Saturday, May 31, 2014

Extracts from Martin Callanan's valedictory article as ECR chairman

Martin Callanan was an MEP from 1999 until his defeat last week, and was the Chairman of the "European Conservative and Reformists" group in the European parliament which is the centre right group of pragmatic eurosceptic reformers which was set up when the British Conservatives (and most of the rest of those who joined the ECR) left the "European People's Party" (EPP).

The EPP is (still) the largest group in the European parliament: it is a grouping of centre right parties such as the German Christian Democrats. The British Conservatives were members of that group for  many years but continued membership became increasingly untenable once the EPP started trying to do things like try to agree and impose a common manifesto and agree to support a common candidate for EU President. This is because most of the members of the EPP are Federalist, and the vast majority of Conservatives are now eurosceptic.

Martin Callanan is about the same vintage as myself, and I first met him when we were both involved in the late and unlamented Federation of Conservative Students. We didn't alwasy see eye to eye at the time but I respected and liked Martin, which is more than I can say for a lot of the people who were then active in national FCS.

His defeat in the North East election was not just the worst moment of last Sunday night for Conservatives - and the one moment a lot of us nearly lost our composure - but the worst moment of the night for intelligent Eurosceptics. But I am sure he will be back in some way, shape or form.

Paul Goodman at Conservative Home has been running "Callanan for Commissioner" articles and we could do an awful lot worse for Britain's next EU Commissioner.

Also on ConHome Martin has written a valedictory column about what Conservative MEPs have achieved during his 15 years in the European parliament. It's an excellent piece and here are a few extracts:

"Clearly, we have work to do if we are to show many voters that our values are their values; but I believe these values are an asset as we continue to rebuild our party in the north. Don’t let anyone say it is a Labour heartland. Labour’s metropolitan leadership take its support for granted, and we must never allow them to. We have some incredible talent in our party’s northern regions, and I will do all I can to support it as we take the fight to complacent Labour."

"Realistically, governing parties do badly at elections. People are not fully feeling the effects of the economic recovery in their pockets and wage packets. Against that backdrop, to almost beat the main opposition party is a fantastic achievement.

"In 1999, we won the European elections by a landslide. We all know what happened in 2001. This result was not good for Labour. And for the Liberal Democrats, they proved that they are the Party of ‘IN’ – IN deep s**t. On a personal level, of course, there were some LibDems I got on better with than others (and some that I didn’t get on with at all), but I have some experience of what they must all be feeling. I wish them well with whatever they do in the future.

"I also share my sympathy with two sitting Conservative MEPs also not elected: Marina Yannakoudakis and Marta Andreasen. Marina saved UK businesses £2.5 billion in unrealistic maternity leave payments that the EU was trying to mandate. She has led a campaign against female genital mutilation, and opposed patronising EU plans for women quotas on company boards.

"Since joining the Conservatives, Marta has worked tirelessly and deployed her vast experience on budgetary control issues, highlighting waste in EU spending. She was an excellent addition to the MEP team, and was making a major contribution to our work. I am sure that we have not heard the last of either of them.

"The European Parliament is frustrating, wasteful and often remote – but, increasingly, it matters

"This might sound odd and even quite concerning, but decisions in the European Parliament are rarely made in the debating chamber, or even in the plenary votes. These days, they are usually made in what’s known as a trilogue – when a selection of MEPs, EU governments and the Commission come together to negotiate on details of specific laws. If you want to defend your interests – that is where it is done. Frankly, we are going to have to work even harder now that our numbers are depleted.

"Conservative MEPs really do work hard for Britain

"Delivering in these trilogues usually means hours of preparation during the day, followed by hours of talks during the night. They often start these talks at seven or eight in the evening so that the prospect of an all-nighter focuses people’s minds. It’s not glamorous, but we have to do it. Conservative MEPs sit in that room and demand what they want. At 3am, they often get it. I’ve been proud to have been a member of that team of talented and dedicated people from across the UK, and all walks of life. I will miss my colleagues and friends, some of whom I might have fought with on occasion, but all of whom I have respected.

"In the ECR, we have been proud that we sometimes have different national interests and priorities. We don’t paper over them: we encourage them. As chairman, I have learnt a lot about the background and reasoning for these different interests. In doing so, I have made many friends from across the continent and beyond.

"But let me also say that people from the ECR – and even many in other groups – also want to hear our national perspective on issues, and on the EU.

"We are respected in the EU, and what always amazed me was how an MEP would make a great British-bashing speech in the chamber, only to come up to me afterwards and say, I wish we had the same guts as you and your Prime Minister.’

