Saturday, December 14, 2019

Quote of the day 14th December 2019

"Jews have become the victims of today’s degraded form of radicalism. They are seen by many of today’s self-identified radicals as part of a conspiracy to control the world, with international bankers playing a particularly prominent role. They are alleged to be at the pinnacle of a hierarchy of privilege, with the bulk of the world’s population suffering beneath them. And they are attacked for supporting a uniquely malevolent nation state in a world in which nations are increasingly seen as problematic.

"Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party goes way beyond a few errant individual matters."

"However, there is one important point on which the defenders of the Labour Party are right. Anti-Semitism should not be singled out as a purely Labour phenomenon. Self-proclaimed radicals outside the Labour Party, like those within it, often share a similar worldview. These can include leftists who do not support Labour, as well as some of those who define themselves as greens."

"Anti-Semitism is a complex form of discrimination which can, in principle, exist in different sections of society. However, a terrible paradox of contemporary society is that those who consider themselves the most radical are often most prone to anti-Semitism. It is a tragedy that the radicalism of fools is gaining ground."

(Daniel Ben-Ami, extracts from an article in Spiked called "The radicalism of Fools" about the threat of Anti-Semitism.)

Friday, December 13, 2019

Quote of the day 13th December 2019

"Actually my next plan is to go and have a cup of tea."

(Caroline Flint, Labour MP for the Don Valley 1997 to 2019)

Every election some departing former MP who has just lost their job manages to take their defeat with such dignified grace and humility or come up with some witty response which reminds all but the most sectarian of their opponents, who might otherwise have been tempted to gloat, that even politicians whose political views you don't agree with are human too.

This year it was Caroline Flint whose Don Valley seat, which she had represented for 22 years, had just elected its first ever Conservative MP. She was asked what her plans were now and gave a quintessentially British response.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

POLLS ARE OPEN FOR FOUR MORE HOURS

Polls are open until 10pm this evening - four hours to go at the moment this post was published at 6pm.

This could be one of the most important general elections in British history,

A Conservative majority government will:
  • Get Brexit done
  • Ensure there are 50,000 more nurses than there would otherwise have been and put record investment into the NHS
  • Recruit 20,000 more police and gie the courts power to impose tougher sentences
  • Invest in education, technology, and infrastructure to drive opportunity and prosperity
  • Keep the UK  economy strong and debt low
  • Take back control of immigration with an Australian-style points system

POLLS ARE OPEN FOR TEN MORE HOURS

Polls remain open until 10pm this evening in what could be one of the most pivotal elections in British history,

POLLING DAY

Polls are now open in the general election and will remain open until 10pm this evening.

If you have a postal vote and have not yet returned it you can hand it in at a polling station in the constituency.

Every vote could count: however you vote, make sure you vote.

Quote of the day 12th December 2019


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A reminder of elections past

Since Labour is again fighting an election based on scaremongering about the NHS, here is a reminder that less than three years ago they did the same thing in Copeland.

And it's been long enough to give a useful case study of the accuracy - or lack olf it - of Labour's claims.

Here is a cross reference of what Labour said about health during the Copeland  by-election cross checked against reality.


ONE DAY TO GO

Tomorrow is polling day

After all the weeks of campaigning, it is finally time for the voters to have your say.

The only poll which counts is the one which takes place tomorrow.

However you vote, make sure you are part of that decision.

Quote of the day 11th December 2019


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Music to relax after campaiging: "Dies Irae" from the Mozart.Requiem

TWO DAYS TO GO

There are now only two days to go until the election. 

Key points you need to remember:

This election is happening because a gridlocked and broken Parliament refused to respect the referendum result – or let the government govern.

The choice is between a majority government that can act or another paralysed hung Parliament that cannot.

