Thursday, October 06, 2022

Standing form against Putin's aggression

Today the Prime Minister will call for Europe to stand firm against Russian aggression at the European Leaders’ meeting in Prague, driving international action on the UK’s priorities.

  • Europe is facing its biggest crisis since the Second World War – we must continue to stand firm to ensure that Ukraine wins this war, but also to deal with the strategic challenges that it has exposed. 
  • That is why the Prime Minister will today attend the meeting of leaders from across Europe – to shore up support for Ukraine, while also galvanising action on energy security and migration. 
  • This will help to address the fundamental causes of the issues we face – delivering on the priorities of the British people. 

Text of Liz Truss's closing speech to Conservative Party conference

Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, The Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party: Speech to Conservative Party Conference 2022

"My friends, it’s great to be here with you in Birmingham.

It’s fantastic to see the cranes across the skyline building new buildings…

…the busy trams coursing down the streets…

…and the bull standing proudly at the heart of Birmingham.

My friends, this is what a city with a Tory Mayor looks like – it’s positive, it’s enterprising, it’s successful.And Andy Street is a human dynamo, delivering for the people of Birmingham.

And our Teesside Mayor Ben Houchen is also delivering new jobs and investment. This is what modern Conservatism looks like.

Let’s get Tory mayors elected in London, in Manchester, in West Yorkshire and right across the country.

We gather at a vital time for the United Kingdom.

These are stormy days.

Together, we have mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the rock on which modern Britain was built. We are now in a new era under King Charles III.

We are dealing with the global economic crisis caused by Covid and by Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine.

In these tough times, we need to step up.

I am determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the tempest and put us on a stronger footing as a nation.

I am driven in this mission by my firm belief in the British people.

I believe that you know best how to spend your own money, to get on in life and realise your own ambitions.

My friends that is what Conservatism is about.

It is a belief in freedom, in fair play and the great potential of the British people.

So, I’m not going to tell you what to do, or what to think or how to live your life.

I’m not interested in how many two-for-one offers you buy at the supermarket, how you spend your spare time, or in virtue signalling.

I’m not interested in just talking about things, but actually in doing things.

What I’m interested in is your hopes and fears that you feel every day.

  • Can you get a good job locally?
  • Is it safe to walk down the high street late at night?
  • Can you get a doctor’s appointment?

I know how you feel because I have the same hopes and fears.

I want what you want.

I have fought to get where I am today.

I have fought to get jobs, to get pay rises and get on the housing ladder.

I have juggled my career with raising two wonderful daughters.

I know how it feels to have your potential dismissed by those who think they know better.

I remember as a young girl being presented on a plane with a “Junior Air Hostess” badge.

Meanwhile, my brothers were given “Junior Pilot” badges.

It wasn’t the only time in my life that I have been treated differently for being female or for not fitting in. It made me angry and it made me determined.

Determined to change things so other people didn’t feel the same way.

I remember growing up in Leeds, where I saw too many children being let down.

Let down by low expectations.

Let down by a Labour council who were more interested in political correctness than they were in school standards.

But I was lucky to have been brought up in a family that cared about education.

They taught me the value of hard work and enterprise.

And I stand here today as the first Prime Minister of our country to have gone to a comprehensive school.

That taught me two things.

One is that we have huge talent across the country.

And two, that we’re not making enough of it.

This is a great country.

I’m so proud of who we are and what we stand for.

But I know that we can do better and I know that we must do better.

And that’s why I entered politics.

I want to live in a country 

  • where hard work is rewarded...
  • where women can walk home safely at night.…
  • And where our children have a better future.

To deliver this, we need to get Britain moving.

We cannot have any more drift and delay at this vital time.

Let’s remember where we were when I entered Downing Street.

Average energy bills were predicted to soar above £6,000 a year.

We faced the highest tax burden that our country had had for 70 years.

And we were told that we could do nothing about it.

I did not accept that things had to be this way.

I knew that inaction would be unconscionable.

  • Families would have been unable to heat their homes.
  • Businesses would have gone bust.
  • Jobs would have been lost.
  • And we would have had worse public services, including the NHS.

I could not allow this to happen.

I refused to consign our great country to decline.

That is why I promised on entering Downing Street to act.

Now later on in my speech my friends I am going to talk about the anti-growth coalition.

But I think they arrived in the hall a bit too early, they were meant to come later on.

We will get onto them in a few minutes.

What we did is we acted.

We made sure that the typical household energy bill shouldn’t be more than around £2,500 a year this winter and next.

We followed up with immediate action to support businesses over the winter.

We are determined to shield people from astronomically high bills.

So much so, that we are doing more in this country to protect people from the energy crisis than any other country in Europe.

Our response to the energy crisis was the biggest part of the mini-Budget.

It was the biggest part for a good reason – because we had to do it.

But it’s not the only challenge that we face.

For too long, our economy has not grown as strongly as it should have done.

I know what it is like to live somewhere that isn’t feeling the benefits of economic growth.

