Showing posts from November, 2013

Referendum Bill clears House of Commons

Legislation which would give the British public a vote on the country's membership of the European Union cleared the House of Commons today. The European Union (Referendum) Bill, which would introduce an in/out vote in 2017 on the UK's membership of the EU, received an unopposed Third Reading in the House of Commons. Despite attempts by Labour backbenchers to frustrate the progress of the Private Member's Bill put forward by James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, it was approved by MPs and will now go to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. Mr Wharton praised his Tory colleagues in getting the Bill through the Commons. "I am grateful to all colleagues who have supported on this side with a showing of discipline and resolute determination to get this important Bill through, and on the Opposition's side of the House and our colleagues on the Liberal Democrat benches who have made their contributions, albeit sometimes in a rather long-winded wa

Quote of the day 30th November 2013

"If we are to ensure all our children have the chance to succeed, then we need to rediscover the spirit that animated us in our best years — the spirit that is in the rising nations of the East. We need to relearn respect for teachers, reward them more handsomely, make heroes out of those who live the life of the mind, expect our children to respect adult authority, encourage them to read about the great men and women of the past, breathe a new spirit of intellectual adventure — and value education above all things."   (Michael Gove, from article in the Daily Mail here .)

Dealing with Nuclear Waste

Huxley wrote all those years ago that "facts do not go away because they are ignored" and neither will the hundreds of tons of nuclear by-products which are already stored in West Cumbria. I respect the views of those who voted to terminate the previous MRWS process, even though I disagree with them. I have no respect at all for the intellect of those who would interpret the vote on that process as a democratic mandate for ignoring the issue. We still have to consider the best and safest long-term solution for all those tons of nuclear material which are already here in Cumbria. By all means let us make sure the geology is right, that any solution has the support of the host community, let us continue to explore all the options. But whether or not there is a new generation of nuclear power plants, don't kid yourself that sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich and ignoring the fact that we already have hundreds of tons of nuclear waste to deal with is one of

Quote of the Day 29th November 2013

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”   ― Aldous Huxley , Complete Essays 2, 1926-29 Huxley, died within an hour of C.S. Lewis and JFK, 30 years ago this month.

Local government in Whitehaven - petition for an elected Mayor.

There has been some discussion on local press and internet sites in Whitehaven and Copeland about the possibility of changes to the system of local government. One old chestnut which was originally floated yet again by Copeland Council, but has now been taken up by some local campaigners, is the idea of a Town Council for Whitehaven. Another idea for which there is also a rather wider campaign is to replace the present "Leader and Cabinet" system on Copeland Borough Council by a directly elected mayor. I have my doubts about whether a fifth tier of government for Whitehaven, which is what a Town council would be, would do much more than cost local taxpayers more money, for yet another layer of politicians. However, I would support a referendum on a directly elected mayor for Copeland because at the very least it would spark off a debate about how Copeland Council can provide a more democratic and efficient service to local people. My four years as a member of Copela

Quote of the day 28th November 2013

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't use 'infinitely' when you mean 'very,' otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite." ( C. S. Lewis )

Happy Hanukkah

Wishing all members of the Jewish community in the UK, and any member of the worldwide Jewish community who might happen to access this blog, a happy Hanukkah. David Cameron tweeted today, Happy #Hanukkah ! The Jewish community makes a great contribution to the UK. Looking forward to lighting the candles in No10 tonight. — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) November 27, 2013 For those unfamiliar with Jewish festivals, there is an explanation on the Economist website here . It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in 165 BC after a successful rebellion against external powers which had tried to prevent the Jews from practicing their religion as they wished. I particularly liked the first comment explaining why this celebration should be important to Christians too, as if the Maccabbees who led the rebellion had lost there would have been no first century Jews such as Jesus.

More Images of the North West

Another gorgeous picture on twitter, this time of Derwentwater taken from near Keswick, posted by Bruce @Brucehardy2 which you can see here . And Liam Nichols (@Liam_nicholls) posted some lovely views of Whitehaven harbour here .

