Showing posts from March, 2015

Beethoven's 5th Symphony (first movement)

Another great piece to relax to after a hard day's electioneering ... and by the way, #SupportOption1

Remember: #SupportOption1

If you agree that it is essential to keep consultant-led maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital - and also at FGH in Barrow (as important for people at the Millom end of Copeland, please make sure the NHS trusts know your views. Tell them it is essential to act to improve recruitment and retention of doctors and midwives, and undertake the necessary measures recommended by the assessors to make sure this option works. Please show your support by tweeting ‪#‎ SupportOption1

Quote of the day 31st March 2015


Music to relax to after electioneering: Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

Every evening during the election campaign, at about 9pm, I shall be posting a piece of great classical music to relax to. Here is the Moonlight Sonata. And BTW, #SupportOption1

Labour donor says the Conservatives have the best Economic Policy

The Telegraph reports  here that Dr Assem Allam, who has given £400,000 to the Labour party, nevertheless believes that David Cameron has the best economic policies. He added that the Labour leader needed to stop demonising the wealthy and entrepreneurial. Speaking to The Telegraph, Dr Allam said that Mr Miliband's plans to re-introduce the 50p rate and bring in a mansion tax risk "alienating" middle-class voters. He also said that Mr Miliband should take “lessons” from Margaret Thatcher in confronting the unions and supporting entrepreneurs. Dr Allam, who owns Hull City football club, said that he likes the Conservatives economic policy and Mr Cameron, but compared some of Labour's flagship economic policies to those of a dictator. He said that a recent threat by Len McCluskey, the head of the Unite union, to carry out illegal strikes under a future Conservative government should act as “wake up call” to Labour and Britain. Dr Allam said: “The only wa

Britain if Labour win. Hell? Yes.

Took me a moment to spot what they had done with the punctuation on this one.

Do we really want what we say we want from politicians?

There was a wonderful quote a few weeks ago about what voters say they want from politicians and what they really want, and it concerned immigration: the quote was We demand that our politicians serve us a dish of fried snowballs and then feign disappointment when they fail to deliver it . I can't accept that journalist's conclusion - that politicians will never please the public so they should stop trying  - but I do think he had a point that what people think they want is sometimes incoherent and contradictory. We say we want local choice and local democracy, but the instant it happens you can bet your last penny someone will start shouting "postcode lottery!" We say we want politicians to be independent-minded rather than party puppets, but voters always penalise parties which are seen to be divided and the press always presents leaders who cannot get their policies through as weak and indecisive. We say we want politicians to give us clear, straight answer

Quote of the day 30th March 2015

"Please, just for a second, be like a normal human and talk to us, tell us what you think, tell us what you’re going to do! This is what we inwardly beg as a politician is asked something on TV or radio" "So when a journalist asked the question “ Would you go for a third term ?” and the prime minister simply said “No”, you’d think that was worth a standing ovation." "It’s so exactly what we slag off and hate politicians for not doing. The smart money was on a “ I don’t think now’s the time to be thinking that far ahead ”, or, “ That’s an issue that I’ll discuss with colleagues as and when the time comes”, or even a disingenuous, “ Gosh, I haven’t really given that a lot of thought ”. "But Cameron did what his lot stereotypically never do and answered the bloody question. In two letters. Bravo." ( David Mitchell in the Guardian here ).

Edvard Grieg: Praeludium from the Holberg Suite

At 9pm every day during the election period I shall be posting here some music to relax to for anyone coming in exhausted after a hard day's campaigning. Here is a wonderful piece of Grieg's music, the Praeludium to the Holberg Suite. And by the way, SUPPORT OPTION ONE.

One U-Turn which was very welcome

The independent assessors who looked at Maternity services in Cumbria and North Lancashire reported that they had originally intended to recommend one huge maternity unit for the whole vast area. Fortunately when they saw what the roads and transport links are actually like they changed their minds. It was reported that: "While prior to their visit the assessors felt this was likely to be a preferred option, because of the benefits that such a larger unit with 5,000 deliverie ... s would have for women and their babies, given the geography involved they did not think that this option could realistically be developed further." Instead their preferred solution was Option One: Option 1 - Four consultant-led maternity units at Carlisle, Whitehaven, Barrow and Lancaster. The immediate development of midwifery-led units at Carlisle and Lancaster, on the same site, or next to them. But we cannot take for granted that this solution will be adopted, it is one of three opt

