Showing posts from October, 2013

Whitehaven Civic Hall closes its' doors

As part of the package of cuts made by Copeland Borough Council, the Civic Hall in Whitehaven closes its doors today and will remain closed unless someone can be found to operate it without taxpayer subsidy. Copeland will undoubtedly try to blame the government for this and there would have been an element of truth in this if they meant it was the responsibility of the previous government. Which left a legacy of fiscal laxity in which the country was heading towards bankruptcy and harsh measures were inevitable. We are not out of the woods yet either, and the fact that the economy is growing again doesn't mean that the government can afford to let up, only that Britain's chances of avoiding a complete financial meltdown are improving. Nevertheless the fact that the cuts have been harsher in Copeland than some other local councils is largely due to consistently poor management by successive Labour administrations which have made a compete mess of running this borough for d

Quote of the Day 31st October 2013

"A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits." (Richard M Nixon)

Grand Inquisitors

One of the most interesting events of Mrs Thatcher's career was when she gave an interview on Soviet TV before the end of communism. The interviewers went for her but had not thought through what would happen. Mrs T had spent her political career in a country where politicians and journalists are allowed both to sharply criticise each other and to fire back. Pravda, Tass and Radio Moscow were used to throwing easy shots to politburo members. They were not used to throwing difficult questions to someone who could answer back. When they tried to criticise someone who was used to dealing with hostile interviews, Maggie completely wiped the floor with them. Most British MPs could probably have done the same. And yet the most devastating interviewers of my lifetime, IF you were interested in seeing the truth come out, were NOT the most aggressive. The Paxmans of this world are not and never have been as effective as those who draw politicians out with questioning which starts

Quote of the day 30th October 2013

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” (Rudyard Kipling)

A Million files

Back when I started my first permanent job and was issued with the first computer assigned to me by BT - I've forgotten the model but it would be what is now called a 286 and was then referred to as an XT - a million bytes of Ready memory was considered a lot and a forty megabyte hard disc was so large that it had to be partitioned into two separate virtual drives. It was possible back then for a hobbyist or expert to know every file on a PC and what it did, and even non experts were used to adjusting some of them, particularly the "autoexec.bat" and "config.sys" files to meet the requirements of special jobs. I can recall that a couple of years later on one of the first few computers I owned myself I wrote a few batch files which I could use to swap around my "autoexec.bat" and "config.sys" files to use particular applications which had different memory and space requirements. When my early PCs were new they probably came with a few th

Quote of the day 29th October 2013

"Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to say you are, you aren't." (Margaret Thatcher)

A great advert for a Cumbrian school

This is Keswick School's "Lipdub 2013" which the school posted to Youtube earlier this year. I must confess to being quite impressed by some of the things schools do to promote themselves and some of the amazing talent which young people in any school can display if it is really brought out.

Storm update

The St Jude storm does not seem to have had too much effect in Cumbria - certainly it completely missed Whitehaven - but there has been a significant effect in the South of England. Tragically a 14 year old boy has been swept out to sea while a 17 year old girl and a man in his fifties were killed by falling trees. A 99mph gust was recorded at the Isle of Wight and about 270,000 homes are currently without power.

Quote of the day 28th October 2013

"My opinion is that power should always be distrusted, in whatever hands it is placed." (William Jones)

Mystic Ed - the world's worst clairvoyant

Amusing spoof from CCC making the point that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have been as wrong about the outcome of Coalition policies as they were about the effect their own policies would be when they were running the economy.

Time to batten down again

If you're reading this in Britain on the day it was put up - Sunday 27th October 2013 - and especially if you you are reading this in Southern England or on the West Coast, then it would be a good idea to avoid travelling tonight and to make sure your property is secure against severe weather. And if you are at any risk of flooding and have a set of precautions ready to take against possible flooding, it would be a good idea to put them into effect. The Met office is forecasting that an unusually bad storm - possibly once per decade severity - nicknamed St Jude, after the patron saint of lost causes, whose feast day is tomorrow, will hit Britain this evening and tomorrow. It is likely to include hurricane-force winds (80mph or so) and some areas will get up to an inch and a half of rain. Frank Saunders, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said last night: "We are confident that a severe storm will affect Britain on Sunday night and Monday. We are now looking at refining th


This morning at church I accidentally inserted a word while reciting the creed - and realised immediately afterwords that I had put back this word had been part of anglican ritual while I was growing up, but had been excised from the liturgy about thirty years ago as part of the purge on what would now be called "gender-specific languange." Funny how long something which gets drummed into your memory when you are a child can last even when it has been officially abandoned.

