Friday, September 23, 2022
Thursday, September 22, 2022
The next meeting of the Cumbria and Lancashire Joint Health Scrutiny committee will be held in County Hall, Kendal on next Tuesday, 27th September 2022 at 11 am. The meeting will be open to the public.
The main items on the agenda are
- a Progress Report on the improvement plans for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, following reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Niche and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) Improvement Plans, and
- Winter Plans for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
The full agenda and supporting papers can be found on the Cumbria County Council website by following this link:
"Putin is shouting at his own people, not us"
David Aaronovitch, title of an article in today's Times newspaper arguing that the bizarre speeches from the Russian Federation president and his outriders are aimed at trying to justify an extremely unpopular call-up to his own people, not because he expects anyone in the West to believe a word he says.
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
"If it wasn't so tragic, we'd laugh."
French President Emmanual Macron, referring to the announcement by Russian proxies in four occupied areas of Ukraine that they plan to stage plebiscites within three days - a period which would obviously be totally inadequate even if they were not in a war zones - on annexation by Russia.
Macron quite rightly said that the international community will not accept any such referendum, or any Russian claim to annex Ukrainian territory on the basis of any such clearly illegitimate referendum.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
It's perfectly legitimate for a newspaper or magazine to mainly come at politics or culture from a particular perspective - everyone will know where that publication stands and nobody has to buy it.
Though it is worth qualifying that by adding that the best and most successful even of the most partisan of publications make a point of including a few columnists who take the opposite point of view. You will find the occasional centre-right article in the Guardian and the Independent, and more than occasional left-wing articles in the Telegraph or the Spectator.
A national broadcaster funded by what amounts to a tax that everyone has to pay - like the BBC - is in a totally different position. It has a moral duty (and, as I understand it, a legal responsibility too) to ensure that every significant and legitimate viewpoint is represented and covered in its output.
Much of the time the BBC can clearly be seen to be making an effort to represent all views. The classic example would be the Brexit referendum, during which it was obvious to 99% of the population that the gut instincts of the overwhelming majority of BBC journalists and editors were pro-Remain (and I write that as someone who voted Remain myself) but they were trying so hard to be impartial in their coverage of the pro-and-anti Brexit debate that the other 1%, the likes of Lord Adonis and Emily Maitlis, accuse them of overdoing it and leaning the other way.
Maitlis made an interesting point in her recent lecture about the challenges involved - how do you report on a debate when the vast majority of some community or group lean one way but there are figures on each side, as for example on the views of Economists about Brexit, on which the vast majority of Economists were Remain and they had great trouble finding a pro-leave economist and usually ended up with Professor Patrick Minford.
But surely the right thing to do was what the BBC almost always actually did: put up both one of the many pro-remain economists, and Minford, and make clear in the commentary that the former represented the views of most, but not quite all, of the profession.
One person who cannot be accused of bending over too far to represent the other point of view is the comedian Graham Norton, who has come out this week with two of the most pathetic excuses I have ever heard.
Specifically, I refer to his excuses for the absence of "right-wing" voices on his BBC show - a term he appears to use in a very lazy way to mean anyone he disagrees with, because he mentions J.K. Rowling in this context. This is presumably because of her views on transgender issues which are actually shared by quite a few people on the feminist left and are not by any means shared by everyone on the right. On most issues Joanne Rowling describes herself, accurately, as left of centre and I don't mean that as a criticism, just a statement of fact.
Norton told the Sunday Times that cancel culture makes it “hard to find Right-wing guests” to come on his BBC talk show, and even when he finds one, “the audience probably don’t want to see them”.
Oh, pull the other one, it's got bells on.
There are plenty of people with centre-right or right-wing views - you only have to look at the results of the last four general elections to appreciate that those who could broadly describe as being on the "woke left" are nowhere near to being a majority of the population.
And there do exist modern comedians who are popular despite not fitting the stereotype of a "left-wing" comedian (Simon Evans, Andrew Lawrence) or actively rejecting it (Geoff Norcott.)
Of course, the best comedians take the mickey out of people on all sides of the political spectrum. If you're not doing that, both you and your audience are losing out.
Graham Norton's comments are reported and analysed on "The Daily Sceptic" website here.
As normal politics resumes today, here is a link to a piece written late last week about how the two main parties are trying to frame the debate at the next election.
Dan Hodges wrote an article entitled
"Politicians love proselytising about their radicalism. Keir Starmer secured the Labour leadership by posing as Jeremy Corbyn in a sharper suit. Liz Truss became Prime Minister by framing herself as the Iron Lizzie. But this morning both are waking to a new reality. Victory at the next General Election won't be secured by the candidate who seizes the mantle of change. It'll be won by whoever convinces voters the hurricane of change that has torn at them for the past five years will finally abate."
You can read the full piece here.
Monday, September 19, 2022
So "The Queue" has finished: over the past few days many thousands of people, not just from every corner of the British Isles but some from far-flung corners of the globe, have travelled to London and waited in a queue for sometimes more than twelve hours to pay their respects by filing past the coffin of our late Queen.
