Showing posts from July, 2014

Tackling Modern Slavery

The government is launching a nationwide campaign aimed at raising awareness of modern slavery in the UK. The aim is to encourage the public to identify signs of slavery and report them to a new national helpline. The Human Trafficking Foundation charity estimates 20,000 people are working in what amounts to slavery in the UK, and says that number is rising. The Home Office hopes Parliament will pass an anti-slavery bill before the general election. It is spending £2.3m on the TV, online and poster awareness campaign, which will run until October. The TV advert shows three of the most common types of modern slavery: agricultural labour sexual exploitation in a brothel domestic servitude in a home. It concludes with the caption, "Slavery is closer than you think". The national helpline, which is supported by children's charity the NSPCC, will offer information and advice to child and adult victims of slavery, as well as to professionals and m

Quote of the day 31st July 2014

“You've only got three choices in life: Give up, give in, or give it all you've got.” (Anon)

You couldn't make it up: the left is coming for Thomas the Tank Engine ...

I try not to use oversimplitic expressions like "loony left" but there are some people for whom no other description is adequate. In particular there are, and have always been, a certain number of Guardianista left-wingers who try to reduce everything in life to politics and sometimes end up making paranoid and delusional attacks on the most harmless or irrelevant things. To this day I can quote almost word for word an article in the Times by the late Bernard Levin, written when I was in my teens, which took the mickey out of some correspondence in the Guardian accusing the painter John Constable of being a class enemy of the working man on the grounds that the popularity of his painting with the midde class was highly "suspect" and that he never depicted agricultural workers burning ricks. I can also recall hearing Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind in the WIllows" described as a crypto-fascist manifesto. Anyone who imagines that this kind of crack-b

Quote of the day 30th July 2014

“Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.” ( Robert A. Heinlein  )

Cable thieves jailed

No apology for returning to a subject on which I feeel very strongly as another gang of metal thieves have been jailed. It is excellent news that some progress is being made in catching the people behind this scourge of modern society and that when they do get caught, the courts are increasingly willing to put them behind bars. Ross Gamble, 33, Daniel Giddings, 24, and Kyle Norton, 22, all from Rochester, Kent, and Kieron Butt, 24, of Chelmsford, Essex, all received prison sentences of up to 21 months when they appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court in London charged with the theft of BT cable. The court heard the alarm was raised after a live BT cable had been cut in Boundary Road, St Johns Wood, north-west London, on 11 July last year.  Four men, posing as a legitimate work crew, were seen pumping out water from manholes a short distance away in Avenue Road and St Johns Wood Terrace. Lengths of cable were seen being passed from the manholes into one of the vehicles.

With friends like these, continued

And Damian McBride is not the only Labour figure with doubts about Ed Miliband ... 'Too weak to stand up for himself' 'He just gets gamed out every day' 'No positive messages to communicate to policies which will persuade them' That's what people are saying about Ed Miliband. But those quotes aren't from Conservatives, or UKIP or Lib Dems - they're from high-profile Labour figures. Across the nation, Labour MPs, advisers and supporters agree on one thing: Ed Miliband's just not up to it. See what Labour are saying about their leader on this interactive map: If Mr Milliband's own party do not believe he is up to it, then we should listen. Labour's only answers are more spending, more taxes and more debt than future generations can ever hope to pay off. We can't let an Ed Miliband-led Labour Party win the next election and get into power. They would take Britain backwards. Share th

Quote of the day 29th July 2014

"Just nine months before the next General Election, the Labour Party has no positive messages to communicate to anyone about why they should vote for them. It has no policies which will persuade them, and no clear idea who its target audience is. And it’s being run in a totally dysfunctional way." ( Damian McBride, former spin doctor to Gordon Brown, writing in today's Daily Mail here . With friends like this ...)