Quote of the day 27th Oct 2013

“There is a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune: go there with a large one." (Jack Yelton)

Energy policy and changing facts

A few years ago all three party leaders were keen to showcase their green credentials. Now they are keen to prove that they are concerned about the price of energy. Does this make them all hypocrites? Not necessarily, if they are open and honest about the course of events and about why they have adjusted their policies to meet changing circumstances. Hence my "Quote of the day" from Keynes this morning, "When the facts change, I change my mind." The "green taxes" on energy which Ed Miliband introduced when he was secretary of state for energy and climate change, and which currently represent something of the order of 10% of the average family's power bill, had two purposes 1) To provide an incentive for companies and firms alike to save energy, and 2) To fund some of the measures which are necessary to control pollution. In the circumstance which we now find ourselves, energy prices are high enough to be very painful for families and busine

Keynes and the Neo-Keynsians

I had a reason for putting down as today's quote the line from John Maynard Kenyes, "When the facts change, I change my mind." Later today I will be putting up a post about this in relation to Energy policy but first I want to address two extreme ironies about Keynes' life and writings. 1) Keynes and the "General Theory" John Maynard Keynes believed that the rules for sensible economic policy put forward by the "classical" economists worked in a special set of circumstances which do not always apply. He was almost certainly right about this, and about the fact that much of the period of time during which he did the majority of his most famous work - the first forty years of the twentieth century - was one of the periods when those circumstances did not apply. So, regarding "classical economics" as a  limited theory which works some of the time, Keynes set out to produce a "General Theory" which would work all the ti

Quote of the day 26th October 2013

"When the facts change, Sir, I change my mind. What do you do?" (John Maynard Keynes)

DC writes: not just a number on a graph

David Cameron writes: We’ve just seen another encouraging sign that Britain is turning a corner. Figures released this morning show that between July and September our economy grew once again. We should be proud we’re sticking to the course. Because this isn’t just a number on a government graph – it really means something. It means factories taking on more orders, people getting back into work, countries around the world buying more from us and more new businesses starting up. Step by step, inch by inch, we are making progress. Britain's hard work is paying off and the country is on the path to prosperity. Visit our #ShareTheFacts site today and tell people what we’re doing to turn Britain around. But there’s still a lot more to do. Times are still tough and the struggle of the past few years will only be worth it if we finish the job we started. We’ve got to keep going – clearing up Labour’s mess and building a recovery that all hardworking people can share in. What

Quote of the day 25th October 2013

"A popular idea can still lose votes if it confirms suspicions about the party proposing it." (Janan Ganesh, writing in the FT this week. He suggested that this is a trap which both the Conservatives and Labour need to beware of, writing of Ed Miliband " A month ago, the Labour leader promised to freeze energy prices if elected in 2015. The policy is rapturously popular. But most polls have shown the opposition party’s lead shrink since its announcement – one, by Ipsos Mori, to vanishing point. The energy idea, however attractive by itself, may have hardened voters’ suspicion of Labour as the party of easy answers and free money." You can read the full article here .)

A Thousand Planets

Sometimes science news brings one up short with wonder about the things we have discovered about the Universe. A science programme broadcast on the BBC this evening reported that the number of extra-solar planets discovered has passed the thousand mark this week. (Wikipedia says that it the number was a thousand and ten as of 22nd October 2013.) It is only about 21 years since the first confirmed discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than our sun. At that time the only extra solar planets we could discover were supergiants (planets like Jupiter) because they are big enough that both the planet and it's sun orbit around a common centre of gravity. This in turn causes a slight doppler shift, "upwards" (higher frequency, meaning the light of the star is slightly more blue) when the star is moving towards Earth, alternating with a doppler shift "downwards" (lower frequency, more reddish light) when the star's orbit carries it away from earth. Human i

Martin Callanan on cutting EU red tape

Martin Callanan MEP, leader of the British Conservative MEPs made the speech shown below this week, in response to a report by the "New Direction" group written by CEOs of successful European businesses, about cutting red tape. He referred to "government of the NGOs by the NGOs" and urged MEPs and the commission to build a Europe which exports goods and services, not one which exports jobs.

