Showing posts from April, 2010

On the radio tomorrow

D.V. I am due to take part in a radio debate on health tomorrow morning (Friday) for BBC Radio Cumbria, with the Lib/Dem seat being taken by Tim Farron and the Labour seat by Tony Cuningham. The debate is due to be broadcast live shortly after 8.00 am.

The last debate

On BBC1 this evening viewers watched the final debate between the three party leaders: in Crossthwaite Parish Rooms in Keswick we had the last local debate between candidates in Copeland. I have watched the Angus Reid website here , which has results coming in live, and the the initial response on who won the debate is at this moment showing as David Cameron first with 37% Nick Clegg second with 30% Gordon Brown last with 23% While I have been writing this post the David Cameron percentage score has gone up from a starting point of 36% to 37%, while Nick Clegg's number has varied between 31% and 30% while the Gordon Brown number has varied between 23% and 22%. Meanwhile in Keswick, five of the six candidates attended for at least some of a debate organised by Christians together in Keswick. The hall was packed with every seat taken and people standing at the back. We were all pleased to see that there was such strong interest being taken in the debate. Jamie Reed, the Labour candid

Getting children with cancer the drugs they need

On the day David Cameron looks forward to the final leaders’ election debate, we are unveiling plans to help children suffering with cancer get access to the drugs they need. Around 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK, and the disease claims about 300 children’s lives. But children and young people can be particularly affected by problems accessing drugs for rarer cancers. A Conservative government will create a £200 million a year Cancer Drugs Fund – paid for from the savings the NHS will make because of our plans to stop Labour’s tax on jobs – and change the way that cancer drugs are commissioned, to make sure all the cancer drugs children need are available on the NHS. There is a clear choice at this election: Labour, and their jobs tax that will take £200 million out of the NHS budget; or the Conservatives, who will stop the jobs tax and use the savings in the NHS budget to create a Cancer Drugs Fund.

Candidate Declaration of Interest

In accordance with the policy of the Conservative party to promote greater openness and transparency, I have completed a candidate declaration of interests form. This follows the guidelines laid down by the party in April 2010 which in turn conform to the advice from the Ministry of Justice. My declaration reads as follows NAME OF CANDIDATE: Christopher Whiteside CONSTITUENCY: Copeland A. Other Paid Jobs I am currently employed by BT Operate, a division of British Telecommunications PLC, as a manager. If elected I would not intend to continue with paid employment with BT while also serving as an MP. I am currently also a member of Copeland Borough Council. If elected I would continue to serve in this office for the remaining year of my council term, but would not seek re-election to the council when my present term expires in May 2011. If elected, I do not intend to take on any further additional employment beyond my work as an MP. B. The holding of positions of responsibility in so

Campaign report

I was campaigning today in Whitehaven and Keswick, and also had a very constructive meeting with the Keswick Flooding Action group, who had a number of points they were keen to take up with candidates. There has been some effective cross-party working to take action on the floods but it is extremely important that the pressure for reform is maintained and remains a priority after the election.

Pollard: why I'll vote Tory

Hat tip to Iain Dale for drawing my attention to this article in The Times by Stephen Pollard, who up to now has been a Labour voter since he turned 18, but who next week will vote Tory for the first time in his life.

Getting the Economy moving

Only David Cameron and the Conservatives have the energy, leadership and values to get the economy working for everyone. We need to reward hard work, get Britain making things again, deliver value for money in government and sort out the banks. We want the banks to work for the people, instead of the people bailing out the banks. And we need to learn the lessons from the financial crisis. Within weeks of the election, a Conservative government will launch the most radical overhaul for a generation in the way that banks are regulated and policed, in order to support the economy and protect consumers. We will: * get credit flowing to businesses with large scale government guarantees, building on our proposals for a National Loan Guarantee Scheme; * sweep away Gordon Brown’s failed system of regulation and put the Bank of England back in charge of controlling the overall level of debt in the economy; * introduce a new levy on the banks; * push for international agreement to separate t

Campaign report

We were campaigning today in Thornthwaite and Cleator. Another beautiful day for it. Reception continues to be mostly friendly.

