Showing posts from 2013

Quote of the day New Year's Eve 2013

“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”   ( William Shakespeare  )

Quote of the day 30th December 2013

Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”   ( Winston Churchill  )

Quote of the day 29th December 2013

Everyone makes mistakes, but only a person with integrity owns up to them.”   ( Nicole Guillaume  )

Quote of the day 28th December 2013

“Very rarely do people make big compromises with their integrity. Almost every compromise is a small one that is easily justified. The downhill slide is usually a result of many little compromises.”   ( Dennis Prager , Think a Second Time  )

Quote of the day 27th December 2013

“Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.”   ( Isaac Newton  )

Quote of the Day Boxing Day 2013

“No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons.”   ( Herodotus , The Histories  )

H.M. the Queen's Christmas Broadcast 2013

Her Majesty's message was particularly powerful this year. I have a feeling that this message, and some of the images in it, may still be appearing in historical works, however mankind then records them, long after everyone now alive has passed on.

Quote of the day Christmas Day 2013

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah, Chapter nine, verse six, King James Bible)

A Very Merry Christmas to everyone reading this blog

I wish everyone who reads this a very happy Christmas. To anyone reading who is a christian or who values the Christian tradition, may the love exemplified by the Virgin Mary and the hope represented by the Baby Jesus be with you this Christmas. To anyone who has a different faith, may your God or gods be with you at this time. To anyone who does not follow a religious faith, may you find rest and happiness during this festive season. To everyone who reads these words, may Peace on Earth and goodwill to all human beings be with you this Christmas season.

A stormy Christmas

I certainly hope that the Met Office people are as accurate with their prediction that the weather will settle down for Christmas Day and Boxing Day as they were with the prediction that it would be vile yesterday and today. Judging by the amount of water which has built up in some of the boxes and flower pots in our garden since I last tried to tidy it at the weekend, there have been three or four inches of rain in West Cumbria in the last three days. Looking out of my office window this morning, there was a brief but sharp hailstorm at around 11 am this morning comprising spectacularly large hailstones. And for much of the morning it was so windy that there were wave systems on the puddles of rainwater in the car park. It wouldn't had to blow much harder before there were White Horses! Be careful if you are out and about.

Quote of the day Christmas eve 2013

“Character is how you treat people who can't do anything for you in return. Integrity is how you act when you think nobody is looking.” ( Thea Nishimori  )

Former Labour Europe minister given six months for expenses fiddle

I take no pleasure in the conviction of former Labour MP and Europe Minister Denis MacShane who has been sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to fiddling his expenses by submitting 19 fake receipts amounting to £12,900. He is the fifth MP to be sent to prison for expenses fraud. All five were Labour, though alas none of the parties have been entirely free from misbehaviour. This is totally unacceptable whoever does it and whichever political viewpoint they represent. I still believe that most people involved in politics are honest but it is absolutely essential that we have government by law and not by individuals. Those who make the law must never see themselves as above the law. That is why the legal system must come down on those politicians who fiddle their expenses with exactly the same force which would be applied to anyone else. The judge accepted MacShane's contention that the faudulent claims covered genuine expenditure which he could have clai

Quote of the day 23rd December 2013

“Govern thy life and thy thoughts as if the whole world were to see the one, and read the other.” ( Thomas Fuller  )

Quote of the day 22nd December 2013 from Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

“Human rights' are a fine thing, but how can we make ourselves sure that our rights do not expand at the expense of the rights of others? "A society with unlimited rights is incapable of standing to adversity. If we do not wish to be ruled by a coercive authority, then each of us must rein himself in ... "A stable society is achieved not by balancing opposing forces but by conscious self-limitation: by the principle that we are always duty-bound to defer to the sense of moral justice.” (  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn , Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals  )

Jobs boost for Cumbria from the new plastic banknotes

The company chosen to make the material for new plastic banknotes is set to create up to 80 new jobs in Cumbria. Wigton-based Innovia said it plans to build a £20m factory to produce material for the new £5 and £10 notes. The Bank of England says polymer notes will be in circulation in 2016 - replacing cotton paper notes, which have been used for more than 100 years. Innovia makes plastic packaging and already employs about 800 people in Wigton. A £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill is due to be the first plastic banknote. They will be made from a thin, transparent and flexible film made of polypropylene. This will be coated with an ink layer enabling it to carry the printed design features of a banknote. It also allows the inclusion of windows or clear portions in the design, used to enhance protection against counterfeits. The Bank of England has said that the notes will last for two-and-a-half times longer than paper banknotes. They would survive a spin i