Quote of the Day 24th October 2013

"All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter." (Edmund Burke)

Quote of the Day 23rd October 2013

"Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its' promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Government goes for Nuclear Power

There will be a range of different responses to yesterday's deal with EDF to finally construct the first in a new generation of British nuclear reactors. Some people will play the tired record about how we should rely entirely on much more renewables. Others will be concerned about the cost. My view is to thank God that at long last Britain has finally started something we should have begun ten years ago. There is no one magic bullet to meet our energy needs. Coal is cheap but far too dirty. Gas makes us dependent on Putin's Russia (and also releases lot's of carbon.) Renewables have a place but cannot be relied on to provide load at peak time. (Wind power only works when the wind is blowing at the right speed, tidal power works twice a day.) Hydro-electric power is otherwise almost perfect but requires dams, which means you have to flood the area upstream of the dam, and we don't have lots of empty valleys in this country. There is a strong case for making more

Anorak post - regional voting patterns

Peter Kellner at Yougov has an interesting post which sets out to show Why Northerners don't vote Tory . What he actually does is use the polling data to convincingly knock on the head almost every possible explanation you might think of, and then concludes that the Conservatives  "lost Scotland because they lost their reputation as a unionist party and came to be seen as an English party. They are losing the North because they are seen increasingly as a Southern party." It would be seriously unhealthy for England, as for Britain, if our main parties came to be seen as representing only particular regions rather than trying to represent the whole country, and that is an issue for Labour nearly as much as for the Conservatives. There are no easy answers to this. Having lived in Cumbria for nine years I find the idea that Labour has done any more for the North than the Conservatives to be a ridiculous myth which is all the more infuriating because so many people ca

Quote of the day 22nd October 2013

" I don't think much of a man who is not wiser than he was yesterday." (Abraham Lincoln)

Remembering the Royal Navy

It is difficult to overstate the contribution that the men and women who served in the Royal Navy and in other British ships, including the merchant navy, have made to our country and indeed to the world. I would not have wanted to live in the world we might have today if the Spanish Armada had resulted in a successful invasion. Nor in the world empire which would probably exist if the Royal Navy had not made it impossible for Napoleon to invade Britain. Napoleon once said, "Let us be masters of the straights (e.g. the English Channel) for six hours, and we will be masters of the world." Of all the people who have dreamed of conquering the world, Napoleon was the one whose ability gave him the best chance of achieving it, and the only one who was good enough at building things as well as conquering places that he might heve been able to create a world empire which would last - but nobody who has looked at Ingres' painting of him in his coronation robes could doubt t

A quote for Trafalgar Day

"Those far distant storm-beaten ships, apon which the Grand Army never looked, stood between it and the dominion of the world." Alfred Thayer Mahan, naval historian, referring to the Royal Navy.

Quote of the Day 20th October

“In every government there must be somewhat fundamental, somewhat like a magna charta, that should be standing and unalterable...that parliaments should not make themselves perpetual is a fundamental.” (Oliver Cromwell)

A Labour view of the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle

Ted Heath once said "I do not often attack the Labour party. They do it so well themselves." Case in point. For an illustration of how members of the supposed party of brotherhood detest one another, read " Fear and loathing in the Parliamentary Labour Party: what really happened in Labour's reshuffle " by Atul Hatwal, which appeared on the "Labour Uncut" blog this week. If this article, which you can read here is to be believed, the Labour leadership are busy fighting one another, with a Leader's office "dominated by fear." It reads like an account of people who hate and fear each other and are too busy with internal battles to be an effective opposition. And if this is how they behave in opposition, God help the country should these people ever be elected to run Britain.

