Sunday, May 28, 2023

If there were a Nobel prize for having double standards

I don't often agree with Labour MPs. 

But I do agree with the comments made by Labour MP Charlotte Nichols to BBC North West Tonight back in November 2022 and reported on here

BBC analysis of three million tweets aimed at MPs over a six-week period had found more than 130,000, about one in 20, could be classed as toxic.

Ms Nichols received more than 11,000 messages in the period, 8.3% of which were found to be toxic, while 4% of the 83,000 tweets sent to Angela Rayner were abusive.

Other North-West MPs had similar percentages, with 4.5% of the messages sent to Ribble Valley's Conservative representative Nigel Evans being abusive, 4.3% of those sent to both Labour's Andrew Gwynne and Alison McGovern, who represent Denton and Reddish and Wirral South, and 4.8% of those sent to Angela Eagle, the Labour MP for Wallasey.

Ms. Nichols, who has had someone come to her office armed with a knife and been physically attacked, told the BBC that she believes much of what she has faced "has been whipped up by things online".

Ms Nichols told BBC North West Tonight that she believed the online abuse had led to consequences in real life.

"I've had someone come to my office with a knife before [and] I've had physical violence against me," she said, adding she had stepped up security at both her home and her office.

"A lot of that has been whipped up by things that have been online."

She said that there was a "need to have clear laws, particularly around online harassment", but added that politicians had to lead by example.

"I think ultimately that all of us in some form of public life, whether it's in the council chamber or the chamber in Westminster, need to be modelling a good kind of debate that is based on policies and not on personal attacks," she said.

I agree with every word of that. It's very important that when those of us involved in politics express our disagreement with our political opponents we do not go over the line between robust criticism and abuse. Who ever does it, whoever it is aimed at, abusive or threatening language has no place in political debate and politicians should indeed give a lead in not encouraging it.

So what on earth was Charlotte Nichols doing this weekend tweeting, and I apologise for the language,

"Big chants of "f*ck the Tories" for @JamieWebster94 at @nbhdweekender and, I can't lie, I absolutely LOVE to see it! Love you Warrington ❤️"

This is exactly the sort of irresponsible nonsense, effectively endorsing abusive and offensive politics, which she rightly condemned in the BBC interview.

If there were a Nobel prize for having double standards ...

Sunday music spot: VOCES8 perform "Jesu Joy of man's desiring" (JS Bach)

Friday, May 26, 2023

Record number of Doctors and Nurses

Newly released figures show a further increase in the number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS, setting another new record number of doctors and nurses working in the NHS in England, meaning better care for patients and helping to cut waiting lists.

  • Cutting waiting lists is one of the Prime Minister’s five priorities, so it is vital that our NHS has the doctors, nurses, and midwives it needs to deliver for patients. 
  • That is why the government has have recruited over 53,000 new full-time staff in our NHS in the past year – with 5,369 more doctors, 11,883 more nurses and health visitors, 258 more midwives, and 517 more ambulance staff working in our NHS compared to last year.  
  • We have delivered on our commitment to recruit 26,000 more primary care staff by 2024 a year early – helping to cut waiting lists as we also work to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, and stop the boats. 

Music to start the weekend: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major BWV 1049

Quote of the day 26th May 2023


Thomas Sowell was right when he penned this quote.

And it is not just amazing, but tragic.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Supporting our NHS and cutting waiting lists part 2 - more choice for patients

Today the government also announced patients will be able to choose where they go for treatment using the NHS App or website, giving patients greater control over their own care and helping cut NHS waiting lists, one of our five priorities.

  • The pandemic has had a huge impact on the NHS and our ability to access healthcare, which is why the Prime Minister made cutting waiting lists one of his five priorities. 
  • Today the government is empowering patients to choose where they receive treatment as part of our plan to cut waiting lists, allowing patients to choose which hospital they are treated at through the NHS app or website, and increasing the information they have about waiting times and quality when they do so.
  • This will direct those in need of operations to where they will have less long to wait. It could wipe months off patients’ waiting time, helping to cut wait lists as we create an NHS built around patients, where everyone has more control over the care they receive. 

Supporting our NHS and cutting waiting lists, part one - Five new Hospitals

Great to see plans for five more new hospitals, including one in Yorkshire and one in the North West.

