small wager on someone who has demonstrated courage in the past, I suspect you could do no better than Gravesham MP Adam Holloway. I hear he is not a happy boy.
*

I’ve had my new car for two months now, and only this week have I realised that you have to press the remote button twice, rather than once, to set the alarm. So if you wanted to nick the car, you’ve had your chance…
*
This weekend former French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler arrives in the country to promote her book THANK YOU FOR THIS MOMENT, which my company, Biteback, is publishing. There’s been a huge media interest in the book and she will be appearing on Andrew Marr on Sunday and on Newsnight on Monday, with a string of print interviews over the weekend as well, including Saturday’s Times Magazine. Seeing as she has given no interviews whatsoever to the French press, you can imagine the storm this is creating in Paris. It seems the French media is in thrall to the Elysee in a way it would be impossible for Downing Street to control the media here. It is clear to me that an order went out from Hollande’s advisers to “get Valerie”, so you can hardly blame her for not doing any interviews with them. They have blamed her for Hollande’s unpopularity and even for the rise of Marie le Pen. There’s only one person to blame for both – and he lives in the Elysee. Hollande is a very weak and egocentric man. I was about to suggest that before casting aspersions he ought to look himself in the mirror. Trouble is, being very vain, he probably does too much of that anyway.
If you’d like to meet Valerie and happen to be in London on Tuesday she will be doing a booksigning at Hatchards on Piccadilly from 12.30 to 1.30pm. I’ll be there acting as bouncer. Although, on second thoughts, last time I took on that role it didn’t work out too well, did it? If you can’t make it, but would like a signed book, there will be copies for sale on the Biteback Publishing website next week.
*

On Tuesday I spoke to a small fundraising dinner for Lynne Featherstone, the LibDem Home Office Minister. Yes, traitor, turncoat, tosser – throw the insults if you like. I did it because she’s a friend and as a recognition for what she did on equal marriage, and I have no regrets. I also explained at the dinner that I’d also do it for other politicians in all parties who were friends and whose political achievements I respected. Politics is still a very tribal sport, and sometimes tribal loyalties tend to blind us to the fact that there are good people in all parties.

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell talks about his final volume of diaries BURDEN OF POWER

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Radio

An Astonishing Hour of Radio - Two Police Officers Reveal They Were Told To Shut Down Paedo Sex Ring Inquiries in the 1980s

20 Nov 2014 at 21:45

I’ve presented some pretty astonishing hours in my four years on LBC but very few would top our 5 O’Clock hour tonight. We started off with an interview (by Tom Swarbrick) with Vishambar Mehrotra, the father of 11 year old Vishal, who was allegedly murdered as part of a paedophile ring back in 1981. We then talked to Jackie Malton, the inspiration behind Dame Helen Mirren’s character in the ITV series Prime Suspect, who headed the investigation into the murder. Following her I interview Mark Watts from Exaro News, who have led the investigation into the Westminster Paedophile ring and what went on at Elm House in Barnes.

But it was then that our collective mouths were left gaping open when we has two calls from ex-policemen, who proceeded to tell us that they were part of investigations into child sex abuse in the 1970s and 1980s and both were inexplicably shut down.

You can listen to the whole hour HERE (well, it’s 37 minutes minus all the news, travel, ads etc).

Or here are some of the component parts of the hour.

Tom Swarbrick’s interview with Vishambar Mehrotra

Interview with Fmr Met DCI Jackie Malton

Former police officer ‘John’

Former police officer ‘Steve’

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Miranda Hart

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UK Politics

Attitude Column: In Praise Of Lynne Featherstone

18 Nov 2014 at 09:46

Some time ago I got a phone call from the Liberal Democrat MP & International Development Minister, Lynne Featherstone. Would I be the guest speaker at a fundraising dinner she was organising. ‘What’s it for?’ I asked. ‘My re-election campaign war chest’, she replied. Gulp.

Although I am no longer active politically and not a member of a political party, this presented me with something of a moral dilemma. I don’t pretend that my political views don’t remain firmly on the right of centre, with the odd bit of social liberal leftiness thrown in for good measure but presenting a daily radio show on LBC means that I deliberately stay away from any sort of party political endorsement.

Furthermore, wouldn’t it be betraying my old friends and colleagues in the Conservative Party? The very people who had supported me through thick and thin when I was fighting a LibDem MP in a marginal seat in the 2005 election. A real dilemma.

Except in the end it wasn’t. I count Lynne Featherstone as a friend, and you do things like this for friends, don’t you? You wouldn’t be much of one if you didn’t. But apart from the there is another major reason why I would have felt a complete heel if I had said no to Lynne.

Enoch Powell – and I reckon this is the first time he’s ever been mentioned in this esteemed organ – once said that ‘all political careers end in failure’. Well unless she is forced to resign because she is found in bed with the entire Arsenal reserve team, I reckon it is safe to say that when Lynne goes to meet her political maker, she will be able to look back and think, ‘not bad, not bad’.

