Showing posts from August, 2014

Quote of the day 31st August 2014

"What is it we now want, guys? We're going to face a reckoning with the electorate in just over a year's time. We're two points behind the Labour Party. We can do this - we really can do this. If we lack discipline, we're going to have five or six appalling years in opposition to dwell on it." (Douglas Carswell then a Conservative MP, warning his colleagues earlier this year not to do anything which might risk helping Labour win the 2015 election.) It is difficult to think of anything Douglas Carswell could have done to cause a bigger increase in the risk of a Labour victory in 2015, which he rightly predicted would lead to five appalling years for Britain, than his actions this week.

Rotherham - moving from denial to anger

When the news first broke about Professor Alexis Jay's report into the massive scale of child abuse in Rotherham, I had great difficulty believing that such a monstrous breakdown in enforcement of the law and protection of children could possibility have been allowed to happen. I am now moving slowly but steadily from denial to carefully controlled anger, and the letters of reaction which can be read here  are just some of many straws in the wind suggesting that this is not an isolated response. How else can we respond to the news, that, as The Economist put it here , "Children as young as 11 were plied with drink and drugs, raped, beaten and trafficked to be abused by men in other cities. One was doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight. Another told the investigation that gang rape was a usual part of growing up in her district." "... the local council knew at least ten years ago of widespread abuse and yet appears to have downplayed the proble

Nuttall and Hannan on why they won't be joinng UKIP

David Nuttall, chairman of the "Better off Out" group of MPs and Peers, have both written about why they will not be defecting to UKIP. David Nuttall MP explained yesterday why he will be staying in the Conservative Party on the Conservative Home website yesterday here : Daniel Hannan MEP explained on 20th August here , and reiterated after the Carswell defection that he stands by all the arguments in that post. Both point out that if the Conservatives win the 2015 election there will be a referendum on EU membership and that if Labour wins, there won't. Dan goes on to write "If David Cameron had not offered an In/Out referendum, I would not have been able to fight the recent European election as a Conservative. But he did; and Ukip is in denial about it. “You can’t believe a word Cameron says!” snarl my commenters, many of whom have convinced themselves, in a kind of false recovered memory syndrome, that he fought the last general election promising a refe

Quote of the day 30th August 2014

"In order to exit the EU, we need David Cameron to be Prime Minister in 2017 - the year when we will get the in/out referendum, our chance to vote to leave the EU." (Douglas Carswell, then a Conservative MP, writing in The Daily Telegraph, 15 April 2014)

Terrorism threat level raised to "Severe"

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that Britain's terrorism threat level has been raised from "substantial" to "severe" in response to conflicts in Iraq and Syria. The new alert level rates the risk of an attack on the UK "highly likely", although Mrs May said there was no evidence to suggest one was "imminent". It is the second highest of five possible UK threat levels .

Quote of the day 29th August 2014

"Follow your heart, but take your brain with you" (Alfred Adler)

Dan Hannan on how "Anti-Racism" failed the children of Rotherham

Dan Hannam MEP has a good blog item in the Telegraph here about what went wrong in Rotherham. Racism means pre-judging people according to the colour of their skin or what community they belong to. Anti-racism must not mean being afraid to take action against people from any particular community, and that is no more or less true when the people concerned have black or brown skins as when they are white. What has been called "Anti-racism" in Rotherham appears to have actually been, in effect, inverted racism. A real anti-racist should support taking action when the evidence justifies it, regardless of who that evidence is against.