David Hencke on an ECHR ruling which may have serious consequences for bloggers

Journalist David Hecke makes some important points here about a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which might seriously affect the ability of bloggers to operate. NB - the ruling was made by the European Court of Human Rights, which is part of the Council of Europe, and not to be confused with the European Court, which is part of the European Union. The EHCR is nothing whatsoever to do with the EU and Britain could withdraw from the Council of Europe, European convention on Human Rights and the jurisdiction of the European court of Human Rights while remaining part of the European Union, or vice versa. David quotes a post on Inforrm's blog here . In that post Gabrielle Guileemin argues that the ECHR ruling upholding the Estonian courts in the case brought by a ferry company against the news organisation Delfi AS means that the people running a news site or blog can be held legally responsible for all the comments put up on their site even if they take them dow

The story of a non-story

Having criticised the BBC on Thursday for their consistently misleading, slanted and sometimes downright inaccurate reporting of anything to do with the nuclear industry, it is only fair that I should call out and praise a good piece of BBC journalism. Chris Mason has an item on the BBC website here about the non-story of "Jumpergate." A couple of days ago, Jeremy Paxman tried to trap Energy Secretary Ed Davey into telling people to wear jumpers by asking him whether he wears them himself. Ed Davey gave a straight answer to the question - e.g. that he does wear jumpers himself - but was very careful not to tell other people to wear them. His exact words were "I wear jumpers at home, but you are missing the point here Jeremy, we do need to help people with their bills, I am extremely worried about them, we can use competition the way we have, we can make our homes warmer and use less electricity and gas by going more energy efficient." Not to be prevent

Quote of the Day 19th Oct 2013

“He wrapped himself in quotations - as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.” (Rudyard Kipling)

DC writes: help us finish the job

Prime Minister David Cameron writes ... "This week there have been more signs that Britain is turning a corner.   "On Wednesday the news came that there are now a million more people in work under this Government. Then yesterday we saw that crime has fallen by over 10 per cent since the election.   "On top of our cut in National Insurance for small businesses - introduced to Parliament on Monday - it's been an encouraging week.   "But there must be no complacency. The struggle of the past few years will only be worth it if we finish the job we started.   Join Team 2015 today and be part of our push to win the next election outright .   "We're not going back to the bad old days under Labour - where you had bankers paying less tax than their cleaners and towns with a quarter of people trapped on benefits.   "Let's never lose sight of what we're fighting for: a recovery that all hardworking people can share in. Good, decen

Theresa May writes on the fall in crime rates

When you shut the door behind you in the morning, you have the right to know that your home will be secure. When you walk back home at night, you have the right to feel safe in your community. And when you're away from your loved ones, you have the right to know that they're safe and sound. That's why we’ve given the police just one target: cutting crime. And figures out today show that crime is now at its lowest levels since records began, having fallen more than 10% since the election.   Our police reforms are working. Crime is falling, and we're making the streets safe for people who do the right thing. Show your support by sharing this graphic on Facebook and Twitter . Yours, Theresa May

Hell has officially frozen over again ...

Labour list has the following article up suggesting that the left should support Andrew Mitchell .. Makes a change from a year ago when the Labour party had a website up (since, as Lib/Dem blogger Stephen Tall pointed out yesterday, since taken down) saying "Who do you believe - Tory MP Andrew Mitchell or the police?" The irony is that it tends to be Conservatives who support the police - and that is certainly where I would be more comfortable. Several of my friends are serving or retired police officers, and I am convinced that most police officers are dedicated public servants who are committed to justice. We won't ever know for certain exactly what happened between Mitchell and the Downing street police officers. We have his own account, which is consistent with, but not absolutely proven by, the CCTV footage, and we have the leaked alleged "police log

