Showing posts from January, 2010

Whom the Gods would destroy ...

The headline on the front page of today's Sunday Times screams "Gordon Brown: I will go on and on." The story behind the quote, which you can read here, is that the Prime Minister has told colleagues he will refuse to quit as Leader of the Labour party after the general election unless that election results in a Conservative majority of more than 20 seats. So Brown is effectively telling any voter who wants to see a change in the leadership of the Labour party that the only way to make certain of this is for the Conservatives to win a healthy majority. This may be even less helpful to Labour than Margaret Thatcher's "I hope to go on and on" remark was to her - at least Mrs T had won three elections when she said it. It is often said that "All political careers end in failure" and knowing when to step down is one of the most difficult decisions for any political leader. In my lifetime the only Prime Minister who went at a time of his own choosing w

Lib/Dem caught planting false scare story

There are decent people in all political parties and, unfortunately, some who are less so. I would like to see a clean campaign at the General Election - by which I don't mean that nobody should criticise their opponents but I do mean don't tell lies about them, or indulge in gratuitous personal comments about their private lives. Judging by events to date that is likely to be a vain hope. However, just occasionally the worst offenders get caught. Frightening vulnerable groups such as pensioners and patients with scare stories of possible cuts is a low and wicked tactic if the person spreading the tales knows them to be false. I was not exactly pleased to read this story on Guido's blog of someone who was caught red-handed planting such a story. But I was certainly pleased that he didn't get away with this dirty trick. Liberal Democrat activist Dan Falchikov was foolish enough to boast into his mobile phone while on the train about how he stirred up a rumour that had b

From the doorstep ...

Spent this morning on the doorstep talking to voters in the village of Cleator. A lot of people were out, but of those we managed to catch it was interesting that the same themes were emerging from conversations with people with very diverse backgrounds and general views. The message was that government at all levels needs to concentrate more about the basics which affect people's everyday lives - roads, trains and transport, refuse collection, local health services, local planning decisions, flooding. We were given examples of how Central Government and the County and Borough councils should be employing common sense rather than a "tick-in-the-box" mentality to sort out these services, and told that funding should go on front-line services rather than overheads, bureaucracy, and politicians' salaries and expenses. I'm grateful to all those who spent time talking with us and those who returned survey forms. They gave us the benefit of a lot of good sense. Local an

Jacqui Smith on her chances of re-election

According to the "Politics Home" site, Jacqui Smith has told the ‘Straight Talk with Andrew Neil’ programme, that she is more likely than not to lose her seat at the coming election. The progamme is due to be broadcast this weekend. You can read the Politics Home report "here" .

Action to stop human trafficking

I have been contacted by the All Party Parliamentary Group against human trafficking. They make a number of very strong arguments about the need to do more to protect the victims of this vile practice. Two hundred and three years ago the House of Commons first voted to eliminate the slave trade. Three years ago Copeland council was one of those who marked that historic anniversary. The Royal Navy of this country hunted down and stopped the slavers. But a modern form of slavery has returned, and needs to be stamped out. The All Party Group's proposals, which I believe have a lot of merit, are 1. Establishing a UK National Anti-Slavery Day. 2. National Watchdog to coordinate all info and statistics from statutory and voluntary sectors and report to parliament once a year. 3. Proactive and dedicated Police Force on Human Trafficking - Pentameter initiatives should be automatic every year in every police force. 4. National Referrals Mechanism (NRM) to be administered by both government

Jamie Reed in his own words ...

This blog will be five years old in just under a month, making it one of the longest running political blogs, and far and away the longest running in Copeland. As I believe in genuine debate, I am pleased to see competition in ideas, and so I welcome the newest political blog in Copeland, which was set up three days ago by local MP Jamie Reed. The "About" section of Jamie's blog currently (28th January) reads as follows: "As soon as I can be bothered and time allows, I’ll put my details here. Anyway, I’m an MP…" Jamie's second post, "The Weirdness" is about the groundrules for his blog, and here are some extracts: "As political websites are often havens for the criminally insane, we need to lay down a few ground rules." "Opinions and comment are both welcome of course, but there’s a weirdness/litigation/mental health threshold which I won’t allow comments to cross. With this in mind, I’m off to enlist the help of a team of clinical