Her crowning political achievement will have been to be the driving force behind the equal marriage legislation. By the time it was enacted she had been reshuffled from her job in the Home Office to the Department for International Development, but everyone knew that without her it probably wouldn’t have happened. She is living proof that politicians can change things if they have the drive, initiative and persistence.

On only her second day in office, back in May 2010, she attended a meeting of junior ministers where they were told if they had any ideas for doing anything major, they needed to get their ideas in early. She immediately latched onto the idea of introducing same-sex marriage. I suspect even she hadn’t counted for the very vocal opposition she would have to encounter, and I know there were times she thought that it would never see the light of day. But when you have the Home Secretary, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister on your side, you stand a good chance of pulling through.

I remember getting a call from someone in Number Ten at a crucial point in the passage of the bill, wanting to make very clear that this bill was going through only because the prime minister was giving it is personal backing and endorsement. The subliminal message was that they thought Lynne Featherstone was claiming too much of the credit. It’s certainly true that few bills ever go through unless the PM backs them, and on this issue he has form, having backed gay marriage as far back as his first party conference speech as leader in 2006.
But in the end, same-sex marriage will be associated with Lynne Featherstone in the same way that we associate David Steel with the 1967 Abortion Act and Roy Jenkins with the legalisation of homosexuality.

No wonder that in 2012 Lynne was awarded Attitude’s Politician of the Year Award.

Since then she has led the campaign to banish female genital mutilation from this country. At the Home Office she persuaded the Home Secretary to launch a very public campaign against this barbaric practice and talked about it in a way that made the media cover it. Believe me, hosting a radio phone-in on a subject like that isn’t an easy thing to persuade your editor to allow you to do.

So for all those reasons, in mid November, I will be trying to persuade a roomful of monied LibDems to part with it on behalf of Lynne Featherstone – a woman who can truly say she’s changed the world. For us.

This article first appeared in the current issue of Attitude Magazine

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Attitude Column: In Praise (And Criticism) Of Peter Tatchell

15 Nov 2014 at 22:44

Seeing as this is Attitude’s Awards issue, let me award my very own Lifetime Achievement Award for service to Gays. And the winner is…. Cue drumroll…. Peter Tatchell. That surprised you, didn’t it?

I have a tremendous admiration for Peter and all that he has achieved since he first came to prominence when he was Labour candidate in the 1983 Bermondsey By-election. His politics are about as far from mine as you can get, but I think it is true to say that without his zestful campaigning and unwillingness to take no for an answer, the cause of gay equality wouldn’t have got as far as it has. I’ve disagreed with aspects of his campaigning tactics, but there’s no doubt that he has been effective not just in raising the profile of issues of gay equality, he has done a lot for human rights more generally. You can sense the ‘but’ coming, can’t you?

Unfortunately I think Peter is in danger of believing that the tactics he used in the 1980s are just as appropriate nowadays. He is in danger of living in a timewarp, where the only way of achieving a reform is to shout about it, demonstrate and basically cause an almighty stink. He decries the fact that the LCBGT community is now seen as “respectable”. He alleges that we’ve “also witnessed a retreat from radical idealism to cautious conformism.” No, Peter, what we’ve witnessed is a growing realism by LBGT campaigners that the tactics of demonstration and resistance, which once might have worked, no longer do, and that equality campaigning needs to take on a more subtle tone.

He laments the fact that “there has been a massive retreat from the ideals and vision of the early LGBT liberation pioneers. “ He says that “most LGBT people no longer question the values, laws and institutions of mainstream society. They are content to settle for equal rights within the status quo – despite its many flaws and failings.”

I’d put it very differently. The early campaigners for sexual liberation delighted in splitting themselves off from mainstream society. But what they ignored or didn’t realise is that most gay men and women actually see themselves as little different from their straight counterparts, apart from the obvious. We go to the same shops, cinemas and restaurants. We drive the same cars, live in the same places, wear the same clothes. 98% of us don’t conform to the stereotype. Put us in an identity parade and you’d never tell us apart. But that’s not what Peter Tatchell wants to hear. We should wear our sexuality on our sleave. Or preferably on our foreheads.

In the end, I suppose it comes down to this. Are you a man who happens to be gay, or a gay who happens to be a man? I suspect that 98% of us would allocate ourselves to the first category. I am defined by who I am. Being gay is part of who I am but it isn’t the defining factor. And nor should it be. Fundamentalist gays will no doubt accuse me of letting the side down, or worse, but I couldn’t give a monkey’s arse.

So when Peter Tatchell writes that “the first Gay Pride marchers saw the family as “a patriarchal prison that enslaves women, gays and children,” I almost want to retch. He says that “four decades later, the focus on safe, cuddly issues like civil partnerships and marriage indicates how LGBT people are increasingly reluctant to rock the boat and are more than happy to embrace traditional heterosexual aspirations.”

It’s got nothing to do with ‘rocking the boat’, it’s all to do with equality and believing in the institution of family. This has little to do with sexual politics, more to do with exteme left wing views about family politics.

In Peter’s view, “the LGBT movement has finally succumbed to the mainstream politics of conformism, respectability and moderation.” Or to put it another way, the LGBT movement has matured into adulthood.