BBC Sunday Politics Show today

The "North East and Cumbria" section of the BBC Sunday Politics show today covered the election for the first directly-elected Mayor of Copeland. They filmed sections with all three declared candidates, and they did warn us that the clips used would probably only be a small proportion of the time filmed. The broadcast is now available on BBC iPlayer. I found it slightly disappointing that the BBC concentrated more the answers given by the candidates when they asked us about our personal experience qualities rather than anything much of what was said about specific policies. I am particularly disappointed that they did not have time to use what I said (or anything other candidates may have said) about the vital importance of West Cumberland Hospital. I for one stressed the importance of keeping all services and particularly consultant-led maternity provision at West Cumberland Hospital. (If you agree with this, please let the NHS Trusts know and tell them that on that ba

Copeland Mayoral Election on the Sunday Politics Show

  The Sunday Politics show today on the BBC is likely to include in the North East and Cumbria section a piece on the Mayoral election in Copeland. They interviewed me about my campaign as the Conservative candidate to be Mayor of Copeland and, of course, also interviewed the other declared candidates. I don't of course know how much of the interview material they will use for each candidate: I hope what they use from me will include the importance of keeping services in general and maternity in particular at West Cumberland Hospital. ‪#‎ SupportOption1‬ .

Quote of the day 29th march 2015

  (An extremely similar statement was made by James Freeman Clarke)

Music to relax after electioneering: Mozart Piano Concerto 21 (Elvira Madigan)

Today the formal election campaign  - now known to political parties as the "short campaign" in recognition of the fact that we have in practice been campaigning for weeks - finally gets under way, with David Cameron launching the Conservative campaign in Manchester. I think both I and a lot of other people are going to need to relax when we get home after a day's electioneering. So I will be posting some relaxing music here to hit at about 9pm - roughly when I expect to get home from campaigning - each evening during the election. We'll start with Mozart's 21st Piano concerto, sometimes known as "Elvira Madigan" because nearly fifty years ago the second movement of this wonderful piece of music was used in the soundtrack of a  film by that name. I'd say there is a good chance that the name "Elvira Madigan" will be remembered mainly as a nickname for this piece of music long after the film is forgotten. And by the way, SUPPORT OPT

Copeland's problem: not so much politics as One Party Rule

Meeting voters in Copeland over the last week and seeing some of the things posted on social media, there are a number of recurring themes which keep coming up. The first two are undoubtedly the need to improve transport links and the need to keep services at West Cumberland hospital (for example, #SupportOption1 ) and there are several other concerns about local services, local shops, parking, better bin collection, recycling and so on which have been raised by many local residents. And one of the top five messages which we keep getting in Copeland is concern that politicians are out of touch, combined with disgust with politics. Considering how politics has operated in Copeland for many years I'm not in the least surprised by this. One extreme irony about this understandable concern about politicians is that it immediately creates a difficulty in solving the problem. Paradoxically, anyone who stands up and tries to do something about this will immediately be labelled as a p

Super Saturday

Today has been nicknamed "Super Saturday" by the Conservative campaign, and Conservatives all around the country have been working hard for the general election campaign. I was invited to go and campaign in half a dozen places, and to see David Cameron and George Osborne launch the Conservative Campaign in Manchester at Conservative Spring Forum. Really sorry that the inability to be in all those places at once made it impossible for me to accept each one of those invites: I was with the Copeland Conservatives team in Whitehaven Town Centre this morning. We were meeting local residents, giving out leaflets for Stephen Haraldsen for Copeland and collecting signatures for a petition on WCH. We had a friendly reception, especially for the petition we have started to keep consultant-led maternity services at West Cumberland hospital, e.g. ‪#‎ SupportOption1‬ Lots of signatures, and we will keep working on this, regardless of the result of the election, until the mater

Quote of the day Saturday 28th March 2015


The footage Labour tried to hide

Hat tip to Guido Fawkes' blog here for a fascinating post called "The Tory Attack Ad Labour tried to block." It features TV footage first broadcast in 1997. There is a link on Guido's post here   to a Panorama archive page about how the Labour spin machine, and Damien McBride in particular, (remember him?) stopped Panorama from using the same footage in 2007. Here is the ad

