Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Boris in Northern Ireland

Today the Prime Minister will visit Northern Ireland to stress the need for devolution to be restored as soon as possible. 

Key facts
  • The Prime Minister will meet the leaders of Northern Ireland’s five main political parties and hear from them on the progress of talks to restore the Northern Ireland Executive. 
  • The Prime Minister also spoke with the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday about how the UK Government will continue to work with the Irish Government to deliver a successful outcome to Executive talks. 
  • The visit also follows the announcement this week that Northern Ireland will receive a share of £300 million new funding, to help boost business and enhance opportunities for people in the region. 

Why this matters:

Northern Ireland’s citizens need and deserve the Executive to get up and running again as soon as possible so that locally-accountable politicians can take decisions on the issues that really matter to local people.

Second quote of the day 31st July 2019

Mercy Muroki has a column in the Times arguing that it is time the left stopped demonising ethnic minority voters who support parties other than Labour.




The article is behind a paywall but you can register to read two free Times article online per week. It's located here.

Making a similar point today, and this time not behind a paywall, Dr Rakib Ehsan, who is a spiked columnist and a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, has written at Spiked about how

"The response to Johnson’s appointment of ethnic-minority ministers has been ugly and undignified."

His article, "How Boris and his cabinet broke the left" can be read here.

Quote of the day 31st July 2019


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Next Saturday Chataway surgery on Saturday 3rd August in Holmrook

The next "Saturday Chataway" organised by Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland, to give residents the opportunity to meet and raise concerns with elected representatives at all levels will be held in Holmrook this coming Saturday (3rd August 2019.)

Councillors of all parties on the relevant local authorities for the area have been invited to join Trudy Harrison MP at the Holmrook Reading Rooms on Saturday to speak with constituents, listen to their concerns and suggestions and assist with any issues.

Each month, these coffee morning style surgeries raise money for a valued local organisation or charity. The event will be held between 10am – 12pm.

Refreshments will be available.

Boris in Wales

It's Tuesday, it must be Wales ...

Following his visit to Scotland yesterday the Prime Minister is in Wales today where he is meeting farmers to talk about the opportunities and bright future awaiting them after we leave the EU by 31 October. 
  • In South Wales, the Prime Minister is meeting farmers and workers and will listen to their hopes for the UK after Brexit. 
  • When we leave the EU by 31 October, we will scrap the Common Agricultural Policy and sign new trade deals – meaning more opportunities for our food and farming sectors to sell around the world.
  • In Scotland yesterday, the Prime Minister announced £300 million for Growth Deals across the UK, including the Mid Wales region. 
  • Negotiations are already underway for a deal in North Wales. 
  • The Growth Deals pledge follows the Prime Minister’s announcement over the weekend of a £3.6 billion Towns Fund supporting an initial 100 towns in England.

If No Deal is necessary

Writing in the Sunday papers yesterday, Sajid Javid and Michael Gove both set out plans to accelerate preparations to leave with no deal should the EU be unwilling to negotiate a new deal.

The government's preferred option was and is to leave with a deal capable of getting through parliament, which means scrapping the backstop in anything like its present form.

Those MPs who insist that they are strongly opposed to a "No Deal" exit but have three times voted against leaving with a deal will, if a "No Deal" exit is the only way to implement the referendum decision of the British people, share a large part of the responsibility for causing the very result they say they want to avoid.

  • But there is a need to plan for a "No Deal" outcome, not because anyone prefers it, but in case the EU’s leaders will not agree to anything which could get through parliament. 
  • All the necessary funding to prepare for no deal is being put in place, including 500 new Border Force officers and support for Brits living abroad and to get our businesses ready. 
  • The Government machine is being retooled for the task so that civil servants know delivering Brexit on time is the most pressing task before all of us. 
  • A new, unified Whitehall structure has been created to coordinate action across different departments and speed up decision-making.

