Monday, May 31, 2004

How illiberal can you get?

I see from today's papers that the LibDems are going to come out in favour of a ban on smoking in public places - even parks. William Ewart Gladstone must be turning in his grave. It makes you wonder what they think the word Liberal means. Personally I hate smoking - they say kissing a smoker's like licking an ashtray. Naturally I couldn't vouch one way or the other, of course... The bigger issue here is the Nanny State. We're constantly being told how to live our lives by people whose own lives are often pretty shambolic. I'd rather trust people to make their own informed decisions. Isn't that what a true Liberal should believe?

Sunday, May 30, 2004

On 909 & 693 on Monday Night!

For those who just can't get enough of my dulcet tones, tune in to the Matthew Bannister Show on Monday night on Radio 5 Live from 10pm to 1am and I'll be on for the whole three hours. Radio 5 is at 909 or 693 medium wave, channel 855 on Sky Digital and also on Digital Radio. It's usually quite lively!

Website Updates

I've been catching up on some of life's chores today and having some time with my little dog, who hasn't seen much of me lately. For those who don't know, I have a 7 year old Jack Russell called Gio. CLICK HERE to see a picture of Gio. This evening I've added quite a few bits to the CAMPAIGN WEBSITE. Click on the following to find out more, and see a few pics...

Iain Comperes Wresling Match
Iain Views Traffic Concerns in Fakenham
Iain supports UEA students
Iain Campaigns in Norwich North
Iain Meets Diet Target
Iain Visits Fakenham Laundry

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Awful Awful Awful

Why didn't I listen to that little voice that said to me as I woke up this morning at 6am "Stay in bed, you know you don't really want to go to Cardiff"? A mere eight hours later I arrived at the Millennium Stadium, only half an hour before kick off. In one of those spooky coincidences, I was listening to my iPod and the song playing was 'Cutting it Fine' by Asia. Indeed I was. By quarter to five I was in the depths of despondency having watched a terrible West Ham performance. The entire forward line was subbed, which says it all really. Not a pleasant journey home, as you can imagine. Oh well, back to politics tomorrow!

Friday, May 28, 2004


Well I've just come back from one of the more surreal experiences of my life as a candidate. Eight months ago today I was being selected as Conservative Candidate for North Norfolk at Holt Community Centre. This evening I was also at Holt Community Centre....compering a wrestling match. Astonishing. Actually it was quite good fun. I even got a good round of applause when I was introduced. Good job most people were out of their brains! I also presented a cheque for £500 to the East Anglian Air Ambulance as a result of my sponsored diet. I'll post some pics on the website over the weekend.

Earlier in the day I went canvassing in Sheringham and Holt. We picked up quite a few new members in Sheringham, which encouraged the local people no end. For some reason Sheringham has got a reputation as a LibDem stronghold. Well, that wasn't my experience this afternoon. Had lunch at the Hunworth Bell with Michael Brunson, ITN's former political editor. Great to see him again and catch up on some political gossip.

Tomorrow I am getting up at 6am to drive tgo Cardiff to cheer on the Hammers. COME ON YOU IRONS!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

A Busy Day Ahead

Last night I attended Gunthorpe Parish Council. I met an old friend from my days at UEA, John Corney. His mother has been Norman Lamb's election agent in the past. Small world.

Today is going to be a hectic one - a visit to Fakenham Laundry, attending a consultation meeting at the Dementia Unit at Rebecca House, a visit to Aldborough School, canvassing in Roughton and then I'm popping down to Norwich North to help them canvass for the City Council elections in the Catton Grove ward. I stood for the Council there in 1985 - 19 years ago! It was a memorable experience as polling day was the day before my finals. Indeed, it proved to be extremely memorable as I was involved in a car accident while taking three ladies to vote. A motorbike tried to overtake me as I turned right and he broke his leg. I ended up directing traffic wearing my blue rosette. It turned out he was a Catton Grove voter, as I went to see his parents later and they were displaying a VOTE LABOUR poster in their kitchen window. Honestly, the lengths candidates go to to prevent people voting! That was a joke, by the way...

