Showing posts from June, 2014

Quote of the day 30th June 2014

“I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”   ( Douglas Adams , from  The Salmon of Doubt  )

Quote of the day 29th June 2014

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”   ( Søren Kierkegaard  )

In Praise of John Major

While doing some clearing out today I came across some old maazines including a 2010 copy of the Speccie which included this acticle by Peter Oborne calling for a re-appraisal of the administration of John Major. The article looks even more apposite today than it did in 2010 as it is obvious that a number of the best reforming ideas not just of Tony Blair's administration but that of David Cameron's as well started off while John Major was in government. Here are a few extracts from the article. "It is becoming obvious, especially with the benefit of hindsight, that John Major was a formidable leader with substantial achievements to his credit.   "But the narrative of John Major’s hopelessness was so strong that for many years it was impossible to make the case in his favour. For example, in his Labour conference speech last year Gordon Brown paid tribute to Tony Blair for ‘starting’ the Northern Irish peace process. Actually it was John Major who launched

Quote of the day 28th June 2014

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”   ( Albert Einstein  )

Now I've heard everything ...

I learn from the Daily Telegraph here that Scottish Nationalist MSP's like Christina McKelvie and for SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars are trying to blame MI5 and MI6 for things going wrong with the "yes" campaign. Their latest preposterous fantasy is to suggest that British "secret service plants" pretending to be SNP "Cybernats" were responsible for the unpleasant tweets attacking J.K. Rowling for giving money to the "Better Together" campaign. As Michael McMahon, a Labour MSP, said the remark "would be laughable if it wasn't so serious". "The nationalists are really starting to lose touch with reality. First Jim Sillars said MI5 was out to get them, now Christina McKelvie blames the Secret Service for the awful abuse directed at JK Rowling by nationalists," Mr McMahon added . "Instead of coming up with ludicrous conspiracy stories, the nationalists should start giving Scots answers about what

Hell has officially frozen over again

Conservative Home, once desribed by the man himself as "That Blasted website" has an article up today called " In praise of Ken Clarke ."

Nuclear New Build moves closer

The Whitehaven News is reporting this week that plans for a new nuclear power plant at Sellafield are moving closer and the team behind a proposed multi-billion-pound nuclear new-build will be carrying out surveys in the area by August.   A team from NuGen will begin to carry out geographical surveys at Moorside that, it is hoped, will pave the way for a new power station with three reactors being built. There is a strong consensus emerging both nationally and locally that Britain needs new nuclear build, with both the Coalition Government and Labour MPs in favour. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) says the project would bring at least £10billion of investment and create up to 21,000 jobs over the construction, including peak on-site employment of more than 6,000. Once operational, the reactors would employ 1,000. A recent event to promote the benefits of new nuclear build, organised by the Sellafield Workers’ Campaign (SWC), heard from John McNamara, NuGen’s head

Recruitment problems affect local health services

Concerns have been expressed about the effect on local GP services of a shortage of doctors whcih is part of a natioanl problem. National doctors’ leaders say the lack of GPs means they cannot provide care that is safe and of high quality. And the British Medical Association (BMA) conference yesterday warned the government that GP services across the country are at breaking point, saying they provide “conveyor belt care at breakneck speed”. Dr David Rogers, Whitehaven GP and medical director for the Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, said there were issues surrounding GP recruitment both locally and nationally. “There are over 450 GP training places that are not filled across the country,” said Dr Rogers, who is aware of the local practice facing difficulties. “A practice has highlighted concerns – because of staff issues – that they are really under pressure and the potential for serious incidents as a result of that pressure. They haven’t got as many doctors as they have ha

Quote of the day 27th June 2014

"If we had some ham we'd have some ham and eggs if we had some eggs." (Frank Herbert, line in the book "The Dragon in the Sea")

Quote of the day 26th June 2014

"Now he asked a minute ago 'What is weak?' I'll tell you what is weak: attacking Murdoch, and then standing up with a copy of The Sun Newspaper, only to apologise a few hours later." (David Cameron, in response to a question from Ed Miliband at yesterday's PMQs.)

The difference between Gordon Brown and David Cameron's spin doctors.