Robbo on MP's pay

Robbo (which is the friendly nickname we used to give Nick Robinson, now the BBC's political correspondent, when he was chairman of the Young Conservatives) has an amusing piece here on MPs pay. He asks "Q1 - Should MPs set their own pay?" "Q2 - Should MPs get an 11% pay rise?" "Q3 - Would you like MPs to over-rule the independent body which is planning to award them that pay rise?   (Before you answer please consider your answer to Q1.)"

British economy continues to recover

The UK economy is growing faster than previously estimated, according to the latest official figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said gross domestic product was up 0.8% in the July-to-September period compared with the previous quarter, confirming its previous estimate. But it revised its growth figures for earlier quarters. This means the estimated annual growth rate has now risen from 1.5% to 1.9%, a revision that has surprised economists. A Treasury spokesman said: "Today's data show that the recovery has been stronger than previously thought and that the government's long-term economic plan is working. "But risks remain and the job is not done, so the government will go on taking the difficult decisions needed to deliver a responsible recovery for all." Good news on jobs and growth has to be set against the fact that the recovery has not yet fed through into household incomes, an increasing current account defecit, and t

Quote of the day 21st December 2013

“The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”   ( Anne Frank )

Dealing with Cyber Crime

Anyone who uses the internet and email cannot possibly be unaware of the ridiculous number of fraudulent emails being sent out by crooks who are trying to part us from our cash.   In the past year the number of attempts to defraud BT customers alone, by sending emails purporting falsely to come from BT, has increased by nearly a factor of three,  with more than 7,500 unique BT phishing websites recorded, compared with 2,737 the previous year. Consumers and businesses in the UK lost an estimated £27bn in 2012 through cybercrime. More than £600m of this was through so called "phishing" attacks.   Phishing is the term used to describe a scam where criminals use forged emails or web pages in a bid to persuade people to disclose personal information, bank details, addresses, passwords and usernames, which can then be used to commit fraud or steal money. Sometimes it is easy to tell if an email is fraudulent - for example, if there are spelling mistakes in an email which

Quote of the day 20th December 2013

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” ( Marcus Aurelius , Meditations  )

More storms on the way

If you live in Cumbria or Lancashire, if probably will not be news to you that many areas of both counties have had some dire weather over the past 72 hours. Inkerman Terrace near my home in Whitehaven is one of a number of roads im Cumbria which were closed the other night and thousands of people lost power to their homes for a while. More heavy rain and gale force winds are forecast to sweep across Cumbria later this week. The Met Office is warning the new weather front will cross the county from Friday afternoon into the early hours of Saturday morning. They says it could lead to some localised flooding and people should prepare for potential disruption. So be prepared for difficult conditions, especially if you have to travel. UPDATE 8.30 PM - BLACK ICE ALERT Police have been called to at least five road traffic accidents in Cumbria this evening. Watch out particularly for black ice if you have to drive anywhere. Visit the Traffic Link map at http://www.cumbria.police.u

Major victory on EU Fisheries reform

The battle to reform one of the most iniquitous failings of the European Union made enormous progress last week. It is not often that your hear a fishermen's representative and a marine environmentalist agreeing, let along on praising something the authorities have done, but that's what was broadcast on BBC Radio Four on Saturday morning after the European parliament gave final approval for major reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy which include replacing a policy which effectively forced fishermen to throw away millions of tons of fish every year with a ban on such discards. The proportion of fish thrown back under the previous Common Fisheries policy varied between fisheries but it was everywhere large enough to count as a major environmental and economic disaster - the most recent estimate I have seen is that 23% of fish caught in EU fisheries are currently thrown back into the sea. Most of the round fish discarded will be dead or dying when they are returned to the s

Quote of the Day 19th December 2013

“By today’s standards King George III was a very mild tyrant indeed. He taxed his American colonists at a rate of only pennies per annum. His actual impact on their personal lives was trivial. He had arbitrary power over them in law and in principle but in fact it was seldom exercised. If you compare his rule with that of today’s U.S. Government you have to wonder why we celebrate our independence.”   ( Joseph Sobran  )

Quote of the day 18th December 2013

“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”   ( Robert A. Heinlein , The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress  )

Quote of the Day 17th December 2013

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santayana (from "Life of Reason I") This saying is often misquoted (most often along the lines of "Those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it.) Similar quotations are often ascribed to Edmund Burke (as “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”) and Winston Churchill. Churchill is often supposed to have quoted Santaya, through the nearest I could find was this statment: “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel

Which party would you join if we scrapped the old ones?