Monday, May 24, 2004

Nothing Much Happened Today...

Nothing much happened today is the title of an X Files episode. I really miss that programme! About the only notable event today was a ten minute appearance on Sandi Toksvig's radio programme on LBC. They wanted me to talk about my views on Iraq. I guess to sum up I was in favour of the war and still think toppling Saddam was justifiable. But I am horrified that we were lied to about the real reason for going to war and for a British Prime Minister to send our soldiers into battle without the vaguest idea of what would follow the war is just unbelievable. I'm reading Bob Woodward's book PLAN OF ATTACK and it is clear that Bush and Blair were so convinced they would be received on carpets of rose petals that no contingency plans were ever made. But the fact remains that the Iraqi people are enjoying a freedom which they haven't seen for years. I think the key is what happens when sovereignty transfers back.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

LibDem Shame

CLICK HERE to see the most shameful election leaflet ever put out by the LibDems. They haven't gone quite so far in North Norfolk yet, but their Euro leaflet has prompted me to write to the EDP. Here's the text.

The LibDem manifesto which dropped through my letterbox the other day
should win a prize for fiction, as well as negative campaigning. The
LibDems pretend to be slightly eurosceptic yet they would sign up to the
Euro and the constitution which would create a United States of Europe.

They have a picture of an empty chair, alleging that Conservative MEPs
have been absent from key votes in the European Parliament. Yet records
show that Conservative MEPs have voted in 85% of divisions and LibDems
81%. Andrew Duff paints himself as a European campaigner yet he missed a key
pesticides vote. Norman Lamb tells us in the manifesto that he has
campaigned for a referendum on the European Constitution. Good for him.
But if you ask him if he is in favour of it he admits he hasn't even
read it. If you're in North Norfolk and ask Mr Lamb if he's in favour of
the Euro he avoids saying yes or no. Yet speaking to last year's LibDem
conference he waxed lyrical about the benefits of the Euro. There's a clear choice on June 10th. Voting Labour or LibDem will mean we're one step closer to the Euro and a United States of Europe. If you want to keep the Pound, protect British sovereignty, withdraw from the Common Fisheries Policy and are against the European Constitution vote
Conservative. It's as simple as that.

Bleating Won't Help

I see from yesterday's EDP that North Norfolk LibDems have complained about the amount of coverage the EDP gives me. Quite astonishing, and a sign that my campaign must be seriously worrying them. I do find it amusing that they can complain about the coverage I get when the EDP has a policy of giving Norman Lamb equal coverage with the 4 Norfolk Conservative MPs put together. If anyone has cause to complain, it certainly isn't the LibDems.

Lazy Days & Sundays

For once had a lie in this morning before getting my usual stash of the Sunday papers from Coltishall. This afternoon went into the office for an hour before girding my loins to mow the lawn. Well, when I say lawn I should say 'bumpy patch of grass'. As you can see, my technical wizardry has managed to restore the COMMENT facilities but in restoring the coding I seem to have wiped out the ARCHIVED posts. Hey ho. Interesting YouGov poll in the Sunday Times. It puts us 11% ahead of Labour for the Euro elections.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

UEA Closure of Language School 'A Disgrace'

To read what I said to UEA students yesterday CLICK HERE. Today I've been at Fakenham Farmers' Market, looking at the site of the new Tesco, speaking at Mundesley Conservatives AGM and then spending three hours doorstepping in Mundesley. Again, a very encouraging response. Just off to dinner in Little Walsingham - one of my favourite places in the constituency.

Teach me to Fiddle...

