Showing posts from March, 2011

Tom Bradby, ITN's political editor on why Labour is losing the argument

Hat tip to Tim Montgomerie at Conservative Home for pointing out a number of recent pieces in the MSM about how Ed Miliband isn't up to the job. Iain Martin in today's Mail (See article at the bottom of this webpage) suggests that the split screen TV pictures of the Labour leader comparing himself to Martin Luther King while yobs threw ammonia bombs at police could be deeply damaging to Labour. (Incidentally, this may also be more relevant than you might expect to Bransty ward's forthcoming election - watch this space.) Tom Bradby, ITN's Political Editor, has written a devastating analysis of why Labour is losing the argument on the economy and the strategic political mistakes Miliband is making. (I originally had a link here but sadly it has now disappeared from the ITN website.) He points out the fatal problem in Labour's stewardship of the economy was that "Gordon Brown came to believe he had abolished the economic cycle and was therefore proceedi

Clocks go forward tonight ...

Don't forget that we lose an hour this evening as the clocks go forward from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time ...

A story

The following story was sent to me today by a friend "One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. 'Really?' she heard whispered. 'I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!' and, 'I didn't know others liked me so much,' were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their p

Shaun Hocking RIP

Whitehaven URC church was filled to overflowing this morning as hundreds of people attended the funeral of Shaun Hocking. Shaun was a former teacher, who had been headmaster of Lowca school and had taken part in a huge range of activities within the town. He had been heavily involved with football for young people through Whitehaven AFC and was a keen supporter of many other sporting and charitable activites including Whitehaven RFC. He was a member and past master of the Sun, Square and Compasses lodge, and a member of Probus. Shaun was a remarkable man who threw himself into everything he did, and he will be sadly missed by the Whitehaven community. Rest in Peace

GO writes on the budget:

George Osborne writes: "This afternoon I delivered my second Budget. I wanted to write to you immediately to explain our plans and set out some of the key measures. Last year's Emergency Budget was about rescuing the nation's finances and paying for Labour's mistakes. Today's Budget sticks to the plan, and focuses on reforming the economy to ensure jobs and growth for the future. I am also doing what I can help to families with the cost of living - including an immediate cut to fuel duty. I know times aren't easy for families at the moment, so this Budget announced help, including: An immediate cut in fuel duty by 1 pence per litre and a delay of April's inflation rise in duty to next January. This means fuel duty is 6 pence lower than it would be under Labour. We are paying for this by putting up taxes on the oil companies while the oil price is high to create a Fair Fuel Stabiliser. An increase in the personal allowance from £6,500 to £8,100 over the next

Osborne moves on fuel tax

I havew been greatly concerned about the impact of fuel prices on families and businesses, so I am very pleased that the Chancellor has acted in the budget to introduce the Fair Fuel Stabliser which we proposed while in opposition. The Chancellor announced an immediate cut in fuel duty of 1p per litre, funded by a £2 billion-a-year windfall levy on North Sea oil. He also postponed a 5p rise in fuel duty which had been scheduled by the previous Labour government for next month. “We are putting fuel into the tank of the British economy,” he said. At ten to five yesterday afternoon - in other words, minutes before the close of the working day before the budget - the Labour group on Copeland council proposed a motion in favour of cutting tax on petrol. While there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents - it was Labour that introduced increase after increase in fuel tax, and there wasn't a squeak of progest from any of the Labour members of Copeland Borough Council during an

Monbiot: why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power

Hst tip to Political betting to drawing my attention to this article in the Guardian by George Monbiot, who has been a harsh critic of the management of the nuclear industry but recognises that all forms of energy, including even renewables (of which he supports an increase) do harm to the environment. His article is called Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power and starts with the words "You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology. "A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one

Quote of the day

George Monbiot, writer and journalist, pointed out on the BT Politics show today that Coal-fired power stations do more damage to the environment in the ordinary course of operations than nuclear powered ones do when they go wrong. Quite apart from the large-scale release of carbon into the atmosphere, coal fired stations also give rise to more radioactivity: there are trace radioactive elements in coal which are released into the atmosphere by a standard coal-burning power plant. If the recent terrible disaster in Japan results in a scaling back of new nuclear generation and more coal plants instead, this will do immense harm to the environment.

