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Showing posts from August, 2016

The New Statesman predicts the top ten Brexiteer excuses ...

I don't necessarily agree with all the implicit arguments underlying Ian Leslie's piece in the New Statesman, " The top ten reasons Brexit isn't working according to Brexiteers ." It is a prediction of the top main excuses that Ian suggests Leave supporters will use over the next few years if Brexit does not deliver what they want. Of course, it would have been absolutely impossible for Leave or Remain to live up to all the predictions of their more enthusiastic supporters and neither was their any chance that either Brexit or remaining in the EU could possibly have been as disastrous as the more extreme "Project Fear" stories told by the other side. (For the avoidance of doubt, to recognise that there were ridiculously overblown "Project Fear" scare stories on both sides is not to deny that there were also certain arguments on both sides denounced as "Project Fear" by their opponents which were perfectly reasonable and some

Quote of the day 31st August 2016

"The two contenders to be Leader of the Labour party seem to be having a competition to see who can prove himself unfit to be Prime Minister - and both of them are winning." (Source here .)

Quote of the day 30th August 2016

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Bank Holiday music spot: The Barron Knights: 'A Taste of Aggro' parody

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Only the Barron Knights could parody "By the Rivers of Babylon," The Smurfs AND "The Matchstick men" tribute to LS Lowry in one short song ...  

Quote of the day 29th August 2016

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Vote Leave's Lee Rotherham on unpicking Britain's EU links

There are some people on the more paranoid end of the Brexit movement who imagine that the whole thing can be done very quickly and that any suggestion of delay means that someone is plotting to sabotage the country's vote to leave. That is not the case and the simple fact is that replacing 40 years of integration with the best possible deal for Britain is not a five minute job. For the benefit of any leave supporter reading this who is not inclined to take the word of a Remain voter like myself, there is an excellent and informative article on the subject on Conservative Home by Dr Lee Rotherham who was Director of Special Projects at Vote Leave, called " Unravelling the tangled web of EU policies and regulations will take time and careful planning ." The article starts as follows: "Brexit does not encourage sun tans. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been digging into my Alexandrian-scaled library of EU-themed literature to work on a headline Risk Reg

Sunday music spot: Allegri's Miserere

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This thirty-year old recording is of a slightly different version of Allegri's Miserere from that with which I am most familiar (from an even older recording by the choir of Kings College Cambridge made at about the time I was born) but it is every bit as exquisitely beautiful. Both performances have stood the test of time, with people still republishing and posting them decades after they were recorded. This performance by " Pro Cantione Antiqua " was recorded in 1985. Pro Cantione Antiqua (For the Ancient Songs) of London are a British choral group who were founded in 1968 by Tenor James Griffett, Counter-tenor Paul Esswood, and conductor and producer Mark Brown. From an early stage they were closely associated with conductor and musicologist Bruno Turner. Arguably, they were the leading British performers of a cappella music, especially early music, prior to the founding of the Tallis Scholars. This video celebrates the glory of English Cathedrals, along with t

Quote of the day 28th August 2016

"It is unfair and untrue to say Corbyn is deviating from party policy on NATO. This has been SWP policy for years." (Former Labour MP Tom Harris @MrTCHarris  on Twitter) August">https://twitter.com/MrTCHarris/status/766553584720748544">August 19, 2016

Owen Smith and the Brexit paradox

I'm going to take the comments on Brexit by Owen Smith MP, candidate for the Labour leadership, more seriously than they probably deserve and stop for a moment to analyse them. He says that if he becomes Labour leader he will try to prevent invocation of Article 50 until Theresa May commits to a second referendum or a general election on whatever deal emerges from the Brexit process. This form or words is meant to sound reasonable and to appear to give the electorate an attempt at more democratic oversight on what Brexit looks like. But it's a trick. The first problem with this is that the overwhelming majority of legal advice is that the PM can trigger article 50 under the executive's prerogative without the need for a vote in parliament. (And I understand that is precisely what she intends to do at the appropriate moment in 2017 - probably after the French and German elections.) The second problem is this - we can't know what the terms are going to be until we

Saturday music spot: J.S Bach's Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C Minor

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Quote of the day 27th August

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The other side of the fence

In my time as a planning councillor I sat on planning committees which determined literally hundreds of planning applications and as planning portfolio holder for three years I had formal responsibility for a system which dealt with something like seven or eight thousand of them over that time. Having put in an application to Copeland Borough Council today, I am on the other side of the fence - and having read hundreds of application forms, this is the first time I have actually had to fill the forms in myself (On the previous occasion I was an applicant the architect acted as agent, but this one is too small to make that sensible.) It's interesting to be on the other side of the fence. My reaction to a piece in yesterday's Whitehaven News that Copeland is one of the councils with the highest rate of approving applications is certainly a bit different to how I would have felt about such a description being applied when I was a councillor, and would have said that it was mor

The Irony meter is off the scale ...

