Showing posts from October, 2009

Ghost train at Ravenglass

After a morning spent organising and taking part in leaflet delivery, I took the children on a Halloween "Ghost Train" special event this evening on the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway. The event was very professionally organised. The "La'al Ratty" do a number of these trains at the end of October and I can strongly recommend them to any West Cumbrian parent of small children looking for a ghostly evening out at this time of year.

DC: Labour exposed on three fronts

This week the failures of this Labour Government were exposed across three major fronts: society, the military, and the economy. First, society. New figures have shown that many poor families are actually better off on benefits than in work. What kind of signal does this send about what society expects of people? "Don't strive for independence, don't try to provide for your family, don't try and do the responsible thing". It's a crazy situation to be in, so on Tuesday I announced a new policy initiative to look into the best way of tackling it. Second, the military. As you might remember from my email two weeks ago we've been pushing hard against deep cuts in training for army reservists. Thankfully, we've now succeeded in getting these cuts stopped. On Wednesday I asked the Prime Minister to tell us what on earth he was thinking of when he proposed to cut this training when the country is at war. As ever, I didn't get an answer. Third, the economy

New Nuclear Build for Copeland ?

A deal to purchase land at the Sellafield site has been hailed as an indication that there will be a new nuclear power plant in Copeland. There is no official announcement yet as to which potential sites have been chosen for new nuclear build. A new power plant would be very good news for the local economy. We need to continue to work to ensure that it actually happens, but I am advised that the prospects for new nuclear build at Sellafield, regardless of the result of the coming election, should be taken very seriously indeed.

A tale of two parties

I don't always agree with the way BBC reporter MIchael Crick presents things, though I confess to having had an amusing chat with him at one of the stalls at Conservative Party conference this year about political memorablia, which he collects. But I do think he made an excellent point on his blog recently about the Electoral Commission's treatment of two political parties which we will call Party A and Party B. As "Case A", he described how, in 2005, Party A received donations amounting to £363,607 from a bookmaker, who we will call Mr AB. This individual runs a legitimate business and had for years been on the electoral register where he lives in Kent. But, due to an oversight, his name had not been included on the register for the year when he gave the money. In 2007, when the Electoral Commission tracked this down, a district judge ruled that Party A should pay £18,000 as a penalty for failing to check whether Mr AB's name was on the register. This was not goo

Egremont Today

During an adjournment at the last full meeting of Copeland council, I and a couple of other Conservatives were talking to Brian Dixon, who at this point was still a member of the Labour party. It is not in the least unusual - thank God - for councillors of different parties to talk to one another. It does not usually mean that one of them is about to defect. And it does not usually attract sarky comments from other councillors. On this occasion, however, it did. As he walked past, Egremont councillor Peter Watson, who is also the editor of Labour's "Egremont Today" community newspaper, asked Brian Dixon "Is this a Group Meeting?" Brian was not impressed. I have just seen a copy of the October issue of "Egremont today" which is currently going out. It contains, in the name of the MP for Copeland, yet another pack of misleading falsehoods about Conservative policy which I will be answering at another point. At the bottom right of the front page are the w

Service heroes speak out

Here is a piece produced by the "Nothing British" campaign in which a number of British war heroes explain why they don't want the BNP to get away with hijacking the good name of our country's armed services.

British war heroes condemn the BNP

Because Britain is a democracy, all lawful parties have the right to put forward their views. Even the British National Party. By the same token, those who disagree with the British National Party, or any other, have the right to explain why or campaign against them. Today a number of heroes of Britain's armed forces, and some prominent generals, exercised that right and called on the BNP to "Cease and Desist" from seeking to hijack the good name of the Royal Navy, the Army, and the Royal Air Force in support of their own political ends. The veterans who launched the campaign included:- Andy McNab DCM MM. Ex-SAS commando and Iraq War veteran. Colonel Tim Collins OBE. Ex-SAS commando and Iraq War veteran. Simon Weston OBE. Falklands War veteran. Nicholas Soames MP. Veteran cavalryman and grandson of Sir Winston Churchill. They were supported by a number of senior officers who signed a signed a letter of which condemns the BNP's attempts to exploit the armed f

