Iain Dale drops out of Tunbridge Wells election race after 3 days as embarrassing LBC radio clip resurfaces

A celebrity Tory election hopeful has dropped out of the race to represent Tunbridge Wells after 48 hours because a clip emerged of him saying he never liked the area.

LBC presenter Iain Dale, who quit on Tuesday night to run for the Conservatives in the general election, announced he was throwing in the towel on Friday morning.

It came after a clip from his For the Many podcast from 2022 was widely shared in which he said he lived in Tunbridge Wells “slightly against my will”.

Iain Dale is no longer standing to be an MP
Iain Dale is no longer standing to be an MP

He told his co-host, former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith: “I have lived in Tunbridge Wells since 1997, slightly against my will.

“I’ve never liked the place. Still don’t, and would happily live somewhere else.”

On Friday he revealed the Liberal Democrats had contacted his local Conservative association about the clip, which made him fear it would be “on every single Lib Dem leaflet that was put out in the election campaign”.

Announcing his decision to withdraw from the race, Mr Dale said: “I thought to myself, well, if they’ve got this on day one, I mean, I’ve done thousands of hours on LBC over the last 15 years, I’ve done hundreds of hours in podcasts… what if they had got something else that I have said?”

He added: “I wasn’t willing to suffer death by a thousand cuts. I mean, imagine if the day before nominations close next week, they had found something else that was even worse than this.

“And I don’t know what that would be, but they could have done.”

Mr Dale, who has been a staple on the channel since 2010, was hoping to replace retired Tory MP Greg Clark, who won the seat in 2019 with a comfortable 14,645 majority. But the seat is expected to be a difficult contest, with the Liberal Democrats and Labour enjoying significant support.

Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith will continue to host the For the Many podcast (PA Wire)
Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith will continue to host the For the Many podcast (PA Wire)

It was the second time the broadcaster had attempted to become an MP, having failed to win in Norfolk North in 2005.

“Last time I tried, the electorate fought back, in quite a major way, it has to be said. But now I am putting my hat in the ring again to be a candidate at the general election,” Mr Dale said on Tuesday.

During his time at LBC, Dale presented four general election night shows, two US presidential election shows and the Scottish and Brexit referendum night shows, as well as the station’s evening programme.

He will return as the host of For the Many with Ms Smith, who said: “Politics can be a brutal world but it’s populated by human beings.

“Iain Dale stepped into the fray for the right reasons and he’s stepping down for the right reasons too. I’m looking forward to having him back on For the Many.”

She urged her followers to be kind to Mr Dale.