Friday, November 17, 2017

Emily Thornberry can't give an example of a country where Corbynomics worked

On BBC Question Time last night Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, was asked to name a country where the economic policies of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn (in context, particularly that of "borrowing billions more") have worked.

She waffled about Labour being a social democratic party - which is all very well but Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are quite open about their policies being something radically new, e.g. not Labour's traditional social democratic approach - and when the audience was shouting at her to answer the question eventially suggested that examples countries where social democratic policies had worked included Germany and Sweden.

I think those Germans who are familiar with the economic policies of Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell - which is probably not a large group - would be astonished to hear their country described as an example of a country where such policies have been tried.

Given that Germany's last experience with massive borrowing lead first to hyperinflation and then to the takeover of the country by the Nazis, I suspect the number of Germans who would agree that the history of their country is an example of a massive borrowing programme being successful is very small indeed.

Quote of the day 17th November 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Action on building homes

The number of new homes delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but the Prime Minister has said that there is more we can do to build the homes the country needs.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a housing development in Barnet, North London today (Thursday 16 November), which coincides with the publication of new statistics on housebuilding, Theresa May said:

“For decades we simply have not been building enough homes, nor have we been building them quickly enough, and we have seen prices rise.

“The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do.

“We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most.

“That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the Government’s response.

“Today I am seeing the work now underway to put this right and, in coming weeks and months, my Government will be going further to ensure that we build more homes, more quickly.

“This will be a long journey and it will take time for us to fix the broken housing market - but I am determined to build a Britain fit for the future.”

Quote of the council meeting today

"You always get a long debate when you agree."

Cllr S Collins, Cumbria County Council, 16th November 2017

It sounds crazy. But it happened today. Twice.

Quote of the day 16th November 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Latest employment figures

The Office for National Statistics said today that the number of jobless - people not in work but seeking a job - fell 59,000 to 1.42 million during the three month period from July to September.

The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3% - its lowest rate since 1975 - and down from 4.8% a year earlier.

Minister for Employment Damian Hinds said the unemployment figures showed the "strength of the economy".

"A near-record number of people are now in work," he said. "Everyone should be given the opportunity to find work and enjoy the stability of a regular pay packet."

There was a small fall in the number of people in work to 32 million, down 14,000 from the last quarter, according to ONS data. Matt Hughes, a senior ONS statistician, said employment had declined after two years of "almost uninterrupted growth", but was still higher than last year.

The simultaneous drop in the number of workers and unemployed people is due to the rise in people who are classed as "economically inactive" - those not working and not seeking or available to work.
This includes people studying, retirees, the long-term sick, or those looking after family, and rose by 117,000 to 8.8 million over the quarter.

Mr Hughes said: "There was a rise in the number of people who were neither working nor looking for a job - so-called economically inactive people."

Separate ONS data showed a bright spot for productivity, which increased by 0.9% in the latest three months - the strongest growth rate for six years.

Today’s employment figures show that
  • the number of people in employment has increased by more than 3 million since 2010
  • the UK has the third highest employment rate in the G7
  • the number of workers aged 50+ has almost reached 10 million – a record level
  • youth unemployment has fallen by over 40% since 2010
  • there are a near record 780,000 vacancies in the economy at any one time
  • the proportion of young people who are unemployed and not in full time education remains below 5%

Jerry Pournelle RIP

I learned today that one of my favourite science fiction authors, Dr Jerry Pournelle, died earlier this year at the age of  84.

Pounelle was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean war. Afterwards, he studied at the University of Washington, where he graduated with three degrees including a Ph. D in political science.

He was the co-author with Larry Niven of "The Mote in God's Eye," which in my humble opinion is probably the best "First Contact" novel of all time and a great many other novels and non-fiction works written either on his own or in collaboration with other authors, particularly Niven and Steven Barnes.

He is also remembered for defining what he called the "Iron Law of Bureaucracy" as follows: any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself.

Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent.

The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

There were a number of projects he was working on which I am most disappointed that neither I nor anyone else will get to read as he would have finished them.

Rest in Peace.

Nimco Ali on race and politics

Nimco Ali, who is a British woman of Somali origins best known for campaigning against the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has written a powerful article in the London standard called

"It makes me livid that the Labour party assumes black people must support it."

I have met people on both sides of the political divide who make lazy assumptions about race and politics. Three of the most widespread (all of which are wrong) are that

 * anyone whose skin isn't white must be left-wing
 * racism is only found on one side of the political spectrum
 * anyone of asian origin must be a Muslim

Humans are so much more complicated than we too often realise

Nimco Ali's piece can be read here.

Cumbria County Council meeting

There is a meeting of Cumbria County Council tomorrow (16th November 2017) at 10am at County Hall in Kendal. The meeting is open to the public

The agenda includes

* the half-year Treasury Management review,
* minutes of two important meetings of the Audit and Assurance committee
* Motions on Infrastructure and on Wigton Hospital
* The scheme of councillor's allowances.

The full agenda can be read here.

Innocent until proven guilty?

Nine years ago, in November 2008 while Britain had a Labour government, an opposition politician was arrested because he was too effective at attacking the government, on bogus national security grounds based on the pretext that government documents had been leaked to him.

As the FT, a newspaper which had endorsed the Labour party at the previous election, wrote in an article calling on the then Home Secretary to resign, "it was clear that all he had done was reveal some of her department’s shortcomings." 

I wrote at the time here and elsewhere that this arrest posed a disturbing threat to British democracy, not least because arresting opposition politicians for criticising the government is the sort of thing you expect from tin-pot banana republics rather than mature democracies. 

Ironically almost every member of the cabinet in 2008, certainly including the Prime Minister of the day, could have been arrested during previous Conservative governments on exactly the same grounds - Gordon Brown had gone on television in the 1980's while an opposition spokesman himself and openly boasted about doing exactly what an opposition spokesman was arrested for under his premiership e.g. receiving leaked government documents.

I think possibly the only time in my life I have ever agreed with Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott was when I published here the list of 29 Labour rebels, including those three, who defied the Labour whips by voting for a proper and more independent inquiry into that arrest.

An official review of the arrest did criticise it as "disproportionate" and found that "less intrusive methods could have been used." The police involved in the arrest do not by any means deserve all the blame for this as the inquiry also found that they were "misled about the national security implications of the leak" by someone who was at the time a senior official of the cabinet office.

