Monday, December 31, 2007

Ein Frohes 2008!

We're about to head down to Brighton to spend New Year with our friend Corinne, so all it remains for me to do in this 2,335th blogpost of 2007 is to wish everyone a very happy new year. I guess it's normal to be reflective at the end of the year and to evaluate whether it has been a good one or not.

On balance I think 2007 has been a blast. The security of being financially solvent again, having a fantastic private life, working on a range of interesting media and political projects and the Happy Hammers beating Manchester United (you knew I wouldn't be able to resist it...) means that I am very content going into 2008. And to top the year off we have just been out to buy a new car - well, it's a year old - a beast of a Q7.

So, have a great evening. I've turned moderation off, so do feel free to wish each other a happy new year in real time! See you in 2008.

Not Iain Dale's Predictions for 2008


Daily Express runs front page with no picture of Madeleine McCann......Boris Johnson apologises for comparing Golders Green to the streets of Gaza......In a speech which shakes the political world, new LibDem leader Nick Clegg declares: "I'm a Liberal".


Kevin Maguire defects to the Conservative Party......David Miliband denies rumours he is to star in Harry Potter 8.......Hillary Clinton quits Presidential race after Super Tuesday disaster and proclaims: "I back Osama 100%".


LibDem Spring Conference marred by Nick Clegg being caught saying to Lady Elspeth: "It's not exactly helpful, is it?" after Sir Ming is caught buying back his classic Jaguar (petrol consumption 4mpg)......Tory blogger Iain Dale sacked from Tory A List for proudly declaring he had bought a new Audi which emitted 300g of carbon per kilometre......Alastair Darling mysteriously disappears on Budget Day. Gordon Brown delivers the speech instead.


Guido becomes Director of the Smith Institute in a bid to scotch accusations of political partiality......Government apologies for mislaying discs containing records of 85,000 prisoners. Jacqui Smith says it just goes to prove the case for ID cards......Launching the LibDems local council election campaign, Nick Clegg shocks his candidates by proclaiming: "I'm a Liberal".


Boris apologies for beating Ken Livingstone and is overheard at victory party saying to a key aide: "Cripes, what now?"......Government withdraws amendment on 42 days and tables new amendment calling for 28 and a half days. Please......David Cameron makes the Tory position on an EU Referendum absolutely crystal clear when he says: "We are in favour of a referendum if the Treaty hasn't been ratified but even if it has we would still be in favour of it, whatever it is, oh yes we would, yes sirree. I couldn't be clearer than that."


Home Secretary Jacqui Smith quits after clambering over the Despatch Box during Home Office Questions and slapping David Davis across the face, shrieking: "I used to work on the beauty counter in Debenhams, you know!" Having got rid of his third Home Secretary David Davis gets to keep the Home Office......In mini reshuffle David Cameron promotes Nadine Dorries to the Shadow Cabinet, telling friends it was the only way to get her to stop blogging. The next day Nadine blogs "How dishy Dave popped the question and why I blushed"...... LibDem leader Nick Clegg appoints David Blunkett as his adviser on Home Affairs. Announcing the appointment on Da Ali G Show, he declares: "Is it becoz I is a Liberal?"


ConservativeHome says "Cameron must do better", as Tories score 74% in YouGov poll. Lord Ashcroft widens his target seat campaign to include Bolsover, Rhondda and Bootle...... Home Secretary Liam Byrne says Early Release Scheme for murderers is the only way to free up enough prison places for really serious crimes...... David Cameron forced to cancel trip to Rwanda after his Witney constituency is affected by a plague of locusts. Andrew Mitchell is disconsolate.


Labour MP Tom Watson photographed delivering Christmas presents to the Miliband children...... Labour Whip Tom Watson resigns from government over "complete misunderstanding"...... Much bitterness at CCHQ as Steve Hilton and Andy Coulson resolve their differences in a Cage Fight.


Professor Anthony King recovers from stroke after learning of the first Conservative By Election victory for twenty years......LibDem leader Nick Clegg takes his party conference by storm by telling his party faithful to "go back to your constituencies and tell them I'm a Liberal"...... The Labour conference gets off to a bad start when the Police beat up the Police Minister Tony McNulty in a case of "mistaken" identity. "That'll learn him," says Manchester Chief Constable Mike Todd.


In a bid to top last year's speech, David Cameron speaks to the Tory Conferences with no clothes. "What you see is what you get," he tells the Tory faithful...... The Tories announce their Green manifesto and Simon Heffer self combusts, live on Richard & Judy...... On a state visit to the Ukraine, French President Nicolas Sarkozy enters key Ugandan discussions with Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.


Cherie Blair's memoirs cause a storm after she reveals the fishy present she left for Gordon Brown in the Number Eleven curtains...... Mike Huckabee wins the US Presidential Election and declares: "I won it for Jesus". Jesus was unavailable for comment but is said to have wept...... LibDem Home Affairs Spokesman Chris Huhne arrested by House of Commons policeman for carrying a knife. Coincidentally he was standing behind LibDem leader Nick Clegg at the time.


Electoral Commission forces LibDems to pay back the Michael Brown £2.4 million. Nick Clegg launches fundraising appeal across the nation with the slogan: "I'm a Liberal, dontcha know"...... In final PMQs of the year David Cameron shouts to Gordon Brown: "Why don't you just f*** off and let me have a go?" Brown replies: "I'll take no lectures from the Right Honourable Gentleman ... 1992 ... Black Wednesday ... blah ... economic stability ... blah ... prudence with a purpose ... blah ... 586 quarters of economic growth ... well, apart from the last two ... er ... I'll take no lectures from the Right Honourable Gentleman... ...... Iain Dale's debut appearance on ANY QUESTIONS gets off to an unfortunate start when Jonathan Dimbleby introduces him with the words: "And our fourth panelist is Britain's leading Conservative blogger, Tim Montgomerie."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cash for Honours Kiwi-Style

It seems that the New Zealand Labour Party has been learning at the feet of their UK counterparts. Kiwiblog has a report on a Cash for Honours scandal in which the ruling Labour administration has fiddled their own electoral rules to their own benefit. Sound familiar?

Owen Glenn was born in the UK, spent his childhood here and has not lived in NZ since 1966. His company does not pay tax in NZ (in fact it pays little tax full stop). He has given at least $500,000 to Labour - their biggest donor by a magnitude. And one also has to look at what Labour have just done with the Electoral Finance Act, specifically Section 32(1). They had a proposed clause which would ban donations from anyone not living in NZ who is not on the NZ electoral roll. And as detailed
in Parliament
(and here also), Labour suddenly realised this would stop Owen Glenn from continuing to donate and they quickly recessed the Committee to “consult” and after the break then change the clause so expats such as Owen Glenn can still donate unlimited amounts even though he is ineligible to enrol or vote, not having lived here since 1966. Now Owen Glenn has been a generous donor to Auckland University. He has donated $8 million, and funded 10% of their new business school building, which they named after him. So since leaving here in 1996, he has done two significant things. Donate 10% of the cost of a business school to Auckland University and pay for over 25% of Labour’s 2005 campaign. I somehow doubt the weighting given by the Cabinet Honours Committee for those two donations were in that order 100%/0%.

404,000 Individuals Visited This Blog in 2007

This year this blog has received 2,582,000 unique visitors (2006 1,279,000) and 4,554,000 page impressions. Google Analytics reports that 404,000 absolute unique visitors came to the site in 2007 - yes, that's 404,000 individuals who came here at least once. That's double the circulation of the The Independent!

I've posted 2,330 posts this year, an average of 6.38 a day. Sad, or just prolific?!

Thanks to all my fellow bloggers who linked to me during 2007. This is the list of everyone who has sent more than 2,000 people my way this year.

1. Guido Fawkes 133,244, 2. ConservativeHome 82,273 3. 47,135 4. Biased BBC 11,475 5. National Review Corner 9,923 6. Daniel Finkelstein 7,596 7. Dizzy Thinks 6,962 8. An Englishman's Castle 5,735 9. Paul Linford 5,720 10. Witanagemot 5,220 11. 5,220 12. Blairwatch 4,958 13. Spectator Coffee House 4,720 14. Croydonian 4.183 15. Mikey's Tent 3,461 16. Slugger O'Toole 3,391 17. Daily Referendum 3,308 18. Liberal England 3,212 19. Bloggerheads 3,316 20. Archbishop Cranmer 2,999 21. Ginger & Dynamite 2,919 22. Newmania 2,693 23. Recess Monkey 2,637 24. Luke Akehurst 2,636 25. UK Polling Report 2,585 26. Adam Smith 2,497 27. Little Green Footballs 2,356 28. A Conservative's Blog 2,331 29. EU Referendum 2,309 30. Public Interest 2,286

UPDATE: In comments, Fred has asked me to define unique visitors etc. I use Extreme Tracking to count my visitors. If you visit my blog once a day every month you count as 30 unique visitors for that month. If you visit three times every day for a month you still count as 30 unique visitors. But on Google Analytics you count as 1 absolute unique visitor for that month. I think that is the most useful comparative statistic to compare with newspaper readership. I hope that is clear!