Gordon Brown employed a spin-doctor who spread vicious personal attacks, a few true, mostly horrible lies, about his boss's political opponents. Initially mostly about Gordo's opponents within the Labour party, although ironically McBride was caught when Guido Fawkes discovered he was planning to do the same thing to prominent Conservative politicians and their wives. David Cameron employed a spin-doctor about whose conduct in that job there has not been one word of complaint, but has now been convicted of offences committed during his previous job. David Cameron gave a full and complete apology for employing Andy Coulson yesterday wtihin about an hour of the court verdict. Gordon Brown took five days to apologise for what Damian McBride did while working for him. And the present leadership of the Labour party were close colleagues of Gordon Brown at the time when McBride was his "enforcer." All parties need to learn lessons from the toxic culture of spin and

Quote of the day 25th June 2014

"Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning" (Desmond Tutu)

Three cheers for HS3

Both the economy of Britain and our transport network are far too London-centric. So I was delighted to hear the chancellor yesterday proposing that we start looking at a High Speed Rail link to connect the great cities of Northern England.   I was delighted to read in  the speech George Osborne gave yesterday in Manchester  the following about our great Northern cities:   “These cities, in a belt that runs from Liverpool to Hull all have strengths individually – but on a global scale they are also quite small. Manchester’s population is 2.6 million. Leeds’ and West Yorkshire’s is 1.8 million. “But together our northern cities can be more than the sum of their parts. “The last census found that the average commute of someone who travels into London from outside is 40 miles. If you make a circle of the same distance, and centre it here on Manchester, you’d have a catchment area that takes in Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire, and contains ten m

Quote of the day 24th June 2014

"He may be a joke opposition leader, but there is every chance he may become a joke PM. The Labour party finds it almost impossible to dislodge its leaders, no matter how useless, as Neil Kinnock showed. And the arithmetic of parliamentary boundaries is massively skewed towards Labour" (Stephen Pollard writing in the Daily Mail, quoted in the Independent.)

The Abominable No-Man and the perfect contrarian indicator

The late C Northcote Parkinson, whose name has entered the language in the expression "Parkinson's Law" (which was " Work expands to fill the time available for its' completion ") also wrote some very funny articles with titles like "The Abominable No-Man" which was about people who alwasys say no, and how to make sure that a decision where you want a Yes is taken at a level where you find someone who usually says yes instead of such a person. Most of his humorous observations actually work in the real world but unfortunately some do not. For example I have been unable to find a single example of one character in his essays, who would be useful in a sense, but whom I am actually rather glad does not exist. This is the perfect contrarian indicator - the person who is always wrong. C Northcote Parkinson put forward the hypothesis that nobody is always right but some people are always wrong, and therefore the best way to get perfect advice is to

EPP Summit

The European People's Party has press released here that it's European parliament group, national leaders, and leaders of the opposition are having a summit before the next European Council meeting.It says, that, quote, . "The EPP candidate for President of the European Commission Jean-Claude JUNCKER will be present." This sort of behaviour sheds some light on why the leaders of these parties, including some who are sensible on many other issues, were so angry with David Cameron for pulling the Conservatives out of the EPP and working with other non-Federalist centre-right parties to set up the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) group which is now the third largest in the European Parliament.) The EPP thinks and acts as if there were a European Demos (a functional, recognisable and coherent political electorate) with itself as the Europe wide centre-right party. If it were, many of their actions - like putting up Jean-Claude Juncker as a candidate f

Quote of the day 23rd June 2014

"I remain utterly mystified at how the political establishment, many in my own party included, can still look up to Tony Blair. He is still praised as the great political operator, but being a politician is not the same as being a great servant of one’s country. I cannot imagine that history will judge him as a great statesman. "I am even more mystified as to how he can be ever have seriously been considered as a “Middle East Peace Envoy”. As Conservatives are fond of saying about the economy, you don’t hand the keys back to the person who crashed the car. "It was Blair and his actions that destroyed any credibility Britain may have had left in the Middle East, and Blair who has made any major future intervention – even if it was needed - almost impossible. For him now to claim that we should have acted sooner by intervening in Syria is beyond belief. We know he has a high view of his own supremacy and favours articulating it through military muscle, but even if you

The right decision on a vitally important topic.