A Positive Future for Schools

Earlier this week, David Cameron and Michael Gove spoke at a rally of parents in Kirklees. These parents are frustrated at the quality of education on offer for their children are demanding change – change which is being blocked by the Labour-led council and Ed Balls in Westminster. David and Michael spoke about the choice facing parents at this election: If you want to carry on with nearly 400,000 children a year suspended for violence and disruption, vote for Gordon Brown. If you are content with millions more children leaving primary school unable to read and add up properly, and leaving school without English and Maths GCSE, vote for Brown. If you want to keep good schools rationed by house price and income, vote for Brown. If you want politicians to have more power over schools instead of teachers running schools, vote for Brown. But if you want to change course, vote Conservative: We will give teachers the powers they need to keep order. We will give heads the power to pay good

Another day, another debate

After campaigning this morning and afternoon in glorious weather, I attended a debate at St Bees School to which all candidates had been invited: VI formers from a number of other schools in the area had also been invited and several of the other schools were indeed represented. The candidates who attended were: Myself (Conservative) Jamie Reed (Labour) Frank Hollowell (Lib/Dem) Jill Perry (Green) Our hosts were at pains to say that the UKIP and BNP candidates had also been invited, but neither attended. On the measure of turning up (and I recognise that one candidate was ill yesterday) this makes the score Conservative, Lib/Dem, Green: 3/3 Labour: 2/3 UKIP: 1/3 BNP: 0/3.

The Second Debate (in Copeland)

A hundred and foty nine people attended the second debate between the parliamentary candidates for Copeland in St Andrew's Church, Mirehouse this evening. All six candidates were invited. Three attended: Myself (Conservative) Frank Hollowell (Lib/Dem) Jill Perry (Green) We were told at the meeting that Labour's Jamie Reed had to send apologies at the last minute having fallen ill. Edward Caley-Knowles (UKIP) had hoped to attend but did not appear. The British National Party did not attend either. This is the second debate in a week to which they were invited and failed to attend, which is surprising from a party that has spent the last three years complaining bitterly that everyone else excludes them.

More vandalism against posters

Offensive and obscene graffiti was spray-painted on Saturday night on the Conservative 8 by 4 posters at Holmrook. We will again be reporting this to the police. A £200 reward, payable on the conviction of the culprits, has been offered by Copeland Conservatives for information provided to the police and leading to the successful prosecution of anyone defacing or damaging Conservative election posters.

Whom the Gods would destroy ...

"... they first make mad." according to the old saying. I was out today campaigning - I have had people out today from Calderbridge to Keswick, from St Bees to Bransty - so I missed the moment with the Labour party and the Elvis impersonator. But a sense can be gained of what it was like from Political Betting, here . Desperate does not begin to describe it ...

Border TV gets the Cumbria constituencies wrong

I have been told by two different people that Border TV made an unforgivable error this evening. Apparently their item on the Workington constituency described that seat as including Keswick. For this election, of course, Keswick, along with the Crummock, Dalton, and Derwent Valley wards, move from Workington constituency into Copeland constituency. We have quite enough confusion about this already without the TV giving out wrong information. If anyone reading this lives in Keswick, and is confused about which constituency you are in, I do not blame you, but please note: * If you have had election literature from one or more of the Workington candidates, (as I know some people have,) please ignore it, they have got it wrong, Keswick is now part of the Copeland constituency. * If you heard on the Television that Keswick is still part of Workington constituency, please ignore it, they have got it wrong, Keswick is now part of the Copeland constituency * Keswick residents (and those of

The masters of dirty tactics

There are decent people and, sadly, scoundrels in all political parties. Andrew Gilligan has argued in the Daily Telegraph, the Lib/Dems simply cannot be allowed to claim that they represent a "new politics" above dirty tactics: all too many in that party are masters at it. As he writes, "On the ground, their campaigning is consistently more unscrupulous and poisonous than the other parties’. "And you don’t have to take my word for it – a lot of their election literature is now captured for posterity online ." He then lists some of the smears organised by the national Lib/Dem machine during parliamentary by-elections, and concludes, "Nobody is saying, by the way, that the other two parties don’t sometimes stoop to the same level – remember the “toff” attacks by Labour in the Crewe and Nantwich byelection? – but they do it less often. And only the Lib Dems present themselves as uniquely clean and virtuous. The truth, in fact, is that they are – at best – a

Another day's campaigning

As we enter the final fortnight of the campaign, today I and my team have 1) Paid a visit to Egremont Market 2) Attended a community event in Seascale 3) Taken part in a live webcast for the Cumbrian Newspaper Group at the Whitehaven News offices 4) Visited Seascale Surgery to discuss the issues facing dispensing practices 5) Taken a quick tour of mid and south Copeland while arranging to have our mid-campaign newspaper delivered.