Quote of the day 30th July 2019


Monday, July 29, 2019

Boris in Scotland

The Prime Minister made his first official visit to Scotland today, where he announced the expansion of Growth Deals to open up opportunities across our Union so people in every corner of the United Kingdom can realise their potential.

 

  • The Growth Deals across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be backed by £300 million of new funding.

 

  • First launched in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2014, we have already committed £2.78 billion for these deals.

 

  • Through this new funding, the Conservative government will begin new deals in Falkirk, the Islands, Argyll & Bute, Mid South West Northern Ireland and Causeway Coast and Glens. We will also complete deals already in negotiation in North Wales, Mid Wales, Derry-Londonderry and Moray.

 

  • The Growth Deals pledge follows the Prime Minister’s announcement over the weekend for a £3.6 billion Towns Fund supporting an initial 100 towns in England.

Quote of the day 29th July 2019

"It is heartbreaking to read what Lord Bramall went through after the Met fell hook, line and sinker for fantasist Carl Beech’s child abuse claims. 

This man, who served in Normandy in World War II and was head of the Army during the Falklands War, is a national hero. The police acted disgracefully in pursuing clearly ludicrous claims. 

But they did it because they were cheered on by politicians desperate to take swipes at “the establishment”. 

None more so than Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who is still yet to apologise. Speak up, Tom. Make sure they can hear you at the back."

('The Sun Says' Editorial about the false claims made by Carl Beech as "Nick" about Field Marshall Lord Branall and others.)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

You know it's the "Silly Season" when ...

You know it's the "Silly Season" when ...

  • The BBC breakfast news has an item on "Heavy Metal Knitting"
  • There's a new PM and cabinet and a challenging national situation on Brexit but traditional and social media spill vast amounts of ink and electrons about a new "Style Guide" issued by the member for the 18th century in his new role as Leader of the House of Commons
  • The country has the most ethnically diverse cabinet in history, in which every one of the four great offices of state is held by the grandson, daughter or son of immigrants, and a section of supporters of the party which calls itself "progressive" and "anti-racist" go on a targeted press and social media  attack against the BAME members of that government in a manner which comes very close to - and in certain cases crosses - the line where some of those attacks  become racist themselves.

Postscript: another one
  • The use of the words "War Cabinet to denote a key cabinet committee is deemed worthy of a social media row. (In the words of Dan Hodges on Twitter, "We’ve seen some stupid, confected rows on here. But the current outbreak of handbags over the term “Brexit War Cabinet” tops the lot."

Quote of the day 28th July 2019


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Boris's priorities




We will realise the benefits of Brexit and get our country back on the road to a brighter future by:

1. Getting Brexit done by 31st October, with a great new deal for Britain.
2. Making sure Britain is prepared for a no deal, as the best way to get a great new deal.
3. Making sure people start seeing the £20 billion in new NHS funding in their GP surgeries and local hospitals.
4. Hiring 20,000 new police officers and giving them the powers to keep our streets safe.
5. Properly funding our schools so that every child gets more guaranteed minimum funding, regardless of where they live.
6. Delivering a strong economy to fund the public services we all rely on.

Saturday music spot: "Dies Irae" from the Mozart Requiem

"The day of wrath, that dreadful day …"

Sounds rather like the reaction of everyone in politics from the Lib/Dems leftwards to the arrival of Boris Johnson as PM!

Quote of the day 27th July 2019

"What's most disgusting is the coordination. The Corbynites have issued an attack order. 'Go for the black cabinet ministers'. They are overtly targeting BAME politicians for abuse, because of their ethnicity. As ever, it begins with the Jews, but it doesn't end with the Jews."


(Dan Hodges, former Labour and Trade union official who is now a columnist, on Twitter)

Friday, July 26, 2019

Putting more police on our streets

The Prime Minister has launched a recruitment drive to deliver 20,000 new police officers and make our streets safer. 