How not to respond to the Japanese disaster - 3)

By jumping to premature or downright false conclusions about the relevance of the accident to Nuclear power in Britain. The earthquake which has just hit Japan was the fifth-worst ever recorded. It was 130,000 times more severe than the worst quake ever recorded in Britain. We do not know, and will never know precisely how many people have died in this terrible disaster, but it appears likely to be over ten thousand. And among those thousands of deaths, how many are directly attibutable to release of radioactivity from the nuclear power stations affected by the earthquake? So far, none. By all means let us review the vulnerability of all our installations - not just nuclear ones - to every natural threat they might realistically face. (And in the UK, that doesn't include Richter 8 plus earthquakes.)

How not to respond to the Japanese disaster - 2)

A disaster of this kind is not the place to score political points. I note that Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has been criticised by Labour MPs as well as Conservative ones as you can read here . And so he should.

How not to respond to the Japanese disaster - 1)

I am stunned to read in the News and Star that an aid worker from Penrith, who was part of a 14-strong team from the "International Rescue Corps" flown out to Japan to help with the disaster, had to return home with the rest of the group because of problems with paperwork. You can read the details here . I am pleased to read that a government minister, Alistair Burt, has promised to investigate. One had better not junp to conclusions about whether the fault lies with the British authorities, the Japanese ones, or the organisers who sent the team out there, but to have the situation where people who are willing to help with a desperate crisis are flown to the other side of the world and told to come back again is absolutely beyond belief.


I am sure that almost everyone has been following the ongoing disaster in Japan with sympathy and horror. The magnitude of the disaster is quite astonishing. Thoughts and prayers are with all the people affected by the disaster.

Census 2011

Like most householders up and down the country I have received my census form. Note that there is no point returning this before 27th March - send it back before that data and the form is invalid.

New Nuclear Build moves a step closer

... with the news that commercial contracts have been signed to make some of the parts for the first four power stations in a new generation of nuclear plants.

A Tale from Hansard

During Health questions on Tuesday of this week, after Andrew Rosindell MP had asked about measures to protect against MRSA and C-Diff (on which West Cumberland Hospital has an excellent record), the following exchange took place in parliament, and the health minister answering questions agreed to meet the MP for Copeland to discuss concerns about local hospitals in West Cumbria: Jamie Reed (Copeland, Labour) As the Secretary of State knows, the north Cumbrian health economy is in crisis. GP commissioning is providing £30 million less for acute hospital services in north Cumbria this year than it did last year. This has resulted in the trust being unable to seek foundation trust status, and it is seeking a merger which minutes leaked to me by consultants say could lead to the closure of the West Cumberland hospital. Will the Secretary of State meet me as a matter of urgency so that we can collectively find how we can get the hospital out of that hole? Will he also consider a delay to f

Mark Weir RIP

I was sorry to see that Mark Weir, the charismatic Cumbrian businessman who had made a huge success of the Honister Slate Mine as a tourist attraction, has been killed in a helicopter accident. He was one of a kind. Our thoughts are with his partner and three children. Rest in Peace.

A culture of secrecy

For the past fifty years, under national governments of both parties, there has been a trend towards making local councils more open and transparent. One of Mrs Thatcher's first acts as a backbench MP was to propose an access to information act so that the public could find out what their councillors were doing. Sadly government of both parties have generally been less willing to apply the same principle to their own activities than to local authorities, but I think more information about what councils do is very helpful. I strongly support the rule which has now come into effect requiring councils to publish details of all their spending above £500. This has already resulted in greater scrutiny of some of Copeland Borough Council's decisions in the local press. Sadly that has gone down very badly with some people. It is very easy for national politicians, councillors, and the managers of public services to develop a "siege mentality" with regard to local media. If th

Quote of the week

Responding to Ed Miliband's question about William Hague at Prime Minister's Question Time, DC responded, looking at the Leader of the Opposition, “I know only one person here who has knifed a foreign secretary – and I’m looking at him”.