Today the government announced that five major hospitals are to be rebuilt as part of an investment of over £20 billion in new hospital infrastructure across England - ensuring our NHS is fit for the future and helping to cut waiting lists.
Hospitals built using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete have served patients for decades, but new research indicates that this material needs to be replaced.
That is why the government announced today that five new major hospitals will be rebuilt across England - including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk, Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, Airedale Hospital in West Yorkshire, and Mid Cheshire Hospital in Cheshire.
This announcement means patients will be able to get the care they need in brand new facilities, serving communities for decades to come as we cut waiting lists.

MoD Defence intelligence report on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at 25th May 2023


Flight Sergeant Peter Brown RIP

The funeral of a true hero took place today.

Peter Brown was just a teenager when he travelled from his home in Jamaica to Britain and signed up in the RAF during World War Two to defend this country and the world against the fascist menace of Nazi Germany.

The words "fascist" and "Nazi" are thrown around far too often these days against anyone the speaker disagrees with, and have been devalued as a result, but Peter Brown risked his life flying in Lancaster bombers to fight against the real thing.

Britain should always remember those who came from all around the world to fight on our side in the defence of freedom and justice and to oppose tyranny.

This is what the defence secretary had to say about his funeral, which was very well attended.


Rest in Peace

Quote of the day 25th May 2023


Wednesday, May 24, 2023

MoD Defence intelligence update on Russia's invasion of Ukraine 24th May 2023


Also to note:

IMF upgrades UK growth forecasts

My academic degrees are in economics and I have spent the majority of my career using the skills I acquired at university in planning and forecasting roles.

I thought last year's IMF forecast for the UK economy was unduly pessimistic and risked talking the economy down - there is a real danger in economics that if an unnecessarily pessimistic forecast is widely believed it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I welcome the fact that the IMF has now upgraded their forecast which partly reflects a recognition that Britain's economy has performed better than they expected and partly reflects an improvement in the economic outlook for the UK.

Yesterday the IMF confirmed Britain's economy is on the right track, upgrading our growth forecast and substantially reducing our inflation forecast, as we deliver on the Prime Minister’s priorities of halving inflation, growing the economy, and reducing debt.

  • Since the IMF’s last assessment of the UK economy in 2022, our world and our economy has continued to be challenged in a fundamental way by Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, and the whole world is feeling the knock-on effects. It has not been easy. But in fact British firms and businesses have weathered the storm better than the IMF predicted.
  • That is why we should welcome the IMF report upgrading our forecast – our economy is set to grow this year, after a 0.7 per cent upgrade compared with last month’s forecast and inflation is set to fall to around 5 per cent by the end of the year. If we stick to our plan, the IMF confirm our long-term growth prospects are stronger than Germany, France or Italy’s.
  • The job is not done yet, and there is a long way to go, butwe are on the right track to deliver on the Prime Minister’s priorities to halve inflation, grow our economy, and get debt falling, as the government continues to take action to cut waiting lists and stop the boats.

Inflation figures

Today the Office for National Statistics published inflation figures showing that the rate of increase in prices has dropped  back to single figures, falling by 1.4 percentage points to 8.7 per cent. 

  • Economies around the world are facing high inflation driven by Putin’s illegal war, higher energy prices and economies bouncing back from the pandemic. This means the costs of goods have risen. 
  • That is why one of the five key Conservative promises is to halve inflation by the end of the year. The ONS confirmed this morning inflation has fallen to 8.7 per cent, showing we are making progress towards our target, but there is more work to do.
  • Inflation is the number one enemy that makes everyone poorer, eating away at people’s savings and pay packets. By reducing it we are easing the impact of day to day costs on people's pockets as we grow the economy and reduce debt.

The Conservative government is making progress against inflation and taking action to help people with the cost of living by:

