Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quote of the day 30th November 2014

“An intelligent person is never afraid or ashamed to find errors in his understanding of things.”
( Bryant McGill )

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

DC's speech on Immigration

Prime Minister David Cameron is due to make a speech this morning which will outline how he plans to cut net migration from the European Union and to deliver the control that British people want.
The Prime Minister will set out a package of measures that will remove the financial incentives that attract migrants to Britain. The reforms will mean that in future:
EU workers will:
·         not get in work benefits until they have been in the UK for 4 years;
·         not get social housing until they have been here for 4 years; and
·         not get child benefits and tax credits for children living elsewhere in Europe no matter how long they have paid taxes in the UK.
EU jobseekers will:
·         not be supported by UK taxpayers; and 
·         be removed if they are not in a job within six months.
·         Together with other measures, this will deliver the toughest system on welfare for EU migrants anywhere in Europe.
These reforms will return free movement to a more sensible basis – the position before a European Court judgement in 1991 when Member States had the right to expect workers to have a job offer before they arrived - and a return to rules put in place by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
The Prime Minister will make clear that securing changes to welfare in order to cut EU migration will be an absolute requirement in the renegotiation.
And he will reiterate his determination to secure reform and his expectation that Britain will succeed in this renegotiation but he will be clear that if the concerns of the British public fall on deaf ears then he rules nothing out.
The proposals to be set out by the Prime Minister today will also include:
·         Abolishing the system where EU migrants can bring family members from outside the EU without any restrictions.
·         Tougher and longer re-entry bans for rough sleepers, beggars and fraudsters.
·         Stronger arrangements for deporting EU criminals and stopping them coming back.
·         No access to labour market for nationals of new Member States joining the EU until their economies have converged more closely with current members.
The Prime Minister will say that these changes should apply to the whole of the EU, but should that not prove possible, he would negotiate them in a UK-only settlement.
In his speech, the Prime Minister will say:
“People have understandably become frustrated. It boils down to one word: control.
People want Government to have control over the numbers of people coming here and the circumstances in which they come, both from around the world and from within the European Union…And yet in recent years, it has become clear that successive Governments have lacked control. People want grip. I get that…They don’t want limitless immigration and they don’t want no immigration. They want controlled immigration. And they are right.
“Britain supports the principle of freedom of movement of workers. Accepting the principle of free movement of workers is a key to being part of the single market. So we do not want to destroy that principle or turn it on its head. But freedom of movement has never been an unqualified right, and we now need to allow it to operate on a more sustainable basis in the light of the experience of recent years.
“My objective is simple: to make our immigration system fairer and reduce the current exceptionally high level of migration from within the EU into the UK.
“We intend to cut migration from within Europe by dealing with abuse; restricting the ability of migrants to stay here without a job; and reducing the incentives for lower paid, lower skilled workers to come here in the first place.
“We want to create the toughest system in the EU for dealing with abuse of free movement. We want EU jobseekers to have a job offer before they come here and to stop UK taxpayers having to support them if they don’t…EU jobseekers who don’t pay in will no longer get anything out. And those who do come will no longer be able to stay if they can’t find work.
“The British people need to know that changes to welfare to cut EU migration will be an absolute requirement in the renegotiation.
“I say to our European partners. We have real concerns. Our concerns are not outlandish or unreasonable. We deserve to be heard, and we must be heard. Here is an issue which matters to the British people, and to our future in the European Union. The British people will not understand – frankly I will not understand - if a sensible way through cannot be found, which will help settle this country’s place in the EU once and for all.
“And to the British people I say this. If you elect me as Prime Minister in May, I will negotiate to reform the European Union, and Britain’s relationship with it. This issue of free movement will be a key part of that negotiation. If I succeed, I will, as I have said, campaign to keep this country in a reformed EU. If our concerns fall on deaf ears and we cannot put our relationship with the EU on a better footing, then of course I rule nothing out. But I am confident that, with goodwill and understanding, we can and will succeed.”

Quote of the day 28th November 2014

“Modern intelligence won't accept anything on authority. But it will accept anything without authority.”
( G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Knew Too Much  )  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ed Didn't Start The Fire

Dan Hodges tweeted earlier this week that he was thinking of setting Ed Miliband's last six months to the tune of "We didn't start the Fire."

Now such a clip has appeared on Youtube. Hat tip to Guido's "Order Order" blog for the video below. This is the man who could be Prime Minister in less than six month's time ...

Quote of the day 27th November 2014

“It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have a huge variety of needs and dangers.”
( H.G. Wells, The Time Machine )  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Adrian Davis Johnston's "I won't survive" to be performed live in Workington on Sunday

Adrian Davis-Johnston's parody of Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive" in support of the campaign to protect services at WCH. (Hashtag #WeNeedWestCumberlandHospital) will be performed live in Workington on Sunday 30th November as part of the town's Christmas Lights switch-on, with all proceeds going to the Great North Air Ambulance.

It is also available for pre-order on iTunes at

As has repeatedly been pointed out by Adrian, myself, and other campaigners, the nearest alternative hospitals to WCH such as the North Cumberland Infirmary at Carlisle or FGH at Barrow are respectively an hour away from Whitehaven or Millom on terrible roads, and more like ninety minutes away from much of South Copeland. Given the importance of getting people to treatment quickly, any reduction in major trauma, maternity or other emergency services at the West Cumberland could have a dire impact on West Cumbria.

