Showing posts from November, 2010

Labour spend taxpayers' money blaming the coalition for the cuts

You couldn't make it up, could you? But that's what the Labour council administration in Camden has done. Here is a link to an article in the Camden New Journal, Labour spend public money to show cuts are Coalition’s . If a shortage of money means that "tough decisions" are needed, cutting back on propaganda first ought to be an easy one - for any honest and intelligent politician who cares more about services for the people they were elected to represent. Clearly the administration in Camden, which is spending £1,500 on posters blaming the government for the cuts, has demonstrated whether any of those descriptions apply to them. The local Conservative group leader, Councillor Andrew Mennear said: “The current government is having to make spending cuts owing to the previous Labour government’s reckless profligacy with our money during its 13 wasted years in office. “Labour Camden’s decision to waste our money locally by putting up pointless and arguably political adve

The dangers of declaring victory too early ...

One of George W Bush's worst mistakes was declaring "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq at a stage when Saddam might have been overthrown but building a stable and secure state to replace what US and British arms had overthrown was, to put it mildly, not complete. I have similar concerns about the possibility that mainstream politicians may take the setback for extreme nationalist parties in this year's general election, and their low profile in most parts of the country since, as grounds for complacency. This would be a mistake. Am email sent out this morning from the "Nothing British" campaign says that "Undoubtedly the BNP as an institution has lost its momentum. The humiliation in Barking. The financial collapse. The EHRC trial. Griffin’s personal failings. And the tremendous work of anti-BNP campaigns. So we are closing down Nothing British at the end of the year. We would like to thank all those who have helped our campaign against the extremism and ra

Rawnsley on the case for and against AV

Andrew Rawnsley has a very good piece in the Observer today, available on the Guardian website here , which is about the case for a Yes or No vote in the AV referendum but rejoices in the title Two-tribe politics is over. But the likes of John Prescott can't see it. After an effective demolition of Prescott and the other "long in the sabre-tooth" politicians fronting the "No" campaign, Rawnsley sumarises the arguments on both sides in the referendum. He appears to be arguing on balance for a "Yes" while I will be voting "No" but it is a good summary and worth a read if you are interested in an intelligent discussion of the issues.

Now Winter has come ...

Today is Advent Sunday, the first day of the Church's year and the beginning of the preparation for Christmas. Rather appropriately, the first four words of the Advent Hymn with which many congregations will have started their services this morning are "Now Winter has come" You're telling me! If you go out today, please do take care. Many paths and roads are quite treacherous.

On childhood and snow ...

It doesn't often snow in Whitehaven. The majority of years we've been here the entire winter has passed without a single day's snow on the ground. So when we woke up this morning with about three-quarters of an inch of snow everywhere, and the view over to Kells from our bedroom windows looking like a christmas card, the shrieking of happy children in my household could probably be heard over half of Whitehaven. Funny how such things bring back memories of one's own childhood, though I don't know what my dad would have said if my brother and I had chosen the bonnet of his car as the ideal place to make a snowman ... The adults are probably less inclined to celebrate, but it's the weekend and our children are only young once.

Ed Byrne caught out on Question Time

Hat tip to Guido Fawkes and Guy News for pointing out a boo-boo by left-wing comedian Ed Byrne: last night on Question Time during a discussion on student fees, Byrne was asked by David Willetts "Didn't you do some publicity on this under the last Labour government?" and replied "No" and "I think you're thinking of somebody else: I didn't do any publicity for the Labour party on anything." It's usually a bad idea to tell "Two Brains" Willetts he's wrong: his memory turned out to be rather better than Mr Byrne's as this clip by Guy News shows. After the clip appeared on Guido's site, Ed Byrne tweeted “I hold my hands up. Completely forgot about it. Apologies to David Willets”