When people believe what they want to believe

All too often a good story starts to go around, and it is either so entertaining or suits somebody's narrative so well that people want to believe it. Unfortunately this can mean that the story gets repeated out of context without key details in a way which makes it misleading, or indeed, if it was never true at all. There have been two examples of stories which appear to be of the former kind this week.  The first is the suggestion that the new Defence minister, Michael Fallon, blocked a request from Alex Salmond that the Red Arrows should trail Blue and White smoke representing the Scottish Saltire rather than Red, White amd Blue representing the Union flag when they did a flypast at the Commonwealth Games. Great story which has had people on both sides of the Independence debate blogging and tweeting all sorts of things, but as far as I can tell it's a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill. There does appear to have been an informal approach from the

Quote of the day 28th July 2014

“Before borrowing money from a friend, decide which you need most.” (attributed to various people including Addison H Hallock and Joe Moore)

Quote of the day 27th July 2014

“There are four things every person has more of than they know; sins, debt, years, and foes.” (Persian Proverb)  

Quotes of the day 26th July 2014

“People are used to these parking spaces being free. The reality is that if people nip into town they won’t want to pay £1.80 per hour for parking. If this is being looked at by county councillors from Copeland, they need to stand up for this area. It’s down to our councillors to have the courage of their convictions.” (Gerard Richardson, of Richardson’s of Whitehaven) “We are totally against it. We are fighting to that end county-wide. We hope the council will make alterations to the proposals.” (Allan Mossop, of West Cumbria’s Federation of Small Businesses) “It will kill trade. It’s a cheap way of getting revenue but it will hit shoppers and shopkeepers hard. It’s a big charge.” (Andrew McDowell, of Market Place post office) “They might as well close Whitehaven and tell people to go elsewhere. I would imagine that 50 per cent of businesses will pack up or think about leaving. “We should be congratulating people on finding Whitehaven and shopping here, not putting the

Economy finally passes pre-crash levels

Preliminary Official figures released today suggest that the British economy has finally recovered to the output levels prior to the crash of 2008. It has been a difficult few years, and the pain is not over yet. But at last the enormous economic damage which took place on the last government's watch is being reversed. There is a long way to go, but the government's long-term economic plan is working. On an annual basis gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 3.1%. The figures show the economy is now worth 0.2% more than it was at its peak in 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The UK economy is forecast to be the fastest growing among the G7 developed nations, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On Thursday, the IMF predicted the UK would expand by 3.2% this year, up from a previous forecast of 2.8%. Chancellor George Osborne said: "Thanks to the hard work of the British people, today we reach a major milestone in our lo

Quote of the day 25th July 2014

“Never give up, never surrender” (I was amused to see this Churchillian-sounding quote - repeated here because it is a good quote - attributed to Tim Allen. Well, he did say the words. In the film "Galaxy Quest" these words are the catchphrase of the Science Fiction TV show character, Commander Peter Quicy Taggart, who is portrayed by Tim Allen's character, actor Jason Nesmith. However I have yet to see a quotation site ascribe to Allan Rickman the words "By Grabthar's Hammer, you shall be avenged" from the same film.)

Choice on Pensions

Millions of people will benefit from a right to free and impartial guidance on how to make the most of the new pension choices that come into effect in April 2015.   Backing saving is a key part of the Conservatives' long-term economic plan to build a healthier economy. People who have taken the decision to save for their future should be rewarded – and that’s what these pension reforms are all about. Under our reforms, everyone with a defined contribution savings reaching pension age will get free and impartial guidance on the choices available to them at retirement. We want to ensure this guidance is trusted and so we’re bringing together a range of partners to help deliver these changes – including the Pensions Advisory Service and Money Advice Service. A simple principle is behind these changes: it’s your pension and you should be able to choose how to spend the money you’ve saved. It’s a principle which is at the heart of the Britain we’re trying to build: a cou

Quote of the day 24th July 2014

“A thousand years from now nobody is going to know that you or I ever lived. The cynic is right, but lazy. He says ‘You live, you die and nothing you do will ever make a difference.’ But as long as I live, I’m going to be like Beethoven and shake my fist at fate and try to do something for those who live here now and who knows how far into the future that will go. If I accomplish nothing more than making my arm sore, at least I will be satisfied that I have lived.” ( Jackson Burnett  )