  • People want to see more officers in their neighbourhoods, protecting the public and cutting crime. 
  • The unprecedented drive to deliver more frontline officers will start in September with the launch of a national campaign, led by the Home Office, recruiting 20,000 officers over the next three years. 
  • A new national policing board, chaired by the Home Secretary and bringing together key police leaders, will hold the police to account for meeting this target and drive the national response to the most pressing issues that affect communities right across the country. 
  • In addition, as part of ongoing work to tackle serious violence, the Government will urgently review a pilot which makes it simpler for officers to use stop and search powers, with a view to rolling this out across all forces.

Second quote of the day 26th July 2019




Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last seventy hours you probably cannot have missed that most of the British left in politics and the media alike have been throwing the most monumental collective hissy fit about the new PM and cabinet (see first quote above.)

I have not seen anything like it since the day after the re-election of George W Bush, when one of the centre-left broadsheets - think it might have been the Guardian but the Independent's coverage was equally negative - published a pull out specifically for people to vent about how awful they thought the US Presidential election result was.

It had a black front sheet with just the words "Oh God" in small letters and inside and on the back page was full of quotes people ranting about how terrible it was that Bush had been re-elected.

If you think I'm exaggerating by suggesting that much of the left has gone equally bananas about the new government, take a look at this rant about the new cabinet in the Guardian by Hannah Jane Parkinson. She rather gives the game away at one point by admitting that she is still sore about having been nominated for a Press award which she didn't get and seeing Sarah Vine win an award the same evening.

A feminist who was true to her own principles would regard Sarah Vine primarily as a journalist and regard it as disgracefully sexist to regard a professional woman mainly through the prism of who she is married to, but of course the left never apply to themselves the principles they expect everyone else to live by so Ms Parkinson writes about Sarah as if the most significant thing about her is that she's the wife of Michael Gove.

Not to be out-done, the "Independent" has published a list of jokes about the new government.

Anybody who thought more than one or two of them were funny needs professional help.

Anyone who thinks that list was worth being published by a website which was once a serious newspaper has an interesting set of priorities.

And then there is the display of outrage over the ethnic composition of the new holders of the four great offices of state.

In case you have not noticed, we have our first Muslim chancellor, our first female Asian home secretary, and the first ever government in which all four of the great offices of state are held by people who had at least one parent or grandparent who was an immigrant.

(Boris's maternal grandfather was a refugee from Turkey, the parents of Sajid Javid and Priti Patel were immigrants, and Dominic Raab's father was a Jew who fled Czechoslovakia in 1938 at the age of six to escape the Nazis.)

Now I would have thought that if a government is sufficiently open to all the talent that not just one, not just two, but ALL FOUR of the most powerful positions in it are held by the children or grandchildren of immigrants,  it is reasonable to deduce that such a government is not hopelessly hostile to people with an immigrant background getting on in society.

Try telling that to the left. One of their daftest attack lines over the past few days has been to accuse the ethnic minority members of the Johnson cabinet of being at best tokens and at worst traitors.

It's come from a range of sources but one of the more printable expressions of the idea came from Corbyn's outrider Ash "I'm literally a communist, you idiot" Sarkar, who tweeted

"The ascendance of Priti Patel and Sajid Javid to positions of power is only a sign of progress if you see tokenism (in which people of colour must assimilate to oppressive ideologies in return for representation) itself as progressive.

I don't"

In the circular argument of the left, if a right of centre party does not have people of colour and from other minorities and low-status groups in visible positions of authority that proves it is racist/sexist/whatever, if it does then those individuals must be tokens or traitors.

My reply to this nonsense is the quote above from American economist Thomas Sowell:

"I cannot understand those who say that minorities should be represented everywhere and yet are upset when there are blacks represented in the Conservative movement."

First quote of the day 26th July 2019

"You know, if I'd realised what a ridiculous temper tantrum the entire left was going to throw at the election of Boris as PM I would almost have been tempted to vote for him."

(Grassroots Conservative party member in West Cumbria, who voted for Jeremy Hunt, in conversation yesterday.)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The new Prime Minister writes ...