MIliband puts up energy prices again

Ed Miliband is pretending to be the advocate of lower energy prices, but yesterday for the third time he was responsible for higher prices, this time for British Gas customers as BG put up prices by 9.2% yesterday after SSE increased prices last week. The first time Ed Miliband put up energy prices was as Secretary of State when he introduced the green taxes which currently represent about a tenth of the typical home's energy bill. The second and third times were SSE and BG price increases, which I regard as at least partly a  consequence of his speech promising a price freeze if he is elected in 18 month's time. Of course, British Gas claim that their price rise is due to various rises in costs, including the impact of the green taxes originally introduced by Ed Miliband when he was secretary of state. But even though this explanation may well contain a large element of truth, does anyone in their right mind believe that at least part of this increase isn't due to

Quote of the day 18th Oct 2013

"We had lost the art of communication - but not, alas, the gift of speech." (Gordon Brown on Labour's 1983 election manifesto)

Anyone who doesn't want power cuts should welcome Chinese investment in British infrastructure

Anyone who knows the first thing about the energy industry in this country knows that power cuts due to shortage of generating capacity within the next ten years are a probability rather than a possibility. And that's even if urgent action is taken to replace the power stations which have recently come to the end of their useful life or will do so by the end of this decade. It's quite simple, either we get a move on in attracting investment to build new energy infrastructure, or power cuts will become a certainty. So George Osborne was absolutely right to make it clear that large scale Chinese investment in new power plants in Britain, including new nuclear build, will be welcome. If we're not willing to welcome foreign investment, we must expect power cuts. I have been unimpressed with the BBC's poor, inaccurate, and biased reporting of the nuclear issue over the past few years, and each time I think they've hit a new low, they manage to do something wor

US Senate and House agree budget deal

The United States congress has now approved the deal mentioned yesterday to end the shutdown - at least for now. Essentially this defers the problem for three months. Just as, while I support the job George Osborne is doing, I would like to see Britain eliminate the deficit faster to reduce the crippling debt burden we are leaving the next generation, I think America needs to take action to avoid the same problem. I don't think the tea party tactics were right - it can never be a means of adopting responsible finance to default on your debts - but I do think the republicans were right to want to cut the US deficit. Sadly, as John McCain remarked on the radio this morning, the whole affair has damaged all the main players and reduced public trust in US politicians further. The most ironic thing broadcast this morning was a US army veteran, justifiably furious at veterans having their payments suspended during the shutdown, who said that people like him were extremely upset w

By elections in Cumbria today

If you live in the Dalston ward of Carlisle city council or the Levens ward of South Lakeland District Council, there are by-elections for district councillors in both those wards today. Polls are open until 10pm. There are excellent Conservative candidates in both seats: the Conservative candidate in Dalston ward is Michael Randall and in Levens, Brian Rendell.

Employment figures improve, including those for younger people and the long-term unemployed.

Hat tip to Conservative Home for pointing out that reports on Labour Market Statistics in recent months have charted a regular pattern. Headline figures continued to improve, but there were underlying causes for concern about those in the most difficult situations. This month is more encouraging. The employment rate is up to 71.7 per cent, and the headcount of those in work has risen by 155,000 to 29.87 million people, another record. The unemployment rate is down 0.1 per centage points to 7.7 per cent. The unemployed headcount fell by 18,000 to 2.49 million people. The economic inactivity rate also fell on both measures, down to 22.2 per cent, a fall of 83,000 to 8.95 million people. And there are  also some signs that youth unemployment and long-term unemployment are starting to fall, a positive departure from the trend. The headline number of young people who are unemployed stayed much the same – a 0.1 per cent rise in the rate is attributed by the ONS to a skew in t

Quote of the day 17th October 2013

"There are not enough jails, not enoughh policemen, not enough courts to enforce a law not supported by the people." (Hubert Humphrey)

America moves towards budget deal

Leaders of both parties in the US Senate have agreed a deal which, assuming it is passed by both houses of congress, would put end to the government shutdown, which will be a great relief to people around the world as well as in America. However, it is not the end of the story - essentially the agreement puts in place a temporary fix and set up a conference committee of the US House of Representatives and Senate to broker longer-term budget deal. I don't think shutting down the US government was a particularly good idea, and allowing a default on U.S. debts would have been even worse, but I think those people in the Senate and House of Representatives who were worried about the rate at which America's debt was increasing have legitimate concerns, just as those who are concerned that the equivalent deficit here in Britain is still too high (even if it is coming down) are right to worry. Let's hope the long term deal includes a serious attempt to get spending under cont

Quote of the Day 17th Oct 2013

"It is fatal in life to be right too soon" (Enoch Powell)

Both sides of the story ...