"As we start to talk about renegotiation and a major reform of how the EU does business, don’t always assume that everyone in Brussels is hostile. Going with the flow is too often an art-form there, and with the ECR we have started to show that the flow need not go in one direction. Others will be increasingly emboldened to call for something different.

"The ECR will continue to grow. It will continue to be more relevant. I’m so proud to have been a member and its chairman for the past thirty months, and I hope I can continue to help it expand."

You can read the full column here.

Quote of the day 31st May 2014

“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.”

( Anthony Robbins )

Friday, May 30, 2014

New NHS head backs community hospitals

Community hospitals should play a bigger role especially in the care of older patients, the new head of the NHS in England has saidaccording to Simon Stevens, the new Chief Executive of the NHS.

In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, Simon Stevens signalled a change in policy by calling for a shift away from big centralised hospitals.

The health service chief executive said there needed to be new models of care built around smaller local hospitals.

The NHS said he was not suggesting the return of 50s-style cottage hospitals.

In recent years the health service has emphasised the benefits of centralised services. This has paid dividends in areas such as stroke care and major trauma where significant benefits have been gained by concentrating specialist care.

But it has been seen as a question mark over the future of the many smaller district general hospitals across the NHS such as West Cumberland Hospital.

In the interview in Friday's paper, Mr Stevens said they should play an important part in providing care, especially for the growing number of older patents who could be treated closer to home.

He said: "A number of other countries have found it possible to run viable local hospitals serving smaller communities than sometimes we think are sustainable in the NHS.

"Most of western Europe has hospitals which are able to serve their local communities, without everything having to be centralised."

Mr Stephens said that elderly patients were increasingly ending up in hospital unnecessarily because they had not been given care which could have kept them at home.

Mr Stevens also told the Telegraph:

  • The NHS needs to abandon a fixation with "mass centralisation" and instead invest in community services to care for the elderly
  • Waiting targets introduced by Labour became "an impediment to care" in too many cases
  • The European Working Time Directive damaged health care in the NHS, making it harder to keep small hospitals open
  • Businesses should financially reward employees for losing weight and adopting healthy lifestyles

Quote of the day 30th May 2014

“The man of thought who will not act is ineffective; the man of action who will not think is dangerous.”
Richard M. Nixon )

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quote of the day 29th May 2014

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.”
( Isaac Asimov )

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The law of unintended consequences strikes again ...

Like most people who have more than a rudimentary knowledge of the workings of the legal system, I am an opponent of capital punishment.

It is just not possible to get a justice system which never makes mistakes. Therefore if you use the death penalty you will execute a certain number of innocent people. You will also have a certain number of guilty people acquitted, for whom the evidence of guilt would have been sufficiently overwhelming to constitute "proof beyond reasonable doubt" in the eyes of a jury if the consequence were a jail term, but not if it meant execution.

For that reason I would vote against any attempt to bring back the death penalty in the UK.

I also think it is reasonable to use diplomatic means to persuade other countries not to apply the death penalty where there are strong reasons to believe that it is likely to result in the execution of the innocent or to be applied where it is grossly disproportionate to any real or imagined offence - e.g. for rape victims, because of people's sexuality, or because they have changed religion or given an imagined offence to someone else's.

But we need to be very careful about trying to impose our views on other democratic countries about how they should treat people who have been convicted in a fair trial of truly horrific offences. It makes me extremely angry when other countries or institutions try to suggest that Britain should not have the right to impose "whole life" tariffs on criminals who were undoubtedly guiilty of revolting crimes, such as Rose West, who was told by the judge

 "If account is taken of what I say, you will never be released."

I am sure the reaction of the vast majority of British people to any international body which tried to persuade the UK to overturn the whole life tariff on the murderers of Lee Rigby would be two words, and the second word would be "off."

In this country the fact that in the very worst cases life imprisonment really does mean life was part of the effective "deal" which persuaded most citizens to at least accept, not very enthusiastically in all cases, that we no longer execute even the worst criminals. But the anger which even relatively liberal Brits feel when outsiders, be it the ECHR or any other external body, criticises our right to impose whole life prison sentences on those who are genuinely guilty of unspeakable crimes should give us an idea of how many Americans feel when outsiders criticise them for retaining the death penalty.

I am disturbed to learn from this week's Time Magazine of evidence that European attempts to prevent the application of the death penalty appear to have contributed to the recent spate of botched executions in the United States of America.

Most of the US states which have the death penalty on their statute books have adopted lethal injection as their method of execution because as it was seen as more humane. There was a relatively standard procedure based on a protocl recommended by Doctor Jay Chapman, who had been Oklahoma's chief medical examiner, for using particular doses of certain drugs in sequence to first quickly sedate the person being executed, rendering him or her unconscious, and then stop the heart. Chapman himself said later that he had "no idea in my wildest flight of fancy" that every US state would adopt his protocol with no further research and that "I guess they just blindly followed it."

