Radio

It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 17: Avoiding The 'N' Word

10 May 2014 at 19:45

There are many words you can’t say on the radio. You can imagine what many of them are. The ‘N’ word is one of them. There are clear guidelines on the use of this word. It’s not that it is absolutely verboten, but as a presenter you may only use it in specific contexts.

BBC Devon presenter David Lowe, who has presented a programme called ‘Singers & Swingers’ for 30 years, played the song THE SUN HAS GOT HIS HAT ON on his show and it proved his undoing. He was sacked by the BBC because a single listener complained that it contained the ‘N’ word. On his blog he tells the whole sorry story…

AFTER more than 32 years of programme-making for the BBC and UK Independent Local Radio, I have hung-up my headphones for the last time. Why? Because I made a silly mistake. Yes, I know we all make mistakes, but where political correctness is concerned in UK today, there is no room for excuses or forgiveness. That said: let me stress here, I have no quarrel with anyone at the BBC in the West and South West. However, I do have issues with a repressive system that encourages wholly disproportionate reactions to innocent errors of judgement.

On April 27, I featured an 82 year old recording, one I’ve heard hundreds of times over the years, and even featured occasionally on my programmes. Unbeknown to me, however, that recording by Ambrose & His Orchestra of “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” contains a line of lyric that includes one of today’s ‘forbidden’ English language expressions … the “N” word! You’ve got to listen very carefully indeed to actually hear it but, yes, it is there on the recording.

I was alerted to my error by an email from the BBC management who had, in turn, received a complaint from a listener who, by his own admission, never listened to my programmes, but just happened to switch-on his radio sometime after 8 pm on Sunday April, 27.

Suffice it to say, the listener in question was “horrified” by what he heard, and added, “I hope that someone in authority will deal with Mr Young appropriately.” (He referred to me as David Young throughout his email, a copy of which was forwarded to me with the BBC complaint alert). By the way, I know of no other complaint. Of course, there may have been others, but none have yet come to my attention via post, email, Facebook, Twitter or on my Blog.

Nevertheless, I admitted my mistake immediately after listening closely to the ‘offending’ track. I then apologised to my BBC managers, and offered to apologise to the listeners at the beginning of, and again during, my programme on May 11. Alternatively, I offered to fall on my sword.

A series of emails between myself and the BBC ensued over the following few days, including one which stated, “We would prefer that you don’t mention anything about last week’s broadcast.” In the end, the BBC wrote to say, “Regrettably … we will have to accept your offer to fall on your sword to resolve the situation.”

So, first and foremost, here’s what I would have said on-air on May 11, had I been granted the opportunity of doing so: “I would like to apologise unreservedly to all of you, especially those who may have been offended by the track in question.”

Unfortunately, this was a genuine error on my part … the first of its kind I made in my 32 years of broadcasting … but, given today’s unforgiving obsession with political correctness, I have been compelled to pay the ultimate price.

Sadly, many thousands of BBC listeners have now been deprived of a programme they have come to look-forward to each week, while I’m left to ponder this: how can one oversight on my part, followed by one email complaint (that I know of), have such a negative impact on the lives so many innocent people? Maybe the answer lies in the fact that this regrettable episode provides proof of the damaging effect political correctness in all its pernicious forms is having on British society today?

Sorry folks, but I made a stupid mistake and I was left with no other option but to fall on my sword. In closing, however, let me say this: it has been an honour to entertain you for so many years, and I thank each and every one of you for your support for my efforts.

Unbelievable behaviour by the BBC. One rule for Jeremy Clarkson, another for others. And this from the very same BBC that has recently shown the Robert Di Niro film A BRONX TALE which contains at least 30 mentions of the ‘N’ word. Hypocrisy writ large.

However, the story doesn’t end there. David Lowe has today updated his blog with this…

MY HEARTFELT thanks to all of you, not only here on the Blog, but also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for your support and kind words over the past 24 hours or so.

The BBC have, this evening (Saturday May 9, 2014), magnanimously asked me to return to my former Sunday evening programme slot, but I have respectfully declined their offer.

Let me explain why. As some of you will know, I am partially disabled by Dystonic Tremor: a condition rooted in the central nervous system. To put it mildly, these past two weeks have played havoc with my tremor symptoms, and it’s going to take quite some time for me to get back to where I was before this “N-word” issue blew-up … if I ever do.

I feel sure, therefore, most of you will understand that I now need to focus on recovering, as best I can, the limited dexterity I enjoyed before this regrettable episode began.

Thank you again for your support. With my sincere best wishes … David

So he’s told the BBC where they can stick it, and you can hardly blame him. The Mirror have taken up the story and they quote a BBC spokesman.

“We have offered David Lowe the opportunity to continue presenting his Singers and Swingers show, and we would be happy to have him back on air. “We accept that the conversation with David about the mistake could have been handled better, but if he chooses not to continue then we would like to thank him for his time presenting on the station and wish him well for the future.”

What a way for the BBC to treat someone with 30 years’ dedicated service. It’s like something out of an episode from W1A.

Share:

2 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_peter_hain_21816a

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.

Listen now

UK Politics

European Election Result Predictions: North East

10 May 2014 at 09:02

Over the next two weeks I will be trying to predict the results of the European Elections which take place in the UK on May 22, with the results being announced late in the evening of Sunday 25 May. I will be hosting a European Elections Special Programme on LBC from 9pm that evening. Let’s now turn to the North East, where 3 seats are up for grabs. The constituency corresponds to the North East England region of the United Kingdom, comprising the ceremonial counties of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and parts of North Yorkshire. The constituency was formed as a result of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, replacing a number of single-member constituencies. These were Durham, Northumbria, Tyne and Wear, and parts of Cleveland and Richmond.