  • Reducing inflation to 8.7 per cent today, showing progress on our promise to halve inflation by the end of the year. The rate of inflation is the change in prices for goods and services over time and rises when things get more expensive. Today the ONS confirmed the headline rate of CPI (inflation) stood at 8.7 per cent, a 1.4 per cent decrease, reaching single figures for the first time since August 2022.  
  • Paying half of people’s energy bills over the winter reducing one of the biggest outgoings for families and tackling inflation head on. Putin’s war in Ukraine is driving energy prices up across the globe which, in turn is driving up the rate of inflation and therefore the cost we pay for day-to-day goods. We paid half of people’s energy bills this winter, which kept inflation four percentage points lower.  
  • Freezing fuel duty, holding down the price of fuel for motorists and therefore helping us to reduce inflation. By reducing the cost people pay for their fuel we are holding down energy prices and therefore preventing inflation from spiralling - the rise in the cost of energy is the single biggest driver of the rise in the cost of food. At the Spring Budget 2023, we delivered the thirteenth consecutive freeze to fuel duty, saving motorists £200 since the five pence cut was introduced.  
  • Maintaining a strong workforce, with unemployment near record lows, whilst delivering a labour market package to get more people into work. The unemployment rate is near record lows, with the number of payrolled employees higher than pre-pandemic levels. This means more people are contributing to the economy, without an unreasonable reliance on the state – allowing us to tackle inflation. 
  • Managing responsible public finances and resisting above-inflation pay rises, allowing the Bank of England to navigate global headwinds such as inflation. The Bank of England welcomed the steps we have taken to stabilise public finances, including avoiding agreeing above-inflation pay rises across the public sector – meaning they were able to predict inflation to halve by the end of the year.    
  • Easing the impacts of inflation immediately with a £94 billion package of cost of living support. Inflation is the number one enemy that makes everyone poorer. As we make progress to halve the rate of inflation by the end of the year we have a £94 billion package of cost of living support in place – an average of £3,300 per household on average. This includes additional payments to vulnerable households. 

Midweek music spot: "Music for a while" (Henry Purcell)

Quote of the day 24th May 2023

Extracts from an article in yesterday's Times by William Hague.

“The reason conservatism has been such an enduring force for centuries is this readiness to adapt to social change in ways that give more people a stake in national success, to enlarge opportunity and thereby its own political support, and to promote an innovative economy while protecting people from abuse. Conservatism is more of an anti-ideology than it is an ideology itself, searching for what works in practice rather than fitting some universal theory."”

“Conservatism at its best rejects abstract theories while building on good habits. It constantly widens its sense of community — moving from its origins in the landed gentry to embrace business and commerce, from large property-owners to small ones, from a homogenous party to the one that has propelled Britain’s female or ethnic minority leaders to the top. It adapts by absorbing new liberal ideas in each generation and making them its own, as in David Cameron’s great statement: 'I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.'

Referring to the conference staged in London last week by the Washington DC based Edmund Burke Foundation, which despite being an international event was titled "National Conservatism," William Hague went on to write:

“Watched from a distance in my case, it heard some good speeches and ideas, including on the increased importance of science and the role of government in promoting research and technology. But it also had the appearance of some people looking for an ideology when they would be better off not finding it. Conservatism endures when it instinctively shies away from polarisation and excessive certainty of views.”

He concluded:

“Above all, the greatest challenge for conservatism is how a political philosophy anchored in continuity, and learning from what actually works, can adapt to a world that is about to change at unprecedented speed. Today’s gambling habits — or eating habits, or social media habits — have developed so quickly that knowing how to protect people without heavy-handed or counter-productive intervention is not easy. The rise of AI is likely to change profoundly the nature of work, thought and society, yet any effective regulation of it is bound to need international agreements.

This week’s vexed political topic of record immigration is a good example of an issue changing at great speed and on a global scale. Every indicator of the future — political upheavals overseas, climate change, huge population growth in Africa — points to an age of mass migration in the coming years. National policies will matter but there will not be the slightest hope of controlling migration without strong international co-ordination.

If conservatism is to succeed for another generation, it will need all its pragmatism and adaptability, cultivating national strengths but in order to find international solutions. In finding them, ideology will not work and national identity will not be enough.”

 You can find the full article on The Times website by clicking on the link below:

Conservatives should beware of the dogma (

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tuesday music spot: Elton John's "I'm Still Standing"

Helping households with food bills

Today the Chancellor is due to meet food manufacturers to discuss how we can ease the cost of food for households – as we continue to provide immediate relief with the cost of living and work to halve inflation this year. 

  • High food prices are proving stubborn – we need to understand what is driving that and how we can ease the pressure on households. 
  • That is why Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is meeting food manufacturers today, raising concerns about high food prices in the UK and discussing measures the government can take – in partnership with industry – to ease the pressure on households. 
  • The Conservative government acted decisively to help struggling families with the cost of living crisis and particularly energy bills, rolling out a £3,300 support package per household over this year and last. Conservatives will continue to do all we can to help households and deliver on our promise to halve inflation this year.  

MoD Defence intelligence summary on the Russian invasion of Ukraine 23rd May 2023


Also worth noting:

Supporting victims of Child Sexual Abuse

The government has committed to set up a redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse, ensuring survivors of this heinous crime get the support they need and deserve. 