More recently there have been concerns that this protocol is not always succesful in making the execution painless, and there have been attempts to develop a better method. These, however, have fallen foul of EU or national legislation in Europe.

Many of the drug companies from which the American states used to buy the relevant drugs are headquartered in Europe - and in 2011 the European Commission tightened controls on the sale of drugs for use in executions.  Ohio, which has a law requiring executions to be as quick and painless as possible, tried to replace the Shapman protocol with a single drug, the anesthetic sodium thiopental. but they were unable to obtain supplies for the drug, partly because  the Italian government blocked the US-based drug company which had been manufacturing the drug, but ran into a problem at their Ilinois plamt, from using their Italian factory instead. This was the first in a number of cases where states which were seeking ways to apply the death penalty more humanely fell foul of European anti-execution policies. A number of such attempts failed because European institutions or governments blocked the sale or the relevant drugs to the US penal system.

This is by no means the only reason why there appears to have been problems in a number of recent executions in several US states with executions causing far more excruciating pain for the criminal than was intended. But it appears to be one of the contributory causes.

The debate has begun in some US states about whether to return to older methods of execution such as the firing squad or hanging. If I were a citizen of one of the US states concerned the evidence of problems with lethal injection would strengthen my opposition to continuing with capital punishment at all, but I'm not, and 63% or American adults disagree with me.

And I don't see how I can argue against their right to decide how the justice system in their country should work given that I believe that the UK has a similar right to decide whether we want British judges to have the power to impose whole-life prison sentences for those murderers for whom the judge considers this a just and fair sentence.

I fully understand why an individual, a company, or a state might wish to refuse to sell drugs for the purposes of putting human beings to death. I'm not even necessarily saying that they are wrong to do so, despite the problems described in the Time magazine article. But I think it is important that we understand the consequences of such actions. And in this instance the law of unintended consequences appears to have had a field day.

Quote of the day 28th May 2014

"A significant chunk of the electorate actually like the idea of coalition government, and want another one. Only four fifths of current Conservative voters say a Tory overall majority is their preferred result.

"That is obviously something to bear in mind if Conservatives are tempted over the next year to start setting out the kind of Tory utopia they could unleash if only they had Whitehall to themselves."

(Lord Ashcroft on his website and addressing Saturday's Conservative Home conference on the results of his recent extensive polling work.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Penny Drops ...

Even France's President Hollande appears to have, at least to some extent, got the message about the need to reform the EU. He has now said that said the EU must reform and scale back its power.

Speaking on French TV, Mr Hollande - a leading champion of the EU - said the project had become "remote and incomprehensible", and this must change.

"Europe has to be simple, clear, to be effective where it is needed and to withdraw from where it is not necessary," he said.

Quotes of the day 27th May 2014

"We will have a catastrophe at the next election if we go on like this. Our voters are trying to give us one last chance and tell us they want change. He [Ed Miliband] has got to free himself from this or he will drag us down with him."

(Labour MP and former minister Frank Field quoted in the The Daily Telegraph).

"It's not just that they think he is weird. They think he's a joke and that's even more dangerous."

(Quote about Ed Miliband attributed by the press to a shadow cabinet member speaking 'Off the record')

Monday, May 26, 2014

North West England European election result

Votes cast in this region in the European Elections last Thursday and declared at a little after midnight early this morning were as follows

MEPs elected
An Independence from Europe
British National Party
English Democrats
Pirate Party UK
Socialist Equality Party
UK Independence Party

I would like to congratulate all those who were elected, especially Jacqueline Foster and Sajjad Karim, the two re-elected Conservative MEPs, and thank all those who voted for myself and the team of Conservative candidates.

"I do not often attack the Labour party. They do it so well themselves." (Part Two)

More signs of fratricidal warfare among the brothers and sisters today as members of the Labour party have been forming what one of them despairingly described as a "circular firing squad" and  Ted Heath's quote above again very appropriate.

Even the Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire, who is probably the most pro-Labour commentator to be found anywhere in the British MSM today, described Ed Miliband's campaign here as

"a calamitous own goal."

and added

"The uncomfortable truth for Miliband and Labour is he is a geeky Weird Ed. One of his Shadow Ministers under his breath calls him Forrest Gump."

Labour MP and former minister Frank Field has savaged Miliband in The Daily Telegraph and called on the Labour Leader to join David Cameron in supporting a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU. He told the Telegraph:

"We will have a catastrophe at the next election if we go on like this. Our voters are trying to give us one last chance and tell us they want change. He [Ed Miliband] has got to free himself from this or he will drag us down with him."