2009

Con 1
Lab 1
LibDem 1

In 2004 the result was identical to 2004. In 1999 it was Labour 3, Conservative 1 (the constituency had 4 members in 1999).

My prediction for this year is this…

2014

Con 1
Lab 1
UKIP 1

This is probably the easiest constituency to call. Last time the LibDems got a seat with 17.6% of the vote, with UKIP only 2.2% behind. I doubt there is a single LibDem who believes they won’t be beaten into fourth place.

Predicted Winning Candidates

Conservative Party – Martin Callanan
UKIP – Jonathan Arnott
Labour – Judith Curton-Darling

East Anglia
South East
London
South West
West Midlands
East Midlands
North West

Share:

1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_johnbarr

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale Talks to John Barrowman

John Barrowman talks to Iain's callers about gay equality, bullying and homosexual rights in other countries.

Listen now

Diary

ConHome Diary: What Will Cameron Be Remembered For?

9 May 2014 at 14:38

Now I know Boris Johnson has never won an award for attention to detail, but here is one detail will need to take on board if he really intends to stand at the next general election, as he surely must. In order to be selected as a Conservative candidate you actually need to be on the approved list of Conservative candidates. And according to my sources at CCHQ Boris isn’t on that list. It may be that he thinks because he is the Mayor of London he doesn’t need to be, and can just waltz in anywhere and put his name forward. It would be a brave soul on the Candidates Committee who sought to veto him, but there’s always one, isn’t there? The trouble is, if Boris puts in an official application it would be bound to leak, which is why he presumably hasn’t done it. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
*
Those of us who were beginning to take UKIP seriously as a political party were somewhat surprised to see them select Roger Helmer as their candidate for Newark. Now I rather like Roger Helmer, but anyone who thinks that as a by-election he will be anything other than disastrous wants their political antennae rewiring. Nigel Farage tells me Helmer’s views on homosexuality and other things have changed and that he has recanted his previously strongly held view. Indeed, there’s a lengthy statement on his website doing just that. But does he really think anyone in the media will do anything other than use these views to beat UKIP with a very big stick? And how can Helmer campaign properly in the by-election when he is supposed to be campaigning all over the East Midlands to secure his European Parliament seat? UKIP have treated the electorate of Newark with contempt, and shown they are not serious about winning.
*

The history books suggest that most Prime Ministers are remembered for one thing. If we go through all post-war PMs it seems even more of a truism.
Churchill – Winning the war
Attlee – The NHS
Eden – Suez
Macmillan – Saying ‘most of our people have never had it so good’
Douglas-Home – Counting with matches
Wilson – The white heat of the technological revolution
Heath – Joining the Common Market
Callaghan – Winter of Discontent
Thatcher – Falklands
Major – Black Wednesday
Blair – Iraq
Brown – The financial crash
So when David Cameron falls on his prime ministerial sword, what exactly will he be remembered for? Libya? Gay marriage? If he’s not careful he will go down as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland who lost Scotland. I don’t think many people realise how near we are to that becoming a reality. In recent weeks some commentators, led by Ben Brogan, have speculated that if that happened, David Cameron would have to resign. Well, it’s easy to see the logic, isn’t it? This week Number Ten poured a cup of cold sick over the suggestion. As usual, they got it wrong. It would have been far better to say nothing and not dignify the suggestion with a comment.
*
I’ve been posting European election result predictions on my blog all week, going through the country region by region. I’ll be posting more predictions over the next few days at www.iaindale.com. In many regions the result hardly changes even with quite a dramatic swing in the vote. At most two seats change hands. Some regions are so small that it’s almost impossible for any change at all beyond one seat because of the ridiculous D’Hondt system of PR. Strangely that system isn’t used in Northern Ireland which uses STV. Why that it, I have no idea. It’s small wonder that turnout is so low when voters know that however they vote, the end result is more or less the same. Bearing in mind that few people could name a single one of their MPs, I wonder if it might not be fairer for there to be a national list rather than regional ones. Or alternatively, allow people to vote for individual candidates rather than just cast one vote for a party. In that way the parties couldn’t be able to give sitting MEPs preference on their lists and they’d actually have to fight for their seats.
*

Labour’s Party Election broadcast this week didn’t bode well for the tone of the election campaign over the coming twelve months. Labour’s strategists clearly think it’s a strategic masterstroke. Judge for yourself.

It’s sub-Harry Enfield. And that’s being kind. I’m told the LibDems had one a couple of weeks ago which poked fun at Ed Miliband, but was actually funny. Well, maybe amusing rather than funny. This one may play well in a student union and among people who genuinely hate Tories or Nick Clegg, but would it win over a single floating voter? I doubt it. Indeed, it may have achieved quite the opposite. Someone emailed my LBC show saying they were a long time Labour voter but this PEB made him realise that Labour isn’t serious as a political party and they take the electorate for fools. He said he would now be voting UKIP. Incidentally, I also had two callers on Wednesday who were both UKIP switchers … from the LibDems. Now there’s funny.

Share:

5 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_julianfelowes

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale's talks to Julian Fellowes

Julian Fellowes talks about Titanic, Downton Abbey and an elected House of Lords.

