Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sunday music spot: Rejoice in the Lord alway

I chose this piece because it is a setting of the words of this morning's New Testament lesson, from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians (Ch 4 verses 4:7)

"Rejoice in the Lord always.
And again I say, Rejoice!
Let your softness be known unto all men
The Lord is even at hand
Be careful for nothing
But in all prayer and supplication let your petitions be manifest unto God
with giving of thanks
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
Keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I once had a humorous dictionary of church music and one of the first entries was

"Anon, short for anonymous: a composer with many pseudonyms including Farrant Tye and Redford."

E.g. there are a lot of pieces of music where nobody is quite sure who really deserves the credit but which have commonly attributed to a popular composer who wrote in the same style.

This piece has sometimes been attributed to Redford on precisely that basis but nobody is absoilutely certain who really wrote it.


Quote of the day Sunday 16th December 2018

"You cannot understand British politics until you grasp that the" (Labour) "party has been taken over by men (and the occasional woman) who spent their lives around the fag ends of the 20th-century Marxist-Leninist movement. 

It’s not that Labour now has a communist programme. Revolutionary socialism is as dead as any idea can be. 

Rather, Labour has inherited the mental deformations of the Leninist style of doing business: the leadership personality cult, the love of conspiracy theory, the robotic denunciations of opponents, and most critically for our current crisis, the ineradicable fantasy that the worse conditions for the masses become, the brighter the prospects of the far left are. Disaster socialism is its alternative to disaster capitalism."

(Nick Cohen in an article in today's Observer which you can read on the website here.)

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Missed opoportunities to use digital technology to improve the health journey.

Next Tuesday, Cumbria's Health Scrutiny Committee will be hearing reports on digitisation of patient records in the county. Interesting and important reports which in my view show that the NHS in Cumbria has a lot more to do.

It is therefore very timely that one of my colleagues on the committee has just drawn my attention to a blog post by Lisa Drake, who works for Seascale Medical practice.

Lisa is an advocate of making better use of digital technology to improve patient experience and care and the working lives of NHS staff.

She recently had an experience of being on the other side of the table when she needed an issue checked out in relation to her own health, and records her patient journey and experiences on her blog "What Lisa did next," here, in a post called "Digital Health - missed opportunities."

A lengthy post but well worth reading: there are few more comments from me about the implications of this which the NHS in Cumbria needs to take on board on my health blog here.  

I know the secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock is trying to encourage NHS Trusts to address and learn from this kind of issue and I hope we in Cumbria can do so.

Music to relax after campaigning: Bethlehemian Rhapsody

There have been brilliant parodies of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody but this version of the Nativity story has to be the best one ever

(Not least because the quality of the musical performance is close to being in the same class as the original and better than any other parody of this piece I have ever heard.)

Campaigning in Kent Estuary

Despite the cold I took part in a good delivery session this morning for Cllr Tom Harvey and Rachel Ashburner, Conservative candidates in next Thursday's Kent Estuary Cumbria CC and Arnside & Milnthorpe SLDC by elections,

Here's a picture of the candidates taken earlier in the campaign.


Quote of the day 15th December 2018


"Only a single obstacle prevents May from winning the backing of her Party for her deal. Most of the hostility to it would collapse were there a uniteral exit mechanism." (to the backstop)

"Brexit isn’t a still photo, but a moving film – or should be. Where Britain will be on day one isn’t where we will be in year ten. The backstop freezes that film and prevents it from playing. Provide a sure means of escape from it, and the film begins to roll. And May’s deal thus becomes acceptable."

(Paul Goodman, selective extracts from a Conservative Home article called "It almost works.")

Friday, December 14, 2018

An Irish view of the backstop

I hope that the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Eric Varadkar, and members of the European Council take notice of an article in the Irish Independent by Dan O'Brien,

'The backstop demand could end up bringing about that which it was designed to prevent,'

which you can read here.