Tim Montgomery has been conducting an interesting thought experiment, asking people which party they would join if we scrapped the existing political parties and set up new ones. Tim is suggesting that we might have four new parties instead: 1) The "Solidarity party", unashamedly left wing and pro public sector 2) The "Liberals," who would be both socially and economically liberal, 3) The "Nationals," economically liberal, small-government, moderately eurosceptic 4) The "Freedom party" of the patriotic right You can see what they might look like at this " page on the twitpic site. It gives an idea of how different our politics might look, and what a range of views are covered by the present government, that there would almost certainly be members of the present cabinet in all four parties - Vince Cable and some Lib/Dems in the "Solidarity" party, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander in the "Liberals" quite possibly w

Quote of the day 16th Dec 2013

"Red Tape, bureaucracy, regulations, inspectorates, commissions, quangoes, 'Czars, 'Units' and 'targets' came to help and protect us, but now we need protection from them. Armies of interferers don't contribute to human happiness." (Michael Howard.)

Quote of the day 15th December 2013 - Remembering Nelson Mandela

"Mr. Mandela was more than one of the greatest pillars of our time."   "He was one of our greatest teachers. He taught by example. He sacrificed so much ... for freedom and equality, for democracy and justice." ( U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ) "I would not have the life I have today if it was not for him. I'm here to show my gratitude to Madiba. He was jailed so we could have our freedom." (Matlhogonolo Mothoagae, 24)

Watch out for some really filthy weather if you are travelling this evening

I spent this morning campaigning in Rossendale valley with the excellent MP for that constituency, Jake Berry. We had a good session this morning, but the last part of my journey home, on the A66 and A595 from Penrith to Whitehaven, was marked by some of the most difficult and dangerous driving conditions I have experienced other than when the temperature is near to or below freezing. There was an unhealthy combination of very high winds and heavy rain leading to a lot of water on the road and windows. In a couple of places there were also fallen trees and branches impinging onto the road. If you have to travel this evening anywhere in Cumbria, take great care.

Quote of the day 14th December 2014: Invictus

This week's Economist front cover has a picture of the late Nelson Mandela, who is to be buried tomorrow, and the last four lines of William Ernest Henley's poem "Invictus." "It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."       

Quote of the day 22nd December 2013

“Human rights are a fine thing, but how can we make ourselves sure that our rights do not expand at the expense of the rights of others? "A society with unlimited rights is incapable of standing to adversity. If we do not wish to be ruled by a coercive authority, then each of us must rein himself in ... "A stable society is achieved not by balancing opposing forces but by conscious self-limitation: by the principle that we are always duty-bound to defer to the sense of moral justice.”   ( Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn , Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals  )

MPs salaries - making sense of a bad position

Politicians are now in an impossible situation with respect to MP's pay. Because of the way a large number of MPs flagrantly abused the previous very lax expenses system, politicians have completely lost the trust of the public with respect to their pay. It is very difficult to see how they could get it back, but it obviously has to start with restraint similar to that which MPs are imposing on the rest of the public sector. In the recent past, MPs took flak because of the salaries, benefits and expenses regime they voted through for themselves. So it was agreed that setting their pay should be handed over to an independent body. But now that has been done, they are still getting flak because of the recommendations which the Independent Adjudicator has made for MP's pay from 2015. Part of the problem is with a very misleading headline figure. The Independent Adjudicator has recommended that the overall level of MP's remuneration is about right but that there should be

Quotes of the day Friday 13th December 2013

"It is bad luck to fall out of a 13th storey window on Friday" (Anon) "Today is Friday the 13th. Try not to be a teenage girl in her underwear at night at a deserted summer camp today." (Anon)