A Conservative majority government will: 
  • Get Brexit done 
  • Ensure there are 50,000 more nurses than there would be with no action and put record investment in the NHS 
  • Recruit 20,000 more police and ensure the courts have the power to pass tougher sentences 
  • Invest in education, technology, and infrastructure to drive opportunity and prosperity 
  • Keep the UK economy strong and debt low 
  • Take back control of immigration with an Australian-style points system 


Quote of the day 10th December 2019


Monday, December 09, 2019

Irony of the election

I wrote an article about the prospects of the two major parties as we entered the final few days of the campaign which was published on Conservative Home at the weekend. You can read it here.

The title referred to the a possibility of a hung parliament in which Labour and the SNP are able to form a government, which I argued was still a real danger.

A tweet from ConHome advertising the article was enthusiastically welcomed by Corbynistas and Cybernats who did not appear to have read it.

If they actually had read it, they would have known that it was a warning against overconfidence and complacency, and about self-defeating expectations. Hence that by tweeting things like "a Labour government is coming" they wre enthusiastically flinging themselves into the same elephant trap which I had been warning Tories about!

The last words of the article are as follows:

"I want to end on a positive note. The nightmare of a hung parliament run by Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP is still a real possibility. But so is a Conservative majority. We have absolutely everything to play for."

THREE DAYS TO GO

In the last three days before polling day, the Prime Minister is visiting every region in England and Wales. His tour will include visits to North Wales, West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Leicestershire, East Anglia and the South West. 

Today, Boris has been in Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North East, highlighting that the only way to get Brexit done is to elect a Conservative majority government.

In Leave-voting Sunderland, he set out the choice that the voters are facing this week: Either we will have another hung parliament, with Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon conspiring to frustrate Brexit again.

They’d waste next year on two referendums on Brexit and Scottish independence. Westminster and the country would be stuck in neutral, would be mired in more dither, delay and gridlock, unable to move forward.

Alternatively, we can have a Conservative majority government. Every single Conservative candidate – in Sunderland, the North East and across the whole UK – has pledged to back the Prime Minister's deal. That means a Conservative majority in parliament will vote for our Brexit deal and we can finally end the uncertainty and get Brexit done.

YOUR VOTE in YOUR SEAT will decide. If you want a working majority government that will end the uncertainty then vote Conservative on Thursday.

Quote of the day 9th December 2019


Sunday, December 08, 2019

Music to relax after campaigning: "Rejoice greatly" from Handel's Messiah

A busy weekend's campaigning.

My wife and I have been round various parts of the North West the last two days:
Saturday morning delivering pledge letters
 - for Simon Fell, Conservative candidate for Barrow and Furness: 

Saturday afternoon delivering pledge letters 
 - for Jake Berry, Conservative candidate for Rossendale  and Darwen:

Saturday evening stuffing envelopes with the Copeland Conservative team
 - for Trudy Harrison, Conservative candidate for Copeland

And today delivering pledge letters for Trudy in Keswick

I can report that the campaign teams in all those places are active, working hard, and in good heart.
And here is a little music to relax to after all that hard work.


FOUR DAYS TO GO

With just four days to go to the general election, remember:

  • This election is happening because a gridlocked and paralysed hung parliament was unable to decide anything about Brexit other than what it didn't want to do. 
  • For three years parliament has failed to deliver what the British people voted for in the referendum. 

The choice on 12th December  is between a majority government that can act or another paralysed hung Parliament that cannot.

A Conservative majority government will:
  • Get Brexit done 
  • Ensure there are 50,000 more nurses than there would be if nothing is done, and put record investment into the NHS 
  • Recruit 20,000 more police and ensure tougher sentences 
  • Invest in education, technology, and infrastructure to drive opportunity and prosperity 
  • Keep the economy strong and debt low 
  • Take back control of immigration with an Australian-style points system

Quote of the day 8th December 2019


Saturday, December 07, 2019

Music to relax after campaigning: Gluck, "Dance of the Furies"

FIVE DAYS TO GO

Five days to Thursday 12th December 2019, when Britain holds what may be one of the most pivotal  General Elections in our lifetimes.