Quote of the day 27th November 2013

"If God had granted all the silly prayers I've made in my life, where should I be now?" ( C.S. Lewis )

Trending Central's take on who is smearing who

Alex Wickham at the "Trending Central" blog ( ) has a good article here on the breathtaking hypocrisy of labour's smear counter-attack . As Alex points out, it isn't a smear to repeat an unpleasant truth about someone, it is a smear to make up lies about them (as Damian McBride was proved to be plotting to do against the Conservatives on behalf of Labour.)

Quote of the day 26th November 2013

"Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." ( C. S. Lewis: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” )

Images of the North West

There are some gorgeous pictures of Wastwater and Scawfell being posted on Twitter this morning. Discover Cumbria @Cumbria_Lakes posted a picture here of Wastwater looking like a mirror. And an equally beautiful image here from Mark Gillian @Wastwater1. Or the top of Scawfell range from Alex Atkinson @atkypne here . Wow.

On blaming others and excusing oneself ...

Three closely related thoughts today. The first is today's quote from C.S. Lewis to the effect that we are all liable to be too ready to make excuses for ourslves and not ready enough to accept them for others. The second is a piece on Conservative Home by Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West,  which you can read   here , about "false victims" and how those at the centre of a scandal are often quick to present themselves as the victims. The third is a quote I saw on twitter yesterday attributed to from Trevor Kavanagh, columnist and former political editor of The Sun: "Politicians of all parties have seedy secrets, but Labour cry loudest when theirs are exposed." I think Ed Miliband's actions yesterday, when he was interviewed in The Independent on Sunday accusing the Tories on the front page of that newspaper as being "In the gutter" and David Cameron of demeaning his office over the facts which have recently been published concer

Quote of the Day 25th November 2013

"In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people's, we do not accept them easily enough." ( C. S. Lewis )

Gettysburg 150 years on

This has been a remarkable week for anniversaries. Friday was the 50th anniversary of the deaths within an hour of each other, of two of the 20th century's greatest writers, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Hudley, and of U.S. President John F Kennedy. Also this week was the 150th anniversary of the day when another U.S. President and one of my personal heroes, Abraham Lincoln, gave one of the greatest speeches of all time, known as the Gettysburg Address. That speech lasted less than four minutes and contains fewer than three hundred words, but it is truly inspirational. With characteristic modesty Lincoln was wrong when he predicted that the words he was saying would not long be remembered: his words are still worth remembering in the second decade of a new millenium, and I believe they will still mean something to future generations long after everyone alive today has passed into history. This is the text of the "Bliss Copy" which is believed to be the most accurate recor

Aussies get the last laugh at the Gabba

During the first day of the first Ashes test at Brisbane,  the Aussies tried taunting and insulting Stuart Broad and he responded by taking five of their wickets. Unfortunately from an England perspective, though not perhaps from that of a true cricket lover, the Aussies then wised up and realised that the best way to get revenge would be to play really good cricket. All credit to the Austalian side, and to Mitchell Johnson (9 wickets for 103 runs) in particular, for some really great play. They won convincingly. Better luck to the England squad for the rest of the tour: they have been written off before and come back to win!

150,000 not out

Today this blog passed 150,000 pageviews since the traffic counters were put on six years ago. Thanks to everyone, wherever in the world you are, who has visited the blog in that time. The three most read posts on this blog since 2007 were all posted this year. They were as follows 1) Letter from the Falkland islanders to the U.N. 2) Equal Citizenship: a fair deal for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England 3) The EU wasted £6 billion of taxpayers' money last year: official

Quote of the Day 24th November 2013

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” ( C. S. Lewis )

Memo to Jonathan Freedland: who is smearing who?

Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian yesterday here that the 2015 election will be a very dirty election, an opinion which I regret to say is probably right, but for which he gives precisely the wrong reason: that "The Tory smear machine is operating at full throttle." Freedland bases this on what he calls "The Paul Flowers affair." The most irritating characteristic of a large chunk of the left, whether we are talking about Labour activists or their fellow travellers in the press, is is the way they manage to generate a santimonious  tone of moral superiority about things when done by the right while having an extraordinarily short memory when similar, or worse, things are done by the left. Let's not forget that the last Labour government employed Damian McBride, using money which was paid by all of us as taxpayers,  to act as Gordon Brown's personal attack dog - and making up the most horrible smears against anyone who got in Gordon's way. I

Watch out for ice and snow today

I had to clear a lawer of ice from the windscreen before driving off today for the second time this week. But what was all the more alarming, when pouring away a quantity of water which had collected on a tarpaulin covering an item beside my house, was to find a sheet of ice on the surface which still had not melted by late afternoon. If ice can be solid in those circumstances, there may still be ice on roads and pavements, particularly where it has been in shadow, do do take care if you are out and about today. 

Quote of the day 23rd November 2013

"If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed." ( C. S. Lewis )

James Wharton MP writes on the Referendum Bill

"Today my Bill to legislate for a referendum on our EU membership came back to the House of Commons. Many amendments have been tabled by Labour and Lib Dem MPs in an effort to drag the debate out and cause it to run out of time, many of them rather spurious and lacking any real support. These amendments have been placed into four groups, and the Commons has to debate each group before we can decide whether to give the Bill its Third Reading. Last week we finished the first (Franchise) and just after 11am this morning we completed debate on the second (Timing). In the afternoon we debated the text of the question, just managing to get through it in time, though with the possibility of a few votes having to be taken at the beginning of the next session. This leaves one group to go (Conduct of the referendum) and the Third Reading debate itself. Labour’s tactics throughout have been to talk long, supported by the Lib Dems, and today was no different. There were multiple, l

The Tories and the North: Fisking Owen Jones

I wrote here a few weeks ago about an intelligent article by Peter Kellner which was called Why northerners don't vote tory  and which used polling evidence to successfully refute almost every possible explanation for the challenges facing the Conservatives in the North.  Kellner had concluded that "In the end, the Tories’ problem is not what they do; it’s what they are. Their trouble is their brand. They 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.  This need not stop them winning a future election: there are enough constituencies in the Midlands and the South which, when added to the Tories’ isolated seats in the North, can give them a parliamentary majority. But few, even on the Conservative benches, would regard that as a wholly healthy prospect." Yesterday in the Independent, updated today and to be found  here ther

Orders at highest level since March 1995

British industrial output jumped to an 18-year high in October, as order books swelled and manufacturers signalled that a broad-based recovery was bedding in. The Confederation of British Industry said this week that  rising domestic and overseas demand helped total orders grow to the highest level since March 1995. Orders in mechanical engineering, Britain’s fourth largest industrial sector, were at their highest since records began in 1978, while 13 of the 15 industrial sub-sectors reported a rise.   The CBI’s survey of 350 manufacturers also showed output volumes in the three months to November rose at their fastest rate since January 1995. Growth was widespread, with electrical engineering the only sector to see a decline.   “This new evidence shows encouraging signs of a broadening and deepening recovery,” said Stephen Gifford, the CBI’s director of economics. But he warned that “challenges remain”, with UK exporters in need of government support to

Quote of the day 22nd November 2013

“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” ( C. S. Lewis )

From the country that brought you the boomerang ...

A local newspaper in Brisbane, the "Courier Mail," promised not to name England Bowler Stuart Broad in their coverage of the current Test Cricket match at the Gabba. Australian fans have been booing Broad every time his name came up. Well, judging by the result on the first day's play, perhaps we should encourage the Aussies to boo our crickets and their papers to refuse to print their names for the rest of the tour. Broad took five of the eight wickets to call today for 65 runs. The boomerang was, of course, an Australian invention. Their "Broad Ban" appears to have some similar characteristics ...