I have been increasingly irritated by the way journalists and commentators - particularly on the BBC - keep referring to the government shutdown in the USA as if it were entirely the fault of the Tea Party. There are two sides to every story and in particular it takes two sides to have a deadlock. I don't necessarily support the position the hardline republicans in the US have taken, though I agree that they are right to be concerned at the size of their deficit and debt just as sensible people on this side of the atlantic are still very concerned about the size of hours. To suggest that either side has a monopoly of the blame for the situation strikes me as "dumbing down" your reporting and opens you to charges of bias. Now I do not support the Tea Party - if I were an American citizen and had the guts to stick to this position I would probably be a either a member of that increasingly endangered species, a moderate Republican, or a floating voter. As someone wh

Quote of the day 15th October 2013

"I am humble enough to admit that I have made mistakes, but politically astute enough to have forgotten what they were" (Michael Heseltine)

Karren Brady writes: join the Small Business campaign

Following on from David Cameron's message about Small business, Karren Brady writes   "I know how hard it is to run a successful small business: the 60-hour weeks, juggling family life and staying awake at night worrying about how you are going to pay the next wage bill or take on your next employee. That’s why cutting National Insurance for every business by up to £2,000 is such great news. It means 450,000 small businesses – that’s one third of all employers – will pay no National Insurance at all. It’s precisely the sort of policy that made me want to become the Conservative Party’s Small Business Ambassador – because I know it is the Conservatives that understand that without small businesses, Britain would not be what it is today. I f you’d like to join our Small Business Campaign, sign up today. By cutting every business’s National Insurance by up to £2,000, this Government has shown it will back British business to repair what went so wrong in the British e

DC writes - let's help businesses create jobs

Prime Minister David Cameron writes: Britain’s small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Their success will determine our success - and their expansion will give us the best prospect of more jobs and lower unemployment. For many small businesses, taking on new staff is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. We’ve got to do more to help them. When someone is trying to create jobs in our economy, the Government should be making it easier not harder. That’s why we’re cutting National Insurance for every business by up to £2,000 from April. This will mean that 450,000 small businesses will pay no National Insurance at all - a third of all employers. Show your support for cutting employer National Insurance by sharing this infographic on Facebook and on Twitter : Our economy is turning a corner - but the struggle of the past few years will only be worth it if we finish the job we started. That means helping small businesses create more good jobs around the country.

Quote of the day 14th Oct 2013

"There are some things money just cannot buy, like manners, morals, and intelligence." (Author unknown)

Local community members form "Whitehaven Action Group"

I was interested to read in the "Whitehaven News" about a number of West Cumbrian residents who have formed a "Whitehaven Action Group" page on facebook to try to bring people together to invigorate the town. One of the founders, Lynn Craig, told the Whitehaven News that  “This town has so much potential and stand alone businesses, and we want people to realise just how good it can be to shop at these venues. “Whitehaven has a greengrocers, a butchers and a hardware store and so much more, everything you need you can get from your local traders and even if it is just five pounds, it’s better to put the money back into our shops than some online company.” The group say they have received considerable support from the social media site with people offering their trade services for the good of the community or coming up with initiatives to improve the area. Lynn added: “People have a lot of love to give for this town but there wasn’t an outlet for them to hel

Quote of the day 13th October 2013

"The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance." (Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington)

Quote of the day - 12th October 2013

“I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” (Edith Cavell) Today is the 98th anniversary of the judicial murder by the german army of British Nurse Edith Cavell, who was shot at dawn by for "treason" because she had helped a number of British and French soldiers to escape. She said the above words the night before her execution to the Reverend Stirling Gahan, who had been allowed to see her and give her holy communion. The idea that a British nurse in Belgium could commit "treason" against Germany avoids being funny only because the consequences were so terrible: her actions were in breach of contemporary German law, but the imposition of the death penalty was rightly seen as barbarism in most of the civilised world. The german civil governor of occupied Belgium, Baron von der Lancken, is known to have argued that Cavell should be pardoned because of her complete honesty and because her nursing had help