Listen now

UK Politics

European Election Result Predictions: North West

9 May 2014 at 11:46

Over the next two weeks I will be trying to predict the results of the European Elections which take place in the UK on May 22, with the results being announced late in the evening of Sunday 25 May. I will be hosting a European Elections Special Programme on LBC from 9pm that evening. Let’s now turn to the North West, where 8 seats are up for grabs. The constituency corresponds to the North West England region of the United Kingdom, comprising the ceremonial counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. Following the passing of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, the North West of England formed one constituency from which candidates are elected using the d’Hondt formula. In the election preceding this Act, MEPs were elected from first-past-the-post constituencies. These were Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Wirral, Cumbria and Lancashire North, Greater Manchester Central, Greater Manchester East, Greater Manchester West, Lancashire Central, Lancashire South, Merseyside East and Wigan, Merseyside West, and parts of Staffordshire West and Congleton.

2009

Con 3
Lab 2
UKIP 1
LibDem 1
BNP 1

In 2004 the result was Con 3, UKIP 1, LibDem 2, Labour 3. In 1999 it was Con 5, Lab 4, LibDem 1 (the constituency had 10 members in 1999 and 9 in 2004).

My prediction for this year is this…

2014

Con 2
Lab 3
UKIP 3

Like the East Midlands is a very difficult constituency to call. However, one thing is for sure, the BNP’s Nick Griffin will be out of the European Parliament. It’s highly likely that the controversial LibDem MEP Chris Davies will be out too. If this happens it is likely that UKIP will gain at least one seat, if not two. Labour is likely to gain at least one too, with the Conservatives dropping one. The Greens shouldn’t be totally ruled out, either. Last time they were only 0.3% behind the BNP.

Predicted Winning Candidates

Conservative Party – Jacqueline Foster, Sajid Karim
UKIP – Paul Nuttal, Louise Bours, Steven Woolfe
Labour – Theresa Griffin, Afzal Khan

OTHER REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

East Anglia
South East
London
South West
West Midlands
East Midlands

Share:

4 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_lbclogo

LBC 97.3 Iain discusses the Prophet Mohammed with Mo Ansar

LBC 97.3

Listen now

UK Politics

European Election Result Predictions: East Midlands

8 May 2014 at 11:14

Over the next two weeks I will be trying to predict the results of the European Elections which take place in the UK on May 22, with the results being announced late in the evening of Sunday 25 May. I will be hosting a European Elections Special Programme on LBC from 9pm that evening. Let’s now turn to the East Midands, where 5 seats are up for grabs. The constituency corresponds to the East Midlands region of England, comprising the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and the non-Metropolitan county of Lincolnshire. The constituency was organized as a result of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, replacing a number of single-member constituencies. These were Leicester, Northamptonshire and Blaby, Nottingham and Leicestershire North West, Nottinghamshire North and Chesterfield, and parts of Lincolnshire and Humberside South, Peak District, and Staffordshire East and Derby.

2009

Con 2
UKIP 1
Lab 1
LibDem 1

In 2004 the result was Con 2, UKIP 2, LibDem 1, Labour 1. In 1999 it was Con 3 Lab 2, LibDem 1 (the constituency had six members in 1999 and 2004).

My prediction for this year is this…

2014

Con 2
Lab 1
UKIP 2

The East Midlands is a very difficult constituency to call. Both the LibDem sitting MEP Bill Newton Dunn, and the sitting UKIP member Roger Helmer started out as Conservatives. Helmer will certainly be re-elected but it is doubtful Newton Dunn will hold on, having just scraped in last time with only 12.5% of the vote. The question is whether that will be enough to give UKIP or Labour a second seat. UKIP will certainly gain a second seat if the Tory vote drops much anyway.

Predicted Winning Candidates

Conservative Party – Emma McClarkin, Andrew Lewer
UKIP – Roger Helmer, Margot Parker
Labour – Glenis Wilmott

OTHER REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

East Anglia
South East
London
South West
West Midlands

Share:

1 comment

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_westminster

LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Rob Shepherd

Rob Shepherd talks about his biography of Westminster.

Listen now

UK Politics

European Election Result Predictions: West Midlands

7 May 2014 at 08:06

Over the next two weeks I will be trying to predict the results of the European Elections which take place in the UK on May 22, with the results being announced late in the evening of Sunday 25 May. I will be hosting a European Elections Special Programme on LBC from 9pm that evening. Let’s now turn to the West Midands, where 7 seats are up for grabs. The constituency corresponds to the West Midlands region of England, comprising the ceremonial counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire. It was formed as a result of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, replacing a number of single-member constituencies. These were Birmingham East, Birmingham West, Coventry and North Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Shropshire, Worcestershire and South Warwickshire, and parts of Peak District, Staffordshire East and Derby, and Staffordshire West and Congleton.

2009

Con 3
UKIP 2
Lab 1
LibDem 1

In 2004 the result was Con 3, Lab 2, UKIP 1, LibDem 1. In 1999 it was Con 4, Lab 3, LibDem 1 (the constituency had eight members then).

My prediction for this year is this…

2014

Con 2
Lab 2
UKIP 3

The West Midlands will be a very interesting result partly because both of UKIP’s existing MEPs defected. I doubt whether that will have any impact on the result, though. Labour really need to gain an extra seat here if they are to have any momentum in the runup to the general election. If they do, it will be filled by Sion Simon. The BNP scored 8.5% last time but much of that vote will evaporate this time. The Tory vote is bound to decline too, so it is likely they will lose a seat. This constituency gained an extra seat after the signing of the Lisbon treaty, which Anthea Mcintyre filled.