DC: Don't cut training for our armed forces

This week MPs returned to a Parliament still engulfed in the expenses crisis. My message to Conservative MPs was clear: money has got to be paid back, and everyone has to abide by the eventual decision on how much they should pay. To me, that's the least we can do to try and sort out the problems of the past, before going on into the future. As an Opposition, we've still got an important job to do of holding this Government to account. That's why I made it clear to the Prime Minister this week that it's unforgivable that the training budget of our Reserve Forces is being cut. It's crazy that a government which was willing to waste £12 billion on a pointless VAT cut won't spend £20 million on making sure that the Territorial Army is kept ready and prepared. The Prime Minister later sent me a letter insisting that reservists will still get their standard pre-deployment training. But that's like telling professional football players to rely on pre-match warm-up

Unemployment figures

Here in Copeland there are eight people seeking work for every job vacancy. Nationally nearly 2.5 million are looking for jobs. Today's unemployment figures released today showed a quarterly rise of 88,000 in the numbers seeking work between the three months to May and the three months to August. The number claiming unemployment benefit rose by 20,800 in September. It says something about how serious the need for more jobs has become that the Prime Minister's office welcomed these figures because they had been expected to be even worse.

Damian Green criticises bogus excuse for his arrest

Following publication of the review of lessons learnt from the Metropolitan Police's arrest of opposition front bench spokesman Damian Green MP, which criticised his arrest as "disproportionate", Damian Green issued a statement. "This report reveals that the excuse of "national security" used to arrest me was entirely bogus", he said. "The police were misled about the security risks by a senior official in the Cabinet Office, which is itself very disturbing. Then the police themselves used covert recordings to bug my conversations with officers, which is only legal in terrorist arrests. The more we find out about my arrest the more disgraceful it looks". He asked why he had to wait another four months to be cleared when "once the authorities received the Johnston report in December it must have been obvious that no successful prosecution could be mounted". Looking ahead, he said the O’Connor report is a "sensible attempt to c

Quote of the Week

From Anne Treneman, writing a sketch in The Times on DC's conference speech: "The most impressive moment of the speech, for me, was when Dave was talking about how the working poor are hurt by the tax system. He said that a single mum with two kids who earns £150 a week will be able to keep just 4p for every extra pound she earns. “Thirty years ago this party won an election fighting against 98 per cent tax rates on the richest,” he said. “Today I want us to show even more anger about 96 per cent tax rates on the poorest.” As he said this, the hall jumped up as one, cheering. It was at that moment that I realised that Dave really had changed his party."

The Economist on the Osborne speech

An endorsement by "The Economist" magazine, if it swings any votes at all, probably swings rather fewer than that of most other papers or magazines. But in a sense it is higher praise than most, because the magazine is one of those rare MSM outlets whose views are usually carefully thought through and often quite hard to predict in advance. It is fairly rare for them to praise anyone as strongly as they did George Osborne's speech to the Conservative Party conference in this week's print edition article, That's more like it. Extracts from the article: "For months it has been clear that Britain’s fiscal mess is Augean. Poll after poll has shown that voters know big spending cuts are unavoidable ... "Yet politicians refused to get real. "All that changed with George Osborne’s speech to the Conservative Party this week. " ... he spelt out some of the harsh medicine needed to deal with the huge budget deficit, some £175 billion ($280 billion) in th

DC reflects on his speech to Conference

The Sun leads press endorsements of DC speech

I was impressed by David Cameron's speech to Conservative party conference, as were most of those who have spoken to me about it, including some who describe themselves as floating voters. This was the leader in today's Sun newspaper (headline "Yes He Cam") And so the party conference season comes to an end with the parties in much the same position in the polls as they were before it. But in the meantime the Conservatives have started to make clear how we would deal with the very difficult situation the country finds itself in, while the Labour party has begun to float off into fantasy politics, as the Prime Minister scatters with gay abandon the kind of unfunded spending promise he used to condemn as imprudent while pretending they can be paid for later. Brown makes Mr Micawber look like the soul of fiscal responsibility. The truth is that the longer the pain of dealing with a huge budget defecit is left, the worst that pain will eventually have to be. Because the