The people who did this came from every walk of life, from celebrities like David Beckham to cleaners, from councillors to chemists, from nurses to naval architects. They were people of every race and creed, and from all over the UK, and beyond. (I know of at least one member of staff at West Cumberland Hospital who went through "The Queue," and who will have spent at least twelve hours travelling to London and back on top of more than twelve hours in the queue itself.)
One famous academic published a piece arguing that people had taken part in mourning her late majesty for a wide range of reasons - which is undoubtedly true - and from this reasonable premise somehow managed to derive the idea that in the queue and at all the other events which have been put on to commemorate the life of her late majesty "there are many whose presence in the Queen’s mourning crowds has precious little to do with the Queen."
To take a paraphrase of George Orwell's comments in "Notes on Nationalism," a paraphrase often wrongly described as a quote, "There are some ideas so stupid that only an intellectuals could believe them."
The queen was a rare example of something to which anyone in public life should aspire - someone who dedicated her whole life to her country and the people of her country.
The largest single reason for "The Queue" and the enormous wave of support for all the events which have been staged to mark her passing is that almost all of us understand this.
"The highest of distinctions is service to others."
King George VI
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) on her 21st birthday.
Sunday, September 18, 2022
This evening I attended a very moving service at St Bees Priory to commemorate and give thanks for the life of her late majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
It was pointed out during the service that this is also Battle of Britain Sunday.
So here is a quote to remind us of those from all around the world who fought in that battle and helped keep Britain, and the World, free.
There are not many people in the West who are foolish enough to swallow Putin's propaganda and defend Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine.
But all of those on social media or anywhere else whose views I have seen fall into one of the categories described in this humorous (but largely accurate) chart:
Saturday, September 17, 2022
There have been a number of ironies about the manner in which freedom of speech has been exercised and constrained in the days since the death of Her Majesty. It is only fair to admit that there is a real tension between the essential right of free speech which is central to any democracy, and the duty of the police to protect society against potential genuine threats to the peace.
Some of the people who deny that "no platform" policies in Universities are a threat to free speech have gone all Voltaire and John Stuart Mill over the arrest of people who shouted obscenities or held up placards with them at national mourning events.
I believe in free speech within the law - and that the law should always be both written and applied as generously as possible to freedom of expression.
Some - and I repeat, some - of the people who have had their collars felt by the police in recent days, such as the gentleman who held up a blank piece of paper, appear to have been on the wrong end of an over-reaction from officers who, as an official of the Police Federation put it. do not appear to have been properly briefed on what powers they do and do not have or what sort of conduct falls within reasonable protest.
First of all, it has to be said, there is a time and a place for everything. The same comments which expressed in one time and place may be a perfectly reasonable expression of free speech might in another place and context be depriving other people of equally important freedoms. For example, if a "humanist" sets up a meeting to explain why he doesn't believe in God, or says it at Speaker's corner, or posts it on his website, that's exercising free speech.
But if he marches into a church, synagogue or mosque during a service, grabs the microphone from the priest, rabbi or imam and subjects the congregation to a harangue featuring exactly the same words, then that is not a legitimate exercise of his own right to freedom of speech but a wholly illegitimate interference with the right to the freedom of worship of the congregation.
To avoid the charge of hypocrisy, let me admit that I have very strong political views, and I will admit that I have occasionally been heard to express them with the odd swear word. Possibly more often than I should have. But something I have never done and would never do when attending a funeral for a member of a political party other than my own, is speak disrespectfully of the deceased or of his or her views at the funeral, let alone in impolite language. An event to mourn someone who has died is just not the time and place for it. That is not exercising free speech, it would be acting like a complete berk.
If you set up a meeting to express the view that Britain (or part of Britain) should be a republic, or if you write that view in an article in a newspaper or on your website, that's free speech.
Shout it during a period of silence which has been set up as a mark of respect for a monarch - or anyone else - who has just died, and you are not exercising free speech but interfering with the right of other people to mourn the deceased.
There could be all manner of reasons why someone might wish to make a negative comment about the conduct of a member of the Royal Family, or anyone else, and lots of perfectly legitimate ways to do so. Shouting something rude at a son who is taking part in a ceremony to mourn his recently deceased mother, whoever he is, whoever she was, does not make you a romantic rebel, or a martyr for free speech, it makes you a berk.
In some instances, the police are justified in removing people who do things like this, and among other reasons, in removing them for their own safety.
But that should only be done as a last resort and only if absolutely necessary. Even complete berks deserve freedom of speech within the law, and the law should give even complete berks as much freedom of speech as possible.
To repeat again a quote which I used recently, first in the context of the attempted assassination of Sir Salman Rushdie (who I don't despise) and again in the context of the successful assassination of a supporter of Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine (whose views I do despise) -
There is an interesting piece on this subject on "The Article" website here. which gives one perspective, and an equally interesting discussion on the Spiked podcast which gives a rather different perspective in the YouTube clip below. I actually think both make good points.
"After the US, Russia is the main provider of vehicles to the Ukrainian Army."
(Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, speaking about the large numbers of vehicles left behind by fleeing Russian forces and captured by the Ukrainians during their successful operation to liberate the whole of the Kharkiv region.)
Friday, September 16, 2022
I have been attending online this morning's meeting of the West Cumbria Community Forum.
The forum has heard two presentations from Adrian Clements, the Trust's Medical director, who began by telling us that we might not like what he had to tell us but that he would tell us the truth. He kept his promise.