The Daley Dozen: Sunday

1. Dizzy doesn't think much of the New Year's Honous List. Nor do I.
2. Rachel North has a touching description of Christmas without her mother and also a post about the lack of recognition for 7/7 rescuers in the New Year's Honours List 3. Andrew Porter on Three Line Whip predicts a resignation (Jacqui Smith's) and that Andy Burnham will be next Leader of the Labour Party. Has it really got that bad?
4. Donal Blaney is a shadow of his former self, and shares with us the reason. It is nothing to do with pole dancing.
5. Andrew Sullivan makes the case for gay marriage. Again.
6. Glyn Davies on the legacy of Mrs T.
7. The Devil himself indulges in a bit of anti-bansturbation.
8. Burning our Money isn't happy about some of the recipients of Honours.
9. Fraser Nelson asks what would have happened to David Cameron is Brown hadn't bottled it.
10. Adam Boulton poses 10 questions for 2008.
11. Nah, he wouldn't dare... Would he? Cassilis reckons Gordon could for an election in 2008.
12. John Redwood tells Gordon Brown what he should do in 2008.

An Inconvenient Press Release

I swear this is an official Conservative Party press release. Honest.

The Conservative Party has put together a list of some of the year’s environmental heroes and zeroes. This is the second year in which the list has been compiled. Whilst last year it included Sun page three girl Keeley Hazell and the Women’s Institute, this year the Archers, M& S and George Monbiot have their place. The list aims to highlight the hard work of groups and individuals who have worked hard to improve the environment in 2007, whilst also bringing to attention those who have blotted their copybook.

Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth commented: “This time last year I said that that it was not worth disputing the fact of climate change and its impacts. Unfortunately, in 2007, some continued to insist that we do not have a real problem on our hands despite the overwhelming scientific evidence, and they are amongst the zeroes of 2007. The heroes are part of a growing consensus across the world that to ensure economic, social and environmental security we need to change the way we live and show more respect for the Earth’s natural resources.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but aims to recognise the achievements of some who have been part of the solution on 2007, and some who are still part of the problem – in the hope that they will do better next year.”


Jonathon Porritt – For his blog, which has been courageously rude about the Government considering that he is their chief advisor on sustainability.

HRH Prince Charles - for his Accounting for Sustainability initiative and also for his Rainforest

BBC Newsnight’s Justin Rowlatt, the Ethical Man - for going well beyond the cause of duty.

M&S - for committing £200 million to an initiative to become carbon neutral by 2012

Alan Simpson MP - for consistently putting the environment above politics and for being a cheerful advocate for change.

The Archers - for raising a huge range of topical issues affecting farming, including climate change.

The Quality of Life Policy Review Team – For the most far-reaching and detailed political work on sustainable work ever produced.

Sarah Beeny – for drawing attention to the presence of toxic chemicals in everyday household products.

The Emergency Services – for their outstanding work during the summer floods.

The President of Guyana – for offering 50 million acres of rain forest in return for sustainable development funds.


The Smoking Ban – for a huge increase in the use of patio heaters, which are an environmental

Palm Oil – for causing the destruction of the rainforest without most of us even knowing that we are helping it along.

Channel 4 – for screening an attention seeking programme about climate change based on highly dubious evidence.

Stewart Dimmock – for spending a fortune on legal fees challenging an Al Gore film pointlessly.

George Monbiot – for being too grumpy about the environment, even though he may be right.

Canadian tar sands – for tempting respectable companies like BP to become pariahs by pursuing the extraction of fossil fuels at the expense of the environment.

Margaret Beckett and David Miliband – for ignoring advice about the state of the drains
at Pirbright when they were in charge of them; the consequence being a release of Foot & Mouth Disease..

The Food Standards Agency – for a hopelessly inadequate investigation into the illegal sale of GM contaminated rice.

Teenagers – for not turning the lights off whilst lecturing their parents about climate change.

The Common Fisheries Policy – for continuing to destroy the marine environment, and permitting an unforgivable waste of fish, without serving the interests of fishing communities or those who enjoy recreational fishing.

I think any further comment from me would ruin the moment. And probably get me into a lot of trouble. ConservativeHome has done a mild fisk HERE.

End of Year Awards: Blogs: Media

Here are the media results of the End of Year Awards poll which 2,300 of you took part in last week.


1. Matthew Parris 34%
2. Fraser Nelson 11%
3. Andrew Rawnsley 7%
4. Michael Portillo 7%
5. Danny Finkelstein 6%
6. Peter Oborne 6%
7. Polly Toynbee 5%
8. Matthew D'Ancona 5%
9. Simon Heffer 4%
10. Peter Hitchens 4%
Others 10%


1. Question Time 41%
2. Daily Politics 18%
3. Politics Show 16%
4. Sunday AM 6.%
5. Sunday with Adam Boulton 5%
6. GMTV Sunday 1%
Apologies for missing THIS WEEK out of the poll.


1. Today 23%
2. Any Questions 18%
3. Westminster Hour 10%
4. Today in Parliament 8%
5. Week in Westminster 7%
6. Five Live Drive 7%
7. PM 6%
Others 21%


1. Andrew Neil 23%
2. Nick Robinson 22%
3. Jeremy Paxman 18%
4. Adam Boulton 13%
5. Michael Crick 8%
Others 16%


1. Andrew Gilligan 33%
2. BenBrogan 21%
3. Andrew Pierce 6%
4. Patrick Hennessy 5%
5. Patrick Wintour 5%
6. Julia Hartley-Brewer 5%
7. Sam Coates 4%
Others 21%


1. Ian Hislop 33%
2. Quentin Letts 18%
3. Rory Bremner 18%
4. Simon Hoggart 12%
5. Steve Bell 6%
6. Ann Treneman 5%
7. Tamzin Lightwater 4%
Others 4%

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Arise Sir Iain Duncan Smith!

The New Year's Honours List is no fun anymore. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly approve of the inclusion of normal people in the list, but I do feel it is being devalued by the celebrities who are nowadays awarded gongs. I don't need to name names because it is obvious to everyone. If honours are awarded for excellence in their fields, why are politicians more or less excluded nowadays?

Can it really be that England World Cup losing manager Brian Ashton is more deserving of an MBE than, say, Frank Field for his work in the area of welfare reform? Isn't IDS's work on social justice just as important as sitting in a TV studio asking questions as Sir Michael Parkinson does - or, more accurately, did?

Honours should be awarded for excellence, above and beyond the call of duty. They should never be awarded for purely 'doing your job'. That happens far too often in the case of civil servants. As Dizzy points out today, it is simply ludicrous to award Tom Kelly (Blair's official spokesman) the Order of the Bath or to give anyone from the Home Office an award. It devalues the honours awarded to really deserving people.

End of Year Awards: Sex, Hate & Gaffes

More results from the End of Year Awardsn poll, in which 2,300 of you voted...


1. Chicken Saturday 35%
2. Vince Cable's 'From Stalin to Mr Bean' 23%
3. Burmese Monks protest 16%
4. Tony Blair's final PMQs 13%
5. David Cameron's conference speech 10%


1. Gordon Brown signing the EU Reform Treaty 39%
2. Brown's trip to Basra 19%
3. Grammar School-gate 12%
4. Lord West's U Turn on 28 Days 11%
5. Chris Chuhne's 'Calamity Clegg' 9%
6. Nigel Hastilow's article 6%
7. Patrick Mercer's comments on black soldiers 4%


1. Robert Mugabe 32%
2. Gordon Brown 20%
3. Ken Livingstone 15%
4. George W Bush 14%
5. Nick Griffin 6%
6. George Galloway 5%
7. Hugo Chavez 5%
8. Al Gore 3%


1. Zac Goldsmith 25%
2. David Cameron 22%
3. Angus MacNeil 17%
4. Nick Clegg 13%
5. Ed Vaizey 8%
6. Shahid Malik 6%
7. Ed Miliband 5%
8. Jeremy Hunt 4%


1. Caroline Flint 26%
2. Julia Goldsworthy 22%
3. Julie Kirkbride 17%
4. Nadine Dorries 14%
5. Justine Greening 10%
6. Jo Swinson 8%
7. Jenny Willot 3%

Friday, December 28, 2007

Falling Asleep Over Your Email

Isn't it amazing how many "new reports" or "new studies" make the news at this time of year? I suppose there's bugger all else to fill a newspaper with, but THIS report in the Telegraph today is one that I find baffling. The jist of it is that if you check email within an hour of going to bed, it will have the same effect as two espressos - ie you won't sleep easily. On a random sample of one - me - I'd say that was utter borrocks, as the Japanese might say. The last thing I do before my head hits the pillow is check email or approve blog comments. You might think that's sad, but there you go. And it takes me approximately one minute to fall asleep. Case proven, don't you think?!