I grew up in Paisley and in Leeds in the 80s and 90s.

  • I have seen the boarded-up shops.
  • I have seen people left with no hope turning to drugs.
  • I have seen families struggling to put food on the table.

Low growth isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet.

Low growth means lower wages, fewer opportunities and less money to spend on the things that make life better.

It means our country falling behind other countries, including those who threaten our way of life.

And it means the parts of our country that I really care about falling even further behind.

That is why we must level up our country in a Conservative way, ensuring that everywhere everyone can get on.

Conference it is wrong to invest only in places which are thriving, as economic models often have it.

We need to fund the furthest behind first.

And for too long, the political debate has been dominated by the argument about how we distribute a limited economic pie.

Instead, we need to grow the pie so that everyone gets a bigger slice.

That is why I am determined to take a new approach and break us out of this high-tax, low-growth cycle.

And that is what our plan is about: it is about getting the economy growing and rebuilding Britain through reform.

The scale of this challenge is immense.

War in Europe for the first time in a generation…

…A more uncertain world in the aftermath of Covid…

…And a global economic crisis.

That is why in Britain we need to do things differently.

We need to step up.

As the last few weeks have shown, it will be difficult.

Whenever there is change, there is disruption.

And not everyone will be in favour of change.

But everyone will benefit from the result - a growing economy and a better future.

That is what we have a clear plan to deliver.

I have three priorities for our economy: growth, growth and growth.

Growth means more money in people’s pockets it means businesses creating jobs.

Growth means people can feel secure and they can plan for their future.

Fundamentally, growth helps people fulfil their hopes and their dreams.

That is why our dynamic new Chancellor and I will be taking action in three areas.

First of all, we will lower our tax burden.

Over the summer, we had a robust debate.

The Conservative party will always be the party of low taxes.

Cutting taxes is the right thing to do morally and economically.

Morally, because the state does not spend its own money. It spends the people’s money.

Economically, because if people keep more of their own money, they are inspired to do more of what they do best.

This is what grows the economy.

When the government plays too big a role, people feel smaller.

High taxes mean you feel it’s less worthwhile working that extra hour, going for a better job or setting up your own business.

That, my friends, is why we are cutting taxes.

We have already cut Stamp Duty, helping people on the housing ladder – especially first-time buyers.

  • We are reversing the increase in National Insurance from next month.
  • We are keeping corporation tax at 19 per cent, the lowest in the G20.
  • We are helping 31 million working people by cutting the basic rate of income tax.

We need to be internationally competitive, with all our tax rates attracting the best talent.

Cutting taxes helps us face this global economic crisis, putting up a sign that Britain is open for business.

The fact is that the abolition of the 45p tax rate became a distraction from the major parts of our growth plan. That is why we are no longer proceeding with it.

I get it and I have listened.

Secondly, we will keep an iron grip on the nation’s finances.

  • I believe in fiscal responsibility.
  • I believe in getting value for the taxpayer.
  • I believe in sound money and the lean state.

I remember my shock opening my first pay cheque to see how much money the taxman had taken out.

I know this feeling is replicated across the country.

And that’s why we must always be careful with taxpayer’s money.

It is why this Government will always be fiscally responsible.

We are in extraordinary times.

It would have been wrong not to have proceeded rapidly with our energy and tax plan.

I am clear we cannot pave the way to sustainable economic growth without fiscal responsibility.

So we will bring down debt as a proportion of our national income.

We are seeing rising interest rates worldwide in the wake of Putin’s war and Covid.

The Federal Reserve has been hiking rates in America and has signalled more rises to come.

Inflation is high across the world’s major economies.

We will do what we can as a government to support home-owners, such as cutting stamp duty.

But it is right that interest rates are independently set by the Bank of England and that politicians do not decide on this.

The Chancellor and the Governor will keep closely co-ordinating our monetary and fiscal policy.

The Chancellor and I are in lockstep on this.

Thirdly, we will drive economic reforms to build our country for a new era.

We are taking a new approach based on what has worked before.

Previously, we faced barriers to growth like militant unions, nationalised industries and outdated City regulation.

Now, we must breakdown the barriers to growth built up in our system over decades.

Decisions take too long.

Burdens on businesses are too high.

Infrastructure projects get delayed for years, and years and years.

As a result, we have seen economic growth choked off.

Houses have not been built where they are needed and wanted.

We have become averse as a nation to doing things differently.

I love business.

I love enterprise.

I love people who take responsibility, start their own businesses and invest.

They generate profits, they create new jobs and they power our success.

I want to see more of that.

That is why we will back businesses to the hilt.

We are cutting taxes and simplifying red tape to help businesses realise their ambitions.

This is what our new investment zones will do, helping us level up across the country.

We will be inspired by the great hubs of industry like Bournville, here in the West Midlands.

That is what zones in places like here and around the country will deliver.

We want to create the zones in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Now is the time to harness the power of free enterprise to transform our country and ensure our greatest days lie ahead.

This is the United Kingdom at its best, working together and getting our economy growing.

