Showing posts from June, 2013

Lest We Forget

While on a visit to British troops in Afghanistan this weekend, David Cameron paid tribute to the British personnel - and sadly the count is now running at 440 - who have given their lives in that country. We should never forget their sacrifice. He also said that peace in Afghanistan requires a political solution and not just a military one: and Mohammed Karzai, the Afghan president, agreed with him. President Karzai also referred to the recent attack by Taleban extremists on his Presidental Palace as "Peanuts" in comparison to the losses which have sometimes been caused in other attacks. We do need a diplomatic resolution to be part of the solution. Let's hope one can be found. Of course, most of the military challenge is not coming from Afghans, but from the Pakistani Taleban. There are massive troubles in Pakistan, but I take some comfort from the fact that the recent election there represented one of the first occasions, if not the first, in Pakistan'

Quote of the Day

"I like people who refuse to speak until they are ready to speak." (Lillian Hellman)

£1000 reward for information leading to cable theft convictions

If anyone reading this was on the A62 near Oldham on Wednesday evening and saw anything unusual, you might like to know that a reward of up to £1,000 has been offered for information leading to arrests and convictions following a major cable theft in the area that evening.  Several underground cables – a mix of fibre and copper - were damaged in a criminal act in the Oldham area by the A62 just before midnight on Wednesday, causing severe disruption to customers. Kevin Brown, general manager, BT metal theft task force, said: "I would urge anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area to contact the police or Crimestoppers. Metal theft generates thousands of faults on BT's network every year and remains a priority for BT." Engineers worked through the night repairing and replacing damaged cables. Some service providers continued to experience problems with other communications services for several days as a result of the cable damage, and a number of busi

Quotes of the day

"We always have been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be, detested in France." (Attributed to the first Duke of Wellington in  Wellington and His Friends (1965) by his descendant  Gerald Wellesley, 7th Duke of Wellington , p. 138, and in The Economist (16 June 2005) . The Duke had, of course, spent most of his adult life at war with France, and the statement is quoted to show that disagreements with our neighbours on the other side of the channel have a long history, not to suggest that this is a good thing.) "I should have given more praise." (As quoted in A History of Warfare (1968) by Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein : "Sir Winston Churchill once told me of a reply made by the Duke of Wellington, in his last years, when a friend asked him: "If you had your life over again, is there any way in which you could have done better?" The old Duke replied: "Yes, I should have given more praise.")

The "Double Dip" that never was ...

Official economic figures going back six years were revised yesterday. Most of the changes were not that dramatic, but the one of the headlines on every news bulletin I heard was that the "double dip" recession apparently didn't happen after all. Hence today's "quote of the day" from Stephanie Flanders, economics editor of BBC Radio 4, who also referred, half seriously, to the second dip as the "recession that never was." According to the new figures the recession which took place towards the end of the term in office of the last Labour government was even more severe than was thought at the time. The figures for the first quarter of 2012 have also been revised from a drop of 0.1% to being flat, e.g. neither growing or shrinking. As the official definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative growth, this means that what had been the second quarter of the supposed "double dip" is now offically flat rather than pret

Quote of the Day

"Well I guess if we made news of the non-event originally, then we do have to now make news of the non-event turning out to really have been a non-event." (Stephanie Flanders, Economics Editor, Radio 4's "PM" programme, 27th June 2013, referring to the published changes to Britain's economic growth statistics which revised away the second dip of the previously reported "double dip" recession.) Confused? You can hear the full article on BBC iPlayer about 19 minutes into the programme here . Or see next post.

Quote of the Day

"To most men duty means something unpleasant which the other fellow ought to do" (George Horace Lorimer)

George Osborne writes on the spending review

Today I have published the Spending Round, which sets out our spending priorities and choices for 2015/16. Labour left us with the largest deficit since the Second World War. We borrowed £1 in every £4 that we spent. We had to take tough decisions to bring our economy back from the brink of bankruptcy. While recovery from such a deep recession is never straightforward, Britain is moving out of intensive care - from rescue to recovery. The Spending Round sets out how we will secure that recovery. Of course the choices are difficult, and there is no easy route out of a mess as big as the one Labour created. The departmental settlements I have announced today will reduce current spending by £11.5 billion in 2015-16. But every decision we have taken is based on three principles: delivering reform, prioritising growth and ensuring fairness. Through reform, we are determined to get more from every pound we spend. We are clamping down on waste across Whitehall - £5 billion of the savings tod

Care Quality Commission report on WCH

The Care Quality Commission has released a critical report into the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, known locally as WCH, following an unannounced inspection of the hospital held in May. The report highlights staffing levels, patient welfare and care and record keeping as areas of concern. More details on my hospitals blog here .