Government announces protection for stretch of Cumbrian coast

An area of Cumbria’s coastline is to get special protection for its' marine life. The shoreline between Whitehaven and the mouth of the Ravenglass estuary, including the black guillemot colony at St Bees Head, is set to become one of 27 new Marine Conservation Zones (MSZ). The sites will be protected from damaging activities, although exactly what is permitted at each will vary from location to location. Activities such as fishing will only be regulated if they are causing harm to wildlife or damaging habitats. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the designation of these areas would ensure their features were conserved for the future. It revealed the list of 27 protected sites following national consultation. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) welcomed the announcement, describing it as a “significant milestone for marine conservation” in English seas. Hat tip to the News and Star: more information on their website here . T

It's not enough to commemorate the abolition of slavery - each generation must abolish it again

One of the worst things that this country ever participated in was the slave trade. And up to 1807 just about every country had the same stain on its' record. One of the best things we ever did was pass laws, beginning in 1807, to ban first the slave trade and then slavery itself -  and use the Royal Navy to enforce the ban. But sadly that was not the end of the story. Unfortunately we cannot treat slavery as only a thing of the past. It keeps coming back in new forms and human trafficking is still, alas, very much with us. The horrendous story which is just breaking about three women who appear to have been held as slaves in London for up to thirty years is just the tip of the iceberg. So I welcome the fact that the present government is to bring in a bill called the Modern Slavery Bill which will bring all the various laws together, and ensure that the issue is a top priority for the new National Crime Agency. Catching a human trafficker will be as important as catc

The next election is too close to call

Dan Hodges has a piece in the Daily Telegraph here about why the Conservatives believe they have a chance of an outright victory at the next general election. Lord Ashcroft has an article on Conservative Home here warning Conservatives against over-optimism and fooling ourselves by mistakes such as "comfort polling." Who is right? Well, actually I think the most of the arguments in both articles have something going for them. And one issue not discussed in either is Miliband's strategy of abandoning the political centre in favour of energising his base while trying to appealing more broadly with specifically focussed campaigns on issues like Energy prices. In most elections abandoning the centre amounts to political suicide, and it may prove so this time, but given that our present electoral system might give Miliband a majority with 35% of the vote this could be one of the rare instances where a strategy like the one he is using works. It is still eighteen

A Labour view of Ed Miliband's performance at PMQs this week.

The late Ted Heath once said "I do not often attack the Labour party. They do it so well themselves." The Labour List website has an article here on Ed Miliband's performance at yesterday's Prime Ministers' question time which is a perfect example of what Ted was talking about. For a non-Labour view of the same event you can go to Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail here .

Quote of the day 21st November 2013

"Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”  ( C.S. Lewis: “On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature” which was published in 1966. In context he referred to the children of his time as a generation born to face enemies such as the OGPU, which was the forerunner of the KGB, and the Gestapo. Though those enemies have thankfully been consigned to the dustbin of hisory our own children are born to a world which still contains people such as the Taleban, Al Queda, Boko Haram, all too many people on both sides of the war in Syria, the Janjaweed in Sudan - I could go on and on. The point that there are many terrible forces in the world still applies.)

EU budget finally agreed - and cut for the first time in history

MEPs have voted through the EU's seven year budget - which includes the first cut in the organisation's history. In a linked story, the European Court has defeated a challenge to the pay freeze on EU staff imposed by the Council of Ministers, who argued that the EU central administration should be subject to the same austerity they are imposing on their own national administrations. The budget - called the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) - was adopted by the European parliament by 537 votes to 126. Most of the opposition came from the European Left bloc and the Greens, who wanted a bigger budget but surprisingly the many members of the Eurosceptic group, who logically should have welcomed a cut in the EU budget, also voted against. A political deal on the MFF was reached with EU governments in June, but MEPs bargained for certain conditions, which were finally included in the plan: Greater flexibility on switching budget funds; EU to retain unspent budget fu