"No more delay. It’s time to get on with Brexit – and create a brighter future for the UK. If we don’t, we risk letting Corbyn into Downing Street.

We’ve delayed getting things done for too long.

Every delay makes it more likely that Jeremy Corbyn will get into power. And our economy can’t afford a Corbyn government.

So it’s time for change.

We’ll leave the EU by the 31st of October – whatever happens. That way, we can invest in our public services and put the UK on the road to a brighter future.

If you back what I’m doing, then help me do it. Chip in to the Conservative Party and we’ll keep Corbyn out of power together.

With your support, I’ll make sure the £20 billion investment in our NHS gets to GPs and hospitals. Invest in our schools. Give young people the chance to buy their own home. And get a grip on rising crime.

These are our priorities for Britain. Jeremy Corbyn just couldn’t deliver them.

A Corbyn government would be chaos. He’s got no plan for Brexit – so it would mean more indecision and more failure to invest.

The only plan he has is to raise your taxes and rack up more debt.

We can’t let that happen.

So let’s keep Corbyn out – and put the UK on the road to a brighter future. Chip in to the Conservative Party today.

Yours sincerely,
Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
Prime Minister & Leader of the Conservative Party"

The new cabinet

The Prime Minister has unveiled his Cabinet for Modern Britain, appointing Ministers who will get Brexit done by 31st October and ensure our NHS, schools and police get the attention they deserve.



·         The change in Cabinet is the first step towards delivering the change Boris Johnson wants to see for the country.

 

·         Boris has appointed a record number of ethnic minority politicians around the Cabinet table, and increased the number of women attending as full Cabinet members.

 

·         Using talent from across the party, the Cabinet looks more like the country it serves.

 

·         The reshuffle is set to continue today where the rising stars of the Conservative Party will be promoted into the ministerial ranks.

 

·         Boris’ new Cabinet met this morning to get to work and take a grip on the decisions we need to take to leave the EU on 31st October and energise our public services.

Boris v. Corbyn

The new PM in ebullient mode as he responded to questions from the Leader of the Opposition after his first statement to Parliament since taking office:

Quote of the day 25th July 2019

"As I start my first day as Defence Secretary I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, Penny Mordaunt. 

She is a wonderful colleague and did a great job at the MoD. Big shoes to fill!"

(Rt. Hon. Ben Wallace MP, the new Secretary of State for Defence, on twitter this morning.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Midweek music spot: Bach's Prelude & Fugue in E Minor "The Wedge"

Boris sets out his priorities as the new PM

Speaking outside Downing Street the new Prime Minster Boris Johnson set out his plan to get the country back on the road to a brighter future.
 
"Good afternoon.
 
I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen who has invited me to form a government and I have accepted.
 
I pay tribute to the fortitude and patience of my predecessor and her deep sense of public service.
 
But in spite of all her efforts, it has become clear that there are pessimists at home and abroad who think that after three years of indecision, that this country has become a prisoner to the old arguments of 2016 and that in this home of democracy we are incapable of honouring a basic democratic mandate.
 
And so I am standing before you today to tell you, the British people, that those critics are wrong.
 
The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters – they are going to get it wrong again.
 
The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts, because we are going to restore trust in our democracy and we are going to fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31, no ifs or buts.
 
And we will do a new deal, a better deal that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe, based on free trade and mutual support.
 
I have every confidence that in 99 days' time we will have cracked it. But you know what - we aren't going to wait 99 days, because the British people have had enough of waiting.
 
The time has come to act, to take decisions, to give strong leadership and to change this country for the better.
 
And though the Queen has just honoured me with this extraordinary office of state my job is to serve you, the people.
 
Because if there is one point we politicians need to remember, it is that the people are our bosses.
 
My job is to make your streets safer - and we are going to begin with another 20,000 police on the streets and we start recruiting forthwith.
 
My job is to make sure you don't have to wait 3 weeks to see your GP - and we start work this week, with 20 new hospital upgrades, and ensuring that money for the NHS really does get to the front line.
 