I have had a few emails from people saying they couldn't read the Blog because of the deep blue background. I have therefore spent about an hour putting together another template. However, in the process the COMMENT facility seems to have disappeared. Got to go to the Farmers' Market in Fakenham now so I shall continue fiddling tommorrow when hopefully, normal service will be resumed. In the meantime use the email address

Thursday, May 20, 2004

On the Picket Line

Tomorrow I shall be joining Labour MP Ian Gibson and comedian Eddie Izzard in a protest at UEA. Now there's a sentence I never thought I would write. UEA are planning to shut the school of languages, the school from which I received my degree in 1985. Apparently the school is being "subsidised". I ask you. When did that word enter a university lexicon? More tomorrow...

David Cameron Day

A very enjoyable and useful day which was dominated by the visit of David Cameron MP, our local government finance spokesman to North Norfolk. However I started the day off in Norwich doing an interview with Radio 4's Today Programme on political egg throwing. Seemed to go quite well, especially when I told Jim Naughtie "you're showing your age". With David we did an interview with the EDP, half an hour on North Norfolk Radio and then a stint with the marvellous Sheringham Independent. Did a bit of street campaigning in Sheringham before a meeting with Conservative Councillors. This evening David and I spoke at a party fundraiser at the hugely imposing Hanworth Hall. About 100 people were present and there really seems to be a spring in the step of North Norfolk Conservatives at the moment. And about time too! While I write this I am watching a very depressing issue of Question Time which is concentrating on Europe. If this is the level of debate we are going to have God help us. I wonder if everyone else agrees with me about that awful Patricia Hewitt. I imagine every time she appears on TV she turns people off Labour. Good.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Seconds Out Round Three

It's been a great day out on the campaign trail in Corpusty, Saxthorpe and Aylmerton. There really is genuine enthusiasm for the Conservative Party out there now. We had more than a handful of LibDem-Conservative switchers and several from Labour too. I'm hugely encouraged by the reaction at the moment. This evening I went to Kettlestone Parish Council's meeting. A beautiful little village not far from Fakenham. Did an interview with North Norfolk Radio today on my integrity pledge. Tomorrow we've got David Cameron MP coming up for the day. Here's another bit of fun I'm involved with. At least, I hope it will be fun. Not sure why I have this sense of trepidation... Anyway, here's a press release I have just sent out. Read and enjoy...

Iain Dale, the Conservative Candidate in North Norfolk takes on a new career next week (on Friday 28 May at 7.45pm) when he will be co-compering a wrestling tournament, THE NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS put on by the Sheringham-based UK Pitbulls at Holt Community Centre in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Details can be found at and tickets can be obtained from Roys Snack Bar or Videoscene in Sheringham or by phoning 07979342659. Iain will be compering a celebrity tag match. He will also be presenting a Giant sized cheque to the East Anglian Air Ambulance for £500, from the proceeds of his sponsored diet. In less than two months he has lost two stones in weight. Iain has promised that he will not be in 'wrestling uniform'. "I don't think I'd look very good in spandex," he grimaces. Iain says: "I am delighted to support the East Anglian Air Ambulance and if I can help them raise money by compering part of this wrestling tournament I'm only too delighted to so. It will certainly make a change from my career as a political commentator. I would also like to wish the UK Pitbulls well when they open their new gym in Cromer. I grew up in the 1970s and remember watching wrestling on the World of Sport with Dickie Davies on a Saturday afternoon. My grandmother was a great fan of Giant Haystacks and Kendo Nagasaki. I imagine the sport has changed a bit since then!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Two Nil to the Cockney Boys

I'm forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air... What a night! Tunstead Parish Council were very lenient with me and didn't mind my whoops of delight when I received text messages with the score. In fact, I think they were just as pleased as I was as they all hate Ipswich anyway. Now I have another dilemma. The play-off final is on Saturday week when I am supposed to be campaigning. Should I stay or should I go? I feel a song coming on...