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Back in April the then UKIP leader Nigel Farage criticised Barak Obama's "meddling" in the British vote on EU membership and added that Americans would "go berserk" if a British PM were to interfere in a US presidential election. Here is a clip from the interview which includes that quote. So who turned up on the stage, and made a speech, at a Donald Trump rally this week ? You guessed it. And it gets more bizarre. Farage actually repeated his attack on Obama's "interference" in the Brexit vote, criticising Barack Obama for publicly backing the Remain campaign during the EU referendum campaign, before adding: " So I could not possibly tell you how you should vote in this election." This was said at a Donald Trump rally! And was followed by "I will say this, if I was an American citizen, I wouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me." It rather reminded my of the late Sir Ian Richardson's line from Hou

Quote of the day 26th August 2016

On British Prime Ministers ... "The idea that there are simple heroes and villains collapses under the weight of evidence. As does the idea that politicians were so much better in the past. No, they weren't. They were less experienced, less in touch, less broad-minded and less accountable. We are much better served now. Reading the history of prime ministers walks you along a long line of people who were elected to parliament in their early twenties, hardly visited their constituencies and had little experience of other social classes. They had no way of gauging public opinion and weren't much interesting in doing so, being pretty contemptuous of it. The idea that we now have politicians who, unlike in the past, do not have experience of 'the real world' is actually the opposite of the truth." (Extract from an article by Danny Finkelstein in the Times on Wednesday about a challenge he has set himself to read a biography of every British Prime Minis

Another alternative to a Labour conference ...

After a dispute when for weeks Labour have threatened to boycott the security firm G4S rather than use them to provide security at their conference, it turns out the Labour have just asked G4S at the last minute, and G4S refused . That's when they already have the problem of a rival Momentum conference. G4S said that they had not been given enough time to organise the conference security - they also had problems in previous years with the way some Labour conference delegates treated G4S people. Apparently some of the comrades who were rather unpleasant to anyone, including journalists, cleaners and caterers, attending Conservative conference last year were also less than polite to security staff at Labour's own conference. I doubt if they were as unpleasant at their own conference as ours (if you only got called "Tory Scum" you were doing well, while spitting, thrown eggs, and threats to rape female delegates were also well attested) but6 I can see why G4S might

M6 now open again

All three northbound lanes of the M6 are now open again between Junctions 41 and 42 following the earlier vehicle fire.

Team GB Athletes in Cumbria this weekend

Both gold medal winning team sprint cyclist Philip Hindes and taekwondo bronze medalist Bianca Walkden will be at the #IAmTeamGB event hosted by Ullswater Yacht Club on Saturday 27th August. This is part of the I Am Team GB sports day , put on in association with ITV Border. The aim of the event is to encourage everyone in the country to take part in a sporting activity, and ITV cameras will be filming at the club all day to catch the action. The club is also looking for volunteers on the day to help the event run smoothly, and involve as many people as possible. Any volunteers who want to help out for the day should contact hello@joininuk.org Ullswater Sailing School will be running free sailing taster sessions from 10am-3pm with special sessions for disabled visitors, as well as a range of other sports, both on and off land, from 10am-4pm. As part of the day, RYA Sailability - which supports people with disability to take up the sport - will be on site with

Not a good day to be travelling on the M6 ...

The M6 was closed in both directions near Carlisle between Junction 42 and 43 for a period this afternoon. It was then re-opened about half past four. but in the last few minutes police have announced that the emergency services are now dealing with a vehicle on fire just before Junction 42 Northbound and two lanes are closed. Not a great day for M6 travellers: Update  - all three Northbound lanes between Junction 41 and 42 now closed Further update - they are all now open again

Quote of the day 25th August 2016

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As the saying goes, many a true word is spoken in jest ...

Why Jeremy Corbyn should not be Prime Minister

Hat tip to Nick Cohen in the Spectator for this article which collects together in one place a list of problems with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership if the Labour party. Taken together this ought to be a convincing body of evidence why anyone who wants Britain to be run by a competent democrat, whether you are on the political right, left or centre, should not support Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate for Prime Minister.