No charges were ever brought against the opposition MP concerned and nobody involved with that police investigation has claimed - then or now - that the search of his office and home had found any evidence of illegal behaviour.

Time has turned and as a result of the swings and roundabouts of politics the opposition MP concerned, Damian Green, is now Deputy Prime Minister.

And I find it a worrying and disturbing precedent that the former police chief who had been in charge of the leak inquiry, former Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, has taken it apon himself to allege to a Whitehall Inquiry into sexual harrassment that pornography was found on one of the computers taken from Damian Green's parliamentary office in 2008.

Mr Quick has "form" in this area. While leading the investigation into Damian Green he made an attack on the Conservative party which was described by a future Attorney General as "intemperate and in truth completely deluded," could not substantiate his allegations, and withdrew them and made an unreserved apology the following day.

The acting head of the Met at the time of the arrest, Sir Paul Stephenson, (later Metropolitan Police Commissioner 2009-11), has told the BBC that he was made aware of the allegations but did not consider that it was appropriate either to take any further action or that the allegations have been published.

"I regret it's in the public domain," Sir Paul said.

"There was no criminality involved, there were no victims, there was no vulnerability and it was not a matter of extraordinary public interest."

Even if it were true that there was inappropriate material on one of the computers involved, it would almost certainly be impossible to prove nine years later who was responsible for putting it there.

Given that not one of the police officers who have discussed the matter say that it was actually illegal material, this simply is not a police matter. Nor does it appear to be any more relevant to the allegation that the present First Secretary of State "fleetingly" touched a young woman's knee and sent her an inappropriately suggestive text message than it was to the question of who leaked immigration documents to him a decade ago.

To anyone who is not concerned by what has happened to Damian Green I would ask this question.

Are you really happy with the principle that,  next time you say something the government of the day does not like, a cabinet office official can tell the police that you may be a threat to national security, you can be arrested, your home and office searched, and even if no actual evidence suggesting that you had ever done anything illegal is found, a police officer or former police officer is entitled to publicly allege after the event that something embarrassing to you had been discovered?

And that this officer can make that allegation up to nearly a decade later, when it is unlikely that anyone could prove the truth, at a time picked when the allegation will do you the maximum possible damage?

If you are not frightened by that prospect, you probably should be.

Quote of the day 15th November 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Copeland Local Committee

The Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council met today in Cleator Moor.

Agenda items included the report of the Highways Network Manager and a report on local library services, including particularly the branch libraries in the Hensingham, Kells and Mirehouse areas of Whitehaven, from the County Council's area manager.

The latter followed on from a consultation on the future of these libraries.

There was an extensive discussion on the best way to provide library services in these areas of the town, at the end of which it was agreed that a report should be presented to the corporate director with the results of the public consultation and emphasising the concerns expressed by councillors.

There was a strong wish by councillors to provide a more effective service but this is not being achieved at the moment with branches open for only six or nine hours a week and a steep decline in usage, both from residents taking our books and those using computer services.

On the Highways side I asked about the North Shore scheme in the Bransty Row area which has recieved government funding.

The latest iteration of the scheme is to go through detailed design, be put to consultation over the next two years and it is anticipated that consultation with the public will take place in 2018. There will be a detailed report to the Highways Working Group at its' next meeting on 4th December.

Kemi Badenoch responds to Emma Dent-Coad

What do you think people would say - and in particular, what do you think Labour activists would say - if a white Conservative councillor or MP referred to a black Labour parliamentary candidate and London Assembly member as a "token Ghetto-Boy?"

Can anyone doubt for a second that words like "racist" and demands for his or her suspension or expulsion from the party would feature in just about every Labour response?

Well, those words were indeed used in a 2010 blog post about an opponent by a councillor who has since become an MP, but the person who wrote them is not a Tory, but the Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent-Coad, speaking about the then Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey.

In my book that sort of language should be vigorously disavowed by any political party claiming to be civilised people opposed to racism, whichever party the person using it was a representative of.

Shaun Bailey has understandably said that he was shocked and saddened by the hate-filled, racist article written by Labour MP Emma Dent-Coad which has surfaced this afternoon.

A dignified and powerful response to Ms Dent-Coad's comments and to reactions from fellow Labour MP Clive Lewis whose idea of responding to criticism of racist comments by a Labour MP is to accuse the Conservatives of being more racist, came from the Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, Kemi Badenoch:

“I’m a black conservative. I don’t think every offensive comment is racism, but when I see real prejudice I have to call it out. Emma Dent Coad’s comments were profoundly distressing, and a toxic reminder of the struggle black people face daily in defeating stereotypes. The fact that she made them while an elected councillor is a disgrace. This is why it is still relevant to discuss today. The tragedy is that someone who holds these views is an MP, representing a sizeable black population, make no mistake, this is racism…

An assumption that there’s only one way to be black, and anyone who doesn’t conform is a “coconut” an “Uncle Tom” or a race traitor. It is a poisonous belief and destroys the lives of so many children. I once heard a black boy accuse another of “acting white”. Why? Because he wore glasses and liked reading. Imagine what it’s like being in a classroom where everyone thinks like that?

Where do such attitudes come from? From “Community leaders” like Ms Dent-Coad, who want to tell us what to think and how to behave. They haven’t given us permission to leave our ghettoes, be Conservative or make friends with posh white people. This was Shaun’s crime. This attitude traps many black children within imaginary boundaries they believe they aren’t allowed to cross. They end up living less than the very best lives they can.

I have read Clive Lewis’s awful remarks to Nimko Ali. Patronising and wrong-headed. Denying blacks a basic human right to support a party of their choosing. It’s the attitude I referred to in my conference speech -that you can’t be black and conservative. Emma Dent-Coad did NOT apologise for her offensive remarks, merely for Shaun being upset by them.

My message to young black people everywhere is please, please feel free to be who you want to be. Don’t let Labour’s stereotypes and low expectations hold you back and never let them treat you like black sheep who will always follow them.”

(Hat tip to Guido Fawkes for republishing Kemi's comments on Twitter)

Quote of the day 14th November 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Putting this government in perspective

The Guardian - not exactly a friend to this government - asked five commentators from various very different perspectives to answer the question

"Is this Britain's worst postwar government?"