Come on you Hammers

Tonight I am making the ultimate sacrifice and foregoing the pleasures of watching West Ham thrash Ipswich Town in the playoffs. Instead I shall be meeting the good burghers of Tunstead at their Parish Council meeting. However, I have warned the Clerk that if I look slightly distracted at any point it might be because I have received a text message with a score update. I hope they will be understanding!

Making the BBC Website

My Integrity Pledge has made the BBC News Website!

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Bit under Par

Lord Strathclyde visited us today. We took him to East Coast Plastics in North Walsham, which is one of the area's biggest employers. I then drove over to Sheringham to play in a golf tournament between Mid Norfolk Conservatives and North Norfolk. Having not played for about 8 months I was a bit rusty to say the least. I played with Cllr George Barran against George Eve, the chairman of Mid Norfolk and one of his members. We were 4 down after 5 holes, but recovered to draw level, only to lose by 2 & 1. Tomorrow I'm visiting a school in Mundesley and then going to a campaign meeting in Dereham. Probably do a bit on the doorstep later in the day.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

New Labour New Candidate

The North Norfolk Labour Party have picked their candidate for the next election. He's Phil Harris, a former Labour Norwich City Councillor. I understand he beat a local candidate from Trimingham to win the nomination. It's going to be interesting to see what kind of campaign he runs as last time Labour hardly bothered fighting at all. Mr Harris was quoted in the EDP as describing North Norfolk as "a three way marginal". At least he's a optimist!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Personal Integrity Pledge

Here's a press release I have just issued before setting off to Wells for a campaign day. I'd love to hear comments on this. By the way, my fingers are being crossed for a West Ham win in the playoffs this afternoon!

In a speech this evening (Saturday) to more than 120 Blakeney Conservatives Iain Dale, Conservative Candidate for North Norfolk will make a Pledge of Integrity to the people of North Norfolk. He will become the first party politician ever to make such a pledge

In his speech he will say:

"People have lost trust in politicians. There are two comments I hear time and time again, which are not directed at me personally but to politicians in general. They are "We don't believe a word any of you say" or "why should we vote, you're all the same". Politicians from all parties have got to address this growing cynicism otherwise we will end up like a banana republic. This week we have had the unedifying sight of a Conservative MP being sacked over expenses claims and a Labour Party Political Broadcast for the European elections which did not mention the subject of Eurppe but instead devoted itself to the bitterest personal attack on a party leader seen for years. So much for fighting the European elections on a positive agenda.

"I have given a great deal of thought in recent months to how I can personally address this cynicism about politicians and show to people that in me they will elect someone who is different - who has a high personal moral compass, a person of obvious integrity and complete openness. I have therefore started drawing up a Pledge of Integrity which I will make to the people of North Norfolk. I will publish it in full in a future issue of my newspaper, North Norfolk Matters, and people can draw their own conclusions about what sort of person they are voting for. I will pledge:-

* never to solicit or accept a company directorship while serving as an MP
* to publish in detail any expense I reclaim while in the pursuit of my parliamentary duties
* to tell people my real views even when I know they will disagree with me
* never knowingly to claim credit for something when the credit is not mine
* never to employ any member of my family in my parliamentary office
* to live in the constituency (as I do now) and make my main home among the community I serve
* never to promise what I know I cannot deliver
* never to waste taxpayers' money by tabling pointless Early Day Motions or asking Parliamentary Questions for the sake of it (Note: each written PQ costs the taxpayer £250 and EDM's at least £500)
* never to use taxpayers' money via the Parliamentary Office Cost Allowance to promote party political activity

Iain continues: "I make these pledges so people can see that I intend to be honest and transparent. As public figures our conduct not only has to be impeccable, it has to be seen to be impeccable. By making this pledge to the people of North Norfolk I am doing something that no politician has ever done before, so far as I am aware, and I realise I am setting myself up to be judged. I will not let people down."