Even Quacks should have free speech

An interesting, intelligent and courageous post here at "Spiked" magazine by Doctor Michael Fitzpatrick called " Even quacks must have free speech " argues strongly against the attempt to persuade retailers not to stock the magazine "What Doctor's Don't Tell You" (nicknamed WDDTY.) He regards this "fundamentally silly magazine" as being full of ignorant, pseudo-scientific claptrap but thinks that trying to suppress it by persuading retailers not to stock it is a fundamentally wrong-headed way to go about trying to defeat the ridiculous ideas it espouses. I agree with him. There are three problems with defeating ideas by trying to stop people hearing about them, rather than by defeating them in open debate, which are 1) It's a tactic which can be used against unpopular ideas which happen to be right as easily as against untrue ideas 2) Consequently it sets a dangerous precedent. In this particular case the medical esta

Quote of the day 20th November 2013

"The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes per hour, whatever he does, whoever he is." ( C. S. Lewis )

... and congratulations to Jackie Foster MEP

Following the election of Syed Kamall MEP as leader of the Conservative delegation to the European parliament, the North West's Jackie Foster has been elected Deputy Leader of the delegation. The North West MEP is a seasoned political campaigner and is her delegation's transport and tourism spokesman, as well as Vice President of the European Parliament's Sky and Space Intergroup She said: "I shall be very honoured to serve as Deputy Leader of the UK Delegation and I am delighted Syed Kamall has been elected Leader in the run up to next year's European election. "We have a strong team and there is an important job to be done. We shall be rolling up our sleeves up and telling voters why only the Conservatives can deliver the change Europe needs and the referendum that the people deserve."

Congratulations to Syd Kamall, thanks to Richard Ashworth

Congratulations to Syed Kamall MEP who has just been elected as the new leader of the Conservative MEPs. Thanks to Richard Ashworth, the outgoing leader from whom Syed takes over, for all his hard work. Here’s is Syed's statement on his election: “I am proud and honoured to have been chosen to lead this talented and committed team of politicians at a crucial time.     I am determined that people will hear loud and clear our message of reform in Europe, of a new relationship with the EU and of giving the British people the right to accept or reject it in a referendum.   I am determined that we see as many Conservatives as possible elected to the European Parliament in May because we are the only ones who will properly protect Britain’s interests. I am also determined that our work must focus on the legislative areas that really matter here, where real change is achieved, where taxpayers money is spent or saved and where dangerous proposals are blocked – not the many tal

Abuse of Privilege

I was no fan of Denis McShane but will not take any pleasure in the downfall of  the former Europe minister and Labour MP, who pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of false accounting, claiming at least £13,000 of taxpayer's money on his expenses through artificial invoices. Stealing from the taxpayer when in a position of trust is absolutely wrong whether the culprit is of Tory, Labour, Lib/Dem, Nationalist, UKIP or any other political persuasion and brings all politics into disrepute. The McShane case also shows up the good and bad side of parliamentary privilege. I recently read Nick Cohen's excellent analysis   You Can't Read This Book , (actually you can and should read it). That book points out that parliamentary privilege - the fact that MPs can say whatever they like in parliament without being sued for libel, and that journalists reporting accurately on what has been said in parliament cannot be sued either, as that would be contempt of parliament - is one of

Quote of the day 19th November 2013

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." ( C.S. Lewis )

Age of Consent: protecting victims

Cumbria's former director of Public Health, professor John Ashton, started a hare running in the past week with a proposal which was swiftly disavowed by the leadership of all three political parties - to lower the age of consent. As the parent of two preteen children I am concerned that we get this one right. Like the Prime Minister and others I think that dropping the age of consent is the wrong solution but that doesn't mean there is no problem. Ashton was making the counterintuitive argument that dropping the age of consent by a year would increase the age at which teenagers start having sex by making it easier to "draw a line in the sand" against sex at the age of 14 or younger. He also thought that it would make it easier to give counselling, contraception, and medical support to fifteen-year olds. We have to make the existing law work better, recognising that there is no perfect solution to this problem. The lower the age of consent, the greater the risk