Malaysian Flight MH17

I have been following the news reports of the terrible disaster of MH17 with disbelief and horror. Nearly three hundred innocent lives, including those of eighty children, were blotted out in a moment because of a conflict which was nothing to do with them. The stories which are coming out about the victims are unbearably tragic. The global fight against the scourge of AIDS has also taken a knock because irreplaceable experts on the disease who were on their way to a conference about it were among the dead. Let us hope that the black box flight recorders whic were handed over to Malaysian investigators earlier this week have not been tampered with and that this handover marks the beginning of a move to sanity on all sides about the need to establish the truth about this ghastly crime and bring those responsible to justice. I hope that both all airlines and all governments and military forces will also take action for improved protocols to reduce the risk of any such atrocity happ

Quote of the day 23rd July 2014

“Life is just repeated attempts at trying to do better.”    ( Richelle E. Goodrich  )

"Girl Summit 2014"

The Girl Summit today aims to rally a global movement against the evils of child, early and forced marriage, and Female Genital Mutiliation for all girls within a generation. Doing this will help preserve girls' childhoods, promote their education, reduce their exposure to violence and abuse, and allow them to fulfil their potential in life. You can read more and pledge your support here .

Quote of the day 22nd July 2014

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”   ( Tommy Lasorda  )

Quote of the day 21st July 2014

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. The desire and ability to press on has and always will solve the problems of the human race and divide those who achieve from those who might have been.”   ( Jeffrey Fry  )

Congratulations to "Hands across the Border" on a great launch event

I attended with my wife and son the initial stone laying this afternoon for the "Hands across the Border" project to build a cairn on the Anglo-Scots border at Gretna, called "The Auld Acquaintance" which, obviously, is a reference to the traditional Scottish poem and song "Auld Lang Syne." There were about 2,000 people there on the first day, which was brilliantly organised. The cairn is to commemorate the friendship between the four nations of the Union. The site will be open for the next eight weeks for people who want to lay a stone as part of the cairn. Directions to the site can be found at the "Hands across the Border" website here .

Quote of the day 20th July 2014

"The advantage of using proxies is that it is possible to deny responsibility for what happened, but the disadvantage is that it is much more likely that a horrendous accident will occur" (Patrick Cockburn writing in the Independent and i about great power use of proxy forces in the specific context of the disaster of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17)

Oxymoron of the Century

You really couldn't make it up. It's been pointed out tonight on Twitter that there is an article on the "Stop the War Coalition" website here  with the title "Time to go to war with Israel as the only path to Peace in the MIddle East." The article was written on 5th May, so it obvously pre-dates the recent horrendous round of fighting between Israel and Hamas - both the thousands of rockets fired from civilian areas under the control of Hamas at Jewish civilians, and Israel's response. You don't have to agree with everything Israel has done in response, (and I certainly don't, although I have more sympathy for Israel than I do for Hamas) to see that the idea of a campaign called "Stop the War" publishing a piece saying that it is "Time to go to war with Israel" as a means of obtaining peace is rather self-contradictory. What an oxymoron!

Hands across the Border: help build a cairn tomorrow

The "Hands across the Border" campaign, a group of people who whether they are Scottish, English, Welsh, Irish or simply British, wish to show that we value the Union will be building a cairn at Gretna on the Anglo-Scots Border, starting tomorrow (Sunday 20th July) from shortly after mid-day with the first stones to be laid shortly before 2pm. The cairn is to be called "The Auld Acquaintance" which, obviously, is a reference to the traditional Scottish poem and song "Auld Lang Syne," which was first written down by the great Scots poet Robbie Burns and is about the wisdom of preserving old friendships. Directions to the event can be found at the "Hands across the Border" website here . I believe that all parts of the UK have gained more than they have lost from the Union over the past three hundred years and that all parts of these islands would be worse off if that union were dissolved. I will be laying a stone tomorrow both in the hope th

Assisted Dying

I have rarely heard a debate in which both sides put forward so many strong speakers and such compelling arguments as in yesterday's House of Lords debate on assisted dying. It was quite clear that both sides were motivated by compassion and that both sides were raising very real and genuine concerns. If the bill does not progress we will continue to have tragic cases of dying people in great pain and discomfort who wish to end their lives and are prevented by the law from doing so. But if it does, and despite the strong safeguards written into the bill, I do think that the opponents have a very serious point that some vulnerable and sick people may feel pressured into asking for assisted death because they think they are a burden. This bill was based on a similar law enacted in the US state of Oregon. One of it's opponents pointed out yesterday that in at least one case in that state people who were suffering from painful and terminal cancer found their hellth care pro