Friday, May 14, 2004


I was taken to task a couple of days ago (see below) for my suggestion that LibDem MEP Andrew Duff's expenses might come under close scrutiny. I was pleased to see the EDP confirm my suspicions his morning. And he didn't even have the good grace to admit being caught out. Integrity is the most important thing a politician has. I am going to make a speech tomorrow night in Blakeney highlighting the importance of integrity, truth and honesty in politics. I shall be making a commitment that if I am elected I shall not solicit or accept outside directorships and I shall publish all expenses and expenditure I make through my parliamentary activities.

I have a very strong feeling that Tony Blair might go in the next few weeks, not because of the Iraq war or any political issue. I heard something today which really took the wind out of my sails. If I were a betting man I'd certainly have a flutter on a new PM by the end of July. Last time I was tempted I put £20 at 80-1 on a Tory majority of 21 in the 1992 election. As I had never been in a betting shop and wouldn't have a clue what to do I asked a friend to put the bet on for me. There I was on April 10th slobbering at the thought of £1600 when my friend (who's also my solicitor, based in Wroxham!) told me he had forgotten to put the bet on. And what's more I believed him. Far too trusting for my own good sometimes.

It seems our suspicions were correct all along and that the pictures in the Daily Mirror were fake. If Piers Morgan doesn't resign there will be little justice in this world. He would be the first to call for a politician to resign in a similar situation. However, the point Alex Salmond made on Question Time this evening (which I managed to listen to in my car - now there's one to ponder on), about the irony of the fact that the only people to resign over the war so far would be the chairman and director general of the BBC and the editor of the Daily Mirror, was very aposite. I sometimes wonder how Geoff Hoon can look himself in the mirror every morning.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Thursday is going to be very bitty. Haircut, two new tyres on the car, meetings in London, hosting an evening with Ann Widdecombe in Chesham and then back to Swanton Abbott. Friday I am seeing some very go-ahead graphic designers in North Walsham who have come up with some very innovative campaigning ideas. I'm then going to two primary schools before a major campaign planning evening. Saturday it's an advice surgery in Wells and canvassing in Walsingham. Maybe I'll pop into the shrine to repent some sins... Not that I have any of course! (he added just a little too hastily...). And Saturday evening? Eurovision Song Contest! Hurrah! I actually went to Eurovision twice. My big claim to fame is that I was the first person to get Dana International's autograph after she (he?) won in Birmingham in 1998. Strange thing was I didn't even ask for it. She just grabbed my programme. Highlight of the evening was the BBC bash where I met Wogan. Must stop this namedropping... Did I ever tell you about my talk with the Queen in Buckingham Palace? No? I'm sure I'll get round to it eventually...

It hasn't been a good few days for Eastern region Conservatives with the Bashir Khanbhai affair hanging over us. But the decision has been made now and we must buckle down to fighting a proper election campaign and make sure that we return at least 4 Conservatives on June 10th. I hadn't met Bashir until a few weeks ago but I spoke to him on Monday evening. No doubt our political enemies will think they have got a scalp, but let us not forget that there is a human element to this. And let us also not forget that Bashir was singled out because of his apparently non-existent address in Wroxham. I hope our friends in the media will now have a close look at the expenses of people like the Federalist LibDem Euro MEP Andrew Duff, who was only too happy to defend MEPs, presumably himself included, who claimed attendance allowances when they were on their way to the airport. I don't say this to diminish the Khanbhai issue because I think this had got to the point where even if he had come out and publically defended himself, few in the outside world would have been convinced, as they had already made up their minds that he was guilty. I'm sure that we, as a Party, have learned a lot of lessons from the handling of this, especially on the PR front. It must never be allowed to happen again. End of story. Time to move on and fight the Euro Federalists.