Many a true word spoken in jest

In the past day or so the Labour candidate for Rossendale and Darwen was among a number of people who pointed out that green taxes, many of them dating back to Ed Miliband's time as Energy Secretary, are a significant contributing factor to rising energy prices. This is what the media calls a "gaffe" e.g. when a politician speaks the truth even though it may be seen as embarrassing for his party to do so. I'm sure there will be many other things on which I disagree with this gentleman but pointing out that Mr Miliband is posing as an advocate of low energy prices when his actions in government put them up is only a statement of the obvious. I am surprised that it has been left to humour site "The Daily Mash" to point out another totally obvious conclusion - that Ed Miliband's promise to cap energy prices in 2015 if he wins may have consequences for what happens to energy price rises between the day he made the speech and the next election as companie

Quote of the day 11 Oct 2013

"A politician who enters public life may as well face the fact that the best way of not being found out is not to do anything which, if found out, will cause his ruin." (Lord Hailsham)

Why the 1997 to 2010 Labour government was the worst in British History

Sean Thomas, known to "Political Betting" junkies as Sean T and to readers of his novels as Tom Knox, has a superb article in the Telegraph here making a very convincing case that the Blair/Brown government was the worst government ever. Here are some extracts ... "The economy? How did Labour do there? Sit down with a bottle of scotch before I tell you. Labour presided over the slowest growth in 50 years, they produced the fastest decline in British manufacturing since manufacturing began, they left us mired in the longest recession since the war, they bequeathed maybe the largest deficit in peacetime history, and they handed over a debt so huge we will still be repaying it when the earth is swallowed by an expanding sun, a cosmological termination which might therefore come as some relief. "On to foreign policy. One word. Iraq. Two words. Iraq, Afghanistan. Lots of words: 100,000-300,000 killed, 2 million refugees, the humiliation of the British army,

David Cameron writes on the Help to Buy Scheme

  David Cameron writes: "This week I met up with Kayleigh and Chris – a couple from Northamptonshire who are about to buy their first home. And they’re able to do it with help from this Government. Kayleigh and Chris both have good jobs and great prospects. But still they couldn’t afford the deposit for a house. Stories like this are all too common in our country at the moment. People are finding it impossible to get on the housing ladder – for far too many, the dream of home ownership is being denied. So this week we launched the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee. If you’ve got 5 per cent of a house deposit, the Government’s guarantee will help you get a mortgage to cover the rest. That's what we're doing for Kayleigh and Chris - and that's what we're doing for hardworking people across the country. Show your support for Help to Buy by sharing this infographic on Facebook and on Twitter :   Our country is turning a corner. But the struggle of the

Quote of the Day 10th October 2013

"No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians , nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense" ( Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury)

Jumping the gun

Nothing in this post is intended to contest the right of the owners of a shop or business to sell any safe and accurately described product regardless of the time of year. Nevertheless, a wry smile today when doing some grocery shopping and I realised that although it is not yet even Halloween, let alone Advent, the shop was full of Christmas products ...

Quote of the day 9th October 2013

"The greatest crime to our own people is to be afraid to tell the truth" (Stanley Baldwin)

OECD report on skills

Two international bodies came out with important things today: one good for Britain, one deeply worrying. The good news is the IMF upward revision to British growth forecasts. While we can't afford an atom of complacency, this is yet more evidence confirming that the British economy is still moving towards recovery. The dire news was the OECD's international comparison of the skills of 24 nations, and particularly the alarming findings as regards the skills of British workers aged 16 to 24 compared with their contemporaries in other countries. In this age group Britain came 22nd out of 24 Western countries for literacy and 21st for numeracy. The report's damning conclusion argued that levels of basic skills had effectively worsened over the last 40 years, with recent school leavers registering lower scores in tests than their parents’ or grandparents’ generation. England was the only country in the developed world in which adults aged 55-to-65 performed bette