Showing posts from April, 2013

110,000 not out ...

This afternoon this blog passed the cumulative milestone of 110,000 pageviews since the traffic count started in 2008. I hope all the people who visited in that time have found it interesting

Britain and Europe

When you ask people what they think is the most important issue facing Britain, very few will name our relations with the European union. Although there are some people to whom the issue of Britain's role in Europe is very important indeed, it doesn't usually make it into the list of the top ten issues found by opinion pollsters to be of most concern to voters. Conservatives have to be particularly careful not to sound obsessed by the European issue, because it can easily come over to voters as though we are neglecting the issues they care about - jobs, the economy, hospitals, schools, the cost of living - in favour of debates about Europe which sound abstract and irrelevant to the mother trying to put food on her children's table, the small businessman trying to keep his company afloat, the working man trying to keep his job, the doctor trying to help his patients, and all the other heroes who keep Britain going. But here's the thing. What happens to Britain'

Quote of the Day

"Even if you are in a minority of one, the truth is the truth" Mahatma Ghandi

Ed Miliband's car crash interview

Heard an unbelievably bad interview given by Ed Miliband on BBC Radio 4 this lunchtime - both I and a colleague thought it was a complete car crash. He got off to a bad start by claiming that local Labour councils had helped people with expensive heating bills. Hmm. Guess which recent Secretary of State for Energy has a lot to do with the system of fuel pricing which resulted in those expensive heating bills? You've guessed it: one Ed Miliband. Then he refused no fewer than ten times to admit that his policies would mean increased borrowing in the short term or explain how Labour would fund them. He called for a one year cut in the VAT rate. It was pointed out that this would cost £12 billion. He was asked how he would fund this and refused to answer. He was asked if this would increase borrowing in the short term and refused to answer, saying that it would lead to growth and cut borrowing in the medium term. At one point he accused the interviewer, Martha Kearney, of not

Quote of the Day - Whiteside's law of Real Terms

When an inflation adjustment is made to describe the impact of a change in people's circumstances "In real terms" the impact will always be perceived as follows. If a change is supposed to be bad news "in real terms" such as a rise in the cost of living, it will seem all too real. If a change is supposed to be good news "in real terms" such as an increase in real income, the improvement will appear to be wholly imaginary.

Swimathon 2013 result

Lots of smiles today in the Whiteside household, though I admit that both my son and myself are a little on the tired side this afternoon after completing our respective swimming challenges! John completed his Swimathon 2013 challenge of 1000 metres - 40 lengths - in 50 minutes and we are very proud of him I finished my 5,000 metres - 200 lengths - in one hour and fifty-five minutes. Which, as I have now completed this challenge in twenty consecutive years, that I have done a hundred kilometers in individual Swimathon charity events. Another huge thank-you to all those who have already sponsored myself, my son, or both, for Swimathon 2013 in which we are raising money for Marie Curie cancer care. Between us we have so far raised well over £200 for cancer care. Sponsorship has not yet closed: anyone who has not already sponsored us and would like to do so can support Marie Curie Cancer care by sponsoring either of us at the respective pages below. My fundraising page: Chris

Swimathon - the big day arrives

The big day for Swimathon 2013 in Whitehaven has now arrived and at the time this post is scheduled to appear  my son John and myself will be taking part at Copeland pool in Hensingham. Another huge thank-you to all those who have already sponsored myself, my son, or both, for Swimathon 2013 in which we are raising money for Marie Curie cancer care. As I have mentioned on earlier posts, this is a big event for me in two ways: the twentieth consecutive year I have taken part myself, which means I will have swum a hundred kilometers for charity in successive Swimathons if I finish the course, and the first year my son John is taking part. Wish us both luck!