Warsi: getting Britain back on track

Conservative co-chairman Sayeeda Warsi writes ... As Party Chairman, I spend a lot of my time on the road meeting people across the country and talking about how the Coalition is trying to achieve a better Britain. Recently I visited Hyndburn, Derby and Doncaster where I spoke to supporters and members of the public about what the Government is doing and how we're doing it. While we've got a lot more work to do, I think we've made a promising start: We've brought Britain back from the brink by dealing with the deficit; We're creating a new economic dynamism and bringing a pro-enterprise attitude to Government; We're making tough but fair welfare reforms, meaning it will always pay to work. We're ending the absurd situation where some people can claim over £100,000 a year to live in large houses in expensive areas; And we're protecting the most vulnerable in our society. We're ensuring real terms rise in health and 5-16 schools spending and we're

Charles Hendry hints at reprocessing ...

Conservative energy minister Charles Hendry hinted during a visit to Copeland this week that the government may be taking a more positive view of the future of reprocessing. He also talked about making West Cumbria one of the best placed parts of the world to take advantage of the nuclear renaissance and strongly emphasised the potential benefits to West Cumbria of the infrastructure improvements which will need to come with it. Charles Hendry told The Whitehaven News that Billions of pounds may flow into West Cumbria, including substantial investment in infrastructure, as part of the development of new nuclear facilities. Road improvements, transport, health and education services could all be involed, he said. The minister was speaking on a visit to Sellafield just as Whitehaven was hosting a ‘drop in’ centre for people to give their views on underground disposal of higher levels of nuclear material. And he said it was only right that local communities should benefit from future nuc


Hat tip to Tim Montgomerie and to Political Betting (not too often you find those two sources in agreement) for pointing out this clip of the shadow chancellor referring to his leader as "Red." Makes you wonder if that's what he calls him in private ...

Copeland Council and WRLFC, continued

There was considerable discussion when the Chief Executive's report to councillors on Copeland Council's involvement in Whitehaven Rugby League FC was presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee today. The report highlighted a number of problems with the way the issue was managed and made a number of suggestions for improvements in council procedures to reduce the chance of some of these problems recurring. One Labour councillor described what has happened as a "systemic failure" by the council, and I agree. The council gave the club financial backing designed to protect the club, secure a development at Pow Beck. While it is too early to say how much of the £125,000 of taxpayers money CBC loaned to the club or guaranteed, it is pretty clear that some of the council's investment in the club been lost, not much progress has been made on Pow Beck, and the club went into administration anyway. Failure on all three fronts: a worst of all worlds situation. The CEO

Polly goes Paddy-bashing

Polly Toynbee accuses the Irish of "piracy" and being "bad neighbours" in the Guardian today, and opposes the bailout, saying that " Ireland shouldn't get a penny " until they abandon policies she appears to blame for spreading economic catastrophe over the face of Western Europe. "Cameron says he is being 'good neighbours' with the Irish. Why, when they have been such terrible neighbours to us?" she asks. Just imagine how the Guardianistas would react to those words coming from the pen of anyone on the Tory right. Could it be possible that irony isn't quite dead after all? Nah!

Copeland Council and Whitehaven Rugby League

The Chief Executive's report to councillors on the management of Copeland Council's investment in Haven RLFC will be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at 5pm tomorrow, Monday 21st November, in the Bainbridge Room at the Copeland Centre in Catherine Street, Whitehaven. The meeting is open to the public. If you want to come along, allow a few minutes to get your security pass etc sorted out.

