Iain Dale is Presenter of LBC Drive, Managing Director of Biteback Publishing, a columnist and broadcaster and a former Conservative Parliamentary candidate.
Wednesday’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump didn’t really move things. Trump started well, but then couldn’t resist becoming Mr Nasty again, leaving Clinton to wipe the floor with him. For me, she won virtually every single section of the debate, with Trump coming across as a total narcissist, unfit to hold the office of President.
This contest has ended up as who is the lesser of two evils. Clinton is certainly unpopular, and deservedly so, but surely undecided voters will in the end come down in her favour, for fear of what a Trump Presidency would entail. However, there are still two and a half weeks to go and anything could happen.
The one area where I thought Clinton was on dodgy ground was when she again advocated a no-fly zone over Aleppo. That may have been a valid argument a month or two ago, but that ship has well and truly sailed now. It would only work if the Russians agreed to it, and with victory in sight over the rebel forces, why would they do that now?
Clinton’s refusal to accept the reality of the situation is worrying. You can’t just impose a no-fly zone on the Syrians and the Russians, because if you do, you have to be prepared for the consequences. And one inevitable consequence is that as President you’d be faced with the awful prospect of ordering a Russian plane to be shot down.
And the consequences of that are too awful to contemplate. It’s one thing for Turkey to do it. It’s a very different thing for the United States to do it.
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Ken Loach films are not my cup of tea, you won’t be surprised to hear. So when my LBC producer said she had arranged for me to interview the far left film director, my heart slightly sank. It sank even further when she said he had got two tickets for the Premiere of his latest film, I, Daniel Blake, in Leicester Square.
I grumpily accepted that it was probably a good idea to see the film before I interviewed him, so on Tuesday night off we toddled. The place was crammed full of leftiness. I got into a bit of trouble for tweeting that the cinema “reeked of leftism”. It was a slightly lame attempt at humour which did not go down well with our besandled friends.
The film itself was rather better than I had anticipated, even if it was a tad predictable. The main thing was that it held my attention for an hour and forty minutes, and believe me, in cinemas I have the attention span of a flea. The aim of the film was to show how awful it is to be on benefits and how terrible the DWP systems are, and the terrible psychological effect they have on individuals. And of course that the Tories are evil. Natch.
The main character in the film was a sixtyish Geordie joiner, who had had a heart attack. His doctor had declared him unfit for work yet, according to the ATOS system, he didn’t have enough points and therefore was obliged to look for work or he would lose his benefits. In human terms it pulled at the heart strings, as it was no doubt meant to. There was no acknowledgement in the film that there was any problem at all with people who do try to work the system.
Loach had a lot of private information from people who work in the DWP or are members of the PSU union, and he used it to good effect. If the lack of humanity shown by the workers in the job centre scenes bears any relation to reality, it’s a disgrace.
The second lead character was a cockney single mother of two called Katy, who had been moved up to Newcastle by a London council, because they couldn’t house her. The actress who played her was in my opinion the star of the film. She descended into so much debt that she couldn’t afford to feed or clothe her two children properly. The most affecting scene was when she visited a food bank, and she was so hungry that she ripped open a tin of beans and started eating them raw. She ended up shoplifting and then being pimped out by the shop security officer who caught her stealing. It was all a bit predictable. As you can imagine, there is no happy ending in a film like this.
As the credits rolled, the cinema rose in acclamation, a woman a few rows in front started ranting loudly about the evil Tories and that “c**t Iain Duncan Smith”. This woman was wearing a fur coat. As we walked out the woman next to us shouted out “We are all Daniel Blake, We are all Daniel Blake”. I felt I was existing in a different universe.
I don’t think you can use the word ‘enjoy’ with regard to a film like this. But I didn’t not enjoy it. Whatever the political motivation behind it, it did have several valid messages, and one is that there can be terrible consequences if a state system dehumanises people and makes them lose any semblance of self-respect.
The next day I interviewed Loach, live in the studio. I’d love to say I took him on and had a right old barny, but it wasn’t appropriate. In the end I let him have his say and left it to the audience to judge his views on the ‘evil Tories’.
You can watch the interview here.
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I actually laughed out loud when I read on Guido Fawkes that David Prescott has been hired as Jeremy Corbyn’s chief speechwriter. The son of John, David couldn’t be further from the Corbynista mindset if he tried.
To the outside world it seems like an inspired hire, showing that Team Corbyn is not of one view. But surely a speechwriter has to be able to get inside the head of his boss, and be able to write accordingly.
However, it’s amazing how the desperation of finding a safe seat can turn one’s head isn’t it? Still, at least it’s not a peerage he’s after… The price for that is rather different.