O'Brien argues that the backstop demand in its present form pushes Britain in general and the DUP in particular too far, risks bringing about a No-Deal Brexit which would harm both Britain and Ireland, and has already caused hostility towards Ireland in Britain.

"Those who came up with the backstop misread British politics and the British, placing a demand on the table that could end up bringing about that which it was designed to prevent," he writes.

My own opinion is that we can live with the backstop for a finite time, if necessary, provided we have confidence that it will not be permanent.

If the EU are prepared to put into legally binding form what they said today - that if the backstop is put into effect at all it will be temporary and that it is not intended to last for anywhere near a decade  - then there could be a chance that the House of Commons can pass a withdrawal agreement acceptable to Britain and the EU.

If the EU 27 will not give Britain legally binding assurances to that effect, the Withdrawal agreement will not pass the Commons and the consequence will be bad for the EU, worse for Britain, and worst of all for Ireland.

Brexit negotiations continue ...

Today, the Prime Minister is continuing conversations in Brussels to address concerns about the backstop and to seek the legal and political assurances that Parliament needs.

 

·         The Prime Minister has been visiting counterparts in other member states to discuss the concerns that Parliament has expressed. Today she will continue conversation with other European Leaders at the European Council in Brussels.

 

·         The government has listened to people, and while there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal, there remains widespread concern around the backstop. 

 

·         The government is determined to do all we can to secure the reassurances MPs require, and there’s a shared determination to resolve this issue, to get this deal over the line and deliver for the British people.

 

The government is determined to get on with the job of delivering the Brexit that people voted for; bringing our country together again; and focusing on the other issues that matter to people at home.

 

·         On delivering Brexit, the Prime Minster has listened to concerns about the backstop. That is why we have deferred the vote and why she has been out fighting for changes to address those concerns.

 

·         Progress is not as fast as any of us would like, but there is progress. It is clear that the EU wants a deal and that they understand that they are going to have to provide the assurances – political and legal – which the House of Commons needs. It is going to take some time to deliver that, but that is what the government is working hard to achieve.

 

People who disagree need to be clear about the implications of other approaches:

 

·         A second referendum to overturn the result of the first risks dividing the country again, when we should be striving to bring it back together.

 

·         Remaining part of the Single Market and the Customs Union would require free movement, rule-taking across the economy, and ongoing financial contributions – none of which are compatible with the result of the referendum.

 

·         Leaving without a deal would, in the short term, cause significant economic damage to parts of our country who can least afford to bear the burden

Quote of the day 14th December 2018


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Police funding statement continued

Today the Minister for Policing set out the provisional police funding settlement for 2019-20.

It is clear that pressures on the police have risen this year as a result of changing crime, and the government is committed to ensuring that the police have the right capabilities and resources to deal with this. 

That is why we are enabling an increase in funding for the police system of up to £970 million, the biggest increase since 2010.

This includes increases in government grant funding, full use of precept flexibility and funding to support pensions costs. 

The first role of government is to protect the public. We will always ensure that the police have the powers and resources needed to keep our citizens and communities safe. We are doing this by:
  •  Enabling an increase in funding for the police system of up to £970 million, the biggest increase since 2010, to ensure our police have the resources they need. This includes increases in government grant funding, full use of precept flexibility, funding to support pensions costs, and increased national funding to meet the threats from counter-terrorism and serious and organised crime.
  •  Increasing the general government grants to Police and Crime Commissioners by £161 million, protecting them in real terms. This includes additional funding and brings it to a total of £7.8 billion. Specific grants to the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police will increase by £14 million – an affordable increase that will better reflect the additional costs of policing London.
  •  Allocating a further £153 million of specific grant funding to support the policing system with increases in pensions contributions. This follows the announcement at the Budget that the Government would allocate funding from the Reserve to pay part of the costs of increases in public sector pensions contributions in 2019-20. This funding will be distributed according to a methodology developed with police leaders.

 
Proposing to double the precept flexibility for Police and Crime Commissioners to enable them to take decisions locally and explain to their electorate how this additional investment will help deliver a better police service.