Polls will be open from 7am until 10pm. If you have a postal vote you can put it in the post or hand it in to your local council: for example Copeland electors with a postal vote can put it into the ballot box at the Market Hall in Whitehaven.

However, you vote, make sure you use your vote. You cannot say you don't have a real choice at this election.

Vote Conservative to leave the EU, with a deal, by 31st January

Vote Lib/Dem to cancel Brexit and stay in the EU

Vote Labour if you want to spend more months if not years arguing about it and have two more referendums.

Quote of the day 7th December 2019

“A party that cannot be trusted in relation to Jews cannot be trusted at all.”

(Anthony Julius, Lawyer and academic.)

Friday, December 06, 2019

SIX DAYS TO GO

Six days to Thursday 12th December 2019.

On that day Britain holds what may be one of the most pivotal  General Elections in our lifetimes.

Polls will be open from 7am until 10pm. If you have a postal vote you can put it in the post or hand it in to your local council: for example Copeland electors with a postal vote can put it into the ballot box at the Market Hall in Whitehaven.

However, you vote, make sure you use your vote. You have a real choice at this election.

Vote Conservative to 
  • Leave the EU, with a deal, by 31st January 2020
  • Recruit 20,000 more police
  • Boost spending on schools
  • Provide more doctors, nurses and operations in our NHS
  • The biggest hospital building programme in history.

Boosting Britain's transport infrastructure

A Conservative majority government will get Brexit done and deliver the transport investment our country needs by boosting local trains, buses and trams in England's biggest cities, and the towns around them - changing the face of local transport around the country, improving quality and delivering value for commuters.
  • By getting Brexit done we can focus on the people’s priorities. Our new, devolved and long-term Local Public Transport Fund will give eight mayoral or combined authority areas the control and certainty of funding they need to invest.
  • £4.2 billion will be allocated to the new fund, with more to come from the Government's promise of £100 billion for infrastructure investment in the new Parliament.
  • Local leaders will also be given significantly more control over existing local rail services, including fares, service patterns, rolling stock and stations.

December meeting of Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

The next meeting of Cumbria's Health Scrutiny committee will be held at 10.30am at County Hall in Kendal on Tuesday 10th December 2019

This is an important opportunity for councillors to hold the NHS in Cumbria accountable. The agenda includes some very significant reports including

6) Primary Care networks
7) Winter preparedness
8) Recruitment and retention
9) Digital records

There are separate reports in all these areas for North Cumbria (e.g. the West, North and East of the county) and for the South Cumbia/Morecambe Bay health areas.

Full details of the agenda including reports to the committee are available on the CCC website here.

Quote of the day 6th December 2019


Thursday, December 05, 2019

Copeland's local plan consultation is still open

Here is an important non-election reminder:

Copeland Borough Council's consultation  on the local plan is underway and remains open until January 20th.

This is an essential step towards sorting out many of the problems in Copeland. The lack of an up-to-date and approved plan is a huge handicap to the CBC planning panel in trying to make the right decisions on planning applications for new development.

Britain's planning system is based and has on a presumption in favour of applications which meet the policies in the local plan. It is much easier for councillors and officers to resist inappropriate development if you have an agreed plan which sets out what sort of new housing and other developments the community needs and wants.

It is much harder if, as is the current situation in Copeland, your local plan is out of date.

It's not just the issues for which Copeland Borough Council is responsible which can better be addressed if there is an up-to-date plan. It will make it easier for Cumbria County council to assess the requirements for road and transport links and for school places.

The government looks at local plans too. Last month I attended a meeting where county councillors were told by a Director of the Northern Powerhouse that the most important thing we could do if we wanted to get more money to improve vital infrastructure projects in Copeland was encourage Copeland BC to get an up-to-date plan in place.

You can find details of how to respond to Copeland's local plan consultation here.

Quote of the day 5th December 2019

"I looked at all the promises on the Labour literature and thought 'how can they afford all this?'

And then John McDonnell admitted the £58 billion promise on pensions which they suddenly added half way through the election wasn't included in the costings for their so-called 'fully costed programme,' and I realised they haven't got a clue how to pay for it either.

