Showing posts from January, 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 d

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 capit

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 * Workin

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 eightee

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

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).

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 beco

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 p

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 propo

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

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 Januar

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

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 ac

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 de

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."

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: &qu

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


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 Egremont.