This year, the government proposes to give Police and Crime Commissioners the freedom to ask for an additional £2 a month in 2019-20, to increase their Band D precept by £24 in 2019-20, without the need to call a local referendum.

We cannot say today how much the additional precept flexibility will raise, but last year the vast majority used their flexibility.

If all Police and Crime Commissioners use their flexibility in full in 2019-20, based on the latest Office of Budget Responsibility tax base forecasts, it will mean around an additional £509 million public investment in our police system.

And have the opposition voted for?

Labour voted against making £460 million extra available to the police at the last settlement. Not a single Labour MP voted for the funding.

Police funding

Maintaining Britain's world-leading police forces is a priority for the Conservative government which is why the Chancellor and Home Secretary have agreed to a provisional police funding settlement of up to £14bn for next financial year – which up to £970 million more than the previous year and the largest increase in police funding since 2010.



Quote of the year

The best quote I've used in 2018

“One of the most pathetic—and dangerous—signs of our times is the growing number of individuals and groups who believe that no one can possibly disagree with them for any honest reason.”

(Thomas Sowell, American economist.)




This quote is extremely topical in both Britain and the USA in 2018 and especially relevant to all sides in Britain's current Brexit debate.

By all means disagree with those who want to follow a different path but accusing anyone who disagrees with you of being a traitor, or a racist, or an extremist, or dishonest, or saying that everyone withy a different view should be slung out of your party, is unhelpful and harmful.

This applies whether it comes from leavers, remain supporters, from advocates of a hard or soft Brexit, from the left or the right, whether the person making the accusation is a member of the ERG,  a journalist like Janet Daley in the Telegraph, the Chancellor, a backbench MP like Anna Soubry, or from the left of politics who are just as bad.

No specific course of action has a majority in parliament or the country and somebody will have to compromise or Britain faces a very bad outcome. Refusing to recognise that those who support a different path honestly believe they are seeking Britain's best interest is a path to making that necessary compromise impossible.

Quote of the day 13th December 2018


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

May wins confidence vote by 200 to 117.

After huffing and puffing and threatening to blow Theresa May's house in for months, the opponents of her leadership finally managed yesterday to organise 48 letters from Conservative MPs requesting a vote of confidence in her leadership of the Conservative party.

A confidence ballot was duly held this evening and she won it by 200 votes to 117.

Obviously there is a significant minority of Conservative MPs who are not happy but the PM won the backing of more than 60-% of her colleagues.

Compare and contrast with the Labour party where more than 80% of Labour MPs voted that they had no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn (172 votes to 40) but he refused to resign.

In the words of one of the tabloid headlines tomorrow, now let her get on with the job.

Midweek musio spot: "Every valley shall be exalted" (from Handel's Messiah)

Whitehaven relief road consultation: ONE WEEK TO GO

The current public consultation about a possible A595 relief road for Whitehaven finishes one week from today (Wednesday 19th December 2018.)

I believe this has the potential to improve the viability of West Cumberland Hospital and outcomes for patients, as well as having major benefits for the local economy and for the quality of life of residents of the villages in West Cumbria currently affected by rat-running because the A595 is not coping with existing demand.

This is a first stage consultation by Highways England who have not yet defined a route for the proposed new road and they continue to assure me that they are genuinely interested in suggestions from local stakeholders and the public about where the road should go. (I am told by Highways England that there have already been hundreds of positive and constructive points made.)

One of the suggestions which has been discussed between local county councillors and Highways England is the possibility that the relief road could include a specific spur to the hospital. The most likely route - East of Whitehaven from approximately the present Moresby roundabout at the South end of the Distington by-pass to a point between Westlakes and Moor Row - would make this relatively easy to add.

Clearly this would be a huge benefit to ambulances and patients needing to get to WCH in a hurry - and I doubt if I need to spell out to anyone reading this the potential benefit in terms of patient outcomes from that - but it would also make it easier for staff and resources to get to the West Cumberland and thereby improve the viability of the hospital. 