The Daily Express reports how "Labour MPs attack 'Weird' Ed Miliband's disastrous poll strategy,"

and the Daily Mail reports here a further barrage of criticism of Ed Miliband from Labour or pro-Labour sources, with one Laour academic Lord Glasman, quoted as saying "It pains me to say this; I have come to the conclusion that Labour is in danger of losing England."

The same article has a cartoon with two aliens getting out of a flying saucer and saying to a Labour MP - "Take us to your leader: We feel like a good laugh."

Quote of the day 26th May 2014

"There is still a year to go, and as I have found in the Ashcroft National Poll, only around half the electorate has definitely decided which party to vote for.

"It will be a battle, but remember this. If the Conservatives can switch one in six Labour voters – two thirds of those who say they’re willing to consider the party – this picture looks very different. Start with the ones who trust the Tories on the economy and prefer David Cameron as Prime Minister."

(Lord Ashcroft on his website and addressing Saturday's Conservative Home conference on the results of his recent extensive polling work.)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

European election resutls.

About to head down to Manchester for the North West European parliament elections Count and Declaration (result expected around midnight.)

Whichever way everything goes I am very proud to have been a part of the Conservative campaign in the North West this year.

Quote of the day 25th May 2014

"I asked those who voted in the Euro elections what issues would matter most in determining their vote next year. The economy came top, of course – but nearly as many people mentioned the NHS as immigration.

"It would be a mistake to try to re-fight this election and let last week’s issues dominate the debate for the next year."

(Lord Ashcroft on his website and addressing yesterday's Conservative Home conference on the results of his recent extensive polling work.)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"I do not often attack the Labour party. They do it so well themselves."

The above line is actually a quote from the late Ted Heath.

It does perfectly summarise how Labour have responded to the local election results by attacking one another, as you can read here, or here, here or here.

Labour's own MPs have been queuing up to describe their leader as "a problem" or their campaign as "disastrous" or unforgivably unprofessional.

Keep up the good work, brothers and sisters: when Labour attack each other it's the one time there's a good chance they're actually telling the truth.

Best response yet to the local elections

Hat tip to Political betting for this one

"A Labour councillor was asked about his response to the election.

He said "B***** UKIP, coming over here, stealing our jobs ..."

Quote of the day 24th May 2014

"Discipline under fire counts for a lot. The Labour results weren't that bad, but the party reacted as if they were ... the Tory results weren't that good, but the party reacted as if they were, largely holding the line and refusing to panic. That will inevitably colour this weeke'd coverage and debate."

(James Kirkup writing in the Telegraph)

The council election results which we already have, and the european election votes which have been cast but will not be counted until Sunday evening, should not be ignored. That wold be arrogant. It is obvious that there is a lot of dissatisfaction on the part of many voters and we should listen to them, learn from them, and find constructive ways to respond to the concerns of worried or angry voters.

But Kirkup is undoubtedly right that the worst possible response is panic.

Local election results ...

I have been looking through the local election results to see what happened yesterday to some of the excellent candidates I have been campaigning with.

South Lakeland DC

I was absolutely delighted to see that Kevin Lancaster won back the Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale ward from the Lib/Dems. Kevin was an excellent advocate for the aera when he previously represented it as a councillor and I'm sure he will do a fine job again. Also pleased to see Caroline Airey re-elected in Mid Furness ward. Congratulations to Kevin, Caroline, and their teams.


All the Conservative seats which were up in Carlisle were successfully defended, and Dalston was a Conservative gain from Independent. Congratulations to Gareth Ellis who held Belah, Mike Mitchelson who held Brampton, Raynor Bloxham who held Longtown & Rockcliffe, Marilyn Bowman who held Stanwix Rurual and Liz Mallinson who held Stanwix Urban, Stephen Higgs in Wetherall and Ann McKerrell who gained Dalston. Commiserations to Christine Finlayson and Nigel Christian on excellent results which were just not quite enough in Yewdale and Belle Vue, and the  other unsucessful candidates.

St Albans

At my former home at the other end of the country, I was delighted to see that Beric Read, a very good friend and colleague who was best man at my wedding, was re-elected in my old ward, Sandridge.

Congratulations to him and to the other successful Conservative candidates in the City and District, Terry Heritage in Harpenden South,  Julian Daly in Harpenden West, Geoff Turner in Harpenden North and Mary Maynard in Harpenden East, to Victoria Mead in Redbourn, to Annie Brwster and Sandra Wood in Wheathampstead, Sue Featherstone and Dave Winstone in St Stephen's ward, Seema Kennedy in Marshalswick South, and Alun Davies in St Peters. Commiserations to Lyn Bolton who put up a good effort in Marshalswick North, Jim Vessey in Cunningham, and the others who didn't quite make it.


