Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DC clarifies positon re new EU treaty

Following an EU summit, David Cameron clarified his position on whether and in what circumstances has European Commission and the European Court of Justice can be involved in carrying out policies which do not apply to all 27 member states.

As a consequence of David Cameron's veto last year, there is a new treaty which was eventually signed by 25 of the 27 member states. Britain and the Czech republic refused to sign.

This leaves the question of whether the EU institutions can be used to service the new treaty in matters to which Britain and the Czech republic are not a signatory. The Prime Minister said last month that this would not be possible without the agreement of all 27 countries.

However after a further EU summit in Brussels, DC did not press his case against the use of the institutions in any circumstances, and said Britain would only make any challenge if our interests were "threatened".

The Prime Minister said: "We don't want to hold up the eurozone doing what is necessary to solve the crisis as long as it doesn't damage our national interests, so it's good that the new treaty states clearly that it cannot encroach upon the competences of the Union and that they must not take measures that undermine the EU single market."

He added: "The key point here for me is what is in our national interest, which is for them to get on and sort out the mess that is the euro. That's in our national interest. We will be watching like a hawk and if there is any sign that they are going to encroach on the single market we will take the appropriate action, if I may put it that way.

"The principle that the EU institutions can only be used with the permission of 27 (member states) has not changed. In as much as this (new treaty) is about fiscal union, fine: if it encroaches on the single market, not fine."

The leader of the Labour party, as usual, attacked the Prime Minister but failed to make clear whether he was accusing David Cameron of being too hardline or not hardline enough. First Ed Miliband said that the Prime Minister "seems to have sold us down the river on a lot of things so I’m going to be asking him in the House of Commons today what exactly has he agreed to, what protections has he got for Britain."

But in the next sentence he said

“I take a simple view – he would have been better off staying at the table and negotiating for Britain, rather than actually pretending that he had made great progress and then failing to do so.”

Does that mean that, contrary to what Labour leader said at the time, he thinks Britain should have signed the treaty? If this attempt to have it both ways is a simple view I shudder to think what he would sound like if imitating a corkscrew.

Britain cannot afford to act like a dog in the manger when the eurozone countries are trying to sort out their problems. If the Euro area suffers an economic collapse, the British economy will take considerable collateral damage. That's whey we should only put our foot down to prevent the eurozone or the 25 signatories to the new treaty from using EU institutions if what they are trying to do will damage the single market or otherwise harm British interests.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Have your say - either way - on capital punishment

The blogger Paul Staines, also known as Guido Fawkes, has put an e-petition on the Downing Street website calling for the return of capital punishment for murderers of children and of police officers killed in the line of duty.

Martin Shapland and other opponents of the death penalty have launched a counter petition opposing the return of capital punishment.

At the time of putting up this post the e-petition calling for the return of the death penality in those specified circumstances has 26,294 signatures, and the e-petition opposing the death penalty has 33,352 signatures.

There are a dozen other live petitions on the same subject, some supporting the death penalty, some against, four which call for a referedum on capital punishment and one which opposes such a referendum. However, the Paul Staines and Martin Shapland petitions both have many times more signatures than all the rest, apart from each other, put together.

You can read and support Guido's petition to bring back capital punishment here.

You can read and support the counter-petition opposing capital punishment here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Swimathon 2012

I will be taking part in Swimathon 2012 to raise money for Cancer care.

This will be the nineteenth consecutive year I have taken part. I plan to swim 5,000 metres at Copeland pool on Sunday 29th April.

The National Swimathon is 26 years old this year and will be taking place over the weekend of 27th to 29th April 2012.

Since the Swimathon was launched in 1986, well over £35 million has been raised for a host of good causes, and over half a million swimmers have taken part.

In West Cumbria you can take part at Copeland pool in Hensingham on Sunday 29th, with sessions starting at 9 am and 12 noon.

Other locations in Cumbria where you can take part include:

* Appleby Swimming Pool

* The Park Leisure Centre, Barrow-in-furness

* In Carlisle you can choose from Morton Pool & Fitness Centre,
Richard Rose Morton Academy, or The Pools Swimming Centre And Health Centre

* Cockermouth Leisure Centre

* Lakes Leisure, Kendal

* Keswick Leisure Pool

* Penrith Leisure Centre

* Workington Pool

Anyone who would like to sponsor me and support Marie Curie cancer care can do so at the swimathon website here.

