Tuesday, June 08, 2010

When Helen Duffett met Iain Dale

Why would a woman from Scotland spend a Monday evening listening to a local London radio station? And why would she consider making it a regular date? Every Monday at 8, LBC has a bloggers' panel. Last night it was chaired by the one Jennie refers to as the Egregious Tory Tosser who was sitting in for the regular presenter who was sick.

I hesitate to say anything nice about the King of the Tory Blogosphere, but he's unlikely to read this, nor is anyone who knows him and is likely to tell him, so I'm fairly safe, but actually, he's really good at this radio presenting lark. He's assured without being a prat about it, interesting, witty and very engaging. I was so interested that I actually kept listening until the end of the show at ten, when the subjects under discussion were the Greencoat Boy incident (of which more later) and Martin Amis' comment that only depressing books win prizes. It was quite funny to hear Iain suddenly remember that he'd chucked Martin Amis out of Politicos for smoking. I mean, who would smoke in a book shop? Nothing there could catch fire, could it?

The panel comprised Tory Bear, Alex Hilton and my reason for listening, my mate Helen Duffett. Not only did she have to engage in sparky debate for an hour, she also had me stalking her via Twitter. She mentioned the word elephant within the first 5 minutes, so I challenged her to get the first word I associate with elephants, Millennium in as well. And she did it, in the dying moments of the show.

The subects under discussion ranged from spending cuts, to William Hague's surprisingly friendly toned comments about Europe, to the election of the deputy speakers in the Commons.

I rather liked Helen's first major contribution to the debate (after a plug for the Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards) in which she said that that it was people that mattered, not pounds. That sort of commitment to protect the vulnerable is what the Lib Dems bring to this coalition.

Another great moment for her came when an idiot phoned in saying that Child Benefit should be scrapped because it only encouraged people to have children. Helen stepped in and said that she had 4 children, and she certainly didn't do it for the money. Iain Dale very cheekily asked her why she'd had 4 children, like it was any of his or anybody else's business and she replied, quick as a flash, "to pay your pension, Iain." I relayed this exchange via Twitter, Iain Dale saw it and read it out on air.

He read out another tweet of mine on air a bit later, too, when discussing the Greencoat Boy. Now, I think that what happened to LGBT Labour, when they were effectively refused service on Saturday night, was absolutely appalling. The company who owns the pub does seem to have been falling over itself since then to make it up to them, to their credit, but it should never, ever have happened. On this issue, I am completely on LGBT Labour's side. However, I am still pretty darned livid at the way in which Labour tweeters through buckets of bile at David Laws last week when understanding would have been more appropriate. If it had been a Labour minister who had had the same circumstances, I would have backed him or her up. So, I tweeted that I wondered whether the LGBT Labour people would have more sympathy for David Laws having suffered such homophobia themselves. Iain put that to the chair of LGBT Labour, with the addition that I was making a political point - but certainly no more point scoring than Labour have been engaging in on this issue. I wasn't impressed with his answer, which said so little that I can't actually remember what it was.

All in all, this show was a good way to spend a Monday evening. I reckon Iain should get his own regular radio slot and it's always lovely to hear Helen. Whenever she's on the radio she always comes out with something pertinent in a memorable and original way.

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