The LibDems appear to have conveniently forgotten their pledge to knock £100 off council tax. Indeed, when the Chancellor recently proposed the same thing they described it as 'tinkering'. Must have learnt that from Claudio Ranieri. The LibDems are basing their whole local government campaign on a pledge to axe council tax and introduce local income tax. Methinks this might not be the vote winner they imagine. I wonder what the young couple in North Walsham will make of it, who earn £35,000 a year between them and will face a tax rise of more than £650. Not please I should think. They'll be even less pleased when I tell them about LibDem plans to put VAT on new houses. The solution to the council tax problem is to restore central government funding to its proper levels and actually look at some of the functions local councils are carrying out. There is nothing wrong with the principle of a property based tax. It's only in the last few years that people have found it unacceptable and that's because of the levels it has reached. If Labour hadn't cyphoned off money from Norfolk and given it to their Labour cronies in the North things wouldn't have reached this stage. I've got our local government finance spokesman, David Cameron, coming up on May 20th.

It's nearly 2am and I have just got back from doing a newspaper review at the BBC on News 24. 150 mile round trip for the glory of appearing on a digital channel for 5 minutes. I had to speak about the American who was beheaded by thugs in Iraq. Truly horrifying, but it serves to remind us of what we are there for. I imagine this was a regular occurence under Saddam's regime. It's probably not a politically correct thing to say (but since when has that worried me?) but those who carried out this act and brandished the head to the camera are little more than sub-human. These are people who cannot be reasoned with, cannot be negotiated with. There is only one language that they understand and we shouldn't be afraid to speak it. While we worry about the odd incident of apparent brutality these people are running amok. I have increasing doubts about the veracity of the Daily Mirror pictures which apparently show British soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners. If they do turn out to be faked I look forward to the resignation of Mr Piers Morgan.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


I have finally mastered the technology and worked out how to add a COMMENT facility onto each of my BLOG posts, so if you have something to tell me, or have a comment on my ramblings, please feel free to add it. Please keep it reasonably polite! I'm not big on censorship and I will only delete a posting if it contains insulting language. I will never delete a comment which contains views different to my own. We're the inclusive party, see?!

Monday, May 10, 2004


Did you see the Labour Party PPB tonight? Talk about a sign of Labour being rattled! I have never seen anything like it. To spend a whole PPB decrying Michael Howard was quite astonishing. And it unfortunately will make people even more cycnical about politics. I hope we manage to fight a slightly more positive campaign than that. And what do you think of the new design to this Blog then?

Sunday, May 09, 2004


If you have the Sunday Telegraph today make sure you read Page 20. It tells the story of Brad Osborn who was sent to prison for 5 years after being attacked by a drug crazed man who gained entry to his house and was threatening his pregnant girlfriend before attacking him. Brad stabbed him in self defence. The law is an ass, and this story makes me even more determined to make this one of my priorities in Parliament if I am elected. And that's a promise.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Spent the whole day out on the stump in North Walsham, firstly talking to shoppers at Sainsbury's and then in the market place. In the afternoon we went canvassing on the outskirts of the town. Had an amazingly good reception and signed up a few new party members. I'm amazed at the number of people who recognise me or tell me I have written to them. I was pictured today in the EDP with Margaret Thatcher alongside an amusing article, which several people mentioned. The main topic of conversation on the doorstep was the European election campaign. I have yet to meet a single voter who believes we should either sign up to the European constitution or join the euro. Sensible people in North Norfolk. Met a LibDem councillor and had a very friendly chat. I always take the view that just because someone is a political opponent that doesn't mean they should be looked upon as an enemy. In the end we all want the same thing, we just differ on the best way to go about achieving it. And on that positive note, it's thank you and goodnight!

