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).