DC: Recovery depends on tackling the debt

David Cameron has spoken of the pressing need to tackle the enormous debt which Britain is accumulating. The UK was one of the first economies to go into recession, and is now the last big economy to come out - new figures are expected to show the first signs of economic growth after eighteen months of recession. "Obviously this will be very good news, but let’s be absolutely clear what this means", Cameron said at his monthly press conference. "Coming out of recession doesn’t mean that our debt crisis is over - far from it. Labour’s debt crisis is the biggest threat to our recovery. So we’ll only get this recovery right if we start right now on a proper debt reduction plan." In highlighting the need to "get a grip of our debt crisis", Cameron used the analogy of a credit card: "the more we spend and the longer we wait to pay off our bills, the worse it can get". He said that the Government’s promise to halve the deficit in four years has failed

Anyone thinking of voting Labour should read this

Anyone who is still considering casting their vote for Labour should read this article in the Daily Mail by former lifelong Labour voter (and former editor of the Daily Mirror) Mike Molloy. It's called "It would break my dad's heart but I'm voting Tory" and in the article Mike Molloy explains how he came to be completely disillusioned with the present Labour government. This is not someone who was a fair-weather friend to the Labour party and has lightly changed his vote for the coming election. He writes "I was brought up to believe the Labour Party was the best hope for ordinary people to make a better life. The men I was taught to revere - Clem Attlee, Stafford Cripps, Ernie Bevin and Herbert Morrison - were people of the finest moral values who put their crusade for a fairer society before personal advancement." But the article explains why he has come to the view that today's Labour government does not stand up for these values: "Today, t

We must never forget

Today, the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz/Birkenau murder camp, is Holocaust Memorial Day. It is a day when we should remember both the depths of horror to which human beings can descend, and did descend during the Holocaust, and the heights which were reached by those who tried to rescue the victims of Nazi mass murder, sometimes losing everything in the process. It is a day when we should remember the victims of all genocides, whether Jewish or Armenian, Serb or Croat, whether native American or African, whether Christian or Muslim or of any other religion, whether they came from Berlin, Rwanda or Nanking. The oldest record of genocide I have recently read was contained in Thucydides "History of the Peleponessian war" while the most recent concerned events this year in the Sudan. Those who forget or deny the sort of mass murder which has happened far too often in human history have made the first step which can lead to such crimes happening again. That


Yesterday's new figures show the first signs of economic growth after 18 months of recession – the longest and deepest since the war. Of course, the end of the Great Recession is good news – even though we were one of the first big economies into recession, and the last out. Now we are coming out of recession, Labour’s Debt Crisis is the biggest threat to our recovery. As the Director-General of the CBI said in The Times yesterday, ‘one of the troubles with the Government’s programme [of debt reduction] is that it’s long on aspirations and short on details, and it’s stretched out over the lifetime of two whole Parliaments.’ We can’t go on like this. We need change and a Conservative government to get a grip on our debt crisis. As any family with a credit card knows, the more we spend and the longer we wait to pay off our bills, the worse it gets. Five facts about Labour’s Debt Crisis · We’re borrowing money at a rate of nearly £6,000 every second - every five seconds, the Gove

Economic Disaster

Hat tip to Political Betting for pointing out this article in the current issue of The Economist about the bout of inflation Britain is suffering. The article discusses how long-lived that bout of inflation is likely to be, but concludes "Special pleading about temporary factors will count for little at the general election likely in May. The bungee-jump in prices gives electors another reason to vent their anger on Gordon Brown for the economic disaster over which he has presided."

Conservative plans for Schools

By raising standards, improving discipline, increasing choice, and getting the best people into teaching, we will make sure that the poorest children get the best education, not the worst. Last week the Conservatives announced plans to fast-track professionals into teaching to ensure the best possible teachers are in the classroom. It’s time we made our teaching the best. That’s why we’re committed to a comprehensive programme of reform to elevate the status of teaching in our country. We want to make it the noble profession – the career path that attracts the best brains, is well-rewarded and commands the most respect. We will: · raise the entry requirement for taxpayer-funded primary school teacher training from a C grade in English and Maths GCSE to a B; · require graduates to have at least a 2:2 in their degree in order to qualify for state-funded training; · pay the student loan repayments for top maths and science graduates for as long as they remain teach

Kirksanton nuclear new build public meeting.

I'm advised by a colleague who was there that the DECC Public Consultation meeting about the proposal to include Kirksanton as a possible site for nuclear new build yesterday morning was very well attended. About 350 people packed into Millom School hall. The meeting started at 10am and finished at about 1.20pm. Most of the people there were from Kirksanton and Silecroft and they were strongly opposed to the inclusion of this site. Issues raised included cooling water, infrastructure, and the fact that the proposal would require HM Prison Haverigg to be moved.