The sad death of Irony

* Remember when we used to joke at the expense of our cousins over the Pond that "The Americans don't do irony" ? * Remember when someone who put an argument really badly ran the risk of getting disowned by the side of the debate they were trying to support, or receiving unwelcome congratulations from the side they disagreed with, because their argument was taken for irony? * Remember that once apon a time, brilliant satirists like Jonathan Swift could parody a view they disagreed with by writing essays like " A Modest Proposal " in the knowledge that everyone who read the article would know perfectly well that the actual message was the exact opposite of what it appeared to be saying. Well, it now seems that Britain doesn't "do irony" either. The process has been going on for a while. Shortly after I left Bristol University, there was an attempt by the extreme left to take action against that University's TRG society - yes that's right,

A Cumbrian tragedy

I am almost speechless at the report of Michael Redfern QC's inquiry into the postumous removal of body parts from deceased Sellafield workers. The tragedy is that treating the families of the deceased in this underhand and shabby way was so unnecessary. If it were possible that I had been exposed to radiation, and I was asked by a duly authorised person for permission after my death to remove parts of my body and check for contamination, so as to help protect people from future hazards, there is a very strong possibility that I would agree. In fact the decision would rest with my heirs, and again, if they were properly asked in a sensitive way, I would hope they would similarly give permission. I'm not going to go into detail, but a close relative of mine did indicate during their lifetime that they would be happy for parts of their body to be used after their death to help others. When that person died the rest of the family gave consent and those wishes were carried out. It

Government moves to keep referendum promise

EU lock means powers cannot be transferred without referendum The Government has introduced a new bill to the House of Commons which is designed to provide an EU lock and ensure that any further handover of powers from Britain to the EU will require a national referendum. The Conservative Party fully understands that many people within Britain feel disconnected from the EU and this is a way of ensuring that politicians have to consult the public before handing over further powers. Only the British people will hold the key to the referendum lock. The EU Bill places on a statutory footing the common law principle that Parliament is sovereign and that EU law only takes effect in the UK by virtue of the will of our Parliament expressed through Acts of Parliament. To date, case law has upheld that principle. This Bill will put the matter beyond speculation by placing this principle on a statutory footing. The provision is declaratory, affirming this common law principle. It does not alter t

Remembrance Sunday

Tomorrow, 14th November is remembrance Sunday and I will be taking part in the commemoration in Whitehaven for the fallen. The parade will leave Copeland Council Offices at about 10.40 and there will be a minute's silence at the war memorial at 11 am.

After the riots

Forty one police officers injured, and a number of other people. Eight required hospital treatment. Fifty people arrested. This is not a trivial incident. Nor is it one which any government can afford to back down in response to. I fully accept that the great majority of those who took part in the demonstration wanted nothing more than a peaceful protest. As well as by government ministers, those who orchestrated and took part in the violence have been condemned by Ed Balls on behalf of the opposition and by the president of N.U.S. Their right to take part in a peaceful protest has been taken away, not by the government (which is in the process of relaxing some of the restrictions on protests near parliament which Labour had imposed) but by the thugs. I note that a few idiots have attempted to semi-justify the violence by saying that as politicians have broken their promises on student fees, the protesters had been deprived of a way to obtain their wishes democratically. I would not en

Lest we forget ...

Today is Armistice Day, the 82nd anniversary of the end of the first world war. It is a day to remember all those who were killed or injured in wars, particularly those who were hurt while fighting to keep this a free country and oppose evils such as nazism. They must not be forgotten.

Mob rule at Millbank

When I was a student I frequently took part in peaceful student demonstrations against national or local policies which I disagreed with, but I always opposed protests those which looked violent or intimidatory, or were likely to give people a disgust of students. I suspect that the National Union of Students were not expecting when they called today's demo what has just happened at Millbank. They are probably intelligent enough to realise that smashing windows, injuring policemen, and terrorising office workers at a building where most of the people who work have nothing to do with any political party, because it also houses Conservative Campaign centre, does not advance their case. As so often, the entire body of two million students is in danger of being given a bad name by a relatively small number of extremists. Anyone who imagines that what happened at Millbank today will make it more likely that government policy will be changed to help students - as the peaceful protest NUS