The Lord High Executioner's Little List - post Brexit version

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A few weeks ago I posted Richard Suart's superb version of Ko-Ko's "Little list" song from the Mikado which was bang up to date as at January 2016. However, only a few months later so much in politics has changed and a new list is called for. If I can work out how to post one I may put a sung version on here, but here are some suggested words for a post-Brexit version: Ko-Ko’s song from the Mikado: 2016 version If one day it should happen that a victim must be found, I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list, Of society offenders who could well be underground, And who never would be missed, they never would be missed; The pests who won’t stop phoning about mis-sold PPI, It’s time to send them all to that call-centre in the sky, All people who are tone-deaf but keep bursting into song, John Chilcot who took seven years to tell us Blair was wrong, And Blair himself, who’ll still that he did nothing wrong insist, The great denialist; Yes, Tony

How not to get ministers to visit hospitals in your constituency

I have reported on my hospitals blog here  that David Mowat M.P, P arliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, visited Furness General and Millom hospitals yesterday to see and experience some of the innovative work ongoing as part of the Better Care Together strategy. Mr Mowat, who has been in the job since July this year, has a brief which includes adult social care, carers, community services, cancer, dementia, learning disabilities and all elements of primary care – including dentistry and pharmacy. Cumbria is a huge county, and it is ridiculous to suggest that one ministerial visit could possibly cover all the medical issues going on in the county which we might want ministers to come and see. It is fairly obvious that Mr Mowat had a full programme -  see below. I think it would be an extremely good thing if there were a ministerial visit to West Cumberland Hospital involving as senior a minister as we can persuade to come to Whitehaven. But it is

After the Referendum

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Yougov asked people whether the result of the EU referendum should be respected. The results suggest that a more than half of the 48% who voted Remain nevertheless think that the majority vote should be respected and Britain should leave (which does not mean that the government has a duty to implement every half-baked idea from the fringes of the Brexit movement.) Owen Smith and Tim Farron please take note.

Sir Antony Jay RIP

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Antony Jay, writer and broadcaster, died on Sunday at the age of 86. He will undoubtedly be best remembered for " Yes Minister " and " Yes Prime Minister " which he co-created with Jonathan Lynn and was both one of the funniest TV programmes ever created and one of the most perceptive (everyone I knew who had any connection to government at the time said that if people realised how much truth there was in the programme they would be astonished). Those programmes were, however, far from being his only achievement: he was also involved with some very perceptive studies of the way teams of people work and wrote several excellent books about how companies operate, particularly " Management and Machiavelli " and " Corporation Man " which respectively compared the functioning of late 20th century corporations to that of Renaissance states and showed how the behaviours and team strategies built into our genes as a result of early human evolution still

Quote of the day 24th August 2016

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Another Corbyn train crash

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Jeremy Corbyn released footage via the Guardian last week which was filmed during a rail journey to Newcastle showing him sitting on the floor because there supposedly were no seats available. However,   Virgin Trains have responded that their CCTV footage of the journey shows that there were unreserved seats available on the train, which the opposition leader walked past before making his film. Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson tweeted a link to the CCTV images, saying Mr Corbyn had "walked past empty unreserved seats then filmed claim train was 'ram-packed'". The company said that after Mr Corbyn's team had finished filming: "The same footage then shows Mr Corbyn returning to coach H and taking a seat there, with the help of the onboard crew, around 45 minutes into the journey and over two hours before the train reached Newcastle. "Mr Corbyn's team carried out their filming around 30 minutes into the journey." "An individual&q

Alternative medals tables ...

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The EU has come in for a certain amount of teasing after someone sent out a tweet on behalf of the  European Parliament to congratulate all the medal winners from the current EU member states. It was probably meant harmlessly but perhaps it is not surprising that this graphic in the tweet was taken as suggesting that the EU won the Rio Olympics . The figure of 325 medals includes all the present member states, with the largest contingent being of course Team GB - and Britain has voted to leave the EU, although this has of course not yet come into effect. The "Guido Fawkes" blog run by Paul Staines did a "Reductio ad Absurdam" parody of the EU tweet by suggesting  here  what the figures would have been for the British Empire: The Guardian and various other people who saw this retweeted (particularly by Heather Wheeler MP) and may not have seen the European parliament original made snooty comments about people who think Britain still has an Empire.