The proposed new relief road is not dependent on Moorside and it is a serious proposal. At the start of this month Transport secretary Chris Grayling came in person to Copeland to kick off the consultation on the proposed Whitehaven Relief Road and announced his "Cast Iron Commitment" to improving Cumbria's Roads as you can read on the government website at


Chris Grayling said:
  • "Investing in Cumbria’s vital transport routes cuts congestion, ensures drivers enjoy faster, safer journeys, and increases the freight capacity needed to drive forward jobs and economic growth." 
  • "This shows our cast-iron commitment to Cumbria, as we deliver the investment needed to provide businesses and commuters with more reliable and resilient journeys." 
  • The Secretary of State for transport also confirmed ongoing discussions with local partners on proposals to progress development of a major programme of upgrades on the Cumbrian Coast rail line to support expected major investments in West Cumbria and the creation of new jobs.

The consultation formally began on Wednesday 7th November 2018 and lasts until 19th December 2018. Consultation survey forms were sent out to residents in the Whitehaven area and for some distance around and I was pleased to learn this week that hundreds have already been returned.

You can also read details of the sort of new road which might come forward and the questions being asked in the consultation, and respond online at


I believe that we need this road and that it would be particularly helpful if as many people as possible responded to the consultation and said so, and if they also included in their response that it would be a very good idea - and very probably save lives - if the relief road included a spur to West Cumberland Hospital.

If you want to respond to the consultation you can do so using any of the four following methods by 19 December 2018:

  • Online – complete the response form online using the above link
  • Complete the consultation response form in the consultation brochure and return it using the freepost address provided 
  • Email your response to: A595Whitehaven@highwaysengland.co.uk 
  • Post – write to Highways England at: 

Business Reply Plus Licence Number RTZS–CEET–CSXR WSP
Amber Court
William Armstrong Drive
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear NE4 7YQ

Did I mention that all responses should be returned by Wednesday 19 December 2018?

Quote of the day 12th December 2018


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Employment and Real Wages rising

Office for National Statistics figures released today show that real wages are rising on average and at the best rate for nearly a decade.

Compared with a year earlier, wages excluding bonuses, were up by 3.3% for the three months to October, the biggest rise since November 2008.

Average weekly wages are £495 - the highest since 2011, when adjusted for inflation. The number of people in work rose by 79,000 to 32.48 million, a record high.

That is the highest figure since records began in 1971.

Job vacancies were up by 10,000 on the quarter to a record high of 848,000. More than half, 195,000, of the 329,000 jobs created in the year to October went to people who are no longer economically inactive, who are the main reason for the expansion in the workforce.

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: "Today's statistics show the enduring strength of our jobs market, with wages outpacing inflation for the ninth month in a row and employment at a record high."

December meeting of Cumbria Health Scrutiny committee

The next meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee will be held on Tuesday 18th December in Cumbria House Carlisle starting at 10.30 am.

Full details of the agenda and supporting papers can be found here.

The meeting is open to the public for those who are able to spend a working day in Carlisle. I would like to see these meetings live-streamed with recordings also available on the internet so that all residents of Cumbria with access to the internet can also watch the important information presented to us.

I am reading with particular interest the report on Digital records which I had asked for at the previous meeting (Agenda item 11).

The agenda items for discussion are as follows:

1. Apologies for Absence

2. Membership of the Committee

3. Disclosures of Interest

4. Exclusion of Press and Public
(To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda. They won't be)

5. Minutes of the meeting held on 8 October 2018

6. Committee Briefing Report
(To consider a report by the Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Adviser).

7. What Does a Good Life Look Like for People with Learning Difficulties in Cumbria
(To consider a report by Healthwatch Cumbria).

8. HealthCare for the Future Update
(To consider a report by the Chief Operating Officer, NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group).

9. Future of Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Services
(To consider a report by Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust).

10. Potential Merger Between Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS
(To receive an update from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust).