Quote of the day 19th July

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." (Thomas Jefferson)

Theresa May writes on tackling crime

Home Secretary Theresa May writes ... We want to make Britain an even safer place to live, work and raise a family. Parents want to be sure their children are safe, pensioners want to feel secure in their neighbourhoods, and people deserve to be protected so they can work hard and get on in life. Under Labour, the police were bogged down with too much paperwork, meaning cases were often not dealt with and the victims of crime neglected. People didn't feel safe on the streets. But thanks to our action plan to tackle crime, and the hard work of police officers, crime is now down by more than 10% since 2010. We need everyone in the country to get behind our plan - so please add your name today. Our action plan to tackle crime is helping to give people greater security by: Freeing the police to fight crime by cutting red tape and scrapping unnecessary targets Giving criminals tougher sentences so communities are protected and justice is done Giving the police

Quote of the day 18th July 2014

"Nothing is ever easier than spending the public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody." (Calvin Coolidge)

Concern at West Cumberland Hospital report

Today's Whitehaven News has a very disturbing article which you can read in full   here , about a confidential report (leaked to the paper) sugesting that  major decisions are needed, including which hospital services should be concentrated on which sites. Health chiefs are calling it “radical change on a scale previously unseen”. And the report  warns: “The ever increasing cost of not sustainable and the local NHS and the county council will be bankrupt if things carry on as they are.” It is apparently a draft document, subject to more work and change and has not yet become official policy. In the report health chiefs admit that “not all services are as safe as they should be” and that the future of healthcare “will involve taking difficult decisions”. The Whitehaven News said they understand from the interim document that more hospital services at West Cumberland Hospital are in danger of moving to Carlisle. Mental health : Yewdale Ward, at the Whitehaven

National Grid to consider tunnel under Morecambe Bay

A £38 billion tunnel under Morecambe Bay has emerged as a front runner for getting wind and possible nuclear power from the "Energy Coast" of West Cumbria to the National Grid. Anyone who has been following the discussion about energy generation in West Cumbria will know that something like this has been on the cards for a while. A new nuclear plant near Sellafield looks increasingly likely, and whatever the handful of anti-nuclear nutters will tell you, the great majority of residents of West Cumbria have repeatedly shown by electing pro-nuclear MPs and councillors that they will welcome this. New Nuclear build does not make a new grid connection necessary - it merely increases the shortfall of existing grid capacity. Because of the huge amount of offshore wind, other renewables, and conventional power generation which is already under construction or built on the Cumbrian Coast, we already need to double the capacity of the areas National Grid connections. Nuclear makes

1.8 million more people in work

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that, since the election, there are now 1.8 million more people in work, and with the security of a pay packet – clear evidence our long-term economic plan is working. These strong jobs numbers are another clear sign that our long-term economic plan is working, building a stronger, healthier economy: more people have the security of work than ever before, the number of people looking for a job is down this year by the biggest amount since 1995, and the number of young people relying on benefits has had its biggest annual fall since 1997. We have been backing businesses across Britain with better infrastructure and lower jobs taxes as part of our long-term economic plan, helping them to create more jobs, and now 1.8 million more people now have the security of work. Each one of those jobs is another family who can now have more peace of mind about their future. But we know that families are still feeling the imp

Quote of the day 17th July 2014

"I'm happy with my team. I'm pretty happy with his team too." (David Cameron's response to a question at PMQs from Ed Miliband about the reshuffle.)

Time the press let go of the "Government bashes teachers" narrative

The mainstream media sometimes gets narratives into it's head whch are next to impossible to shift regardless of whether they still meet the facts. Since approximately the time when the late Sir Keith Joseph replaced Mark Carlisle as Secretary of State for Education - yes, it really does go back that far - one of those narratives has been "Government attacks Teachers." It doesn't matter which party is in government or which individual is Secretary of State, every attempt to drive up standards in schools is presented by the media as bashing teachers. As the press coverage of his departure from Education to be the new Chief Whip demonstrates, Michael Gove is the latest in a long line of education ministers, Tory and Labour, to be depicted in this way by the media. Sometimes it's true: often it is rubbish. Hence my "Quote of the day" from Chris Patten this morning, about the need to find language in which we can talk about the need to drive up stand

Sound and Fury signifying nothing ...

