How "Milk Snatcher Thatcher" stole my heart

How I became a Thatcherite at the age of ten.

Gordon Henderson, the Tory MP who represents the good burghers of Sittingbourne and Sheppey, must have a political death wish. Having been asked in a ConservativeHome survey which non-Tory politician he most admires, he replied "Nigel Farage" - possibly the answer most likely toguarantee that he will remain a backbencher for ever.

How very cruel of David Cameron to dash the junior health minister Anne Milton's plan to become known as "Daughter of the Milk Snatcher". I remember being at primary school in the early 1970s when we were told that school milk was to be abolished. I cheered. I hated the disgusting stuff. I hadn't even heard of Margaret Thatcher before that moment but it was then, at the age of ten, that I became a Thatcherite.

Sorry to dash the hopes of Lib Dem activists up and down the country, but contrary to what the Daily Mail reported on 7 August, there are absolutely no plans for William Hague to address their conference in Liverpool next month. The Mail had got very excited at the prospect and quoted anonymous Tory sources who reckoned Hague would give a "witty" address, rather than focusing heavily on policy. Sadly, his "wittiness" will be available only in Birmingham.

Ever since his appearance on the Daily Politics, I have been engaged in a robust debate with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) board member Ken Olisa about the incompetence of his organisation. He's now batted the ball firmly into my court and invited me to visit Ipsa, so I can see the marvellous work they do. He has even encouraged me to bring along a friend. So far, more than a dozen MPs and research assistants have volunteered, each with a rather malevolent grin.

I'm in the middle of a month-long stint presenting LBC's evening show and, in the absence of any real news, we decided to ask our listeners: "Should the NHS be privatised?" We invited the former Labour health secretary Frank Dobson to come on to help set the scene. When told who the presenter was, he called me a "Tory git". Half right. I feared the worst but, in the event, it proved to be a very thoughtful interview, with no voices raised. He was followed by Mark Littlewood, formerly Ming Campbell's spinmeister. He took the line that, yes, the NHS should be privatised. It never ceases to amaze me how very right-wing some Liberal Democrats have become. It's the company they're keeping . . .

I'm sorry to say that Charles Clarke disputes my report last week about a conversation that he was overheard having with Anji Hunter at the Haymarket Hotel in London. I'm sorry because my intention was not to offend. I have a high regard for the old bruiser, who was a good constituency MP and a good minister. He deserved better treatment from Blair. The point of my diary item was to highlight how difficult it can be for some former MPs to find a role after they leave the Commons, but I'm glad to hear that's not the case for Charles.

Iain Dale is a political blogger


This article first appeared in the 16 August 2010 issue of the New Statesman, The war against science

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No, Matt Hancock: under-25s are just as entitled to a payrise as the rest of us

At 25, parts of my body were more productive than the whole of Matt Hancock, says Jess Phillips.

I had never heard of Matt Hancock before today, which may be a sign of how productive he has been. He sprang up in my consciousness when he said this at the Tory party conference, when justifying not giving workers under 25 a payrise:

"Anybody who has employed people knows that younger people, especially in their first jobs, are not as productive, on average. Now there are some who are very productive under the age of 25 but you have to set policy for the average. It was an active choice not to cover the under 25s.”
No it bloody wasn't an active choice based on productivity! Lord knows this Government have failed to remember productivity for the past five years. How convenient to remember it when swindling young people.

Let's pretend for a minute that the Governments living wage is just that. Is Matt Hancock saying  that workers under 25 don't deserve to afford be able to live? By the time I was 25 I had a 3 year old. Did my son and I not deserve to be able to live? Oh and while they are there telling me I'm was an undeserving yoof, Hancock is now calling me useless. I don't know Matt Hancock I won't assume he was a lazy entitled toff, but I will wager at 23 I was as, if not more productive than him. I bet you I could have done his job, but he would have struggled to do mine. Maybe I'm wrong and he would have been a great support worker for refugees and carer for people with Alzheimer's all on three hours sleep a night whilst lactating.

Now, I'm not being fair. Of course he couldn't lactate.

The reason the government did this is nothing to do with productivity levels of young adults. It is because once again their limited life experience means that they think mummy and daddy pay for everything. Look no further than ridiculous student fees, cutting housing benefit for young people and now this "you don't deserve to be able to live" wage.

The hilarious thing will be when some employers completely disprove Hancock’s assertions and rush to employ lazy unproductive under 25s because they have to pay them less.
I won't bore you or Hancock with lists of brilliant examples of productive under 25s. The Twitter hashtag #at25 is full of great examples. The history of sport, science, music, art and computing is awash with inspiring world changing young people.Mr Hancock, here is a lesson I learned from the hundreds of productive young people I meet, be honest and say what you think. Your insulting gaffe is a pathetic spun cover up you arrived at when you were backed in to an impossible unjustifiable position. What you should have said was, "oh the reason we don't want to pay under 25s more is because we don't really care about them and let's be honest they don't really vote. Toodle pip."