Steven Pollard responds to latest smears

Another conference, another set of guilt-by-association smears. Yet again we have seen attempts from the left to represent MEPs from Eastern Europe as racists or anti-semites in the hope that some of the mud will stick to David Cameron. Insofar as there is any substance behind any of this it takes the form of "A is allied to B who used to work with C who used to be a member of group D which is dodgy" and because of the difficult circumstances of those Eastern European countries who were caught between the Nazis and the Stalinists, you can use this tactic to attack some MEPs from all the major groups in the Brussels parliament, including the one which of British Labour MEPs are part, and also the group which the Conservatives left to form the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR). However, some of the allegations made seem to me to be dubious indeed. Last week the Foreign secretary stooped to this kind of mudslinging and received a robust answer from William Hague

DC's speech to Conference

One of the many messages which stood out to me today from David Cameron's speech to party conference today was when he pointed out that a single mother with two children on £150 a week will lose 96 pence in extra tax and loss of benefits from every extra pound she earns. As DC ppointed out, thirty years ago this party won an election when we campaigned against 98% tax for the richest members of society. "Today I want us to be even more angry about 96% tax for the poorest members of society," he said. You can watch the speech here, or at

Conservative Conference - Thursday

10.00 am, the Union 11.15 am, International affairs and security 2.00 pm, Party Leader's speech (David Cameron)

Conference Diary - the nuclear fringe

Have spent a fair amount of time at the Conservative conference attending various meetings concerning the nuclear industry. The general mood - to a far greater extent than would have been the case a few years ago at either a Conservative or Labour conference - is overwhelming support for new nuclear build as part of the solution to Britain's energy needs. The general view is that the earliest new nuclear can come on stream is about 2017, too late to help with the first wave of coming energy shortages, so an incoming Conservative government would have to commission several fossil fuel plants first as Greg Clark explained yesterday. But nuclear build can be completed in time to deal with the far more serious power shortfalls which would otherwise be expected in the 2020's. Issues addressed at the nuclear fringe included Planning policy and grid capacity.

Conservative Conference: Wednesday

Theme for today: fixing our broken society 10 am, Schools and Sport with Michael Gove 11.15 am, Crime and Disorder 2pm, Welfare reform 3.45 pm, Family

Conference diary - action on Energy

The session at Conservative Party Conference this afternoon on Climate Change and the green economy began in darkness. Then Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Greg Clark began the session with the words “If we had another term of Labour, we’d have to get used to sitting in the dark. Because for the first time since the 1970s, the Government is expecting to resort to power cuts during the years ahead. So a Conservative Government would begin with a bound and with immediate action to keep Britain’s lights on, to cut greenhouse gas emissions and give Britain leadership in a low carbon world.” He then outlined Conservative plans for Energy and climate change, several of which were particularly relevant to Copeland: an incoming Conservative government will quickly * publish the planning guidance essential for new nuclear power. * mandate the National Grid to extend its network out to sea (Very relevant to West Cumbria because one of the major issues for the "Energy Coast&quo

Conference diary - George Osborne's speech

I was impressed by George Osborne's speech today. It was interesting that the usual role of governments and oppositions has been reversed - it was the Prime Minister who was making vast numbers of unnfunded spending pledges when the governnment is already borrowing £6,000 a second and the Shadown Chancellor who was left to ask how he is going to pay for it. Particularly powerful were his comments about government borrowing: He pointed out that Britain is now spending more on the interest payments required to service government debt than on educating our children or defending our country. Britain is drowning in a sea of debt, he said, and we cannot go on like this. He also explained that one of the tough decisions which an incoming Conservative government would make concerned pensions. It has already been agreed with all-partyu support that the age at which people can claim a pension will eventually have to go up to 66: this is currently scheduled for 2026. However, to cope with the

Conservative Conference: Tuesday

Theme for today: rebuilding our broken economy 10.00 am, Transport and Housing 11.15 am, The Economy 2.00 pm, Business, with shadow Business secretary Ken Clarke 2.45 pm, The Low Carbon Economy, with shadow Energy and Climate Change secretary Greg Clark

On the doorstep ...