Quote of the day 28th August 2014

“The problem is that the people with the most ridiculous ideas are always the people who are most certain of them." ( Bill Maher  )


I am still trying to take in the sheer horror of what appears to have happened at Rotherham: that so many children should have had their lives blighted by sexual abuse over such a long period and that the authorities so signally failed to protect them. The report by Professor Alexis Jay, the former chief inspector of social work in Scotland, which suggests that at a"conservative estimate" 1,400 children were abused over a 16 year period in Rotherham is so shocking that it is difficult to find adeqaate words to describe it. As Randeep Ramesh wrote in the Guardian   here , "The putrid mess that oozes from the 160 pages of Alexis Jay's report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham is so thick that one gags rather than read the words." Mark Easton of the BBC argues here that the scale of sexual abuse of children which has always gone on in this country "beggars belief" and we are ony just becoming aware of it. I don't know whether

Quote of the day 27th August 2014

“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” ( Niels Bohr  )

Quote of the day 26th August 2014

“That which is currently beyond your capabilities now, does not have to be so forever”   ( Chris Murray  )

Quote of the day 25th August 2014

“Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.”   ( Albert Einstein  )

Is this the most ridiculous prosecution ever brought?

There have been some utterly daft prosecutions in the past on both sides of the Atlantic. One of the "Twitmarsh" books about how to annoy bureaucrats published by the late Sir Patrick Moore under the pen-name "R. T. Fishall" gave a case where a British utility realised just in time that a badly programmed computer had initiated a prosecution to recover an unpaid bill for £0.00 and human lawyers dropped the case less than 24 hours before it would have come to court. (If you want a laugh, the books are " Bureaucrats: how to annoy them " and " The Twitmarsh Files " and neither has dated all that much in the forty years since they were published.) But, as the Economist reports this week here , the current prosecution of Texas governor Rick Perry has been condemned even by opponents who think him "one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America” but that the charges against him appear to be "an overzealous prose

Quote of the day 24th August 2014

"The 'Islamic State' is Islamic in much the same way that the 'Democratic people's republic of Korea' is Democratic." (Murtaza Hussein)

Proof you can have a civilised debate about the Indyref ...

Many of the debates I have heard, or have read on the internet, about the forthcoming Scottish Independence referendum have been quite bad tempered. But if you want proof that it is possible to have a civilised discussion about the forthcoming decision Scotland has to make in which both sides were almost entirely positive and constructive about their vision for the future of these Islands, and addressed their opponents with courtesy and respect, you could not do better than the discussion on the BBC radio four "Any Questions" programme last night from Melrose in Scotland. The panellists were historian and commentator Sir Anthony Seldon, microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington, actress and comedienne Elaine Smith and businessman Tony Banks. The programme will be broadcast again at 1.10pm today or you can listen to it here .

Quote of the day 23rd August 2014

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”   ( George Orwell  )

IDS writes on the latest employment figures

Secretary of State for Work ad Pensions Ian Duncan Smith writes ... This month we saw the biggest annual fall in unemployment in 25 years - and the biggest annual fall in youth unemployment since records began. Being able to find a job is the most important way to improve people's standard of living. Our long-term economic plan is helping to create more real jobs and giving more people the security of a pay packet to provide for themselves and their families. To get this important news out there - please share this graphic on Facebook and Twitter today: Labour's Great Recession led to the biggest economic crash in living memory. People lost their jobs, and families were hit hard. We're fixing the mess they left behind. By backing Britain's businesses - cutting the jobs tax, cutting red tape, and investing in vital infrastructure like roads, rail and broadband - we've helped create 1.8 million more jobs. And Labour still

Quote of the day 22nd August 2014

“People have an annoying habit of remembering things they shouldn't.”   ( Christopher Paolini  ) Amazing that this quote came from a novelist rather than a politician.   

Murder in the name of God

All violent deaths are to be regretted, and the murder of a helpless hostage or prisoner who has not been convicted of any crime is particularly shocking. Although religious fanatics have no monopoly on murder in the name of their beliefs - atheistic regimes such as those in the Soviet Union and China also killed millions of people for daring to disagree with them - it is even more incomprehensible to me that people can kill vast numbers in the name of religions which teach Peace, Love and Forgiveness. In past centuries some people who called themselves Christians inflicted barbaric cruelties in the extraordinary belief that they were serving a God who, when incarnate in the form of Jesus, gave the most explicit imaginable instructions against such cruelty in words like "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you" and, ordering one of his disciples who was trying to use force to defend him to desist, "those who live by the sword shall die by the

What's the difference between this mug and Ed Miliband?