Quote of the Day

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die." Rudyard Kipling, from "The Gods of the Copybook headings"

Election questions - a virtual doorstep

In relation to the county council elections, in which I am standing for the "Egremont North & St Bees" division which includes St Bees, Moor Row, Bigrigg, and a chunk of the Mirehouse area of Whitehaven, Jim posted four questions yesterday, which I promised to answer today, and I've had a few on the doorstep. So here is a "Virtual Doorstep" with my answers to these questions. 1. The closure of the public toilets in the area, would you cut other spending in order for them to be re opened or not? This is a Copeland Borough Council responsibility rather than a Cumbria County council one, so I am not in a position to promise that if elected to Cumbria County council I would reverse or vote against the decision of the Labour majority on Copeland to close the toilets. However, I do consider that this is a great deal more important than some of the things which Labour in Copeland is spending money and this would be third on my list (after Parking and Bin co

Faster broadband arrives in Cumbrian towns

In the interests of transparency let me declare an interest: I work for BT but am not personally involved in the plans to rollout Broadband service in Cumbria. All the information in this post is already in the public domain. The "Connecting Cumbria" initiative is still awaiting EU approval, but meanwhile faster broadband continues to roll out in a series of Cumbrian towns. More than 19,000 homes and businesses in Barrow-in-Furness and over 11,000 in Workington are getting faster broadband service in the next few weeks as engineers complete local investment programmes. These towns follow Penrith, Carlisle and Kendal where fibre is already available, and will be followed shortly by Dalton-in-Furness,  Kirby Lonsdale, Maryport and Whitehaven. Burton-in-Kendal and Newbiggin-on-Lune are earmarked for upgrades by the end of Spring 2014, taking the total number of homes and businesses across Cumbria able to benefit as a result of BT’s £2.5 billion fibre roll-out programme t

Quote of the day

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”   ― Abraham Lincoln

EU delays rollout of Superfast Broadband in Cumbria

Several months ago Cumbroa County Council, the UK government, and BT signed a £51 million deal to bring faster broadband to Cumbria, particularly rural areas of the county. This project, called "Connecting Cumbria," should deliver speeds of up to 80Mbps to Cumbrian homes and businesses, and is desperately needed to help businesses in general, and small businesses in particular, bring jobs to the county and help lift the local economy out of recession. It will eventually happen, but unfortunately European Union signoff has been delayed, and the council cannot start work on the project until "Major project approval" is given. The irony is that this is not a case of asking the EU to cough up the money: some is coming from the UK government, some from the county council, and some from BT. But under EU law the project needs an agreement from the Commission that the project is not anti-competitive before we can spend our own money on improving our own infrastructure

Swimathon 2013 - two days to go

Swimathon 2013 starts today and in another two days both my son John and myself will be taking part at Copeland pool in Hensingham. It will be a bit of a change from charging around the county on behalf of various county council candidates, and campaigning in St Bees, Moor Row, Bigrigg, Mirehouse, and the rest of what the boundary commission in their wisdom called the "Egremont North and St Bees" ward myself. Another huge thank-you to all those who have already sponsored myself, my son, or both, for Swimathon 2013 in which we are raising money for Marie Curie cancer care. Thanks to your generosity my son has reached double his fundraising target and I am more than half-way to mine. As I have mentioned on earlier posts, this is a big event for me in two ways: the twentieth consecutive year I have taken part myself, which means I will have swum a hundred kilometers for charity in successive Swimathons if I finish the course, and also first year my son John is also taking

Quote of the Day

“Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.” Professor Milton Friedman

A tale of two payments

It's interesting to compare the fuss the Labour party in Cumbria is making about two payments: in one case they are asking questions about a bill for £700 which in the event was not paid by the taxpayer. In the other case, the Labour party are complaining about the fact that other people are asking questions - they object even to people asking about the cost to the taxpayer of a payoff which could easily be a thousand times larger than £700. The first case concerns transport bills to two events which Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes attended in his official capacity. It was agreed that because of the long hours he had been working it would not be safe or appropriate to drive himself. Someone in his office therefore booked a chauffeur driven car. To quote the Chief Executive of what used to be the police authority and is now the police commissioner's department, Stuart Edwards: “As a result of the long hours the Commissioner was working it was decided for pe

Britain avoids triple-dip recession

GDP figures are out and show small positive growth between the last two quarters. Only 0.3% but that's a great deal better than going backwards. Which means that Britain has officially avoided a triple-dip recession. Not sure whether the noise or gnashing of teeth was louder from Labour HQ or the BBC newsroom, but the fact that we're not now going to get a slew of "Recession!" headlines will be good for confidence and investment.That will help Britain inch that bit further towards a genuine recovery which will mean more people in jobs, higher household incomes, and better progress on cutting what is still a terrifyingly-large government deficit.