Housing - getting the market moving

The National Housing Federation, which represents Housebuilders, has expressed concern about the rate at which new homes are being built.   This is an issue: Britain does need more homes.   The housing market which the present coalition government inherited from Labour in 2010 had house building at its lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s.   Three years later rents are falling in real terms, 360,000 homes have been built, and house building is growing at its fastest rates for 10 years. And the government's strategy to reduce the deficit has kept interest rates, and therefore mortgage rates, lower than they would otherwise have been. A rise of 1 per cent in interest rates would see typical mortgage bills rise by £1,000 a year, and adding that blow to the burdens which many hardworking families are facing at that time would not be a good idea. Yet another reason Britain cannot afford to let Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, whose policy of borrwing more would drive up marke

Quote of the day 12th December 2013

“I realize that what happened in Bosnia could happen anywhere in the world, particularly in places that are diverse and have a history of conflict. It only takes bad leadership for a country to go up in flames, for people of different ethnicity, color, or religion to kill each other as if they had nothing in common whatsoever. Having a democratic constitution, laws that secure human rights, police that maintain order, a judicial system, and freedom of speech don't ultimately guarantee long lasting peace. If greedy or bloodthirsty leaders come to power, it can all go down. It happened to us. It can happen to you.” (  Savo Heleta , Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia  )

Tackling Dementia

The Prime Minister is due to announce today hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in life sciences as a special G8 summit in London agrees a landmark international deal on tackling dementia. He is also announcing that the UK has now attracted £2 billion of investment in life sciences since the launch of the Government’s strategy two years ago.     Building a more competitive, resilient economy with new industries and the jobs of the future is a key part of our long-term plan for Britain. Over the past two years we’ve seen £2 billion invested in this country’s life sciences industry. This will mean more jobs and growth, but also more research and greater progress on beating dementia. It’s a huge sign of confidence, but there is still more to do.   That’s why the Government will double its funding into dementia research by 2025, continue to attract more private sector investment – GlaxoSmithKline is set to announce £200 million of investments including creating a cen

Quote of the day 11th December 2013

“When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues.”   ( Thomas L. Friedman  )

Keeping sport free of match-fixing.

The Government has today called together the five major sporting bodies and the Gambling Commission to discuss match fixing. Match fixing undermines the integrity of sport across the world and the government is determined to do all it can to help stamp it out. Today, the Culture Secretary Maria Miller met leaders from football, cricket, horse racing, rugby league and rugby union. The government has stated that it will continue to work hard alongside the police, betting operators, the Gambling Commission and the Financial Conduct Authority to deal with this unacceptable behaviour. Britain has one of the best systems in the world to tackle sporting corruption – but we cannot and must not be complacent.

Quote of the Day 10th December 2013 from Nelson Mandela

"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies." (Nelson Mandela)

Possibly the most painful joke of 2013 ...

Just seen on twitter, retweeted by John Rentoul from Kevin Bland and possibly the worst joke of the year: "I run the agency which supplies Santa Claus with all his seasonal workers. I am the God of Elf Hire ." You probably have to be of a certain vintage to understand this one: anyone who wasn't around in 1968 can follow this link to a Youtube clip of the relevant song opening.

Gender segregation at Universities

When I was at University, as Student Union Treasurer I had various dealings both with the University Women's Groups and with various Islamic societies. The latter sometimes seemed to celebrate being difficult to deal with - I remember one Christmas the University of Bristol Islamic Students Society completely spoilt what I had at first thought the rather nice gesture of sending Christmas cards to all the members of Union Council - until we realised that they had left out the two members of the council with Jewish names. Women's groups, by comparison, thought of themselves as victims and were always trying to overset any example of what they saw as the oppression of "all women" - and yes, they did mean ALL women, including the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. I remember an attempt to remove the word "all" from a motion about the oppression of all women was voted down at NUS conference and the debate turned on the specific point of whether Margaret T

Quote of the day 9th December 2013

“To view the opposition as dangerous is to misunderstand the basic concepts of democracy. To oppress the opposition is to assault the very foundation of democracy.”   ( Aung San Suu Kyi , Letters from Burma  )

Youtube footage of storm hitting Whitehaven Harbour

This footage was uploaded to Youtube by Sean Duffy and shows last week's Force 11 gale hitting the harbour walls at Whitehaven. Hydraulic action is one of the strongest forces on the planet, and this shows why: I don't think anyone who watches this will have difficulty appreciating how the waves did considerable damage to our harbour. Sean also put a comment on this blog with details of the petition for a referendum on an elected mayor for Copeland - you can find this at

Quote of the day 8th December 2013

“My people are going to learn the principles of democracy the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will, every man can follow his own conscience provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him act against the liberty of his fellow men.”   ( Mustafa Kemal Atatürk  )

Small Business Saturday continued

Out with Allan Mossop, chairman of West Cumbria FSB, and Graham Roberts this morning promoting "Keep trade local" campaign and supporting local business as part of "Small Business Saturday.