The first presentation was on A&E at West Cumberland Hospital (WCH,) he then reported on cancer treatment in West Cumbria where he was open about the fact that current performance is, quote "unacceptable."
In the past the local NHS has often been accused of wanting to asset strip hospital and health services in West Cumbria and move them to Carlisle or even further afield.
Having heard the presentation from Adrian, I am very grateful that he clearly does not share that approach and wants to keep our local NHS services in West Cumbria open. If he did not have a commitment to our local NHS services, I think we might have already lost more key aspects of healthcare on the West coast.
I am trying to word this in a manner which is not liable to be picked up in an alarmist way and make matters worse. It's clear that there are significant staffing challenges at West Cumberland Hospital, particularly on A&E and that we need to have the NHS, local government and the Community working together as we did to keep consultant-led maternity - we need to work the same way to improve recruitment and retention in Accident and Emergency, and to see what we can do to work together to improve Cancer Care.
"I am concerned about the stabbings of two Metropolitan Police Officers whilst on duty near Leicester Square and have spoken to the Commissioner about the situation.
Everyday, we are safer thanks to the the bravery of our policemen & women. I wish the Police Officers a swift recovery and my thoughts are with their family, friends and colleagues."
Home secretary Suella Braverman today on Twitter
Thursday, September 15, 2022
There have, not surprisingly, been howls of outrage at the suggestion that the cap on "Bankers's Bonuses" should be removed.
The optics are absolutely terrible. At a time when many people are struggling, the idea of removing a cap of 200% of base salary on the amount which can be paid in Performance Related Pay, which will be presented as enabling Bankers, not the most popular group in the country, to be paid even more, is going to go down like the proverbial lead balloon.
For that reason, it probably won't happen: the economic benefit from scrapping the law is likely to be much smaller than the political cost.
This will probably therefore not be a popular opinion, but this cap has been completely ineffective and, falling foul of the law of unintended consequences, had exactly the opposite impact to what was intended. This rule is a complete nonsense which far from curbing the remuneration paid to bankers has probably increased it and landed the banks with a more expensive cost structure.
The rule limits the ratio of the performance related element of remuneration, or "bonus" to no more than 200% of base salary. But it does not stop the employer increasing the base salary.
In consequence this rule, originally introduced by the EU about eight years ago, does not appear to have prevented the payment of a single penny to bankers or anyone else. Instead, the effect was that a higher proportion of the money the banks paid out in remuneration had to be included in the base salary to reach any given level of total expected payment.
Guess what that means. When the COVID recession hit, and therefore the banks made less money, they will have paid out less in bonuses - but because the proportion of remuneration which comes in bonus rather than salary is lower than it would have been without the cap, the banks will have ended up paying MORE because of the cap than they would have.
I suppose they may have made up for the difference by making more people redundant. Ah yes, I hear the cheers - fat cat bankers losing their jobs! But this means fewer people paying tax and more people claiming benefit. It's not a win for public services or for Great Britain PLC.
I am tempted to say that Kwasi Kwarteng should go ahead and scrap the cap, not so that banks can pay higher bonuses, but so they can pay those bankers who don't earn their bonuses less in salary.
However, you can bet your life that if the chancellor does scrap the cap, the media will have an easy hit. They'll find instances of people who were already getting an enormous package, and who then get a huge increase in their bonus after the cap comes off. Then they will run attack pieces contrasting the vast increases these bankers are getting with comparatively tiny increases paid to people in jobs essential to society who are on much lower incomes and are fighting to get even a wage increase which keeps up with inflation.
And it will look like a powerful point. But if you want to do something about that particular inequality, a cap on bonuses is still a daft piece of incoherent virtue-signaling stupidity which sounds good to many people but has done nothing at all to correct the inequality they want addressed. If you wanted to really do something about the inequality issue you would have to impose some sort of cap or control NOT on bonuses but on the total remuneration package.
I will bet you that no mainstream political party will have the guts to propose that.
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Unemployment in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since 1974, standing at 3.6% in the three months to July.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people in employment grew by 40,000 in the May-July period.
One of the main drivers, if not the main driver, for the reduction in unemployment n appears to be that a substantial number of over-60's have decided to take early retirement. This will have major implications for the labour market and suggests we need to think even harder about how to improve productivity and about the manner in which people retire.
Monday, September 12, 2022
The Ukrainian military claims it has forced Russian forces from more than 20 towns and villages in the past 24 hours, according to a Facebook post by the Ukraine general staff.
Ukraine also claimed that Russian forces were fleeing deep into the occupied areas of the Donbas or back into Russia itself.
The success of Ukrainian forces in pushing Russian troops out of the Kharkiv region “have significant implications for Russia’s overall operational design”, according to the UK Ministry of Defence, and for the morale of its soldiers on the ground.
“The majority of the force in Ukraine is highly likely being forced to prioritise emergency defensive actions,” said the MoD in a Twitter post on Monday morning.
“The already limited trust deployed troops have in Russia’s senior military leadership is likely to deteriorate further.”
The UK Ministry of Defence added that Russia has probably ordered the withdrawal of its troops from the whole of the occupied Kharkiv oblast region west of the Oskil river.