My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care.
 
And so I am announcing now - on the steps of Downing Street - that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.
 
My job is to make sure your kids get a superb education, wherever they are in the country - and that's why we have already announced that we are going to level up per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools.
 
And that is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.
 
And though I am today building a great team of men and women, I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see.
 
Never mind the backstop – the buck stops here.
 
And I will tell you something else about my job. It is to be prime minister of the whole United Kingdom.
 
And that means uniting our country, answering at last the plea of the forgotten people and the left-behind towns by physically and literally renewing the ties that bind us together.
 
So that with safer streets and better education and fantastic new road and rail infrastructure and full fibre broadband we level up across Britain with higher wages, and a higher living wage, and higher productivity.
 
We close the opportunity gap, giving millions of young people the chance to own their own homes and giving business the confidence to invest across the UK.
 
Because it is time we unleashed the productive power not just of London and the South East, but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
 
The awesome foursome that are incarnated in that red, white, and blue flag - who together are so much more than the sum of their parts, and whose brand and political personality is admired and even loved around the world.
 
For our inventiveness, for our humour, for our universities, our scientists, our armed forces, our diplomacy for the equalities on which we insist - whether race or gender or LGBT or the right of every girl in the world to 12 years of quality education - and for the values we stand for around the world
 
Everyone knows the values that flag represents.
 
It stands for freedom and free speech and habeas corpus and the rule of law, and above all it stands for democracy.
 
And that is why we will come out of the EU on October 31.
 
Because in the end, Brexit was a fundamental decision by the British people that they wanted their laws made by people that they can elect and they can remove from office.
 
And we must now respect that decision, and create a new partnership with our European friends - as warm and as close and as affectionate as possible.
 
And the first step is to repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us, and I say directly to you - thank you for your contribution to our society.
 
Thank you for your patience, and I can assure you that under this government you will get the absolute certainty of the rights to live and remain.
 
And next I say to our friends in Ireland, and in Brussels and around the EU: I am convinced that we can do a deal without checks at the Irish border, because we refuse under any circumstances to have such checks and yet without that anti-democratic backstop.
 
And it is of course vital at the same time that we prepare for the remote possibility that Brussels refuses any further to negotiate, and we are forced to come out with no deal, not because we want that outcome – of course not – but because it is only common sense to prepare.
 
And let me stress that there is a vital sense in which those preparations cannot be wasted, and that is because under any circumstances we will need to get ready at some point in the near future to come out of the EU customs union and out of regulatory control, fully determined at last to take advantage of Brexit.
 
Because that is the course on which this country is now set.
 
With high hearts and growing confidence, we will now accelerate the work of getting ready.
 
And the ports will be ready and the banks will be ready, and the factories will be ready, and business will be ready, and the hospitals will be ready, and our amazing food and farming sector will be ready and waiting to continue selling ever more, not just here but around the world.
 
And don't forget that in the event of a no deal outcome, we will have the extra lubrication of the £39 billion, and whatever deal we do we will prepare this autumn for an economic package to boost British business and to lengthen this country's lead as the number one destination in this continent for overseas investment.
 
And to all those who continue to prophesy disaster, I say yes - there will be difficulties, though I believe that with energy and application they will be far less serious than some have claimed.
 
But if there is one thing that has really sapped the confidence of business over the last three years, it is not the decisions we have taken - it is our refusal to take decisions.
 
And to all those who say we cannot be ready, I say do not underestimate this country.
 
Do not underestimate our powers of organisation and our determination, because we know the enormous strengths of this economy in life sciences, in tech, in academia, in music, the arts, culture, financial services.
 
It is here in Britain that we are using gene therapy, for the first time, to treat the most common form of blindness.
 
Here in Britain that we are leading the world in the battery technology that will help cut CO2 and tackle climate change and produce green jobs for the next generation.
 
And as we prepare for a post-Brexit future, it is time we looked not at the risks but at the opportunities that are upon us.
 