This was the Youtube version of Adrian's take on the consequences if we lose services at WCH

GP concerns about WCH

Twenty-five local GPs from Copeland and Allerdale have written to the Whitehaven News expressing concerns about proposals for services at West Cumberland Hospital, particularly maternity and paediatrics.

The doctors said: “We are deeply concerned, in light of recent comments, that the medical director of our acute trust neither appears to recognise the special challenges of providing maternity services in our area, nor be prepared to await the advice of the expert panel that the Clinical Commissioning Group has brought together to review these issues.”

The full text of the letter can be read on the Whitehaven News website at

A spokesperson for North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust responded as follows:

“Our very firm intention is that more, not less, patients will be treated in West Cumbria in the future. We are already starting to see this happen and even following the important safety changes made in 2013 to transfer high risk surgery, we have seen an overall increase in emergency admissions at West Cumberland Hospital, from 11,167 to 11,327, over the past year. We are also seeing the number of planned operations and day case procedures increase and have seen over 7,500 more diagnostic tests take place at West Cumberland Hospital in the past year.
“The new West Cumberland Hospital will continue to have a 24-hour A&E, medical admissions, intensive care as well as paediatric and maternity care. That is without question. We must, however, make sure that all of our services are as safe as possible and we know that some services are not as safe as they should be.

“From next week we will be engaging with all stakeholders about our ideas to improve safety and solve some of the longstanding problems that have never been truly addressed in North Cumbria over many years. We look forward to hearing from all GPs as part of this"

Quote of the day 26th November 2014

"When people can’t look at a tweet publicly taunting a man over the death of his six-year-old son and realise there is something deeply, horribly wrong, then they have a problem.

If they can’t understand that a tweet like that transcends the most basic laws of human decency, they have a problem.

And if they can’t simply and unequivocally condemn that tweet, without constructing straw men, throwing deflections and trying to draw spurious moral parallels, then they have a serious, serious problem."

(Dan Hodges, writing in the Telegraph yesterday about the Jack Monroe tweet)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dan Hodges on the politics of anger

Anger is a driving force which motivates many people who are involved in politics. If channelled in the right way it is not necessarily a negative thing.

I was very angry, just before turning 18, when my father was rung up on the day he was supposed to go into hospital for a heart valve operation, and told that shop stewards representing porters and cleaners had blocked my dad's heart operation on the grounds that they supposedly knew better than doctors whether it was an emergency. (That was about the time some NHS shop steward was quoted in the press as saying "If someone dies, so be it." My father was one of the people whose potential death that union was treating as acceptable collateral damage in an industrial dispute.)

That anger was an important driving force for my becoming involved in politics, but I channelled it in what I regard as a positive direction: supporting Mrs Thatcher's plans to put the national finances on a sound footing so that sort of thing would be less likely to happen to anyone else.

Where anger becomes a negative thing is when it translates not into a desire to promote policies which one believes will solve the problem but hatred of individual human beings.

I referred yesterday to a tweet by a Guardian journalist, Jack Monroe, who accused David Cameron of using "stories about his dead son" to justify selling the NHS "to his friends."

As I blogged yesterday, the death of a child is one of the worst things that can happen to any parent and should be right off the table so far as political criticism goes.

I would regard it as completely out of order if anyone on my own side, or anyone else for that matter, made reference to the death of Gordon Brown's baby son as part of any political criticism of him, and for me it is equally out of order for anyone attacking David Cameron to do so.

There is an interesting piece in the Telegraph by Dan Hodges at

in which he compares his email exchanges with activists in an anti-Cameron campaign who were defending Ms Monroe with UKIP activists who took exception to something he had written about their party.

I don't think either UKIP or the left have a monopoly (or duopoly, even) on the problem of getting too angry in the way they pursue political debate. I think the degree of anger right throughout our political spectrum should concern anyone who wants Britain to have a healthy and inclusive political system. And I think those people in any party or none who allow their anger to ride them and push them over the line between criticism and abuse have a problem.

Less-Than-Total Recall

MPs have passed the bill giving constituents the power to recall them with some, but not all, of the amendments which had been proposed to make it easier to use.

One amendment passed by 204 votes to 125 was to reduce the number of sitting days for which an MP has to be suspended by the House of Commons before becoming subject to a recall petition by half, to 10 days rather than 20.

Other amendments which were agreed gave power to trigger a recall process in cases of expenses fraud where an MP was given a non-custodial sentence, and in cases where information about historic wrongdoing came to light after an MP was elected.

Some of the other amendments, such as one from Zac Goldsmith which took the House of Commons privileges committee out of the process, were not agreed, however.

The bill now goes to the House of Lords.

I'm pleased to see there is some movement on this though I would have liked to see a stronger bill, provided the recall mechanism is not made so easy to trigger that it effectively gives people who don't like the result of an election in the first place the opportunity to try to reverse their defeat.

Quote of the day 25th November 2014

“It is one thing to be clever and another to be wise.”
( George R.R. Martin )

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mark Wallace on left wing hypocrisy

Mark Wallace has an excellent post on Conservative Home at

in which he gives two recent examples of a left-wing journalist and a Labour PPC respectively using tactics which would have half the left demanding the resignation of any Tory MP or PPC who used them.