St George's Day

I was asked on the Whitehaven News webcast today whether I thought that today, St George's Day should be a Bank Holiday. I replied that I do, but replacing one of the existing bank holidays with little cultural or historical justification: I would like to see more celebration of our English identity but in the present economic climate we should be careful about awarding ourselves an increase in the number of holidays we take.

One good smear deserves another ...

There are so many good policy reasons not to vote Lib/Dem that there is absolutely no need for those of us in other parties or in parts of the media who don't agree with them to go after Nick Clegg personally. Instead of the torrent of personal attacks against Nick Clegg this morning I would have preferred to see it pointed out that * The Lib/Dem plan to increase the tax threshold to £10,000 sounds wonderful but is completely unaffordable * All the parties would have a major challenge on their hands to find the savings from waste and bureaucracy they have set out, but the Lib/Dem plans would be far and away the most impossible to achieve * Their policy of scrapping the pound and joining the Euro would harm this country's economy and is totally against what most British people want. Of course, in Copeland the national Lib/Dems also want to shut down the industry which employes a quarter of our working population. I had been wondering whether any political party had a hand in

Supporting the victims of Equitable Life

I support justice for the people who lost money as a result of the Equitable Life fiasco. The policyholders of Equitable Life have been disgracefully treated by this Labour Government. If more than thirty thousand people had died waiting for justice in any other situation there would be rioting on the streets. Yet Gordon Brown’s government has been happy to kick the issue of Equitable Life into the long grass. Conservatives welcomed the Ombudsman’s recommendations as soon as they were published. However, the Labour Government, rather than following our lead, took six months to make a formal response and even then decided to ignore most of her findings. It has taken a judicial review to get the Government to finally accept responsibility. Labour Ministers then kicked the issue into the long grass by appointing a retired judge, who won’t report until after the General Election. Gordon Brown has failed Equitable policyholders and sought at every stage of the process to block, frustrate an

The first debate in Copeland

Attended the first of three public debates in Copeland to which all six parliamentary candidates were invited. This took place under the auspices of the FSB in the United Reform Church in Whitehaven and was chaired by the Reverend John Bannister. Five candidates took part in the debate: Myself (Conservative) Jamie Reed (Labour) Frank Hollowell (Liberal Democrat) Edward Caley-Knowles (UKIP) Jill Perry (Green) The BNP candidate was invited but did not attend.

Two Weeks To Go

The general election is a fortnight today. Still everything to play for. The Conservatives are launching our "Armed Forces Manifesto" today Labour have let down those who wear the uniform with such pride. Our Forces sacrifice and risk so much to do their duty by us. The least we can do in return is to do our duty by them. That is why we are today launching our Armed Forces Manifesto, which outlines how we will repair the Military Covenant and rebuild the bonds between the Forces and the people. We will: * Give the Armed Forces clear leadership – we’ll hold a Strategic Defence and Security Review to make sure resources match commitments. In the meantime, we’ll protect the defence budget for 2010/11. * Equip our Armed Forces properly – we’ll reform procurement so our Forces get the equipment they need when they need it, at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer. * Support our servicemen and women – we’ll double the operational allowance, improve rest and recuperation leave and

Campaigning, Wednesday 21st April 2010

Very successful coffee morning in Buttermere this morning: in the afternoon and evening we had two teams out delivering and canvassing, and between us we were active in Hensingham, Braithwaite, Lorton, and Keswick.