Quote of the day

“Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.” ― Rudyard Kipling , The Collected Works

Tesco cans expansion proposals

Following poor financial results, Tesco has abandoned about a hundred major projects for new or enlarged stores, including the proposed expansion of the Whitehaven Tesco store at Bransty. It would be comparatively easy for someone on either side of the political divide to try to write a  point-scoring piece trying to blame one's political opponent's, but although the Labour administration at Copeland Borough Council do have a sort of "reverse Midas touch" in which everything associated with them turns to ashes, it looks like this one really is down to the global economic climate - Tesco have just lost vast sums of money on a venture in the United States. The expansion of Tesco's Whitehaven store would have brought about £20 million of investment and 150 jobs to West Cumbria, so this is extremely disappointing news.

DC: no more petrol duty rises

The Prime Minister has promised to "keep going" by scapping planned fuel duty rises proposed by the last government. Speaking in Derbyshire he referred to the negative impact which increases in "really big bills" have on both ordinary households and the economy. It is now "understood to be unlikely" (to quote the Daily Telegraph here ) that there will be any further duty increases between now and the General Election, unless the price of oil falls sharply and triggers the fuel price stabliser to change direction. David Cameron said: “The truth is this, when we got in, the previous government had set out a whole lot of plans for fuel duty increases. It was like a whole lot of unexploded bombs which we have had to try and defuse.”   “We have cancelled and delayed almost all of these fuel duty increases. We even cut fuel duty on one occasion. We will keep going to try and keep those fuel duty increases off, recognising that it is the really big bi

Quote of the Day

"Ecce parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus." "Behold the mountains have laboured, and brought forth but a laughable little mouse." Horace.

European court declines to interfere in British elections shock

Yesterday the UK won a case at the European Court, which ruled that Brtiain's long-standing ban on paid-for TV election commercials, associated with the provision of a certain number of free party political broadcasts, does not interfere with free speech. This is an issue where theory and practice pull in different directions for me. In theory, and particularly in the internet age, it seems at first obvious that political advertising should be allowed. The ban is a survival from an age where there was no internet and almot everyone voted for one of two parties, so fairness could easily be acheived by giving each of those two parties the same number of party political broadcasts. That situation no longer applies And yet ... In the United States political TV advertising is both effective and extremely expensive. That is the main reason why political campaigning costs an impossible amount of money and only those who are extremely rich theselves or can raise vast amounts of m

Memorable campaign slogans

While drafting and reading leaflets during the current County Council elections I have been reminded of some of the more memorable election slogans of past campaigns. Two which stick in my memory were used on opposite sides of the 1884 US Presidential election between Republican James Blaine and Democrat Grover Cleveland: "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine" – (used by Grover Cleveland supporters, referring to Blaine's alleged unethical business deals)   The Republicans retaliated with ... "Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha!" (which referred to an illegitimate child who Cleveland had allegedly fathered.) During the 1952 Presidential election the republicans had a campaign song "I like Ike" referring to their candidate Dwight D (Ike) Eisenhower. One Democrat retorted that "I like Mickey Mouse, but I'm not going to vote for him either" The country, howe

Quote of the day - exemplifying a particularly annoying attitude

I quote the following advice from a taxman which can be taken two ways. The way it appears to be intended is a perfect example of the worst possible attitude for "public servants" to have to taxpayers. "The trick is to stop thinking of it as 'your' money." - IRS auditor