Out canvassing and delivering last week, we called at a house on the edge of one of the many country villages in the constituency, which had an intimidating sign: "Beware of the dogs: enter at your own risk" With a "here goes" remark which approximated in tone to "Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant," my colleague went up to the house concerned. He came back chuckling: "Do you know what the dogs in that house are?" They were Chihuahuas!

Conservative Conference highlights today

Theme for today: fixing our broken politics 11.15 am. Reforming Politics: Accountability 3.45 pm. The NHS

UK needs four times more nuke plants says McKay

The government's principal scientific advisor on Climate change, Professor David MacKay, argues for a four-fold increase in Britain's nuclear power generating capacity to cut dependence on fossil fuels and reduce the UK's output of greenhouse gases. He also says that renewable energy sources such as wind and tide power can never supply all the energy which Britain needs. You can read a more detailed account of Professor MacKay's comments in today's Sunday Times here. This supports the view taken by increasing numbers of both Conservative and Labour politicians that Britain needs a balanced energy policy in which new nuclear build is part of the mix.

Hague reponds to Milliband smears

At the Labour conference, Foreign secretary David Milliband joined the dishonorable list of left-wingers who have tried to smear various political allies of the Conservatives in Europe with false charges of anti-semitism in the hope that some of the mud will stick to David Cameron. Miliband's speech included insults towards the Latvian Government, accusations of anti-Semitism against Polish politician Michal Kaminski and allegations against Eric Pickles. William Hague responded yesterday, describing these smears made by David Miliband e as "disgraceful" and "cheap party spin," adding that they "represent a failure of his duty to promote Britain’s interests". Hat tip to Iain Dale for quoting the statement from William, which reads as follows: "David Miliband’s smears are disgraceful and represent a failure of his duty to promote Britain’s interests as Foreign Secretary. He has failed to check his facts. He has just insulted the Latvian Government,


AND JUST AS WELL IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES !!! Roadworks on the A5094 in Whitehaven, from the junction of Inkerman Terrace with the Loop road down to the garage at the junction with Coach Road, were completed ahead of schedule and mid-afternoon today the road was opened to traffic again. Park Drive at the bottom of Midgey, which was also closed for the past month, has also re-opened to through traffic. The one-way restriction on the Northern part of Foxhouses Road between the A5094 and Ehen Drive junctions is back in effect. It's just as well that traffic coming into Whitehaven from the South is no longer being diverted up to the Pelican junction and down New Road, because there was complete gridlock at the town centre end of New Road today. Very high winds caused severe damage to a building on the Tesco site, and in consequence for safety reasons the police had to restrict traffic in the Bransty Arch area. This caused major delays for traffic coming from Bransty Hill or New Road down i

Bransty surgery

The Bransty councillors held a surgery this morning from 10 am to 1pm at Bransty school. Attendance was not huge, which probably had something to do with a torrential downpour in the early part of the morning. We did have points raised with us about roads and pavements in the area, including one or two newly laid ones which are not satisfactory. We will look into these points. We aim to do four surgeries a year in different parts of the ward.

Millom Palladium opening

Attended a reception in Millom this evening to mark the reopening of the foyer & bar area of the Millom Palladium, the condition of which has been enormously improved by the very hard work of a team of Operatic society volunteers. Having previously attended a number of meetings at which the lack of any progress on the Palladium was the cause of much distress, it was a very pleasant change to see some progress - and if the truth were known, it somehow did not surprise me that it was hard work from local residents that made action happen rather than direction from the "top down."