Follow on from Social Action Day

We had two good sessions cleaning up litter at both Gosforth (above) and Hillcrest yesterday. As Stephen said in a post on the last thread, some of what we found was shocking, but we left the car park area in Gosforth very clean, and made a big dent in the amount of rubbish around the play area/park in Hillcrest. I am quite certain that this was a worthwhile exercise, which the quantity of glass alone that we removed, never mind anything else, would have justified. If you leave large quantities of bottles and broken glass in a play area, sooner or later a child will be hurt. There were four sites which we looked at for yesterday's action day: two in Whitehaven, one each in Millom and Gosforth. We talked to Copeland council about the proposed litter picks in advance. The council decided that what we were doing was political and refused to provide the litter-picking sticks etc that they usually make available for exercises like this (we made other arrangements) and then they sent the

Social Action Day

Today throughout Britain Conservative candidates are making a change to normal campaigning and instead doing something positive for the community. This won't be something we have taken up just for the campaign: it is something we have been doing in each constituency on a regular basis to support the community. Here in Copeland, where Conservatives have regularly organised and taken part in clear-up and litter pick activities, we have organised two litter picks. One will be in Gosforth, meeting at the Village car park at 10 am this morning The second will be in Hillcrest, Whitehaven: meet at the play area at The Crest at 6.00 pm.

IFS: Labour has "left the UK ill-prepared"

A report from the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has given a damning verdict on Gordon Brown’s economic mistakes which left Britain with one of the biggest deficits in the developed world, and gave us the longest and deepest recession since the war. As The Sun put it, "GORDON Brown has saddled Britain with more debt than all major countries except Iceland and Ireland." The IFS also say that "The UK public finances have under-performed relative to comparable countries. "The UK is forecast to experience the highest borrowing in 2010 and the fifth largest increase between 2007 and 2010 of 26 industrial countries. "Only Ireland and Iceland are projected to see a larger increase in debt over this period, with the UK sliding from its mid-table position in the international public debt league." IFS deputy director Carl Emmerson said: "Labour reduced borrowing between 1997 and 2007, but most other countries did more. "If the Government ha

Interesting times ...

For obvious reasons, I have not seen any sign of a swing to the Liberal Democrats: if they were to win every seat in England except one, this would be the one. In the constituency where I live, work, and am campaigning, nearly a quarter of the working population are directly employed by an industry which it is Liberal Democrat policy to close down. (And many more people work in businesses for which the nuclear industry or its' employees are a major part of the customer base.) In fairness, Frank Hollowell, the Lib/Dem candidate in Copeland, does not support his party's anti-nuclear policy. But as he wants Nick Clegg to be in a position of power, and "Calamity Clegg" is on record as saying that the thousands of Cumbrians who his policies would throw out of work (probably about 17,000) could find something else to do, Frank is unlikely even to finish in the first three. Consequently the recent Lib/Dem surge in the opinion polls has passed most of Copeland by - they may p

Swimathon 2010

After spending the morning with my campaign team in the centre of Whitehaven, I have just completed the Swimathon at Copeland Pool in Hensingham this lunchtime to raise money for Marie Curie cancer care. I swam 5,000 metres (200 lengths of the pool) in one hour and 55 minutes. Anyone who would like to sponsor me and support Marie Curie cancer care, whether you share my politics or not, can still do so here.

Britain needs a clear Conservative win

This is the most important election for a generation. Not just for those who can vote but for future generations too. We face an economy mired in debt which we have to get moving. A society with too much breakdown which we need to transform. Our political system in a mess, which we need to clean up - and cut the costs. The big question, the real question is who can get the job done. Gordon Brown can’t do it. He’s had 13 years and made things worse. He’s sinking – and clinging to the Lib Dems as his life-raft. But a hung parliament won't get the job done. It would be dominated by haggling, not decision making. The best way - the only way to get the job done is to have a decisive Conservative victory.

Chris Whiteside in Swimathon 2010

I will be taking part in the Swimathon tomorrow to raise money for Marie Curie cancer care. I plan to swim 5,000 metres at Copeland pool during the session which starts at noon tomorrow. Anyone who would like to sponsor me and support Marie Curie cancer care can still do so here.