Comments policy

I do not allow partisan comments on obituary posts on this blog. That policy was introduced well before Margaret Thatcher died, after someone posted a partisan comment on the obit post of a local government officer in Copeland which caused offence and upset to his grieving family. The ban affects criticism of the person who has died but I also consider it inappropriate to use someone's death to make an inaccurate attack on another person (especially if the person who has died was famous for promoting reconciliation. For that reason I have removed a debate which was developing on the Nelson Mandela obit thread which included the untrue suggestion currently being spread by badly-informed people on Twitter that David Cameron was one of the small group of headbangers in the late and unlamented FCS who who thought it would be funny to wind up left-wing students in the mid 1980's by wearing "Hang Nelson Mandela" badges. As a student at the time I had the misfortune to

Quote of the Day 7th December 2013

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”   ( Martin Luther King Jr.  )

Small Business Saturday

Tomorrow (Saturday 7th December) is Small Business Saturday when everyone in the UK is encouraged to support small businesses both on the day and beyond.  This is the first Small Business Saturday held in the UK and I shall be out and about with the Federation of Small Businesses visiting and supporting small businesses tomorrow.

Nelson Mandela RIP

Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95.  He was one of the greatest statesmen of our age.  He was an extraordinary man in so many ways, but the most extraordinary thing about him is how despite having suffered so much he seeed to have a complete absence of bitterness or anger, and was so effective at reaching out to those who had been his enemies in a spirit of reconciliation. There are many people who were once his opponents and critics who will genuinely mourn him today. That spirit of reconciliation undoubtedly saved many thousands of lives during South Africa's path away from apartheid, and by stepping down as President after one term, Mandela sent a signal to states which had thrown off one form of oppression they should aim to become a functioning and continuing democracy rather than replace it with another form of oppression through having, as the saying goes, " one man, one vote, once." I am sorry to have to add this paragraph. Please note that the rules o

Quote of the day 6th December 2013

"Every week a clever undergraduate, every quarter a dull American don, discovers for the first time what some Shakespeare play really meant.  . . . The revolution in thought and sentiment which has occurred in my own lifetime is so great that I belong, mentally, to Shakespeare’s world far more than to that of these recent interpreters. "I see--I feel it in my bones--I know beyond argument--that most of their interpretations are merely impossible; they involve a way of looking at things which was not known in 1914, much less in the Jacobean period. This daily confirms my suspicion of the same approach to Plato or the New Testament. "The idea that any man or writer should be opaque to those who lived in the same culture, spoke the same language, shared the same habitual imagery and unconscious assumptions, and yet transparent to those who have none of these advantages, is in my opinion preposterous.” ( C.S. Lewis  )

Thousands without power and Inkerman Terrace closed as storms hit Cumbria and UK

Foul weather throughout the UK has had serious consequences in many parts of the country including Cumbria. Take great care if you have to travel today or tomorrow. Inkerman Terrace in Whitehaven (The B5094) has been closed off at one or both ends for much of today due to an unsafe building. There have been lane closures on the M6 and a number of roads in higher altitudes in Cumbria have experienced icy conditions requiring extreme care.

Autumn statement: putting Britain on the right track

Britain’s economic plan is working, but the job is not yet done – we need to keep taking the difficult decisions to secure the economy for the long-term. The biggest risk to Britain comes from those who would abandon the plan – and borrow and spend more. Our long-term plan will secure a responsible recovery for all. The Autumn Statement shows the plan is working: · Growth upgraded . GDP forecasts are revised up from 0.6% to 1.4% in 2013 and from 1.8% to 2.4% in 2014. · Employment up . Forecasts of employment growth have been revised up from staying flat to rising by 400,000 this year. Unemployment is predicted to fall to 7% in 2015 and 5.6% in 2018. · Cutting the deficit . The deficit was 11% in 2009/10. It is projected to fall to 6.8% this year – lower than the 7.5% forecast in March. It will fall to 5.6% in 2014/15 and 4.4% in 2015/16. By 2018-19 the OBR expects to run a surplus. · Debt falling faster. Debt this year will be

Even the BBC has noticed that Britain's economy is starting to recover.

