The real Iain Dale, positive thoughts from an old adversary ...

Some regular readers of this blog will remember that I started off blogging just a few weeks ago with something of a bee in my bonnet about Iain Dale.

I first crossed swords with Iain about three years ago in a by-election in Happisburgh (North Norfolk). I was annoyed by his leaflets, a bit fed up with his bravado, but in greater part, I was annoyed that he had decided to challenge us (the Lib Dems) in North Norfolk and he failed to give proper credit to brilliant local MP Norman Lamb, who I knew many people in North Norfolk think the world of.
I think I also found it easier to go out to campaign against someone if I can really bring myself to dislike them, and my dislike for him, fed by tit bits that Iain kept throwing in to his blog, ensured that many of us in North Norfolk continued to trudge the streets in all weathers, extreme heat and the coldest frosts, to ensure that Norman Lamb retained the North Norfolk seat.

Now, I know that Iain's blog was a success in that it built some name recognition, but boy did it wind me and plenty of others up at the time, and in a sense, it actually worked against Iain within North Norfolk whilst outside of the constituency it build up his credibility. Not once did anyone talk about it on the doorstep in a positive way, which was odd given that in so many ways it must have been a success.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, and as a result of years of delivering leaflet after leaflet, resulting in sore feet, missed football matches, less nights out and a decent lie in bed in the mornings, caused by my determination to "beat Iain", I think it has been hard to take account of some of Iain's genuine qualities.

Of course, he has one major set back, that being that he is a Tory. Now, that probably won't change, but I've learnt to cope with other Tories very well indeed. My best man when I was married in the summer is former Conservative Party board member and Chairman of the Conservative Party Conference, Richard Stephenson. So I know some Tories can be thoroughly decent people. However, I have come to realise that Iain does deserves a bit of praise for the follwing reasons:

1) He has a genuine wish to raise the level of debate when it comes to politics. He has proven that over the years in books, articles and his media work.

2) His blog is a masterpiece, much as I wished in the past to ignore it. I think his campaigning blog was not what he might of wanted it to be in North Norfolk, but Iain Dales Diary is a great resource for facts, news stories and proper political news. Yes, it is a Tory blog, but I do feel he tries to look beyond the blue rosette and provides a good critique of the arguments. The new stuff he does on 18 Doughty Street further emphasises that.

3) Iain is actually rather a magnanimous chap really. We have mutual friends, and I know that these friends actually think rather a lot of the both of us (me and Iain), and they found it odd that despite the election being "in the past", I still could not see that Iain might be a good chap. Shortly after I started blogging Iain also made an effort to contact me about my blog and generally offer advice.

So, this is an apology of sorts, but perhaps also a thanks to Iain. Had he not been so rumbustious in his campaigning, perhaps I wouldn't have done so much campaigning myself, so in part it was a blessing because "beating Iain Dale" was what drove me and many others on in North Norfolk in addition to the positive reason that we all believed so much in Norman Lamb, and did not want to lose him as our MP.

The apology is that I did not have not given him credit since the election, and particularly since starting my blog for the things he does very well. In addition, when hostilities were over in North Norfolk, I should have let go of the thought that I still disliked him. I am still no fan of his politics and the political party he supports, but so what ?

So, its official, I don't dislike Iain any more, in fact, he really isn't such a bad chap after all. But to any Lib Dems reading this, I'm still over the moon that Norman Lamb won in North Norfolk (sorry Iain).


Liberal Neil said...

Wise words mate, and well put.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Thanks Neil. I think you also gave some good advice to me a few weeks ago.

ecofx said...

ditto to the 'wise words ... well put' bit.
At elections I have helped in in the past I have had expeience of both liking and disliking other candidates. I would actually prefer to like them, because in my opinion the electorate are then getting a better choice, and at least 'somebody' good will get in, even if not from the 'right' party.
This won't stop me from fighting for my party candidate, though, even in the rain ;) !

Iain Dale said...

Nich, very grateful for that. I never really understood what you had against me but that perhaps helps to explain a little. I think we have both learnt from the experience. It is always easier when you really can't stand your political opponents because it blinds you from seeing the good in anything they might do. Anyway, I'm glad that you have written this. You're a bigger man than I thought!

Jack said...

Why were you upset that Iain challenged you in North Norfolk? Isn't that called democracy?

Norfolk Blogger said...


I explained my reasons quite clearly. In the same as in Norwich South the Tories are frothing at the mouth about Simon Wright standing, having an opponent stand up against you gives you a target, and in that sense, Iain became my target. I think if you read my posting, you'd understand.

Norfolk Blogger said...


Thanks for your comments. As you no doubt understand now, they are genuinely appreciated.

Jack said...

You have to take Iain's blog for what it is - when you read it and have a sense of humour you won't be so outraged! The opposition on blogs comes in the comments sections - do what I do and challenge things. Iain has made a name through blogging but even 'A' List status hasn't found him a winnable seat now, has it?

Iain Dale said...

Jack, that may because i haven't actually applied for any yet...

You are a loser said...

nice suck up job. loser.

Tom Paine said...

There's no reason for Tories and LibDems to hate each other. The LibDems are simply misguided and most will return to the fold one day. But as for those liberty-destroying, control-freak Labour people, your comments can't apply, surely?

Anonymous said...

You had fewer nights out (due to leafleting), not less. And you teach?

Anonymous said...

hate is a strong word. I don't hate the Lib Dems i just feel sorry for the pathetic lives they lead. The Tories at least stand for something even if i don't agree with it.

Gary Elsby stoke-on-trent said...

Nick, it's called the Stockholm syndrome.

Yes I know, I'm left wing and a nutter.

You're falling for it hook line and sinker.

Whether Iain is a nice man or not is not the issue. It's what he says and writes.

Personally, I think what he writes is insulting. He helped you once, so you think he's a great guy.

You can't be wrong.


Norfolk Blogger said...

Interesting views. I don't see it is Stockholm syndrome since I have not met Iain for about two years now. I've just grown up.

As for the sucking up comment from "anonymous", grow up !

Gary Elsby stoke-on-trent said...

Nick, it may be Stokholme syndrome by proxy.This is when you're nowhere near Stockholme but think you are.

You think Iain is a great guy.Funny coincidence that, because Iain thinks he is too!

Personally, I think the Liberal who placed the glass coffee table under Mark Oaten-but above the masochist underneath-was extremely thoughtful. Thats what you call a nice guy, Nick!!

Get him going about Portillo and Thatcher. Sit back and draw a proper conclusion.

Personally, I think all three are twats.


Norfolk Blogger said...


Perhaps ?

I have friends whose views are completely opposed to mine. I have friends who were in the forces who have no time for "liberals", I have Tory friends who love Thatcher (I loathe her) whilst I work with a Labour councillor who is always attacking the Lib Dems (his is a lib dem/lab marginal ward), but I can also accept that they all, yes ALL have some good qualities.

I think that is what I tried to make clear in this posting. I think Iain knows that should he campaign in this area again, I will continue to oppose him because I do not like the Tory Party and what it stands for. However, I don't need to have a blanket policy of loathing all Conservatives.

I appreciate your comments though.