It would not be British to ban the burqa

Dominic Lawson has a powerful article in today's Sunday Times called Banning the burqa is simply not British in which he criticises the badly-thought-through UKIP proposals to ban the burqa. There are clearly some circumstances and jobs in which security, public safety, or the operational requirements of the job make it necessary for people to be willing to show their face - when producing a passport to prove your identity before getting on a plane, for instance. Someone who is not willing to show their face cannot expect to be appointed to one of those jobs or to access a service for which public safety would require an identity check. This requirement is not racist or religious discrimination, and should apply to anyone, of any faith or race, whether they are insisting on wearing a burqa, motorcycle helmet, a hood, or a Darth Vader helmet. But requiring people to show their face when there is a good reason is one thing: a complete ban on wearing a particular garment anywhere in p

Climate Change - why we must curb carbon release

David Cameron is right to regard cutting the release of carbon into the atmosphere as an important aim for all countries including Britain. And this is one of two reasons why the overwhelming majority of Conservatives support the need for new nuclear build as part of the mix in a balanced energy policy, since nuclear energy does not depend on burning carbon compounds. (The other, equally valid reason why most Conservatives support new nuclear build as part of the mix is to diversify our sources of energy and thereby increase the security of supply.) It is very easy - far too easy - to point to the severe winter we are having, and recent well publicised and irresponsible behaviour by some of the academic high priests of climate change, fall about laughing at the idea of man-made global warming, and forget about the issue. Easy, but wrong. Ignoring the evidence for harm caused by man-made carbon release would be most unwise. The earth's biosphere is a fantastically complex system, fa

Mending our Broken Society

This week the Conservatives are focusing on our party’s central task: to mend our broken society. The crime, the disorder, the drug addiction, the alcohol abuse, the family breakdown, the entrenched poverty, the educational failure, the sink estates – we can’t go on like this. We need change to put our country back on its feet. To mend our broken society, four areas of policy will be subject to our unremitting focus: fixing the criminal justice system, school reform, strengthening families and stimulating social action in our communities. On Monday, we published our plans for school reform. Yesterday, we published our plans to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour. Today, we are publishing our proposals to make Britain more family friendly. We can’t go on ignoring the importance of strong families. They provide the stability, warmth and love we need to flourish as human beings, and the relationships they foster are the bedrock on which society is built. But under Labour, Britain is

Advice from Chris Mullin

I have had my differences with Sunderland South MP Chris Mullin (Labour), but he has an excellent piece in today's Times here with advice for parliamentary candidates. Extracts from the article: "Make good use of the chamber. Which means listening as well as speaking. Only make a speech when you have something to say. A succinct intervention in a ministerial speech, delivered in prime time, is often far more effective than a speech delivered to a chamber that is all but empty. Don’t waste time scoring cheap points." "Be warned. There is a good deal of pointless activity in politics. I urge you to minimise it. Do not confuse busy-ness with effectiveness. Above all, do not neglect your family." "Some colleagues do relatively little in the House and instead spend every waking hour searching out constituents with problems in order to create the illusion of activity. I advise against this. In any case, it makes very little difference as to whether or not you wi

Feedback from Copeland Borough Council

Copeland Borough council's January meeting took place in Whitehaven this afternoon. This was the least controversial and shortest meeting for some time. Some highlights and lowlights: 1) As mentioned in a previous post, the meeting began on a sad note with a minute's silence in memory of Maggie Chadwick, the chair of NHS Cumbria, who died a few days ago after a short illness. 2) The long-awaited website to keep people in touch with the redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital has finally been launched. The URL is . I asked the leader of the council if it would be worth contacting the NHS Trust to ask if there is anything the council can do to help and support the submission of the final business case, and she agreed to do so. 3) A number of councillors - including myself - have been getting phone calls from Copeland Homes tenants who have been getting letters telling them that they may have to pay a service charge in addition to their rent.