No room for complacency, but as the Chancellor prepares to deliver his autumn statement he can take some satisfaction from knowing that even the BBC has acknowledged that Britain is turning the corner. An article by the Chief economics correspondent of BBC News, Hugh Pym, which you can read here , acknowledges that Britain has experiened a "rapid improvement in the economic climate." As the article also points out, "The triple dip did not happen. The double dip was even revised away after the ONS calculated that output was flat in early 2012 rather than falling, as had first been thought. "As spring turned to summer, the UK economic climate brightened rapidly and independent analysts started revising up their growth forecasts for this year and next. "In March, the average UK growth forecast, measured by Consensus Economics, was 0.9% for this year and 1.6% for 2014. By November, these had been pushed up sharply to 1.4% and 2.3% respectively.  

Quotes of the day 5th December 2013

“Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man.”   ( Bertrand Russell  ) “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' ”   ( Isaac Asimov  ) For the avoidance of doubt I am not repeating these quotes to suggest that either of these similar and rather foolish notions is a good thing to hold, or suggesting that everyone does hold them, I am agreeing with Russell and Asimov that too many people do.

When politics should stop at the water's edge

There used to be a convention in both this country and the US of A that politicians didn't criticise their political opponents when those opponents were representing the country abroad, and particularly refrained from partisan attacks on efforts being made to improve the security or trade position of the country. The term often applied to this principle is "Politics stops at the water's edge" after the US Republican senator Arthur Vandenburg, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations committee. Asserting that we must stop “partisan politics at the water's edge," he cooperated with Truman's Democrat administration in forging bipartisan support for the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and NATO. Sadly the Labour party lost sight of the principle that they should put the country's interests above their own partisan advantage a long time ago, as their attacks on David Cameron's trade mission to China demonstrate. David Cameron has been on a

Prepare to batten down

The Met Office has issued Amber “be prepared” warning for Cumbria, the north of England and west Scotland over the next 48 hours with possible wind gusts in excess of 80 mph expected for tomorrow. The high winds are likely to have an impact on transport, ferry services and lead to speed restrictions on some bridges. Icy conditions may also develop on some roads on Thursday night and Friday morning. This is expected to be a short-lived cold snap, with temperatures quickly recovering to near normal over the weekend. Steve Willington, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office said: “A rapidly deepening Atlantic depression is forecast to move east to the north of Scotland during Wednesday night and Thursday morning. This will bring westerly gales to northern and some central parts of the UK, which will veer northerly and temporarily bring much colder arctic air southwards across northern areas before easing into Friday. “The public should be prepared for significant disruption to trave

Quote of the day 4th December 2013

"Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” ( Thomas Jefferson  )

Of Boris, clever buffoons and stupid intellectuals ...

Boris Johnson is part of a long English tradition of clever men who either try hard to avoid showing off their intelligence or actively pretend to be buffoons. Anyone who listened to or read the whole of his speech the other day should have realised that it was far more inclusive and less extreme than you might think if you just caught the quote about IQ. Which is just as well because the quote about IQ was in fact completely and utterly meaningless. The people who created IQ tried to set it up as a normal distribution with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. On that basis  BY DEFINITION about a sixth of the population have IQs below 85 and slightly over 2% have IQs above 130. In his speech to the centre of Policy Studies Boris Johnson said that "Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85 while about 2% …" and he then departed from the tex

Quote of the day 3rd December 2013

"In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself.” ( C.S. Lewis )

Energy companies to pass on reductions on tax to consumers.

Energy will continue to be expensive and will still be a substantial part both of the cost of living for households and of the costs of running a small business. However, with the news that the government is to reconfigure green taxes so as to reduce their impact, and that Energy companies will pass this reduction on to consumers, energy bills will go up by less than would otherwise have been the case. Major energy firms have started to announce plans to pass on savings to customers following a new package of measures from the government. British Gas owner Centrica said it would cut bills by £53 in January, two months after a £123 price rise for the average dual-fuel customer. SSE also said it would pass on savings of around £50 and Npower plans a conditional price freeze until 2015. The moves come after the government said it would make changes to bills. Some subsidies for those in fuel poverty will be moved into general taxation and some green policy targets will be sl