The Conservatives are offering a limited edition mug to anyone who donates £20 to the party's general election campaign fund.   As they point out, the unions are giving Labour £1,000 an hour to try to make Ed Miliband Prime Minister. So what is the difference bertween this mug and the leader of the opposition? One is a staggeringly expensive mug - and the other is the latest Conservative fundraising idea. Ed Miliband isn't even in office and he's already put up the price of gas. Every taxpayer is paying more tax towards the billions of pounds extra in interest payments on vast sums which Brown, Balls, and Miliband borrowed when they were last in office, doubling the national debt to £1.2 trillion. Can we really afford to find out how much more  Labour would cost ordinary British citizens if they won the next election? It would certainly be a lot more than £20 for a mug. If you want to get a mug to help make sure Britain doesn't, click here to donate £20

Quote of the day 21st August 2014

"A friend is one who sees through you and still enjoys the view" (Wilma Askinas)

Quote of the day 20th August 2014

"The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next" (Matthew Arnold)

CPI inflation falls to 1.6%

Following last week's good employment news the  Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of UK annual inflation fell in the 12 month period to last month to 1.6% compared with 1.9% in the period ending the previous month. This is a larger fall than forecasters had been predicting  Economists had expected CPI inflation to fall to 1.8% in July. The ONS said consumer price inflation for the three month period to the end of July was 1.7%. The RPI meaure of inflation which includes house prices also fell, but from 2.6% to 2.5% It means the Bank of England is not under pressure to raise interest rates in order to keep CPI inflation at or below its target rate of 2% Last week, Bank policymaker Professor David Miles told the BBC he believed inflation was likely to remain below target for some time to come. He added that this was a "very good news" as it meant the Bank was not "going to be pushed into r

Quote of the day 19th August 2014 - an ironic quote

If there is one quote which is most often used to mean the exact opposite of what the person who first put the words together actually meant, it is the following "Thou shalt not kill, but needst not strive officiously to keep alive." This comes from "The Latest Decalogue" by Arthur Clough, writing in the 19th century, and every line is dripping with irony. I don't know how he would have reacted had he been told that a century later, as Dominc Lawson pointed out this week, one of his commandments would regularly be used as if it were meant to be taken literally, often in the context of euthanasia. The best way to show how this was not the meaning of those words is to quote the whole thing. There are two versions, one known as the "Harvard" version reproduced below, and a similar one held at the British Museum. To illustrate the point I have shown in bold the lines which echo the ten commandments, and in italics how Clough suggested people of his

Innocent until proven guilty?

Taking sexual advantage of a vulnerable position, especially a child, is a vile thing to do, and those who can be proven in court to have acted in that way should be punished. But false or mistaken accusations of that kind of conduct can also wreck the lives of innocent people. We have already had the situation where an elderly and totally innocent man who had served his country with distinction had the last few months of his life ruined because the BBC broadcast an inadequately-checked story. The greatest care needs to be taken to balance the needs of cracking down on genuine abuse while respecting the privacy of victims and accused and, in everyone's interests, making sure that there is a fiar trial. Tipping off journalists to be there with their cameras when there is to be a raid on the property of someone who has not yet been charged or interviewed is not a good idea. This practice must stop Trial by media is not the best way to establish guilt or innocence

Philip Hammond on the MIddle East and Ukraine

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond writes: I wanted to update you on the situations in Iraq, Gaza and Ukraine. Although thousands of miles away, these events affect us all - and you can follow the British Government's response on the Prime Minister's Facebook page. IRAQ As David Cameron wrote yesterday , we are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology. ISIL is an extremely dangerous terrorist movement, determined to expand its influence and control well beyond Iraq and Syria. It is a clear danger to Europe and to our security here in Britain. So while we are not going to get involved in another war in Iraq, we will do everything we can to push ISIL back: helping the Kurds fighting against these extremists; working with the Iraqi Government; and using our political relationships, our aid and our military expertise to help the Americans and others who are taking direct military action against them