The vote in Scotland on whether to leae the UK is a matter for Scots but those of us who live in the rest of the UK - including scores of thousands of Scots who live in England and millions of British people like myself with a signifiant proportion of Scottish ancestry - are entitled to take an interest. The FT's economic commentator Martin Wolf, wrote recently that England and Scotland have made is "the world's most successful multinational state"  whose sum is greater than its component parts and whose shared contribution to the world has been immense. He added that being English or Scots is an ethnic identity, but being "British a civic one … If Scotland were to depart, I would lose an important part of myself". I don't often agree with Gordon Brown on anything but he was surely right when he told the Dailty Record that ".. this is a question that really is not just like a general election or one vote – it is about the whole future of Sco

Marvellous weekend at Whitehaven harbour continues

For the second consecutive day we have been appreciating the sunshine, and summer fayre at Whitehaven harbour, with the tall ships still here and lots of people enjoying a glorious afternoon.

Ed summonsed over car crash

When I saw the headline I thought "I didn't know you could be prosecuted over a bad interview." But apparently it was a real one - Ed Balls is alleged to have clipped someone's car when when leaving his constituency offices. Just as well for the other Ed that you can't be prosecuted over a disastrous interview ...

Quote of the day 22nd June

If I had been able to track down the quote I was looking for, today's would have been a first - a quote from Gordon Brown which I strongly agreed with. Unfortunately I am still trying to track down the exact words he used and do not want to rely on memory. So instead I am going to use a the first line of a review by John McDermott which you can read in the FT here of two books, "Independence: an argument for Home Rule" by Alasdair Grey, which despite the second half of the utterly misleading title is actually an argument for a "Yes" in the Scottish referendum, and "My Scotland, Our Britain: A Future Worth Sharing" by Gordon Brown. Anyway, the quote is "One of the authors of this pair of books is a dyspeptic Scottish socialist prone to exaggeration. The other is Gordon Brown." (John Mc Dermott)

When "soft" interviews work better than setting up a fight

The media in this country have a lot to answer for, and never more than when they delight in setting up a situation where people are spitting (metaphorical) venom at one another. A good example was the confrontation between Yasmin Alabhai-Brown and Rod Liddle on Channel 4 a couple of days ago in which the journalist "chairing" the debate certainly didn't make any attmpt to damp down the flames - watch it for yourself on Guido Fawkes' blog here . It was a discussion which shed 100% heat and 0% light, and will have provided great entertainment for those who enjoy confrontation but very little to those who enjoy a constructive debate. Now the interesting thing is, Rod Liddle's views probably are not as different from Yasmin AB's as my friend Iain Dale's are. And yet Iain managed to post an interview with her today which was not just infinitely more civilised but also extracted some interesting and nuanced views. Reading this shortly after I watched the

Copeland Mayoral election to take place at same time as General Election

The News and Star reports that the government is bringing forward primary legislation at the request of Copeland Council to allow the election for the new post of Directly Elected Mayor to take place at the same time as the General Election and the election for the other members of Copeland Council. I am aware that there are now two opinions about this, though in the run up to the referendum there appeared to be a consensus that if there was a "Yes" vote both the council and pro-Mayor campaigners woud prefer the option of a mayoral election on 7th May 2015. I note that the "Copeland Elected Mayor" website which I referred to in a post earlier today currently (5.35pm on 21st June)  describes this option as having the support of both the petition organiser and the council. Following on from the size of the "Yes" vote I think a larger number of people wanted to 'get on with it' and to be honest I have some sympathy for that point of view. But

Tall Ships at Whitehaven Harbour

Whitehaven Harbour was looking particularly beautiful this afternoon: a glorious summer day, two tall ships in the harbour, a beautiful place to take a walk with the family.

Copeland Mayoralty information website

One of the people involved in the successful campaign for an elected mayor for Copeland has set up an information website with details of the new office which is due to be created. I was asked if I would consider publicising the site on this blog. The "Copeland's Future Elected Mayor" site on Wordpress brings together links to a series of sources of information about elected mayors in general and the position for Copeland in particular, mostly official documents on sites like that of the Electoral Commission. You can find it at )

Quote of the day 21st June 2014

‘Who is the biggest opponent of welfare reform? Not a weak Labour Party, but the relentlessly negative BBC. ’ (Ian Duncan Smith, quoted in the Daily Mail here .)