End of Year Awards: Devolved & International Politicians

Here are some more results from the End of Year Awards Poll, which 2,300 of you took part in earlier in the week...


1. Lembit Opik 28%
2. Rhodri Morgan 17%
3. Ieuean Wyn Jones 15%
4. Nick Bourne 14%
5. Adam Price 10%
6. Glyn Davies 5%
Others 11%

1. Alex Salmond 81%
2. Annabel Goldie 12%
3. Wendy Alexander 4%
4. Nicol Stephen 3%


1, Ian Paisley 73%
2. Martin McGuinness 27%


1. Nicolas Sarkozy 36%
2. Barack Obama 17%
3. l Gore 12%
4. Vladimir Putin 11%
5. Angela Merkel 9%
6. George W Bush 6%
7. Hillary Clinton 6%
Others 2%

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Daley Dozen: Thursday

1. Spectator Coffee House has the best blogging on the Bhutto assassination. Post after post.
2. Ben Rogers on ConHome reviews the day's events in Pakistan
3. Tim Marshall (Sky News) on why Bhutto was the woman the Islamists feared
4. Louise Bagshawe on ConHome writes a tribute to Margaret Thatcher
5. Dizzy gives a hilarious 8 for 2008, as does Liberal England, with an hilarious anecdote
6. Paul Flynn on the two diplomats expelled by the Afghan government
7. The Libertarian Alliance has a superb quote from Ron Paul
8. The Waendel Journal on politician-speak
9. Justin Webb reckons John McCain hasn't quite had his chips
10. Glyn Davies says 'tally ho!'
11. Alan Cochrane on his Unionist 'chopper'
12. Wife in the North goes shooting

44% of MPs Favour Fixed Term Parliaments

Regular readers may know that I have set up a blog for the CAMPAIGN FOR FIXED TERM PARLIAMENTS. The latest entry has the results of a ComRes Poll, which shows that 44% of MPs now favour Fixed Term Parliaments. Sadly only 25% of Tory MPs have seen the light. Meanwhile 41% of Labour MPs and 88% of LibDems are on the side of the righteous. Our Kingdom, which supports the campaign, says you can interpret this in one of two ways...
One is to say that if even MPs are catching on it must happen eventually. The other is to fall into a profound depression. I can understand why a government may want to keep the right to call a snap election. But surely MPs realise the manipulation and short-termism brings them into disrepute. Why are the majority of both Labour and Conservative members of parliament at the same time spineless and self-important? Any answers please, for a holiday quiz.

Igniting the Pakistani Tinderbox

AP is reporting that Benazir Bhutto has been assasinated. What an utter, utter tragedy for her family, her supporters and her country. I make no pretence of understanding the ins and outs of Pakistani politics, but I know enough to know that this terrible event may well ignite the tinder box. Pakistan has been a key ally in the fight against terrorism but it sits on the very edge of the precipice today. It cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of those who wish to turn it into a radical Islamist state. They will be celebrating today. The response of the Musharraf government will tell us how serious it is - and how capable it is - about dealing with its internal terrorist threat.

What is the Point of Local Democracy?

The Government is today publishing a consultation paper in which is outlines plans to require local councils to "respond" to any petition they receive which have been signed by 250 people or more. This is a fairly limp response to the movement for more "Direct Democracy", which I broadly support. There will be no requirement for a council to do anything other than acknowledge receipt of such a petition, so far as I can see.

This is a major opportunity for the Conservatives to steal a march on the government. They have already published plans to intriduce binding referendums on Council Tax rises, but I think they could go much further and look at the Our Say proposals, where there would have to be a local referendum on ANY issue if enough signatures are obtained from the local population. Such referenda could then be held each local election day (ie every May), rather like they do in the USA. Each district council area has a population of around 100,000, so I would suggest a ten per cent threshold might be appropriate. This really would give power back to the people. Or do you think that local councillors are elected to represent their constituents and should be left to do so without interference from referenda?

I am still a believer in representative democracy but now that we have the means to consult people in a more meaningful way, surely we should use all the means at our disposal? The big questions is, what happens next? Should a local authority be mandated to implement whatever the local populations has voted in favour of, or should they be required to take notice of it? One thing is for sure, if it's the latter, it would be a brave council which totally went against what its local population had voted for.

End of Year Awards: Blogs

Over the next few days I will publish the results of the Awards which 2,300 of you voted in. Astonishingly 92% of you actually made it to the end and voted in all 33 sections. Anyway, here are the blogging categories


1. Guido Fawkes 42%
2. Mike Smithson 11%
3. Tim Montgomerie 10%
4. Dizzy 6%
5. Ben Brogan 4%
6. Nadine Dorries 3%
7. Chris Mounsey 3%
Others 21%


1. Guido Fawkes 36%
2. Conservative Home 19%
3. Spectator Coffee House 11%
4. Dizzy Thinks 7%
5. Devil's Kitchen 5%
6. Ben Brogan 5%
7. John Redwood's Diary 5%
8. Nadine Dorries 4%
Other 6%


1. Recess Monkey 25%
2. Paul Linford 13%
3. Kevin Maguire 10%
4. Tom Watson 9%
5. Chicken Yoghurt 9%
6. Our Kingdom 7%
7. Labour Home 7%
8. Kerron Cross 6%
9. Bloggerheads 5%
10. Bob Piper 5%
11. Paul Flynn 4%


1. LibDem Voice 34%
2. Norfolk Blogger 21%
3. Lynne Featherstone 12%
4. Liberal England 8%
5. Quaequam 8%
6. Cicero's Songs 6%
7. Peter Black 6%
Others 5%


1. Political 24%
2. 18 Doughty Street 17%
3. CommentIsFree 15%
4. Guardian Politics 15%
5. UK Polling Report 8%
6. Newsnight 7%
7. Web Cameron 7%
8. Parliament 4%
9. E-Politix 3%

Donorgate Returns to Haunt Labour

Happy New Year, Prime Minister.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pink News Publishes 'Top Gayers in Politics' List is today publishing what it claims are the fifty most influential openly LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people in British politics. Yours truly is somehow judged important enough to claim position 28. Mind you, to be two places below Chris Bryant is a bit humiliating!

Gordon Brown's Director of Political Strategy, Spencer Livermore tops a list that contains 17 Labour party members, 11 Conservatives, seven Liberal Democrats, three greens and one Plaid Cymru. The list contains five senior civil servants and special advisers. The list that was complied by the publication's editorial team in conjunction with a number of senior non-gay journalists deliberately leaves out a number of gay MPs who "think everyone around them is blind, stupid and unaware they are being groped" as well as a major party donor. The list only contains people who are openly LGB.

Tony Grew, editor of said: "while other publications have focused on gays in the entertainment industry, these are the fifty LGB people who have real influence in our political life. They are our elected representatives, the decision makers and those who wield influence on them." Here is the list...