Millom Neighbourhood Forum

I attended the Millom Neighbourhood Forum at the network centre, Millom School yesterday. The main item on the agenda was the "Managing Radioactive Waste Safely" (MRWS) process, on which there was a presentation by the leader of Copeland Council and Cllr Keith Hitchin. Other items discussed included the future of Millom Community Hospital. The timetable for the proposed redevelopment and improvement for the hospital has slipped a bit, and the previous decision that the new services to be provided can best be done on the existing site is being reviewed. Nevertheless the project is still going forward. There was also a short presentation on the "Together We can" event due to be launched at the March forum and run from 1st to 5th March which will provide an opportunity for the public to put forward ideas to improve public services or the local environment in Millom. During a presentation on the plans for a swimming pool in Millom, the forum heard that the public consul

Maggie Chadwick RIP

I was shocked to learn at the start of this afternoon's Copeland Council meeting of the sudden and untimely death of Maggie Chadwick, the chair of NHS Cumbria (formerly Cumbria PCT) who died a few days ago after a short illness. As a mark of respect the council stood for a minute's silence in her memory. Before her appointment as chair of NHS Cumbria Maggie had been principal of Furness College. I will remember Maggie as one of the architects of the change in policy which gave community hospitals in Cumbria a brighter future, and she worked hard and positively to support all forms of healthcare in the county. Our thoughts are with her family at this said time. Rest in Peace.

Feedback: Braystones consultation

The second local consultation on the draft Nuclear Planning Policy Statement, for the proposed Braystones site, took place on Saturday morning. There was a good attendance and a lot of strongly felt views were put forward. It was my impression that the great majority of speakers from the floor were in favour of the principle of nuclear new build locally and in particular at Sellafield, but not at Braystones (or Kirksanton.) There were however two minority views expressed: some speakers from the floor supported new build at all three sites in Cumbria (Sellafield, Braystones, and Kirksanton) while others took the opposite view and were opposed to nuclear power anywhere. Issues raised included * Roads and Infrastructure * Planning blight * Nuclear waste disposal * Flooding * Effectiveness of the consultation The consultation remains open until 22nd February. The next consultation meeting, for the Kirksanton site, is next Saturday.

Public consultation meeting

Attended the pulic consultation meeting this evening at Sellafield on the proposed National Planning Policy statement on Nuclear power and specifically the proposal that Sellafield should be one of the potential sites for new build. There were about a hundred people there and a very intelligent and well informed debate. The vast majority of speakers from the floor were at pains to stress that they supported nuclear new build in principle but they raised a lot of issues. A large number of speakers supported new build at Sellafield but not at Braystones or Kirksanton. A lot of speakers (including myself) made points about infrastructure and particularly transport and roads. We said that we wanted this sorted at an early stage and it would not be acceptable to agree nuclear power first and then address road improvements as an afterthought. The people running the consultation meeting noted that although they often get this point it had been made particularly strongly this evening and they

Fisking Oliver Kamm

Warning - this is going to be a long post in which I try to explain some basic economic facts of life about currencies. Do not attempt to read it if you are bored by complex arguments about economics, or have rigid views for or against the Euro and do not want to have them challenged. If I had to name the one subject on which the highest proportion of economically illiterate drivel is written by fanatics on both sides of the argument, it would have to be the single currency. Both extremes got it wrong on how easy it would be to prepare for the Euro. When the countries which ultimately joined the Euro were trying to align their economies, hardline opponents of the single currency predicted that it would be impossible, while hardline supporters would have had you believe that the measures taken to harmonise budget deficits were in the interests of all the countries involved, when the truth was that it caused a moderate amount of difficulty. Both extremes got it wrong about the actual int

Supporting Families

Yesterday the Conservatives set out how we will help the poorest families in society. David Cameron has shared a platform with the thoughtful Labour MP Frank Field. He has explained how we will keep Sure Start, and how we will strengthen it by recruiting 4,200 new Sure Start health visitors to provide universal support to families with children under five and a more effective way of reaching out to the most vulnerable families. We believe Sure Start needs to work better because the people who need it most – disadvantaged and dysfunctional families – are not getting enough of the benefit. We will improve Sure Start by taking it back to its original purpose of early intervention, increasing its focus on the neediest families, and better involving organisations with a track record in parenting interventions. Drawing on the key principles behind our wider public service reform programme – practicality, independence and accountability – we will create a new kind of Sure Start Children’s

Jenkins on Nuclear risks

It is extremely important that nuclear facilities should be built and operated with due concern for all safety issues including radition. Nuclear Management Partners who operate Sellafield are proud of their policy that safety is of great importance and they don't compromise on it. Much more attention is paid now to safety issues than was the case in the past and this is a good thing. However, analysis of risks should be based on a level headed view of what risks actually exist, and not on irrational panic. Simon Jenkins had an interesting article in the Guardian this week which you can read here in which he reviews two books about "the irrational fear of radiation." His article is called " The proliferation of nuclear panic is politics at its most ghoulish ." and it pulls no punches. The first book reviewed is called "Radiation and Reason," by an Oxford professor of physics, Wade Allison. It narrates the history and nature of nuclear radiation, and c