Following David Cameron's nomination of the former Education minister and current Lerader of the House of Lords, Lord Hill, as Britain's next EU Commissioner, the newly re-elected President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz was asked about the nomination by a journalist. Schultz, a German socialist, said that "I cannot imagine Hill, whose views - in as far as he's got any - are radically anti-European, getting a majority in the European Parliament." This was an exceptionally silly comment from someone who now admits, according to  Reuters, that he has "no personal knowledge" of Lord Hill's views. The UKIP leader called his comments a "declaration of war" at almost exactly the same moment that Mr Schultz was back-pedalling away from them, blaming the journalist who asked the question for telling him that Lord Hill was supposedly an extreme Eurosceptic. Apparently his friends have today told him something different. I would t

Grant Shapps writes: Labour want to raise your taxes

  Conservative Chairman Grant Shapps writes:   Harriet Harman has let the cat out of the bag: Labour want to raise your taxes. In a radio interview on LBC, she said 'I think people on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes'. Ed Miliband has previously said 'people either side' of £26,000 a year are on middle incomes (BBC Breakfast, 28 February 2011) . So millions of hardworking taxpayers would pay the price for a Labour Party that hasn't learnt its lesson.   While we have frozen fuel duty and cut income tax for over 25 million hardworking taxpayers, Labour raised taxes by £1,400 per family when they were in government (Source: IFS, Tax and Benefit reform under Labour, p.24, 7 April 2010) . And now they want to do it all over again. We can't let them get away with it. Donate £10 to our campaign today and help stop Labour's plans to hit hardworking taxpayers. Thanks, Grant Shapps Conservative Party Chairman

Quote of the day 16th July 2014

"We need to find language which enables us to talk about improving education without it being presented as an attack on teachers." ( Lord Chris Patten , then an MP and a minister - if memory serves, an education  minister. I was reminded of this comment and similar opinions expressed by other past education ministers such as John MacGregor when I read the flood of comments about Michael Gove on his being moved from Education to be Chief Whip. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose ...)

Quote of the day 15th July 2014

"In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves ... self-discipline with all of them came first." (Harry S Truman)

Matthew Parris on the real meaning of Martin Niemoller's iconic poem

Matthew Parris had a powerful and disturbing piece in Saturday's Times about the real meaning of the anti-nazi poem usually attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller  and the way people remember it. The poem describes how the Nazis worked through a list of victims and the author did not speak out, and then concludes with the words "Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak up for me." Matthew argues that people often incorrectly remember the earlier groups listed in the poem as being those victims of the nazis that the person remembering the poem does in fact feel sympathy for. Hence a centre-right politician used the poem including the line "First they came for the industrialists" when only those industrialists who annoyed the Nazis for some other reason like being a Jew, Freemason, or political opponent, were in fact victimised by the Nazis. Parris says he has heard black people include "the blacks" and suggests that many gay pe

The Anglican Church finally catches up with the 20th century ...

This post is about an important issue affecting the Church of England from the viewpoint of an ordinary member of that church - an "Anglican in the Pew" - with no authority to speak for others. Thank God that, at long last and thirty years after it should have happened, the General Synod of the Church of England has finally voted that women can be bishops. I respect those, while totally disagreeing with them, who argue that because Jesus was a man, the priests who in a sense represent Him should also be male. I respect those - I used to be one of them - who believe that God is calling some women to be priests but that in ordaining them to that role we must carry the whole church with us and include protections for the position of those who take a different view. But I am afraid I have no time or respect for the ludicrous position of those who, after swallowing the camel of women priests, strain at the gnat of giving those women priests once ordained the same promotion

Scientists say that 20 minutes of exercise three times a week can cut Alzheimers risk

Several members of my family suffered from some degree of dementia as they approached or passed the age of eighty. This has often been extremely distressing both for the person with this condition and for those who love him or her. One person close to me is now in a home with full-blown Alzheimers, and what this has done to her is so sad that I am unable to find adequate words for it. So I take very seriously the research by Cambridge scientists which suggests that better exercise could seriously reduce the risk of contracting the condition. NHS guidelines recommend that we should all take two and a half hours of exercise per week, and that doesn't have to mean something massivley heavy like lifting half our body weight or running - walking or gardening counts. It is suggested that 20 miutes of moderate exercise three times a week is enough to deliver significant benefits. Something for all of us to think about.

