Iain Dale’s EXCLUSIVE Norwich North story: less than meets the eye

Tory blogger Iain Dale got very over-excited last night with his EXCLUSIVE article, Clegg Approached Martin Bell & EDP Editor to Stand in Norwich North. Sorry to say it, Iain, but I’m a little underwhelmed. Here’s why…

First of all, Iain has hardly covered himself in glory in his coverage to date of the Lib Dem by-election campaign in Norwich North. He made a bit of a prat of himself last week, when accusing the party’s candidate April Pond of “whoring” herself around Norfolk, as she was already selected for the new parliamentary seat of Broadland. (And yes, that’s right, the man who so fiercely objected to Michael White’s use of the term “hissy fit” as sexist really did accuse a female candidate of “whoring” herself around. Irony meet Iain, Iain meet Irony.) Sadly Iain preferred not to mention that a fair chunk of Broadland falls within Norwich North, a point which rather torpedoed his argument. Even in yesterday’s post he wrongly referred to the two constituencies as “neighbouring”. In fact they’re overlapping.

Secondly, let’s acknowledge the bit of Iain’s article which counts as a ‘scoop’: that Nick Clegg has approached a couple of personalities – former BBC journalist and former ‘sleaze-busting’ MP Martin Bell, and ‘veteran editor’ of the Eastern Daily Press Peter Franzen – to consider standing as the Lib Dem candidate in the by-election. To which my 100% genuine reaction (assuming Iain’s story is right) is: well done, Nick. I’m delighted our leader is willing to approach folk from beyond the traditional political career-ladder and ask them to join and stand for the Lib Dems. After all, it worked pretty well for the Liberal party and Clement Freud in the 1973 Isle of Ely by-election.

But, thirdly, (and here’s the point Iain, as a Tory, seems to have some difficulties comprehending) even if Nick had persuaded either Martin Bell or Peter Franzen to stand for the Lib Dems they would still have had to have (i) been approved as a party candidate, and (ii) been selected as the candidate by the local Lib Dem party. Y’see Iain, unlike other top-down parties the Lib Dem leader can’t just foist a candidate on an unwilling local party – so we can’t do, nor would we want to do, what David Cameron did to the Ealing Southall Tories in 2006, and parachute in a candidate who turned out to be a liability. To suggest, therefore, that April Pond is ‘The Third Choice LibDem Candidate’ is just plain wrong.

So, overall, well done, Iain, for finding out for us that Nick Clegg is busy casting the candidate net far and wide in pursuit of the best possible potential Lib Dem MPs. I’m pleased to hear that’s happening. Now if you could just remember in the future that Broadland constituency and Norwich North are overlapping – and apologise for using the rather unpleasant term “whoring” of April Pond – then that really will be something worth branding EXCLUSIVE.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds and Parliamentary by-elections.


  • Iain, fancy a threesome?

  • I don’t think Iain ever produced any evidence of the “£50 draw for putting up a poster”.

    Come to that I never got an apology for the insinuation that I would have been involved in such activities.

  • I’m backing Craig Murray. He’s unaffected by expenses and he knows what he’s talking about. Thats two advantages over the LibDems.

  • Iain – how does the word “whoring” mean touting?

    According to the compact OED online

    Whore means:
    (verb) 1 work as a prostitute. 2 use the services of prostitutes.

    You appear to have morphed in Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty.

  • Martin Land 24th Jun '09 - 9:29pm

    Mmmm. And there I was thinking that Party Selection Procedures precluded selection as a PPC unless you had been a party member for at least 1 year. Perhaps His Consortship could clear this one up for us?

  • Disappointing coverage in http://www.en24.co.uk and regional TV tonight – April writes to Tories promising positive campaign, whilst someone else issues PR branding Green candidate an extremist. A bit of an own goal?

  • Iain Dale (above) not quite telling the truth again:

    “Definition of a “fair chunk? Two villages, Drayton and Taverham. And at a guess, I’d say less than 10% of the electorate. Max 15. A “small chunk” would be more accurate.”

    Sprowston East
    Sprowston Central
    Old Catton and Sprowston West
    Hellesdon South East
    Hellesdon North West
    Drayton South
    Drayton North
    Taverham North
    Taverham South

    Thorpe St Andrew NW
    Thorpe St Andrew SE
    Thorpe Hamlet (part)
    Crome (part)
    Catton Grove
    Mile Cross

    Still, what else do you expect from a Tory?

  • Colin W

    What would be of more interest would be how that breaks down into the number of voters rather than just a plain list of places. Is Dale right on his percentages or not ?


    There is no issue in using the term whoring in this context. Have you not heard the term used in the media applying to people selling themselves with no principles not necessarily for sex. Think the likes of Lowri Turner. It is a cheap shot certainly and probably not worthy but I doubt it is sexism.

    Also for those on the ground what is April Pond like, is she a good candidate ? We have had some stinkers recently most notably in Crewe and Nantwich.

    Also this is rather an unseemly spat. I am sure there is less to this story than meets the eye.

  • Dale is totally incorrect in his percentages.

    A deliberate Tory attempt to mislead, and given that Dale was easily & painfully beaten by Norman Lamb in Norfolk North he can hardly deny local knowledge.

  • Geordie-Tory 26th Jun '09 - 11:17am

    So the Lib Dem candidate is complaining about the Conservative party’s history of Negative Campaigning!

    This is simply breathtaking in its mendacity, there has to be some award for the sheer level of cheek involved in this.

    The Dim Lebs ARE the negative campaigning, if you took away negative stories away from Lib dem leaflets all you’d be left with is a pick of Clegg the useless and your yellow parrott.

    The Lim Debs are the most dishonest, venal campaign machine going, an utterly pointless party full of avcuous losers!!!!

  • Is English not your first language Geordie Tory?

  • “The Lim Debs are the most dishonest, venal campaign machine going, an utterly pointless party full of avcuous losers!!!!”

    Apart from in Newcastle upon Tyne that is, G-T, now just remind me how many councillors you have there again please?

  • Terry Gilbert 26th Jun '09 - 11:38pm

    Colin W
    I think you have misunderstood. While much of the current NN constituency is within Broadland DISTRICT COUNCIL, as you rightly point out, only 4 wards (Drayton N&S and Taverham N&S) will be moved to the new Broadland CONSTITUENCY at the next GE. This is the Constituency April had been selected to fight (on the new boundaries) some time ago, it being a quite a good prospect, given that other parts of it are currently in Norman Lamb’s (and Iain Dale’s!) stomping ground, North Norfolk. Dale is therefore right that only a minority of the NN seat was to have been contested by April before, though I suspect his ‘max 15%’ above is still quite low – probably more like 20-25%. My view is that it still makes sense to have a candidate known in up to a quarter of the seat, rather than a totally new candidate.

  • The byelection will be fought on the existing boundaries, NOT the new boundaries so Dale is not telling the truth, that is the point. Tories, whether Conservative or Labour seem to have real problems with the truth, don’t they?

  • Martin Kinsella 27th Jun '09 - 9:59am

    Colin, your tribal politics are pathetic. Crewegwyn makes a great point in the other Norwich North thread about how we need to tackle other parties. Yours is the Rennard approach. It may have worked ten years ago. It is a busted flush now.

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