Four of the five gave answers which can be summarised as "No, not even close."

(The other didn't say yes or no, compare the present government to others, or write anything which can reasonably be classed as an attempt to answer the question.)

You can read the five reponses here.

Quote of the day 13th November 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

UK September industrial output growth figures

It's not a good idea to go overboard about one good economic number, but the latest UK output figures  published this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) not only showed that Britain's industrial output grew at its fastest pace so far this year in September, but also represent six consecutive months of positive growth in output, which happens less frequently than you might think.

"Industrial production has risen for six consecutive months, a feat last achieved 23 years ago," said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Production rose by 0.7% compared with the month before, according to the ONS figures. Separate data showed the UK's trade deficit in goods and services narrowed by more than expected in September.

No complacency is due, we've a long way to go yet to earn the money to afford the world class public services we all want and to be able sustainably to increase real wages while paying down the huge increase in national debt since 1997. But let's not talk ourselves into doom and gloom either.

An excellent point from Bishop Tom Wright

Grateful to Tom Hatton @tomhatton1 on twitter for posting this extract from Bishop Tom Wright on the need for tolerance between creeds of all kinds, both the religious and the irreligious, with a message particularly appropriate on Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday commemorations

Today a very large number of people will have attended or watched events to commemorate the end of World War One and all those who were killed in that war, WWII and subsequent wars.

And it is right that we should remember them. Baroness Warsi, then a minister wrote a very good article on the subject a few years back which is worth a re-read here.

Almost all MPs, a very significant proportion of County councillors (including myself) and indeed many distict councillors and other civic leaders face a difficult choice of which commemoration event to attend as they take place all over the country, many of them at the same time, and there are often clashes. There are at least five places where events took place this morning or will take place later today covering places which I represent or have represented in the past.

I will endeavour to make all of them at least once in the four-year local electoral cycle, but this year am attending two events.

I was at a wreath laying at one of the St Bees war memorials at 11am this morning, and at the time of writing am about to attend one in Moor Row at 1.30pm,

Postscript - the time which had been published in local newspapers for the Moor Row event was wrong, it started at 1pm rather than 1.30pm and my wife and I were among a large number of people who would have liked to attend the Moor Row commemoration but arrived as it was finishing. Should have known better than to trust the press: I will check with the organisers rather than risk being misinformed again next year!

Music spot for Remembrance Sunday: O Valiant Hearts

"O Valiant Hearts" performed at the Menin Gate memorial by Mezzo-Soprano Emma Brown and the Royal Symphonic Band of the Belgian Air Force.

During this hymn the Commonwealth War Graves Commisison released 20,000 poppy petals to flutter down from the gate.


O valiant hearts who to your glory came
through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
as you had heard God's message from afar;
all you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
to save mankind - yourselves you scorned to save.

Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;
into the light that nevermore shall fade;
deep your contentment in that blest abode,
who wait the last clear trumpet-call of God.

These were his servants, in his steps they trod,
following through death the martyred Son of God:
Victor, he rose; victorious too shall rise
they who have drunk his cup of sacrifice.

O risen Lord, O Shepherd of our dead,
whose cross has bought them and whose staff has led,
In glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land
commits her children to thy gracious hand.

Quote of the day for Remembrance Sunday 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday music spot: Salvator Mundi by Thomas Tallis

Armistice day

I shall be observing a minute's silence wherever I am at 11am today, Armistice day, the 99th anniversary of the moment when the guns finally fell silent at the end of what my grandfather's generation called "The Great War."

(My grandfather fought in that war: he came back. His younger brother didn't.)

Quote of the day for Armistice Day 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

A minority German perspective on Brexit

I am grateful to Political Betting for drawing my attention to a fascinating and most amusing and informative article which has been put on the "Global Britain" website by a gentleman named Brian Monteith, and contains a speech given at the House of Lords by a very distinguished german banker, Dr. Markus Krall.

Dr Krall is the first to admit that his view of the Brexit negotiations is not that of the present German government or mainstream media but it is, nevertheless, extremely interesting.

As a taster here are a couple of quotes:

"The presence of Britain in the EU was in the German view a necessary counterweight to the school of ├ętatisme, the primacy of the state bureaucracy coming from Paris. Now this balance of power in the EU is damaged.

To put it bluntly: You guys are leaving us alone with a bunch of socialist Latin-European nut-heads.
We are not delighted."

"... to imagine Britain could ever be willing to continue the huge transfers which were one of the main reasons to leave the club is totally bizarre. However, bizarre and Brussels are compatible. The British tolerate this kind of thing by calling it “eccentric” which means several standard deviations away from the norm of mental sanity."

(Critics of Brexit) "point out to us that 30,000 EU regulations and laws supposedly need to be renegotiated between Great Britain and the EU27 and that it would be impossible to technically achieve this. In this we can find a misunderstanding and an involuntary confession:

The misunderstanding is that Britain and the EU have to agree on all paragraphs of this deluge of laws. Is it not rather a sovereign decision of the United Kingdom to adopt these regulations partly, in full or not at all? If the EU views some of them as conditional for a free trade agreement they should draw up a list and use CETA and TTIP as benchmarks. Then one can discuss if the UK can accept that list or not.

Now to the involuntary confession: We are flooding the continent with so many regulations, laws, executive orders and decrees that it becomes impossible with normal human capacity to comply with the law. Winston Churchill had a comment on this: 'If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law'. Exactly! Juncker’s minions have over delivered on this by a factor of three."

You can read the whole article at and I advise reading it.

Friday music spot: Overture to Thomas Arne's opera "Alfred"

The opera "Alfred" by Thomas Arne is largely forgotten today except for it's finale - a rather catchy patriotic song with a chorus which begins with the words "Rule Britannia."

This is rather a shame because the music of the rest of the opera deserves to be heard rather more often than it is. Here is the overture which begins the opera.

Quote of the day 10th November 2017

Thursday, November 09, 2017

What would Labour supporters say if Theresa May did this?

Whatever you may think of Theresa May's appointments to the government, none of the people she has appointed have convictions for outright electoral fraud, not even the ones who supported that silly slogan on the side of a bus.

Jeremy Corbyn cannot say the same.

He has appointed Marsha-Jane Thompson to a post in his office with the title campaign manager for the Labour Party.