Quote of the day 14th July 2014

“If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; but if you really make them think, they'll hate you.” (Attributed to various people including  Harlan Ellison )

Book Review: The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

The book "The Invisible Gorilla" should be required reading for anyone who is called as a witness in a court case, or called for Jury service at one, and also for everyone who drives a car or flies an aircraft. The human brain is an excellent device for spotting patterns, but sometimes we get so focussed on spotting particular patterns that we think we see ones which are not really there - the original hunt for witches being the classic example - or equally dangerous, filter out real information we need to know because we are looking for something else. In one of the "Father Brown" stories G.K. Chesterton had his clerical sleuth solve a murder committed by a "mentally invisible man" - a postman who all the witnesses ignored because they tuned him out of their perceptions - he was just a postman. Chabris and Simons' book demonstrates how, to a truly frightening extent, we make that kind of mistake far more often than we realise. The book starts

Quote of the day 13th July 2014

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

Quote of the day 12th July 2014

"Even UKIP supporters might find themseles cheering on Germany. They hate the rest of the world a lot more than Europe." (Henning Wehn, a German comedian living in Britain who describes himself as the "Comedy Ambassador," quoted in an article in today's Times about the dilemma faced by fans wondering whether to cheer for Germany or Argentina in the World Cup Final)

Quote of the day 11th July 2014

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”   ( Winston Churchill  )

Grant Shapps on the Teacher's strike and Ed Miliband's sponsored silence ...

Conservative Chairman Grant Shapps writes ... Today's strikes are disrupting the lives of millions. Schools have been shut, damaging children's education and forcing parents to take time off work or scramble round for childcare. Libraries and other public services have closed, causing difficulties to families across the country. We are clear: these strikes are wrong. Labour left our economy in a mess. We have taken difficult decisions that have reduced the deficit by over a third - and we need to keep on dealing with our debts to safeguard the economy for the long term. We can't go back to Labour's way of more spending, more borrowing and more taxes. It would wreck the recovery and put jobs at risk. Yet Ed Miliband refuses to condemn today's strikes. There is only one conclusion we can draw from his silence: he's too weak to stand up to the union paymasters who have donated £23 million to his Party. Share this graphic on Facebook and Twitter to

Quote of the day 10th July 2014

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”  ( Seneca  )

Labour's record on the economy

There is an excellent piece on "Share the facts" here about Labour's record on the economy which is worth reading and remembering. Could Britain really hand the car keys back to the people who crashed the car last time they were in charge of it?

Quote of the day 9th July 2014

"The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” ( Carl Sagan )

Labour minister in Wales sacked for abusing his position

Last week, as you can read on the BBC website here , Welsh Environment minister Alun Davies was found to have broken the ministerial code by lobbying the Welsh Environent Agency (for which he was responsible) about a planning application in his constituency. The opposition parties in Wales had called for a debate about this breach of the code, and in particular about the fact that he had not been sacked for it. He has now been sacked for a further breach of the code, this time pressurising his civil servants for private information on members of other parties, apparently for party political purposes, as you can read here .

Post and Email

These days the vast majority of paperwork which we used to do in person or by post using paper documents can be done online. Most of the time this is very convenient but there are always exceptions ... One of the most annoying is when you are doing one of the few remaining jobs which require physical paperwork. As it happens this particularly applies to many things relating to elections, although at least you can download most of the froms online. I've been filling in a set of forms which has to go to Manchester. Every search I made for the address, every "contact us" link I clicked on came up with an email address or URL. I was told "Doing things online is much cheaper than other contact methods, so means we can spend more on essential services." (sic). All very well but this particular job required a hard copy which I am legally required to return by next week. At last I found the "If you can't find what you want online" page. Phew!