A sample of the Copeland MP's parliamentary language

As the 2010-2015 parliament comes to an end, it's members cease to be MPs and those who are seeking re-election become parliamentary candidates on a par with everyone else who is standing. One of those stepping down is William Hague who has been Conservative leader, Foreign Secretary and whose final job in government up to and including today was Leader of the House of Commons. One of William's last actions in that role was to move a motion yesterday providing for a vote on whether the Speaker of the House of Commons should be re-elected to be held by secret ballot. I find it quite fascinating and more than a little horrifying that this proposal, which to me looks like an eminently sensible way to make the  process more democratic and remove unhealthy influences such as fear of reprisals by a speaker or by the party whips, has been universally interpreted as an attempt to get rid of the present speaker. But that is not the purpose of this post. What I find of interest a

And then there were three ...

It may surprise some people, though probably not the people who know me well, that I welcome the news that a third candidate has declared this week in the election for Copeland's  first directly elected mayor. Nominations formally open next week for all four elections - for MP, Mayor, CBC councillors and Town/Parish councillors - and close on 9th April. At this stage in Copeland there are five declared candidates for parliament (Conservative Stephen Haraldsen plus Labour, Green, Lib/Dem and UKIP candidates) and now three for Mayor (myself, Independent candidate Mike Starkie who announced his candidacy on Wednesday, and the Labour candidate backed by Elaine Woodburn and the existing failed administration which the voters rejected last year.) So why on earth do I welcome more competition? Because the whole point of having a directly elected mayor is to have someone running the council who has a mandate from all the voters of Copeland and is accountable to all the voters of Cop

To support consultant-led Maternity services at WCH tweet #SupportOption1

If you think it is essential to keep consultant-led maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital, and for the NHS trusts to undertake the necessary measures recommended by the assessors to make sure this option works, please show your support by tweeting ‪#‎ SupportOption1

Vandals destroy postboxes in Cumbria with explosives

Just when you think the world could not get any weirder, the news comes that vandals have been using explosive devices called crowbangers to wreck post boxes in Cumbria. This is of course a threat, not just to the integrity of the mail system but to the lives and limbs of post office workers and members of the public using the boxes. There is a News and Star report on the problem at # A Post Office spokesperson said that “Any customers whose postbox has been affected can post mail at their local Post Office, delivery office or directly to their postman or woman on delivery.” Anyone with information about the lunatics responsible is very strongly encourages to call Cumbria Police on 101. And by the way, this shows yet again that we need our hospitals, so SUPPORT OPTION ONE.

Peter Franklin at ConHome - Politicians should get more sleep

Thought provoking "Heresy of the week" article from Peter Franklin at Conservative Home here about how politicians (and many other people) should get more sleep. As someone who is sometimes guilty of not taking enough sleep myself I think he has a point. I was never able to track down the quote, which I think was by Winston Churchill, "Never take a major decision when you are tired, ill or drunk" but it is good advice. And by the way, SUPPORT OPTION ONE.

"SUPPORT OPTION ONE" will be my "Carthago Delenda Est"

The ancient Roman statesman Cato the Elder felt so strongly that Carthage must be destroyed that he ended every speech he made in the Roman senate, regardless of the subject, with words to that effect, sometimes quoted as "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam" (Moreover, I consider that Carthage should be destroyed.) but most often as "Cathago Delenda Est." I feel equally strongly that we must make sure the NHS Trusts adopt the preferred option for maternity services in Cumbria and keep consultant-led maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital. If we want to keep West Cumbria viable it is vital that all residents make the NHS trusts aware they have to run with this option, which is called option one. That's why from now on until that option is agreed and confirmed, with all the necessary support to make it work, when I write and article on my blog or on Facebook, when I write a campaign leaflet, I will finish with these words: SUPPORT OPTION ONE!

Quote of the day 28th March 2015

"Ed Miliband is like a plastic bag caught in a tree. No-one knows how he got up there, and no-one can be bothered to get him down." (Bill Bailey)

Quote of the day 27th March 2015


Maternity services: SUPPORT OPTION ONE

Assessors have recommended that the favoured option for maternity services in Cumbria and North Lancashire includes keeping consultant-led maternity services at West Cumberland Hospitals but we must campaign to make sure it happens. There are six options: the one which keeps consultant-led maternity at WCH is Option One and we must campaign for this: SUPPORT OPTION ONE More details on my hospitals blog at

When a few words say it all ...