  • Thousands of brave victims came forward to give evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – we must ensure they get the right support. 
  • That is why the government is setting up a redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse to make sure children are never again so badly let down by the institutions that should have protected them. We are also bringing in mandatory reporting for adults working with young people, making it a legal requirement to speak out if they suspect a child is being abused or exploited. 
  • We will stop at nothing to stamp out these vile crimes, punish the perpetrators, and make sure every child across the country can grow up in a safe environment.

Protecting Wildlife

Five more rare or endangered species are set to be protected under an extension of the Ivory Act.

The government is proposing to extend the protection provided by the act to cover the Hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, killer whale and sperm whale species.


  • These five endangered CITES-listed species are to receive greater legal protections under the world-leading Ivory Act 2018
  • This meets a Conservative 2019 manifesto commitment and is part of a wider UK drive on international conservation

The Hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, killer whale (also known as orca) and sperm whale species are set to receive greater legal protections under the UK’s world-leading ban on importing, exporting and dealing in items containing ivory, the Government has announced today (Tuesday 23 May 2023) – delivering on a key animal welfare manifesto commitment.

Of these the Hippopotamus is the species most at risk from the trade in its ivory after elephants. The other species are already threatened by climate change, and the continuing trade in their ivory may exacerbate these threats and make their long-term survival less likely.

Putting the UK at the forefront of global conservation efforts, today’s consultation response confirms plans to extend the Ivory Act 2018 to ban all dealing in ivory from these species, including imports and exports.

The UK’s world-leading Ivory Act is one of the toughest bans on elephant ivory sales in the world, with some of the strongest enforcement measures. Those found guilty of breaching the ban face tough penalties including an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Biodiversity Minister Trudy Harrison said:

“This is a pivotal moment in delivering one of our key manifesto commitments on international conservation.

“The Ivory Act is one of the toughest bans of its kind in the world and by extending greater legal protections to five more species, we are sending a clear message the commercial trade of ivory is totally unacceptable.

“The UK has long led the way in conservation and our ban shows continued global leadership in doing all we can to protect the world’s most endangered species.”

Steve Backshall MBE said:

“This is an important moment in the conservation of these iconic species.

There is widespread public support for the Ivory ban and today by extending it further we are sending a clear message that there is no place in the UK for this vile trade.”

Frances Goodrum, Head of Campaigns and Programmes at IFAW UK said:

“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the UK Ivory Act coming into force, IFAW UK are encouraged by early indications that the ban is having a significant impact on the trade in elephant ivory.  Yet other species are still poached globally to meet an unnecessary demand for “luxury” ivory products, including the hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, sperm whale and killer whale.  We welcome DEFRA’s decision to extend this powerful legislation, which will go a long way in cracking down on a damaging trade. Today is a good day for conservation and a step change towards international commitments to safeguard our natural world”

The five species are all listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates their trade internationally, and hippopotamus, walrus and sperm whale are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.

The announcement today comes following an extensive public consultation and with the one-year anniversary of the successful ivory ban approaching.

Since 6 June 2022, there has been over 6,500 registrations and certificates issued for exempted items so that they continue to form part of our artistic and cultural heritage.

The Government is a world leader in international conservation – with the UK playing a key role supporting the agreement of the ambitious Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in December. The new deal, signed by 195 countries, commits countries to protect 30% of our land and ocean by 2030 and end human-induced extinctions of known threatened species.

Details can be found on the government website by clicking on the link below:

Five new species set to be protected under Ivory Act extension - GOV.UK (

Quote of the day 23rd May 2023


Monday, May 22, 2023

Dominic Sandford on Stanley Baldwin

If you are at all interested in political history, you may find that a piece on the Unherd website by Dominic Sandford about the life and achievements of Stanley Baldwin, "Britain needs more Stanley Baldwins," is well worth a read.

You can find it by clicking on the link below.

Britain needs more Stanley Baldwins - UnHerd

Labour's attitude to picking candidates to be MPs in the words of their own members

It is a matter for the Labour party who they pick as their candidates.

Nevertheless, when key local activists in a political party are resigning en masse about the way their party leadership has run the selection of a candidate, and are using words like

  • "Undemocratic and against everything our party stands for" (the previous parliamentary candidate)
  • "This is a travesty" (Cumberland Councillor and a portfolio holder on that Council)  
  • "A dreadful decision" and "It's beyond parody" (Cumberland councillor for the area I used to represent)

then the fact that the very people who have been pounding the streets for a party are saying such things about the way their party is run is informative.