It is a problem for people in all parts of the political spectrum, but the left are particularly prone to it, to be so convinced of your own rightness that any nasty trick you play on your opponents can be justified.

For example, one he quotes a tweet from a Guardian journalist called Jack Monroe who had made a poisonous attack on David Cameron concerning what DC had said about his dead son.

It will not be a surprise to any reader of this blog to learn that I am not Gordon Brown's biggest fan. But there is one type of nasty comment which I would never make about Gordo, would never excuse or justify anyone else making about him, and don't recall any Conservative ever making.

In a cruel irony, both Gordon Brown and David Cameron lost their firstborn sons. That is something I quite literally would not wish on my worst enemy. Such a personal tragedy is far too horrible to be incorporated into a political attack of any kind, and shame on anyone, on either side, who would do such a thing.

Quote of the day 24th November 2014

"There is literally nothing Miliband can’t mess up.

"Having abdicated almost completely in a seat that they held until 2010, the compensation was meant to be that Labour got to sit back and watch all the negative headlines hurt the Conservatives. Instead, Emily Thornberry managed to drag the focus back on to her own party’s problems by

  a) unwisely tweeting an apparently surprised or judgemental picture of a house with England flags hanging out of the window,

 b) issuing perhaps the world’s clumsiest apology (including an unbelievable claim that she had never seen anything like it before), and
 c) in so doing panicking her leader into sacking her.

"To be honest, Thornberry could have survived the farce – she was a notoriously smug lefty before the tweet and she remained so after – but Miliband’s desperation saw him make her jump before she was pushed. On Monday he was beaten by a popstar. Yesterday he was defeated by a house. The Labour leader should spend the weekend nervous of going up against kerbs, squirrels or light breezes in case he comes a cropper."

(Mark Wallace on Conservative Home)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Extracts from the Guardian account of "Thornberry-gate"

Below are some quotes from the Guardian about the Emily Thornberry tweet issue.

A number of people who saw the tweet out of context would have been baffled by the fuss, because the tweet itself did not have anything rude about the house of its' owner. The row has been entirely about what people assume was meant by bothering to tweet the picture.

Hence the reason I am quoting Labour figures as reported in the Guardian is that the reaction of those on the left who are angry about what they think the tweet said about their own side is what best demonstrates why there was an issue.

Here are some examples from this weekend's report on the Guardian website about Labour's, quote "Civil war" on the issue ...

"Labour has erupted into civil war over the “snobby” tweet sent by the sacked shadow attorney general, prompting senior MPs to warn that Ed Miliband’s chances in the general election are being actively damaged by the fallout over the affair."

"The party descended into mutual recrimination as supporters and critics of Emily Thornberry, accused of mocking a house draped with England flags before the Rochester and Strood byelection, took turns to attack each other."

"Former minister Frank Field said Thornberry’s actions would be “deadly” for MPs campaigning on the doorstep, while the chairman of her constituency turned his vitriol on MPs who had attacked her in the 48 hours since she tweeted a photograph of a house with a white van outside it captioned “Image from #Rochester”.

"In a pointed criticism of Miliband’s strategy chief, Lucy Powell MP, who had described Thornberry’s tweet as a “very disrespectful and rude picture”, Ian McLaughlin, chair of the Islington South and Finsbury Labour party, said: “I have to say I deplore the actions of some Labour MPs in attacking her."

"On Saturday night, in a sign of the growing concern at the top of the party about the affair, one shadow cabinet member told the Observer: “The issue is already echoing back at us on the doorsteps.”

"At all levels, there was despair that the furore had turned the spotlight on to Labour’s difficulties as a time when the party had hoped to take advantage of the Tories’ second byelection loss at the hands of UKIP.

"Friends of Thornberry admit that she made a mistake and has been left devastated by events. But they said that Thornberry, who was the first MP to nominate Miliband for the party leadership in 2010, was surprised that her private conversations with the Labour leader in the wake of her tweet had been leaked to the press.

"It was reported on Saturday that Thornberry had been sacked by Miliband after she initially refused to apologise. Thornberry declined to comment. It is understood she still hopes to play a role in a Labour government.

"Some MPs have spoken of their frustration at the handling of the affair by the leadership, in a further sign of disquiet over Miliband just three weeks after 20 shadow ministers were said to be ready to oust their leader if former home secretary Alan Johnson was willing to step in.

"Austin Mitchell, Labour MP for Great Grimsby, told the Observer: “The leader and his aides are running around in small circles panicking about Twitter. It has been blown out of all proportion. Why did Ed Miliband need to put it out that he was extremely angry? He should have ignored it all and it would have blown away.”

"Diane Abbott, a former shadow minister who has been steadfastly loyal to Miliband despite being sacked last October, said: “I think that by sacking her Ed Miliband made the story bigger. I also know that Emily is one of Ed Miliband’s closest and most trusted supporters. As far as I know she is one of very few people in the shadow cabinet who is one of Ed Miliband’s people. It was very ill-advised to let her go.”

"A senior Labour MP, who is not a supporter of Miliband’s leadership, added: “Anyone who thinks that Ed Miliband didn’t need to sack her needs their head examining. I am sure people in London believe he overreacted but I would say that they need to leave London and meet some ordinary people.”

"Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead, said: “This is more damaging than the millions of pounds donated by the businessman Paul Sykes to Ukip. There is a cool anger out there. People will say they despise us for this, that it is an example of how we don’t understand them. It is deadly for us, and this makes it massively more difficult to win the next election”.

Quote of the day 23rd November 2014

"The political mismanagement needs to stop and we need strong management at the County Council. Somebody needs to carry the can and that person has to be the leader."

(County Councillor James Airey, leader of the Conservative opposition on Cumbria County Council, talking about the Cumbria CC fiasco over the disastrous proposals for on-street parking charges which were eventually dropped last week.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why Labour is like the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool

Earlier this week it came out that the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool fined a Whitehaven couple £100 for posting a bad review on Trip Advisor. (The hotel later agreed to refund the money after a huge public outcry.)

Also this week Labour supporters tried to have Myleen Klass fired as the "Face of Littlewoods" for criticising Ed Miliband's tax policy.

The hotel policy was criticised as outrageous and almost certainly illegal, but was it any better for Labour party members to try to take revenge on Myleen Klass for expressing an opinion they didn't agree with (and showing up Ed Miliband)?

But it's not just hotels and a few socialists who have a problem with free speech.

When I was a student I was a strong opponent of the so called "No Platform" policy which some on the left applied to anyone they labelled racist or fascist.

In 1984 (how appropriate) one student union even banned their Jewish society in the name of "Anti-Racism" (because they also had a policy that "Zionism equals Racism" which was and is a view often held on the left.)

Most student politicos on both left and right were given a wake-up call by this event that banning free speech is dangerous: the SU concerned was suspended until they dropped the policy and NUS organised a student demo against one of their own colleges (which certainly made a change from all the "Grants, Cuts, Loans, Moans and Groans" campaigns. And the policy of "No Platform seemed to become less popular for a while.

Brendan O'Neill has an article in the current Spectator about the "Stepford Students" for whom "Free speech is so last century" which suggests that a significant number of present-day University students are very anti freedom of speech, and which I found quite frightening in what it says about the future of our country. You can read that article at:

I once believed that a belief in freedom of speech was a vital part of this country's DNA. Apparently that belief is not as strong as I had once thought and hoped.

The approach usually attributed to Voltaire - "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" - has never been more needed.

Quote of the day 22nd November 2014

“In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.”

(George Orwell)

As Guido Fawkes pointed out, one of the reasons the tweet from Emily Thornberry of a house with three St George's Cross flags and a white van caused such a fuss was probably because people assumed it was an expression of the sort of "progressive" metropolitan disdain for both patriotism and actual working people that Orwell was talking about.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Have Cumbria's Labour councillors finally noticed there are elections coming?

It seems that there has been a bonfire of disastrous and unpopular Labour policies in Cumbria this week.

First the belated  but welcome abandonment by the County Council of the ghastly proposal to kill our town centres by charging for on-street parking.

Now Copeland Council is having a budget review and say they are considering reversing the decisions to close Civic Hall and the public toilets in Whitehaven.

"There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents" so I hope they carry through on these changes but one has to wonder what is going on. Could it be that the penny has dropped that there is a General Election next year, not to mention those for the first directly-elected mayor of Copeland and for the rest of the council? 

Keswick Christmas Lights switch on

Congratulations to everyone involved in the switch-on ceremony for Keswick's Christmas lights this evening. My wife and I went to watch: our son was playing with Keswick School Jazz band.

Despite the miserable weather there were lots of people there who were obviously having a good time.

On the anniversary of the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet

Ninety-six years ago today, on 21st November 1918, the German High Seas Fleet, then the second most powerful in the world surrendered to the Royal Navy to be interned at Scapa Flow.

A few months later the caretaker German crews scuttled their ships.

When we think about the enormous cost of World War one, as we should, and remember all those who lost their lives, as we should, let us also remember with gratitude that the courage and sacrifice of those who served in the Royal Navy during the Great War ultimately achieved a complete victory. They successfully defended our country from an immense challenge, which threatened the people of these islands not just with defeat but starvation.

Quote of the day 21st November 2014

"Yesterday David Cameron was at the wheel of a car racing at a hundred miles an hour to a brick wall. And as if by a miracle, the Labour party somehow managed to throw themselves between the car and the wall at the very last minute."

(Nick Robinson on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning describing Labour MP Emily Thornberry's Tweet which appeared to be intended, and was certainly taken, to insult working-class patriotic voters in Rochester and Strood)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

David Cameron writes about the world Economy

Prime Minister David Cameron writes ...

Six years on from the crash that brought the world to its knees, there are again warning signs for the global economy.

As I met with world leaders at the G20 Summit, the problems were plain to see. The Eurozone is on the brink of recession. Emerging market economies are slowing down. And the epidemic of Ebola, conflict in the Middle East and Russia's illegal actions in Ukraine are adding a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty.

The British economy by contrast is growing, with record numbers of new businesses and employment up 1.75 million in four years - more than in the rest of the EU put together.

But the problems in the global economy pose a real risk to our recovery - and we must protect ourselves.

When we faced similar problems before, too many politicians offered easy answers, thinking we could spend, borrow and tax our way to prosperity. They were wrong then - and they are wrong now.