And we will face down the separatists who threaten to pull apart our precious union our family.

Next year, we will host the Global Investment Summit.

This will show the world’s top investors there is nowhere better to invest than the UK.

And we are seizing the new-found freedoms outside the European Union.

We are the party who got Brexit done and we will realise on the promise of Brexit.

We are building an economy which makes the most of the huge opportunities Brexit offers.

By the end of the year, all EU-inspired red tape will be history.

Instead, we will ensure regulation is pro-business and pro-growth.

Leaving the EU gives us the chance to do things differently. And we need more of that.

That is why over the coming weeks, my team of ministers will set out more about what we are going to do to get Britain moving.

We will make it easier to build homes, to afford childcare and to get superfast broadband.

We will help you set up your own businesses and get a mobile phone signal wherever you are in the country.

We are in tough times.

But I want you to know that day in, day out, I’m thinking about how we get this country moving.

I’m working flat out to make sure people can get through this crisis.

So let me be clear, we have your back.

That is why the Government took decisive action to tackle the energy crisis.

It is why we are pushing ahead with our plan for growth.

Economic growth makes life better and easier for everyone – and it will level up our country.

I know that is what people want to see.

Economic growth will mean we can afford great public services such as schools, the police and the NHS.

Our fantastic Deputy Prime Minister and Health Secretary will deliver for patients so they can expect a GP appointment within two weeks.

She will ensure that those who need urgent care will be seen on the same day.

And she will get ambulances out there faster and she will improve A&E.

And she will bust the Covid backlog.

That is not all and she will bolster social care so that everyone gets the care they need.

We are working to put this country on the path to long-term success.

That means ensuring we are safe and secure.

One of the reasons we are facing this global crisis is because collectively the West did not do enough.

We became complacent.

We did not spend enough on defence.

We became too dependent on authoritarian regimes for cheap goods and energy.

And we did not stand up to Russia early enough.

We will make sure this never happens again.

So we are taking decisive action to reinforce our energy security.

We are opening more gas fields in the North Sea and delivering more renewables and nuclear energy.

That is how we will protect the great British environment, deliver on our commitment to net zero and tackle climate change.

We are also taking decisive action by strengthening our borders by beefing up our Border Force and expanding the Rwanda scheme.

Our brilliant new Home Secretary will be bringing forward legislation to make sure that no European judge can overrule us.

And while she is acting meanwhile, the Labour Party has absolutely no plan to tackle illegal migration.

But my friends we cannot have security at home without security abroad.

That is why our tough Foreign and Defence Secretaries are updating the Integrated Review to make sure we can face down these threats.

It is why we are increasing defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by the end of the decade.

This will ensure that our Armed Forces are ready to tackle new and emerging threats.

We are working with our friends and allies to support Ukraine in the face of Putin’s brutal war.

The brave Ukrainian people aren’t just fighting for their security but for all our security.

This is a fight for freedom and democracy around the world.

Putin’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory is just the latest act in his campaign to subvert democracy and violate international law.

We should not give in to those who want a deal which trades away Ukrainian land.

They are proposing to pay in Ukrainian lives for the illusion of peace.

We will stand with our Ukrainian friends however long it takes.

Ukraine can win, Ukraine must win, and Ukraine will win."

(At this point there was a standing ovation.)

"I know that President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine will welcome our solidarity with them at this very very difficult time.

To take on Russia and other authoritarian regimes, free democracies need strong economies.

Economic growth makes us strong at home and strong abroad.

We need an economically sound and secure United Kingdom.

And that will mean challenging those who try to stop growth.

I will not allow the anti-growth coalition to hold us back.

Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP…

…The militant unions, the vested interests dressed up as think-tanks…

…The talking heads, the Brexit deniers and Extinction Rebellion and some of the people we had in the hall earlier.

The fact is they prefer protesting to doing.

They prefer talking on Twitter to taking tough decisions.

They taxi from North London townhouses to the BBC studio to dismiss anyone challenging the status quo.

From broadcast to podcast, they peddle the same old answers.

It’s always more taxes, more regulation and more meddling.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

We see the anti-growth coalition at work across the country.

Keir Starmer wants to put extra taxes on the companies we need to invest in our energy security.

And his sticking plaster solution will only last six months.

He has no long-term plan and no vision for Britain.

Mark Drakeford in Wales is cancelling road-building projects and refusing to build the M4 relief road.

Nicola Sturgeon won’t build new nuclear power stations in Scotland to solve the energy crisis in Scotland.

Have these people ever seen a tax rise they don’t like?

Or an industry they don’t want to control?

They don’t understand the British people.

They don’t understand aspiration.

They are prepared to leave our towns and cities facing decline.

My friends, does this anti-growth coalition have any idea who pays their wages?

It’s the people who make things in factories across our country.

It’s the people who get up at the crack of dawn to go to work.

It’s the commuters who get trains into towns and cities across our country.

I’m thinking of the white van drivers, the hairdressers, the plumbers, the accountants, the IT workers and millions of others up and down the UK.