Too many tweets ...

Having been extremely careful what I tweeted during the European election camapign, I managed to ruin an owl joke on twitter this morning by mistyping the word "birds" and not noticing. However, this "owler" was comparatively minor by comparison with what happens to some people. It is both sad and frightening that on both Twitter and the rest of the internet people are watching to drag people down if they make a serious mistake - including anything which can be selectively quoted to look like a serious mistake. There is more than a hint in the way the internet is used today which reminds me of the line from If, "If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools," It's not enough to avoid, even in jest, suggesting that you might do certain things. It can be dangerous to explain how you would avoid doing them for fear that someone might quote you out of context without the "I would be careful n

A new welfare policy ..

Stephen Mosley MP retweets a Peter Brookes cartoon from The Times in which the left hand panel has Ed Miliband saying "Labour will hit you hard if you have no skills for the job." The right hand panel has Miliband beating himself up. Labour will hit you hard if you have no skills for the job — David Vanegas (@Bottom_To_Top) June 20, 2014

Quote of the day 20th June 2014

"We are renewing our commitment to say by 2025 we want to find a cure to dementia. We should treat this as a disease rather than as some natural part of ageing." (David Cameron at a summit on dementia yesterday)

Tackling Dementia

One in five of those of us who live past 80 develop dementia. Several people that I knew suffered from this horrible condition, which can be very distressing for the victim and is always excruciating for his or her loved ones who see the person they cared for slipping away while their body is still alive. So I wa very pleased to see that the Prime Minister promised a "big, bold global push" to beat dementia. Speaking to an audience of 300 global dementia and finance specialists at a summit in London, David Cameron said he would speed up progress on dementia drugs by getting experts to come up with new proposals on areas such as drug patent extensions, by October. He pledged to accelerate progress on dementia by increasing funding and making new drugs more accessible. In his speech, the prime minister told experts that dementia is one of the "greatest enemies of humanity". He said that "It is important to see dementia as a disease and one th

Labour hackers "owl" with laughter ...

I do hope the Conservative website gurus have some good security programs up in case the hackers who rewrote Labour's Twitter account to make the party appear to promise that "everyone should have his own owl." inspire a host of copycat attacks on both Labour and all the other political parties. Doubtless a hunt for those responsible is now under way. Personally I suspect the most likely culprits are despairing Labour supporters, seeking to distract attention from Ed Miliband's real policies which are even more preposterous. After all, the idea that Ed Miliband know how to fix the economic problems they and Gordon Brown caused for the country is strictly for the birds.

Quote of the day 19th June 2014

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." (Sir Winston Churchill)

Elevating incompetence into an art form ...

It is my experience that almost all parts of the political spectrum contain people of the full range of competence from brilliant and capable through dreamers, competent but dull through to real people who are nearly as inept as the fictional character who the late Rik Mayall's creation Alan B'Stard once told "If your IQ was any lower you'd need watering." There is a self-comforting myth on the left that their side has the brains and their opponents are fools: John Start Mill, who I will admit was himself one of the cleverest people who ever lived, said in a debate in 1866 that while he did not argue that Conservatives are generally stupid, he did think that stupid persons are generally conservative. The dead giveaway that even a person of his enormous ability was indulging in unchallenged assumptions is that he went on to add " I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it." When anyo

Quote of the day 18th June 2014

"It takes a special talent to endorse the England team in the country's biggest-selling tabloid during the World Cup and then turn that into a political problem. Honestly, I don't know whether to laugh or cry." (Attributed to a Labour shadow cabinet member, on Ed Miliband's Sun photo opportunity U-turn.)

This year's Janus award for facing both ways at once goes to Harriet Harman

In the past the Janus award for facing both ways at once usually went to the Liberal Democrats. The best example of all time was when the Lib/Dems were arguing in the West country that Trident should be refitted at Plymouth, in the North of England that this should happen at Barrow, in Scotland that it should happen on the Clyde, and at Westminster that Britain should not have Trident at all. However, Harriet Harman wins this year's award with an argument which the DT summarises as Miliband was right to post with the Sun and right to apologise afterwards . You really couldn't make it up, could you? If Harriet Harman did not exist Conservative Central Office would have to invent her.