So we must send a clear message that Britain is not going to waver on dealing with its debts.

This stability is vital in attracting the international investment that delivers growth and jobs - and keeping long-term interest rates low. So we will stick to our plan on the deficit.

At the same time, we will carry on backing businesses by scrapping red tape, cutting taxes - and continuing to invest in the infrastructure that is vital to create jobs and enable Britain to compete successfully in the global race.

In six months' time Britain will face a choice: between our long-term plan that has seen Britain grow again, creating jobs and opportunities - or the same old easy answers that would surely have seen us fail.

So, please add your name today and show you're backing the long-term plan that will help protect our economy and give hardworking families a secure future.


David Cameron

Quote of the Day 20th November 2014

" ... an opinion poll in Scotland showed that more people believe in the Loch Ness Monster than believe in his" (Ed Miliband's) "leadership: the only problem for the Labour party is he does actually exist."

(David Cameron at PMQs yesterday)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Irony on Student Fees

I have never been a fan of University tuition fees and enthusiastically supported the Conservative Party's opposition to them in 2001 and 2005.

However, I reluctantly complied with the advice from CCC in 2010 not to sign the NUS pledge to vote against tuition fees, because by that time Britain's financial situation had become vastly worse and honesty demanded that candidates should not sign pledges which any government their party might form would be unable to honour.

And here you have the irony of both today's student protest, and the one a few years ago, when students protesting about tuition fee increases attacked a party headquarters.

All three main political parties have introduced or increased tuition fees when in office.

All three main political parties have voted against them when in opposition.

But in terms of keeping promises, we have one party which has twice promised not to introduce or raise student tuition fees and then twice broken the promise, one party which has once made such a promise and broken it, and one party which has not broken a promise on tuition fees.

So when students smashed up or attacked a political HQ, did they attack the headquarters of the party which broke two promises on tuition fees, the party which broke one promise on tuition fees, or the  party which has not broken such a promise?

You guessed it, they attacked Conservative HQ, that of the party which had voted against tuition fees after both the election campaigns in which we promised to do so, rather than that of the Labour party which had introduced the fees in the first place after promising not to and then increased them after promising not to do that.

Not that I am suggesting that violence against Labour HQ would be the right thing to do either, you understand, but at least in their case the charge of broken promises would be justified.

Likewise the charge of hypocrisy, as Labour have repeatedly vilified Nick Clegg for breaking his election promise on student tuition fees for which he has at least had the courage to apologise, when they broke similar promises twice and have not shown an atom of repentance.

Students have legitimate grounds to be upset with the politicians who broke their election promises on this subject, and I have no quarrel with those students who exercised their freedom of speech in non-violent and legal ways.

But those who not only resorted to violence, but violence against the party against whom they have the weakest grievance, reminded me of a comment made by C Northcote Parkinson (creator of "Parkinson's Law") at the time of the sixties student protests, when he said of certain protestors that

"Some of them may be registered as students of a University but they have been admitted in error and should be expelled at once, not for the criminal offence of causing a riot but for the academic offence of regarding reiteration as proof."

Quite. And if the "students" who attacked Conservative HQ today are actually attending an institution of Higher Education, they should be sent down, not just for criminal behaviour but for stupidity.

Inflation figures

Yesterday's inflation figures edged up by a tenth of one percentage point but remain well within target.

UK inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), rose to an annual rate of 1.3% in October, up from 1.2% in the previous month and therefore marginally above its recent five-year low. This compares with a target range for CPI inflation of within 4%, with the centre of the target range being 2%.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), said the rise was because transport costs fell by less than they did a year ago.

In addition, prices in the recreation and culture sectors rose, particularly for computer games and toys.

However, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages fell by 1.4% in October, when compared with last year, marking the sixth consecutive month without a rise - the longest such period since 2000. Furniture and household equipment prices also fell, by 1.1%, most notably three-piece suites and settees.

The ONS also reported that the Retail Prices Index, another measure of inflation, grew by 2.3% in the year to the end of October, the same rate as recorded for September.

Quote of the day 19th November 2014

“Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.”
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Parking charge victory !!

In a belated but welcome display of sanity, Cumbria County Council has dropped the proposed onstreet parking charges which could well have been the last nail in the coffin of our town centres.

Conservatives, local residents, and local business leaders have fought these charges tooth and nail all the way down the line and I am pleased that our voices have finally been listened to.

It just goes to show that it is always worth standing up to oppose things you think are wrong or misguided.

"Rotherham was not an isolated example"

The Home Affairs Select Committee was quoted this morning on the BBC as saying that Rotherham was not an isolated example.

I think that all police forces and local authorities need to be very alert for the possibility that systematic child abuse could be taking place in their area, without falling prey to preconceptions of who may be responsible.

In Rotherham the culprits were of one particular ethnic minority and they took advantage of the fear by the authorities of being accused of racism. However, the key problem was a lack of open minds. Any evidence of child abuse must be properly investigated in as sensitive a way as possible and it would be just as dangerous to approach the evidence with any preconception that a particular ethnic or  social group is, or isn't, likely to be involved, or about who the victims might be, whatever that preconception is.

If serial paedophiles have one thing in common, it is that many of them gain access to vulnerable young people precisely because they are the sort of person who nobody suspects of being a paedophile.