So let us begin work now to create free ports that will drive growth and thousands of high-skilled jobs in left-behind areas.
 
Let's start now to liberate the UK's extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules, and let's develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world.
 
Let's get going now on our own position navigation and timing satellite and earth observation systems – UK assets orbiting in space, with all the long term strategic and commercial benefits for this country.
 
Let's change the tax rules to provide extra incentives to invest in capital and research.
 
And let's promote the welfare of animals that has always been so close to the hearts of the British people.
 
And yes, let's start now on those free trade deals – because it is free trade that has done more than anything else to lift billions out of poverty.
 
All this and more we can do now and only now, at this extraordinary moment in our history.
 
And after three years of unfounded self-doubt, it is time to change the record.
 
To recover our natural and historic role as an enterprising, outward-looking and truly global Britain, generous in temper and engaged with the world.
 
No one in the last few centuries has succeeded in betting against the pluck and nerve and ambition of this country.
 
They will not succeed today.
 
We in this government will work flat out to give this country the leadership it deserves, and that work begins now.
 
Thank you very much."

Quote of the day 24th July 2019


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Boris elected leader

Boris Johnson has been elected today as the Leader of the Conservative Party.

After an 87.4% turnout among the 160,000 members of the Conservative party, votes were cast as follows:

Boris Johnson   92,153
Jeremy Hunt      46,656

Boris Johnson is therefore the winner with just under two thirds of the vote.

Tomorrow afternoon, shortly after PMQs and making a final statement, Theresa May will go to the Palace to resign as PM and advise the queen to send for Boris.


A statement issued by the Conservative party says that Boris Johnson "brings the energy, vision, and leadership to break the Brexit deadlock; bring the change that people want; and get the UK back on the road to a brighter future.

The only way to bring the change people voted for in the referendum -
  • strengthening our NHS with increased frontline spending, 
  • raising funding for schools, 
  • tackling crime with 20,000 more police, 
  • and giving young people the best chance to get on the housing ladder 

– is to get Brexit out of the way by 31st October.

And the only way to get a good Brexit deal for Britain is to be prepared to leave without one.

Only Boris and the Conservatives can get the best deal for Britain that keeps our economy strong, moves the country beyond Brexit, brings the change that people voted for, and gets our country back on the path to a brighter future.

Boris and the Conservatives' plan to bring the change people voted for: We will realise the benefits of Brexit and get our country back on the road to a brighter future by:

  1. Getting Brexit done by 31st October, with a great new deal for Britain. 
  2. Making sure Britain is prepared for a no deal, as the best way to get a great new deal. 
  3. Making sure people start seeing the £20 billion in new NHS funding in their GP surgeries and local hospitals. 
  4. Hiring 20,000 new police officers and giving them the powers to keep our streets safe. 
  5. Properly funding our schools so that every child gets more guaranteed minimum funding, regardless of where they live. 
  6. Delivering a strong economy to fund the public services we all rely on."

Quote of the day 23rd Jul7 2019


Monday, July 22, 2019

Incredible and Untrue

Today a jury convicted Carl Beech, who under the pseudonym of "Nick" falsely accused a number of prominent figures of murder and of running paedophile rings, of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.

This was for making the perjured allegations which a senior Metropolitan Police detective mistakenly described as "credible and true."

The lies told by Beech led to the setting up of Operation Midland, a police operation which consumed vast resources in terms of both time and money and ended with no charges or arrests being made but the reputations of a number of completely innocent people being seriously damaged.

Shortly after the death of Jimmy Savile in 2011, when the truth belatedly came out what kind of monster he had been, the penny finally dropped in the minds of the British public and establishment alike that up to that time there had been far too great a willingness to dismiss claims by vulnerable people that they had been abused.

However, the conviction of Carl Beech removes any possible remaining doubt that in the aftermath of the Savile case the pendulum swung too far in the other direction and at least some people who were falsely accused of vile crimes have been treated as if they were guilty until proven innocent.

