Showing posts from May, 2009

Cameron in Keswick

David Cameron came to the new Copeland constituency today as part of a tour of Cumbria. During a visit to Keswick DC spoke to a number of the people involved in running Pubwatch, a scheme to ensure that licenes premises can support one another, particuarly by ensuring that someone who gets barred from one pub for getting drunk and behaving unacceptably is banned from all pubs in the area. He then went to Keswick police station and heard more about the scheme from a police perspective and about the other policing issues in the area. Pubwatch is a great Cumbrian success story which has delivered a huge reduction in alcolhol related crime, and indeed in total violent crime in the area.

DC calls for radical redistribution of power

The expenses scandal is still the number one topic of conversation across the country. In offices, on buses, at home, the strength of anger being voiced is like nothing we've heard for a long time. But I don't think that anger begins and ends with expenses. I believe it stems from a long, deep dissatisfaction with the way that politics and power work in our country. The fact is that people feel they have very little control over the world around them - and they're right. While some areas of our lives offer us choice and control as never before - in media, travel, shopping, entertainment - when it comes to the things we ask from politics and the state, there's a sense that someone else is always pulling the strings, always pulling power away from people. Today, in a speech to the Open University, I set out our plans for a radical redistribution of power back to the people: from the state to citizens; from Whitehall to communities; from bureaucracy to democracy. This is a

Britain needs a General Election now

At the launch of our European Election Manifesto, David Cameron announced that he was turning "the campaign we had planned for these elections into the campaign Britain now needs: a campaign for a General Election." He said the scale of the problems facing Britain - the recession, the debt crisis and the political crisis caused by the abuse of MPs' expenses - "all point in one direction". And he stressed, "There is now only one way of sorting out the mess, and that is for Parliament to be dissolved and for a General Election to be held right away."

Gurkhas win right to settle in UK

I was pleased to see that, at long last, it has been agreed that Gurhka veterans with four or more years service should have the right to settle in the UK. People who are good enough to risk their lives for a country are good enough to be allowed to live in that country.

Shadow Cabinet expenses claims now online

The past few weeks have been extremely embarrassing for everyone involved in politics. Some MPs and MEPs of all parties have brought politics into disrepute. David Cameron has shown leadership in addressing this issue. On Tuesday, he announced a series of immediate measures to start to rebuild trust in politics and take action on the issue of expenses. He banned Conservative MPs from claiming for furniture, other household goods and food shopping; put an end to the practice of 'flipping'; and set up a Scrutiny Panel to review all excessive claims and arrange repayments where appropriate. In addition, the Shadow Cabinet are publishing online all the expense claims they make to the House of Commons - and you can view all the claims made since Tuesday here . You can also view this week's Conservative election broadcast, in which David Cameron addressed the issue of MP's expenses and described the action he is taking about them, here .

County Council candidates for the June 2009 elections

This post records the full list of candidates of all parties who stood for Cumbria County Council in the council and European elections on 4th June 2009. I wrote in the original post on 13th May 2009 that only the Conservatives were standing a full slate of 84 candidates for 84 seats on Cumbria County council. That was correct at the time nominations closed. Numbers of candidates put up by other parties were: Labour 81 Liberal Democrats 50 BNP 42 Greens 15 Socialist People’s Party 6 (all in Barrow) UKIP 5 There were also 18 Independent candidates. The full list of candidates is: ALLERDALE Aspatria & Wharrels: Jim Buchanan (Con)*; Martin Pugmire (Lib Dem); Rob Rimmer (Lab). Bowness, Thursby & Caldbeck: Duncan Fairbairn (Con)*; Bill Goldsmith (Lab); Margrit Scott (Lib Dem). Cockermouth East: Mark Hayhurst (Lab); Juliet Henderson (Lib Dem); Eric Nicholson (Con)*. Cockermouth West: Bill Bacon (Lab); Alan Kennon (Con); Dianne Standen (Green). Dearh

Government plan to limit DNA database "doesn't go far enough"

Chris Grayling has attacked Labour for failing to take “real action” to remove innocent people from the DNA database. The Shadow Home Secretary warned that Labour’s latest plan to trim the DNA database “doesn’t go far enough”, and accused the Government of “trying very hard to do as little as it can as slowly as it can”. Under the current system, details of individuals who are cleared of crimes - or not even charged in the first place - are held for six years, or 12 in cases involving serious violent or sexual offences. Chris stressed the importance of remembering that people are innocent until proven guilty and of achieving the "right balance" – and he said: “I can see no reason to be storing the DNA of people who have not been convicted of any offence.” Chris promised that a Conservative Government would implement the Scottish system, where a DNA sample is taken on arrest but then deleted if the person is cleared, or kept for a maximum of five years if they are cleared of s

David Cameron: Vote for Change on 4th June

This is the text of the speech David Cameron gave in North Tyneside to launch the 2009 Conservative local election campaign. On June 4th, people across Britain will go to the polls and decide who runs their councils. This isn't just any local election - it really matters. It really matters because you can make a difference. And you can make a difference because it's your best chance to save money and improve your quality of life, your only chance to transform North Tyneside with a dynamic new era of civic leadership and your last chance, until the General Election, to tell Gordon Brown exactly what you think of him and his tired, incompetent and failing Government. But this will only happen if you vote for change. MORE FOR LESS Increasingly, that's what people are doing. Last year, the Conservatives won control of fourteen new councils. We won over two hundred and fifty new councillors - meaning we now have more in England than Labour and the Liberal Democrats combined. And