Elections and the law

Nominations have not even closed yet and we have already had several instances of four different criminal offences committed by people hostile to my campaign. Two of these criminal offences took the form of hostile posts to this blog. All fall within the catetory of actions which people should not need to know are illegal to realise that they are unethical and should not take place. Going onto someone else's land without permission to vandalise a poster is a criminal act (trespass and criminal damage). We have reported a number of instances of this to Whitehaven Police. Under the Representation of the Peoples Act 1983 it can also be a criminal offence to make false statements about a candidate in an election. In 2007 a Labour councillor was fined £1,000 with £3,000 costs, and automatically removed from office, when she was convicted of spreading the false accusation that her Lib/Dem opponent was a paedophile. It is also a criminal offence to make statements which purport to come fr

Greg Clark in Cumbria today

I spent most of today with Greg Clark, shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change, on a tour of Cumbria. He saw a range of facilities connnected with Education in general and traning for the nuclear industry in particular, and met people connected with various programmes to regenerate Cumbria, including union members from Sellafield. I was very pleased to hear Greg's positive message about how a Conservative government would take forward the regeneration of this county and the nuclear renaissance.

Lib/Dems oppose nuclear power

The national Liberal Democrats have unveiled a manifesto which opposes nuclear power. This means that a vote for the Lib/Dems is a vote to close down the economy of West Cumbria. Their candidate here in Copeland does not support their national policy. Nevertheless, but if elected he would vote for Nick Clegg to be Prime Minister, and "Calamity Clegg" wants to shut down the industry which directly employs a quarter of the working population of West Cumbria and indirectly supports much of the rest.

Election day minus 21 - a historic day

Today is an historic day in British politics, and after all the damage done to our politics, the leaders’ debates offer a new way for politicians to connect with the public – which is why David Cameron was the first party leader to suggest them. We will be campaigning in Gosforth today.

Election day minus 22 days and counting

We will be campaigning in Seascale and Holmrook today

Conservative Manifesto Launch

Invitation to join the Government of Britain We are inviting the British people to come together to change their country. Our Manifesto is an invitation to the British people to... · be your own boss · sack your MP · run your own school · own your own home · veto council tax rises · vote for your police · save your local pub or post office. Our manifesto sets out our plans to change Britain: · Our school reform plan will raise standards and improve discipline. · Our welfare reform plan will make sure that everyone who can work does work. · Strong families are the bedrock of a strong society, so we are setting out plans to help make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe. · We will cut government waste to stop Labour’s jobs tax, which will kill the recovery. · It reaffirms our support for the NHS. · It includes the boldest and most ambitious set of green measures ever put before the electorate by a mainstream party. Our manifesto brings together all the work we

April meeting of Copeland Council

Copeland Borough Council met this afternoon in Whitehaven. Considering that this meeting was taking place in the middle of a general election campaign I was pleasantly surprised that the amount of party political point scoring was not particularly higher than usual. There were several questions from Labour backbenchers to Labour executive members during the report section which appeared to have been asked for the specific purpose of allowing the executive member concerned to praise some decision by the Labour government. At one point, one of the executive members concerned either mis-spoke or had misheard when told what answer he was supposed to give to one of these questions, and referred to an announcement of £6 million when the "indicative allocation" concerned was actually £61.5 million. Items on the agenda included * Reports on the "choosing to change" programme * Changes to the constitution of the council designed to make the functioning of the council more

Election Day minus 23 days and counting

Another lovely morning. We will be campaigning in Whitehaven this morning: the April meeting of Copeland Council is at 2pm this afternoon.

Election day minus 24 and counting

Another beautiful day, and we were out campaigning in Bransty ward and Hillcrest. Meanwhile 23 more business leaders have added their names to the list of signatories backing our plans to stop Labour’s job tax. This brings to 104 the number of business leaders who have now said they “welcome George Osborne’s plan to stop Labour’s increase in national insurance by cutting Government waste”, and that “stopping the national insurance rise will protect jobs and support the recovery.” In total the business leaders backing the Tory plans employ more than 1,000,200 people. A Conservative government will guarantee a GP in your area from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week At present, many people cannot see a GP when they need to because Labour took responsibility for access to primary care outside normal working hours from family doctors and gave it to bureaucrats in Primary Care Trusts. Nearly a quarter of GP practices are now closed beyond the normal surgery hours of 8am to 6:30pm, five days a we