Anyone who interested in signing up to take part in the swim themselves can do so at the Swimathon 2012 website at www.swimathon.org.

Genocide today

Further to friday's post commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day: the tragic fact is that although nothing on quite the immense scale of the Nazi genocides and mass killings has happened since 1945, mass murder and attempted extermination remains a major cause of death and suffering in many parts of the world.

Not all the perpetrators of mass murder are governments. For example, the Taleban/Al Queda are listed by "Genocide Watch." the International Alliance to End Genocide, among those responsible for massacres, and government officials, particularly honest ones, are at particular risk of being murdered in several countries.

Tim posted a comment on my "Holocaust Memorial Day" blog item pointing out that South African Boers have been listed as at category six risk of genocide (e.g. active preparation) yet the mainstream press do not seem to be taking much notice.

The really frightening thing is that, although Tim is quite right, South African whites are only eighteenth in the worldwide list of groups suffering massacres or at serious risk of genocide. The most recent list of countries on the Genocide Watch website (August 2011) gives twelve groups as currently being victims of massacres, and another eight, of whom white South Africans are sixth, at the "Preparation Stage," level six, which is the most serious stage of potential risk of massacres.

The top twenty countries and victim groups suffering most or at serious risk according to Genocide Watch as at August 2011, are

1) Democratic Republic of Congo: where women, civilians, and Congo Tutsis are at risk from ex-Rwandan genocidists and mineral warlords

2) In Sudan, Darfurese, Abyei,and Nuba people are at risk from the Sudanese army and Arab militias

3) In Eastern Congo, parts of Sudan and Uganda, civilians, women, and children are at risk from the organistion which calls itself the "Lord’s Resistance Army"

4) In Libya during the civil war, those suspected of being anti-Gaddafi rebels were subject to persecution from pro-Gaddaffi forces; there have also been rebel/anti-Gaddafi reprisals.

5) Syria: those suspected of being pro-democracy protesters or supporters have been massacred by the Assad regimes forces, Alawite loyalists and the army

6) Yemen: opponents of the Saleh regime have been massacred by pro-govt troops

7) In Somalia there have been massacres between opposing clans

8) In parts of Afghanistan, government supporters and anyone who does not support the "right" kind of Islam is in danger of attack from the Taliban and Al Queda

9) Pakistan - ditto

10) In North Korea anyone suspected of opposing the government is liable to persecution

11) There have been signs of progress in Burma over the past few months but the military regime which has run the country for decades has a history of severe repression against the Shan, Karen, Rohinga and against democrats.

12) Ethiopia: where government opponents have been persecuted by the Tigrean Army

All the above are listed at stage seven by Genocide watch indicating their view that genocide is actually taking place. The following are listed as stage 6 (preparation for genocide/serious risk)

13) Nigeria, where there is a serious risk of conflict between ethnic and religious groups:

14) People's Republic of China where the Falun Gong and Uighers are being repressed by the PLA and Chinese authorities

15) Colombia, where government officials have been murdered by drug gangs and FARC guerrillas

16) Equatorial Guinea, where the Bubi minority is oppressed by the Government and police

17) Zimbabwe, where the Matabele tribe and the Movement for Democratic Change have been oppressed by the ZANU-PF and the Shona tribe

18) South Africa: Genocide watch identifies whites and women (because of a high rape rate) as victims or potential victims of attacks by ANC Youth, black Marxist racists

19) Chad, where the Zaghawas have been attacked by Sudanese raiders

20) Central African Republic, where African farmers have been attacked by Arab militias

You can read more details at the Genocide Watch webpage here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today, the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auchwitz by allied forces, is Holocaust Memorial Day.

Today we remember all the many victims of Nazi persecution - six million jews, millions of Russians, Poles and Gypsies, and all the other thousands of people who were murdered either for what they were or for standing up against the idea of killing people for what they were.

The estimated number of victims of the nazis and their allies includes about:

5.9 million Jews

2-3 million Russian Prisoners of War

1.8 to 2 million Ethnic Poles

A large number of Gypsies - estimates range from 220 thousand to 1.5 million

About a quarter of a million people with disabilities

Between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons

20,000 to 25,000 Slovenes

5,000 to 15,000 Gays

2,500 to 5,000 Jehovah's Witnesses.

Trade unionists and activists of any party other than the Nazis.