The anti-growth coalition just doesn’t get it. This is because they don’t face the same challenges as normal working people.

These enemies of enterprise don’t know the frustration you feel to see your road blocked by protesters, or the trains off due to a strike.

In fact, their friends on the hard Left tend to be the ones behind the disruption.

The anti-growth coalition think the people who stick themselves to trains, roads and buildings are heroes.

I say the real heroes are those who go to work, take responsibility and aspire to a better life for themselves and their family.

And I am on their side.

We will build roads, rail, energy and broadband quicker.

We will be proudly pro-growth, pro-aspiration and pro-enterprise.

That is how we will forge ahead on our long-term path to national success.

In this new era, we are taking a new approach.

My friends, we are focused on boosting growth and opportunity across our country.

This mission will be difficult but it is necessary.

We have no alternative if we want to get our economy moving again.

I am ready to make hard choices.

You can trust me to do what it takes.

The status quo is not an option.

That is why we cannot give in to the voices of decline.

We cannot give in to those who say Britain can’t grow faster.

We cannot give in to those who say we can’t do better.

We must stay the course.

We are the only party with a clear plan to get Britain moving.

We are the only party with the determination to deliver.

Together, we can unleash the full potential of our great country.

That is how we will build a new Britain for a new era."

Cumbria County Council email system still experiencing problems

Cumbria County Council's email system continues to experience serious difficulties

I have had communications from ICT at the County Council about fixing the problem, but some councillors, of whom I am one, are STILL having problems with our email,

I am still unable to see any emails sent to my CCC email address and if you have sent anything to my county email in the last fortnight, I have not had it unless you also sent it to me via my work or personal email.

you need to contact me by email use - or you can ring my home landline which is in the directory

Quote of the day 6th October 2022

"Some people are too rational to cope with reality."

In the novel "Three miles down" author Harry Turtledove puts these words into the mouth of the alternative-history counterpart of his fellow-science fiction author Jerry Pournelle. 

I am not sure if the real Jerry Pournelle also used this line, so I don't know whether to attribute the quote to Turtledove or Pournelle, but it's a great line.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Quote of the day 4th October 2022


Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey's speech to Conservative party conference today

Conference notes from 3rd October

Highlights from yesterday's conference sessions included 

Minimum service levels on important public services to stop trade union militancy holding the economy to ransom and get Britain moving.
  • Repeated strikes on our railways and across our public services have ground the economy to a halt and inflicted misery on millions of people – we need to take action now to stop this disruption. 
  • That is why we will rapidly introduce new legislation to implement minimum service levels on our vital public services – including on our transport network, our education system, and across our health services – to keep them running even when militant strike action takes place.
  • We make no apology for taking tough action to ensure people can continue to access the services they rely on, keeping our economy open and getting Britain moving. 

Plans to reinvest the £60 million of underspend from the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games into the West Midlands, boosting growth in the region and securing the legacy of the Games. 

  • Thanks to tight cost control and strong commercial performance, the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games was successfully delivered on time and under budget.
  • That is why, in partnership with Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, we are maximising the legacy of the Games by redirecting £60 million of underspend to support growth projects in the area, including investing in new and existing programmes aimed at boosting grassroots sports. 
  • This will help to level up the West Midlands in a Conservative way, boosting growth in the region and increasing local opportunities. 

The UK’s first ever fusion energy plant, bolstering our homegrown energy supply and putting us at the forefront of this ground-breaking industry.

  • In the face of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his chokehold on Europe’s energy supply, we must do more to bolster our homegrown energy supply.
  • That is why we are pressing on with our world-leading Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme approving West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire to build a prototype fusion power plant by 2040.
  • This will support a multi-billion-pound industry here in the UK, creating high-skilled jobs and bolstering our homegrown energy supply.

Monday, October 03, 2022

Cumbria Health Scrutiny committee

I wasn't at the Conservative conference in Birmingham today - I came back to Cumbria for the Health Scrutiny Meeting in Kendal.

We heard extremely encouraging reports on the development of pathology in Morecambe Bay and on plans for new hospitals in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Unfortunately we were not able to have the expected presentation on the improvement of digital records in North Cumbria. This is an important topic and it must be properly covered at a future meeting.

Quote of the day 3rd October 2022

 'We're going to be working not just on signing deals but making sure that ... our businesses are able to get their goods out and that people want to invest in the UK.'

Kemi Badenoch, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

Sunday, October 02, 2022

2nd October Conservative conference notes, continued ...

Today at the Conservative conference I attended the inaugural meeting of the Conservative Friends of Ukraine.

This was not a partisan event - it was made clear that support for Ukraine runs across the parties in Britain, and there was reference to the All-Party Parliamentary group (APPG) on Ukraine.

Strong speeches from James Cleverly the new Foreign Secretary and His Excellency the Ukrainian ambassador among others.

Graphic from the conference:

Conference notes 2nd October

Today the Conservatives announced plans to expand the definition of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) from 250 employees to 500, cutting costs for nearly 40,000 businesses and helping them grow.