"Labour ought to remember the band who sang 'Money for nothing and the cheque's for free' were called 'Dire Straits'  and that's what their plans would put the country in."

(Copeland Voter)

Music to relax after campaigning: Johann Pachelbel's Canon & Gigue in D major

SEVEN DAYS TO GO

Today, with seven days to go, the Prime Minister has been in the East Midlands where he set out the Conservative action plan for the first 100 days of a majority Government – contrasting it with the gridlock and uncertainty that would follow the election of a hung parliament on 12 December.

The first 100 days of a Conservative majority Government would see the passing of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, a Queen’s Speech to introduce key domestic legislation covering law and order and health and a post Brexit Budget to take advantage of the opportunities before us.

By the 22 March, we will have taken the following actions:
  • Changing the law to end the automatic release of serious violent and sexual offenders at the half way point.
  • Launching the biggest review of our defence, security and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. 
  • Legislating for a funding increase to our schools – raising minimum funding per pupil. 
  • Changing the law to increase the amount that migrants pay to use our NHS. 
  • Beginning cross party talks to find an enduring solution to the challenge of social care.
  • Finalising an agreement with mobile phone operators to improve mobile service in the countryside.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The New Statesman declines to endorse Corbyn

If there was one endorsement at election time which Labour can usually rely on, it is that of the New Statesman.

Not this time.

I don't agree with their general approach to politics or with most of the rest of the editorial linked to here which refuses to endorse any party in the present election.

But to any reader who thinks that the concerns about Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party are all "smears" put together by the "right-wing press," the fact that a magazine which is sufficiently left-wing to put forward the other views in this article has also published the paragraphs which explain why they cannot endorse Labour under Jeremy Corbyn should come as a wake-up call.

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's "Wake, Oh Wake" (Organ)

EIGHT DAYS TO GO

A week tomorrow, Thursday 12th December 2019 is the UK general election.

Probably one of the most pivotal British elections in the lifetimes of the people currently alive.

Polls will be open from 7am until 10pm. If you have a postal vote you can put it in the post or hand it in to your local council: for example Copeland electors with a postal vote can put it into the ballot box at the Market Hall in Whitehaven.

However, you vote, make sure you use your vote. You cannot say you don't have a real choice at this election.

Vote Conservative to leave the EU, with a deal, by 31st January

Vote Lib/Dem to cancel Brexit and stay in the EU

Vote Labour if you want to spend more months if not years arguing about it and have two more referendums.

Quote of the day 4th December 2019

"A People’s Republic is a place where you do what you are told or get shot. National Liberation Movements are organisations that are trying to create People’s Republics.”

(Thomas Sowell, American Economist)


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Music to relax after campaigning: Summer from Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Rather less seasonally appropriate than yesterday's offering, but far too good not to use!

NINE DAYS TO GO

Nine days to the general election on 12th December

Nine days to what is probably one of the most important elections in British history.

People involved in politics say that at every election but this one really does look pivotal.

On 12th December Britain can either elect a Conservative majority government, which will leave the EU by 31st January with a deal, or a hung parliament which is likely to mean more dither and delay, two more referendums, and another election within a year.

Labour is no longer even bothering to pretend that they can afford all the expensive promises they are making. When Neil Kinnock was Labour leader he once said of one of his shadow cabinet members, the Bennite Michael Meacher, that

"He just cannot be allowed to go on rushing round like a demented Santa Claus, scattering imaginary tenners from his sleigh.”

That quote perfectly describes the Labour campaign in this election.

A Conservative majority government will:
  • unleash Britain’s potential. 
  • Invest in our NHS with 40 major hospital building projects, 
  • cut crime with 20,000 more police, 
  • introduce an Australian style points based immigration system, and 
  • give businesses and families the economic certainty they need to plan for the future with confidence.

Quote of the day 3rd December 2019

"If you handed it to us on a silver platter, we want nothing to do with it."