It's no good saying "this must never happen again" because, around the world, things like the Holocaust of on a smaller scale have continued to happen - you only need to look at former Yugoslavia.

But we must make it as difficult as possible for genocide and persecution to happen, and we start by remembering all that happened, and especially by remembering the victims.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quote of the Day

"If there's one thing more pathetic than the Leader of the Opposition going on about chocolate oranges, it's the Leader of the Opposition going on about the previous Leader of the Opposition going on about chocolate oranges six years ago."

Hat Tip to "Ismael X" at Political Betting (and regards to Moby Dick).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Newt Shoots back

I have been following the U.S. Republican primaries with interest. If I were a G.O.P. member I suspect I would be supporting Mitt Romney, but I had some sympathy for the response Newt Gingrich made below to a question about his private life. (Hat tip to CNN for the clip and Mike Smithson at Political Betting for drawing it to my attention.)

It can be unhealthy for stories about the private lives of individuals, where these do not involve criminal behaviour or abuse of public office, to be given far more attention than how good those individuals are at their jobs. We have seen this culture in this country, as much of the evidence to the Leveson inquiry demonstrated and the same is true in the states.

It is possible, and appears to happen in some countries, for the press to be too subservient in failing to probe where an issue affects not just private lives but the allocation of jobs or resources provided by the taxpayer. If there are genuine reasons to suspect this, then the issue becomes one of legitimate interest to the taxpayer.

But in many cases I suspect that political debate in both Britain and America would be healthier if more public figures were prepared to respond to an allegation, true or false, with the words "None of your business." See what you think of Newt's comments here.

David Morgan R.I.P.

David Morgan, a senior partner at one of St Albans' prominent Architects' practices, Cannon Morgan Rheinberg, died last night in Lister Hospital.

I first met David as a planning councillor on one of the many occasions when he was trying to get a very well designed scheme approved and running into wildly disproportionate opposition.

I was to come to know David socially and he later became a very good friend, but I had already formed the opinion before we became friends that of all the architects in St Albans who ran into unreasonable political, NIMBY or planning purist opposition to perfectly good planning proposals - and that is a VERY long list - David was one of who faced some of the silliest and most disproportionate opposition. He usually managed to keep his temper and courtesy in dealing with that situation far better than most people would have or did, including some of the others who faced the same sitations

I'd better add that I did not agree with everything David proposed, and before any of the tens of thousands of people who ever objected to a planning application in St Albans while I was a planning councillor there might read this and think I am getting at them, I'd be the first to agree that there were also plenty of the two and a half thousand applications a year which were submitted to that council which richly deserved to run into opposition.

Like myself David Morgan was an old boy of St Albans School - in his case about thirty years before me - and he later designed a number of award winning schemes for the school.

He was a truly nice guy and all his loving family and many friends will miss him.

Rest in Peace.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teaching children to use computers

Education Secretary Michael Gove has decided to replace the current ICT curriculum with a radically revised programme which puts much more emphasis on developing applications and using computers in original ways rather than simply using interfaces developed by others.

He suggested that the existing curriculum is a "mess" which is "demotivating and dull" and threatens to harm Britain's long term economic prospects.

Gove will begin a consultation next week on the new computing curriculum and on how we can train young people "to work at the forefront of technological change".

I don't generally regard scrapping an entire setup and starting again from scratch as the best solution, but there seems to have been an argument for doing so this time. ICT teachers and experts quoted by the press, while recognising that finding the skilled teachers to deliver the new curriculum might be "challenging" seemed to be more positive than not about the proposals.

Examples of quotes given to the BBC by ICT teachers attending an educational technology show in London included the following:

Sue Le Bas, from Boxgrove Primary in London, said: "I think this would be exciting for primary pupils but I would need a crash course to be able to do it.

"I think we could develop the skills. We need to prepare our children for the future and the current curriculum is not doing that. It's 15 years old."

Anthony Latham, from Heronsgate Primary, also in London, said: "Anything which makes learning more accessible is a positive thing.

"I am not always Gove's biggest fan but I agree with this. Too many ICT lessons are dull."

Graham Fee, a maths teacher at Hemsworth Arts and Community College in Wakefield, already teaches programming at an after-school computer club.

"Students are interested as I do a lot of computer programming myself. I produce a lot of maths games.

"ICT lessons seem to do a lot of PowerPoint and Word, but students are more motivated by more interactive things like programming.