You can read here what the secretary of Copeland Labour party, Bransty councillor Joseph Ghayouba,  has written about the decision by the Labour leadership to block him from standing to represent the area in the next general election. The quotes above are all responses to that post.

Here is what the previous Labour parliamentary candidate for the area also wrote on FB.

Here and below is the resignation statement posted on Facebook by eleven members of the Labour selection committee and CLP executive, explaining that they are resigning in protest against what they call a "shameless disregard for democracy." 


Brayton Academy among schools to benefit from new investment

As I posted earlier today, the Conservative Government is investing over £450 million in extra funding to improve school buildings, with over 1,000 projects receiving new investment to deliver safe, well-maintained facilities that support a high-quality education for pupils.

  • 859 academies, sixth form colleges and voluntary aided schools are set to benefit from the latest round of funding from the Conservative Government’s Condition Improvement Fund.
  • By making sure pupils have access to the facilities they need to succeed, the Conservative Government is helping to grow the economy as we deliver on the Prime Minister’s five priorities to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists, and stop the boats.

I welcome this extra funding from the Conservative Government to upgrade school buildings across the country, including a project at Brayton Academy, an excellent school which serves the area to which my wife and I recently moved, the Brayton area of the Selby and Ainsty constituency in North Yorkshire.

In total 859 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary aided schools will receive a share of £456 million from the Condition Improvement Fund, with over a thousand projects selected.

This new investment will upgrade and improve school and college facilities, providing pupils with safer and warmer classrooms, and more energy efficient school buildings.

The Conservative Government announced £1.8 billion of capital funding for the financial year 2023/24 to improve the condition of school buildings, including £1.1 billion for local authorities, large multi-academy trusts and voluntary aided bodies.

The announcement follows on from the 239 new school buildings confirmed in December as part of the Schools Rebuilding Programme, with 400 out of 500 schools and sixth form colleges now selected for rebuilds through the ten-year programme.

We have a world-leading education system but we must continue to invest in safe, warm and energy efficient classrooms so pupils have the facilities they need to study effectively and succeed.

That is why I welcome the news that the Conservative Government is investing an additional £456 million into our school buildings across the country, delivering over 1,000 building improvement projects, including the scheme with the Rodillian Multi-Academy Trust for improvements at Brayton Academy in the Selby and Ainsty constituency.

“Every school should have access to high-quality facilities and this Conservative investment will deliver that, so students can develop the skills they need for their careers as we grow the economy.”

Commenting, Minister for the School System, Baroness Diana Barran MBE said:

“Our Condition Improvement Fund has already completed over ten thousand projects, making a difference to pupils and teachers across the country. These projects help to create safer learning environments that make a difference to the quality of education for pupils.

“It’s hugely important that every school has access to high-quality learning facilities and these funding allocations will make sure that responsible bodies can start to plan ahead and get projects started to replace roofs, boilers and windows, so pupils and teachers can learn and work in a comfortable space.”

Cutting red tape for wine producers

Yesterday the government announced major cuts to red tape affecting the UK wine sector, delivering a £180 million boost to our UK wine industry and growing the economy. 

  • Britain has over 800 thriving vineyards in the UK and our wine sector is going from strength to strength, contributing hundreds of millions of pounds to the UK economy every year. 
  • That is why the government has announced revolutionary reforms to regulations in the wine industry which will give this growing sector a £180 million boost, freeing firms from  cumbersome rules left over from Britain's time in the EU and enabling them to grow their businesses. 
  • Now that we have left the EU, firms should rightly have the freedom they need to get on with business, boosting jobs and growing the economy. 

MoD Defence intelligence update on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 22nd May 2023


The G7 Summit

Last week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took a leading role in the meeting of G7 leaders, urging allies to redouble their efforts to support Ukraine and working with allies to boost economic and national security.

  • For the sake of global peace and security, the G7 must remain unified in the face of the threat from Russia and continue to boost international security.
  • That is why, the Prime Minister has been taking a leading role in the G7 summit and met with allies including President Zelenskyy of Ukraine and President Macron of France as we urge our partners to continue to support Ukraine and make progress on security issues including illegal immigration as we work to stop the boats.
  • As the Prime Minister met with his fellow G7 leaders, he emphasised the importance of redoubling their efforts to defend our values of freedom, democracy and tolerance – both in Ukraine and across the world.