In 2015 I wrote a post on this blog and on Facebook called "Innocent until proven guilty" which you can read here. I argued then as follows:

"Call me old fashioned, but I happen to think the idea that someone is innocent until proven guilty is an essential part of any legal framework which aims not merely to be called a Justice system but actually to deliver Justice. It is an important defence against the danger of innocent people having their lives wrecked by false or mistaken allegations.

When allegations of a serious crime are made, whatever the alleged crime, whoever is the alleged perpetrator and whoever is the alleged victim, they should be properly investigated and should not be pre-judged as true or false.

You do not get justice by ignoring or rubbishing allegations, but witch-hunts do not deliver justice either. It is the negation of justice to shout to the rooftops about the accusations against someone while paying no attention to whether there is any evidence in their defence."

"I do not wish to live in either a society where children can be abused with impunity because nobody will take their word seriously, nor in one where one false or mistaken allegation is all it takes to destroy someone's reputation because all allegations are presumed to be true."

In the light of the conviction of Carl Beech a number of people and organisations need to take a long hard look at how they responded to his allegations.

A few brave journalists and politicians called out at the time that some of the allegations from "Nick" appeared to be utterly ridiculous. Michael Brown, a mortal enemy of the late Ted Heath who nevertheless refused to believe Beech's allegations against him, explained some of the reasons why even a cursory examination of the evidence should have given rise to grave doubts about the allegations in an article he wrote four years ago which can be found here.

People like Brown, Matthew Parris, David Aaronovitch, and Dan Hodges who expressed scepticism about "Nick's" allegations have been proved right.

I hope both those who were taken in by Carl Beech and society as a whole can learn the lessons in a balanced way so that the next set of false allegations from some malicious liar are not as devastating in destroying the lives of innocent people, but without the pendulum swinging back so far that we go back to the era when genuine victims found it almost impossible to get a hearing.

Hypocrite of the decade

As Guido Fawkes reports, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has opined on the Conservative leadership election.

Let us not forget that he obtained the position of PM when Tony Blair stepped down, not only without a General Election but without even a contested Labour leadership election, by getting such a high proportion of Labour MPs to nominate him that it was almost impossible for any rival candidate to be nominated.

Apparently Mr Brown has told an audience at the IPPR ,

“More people voted for Ed Balls on Strictly than for our next Prime Minister.” 

I do not claim to know who will be declared the winner tomorrow, But whether or not Guido's assumption about who wins is correct, I concur with the rest of his response:

"Tens of thousands of Tories will have voted for Boris to become leader. The country made the Tories the biggest party and in Britain’s system of democracy that gives them the opportunity to form a government. 

Precisely zero people voted for Gordon Brown to become PM because his thuggish reign of terror scared off any opponent in his party from standing against him. Unbelievable hypocrisy…"

Helping schools to improve

The government is launching a new programme to help struggling schools to improve, so that we can raise education standards across the country. 

Key facts: 
  • The £17 million Trust Capacity Fund – launching in September – will be used by high performing academy trusts to provide support to communities and schools that need it most. 
  • Last week, new data revealed that the last year has seen 80,000 more children studying in good or outstanding sponsored academies that were previously run by local authorities. 
  • We will also introduce a £16.5 million package of support to help improve the leadership of 2,400 underperforming schools. 

Why this matters:

The most successful Academies have delivered significant improvements in education reforms, and we want to continue to give these charitable institutions the opportunity to turn around more schools, so that all children have access to the best education.


Quote of the day 22nd July 2019

This could well be the standard response to almost all conspiracy theories:



Sunday, July 21, 2019

Curbing the misuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements

There can be good reasons for Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs.)

They can enable companies to share information which is confidential for legitimate reasons, such as proprietary technical secrets, with suppliers or customers, and they are sometimes necessary to help ensure that  regulatory requirements, such as "Chinese walls" to ensure fair and equal treatment, are kept.

(I've had to sign more than one NDA for reasons of customer confidentiality or regulatory compliance during the course of my business career.)