1 Spencer Livermore, 32, Director of Political Strategy, 10 Downing Street
2 Nick Brown, 57, Deputy Chief Whip, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend
3 Peter Mandelson, 54, EU Trade Commissioner
4 Angela Eagle, 46, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, MP for Wallasey
5 Ben Bradshaw, 47, Minister of State for Health Services, Labour MP for Exeter
6 Andrew Pierce, 46, Assistant Editor, Daily Telegraph
7 Ben Summerskill, 46, Chief Executive of Stonewall
8 Nick Herbert, 44, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, MP for Arundel and South Downs
9 Michael Cashman, 56, Labour MEP for the West Midlands

10 Stephen Williams, 41, Liberal Democrats spokesman for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, MP for Bristol West
11 Matthew Parris, 58, journalist and broadcaster
12 Paul Jenkins, Treasury Solicitor
13 Gregory Barker, 43, Shadow Environment Secretary MP for Battle and Bexhill
14 Howell James CBE, Permanent Secretary, Government Communications
15 Alan Duncan, 50, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform MP for Rutland and Melton
16 Adam Price, 39, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr
17 Margot James, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Stourbridge
18 Simon Hughes, 56, President of the Liberal Democrats MP for North Southwark and Bermondsey
19 Waheed Alli, Baron Alli, 43, Labour Peer 20 Julian Glover, journalist and author
21 Brian Paddick, 49, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London
22 Nick Boles, 42, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Grantham and Stamford
23 Peter Tatchell, 55, Green party parliamentary prospective candidate for Oxford East, Chief campaigner, OutRage!
24 Patrick Harvie, 34, Green MSP for Glasgow Region
25 Dan Ritterband, 32, director of Boris Johnson's campaign for Mayor of London
26 Chris Bryant, 45, Labour MP for Rhonnda
27 Ray Collins, assistant general secretary, Unite
28 Iain Dale, 45, blogger
29 Michael Portillo, 54, political commentator 30 Lord Chris Smith, 56, Labour Peer
31 Iain Smith, 47, Liberal Democrats MSP for North East Fife
32 Margaret Smith, 46, Liberal Democrats MSP for Edinburgh West
33 Alan Wardle, public affairs director, Local Government Association
34 David Borrow, 55, Labour MP for South Ribble
35 Clive Betts, 57, Labour MP for Sheffield Attercliffe
36 Stephen Purcell, 34, Labour leader of Glasgow City Council
37 Steve Reed, Labour leader of Lambeth Council
38 Brian Coleman, 46, Conservative member of the London Assembly
39 Darren Johnson, 43, Green member of the London Assembly

40 Sir Simon Milton, 45, Conservative leader of Westminster City Council
41 Richard Barnes, Conservative member of the London Assembly
42 Rodney Berman, 38, Liberal Democrats Leader of Cardiff Council
43 Jenny Bailey, 45, Liberal Democrats mayor of Cambridge
44 Philip Hensher, 42, journalist
45 Angela Mason OBE, 63, adviser
46 Johann Hari, 28, journalist
47 Seb Dance, 26, special adviser to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
48 Mark Meredith, 42, Labour Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent
49 Mike Wolfe, 56, former independent Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent

50 Pav Akhtar, Labour party councillor, Lambeth

I'm usually rather sceptical about this sort of list, as I can nver imagine anyone doing a Top 50 Straight People in Politics. Mind you, nowadays you'd be hardpressed to get to fifty! Just my little joke. But if yoiu treat it as just a bit of fun, why not? At least it gives us something to talk about just after Boxing Day. I do, however, question the inclusion of Michael Portillo in this list. He's not gay and he's not said he is bi-sexual. Full Details and biogs of the 50 can be found HERE at Pink News.

The Daley (Christmas) Dozen

1. Andrew Neil on party etiquette. Andrew, mate, rejig your guest list. I'm very polite. Really.
2. Tameside Eye regrets the lack of a Christmas Message from our beloved PM.
3. EU Referendum takes the MSM to task over a missed story.
4. Dizzy on the Muslim Call to Prayer... in Oxford
5. Norfolk Blogger reckons royal watchers are 'sad', then admits he used to deliver Focus leadlets on Xmas Eve...
6. LibDem Voice is rather desperate for nominations for Liberal Voice of 2007. Only four so far...
7. Mike Rouse wants more sex. And in other news Gordon Brown says Vote Labour.
8. Kiwiblog lists the Top Ten political stories in New Zealand. Contain yourselves.
9. Donal Blaney calls on the Church to lead by example. Was that a whistle in the wind?
10. Quaequam on 'coining it like an Egyptian'...
11. Dave's Part remains decidely unimpressed by Grant Shapps's night under the stars
12. The CEP blog questions why a Welsh MP has been appointed English Housing spokesman

Reliving Riverdance

I've spent some of this morning watching Riverdance Day on Sky Real Lives. Believe it or not I was at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest when Riverdance made its debut as the interval act. No one remembers anything about that evening apart from Riverdance. I had never seen anything like it. The whole audience was blown away by it. I then went to see it at the Hammersmith Apollo. I doubt whether I will ever see anything at a theatre which is so awe-inspiring. It's odd, as virtually all forms of dance leave me completely cold. This, however, is completely different. Maybe it's the music, maybe it's the story, or maybe it's because I was there at its birth, but whatever it is, I'm hooked. If you haven't seen it and get the chance, do go. I promise you won't regret it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

A very happy Christmas to all my readers. I'm spending Christmas at my folks near Saffron Walden as usual. No broadband, no internet and I'm switching my Blackberry off. Well, I might... Ok, I'll try... Have a great time and thanks for your continued readership this year.

What's Gordon Up To?

Call me a cynic but I wonder why this story about MPs' pay has come out now (Gordon has been sitting on the SSRB report for months) and why No 10 is briefing so actively. After all, the only MPs who have seen the SSRB report are the relevant Ministers and (possibly) the HoC Commission members. The simple explanation is that GB is spinning to appear tough and consistent in the context of the police debacle.

There is, however, a more machiavellian explanation. The Guardian says that the SSRB wants to make the parliamentary pension scheme in some way less generous while raising salaries. (Higher MP contributions?). I suspect the last thing GB wants is to reopen the entire issue of public sector pension schemes. So if Gordon rubbishes the SSRB on pay, he could establish the principle that he isn't bound by their recommendations and quietly ditch any proposals they have on pensions. No 10 doesn't seem to be briefing out anything that the SSRB says about pensions, so if they do recommend some tightening, MPs will be taken aback and possibly vote in greater numbers for the government line as least worst option. Victory for battling Gordon!!!!! As I said, call me a cynic...

Eight for 2008

Tony Benn has a piece on OPEN HOUSE where he says what he'd like to see in 2008. It's a predictable lefty wish list. I thought I'd start one of those Blog Memes called EIGHT FOR 2008. Here are mine. In 2008 I'd like to see...

1. The Campaign for an English Parliament step up a gear
2. Dominic Grieve in the Shadow Cabinet
3. Audi let me have my long awaited A5
4. West Ham qualify for Europe
5. The Politico get as many readers as this blog
6. The Conservatives win a by-election in a marginal seat
7. Me score a sub 85 round of golf
8. My new book delivered to the publishers on time

I now put the curse on these ten blogs to repeat the exercise... Dizzy, Caroline Hunt, Ben Brogan, Bob Piper, Jonathan Calder, James Graham, Kiwiblog, Cranmer, The Devil, Norfolk Blogger. Please all nominate five further blogs to do this...

Vote in my End of Year Political Awards


The polls have opened in the 2007 Iain Dale's Diary Political Awards. You have nominated people in 33 different categories, from Politician of the Year, Political Journalist of the Year, to Sexiest Politician of the Year and Blogger of the Year. You don't need to vote in all the categories but if you do, it should take you 10-12 minutes to complete. The poll remain open until 12 noon on 24 December and I will post the results between Christmas and the New Year.

Click HERE to vote.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Daley Dozen: Sunday

1. Tim Worstall disagrees with me on MPs' Pay. Totally. Utterly - and wrongly.
2. Paul Linford treats us to his review of 2007.
3. John Rentoul reckons Norman Baker's a fruitcake. Hard to disagree
4. Andrea Leadsom asks: what's the point of petitions?
5. EU Referendum agrees with European politician. Shock, horror. It's about helicopters & Chad
6. Norfolk Blogger reckons Cleggy shouldn't tinker with education policy
7. Burning our Money on our one true instrument of civilisation
8. Red State has a roundup of the US Sunday political talk shows
9. Dan Hannan asks which country will be first to leave the Euro
10. Tony Sharp is bored by Tony Blair's journey to Rome
11. Fraser Nelson wonders why we care so much about foxes but so little about cold pensioners
12. Political Betting is getting moist about the US Primaries

Giving Journalism & Politics A Bad Name

You know it's a light news day when a Sunday newspaper has a story about MPs' pay on its front page. Cue today's Mail on Sunday. Their front page headline screams MPs DEMAND 10pc PAY RISE. The story commences: "A political furore erupted last night after it was revealed that MPs are demanding an inflation-busting wage increase of up to £6,000 a year." Five paragraphs later we learn: "It involves a 2.8 per cent hike in April, followed by index-linked rises in the next two years, in addition to an annual £800 top up". So it's not inflation busting at all. And it's recommended by an Independent Senior Salaries Review Body.