Thompson pleaded guilty to nineteen specimen charges of using a false instrument, contrary to the 1981 Fraud and Counterfeiting Act, and one count of false accounting under the 1968 Theft Act, by submitting bogus voter registration forms, complete with forged signatures, to the electoral registration office of the London Borough of Newham while employed by that council.

Newham council’s chief internal auditor, told the court:

“We managed to stop what could have been an extremely serious situation involving potentially false information getting on to the electoral register. We take fraud extremely seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who defrauds the council.”

Thompson was convicted under the name Marsha Thompson and sentenced to 100 hours’ community service.

You can read the details here.

To anyone reading this who is even considering voting Labour while Jeremy Corbyn remains leader and has an ounce of integrity I would ask this question:

What would you say and think if Theresa May appointed someone with that sort of blot on her CV to a campaigning role in the Conservative party?

Paul Goodman: No, the government is not in crisis

The media love making a crisis out of a drama, to coin a phrase.

None of Britain's political parties are in a good place at the moment. All need to look very carefully at how to demonstrate that they don't think Ministers and MPs are above the law without throwing any innocent people under the proverbial bus.

The loss of Michael Fallon and Priti Patel is a blow to Theresa May's government, but it is not going to bring the government down.

As Paul Goodman writes on Conservative Home here,

"The next election is five years away.  The polls show Tory support at 40 per cent or so – a total that David Cameron would have killed for. 

Essentially, the country is divided into two electoral camps: those who support Jeremy Corbyn, and those who oppose him.  There is real fear of a hard left government among a mass of middle ground voters, and until or unless there is a downturn they have no predominant reason to run a check on their voting intentions. 

The economy has grown since the referendum, contrary to George Osborne’s predictions, and unemployment has fallen.  For all the rise in inflation above the growth in wages, Britain has become happier since the Brexit vote."

The government is going through a difficult patch. This happens. Particularly to governments which do not have large majorities. But it is not about to collapse.

Quote of the day 9th November 2017

"Your method of ruling through fear and your desire to crush any opponent — real or imagined — destroyed Tony Blair’s government and then ate your own. Alan Milburn, Ruth Kelly, David Miliband, James Purnell: these people were your allies, or should have been, for goodness sake. Yet you feuded with them, humiliated them or chased them out of politics altogether.

And when you’d gone, having scorched the landscape, no wonder there was nothing left except Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell."

(Lord Dannny Finkelstein, extract from an article in the Times in the form of an open letter to Gordon Brown in response to the latter's memoirs which you can read in full here.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Midweek music spot: Vivaldi - Concerto for four violins in B minor

Another performance of Vivaldi's Concerto which was so good that even J. S. Bach copied it!

(Well, OK, transcribed it for four harpsichords.)

The BBC corrects the Labour party's incorrect statements on tax

The BBC factcheck site did a very good article during the election which proved that Labour was talking nonsense about who pays the most tax.

The article is worth revisiting.

"The claim: Low and middle earners are bearing the burden of the tax take.

Reality Check verdict: The government is very reliant on richer people for its funding. More than a quarter of income tax is paid by the 1% of taxpayers with the highest incomes."

"The burden in terms of the tax take is falling on middle and low earners," Labour shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told BBC Radio 4's Today programme during the election.

"In fact, the tax base is very reliant on rich people, with income tax becoming increasingly reliant on them. The Resolution Foundation, which does a great deal of work on inequality, says that the income tax system is relying too much on the richest 10%, which is a problem because their earnings are volatile."

Read more  here.

Quote of the day 8th November 2017

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

On the UK's tax gap:

This means that more money is available for public services.

Quote of the day 7th November 2017

Some of the allegations of wrongdoing involving rape and sexual abuse at Westminister are extremely serious and should be impartially investigated by the police.

No political party can afford to be complacent about this or is in a position to score points.

It is not just a matter of attitudes having moved, and wanting serious allegations investigated is not a witch-hunt.

Rape has never been acceptable. Sexual assault has never been acceptable.

I welcome the fact that the party leaders have reached a cross party agreement on a programme of action to tackle sexual abuse and harrassment in politics.

However, and to quote Ian Fleming,

"But, but, but and again, but."

Wanting serious charges investigated and making sure that if they are proved correct the guilty should be punished should not blind us to the facts that

 * some of the accusations being thrown around Westminster are almost certainly rubbish,
 * some of those accused may be innocent and
 * some of the conduct described is not sexual harrassment or anyone else's business.

Justice means punish the guilty but not the innocent.

Just as the authorities should take seriously and investigate the claims of those who say they have been abused, we should take seriously the comments of any supposed victim who vehemently denies that an alleged incident ever took place.

And any source of information - such as the infamous "spreadsheet" - which contains allegations that on this basis can reasonably be assumed to be false cannot safely be used to damn anyone else without separate corroboration.

Monday, November 06, 2017

When a picture tells a thousand words

This picture was posted today by the "History Lovers Club" on twitter.

It shows the graves of a catholic woman and her protestant husband who the church authorities of the time (the late 19th century) in Roermond, the Netherlands, would not allow to be buried in the same graveyard.

As a man who is a member of the Church of England - which is a little difficult to categorise but would generally be considered Protestant if you had to put it on one side or the other -  and who is married to a Roman Catholic woman of Irish descent, Ireland having suffered a far from trivial share of religious dogmatism, I find this moving and very sad.

Thank God most of society is moving on from that kind of cruelty.

Quote of the day 6th November 2017

"A lot of the stuff they want to do is going to be impossible"

(Alistair Campbell of the Labour Manifiesto and programme under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell)


Sunday, November 05, 2017

Sunday music spot: J.S.Bach's Fugue in G (the great)

Hell freezes over again ...

If you were ask me to list twenty things I was pretty sure I would never hear, former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman praising a Conservative Prime Mininster, even a female one, would probably have been on the list.

Well, I would have been wrong.

But yesterday on Radio 4 during a discussion  on the issue of sexual harrassment at Westminster Harriet Harman said of Theresa May

"I think she's done pretty well this week."

Hell has officially frozen over ...

Quote of the day 5th November 2017

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Saturday music spot: Bach's Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen BWV 51

Labour party revealed as tax dodgers

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that the Labour Party avoided paying tax on £4.3 million worth of profits last year, according to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission.