What they should not be used for is to silence whistle-blowers or the victims of misconduct such as sexual harassment.

So I'm pleased to see that the Conservative government has announced plans for new legislation to tackle the misuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements, creating fairer workplaces for all.

Key facts:
  • NDAs can be used by businesses for a number of legitimate reasons but in a minority of cases they are being abused and people who sign them have not always been made aware of their rights. 
  • New legislation will stop NDAs being used to prevent individuals from disclosing information to the police, regulated health and care professionals, or legal professionals, ensuring they cannot be used to silence and intimidate victims. 
  • This will work alongside the consultation which the government launched earlier this month which explores what more can be done at a practical level to ensure people are properly protected at work. 

Why this matters

This new legislation will stamp out misuse of NDAs, protect individuals and tackle unacceptable workplace cultures.

Shared parental leave

The Prime Minister is launching a consultation on shared parental leave to ensure greater equality and to better reflect our modern society. 

Key facts
  • This consultation will consider whether statutory Paternity leave for fathers and same sex partners should be changed, and for ways in which the shared parental leave policy introduced in 2015 could be improved. 
  • The government is also looking to introduce a new Neonatal Leave and Pay entitlement, for parents of premature and sick babies who need to spend a prolonged period in neonatal care following birth.
  • The entitlement would mean that fathers and partners will no longer need to take annual and unpaid leave if their child is in hospital for longer than their paternity leave period. They would also have additional time at home with their child to make up for the time spent in hospital. 

Why this matters

We want to make sure that government support for parents keeps up with changing attitudes to parenting – and changing paternity leave could have an important impact in supporting families and promoting better gender equality in work and at home. By proposing a new Neonatal Leave and Pay entitlement, we can ensure the system is fairer and more compassionate.

Egremont Road Whitehaven closed for two weeks from tomorrow

A section of the B5295 Egremont Road in Hensingham, Whitehaven, North from the hospital roundabout, past the Distressed Sailor to the Lincoln Road junction, will be temporarily closed for carriageway surfacing works.

The work will start on 22nd July 2019 (tomorrow) and is expected to take about two weeks.


Sunday Music Spot: Oran introduction to Bach's Cantata 29, "We Thank Thee, God"

Quote of the day 21st July 2019


Saturday, July 20, 2019

Saturday music spot: "Summer" from Vivaldi's "The Four seasons."

Each of the four parts of Antonio Vivialdi's "Four Seasons" sets a sonnet about that season to music, with specific lines from the poem for each of the three movements.

On this sweltering summer's day, I have posted below a link to a Youtube clip of a wonderful performance of Vivaldi's "Summer" by the Trondheim Soloists. The violin soloist is Mari Silje Samuelsen.

And here are the words of the poem which this music brings to life.


SUMMER

First movement (Allegro non molto)

Beneath the blazing sun's relentless heat
men and flocks are sweltering,
pines are scorched.
We hear the cuckoo's voice;
then sweet songs of the turtle dove and finch are heard.
Soft breezes stir the air….
but threatening north wind sweeps them suddenly aside.
The shepherd trembles,
fearful of violent storm and what may lie ahead.

Second movement (Adagio e piano - Presto e forte)
His limbs are now awakened from their repose
by fear of lightning's flash and thunder's roar,
as gnats and flies buzz furiously around.

Third Movement (Presto)

Alas, his worst fears were justified,
as the heavens roar and great hailstones beat down upon the proudly standing corn. 

(For the benefit of any reader who is unfamiliar with Italian or with  musical terms, the first movement is played fast, the second starts slow and quiet but becomes very fast and loud, and the third movement is very fast.)

The Eagle has landed

Fifty years today the first men to land on another world touched down in the Sea of Tranquility on the moon in the lunar module of the Apollo 11 mission.

Their safe arrival was announced with the words "The Eagle has landed."

A few hours later Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, saying of his first step

"That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind," 



and adding "We came in peace for all mankind."