Swimathon 2013: six days to go

This is Swimathon 2013 week. A very big thank you to all those who have already sponsored myself, my son, or both, for Swimathon 2013 in which we are  raising money for Marie Curie cancer care. It's big event for me in two ways: the twentieth consecutive year I have taken part myself, and the first year my son John is also taking part. We will both be doing the Swimathon at Copeland pool this Sunday: I am attempting the full 5,000 metres (200 lengths), while my eleven year old son is simply going to swim as far as he can. Anyone who has not already sponsored us and would like to do so can support Marie Curie Cancer care by sponsoring either of us at the respective pages below. My fundraising page: Chris Whiteside's sponsorship page for Swimathon 2013 My son's fundraising page: John Whiteside's sponsorship page for Swimathon 2013

Local Election campaign launch

On Friday in Nuneaton, David Cameron launched the Conservative Party's local election campaign. In a speech delivered to Party supporters, the Prime Minister set out the three main reasons why people should vote Conservative in the elections on 2 May. Number 1: The services on your streets Because Conservatives in Government have given local councils much more power and freedom, it really matters who you vote for in these local elections. Under Labour's rule by Whitehall diktat, local democracy was eroded. We've scrapped Labour's top-down regime. The RDAs, Regional Assemblies and Government Offices for the Regions have all gone. Now councils have more power and it is your vote that decides who is running these councils and the services we all rely on. Number 2: Fighting for the pound in your pocket Conservative councils understand it is your money that they spend. Every single pound in your pocket has been hard-earned and Conservative councils are f

Quote of the Day

"Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned." Professor Milton Friedman

Quotes of the Day - on fairness

"Life is never fair, and perhaps it is as well for most of us that it is not." Oscar Wilde “ I know the world isn't fair , but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor? ”   Bill Watterson

Quote of the day

"What can you do against the lunatic who is more clever than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?" George Orwell

Contrasting quotes of the day on learning from history

"History repeats itself - the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." Kar Marx "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana. "History repeats itself, historians repeat each other." Philip Guedala "We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."   George Bernard Shaw - who may have been quoting a similar comment from G.W.F. Hegel. "Learning from your own mistakes is smart, learning from others' mistakes is wise. Not learning from either is foolish" Anon.

The wrong question

I hope I was not the only person from a mainstream political party who was very uncomfortable with the question Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, asked Home Secretary Theresa May today about the delays in deporting Abu Qatada to Jordan. Not because I disagree that both the present government and the previous one were right to seek his deportation. I share Mrs May's "frustration" at the delay it has taken since the last government started deportation proceedings  around a decade ago, to get a satisfactory result. But, but, but, and again but (as Ian Fleming might have written) This is a better country to live in because we have independent courts. However annoying and infuriating we may often find it when a court makes what we may think is the wrong decision, I would rather live in  a country where ministers of whatever party have an independent check on their ability to act which insures that they don't have total power. And

Candidates standing for Cumbria County Council

In total there are 80 Conservative candidates, 73 Labour or Lab/Co-op, 52 UKIP, 46 Lib/Dem, 31 Green, and 34 other candidates standing for the 84 seats on Cumbria County Council.  Polling day is Thursday 2nd May. The full list of candidates standing by district and district for each county division is as follows: ALLERDALE Aspatria Barnett, Christopher - (BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY) 9 Highmoor Mansion, Highmoor Park Wigton Cumbria CA7 9LN Coe, Denise Susan - (LABOUR) 15 Walker Road Workington Cumbria Finlay, William - (INDEPENDENT) 2 East Crescent Aspatria Cumbria CA7 3EF Lister, James Philip - (CONSERVATIVE) Moorgill Farm, West Moor End Aspatria Cumbria CA7 2NG Scott, Margrit Wendy - (LIBERAL DEMOCRAT) Peter House, Braithwaite Keswick Cumbria CA12 5SY Bothel and Wharrels Bowness, Alan - (CONSERVATIVE) High Waverbridge House, Bolton Low Houses Wigton Cumbria CA7 8PN Perry, Jill - (GREEN PARTY) Main Band House, Bulgill Maryport Cumbria