  • Outside the EU, we now have the ability to lift expensive regulatory burdens that hold business back.
  • That is why we are expanding the small business threshold from 250 to 500 employees, cutting costs for nearly 40,000 businesses - delivering supply-side reforms which will help businesses and the economy grow.
  • This will cut costs for British businesses, saving them time and resources which are be better spent on growth and investment – delivering high skill, high wage jobs.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

The Energy Price Guarantee

Today the Energy Price Guarantee and Energy Bill Relief Scheme comes into force, helping protect families and businesses from the rising cost of energy bills 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 today our Energy Price Guarantee will come into force meaning a typical UK household will now pay an average of £2,500 a year on their energy bill for the next two years, saving them at least £1,000 a year, in addition to the £400 Energy Bills Discount for all households.
  • And our Energy Bill Relief Scheme will also apply from today, providing businesses, charities, schools and hospitals with a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for the next six months worth up to half the price of expected energy prices this winter.
  • This will ensure families and businesses get the support they need, providing certainty for them over the months ahead, whilst we continue to secure energy security for our country in the long term.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Update on the plan for growth

 The Conservative plan for Growth focuses on boosting Britain's economic growth 

  • In the face of Putin’s war in Ukraine and rising energy prices we need  a new approach focused exclusively on economic growth through supply side reforms and incentives for business.
  • That is why the Conservatives have launched our Growth Plan for a new era in which Britain will focus on supply side reforms by liberating the private sector, boosting business opportunities, and slashing red-tape to increase investment, skilled employment, quality infrastructure, home ownership and enterprise across the UK.
  • This will deliver the economic growth the UK needs – so we can afford  higher wages, better public services and greater opportunities for the British people without saddling families and businesses with tax rises.

Worked examples of family benefits from the Growth Plan

  • Over 30 million people will see tax cuts as a result of our changes to income tax and National Insurance. For example, someone earning £30,000 will pay £400 less tax next year. This is on top of cuts to Stamp Duty for those looking to buy a house or get on the property ladder.
  • Due to the Energy Price Guarantee a typical household will save around £1,000 and a business will pay less than half the wholesale prices anticipated this winter.
  • A typical person living in a flat will save £800 on the household's energy bills – and if they are working full time on National Living Wage, over an additional £100 on tax. This is around £900 in total.  
  • A typical person in a semi-detached property will save £1,150 on the household's energy bills – and if they are earning £30,000 almost an additional £400 on tax. This is around £1,550 in total. 
  • A typical family moving into a semi-detached property will save £2,500 on Stamp Duty and £1,150 on energy bills – and if they have a combined income of £50,000 around an additional £560 on tax. This is around £4,200 in total. 
  • A typical family moving into a semi-detached property will save £2,500 on Stamp Duty and £1,150 on energy bills – and if one worker earns £50,000, almost an additional £850 on tax. This is around £4,500 in total.
  • A typical first time buyer in London moving into a representative terraced house will save £11,250 on Stamp Duty and £1,050 on the household’s energy bills – and if they earn £30,000 almost an additional £400 on tax. This is around £12,700 in total. 

Quote of the day 30th September 2022

“The Charter is clear.  Any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the Principles of the UN Charter and international law.”

“Any decision to proceed with the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned,”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, condemning the proposed Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory.

The move “cannot be reconciled with the international legal framework" and “stands against everything the international community is meant to stand for,” he added. 

“It flouts the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.   It is a dangerous escalation.   It has no place in the modern world.   It must not be accepted.” 

Mr. Guterres underlined the UN’s unequivocal commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Britain's Medium Term Fiscal Plan

The government has announced plans to set out a Medium-Term Fiscal Plan on 23 November – fulfilling our commitment to cut taxes for people and businesses across the country and announcing further supply side policies.

  • In the face of Putin’s war in Ukraine and rising energy prices we must adopt a new approach focused exclusively on economic growth – we will be bold and unashamed in this pursuit.
  • That is why the government has announced that it will set out the Medium-Term Fiscal Plan on 23 November and announce further supply side growth measures in the coming weeks including on the planning system, business regulations, and immigration – and we have asked the OBR to set out a full forecast alongside the Fiscal Plan.
  • Only the Conservatives can be trusted to deliver the economic growth the UK needs– delivering higher wages and greater opportunities for the British people, and more money for our public services without saddling families and businesses with tax rises.

Quote of the day 29th September 2022


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee - October meeting

Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee will be meeting on Monday, 3rd October, 2022 at 10.30 am in the Council chamber at County Hall, Kendal.

The meeting will be open to the public.

The main items on the agenda are

  • Lancashire and South Cumbria Pathology Service (To receive a presentation from Lancashire and South Cumbria Pathology Service)
  • Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme Update 
  • North Cumbria Integrated Care Digital Strategy - Where Are We Now? (To consider a report by North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (copy enclosed).