We cannot afford ID cards

Such is the mess Labour have made of our finances that whoever wins the next election will have to make painful and very unpopular decisions. There have already been cuts in Labour spending plans even before the election, and there will be more after the election even if they win. It is extremely important that as much as possible of the pain is diverted away from front line services such as schools and hospitals. There are no easy answers. But if we are to avoid cutting nurses, doctors, dentists, teachers and policemen we will have to find less essential things to cut instead. Now let's make a simple thought experiment. Lets suppose you put a choice of two options to the British people in a poll or referendum Option one - sack thousands of doctors and nurses Option two - save billions by scrapping the ID cards plan instead. Does anyone in their right mind imagine that option one would get more than a tiny handful of votes, mainly those of Gordon Brown, Jacqui Smith, and those pe

Time to toughen up on Postal Voting fraud

When I was a young man, British elections were among the cleanest in the world. They are still reasonably clean. But there have been a certain number of cases - with a minority of candidates from all the main political parties responsible - where people have been caught attempting to rig the ballot. In a recent case in Reading a candidate, agent and several people who assisted them in a bad case of postal voting fraud have been sentenced to a total of fourteen years in jail. Postal voting fraud and all other attempts to rig elections are totally unacceptable whoever does it, and should be severely punished. It is also unacceptable that the concerns expressed by the presiding judges in previous voting fraud cases over the past few years have not been acted on. The next government must implement individual voter registration as a matter of urgency, and we need a Speaker's conference, to get cross-party agreement if at all possible, on measures to tighten the integrity of the ballot.

Reflections on the end of an era

Thirty years ago today, I remember sitting in my place in the choir stalls in St Albans Cathedral during the regular Friday morning service for the school at which I was then a sixth former. The BBC Parliament channel retrospective today of the election night special has strengthened the memory (though of course I have been a little too busy with this year's elections to spend all day watching a result from one three decades ago). A few months before the 1979 election, my father had been telephoned on the morning he was due to go into Guys for heart surgery, and told that, because the shops stewards who were taking industrial action against the Labour government's NHS cuts had ruled that heart valve replacements were "not an emergency" - apparently NUPE and COHSE shop stewards thought they knew better than doctors about this. I had joined the Conservative party when this happened and for the past few weeks had been campaigning hard for the election of a Conservative g

DC: The Prime Minister has run out of moral and political authority

Last week we had the Budget - when Gordon Brown ran out of money. This week we've had the votes on the Gurkhas and MPs' expenses - and now the Prime Minister has run out of moral and political authority too. Take the Gurkhas. They are the bravest of they brave. In WWI, in WWII, in the Falklands and today in the dust and heat of Afghanistan, they have fought and died for this country in some of its toughest battles. We owe them a huge debt. We need to treat them properly in return. That's why I believe there should be a presumption that Gurkha veterans who want to live in this country should be able to do so. This week the House of Commons stood up for the Gurkhas, by defeating the Government, and voting decisively in favour of allowing them to come to Britain. It was a tremendous victory for Joanna Lumley, who had campaigned so hard on their behalf. And Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg deserved great credit for calling the debate. And yet only hours earlier at Prime Minister's

An article anyone interested in politics should read.

A number of articles by some of Britain's most thoughtful journalists this weekend make grim reading for the government. Doutless the dwindling band of labour loyalists will ignore what Matthew Parris had to say because he is a former Tory MP who has long been a sharp critic of Gordon Brown. Though in my opinion his criticisms both of the Prime Minister and of a cabinet which has failed to stand up to him ring true. They will have much more difficulty in ignoring Polly Toynbee in the Guardian who was originally one of Gordon Brown's cheerleaders. Her piece this weekend flays the Prime Minister as having "no ideas and no regrets," says that "Under his leadership Labour has become a rotten, defeatist rabble" and begins "In free fall without a parachute, unassisted suicide, accelerating the wrong way down a motorway – the death metaphors are flowing in a dark torrent of despair from Labour MPs. What made Gordon Brown hurl himself on that row of Gurkha

After the phoney war, Campaign 2009 begins

After weeks of putting out what politicians call "peacetime" literature (e.g. when you are not in an actual election campaign) and preparing the ground for the 2009 County and Euro elections, Campaign 2009 started in earnest today. With the majority of our candidates in Copeland validly nominated we now begin a long five-week campaign. I started campaigning today at 8 am and finished at 7pm. This will be an opportunity to vote for constructive change in Cumbria and for representatives in the European parliament who will stand up for British interests on issues like the working time directive, which threatens to do great damage to our NHS and fire services. I always regard the primary purpose of any election to be for the voters to choose the best people to run the authority which is being elected. But we could hardly blame voters if they also use this election to pass a verdict on an incompetent, sleazy, confused, dishonest, failed government, whose conduct over the past few