The trouble is with stories like this is that mud sticks. Most people reading it will come away with the thought that MPs have their noses stuck in the troughs again. The irony is that neither of the two journalists who wrote the story - Simon Walters and Jonathan Oliver - would get out of bed for the level of salary 'enjoyed' by MPs. I don't blame them for that at all - they work in the private sector, so good luck to them. But to pretend that MPs are overpaid is ludicrous.

Whenever I have written about this subject before it's provoked a torrent of responses from people who believe MPs shouldn;t be paid at all, let alone paid £60,000. Absolute tosh. What those people are arguing for is a Parliament full of rich people who can afford not to be paid. Surely we should pay our MPs at a level where few would actually be put off standing for Parliament. I'd like Parliament to be representative of a number of professions, but few people from those professions would think about standing for Parliament because they would have to take a pay drop. Relatively junior managers in industry or the public sector now command salaries in excess of what MPs earn. What message does it send out that we are happy to pay MPs the same as the Deputy Public Affairs Manager of an NHS Trust?

MPs are in an absolutely no-win situation here. If they speak out in favour of higher salaries they are accused of having their noses in the trough. If they don't they are doing a disservice to their successors, and ensuring that good people won't even bother trying to be MPs. And then we are left with a Parliament full of duds, under achievers and bores. Or have we already got there?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Daley (Half) Dozen

1. Chris Whiteside on the law of averages
2. Tim Blair on why global warming has stopped
3. Political Betting on the US Presidential race
4. Stumbling & Mumbling on Tory class hatred, union bashing & Matthew Parris
5. Rupa Huq says youth is wasted on the young
6 .West Brom Blog sees a remarkable similarity between Ed Balls and Piers Fletcher Dervish


My Man of the Year is General David Petraeus, the architect and implementor of the troop surge in Iraq. Few believed it would work, but it has. Click HERE to see a tribute video to the men and women who brought it about. Thanks to the now defunct Theo Spark for tipping me off about this video.

The Rights & Wrongs of 2007

I've just been flicking through my blogposts for December 2006 and came across THIS one where I made my predictions for 2007. I was astonished to find that I had got 7 out of 10 (virtually) bang on the money!

1. More than one person will face charges in the Cash for Peerages Inquiry WRONG
2. Sir Ming Campbell will not be leader of the LibDems by the end of the year RIGHT
3. Ed Vaizey, Jeremy Hunt and Nick Herbert will be promoted to the Shadow Cabinet RIGHT (apart from Ed)
4. The Conservative Party 'A' List will be junked, having served its purpose RIGHT
5. The SNP become the largest Party in Scotland after the May elections but cannot form a coalition RIGHT
6. A Labour MP and a LibDem MP defect to the Conservatives WRONG
7. John Hutton challenges Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership after John Reid wimps out WRONG
8. In one of his first acts as PM Brown announces timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq RIGHT
9. Depending on the opinion poll bounce from that decision and his honeymoon period, Brown will consider calling a General Election within six months of becoming Prime Minister RIGHT
10. West Ham will not get relegated RIGHT

I suppose you could deduct half a point for getting Ed Vaizey wrong if you want to be churlish. I will publish my predictions for 2008 next week.

All High value Labour Donors Were to be Offered Peerages

Radio 4 broadcast a programme this morning presented by Nick Robinson called CASH FOR POLITICS, all about party funding. You can listen to it HERE. It didn't tell us much we didn't know before, but there was an interesting revelation about Inspector Yates discovering a memo showing that every Labour donor who paid donated more than £1 million was to be offered an honour. You'd have thought that would be enough evidence on its own, wouldn't you?

The Standards Board is Anti-Democratic

THIS story illustrates why the Standards Board for England should be wound up. A Conservative Councillor on Sutton Council has been disqualified from office because she said publicly that the council's Planning Department is corrupt and accused a local Police chief of being a LibDem sympathiser. Obviously I cannot know all the details of this case and I make my judgements based on what I have read. But one thing I do know. It is not the job of a government quango to oust a democratically elected councillor from office - that is what the electorate is for. LibDem Voice seems to be uncomfortable about the issue too. Anyone who believes in democracy should be.

Dunwoody Threatens to Resign Labour Whip

Remember I wrote about Gwyneth Dunwoody's astonishing attack on Hazel Blears earlier this week? It appears I missed the follow up by her Cheshire colleague Mike Hall, MP for the Weaver Vale constituency, said in the debate on Monday.

My hon. Friend finished by saying that there was cynicism at the heart of the decision to create two unitary authorities in Cheshire. I ask the House to consider this for cynicism. Two weeks ago, we should have had the announcement
that we were to get two unitary local authorities in Cheshire. It was delayed. My hon. Friend went to see the Chief Whip and said, “If you go ahead with the announcement, I will resign from the parliamentary Labour party, I will campaign against this decision and I will vote against the parliamentary Labour party on Europe.” And we are accused of being cynical. I hope that that puts the record straight, and that this proposal goes ahead with the support of my hon. Friends
and of the people in the two areas, which will be better served by having unitary local government than by the current two-tier system.

I'm, not aware of any response by Mrs Dunwoody, but do enlighten me...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ming on the Make!

Sir Ming Campbell hasn't lost much time in jumping on the post-political gravy train. He is joining the Board of the Scottish American Investment Company. Delighted for him.

The Daley Dozen: Friday

1. Iain Martin on Three Line Whip reckons he knows why women are turned off by Gordon Brown. Iain mate. It's not just women...
2. Dizzy thinks those Labour MPs are a plottin'. Surely not.
3. Robin Lustig makes his predictions for 2008. Brave man.
4. Cicero's Songs reckons Gordon Brown and Richard Nixon have a lot in common. Y'don't say.
5. Quaequam urges me not to sell my soul. Depends who's bidding and how much.
6. Big Girl's Blouse Shane Greer reckons he's being threatened by a Vicar.
7. John Redwood has sent his Christmas wishlist to Santa.
8. Peter Diapre on Boulton Co reckons Alan Milburn is set to return. Just when we thought it was safe.
9. PoliticalBetting has the latest Guardian/ICM Poll with bad news for Calamity Clegg.
10. Our Kingdom has some wonderful examples of ridiculous signeage.
11. Devil's Kitchen plays Fantasy father Christmas - and it ain't for the faint-hearted. Be warned.
12. Richard Spring MP on when betty Boothroyd asked him to go solo.

(Don't) Look in the Mirror, Under Fiction

The Daily M****r will do anything to slag off David Cameron, but today, their new political correspondent (and a friend of mine!) James Lyons demonstrates how pathetic they can be. In THIS post on Kevin Maguire's blog he reckons the Parliamentary Bookshop has placed a book called Conservative Revival: Blueprint for Britain in the Fiction Section.

The only trouble is, last time I frequented the Parliamentary Bookshop they didn't have a fiction section. But what more should we expect from the Daily M****r?

Cruel to be Kind

My middle name is Campbell. There, I've said it. It's a name I hate. I always got the mickey taken out of me at school for it. Every time I was called it, I wanted to react, but managed not to. So don't expect me to cry many tears over THIS.

Kids can be very cruel, can't they? Another shortlived nickname I had at Saffron Walden County High School was 'tortoise' - seemingly because I ran like one. Yes, I know, tortoises don't run, but apparently I stick my neck out when I run. There was a simple solution to that one. Stop running.

So what was your nickname at school, and how did you live it down?

Oh What Fun It Is...

Now, I've finished my final bit of work before Christmas. Any of you think I should start my Christmas shopping now? Just asking...

UPDATE: A very successful venture into RTW (that's Royal Tunbridge Wells for the unintiated) and brought back some good loot. Sony Centres are most excellent places, are they not?

Anyway, enough of such festive banter. Tonight at 10.35pm I will be reviewing tomorrow's newspapers on Sky News with someone who was described to me as the Political Commentator for Classic FM. Now that's the sort of job I'd like. Anyone got a number for Magix FM? :)

The Dangers of Taking the Politics Out of Government

Remember these fine words from Gordon Brown at the 2007 Labour Party Conference?
Let me be clear: any newcomer to Britain who is caught selling drugs or using guns will be thrown out. No one who sells drugs to our children or uses guns has the right to stay in our country...If you commit a crime you will be deported from our country. You play by the rules or face the consequences.