"There's a lot of logical thinking involved. It's good for the students' thinking skills.

"If they have a vision of what they want to create, a little game or something, they can see how the maths applies to the game."

Mr Fee thinks that some of the software packages already available from companies like Microsoft will help train less specialised ICT teachers to teach programming.

"The new software out there is less focused on programming language and more on the logical thinking behind it," he said.

"Teachers will see this as an opportunity to move beyond the office skills - of course, many teachers have been doing this for some time” said Miles Berry of NAACE.

Managing Radioactive Waste Safely consultation

The latest phase of discussion about what we do about the long-term storage of Nuclear Waste, and whether a repository is a better solution than the present arrangements, is now under way.

A series of Community drop-in events are being held around Cumbria, details of which are as follows:

18 Jan, The Network Centre, Millom 1pm to 7pm

19 Jan, Civic Hall, Whitehaven 1pm to 7pm

20 Jan, Village Hall, Gosforth 1pm to 7pm

23 Jan, Town Hall, Kendal 1pm to 7pm

24 Jan, Carnegie Arts Centre, Workington 1pm to 7pm

25 Jan, St Herbert's Centre, Keswick 1pm to 7pm

01 Feb, Methodist Church, Penrith 1pm to 7pm

02 Feb, The Courts, Carlisle 1pm to 7pm

07 Feb, Dock Museum, Barrow 1pm to 7pm

08 Feb, Market Hall, Wigton 1pm to 7pm

09 Feb, Market Hall, Egremont 1pm to 7pm

10 Feb, Kirkgate Centre, Cockermouth 1pm to 7pm

In each case there will be discussion sessions at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm

You can also respond and find out more online at www.westcumbriamrws.org.uk.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

County Council Budget consultation

Cumbria County Council is currently holding a consultation with the public about their forthcoming budget.

Items on the agenda includes issues like

* Should the council introduce a charge of £25 for resident's parking permits?

* Should the present level of subsidy for adult social care be reduced? (The proposal will not affect the poorest users, about 25% of the total, who will still get a 100% subsidy)

* Should the council accept the offer of a one-off grant payment from the government, approximately equal to an inflation increase in the council tax, to freeze the county council element of the council tax for one further year?

Cumbria CC have organised a series of six public meetings with residents, one in each district area: I attended the first of these meetings, which was the copeland one, last night in Egremont.

The Carlisle meeting is on 18th January in Richard Rose Academy

The Eden meeting is on 19th January at Penrith Methodist Church

The Barrow meeting is on 23rd January at The Forum

The Allerdale meeting is on 24th January at The Wave, Maryport

Finally, the South Lakeland meeting is on 26th January at Kendal Rugby Club

If this is more convenient, you can go to a meeting in another district or borough council area: for example, there is nothing to stop Keswick residents going to the Penrith meeting rather than the Maryport if that works better for them.

Attending a meeting is not the only way to have your say about these issues

* You can reply by freepost by writing to:

Budget Consultation
Freepost MWW6059A
The Courts
Carlisle CA3 8NA.

* You can email yoursay@cumbria.gov.uk

* You can respond online at cumbria.gov.uk.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Freeing nurses to care for patients

A new drive to free up nurses to provide the care patients and relatives expect has been announced this week by Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The Prime Minister announced the following priorities:

Patients not paperwork: getting rid of a swathe of bureaucracy that stops nurses from doing what they do best.

Regular nursing rounds: to systematically and routinely check that patients are comfortable, are properly fed and hydrated, and are treated with dignity and respect, with the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) helping to make it happen.

Leadership on the wards: people want to see a figure of authority on the ward. To help do so, a Nursing Quality Forum of front line nurses and nursing leaders will be set up, charged with taking a national leadership role in promoting excellent care and ensuring good practice is adopted across the NHS.

New patient-led inspections of hospital wards: local people will go in as part of teams assessing cleanliness, dignity and nutrition and their findings will be published.

New 'friends and family test': this will ask whether patients, carers and staff would recommend their hospital to their families and friends in their hour of need. The results will be published and hospital leaders who fail this test will be held to account.

The Prime Minister said:

"We know the vast majority of patients are very happy with the care provided by the NHS. And I've seen the NHS at its very best. But we have heard recently that in some hospitals patients are not provided with the level care or respect they deserve and I am absolutely appalled by this.

