I've just won the Big Gay Slam. No, not some deviant orgiastic competition, but... well you'll have to read to the end. I think it's called reeling you in.
I had a very uneventful morning, mainly because I had to write my EDP and ConservativeHome columns, as well as put the finishing touches to the BIG BOOK OF BORIS, which Biteback is publishing in September. More on than anon.
Around 2.30pm I walked down to the Gilded Balloon where Fin was doing some good trade handing out flyers to passers by. Apparently one man snarled: "I bloody hate Iain Dale." There's always one. Or more.
Johnny Mercer arrived around 3.30pm for my first show of the day. We had a bit bigger audience than yesterday, and it did seem that there were far more people around generally. Johnny was appointed Minister for Veteran Affairs earlier this week and I suspect he was a bit nervous of something he'd get into trouble for. I don't blame him for that at all. In fact, he was very entertaining and honest and the audience seemed to lap him up. It all got a bit weird when he offered to soap me up in the shower... Guess you had to be there.
I was a bit peed off to read Caron Lindsay, the editor of LibDem Voice saying that I had given him an easy time. The format of these shows is 'In Conversation'. People are giving up their time free of charge, and are basically doing me a huge favour by turning up at all. I'm hardly going to give them a battering, am I? It's not a forensic policy interview. I'm trying to wheedle stuff out of them which I wouldn't ever be able to do in a formal interview format. I wonder if Caron will complain that I give Jo Swinson an 'easy time'. Somehow, I suspect not.
So, at 6pm over to the Gilded Balloon at the Museum to host Unite leader Len McCluskey. It got to 5.45 and he hadn't turned up. I'll admit I was nervous. What was I supposed to do? Conversate with myself? Anyway, all was well and he did show. Just before he turned up I had an hilarious conversation with an audience member. He came over brandishing our marketing flyer. "Are all these people really coming?" he asked in disbelief. "Of course," I replied. "What, you mean Sadiq Khan is actually coming to Edinburgh - you mean the real Sadiq Khan?" "Yes, I replied." He walked away and then immediately came back. "How on earth do you get all these people?" he asked. "I have a good contacts book," I retorted. He seemed satisfied at that.
Len and I had a really good conversation about all sorts of things including the role of trade unions in modern Britain, his views on Boris Johnson (surprisingly positive in terms of his ability to campaign), why he and Tom Watson have fallen out and what he thinks about Scottish independence. I ran out of time to be honest and kicked myself for not pressing him a bit on anti-semitism. A lady came up to me at the end and complained I had let him off the hook on the subject. She was right, so I invited her to talk to him one to one about it. Sadly another lady kept intervening and saying it was all got up by the media. Suffice to say I gave her the benefit of my views...
Later on in the evening I was a guest "storyteller" at fringe event called The Big Gay Story Slam. Indeed. I had to spend 7 minutes telling a story from my life revolving around my homosexuality. I was a bit concerned when the first two people turned out to be professional comedians. Oh dear, why did I agree to do this, I kept thinking to myself.
Then it was my turn. I talked about what it was like getting selected as a Tory candidate and the effect being gay had on my chances. I got a few laughs and it all seemed to go OK. I didn't actually realise it was a competition, but the drag queen hosting it suddenly announced I had won! Sadly there was no prize.
Tomorrow I'm doing a piece on BBC Radio Scotland in the morning, then some more flyering before hosting Fi Glover and Sarah Smith at 4pm and Jo Swinson at 6pm, assuming she makes it from Brecon!