The revelation came the same day that Jeremy Corbyn announced he will fund £500 billion of investment through tackling tax evasion.

Link to the report:

Here is a picture of Jeremy Corbyn criticising tax dodgers ...

Quote of the day 4th September 2017

Friday, November 03, 2017

Making Medicines available

Cumbria Conservative Conference

The third annual conference of Cumbria Conservatives took place yesterday and today at Low Wood Hotel at Windermere and was attended by over a hundred local Conservatives.

Speakers included Cumbria's three Conservative MPs - Rory Stewart, Jon Stephenson and Trudy Harrison, the Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall, North West MEP Jacqueline Foster and Security minister Ben Wallace MP.

The first session of the conference on Friday morning was the Inaugural General Meeting of the Cumbria Conservative Association which has now  replace Cumbria Area Conservatives and is intended to help Conservatives in the six constituencies in Cumbria work more effectively together. 

Quote of the day 3rd November 2017

“The new development plans for West Cumberland Hospital which includes a health village and education facility is exciting news and a positive step in the right direction to implementing a fully integrated health and care system.”

(Trudy Harrison MP on the proposed £46 million pound scheme to further enhance West Cumberland Hospital)

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Egremont South by-election result

Congratulations to our candidate in today's Egremont South council by-election, Jeff Hailes.

Despite a hard-fought campaign Jeff did not quite manage to take the seat - which has been Labour for a couple of decades - but he reduced the Labour majority to 33 votes.

The figures were:

HIggins (Labour) 354
Hailes (Conservative) 321

Spoilt papers: 4.

The successful Labour candidate thanked all involve in the election for their hard work and thanked Jeff for a clean and friendly campaign.

£46 million plan for WCH unveiled

Plans showing how West Cumberland Hospital will look following another £46 million of investment in the hospital have been released this week.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health announced that north, west and east Cumbria was in line for up to £100m of investment, including completion of the WCH refurbishment & rebuild project, and a new cancer centre at Carlisle.

Cumbria's NHS organisations have since been working on detailed business cases

Designs and information about the current plans for the West Cumberland Hospital scheme have now been released and can be seen in today's Whitehaven News and on the Times and Star website here.

It is estimated that this scheme will involve £46 million of further new investment in West Cumberland hospital above and beyond the extensive building programme which opened in 2015.

Cumbria NHS leaders say the completed hospital will be the first of its kind nationally, becoming an "exemplar" for the wider NHS.

The next stage of investment in WCH, Phase two of the overall scheme, estimated to cost £33m, will include renal, chemotherapy, therapies, pre-assessment, consultant-led maternity (obstetrics), gynaecology, a midwife-led maternity unit and office space.

Phase three will create a new build academic campus, in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), at an estimated costof  £13m.

West Cumbrian GP John Howarth, who is joint deputy chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said that after  years of community concern about the future of the hospital, which was in special measures and undergoing a major review of services, things are now changing for the better.

Dr Howarth added that the investment shows national confidence in the West Cumberland Hospital and that the newly-revamped hospital will be a real asset to the area, while the addition of the medical school will help solve long-standing recruitment problems for the long term.

“It’s really exciting. The important message is that we have two new phases of investment coming to the West Cumberland Hospital."

“That shows a real transformation in national confidence. We have a rapidly evolving health system, which has given the confidence to significantly invest in us."

Once approved, it is expected that work will start on phases two and three late next year, to be complete by 2020. These two  phases will run alongside each other.

Dr Howarth stressed that it is not just about the physical buildings, but part of a unique wider plan.

“We are looking at how we make the West Cumberland Hospital the hub of an integrated care system, for Copeland and Allerdale, connecting the acute hospital with all of its services with primary care and community services," he said.

“What we have to begin to do is go beyond just delivering services, to have an ambition of improving overall health of the population.

“We therefore want to design a hospital that goes beyond delivering services, but contributes to the wider health and wellbeing of the communities it serves," he explained.

He stressed that Cumbria's NHS trusts are still committed to bed-based care where appropriate, with phase two providing top of the range facilities for patients who need acute care.

Dr Howarth, who is also a professor of primary care at UCLAN medical school, believes that the new teaching facilities will also make a major contribution to tackling recruitment and retention problems, where possible recruiting students from Cumbrian schools who want to train and stay to practice in the area.

"I'm really optimistic. These courses are very attractive to students. One of the historic weaknesses we have had, particularly in west Cumbria, is that we have not had our own medical students,"

he said.

“Having our own campus in Whitehaven, for me as a doctor, is game-changing. It will take some years to really have an impact but in the medium to long term it will change our ability to train and retain our own doctors. For me, as a local doctor who has worked all my career here, it’s the most exciting development of that time."

Dr Howarth said overall he feels very positive about the future of the West Cumberland Hospital.

"My first job in the NHS was at the West Cumberland Hospital, in 1983, so this is fantastic to see," he said.

"I think we are going to end up with one of the best facilities in the country, here in west Cumbria.

"Our ambitions for the West Cumberland Hospital are unique. We want to go further than other places have gone.

"There will obviously be bigger hospitals in the country, but as a hospital within a fully integrated health and care system - nobody else has done that. West Cumbria is going to be a national exemplar."

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, added: “The new development plans for West Cumberland Hospital which includes a health village and education facility is exciting news and a positive step in the right direction to implementing a fully integrated health and care system.”

More on my hospitals blog here.  

Egremont South by-election today

Today, Thursday 2nd November, is the by-election for an Egremont South seat on Copeland Borough Council.

The Conservative candidate is Jeff Hailes, who is West Cumbrian born and bred, lives locally at Moor Row, works at Sellafield and is involved in the Egremont community. He would be an excellent councillor.

Polls are open until 10pm

Vote  Jeff Hailes X

Quote of the day 2nd November 2017

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Sexual harrassment is wrong whoever does it.

All allegations of sexual harrassment should be carefully investigated. Some - of the allegations currently doing the rounds which appear to involve MPs and party officials of most if not all major parties are extremely serious and should be matters for the police.

If there is a culture at Westminster in which MPs, peers, or any other senior officials think the rules do not apply to them, that needs to stop, and it must be made quite clear that the rules - both the criminal law, parliamentary and employers' codes of conduct, and the normal standards of decency - apply to everyone.