"If we want dignity and respect, we need to focus on nurses and the care they deliver. The whole approach to caring in this country needs to be reset. And it needs to start with this simple fact. Caring for patients is what nurses do. Everything else comes second."

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Hawking - "a wonderful time to be alive"

Prefessor Stephen Hawking, one of the most amazing human beings who has ever lived, and the most distinguished former pupil of my old school, St Albans School, marked his 70th birthday this weekend with a speech sent to a symposium at Cambridge University in which he said that it has been "A wonderful time to be alive."

Hawking spoke of his early life growing up in St Albans and gave the highlights of his scientific career. But his main message was to "be curious" and never give up, however difficult things might seem.

"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet," he said.

"Try to make sense of what you see and about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up."

If there is anyone who should be an inspiration to all of us that however great the challenges you face you can and should always try to acheive something, it is Stephen Hawking.

Measures to boost Business and Jobs announced

Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a series of measures to tackle the compensation culture and free small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape.

Speaking to an audience of small businesses and entrepreneurs at Intuit UK in Maidenhead, David Cameron announced that:

* to tackle the compensation culture and address the fear from businesses of being sued for trivial or excessive claims - we will extend the current scheme that caps the amount that lawyers can earn from small value personal injury claims, and reduce overall costs in cases funded by 'no win no fee' deals. This will help bring down the cost of many cases and deter the speculative health and safety claims made against good businesses that would appear not to have done anything wrong.

* the health and safety law on strict liability for civil claims will be changed so that businesses are no longer automatically at fault if something goes wrong.
we will investigate the demands made by insurance companies on businesses to ensure that levels of compliance do not force businesses to go far beyond what is actually required by the the law to secure their insurance cover.

* We will write to the Chief Executives of all major insurance companies, asking them to set out what they will do to deal with this problem - and they will be invited to a meeting at Downing Street next month to set out their plans.

The Prime Minister has also announced that next month we will ask organisations to bid to manage the £1bn of Government funding available through the Business Finance Partnership. This fund will help businesses access the finance they need to grow.

David Cameron added that:

"I am determined that we do everything possible to take the brakes off business: cutting taxes; slashing red tape; putting billions into big infrastructure projects; making it much easier for British firms to get out there and trade with the world.

"And there is something else we are doing: waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.

"Talk of 'health and safety' can too often sound farcical or marginal. But for British businesses - especially the smaller ones that are so vital to the future of our economy - this is a massively important issue. Every day they battle against a tide of risk assessment forms and face the fear of being sued for massive sums. The financial cost of this culture runs into the billions each year.

"So this coalition has a clear New Year's resolution: to kill off the health and safety culture for good. I want 2012 to go down in history not just as Olympics year or Diamond Jubilee year, but the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all."

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Time to batten down again ...

Watch the wind if you are out driving in Cumbria today (or in any other part of Northern England, Scotland, Wales or in the West Country.

The Met Office warn that

"There will be wind gusts of between 60 and 70mph across northern Britain, Wales and south-west England, with gusts of 80mph in exposed areas of Scotland and northern England. Showers will become less frequent as the day goes on and winds will gradually ease, becoming fresh and moderate overnight in most places."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Lord Glasman wises up ...

Lord Maurice Glasman, one of the comparatively few Labour MPs or peers who occasionally shows signs of a functioning mind of his own, and who is often described by the media as "Ed Miliband's intellectual guru," has urged the Labour leader to break with some of the nonsense of the Brown years.

Referring to some of the mantras associated with the last Labour prime minister he wrote in the New Statesman that

"Endogenous growth, flexible labour-market reform, free movement of labour, the dominance of the City of London – it was all crap, and we need to say so."

Lord Glasman said that Miliband's leadership seemed to have "no strategy, no narrative and little energy"

and that Miliband concentrated too much last year on preventing splits in his own party and defending Labour's "toxic economic record" rather than offering a transformative new leadership or a strategy to prevent national decline.

His New Statesman article complains that:

"Old faces from the Brown era still dominate the shadow cabinet and they seem stuck in defending Labour's record in all the wrong ways – we didn't spend too much money, we'll cut less fast and less far, but we can't tell you how."

"Labour is apparently pursuing a sectional agenda based on the idea that disaffected Liberal Democrats and public-sector employees will give Labour a majority next time around. But we have not won, and show no signs of winning, the economic argument.