That doesn’t mean I don’t recognise Peter’s brilliant campaigning work or seek to diminish it. Quite the reverse. All I am saying is that present day campaigning isn’t all about shouting and wearing T shirts with offensive slogans. It’s got to be cleverer than that.

This article first appeared in Attitude Magazine

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Diary

ConHome Diary: Andrew Neil Should Have Been Offered 'Newsnight'

14 Nov 2014 at 13:57

I used to do a lot of speaking to local Conservative Associations but since the last election I have only done one – and that was in Witney. Well, when the PM asks, it’s a bit difficult to say no, isn’t it? I thought it was worth at least a Knighthood, but hey, I understand I have to join the queue. Anyway, last Saturday I did another one for my local association in Tunbridge Wells, and it was great fun. Andrew Kennedy, the local agent, is another one who it’s difficult to say no to, so off I toddled to a magnificent house in Calverley Park, which is in the posh bit of Royal Tunbridge Wells, or RTW, as it is known locally. I did a short speech then we opened it up to a discussion and very spirited it was too. But in over an hour, the issue of Europe didn’t come up once. That’s something that would never have happened ten years ago. Next week, shock horror, I’m doing another political fundraiser. Brace yourselves. It’s for LibDem MP Lynne Featherstone. She’s a mate and did sterling work on equal marriage, so I’ve decided to do it and hang the consequences. All I need now is to do one for a Labour and UKIP MP or candidate and I can truly say I have been politically balanced.
*
Anyone seen Mo Ansar on TV lately? Nope, me neither. Job well done, there, I think.
*

Sometimes I despair of Tory ministers, particularly those who are mute. One example is Helen Grant. I’ve had most ministers on my radio show at some point but every time we invite her on, the DCMS press office refuse to put her up. Oh, she’s far too busy, they say. Really? Too busy to comment on this outrageous FIFA report? Any minister of sport worth their salt would surely want to express their outrage. Not Helen. In fact, it’s quite difficult to think of a single thing she has ever said or done while in the post. This ought to be one of the most high profile junior ministerial posts. It’s one most MPs would almost kill for. It’s one where you can really make a difference, as Hugh Robertson so ably demonstrated. What’s the point of being in a job where your civil servants’ main task appears to be to keep you off the nation’s airwaves?
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Isn’t it about time we heard from the Bow Group? They’ve been remarkably silent of late. One can but be thankful, I suppose.
*

I do sometimes wonder if the producers of the Daily Politics have a plan to keep me and Andrew Neil apart. Every time I go on the programme as their Guest of the Day it’s on a Tuesday, the one day of the week Andrew has off. I quite like it in a way because you get to stay for the whole hour and get more airtime, but I do love Andrew Neil. He is by far and away the best interviewer on TV and has such a huge breadth of knowledge. He has such a brilliant way of phrasing a question, so brilliant that my own producer on LBC sometimes says in my ear when I am interviewing a slippery politician “Do what Andrew Neil would do”. Much as I would hate to lose him from the Daily Politics, it is a scandal he was never offered the main presenter’s job on Newsnight. He would have been brilliant and totally owned the programme. Which is, of course, why he was never offered it.
*
Who are these ‘dark forces’ Ed Miliband seems so frightened of? Jason Cowley? Toby Helm? Patrick Wintour? I think we should be told.
*

So, six days to go until the Rochester & Strood By-Election – or Stroud as Ed Davey likes to call it. Now there was me thinking that the Prime Minister had promised to throw the kitchen sink at this by-election and do what is now called ‘a Newark’. I have to say I see scant evidence of that having happened. The media have already decided it is a UKIP gain and from the polls, it’s difficult to believe that any other result is a possibility. Labour should hang their heads in collective shame that they haven’t put up a proper fight, though. Admittedly under different boundaries, this was Labour seat from 1997 to 2010. It is the kind of seat that Labour ought to be taking seriously if they want to win a majority. Mind you, it’s also a seat which the Conservatives need to win back in May 2015 if they want to form any kind of government. And my suspicion is that could well happen. And as for the LibDems? Yet another lost deposit, I suspect.
*
Sepp Blatter. Twat.
*

I hosted a business breakfast for LBC yesterday at which the co-founder of Innocent Smoothies Richard Reed was the guest speaker. I struggle to remember the context in which he related this anecdote, but it doesn’t really matter. He told of an eight year old girl who was flying on Qantas and decided to send a note to the pilot. It read something like this…
“Dear Captain, my name is Nicola and I am 8 years old. This is my first flight but I’m not scared. I like to watch the clouds go by. My mum says the crew is nice. I think your plane is good. Thanks for a nice flight. Don’t fuck up the landing. Luv Nicola.”

With that the audience clapped, I marched on stage and said to Richard Reed: “Make sure you don’t fuck up the Q&A now…”. Perhaps you had to be there…

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Video: Iain is Interviewed by Student Sports Journalist Tommy Wathen

The interview covers Iain's career in politics and broadcasting, and all things West Ham.

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