11. Digital Records Update
(To consider reports by the Executive Director of Finance, Estates and Digital, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which outline what progress is being made on digitising records across the system and improving system interoperability, plus a description of how current systems operate across the various NHS organisations in Cumbria and the challenges this creates, financial and otherwise).

12. Date of Future Meeting To note that the next meeting of the Committee will be held on Tuesday 26 February 2018 at 10.30 am at County Offices, Kendal.

Quote of the day 11th December 2018


Monday, December 10, 2018

Copeland Highways Working Group

However much the debate on Brexit seems to suck the oxygen out of activity on all other subjects in the House of Commons and the press, the business of running the country and local authorities goes on, and today the Highways Working Group of Cumbria County Council's local area committee for Copeland had a meeting.

This was a private meeting but the minutes will be presented to the Local Committee at its' next meeting on 15th January and will be published with the papers for that meeting.

Some of the key issues coming out of today which are already in the public domain are as follows:

1) Following the public consultation, to which the overwhelming majority of responses were positive, the £ 2 million North Shore scheme to improve safety and traffic flow to the North of Whitehaven Town centre is moving forward and a plan to complete the works will be presented to councillors in the near future. The traffic orders to implement the scheme were approved by local committee in late November.

2) The government has given £12 million of taxpayers' money to Cumbria County council to fix potholes and repair roads. Some of this is being spent centrally and some devolved to local committees and of the latter £844,000 will be spent in Copeland. This will enable a number of road repairs for which a proper job might otherwise have had to wait until 2020 or 2021 to be done this financial year (the target to finish the work is the end of the financial year e.g. 31st March 2019.)

3) There have been a number of studies this year of road speeds and safety on particular roads in Copeland which were causing concern and a number of proposals are now out to preliminary consultation to bring speed limits more into line with what is achievable and safe.

C.S. Lewis on Science, Statism and Liberty

Two or three weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page this link to an article about how C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien "defied the spirit of the age" in the era after World War one which interested a number of my Facebook friends.

The discussion on that previous post included the issue of whether Lewis was anti-science.

I absolutely do not agree that he was, but he was certainly opposed to a certain view of science which he suggested might be called 'scientism.'

I have since obtained and have been reading a copy of the book "Of this and other worlds," a collections of Lewis's writings published posthumously on his behalf by Walter Hooper, which includes the essay "A reply to Professor Haldane" (or rather almost all of it - the last one or two pages are missing.)

In that essay Lewis makes a very entertaining and interesting reply to those who accused him of traducing science.

I have also found a very interesting series of three essays posted on the "Front Porch Republic" blog by David Theroux about Lewis's views on Liberty and the evils of Statism which I think will be of particular interest to anyone with an interest in the importance of freedom.

The first of those essays, which begins to explain why Lewis was sceptical of overmighty governments, can be found here and the second, which particularly deals with moral relativism, here.

The third essay, linked to here, quotes extensively from Lewis's reply to Haldane and a number of other relevant essays by Lewis with provocative titles like "Willing slaves of the Welfare State."
and I recommend all three essays as a powerful and interesting read.

For anyone interested in the other point of view or who wants to understand Lewis's response by reading the piece which he was responding to, I have also found a web page which quotes in full both Haldane's original article "Auld Hornie FRS," a critique of Lewis' writings to which Lewis's "reply to Professor Haldane" was a reply, and a second Haldane article criticising Lewis which it's target probably never saw.

You can find that web page here.

Fraser Nelson on the Brexit vote postponement ...

"This might not be as mad as it sounds. If the E.U. grants the UK what it grants all of its trading partners - a genuine break clause, an ‘eject’ button that can be pushed by No10 or plt - she’d probably get her deal through."

(Quote from Fraser Nelson of the Spectator on the decision to defer the "meaningful vote" which parliament had been due to take tomorrow)

I don't know whether there is any chance of the EU council agreeing to that - the comments which EU spokespeople have made today suggest the odds are not good. However, if there is any chance at all Theresa May had to go for it. If the PM believes, as I'm certain she does, that Britain must cease to be a member state of the EU but a "no deal" hard Brexit would be a very damaging way of doing this, then she, and more importantly the country, has nothing to lose from exploring that option.