Predicted Winning Candidates

Conservative Party – Philip Bradbourn, Anthea Mcintyre
UKIP – Jill Seymour, James Carver, Bill Etheridge
Labour – Neena Gill, Sion Simon

OTHER REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

East Anglia
South East
London
South West

Share:

3 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_conrad

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale interviews Conrad Black

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

Listen now

UK Politics

9 Years Ago Today: An Electoral Obliteration & Losing Gracefully

6 May 2014 at 08:53

Nine years ago I stood as a candidate in the 2005 general election. It seems a very long time ago. It was one of those days which could have changed my life forever, and in some ways did. Five years ago I wrote a blogpost about polling day and the election count. It got such a reaction, I thought I’d reprise it here. For the uninitiated I was the Conservative candidate in North Norfolk, fighting the incumbent LibDem MP, Norman Lamb, now a health minister.

If I am honest, polling day was a disaster. We had set up a fifteen or so Committee rooms across the constituency and had teams of people knocking up. Time and again I kept being asked the same question: “Are you sure these knocking up slips are right? We seem to be knocking up LibDem voters”. Surely the agent hadn’t printed off the wrong codes? I kept asking myself. She and I had been at daggers drawn since the day of my selection. Let’s put it this way, she had gone out of her way to make clear that she favoured anyone but me. Half the local association wouldn’t work with her, and I seemed to spend much of my time mending fences with people whose noses she had put out of joint. After a row on day one of the campaign, she walked out, only to repeat the exercise later in the campaign. But surely, I thought, she wouldn’t have been so incompetent as to print out the wrong knocking up cards, would she? It was only six months later that I learned that she had gone round telling people she hadn’t even voted for me, that I began to wonder. Anyway, I digress.

I had known for some time that winning was highly unlikely. I remember a day in February 2005 canvassing in the coastal village of Overstrand. Every single house we went to seem to deliver the same message: “Well, we’re really Conservatives but we’re going to vote for that nice Mr Lamb.” I remember going back to my house in Swanton Abbott that night and saying to John, “That’s it, I know now I can’t win.” If people like that weren’t going to vote for me, the game was up. But I knew that I couldn’t tell that to my supporters who had sweated blood in helping my campaign. The problem was that Norman Lamb was (and is) essentially a Conservative. His and my views were almost indistinguishable on local issues. He was even vaguely Eurosceptic (for a LibDem). He had fought three elections and made it his business to be a good constituency MP.

My strategy had been to play him at his own game, and demonstrate that I too would be a good constituency representative – but one who could get things done by dint of being an MP for one of the two major parties . By the time the election campaign started I had undertaken a huge amount of constituency casework, and had got a very good reputation for taking up local campaigns and getting things done. I probably got more good local publicity in local press and radio than any other candidate in the country. We produced good literature and built up an excellent delivery network, but the fact remained – he was the MP and I was a candidate.

In retrospect I made too much of an effort at name recognition. It was a mistake to book a giant poster site (the only one in the constituency) for the few weeks before the election, and it was also a mistake to make a CD Rom and deliver it to every house. The money spent on those two things would have been far better spent on more newsletters and constituency-wide newspapers.

Two other things worked against me. The fact that I was quite often on TV, I originally thought would be a good thing – name recognition etc. But all it did was give people the impression I was in London all the time and not local. I could witter on about how I lived in the constituency – and I did – while Norman Lamb lived 20 miles away in Norwich, but a fat lot of good it did me.

So I expected to lose. It didn’t help that nationally the party wasn’t making any sort of breakthrough. Although Michael Howard had done his best, people were still in thrall to Tony Blair. Howard hadn’t been able to attract back those soft Conservative voters who had turned North Norfolk LibDem back in 2001. Nor it seemed, had I.

So as I criss-crossed the constituency on polling day, I had a fairly good idea of what was to happen later that night, although not even I could have guessed that the result would be quite so bad.

As the polls closed, I went back to my cottage to change and collect John. I felt strangely numb. I craved that feeling most other candidates in marginal seats would have been feeling at that moment – the feeling that they were hours away from their biggest ever achievement.

I’ve never understood candidates who turn up at their counts after most of the hard work has been done. I wanted to be there to support my counting agents, and to make sure that nothing went wrong. In such a massive constituency it was always going to take a long time to get the ballot boxes in. And so it proved. Just after midnight, the other candidates started to arrive and I made it my business to chat to them all and their aides, many of whom I had got to know over the previous 18 months.

The first few boxes seemed OK from our point of view. For a fleeting moment I let myself wonder if I was being unduly pessimistic. But it was only when I sat down and did some counting myself that I realised that a defeat was definitely on the cards. The counting seemed to be going very slowly. I was keeping touch with outside events on a small hand sized portable TV. I remember Justine Greening winning. I think I even let out a cheer. I was sitting on a bench cradling this small, CD sized TV in my hands. One of the fringe candidates, who was dressed as a circus clown, came over and watched with me. He put his hand on my shoulder. The EDP picture next day was of this touching scene but was captioned: “A tearful Iain Dale is comforted by a clown”. I wasn’t tearful at all, I was watching David Dimbleby!