The poster UKIP should have used

Apparently UKIP will be launching a poster next week which has nothing more constructive to say than to swear about all the main party leaders. No party is perfect but it's a bit hypocritical for UKIP to pose as the anti-establishment party. They seem to be hoping voters have forgotten that the proportion of MEPs elected under UKIP's banner who have been proven to have fiddled their expenses represents an even worse record than the MPs or MEPs of any of the other parties represented in Westminster or Brussels. I much prefer this alternative version of their poster. Meanwhile on the BBC Politics show this lunchtime, Lib/Dem treasury spokesman Vince Cable was forced to admit that his party's poster claiming that the Conservatives would put up VAT was pure conjecture and that he couldn't rule out putting up VAT either. Hat tip to Conservative Home for this extract from a transcript of the show: JON SOPEL: I mean let’s leave aside whether or whether not there is a black ho

Copeland Labour party's incomplete pledges ...

While we were in Whitehaven marketplace yesterday one local resident showed us one of the postcards the Labour team were handing out. At least two (and possibly three) of the four promises on the card were incomplete: * one referred to "local public services: schools, police and" and then stopped dead. * another referred to "all our pensioners and those in" and also stopped dead. Perhaps their proof readers are away on holiday ? Or maybe they have not decided what to promise yet? Answers on a postcard please ...

Election Day minus 25 days and counting

104 business leaders, who employ more than one million people, now support our plans to stop Labour’s jobs tax 23 more business leaders have added their names to the list of signatories backing our plans to stop Labour’s job tax. This means more than 100 business leaders have now said they “welcome George Osborne’s plan to stop Labour’s increase in national insurance by cutting Government waste”, and that “stopping the national insurance rise will protect jobs and support the recovery.” In total the business leaders backing the Tory plans employ more than 1,000,200 people. Now Gordon Brown needs to come clean and publish the Treasury’s secret assessment of the job losses that will be caused by Labour’s jobs tax. And here in Copeland ... Sadly some of our posters have been vandalised over the past 24 hours. Destroying other people's property is entirely unacceptable whoever does it and whoever it is directed against and I hope all candidates will make this clear to their supporters

Election Day minus 26 and counting

Another glorious day in several ways. We spent a couple of hours in this morning in Whitehaven Market, giving out balloons and leaflets. The Labour party turned up a few minutes after we did: the wiser and more pleasant Labour people present took the fact that there is more than one political party fighting the election in their stride but one of two of them seemed to have difficulty with the fact that we were there. Then off to Portinscale and Keswick where we were campaiging this afternoon. Issues raised in the marketplace and on the doorstep today included local NHS services (both at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and the Mary Hewetson cottage hospital at Keswick), the impact of holiday housing on the supply of homes for local residents, and the impact of Labour's taxes and regulations (including the proposed NI rise) on local businesses. There is now an excellent display of eight-foot by four-foot correx posters in many parts of the constituency: we are also getting re

Election Day minus 27 and counting

Another lovely day, more progress on the campaign trail. Encouraging sessions of canvassing in both the Mirehouse and Highlands areas of Whitehaven. Interesting the Mirehouse section covered this morning was nearly as good as the Bransty ward section. We also visited a Sure Start centre in Cleator Moor, where some excellent work was being done: this was one of two occasions today when I and members of my campaign team met my Labour opponent Jamie Reed. With, I would add, courtesy shown on both sides: we can differ about the best path for Britain without being enemies.

Councillor Jim Buchanan RIP

Jim Buchanan died last night. Jim was leader of Cumbria County Council until he stepped down a few days ago because of cancer. Jim took over the leadership of the county council following the June 2009 elections, when the Conservatives became the largest group on the council but the previous Conservative group leader lost his seat. Jim initially attempted to form an all-party administration but the political arithmetic on the current county council makes it mathematically impossible to assemble a cabinet which reflects the voting power on the council without at least one group looking under-represented. Consequently for about nine months Jim had been leading a coalition of Conservative, Labour and Independent councillors. I know from my own experience of serving in a three-party cabinet that, although such very broad coalitions may be the least worst way to run a council where no party has overall control, keeping a multi-party administration on the road requires great gifts of patienc

Sir Peter Gershon explains how wasteful spending can be cut.