What makes this all the more difficult is that untrue accusations of sexual abuse also happen, sometimes because of mistaken identity, and being falsely accused of sexual abuse can wreck the life of an innocent person. Everything compatible with a proper investigation should be done to reduce the risk of this - for example, alerting the press to investigations against someone before there is enough evidence to charge them, as has happened to certain celebrities, is completely unacceptable.

During the recent party conference season, I spoke to a couple of old friends who are now Police and Crime Commissioners. One of them mentioned that he had recently met members of a local council in his force area, which I am not going to name because I think this could be a widespread problem. It had mostly been a constructive discussion but he was concerned at one question he did not get - e.g. "Could something like Rotherham be happening here?"

That is a question that every local authority and police force should, in a calm, rational and non-inflammatory way, be asking.

Quote of the day 18th November 2014

"You can't just point at things and tax them"

(Myleen Klass gives some advice to Ed Miliband during the debate below)

Monday, November 17, 2014

An exchange on "Political Betting" which amused me ...

Hat tip to Political Betting for the following exchange between Roger and DavidL this evening. At a risk of stating the obvious I am not necessarily endorsing everything in this exchange, but thought it worth sharing.

Roger said ...

"On any conventional reading I can't see why people don't like this government much. They're not particularly right wing they've presided over reasonably well off people becoming much richer and those without a job are now apparently working. They don't beat on minorities like they used to.....What's not to like?

"I don't like them because I'm allergic to Tories but I've seem many less attractive Tory governments. The appearance of UKIP is living proof of what a really ugly right wing party can look like.....

David L replied

"I would go further (but then I would). I think this has been an excellent government who have coped with a truly terrible position much better than could reasonably be expected and have managed to take a number of small steps back to sanity. I also think that the Lib Dems have made a positive contribution to this government and have stopped some of the right wing nonsense that has in the past made tory governments morally questionable.

"But it is so much easier to believe that this government wants to cut public spending because it hates poor people and wants to cut taxes for the rich, even when they are paying more.

"And to believe that Labour's refusal to address the extent of the problems is down to moral failings and rank dishonesty rather than a genuine reluctance to face the consequences for those in need.

"And that UKIP are all truly fruitcakes rather than people who see some of the problems and how hard it is for a government regulated by the EU to actually do anything about it.

"And that the SNP are all mad .... hmm, may be on to something with that last one."

Quotes of the day 17th November 2014

There once was a man who said: "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."

  (Ronald Arbuthnott Knox)

"Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.”

 (Anonymous, but often also attributed to Knox. The lack of a declared human author is part of the joke.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Quotes of the day 16th November 2014

"The King, observing with judicious eyes
The state of both his universities,
To Oxford sent a troop of horse, and why?
That learned body wanted loyalty;
To Cambridge books, as very well discerning
How much that loyal body wanted learning."

(Joseph Trapp)

"The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse,
For Tories own no argument but force:
With equal skill to Cambridge books he sent,
For Whigs admit no force but argument."

(William Browne)

Trapp's epigram, and Browne's reply, were written about the library collected by John Moore, who had been Bishop of Norwich and then Ely. When he died in 1714, Moore's collection of books and papers contained over 30,000 items, and may have been the largest in England.

To celebrate his coronation, King George I caused it to be purchased intact, at a cost of 6,000 guineas, and donated to Cambridge University Library. Moore's library alone contained nearly twice the material in the existing University library.

While some material has been removed over the years, the gift is still largely intact, and is called The Royal Library in honour of its patron. Notable books in his library include the Book of Deer and the Treatise of Love.(Link to source)

Unfortunately this did not go down quite so well with the University of Oxford ...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Business Minister Matt Hancock writes ...


Who do you trust with the economy, with jobs, with supporting our businesses and funding our public services?
When business owners and leaders were asked, they didn't say Labour:
  • By 58% to 13% they trust the Conservatives over Labour to run the economy
  • By 53% to 18% they believe the Conservatives are best for small businesses
  • By 53% to 21% they believe the Conservatives are best for creating jobs
And the most telling statistic of all: by 53% to 17% they trust the Conservatives over Labour to produce a growing economy that can guarantee funding for health and education for the long term. (Source: YouGov survey, 6-9 November 2014)
These are the people who create jobs - and they know that a Labour government would be a disaster for Britain: hitting businesses, costing jobs, dragging our economy backwards, and leaving us with less money to fund our vital public services.


Matt Hancock
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Energy

Quotes of the day 15th November 2014

"Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night: God said,  'Let Newton be!' and
all was light."

        (Alexander Pope)

"It did not last: the devil howling, 'Ho! Let Einstein be!', restored the


"But that was not all . The electron piped-in, 'Let Schroedinger be and not
be!' After all there is only a probability ... "

        (Milind Sharma)
(I found it very surprising when looking up these quotes to check them how many websites repeat Squire's quote on Einstein out of context, without the Pope quote on Newton to which it is a reply and without which it is entirely meaningless.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Quarter of a Million hits and marching on

Today this blog passed the figure of 250,000 page views since the traffic counters went live a few years ago.

Thanks to all those who have dropped in over that time and I hope you found it interesting.

Quotes of the day 14th November 2014

"Britain's frustration is no game. It is not a political ploy to gain advantages and concessions from our partners."