Fine words, which could have been uttered by Michael Howard. And there's the rub. Michael Howard, as Home Secretary, would have ensured that it happened. Gordon Brown, however, seems contentto let the Border & Immigration Agency to stick two fingers up at him. They're refusing to even look at deporting anyone who has a prison sentence of less than twelve months.

This shows the dangers of "taking the politics out" of certain aspects of our system of government. It's all very well to have independent agencies, but they should still be forced to implement government policy. This is my worry over the NHS. We constantly hear cries for it to be independent of politicians, but the truth is, it never can be and never ought to be. Any body which spends more than £100 billion needs proper political accountability. And if politicians in the House of Commons aren't there to provide that, then you have to question why we bother electing them in the first place.

Two Articles on The Politico

James Silver, who writes a media column for Sky News has published an interview with me today about my new magazine project, and the Press Gazette also carried a news piece on it this week.

UPDATE: I have just taken delivery of 25 copies of the much missed GEORGE magazine, which I bought on Ebay a couple of weeks ago. For those who don't remember, it was a political version of GQ, founded by John F Kennedy Jnr. Sadly it closed when he was killed in the plane crash. I'm not saying THE POLITICO will be modelled on GEORGE, but I'd like to think we could emulate some of its approach.

Telegraph Column: Nick Clegg's Challenges

In my Telegraph column today I turn my attention to the dilemmas facing young Mr Clegg...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Brown Plummets Further

There's a YouGov poll in the Daily Telegraph tomorrow (along with an article by yours truly on the challenges facing Nick Clegg) showing Gordon Brown has a minus 60% rating - the same as John Major had in his last month as PM. The beadline figures show a 12 point Tory lead. Con 43, Lab 31 LibDem 16. More HERE on the Three Line Whip.

The Daley Dozen: Thursday

1. POST OF THE DAY: Shane Greer wants a mass debate on legalising prostitution. Dizzy agrees.
2. The ever-perceptive James Forsyth on the Speccie Coffee House isn't impressed with the Clegg reshuffle.
3. The Three Line Whip on the real reason Gordon Bottled an election in October.
4. Paul Linford on why faith matters in politics...
5. ...and Bob Piper on why it shouldn't.
6. John Redwood explains there's a fourth option to rescue Northern Rock.
7. Cranmer on a record breaking day for Her Majesty.
8. Kevin Maguire reveals Brown has lost another Minister. Lord Triesman resigns to be the first independent chairman of the FA. Unless he's visited by Inspector Knacker first...
9. Newmania brings us the startling revelation that left handers are more at risk of mental illness and oral sex causes throat cancer.
10. The Daily Referendum castigates Brown's pensiins U Turn, especially its timing.
11. EU Referendum berates the Daily Telegraph for believing that the EU wishes to liberalise anything.
12. Matt Wardman on the rules of sending Christmas Cards

Cockerell on Cameron

Did you see Michael Cockerell's film on David Cameron earlier this evening? I'd say it is the most sympathetic documentary to the Conservative Party that Cockerell has ever made. When hardbitten journalists like Michael Cockerell make a film which is broadly pro Tory it's an indication that Cameron is making an impact. The anti-voices in the film, like Kelvin MacKenzie and Simon Heffer did not come over well, and seemed almost bitter in their anti-Cameronism.

What did you make of it?

The New LibDem Front Bench is a Shadow of Its Former Self

The LibDem frontbench team has been announced by Nick Clegg. Details HERE. I suppose you might expect me to say this, but it's not exactly awe-inspiring is it? There are some rather bizarre appointments. Ed Davey becomes the Des Browne of the LibDems, having been promoted to Foreign Affairs spokesman, while also being the Campaigns Coordinator. Danny Alexander has even more jobs - Work & Pensions, Leader's Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Manifesto Group. The business community will no doubt welcome that titanic political figure to the post of Business & Enterprise Spokeswoman. As far as I can see, the only new names are the pseudo Conservative very able Jeremy Browne and the likeable Stephen Williams. Lynne Featherstone's demotion is ill-judged. I suppose it is done on the basis that she was Huhne's campaign manager and therefore deserved it. Bad politics. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Imagine the difference if Nick Clegg had been able to include Ming, Charlie Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown in his front bench team. Now that WOULD have been newsworthy.

Keith Simpson's Christmas Reading List

Before each parliamentary recess, Tory MP Keith Simpson sends out to his colleagues a reading list, prepared for his colleagues in the Shadow Foreign Affairs team. It's so good, I sought his permission to share it with you.

As we prepare to depart for our Christmas recess there is just time to provide books from a rich collection published since the summer, with the addition of one or two “golden oldies”. We must assume that the Prime Minister has issued a similar list to members of his Cabinet with a timetable for completion and the prospects of an oral examination in the New Year!

At the end of term there was the start of a stimulating debate on what if anything history can contribute to policy and government and interested parties should log on to But we should remember the cautious words of Hegel that “Peoples and governments never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it,” or Arthur Balfour’s shrewd observation that “History doesn’t repeat itself, only historians repeat each other.”

With that in mind dear reader let us consider the latest offerings from the world of publishing. Our parliamentary colleague Mark Oaten has written Coalition: The politics and personalities of coalition government from 1850 (2007) in which he concludes, rather honestly, that Britain is best governed by a strong single party with a strong opposition. Nevertheless, he outlines various “perms” for the Liberal Democrats in the event of a hung parliament at the next election.

Peter Oborne has written a blistering denunciation of politicians in The Triumph of the Political Class (2007) who have become full time professionals totally disconnected from their own supporters let alone the average voter.

Tony Benn has become something of a national treasure. John Betjeman without the bells and smells. His latest edition of diaries More Time for Politics Diaries 2005 – 2007 (2007) are a gentler, more reflective and sadder set of observations. Hard to believe he was once the scourge of the old Wilson/Callaghan Labour Party and nearly drove it permanently into the political wilderness. Several Labour survivors traumatised by the “purges” of that era have less than fond memories of the old trooper.

Antony Seldon has moved seamlessly from being the historian of the Labour Party to that of New Labour culminating as the new headmaster in his introduction of gals into Wellington College He has now completed his second volume of a biographical study of Blair Unbound (2007). Based on many anonymous interviews and inside information it combines narration with specifics and is a good first stab at Blair’s second and third terms. Not a book for Gordon Brown’s Christmas stocking and we await the Seldon treatment on him at some future date.

The former political journalist and successful novelist Robert Harris has travelled from supporter of New Labour to disillusioned critic. In The Ghost (2007) he cleverly narrates a tale of a former British Primer Minister, definitely not (!) Tony Blair, who employs a ghost writer to complete his memoirs with unintended consequences. A good read for New Year’s Day.

Clarissa Eden was much younger than Anthony Eden when she married him as his second wife. Still alive and very much alert she has been the guardian of her husband’s reputation. Now with the help of Cate Haste (aka Mrs Melvyn Bragg) and some diaries she has written a delightful memoir Clarissa Eden A Memoir from Churchill to Eden (2007) which gives a new perspective on Eden, Butler, Macmillan and the Suez Crisis.

It was thought that the heavyweight double decker political biography had died a publisher’s death, but OUP have generously allowed Angus Hawkins to write a two volume study of the 14th Earl of Derby, one of our briefest Prime Ministers, but without whom Disraeli could not have climbed to the top of the greasy pole. The Forgotten Prime Minister The 14th Earl of Derby, Volume 1, Ascent 1799 – 1851 (2007) is well worth a read.

Balfour was a patrician politician of many contradictions. His nicknames went from “Pretty Fanny” to “Bloody Balfour” in less than one parliament and he was more successful as a Cabinet minister before and after his lacklustre premiership of 1902-1905. R J Q Adams is an American historian who has recently written a biography of Bonar Law and now Balfour The Last Grandee (2007) further enhances his reputation.

Mike Jackson became something of a celebrity as a NATO general who refused to obey his American superior’s orders to remove Russian troops from Pristina airport. His face dominated by vast pouches under his eyes and a voice matured by nicotine and malt whisky he seemed to symbolise the Para general. Soldier The Autobiography, is authentic Jackson who served from private to general and ended his career as Chief of the General Staff. This memoir gives an insight into a very macho soldier who, nevertheless, read widely and understood peace support operations.

Although something in the style of a Chief Accountant’s annual report, Alan Greenspan, former long service head of the Fed, has written a memoir and period piece The Age of Turbulence (2007) with some interesting insights into Presidents and Congresses.

