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Two very different views on how the war in Ukraine should end

 I have been reading today two very different views on what sort of negotiated end to the war in Ukraine might be acceptable. There is a piece by Ian Linden on "The Article" website, The case for a negotiated peace in Ukraine | TheArticle which a sympathetic reviewer might describe as a plea for peace even if Ukraine has to compromise, and a less sympathetic reviewer such as myself, might describe as well-intentioned but hopelessly  naive. All too often in the face of a dangerous threat, be it Putin or Hitler, a wholly understandable wish for peace can lead to weakness masquerading as pragmatism in the form of arguments against which standing up to an existential threat and making it more dangerous. Linden repeats the line that Western leaders had given assurances to Russia that NATO would not expand East and then broken them: it's difficult to see what this is meant to show since as he himself admits, "NATO’s expansion does not justify Putin’s criminal invasions of

MoD Defence intelligence update 21st September 2023

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A new approach to climate change

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Yesterday   the Prime Minister set out our new, pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach to meeting Net Zero   that eases the burden on working people.  The UK is a world leader on climate change. We have over-delivered on our targets, with the fastest reduction in emissions in the G7, down almost 50 per cent since 1990.  That is why the Prime Minister set out our new pragmatic approach, easing the transition to electric vehicles and heat pumps, so people will not have to make changes until 2035, while increasing grants for heat pumps by 50 per cent. We are also scrapping onerous energy efficiency requirements and no rules on carpooling, seven different bins, more expensive meat and no new taxes on flying.   We are putting long-term interests before short-term political needs and our new approach to net zero will change the direction of our country and build a better future for our children.

Quote of the day 21st September 2023

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MoD Defence intelligence summary 20th Sept 2023

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Latest inflation figures

Today   the latest figures confirm that the rate of inflation is 6.7 per cent, easing from last month , as Conservatives continue to take action and deliver on our priority to halve inflation. Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine and the lasting effects from the pandemic continue to have an impact across the world, but today’s figures show that our plan is working as inflation stands at 6.7 per cent, down from over 10 per cent at the beginning of the year.  We are taking action to drive down inflation – getting more people into work, halving energy bills, and taking a responsible approach to the public finances, while helping households with the cost of living. But while price rises are slowing, we are not at the finish line. We must stick to our plan to halve inflation this year and get it back to the two per cent target as soon as possible The decisive action we have taken to tackle inflation is working, with inflation now standing at its lowest level since February last year. Cutting infl

MoD Defence intelligence update 19th Sept 2023

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Making the global financial system fairer

Today the UK government announced new proposals   to make the global financial system fairer and better support developing countries from global security risks   – helping to build a more prosperous and secure world at home and abroad. Climate change, pandemics, and stagnant economic growth are some of the greatest challenges facing developing countries, and a united international effort is required to tackle them. That is why today the K government announced new proposals to build a fairer financial system and boost the financial resilience of developing countries, including by helping to unlock investment in climate initiatives and education, improving the efficiency of disaster response funding, and creating more sustainable tax systems in developing countries.  These steps will help to support countries become more prosperous and prepared for future threats, helping to improve lives across the world.   

MoD Defence intelligence update 18th Sept 2023

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Improving Mobile Connectivity

This week the government   announced new investment of £88 million to boost mobile connectivity across sporting venues and tourism hotspots , increasing resilience across our network and ensuring businesses can attract more customers as we grow the economy. Whether you are in a busy city centre or a rural village, a fast and reliable mobile connection is vital to staying in touch, accessing services and doing business. That is why we are investing £88 million into making our mobile networks more adaptable and resilient in sporting venues and across tourist hotspots, with future-proofed technology to support bringing lightning-fast connections across the country for many years to come. These projects will introduce key solutions to increase the resilience of our mobile networks, connecting people and helping to grow the economy. Full disclosure: I am an employee of Openreach and a small share holder in BT PLC. However, all the information in this post came from Conservative Party or pub

Sunday music spot: Sing Joyfully by William Byrd, performed by the King's SIngers

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Egremont Crab Fair 2023

My wife and I spent this evening at Egremont Crab Fair, a traditional local event founded by royal charter in 1267, making it one of the oldest  community fairs in the country. It has been held almost continuously since the thirteenth century, but made a welcome return this weekend following a four-year gap, having had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and last year as a mark of respect because Her late majesty Queen Elizabeth died just before the event was due and the fair fell during the period of national mourning. But the Crab Fair was back with a bang this year and hundreds of people from all over Britain, and some from the rest of the world, came to enjoy it. The Crab Fair includes the World Gurning championship.  What is gurning, you might ask?  Well, I suppose you could describe it as pulling odd faces - in the same way you could describe the Atlantic Ocean as a large body of water. Tommy Mattinson became Men's World Gurning Champion for a record 18th con