Improving school buildings

Today the government has announced over £450 million of investment to improve school buildings, ensuring pupils have the facilities they need to learn the skills they need for the future as we grow the economy.

  • Britain has a world-leading education system but we must continue to invest in safe, warm and energy efficient classrooms so pupils have the facilities they need to study effectively and succeed.
  • That is why the Conservatives are investing an additional £456 million into our school buildings, delivering over 1,000 building improvement projects across 859 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary aided schools as part of our £1.8 billion investment in the school estate in 2023-4.
  • Every school should have access to high-quality facilities and our investment will deliver this so pupils can develop the skills they need for their careers as we grow the economy.

Quote of the day 22nd May 2023


Sunday, May 21, 2023

MoD Defence intelligence summary on the situation in Ukraine at 21st May 2023


Second Sunday music spot: 'If Ye Love Me' by Thomas Tallis

One of the high spots of this morning's service at Selby Abbey was the communion anthem, for which the Selby Abbey choir performed "If ye love me" by Thomas Tallis. 

Here are VOCES8 singing the same anthem.

Yes, I know I posted a version of this a fortnight ago.

In the immortal words of Windsor Davies, 

"Oh Dear. What a shame. Never mind."

A Sunday reflection from Selby.

I attended the Sunday morning family service today at Selby Abbey, and the service sheet began with a reflection by the Reverend Paul Finlinson, also available online, which I found quite thought-provoking..

It begins as follows:

"Whenever a person is interviewed for a job, one of the questions which is often asked is, not surprisingly, 

'Why do you want to do this job?'

Why do you want to be a teacher? A member of the police force? A social worker? A public servant or a Member of Parliament?

Rarely do candidates for these positions, and many other similar ones, say that they want these jobs because they want to be made fun of or criticised by members of the public. 

And yet, as a consequence of wanting simply to serve others, many of us who have chosen these jobs have at times fallen victim to the ridicule and even hatred of others. It seems so unfair when all you wanted to do was to hopefully bring good to the people you have chosen to serve.

Doubtless many of you watch programmes such as Mock the Week and you read the hurtful gossip in newspapers and magazines. These days there are the anonymous comments on Twitter and Facebook as well, and seemingly everyone feels that they are entitled to be as rude about everyone else as they like - with no comeback at all.

If you think that all this is new, however, think again."

The full piece is currently available as the first item on the weekly notices page of Selby Abbey's website which you can find by clicking on the link below:

notices.pdf (

Sunday music spot: Locus Iste (Bruckner )

Quote of the day 21st May 2023

 "There is no bigger waste of time than doing 90% of what is necessary."

(Thomas Sowell)

Saturday, May 20, 2023

MoD Defence update on the war in Ukraine at 20th May 2023


The walk for Arthur

It was a lovely day for the walk in memory of the late Arthur  Lamb, organised by his NHS colleagues, from Haig Pit to St Bees.

I'd say about thirty people took part. The money raised will be donated to Epilepsy Action.

If you would like to sponsor the event and donate to Epilepsy Action, you can still do so here.

More sanctions on Russia

The UK and other G7 countries have announced new sanctions on Russia, strengthening the most severe package of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy as the Prime Minister urges the G7 to redouble their efforts to support Ukraine.

  • For the sake of global peace and security, the G7 must remain unified in the face of the threat from Russia and show that brutal violence and coercion does not reap rewards.
  • That is why, in coordination with our G7 allies, the British government has announced new sanctions on Russia’s diamond, copper, aluminium and nickel trade, as well as sanctioning 86 further people and companies from Putin’s military industrial complex – including those working to undermine existing sanctions.
  • The Prime Minister met his fellow G7 leaders this weekend and emphasised the importance of redoubling our efforts to defend our values of freedom, democracy and tolerance – in Ukraine and across the world.

Saturday music spot: Vivaldi's Concerto for 4 violins in B minor, RV 580

Quote of the day 20th May 2023

 "Not every change is a step forward"

The quote is from Timothy Zahn's novel, "Thrawn."

Here it is in context:

"One is born with a unique set of talents and abilities. One must choose which of those talents to nurture, which to set aside for a time, and which to ignore completely.

Sometimes the choice is obvious. Other times, the hints and proddings are more obscure. Then, one may need to undergo several regimens of training and sample several different professions before determining where one's strongest talents lie. This is the driving force behind many life-path alterations.

There are few sets of skills which match only one specific job. More often they are adaptable to many different professions. Sometimes, one can plan such a change. Other times , the change appears without warning.