Quote of the day 18th November 2013

"Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, My God do you learn." ( C. S. Lewis )

Miliband staffer refers to Balls' argument as "nightmare"

The Daily Mail caused a certain amount of upset by publishing a leaked email from a member of Ed Miliband's team referring to an Ed Balls argument as a "Nightmare." You can read the Mail article online here . Labour's allies in the media such as George Eaton in the New Statesman (one of the exceptionally small group of people, not including Ed Miliband, who believe that "there is no one better qualified" than Ed Balls "to perform the job of Chancellor.") have been frantically spinning this as a small story of a limited disagreement blown up by papers hostile to Labour and making a big point that the email was apparently leaked accidentally (by being sent to Tory MP James Morris by mistake for the pollster of the same name) rather than deliberately leaked as part of a Labour civil war. I'm not convinced that this is a non-story. We can all remember what harm has been done to the country in the past when Number ten and Number 11 did not hav

Quote of the day 17th November 2013

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its' victims may be the most oppressive." ( C. S. Lewis )

The Daily Mash has some good articles this week

Some very amusing items on The Daily Mash this week. My favourite is the story alleging that Richard Dawkins has threatened punitive action against anyone giving or receiving his books as christmas presents ." Also worth a look if, like me, you appreciate their sense of humour, are the news that Alistair Campbell has been thanked for his apology for destroying journalism . (This one may work better if you have first seen this report in the Guardian about two lectures Campbell was about to give in at Cambridge complaining about the decline in standards and values in journalism. He particularly criticised " negativity, overblown hype and lack of balance" at which point I suspect the Daily Mash will not have been the only people raising their eyebrows and recalling a saying about pots and kettles.) Other recent Mash items included the news that supposedly David Cameron has admitted that 60% of his cabinet are migrants from Eastern Europe, and their take on t

Quote of the day 16th November 2013

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less." ( C.S . Lewis )

Fear and paranoia on the internet

This week some digital housekeeping by both the Conservative and Labour parties to take down out-of-date speeches and details both parties had posted on the internet in the past has produced a bout of ridiculous scaremongering by a few technologically illiterate journalists. Amusingly the press caught on to the fact that this had been done on the Conservative wesite about a day before they picked up that the Labour party had dome something extremely similar. In the meantime some Labour flack with even less common sense as the average Labour functionary - e.g. very little - had jumped in with two left feet and issued a statement calling the Conservative action in updating their website a "cynical stunt." Needless to say it was quickly pointed out that Labour had also removed from their website a lot of old speeches and articles - their "News Archive" no longer contains material pre-dating the election of Ed Miliband as leader, and speeches delivered by Tony Blair

Quote of the day 15th November 2013

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." (C.S. Lewis)

Bank of England says recovery has "finally taken hold"

I would be the first to agree that we cannot afford an atom of complacency about the economy and that the recovery will have to go some way further before it starts feeding into people's living standards. Nevertheless I think we can afford to be pleased with the statements made by the Bank of England in their latest Inflation Report . (Incidentally, unlike the link on the BBC news website, the link above takes you to the November 2013 report and not the February 2012 quarterly report.) The Bank of England's governor Mark Carney says that UK recovery has "taken hold" and he now thinks it likely that unemployment will fall sooner than the bank  had previously forecast. Growth for this year is now forecast to be 1.6%, up from 1.4% as previously projected, and for next year, annual growth is expected to be 2.8%, rather than the 2.5% the Bank predicted in August. The report said: "In the United Kingdom, recovery has finally taken hold. The economy is g

Quote of the day 14th November 2013

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and wlaking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive." (C.S. Lewis)

Does the European Parliament have to sack the Commission again to get the EU accounts straight?