Quote of the day 18th August 2014

'In England, if you commit a crime, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, "Stop, or I'll say stop again"' (The late Robin Williams)

DC on keeping the UK together

David Cameron writes ... I'm passionate about the United Kingdom. Working together, our family of nations has achieved so much over the years. Our armed forces have defeated dictators and defended freedom, our inventions have shaped the modern world, and our businesses export to every corner of the globe while creating jobs at home. And if we keep working together, even brighter days lie ahead for all of us. On 18th September, Scotland will vote on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom. While only 4 million people have a vote in this referendum, all 64 million of us have a part to play. Whether you're Scottish, English, Welsh or Northern Irish, you can join the campaign to keep the United Kingdom together. If you are on Facebook, please share this graphic with your friends and family.   Whether it's sending postcards or putting a Let's Stick Together sticker in your car, there are many ways you can play your part in thi

Come back the Silly Season, all is forgiven

I've just returned to West Cumbria after a short family holiday in various parts of the UK. Most of the holiday was great and it was wonderful to see those of our relatives who we managed to meet, and attend a very happy event yesterday, the wedding of our friends Stephen Haraldsen and Genna Martin. The one downer on an otherwise wonderful week was that whenver we put the TV or radio on, to say that much of the news has been somewhat depressing would be rather an understatement. Usually at this time of the year there is a dearth of real news so we get the so called "Silly Season" when newspapers and the TV cover all sorts of daft stories which would usually get spiked. This year however there is a vast amount of news, all too much of if the sort of thing we could all too easily do without, from a ghastly war in Gaza, fighting in Ukraine which has resulted in suffering for the people of that area and a planeload of 300 innocent people including scores of children b

Quote of the day 17th August 2014

"Cricket is basically baseball on valium" (The late Robin Williams.) For the avoidance of doubt I love cricket and don't agree with this - nobody who has ever sat spellbound watching a run-chase at the end of a cricket match could - but it has just enough truth in it to be extremely funny)

Quote of the day, 16th August 2014

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,     neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God" (This quote from the letter of Paul to the Romans, Chapter 8 verses 38 and 39, is for two very good friends of mine, Stephen Haraldsen and Genna Martin, who are getting married today.)  

Quote of the day 15th August 2014

"The second amendment says we have the right to bear arms, not to bear artillery." (Robin Williams)

Grant Shapps writes on Labour's tax plans

Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps writes on Labour's tax plans: First, Labour's Deputy Leader said, 'People on middle incomes should contribute more through their taxes' (Harriet Harman, LBC Radio, 14/07/14 ). Then, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary promised to 'embrace' a 15% death tax which would cost the average taxpayer £46,000 (Andy Burnham, The Daily Telegraph, 30/07/14 ). And now, a senior Labour figure is calling for the Party to extend their planned tax on the family home to properties worth £400,000 in the North of England - hitting an estimated 210,000 more families ( Sunday Express, 10/08/14 ). Labour want to hit hardworking families like yours with more taxes - help stop them by donating £20 today. Labour's commitment to tax the family home is one of many tax rises they're planning for after the next election: A rise in National Insurance, the tax on jobs ( Observer, 20/04/14 ) Higher fuel duty, because th

Quote of the day 14th August 2014

" If it's the Psychic network, why do they need a phone number" (One of the late Robin Williams' best lines)

Quote of the day 13th August 2014

"Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?" (Robin Williams)

Robin Williams RIP

The tragedy of the great entertainer who is terribly unhappy in his own life is so well known that it is almost a cliché, but the late Robin Williams who tragically killed himself yesterday, appears to be an extreme example. He made millions of people laugh, and he also made people think. He will be remembered with affection and he will be missed. Rest in Peace.

Quote of the day 12th August 2014

"To none will we sell, to none will we delay, to none will we deny right or justice" (From the Magna Carta. Judging by the Eccleston case this principle does not apply in German courts ...)