A grotesquely disproportionate over-reaction

I really hope that this story in yesterday's Mail is not an accurate and fully representative picture of the facts of the affair: if I had read it on the first of April I would have been convinced that it had to be a joke. The story involves two neighbours who sent emails to Rother council in Sussex objecting to a planning application. The applicant is described in the article as a "gypsy" which is not a description we are generally encouraged to use these days - the politically correct term usually favoured is "traveller." Most of the objections appear to have been on legitimate planning grounds, but one of the emails used a word which rhymes - RYHMES! - with "pikey" and also contained the phrase ‘Get a job, get planning permission but more to the point get out of the neighbourhood.’ Without knowing anything of the details this latter comment does strike me as unwise. Planning decisions often give rise to strong feelings on both sides. As a councill

"Savage cuts" - did Jamie mix up Clegg and DC?

In the November issue of "Egremont Today", the Labour MP for Copeland accused David Cameron and George Osborne of pledging "savage cuts." I took exception to this in my post on this blog dated 1st November and wrote "Jamie, if you can produce a date, place, and precise quote in which either David Cameron or George Osborne have ever used the words "savage cuts" to describe a policy they want to implement, or suggested that they would enjoy making savage cuts, I will donate a fiver to a charity or cause of your choice. If you cannot produce such a quote, you should apologise for that statement." I've had quite a bit of comeback from the Labour party on some of the other things I wrote in the same blogpost, but nothing whatever on this point, so it looks like I get to keep my fiver. However, one of my colleagues has reminded me that another national politician did indeed use the word "savage" to describe the kind of cuts which he think

The big Freeze - government dithering slammed

I wrote a few days ago that it will be necessary to review plans to deal with extreme weather. Whatever view you take about whether human activity has contributed to climate change - and most scientists think the balance of evidence is that it has - fluctuations in the weather seem to be getting more extreme. The Sun Newspaper points out this morning that following last February's snow chaos, ministers asked for a report on how to be better prepared. As they point out in today's leader called "Frost Report" , the report urged improvements to road gritting. "Every council should have stockpiled ample grit and salt. Plans should have been made for councils to share supplies. "They [ministers] got the report in the summer, but failed to act until December. Too late."

Chancellor warns of "Toughest cuts for 20 years"

Alistair Darling has a piece in tomorrow's Times saying that Britain faces tough and painful spending cuts. Which puts the promises from the PM and others to spend vast amounts of imaginary money in a vain attempt to win the election into perspective ...

The Big Freeze continues

Most of Cumbria remains covered with snow and ice, and the extreme weather has forced health bosses in Cumbria to cancel all non-emergency hospital appointments. NHS Services NHS North West told the BBC that staff were focusing on emergency cases and said it hoped patients would understand. Even though the county has escaped the worst of recent snowfalls, more than 140 schools have been closed. The Highways Agency said it had about six days of grit and salt left and that at the moment it was coping with road treatment operations. Jane Cummings, director for nursing, quality, performance and commissioning at NHS North West, told the BBC: "At the moment our priority has to be to maintain patient safety and treat emergency and urgent cases. "This may mean that some patients may experience a slight delay to some services, or that services are delivered in a slightly different way. "Staff throughout the NHS are doing all that they can to ensure essential services continue to

With Friends like this ...

Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee , who used to be one of Gordon Brown's cheerleaders, and Labour MPs Barry Sheerman and Greg Pope have all called for Gordon Brown to resign as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister. Extracts from some of the things they say: Polly on Brown "There is nothing to celebrate in the dismal year ahead. The Labour party is sledging down a black run, eyes tight shut, the only certainty the electoral wall at the bottom of the hill.... The delusional tone of Gordon Brown's new year message says it all: "I believe we can create a new decade of prosperity with opportunities fairly shared amongst those who work hard and play by the rules." Just about every word of this raises questions about his record that he can never answer: GDP has fallen by 5% in the last year, taking us back to 2005; growth in his time was profoundly unfairly shared – over half the population saw virtually no growth at all; GDP per capita is a fraudulent measur