Schools and Hospitals protected in government spending round

Like almost every other country, Britain is going through tough times and whoever was in government now would be having to make tough decisions. The coalition government today announced a new round of spending decisions. The country does not have enough money to be able to afford everything we would like and I don't think there will be anyone who isn't unhappy at some of the cuts which have been announced. But the same would be true of what any other government would have to do. I am pleased that education and health have been protected. We came into Government to address one of the biggest economic crises since the Second World War. While recovery from such a deep recession is never straightforward, Britain is moving out of intensive care - from rescue to recovery.   The Spending Round sets out how we will secure that recovery. The choices are difficult, and there is no easy route out of a mess as big as the one Labour created. There will be over £300 billio

Quote of the Day

"Taking advice from the Shadow Chancellor on balancing the books is like taking advice from Dracula on how to run a blood bank." (George Osborne responding yesterday in the House of Commons to an attack by Ed Balls.)

UKIP Leader admits "mistake" setting up trust fund

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has admitted he made "a mistake" by setting up a trust fund in an off-shore tax haven. Mr Farage, who has previously spoken out against those who evade tax in a speech to the European Parliament, admitted that he paid a tax adviser to set up the Farage Family Educational Trust 1654 on the Isle of Man, according to the Daily Mirror. The newspaper said Mr Farage insisted he had not personally benefited from the account, and that he claimed he had ended up out of pocket. The MEP told the Mirror: "My financial advisers recommended I did it, to have a trust really for inheritance purposes and I took the advice and I set it up. It was a mistake. I was a completely unsuitable person for it. I am not blaming them, it was my fault."

Quote of the Day

"When one comes down to particular instances, everything becomes more complicated." (Albert Camus)

Attempted metal theft results in serious accident

One of the reasons metal theft so annoys me is that it can endanger the lives of innocent people. I make no apology for returning to this subject and pointing out - because the knowledge might make potential thieves realise that they would be better off adopting an honest profession - that metal theft gangs often also endanger their own. This is what appears to have happened recently in Yorkshire when what seems to have been an attempted cable theft ended with a suspected intruder falling from a roof and breaking both legs. ​The incident happened during a break-in at BT’s Sheffield Computer Centre in Tinsley Park, Sheffield, South Yorkshire. A vigilant site security guard was monitoring CCTV screens when he spotted movement in the yard and then saw two people climbing the perimeter wall. He immediately called Yorkshire police, who responded promptly, with officers, including a dog handler, arriving within ten minutes to carry out a search of the site. At this point the indivi

Quote of the Day

"Whom the Gods would make bigots, they first deprive of humour." (James M Gillis)

Quote of the Day

A quote about my own academic discipline, coined by a University professor before I was born but still a point which anyone addressing the subject needs to bear in mind today ... "One of the difficulties of economics is that it is too easy to explain after a particular event has happened, why it should have happened; and too easy to explain before it happens, why it should not happen." (M.G. Kendall, London University, quoted in Montreal Star, December 1960)

A superb morning at the "Marratime Festival"

My family had a great time this morning at Whitehaven Festival 2013. There are four tall ships and two Royal Navy patrol boats in the harbour, all open to the public for a small fee giving access to the relevant "tongue" (jetty), a huge variety of market stalls selling food from all round the world and a variety of other products, display stands from the armed forces and various charities and companies,  and a large number of fairground stalls and rides. Weather has been quite mild so far - there was some rain in the early morning but from mid-morning to lunchtime it has been dry and quite a comfortable temperature, if a little windy. A large number of visitors are enjoying the festival, which continues until tomorrow (Sunday) evening.

Quote of the Day

"Who does your hair - the council?" ("Titan the Robot" stand-up comedy routine at the harbour at Whitehaven Festival 2013. Whether Copeland Borough Council will be happy to have him invited back in 2014 remains to be seen ...)