Sexual harrasment is wrong whoever does it, whichever party they are in, and I don't think any party is in a good position to score political points on this issue.

But it should surely be possible to stamp out genuine abuses - and it does appear that there is enough evidence of genuine abuses to warrant a proper and open-minded inquiry - without going on a fishing expedition into people's private lives on matters which are not sexual harrassment or anyone else's business, and without forgetting the rule that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. Or the principle of double jeopardy.

At least one of the supposed "victims" named in the infamous spreadsheet has vehemently denied in the strongest terms that her employer ever treated her other than completely professionally and written that she was never subjected to sexual harrassment or assault of any kind.

Another pair of names on the spreadsheet are two MPs who have been in a consensual relationship, neither of whom is married to or cheating on anyone else. This kind of relationship is, quite frankly, nobody else's business and has no place in any story about sexual harrassment or abuse.

Another entry appears to be a rehash of an allegation for which a tabloid newspaper was successfully sued six years ago and had to pay out a five figure sum in libel damages.

In taking action against the guilty we must be careful not to smear the names of the innocent.

Letting Fees banned

Quote of the day 1st November 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Copeland Conservatives Website

During the Copeland by-election we replaced the content of Copeland Conservatives' website with a link to the website of our then candidate in the by-election, Trudy Harrison (now the MP.)

We left this arrangement in place during the General Election.

We are now rebuilding the Copeland Conservatives website, which has the address

Trudy Harrison MP has her own website which can be found at

Copeland Conservatives are on Facebook at Copeland Conservative Association,

and Copeland Conservatives Campaign page,

and on Twitter at @CopelandTories.

Cumbria Conservatives are also on Facebook at Cumbria Conservatives

Cumbria Conservative Conference

There are still a few tickets available for the Cumbria Conservative conference on Friday 3rd November and the Pre-Conference Dinner on the evening of Thursday 2nd November.

These can be booked online at

The first session of the conference, which is open to party members in Cumbria whether or not they are attending the rest of the conference but is not open to non members of the party, is the Inaugural Genearl Meeting of the Cumbria Conservative Association which replaces Cumbria Area Conservatives. This new body will replace Cumbria Area Conservatives and is intended to help Conservatives in the six constituencies in Cumbria to work more effectively together.

All Hallow's Eve

Today is All Hallow's Eve (the day before All Saints Day) usually shortened to Halloween.

I can tell because the items themed for ghosts, witches, monsters and horror have started to be replaced in the shops with material themed for Christmas

I was told as a child that this time of the year was originally a great Pagan festival which was co-opted by the early Christian church and is now an important three-day festival, "Allhallowtide" in the Christian calendar, but that the only thing from either which remains in the popular consciousness are the name "Halloween" for the first day of that festival and a parody of the way medieval Christian propagandists depicted the previous pagan festival.

When you start looking into the truth of this it becomes clear that things are a bit more complicated. Judeo-Christian traditions commemorating the dead actually look back thousands of years, even pre-dating the life of Jesus and going back to the Old Testament (See 2 Maccabees 12:42–46.) Different Christian traditions commemorate the dead in different ways and on different dates although all of them do something to commemorate the departed and most of them have such a commemoration about this time of year. There was indeed an ancient Celtic festival marking the Autumn equinox, on 1st November, known as Samhain.

To Catholics, who do not believe that most of those who eventually get to Heaven can go straight there, having to go through a process called "Purgatory" first, Halloween was a vigil before the main feasts of All Saints Day on 1st November, when the saints in heaven are commemorated, and All Souls Day, usually on 2nd November (in some countries and traditions it is put back a day to Monday 3rd November when the second day in November is a Sunday) is a day for prayer for all the dead including those who are not yet in heaven and may be in Purgatory on their way there. In some countries the Catholic church also refers to All Soul's Day as the Day of the Dead.

Allhallowtide is the combined festival consisting of all three days.

The Church of England, like many protestant denominations, does not have the same doctrines around Purgatory but does pray for the dead on All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day
without making the same theological distinction between the two.

Most human cultures have had some sort of celebration to mark both Solstices and both equinoxes -even if it's only fiddling with our clocks to change between British Summer Time and Grenwith Mean Time although now we mostly use phones to tell the time and they change automatically. Most cultures have also had some form of commemoration of the dead.

I am not sure I still buy into that "The Catholics set it up this way to sabotage the pagans" narrative but I do think that elements of both have entered into the peculiar modern tradition of Halloween.

The biggest shame is that over the past 20 years we have ditched the traditional British "Penny for the Guy" for an unfortunate imported version of the American "Trick or Treat" practice - in the USA it's only very small children who take part in this with their parents or older siblings watching from a safe distance so it doesn't have the appearance,  as it often can when teenagers call on pensioners, of demanding money with menaces.

To anyone reading this who is remembering loved ones who have died over the next three days, I will remember both you and your loved ones in my prayers.

("All Souls Day" / Day of the Dead by William-Adolphe Bouguereau)

Quote of the day 31st October 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cumbria Conservatives at number ten

A number of Cumbria Conservatives recently visited Ten Downing Street as part of a reception organised by the Prime Minister to meet Conservatives from the North West of England.

Unfortunately the trains were badly disrupted that day and not all those invited were able to make it, but those who were had the opportunity to meet the PM and government ministers and raise issues relating to the needs of Cumbria.

Here are the Cumbria contingent at the reception, including Trudy Harrison MP, with the PM.

Second quote of the day 30th October 2017

Hat tip to Guido Fawkes for this comment from Labour Shadow Women and Equalities minister Dawn Butler about suspended Labour MP Jared O’Mara:

“He probably still has further to go on his journey.”

Ministerial visit raises money for Hospice at Home

Over £500 was raised for local charities recently at a meeting hosted by Copeland MP Trudy Harrison for a visiting minister, Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse.

Trudy Harrison recently welcomed Jake Berry, the minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, to Copeland to highlight West Cumbria's innovation, nuclear excellence and local priorities for investment.

A ministerial dinner was held, sponsored by Morgan Sindall, at which guests donated £569 to the Hospice at Home West Cumbria charity. Over 60 manufacturing and nuclear based companies and educational organisations including Gen2, Lakes College and secondary schools attended.