The Daily Mail pulls no punches

Although the Daily Mail has the reputation of being part of the so-called "right wing press" they have often backed the Labour party for the past decade or so. Not today - and they are not pulling any punches in an article called "Infantile, dishonest and downright dodgy" which you can read here ). It begins "Civil servants are right to be angry over the way they've been forced to prepare election propaganda for Labour. The rest of us should be furious too. Through our taxes, we pay Whitehall to serve us with political impartiality. Yet, disgracefully, Treasury officials have been made to spend countless hours compiling a 150-page document whose sole purpose is to undermine the Tories. But this is far from the only reason why Alistair Darling should be ashamed of his 'dodgy dossier', which purports to put prices on Tory election pledges. For the fact is that this document, which claims to identify a £34billion 'black hole' in David Cameron&

The Big Freeze II

Millom School and Waberthwaite school are among more than a hundred schools in the county which are closed today due to very cold weather. If you have to travel anywhere in Cumbria today, do take care. There will have to be a review after this cold snap of the arrangements to keep roads and services open in extreme weather. Over the past few decades it has been my impression that the average weather really has been getting warmer, but it also seems that the range of variation in the weather is increasing. Maybe we need another look at issues like the amount of grit which highway authorities keep on hand. UPDATE There are now 140 schools closed in the county according to BBC Radio Cumbria, with further school closures including: Thwaites Primary School near Millom St Herberts school, Keswick All the high passes - Honister Pass, Hardknott Pass, and Corney Fell - are closed, and there is a serious jam at Cleator.

Labour attack on Tories backfires

"Labour’s attempt to launch their election campaign with an attack on Conservative spending plans backfired when it instead exposed divisions in their own economic policies." (from today's Daily Telegraph ). They point out that "Alistair Darling refused to commit to keeping the current rate of VAT through the next parliament, just a day after criticising the Conservatives for admitting it may have to go up. "The Chancellor also seemed to offering a contrasting view to Gordon Brown by freely talking about spending cuts and admitting he would like to lower the deficit more quickly if possible." Alistair Darling was also unable to refute suggestions that Labour’s plans implied 17 per cent spending cuts in non-protected departments. George Osborn commented that the Labour dossier attacking Conservative policies showed that the credibility of Labour lies about our policies has collapsed. He added: "On examination, the dossier includes commitments we have n

Conservatives will cut the deficit, not the NHS

David Cameron launched the Conservative election campaign today with a strong re-statement of the Conservative commitment to protect and improve the National Health Service. "The NHS was my first priority when I became leader and it remains my top priority," he said. Policies launched today included * A Health Premium to target more resources on the poorest communities, and reverse the increase in Health inequalities under Labour. (The gaps between rich and poor for life expectancy and infant mortality rates have widened under Labour and are as big as in Victorian times.) * New maternity networks, that will link up local hospitals, doctors, charities, voluntary groups and maternity consultants to share information, expertise and services * Continued emphasis on preventative medicine, using public health funds to stop people from getting ill in the first place The Conservatives will ring-fence the NHS budget. Everyone knows that painful measures will be

"Egremont Today" gets hot under the collar

Labour's "Egremont Today" news sheet gets in rather a strop, which you can currently read on their website here because I described them in a post on this blog on 1st November as "A Labour party propaganda sheet." I think my exact description was "Labour's 'Egremont Today' propaganda sheet, which masquerades as a community newspaper." This comes a few weeks after Copeland's Labour MP Jamie Reed was forced by the Deputy Speaker to withdraw a comment likening David Cameron to a pro-Nazi war criminal. In this context I find the idea that it is a mortal insult to suggest that a publication put out by a political party contains some of their propaganda to be so disproportionate as to be quite funny. But Copeland Labour Party have always been much better at dishing out criticism than taking it. Like the vast majority of material put out by local political parties, "Egremont Today" contains some community material, and some which i

Rory's Long March

Rory Stewart, Conservative PPC for the neighbouring seat of Penrith and the Borders, describes his walks through the constituency in today's Sunday Times. You can read the article here .

Predictions for 2010 and 2011

There is a fashion for posting predictions for the coming year just before or after New Year's Day: I'm going to vary it slightly by speculating on what might happen over the next two years. None of the things I am about to write should be taken as backing away from my view that the result of elections are uncertain until the Returning Officer announces them and nobody can afford to be complacent about any election. My predictions for 2010 and 2011 are 1) There will be at least one General Election over these two years. If the first election does not produce a government with an overall majority, there will be a second election within eighteen months. In every single case since World War 2 in which a British government has lost it's working majority at one election, resulting in a period of minority government or government with a small minority, the opposition party which was gaining seats in that election has made the further gains it needed for an outright win at the fo


I wish everyone reading this a happy and healthy New Year 2010, and may the New Year bring a turnround and improvement in Britain's fortunes.