David Cameron writes

I'm in Cardiff this weekend with three clear messages for the party. One: thank you for everything you've done. We're in government delivering Conservative pledges - from bringing some sense to our public finances to dismantling Labour's nanny state. This wouldn't have happened without the constant work of activists up and down the country over this past year. So thank you. Two: get ready because we've got some big elections coming up - council elections, Welsh Assembly elections, Scottish Parliament elections and of course, the AV referendum. AV is fundamentally unfair - it makes politics and politicians less accountable and it means some people's votes can count more than others. We've got to get out there, take these arguments to the country and urge them to vote no to AV. The third message is to do with our economy. In just over two weeks, we're going to unveil the most pro-enterprise, pro-business Budget for a generation. It's going to be a

Tom Broughton and Roland Woodward RIP

Millom has lost two distinguished public servants, one on each side of the political divide, in a couple of weeks. Roland Woodward, a former Labour County Councillor for Millom, died suddenly last month: and earlier this week Tom Broughton, who was Mayor of Copeland in 1976-77 and Leader of the Conservative Group on Copeland Borough Council for many years also died. Both men in their very different ways worked very hard for Millom and for Copeland, and were respected accross the political divide. Both will be missed. Rest in Peace.

Eric Pickles writes on making Councils accountable to voters

Transparency and openness must underpin every decision your council makes for you. Fifty years ago this month, Margaret Thatcher's maiden speech championed a Private Members' Bill which would ultimately make councils open up their meetings to the press and public. As she argued at the time, 'The public has the right... to know what its elected representatives are doing'. Indeed, local people should be able to hold politicians and public bodies to account over how their council tax is being spent, and decisions made on their behalf. We are ushering in a new era of transparency, where every aspect of council business is open to democratic scrutiny and an army of armchair auditors can shine a spotlight on waste and unnecessary cost to help protect frontline services. For too long, Labour let councils spend your hard-earned cash without proper local accountability. For too long, Labour took local taxpayers for a ride. You wouldn't spend your money without knowing what y

£10.7 million more for the NHS

The government is putting an extra £10.7 million of investment into the NHS. Andrew Lansley has challenged Labour leader Miliband to match this increased investment in the NHS. In a speech to the Welsh Labour Party, Ed Miliband baselessly attacked the Government for seeing healthcare as "a commodity to be bought and sold." However, his speech failed to commit his party to matching the increased NHS budget being delivered by the Coalition. The Health Secretary has called on Ed Miliband to explain whether he agrees with his Labour colleague Andy Burnham that our increases in NHS spending are "irresponsible", or if he will commit the Labour Party to match our investment. Commenting on the Labour leader's speech, Andrew Lansley said: "Before attacking the Government for cutting the NHS, Ed Miliband needs to tell us whether he supports the extra £10.7 billion we are putting into the NHS. If he won't support that extra funding, people will see these attacks f

West Cumbria Shootings: Inquest begins today

The inquest into the deaths of the twelve people who were killed during the tragic shooting events of last year and the death of Derrick Bird will begin today, Tuesday 1 March, at Energus, Lillyhall, Workington and is again likely to attract substantial national and local media attention. This will no doubt be difficult and will bring back some painful memories and emotions for all involved as well as for those living in the communities affected. An inquest is a formal court hearing at which a coroner must establish who died and how, when and where the death occurred. The inquests are the first time where we are likely to hear all of the details of the events of 2nd June. Some of the information that will come out of the inquests is likely to be graphic and upsetting. The public services in the area – Copeland Council, Cumbria County Council, NHS Cumbria and Cumbria Constabulary are working together to do all that they can to ensure that the negative impact of the inquests on the commu