"The UK case on free movement is as compelling as it is misunderstood. And it is misunderstood. It is a matter of numbers.
"Whereas some European populations are falling, the UK has grown by 7% in a decade…. the sheer scale of the influx has put strains on our health, welfare, housing and education services that we struggle to meet - and has held down wages for many of the poorest members of our society.

"I do recognise - reluctantly - that our small island simply cannot absorb the present and projected numbers at the current speed: it is not physically or politically possible without huge public disquiet… I hate having to make this argument. I hate it. As a boy, I was brought up among immigrants in South London. They were my friends and my neighbours… we do not seek to end free movement - far from it: but, while the pressures are uncontainable, we do seek to qualify it."

(Sir John Major: extracts from a speech made yesterday in Berlin to German Christian Democrats)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Yesterday's jobs figures

I would be the first to agree that we cannot be complacent, but a set of good economic figures released yesterday confirms that recovery from the disastrous economic situation inherited by the present government when Labour left office is definitely under way.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics show there are now a record number of people in work, with employment up by over 1.7 million since the election, meaning more people with the security of a good job and a regular pay packet. 
As these strong jobs numbers show, our long-term economic plan is delivering for Britain - creating a stronger, healthier economy, and moving us closer towards our target of full employment.
We’ve been doing this by backing business with lower jobs taxes and better infrastructure, while reforming welfare to make sure work always pays. And as today’s figures confirm, this approach is working, with another big fall in unemployment, and more people than ever before having the security of work.
There is more to do, and we know that families are still feeling the effects of Labour’s Great Recession. But the only way to get living standards up sustainably is to keep working through the plan that is getting people off welfare and into work – so that more people can have the security and self-respect of a decent job and are better able to provide for themselves and their families.
Don't hand the keys back to the people who crashed the car!
Labour left office with nearly half a million more people out of work than when they started because they wrecked the economy.
Their plans for more ineffective spending, more borrowing and higher taxes on jobs are exactly what got us into a mess before, and would put jobs, the recovery and the security of Britain's future at risk.
It’s the same old Labour - they still haven’t learned their lesson.
Key statistics
·         Employment: 30.8 million (up 112,000 this quarter and up 1.7 million since the election).
·         Employment rate: 73.0 per cent (up 0.2 points this quarter and up 2.8 points since the election).
·         Unemployment: 1.96 million (down 115,000 this quarter and down 550,000 since the election).
·         Unemployment rate: 6.0 per cent (down 0.3 points this quarter and down 2.0 points since the election).
·         Claimant count: 931,700 in October (down 20,400 on September and down 563,100 since the election).
·         Total weekly pay: in September 2014 this was up by 1.4 per cent over the year.
·         There are a record number of women in work – and the annual fall in female unemployment is the largest on record.
·         Long-term unemployment has fallen 206,000 over the year – the biggest annual fall in 16 years.
·         Youth unemployment is down 244,000 over the last year.
·         Private sector employment has risen by more than 2 million since the election – there are now more people in private sector employment than ever before.
·         1.3 million of the jobs created since the election have been full-time – three-quarters of the rise in employment.
·         The fall in unemployment and the growth in employment rate over the last year is the largest in the G7.
·         Two thirds of the rise in employment since 2010 has been in higher skilled occupations.
·         It was also announced yesterday that total pay has risen faster than inflation - so real incomes have finally started to move in the right direction.

Quote of the day 13th November 2014

"This latest survey suggests that 13% of the country reckon Ed is fit to be Prime Minister.

"That's pretty shocking, huh?

"Who are they, this 13%?

"Are they all resident in secure institutions?"

(Rod Liddle, column in today's "The Sun," referring to an IPSOS/MORI opinion poll in which Ed Miliband scored the worst popularity ratings for any leader of a British political party since records began.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quote of the day 12th November 2014

"The typical British person regards politics and everything that is associated with politics as being weird. They see it as being removed from their life.

"This is a real problem. We've seen that there has been a drop off in turn out of elections going all the way back to the early 2000s, which is a huge issue for democracy, because the decisions are being made by people who get 30 or 40 percent of the vote on a 50 to 60 percent turn out. It's a real problem with younger people. Generally speaking, the younger you get, the more removed you are from politics."

(Joe Twyman, head of political and social research at YouGov, quoted in an article in "Vice" this week on the book "Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box" by Phil Cowley and Rob Ford.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Words to remember at 11am today

"When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Their Tomorrow, 
We gave Our Today."

(John Maxwell Edwards - best known from the Kohima memorial - see below.)

The source for the following information is

The Kohima Epitaph  In March 1944, the Japanese 31st Division moved northwestward in Burma, swept through the Naga hills, invaded India, and fell upon Imphal and Kohima. Confidently the Japanese planned to press toward the India Plains. The Allies in the CBI Theater faced a disaster of monumental proportions unless the enemy was stopped.

A crucial battle ensued at Kohima where some 2,500 British Empire troops came under siege. They fought a formidable Japanese force numbering 15,000 soldiers supported by 10,000 ammunition laden oxen.

For weeks the belligerents sparred in bloody artillery duels interrupted only by hand to hand skirmishes and bayonet attacks. Finally, after 64 days, amid terrible losses on both sides, the Japanese were beaten back.   They withdrew from Kohima.