Friday, May 07, 2004


I'm getting very concerned about the likely turnout at the European elections on June 10th. The number of people you talk to who have absolutely no idea that an election is about to take place is frightening. With the furore over the European constitution and the implications of joining the euro you might have thought there would be more interest. Not a bit of it. Once you engage people in conversation everyone has a view on these issues, but the European Parliament is such a remote institution that people just don't care. I make the point that if we adopt the constitution we are on the slippery slope to losing our independence and if we adopt the euro we might just as well sign away all our economic sovereignty. We are the only Party to address these issues rationally. Unfortunately at the moment everyone's attention is being diverted in this region by the press stories about one of our euro MP candidates and his expenses. I'll keep my views to myself for the moment on that one, but this situation cannot be allowed to drag on for much longer as it is preventing any discussion of the real issues in this campaign. There's a new Blog aimed at increasing voter turnout at Coralbark. A worthy mission, but will anyone choose to accept it? Let's hope it's not Mission Impossible. Enough puns for tonight...

Remember I wrote to Tony Blair inviting him to spend his summer holidays in Noth Norfolk? Well, some flunky has written back (with a photocopied signature, mark you) saying: "The Prime Minister has asked me to thank you for your letter and for the suggestion you make. Mr Blair appreciates you writing to him." I bet he does!

Thursday, May 06, 2004


I've just got back from Pudding Norton Parish Council. What a truly lovely bunch of people. The meeting took place at Fakenham Race Course, which was different! Earlier in the day I went to have a tour of Sainsbury's in North Walsham, where I was shown round by the very enthusiastic Mike Green. They've redeveloped the store in recent weeks and it really is the best Sainsbury's I have ever been in. The difference is that the staff all talk to you in a really friendly way. In London all you get is a grunt. And that's if you're lucky!

On Tuesday I attended the dinner at the Savoy to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's first election victory. She inspired me to get involved in politics and it was great to see her in such good form. She made an impromptu 5 minute speech which was vintage Maggie. The best laugh of the evening was when they showed a video about how awful life was in the 1970s. Up came a caption "Britain was the sick man of Europe" quickly followed by a picture of Ted Heath. Not a dry seat in the house.

Tomorrow I'm visiting a primary school, going to Blakeney to get a briefing on yet another local healthcare closure, then it's a Council Group meeting.

Sunday, May 02, 2004


Friday was one of those days when a candidate chases his tail. Ann Widdecombe was due at 2pm but she took the wrong turning off the M25 and ended up coming to Cromer via the A1. When she got here I took her to Paston Sixth Form College in North Walsham. Peter Mayne, the very bouncy Principal explained how 6th From Colleges get about a third less funding per student than High School 6th Forms, which really is iniquitous. We then went to talk to an A Level History Class before driving over to Stody to appear on North Norfolk Radio. I thought we were going on for 5 minutes but ended up being on air for 45 minutes... which was nice (as they say on the Fast Show). But that made us very late for Walsingham Catholic Shrine, where we were shown arund by Father Noel Wynn. Back to Swanton Abbott to change before dinner. Ann rather astonished me by saying how she wouldn't mind a plate of egg and chips prior to leaving for the dinner. I thought she was joking, but she wasn't! Bear in mind this was about 6.45pm and the dinner started at 7.30! I don't think Harvey off Celebrity Fit Club would have approved! Being a true gentleman, I wouldn't have mentioned it but Ann proceeded to tell every person she met about it, so I feel entirely unconstrained! The dinner went very well and we raised a tidy four figure sum for party funds.

On Saturday I was out on the door knocker in Melton Constable and Briston, before attending the wedding of the Mayor of Cromer, Keith Johnson. In the evening I went to the best restaurant in Cromer, Jacque, which is in Garden Street. The fod and service are superb and apparently myb recommendations have brought them a bit of custom, so that's good! Today I've been in Swanton Abbott doing some campaign planning and then I popped over to see Keith Simpson in Reepham.

How nice it was to see Martin Bell on the BBC's Politics Show talking about MEP expenses. It's especially touching that he was filmed down the line from London, yet his whole candidacy is based on being committed to Norfolk and Suffolk. So committed is he that he doesn't even live here. Indeed, I am told that since his campaign was launched he has spent less than two days in the area. Obviously not househunting yet...