The moment came when the returning officer asked all the candidates and agents to gather round to go through the questionable votes. He then read out the figures. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Norman Lamb understandably struggled to contain himself. His majority had increased from 500 to 10,600. My initial reaction was to laugh in disbelief. To this day I struggle to believe it. One or two of my people suggested we request a bundle check, just to check that some votes hadn’t been put in the wrong piles. But before that could be requested the Agent had accepted the result. I too was not in a mood to question anything after hearing such a devastating piece of news. To be honest, my only thought was how I was going to get through the concession speech. Some weeks after the count I kept being told by my party workers: “There was something wrong at the count. We didn’t like to say anything at the time.” To this day I don’t know what they think happened.

As we waited for the formalities to begin Norman Lamb apologised to me for some rather nasty, homophobic comments made about me by one of his councillors. I thanked him and said I appreciated that he hadn’t run that sort of campaign.

Norman was then asked to the platform and he gave a gracious speech in which he made clear he had at some points over the previous 18 months feared the worst. It was then my turn. I have inherited my mother’s tendency to have a good cry at the worst possible moment. Even an episode of Emmerdale has been known to set me off, so as I climbed up on to the stage I made sure I breathed very deeply and make sure that I didn’t catch the eye of Deborah Slattery, my campaign manager and loyal friend. I knew she would be howling her eyes out.

It remains a speech I am proud of. I got through it intact, thanked everyone who needed to be thanked and paid tribute to Norman Lamb. I was told afterwards by several LibDem and Labour supporters that they were quite moved by it. As I left the stage I have a vague recollection of Norman Lamb putting his arm around me!

As John and I left Cromer High School to make the short drive to party worker’s house for some food and drink it all came out. I broke down completely in the car. John said nothing, but just drove. There was nothing he could say. By the time we had arrived I had pulled myself together. It was meant to be a party but the atmosphere was simply awful and I couldn’t wait to go home. I made another short speech thanking everyone, but it seemed like going through the motions. It was about 6.30am before we got home. I got about two hours sleep.

The next morning was the count for the county council elections. I was determined to go to it. No one was going to accuse me of not being able to show my face. As I walked into the school hall, many people (including LibDems and Labour supporters) spontaneously applauded. At that moment my sister Sheena (the punk rocker) phoned. I had to tell her I couldn’t speak to her as I would break down again.

And that was that. I cleared out my office and started to think about what on earth I would do in the future. If the result had been anywhere near three figures I would have stayed, but this was just one of those occasions when there was little I could have done to change things. Did my sexuality play a role? I wrote an article in the New Statesman immediately after election denying it…

I didn’t lose because North Norfolk rejected a gay candidate. I lost because the Lib Dems ran a relentless campaign to persuade Labour supporters to vote tactically. I lost because our national campaign, though highly professional and slick, did not ignite the fires of optimism among an electorate sick of personal insults and negativity. It may not be racist to talk about immigration, but it is perhaps not clever to put the words “racist” and “Conservative” on the same poster. And I lost because the Lib Dem MP had a huge personal vote, far beyond anything I’ve encountered anywhere else.

A candidate is perhaps not the ideal person to understand fully the reasons for a shattering defeat. Others can judge that, and many have offered their twopennyworth over the last nine years. All I know is that I can look myself in the mirror and know that I could not have done more. I almost bankrupted myself, put in far more hours than most other candidates I know and in many ways ran a textbook campaign. Of course I made mistakes, and I have alluded to some of them here, but my biggest mistake was not to listen to those who advised me not to go for this particular seat in the first place! LibDem chief executive, Chris Rennard, who knows a thing or two about these things, was one of them. He told me before I was selected that he expected Norman Lamb to get a five figure majority. I thought I knew better. I won’t make that particular mistake again!

Other than perhaps the initial decision, I have few regrets. I thoroughly enjoyed the 18 months up to the election, even if I hated the campaign itself. I met some wonderful people and would like to think that even as a candidate I made a bit of a difference to some people’s lives. I’ve just looked up my blogposts from that period. THIS post in particular sums up why, despite some of the terrible things said about me on some websites in the immediate aftermath of the election, I did not totally lose heart.

The most important thing is to learn from what life – and the electorate – throws at you.

In the immediate afermath of this defeat perhaps I didn’t learn the lessons I should have. I was 42 and still wanted to fulfill my life’s ambition to be an MP. But what I should have realised was that after a defeat like that – no matter what the rights and wrongs were – it would be difficult to get selected in another seat. I came close, but for the 2010 election I left it too late. I took two years out of the selection processes and by the time I reentered the selection race, most of the seats had gone. I got shortlisted for everything I applied for but in the end failed to get selected. Bracknell was the closest I came, and even on the day I was very hopeful of getting it. There were 7 people in the final, and one by one they were eliminated. I knew I had made a good speech and impressed them, but when it got down to the final three I knew I’d be the next one out. Sure enough, I was. Rory Stewart came second and Philip Lee triumphed. He was a local doctor and of the three of us the least risky choice. I was pleased for him, even though I knew it was probably the end of the road for me. There was one other seat – East Surrey, but I made a complete hash of my speech and the local candidate had ensured I would be asked a very difficult question about what happened in North Norfolk. Well, all’s fair in love and political selections!