Sometimes a throwaway remark or a question of a few words tells you more about what's wrong with an organisation than an essay of a thousand words normally would. This week I had an example when an officer of Copeland Borough Council asked me a question, and I thought afterwards that the fact that question was asked me this said everything you need to know about what the local Labour party are doing wrong in the way they run Copeland Council. I had mentioned that if elected as Mayor it would be my intention to appoint an all-party executive to make use of the talents and abilities for all groups in the best interests of the people of Copeland. So that if, as now, there are three groups on CBC, I would offer places on the executive to both the other groups as well as to my own party. I don't want to get anyone in trouble, so no names, no pack drill, but the officer asked me something along the lines of "Your party rules allow you to do that, then?" You bet they

There are four elections on 7th May in Copeland

The four elections on Thursday 7th May will be:   1) General Election : vote to pick Copeland's next MP   2) Mayoral Election: vote to pick Copeland's first directly elected Mayor   3) Borough council election : vote to pick the members of Copeland Borough Council   4) Town and Parish elections , including the first election to the new Whitehaven Town Council All of these elections are important, two are new, and all are hard to call. And it is not enough to cast the right vote in just one or two elections. For example, if we get a good mayor elected who is committed to reform but the present ruling group retain a big majority on the council, that won't entirely block the ability of the new mayor to improve Copeland but it may limit scope for progress. It would be a disaster if Labour won a two-thirds majority on Copeland Council, although I don't believe that is going to happen. Before moving to Copeland I was a member of the executive of a "hung&qu

As Richard III is laid to rest ...

The body which is believed to be that of Richard III is finally to be reburied today after a remarkable degree of pomp and ceremony. I am definitely not a "Ricardian" but equally he was a human being and it is right that his remains should be treated with respect. Here is the march which Thomas Purcell wrote two centuries after Richard's time for the funeral of Queen Mary, and which seems appropriate to mark his re-interment.

Quote of the day 26th May 2015


Ici Londres: Dan Hannan MEP on how free markets reduce poverty


Naughty, naughty ...

Someone at the Conservative Campaign Centre (CCC) with a wicked sense of humour has noted that their opposite numbers in the Labour party appear to have forgotten to circulate any pictures of Ed Miliband, since virtually no Labour leaflets issued this year have carried such a picture. To help out local CLPs who may be short of pictures of their leader, CCC is offering the following stock photographs free of charge ...

If only it were true ...

The "News Thump" site reports that " Ed Miliband rules out serving first term as prime minister ..."

David Cameron rules out VAT Rise

David Cameron has ruled out increasing VAT after the election if the Conservatives are still in power. Challenged by Ed Miliband in the final Prime Ministers' Questions of this parliament to give a straight answer to a straight question, "Will he now rule out a rise in VAT?" The PM agreed that straight questions deserved straight answers, and gave one: "Yes."

New Opening date and new investment at West Cumberland Hospital

Good news on West Cumberland Hospital As North Cumbria's acute hospitals emerge from a very difficult week, there is some good news: a date has been set for the opening of the brand new refurbished facilities, and £3.2 million of capital spend has been allocated, including a CT scanner and two mobile x-ray units (These will be delivered after the new power supply has been installed.) The handover of the new hospital was delayed after a fire in January which destroyed the new energy centre. Fortunately nobody was hurt and the rest of the new hospital was undamaged.   A report to the NHS trust board, which met yesterday, stated that phase one of the project now looks set to be completed in October More details on the News and Star website at…/new-date-set-for-whitehaven-…

When is a gaffe not a gaffe?