Quote of the day 10th December 2018

"Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly-educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important." 

(Thomas Sowell, American economist.)

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Schrodinger's Brexit

It has occurred to me today that there is a remarkable parallel between the decision which MPs have to take on Tuesday when deciding whether to vote for the May deal, and Schrodinger's "thought experiment" of the cat in the impenetrable box.

The problem faced by MPs is that nobody knows for certain - indeed, I am tempted to agree with those who argue that nobody has the least idea - what we will end up with if the deal is voted down.

I also think that a very good point was made by Anand Menon in his excellent article

"Disagree with May’s Brexit deal? Fine, but be honest about the alternatives,"

in which he points out that although the PM's proposed withdrawal agreement has many flaws, almost all of those in right, left, pro Brexit and anti-Brexit sides either have no credible alternative or are not being frank, open and realistic about the consequences of those alternatives.

For anyone who is not familiar with Schrodinger's cat, the idea is that we imagine a sealed box supplied with oxygen, cat food and water, which is impenetrable to any scanning device or form of light or radiation which might tell us what is inside, and into which we put what was, before the box was sealed, a live cat.

Also within the box is a mechanism which uses a purely random and unpredictable method to decide whether to release a poison which will quickly and painlessly kill the cat.

Schrodinger argued that if we have no means of knowing until we open the box whether the cat is alive or dead, there is a sense in which, until we actually do open it, the cat is both alive and dead as there is the potential for both states. The cat exists as a sort of wave form or probability pattern until the box is opened and the wave form "collapses" into a deal or living cat.



I have some difficulty with the idea that a cat can be both alive and dead but I have no difficulty with Schrodinger's Brexit

- E.g. we don't know until the outcome is determined whether if May's deal is voted down it will be the Brexiteers or the Remainers whose dreams are dead because there is the potential for both outcomes.

We do know, however, is that if May's deal goes down there will be one of four outcomes (I'm ignoring the question of whether there is another referendum or a general elections because these are process issues - people are putting both forward in the hope of getting the outcome they want but it is far from certain that either would solve the Brexit problem.)

Those four outcomes are

1) If parliament doesn't pass anything else by 29th March, under Article 50 Britain leaves the EU with no deal on 29th March 2019.

2) There is another round of negotiations with the EU after which a revised version of the May deal, or something similar to it, is put to parliament again and this time it passes.

3) There is a "softer" Brexit than May's deal, at least for the short term, based on EFTA or EEA membership, something similar to Norway's relationship with the EU, hence this is often referred to as the "Norway option." N.B. It is far from certain that this option is actually available.

4) Britain doesn't leave the EU after all.

Voting down the May deal is putting Brexit into the box. Only after that vote will we find out which of those four outcomes is the result. It could be a harder Brexit, a softer Brexit, or no Brexit at all.

What the outcome certainly won't be is an outcome that pleases everyone - that's not just a thought experiment, it's a cloud-cuckoo-land fantasy.

And because we won't find out what's in the box until after we open it and long after the votes have been case on Tuesday, we don't know whether Brexiteers who vote against May's deal are killing Brexit, or whether Remainers who vote against the deal are bringing about a hard Brexit.

If the May deal is voted down, however, there is, however, a strong possibility that when the box is opened and Schrodinger's Brexit "collapses" into a single outcome, one of those two things will have happened. 

Saturday music spot: Village People "YMCA"

Quote of the day 8th December 2018


Friday, December 07, 2018

Tabula Rasa

Many a true word is spoken in jest.

The folks at Reactions have managed to express an important truth concerning what we know for certain about what happens next if the PM loses the Withdrawal Agreement vote without using a single word.

You can find out here.

Government announces nearly a billion pounds for NHS improvements

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that 75 hospital and community health projects will receive between them £963 million investment of taxpayers' money to improve services. and facilities

The extra funding to upgrade facilities will mean that more people can be treated and more can be done to prevent ill-health in the first place.