The full agenda and supporting documents can be found by clicking on the following link:

Problems continue with Cumbria County Council email system

Cumbria County Council's email system continues to experience serious difficulties

I gather that a fair number of councillors and officers have email service back but I was told yesterday that there were 900 people who are still having trouble with their ICT servicce. I am one of them - I am unable to see any emails sent to my CCC email address since last week. My County Council phone also appears to be affected.

If you need to contact me by email use - or you can ring my home landline which is in the directory

Labour MP suspended for racist attack on Chancellor

The Labour party has suspended one of it's own MPs, Rupa Huq, for comments about the Chancellor of the Exchequer which Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer agreed were "racist."

On hearing of the comments made by Rupa Huq about the chancellor at a fringe meeting at Labour conference, Conservative party chairman Jake Berry had written to the Labour leader, saying

'I trust you will join me in unequivocally condemning these comments as nothing less than racist and that the Labour whip will be withdrawn from Rupa Huq as a consequence.' 

The Labour leader did indeed agree that, 'She shouldn't have said it. She will be dealt with and I'll be absolutely clear it was racist.'

Quote of the day 28th September 2022


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A new Start-up loan scheme

The government has announced the expansion of our Start Up Loan scheme, providing over 30,000 new loans for small businesses – helping new businesses to thrive, growing the economy and raising living standards.

  • To deliver on our mission of growing the economy to boost wages, fund our public services and create better jobs, we must support new businesses to thrive. 
  • That is why we have expanded our Start Up Loans programme, making 33,000 more loans of up to £25,000 available to businesses that have been trading for up to three years, up from two years, with new ‘second loans’ available for businesses that have been trading for up to five years.
  • This funding provides much-needed support for our entrepreneurs and business owners through this challenging period and unlocks businesses’ potential to play a vital role in growing our economy

Monday, September 26, 2022

A Plan for Growth

On 23 September 2022 the Chancellor set out The Growth Plan.

For too long growth has not been as high as it needs to be, making it harder to pay for public services and requiring taxes to rise.

That is why the Conservative government is adopting a new approach for a new era focused on economic growth. We will be bold and unashamed in this pursuit. We will expand the supply side through tax cuts and reform, tackle the immediate energy crisis, remove barriers for business, and build the infrastructure we need to grow the British economy.

Only the Conservatives can be trusted to make the reforms we need to grow our economy – delivering higher wages, lower taxes and more money for our public services.


  • Cutting everyone’s energy bills by £1,400 this year protecting the British people and reducing inflation by 5ppts. Energy Bills were due to rise by £6,500 but through the Energy Price Guarantee we will limit the unit price that consumers pay for electricity and gas. For the next two years the typical annual household bill will be £2,500. We will also keep the Energy Bill Support Scheme giving households £400 off their bills this winter. 
  • Supporting businesses to get through this Winter. The Energy Bill Relief Scheme will discount wholesale gas and electricity prices for all businesses, charities, schools and hospitals. This will provide a price guarantee equivalent to what has been offered to households. 


Achieve a trend growth rate of 2.5 per cent – measuring every policy decision against this defining test. Every government department will be in a sense a growth department and every policy initiative will be measured against a defining test of whether it helps or hinders growth – helping us to achieve a sustainable trend growth rate of 2.5 per cent.

Our Growth Plan will focus on:

  • Maintaining responsible public finances
  • Reforming the supply-side of the economy
  • Cutting taxes to boost growth


  • Publishing a Medium-Term Fiscal Plan setting out our responsible fiscal approach. We need a plan for the economy that recognises our focus on growth, and we will set it out in due course ensuring that we take a responsible approach to the public finances. 
  • Asking the OBR to publish a full economic and fiscal forecast before the end of the year and one next year. We will publish the costings of all the measures the Government has taken today and include these in the next full OBR forecast.
  • Using borrowing powers responsibly to fund our energy intervention just as we did in Covid-19. It is entirely appropriate for the government to use borrowing powers to fund temporary measures to support families and businesses it’s what we did in Covid-19, Second World War and the global financial crisis. 


The government will launch 38 Investment Zones across England, unlocking housing and driving growth through tax incentives. 

