Showing posts from March, 2012

Tony Newton R.I.P.

Lord Newton of Braintree, the former secretary of state for Social Security who has just died, should have been remembered as one of the very, very few politicians ever to see a problem twenty or thirty years ahead and take effective action to solve it. Unfortunately, because of the folly of a subsequent government, Tony will have a footnote in history as the man who took action which should have solved a problem, only to have the funds he had put aside grabbed and frittered away. I knew and liked Tony Newton, who was one of the "Eastern Area Mafia" which at one point provided half a dozen members of the cabinet. He was a very loyal friend who had much less of an ego and more interest in getting on with the job than many involved in politics. Once a mutual friend - it may have been James Blatch, my predecessor as Chairman of Eastern Area YCs who is now a journalist - introduced Tony at a meeting by pointing out that as he had gone straight from Cambridge to the Conservative R

Good riddance to the standards board

If you want a practical example of why the Coalition government is right to scrap the Standards Board for England, I cannot think of a better one than the two standards board complaints which have been brought over the past few years against the present Mayor of Copeland, Councillor John Jackson. John is a man of integrity who has worked hard for the local community over many years. A few years ago he was falsely accused of conspiring with a council officer against the leader of Copeland council. There was not the tiniest scintilla of truth in the allegations against John Jackson at that time, but he had to put up with being "investigated" and the fact that the accusations were made was public knowledge. (For the avoidance of doubt, I do not accept, admit or imply that the allegations against any of the other people accused at the same time, including myself, were true either.) About the only thing of which nobody could accuse the person who made that particular set of accusa

Air Ambulance fuel costs

A petition was put forward earlier this year on the Downing Street website, and received the necessary 100,000 signatures before the time limit ran out on 19th February, asking the government to look at exempting the Air ambulance from fuel tax in the same way as the lifeboat service. The petition reads as follows: "The Air Ambulance Service is forced to meet rising fuel prices year on year including VAT. The Air Ambulance Service have saved successive governments millions and millions of pounds funded by charitable donations given by the general public to run what has proven to be an essential service. Whilst the Lifeboat Service has been exempt from VAT on fuel costs since 1977, a similar privilege has not been afforded to the Air Ambulance Service; We call on the government to have an urgent review of this situation and in doing so, We call on the government to return in the form of grants to Air Ambulance Service providers all the future VAT which the Treasury collects from th

LAST DAY to comment re radioactive Waste

REMINDER: today (Friday 23rd March 2012) is the last day to comment in the latest phase of public consultation about the long-term storage of Nuclear Waste, and whether a repository is a better solution than the present arrangements. You can respond and find out more online at .

Radioactive Waste Constulation - two days to go

REMINDER: 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, continues until this Friday 23rd March. A series of Community drop-in events have been held around Cumbria, all of which are now complete. However you can still respond and find out more online at .

George Osborne writes on the Budget ...

Today I delivered a Budget that supports work. I wanted to write to you immediately to explain our plans and set out some of the key measures. This is a radical, reforming Budget that helps Britain earn its way in the world. It is a Budget that rewards work, unashamedly backs businesses and puts us on the side of those who aspire to do better for themselves and their families. SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES I wanted to help working families on middle and lower incomes. That is why I today announced the largest ever increase in the personal allowance, a tax cut of up to £220 for 24 million income taxpayers next year. Together with previous increases, this means that this Government will have taken 2 million of the lowest paid out of tax altogether, and basic rate taxpayers will be up to £526 better off. SCRAPPING THE DAMAGING 50p RATE No Chancellor can justify a tax rate that damages our economy and raises next to nothing. This is why I also announced that we are reducing the top rate of

Lifting people out of Poverty

There is an absoutely fascinating article by Frazer Nelson,which appeared in the Telegraph this week and is accessible on their website here , called " Sticking with Gordon Brown’s flawed policy keeps people in poverty ." It begins with the inspiring story of Stephen Stubbs, a partially sighted 47-year-old living in Darlington, who was being followed by a television crew documenting how hard it is to find work. Stephen applied for 2,000 jobs rather than sit back and accept life on benefits. But eventually his persistence was rewarded, and he did find a position. As the article saya, "The idea of a 4pm-2am shift working for the Student Loans Company might dismay many of us, but Mr Stubbs spoke as if he’d won the lottery. “If I can do it, anyone can,” he told Channel 4’s cameras." Nelson's article goes on to identify a problem with the definition of Poverty in the Child Poverty Act, an piece of law, incidentally, which the Labour MP for Copeland claims his contrib

My latest Poliical Compass score

My score on 15th March 2012 Economic Left/Right: 3.75 (e.g. right of centre, but not anywhere near the extremes, on economics) Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.41 (In other words the political compass site classes me as a social liberal)

Davy Jones R.I.P.

As a small boy I loved "The Monkees" T.V. show, and I am astonished to learn that their lead singer Davy Jones, a Manchester lad who made it big in the US, has died at the age of 66. He was a wonderful singer but I particularly remember him for his sense of fun his comic ability. He leaves a widow and four daughters. Rest in Peace

National Offer Day

If you told a hundred adults that today was national offer day, I suspect that eighty or so of them wouldn't have a clue what you were talking about. Of the other ten, about five would be only too well aware of that today was indeed National Offer Day. They would be or parents of children aged about ten, or teachers or other staff involved in the process of "secondary transfer," e.g. assigning children in the present "year six" to secondary schools in the coming autumn, would know exactly what you meant and I suspect most will either be very pleased and relieved or extremely upset. The ones who knew what you meant but didn't already know it was National Offer day would be the parents who had been through it comparatively recently but don't have a child going through secondary transfer this year: and they would all say something like "yes: thank goodness it doesn't affect us this year." Certainly I and my wife, who had two children to worry