In Sefton I was pleased to see David Barton hold Dukes ward and Denise Dufton hold Harington. Very disappointed that Jamie Halsall missed gaining Ainsdale by the tiniest of margins, polling 1,159 when the successful Lib/Dem scored 1,187. I know just how you felt, Jamie, I missed out on gaining a seat by 13 votes last year.

Also disappointed by that Sean Dorgan and Gemma Peace didn't manage to hold on in Blundellsands or Ravenmeols, and that excellent candidates Luke Thompson, Martin Barber and Adam Webster didn't get the gains they deserved in Cambridge, Manor, or Meols wards. Commiserations and better luck next year.

One might be very tempted to make a joke about the astonishing fact that 940 people actually voted UKIP in Cambridge ward, Sefton, but perhaps it would be better to avoid the risk that someone might quote it out of context. No serious candidate would want to risk being accused of saying that their political opponents should be executed. Whoever heard of a candidate doing such a thing?


A very good sign for the Conservatives was the successful defence of Trafford MBC. Labour really wanted to take that council, we really wanted to hold it. Congratulations to the Trafford Tories on a great result.


And finally, congratulations to Lyle Davy, who at 18 has become Britain's youngest councillor by taking Coates ward from the Lib/Dems.

Friday, May 23, 2014

First thoughts on initial election results from last night

The table below comes from a tweet from the BBC with council gains and losses last night. It's a net picture so, for example, the figure of minus 78 for counservative councillors indicates that we have lost rather more than seventy-eight council seats but we have also gained some to take the overall change in councillors to that number. This was before any of the results which were counted this morning were declared.

The first thing which needs to be honestly recognised is there is obviously a backlash from many voters against all the established parties including the Conservatives. A lot of people are sending a message to the main Westminister parties that they are not happy with us. Well, I get the messsage, and I'm pretty sure that most of my Conservative colleagues do.

There is no getting away from the fact that it was a good night for UKIP, and all the more surprising given the sort of fortnight they've just had. But not good enough to be within light-years of the support they would need to form a government or even win a large number of parliamentary seats.

Having said all that, I am giving an honest opinion and not just spinning when  say that this was not that bad a night for the Conservatives and must have been a disappointing one for Labour.

For a party in government to win council seats in excess of 80% of the number it was defending four years after a good result and one year out from a general election, and be that close to the number of councillors elected by the main opposition, is not a disastrous result.

We've lost  many good councillors last night, and will lose more today, but our vote share is up on last year and we have had good results in many places such as Birmingham, Kingston-upon Thames where we gained control of the council, and Swindon (where I think all politicians will have to memorise the name of the Labour opposition leader Jim Grant, and of David Rennard, still the Conservative leader of the council with an increased majority.)

Labour did not make the sort of gains that an opposition looking to go into government in a year's time would normally expect to make.

There is a very interesting analysis of how vote shares have been moving by Steve Fisher of Trinity College Oxford which you can read here.

There is everything to play for in 2015.

We could still see anything from an outright Cameron win (a landslide is not on the cards but a win is possible) to a Miliband win (a landslide is looking increasingly unlikely but in theory he could sneak in with a third of the vote) and very different shades of hung parliament in between.

Nobody should take the electorate for granted.

Crushing 2:1 victory for Copeland Mayor campaign

Copeland council will have a directly elected mayor instead of a council leader as the campaign for change scored a convincing win, by a margin of well over two to one, in the referendum which was held at the same time as the European Parliament elections.

12,671 votes were cast for the option of an elected mayor as compared with only 5,489 for the status quo.

Congratulations to Carla Arrighi and her team on a convincing victory in a hard-fought campaign.

And now to bed after a 22 hour day ...

Quote of the day 23rd May 2014

"This is not, so far, proving to be a very good night for Labour"

(Professor John Curtice, Strathclyde University, on the May 2014 local election results)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

As the polls close ...

The polls are now closing in the European and local elections and the Mayoral referendum in Copeland.

I am heading down to the verification for the European election and count for the Copeland Referendum, having been on the go for about fifteen hours (since 5am this morning, with two short breaks.)

I have been very proud to be part of the 2014 Conservative European campaign team in the North West, in which we have fought a positive campaign and for which so many people have worked so hard. I do not know how well we wil do but I do know that every seat we win has been richly deserved in terms of hard work.