  • Our new Investment Zones will drive growth and unlock housing across England by liberalising planning, delivering tax incentives and wider support for local economies that have been left behind for too long. Investment Zones will be delivered in partnership with local leaders to secure the right zones across regions like Tees Valley, Norfolk and The Midlands. We will also work with Devolved Administrations to look to establish Investment Zones in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 
  • Stopping Labour-backed strike action from slowing down Britain. We will introduce Minimum Service Levels for transport services in Great Britain, ensuring militant strike action cannot derail economic growth, and union bosses cannot hold working people to ransom. 
  • Publishing a list of infrastructure projects that will be accelerated. We will publish a list of infrastructure projects from transport to energy and telecoms that will help to grow our economy.
  • Speeding up delivery through a new infrastructure bill to unpick the complex patchwork of restrictions and EU-derived laws. We will streamline a host of assessments, duplications and regulations whilst ensuring essential protections remain in place that will finally get the infrastructure we need built more quickly.
  • Bringing forward legislation to implement new obligations on energy suppliers to help hundreds of thousands of people take action to reduce energy bills, delivering an average saving of around £200 a year. Since 2010, the number of EPC band E, F and G homes has fallen from almost 40 per cent of all homes to 10 per cent. Our proposal announced today will be worth £1 billion over the next three years starting from April 2023. 
  • Removing the bankers’ bonus cap, making the City of London the global financial centre of the world ahead of Paris, Frankfurt and New York. The Bankers Bonus Cap did nothing to arrest increases in basic pay, it made the UK less competitive and saw talent and capital flee overseas. We want more investment in the UK not less. 
  • Increasing housing supply to build a nation of homeowners. We will enable crucial planning reforms and increase the disposal of surplus government land to build new homes.
  • Strengthening the Universal Credit sanctions regime, setting clear work expectations and giving more people the security of their own income. We are strengthening the sanctions regime to set clear work expectations for recipients of Universal Credit, including applying for jobs, attending interviews or increasing their hours – incentivising people to take up more work and have the security of their own income. 


Cutting the basic rate of income tax to 19p for 31 million people. We will bring forward the income tax cut by one year to April 2023. That’s a tax cut for 31 million people in just a few month's time.

Cutting stamp duty permanently by:

  • Doubling the nil-rate band to £250,000 (from £125,000).
  • Increasing the nil-rate band for first time buyers to £425,000 (from £300,000).
  • Increasing the value of the property which first-time buyers can claim relief to £625,000 from (£500,000).

These steps mean we have taken 200,000 more people out of paying stamp duty altogether – effective from today.

Abolishing the additional rate income tax altogether from April 2023. The 45p rate is higher than the top rate of G7 countries like the US and Italy, and higher than social democracies like Norway. Abolishing the rate will mean we have a much simpler more competitive economy. It will reward enterprise and work and incentivise growth for the benefit of the whole economy. 

Cutting National Insurance Tax contributions by 1.25 per cent, helping the average worker keep £330 a year more. We are scrapping the National Insurance levy a tax cut for 28 million people worth on average £330 a year – helping hard working people to keep more of the money they earn. We confirm that the additional funding for the NHS and social care services will be maintained at the same level. 

Keeping Corporation Tax at 19 per cent, driving economic growth by encouraging business in the UK. We are scrapping plans to increase the UK Corporation Tax rate from 19 per cent to 25 per cent. This move will allow us to maintain a competitive business tax regime – delivering an effective tax cut those ploughs almost £70 billion into the economy, giving businesses the freedom to reinvest, boost wages and create jobs. The lowest corporation tax rate than any major economy in the world.

Maintaining the Annual Investment Allowance at £1 million, supporting economic growth by encouraging businesses to invest. The Annual Investment Allowance gives businesses 100 per cent tax relief in plant and machinery and will not fall to £200,000 as planned – it will remain permanently at £1 million. 

Supporting businesses to raise money and attract talent, encouraging people to start and grow a business in the UK. From April 2023 qualifying companies will be able to raise up to £250,000 in Seed Enterprise Investment (SEIS), helping over 2,000 companies a year to grow thanks to tax reliefs. 

Winding-down the Office of Tax Simplification and charge every government department with simplifying our tax system. Instead of an arms-length body which is separate from the Treasury and HMRC we need to embed tax simplification into the heart of the government. Every tax official will focus on simplifying our tax code.  

Automatically sunset EU regulations by December 2023 requiring departments to review, replace or repeal retained EU Law. This will reduce burdens on business, improve growth and restore the primacy of UK legislation. 

Simplifying IR35 rules to make it easier to remove unnecessary administrative burdens for business. Reforms to off-payroll working have added unnecessary complexity and cost. We will repeal 2017 and 2021 reforms but keep compliance under close review. 

Introducing VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors. We will boost retail and hospitality, restoring a tax cut we have had for many years and supporting some of Britain’s best brands.

Freezing alcohol duty for beer, cider, wine and spirits next year and continue with important reforms which modernise our alcohol duty system. We will freeze alcohol saving 3p off a pint of beer and 12p on a glass of wine. We will also introduce an 18-month transitional measure for wine duty. We will extend draught relief to cover smaller kegs of 20 litres and above to help smaller breweries. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Plan for Patients

Our Plan for Patients

We know this winter will be tough for our NHS, but the Conservatives are taking action now so that patients can get the care they need. 

That is why, this week, the Conservative government announced our Plan for Patients, prioritising ambulances, backlogs, care and doctors and dentists. We will improve patients’ access to GP practices, recruit additional support staff, give pharmacies powers to prescribe more medicines and introduce cloud-based telephone systems to GP practices.

This is just the first step in our work to bolster our NHS and social care services, helping to cut Covid backlogs, deliver additional appointments and help patients can get the care they need.