"Marratime Festival" in Whitehaven this weekend

Whitehaven Maritime Festival 2013 begins ... One of Cumbria's biggest regular events, the Whitehaven Maritime Festival (sometimes humorously known as the "Marratime Festival" takes place this weekend. There is an absolutely fantastic programme which starts this evening (Friday 21st June) and continues through to Sunday and includes Titan the Robot (billed as quite literally the biggest entertainer on the planet), Xtreme action jet skis, and nightlight pyrotechnics fireworks on Friday and Saturday. Artists booked to appear include McFly, The Sweet, Slade, and Bruce Foxtons from the Jam. You can pick up more details here .

Quote of the Day

“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”   ( René Descartes )

FGH Cover up

The tragedy of a number of deaths of mothers and babies at Furness General Hospital in Barrow was terrible enough. The emergence of evidence that the Care Quality Commission, the NHS regulator, conspired to cover up what had happened is beyond unacceptable. An independent review has revealed that senior officials at the health watchdog suppressed a report that highlighted failings at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust. It appears that both deaths and severe mismanagement at the Morecombe Bay health trust occurred over a number of years, These deaths are too important and too tragic to be used as a party political football: the cases in the public domain of deaths at FGH which may possibly have been avoidable took place while the previous government was in office but although the top brass at the trust and the CQC have changed since then we cannot afford to assume that the culture has changed. The new chairman of the CQC, David Prior, has admitted that the breac

Quote of the Day

“ Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”   ( George Carlin )

Grant Shapps writes on the "Let Britain Decide" campaign for a referendum

On Friday 5th July, Conservatives will vote to give the British public a say on Europe. This EU Referendum Bill could give us the first vote on the EU in over 40 years, after a renegotiation for a new deal in the EU. It is historic. Unfortunately the other parties don’t trust you to have your say on Europe. So we urgently need to put public pressure on Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs to unite behind a referendum. That’s why I’m writing to you today. I’m inviting you to be part of history by publicly co-sponsoring the EU Referendum Bill itself right here: . Thanks and best wishes, Grant Shapps Conservative Party Chairman P.S. We’ve got a real fight on our hands which you can help us win. Please remember to ask your friends and family to sign up too.

Let Britain Decide - co-sponsor the Bill for an In-Out Referendum

The Conservatives have opened a facebook page so that those who would like to see an In-Out referendum on Britain's EU membership can "co-sponsor" the bill put forward by James Wharton MP which if passed would write into British law a referendum on EU membership by 2017. If you want to support a referendum and Let Britain Decide, you can do so here . I have signed up and I hope that all those who have been telling me that they would like to see such a referendum will do likewise.

Quote of the Day

“Books and minds only work when they're open.”   ( James Dewar )

Language and political debate

Matthew Elliott, the Chief Executive of Business for Britain & Founder of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, has an interesting blogpost on Conservative Home called " Five language rules for the right ." His basic points are 1) AVOID JARGON - talk in simple terms which sound relevant to the average voter. "Margaret Thatcher was very good at talking about the economy in terms of a household budget" 2) Don't let the left establish ownership of powerful words and phrases such as "Social Justice", "Fairness" or "Jobs". 3) Use international, outward looking language, especially when talking about the European Union, and not "little Englander" language. For example, make clear that we need build trade with the whole world, not just our immediate neighbours in Europe, but including  high-growth countries outside the EU, such as Brazil, India & China. "This language wins over floating voters, because it shows that t

Quote of the Day

“Tis the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”   ( Aristotle )

Quote of the Day

"The age in which you want Scandinavian levels of welfare but you're only prepared to pay American tax rate is over." Frank Field MP  "The Week at Westminster" 15 June 2013 (see yesterday's article for link)

A superb, intelligent debate about pensions

Labour's shadow chancellor Ed Balls recently tried to prove Labour would be tough in trying to tackle the government deficit (a huge problem, of course, inherited by the present coalition from the previous Labour goverment in which Ed Ball played a key economic role) by taking on pensioners. Any pensioner or person heading for retirement age who is thinking of voting Labour has been warned - Labour is looking to save money by spending less on pensioners. Particularly those who have done the right thing by saving for their old age so they will not be a burden on their families, or dependent on the doubtful generosity of the state in their retirement. Yesterday morning while travelling I heard a superb debate about Politics of Pensions on Radio 4's " Week in Westminster " programme. The Conservative and Labour speakers were two of the most intelligent people in the House of Commons: former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Lilley MP and one of the very few Labou