There are also signs that the mayoral vote in Copeland has produced a higher than usual turnout in the borough and inspired considerable interest from local residents. Whether it is the pro- or anti- mayor supporters coming out to vote, or as I suspect perhaps a bit of both, it is a thoroughly good thing that more people are taking an interest.

Let us hope, whichever system is in place, that this carries over into more interest in the Copeland elections next May.

Five hours to use your vote

Because of a one hour gap between blogger time (apparently GMT) and BST, this post may appear to have gone up at 4pm but it is actually 5pm. Which means, if you have not already done so, five hours to vote in the European and in some areas local council elections which close at 10pm.

Almost everyone who has lived in a coutry where they have been deprived of the vote realises just how much that right to vote means.

It is your right to use your vote however you wish, including by abstaining. But you will not hurt politicians by declining to use your vote today. You will, however, lose the opportunity to use that vote for whichever party is closest to your own views.

Quote of the day 22nd May 2014

"In retrospect I can see the language I used and ideas I alluded to may be perceived as rather strong."

(UKIP candidate Gordon Ferguson, who is standing in the Cambridge ward in Southport, on the letter he sent to voters accusing the Labour, Conservative and Lib/Dem parties of treason, suggesting they should be executed for it, and warning voters that if they support those parties they were also guilty of treason. His defence was that he has not had media training.)  

Remember to vote today

Polls are open until 10am today in the European election, elections for many councils, and Copeland's referendum on whether to have an elected mayor in place of a council leader

Whatever your view, please find time to vote today

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

BoJo writes: remember to vote tomorrow

London Mayor Boris Johnson writes
Quick question: what time are you going to be voting tomorrow?
Polling stations are open from 7am, so you could swing by before work, or on your way to drag the dog round the park?
You could leave it until later, after lunch maybe, or on your journey home in the evening? The polls are open until 10pm, so you could even pop in after a quick post-work trip to the pub.
Whatever time you vote, just make sure you vote Conservative.
Only the Conservatives have a plan to deliver real change in Europe, and bring powers back to Britain and away from Brussels.
Only the Conservatives will give you an in-out referendum on our membership of the EU.
Share this graphic on Facebook and Twitter today, and let everyone know that you'll be voting Conservative tomorrow:

I'm voting Conservative this Thursday - graphic
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
These elections are going to be incredibly close - and your vote could make all the difference.

So please make sure a trip to the polling booth is part of your plans for tomorrow - and remember to tell all your friends too.

Thank you,

Boris Johnson
Donate today


Election issues: Digital rights

·       The Conservative Party supports an open, innovative and safe internet, promoting growth and freedom of expression, where legitimate business can thrive and citizens can express their culture and develop their creativity.
      We are clear that human rights apply online, as well as off line. The UK is an active supporter of multi-stakeholder governance of the internet and we welcome Tim Berners-Lee’s recent initiative of a dialogue about the web we want.

Election issues: Copyright

·       The UK government has responded to the European Commission’s consultation on EU copyright rules. Its response takes account of a 2013 public call for views on copyright in Europe and representations from stakeholders on the consultation itself. The UK response stresses the importance of copyright, the UK’s desire to see a robust, flexible and modern copyright framework, and the need for any proposals to be grounded in good evidence.

Quote of the day 21st May 2014

Former Labour advisor John McTernan shows why Labour does not deserve your vote tomorrow.

This may or may not be a "gaffe" in the sense of a politico accidentally saying what he actually thinks but the important thing is that it demonstrates a mindset.

As I said when he first made the comment during discussion of this year's budget, perhaps it should not just be a quote of the day, but of the week, month, year and century.

"You can't trust people to spend their own money sensibly" is a perfect summary of what is wrong with the socialist worldview.

Election issues: Taking back powers

·       It is only the Conservatives that have a credible plan to reshape Britain’s relationship with the European Union, and to put this to the British people in an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.
·       Britain needs people in Brussels who will stand up for our national interest. We understand and share people’s concerns about the European Union. The EU is not working for Britain – it must change.

·       Our businesses value the single market but they find the degree of European interference excessive. People are worried that Britain is being sucked into a United States of Europe; that may be what some others want, but it is not for us.

·       They see decisions being taken far away, rather than by their elected representatives in Parliament. And they worry that European rules have allowed people to claim benefits without ever working here. As a result, democratic consent for Britain’s membership has worn wafer thin.

We are fighting to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU. Some areas for renegotiation that we have already set out are:

·       Keeping our border controls and cracking down on benefit tourism. We want to see free movement to take up work, not free benefits. We support the continued enlargement of the EU to new members but think that new mechanisms should be put in place to prevent vast migrations across the Continent.