Quote of the day 11th August 2014

“There are but two ways of paying debt: Increase of industry in raising income, increase of thrift in laying out.” (Thomas Carlyle)

Quote of the day 10th August 2014

“Debt, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slavedriver.” (Ambrose Bierce, from "The Devil's Dictionary)  

Quote of the day 9th August 2014

A hundred wagon loads of thoughts will not pay a single ounce of debt.” (Italian Proverb)  

Quote of the day 8th August 2014

"For those who object to a new nuclear repository I have one question - where do they think the stuff is now?" (Jim King, local resident and Sellafield worker) Jim put that to me shortly after showing a party of students from Manchester around Sellafield. One of the students said she opposed the idea of a new repository, saying that we shold not make any more waste. Jim pointed out to her that this was not mainly about new waste but finding the best and safest long-term storage place for the nuclear waste Britain already has, and she asked "where is it now?" On being told that quite a lot of it was about two metres under her feet at that very moment, her perspective shifted somewhat ...

Grief and suffering in Gaza

The Prime Minister regrets that Baroness Warsi has decided to stand down and is grateful for the excellent work that she has done both as a Minister and in Opposition. Our policy has always been clear - the situation in Gaza is intolerable and we’ve urged both sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. We now have a 72 hour ceasefire. Our objective now is to make that permanent so the killing stops. Israel and Hamas are currently observing a 72 hour ceasefire We welcome this ceasefire. It’s an important first step to ending the suffering of the people of Gaza and creating the space for discussions on how to resolve the underlying issues on both sides. We urge both sides to respect it. Our priority now is to support the talks in Egypt and to find a way forward that brings a lasting end to the violence. There needs to be a clear path to real change in Gaza if we are to avoid future conflict and improve life for ordinary Palestinians, as wel

Quote of the day 7th August 2014

“The only man who sticks closer to you in adversity than a friend is a creditor.” (Unknown)  

Blogger problems

Some difficulty with blogger this lunchtime - kept telling me that it could not save or publish my post then saved it half-a-dozen times and published both the initial and completed versions - and then I could not get into it to vorrect the matter. Still it could be worse for Blogger - they could be Scottish TV's internet service ! I think STV must have been hacked by Nats who didn't want people to see Salmond's poor performance. P.S. for those without a sense of humour, the previous paragraph is something called a joke.

Labour plans would mean £500 Billion more debt

See the "share the facts" website   here for details of how Labour's spending plans would saddle the country with more debt, and more interest on that debt. While there is more to do, our long-term economic plan is working. The deficit is down by over a third, the economy is growing at the fastest rate in the developed world and 1.8 million more people wake up in the morning knowing they have the security of a job. But Labour haven’t learnt their lesson. Their policy would add £35,000 of debt for every child in the country over the next two decades - more debt than future generations could ever hope to repay. Labour are the biggest risk to Britain’s economic security. Only by working through our long-term economic plan and finishing the job of eliminating the deficit will we secure a better, brighter future for our country.

New investment in the north of England.

Conservatives want the great northern cities to work with us over the coming months and together we will make a reality of the plan we’ve set out for the Northern Powerhouse - an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns in the northern belt radically better connected from east to west - to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city. Conserative ministers in the coalition government are ready to commit new money, new infrastructure, new transport and new science. And real new civic power too. This comes on top of action already taken to build a new north-south railway, HS2, and give our great northern cities like Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Hull more tools to grow through City Deals. Yesterday the Chancellor set out  the Pathway to this Northern Powerhouse, so as to deliver a real improvement in the long term economic performance of the north of England. This will be a centrepiece of the Autumn Statement - and part of our long term plan t

Quote of the day 6th August 2014

“Interest on debts grows without rain.” (Yiddish Proverb)  

Initial polls suggest 56% to 44% win for Darling in Independence TV debate

A ICM poll for the Guardian poll found that, contrary to expectations that First Minister Alex Salmond would win tonight's TV debate on Scottish Independence, the chairman of the "No Thanks" campaign, Alistair Darling, was considered to have won by 56% of viewers expressing an opinion.