There is a very old joke about the fact that if the media and a politician's enemies and rivals refer to him as having made a "gaffe," it nearly always means he has been caught telling the truth. When I heard that David Cameron had ruled out serving a third term as PM if he is re-elected on 7th May, my immediate thought was that this might have been better left unsaid. This opinion was shared by virtually the whole of the political and journalistic class, with  John Rentoul almost the only exception. (he saw it as "Vote Dave, Get Boris"). The MP for Copeland was one of many to poke fun at the PM for what he said. Mind you, nobody thought Maggie Thather's "I want to go on and on" comment was a good idea either. Yet here is the interesting thing. Could this be one of the issues where everyone else has a different view from those involved in politics and journalism? The BBC reported at first that comments from members of the public were al

How not to oppose UKIP

I think it will be obvious to anyone who has spent more than five minutes reading this blog that I do not have a lot of time for the UK Independence Party or for their leader Nigel Farage. Heaven knows that the pressure to explain your views in 10-second soundbites has been driving all parties towards overly simplistic solutions to complex problems, but UKIP's policies are oversimplified in the extreme and I find some of the comments from some of their candidates and officials to be at best foolish and at worst unpleasant. I have a simple response to this - I will not be voting for them. As UKIP has started shedding candidates and MEPs at a rate of knots over allegations of expenses-fiddling and racism, it had appeared that many other people were reaching the same conclusion. How utterly daft then, that at the very moment that UKIP appeared to be on the verge of imploding, a bunch of intellectually-challenged bullies decided to turn Nigel Farage into a victim by staging a p

Quote of the day 25th March 2015

"Vote Tory, get Broadband Vote Labour, get Miliband." (Boris Johnson)

David Cameron writes ...

Prime Minister and Conservative leader David Cameron writes: "Since 2010, we've been working through our long-term economic plan to turn Britain around. It hasn't been easy – we inherited a country on the brink of bankruptcy – and I know many of you will have made huge personal sacrifices to support our plan to mend the broken economy and secure a brighter future for this great nation. But it's been worth it. That plan is working. Day by day, month by month, Britain's getting stronger: jobs are on the rise, the deficit's down, the economy's growing and wages are going further. And there's more good news for family budgets, with the inflation figures announced today at a record low of zero per cent. At a time when the world economy is increasingly unstable, these latest figures are a reminder that we're on the right track – and that doing things differently would put it all at risk. It's a reminder that only the Conservatives have a

Another Labour fox not just shot but incinerated

Bit difficult to argue that there is a "Cost of Living Crisis" when the country's inflation rate has just dropped to zero because the prices of fuel and food have fallen. Ed Miliband's loss is Britain's gain, however.

Zero Inflation

Reuters are reporting here that the rate of CPI inflation in the UK fell to zero for February. This is the first time this measure has reached zero since it was introduced in 1988. It is worth saying that the underlying rate is still probably about 1-2% because the fact that the inflation rate has fallen to zero in the twelve months to February includes the effect of a very large drop in fuel prices which will probably turn out to be a one-off combined with well-above average  harvests which have driven down the price of food. Nevertheless, provided that the inflation rate does not drop into significant negative territory - I suppose we would then have to start calling it the deflation rate - and since it is not associated with a collapse in demand (as deflation often was in the past, leading to recession) this means that we have price stability, which is a good thing for an economy and for most of the people of the UK. The Beeb also now have the story here.

Kelvin MacKenzie does a U-Turn

If you were to ask me what I would least expect former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie to write in the Guardian, or anywhere else, "Vote Ed Miliband" would win and what he actually has written   here would come a close second. However, what he has written is worth reading. I do not believe uncontrolled immigration is sustainable, or that everyone who raises concerns on the subject is a racist: I know that many members of ethnic minorities strongly support immigration control because they know only too well who will be the first to suffer if mishandling this issue leads to a loss of social cohesion. I also think some of the things the coalition has done to close loopholes - such as shut down hundreds of bogus colleges which were basically Visa factories - were long overdue. Nevertheless there are two sides to the immigration debate and we are in danger of going from not listening to one side, in the manner exemplified at the last election when Gordon Brown called Mrs Duff

Quote of the day Tuesday March 24th 2015


If the boot were on the other foot ...

How ballistic would the Guardian, the BBC, and every female Labour politician from Harriet Harman down go if a white male Tory PPC behaved towards a female Asian Labour MP the way Labour candidate John Clarke has behaved towards his Conservative opponent Priti Patel? See link at

WCH and Cumberland Infirmary stood down from "Major Incident" status

The Cumbrian NHS Trusts said today that the bed shortage crisis at Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle has passed. An internal major incident was declared at the two hospitals last week when they reached capacity. All non-elective surgery was cancelled and some patients had to be treated outside the county. The trust which runs the cottage hospitals in Workington, Cockermouth, Maryport and Keswick opened extra beds in Maryport to help with the crisis. A hospitals spokesman said: “Thanks to the collective efforts of all partners working together, the trust has now been able to successfully reduce the need to maintain escalation beds which was putting a major strain on staff and the ability to safely run services. “Our focus now is on making sure that we learn from the events of the past week and also that partners continue to work effectively together so that all patients get the right care, at the right time and in the right place.”