In both instances, one must be alert and carefully consider all options. Not every change is a step forward." 

Friday, May 19, 2023

MoD Intelligence update on Ukraine 19th May 2023


Jets for Ukraine

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted:

"Welcome announcement that the US will approve the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.

The UK will work together with the USA and the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to get Ukraine the combat air capability it needs.

We stand united."

Music to start the weekend: Vivaldi's Concerto in C major for two flutes, strings & bass

Reminder: Walk in memory of Arthur Lamb to be held tomorrow

A reminder that NHS co-workers of my friend and colleague, the late Arthur Lamb, who died at the tragically young age of 31 in January, have organised a sponsored walk in his memory tomorrow (Saturday 20th May 2023) to raise funds for Epilepsy Action.

Arthur packed a huge amount of achievement into those 31 years. He was chairman of Copeland Conservatives at the time of the Copeland by-election. He became a county councillor by winning a safe Labour seat, and at the time of his death was Chief Whip of the Conservative group on Cumbria County Council and Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives in Cumbria. I still miss him greatly and I know I speak for Conservative colleagues all over Cumbria when I say that we deeply feel his loss.

Arthur was a cricket umpire and coach and was immensely valued not just by Whitehaven cricket club but by colleagues all over Cumbria  - the night before he died he was coaching youngsters in what he told his parents was a "really good session with the kids."

He was also remembered as an active member of the local church.

And he was a valued member of the local NHS team, who have organised the sponsored walk in his memory.

His colleague Fiona Cowan told the Whitehaven News,

“We wanted to do something in his memory because he was such a big part of the team and the Trust. Just to show that he hasn’t been forgotten and will be remembered for the years ahead. We intend to do it every year.

“We miss him every day. He was full of fun, mischievous, always had a twinkle in his eye. Always got the last word. Just a real hard worker and a lovely person to work with. Very conscientious.

“He was always thinking of the patient – not the figures he was dealing with. He always wanted to do his very best. He was a lovable, gentle giant."

The walk organised by his NHS colleagues will start at 10am at Haig Pit in Whitehaven tomorrow, then go on to St Bees and across the coast to the Lighthouse, St Bees and finish at the Queens, Main Street, St Bees.

Free parking is available at Haig Pit. Everyone is welcome to come along and take part. The money raised will be donated to Epilepsy Action.

If you would like to sponsor the event and donate to Epilepsy Action, you can do so here.

Helping Ukraine


This week PM Rishi Sunak welcomed President Zelenskyy of Ukraine to Britain, as part of a tour by the Ukrainian leader seeking support in his country's struggle to defend itself against unprovoked, illegal and inexcusable Russian aggression.

  • This week the UK also announced that we will supply new missiles and long-range attack drones to Ukraine, standing by Ukraine as they continue in their fight against Putin.
  • The UK is leading the way in supporting Ukraine, defending democracy and ensuring Putin’s hideous and barbaric venture fails.
  • That is why, this week, the Prime Minister met with President Zelenskyy to discuss the UK’s ongoing support for Ukraine – humanitarianly, financially and militarily – including the UK’s £2.3 billion of support this year, and we confirmed the further provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and unmanned systems, including long range attack drones.
  • This is a message of solidarity that will ring loud in all of the Prime Minister’s meetings with world leaders. Putin’s attack on Ukraine is an attack on democracy and the UK will stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies for as long as it takes.  

Online safety - protecting kids from those who encourage them to self-harm

The government has this week announced that internet trolls will face up to five years in jail for encouraging others to self-harm, as part of a package of measures to make the internet a safer place for everyone. 

  • No parent should have to worry about their children viewing content online – or elsewhere – let alone the possibility that they will be encouraged to hurt themselves.
  • That is why the government is making it a crime to encourage someone to cause serious self-harm, including someone to starve themselves or not take prescribed medication. The offence will apply even when the perpetrator does not know the person they are targeting and see those convicted face up to 5 years in prison, putting an end to anonymous trolling that risks serious self-harm. 
  • Building on the existing measures in the Online Safety Bill, these changes will make it easier to convict those responsible for this dangerous intellectual poison and make the internet a better and safer place for everyone. 

Helping families with the cost of living


Quote of the day 19th May 2023


Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Hiroshima accord - a new UK/Japanese security deal

Today the Prime Minister signed a landmark security deal with Japan, stepping up defence cooperation to uphold stability in the Indo-Pacific and helping to grow our economy. 