It was then that I made the decision to end it. By the time of the 2015 election I will be 52, and I am old enough and wise enough to know what politics in this country has become a young person’s game. Few constituencies select people in their fifties, so I didn’t see the point in spending five years in the vain hope that I might possibly get selected. It was time to get out. So I did. I was also slightly falling out of love with politics, and having put my partner and family through a lot over the previous seven or eight years, it didn’t seem fair to repeat the process. My mother cheered when I told her I wouldn’t be doing it again.

if I am honest, I thought I would come to regret to decision, but four years on I haven’t. Not for a moment. And I mean that. Politics is indeed a drug, and you can never wean yourself off it completely, but my radio career gives me what politics used to give me, and a lot more besides. I’m often asked if I will stand again and I always reply in the same way. Never. And I really mean it. I would have loved to have been an MP, as I think in many ways I would have been good at it and been a very good constituency MP. But I now know (and probably always did) that the parliamentary side of it might well have become incredibly frustrating for me. I suspect I would have been a whips’ nightmare and would have stood no chance of being a minister … not that being a minister ever really mattered.

Nine years ago I thought my life had fallen apart. It hadn’t. It just meant that it took a very different turn. And you know what? I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Probably.

Share:

2 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_brain

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Brenda about Dementia

Iain takes a very moving call from Brenda in Chelmsford about how she coped with her husband's dementia.

Listen now

UK Politics

European Election Result Predictions: South West

5 May 2014 at 18:14

Over the next three weeks I will be trying to predict the results of the European Elections which take place in the UK on May 22, with the results being announced late in the evening of Sunday 25 May. I will be hosting a European Elections Special Programme on LBC from 9pm that evening. Let’s now turn to the South West of England, where 6 seats are up for grabs. The constituency consists of the South West England region of the United Kingdom, comprising the ceremonial counties of Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. It also includes the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.

2009

Lab 0
Con 3
UKIP 2
LibDem 1

In 2004 the result was identical except Labour also had a seat as the constituency had seven members then. In 1999, the Tories had 4 seats with 1 seat each for Labour, the LibDems and UKIP.

My prediction for this year is this…

2014

LibDem 1
Con 2
UKIP 3

Last time Labour’s Glyn Ford lost his seat and the Labour vote went down to 7%. It halved. They will battle with the LibDems for the sixth seat this time. The LibDems were on 17.5% in 2009, and although I expect that vote share to reduce, the South West has traditionally been a strong region for them. In the end, they may well pull through. Having said that, we shouldn’t rule out the Greens, who voted nearly 10% last time. The Tories will lose a seat (meaning James Cracknell will fail to be elected) and this will almost certainly go to boost UKIP’s haul to three. If that happens Nigel Farage’s press officer Gawain Towler, will get the final UKIP seat.

Predicted Winning Candidates

Conservative Party – Ashley Fox, Julie Girling
UKIP – Earl of Dartmouth, Julia Reid, Gawain Towler
LibDems – Graham Watson

OTHER REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

East Anglia
South East
London

Share:

3 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_nad

LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Nadine Dorries

Nadine accuses female Tory MPs who criticise her for her jungle exploits of 'jealousy'.

Listen now

UK Politics

European Election Result Predictions: London

5 May 2014 at 09:10

Over the next three weeks I will be trying to predict the results of the European Elections which take place in the UK on May 22, with the results being announced late in the evening of Sunday 25 May. I will be hosting a European Elections Special Programme on LBC from 9pm that evening. Let’s now turn to London, where 8 seats are up for grabs. The constituency was formed as a result of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, replacing a number of single-member constituencies. These were London Central, London East, London North, London North East, London North West, London South East, London South Inner, London South West, London West, and parts of London South and Surrey East.

2009

Con 3
UKIP 1
Lab 2
LibDem 1
Green 1

In 2004 the result the Conservatives had 3, UKIP 1, Labour 3, LibDem 1 and the Greens 1. In 1999, when there were 10 seats for London, the Conservatives and Labour had 4 each with the LibDems and Greens both on 1.

My prediction for this year is this…

2014

UKIP 2
Con 2
Lab 3
Green 1

If I’m right it will see the exit from the European Parliament of veteran LibDem MEP Sarah Ludford. However, if the LibDems do retain any sort of representation in the European Parliament they could just squeak in here, which would probably be at the expense of a second seat for UKIP. UKIP have never been strong in London and their polling in the capital remains behind the rest of the country. Anything other than a one seat gain for Labour would be regarded as pretty disastrous by Labour’s high command. If they are to get a majority in 2015 London is crucial to this.

Since the Greens have won a seat at each election since 1999 there is no reason to think they won’t repeat their performance this time. Jean Lambert (a former neighbour of mine in Walthamstow!) has some good name recognition and is on the sensible wing of the Greens.

Predicted Winning Candidates

Conservative Party – Syed Kamall, Charles Tannock
Green Party – Jean Lambert
Labour Party – Claude Moraes, Mary Honeyball, Lucy Anderson
UK Independence Party – Gerard Batten, Paul Oakley

OTHER REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

East Anglia
South East
London

Share:

3 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_watch

Video: Iain Reports on Life in Rwanda

18 Doughty Street

Listen now

UK Politics

The Truth About Mo Ansar

4 May 2014 at 12:29

Just by writing this I know I am falling into the trap of giving Mo Ansar the publicity hit he craves. But I am afraid someone needs to stand up to him and seeing as though he spread blatant lies about me and made a vexatious complaint to Hampshire Police and Tell Mama accusing me of Islamaphobia and much else besides, I can’t just sit back and remain silent on the matter.

