Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the For the Many podcast with Jacqui Smith.
On Monday, I announced on my Twitter feed that I would be interviewing David Cameron later in the week. The paperback of his memoirs, For the Record, was published yesterday, so the interview was timed to coincide with that.
Never for a moment did I think an announcement that I would be interviewing a former Prime Minister would be met with such abuse. “What’s the point?” “He was a failure, why would you interview a failure?” And there was plenty that was much worse.
It illustrates the debasing of public discourse when people can be quite so insulting about someone who served his country as Prime Minister for six years. And he got it with both barrels from both sides.
To the more extreme Remainers, he is a traitor to his country for allowing the referendum to take place, and to hard Brexiteers he’s, well, just a traitor. “Why would you interview someone who walked away, the day after the referendum?” they brayed in unison.
Well, I’ll tell you why. Cameron changed the Conservative Party. In many ways he changed the country for good. Yes, he had political and policy failings, but all Prime Ministers do.
He may well go down in history as the man who allowed Brexit to happen. We don’t know yet whether that will turn out well or not. He may go down in history as the Prime Minister who started the process by which Scotland parted company from the rest of the UK – although if it happens, there will have been many other factors at play.
I interviewed Cameron because he presided over this country at a time of unique economic and political turmoil. All Prime Ministers are fascinating to one degree or another, and if anyone thinks I’d turn down the opportunity of interviewing him, Gordon Brown, John Major – or Lord Palmerston – well, they live in a delusional world of their own making. If you missed the interview it’s on the Iain Dale Book Club podcast right now.
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This lunchtime, I’m in Appledore in North Devon speaking at their book festival. Also on the programme are Labour’s Rachel Reeves and Jeremy Vine.
Most literary festivals this autumn have been cancelled, but Appledore have taken a brave decision to go ahead – and reformat it as a ‘Drive-in’ event.
So I’ll be on stage. Being interviewed about my book by a local journalist, and the audience will be in their cars, watching a big screen and listening to my words of wisdom via their car radios. What could possibly go wrong…?
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The Government is planning to double the maximum prison sentence for people who launch physical attacks on emergency workers.
Great news, you’d think. But it’s only from one to two years. Given we have the most right-wing Home Secretary in our lifetimes, you’d have thought she might have been willing to go to five or even ten years – but it seems not.
I just do not understand the mentality of anyone who would deliberately attack a paramedic or a firefighter or an ambulance driver. Of course, some will no doubt have mental health issues, but most will not.
I’m not sure that when the red mists descends you worry about a one or two year prison sentence, but it might cross your mind that discretion may be the better part of valour, were the sentence ten years.
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Sasha Swire’s diaries look as if they are going to be unputdownable when they are published next Thursday. If you’ve missed the serialisation in The Times, she is the wife of the former Conservative MP, Hugo Swire. And she has written a potboiler of a book, which, if rumour is to be believed, threatens to despatch them into the realms of social pariahdom.
The diaries are so indiscreet that it’s difficult to see how some of the couple’s long-term friendships can survive some of the revelations. I’ve published and edited a fair few political diaries in my time, and it’s always a balancing act between keeping juicy bits in to attract readers and editing the more salacious bits to avoid upsetting too many people.
I published Michael Spicer’s diaries some years ago and, as the publishing process wore on, he proceeded to take every single juicy anecdote out, including the identity of a Liberal Democrat MP who nearly defected to the Conservatives. He wouldn’t even say he was a LibDem. It was John Burnett, by the way. Nope, me neither.