British military intelligence said in a Twitter post on Monday morning that “isolated pockets of resistance remain in this sector, but since Wednesday, Ukraine has recaptured territory at least twice the size of Greater London”, which would be the equivalent of 3,000 sq km.
In the south of Ukraine, near Kherson, the MoD says Russia could be struggling to bring sufficient reserves forward across the Dnipro river to the front line on the west bank of the river. “An improvised floating bridge Russia started over two weeks ago remains incomplete,” the MoD says. “Ukrainian long-range artillery is now probably hitting crossings of the Dnipro so frequently that Russia cannot carry out repairs to damaged road bridges.”
Source: The Guardian.
Her late majesty's words "Grief is the price we pay for love" have been extensively quoted since her death, including on this blog where they were one of my quotes of the day on Saturday.
Those words are powerful even on their own with no other context, but it is perhaps worth quoting what that the full context in which they were originally written actually was. They were the concluding words of Her Majesty's message of condolences to the people of New York following the Twin Towers attacks on 9/11, twenty-one years ago on Friday.
Sunday, September 11, 2022
King Charles III was proclaimed King yesterday at an "Accession Council" meeting of the Privy Council, and the proclamation has been being read around the country.
Attended the proclamation in Copeland of King Charles III as monarch today, in St Nicholas' Gardens, read by the directly elected Mayor of Copeland in the presence of the MP. Royal British Legion, County, Borough and Town councillors, and the public.
Saturday, September 10, 2022
I returned home a short while ago after attending a couple of meetings in various parts of the country yesterday and today.
On my way back to Cumbria on the Northbound M6, I was concerned to see that on the other side of the road there was an enormous tailback on the M6 Southbound - it looked like traffic was hardly moving on a stretch from near the Lancaster Forton service station, to a point almost as far North as Burton-in Kendal.
Earlier today National Highways said the following:
#M6nationalhighways.co.uk/travel-updates"If you are planning to travel on the M6 Southbound in the near future and your route includes the stretch from Junctions 26 to 32, I would strongly advise you to check for advice about delays and possible alternative routes (the link in the statement above should help.)
Cumbria Pensions Committee will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday 13th and 14th September for a two-day workshop.
Most of the meeting and much of the inch-thick agenda is not available to the public for very good reasons, but the list of the issues being discussed and the reports which are in the public domain can be found on the County Council website by clicking on the link below.
I am glad that these include a review of cyber security, which is an issue I flagged when we discussed the risk register at our last meeting.
"Grief is the price we pay for love"
(The words of Queen Elizabeth II after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which now seem particularly appropriate as a reference to the shock felt by almost everyone in Britain at her own passing.)
"Better days will return: we will be with friends again, we will be with our families again: we will meet again."
(From her inspirational address to the nation at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic)
Friday, September 09, 2022
Like many people I am still a bit in shock about the passing of Her Majesty: I understand it intellectually but part of me cannot really start to grieve because it cannot understand that a towering figure who has had such a central place in our country's life for my entire life has finally gone.
I was at a social event this evening which included both the Loyal Toast and the singing of the national anthem for the first time I had experienced either since yesterday. And therefore the first time I or almost anyone else present had voiced them in the now appropriate form. which is different from the way we have all experienced them for the whole of my previous experience but which, barring quite extraordinary events, will be used for the rest of my life (and probably the rest of my children's lives.)
One friend asked me if I had been practicing "God save our gracious King."
I replied that I didn't think anyone would get it wrong tonight, but I would wager that just about every single one of us will make the slip of falling back into the old words at some point in the next couple of years.
I was right this evening but stand by the rest of my prediction.
As a gesture of respect for Her Majesty the Conservative party, and I understand also all the other political parties, have suspended active political campaigning during the ten days of national mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II up to and including the day of her funeral.
Cumbria County Council's Local Committee for Copeland will meet on Monday, 12th September, 2022 starting at 10.15 am at Cleator Moor Civic Centre.
The meeting will be open to the public.
The main items on the agenda will be a presentation from Active Cumbria, a traffic and highways delivery programme update, and a report on Investing in our Communities.
The full agenda with supporting documents and reports is available on the County Council website by clicking on the link below:
Thursday, September 08, 2022
U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES
"As the United Kingdom's longest-lived and longest-reigning Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II was widely admired for her grace, dignity, and dedication around the world. She was a reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change, including the decolonization of Africa and Asia and the evolution of the Commonwealth.
"Queen Elizabeth II was a good friend of the United Nations, and visited our New York Headquarters twice, more than fifty years apart. She was deeply committed to many charitable and environmental causes and spoke movingly to delegates at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.
"I would like to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II for her unwavering, lifelong dedication to serving her people. The world will long remember her devotion and leadership."
U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AND JILL BIDEN
"In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons, including many who have never known their country without her," they said in a statement. "Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world."
INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI
"Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as a stalwart of our times. She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people. She personified dignity and decency in public life. Pained by her demise. My thoughts are with her family and people of UK in this sad hour."
SHEHBAZ SHARIF, PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN
"Deeply grieved at the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Pakistan joins the UK & other Commonwealth nations in mourning her death. My heartfelt condolences to the royal family, people & government of the UK."
CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU
"It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a constant presence in our lives – and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history."
GHANAIAN PRESIDENT NANA AKUFO-ADDO
"The Ghanaian people have very fond memories of the two visits she made to Ghana during her reign, and, on both occasions, we remember the friendliness, elegance, style and sheer joy she brought to the performance of her duties."
NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN
“I know that I speak for people across New Zealand in offering our deepest sympathy to members of the Royal Family at the passing of the Queen. To us she was a much admired and respected monarch, to them she was a mother and grandmother."
“The Queen was a much loved and admired monarch, whose record reign of 70 years is an absolute testament to her, and her commitment to us all. She was extraordinary."
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE
"With the passing of Queen Elizabeth the Second, an historic reign and a long life devoted to duty, family, faith and service has come to an end."
"Australian hearts go out to the people of the United Kingdom who mourn today, knowing they will feel they have lost part of what makes their nation whole."
"There is comfort to be found in Her Majesty’s own words: 'Grief is the price we pay for love'."
JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER ANDREW HOLNESS
"It was with great and profound sadness, that I learnt of the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning British monarch, whose reign spanned seven decades.
We join our brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth in mourning her passing, and pray for the comfort of the members of her family, and the people of the United Kingdom, as they grieve the loss of their beloved Queen and matriarch, "
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI
"Today, Americans join the people of the United Kingdom in mourning the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Over her seven decades on the throne, Her Majesty was a pillar of leadership in the global arena and a devoted friend of freedom.
U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL
“For 70 long years, from the aftermath of World War II well into the 21st century, across 15 different Prime Ministers, through great triumphs and great challenges, the Queen’s steady leadership safeguarded the land she loved. Despite spending nearly three quarters of a century as one of the most famous and admired individuals on the planet, the Queen made sure her reign was never really about herself — not her fame, not her feelings, not her personal wants or needs. She guided venerable institutions through modern times using timeless virtues like duty, dignity, and sacrifice. She offered our contemporary world a living master class it needed badly."
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AND FORMER FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP
"Queen Elizabeth’s historic and remarkable reign left a tremendous legacy of peace and prosperity for Great Britain. Her leadership and enduring diplomacy secured and advanced alliances with the United States and countries around the world."
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
"Michelle and I were lucky enough to come to know Her Majesty, and she meant a great deal to us."
"Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance."
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
"Laura and I were honored to have known Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a woman of great intellect, charm, and wit. Spending time at Buckingham Palace, and having tea with Her Majesty – and her Corgis – is among our fondest memories of the presidency. Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark moments with her confidence in her people and her vision for a brighter tomorrow. Our world benefitted from her steady resolve, and we are grateful for her decades of service as sovereign. Americans in particular appreciate her strong and steadfast friendship."
FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON
"My thoughts and prayers are with the Royal Family and all the people Her Majesty inspired throughout her lifetime of service."
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT URSULA VON DER LEYEN
"It is with deep sadness that I have learned of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was the world’s longest serving Head of State and one of the most respected personalities worldwide. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and the British people."
EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT CHARLES MICHEL
"Once called Elizabeth the Steadfast, she never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in a modern world with her service and commitment.
IRISH PRIME MINISTER MICHEAL MARTIN
"On behalf of the Government of Ireland, I would like to convey my deepest sympathy to the British people on the loss of their beloved monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth."
"Her State Visit to Ireland in 2011 marked a crucial step in the normalisation of relations with our nearest neighbour. That visit was a great success, largely because of the many gracious gestures and warm remarks made by the Queen."
DUTCH KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER
"We remember Queen Elizabeth II with deep respect and great affection. Steadfast and wise, she dedicated her long life to serving the British people. We feel a strong bond with the United Kingdom and its royal family, and we share their sorrow at this time."
THE ROYAL HOUSE OF NORWAY
"The Royal Family is deeply saddened to receive the news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has passed away."
KING CARL XVI GUSTAF OF SWEDEN
“With sadness, my family and I have today received the news that my dear relative, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, has passed away.
"The Queen served Her countries and the Commonwealth with an outstanding devotion and sense of duty. She has been a constant presence, not only in British society but internationally. In addition, she has always been a good friend to my family and a link to our shared family history."
GERMAN CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ
"We mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II. She was a role model and inspiration for millions, also here in Germany. Her commitment to German-British reconciliation after the horrors of World War II will remain unforgotten. She will be missed, not least her wonderful humour."
ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER MARIO DRAGHI
"Queen Elizabeth was a major player in world history over the last seventy years. She represented the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth with balance, wisdom, respect for institutions and democracy. She has been the most beloved symbol of her country and has garnered respect, affection and warm feelings everywhere. She ensured stability in times of crisis and kept the value of tradition alive in a society in constant and profound evolution."
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
"Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II embodied the British nation’s continuity and unity for over 70 years. I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century."
SPANISH PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ
"My condolences to the entire Royal Family, the government and the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II."
"A figure of global significance, witness and author of British and European history."
CZECH PRIME MINISTER PETR FIALA
"I am deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II. Sending heartfelt and sincere condolences to the Royal family and the British people and the people of the Commonwealth."