Gordon Brown's own former efficiency advisor, Sir Peter Gershon, has set out some of the savings which could be made in government spending without damaging front line services. Sir Peter insisted that these are 'achievable'. He said not filling empty posts and 'driving down the cost of agency and contract staff' would save 'perhaps £1 billion to £2 billion' in 2010-11. Cuts to costly IT programmes could save ‘potentially at least’ £2billion to £4billion. Renegotiating contracts with suppliers was ‘not rocket science’, and could save £3 billion. David Cameron has pointed out that the government payroll can be reduced without sackings or redundancies by not replacing some of the 400,000 public employees who leave each year. 'If you don't fill all those jobs as they become available, that's one way of saving money relatively rapidly,' he told the BBC this morning. 'If you are doing that, not in the front line but in back-office jobs and ma

Funding the Conservative campaign in Copeland

The vast majority of money for the Conservative campaign in Copeland has been raised locally, here in Cumbria, through membership subscriptions, support for events, and donations from residents and businesses in Cumbria. The remainder of our funding has come from the national Conservative party. If any candidate in Copeland has any questions to answer about how they paid for the material they have been putting out, it is Labour's Jamie Reed, who in recent years used taxpayers' money from the Parliamentary Communications Allowance to send glossy magazines full of photographs of himself around the constituency. This has not prevented Mr Reed from writing a very inaccurate article in "Egremont today" which challenges Copeland Conservatives to explain where our funding comes from. A letter signed by Rachel Stalker which was remarkably similiar to Mr Reed's Egremont Today article - one or two phrases were actually word for word the same - also appeared in today's W

Election Day less 28 and counting ...

Another glorious day for campaigning. We've spent three days putting out an introductory leaflet: will resume canvassing tomorrow. Reaction on the doorstep has largely continued to be friendly, and again, most of the minority of people who were not appeared to be cross with all politicians rather than specifically the Conservatives. We were out in a number of villages in Copeland and Allerdale this morning, then spent the afternon in Keswick. Quite a few of our large eight foot by four foot posters are now up and looking very prominent.

Election Day less 29 and counting ...

Where the first day of campaigning yesterday started gray and drizzly and eventually turned quite nasty, today's weather was absolutely glorious day, and my campaign teams got a lot done. Reaction on the doorstep has largely been extremely friendly, and most of the minority to whom this did not apply were people who appeared to be cross with all politicians rather than specifically the Conservatives. I was with my Whitehaven team yesterday and today, but have been getting good reports of the campaign kicking off in other parts of the constituency. No flesh and blood mortal could possibly get to every doorstep in a constituency this size over a 30 day period, but I do plan to personally spend time campaigning in every ward in the constituency during the course of the campaign.

FHL Tax victory

The Conservatives have secured a stay in execution of Labour's disastrous FHL tax changes. As part of the "Wash up" at the end of the budget, Labour have had to postpone plans for a stealth tax rise on the tourist industry through scrapping the Furnished Holiday Lets rules. This tax change could have dire consequences for areas like Keswick which depend on the tourist industry. Labour have promised to reintroduce this if elected. Conservatives are opposed to it and had promised to "undo the damage" it would cause. There have been similar delays to the cider tax and the £6 a year telephone tax. The FHL stealth tax rise is a vital issue in areas like Keswick where income from a million visitors a year is the main component of the local economy. A very substantial proportion of those vistors stay in FHL accomodation. That sector will be seriously hurt if Labour is re-elected and goes ahead with their FHL tax proposals. A vote for Labour's Jamie Reed is a vote t

When should politicians over-rule experts?