Human rights in China

If there is one major moral issue which is just about impossible to get right, it is whether, how, and to what degree the West should speak out about Human Rights in China. Chinese governments have a long history, which goes way back before the present communist regime, of treating all outsiders as "Foreign Devils." Unfortunately, all too many of their past experience of foreigners gave them justified reasons to be very cautious of outsiders, from the depredations of Ghengis Khan through the Opium Wars to the rape of Nanking. The sad fact is that when China is criticised by outsiders, particularly by foreign governments (most particularly of countries like Britain which have some unfortunate history with China) the default response of successive Chinese regimes has not just been to dismiss the criticism as coming from enemies of China but to crack down on anyone who the foreigners are trying to help as traitors. To Chinese eyes a government which failed to respond in a manner

A lesson in irresponsible behaviour

There is a very good piece in today's Guardian by Inayat Bunglawala, " Phil Woolas: a lesson in irresponsible behaviour " in which he asks "What was the local Labour party thinking of when it allowed this incendiary madness to take place?" It's a good question and gives rise to a further one. I had to run every word of every leaflet my campaign team put out during the 2010 election, and the run up to the election, past Conservative HQ because the party was determined to avoid precisely the kind of debacle which Labour has now fallen into over Phil Woolas's campaign. I'm fairly certain that the Labour party had similar arrangements. So one can also ask, what was the NATIONAL Labour party thinking when it allowed this incendiary madness to take place? You can read Inayat's piece here . Yesterday I posted a link to a summary of the judgement on the BBC website. Hat tip to Mike Smithson at Political Betting for pointing out a link to the full judgem

A Landmark Ruling

Making a false statement about a candidate during an election is a serious offence. It is very rare for charges to be brought for this offence, and rarer still for a court to rule that the charge is justified. But that has now happened. A court has found that the Labour election campaign in Oldham and Saddleworth, where former Labour minister Phil Woolas was the candidate, put out leaflets making statments about his Lib/Dem opponent which were untrue. They have quashed his election, which unless this decision is overturned by Judicial Review, will mean a by-election. Until a few years ago, if you had asked me to predict which party was most likely to be accused of dirty tactics, I would have said the Lib/Dems. It had been my experience that there is a majority of decent people and a minority of unprincipled rascals in all the parties, but that the dirtiest election campaigns were usually fought by the Lib/Dems. But smearing your opponents, whether personally or politically, is wrong wh

Nihil Nisi Bonum

To clarify the comments policy on this blog If you want to criticise a living person who holds public office, appointed or elected, and the attack is not actionable or worded in offensive language, I will usually leave the post up even if I strongly disagree with it. This blog operated for many years with no comment moderation and very few posts indeed deleted, and I wish I could continue to run it that way because I believe strongly in free speech. However, when an obit thread, is posted on someone who has just died, comments critical of that person which might have been regarded as within the bounds of decency during their lifetime are likely to give offence. I am not going to ban all criticism on this blog of any decision taken by someone who has since died - for example, if we had a post on pensions policy and someone says that part of our problem now is because the late Prime Minister X was wrong to do Y on pensions twenty years ago, that's within the area of legitimate debate

Copeland hit by more floods

Please take great care if you are out on the roads in Copeland this evening There are at least six flood warnings in Cumbria this evening, several of them in the Copeland constituency. Traffic is being affected by water on the roads in many areas including Keswick, Distington, Frizington, and Muncaster/Holmrook. There is also a flood warning in Egremont and there have been reports of the River Duddon bursting its banks.

Bransty & Harbour Neighbourhood Forum

Despite the filthy weather there was a reasonable turnout for the Neighbourhood Forum meeting at Bransty School at 7pm Agenda items included 1) The new system for allocating social housing, which is due to be adopted in Cumbria before the end of the year, whereby people on the housing waiting lists can apply for social homes of their choice rather than wait to be allocated something by the powers that be 2) The scheme which provides supported lodging for young adults leaving care 3) Feedback from the Bransty school youngsters who presented a petition to the council on dog fouling. (This provoked a fierce but polite and constructive argument about whether the council is doing enough to keep the streets clean and whether this should be higher on our priority list. Most of the residents who spoke appeared to think it should.) 4) Grants applications.