Fathers' Day

Today is Fathers' day. It had been something of a sore point for me, long before I actually became a dad myself, that the Church rightly makes a very big thing of Mothering Sunday but all too often completely ignores Father's Day. On the majority of occasions in the past when I went to church on Fathers' Day the fact would literally not get so much as a mention. Once or twice I pointed out to various vicars that the church was seriously missing a trick in this respect: the reponse was to point out that Mothering Sunday was an official part of the church calendar while Fathers' day isn't. which merely demonstrated that the responsibility for the missed opportunity for celebrate the role of dads went right to the top. Well that wasn't the case today, at least in St James' Church Whitehaven, who pulled out all the stops to make something of the fact that it was Fathers' Day. Both Mums and Dads have an important role in society, and you don't have

Quote of the Day

In the early 18th century there was a major dispute between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge over which should receive the Bishop of Ely's library.  Having decided in favour of Cambridge, King George the First's government had to send a troop of cavalry to Oxford to put down the resulting clamour. The incident provoked two alternative humorous perspectives expressed in verse: "The King, observing with judicious eyes The state of both his universities, To Oxford sent a troop of horse, and why? That learned body wanted loyalty; To Cambridge books, as very well discerning How much that loyal body wanted learning." ( Joseph Trapp ) And in response: "The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse, For Tories own no argument but force: With equal skill to Cambridge books he sent, For Whigs admit no force but argument." ( William Browne , Literary Anecdotes Vol. III.)

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty

Today is H.M. the Queen's official birthday and sees the publication of the Birthday Honours list. A total of 1,180 people have been honoured, 72% of whom are actively involved in charitable or voluntary work within their local community, the others for other types of service. 556 of awards go to women, about half the list, and 6% to people from an ethnic minority. Among the well known people honoured are the actress, Claire Bloom, who receives a CBE as does the actor and comedian, Rowan Atkinson. His Blackadder colleague Tony Robinson gets a knighthood, for which he was recommended by Parliamentary and Political Services Committee, chaired by Lord Spicer, for his public and political service. Other awards recommende by that committee included the title of Companion of Honour for the Rt Hon Menzies Campbell, MP for North East Fife; and knighthoods for Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough; Stephen Houghton, Leader, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council; and the Rt Hon Andrew Stune

Quote of the Day

"There once was a man, who said "God Must think it exceedingly odd, If he finds that this tree Continues to be When there's no one about in the Quad." (Limeric on a philosophical problem posed by Bishop Berkely about whether things in general, and the tree in the quad at Balliol college, Oxford as a particular example, still exist when there is nobody to observe them. Both the limeric and this suggested reply, were composed by Balliol-educated Catholic theologian and Bible translator Ronald Knox , the latter more accurately reflecting Berkeley's beliefs:) "Dear Sir, your astonishment's odd: I am always about in the Quad. And that's why the tree Will continue to be, Since observed by, Yours faithfully, GOD."

Quote of the Day

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”   ( Albert Einstein )

Let Britain Decide

David Cameron is urging people to back Conservative Stockton South MP, James Wharton, in his bid to secure the first EU referendum in 40 years. On Wednesday of this week the Conservative Party Chairman, Grant Shapps, launched a new campaign website, to make it simple for people to back James Wharton's Bill The site aims to "build public pressure, to give people a voice, and to urge MPs from other parties to listen to their constituents." The whole site is based on public interaction - encouraging the public to play an active role in the campaign and get MPs from all parties to join Conservative MPs and reflect the views of constituents. Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps said: "Britain deserves a vote. It's been nearly 40 years since the British people last had their say on Europe. People feel the EU is heading in a direction they never signed up to. "That is why Conservatives want to give Britain a cl

Gove's speech on exam reform

As my children, currently in Year 7 (which is what used to be known as the first form of secondary school) will be part of the first cohort to sit the new GCSE's it is natural that I am extremely interested to know how they will work. Here is the full text of education secretary Michael Gove's speech earlier this week on reforming the exam system. "Mr Speaker. With your permission I should like to make a statement on the future of examinations. There is now a widespread consensus - underpinned by today’s persuasive report from the Education Select Committee - that we need to reform our examination system to restore public confidence. That is why today we are publishing draft details of new GCSE content in core academic subjects . And the independent regulator Ofqual is publishing its own consultation on the regulation of reformed GCSEs . We are publishing the draft content in English, maths, science, history, geography and modern and ancient languages alongsid

Quote of the Day from Dan Hannan MEP

"As recently as September, my friend Nigel Farage was saying that he would support another party if its commitment to a membership referendum were 'written in blood'. Well, the Conservatives have adopted the policy, moved the Bill, backed it on a Three-line Whip and established a mass campaign to convince other MPs. Short of literally writing in blood, what else can they do?" (Dan Hannan MEP in an article in the Daily Telegraph which you can read in full here .