·       Securing more trade but not an ‘ever closer union’. We want businesses liberated from red tape and benefiting from the strength of the EU’s own market – the biggest and wealthiest on the planet – to open up greater free trade with North America and Asia, but the concept of ‘ever closer union’, enshrined in the treaty, may appeal to some countries, but it is not right for Britain, and we must ensure we are no longer subject to it.

·      Taking back control of justice and home affairs. Our police forces and justice systems should be able to protect British citizens, unencumbered by unnecessary interference from the European institutions, including the ECHR.

·       Powers flowing away from Brussels, not always to it. Power must be able to flow back to member states, not just away from them. This was promised by European leaders a decade ago at a meeting in Laeken, but the promise has never really been fulfilled. We need to implement this principle properly.

·       National parliaments need to be able to work together to block unwanted European legislation. We need to ensure powers can flow back to national parliaments. We will look at ways to make this happen, including the possibility of giving national parliaments a ‘red card’. 

·       Conservatives will secure a better deal for British taxpayers. And then we will give the British people the final decision on Britain’s membership of the European Union at an in-out referendum by the end of 2017.

Pots and Kettles four ...

Labour has been condemning Zero-Hours contracts and promising change.

Guess which group of 62 employers hire some of their own staff on zero hours contracts

You guessed it:      62 Labour MPs!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quote of the day 20th May 2014

"No, I know that Jim is doing a good job for Swindon and I think he is doing a good job as leader of the council."

(Ed Miliband)

"But he is not leader of the council is he Mr Miliband? It’s a Conservative led council."

(Ben Prater, BBC Journalist)

From Ed Miliband's radio interview on BBC Wiltshire today, to which you can listen below by clicking on the red loudspeaker button. To me what made this damaging was not the fact that Miliband forgot the name of the local Labour leader, which was embarrassing but is the sort of mistake anyone can make. It's the fact that he tried to bluff it out and pretend that he understood the first thing about local Swindon politics when he clearly didn't.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Election issues: Health and Nursing

Health is a national competence ad we do not think it would be in the interests of patients to see decisions in this area move to the EU.

Conservative policy on Health and Nursing is as follows:

·       Having sufficient numbers of well-trained nurses is of course critical to providing the compassionate care that patients deserve.

·       Although the government has taken difficult decisions on the deficit it has been able to protect the NHS budget, allowing the NHS to employ record numbers of nurses.

·       Increasing nurse numbers in our NHS. There are more nurses in our NHS than ever under Labour meaning patients get the care they deserve.  According to the latest statistics there are 313,302 nurses, midwives and health visitors – 2,509 more than in May 2010 – meaning families can have peace of mind that their loved ones will be taken care of properly.

·       Reducing the number of NHS managers. The government is also working to reduce the numbers of managers in the NHS, so that more money goes to the frontline. There are now over 7,400 fewer managers and senior managers in the NHS than under the previous government.

·       Ensuring safe staffing levels. To ensure safe staff numbers are maintained, the government has introduced the display of ward level staffing and the reporting of the numbers of staff on wards once a month. Furthermore boards will need to publicly examine and explain staffing levels. One of the new Chief Inspector of Hospitals’ roles will be to take action if hospitals are found to be compromising patient care by not having the right number of staff on wards.

·        These measures will support the NHS to deliver a health service that provides the long-term security that patients and their families deserve.

Quote of the day 19th May 2014

"Cabinet Minutes should reflect the lies which were actually told at the time, not the lies people wished they had told afterwards."

(Norman Tebbit)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Election issues: Offshore Wind

·       The UK has some of the best wind resource in Europe. The UK has 20 offshore windfarms (including the 4 largest farms in the world) and a 3308MW capacity.

·       Since the first UK offshore wind farm was built over a decade ago, offshore wind has evolved to become a large-scale commercial renewable technology with an important role to play in the government’s long term plan for a balanced low carbon electricity generation portfolio to help meet our 2050 carbon targets.

·       The UK has supported the development of a sustainable offshore wind industry and recognises the large scale investment and commercial opportunities which this industry presents.

·       We want to see UK-based businesses grow to create a centre of engineering excellence that delivers cost reduction for UK projects and exports to overseas markets.

Anyone can make a mistake ... don't make one by voting UKIP

Nigel Farage has admitted that he regrets his comments about Romanians, saying

"sometimes we get things wrong"

Anyone can make a mistake -


Comparing Romanians and UKIP MEPs

Hat tip to Tyron Wilson (@TyronWilson) on Twitter for this graphic comparing the percentage of prisoners from the Romanian community with the percentage of UKIP Members of the European Parliament who went to prison ...

It isn't quite a like for like comparison: a closer one would be with the percentage of Romanians in the UK who are in prison which he says is 0.44%.