Projects that will receive a share of the funding include: a new emergency department in Walsall a multimillion-pound eye care facility in London a major expansion of mental health services in Newcastle, Gateshead and Liverpool

Almost £800 million of the funding will go to projects outside London in order to improve access to care across the country.

The investment comes ahead of the launch of the government’s long-term plan for the NHS. The long-term plan is the biggest ever funding increase for the NHS and will see its budget increase by £20.5 billion every year by 2023 to 2024.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

"We want even more patients to receive world-class care in world-class NHS facilities and this near billion-pound boost – one of the most substantial capital funding commitments ever made – means that the NHS can do just that for years to come. 

This will not only support dedicated staff through the redevelopment and modernisation of buildings, but it will allow additional services to launch for the first time, improving patients’ access to care in their local area as part of our long-term plan for the NHS."

Quote of the day 7th December 2018

"It seems that nothing like a majority of MPs are ready to be rational. The referendum might have been won on an anti-immigration message but the MPs forming" (Theresa May's) "majority are much more exercised by sovereignty, whether the place of Northern Ireland within the union or Britain’s unilateral ability to break free of the transitional arrangements.

"Diehard Remain MPs believe, on skimpy evidence, that a fresh referendum will result in a reversal of the decision.

"Diehard Leave MPs believe, on even skimpier evidence, that there is time to renegotiate a better deal (they argue among themselves what that better deal might look like) or that leaving without a deal would be just fine.

"Labour believes it can use the chaos either to take power or massively to improve its chances of taking power soon.

"Everyone is preparing to play ducks and drakes with the nation’s future rather than take the safe option."



(Alistair Meeks, from an article on the Political Betting site which you can read in full here.)

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Trudy Harrison MP speaks in Parliament on Rail Strikes

Trudy Harrison MP writes:

"Yesterday, I sought the help of the Prime Minister to put an end to the unnecessary rail strike action - we have assurances that the guards will remain on the Cumbrian Coastal Line. The strikes cause misery and inconvenience to passengers and businesses are suffering in the run up to Christmas."

You can see her question at PMQs and Theresa May's answer on the Copeland Conservatives Facebook page here.

Rory Stewart at the Spectator Debate

Rory Stewart, Cumbria MP and Prisons minister, recently took part in a Spectator debate with Dominic Raab about the May Deal.

By all accounts, even most of those who disagreed with Rory - who I'm told were the vast majority of the 600 people there - were impressed by his brave and effective defence of the proposed Withdrawal agreement.

Andrew Willshire, who describes himself as feeling like a member of an endangered species as a Brexit supporter who also backs the deal, has written an interesting piece about his conclusions from the debate which you can read in full here.

Andrew argues that, quote

"I want to ask Conservative MPs to think carefully before discarding Theresa May’s deal. There are those who, like Raab, will argue that the disruption will be only minor and can be mitigated; those who argue, above all, that the gains will be worth the uncertainty. 

But put yourself in the shoes of the mother who goes to the pharmacy and discovers there’s no insulin for her diabetic child. That may well only be the case for a week while alternatives are sourced, but imagine that week for that mother. 

"Consider the workers at a car plant that closes for even just three months while components are sourced elsewhere. The uncertainty, the insufficient savings to pay unexpected bills, the lack of prospective alternative employment in their town utilising their skills and their experience."

"You can be sure that every single catastrophe that befalls an individual in the post-Brexit period will be blamed on the Tory government that let it happen – or indeed argued in its favour. The gains will be small and will accrue gradually across a dispersed group of people, the losses will be immediate, personal and deeply felt." 

"Now imagine looking a close friend in the eye when they have lost their job. Maybe they voted to remain, wanting only to get on with their lives. Will you tell them that it’s worth it?"

"Mrs May’s deal deserves to be backed because it achieves the aim of leaving the EU while minimising the risk of sudden economic shocks."