Comeback of the week

“Funny, Labour was here yesterday and said exactly the same thing.” Timothy Fox, a voter in Mid Bedfordshire, quoted in the Guardian on how he replied to the Lib/Dem candidate in Mid Bedfordshire when she told him her party were frontrunners to beat the Conservatives. The same Guardian article also quotes Peter Kyle, Labour's campaign co-ordinator for the by-election as complaining about personal attacks by the Lib Dems on Labour’s candidate,  “The Lib Dems have gone scorched earth. They are a towering inferno of self-righteous rage. Politically, they will raze the place to the ground if they carry on like this.” This complaint about Lib/Dem tactics resonates with me: I've seen some nasty ones in the past and indeed, I was out on the doorstep a couple of days ago in Richmond, with the Conservative candidate in a by-election for North Yorkshire Council, and what should we find but local residents complaining about Lib/Dem campaign tactics. Here is a link to the Guardian article:

£1 billion to insulate more homes

This week the government   announced a £1 billion scheme to insulate more than 300,000 houses across the country , helping families save up to £400 a year on energy bills as we halve inflation and grow the economy. Putin’s weaponisation of energy has led to household bills soaring. We shielded people by paying half the typical energy bill but now we must look to more long-term measures to help people save on their bills. That is why the Conservative government has announced our Great British Insulation Scheme, helping more than 300,000 families in lower council tax bands with less energy-efficient homes insulate their homes, which could cut their annual energy bill by an average of between £300 to £400 a year. This is on top of the 2.4 million homes which have already benefitted from similar measures.  We will continue to help families keep their homes warm through the winter months and save on their energy bills.

Music to start the weekend: Hornpipe from Handel's Water Music

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I hope I am not inviting it to rain by scheduling this!

Quote of the day 15th September 2023

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£200 million of new funding for the NHS

Today the government    announced £200 million of new funding for the NHS , boosting resilience so patients get the care they need this winter and helping to address the serious challenge of cutting waiting lists. Winter brings immense challenges for the NHS, so the government is working with health leaders to make sure we are prepared.  That is also why the government is investing £200 million to boost resilience in the NHS and protect elective care and to do more to address the challenge of cutting waiting lists. The government is also investing £40 million to bolster social care capacity and improve discharge from hospital.  This funding will help patients get the care they need and help to cut waiting lists. I will put up another post in the next few days addressing the serious challenge of getting waiting lists down. The present problems have been building for decades under governments in which there have been ministers of all three parties. It is too serious and complex for  knee

Quote of the day 14th September 2021

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I have used this as my quote of the day before. And I make no apology for repeating it.  

Keep the triple lock - but reform it

The Conservatives are committed to keeping the "Triple lock" to protect the value of the basic state pension for the rest of this parliament - but both the Conservatives and Labour appear to be reviewing whether to promise to continue the policy for the next one.  I believe that the state pension in Britain can and should be protected by a "triple lock" which ensures in a fair and sustainable way that the real value of the pension is protected and that it's real value must keep pace over time with that of wages and salaries as it failed to do in the nineties and the first decade of this century. The problem is there are some issues with the detail of how the existing "triple lock" operates which mean that, in it's present form, it is not going to be sustainable in the long term.   The "Triple lock" should not be scrapped - but it must be reformed. The present version of the triple lock made sense in 2010 when it was introduced after Gord

Helping the NHS to prepare for Winter

Today,   the Prime Minister met with NHS leaders and health experts to prepare the NHS for winter pressures , making sure patients get the care they need as we cut waiting lists. We have eliminated waits of over two years for NHS treatment and we are continuing to make progress on cutting waiting lists for patients – but pressure on the NHS always increases over the winter. That is why the Prime Minister met with NHS leaders today to discuss ways to mitigate winter pressures, improve care for patients and continue to get waiting lists down so patients can access the care they need, when they need it.  The government is starting planning for winter earlier than before so we can continue to deliver the very best care for patients. 

Sir Flip Flop strikes again

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Most of the posts on this blog concentrate on positive things the government and the Conservatives are doing or positive suggestions for things I want to see, rather than attacks on other parties. But I am going to make an exception and call out the latest egregious U-turn by the flip-flop king, also known as the leader of the opposition. This country needs more houses. Young people and first-time buyers particularly need us to provide more homes, in the right places, with the right infrastructure. So when the government found a way to unlock 100,000 more homes in places which have support from the relevant local councils, without weakening overall environmental protection (because other and more effective measures would be put in place to deal with the nutrient problem rather than unnecessary blocks on new housing) the initial impression was that Labour would support it. Just a fortnight ago Labour's Lisa Nandy was claiming that Labour would support effective measures to get Brita