200,000 Not Out

Yesterday evening this blolg had it's 200,000th pageview since the traffic monitors went live a few years ago. Thanks to everyone who has visited and read the blog in that time and I hope you enjoyed it or found it useful.

Quotes of the Day 17th June 2014

"I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad. He wrote an essay on his website on Sunday ( reproduced in the Telegraph ) that struck me as unhinged in its refusal to face facts. In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help." "The reality is that before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, there was no al‑Qaeda presence in that country, none at all. Saddam was a ruthless Ba’athist tyrant who treated his population with appalling brutality. But he did not have anything to do with the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre, and he did not possess Weapons of Mass Destruction." "The truth is that we destroyed the institutions of authority in Iraq without having the foggiest idea what would come next." "The Iraq war was a tragic mistake; and by refusing to accept this, Blai

On Blair and Iraq

Tony Blair's attempt to distance himself from the current crisis in Iraq contains one argument which is obviously true, although the arguments which have been attributed to him by the BBC and others include several which are equally obvious nonsense. He has a point when he argues that even if the USA and Britain had not invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussain, the series of revolutions throughout almost all the middle east which is sometimes called the "Arab Spring" would almost certainly still have affected Iraq. The Syrian Ba'ath party - the sister party to Saddam's Iraqi Ba'ath party - is clinging to power in Syria, and the ISIS faction which has just over-run large parts of Iraq, and claims to have perpetrated the most ghastly and bloodthirsty massacre against the prisoners they took in the process, operates on both sides of the border and has been part of the rebellion against that Syrian regime for some years. This proves Blair's point that leav

Quote of the day 16th June 2014

“It's an universal law-- intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.” ( Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn )

We will remember them

I was pleased to see the dedication today of a memorial for all those who have served in the Royal Navy and associated services which has been unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum. The glass sculpture at Alrewas, Staffordshire, was commissioned by the Royal Naval Association (RNA) which described it as the nation's first "all-inclusive memorial". Prince Michael of Kent performed the dedication ceremony in front of 1,500 veterans. It will be known as the Naval Service Memorial. Captain Paul Quinn, General Secretary of the RNA, told the BBC that the navy wanted to create "something for everyone". He said there was a collection of smaller naval memorials, "[But] we didn't have anything for the naval service, which is the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Wrens and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary," he explained. Arboretum officials said the idea had been in the planning for several years. It has been created to mark the 60th anniversary

Alan B'Stard MP, Captain Scarlet, and Shaggy RIP

It seems to have been a bad week for the deaths of actors who created some of the most memoprable figures from earlier stages of my TV watching life (not that I was ever much of a telly addict.) First we had the sad and sudden death of Rik Mayall, star of the Young Ones, and the incomparably nasty but brilliantly funny Alan B'Stard. I had written a long tribute to Rik Mayall here, but to abide by my own blog rules I have sadly had to delete it unposted. I don't allow anything which could be taken as a partisan attack on a party or a group of people in obit posts on this blog, and unfortunately I can't think of a way to write what I would have liked to post without the risk that it could be misunderstood as such an attack. Rik probably would not have minded but I made the rule for a good reason and I'm going to stick to it.   Let's just say he was incredibly talented and leave it at that. And then today I heard in seperate news bulletins during the same drive b

Quote of the day 15th June 2014

"There are good arguments for posing with the Sun. There are good arguments for not posing with the Sun. But there are no – literally no – arguments for posing with the Sun one day and then apologising for it 24 hours later." (Former Labour offical Dan Hodges, writing in the Daily Telegraph here .)

How not to organise a photo-op

In eleven months' time, Ed Miliband could be the Prime Minister of Britain. This is not by any means certain - thank God - and both Labour and the Conservatives have everything to play for, but for that very reason, you would think he and his staff would be straining every sinew to make him look like someone who could be trusted with the nation's highest office. Which makes his behaviour over the photo-opp for the Sun all the more extraordinary. The bacon butty incident could have happened to anyone, although it was a sign of a slack media operation that the pictures were allowed to appear in the newspapers - Campbell and Mandelson, or indeed Sir Bernard Ingham - would have found a way to "persuade" journalists or editors not to use them. But appearing in a promotion for the highest circulation newspaper one day, and then issuing a sort of not-quite-apology the following day - that is elevating clumsiness into an art form. If this is what he makes of the job of