I wrote much of this blogpost several weeks ago, but I have left it until now to publish it because I needed to be sure that Hampshire Police and Tell Mama would dismiss the complaint, and this they have both now done. It is now important that I put all this on the record so people can judge for themselves what happened, who was culpable, and if Mo Ansar merits ever being invited on media programmes again.

This all stems from a twitter exchange between Nicky Campbell and Mo Ansar on 22 March which I got involved with. It concerned the chairman of the Birmingham Mosque (who has since sadly died) who had made intemperate remarks likening gays to murderers and paedophiles. Mo Ansar appeared to be defending him on the basis he was an old man. I asked him directly if he agreed with his views, as I would have found that very surprising given his self styled “thoroughly modern muslim” stances. Someone has very helpfully captured the exchange and what happened next. So take a moment to dip out and read the full exchange so you can make your own mind up about whether what I wrote constituted anything anti-Islamic.

<iframe src=“//storify.com/jojowiththeflow/anti-muslim-harassment/embed” width=“100%” height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true>

There are many other subsequent tweets from Mr Ansar where he accuses me of anti-muslim bigotry, Islamophobia and he even inferred on Newsnight that I picked on him because of the colour of his face on his Twitter profile. For someone who professes to be a “political and social commentator” he has a remarkable lack of understanding of the laws of libel. He also has a remarkably thin skin for someone who inhabits a world where criticism (fair or unfounded) is something everyone – including me – has to take. But it seems Mr Ansar likes to dish it out but can’t take it. He delights in making reference to my age. In the exchange above he refers to “retirement” and in another exchange he calls me “old timer”. I laughed, thinking to myself that one day he will also reach the ripe old age of 51. Perhaps I should have reported him to the police for injuring my feelings. Except I’m not that petty.

What Mr Ansar is really objecting to is that I won’t have him on my radio show any longer. And looking back I wonder why I fell into the trap of having him on in the first place. In fact I know why. Because he invented himself as a ‘gob on a stick’ rent-a-quote commentator who news shows go to because he’s the easy option. We know he’ll always say yes. And when you’re setting up a topic often at short notice, that’s worth its weight in gold.

Sometime in the second half of last year we booked him to take part in a studio discussion. He didn’t turn up. I regard that as fairly unforgiveable and told him so on Twitter. To be fair to him he apologised and then spent the next few weeks tweeting me and my producer begging to come on to the show. It got embarrassing to be honest. It was then that I started to do a little research into him and came to the conclusion that there was no substance to him and that we would do better not to have him on again. My producers had already separately come to the same conclusion.

We asked ourselves the question: Who does he actually represent? He calls himself a “community activist”. Which community does he represent? Most muslims I have asked the question have laughed when I have suggested maybe he represents them. He calls himself an “educator” but when asked by others can’t produce any evidence of having been involved in education at any level. He calls himself a “theologian”, but there is no evidence to support his claim. And so it goes on.

Anyway, back to the events at the end of March. A few days later, at the beginning of April, I got a call from a friend telling me he had just taken a call from a muslim friend of his who had asked for my number because he had a copy of a complaint Mo Ansar had made to Hampshire Police. “No, surely he wouldn’t be that stupid,” I said. A few hours later I saw some tweets relating to Ansar which turned out to have copies of this email to Hampshire Police attached to them. At first I didn’t make the connection. All the tweets expressed incredulity. When I finally read the email, I saw it was dated 1 April. ‘Haha, good one’, I thought. Just as well I didn’t respond. But I then had it confirmed by multiple sources that it was in fact genuine, and he had indeed made a complaint to Hampshire Police. Here it is.

Mo Ansar says he believes my comments were made out of “anti-muslim prejudice or on grounds connected to my faith.” He fails to back this ridiculous assertion up with any evidence whatsoever. That’s because he hasn’t got any, because there isn’t any. In fact, there is much evidence which points in the opposite direction. I usually get criticism on my radio show for being far too pro muslim/Islam, rather than the other way around. Ironically, only three hours before Mo Ansar fired off his police complaint I had hosted an hour long phone-in in which I took the Daily Mail to task for their obsession with anti-muslim stories. Perhaps the two things were connected. Did my pro-muslim stance in that hour infuriate him so much? Seeing as the original exchange happened ten days earlier on March 22nd, it does seem odd that if your feelings have been injured, you’d wait ten days to make the complaint. Maybe he heard the caller who told me I was the best radio presenter in the country for covering islamic issues in a fair and balanced manner. Maybe that’s what provoked his ire. Who knows? Anyway, should you be interested, here is that phone-in. Judge for yourself after listening to it whether I could be accused in any way of being anti-muslim or ‘islamaphobic’.

LISTEN HERE

I know my own track record on these issues and so do thousands of muslims who listen to my show every day or follow me on Twitter. So does TellMama to whom he also complained. For the uninitiated TellMama monitors anti-muslim sentiment in the media and deal with complaints about unfair coverage. I was totally happy to let them be judge and jury on this issue. I said on Twitter at the time that I would readily apologise if they found against me. The fact is that they didn’t. They found I had no case to answer. But naturally Mo Ansar hasn’t acknowledged that fact. He made a spiteful complaint to the police and TellMama. He squealed like a coward, and, being the coward that he is, he hasn’t had the good grace to either acknowledge that they both found against him, or to apologise for getting it wrong.

So let me the man Mo Ansar never will be. I was wrong to call him a “gobby little prick”. It was language which was uncalled for and should not have been used in a public forum. I apologise for that.