The controversy over the dry stone wall at Whitehaven Golf course, which to my complete astonishment - and that of a lot of other people - was taken out at the request of highway safety officers at Cumbria County Council - begs an important point - when should elected but non-expert politicians over-rule the professional opinions of qualified experts? It seems to me that when one finds oneself at odds with a professional judgement, you should ask yourself two questions 1) What grounds, based on evidence, do I have for thinking that my judgement is more likely to be right than that of the professionals in this case? and 2) What are the consequences of accepting the professionals' advice if they turn out to be wrong, against the consequences of rejecting that advice if they turn out to be right? On a number of occasions in my political career, where professionals thought that a proposal was safe based on general principles and I thought it wasn't based on local knowledge, I have

The Balloon finally goes up

At long, long last it is finally confirmed that the election will be on Thursday 6th May. At last the British people will have the chance to choose who will lead Britain for the next five years. And the choice at this election has never been more important. Voters can choose to vote for five more years of Gordon Brown’s tired government making things worse, or to vote for change with the Conservatives. The Conservatives have the right argument on the economy – Labour’s jobs tax will kill the recovery, so we’ve got to cut Labour’s waste to stop it. And we’ve got the big idea for the future of our country. Labour’s big government has failed – it’s time to build the Big Society. The Conservatives have the energy, leadership and values to get Britain moving again. Who we are fighting for · The Conservatives are fighting this election for the Great Ignored. Young, old, rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight. They start businesses, operate factories, teach our children, clean the streets,

What invention would you "disinvent?"

Which everyday modern invention would you most wish had never been created? For many people it would be the parking meter. For some it would be the mobile phone. A strong contender must be the idea of controlling televisions and related equipment via a remote control instead of a panel on the front - especially if you have children who keep wandering off with the remote and forgetting where they've put it. My personal bete noir is the system which automatically cancels car indicators when the steering wheel passes the centre in the other direction. I regularly have to make driving manouvres - including putting the car into the drive of my own house - where the shape of the road causes this feature to turn off the indicators as I am about to turn. This can force the driver to choose between taking some of his or her attention off a complex turning movement to switch the indicator back on, or sending unclear signals to other motorists. Anyone else reading have a commonplace feature o

The calm before the storm ...

If all the pundits are right, this is the last day before the election is finally called, and polling day is just a month away, at last. Bring it on!

Farewell to the NHS Blog Doctor

I wish "Dr Crippen" a happy retirement on learning that he has ceased to publish the "NHS blog doctor" weblog. It was always one of the best of the medical blogs. His retirement is marked here and here .

Happy Easter

A very happy Easter to everyone reading this blog, regardless of your political persuasion or where you are.

Labour depict David Cameron as Gene Hunt

The Labour party has just unveiled a poster depicting Conservative leader David Cameron as "Ashes to Ashes" star Gene Hunt. What a brilliant idea ! (For the Conservatives, that is.) This is the Conservative response:

Businesses support Conservatives on NI

Labour will kill the recovery with their tax on working people – so we’ll cut Labour waste to stop it. 7 out of 10 working people will be better off with the Conservatives than under Labour. On Thursday morning, our plans to stop Labour’s tax on jobs were backed by the leaders of some of Britain’s largest companies – such as Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and Next – which, between them, employ over 500,000 people. But instead of listening to Britain’s leading employers, Labour’s response was to attack them. By the afternoon, another fourteen company leaders had added their names to the list, including Richard Caring, a former Labour donor; Ron Dennis, of the Formula One team McLaren; Simon Fox, the chief executive of HMV; and Brent Hoberman, who is a member of Gordon Brown’s own Business Council. They were then followed by the leaders of Britain’s business organisations: · David Frost, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce · Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Reta

Stopping Labour's taxes on jobs

If any party is serious about trying to protect Britain's economic recovery, the last thing they should be contemplating is is a tax on jobs. Yet that is what Labour are planning with swinging increases in National Insurance. Gordon Brown intends to increase Employer and Employee National Insurance contributions from April 2011. This tax on jobs will threaten the recovery, hurt working families and make unemployment worse. The most absurd argument presented during the TV "Chancellors" debate was when George Osborne's proposals to cancel this increase were described as a "GIVEAWAY." It is not a "giveaway" when you don't increase taxes. How can it be a "giveaway" to let people keep the same amount of their own money? And this suicidal policy comes from the Labour party, which has the cheek to suggest that electing someone else might put the economy at risk! There have been a great many Labour tax rises which I would like to reverse as a