Trudy Harrison said:

"I was absolutely thrilled that the supply chain event raised more than £500 for Hospice at Home West Cumbria. For more than 30 years this charity has provided exemplary care for many local residents, supporting those caring for someone with a life-limiting illness, or struggling to come to terms with bereavement and I am delighted that the money raised during the event will help towards continuing their excellent work."

Stella Walsh, senior fundraiser, said:

"On behalf of Hospice at Home West Cumbria I would like to thank Mrs Harrison for the donation of £569 which was raised from the Northern Powerhouse Ministerial Dinner. We are extremely grateful to all involved for supporting our cause during the business dinner."

"Our vital services cost more than £1.2million every year, and only a quarter of this comes from the NHS - the remainder has to be raised through our fundraising activities and charity shops."

More details on the News and Star website here.

Quote of the day 30th October 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday music spot: 'Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs' from Handel's Messiah

Sunday reflection spot

This is what my former colleages on St Albans Council used to call a "hardy perennial" in the sense that it is not the first time I have used this story and probably won't be the last either. But as it is a year since I last posted it ...

"I can resist anything except temptation" (Oscar Wilde)

A group of clergy were discussing which biblical quotations were the greatest help to them in avoiding sin. A fiery young deacon, just out of his theological college, quoted Romans 6, Verse 23:

"For sin pays a wage, and that wage is Death, but God gives freely, and his gift is eternal life, in union with Jesus Christ our Lord."

A recently ordained lady curate, while accepting that the passage from Romans reminds us of something very important, preferred passages which concentrated more on the infinite love and compassion of God, and cited John, Chapter 14, verse 15:

"If you love me, you will obey my commands, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforter, who will be with you for ever - the spirit of truth."

An elderly canon, who had been listening in silence, congratulated the previous speakers on being able to quote such beautiful and high-minded passages as a way to avoid sin.

"But for me," he said, "The words which are of most use in resisting temptation come from Chapter 12 Verse 1 of the letter of Paul to the Hebrews:

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses ...."

Quote of the day 29th October 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 BWV 1051

Egremont South campaign today

Great campaign session today by Copeland Conseratives towards the  by-election for a vacant Egremont South seat on Copeland Council. The by-election is on Thursday of the coming week (2nd November.

Our excellent local candidate Jeff Hailes, who is West Cumbrian born and bred, seems to be getting a lot of support.

I spoke to one local resident (no names, no pack-drill) who has been Labour for many years and has fond memories of hearing a Labour Prime Minister speak many years ago. But he added that he won't be wearing a Labour rosette in this by-election and that the behaviour of the Labour councillors at this week's Copeland Borough Council meeting, which he saw from the public seats, made him wonder if he's been on the wrong side.

If my memory is not playing tricks on me, the fomer Labour PM who he mentioned was Clement Attlee. Of course, Labour has changed since Clem Attlee's day, which is one of the reasons his grandson, the present Lord Attlee, is a Conservative and served in David Cameron's government.

If you are an elector in Egremont South, whichever way you decide to vote, please do remember to vote on Thursday.

Clocks go back tonight

Don't forget to put your clocks back one hour tonight!

The political views of academics

Chris Heaton-Harris got himself into rather a spot this week because his attempt to find out what was being taught in Universities about Brexit was interpreted as the precursor to some sort of attempt to challenge academic freedom.

There are academics of all political persuasions, but there is some evidence - thought not nearly as strong as is often made out that those who are attracted to an academic career do not break in the same proportions in their views as the population as a whole.

For example there was a massive correlation between level of education and support for "Remain" and the overwhelming majority of academics were pro-"Remain."

The fact that the EU's activities in support of education and research is one of those parts of the organisation which is highly successful undoubtedly had a lot to do with this.

If the rest of the EU's activities worked as well as this part of it does, Leave would have been lucky to get 10% of the vote.

Similarly it is often alleged that academics are more left wing than society as a whole. But is the evidence for this as strong as people think?

There is an interesting study which you can read here, called

"Is the left over-represented within academia?"

by Chris Hanretty who is Professor of Politics at  Royal Holloway College. It seems convincing at first until you look at the sample sizes.

It starts off by pointing out that a study suggesting a left-wing bias among academics, the Adam Smith Institute report entitled

“Lackademia: Why Do Academics Lean Left?”.

was based, to an uncomfortable extent, on the findings of two self-selecting surveys run by the Times Higher Education: one survey from before the 2015 general election and one survey from before the EU membership referendum.

As Hanratty righly points out, self-selecting surveys are generally not a reliable way of ascertaining public or group-specific opinion on an issue. People with strong views, and virtue-signallers, are much more likely to fill them in.

He used instead the Understanding Society survey, which contains information both on closeness to political parties and on occupation. This data also supports the view that left-wing opinions are over-represented within academia, compared to the general population - but fortunately Professor Hanratty did include the size of the sample.

This survey is repeated in waves, and hanratty has looked at six of them. He says of the way the data is presented

"This allows me to identify all respondents whose current job fell under the heading “College, University, and Higher Education teaching professionals”. The number of respondents in this category varies over successive waves of the Understanding Society survey, but is never lower than 178."

Individually that makes the number of academics in some of the individual waves is far too small for statistical conclusions about the proportion of support for individual political parties to be reliable, although tendancies which are consistent over all six are much more liable to be statistically meaningful.

Unfortunately UKIP was not separated out from "other" in the first four waves, a decision which Hanratty rightly describes as "rather eccentric" and means that although his conclusion based on the final two waves of data that UKIP is under-represented among academics may well be right, the sample size is so small that the degree of statistical confidence in this conclusion is so weak as to be almost worthless as evidence.

The statistical evidence from the Understanding Society survey that academics are less likely to identify with the Conservatives and more likely to identify with Labour than in the population as a whole, however, a result which appears overall in in all six of the individual waves, appears to be much stronger (I can't comment more definitively than that without access to the actual numbers.)

Does any of this actually mean anything important, however?

In my opinion, non except that the Conservatives probably need to work harder to maintain the support we do have among students.

Quote of the day 28th October 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

The wonder of Cumbrian weather

To Kendal and back today, spending much of the day in County Hall at training events (doing various work jobs in between)

Weather this morning was absolutely extraordinary, alternating between thick fog and bright sunshine, between beautiful and clear views over the mountains and having to slow down because I could only see a couple of hundred yards ahead.