Mo will never appear on my programme again. It is up to other programmes and broadcasters to decide whether to invite him on. Ansar says I am trying to silence muslim commentators. Not true. I know of three BBC programmes who won’t entertain him as a guest – and they decided that well before this incident happened. If I were a muslim I’d be embarrassed to have this man speaking on my behalf. There are some brilliant muslim commentators out there if only producers look hard enough. Let’s hope they stop going for the easy option.

It also seems I am not alone in having problems with Mr Ansar. Adrian Hilton tells his tale of trying to pin him down on his ‘educationalist’ credentials HERE. David Aaronovitch and Tom Holland have also had similar run-ins with him.

This page on a Wikipedia style site is very educational on Ansar’s background, views and record on online jiggerypokery.

Harry’s Place has also fallen victim to Mr Ansar’s online chikanery. And they are not impressed. Their blogpost is titled “Mo Ansar Exposed as a Fake”. Ouch. But it gets worse. In THIS article Amjad Khan exposes our very moderate muslim’s less than moderate views.

And if by now you still aren’t convinced that Mr Ansar shouldn’t ever grace my airwaves again, have a read of THIS blogpost by the left of centre Futile Democracy blog. It’s entitled ‘Mo Ansar Offends Me’.

The Rationaliser blog has an article demonstrating how Mo shouts “Islamaphobe!” at the drop of a hat.

Mark Humphreys takes Mo Ansar to task for his apparently extremist views. Just for yourself how extreme they are for yourself HERE. And Happy forensically examines the truth behind Mo Ansar’s multiple claims HERE

Someone called Rude Girl made the mistake of interacting with Mr Ansar. What happened to her next is a salutary lesson and is partly why it’s important that people understand his tactics. Read more HERE

And HERE’s what happened when Mo Ansar seemingly defended slavery… He tweeted Tom Holland to say “If slaves are treated justly, with full rights, and no oppression whatsoever… why would anyone object, Tom?”. You couldn’t make it up.

Enough. Almost.

When I found out that the police and Tellmama had found in my favour, I decided to try to put this matter to rest. I emailed Ansar last Wednesday to say that I had no interest in perpetuating a feud. I said that if he tweeted an acknowledgement that he had got it wrong, I would leave it there. But I also made clear that if he didn’t do that, I would consider my legal options, as it is as clear as night follows day that he has libelled me by calling me islamaphobic and part of the “far right”, as well as plenty of other things. Nine minutes after receiving that email I got an Out of Office reply from him saying he was away until 5 May and wouldn’t be reading emails until then. Yeah, right. He’s been avidly tweeting so if he can tweet, he can see his emails. And Out of Office emails do not take 9 minutes to arrive. This is what I wrote…

Dear Mo,

I understand that both Hampshire Police and Tell Mama have told you that your complaint against me has no substance or validity. By making the public claim that I am islamaphobic and “far right” you have intentionally damaged my reputation. I would be well within my rights to sue for libel and I am told I would stand a very good chance of success were it to come to court. This is not a course of action I want to take, but in the light of the fact that both Hampshire Police and TellMama have apparently told you there is no substance to your claims, I look forward to you making clear on your Twitter feed that upon due reflection you do not consider me to be Islamaphobic or a member of the far right. I would urge you to do this within the next 24 hours. People would view you in a far better light if you accept that on this occasion you got it wrong. We all react in the heat of the moment and Twitter can become a very angry place but I think you went far beyond what is acceptable in making a police complaint, and I suspect in your heart of hearts, you do too.

I do not wish to have an ongoing feud with you, but if you can’t bring yourself to at least offer some sort of unequivocal public apology I will have to draw my own conclusions and consider appropriate action.

Kind regards

The response came 9 minutes later…

Thank you for your email. I’m away and unavailable until Monday 5th May – I will not be monitoring my emails regularly. If it is urgent please feel free to email xxxxxx@gmail.com.

Regards,

MA

So be it.

As I said above, Mo is an easy “get” for programmes on any muslim related issue. If a programme producer is being lazy, he’s on speed dial 1. But the truth of it is there are plenty of other excellent muslim commentators to turn to if you look hard enough – Ajmal Masroor, Asghar Bukhari, Fiyaz Mughal to name but three. Other programme makers are of course free to invite him on whenever they like, but perhaps they ought to ask themselves why an increasing number of broadcasting outlets and programmes have seen the light and are turning to other, more informed people who don’t have trouble justifying their educational or theological qualifications and aren’t just gobby…. well, let’s leave it there.

Thanks to all those (including hundreds of muslim correspondents on Twitter and email) who have supported me over the last month. I never ever thought Ansar’s complaint would get anywhere, but it’s not comfortable being accused of these things. So thanks also to Tell Mama and Hampshire Police for seeing through his vexatious complaint. Let’s hope others will see through him as well.

Mo Ansar can still prove me wrong, and admit he got this all very wrong. It’s not to late to do that, and publicly apologise. As I said in my email to him, I don’t believe in feuds.

UPDATE

Jeremy Duns exposes Mo Ansar HERE
Milo Yiannopolous lists all of Ansar’s claims of expertise HERE
Michael Taggart is on Ansar’s trail HERE
Nick Cohen says Ansar’s media career is now over HERE
Milo Yiannopolous has been digging into Mo’s outrageous claims HERE

Share:

2 comments

Sign up via Facebook or Twitter to comment.

Small_watch

Video: Iain appears with Bucks Fizz in a Making Your Mind Up Video

A get out the vote video with a funny ending :)

Listen now