Consistency on Immigraton policy

There was a post on the New Statesman's rolling politics blog, "The Staggers" yesterday, which had the provocative title Politicians will never please the public on immigration so they should stop trying . Now, I cannot and won't go all the way with this article - no one who aspires to be involved in the politics of a democratic country can or should "stop trying" to meet the voter's concerns on any important issue even though you will never be able to please everyone. However, the article does make some important points. And the line "we demand that our politicians serve us a dish of fried snowballs and then feign disappointment when they fail to deliver it." is not merely amusing but contains a worrying amount of truth. You can read the full article   here .

Cumbria Police & Crime Commissioner to hold surgeries in Barrow and Maryport

Cumbria's P olice and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes, will hold surgeries to meet local residents in Barrow on Monday 11 August and Maryport on Thursday 14 August. Mr Rhodes is inviting people to go along and share their views about policing in the county. The first event will be in The Forum, Barrow between 12-2pm on Monday 11 August and the second will be at The Wave Centre, Maryport between 2-4pm on Thursday 14 August. Pre-booked appointments can be made for the first hour. To book a time slot, please email or ring 01768 217734. Alternatively feel free to drop in to see the Commissioner without an appointment. Richard Rhodes said: “A key responsibility of the Police and Crime Commissioner is listening to the views of the people of Cumbria and using them to influence the future policing in the county. It is important that as many people as possible could come along to the surgeries and share their issues and views.”

Quote of the day 5th August 2014

“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.” (Ogden Nash)  

We Will Remember Them

I have programmed this post to appear at 10.00pm BST, the moment at which people all over the UK will be marking the centenary of Britain's entry into what was known to those who lived through it as "The Great War." We will be putting out the lights as we remember those who died. They went to fight hoping that they were taking part in "The war to end wars" but it only ended the lives of millions of people. The first four lines of verse which conclude this post are from a poem called "For The Fallen" or the "Ode of Remembrance" which was written in September 1914. As is traditional at Remembrance commemorations, I have also added another few lines which come from a memorial to those who died in a second great conflict a generation later. "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them." "Whe

Lights out in one hour

In one hour, at 10pm BST, we will put out the lights to mark the centenary of Britain's entry into the First World War and remember all those who died in that terrible conflict. A hundred years ago yesterday as I noted here in yesterday's "Quote of the day," the then foreign secretary remarked that "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time." Like people all over the UK, we will douse the lamps, light a candle instead, and say a prayer in memory of those who died.

Lest We Forget

One of the things which brings home to me the hideous cost of war, through the particuarly awful cost of the war which began for Britain one hundred years ago today, is one of the names which isn't on a war memorial. As a child I regularly visited my Grandfather's house in Darwen, Lancashire, which is a few yards from Bold Venture Park. That park is the site of the town's war memorial. Darwen is not a particularly large town. It's population in the last census before the First World War, in 1911, was about 40,000. Almost every town and city in Britan, and the vast majority of villages, have a memorial to residents of the aree who were killed in the great wars of the 20th century. In most towns and cities the size of Darwen, and in many which are quite a lot bigger,  the memorial lists the names of those people. But when the citizens of Darwen commissoned a memorial, to those killed in what was then usually known as "The Great War" they did not have tha

Quote of the day 4th August 2014

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went, And took the fire with him, and a knife. And as they sojourned both of them together, Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father, Behold the preparations, fire and iron, But where the lamb for this burnt-offering? Then Abram bound the youth with belts and strops, And builded parapets and trenches there, And stretched forth the knife to slay his son. When lo! an angel called him out of heaven, Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, Neither do anything to him. Behold, A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns; Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him. But the old man would not so, but slew his son, And half the seed of Europe, one by one." (Wilfred Owen)

Lights out at 10pm tomorrow

To mark the centenary of Britain's entry into the Great War tomorrow, lights will be switched out between 10pm and 11pm. Public buildings will douse their lights and it is suggested that where possible households also switch off electric lights and light one or more candles to commomorate the ghastly tragedy which took place a hundred years ago tomorrow. The more we can ensure that everyone understands and remembers the ghastly cost of war, less likely we are to have to repeat it. The nations who sent their troops to war a hundred years ago hoped for a short victorious war, the young men to fight hoped and expected that it would be all over by Christmas. Let us learn from their sacrifice and remember them.

