A Britain divided by anger: Commentator and interviewer Iain Dale highlights the bitter fighting in the Brexit debate and asks, ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’
- Dale hosts a weeknight LBC radio show and is also an author and businessman
- His book, Why Can’t We All Just Get Along… is published by Harper Collins
- Book is part memoir, part commentary on a divided and noisy society
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along …
by Iain Dale (HarperCollins £12.99, 304pp)
Say what you like about Iain Dale — and plenty do — but no one could deny that he is one of the hardest-working men in the media.
Publisher, prolific author, businessman, commentator, a superb political interviewer and tireless host of his weeknight LBC radio show, he is one of the most thoughtful people in and around politics.
And also one of the best connected.
The book’s acknowledgements section contains the names of more or less everyone famous, infamous, or not so.
Iain Dale’s Why Can’t We All Just Get Along… is a troubling part memoir, part commentary on our divided and noisy society
This genial, good-humoured but troubling book is part memoir, part commentary on an increasingly divided and noisy society.
And golly, only when it’s all put together like this do you realise quite how horrible people can be.
It’s not so long ago, after all, that one Tory MP told Theresa May to ‘bring her own noose’, and another warned that ‘the moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted — she’ll be dead soon’.
What on earth were they thinking?! These were MPs, for heaven’s sake.
Yet another, a mild-mannered Labour MP called Neil Coyle, addressed this to Piers Morgan: ‘I say this hand on heart, go f*** yourself.
‘You’re a waste of space, air and skin. You make me sick.’
It’s not so long ago, after all, that one Tory MP told Theresa May to ‘bring her own noose’, and another warned that ‘the moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted — she’ll be dead soon’
Meanwhile, as a tidal wave of anti-Semitism threatened to engulf the main opposition party in Britain, other Labour MPs needed police escorts to get about.
In response to Boris Johnson’s not unreasonable use of standard political metaphor to say the Cabinet was put on a ‘war footing’ over Brexit, the eminent liberal historian Simon Schama shrieked on Twitter: ‘YOU ARE NOT CHURCHILL (his caps), fatso, and the EU is not the Third Reich’.
Columnist Suzanne Moore noted, following a mauling by transgender activists: ‘One thing Twitter has ruined for ever is the fantasy that Left-wing people are nice. What a bunch of b***ards .’
And mild-mannered Labour MP Neil Coyle, addressed this to Piers Morgan: ‘I say this hand on heart, go f*** yourself. You’re a waste of space, air and skin. You make me sick’
Though as Dale, a former Tory parliamentary candidate, notes: ‘Things are not much better on the Right.’
You can see why he felt he had to get cracking on the book.
He was partly inspired by the Queen’s Christmas Message from 2018 — a time, remember, of bitter division and toxic debate over the Brexit referendum and the inconclusive General Election of 2017.
Her Majesty’s broadcast contained this sentence: ‘Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding.’
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along … by Iain Dale (HarperCollins £12.99, 304pp)
For most of us, this would reinforce our belief that the Queen is, as always, absolutely on the button. For Dale it was a signal that there was a lot more to say.
He has a vigorous canter through the big issues which divide us — religion, crime and punishment, Brexit, of course (he is a Brexiteer, but can understand why people voted to Remain; and recognises that being European is a big part of his identity), race and immigration (he is incandescent about the racism he encounters at times on his show, and has a very good clear- eyed view about the benefits of immigration).
He is excellent on the positives of globalisation and how appalling it is that you rarely hear anyone in the media defending employers or business people.
This is the age of the entrepreneur, he says, and we should be shouting about it. Dead right.
In one of his most interesting chapters he takes an enviably straightforward approach to the NHS and our inability ever to have a proper debate about it because no one, neither health care professionals nor politicians, can accept that the health service cannot and never will be able to meet all the demands made on it.
But anybody who tries to question the NHS gets their head bitten off.
He is moving, too, on the role of the talk show host in helping people in despair.
Have your Kleenex ready — you’ll need it.
Will things get better in our new, more polite, post-Covid world?
This book is a benign and helpful guide to how they just might, and Dale even offers a ready reckoner of 50 ways to improve public discourse.
But there’s a long way to go yet . . .