Iain Dale quits race to become Conservative candidate days after announcement

Broadcaster Iain Dale has quit the race to become the Conservative candidate for Tunbridge Wells just days after announcing his bid to stand in the General Election.

The radio presenter said farewell to LBC after 14 years as he announced his plan on Tuesday evening.

But he has since withdrawn from the candidate selection process after the Liberal Democrats discovered comments he made two years ago on a podcast, when he said he “never liked” the Kent town and “I’d quite happily live somewhere else”.

Announcing his decision to Nick Ferrari on LBC on Friday, Mr Dale said: “I instantly recognised the problems with that.

“There is a context to it but nobody’s interested in context or nuance in these situations, you just have that little clip and that would be on every single Lib Dem leaflet that was put out in the election campaign.”

He added that he “wasn’t willing to suffer death by a thousand cuts” and risk further comments arising before nominations close next week.

“I think I’ve recognised the political reality and I don’t want to do anything that would damage whoever is chosen,” he said.

On his comments about Tunbridge Wells, the broadcaster and author said part of the reason he got angry on the podcast was because of road works that had been ongoing for three months.

“If I hated it that much, would I have stayed living there for 27 years? I don’t think I would,” he said.

“Everybody listening to this now will have some complaint about where they live. I just put it in far too graphic terms.”

On Tuesday, Mr Dale told LBC listeners there was “no guarantees” he will be selected as a candidate “let alone elected”, but “I know that I would forever kick myself if I didn’t at least have a go” ahead of the July 4 election.

On what the future holds as he stood down on Friday, Mr Dale told Ferrari he would reflect on taking time to make important decisions.

He added: “I’ve made the mistake of making a decision without probably thinking of every possible consequence, so it would be a bit silly to do the same again.”