Campaigning in Southport tomorrow

During the last general election my UKIP opponent, Edward Caley-Knowles told a hustings debate organised by Churches Together in Keswick that the late Ted Heath should have been hanged for treason.

In the area where I will be campaigning tomorrow afternoon, it would appear that some other Kippers want to extend that to all members of the Conservative, Lib/Dem and Labour parties, and possibly anyone who votes for them.

I will be delighted to campaign tomorrow in Southport with local Conservative council candidates.

All over Twitter this afternoon is a letter from one of their UKIP opposite numbers who apparently wrote that the Conservaties, Lib/Dems and Labour have, quote,

"conspired with a foreign power, the EU"

 and are "all thereby guilty of treason"

and that those responsible for that treason "should be hung by the neck until dead."

They also threatened voters that

"If you vote for any of the three Lib Lab Con parties you will be aiding and abetting them and will also be guilty by association of treason."

Fortunately for the majority of the electorate but to their own disappointment, Southport UKIP do not expect to succeed in seeing the 78% of those who voted at the last election who backed one of those parties "brought to justice" because "Our senior police, crown prosecution service and judges are almost exclusively freemasons and Britain's courts have been utterly corrupt for many years."  

The letter from Southport UKIP to residents is on twitter here.

This is the sort of thing you expect from a candidate for "Comedian of the Year." It is unusual to see it pu out on behalf of a candidate for election to public office.

DC writes: vote for Real Change in Europe on Thursday

Prime Minister David Cameron writes:

Make no mistake: the next few days are crucial. Next Thursday, we have the chance to vote for real change in Europe - and an in-out referendum on our membership of the EU.

But only by voting Conservative.
Throughout this campaign, we've seen that Labour and the Lib Dems won't stand up for Britain, and UKIP just aren't serious - they make a lot of promises, but they simply can't deliver.
So in these final few days, we need to talk to as many people as possible about our plan to deliver real change in Europe.
Share this graphic on Facebook and Twitter today and let everyone know that only the Conservatives can and will stand up for Britain:

Real change in Europe - only with the Conservatives (graphic)
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As well as the vital European and local Elections, we have an important by-election in Newark on 5th June.
We have a great candidate in Robert Jenrick, and we need every Conservative to get behind his campaign. So please volunteer to help out, either on the ground or by making calls on his behalf.

Thank you for all your support,
David Cameron
Donate today


Quote of the day 18th May 2014

"It is scrutiny by the general public that keeps the powerful honest"

(Heather Brooke)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The truth about the EU accounts - £6 billion spent in error in 2012

I took part in a debate on BBC Radio Manchester last Thursday at 9am in which one of the issues raised was the EU accounts.

It was suggested by the UKIP representative that the EU has not even filed accounts for many years, which is nonsense as they have indeed produced and filed accounts, while the Lib/Dem representative said that the accounts had been signed off but the Court of Auditors had raised concerns about how national governments spend money. This is true as far as it goes but gives an incomplete impression of the scale of the problem which the auditors have repeatedly found with the European Union's accounts.

The truth is that for the past nineteen years the EU accounts have been signed off but qualified by the Court of Auditors who expressed serious concerns. They have indeed found issues with how EU money has been spent by member governments, and those governments do need to sharpen up their act, but that is not the only problem the auditors found and the EU institutions are certainly not off the hook.

I realise that for many people other than those who are fanatical about Europe, saying "Please read the audit report on the EU accounts" sounds about as attractive as "please stick your hand in a tank of Piranha fish."

However, in my opinion the introduction to the most recent report on the accounts by the President of the Court of Auditors is not that hard to uderstand, nor written in incredibly boring language, and if you take a quick look at the report here, just reading the President's introduction will make you one of the hundredth of a percent of the British electorate who understand the truth well enough to understand what is really going on.

You will then be able to recognise if you hear a candidate trying to fool you, whether it's a kipper or other Eurosceptic trying to suggest there are no accounts filed at all or a Europhile trying to pretend there are no problems with how the EU handles money. Which there most certainly are.

The most recent report of the European Court of Auditors has found that the EU failed to properly account for nearly £6 billion in 2012, 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.

By "error" the auditors do not necessarily mean that the whole of this money went on fraud or waste, but they do quite explicitly say that it should not have been spent because it was not properly justified under the relevant legislation and 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 when the report was published, 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, quote, only

“partially effective in ensuring the legality and regularity of payments."

and that

"All policy groups covering operational expenditure are materially affected by error,”

according the Court of Auditors, as you can read here.

They concluded that:

“For these reasons it is the ECA’s opinion that payments underlying the accounts are materially affected by error.”