Arthur M Schlesinger Junior was a member of the court of J.F. Kennedy, and a distinguished historian. A previous volume of journals were too clinical and over edited. Since his death, Journals: 1952 – 2000 (2007) have been published without embellishments or pruning and are more authentic and enjoyable.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth was the attractive daughter of President Teddy Roosevelt. A chip off the old block, she was intelligent, vivacious, sexy, politically alert and with a caustic tongue that sounded down the decades. Stacey A Cordery’s Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker (2007) may hype up her influence, but it acts as a counterweight to the historiography of the Roosevelt-Truman era and if full of deliciously spiteful gossip.

Morality and conflict may seem like an oxymoron, but good men and women, especially the most thoughtful in the armed forces, have tried to put limits on what can be unlimited violence. Now Charles Guthrie, former Chief of the Defence Staff and Tony Blair’s favourite military adviser, but not on Gordon Brown’s Christmas card list, and Michael Quinlan, the former formidably erudite Permanent Secretary at the MOD, have written a slim volume, Just War The Just War Tradition: Ethics in Modern Warfare (2007).

Many of us fear that strategy is the missing element in both US and UK government thinking. It is frequently mistaken for policy. Professor Hew Strachen has forcefully opined on this in his recent articles in the IISS Survival Journal. A variation of his thoughts can be found in his Carl von Clausewitz’s On War: A Biography (2007). Clausewitz has had an uneven reputation ranging from Prussian nineteenth century demi-god to underpinning Nazism to providing an understanding of the nature of war and deterrence. To a generation of West Point Cadets he was simply known as “Dead Karl”. This book will stimulate the little grey cells and should help those of us groping toward developing a UK National Security Strategy.

The Special Relationship has been in and out of the political divorce courts off and on for decades. Kathleen Burk’s monumental Old World, New World The Story of Britain and America (2007) gives a readable account of this relationship, which disappointingly rather peters out over the past two decades.

Piers Brendon has written with great brio a wonderfully panoramic and stimulating book on The Decline and Fall of the British Empire 1781-1997 (2007). A theme well quarried about by other authors, nevertheless, he brings new insights into a phenomena that still lingers on in Whitehall and the Commonwealth.

As the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton became a hero to many Americans and a hate figure to international diplomats. Wrongly caricatured as a neo-con, he is in fact an old fashioned conservative Republican. His memoir, Surrender is Not an Option Defending America at the United National (2007) is all that the title promises. Some of his most caustic comments are about British diplomats and the Foreign Office’s way of doing business. A caricature but accusations of “appeasement” always make King Charles Street nervous.

The continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to dominate the international community. Apart from questioning policy and strategy we are slowly re-learning the lessons of understanding local history, culture and traditions, and rethinking the classical experiences of counter-insurgency operations. William R Polk is a distinguished Arabist and an adviser to previous democrat administrations.

His Understanding Iraq (2005) and still in print became a much in demand book for US military and civilian personnel. Now he has written Violent Politics A History of Insurgency, Terrorism and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq (2007).

The University of Chicago has republished an official US doctrinal manual and made it a best seller. The US Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (2007) is the product of several years of study bringing together the expertise of military, academic and official experience. One of the senior officers who drove through this manual was none other than General David Petraeus, now implementing the surge in operations in Iraq. This is not a prescriptive manual but offers a framework for operations. Pity a counterinsurgency doctrine wasn’t resurrected and implemented before 2003.

Greg Mills is an applied academic with considerable experience of conflict in Africa. He became a Special Adviser to General David Richards in Afghanistan and has written a perceptive account From Africa to Afghanistan With Richards and NATO to Kabul (2007).

The former medical doctor and Callaghan foreign secretary David Owen has written The Hubris Syndrome Bush, Blair and the Intoxication of Power (2007) in which he argues that personality combined with power leads to hubris and inevitable decline.

Astonishingly, nobody has seriously looked at the origins and history of summits. David Reynolds Summits Six Meetings that shaped the Twentieth Century (2007) fills the gap. Reynolds takes us from Munich 1938 to Camp David in 1978 with an analysis of how to approach summits and what to get out of them.

Historical depth and context are admirably served in Francis Robinson The Mughal Emperors and the Islamic Dynasties of India, Iran and Central Asia 1206 – 1925 (2007). This is a superb book that provides a wonderful introduction to the historic world of Islam and is required reading.

The history of the Soviet Union is profoundly depressing. Over the past decade, with the release of government, party and private archives, historians have documented the depths of suffering. Orlando Figes The Whisperers Private Life in Stalin’s Russia (2007) shows how the arrest and purges impacted on the lives of the families left behind and the subterfuge and deceptions practised by millions.

Professor Sir Michael Howard has been the doyen of the historians of war. A distinguished war record, academic successes, a founder member of the IISS and a writer with sensitivity and spirit. His recent collection of essays are a delight. Liberation or Catastrophe? Reflections on the History of the Twentieth Century (2007) complement his autobiography Captain Professor a Life in War and Peace (2006).

Written up in our summer book list but now a timely read is Paddy Ashdown’s Swords and Ploughshares Building Peace in the 21st Century (2007) based partly on his experience as High Representative in Bosnia and unwittingly a job application for a similar post in Afghanistan.

Finally a “golden oldie”, which is almost impossible to obtain secondhand. Alan Bullock wrote the first two volumes of his biography of Ernie Bevin taking his hero’s life up to 1945. Published in 1960 and 1967 he had to wait another sixteen years before foreign office papers were released thus completing the third volume Ernest Bevin Foreign Secretary 1945 – 1951. This fine biography shows the international challenges faced by Attlee’s government and the role of the tough, prejudiced but formidable foreign secretary, who would never have been caricatured by the phrase “Gosh, the world’s a scary place”. Required reading for David Miliband – Prime Minister please note.

The 2007 Iain Dale's Diary Political Awards

As it's the end of the year, it's time to look back on the last twelve months of political activity and draw some conclusions. I've drawn up a list of awards for you to nominate people for. You can either do it in the comments section below, or click HERE to go through each category and make your own nominations. Nominations will remain open for the rest of the day and voting will begin tomorrow and remain open until sometime on Christmas Eve. I'll then publish the results between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Politician of the Year
Minister of the Year
Worst Minister of the Year
Shadow Cabinet Minister of the Year
Best Political Commentator/Columnist
Best Political TV Programme
Best Political Radio Programme
Political Broadcast Journalist
Political Print Journalist (daily/magazine)
Political Print Journalist (sunday)
Conservative MP of the Year
LibDem MP of the Year
Labour MP of the Year
Minority Party MP of the Year
Political Communicator of the Year
Political Campaigner of the Year
Political Speech of the Year
Pressure Group of the Year
Peer of the Year
Political Humorist of the Year
Political Magazine of the Year
Political Book of the Year
Political Blogger of the Year
Right of Centre Blog of the Year
Left of Centre Blog of the Year
LibDem Blog of the Year
Political Website of the Year
World Politician of the Year
Political Moment of the Year
Political Hate Figure of the Year
Political Gaffe of the Year
Sexiest Male Politician of the Year
Sexiest Female Politician of the Year
Welsh Politician of the Year
Scottish Politician of the Year
Northern Irish Politician of the Year

Click HERE to make your nominations. Remember, nominations close at the end of today.

The Joys of Walking

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in years. I rediscovered the joys of walking. Normally, if I want to go anywhere in central London I jump in a cab or go on the tube (which I hate). But as my train was early yesterday, and it was a nice day, I walked from Charing Cross, through St James's Park to a meeting at Telegraph Towers in Buckingham Palace Road. After that was over I decided I'd walk to my next venue, up to Sloane Square, down the Kings' Road, up to Fulham Road and along to Stamford Bridge, where I watched Chelsea beat Liverpool. Ok, it's only three miles from Charing X to the Chelsea ground, but it's three miles more than I would normally walk!

So one of my new years' resolutions is to do a lot more walking. Even if I didn't want to, I'm going to have to as I have said I will take part in next year's Westminster Challenge charity fundraising event - which is a 100 mile walk along the Great Wall of China. Gulp.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Daley Dozen: Wednesday

1. POST OF THE DAY So who's the Cleggie who owes Mike Smithson of Political £500 smackeroos and won't pay up?
2. Letters from a Tory has spotted a burying bad news story. I thought that sort of thing didn't happen anymore!
3. Fraser Nelson explains how Gordon Brown lies about misrepresents a Tory donation issue.
4. The Three Line Whip has a scoop on the non Granita agreement between Cameron & Osborne. Only trouble is that the same scoop has been given to the Daily Mail too.
5. Sky News's Gary Honeyford on how he nicked all the PM's pies. And no doubt scoffed them.
6. Shane Greer likes a man in uniform. As does the Iron Lady.
7. Stephen Tall on LibDem Voice writes a letter to Cleggy.
8. Paul Linford on Calamity's first day - no to God and no to an English Parliament.
9. Mike Rouse has a list titled: You know you;re a Coventrarian when... No, really. He does.
10. Ellee Seymour doesn't think much of Labour Minister Phil Woolas's blog.
11. Quaequam starts a SAVE THE RENNARD campaign.
12. Cranmer on Clegg. A must-read.