  • The UK and Japan are closely aligned on the importance of protecting peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and defending our values, including free and fair trade. 
  • That is why the Prime Minister signed a landmark security deal with Japan today to step-up defence cooperation. The Hiroshima Accord will see us doubling the number of UK troops in upcoming joint exercises and deploying the Carrier Strike Group to the Indo-Pacific in 2025. We are also strengthening economic ties as Japanese businesses commit to invest nearly £18 billion in UK companies, helping to grow our economy. 
  • This agreement will step up defence cooperation to uphold stability in the Indo-Pacific and further cement our relationship with Japan as we deliver on our promise to grow the economy. 

International Literacy rankings

Congratulations to schools in England on a result which reflects great credit on our teachers and school students: this week children in England became the best readers in the Western World as we achieved our highest ever place in International Literacy Rankings, representing an achievement which will spread opportunity and ultimately helping grow the economy. 

  • The government is committed to delivering a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. Driving up literacy rates is central to our plan to spread opportunity and grow the economy, one of the five priorities.
  • That is why this week’s announcement that England moved up to fourth in the international rankings for reading was so important. England has also risen nine places in the global league tables for maths and reading since 2015 and 88 per cent of all schools are now rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ schools – up from 68 per cents since Labour were in power.
  • While there is always more progress to be made, pupils and teachers across the country should be incredibly proud of this achievement.

The PM's speech at the Council of Europe

Earlier this week the Prime Minister delivered a speech at the Council of Europe, reaffirming our commitment to work with our European allies on shared challenges, including growing the economy and stopping the boats.

  • Even though we have left the EU, we have not left Europe and we remain a proud European nation and are committed to working closely with our allies on our shared challenges. 
  • That is why the Prime Minister told the Council of Europe this week that we cannot sit back and watch as criminal gangs profiteer on people’s misery and exploit the most vulnerable, calling for greater cooperation among European nation to tackle the problem of illegal migration. To take no effective action about the boats isn't helping those in need - it is perpetuating a trade which is a risk to their lives.
  • Britain will keep working with our European allies to rise to the challenges we face to deliver on our priorities to grow the economy and stop the boats.

Capping Bus fares, and providing funding to protect Bus services in North Yorkshire


Yesterday the government announced the extension of the £2 bus fare cap, helping passengers save money on fares while supporting vulnerable bus routes – helping to grow the economy and providing immediate relief for people with the cost of living. 

  • Taking the bus is the most popular form of public transport and many people rely on buses to get them to work or to take their children to school. 
  • That is why millions of passengers across England will continue to ‘Get Around for £2’ with the government providing £200 million to continue capping single bus fares until the end of October 2023. £300 million has also been confirmed to protect vital routes and improve services until 2025.
  • This will make sure bus travel remains accessible and affordable for everyone to ease cost of living pressures whilst also delivering on the Conservative priority to grow the economy.

MoD Defence intelligence update on Russia and Ukraine 18th May 2023


Swimathon 2023

I did manage to complete the Swimathon 2023 challenge - 5,000 metres, which this year meant 200 lengths of The Edge pool in Leeds - in a time of two hours and seven minutes. Here are my Swimathon 2023 cap and medal.

Both I and all the other thousands of swimmers who took part around the UK were doing this to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie Cancer care.

I am hugely grateful to all the generous souls who have so far supported these two great causes by sponsoring me, and have so far given £210 to help people suffering from cancer, and which will be boosted by £32.50 in Gift Aid.

If anyone else would like to sponsor these great causes they can do so at my Justgiving page by clicking on the link below:

Christopher Whiteside is fundraising for Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie & The Swimathon Foundation (

Quote of the day 18th May 2023


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

MoD Defence summary 17th May 2023


The biggest package of reforms to the Rental market in a generation

This week the government introduced once-in-a-generation rental reforms, empowering renters to challenge rogue landlords and enabling landlords to take action on anti-social behaviour.  

  • No family, nor individual should be forced to live in a damp, unsafe home, powerless to put things right – and with the threat of sudden eviction hanging over them. 
  • That is why the Conservatives are delivering on our manifesto commitment to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions, ensuring renters can challenge poor standards without fear of being evicted or forced to pay exorbitant rent increases. We are also supporting the vast majority of decent landlords by making it easier for them to recover properties and evict anti-social tenants. 
  • We will make sure the landlord-tenant relationship works better for everyone and deliver decent, safe, and secure homes for families across England.  

Quote of the day 17th May 2023