Quote of the day 8th July 2014

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”   ( E.F. Schumacher  )

Hands Across the Border - Rory Stewart MP writes ...

Here is an extract from a note from Rory Stewart MP   Right on the border, in a field at Gretna (adjacent to the M6), we are inviting families from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland to bring stones and build a great cairn. Stone cairns have been built in Northern England and Scotland for millennia, to celebrate a sense of shared space. Together we hope to construct a striking and lasting testimony to the Union.* We will begin the project on Sunday July 20th and continue every day thereafter, for the following eight weeks and hopefully beyond. We would always love to hear from anyone who is coming, but we also want people to feel they can just turn up and make their mark. Most of all we hope that this is an opportunity for creativity, and for you to put your own personal touch on this testament to the Union. Join us, everyone - families,, students ,old, young, Scots, English, Welsh, Irish - to say that you want to keep our country together. We look forward to see

Quote of the day 7th July 2014

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't.”   ( Henry Ward Beecher  )

300-400 attend hospital march

I have just returned from the march this afternoon in Whitehaven to support WCH. It was an excellent event attended by perhaps 300-400 people and a strong expression of community feeling, shared by people of all political views and none, that our hospital must be defended. Congratulations to everyone involved in organising the event.

Reminder - hospital march today

A march in suport of services at West Cumberland Hospital will take place this afternoon (Sunday 6th July 2014) in Whitehaven. Meet at the bandstand in the Market Plce at 1.15pm

Quote of the day 6th July

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

The Death of the Oceans

I have been reading an article in the forthcoming "Newsweek" called "The Death of the Oceans" about the possible impact of climate change on the ecosystem's of the world's seas and ocedans, which is nothing short of terrifying. The article is available to read at the Newsweek site   here and will be in the next print edition in a few day's time. The basic argument - which I hae seen previuosly backed up by very convincing scientific evidence - is that a large part of the extra carbon dioxide which human activity is pumping into the atmosphere is being absorbed by the oceans, making them more acidic, and this combined with the effects of fertilser run-off into rivers, seas and oceans may cause an ecological catastrophe. We must continue to monitor what is happening to our environment, but the evidence that mankind must take more care about our impact on the planet before we cause a disaster for our children get more and more convincing.

Glorious Summer Day for the Whitehaven Carnival

A wonderful afternoon today in Whitehaven with thousands of people enjoying the glorious weather and the Carnival. Congratulations to everyone involved in the event

March for West Cumberland Hospital tomorrow (Sunday 6th July 2014)

A peaceful protest has been organised by Mirehouse mother Siobhan Gearing to support West Cumberland Hospital tomorrow (Sunday 6th July). Those who wish to take part are asked to meet at 1.15 pm at the gazebo in Market Place The march will proceed up the South half of King Street then turn right onto Lowther Street and proceed to Castle Park. A road closure order has been granted while the march takes place A Facebook campaign group, headed by mum-of-two Mrs Gearing, was launched earlier this year and has gathered around 8,000 signatures on a petition. Protesters want to ensure that all of the services currently at West Cumberland Hospital remain, and that nothing is transferred to Carlisle or Newcastle. Mrs Gearing decided to organise a march as she said it was a positive way to show health bosses how much the local community values services at West Cumberland Hospital.

Quote of the day 5th June 2014

“Many much-learned men have no intelligence.”   ( Democritus  )

This year's anniversaries: both the Great War and the real First World War

This year will see the hundredth anniversary of the start of one of the worst wars in history. To my grandfather's generation who were unlucky enough to live through it, the 1914 to 1918 conflict was simply "The Great War." My grandfather served in a front-line role in the army medical corps during that war, and was one of the lucky ones who came back. His brother was one of the millions who didn't, dying as a result of enemy action at the age of eighteen, exactly six weeks before the end of the war. When another war on the same horrific scale broke out twenty years later, "The Great War" was no longer a unique description. Historians had to find a new naming convention, and they settled on the titles of the First and Second World Wars for the two gigantic 20th century conflagrations. The only thing is, as The Economist points out here , there had already been several previous wars which were global in scope. The most truly global of the conflicts pr