As I wrote on this blog a few days ago, the European Court of Auditors have refused to give the European Union's accounts a clean bill of health for the nineteenth consecutive year. It may be an indication of concern about this that my post on the subject, " The EU wasted 6 billion of taxpayers' money last year - official! " quickly became one of the five most read posts in the eight-year lifespan of this blog. A few years ago Copeland Borough Council took a couple of years to get its' accounts sorted out and approved by the District Auditors. This was (quite rightly) seen as grounds for very grave concern about whether the millions of pounds of taxpayer's money spent by the council were being properly managed. Even the Labour administration of Copeland, which there are objective reasons to regard as one of the three worst run councils in the country, took the matter seriously, bucked their ideas up,  made it clear that heads would roll if the accounts wer

Quote of the Day 13th November 2013

“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” (Clive Staples Lewis, known as "Jack" to his friend but best known to the wider world as C.S. Lewis, creator of the "Narnia" stories and author of "The Screwtape Letters" who died 50 years ago this month.)

Incredible response to Philippines appeal

In the first fifteen hours since the Disaster Emergency Committee launched an appeal earlier today to help the people of the Philippines recover from a devastating typhoon, more than a million and a half pounds was donated. If you want to support that appeal you can do so here .

Quote of the day 12th November 2013

“A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.” ( C.S. Lewis , Present Concerns )

Parking in Whitehaven

Local businesses in Whitehaven have been expressing concern that if parking in the town is made too difficult or expensive it may do great harm to the local economy: today I saw an example of another problem. This afternoon outside the telephone exchange there was a parked car. It was parked illegally though if every car which was parked against the rules in Catherine Street got a ticket there would be an awful lot issued. When there was a court building in Catherine Street, there would often be a prison van parked illegally outside the Telephone exchange while the court was sitting. Anyway, this afternoon the car parked in pretty much the same place that there used to be an illegally parked prison tranport had two things on the windscreen. On the inside there was a clearly visible printed sign saying "Midwife on call." On the outside there was a parking ticket. Oops. Unless they have evidence that signs purporting to identify the vehicles of medical personnel ar

Quote of the Day: Armistice Day, 11th November 2013

"WHEN YOU GO HOME, TELL THEM OF US AND SAY FOR YOUR TOMORROW, WE GAVE OUR TODAY" Epitaph carved on the memorial for  the 2nd British Division in the cemetery of Kohima in India. It is thought to have been written by John Maxwell Edmonds (1875-1958) and believed to have been inspired by the epitaph written by Simonides to honour the Spartans who fell at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

On envy, hypocrisy, and double standards.

By an amusing coincidence, in the same week that the papers have been running stories about the possibility that the Health Secretary will be paid a very large sum of money through the sale of a business he founded many years ago, I read a large number of blog posts from left wingers complaining about people on the right criticising both rich and poor socialists based not the quality of their arguments but on how much money they have themselves. The complaint made by various left-wing hacks, bloggers and internet users are epitomised by an article, Why do so many critics of those of us on the left assume we are consumed by class envy? which was posted on "Independent Voices" by Owen Jones on Thursday. The article is true as far as it goes but has a huge gaping whole at it's centre. He complains tha "anyone who thinks there’s a tad too much wealth and power in too few hands cannot win. Too poor, and you’re envious; too rich, and you’re a hypocrite; too young, a

We will remember them

Today, particularly at 11 am, we will remember all those who have died in war, particularly those who fell defending this country and those of our allies. When I was a boy, veterans of the First world war were far more common than those of World War II are now. Both sets of veterans included some very remarkable individuals. We owe them more than words can possibly describe.

Quote of the day, Remembrance Sunday 2013

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.   (From "For the Fallen" by Rupert Binyon)

Winter is icumen in ...