(President Donald Trump on the NHS, dismissing the suggestion that he would insist on the NHS being included in any UK/USA trade talks.)

Monday, December 02, 2019

Music to relax after campaigning: "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons

TEN DAYS TO GO

There are only 10 days to go until polling day!

The choice at this election is between a majority Conservative government that will end the paralysis and confusion in Parliament, get Brexit done, and let the country move on OR a hung Parliament bringing more confusion and Corbyn in Downing Street.

Only the Conservatives can win a majority – we only need to win 9 more seats to end the gridlock in Parliament.

Corbyn can’t win a majority but it is still possible that he might win enough seats in a hung parliament to form an administration propped up by the SNP.

Jeremy Corbyn has no plan for Brexit. Under Labour, 2020 would be lost to the chaos of another two referendums – one on Brexit and another on Scottish independence.

But with a Conservative Government we can unleash Britain’s potential. Investing in our NHS with 40 new hospitals, cutting crime with 20,000 more police, introducing an Australian style points based immigration system, and giving businesses and families the economic certainty they need to plan for the future with confidence.


YOU CAN'T TRUST ANYTHING LABOUR SAYS ABOUT THE NHS

Labour would have you believe that the Conservatives would destroy or sell off the NHS. Conservatives have been in power for most of the existence of the NHS: if we were going to do anything of the sort, don't you think we'd have done it by now?

They will tell you that all NHS staff want a Labour government. Actually there are senior NHS professionals such as Lord Darzi, who was a health minister in the last Labour government, who regard Labour proposals on issues like drugs as a grave threat to the NHS. Other senior doctors have slammed what Labour's proposed four day week would do an already serious shortage of NHS skilled staff time.

Remember everything Labour said about the NHS in Copeland during the Copeland by-election? None of their blood-curdling scaremongers about what would happen to specific services if the Conservatives won the by-election came true.

Labour said the Conservatives wanted to shut consultant-led maternity at West Cumberland hospital. We didn't, we haven't and it's been saved.

Labour said the Conservatives wanted to "Abolish A&E" at West Cumberland hospital
We didn't, we haven't and it's still there.

Labour said the Conservatives were proposing to "axe all beds"in Keswick Hospital
Actually we were backing the plans for MORE beds at Keswick and the extra beds are now there.

More on this subject to follow.

Quote of the day 2nd December 2019

"I see no evidence that the NHS and drug prices would be on the table in a negotiation." 

"Indeed there is far greater risk of increases in medicine prices and availability from his [Corbyn's] own policy."

(Lord Darzi, former health minister in the last Labour government and one of Britain's most senior clinicians, dismisses the NHS scaremongers currently being put round by the Labour party and criticises Labour policy on drug pricing, saying it will put research collaboration "under threat.")

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Freudian slip award for General Election 2019

The Liberal Democrats in Penrith and the  Border have just made the faux-pass of the election campaign so far by putting out a leaflet which says that Lib/Dem policy to tackle climate change will include, quote

"insulting every home."

One of my colleagues from the constituency responded that the Lib Dems "have been doing it for years."

(I presume they had intended to write "insulating every home.")

Definitely a contender for the Freudian Slip award of GE2019. Gave us all  good laugh, anyway!

Protecting the public: responding to the London Bridge terror attack.

Our thoughts are with the two members of the public have lost their lives in this attack, and with their families, their loved ones and everybody affected by the attack. We pay tribute to the emergency services, the police, for their bravery and professionalism.

We also pay tribute again to the sheer bravery of those members of the public who went to deal with the perpetrator putting their own lives at risk.

Today, the Prime Minister has outlined how a Conservative majority government will keep people safe by stopping terrorists being let out of prison early.

He said:

‘Since becoming Prime Minister I’ve said we need a big change of direction on violent crime and security. What I have seen over the last 24 hours has made me angry -- it’s absolutely clear that we can’t carry on with the failed approaches of the past…

The terrorist who attacked on Friday was sentenced 11 years ago under laws passed in 2008 which established automatic early release. This system has got to end - I repeat, this has got to end, as I‘ve been saying for four months.