Quote for the day 14th June 2014

"Religion is like a pair of shoes.....Find one that fits for you, but don't make me wear your shoes.”   ( George Carlin  )

On Islamophobia

I've been thinking about the contrast between the overwhelming majority of the British Muslims who I know personally and the idea of what Muslims are like which one could so easily get from the press. Not to mention from material like the stomach-churning election election address which the BNP circulated during the european elections. The two largest groups of muslims who I know personally are those who I met and worked with as colleagues at BT and fellow Conservative activists. In both cases some of these individuals are personally very devout but neither the BT managers nor the Conservatives are obviously different in most of their attidudes, behaviour, or at all in the way they do their jobs, from those BT managers or Conservatives who are Christians, Jews, or atheists. Back in my days at University - which included a year as Treasurer of the Union at Bristol, which made me the Union sabbatical responsible for dealing with societies - I did find that some of the Islamic soc

Quotes of the day 13th June 2014

"There is no compulsion in religion" "Had your Lord so willed it, all on earth together would believe, so can you then force the people to be believers?" (Holy Koran, first quote is Verse 256, second Sura, second quote is from the tenth Sura. Both quotes are considered by all mainstream Islamic scholars to encourage religious toleration.)

DC writes: two million new jobs

Following the news that the UK unemployment figures are down yet again, the Prime Minister writes: "We've just heard: 2 million private sector jobs have now been created since we came into government. That's millions more people with the security of a pay packet , able to support themselves and their families.   "And it's 2 million more reasons to back our long-term economic plan and the important measures we're taking to help Britain's businesses grow and create more jobs.   " Donate £10 today and let's keep working through the plan that is turning Britain around.     "Labour don't have a plan - all Ed Miliband and Labour would mean is more spending, more borrowing and more taxes.   "If we're going to secure a better future for your family and for Britain, we need to keep working through our plan - and we need to win the next election.   " Donate £10 today and together we can secure Britain&#

Quote of the day 12th June 2014

"Believe you can and you're halfway there" (Theodore Roosevelt)

Hopes of a fair resolution to the Chagos Islands dispute?

I was pleased to see an article on Conservative Home  here by David Snoxell, Coordinator of the Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group, which suggests that after far too many years we may finally be inching towards a fair resolution of the problem of these islands. Britain has rightly argued that the people of Gibraltar and the Falklands Islands should be entitled to determine their own future. We need to find a solution for the Chagos archipelago which takes account of the rights and wishes of the people of those islands too.

Quote of the day 11th June 2014

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree" (Martin Luther)

Theresa May on the launch of the Modern Slavery Bill

On the "Trojan horse" investigation in Birmingham schools

It is very important that the so called "Trojan horse" investigations are completed and the results made public, innocent schools and parties cleared, and action taken if any of the allegations turn out to be true. Dan Hannan MEP does have a very good point when he asks how the debate, in some parts of the media, has become about faith schools, free schools and academies when the 21 schools actually affected, a mix of primary & secondary, local authority & academies, include schools that are not in any of those three categories?

Good Luck!

Hat tip to Harry Phibbs who has tweeted a photo of a notice pinned to a front door. The notice warns whoever keeps adding "og" to the owner's doorsign that "If I catch you, you are dead." The doorsign is supposed to read "Dr A Hedgeh." See "A tough - but thus far ineffective - response to graffiti" at ...  

Quote of the day 10th June 2014

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”   (  Mark Twain  )

Quote of the day 9th June 2014

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear .”   ( Nelson Mandela  )

What's right with "The Youth of Today"

You can find comments written two or three thousand years ago in which the older generation expressed fears about "young people today" which sound surprisingly similar to the things which some older people will say today. But I'm not one of those people. When I was a teenager or in my twenties, I thought that my elders often came out with more wisdom than some of my contemporaries were willing to give them credit for. I still don't feel old, and I still have a full head of hair and plenty of energy, but the gradual appearance in the mirror of more grey in that hair and the fact that so many of that older generation are no longer with us sometimes forces me to recognise that I am no longer as young as I like to think of myself as being. One sign of age, however, which I absolutely refuse to exhibit is a loss of faith in the abilities, motivation and achievements of the next generation. On the contrary, I find many of them inspiring. Perhaps that partly mean

