Friday, July 23, 2021
“The point of using that really was to try and drive the Remain campaign and the people running it crazy.”
(Dominic Cummings on why he insisted that all Vote Leave campaigners repeated the misleading claim that Britain's weekly contribution to the EU was £350 million.
Let there be any misunderstanding, if Dom Cummings said it was raining I would look outside to check but in this instance he has finally admitted something I have believed for five years was his real strategy.
And let's be honest it worked exactly as planned.)
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
After extensive debate among councillors and over thirteen thousand responses from local residents and organisations, the government has this afternoon announced which of the local proposals they have accepted for reform of local government in Cumbria, North Yorkshire, and Somerset.
I am very pleased to see that they have gone with the option I preferred and have been arguing for in Cumbria, which is two unitary councils for Cumbria, one covering the current areas of Copeland, Allerdale and Carlisle, the other the current areas of Eden, South Lakeland, and Barrow & Furness.
This was the preferred option supported by Copeland council and Allerdale council. There were a total of four options for reform involving a change to a unitary model put forward by local councils - and it is perhaps worth pointing out that all four of the councils involved - Cumbria County Council and all six districts - supported one of those four options for unitary local government.
The Secretary of State has asked the existing councils and their partners to work collaboratively and constructively together to drive forward the process of establishing unitary councils.
Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
"I have always been clear that any restructuring of local government must be locally-led and will not involve top-down solutions from government.
Residents, businesses and service providers have had their say on what will work best for their area and now councils in these three areas can start planning for the next step.
Where there is local support, changing the structure of local government can offer better value for money and improved services for residents."
This follows an announcement by the Prime Minister last week whereby he set out his vision to level up and unite the whole of the United Kingdom. In a speech, he set out the government’s role to:
- empower strong local leaders by taking a more flexible approach to devolution, with new ‘County Deals’
- focus on growing the private sector by creating the conditions for long-term growth and productivity;
- invest in infrastructure and connectivity;
- ensure that people have access to good public services, and the skills and training needed to get good jobs; and
- improve the quality of life in communities through cutting crime and regenerating towns and high streets
Moving forward, Parliamentary approval will be sought to implement these locally led plans for the area. At the turn of the year, a draft structural changes Order will be laid in Parliament. This will include plans for the necessary transitional arrangements, including elections in May 2022 for the future unitary councils.
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Cumbria Health Scrutiny committee will meet tomorrow, Wednesday 21st June, at 10.30 in the Committee Rooms at Cumrbia House, Botchergate, Carlisle.
The agenda and supporting papers can be found by following this link:
Monday, July 19, 2021
"Having seen today’s scenes in Westminster, I’m organising a protest against the Corn Laws tomorrow. Who’s with me?"
(Dan Hodges on the Anti-Lockdown protexts which took place earlier today, e.g. just after almost all the last remnants of lockdown had been lifted.)
Sunday, July 18, 2021
On Twitter this morning:
"The Nazi ‘Black Book’ listing people to be liquidated and institutions likely to provide most resistance post invasion. Hard to believe now but top of the list was the CofE.
When it was found, Rebecca West wrote to Noel Coward ‘My dear, the people we’d have been seen dead with!’"
Among the replies:
"Not hard to believe at all: against the combined forces of a disgruntled Choir, the Flower Guild and the Mothers' Union, even the Third Reich would have started to wobble."
Fantastic news that all adults in Britain have now been offered an approved COVID-19 vaccination.
Adults in England can book now by ringing 119 between 7am and 11pm seven days a week or online at
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Friday, July 16, 2021
Helen Horne, who I knew as chair of Healthwatch Cumbria, passed away a couple of weeks ago and her funeral is this afternoon.
Helen had been a teacher, a county councillor, and a non-executive director on Eden Valley Primary Care Trust,
David Blacklock, the CEO of Healthwatch Cumbria said in a statement on the Healthwatch website:
‘Helen was a passionate force for good, she dedicated her whole life to helping others, to tackling disadvantage and to supporting people to live better lives. Helen believed in fairness, equality and human rights. On a personal note, Helen and I became very good friends over the years, often enjoying a good glass of wine and a laugh together.’
Rest in Peace.
"About a quarter of all GPs are due to retire in the next five years"
"We need to train, train, train and train up."
(Professor John Howarth, CBE, long-standing GP and former deputy CEO of the North Cumbria NHS trust, talking to the West Cumbria Community Forum this morning and explaining the extent of the staffing challenge facing Geeral Practice over the coming decade.
Although the same meeting heard a very good presentation on the success of international medical recruitment - which neither John Howarth or anyone else is opposed to - he argued that the only way we can resolve the serious medical staffing shortages in the NHS is much more training.)
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Police Scotland have launched a criminal investigation into the finances of the SNP - the governing party in Scotland, remember, and the third largest party in the House of Commons. Some papers have covered this, here's one headline:
However, I am surprised that this had not had more attention.
If the police had launched a Fraud investigation into Conservative party funds it would be top story on all the news programmes and would get wall to wall coverage in all the papers. Ditto if such an investigation were launched into Labour party funds. Probably even if it were the Lib/Dems.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
I believe that Britain can and should keep the pensions "Triple lock" which guarantees that the basic state pension will always keep its' real purchasing power, rising by at least as much as inflation, and cannot fall behind wages as it did in the past.
The present version, however, of the triple lock, which made sense in 2010 when it was introduced after Gordon Brown's repeated smash and grab raids on pensioners' savings and investment, is not always fair or sustainable in the way it operates.
It sets up a "ratchet" which guarantees that over time the relative position of pensioners will always increase compared with those in work - and it can never ultimately be sustainable to promise any section of society that their income relative to the rest of society will go on increasing for ever.
I've written a piece on Conservative Home suggesting that the earnings element of the "Triple lock" should guarantee that the cumulative increase in the basic state pension must always keep up with the cumulative increase in wages and salaries, rather than making the calculation on a year-on-year basis.
You can read that article by clicking on the link below.,
Sanjay Bhandari, chair of Kick It Out, the campaign group against racism in football, says that data from the last two seasons of football shows around 70 per cent of abuse originates overseas. “These are not football fans,” he says. “They are people who have never been inside an English football ground.”
In part that’s because – while our problem with racism is acute – we don’t have a monopoly on being morons.
Some suggest that Russian or Chinese trolls may have weaponised discontent around football to intensify political and social tensions in England.
“It will be totally unsurprising if trolls started sharing bad stuff for these players, given that their goal is to sow public discord, and this is an excellent opportunity to do so,” says Savvas Zannettou of the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany, who studies information warfare online.
The abuse is, however, testament to the global nature of football.
Brighton striker Neal Maupay received digital death threats after scoring against Arsenal in June 2020. The person who sent them was given a nine-month probation order this month. The 19-year-old perpetrator wasn’t from Sunderland or Somerset, but Singapore. “It is, from a perpetrator perspective,” says Bhandari, “a global pandemic.”
(Extracts from an article in the New Statesman by Chris Stokel-Walker about online racist abuse of British footballers and where it comes from which you can read in full here.)
Monday, July 12, 2021
The prime minister made the following statement earlier today
"Like millions of people across this country I woke up this morning sad and rueful, but also filled with pride and hope and with thanks to Gareth Southgate and the whole England squad for the best campaign by any England team in any tournament that I can remember.