Midweek music spot: another performance of Vivaldi's Concerto in C major RV 558

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Quote of the day 13th September 2023

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"Russia can not use its Black Sea fleet to strike civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and not expect Ukraine to target those assets committing the war crimes." Rt Hon Ben Wallace, former UK Defence secretary

From the fact checkers

 Both benefit fraud and people who fail to pay their taxes pose a significant cost to the UK treasury. In the interests of fairness to decent, honest people at all levels of society who pay the tax they owe and claim only what they are due, it is important to crack down on both. However, some people with a political agenda will try to convince everyone that one problem is much larger than the other. An example is the false claim recently circulating on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook, which has been debunked by Full Fact  here , that  "For every 1p lost to benefit ‘thieves’, £2 is lost to tax avoiders." As Full Fact put it, "This isn’t correct. The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that in 2022/23 £6.5 billion was overpaid in benefits due to fraud, while HMRC estimates that, in the most recent financial year for which figures are available, approximately £1.4 billion less was collected in tax than theoretically should have been as a result of tax avoidance.&qu

Four Million more people in work

New jobs figures today show there are almost four million more people in work since 2010  - showing the progress of Conservative governments in giving more people the security of work.  The UK, like economies across the world, is facing economic pressures, but thanks to a strong workforce our economy is resilient and we are making progress on our priority to halve inflation. New figures released today show there are almost 33 million people employed across the UK, meaning there are almost four million more people in work since 2010 and 1.1 million more people in payrolled employment since before the pandemic.  Governments do not create jobs, Business does. The Conseratives have been working to help business create new jobs, and over the past twelve years this strategy has been succeeding. By comparison no Labour government since World War II has left office with unemployment lower than when they were elected, only the Conservatives can deliver the jobs we need.  The best strategy is a

The Online Safety Bill

Today the government   welcomes some of the nation’s best-known personalities to 10 Downing Street to bolster support for our Online Safety Bill , helping to make the UK one of the safest places to be online. The Online Safety Bill is a landmark piece of legislation that will help to protect children and those facing online abuse for decades to come.  Today some of the nation’s best-known personalities, including reality TV stars, journalists, sportspeople, and musicians, will come to Downing Street to meet the Technology Secretary and discuss trolling and online abuse they have faced, and to raise concerns about child safety online. The aim is that the Online Safety Bill will help to make the UK one of the safest places in the world to be online, ensuring our children can grow up in a safe online environment.

Quote of the day 12th September 2023

“Every day I am confronted with the grim consequences of war. But it seems like our nation didn’t learn the right lesson from history,” This is a quote from  Konstantin Dobrovolski , a very brave Russian who has dedicated the last thirty-three years of his live to finding the missing bodies of Soviet soldiers killed during World War II, identifying them, and burying or reburying them with proper respect. In that time he has found and reburied the remains of 20,000 people. There is a very moving article about him in The Guardian which you can find and read by clicking on the following link: My nation didn’t learn lesson of war, says Russian who finds bodies of Soviet soldiers | Russia | The Guardian I refer to Konstantin Dobrovolski as very brave because he does not hesitate to speak his mind about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. and under Putin's draconian new laws against dissent anyone bold enough to condemn the so called "Special Military Operation" can be sent to pri

BMW to invest £600 million in UK electric car manufacturing

BMW are set to announce a £600 million investment in electric car manufacturing, securing 4,000 jobs as the Conservatives continue to back the UK’s world-leading car manufacturing sector and grow the economy. Conservative government plans for Britain's world-leading car manufacturing sector and the skills and history of Britain in making cars make the UK the best place in the world to build the cars of the future, sustaining tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs. That is why BMW are set to announce a £600 million investment that will transform their Oxford MINI plant to all-electric production from 2030, securing 4,000 high-quality jobs and strengthening the UK’s domestic electric vehicle supply chain. BMW’s latest announcement will bring investment in the UK automotive sector to over £6 billion since 2020, securing thousands of jobs and growing our economy right across the country.

MoD Defence intelligence update summary 11th September 2023

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G20 Roundup

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, met with fellow world leaders at the G20 Summit, securing a   strategic trade partnership with Singapore   and announcing a   $2 billion contribution to the Green Climate fund , helping to grow our economy and tackle climate change. We will always put the interests of the British people front and centre of our international engagement, so that diplomacy delivers for people back home. That is why at the G20, the Prime Minister met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, upgrading our trade, scientific and security relationship with Singapore by agreeing a strategic trade partnership, as well as announcing plans to contribute £2 billion to the Green Climate Fund – the biggest single funding commitment the UK has ever made on climate change. The PM also spoke to the senior member of the PRC delegation about the troubling issue of Chinese interference in UK democracy at Westminster. Conservatives will continue to stand up for British interests abro