Damian Green MP on the lessons of Newark

I didn't quite get to speak to Damian Green in Newark, though I did spot him pounding the streets of the town about ten minutes drive from the campaign HQ when I was on my way there to do the same. However, he gave an excellent speech at a Tory Reform Group meeting yesterday about the lessons of the Newark by-election. Here are a few extracts. "One of the lessons from Newark is that the temptation to become UKIP-lite should be firmly resisted. Ed Miliband, our main opponent, would love the Conservative Party to move that way. "The political battle of our times is between optimists and pessimists. Conservatives should be optimists, believing that free markets and a strong society are the basis for a successful country in the 21st century. "Nigel Farage hankers after the 1950s, when people knew their place. Ed Miliband, to be fair, is a slightly more modern figure. He prefers the 1970s, with mighty trade unions and high taxes. "They are both relying on

Quote of the day 8th June 2014

“Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.”   ( Benjamin Disraeli  )

Quote of the day 7th June 2014

“Time is what we want most,but what we use worst.”   ( William Penn  )

Remembering "The Longest Day"

I cannot begin to imagine what it was like for the thousands of men who charged up the D-Day beaches under Nazi fire, jumped out of aircraft in the dark as they parachuted into occupied France, or otherwise put themselves in harm's way seventy years ago today as they launched the campaign to liberate Europe. I do know that the debt we owe those brave men is incalculable. Thousands of them lost their lives: the casualty lists (on both sides) from the Normandy campaign were comparable with those at the Somme. What the world might be like today without their sacrifices is unspeakable. We have a bad habit in Britain of failing to give our service personnel from the most junior to the most senior the credit they deserve for their sacrifices and achievements. In the case of the D-Day campaign the credit due both to our front-line soldiers, sailors and airmen, and to the often derided staff officers who in this case got almost everything right, is amazing. The planners knew that

Statement on ECR enlargement

The ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists)  Group in the European Parliament issued the following statement  yesterday:   The European Conservative and Reformists (ECR) group last night grew to 55 MEPs, putting it just four members behind the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group.   With more parties expected to join, it is now increasingly likely that the ECR could be the third biggest group and therefore kingmaker in the next European parliament.   At an ECR Group meeting last night, 10 MEPs from six parties were admitted. Four members from the Danish People’s Party and two members from the Finns Party were admitted although the Finn’s membership is pending a formal meeting with Poland’s Law and Justice Party.   The other parties that were admitted were Nova and OL ‘ aNO from Slovakia, the Independent Hellenes from Greece and The Family Party from Germany – all with one member each. The membership application from Alternative für Deuts

Conservatives hold Newark

The Conservatives held Newark in yesterday's by-election, which is the first time we have won a parliamentary by-election while in government for just over 25 years, since William Hague held Richmond in Februay 1989. There was a swing against us, but  a smaller swing than in previous by-elections in this parliament. Of course this absolutely does not mean that the Conservatives can take victory for granted in next year's general election - it is still on a knife edge with everything to play for and no room whatsoever for complacency. And you should never read too much into a by-election. But this was a better result for the Conservatives than had been expected. The fact that Labour and UKIP spokespeople like Chris Bryant and Roger Helmer were reduced to making an issue of the fact that the Conservatives made a huge push to hold Newark and a major effort to get lots of MPs, candidates and activists there - as if any competently-run party aspiring to run Britain could possi

Quotes for 6th June 2014, the 70th anniversary of D-Day

Two quotes as we remember all those very brave men and women who took part in the crusade to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny, which began seventy years ago today with Operation Overlord, the largest, most meticulously and brilliantly planned, and successful maritime invasion of all time. "I  have also to announce to the House that during the night and the early hours of this morning the first of the series of landings in force upon the European Continent has taken place. In this case the liberating assault fell upon the coast of France. An immense armada of upwards of 4,000 ships, together with several thousand smaller craft, crossed the Channel. Massed airborne landings have been successfully effected behind the enemy lines, and landings on the beaches are proceeding at various points at the present time. The fire of the shore batteries has been largely quelled. The obstacles that were constructed in the sea have not proved so difficult as was apprehended. The Anglo-America