45 days to go and everything to play for

There are 45 days until Election Day - and it is still too close to call.       On Wednesday, the Chancellor delivered his sixth Budget – cutting income tax, helping savers, controlling spending, starting to reduce our debt and investing across the UK to secure a better future for you, your family and our country. The Budget shows that our plan is working – with the deficit down, growth up, jobs up, living standards rising, and debt starting to fall as a share of the economy. Against the odds, and the opposition, Britain is walking tall again, delivering financial security and peace of mind to Britain’s families. In this Budget we are:   ·         Cutting income taxes for 27 million hardworking people, and cancelling the planned rise in fuel duty – the longest freeze for over 20 years. ·         A new Help to Buy ISA for first time buyers – so if you save up to £12,000 towards a deposit on a home, the government will contribute up to £3,000. ·         Helping save

Second quote of the day

  "You wait 529 years for a horse and four come at once." ( Robert Hardman in the Daily Mail , referring to the funeral of Richard III and the battlefield line put into his mouth by Shakespeare)

Quote of the day 23rd March 2015

'If you hold the balance, then you hold the power.' (Alex Salmond on Andrew Marr's Show yesterday) The Conservative line on this (and let's be completely frank here, I'm not just sharing this because CCC are asking people to, but because I agree with the message and because the video clip is quite amusing) is given below: Alex Salmond has just made clear why the SNP want to prop up Ed Miliband as Prime Minister:   'If you hold the balance, then you hold the power.' (Alex Salmond on The Marr Show, 22/03/15) A deal between Labour and the SNP would give Alex Salmond the veto over every Budget, every law, every vote - he would, in his own words, 'call the tune'. We have to stop this. Please watch this important video and share it with everyone you know: A deal with the SNP - the party who want to break up Britain - is the only way Ed Miliband can get into power. And ordinary families would pay the price with higher ta

Regenerating West Cumbria

Last week chancellor George Osborne said that Manchester would be able to keep the business rates from new development. I welcome this, and think it should be extended. Stephen Haraldsen, the Conservative candidate to be MP for Copeland, and myself as the Conservative candidate to be Mayor of Copeland, have jointly written to the Chancellor asking that Copeland BC be similarly allowed to keep the business rates from New Nuclear Build. That would enable Copeland to tackle some of the serious infrastructure issues which need to be resolved to regenerate our area and will particularly be needed if, as we hope, Nuclear New Build at Sellafield goes ahead. Transport and particularly the A595, parking facilities and the local health economy all need to be addressed - and not by ripping off the motorist.

Congratulations to Whitehaven Lions on today's Swimarathon

Congratulations to Whitehaven & District Lions on a well organised and very successful "Swimarathon" at Whitehaven Pool this morning. Each team taking part was raising money for two good causes: one nominated by the team and also the "James Burn Wish to Walk" campaign, which has been successful in raising the money to send him for his operation. James was there today and we wish him well. Very warmest congratulations to everyone involved. My son and I were very pleased to have the chance to take part: we completed 50 laps of the pool (100 lengths, e.g. 2.5 kilometres) in the hour available. Our other charity was the Pride of Cumbria Air Ambulance. Next month on 19th April we will be taking part in a similar but even bigger challenge, the national Swimathon 2015 in aid of Marie Curie Cancer care. Link below to my sponsorship page for Swimathon 2015: See More   Chris Whiteside needs your help to change lives! http://my.swima

Labour rule out attempting to form a government (says the Daily Mash)

A great spoof article on the Daily Mash site, " Miliband rules out forming a government ." At least, I think it's a spoof. Actually, although the possibility of a Labour majority government is terrifying enough, I find even more alarming the possibility of a Labour minority government dependent on the SNP and Greens for support. Nevertheless this article is quite amusing ...