We are doing this by: 

  • Changing funding rules to recruit extra support staff, freeing up over one million appointments per year. By changing the funding rules, GP practices will be able to recruit additional support staff, such as GP assistants and advanced nurse practitioners – allowing GPs to focus on treating patients and freeing up over one million appointments per year.
  • Publishing appointment data at practice level for the first time ever – helping patients to better understand the care they will receive. By publishing appointment data at practice level, we will support patients in getting better access to information about their treatments, allowing them to make decisions that best suit them. 
  • Helping pharmacies to manage and supply more medicines, freeing up to two million GP appointments per year. By allowing pharmacies to manage and supply medicines, such as contraceptives, without a GP prescription, we will help to free up to two million GP appointments each year. 
  • Allowing pharmacies to take referrals for minor illnesses from emergency care, helping to reduce NHS wait times for patients. By allowing pharmacies to take referrals from emergency care for illnesses such as coughs, headaches, and sore throats, we will free up valuable time and resources in emergency care departments, helping to reduce wait times.
  • Accelerating the roll-out of new cloud-based telephone systems, making it easier for patients to get through to their local GP practice. This will make it easier for patients to arrange appointments and receive advice about their care.
  • Calling on the one million volunteers who stepped up during the pandemic to support the NHS to come forward again. During the pandemic, over one million volunteers stepped up to support our NHS, and we are calling on them to come forward again in a national endeavour such as by becoming community first responders or Good Neighbour Scheme leaders. 

County Council email system down

Cumbria County Council's email system appears to be down at the moment. I am unable to see any emails sent to my CCC email address over the past few days and I understand that other county councillors are having similar issues. My County Council phone also appears to be affected.

If you need to contact me by email use - or you can ring my home landline which is in the directory

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Cumbria and Lancashire Joint Health Scrutiny meeting

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:

Agenda for Cumbria and Lancashire Joint Health Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, 27th September, 2022, 11.00 am | Cumbria County Council

Quote of the day 22nd October 2022

 "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

Dan Hannan on why there is no such thing as "Trickle-down economics"

The centrepiece of the present government's economic strategy is a £150 billion package to freeze energy prices. If there was such a thing as a "trickle-down" view of economics this government would clearly not be following it. 

Since Liz Truss's election we keep hearing from the Labour party that her government is following "Trickle down" economics: that is complete and utter nonsense. 

In fact I do not accept that there is any such thing. 

The idea of "Trickle down economics" originated, not from anyone who actually who believed in it, but from an American writer who was using it as a "straw man" to characterise and criticise the economic policies of the then US President Herbert Hoover. A similar straw man was subsequently used by US Democrats to attack the government of Ronald Reagan. 

It has since crossed the Atlantic and been used by British lefties to attack Conservatives. 

As Dan Hannan explains here, nobody actually believes in "Trickle-down" economics. If you hear the expression used, someone is trying to con you.

Ben Wallace on Putin's latest threats


Quote of the day 21st September 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.

Thomas Sowell on the second edition of Intellectuals and Society

Anyone who reads this blog cannot be unaware that I have a great deal of respect for the American economist Thomas Sowell. 

This is a 2012 interview on "Uncommon knowledge" about his book "Intellectuals and society" which has aged quite well over the past ten years. 

He points out that most of us have some issues we know a lot about, but highly educated people and intellectuals need to watch out for the trap of thinking that knowledge of one area translates into knowledge about everything - and thus making dogmatic statements about things we do not in fact understand as well as we think we do. 

Includes the context for one of my favourite Thomas Sowell quotes - "There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs."

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Graham Norton's entries for the "Most pathetic excuse of the year" competition

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

Dan Hodges on the next election

 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

"After Vladimir Putin's war and Covid, the next election will be won by anyone who offers us normality."

He argues

"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.

Quote of the day 20th September 2022


Monday, September 19, 2022

Reflections on "The Queue"

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 Funeral today

At 11am today, the State Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen will take place at Westminster Abbey.

Towards the end of the Service, at approximately 11:55am, the Last Post will sound followed by a national two minute’s silence.

Quotes of the day 19th September 2022

"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

Second quote of the day for Battle of Britain Sunday

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.


Know your Putin apologist

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:

National moment of Reflection - a minute's silence for her late majesty starts now.


Sunday music spot: "Lord Let Me Know Mine End" by Maurice Greene (Peterborough Cathedral)

Quote of the day 18th September 2022


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Reminder: national moment of reflection at 8pm tomorrow


Even complete berks deserve freedom of speech within the law.

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.

Quote of the day 17th September 2022

"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

National Moment of Reflection planned for 8pm on Sunday


Report on this morning's meeting of the NHS West Cumbria Community Forum

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. 

Another perspective on the Bankers' bonus issue

Further to last night's post, this was an extract from a piece by John Mcternan:

It's from a very interesting piece on Unherd called "Has Liz Truss trapped Labour?" which you can read in full here

Quote of the day 16th September 2022

"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

Quote of the day 23rd September 2022

 I must try to get hold of one of these mugs ...

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The law of unintended consequences and the bankers bonus Cap

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.