Quote of the day 27th October 2017

By a huge irony I nearly did have to go back to yesterday with this post. Knowing I would be in Kendal most of the day for a County Council training event I had scheduled it to appear early this morning, but the schedule command didn;t work properly. Found it it and the other posts planned for today had not appeared shortly before midnight ...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The problem with "No Deal."

I'm inclined to agree with the government that, although "No deal" should not be their negotiating objective while trying to agree a new relationship with the EU as Britain prepares to leave, ruling it out completely would undercut our negotiating position.

However, the difficulties involved in leaving the EU with no agreement of any sort about what Britian's relationship with the remaining members of the organisation would be immense.

Disentangling a 43-year relationship was always going to be an incredibly complicated job and anyone who thought it was going to run smoothly was as foolishly overoptimistic as those who suggest that a "no deal" Brexit would be no problem at all are being now.

David Davis obviously understands this, to judge by his answers yesterday when interviewed by the Brexit select committee as described here.

Incidentally, I disagree with most of Ian Dunt's editorial comments in the article just linked to. However what the article does quite well is give some of the reasons why, as David Davis explained to the committee, the idea that it would a good thing for either side if Britain left the EU without some form of agreement on a whole raft of issues is "off the scale" improbable.

When the government says that they won't completely rule out a "no deal" option it is a little bit more than the negotiating ploy it is sometimes presented as being by the opposition or certain elements in the media.

As I understand the article linked to above, when the UK government say that "no deal is better than a bad deal" they mean that they won't hand over large sums of British taxpayer's cash above and beyond what the UK is already committed to pay in exchange for a trade deal unless the trade deal is worth it. They are not threatening to walk away from the talks altogether, and in my opinion they are right not to make that threat because it would not be credible.

What stops me from being very rude indeed about the people who are jumping up and down saying what a great idea it would be if Britain walked away from talks with the EU and deliberately abandoned any plans to get a deal, is that it's just possible that rather than actually being stupid enough to believe what they are saying, their words are part of a plan to make the EU think there is strong pressure on the UK government to walk away. The idea being to make EU negotiators less likely to make unreasonable demands on the British government if they think that such demands are more likely to result in a "no deal" outcome which would be bad for everyone.

To be honest I see that as a variant of the Kruschev "bang your shoe on the table to frighten the other side and make them think you're irrational" strategy.

There are occasions when the "bang your shoe on the table" strategy works but it does depend on the temperament of the people you are negotiating with. Harold MacMillan is supposed to have simply looked round at the interpreters and said "I wonder if I might have that translated?"

Trouble is, as the Greeks can tell you to their cost, the EU is quite good at calling people's bluff. I think it's wiser to play these negotiations with a straight bat and be open about the fact that ending up with no deal is not an outcome we want. Otherwise they'll just be even more inclined to think Britain has gone mad than many of them are already.

UK economy grows faster than expected

Figures published this week show that the UK's economy had higher than expected growth in the three months to September.

Gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter rose by 0.4%, compared with 0.3% in each of 2017's first two quarters, according to latest Office for National Statistics figures.

The pound rose more than a cent against the dollar and nearly a cent against the euro in the first couple of hours of trading after the announcement.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said:

"We have a successful and resilient economy which is supporting a record number of people in employment.

"My focus now, and going into the Budget, is on boosting productivity so that we can deliver higher-wage jobs and a better standard of living."

When grown is considered by sector, the largest part of the modern UK economy, the service sector,  expanded by 0.4%.

In particular, computer programming, motor traders and retailers were the businesses that showed the strongest performance.

Manufacturing expanded by 1% during the quarter - a return to growth after a weak second quarter.

The figures take the cumulative increase in GDP since 2010 to 15.8% in real terms.

Here is a chart produced by the Office for National Statistics showing Cumulative UK GDP growth (line graph) and growth by quarter (Bar graph) over the past ten years. You can see on the graph the substantial negative impact of the 2007/8 recession, that the economy has been growing since then, recovered to the pre-recession level in the second quarter of 2013 and is now about ten percent above that level and 15.8% above where it was in 2010.

Quote of the day 26th October 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What's the most stupid thing a nation has ever done?

Michael Bloomberg is a very clever man.

I do, however, agree that the Guardian was right - this does happen occasionally - that when Bloomberg suggested that Brexit is the most stupid thing a nation had ever done "Until we Trumped them," he was underestimating the competition for the title of daftest actions in history.

The Guardian has their suggested list of alternatives for the daftest actions in history as per the link above. Here are my top eight:

1) Invading Russia (Napoleon, Hitler, and everyone else who's tried it)

2) Killing or expropriating the most productive farmers in your country (Stalin, Mao, Mugabe)

3) Trying to kill or arrest every skilled person in your country (Cambodia)

4) Banning the export of your most important export good (Confederate States of America)

5) Depending for your defence entirely on foreign mercenaries (Vortigern, many others)

6) Abolishing all banknotes not divisible by the President's favourite number (Myanmar)

7) Acting on the advice of the Delphic Oracle (Midas)

8) Executing Ghengis Khan's ambassador (The Khwarezmid empire)

It is no coincidence that very few of the regimes responsible for the above mistakes are still around, though sadly one or two are.

Jim King has commented below that starting the First World War should also be on any good list of the daftest actions taken in history and I reckon that's pretty hard to argue against.

I think most of the above disastrous errors put any of the decisions taken in Britain in 2016 or 2017 into perspective as at worst second league in the bad move stakes. What do you think was the most stupid decision in history?

Music to relax after campaigning: Pachelbel's Canon and Gigue

Another successful campaign event

Out canvassing again this evening in Egremont with Conservative candidate Jeff Hailes, canvassing for the Egremont South by-election on Thursday 2nd November.

Friendly response on the doorstep, I get the impression that Jeff is doing very well.

Flood prevention in North Egremont

Skirting Beck & Whangs Beck Flood Risk Management Scheme Public Consultation Event

The environment agency is  holding a public consultation on their plans to reduce flood risk in the North Egremont area.

You can drop in to see them between 2pm and 7pm on Monday 6th November 2017

The venue is Falcon Club, Croadalla Avenue, Egremont, CA22 2QN