POLISH PRESIDENT ANDRZEJ DUDA
"My deepest condolences to the Royal Family and all the British people on passing of Her Majesty The Queen. For decades she has been an embodiment of everything that makes Britain truly Great. She will be missed and remembered in Poland and all over the world."
KAJA KALLAS, PRIME MINISTER OF ESTONIA
"Her sense of service and dedication to public duty were unparalleled. It's the end of an era but her legend will live on and inspire."
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKIY
"It is with deep sadness that we learned of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of the UA people, we extend sincere condolences to the @RoyalFamily, the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over this irreparable loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you."
CHIEF MINISTER OF GIBRALTAR FABIAN PICARDO
"The People of Gibraltar will mourn Her Majesty as a monarch who has reigned wisely and with incomparable dedication throughout the period of our post-war emergence as a part of the British family of nations."
"The People of Gibraltar and the Government proclaim their loyalty to the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to His Majesty The King."
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES VICE PRESIDENT SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM
"We join the world in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, a global icon who represented the finest qualities of her nation and people. Her incredible lifetime of service and duty to the United Kingdom is unparalleled in our modern world."
UAE'S PRESIDENT MOHAMED BIN ZAYED
"Her Majesty was a close friend of the UAE and a beloved & respected leader whose long reign was characterised by dignity, compassion & a tireless commitment to serving her country."
ABDULLAH BIN AL HUSSEIN, KING OF JORDAN
"Jordan mourns the passing of an iconic leader. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a beacon of wisdom and principled leadership for seven decades. She was a partner for Jordan and a dear family friend. We stand with the people and leadership of the UK at this difficult time."
IRAQI PRESIDENT BARHAM SALIH
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II. I extend profound condolences to the royal family and to the people of the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth will be remembered as a great icon of history who served with grace, dignity and fortitude."
HONDURAN FOREIGN MINISTER EDUARDO ENRIQUE REINA
"Our sincere condolences to the people and government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II, a message of sympathy to her family."
Expressed its "sorrow" at the death of Queen Elizabeth II and said that it "stood by the British people and her family in this moment of pain".
VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO
"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II of England, British monarch. We express our condolences to the royal family, to the United Kingdom and to the British people. Peace to her Soul!".
ECUADORIAN PRESIDENT GUILLERMO LASSO
"Distraught at the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, whose long life and dedication to the service of her people go down in history as an exemplary reign."
PARAGUAYAN PRESIDENT MARIO ABDO BENÍTEZ
"From the Republic of Paraguay, we convey our condolences to the Royal Family, the Government and the people of the United Kingdom on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who will always be remembered for her great vocation of service, " said
MEXICAN FOREIGN MINISTER MARCELO EBRARD
"Our thoughts and condolences to the people and government of the United Kingdom."
COSTA RICA FOREIGN MINISTRY
"Costa Rica expresses its heartfelt condolences to the British government and people as well as to the Commonwealth of Nations on the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II."
PANAMANIAN PRESIDENT LAURENTINO CORTIZO
"I send heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family, the British people and the Commonwealth on the physical passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who honored Panama on a historic State Visit six decades ago. Peace to her soul."
EL SALVADOR PRESIDENT NAYIB BUKELE
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. My wife Gabriela and I extend our deepest sympathies to the British people and the Royal Family. Her Majesty’s legacy will always remain a touchstone for our shared values of empathy, solidarity and service."
Buckingham Palace confirms that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has died today at the age of 96. A statement from Buckingham Palace said,
“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow”.
We have lost the most dedicated servant our country has ever had.
Rest in Peace,
“Earlier this week I promised I would deal with the soaring energy prices faced by families and businesses across the UK,”
“And today I am delivering on that promise.”
“This government is moving immediately to introduce a new energy price guarantee that will give people certainty on energy bills, it will curb inflation and boost growth.
“This guarantee, which includes a temporary suspension of green levies, means that from 1 October a typical household will pay no more than £2,500 per year for each of the next two years while we get the energy market back on track.
“This will save a typical household £1,000 a year. It comes in addition to the £400 energy bills support scheme. This guarantee supersedes the Ofgem price cap and has been agreed with energy retailers.”
“I’m acting immediately so people and businesses are supported over the next two years, with a new energy price guarantee, and tackling the root cause of issues by boosting domestic energy supply.”
(Extracts from the statement today by Prime Minister Liz Truss about the action she is taking to help people with their energy bills and the cost of living crisis.)
Unusual times call for unusual measures.
Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine has set the world price of gas to ridiculous levels: if no action were taken this would impose considerable economic suffering on most people and completely unacceptable suffering to the most vulnerable member of society.
Hence it would be necessary for any government to act, to think outside the box, and to be willing to embrace measures that they would not normally consider. That is the context for the £150 billion package that the Prime Minister has announced today.
This morning Liz Truss set out plans to help with the cost of energy bills and increase our energy security, delivering immediate support for people ahead of this winter.
- Covid and Putin’s war in Ukraine have caused immense challenges for our country, with energy prices rising and families facing significant cost of living pressures.
- That is why we will today announce immediate action to help people with the cost of their bills – giving people certainty to make sure they are able to get through the winter, while also maximising domestic energy production like North Sea oil and Gas, as well as nuclear and renewables to ensure we are never in this situation again.