Had today's filthy weather not been sufficient reminder in itself that we have now reached the time of the year when road users should take care to watch for snow and ice, especially black ice, a journey I made today from West Cumbria to Manchester and back would have provided it. Shortly after two vicious bursts of hail either side of seven am this morning I passed the first of half a dozen RTA (road traffic accident) sites of which I witnessed the aftereffects today, some quite serious. On the A66 near Bassenthwaite a car had turned completely over and was resting on it's roof. The wise driver witnessing an accident should think " There but for the grace of God go I " (or the atheist/agnostic equivalent) and take care that next time it isn't him or her. Just as well I did, as I had reduced speed some way below the limit when during another hailstorm I drove over what I presume must have been a patch of ice on a straight section of the M6 near Lancaster. I

Quote of the Day 9th November 2013

“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”   ( Abraham Lincoln  )

Let Britain decide - the opponents of a referendum grow more desperate

Dan Hannan MEP points out on his blog here how desperate the arguments put forward by Labour against letting the British people decide on our EU membership are becoming. He quotes a briefing by Robert Broadhurst of the European Research Group, which pulls Labour’s objections to the Referendum bill to pieces. For example: " ‘The Bill seeks to bind the next Parliament.’ "It does not. It makes provisions that extend into the next Parliament, but there is nothing particularly unusual about that. There is no legal impediment to the next Parliament repealing the Bill, should it wish. The Bill is only a problem for the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties if they do not want to commit to a referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017. However, that is a political issue for them, not a constitutional problem." You can read the full post here .

Let Britain Decide

The Referendum Bill prposed by Conservative MP James Wharton comes back to the House of Commons today. If passed this would write the requirement for an in-out referendum on Britain's EU membership into law. I hope MPs of all parties will support the bill today.

Quote of the day 8th November 2013

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”   ( Murray N. Rothbard  )

Marta Andreasen on the EU Audit report

Marta Andreasen, who is now a Conservative MEP but was previously a European Auditor from which position she was fired for being a whistleblower, has some comments on the latest EU audit report on Radio Jackie which are well worth a listen at She urges MEPs to refuse to accept the EU accounts, and she makes a very strong case.

To vote or not to vote

Whether or not you agree with Russell Brand's advice to people not to vote - and I regard it as a really bad idea - one good thing to be said for it is that it has got people talking. One of Brand's fellow comedians re-joined the Labour party in response - not sure whether the Staggers blog in the New Statesman was being ironic when they joked in response to this that Miliband appears to have the comedian's vote locked up. Jeremy Paxman had a bit of a ding-dong with Brand over this, but later admitted that he hadn't voted himself in 2010, for which he in turn was roundly chastised by Nick Clegg. To be fair to Paxman, he wasn't seeking to defend his own failure to vote and was actually quite self critical about it. "I can understand that: the whole green-bench pantomime in Westminster looks a remote and self-important echo chamber. But it is all we have ," he said. On his decision not to vote, he added: "By the time the polls had closed and

A595 closed due to accident near Egremont earlier today

A serious accident on the A595 near Thornhill, South of Egremont, has resulted in the road being closed for a large part of today (7th November 2013) and caused serious disruption As at 5.40 pm this evening the A595 northbound is still reported as being heavily congested in some areas North of the A5086 junction in Egremont according to the BBC website. Postscript: by mid-evening the road was reported as back to normal.

Quote of the day 7th November 2013

“There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.”   ( Robert A. Heinlein , The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Also often attributed to Milton Friedman)

The EU wasted £6 billion of taxpayer's money last year - official.

The European Court of Auditors has reported that the EU wasted nearly £6 billion last year, of which British taxpayers' proportionate share is £832 million. They found that 4.8 per cent of the EU’s £117 billion budget in 2012 - £5.7 billion - was spent in “error”, on projects that were either tainted by fraud or ineligible for grants under Brussels’ rules. This so-called ‘error rate’ in Brussels spending was up from 3.9 per cent the previous year, according to the auditors. It means that for the 19th year in a row, the European Court of Auditors have refused to give the EU’s accounts a clean bill of health. EU bureaucrats were accused of “shambolic” mismanagement yesterday in the wake of the report, with Conservative MEPs suggesting it appeared as though Brussels thought it had a licence to 'Carry on Squandering’. The EU spending watchdog found that supervision and control of Brussels spending was only “partially effective in ensuring the legality a