Brexiteer Iain Dale's Election Diary: Week one
PUBLISHED: 22:50 28 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:15 29 April 2017
Our resident Brexiteer takes his own very particular (and not at all partisan look) at this week's shenanigans
Right, let’s get this over with right from the start. I voted for Brexit, shock horror! Why, you may ask, did our esteemed editor recruit a Leave supporter to the serried ranks of the New European? No idea, but instead of cancelling your subscription, can we just agree that it’s not a crime to hold a view that goes against the editorial line of the newspaper? This is an election diary and I’m not here to persuade you to ditch your views!
25% of Lib Dem voters voted for Brexit. Really. So for Tim Farron to make a positive of just appealing to the 48% is, as Sir Humphrey might say, quite courageous. The positive for him is that it sends a very clear message. In fact, it couldn’t be clearer. Contrast this to Labour’s message, which, even after Sir Keir Starmer’s policy launch, remains as clear as mud. Corbyn’s message depends on where you live in the country, which is what the LibDems used to be accused of. But it’s not all good news for Farron. While his message might go down well in London and metropolitan centres, in the south west it’s unlikely to reap much of a reward. As Labour self-combusts and UKIP borders on irrelevance, the Tories will be hoovering up their votes as if they were a Dyson on crack.
Hypocrite of the Week award goes to Guardian trumpet Polly Toynbee. Accusing Labour’s Michael Dugher of ratting on Labour by announcing he wouldn’t stand again (I mean, how very dare he), Polly conveniently forgot how she herself ratted on Labour in the 1980s by joining the SDP. Those long Tuscan summer nights clearly had an effect on the memory, I suppose.
The ITV Wales poll this week predicts an earthquake in Welsh politics. Coming off the back of the Tories being at 50% nationally for the first time since 1991, the Wales poll shows the Conservatives in the lead in Wales for the first time since 1922. Quite astonishing. And they’re a full ten points ahead of Labour. Perhaps the most revealing figure is that 62% of former UKIP voters [and there are a lot of them in Brexit-supporting Wales] are intending to vote Conservative, with only 2% going to Labour. If that trend is UK wide, Theresa May is in landslide territory. Big landslide territory.
Given May’s poll ratings you can hardly blame her for following Sir Lynton Crosby’s advice in refusing to take part in head-to-head television debates. Why take the risk? There are few upsides. However, I take the rather old-fashioned view that taking part in hustings is what candidates for prime minister are obliged to do. It’s a democratic outrage that she refuses to. Some broadcasters are threatening to empty-chair her, but they won’t. It’s all bluster. They will all bow down and come up with formats which mean she doesn’t have to do a head-to-head with Corbyn. It just demonstrates that the only way she can lose this election is to be found in bed with a live goat. Even then I suspect she’d win.
So, the next French president is very likely to be a Tony Blair lookey-likey. Emmanuel Macron’s Colgate-style grin is already intensely irritating. Listen to him make a public speech and he’s the most narcissistic demagogue since, well, the last one. He makes Nicolas Sarkozy seem rather shy and retiring.
It was nice to see a Labour spokesperson confirm that Labour’s policy on Trident is to renew it. Watching Jeremy Corbyn on Andrew Marr that was certainly the opposite of the impression he gave, showing he has no clue about the meaning of the word ‘deterrence’. Coming on top of his wish to stop air strikes on Syria and saying he wouldn’t press the nuclear button, the Conservatives don’t really have to try too hard to portray Labour as soft on defence. I imagine we’ll soon see a 2017 version of this 1987 election poster.
Our esteemed editor (he did decide to hire me, after all) tweeted on Monday: “Where is our Macron when we need one?” Oh dear. Where do I start? Do we really want a perma-grinning, well dressed fortysomething who spouts a series of crowd-pleasing inanities? Didn’t we elect one of them in 1997? Still, at least Blair came into power with no track record of failure. Macron, on the other hand, was Hollande’s economy minister, although he seems to take no responsibility for the fact that the French economy is a basket case. Quelle domage.
Iain Dale presents Drive on LBC Radio. @iaindale. You can follow his seat by seat election predictions at www.iaindale.com