"We have not articulated a constructive alternative capable of recognising our weaknesses in government and taking the argument to the coalition. We show no relish for reconfiguring the relationship between the state, the market and society. The world is on the turn, yet we do not seem equal to the challenge."

He adds that it looks as if "Labour is stranded in a Keynesian orthodoxy with no language to talk straight to people".

Glasman claims that New Labour's inheritance includes an "excessive reliance on managerialism in both the public and the private sectors, a disregard for the workforce and an unhappy and abusive relationship with the unions."

In a severe criticism of Gordon Brown's economic record he refers to some of the ways that the last Labour government contributed to Britain's present economic problems, writing that:

"The problem with Brownite political economy is that, even though it was true that a 3% deficit was not excessive in the context of economic growth, it was debt that was growing at the time, rather than the real economy. A vast, sustained expansion in private debt fuelled the financial sector throughout Brown's tenure as chancellor and then prime minister".

It would be a good thing for Britain if Labour listened to him, even though it might not be make things easier for my own party, because it is better for democracy if we have a responsible opposition who have learned from their mistakes. And we don't seem to have that at the moment.

You can read Lord Glasman's New Statesman article here.

Monday, January 02, 2012

DC's New Year Message

This will be the year Britain sees the world and the world sees Britain. It must be the year we go for it – the year the coalition government I lead does everything it takes to get our country up to strength.

The coming months will bring the global drama of the Olympics and the glory of the Diamond Jubilee. Cameras and TV channels around the planet will be recording these magnificent events. It gives us an extraordinary incentive to look outward, look onwards and to look our best: to feel pride in who we are and what – even in these trying times – we can achieve.

Of course, I know that there will be many people watching this who are worried about what else the year might bring. There are fears about jobs and paying the bills. The search for work has become difficult, particularly for young people. And rising prices have hit household budgets. I get that. We are taking action on both fronts. I know how difficult it will be to get through this.- but I also know that we will.

We’ve got clear and strong plans to bring down our deficit, which gives us some protection from the worst of the debt storms now battering the Eurozone. We have gained security for now – and because of that, we must be bold, confident and decisive about building the future.

I know much needs to change. We’ve got to do more to bring our economy back to health. So we’ve set out big plans for the transformation of our infrastructure, starting now – with better roads and railways, superfast broadband and new homes.

And while much of Europe’s economy is struggling, other parts of the world are growing. There are huge opportunities for our businesses all over the planet. I’m determined to get out there and seize them.

I am determined to do the bold things it will take to sort out public services, too. Too often our schools aren’t up to scratch, are hospitals aren’t always clean enough and our police don’t catch criminals. Brilliant and committed people work in public services – but somehow the system stops them doing their job. So we’ll change it.

And I will be bold about working to cure the problems of our society. While a few at the top get rewards that seem to have nothing to do with the risks they take or the effort they put in, many others are stuck on benefits, without hope or responsibility. So we will tackle excess in the City just as we’re reforming welfare to make work pay and support families.

I profoundly believe that we can turn these things around. That’s what I mean by the Big Society. The British people have got what it takes – and the government has got the ideas and policies we need.

As we welcome the world to the best Olympics ever – and as in the 60th year of her reign we honour our Queen as the finest and most famous example of British dedication, British duty, British steadiness, British tradition – let’s use these things as a mirror of ourselves too, a mirror of the nation.

Resilient. Realistic. Intelligent. Curious. Enterprising. Inventive. Unswerving. It’s the spirit that has made our universities among the best in the world, our scientists Nobel prize winners, our athletes gold medal winners, our culture, our music and our television famous everywhere, and our armed forces respected for their dedication and professionalism – as they showed last year in Libya, and as they continue to show in Afghanistan.

In every area of life we will find success by being honest with ourselves about the problems, and practical about what lies ahead. I know that if we lift our eyes to the other side we have it in our power to come through this stronger, better balanced, focused on what this fantastic country does best.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


A very happy New Year 2012 to everyone reading this.

Let's hope the new year sees the West Cumberland Hospital programme move forward, starting with Business Case Approval in January, further progress in the programme of new nuclear build, and the UK and European economies starting to turn round.

A reminder to people in Whitehaven and the northern part of Copeland: the emergency chemist open today, from 6pm to 7pm, is

Egremont Boots Pharmacy
67-67 Main Street