Quote of the Day

"A joke was no sooner going the rounds in Westminster - that the difference between a New Labour MP and a supermarket trolley is that the trolley has a mind of its' own - when a newspaper report came out that Sainsbury's are planning to ensure they have no more trollwys with awkward wheels. I thought, 'This man Mandelson works fast!'" (Rt. Hon Peter Lilley MP)

Quote of the day

My own experience suggests, and I would certainly hope it is true, that the proportion of honest politicians is rather larger than the following quote infers. Nevertheless it contains, unfortunately, enough truth to be funny ... "Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad." (Henry Kissinger, form U.S. Secretary of State)

Quote of the Day

“When I'm out of politics I'm going to run a business, it'll be called rent-a-spine” (Margaret Thatcher)

Summer is icumen in ...

On Tuesday this past week I spent some time with a work colleague at Penrith telephone exchange. Ironically it was an absolutely beautiful warm day with hours of bright sunshine but one of the things we were doing was searching through the data for weather in the UK this year to date, trying to establish if there was a correlation with the cold weather we have been having, trying to establish if the fact that on some measures Britain had the coldest spring for fifty years had produced an impact on the number of issues with BT's network. Today is the sixth consecutive glorious day since then, and I am finally coming round to the view that we may actually get a summer this year. More astute supporters of the view that government need to take action about the environment have long since stopped talking about "Global Warming" and started talking about "Climate Change" instead - firstly because the potential harmful impacts on the environment which we need to a

Quote of the day

“There are men running governments who shouldn't be allowed to play with matches.” (  Will Rogers  )

Quote of the Day

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. ”   ( Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev )

Labour confusion on Planning

I served as a member of two different planning authorities at opposite ends of the country for a period of twenty years. During my sixteen years on St Albans City & District Council I was a planning committee member and then chairman, then the council's first planning portfolio holder: I was later chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny committee which oversaw those aspects of planning not dealt with by planning committees, and served on the Local Development Framework working group. When on Copeland Borough Council I also served on the Local Development Framework group. I have vivid memories of the impact of half a dozen secretaries of state, both Conservative and Labour, from Nick Ridley to Eric Pickles. Nick Ridley is always remembered for his policy of permitting developments in towns, particularly on brownfield sites, but the other half of his policy is not so well remembered: he was equally firm in supporting councils who wished to fight development in the Green Bel

Quote of the Day

“It is not power that corrupts but fear.”   ( Aung San Suu Kyi )

Communities to have more say over Wind Farms

The coaltion government will give local communities more powers to block onshore wind farms, but also given better community benefits packages when they do agree to accept them, it was announced this week. Planning guidance in England will be changed to ensure local opposition can override national energy targets. There will also be a five-fold rise in the benefits paid by developers to communities hosting wind farms. The subsidies - worth about £100,000 a year from a medium-sized farm - could be used to reduce energy bills. Alternatively, the money could pay for energy efficiencies in the host community or fund other local initiatives. The government said the measures would ensure local communities had a greater stake in the planning process. It also said it expected the energy industry to improve its community benefit packages by the end of the year. The increase in community benefits packages will be from £1,000 per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity per year, t

Quote of the Day

“I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” (Margaret Thatcher)

Theresa May writes on immigration

"Three years ago, we made a promise: to bring immigration back under control. The latest set of independent statistics show we’re doing just that. Since the election, we have cut net immigration by more than a third. The number of immigrants coming to the UK is now lower than it has been for over a decade. After years of uncontrolled immigration under Labour, the Conservatives are building an immigration system which works in our national interest. We want this country to attract people who will contribute to our national life – but those who will not should be deterred. We have closed down bogus colleges and made students who want to come to the UK prove they’re coming here to study, not to work. We have made sure people can only bring in a spouse or partner from outside Europe if they can support them financially. We have rewritten the ‘Life in the UK’ test for new citizens, putting British values and British history at its heart. Labour have opposed every sing

If we had a responsible opposition they would sound like this ...