Quote of the day 3rd August - first said on 3rd August 1914

"The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time." (Sir Edward Grey, Britain's Foreign Secretary, first said a hundred years ago today on the even of the First World War. His memoirs record: A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week — he thinks it was on Monday, August 3rd. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.")

Quote of the day 2nd August 2014 - Robert Halfon MP on the conflict in Gaza.

The following quotes are extracts from a superb article which Robert Halfon MP posted on his blog yesterday. You can read the full post here . "I condemn, without equivocation – those who cause – whether Arab or Israeli - the loss of innocent life, whether it be through serious negligence - or deliberate targeting of civilians. They should be brought to justice - to account for what has occurred. I despair for the loss or injury of every innocent civilian, whether it be Israeli or Arab." " I condemn the massacre of thousands of Palestinians in the Syrian Area of Yarmouk by Assad’s chemical weapons, his siege, and wish the world would not ignore the plight of Palestinians in areas other than Gaza ." " I condemn Hamas for deliberately using civilians as a human shield and hiding missiles in Mosques, hospitals and schools ." " I condemn Hamas for deliberately firing missiles onto Israeli towns and civilian areas. 11,000, since the Israeli unila

Employment minister Esther McVey on the Long Term Economic Plan

Esther McVey MP writes: This is important: I need you to add your name to show you're backing our long-term economic plan. Labour's recession - the longest and deepest since the war - hit businesses and families hard. Our economy shrank, costing jobs and taking away people's livelihoods. But thanks to a realistic assessment of the challenges we faced and your hard work, Britain is starting to get back on its feet. Our economy is now larger than it was before Labour's recession - a major milestone in our long-term economic plan. But there's still much more to do. That's why I'm asking you to get behind our plan today. We're backing the businesses hit by Labour's recession. We've cut the jobs tax - with 725,000 businesses already benefitting, and able to create more jobs. Supporting businesses means there are now 1.8 million more people in work, with the security of a pay packet to provide for them and their fami

Beware of big percentage changes on a trivial base

One of the oldest tricks in the statistician's book - and one of the most common big mistakes made by people in general and journalists in particular - is to overstate the importance of an apparently large percentage change which represents a small absolute change on a small starting number. If last year four people in the USA suffered from a rare disease, and this year six people had it, that is a scary-sounding 50% increase. But measured as a percentage of people in the USA, it's an increase of about one millionth of a percentage point. (If I had used used the UK instead of the USA as my example, that would have been about four millionths of a percentage point.) As Scott Adams put into the mouth of his Dilbert character, "Are you expecting a roomful of engineers to get excited about a big percentage increase in a trivial base?" Engineers, economists and accountants have seen this kind of trap so often that we are slightly less prone to fall into it, but a

Son of MRWS - hunt resumes for solution for Nuclear Waste

The government has publisehd a new White Paper on the long-term solution for nuclear waste, which reiterates than any such proposal must have local public support.   A “test of public opinion that demonstrates community support” will take place ahead of any final decision on the location of a geological disposal facility (GDF). The white paper says that no one tier of local authority will be able to veto the plans against the wishes of others – and more information on possible locations will be provided earlier in the process. The plans laid out by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) include: * a payment of £1million per year for up to five years will be made to councils to enter initial formal discussions, rising to £2.5million per year as the design/planning process begins * national geological screening will take place before 2016 so that possible locations can be ruled in or out early in the process. * communities will have the right of withdrawal fro

Quote of the day 1st August 2014

"Blonde, Curly Hair, Grey Eyes" ("Description" given on the ballot paper for a Portland Town Counil election this month (in the box which usually says things like "UK Independence Party" or "Conservative") by former UKIP council candidate Tracey Gough.)