Japan’s dominance in northern Burma had begun its crumble. Understandingly, the determination and gallantry shown by allied troops in the Kohima siege was quick to become the subject of poem, song, and legend. Today in the Kohima cemetery, among the 1,378 grave markers, is the famous Kohima Memorial which has the quote above as its' inscription.

A minute's silence

I shall be taking a minute's silent reflection at 11am today to think of all those who have lost their lives in war.

For a time the custom of doing this at 11am on the 11th November went into abeyance because so many people attend Remembrance services on the Sunday nearest to that date.

But I welcome the return of the custom that we take a break on the 11th whichever day it is, because actually stopping what you are doing on a working day is even more powerful. And we need to remember.

Quote of the day 11th November 2014 - Armistice Day

“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.”

( Laurence Binyon )

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quote of the day 10th November 2014

“It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
(Rose Kennedy)

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Remembrance Sunday

There was a good attendance by people of all ages at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Castle Park war memorial in Whitehaven today. Although it is a gray and wet day, the rain held off for the ceremony itself.

I was pleased to see that so many people wanted to remember those who were killed in the conflicts in which this country has been involved. First, because those who  died to defend this country should be remembered. And second because the better we remember the cost of war the more likely it is that we will so arrange our affairs that we lose as few people to them as possible in the future.

I don't doubt the sincerity of those people who have made occasional attempts - the "Stop the War Coalition" were at it again this year - to promote alternative means of remembering the fallen such as the so-called white poppies.

But to me the symbolism of the nation coming together to remember the people who died in past conflicts has always held a message about the cost of war. Since I was a small boy, Remembrance Sunday has been a reminder that when a nation sends people off to fight there are sons, brothers, husbands and fathers who don't ever come home. (These days there are daughters, sisters, wives and mothers too.)

It is hardly a sectarian message, even for pacifists, or one which needs people to differentiate themselves.

Quote of the day Remembrance Sunday 9th November 2014

"Tears shed at Remembrance Ceremonies are more often than not tears shed for loved ones we have lost. Taking time out to show up is where the respect lies. After all, it was promised to those lads that marched away that we would remember them."

(Mick Lonergan, extract from a letter in The Independent this week)

William Hague introduces a Conservative opinion survey

What matters most to you?

I want to know your views on the important issues facing your family and our country - please take our quick survey today.

So much is at stake at the next election.

Despite the progress we have made, Britain still faces big challenges - and we must deal with complex problems so that we can continue on the path to a better future.

It's absolutely vital we know your views on these issues. So please take two minutes to fill in our survey and let us know what matters most to you, your family and our country:

Take the survey now

Thank you,

William Hague

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Iain Dale on the culture of politicians reporting their opponents

I could not agree more strongly with Iain Dale about how disastrous it is that politicians are constantly trumping up accusations of misconduct and sometimes criminal conduct against one another.

Now in the very rare circumstance where genuine evidence comes into the hands of a politician that another, whether of the same party or an opponent has done something criminal or corrupt, of course they should make sure it is handed over to the police for an impartial investigation.

But in the real world, how often is it going to happen that an MP or councillor sees such evidence, and when they do, is it more likely that it will incriminate an opponent or someone in the same party?

So if someone is constantly reporting their political opponents but never complains about an ally, is it more likely that they are presenting genuine evidence, or using trumped-up charges as a political campaigning tool?

A perfect way to make public contempt for the political process and everyone involved in it even worse than it already is - and we have already gone way past healthy scepticism and unhealthy contempt to the verge of corrosive despair.

This is what Iain Dale had to say on the subject in a "Conservative Home" article here

"I don’t know about you, but I find this new trend of MPs reporting each other to the Metropolitan Police absolutely despicable. Labour’s John Mann is the worst offender by far, but this week it was the Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson who reported Sadiq Khan for allegedly looking at his mobile phone while driving. 

"Naturally, he didn’t witness the offence himself, oh no – but he was outraged. Outraged, I tell you! 

"The level of sanctimony in his explanation has to be read to be believed. I do hope Tomlinson leads a wholly blameless life. Because if he doesn’t, he’s just made himself a number one target for John Mann."

Grant Shapps on the choice facing Britain

So much is at stake at the next election - and the choice has never been clearer.

Rather than addressing the big challenges facing our country, Labour have spent the last week fighting amongst themselves - with senior Labour figures:
  • Admitting they "lack an overall vision" and that "a Labour government would not have a sense of direction" (Lord Soley, former Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party)
  • Calling for a return to Labour's "democratic socialist" roots (Jon Trickett MP) and debating outdated political theories rather than the things that matter to hardworking people
There's no leadership - only weakness.

No long-term plan - just short-term gimmicks.

We have to stop Labour getting into power and putting everything we've achieved at risk. Please join Team2015 today and volunteer to play your part in this vital election campaign.

While we're reducing the deficit, creating more jobs and cutting income tax to make hardworking people more secure, Labour haven't got a clue about the challenges facing Britain.

The choice is clear. A better future with the Conservatives - or a return to reckless spending, higher taxes and a stalled economy with Labour.

Join Team2015 today, and help secure a better future for Britain:

Yes, I'd like to join Team2015 Not today, but I will donate

Thank you,

Grant Shapps

Conservative Party Chairman