Feel free to email me recommendations for tomorrow's Daley Dozen.

Public Service Announcement

I have news from the Maidstone & the Weald selection. There's no way of skirting the issue, so I'll just come out and say it. I didn't get past the first interview, which took place on Saturday.

I can't pretend that I am anything other than really disappointed. God, I sound like a football manager after a 3-0 defeat! Seriously, I came out of the interview thinking I had performed really well. The selection committee was unfailingly polite and pleasant and I felt we connected. For the first time ever in a selection I spoke entirely without notes and felt I answered all the questions well, but I was clearly deluding myself. Or maybe they are looking for something very different from what I was able to offer. Whatever the reason, I'd like to thank Maidstone & the Weald Conservatives for selecting me for interview and making it an enjoyable experience - even if the outcome wasn't what I had wished for!

I know there are some cracking other candidates, and I wish the remaining contestants all the very best. Whoever wins will have a fantastic career for one of the nicest seats in the country. Anyone who has been interviewed for a seat they really wanted and fallen at the first fence - regardless of party - will know how I am feeling now, but in the end, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and just have to be philosophical about it. It just wasn't meant to be.

Now, where did I put that revolver? :)

The Battleaxe Slays the Chipmunk

Mr Eugenides alerts me to a battle royale in the Commons yesterday between Labour Battleaxe-in-Chief Gwynneth Dunwoody and My Little Chipmunk, Hazel Blears. Dunwoody was unahppy that Blears is about to make changes to the structure of local government in Cheshire The full exchange is HERE. Here are the highlights. Savour them...

I believe that today the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government—to whom I have given notice that I intend to mention her—intends to announce the reorganisation of Cheshire. She has never at any point deigned to explain the reasons for those major changes. Indeed, just before the summer recess, when an announcement was made that it was the intention to divide Cheshire into two, irrespective of the needs or wishes of the population, a letter was issued from the Department saying that the decision would none the less be subject to close examination of a number of factors, of which the economic ones were enormously important.

Rather foolishly, I thought that comment was serious and in the intervening time, with the assistance of people in education, the health service and general services, I
have endeavoured to persuade Her Majesty’s Government—pointlessly, as it now appears—of the inequity and imbalance of the scheme they were proposing. I have been in the House long enough to see the coming and going of many inadequate personalities. I have seen those on both sides of the House who have been promoted for various reasons. I have seen the crawlers. I have seen those who have used sex— [ Interruption. ] Oh, there are so many it would take too long to name them. I have seen those whose sexual preferences were of interest to others. I have seen those who demonstrated a great commitment to their own interests, irrespective of the political parties that they were supposed to represent.

But I have rarely seen a decision such as this, taken with such cynicism and with so little respect for the interests of the average voter. When the Secretary of State was seeking office as the deputy leader of the Labour party, she said that people frequently become disaffected with their own Government because they feel that no one is listening to them. Wherever could they have got that idea from? She also made it clear—she told us constantly—that she would listen...

... If I may say so, the decision has been taken with a degree of cynicism that I have not seen for some time. I do not believe that it is in the interests of the Labour party, but then it has never been pretended that the decision is in the interests of the Labour party or of individual voters. It is not in the interests of those who work in the health service, the education service, or social services, or of those who want decent, high-quality local government services. I believe that it is a decision that has been taken for the most venal and personal reasons, and I find it wholly and deeply objectionable.

Mrs Dunwoody demonstrates yet again why she is such a good Parliamentarian. We need more like her - people who will speak their minds without fear or favour. What a shame she is retiring at the next election.

Poll Results: UK Tories Move Away From US Republicans

A few days ago I launched a reader survey on attitudes to the US Presidential candidates. More than 750 of you took part. Bear in mind that this blog has a 60% Conservative readership, some of the results are quite startling. Here are the results.

1. If you had a vote in the Democratic primaries, which candidate would you support to be the Democratic Candidate for the US Presidency?

Hillary Clinton 23%
Barack Obama 50%
John Edwards 13%
Joe Biden 3%
Dennis Kuchinich 4%
Bill Richardson 5%
Chris Dodd 1%
Mike Gravel 1%

2. If you had a vote in the Republican primaries, which candidate would you support to be the Republican Candidate for the US Presidency?

Rudy Giuliani 41%
Mitt Romney 6%
Mike Huckabee 7%
John McCain 25%
Ron Paul 15%
Tom Tancredo 1%
Fred Thompson 4%
Duncan Hunter 1%

3. If Hillary Clinton was the Democratic Candidate, would she make you more or less likely to vote Democrat?

More 15%
Less 55%
No difference 30%

4. Would it make any difference to your vote if the Republican candidate was a Mormon?

Yes 32%
No 68%

5. If you had a vote in previous American elections, which party would you normally have voted for?

Democrats 47.5%
Republicans 52.5%

6. As things stand at the moment, who would you intend to vote for in November 2008?

Democrats 55.5%
Republicans 45.5%

The results of these last two questions are revelaing as it indicates that British Conservatives are now more willing to consider voting Democrat. Depending on who the two final candidates are, I find myself moving slowly away from the Republican Party - something I never thought would happen. Having said that, I find the big government approach of the Democrats something I could never swallow. The Republicans are slowly but surely being taken over the the dogmatic zealots of the religious right. I refuse to call them the Christian right as there's very little that's christian about them. They are a bunch of narrow minded bigots. The only Republican candidate who's standing up to them is Rudy Giuliani. All the rest are spewing out various forms of bile against women, gays (or homosexualists, as I am sure they like to call them) and anyone else who doesn't conform to their own warped standards. And the sad thing is that it appeals to much of their core electorate - witness Mike Huckabee's rise in Iowa, which is based in large part on his religious attitudes. If anyone bar Giuliani or McCain is chosen as the Republican nominee, I couldn't support them. Bet they're bovvered!

Nick Clegg Feeds My Dog

One or two people have asked why I have a banner ad which advertises Nick Clegg and the LibDems. I did think about whether to take this one, but in the end I decided that if the LibDems wish to cross my palm with silver, who am I to argue? Got to keep Gio in dog biscuits, eh? Apropos of nothing, Gio celebrated his tenth birthday yesterday. Just thought you'd like to know.

Offended? Moi?

The Twelve Days of a Labour Government Christmas

HERE. Priceless. And for everything else, there's...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If I Were Nick Clegg...

Now there's a thought. Over the next 48 hours Nick Clegg will be choosing his front bench team. It will be his first opportunity to make his mark on the LibDems. And of course the appointment which will tell us most will be which portfolio he offers to Chris Huhne. As I see it, he has four options.

1. Keep him at Environment

This would be a calculated insult. If he had won 60-40 he could have got away with it. Not now. Huhne would turn it down.

2. Home Affairs

This would give him a huge profile as Home Affairs is the portfolio which involves a huge number of media appearances. It's what Clegg ought to offer, but I doubt whether he will. If he did, Huhne should accept with alacrity.

3. Foreign Affairs

Huhne couldn't turn this portfolio down, but it would effectively sideline him unless he manages to keep climate change as part of it. If I were Nick Clegg, this is what I would offer him.

4. Treasury

It's the portfolio Huhne wants, and his vote share ought to guarantee it. However, there's just one small problem. Vince Cable. He ain't movin'.

Clegg should have quote a dramatic reshuffle of the rest of his team. Out with the old, in with the new. He should keep Vince Cable where he is, but despacth the lacklustre Foreign Affairs spokesman... see, you don't know who he is, do you? He's Michael Moore. No, not that one. THIS one. In addition, Don Foster, Andrew Stunnell and Roger Williams should all be sacked. Nick Harvey, Norman Baker and Simon Hughes might all feel under threat. Sarah Teather should also be fired, but I doubt whether she will be.

Those Clegg should bring in include Jo Swinson, Jeremy Browne, Martin Horwood, Stephen Williams and Jenny Willott. All able people and all very media friendly. I expect him to promote Julia Goldsworthy, Ed Davey and Steve Webb.

Paul Linford offers his thoughts HERE.