I don't necessarily agree with everything in the article published yesterday evening on the Telegraph website by Alistair Heath, editor of "City AM." But his argument that " There's a worse crisis on the way unless we get serious about tackling debt " shows him to be far more qualified to be shadow chancellor than Ed Balls or Ed Miliband. It doesn't make cheerful reading but his basic argument that the government and many parts of the private economy are still borrowing far too much, and that we are still in danger of drowning in debt, has far too much truth in it. As he writes "Families and companies have only just started down the long road towards fiscal responsibility, with the belt-tightening likely to continue until the end of the decade; and the public sector is still adding more to the national debt pile every week than the private sector is repaying." "We still aren’t remotely living within our means ..." &qu

Quote of the Day

“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.” (Abraham Lincoln)

Deja Vu all over again

I was reminded this week when shadow chancellor Ed Balls, promising that if Labour are elected to government at next general election they will take Winter Fuel payments away from some pensioners as part of a policy of "iron discipline", and stick to the coalition government's spending plans for at least their first year in office, of the last Labour shadow chancellor who made almost exactly the equivalent promises. That's right: it was Gordon Brown who promised "prudence," strict financial discipline, and to stick to Kenneth Clarke's spending plans. Look how that eventually turned out. One might have been tempted to describe Ed Balls as the coalition's secret weapon. As Michael Gove recently wrote in the Telegraph, "Ed Balls responds to every development in the same way – let’s party like it’s 1929. He wants to enlist us all in sponsoring a revival of his one-man show, “Gordon Brown 2 – Return to the Edge of Bankruptcy”, the original of

They STILL don't get it: Doctors and Hacks wrong again on statistics

A minor but infurating mistake was on display in the media yesterday demonstrating once again that too many doctors and journalists are prone to manufacture or repeat ridiculous statistics, most often through a misunderstanding of probability. I am sure that the same is true of many other categories of professionals, making mistakes about statistics when they should know better. Karen Rodger from Renfrewshire has just given birth to her third set of twins. She is said to be "Over the Moon" about this and I am very happy for her, but I am not so happy that innumerate journalists all over the media are repeating a statement attributed to doctors, statistically illiterate doctors if the attribution is accurate, that the odds against this were half a million to one. In the great scheme of things, as this is only a newspaper headline, it dosn't make a lot of difference whether the odds against the birth of three sets of twins was ten thousand to one against or half a milli

Quote of the Day

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. ” (Pericles, ancient Athenian statesman)


No serving politician, of whatever party, should take money for lobbying other members of a public authority of which they are a member, for asking questions, or otherwise using their political office in a particular way. This is already in the rules and, if, I repeat if,  the allegations being made against three peers and an MP are true, it is difficult to see how they could imagine that they have done nothing wrong. The coalition government announced on Monday that it would bring forward a bill to create a statutory register of professional lobbyists - whose job it is to influence politicians on behalf of companies and other organisations - before the end of July. This was in the coalition agreement and needs to be done. I hope the section of the coalition agreement about setting up a "recall system" so constituents can force a by-election if their MP has misbehaved can also be put in place soon.

Quote of the Day

“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” (Ronald Reagan)

Sixty years of service

Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second. We should all be very grateful for the years of dedication and service that Her Majesty has given this country.

Quote of the Day

“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection.”   ( Warren Buffett  )

Shapps: support our historic vote on EU membership

Grant Shapps, Conservative party chairman, writes: "I'm writing to update you on some important developments in our mission to bring the British people a referendum on Europe. In January, our Prime Minister David Cameron promised that a Conservative government would hold an in/out referendum no later than 2017. Conservative MP for Stockton South, James Wharton, has come first in the ballot for a Private Members Bill. And James has announced that he will try to use it to put the Prime Minister's commitment into law. So this is an opportunity for MPs to make this historic referendum on Europe a reality. But the passage of the Bill won't be smooth. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have put up strong opposition to offering the British people their say - and that's why Conservative MPs need to offer every support they can to James and his Bill. The vote on this Bill will be on Friday 5th July and our Chief Whip has put in place a Three Line

Quote of the Day

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”   ― C.S. Lewis