- This will ensure people get the support they need and provide certainty for them over the months ahead, whilst securing energy independence for our country in the long term.
The government has announced a £2 bus fare cap across England, saving passengers money on day-to-day journeys to help with cost of living pressures.
- We know that local transport links form the transport spine of many communities across the country – but in the face of cost of living pressures we must help passengers keep costs down.
- That is why the government announced a £2 bus fare cap across England – saving passengers more than £60 a month if they took 4 single trips a week, and 30 per cent on the average fare.
- This will be managed through a £60 million package of taxpayer support which will help millions by saving on travel costs for work and essential journeys – easing the cost of living for passengers.
Wednesday, September 07, 2022
The government has unveiled a £110 million fund to level up rural communities across England, ensuring the levelling up mission delivers for every corner of the country.
- Whilst talent is spread evenly across the country, opportunity is not, and we must address the rural productivity gap by delivering levelling up opportunities for these unique communities.
- That is why the Conservative government has announced that rural businesses such as farms, wedding venues and pubs will benefit from up to £110 million of funding. Investment will be based on local priorities such as boosting local tourism, delivering capital grants for the provision of gigabit capable digital infrastructure and the creation of new footpaths and cycle paths.
- This fund recognises the unique strengths and challenges of our rural communities by giving them the tools they need to grow their economies in line with local priorities.
"We in Ukraine know her well - she has always been on the bright side of European politics,"
"And I believe that together we will be able to do a lot more to protect our nations and to thwart all Russian destructive efforts."
(Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a statement in which he contratulated Liz Truss on becoming UK prime minister and added that he looked forward to working with Ms Truss.)
Tuesday, September 06, 2022
The Labour party never stops preaching sanctimoniously to every other part of society about the need for diversity and equal opportunity.
And yet they are truly dreadful at practicing diversity at the top.
While Liz Truss is the third woman to hold the job of Prime Minister - and like the two previous women to achieve the position, is a Conservative - and every other political party in Britain has had at least one woman leader, Labour is the ONLY major political party which has NEVER elected a female leader.
The Conservatives believe in appointment on merit, but we practice diversity where Labour talks about it. Boris Johnson's first cabinet was the most diverse in British history. Liz Truss's first cabinet is if anything even more so.
In her top four posts, Liz Truss has appointed:
Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor
James Cleverly as foreign secretary
Suella Braverman as home secretary
Therese Coffey as deputy prime minister and health secretary
Other appointment include Penny Mordaunt as Leader of the House of Commons, Nadhim Zahawi as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Wendy Morton as Chief Whip.
One of the few people staying in the same job is Defence secretary Ben Wallace.
I will post a full list of the government later. What is clear is that while Labour preaches endlessly about diversity, yet does not practice it, the Conservatives do.
Today, the new Conservative Party Leader Liz Truss became Prime Minister and with her new cabinet will begin working tirelessly to deliver on the priorities of the British people.
- We face unprecedented challenges in the aftermath of Covid-19 and Putin’s war in Ukraine - the British people need us to deliver on the serious issues facing them today and in the long term.
- That is why Liz and her new Government will begin work immediately to deliver a bold Conservative plan for Britain – taking rapid action on energy bills to help families through the winter and tackling the root cause of the energy crisis; growing the economy in a conservative way by cutting taxes and slashing red tape; and delivering for our NHS.
- We must deliver, deliver, deliver over the next two years - to get people through the tough times ahead and unleash the full potential of our great country.
I was sorry to learn that a long-serving servant of the community in Copeland and Millom, Copeland Councillor Fred Gleaves, has died today after a long illness.
Some councillors make a lot of speeches - Freddie was not one of these. In the time he and I served together on Copeland Council I can't recall hearing his voice in the council chamber.
But I heard it on many other occasions and he did an awful lot of hard work for his community behind the scenes. The proof that just because he didn't make lots of speeches this did not make him a bad councillor can be seen from the strong personal vote he always had from his constituents. Fred usually topped the poll in his ward even in elections in which other good Conservative candidates failed to get elected in the same ward.
He will be fondly remembered and I will be one of many people who miss him.
Rest in Peace.
Cumbria County Council will meet tomorrow (Wednesday 7th September) at 10am in the Council Chamber at County Hall, Kendal. The meeting will be open to the public, or at least to those who will not be at work but can afford to travel to County Hall and back.
Anyone who is travelling to the meeting should allow extra time as the meeting clashes with the Westmorland County Show in Kendal on 7th and 8th September. The council normally has its' meetings on Thursdays, this one was brought forward to Wednesday to avoid a clash with the show but the people who did that had not appreciated that the show is now a two-day event.
In the ordinary course of events I would be asking if next time we could just have the council meeting and the show in different weeks but as the county council will no longer exist at the time of the next Westmorland County Show that will be an issue for the successor authority.
The main items on the agenda are the Youth Justice Plan for 2022/23, and to roll forward the Council's Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) for the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service for an additional twelve months to fill in the gap before the service moves to being the responsibility of Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, who will become the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
You can find the full agenda for the meeting, and all the supporting documents, by clicking on the link below:
At the weekend the government announced a landmark £2 billion Rough Sleeping Strategy, driving forward the Conservative manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping for good and giving vulnerable people in our society a roof over their head.