If you are convicted of a serious terrorist offence, there should be a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 years - and some should never be released. Further, for all terrorism and extremist offences the sentence announced by the judge must be the time actually served - these criminals must serve every day of their sentence, with no exceptions.

These simple changes, in line with what I’ve been saying since becoming Prime Minister, would have prevented this attack. I believe they will help stop further attacks and these changes will be made urgently in the New Year if I am Prime Minister and have a majority in Parliament.’

CONSERVATIVES ARE WORKING TO KEEP BRITAIN SAFE

We are ensuring counter terrorism policing has the resources it needs. At the Spending Round we announced that the budget for counter-terrorism policing would increase in line with inflation, including continuing the additional £160 million announced at Budget 2018, which maintains current counter-terrorism capability and protects officer numbers.

We are developing a new Counter-Extremism Strategy to keep people safe. Our 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy was the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and our new strategy will reflect the changing nature we face from extremism whilst building on the positive work already delivered.

We are taking action to ensure there is no safe place for terrorists online. We will legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online – including ensuring there is no safe space for terrorists to hide online (Conservative Party, Manifesto 2019, 24 November 2019, link; HO/DCMS, Online Harms White Paper, 26 June 2019, link). In October this year we signed a landmark agreement with the US which will make it dramatically easier and faster to obtain data from US technology companies, including terrorist content.

We are working to improve the safety and security of public venues, following the terrible events in Manchester in 2017.

We’ve committed to update the Human Rights Act so that our security services can defend our country against terrorism. Our 2019 Manifesto states:

‘The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government’.

This will include measures designed to ensure that we can extradite or deport those who threaten the people of Britain.

We’re putting 20,000 more police on our streets and giving them the powers they need to keep us safe. More police on the streets will aid our response to terror incidents, and powers such as stop and search will enable them to identify and apprehend knife carriers.

We will end freedom of movement, making it harder for those who intend to cause us harm to enter the UK and easier to deport those who commit offences. Free movement means any EU criminals can come and reside in the UK, but we will take back control of our borders and keep track of those who come in and out of our country.

In government the Conservative Party has extended counter-terrorism powers. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act gives the UK greater powers to crackdown on hostile state activity, ensures sentencing for certain terrorism offences can properly reflect the severity of the crimes, and prevents re-offending and disrupting terrorist activity more rapidly.

The Act also updated existing counter-terrorism legislation to reflect the digital age including the way in which people view content online. It also reflects the speed at which terrorism plots develop.

We are stepping up our efforts to tackle far-right extremism. Following the terrorist attacks in 2017, the joint MI5 and counter-terrorism policing Operational Improvement Review proposed an increased role for MI5 and the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre in extreme right-wing terrorism. Our counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, addresses all forms of terrorism and no individual or group is free to spread hate or incite violence.

We are taking step to encourage integration and openness, addressing the root causes of extremism. We are tackling prejudice, racism and discrimination wherever it occurs while working to break down the barriers which hold different groups face.

Music spot for Advent Sunday: Come, thou long expected Jesus

Quote of the day for Advent Sunday

Today is both the first of December - which is when many people think is a reasonable time for the Christmas season to start - and also Advent Sunday, which is when the Christian churches, who logically ought to have some say in the matter as it is the celebration by Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ, say that the lead in to Christmas officially starts.

So after weeks of seeing Christmas decorations and lights all over the place, and hearing Christmas "musak" in various shops, the Christmas season has finally officially arrived.

I personally think that the lead in to Christmas is more enjoyable if you celebrate it over the three to four weeks it is supposed to last rather than stretching it for two months starting just before Halloween.

Advent Sunday is the first day of the church's year: it is the start of the season when Christians look forward to the coming of Jesus.

Here is are two quotes, one from Mother Theresa and one from Pope Bendict, which for me sum up what Advent should be about.