Cumbria NHS beds shortage easing, says local NHS Trust

Hat tip to "@myhitehaven" on Twitter and the News and Star for the information that the Cumbria NHS authorities say the bed shortage is easing. North Cumbrian University Hospitals NHS Trust - which runs The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital - declared an emergency on Thursday after running out of beds. Some patients had to be transferred to hospitals 75 miles away. But the NHS group that controls much of the county's health spending - the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - said the pressure on hospital beds has improved during the last 24 hours as officials worked to improve "patient flow" through the hospitals. A statement issued today said officials were still working to reduce the strain on the Trust’s ability to safely carry out its normal routine business while at capacity because patients were not "flowing through the system". The statement said: "All efforts are focussed on making sur

Please God this prediction does not come true

Iain Dale's latest seat by seat election prediction here  is for the Conservatives and Labour to be on a dead heat with 275 MPs each, not enough Lib/Dem seats to form a coalition with either of those parties, and 42 SNP MPs. I do hope this one does not come true, that would be a recipe for complete paralysis and probably a second general election in 2015, though that is much harder to arrange because of the fixed term parliament act. But essentially the election is not pre-ordained, voters can choose how they vote.

Quote of the day 22nd March 2015


"Swimarathon" and Swimathon 2015

My son John and myself are gluttons for punishment this year. We are taking part in not one, but two Swimathons.   Tomorrow is the Whitehaven and District Lions club "Swimarathon" where people swim for an hour in teams to raise money for   1) a cause chosen by themselves, which in our case is the Pride of Cumbria Air Ambulance, and   2) the Whitehaven Lions contribution to the " James Burns Wish to Walk " campaign (which I was delighted to see has been successful)   And then on 19th April we will both be taking part in Swimathon 2015 in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. I will be swimming 5,000 metres for the twenty-second consecutive year. My son is going for a slightly easier but still substantial challenge. Marie Curie is the leading charity providing care and support to over 40,000 people with a terminal illness and their families across the UK. A £5 donation will pay for 20 bereavement booklets for young people who’ve lost someone close to

Mental Illusion

I was travelling around the Copeland constituency and Borough today doing various things as part of the campaigns for the election of the next MP, Mayor, and councillors. On the way home after my last stop I was driving through unlit sections of the A595 and was struck by two illusions. Neither was dangerous, both were interesting. I've titled this post with a reference to mental illusion because I'm convinced that each of these events was a cerebral phenomenon rather than an optical one. The optical condition which set up both events is that it is a very dark night this evening. There was a moon visible ahead of me for part of the journey, but it was an almost perfect new moon, a very thin crescent which gave very little light. (Ironically much like the pictures others took of the eclipse yesterday which I did not see.) There were few if any stars visible, and the sections of the A595 I was driving on were in the countryside with no street lights, so it was extremely dark.

47 days to go and everything to play for:


Quote of the day 21st March 2015


Policies for Copeland - shared services

One thing we can all agree on is that, whoever wins the local and national elections on 7th May, local services will continue to be under massive pressure. The present government inherited an enormous national debt which was still going up because of a  massive deficit (with found pounds spent for every three coming in) and a country paying more on interest on the debt that the entire education budget. The measures which have had half the country screaming about austerity have succeeded in reducing the deficit by a third in absolute terms or by half as a share of GDP but that it still too high and means that the national debt is still going up. It's an argument for another day which of their plans will work, but I want to make the point that Osborne, Balls Alexander and every other political party with the faintest shred of claims to responsibility all agree that the present deficit is still unsustainable and needs to come down further. Which means money is not going to stop

Dan Hannan MEP on the rights and wrongs of Ukraine

Dan Hannan MEP has put out another "Ici Londres" Youtube video making the argument on why we should support self-determination for the people of the Ukraine. A surprising number of people in the West are all too ready to put all the blame on NATO and/or the EU for the problems in Ukraine. In one of today's papers there is a reference to the West "poking the Russian Bear" as if it was us sending B52 or Vulcan bombers to probe Russian airspace, rather than Putin sending Bear bombers over Cornwall and risking the safety of civilian aircraft . Or as if it had been a Russian airliner, rather than a Malaysian one with largely Westerners on board, shot down with the loss of three hundred innocent civilians including eighty children. I did for about two seconds consider giving this post the title "Hell has officially frozen over yet again" because a person who was thinking about this in a lazy way, or trying to twist it, might suggest that Dan was defendin