- Thanks to government support there has been a 43 per cent drop in rough sleeping since 2019. But whilst rough sleeping is at an eight year low we must do more to drive out rough sleeping for good.
- That is why the Rough Sleeping Strategy, backed by £2 billion, will deliver 14,000 beds and 3,000 support staff this year alone – alongside an extra 2,400 long-term support homes for those with the most complex needs with a focus on alcohol treatment services to break the addiction cycle of rough sleeping.
- This strategy will give us the tools to identify people at risk of rough sleeping earlier and provide the help they need – whilst supporting vulnerable people in our society by providing a roof over their heads.
Monday, September 05, 2022
Today the NHS autumn booster programme kicks off, with care home residents, staff and the housebound to first receive their jabs – keeping the most vulnerable in our society safe and strengthening our defences against the virus.
- We know in order to retain our freedoms and live with Covid we must keep the most vulnerable in our society protected from the virus.
- Britain's autumn booster rollout begins today with care home residents and staff amongst the first in the world to receive the new, variant-tackling jabs. Around seven million people who are at highest risk, including the over 75s and those with weakened immune systems, will be able to book a vaccine through the National Booking Service, with the first appointments available from the following week and invitations landing on doormats from 7 September.
- With a record 3,100 sites forming part of the rollout, the autumn booster roll out will top up the immunity of the most vulnerable and help us to live with the virus without restrictions.
Today it was announced that Conservative Party members have elected Liz Truss to be our Party Leader and the next Prime Minister, with 81,326 members – 57.4 per cent of those who voted – putting their trust in her bold and optimistic plan for the country.
- Liz’s Government will work tirelessly to deliver on the priorities of the British people – taking rapid action on energy bills to help families through the winter; tackling the root cause of the energy crisis to put us on a secure footing for the future; and growing the economy in a Conservative way to stave off the threat of a recession.
- We have a bold plan to see Britain through the difficult times ahead and get us out the other side stronger – and will do everything in our power to make sure everyone, no matter where they are from, has the opportunity to go as far as their talent and hard work takes them.
- Now is the time for the whole party and country to get behind Liz’s leadership – so we can focus on tackling the serious challenges the country faces and providing the immediate support people need for the months ahead.
Liz has a bold Conservative plan to deliver for the country and economy:
- Helping families with the cost of living:
- Providing people with immediate support for the cost of living and helping businesses.
- Introducing a temporary moratorium on green energy levies, bringing household energy bills down to help families through the winter.
- Holding an emergency fiscal event as soon as possible, building on the support already provided to help families through the challenging times ahead.
- Cutting corporation tax back to 19 per cent, helping to grow our economy and providing a much-needed boost to businesses to stave off the threat of a recession.
- Unshackling businesses from EU regulations, driving growth and innovation by introducing a sunset deadline by the end of 2023 to scrap all EU-derived laws which are currently holding UK businesses back.
- Implementing critical supply side reforms, including reforming Solvency II and MiFID regulations to release billions for investment in British infrastructure, energy projects, and the high-tech industry.
Securing our energy independence:
- Maximising North Sea oil and gas production, radically boosting domestic energy supplies to make the most of the resources we have.
- Allowing fracking in the areas that want it, unlocking the full potential of our natural resources with a clear plan to ensure local communities who want it, benefit from it.
- Championing UK world leading technologies, embracing diverse sources of energy like small modular nuclear reactors made by Rolls-Royce, and offshore wind capacity made possible by Scottish Power.
Keeping our country and borders safe:
- Expanding the Rwanda policy, pushing forward with more return agreements to end the profitability of people trafficking across the channel.
- Increasing defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030, positioning the UK as Europe’s most capable armed forces so we can stand up to authoritarian regimes like Putin’s.
- Building a network of liberty between likeminded countries, isolating hostile states and binding friendly countries like the Commonwealth nations closer together.
- Creating new low-tax low-regulation Investment Zones, to drive business investment into the places that need it most.
- Unlocking the opportunity of home ownership, by reforming mortgage rules to make it easier for first time buyers, and scrapping Whitehall-imposed targets so houses are built where communities want them.
- Reviewing a Levelling Up Formula, to fix underinvestment in regional infrastructure and ensure funding is getting into the areas that need it.
- Cracking down on trade union strike action, introducing legislation within the first 30 days to bring in minimum service levels, and making strike action less frequent, and more costly for unions.
- Cutting key crimes by a fifth by 2024, with a raft of new measures including crime league tables, officers visiting the scene of every burglary, and the 20,000 new officers promised to help deliver this goal.
- Implementing a six-point plan to get our education system back on track, including bringing down the cost of childcare, expanding high performing schools, and reforming university admissions.
- Slashing bureaucracy in the NHS, ensuring staff are focused on patients, not paperwork by setting targets set locally so they meet the needs of the people who use these services
Strengthening our Union:
- Empowering the devolved legislatures, giving Members of the Scottish Parliament, Senedd, and Northern Ireland Assembly parliamentary privilege on the same terms MPs have to hold leaders to account.
- Investing directly in communities in every part of the UK, giving funding and resources to the people who know their local area and its needs best.
- Extending Investment Zones to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, levelling up every part of the country and driving funding into the places that need it most.