Quote of the day 23rd August 2016

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I am indebted to Stephen K Bush of the New Statesman for drawing my attention to the following passage: (From " Sex, lies and the ballot box " Edited by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford and published by Iain Dale's Biteback publishing) As Stephen points out, imagine what it must have felt like for the poor devil who got fewer votes than Mr Carroll. Coming in behind someone who was both aiming for zero votes, and dead, must have been a tad embarrassing.

Why voters are abandoning Labour

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YouGov have done a study which you can read here in which they asked a couple of hundred voters from their polling panel who had been pro-Labour in May this year and have now moved to "Don't Know" or to another party what were the main things putting them off the Labour party. Not a huge sample I know, but bear in mind that this is a particular segment of a panel of several thousand members which they use to track support. That panel was used for the published YouGov polls and produces results over the past eleven months broadly in line with this rolling average of the work of several pollsters. They then took a thousand members of that panel who had said in May 2016 that they would vote Labour, and of whom more than 200 were now "Don't know" or had switched to another party. YouGov then asked the switchers to write a couple of sentences on why they switched and analysed the responses, which break down as follows: NONE OF THIS MEANS THAT THE

Flood Warnings in the North West and Wales

The Environment Agency in the North West has warned anyone travelling in the area to be careful. There are still 14 flood warnings and 19 flood alerts in place in England and Wales, most of them in the North West or North Wales.

A595 open again after floods

The Whitehaven news tweets that the A595 is "understood to have reopened after flash floods which led to evacuations and rescues." https://t.co/HrMHEyhvWW pic.twitter.com/NhRVuGx2K1  

A595 closed at Ravenglass

Just seen a note from Copeland Council that the A595 is closed due to flooding at Ravenglass That's bad news for anyone hoping to travel by road up or down the West Coast of Cumbria today - the A595 is effectively the only road route at that point between the Southern part of Copeland from Muncaster southwards to Millom and Barrow, and the centre and north of the borough from Holmrook and northwards.

Quote of the day 22nd August 2016

"We apologise for the overcrowded train. This has been caused by too many people on it." (Announcement on a train from Southampton to Weymouth last week)

Haven edge victory over Workington in local darby ...

Whitehaven have won the local West Cumbrian derby by just four points against Workington Town. The final score was 28 points to 24. There are no figures available for the number of jam sandwiches consumed at the match. For those reading this blog outside West Cumbria who have not got a clue what I'm talking about this was a Rugby match and ... never mind.

Congratulations to Mo Farah (again), Nicola Adams, Liam Heath and all the Team GB competitors

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It is now mathematically impossible for China, with one athlete still in play on the final day (and with Britain guaranteed another Gold or Silver)  to overhaul Team GB in the medal table - Britain will therefore finish second in the overall medal table for the first time ever. Here is the table as at this morning (the numbers at right are for Gold, Silver, Bronze, and total medals.) Congratulations to Mo Farrah on his second gold medal, to Nicola Adams for her gold in the flyweight boxing, and to Liam Heath for his gold in the sprint kayak event. The Today programme had a bit of fun yesterday here on how this is going down in China - with, it is only fair to add, the official Chinese response being magnanimous and sportsmanlike. Britain has also now surpassed the number of medals won in London 2012 - a most extraordinary achievement for the immediate past hosting nation. Congratulations to all the Team GB athletes on their incredible performance. And it isn't quite

Sunday music spot: Bonnie Tyler's "I need a hero"

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Another of my favourite modern songs, "I need a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler,p Of course, I can never hear it without thinking of Jennifer Saunders as the (evil) fairy godmother singing this version from Shrek II. Possibly the best ever animated action scene from a family film, the only thing which stops the "I need a hero" sequence in Shrek II from being perfect is that the hero, Shrek in human form, is a dead ringer for the worst and most disastrous British Prime Minister in living memory. Oh well, he is supposed to be an Ogre ...

Quotes of the day 21st August 2016

"1990 should have been the time for NATO to shut up shop, give up, go home, and go away." ( Jeremy Corbyn demonstrating his unfitness to be Prime Minister at a rally in Newport two years ago. You can view the relevant part of his speech here .) "It's time for Jeremy to take his own advice. He should give up, go home, and go away." (The Labour MP for Copeland, Jamie Reed , responds to the above comments here .) If a Conservative MP had made those comments about the Labour leader nobody would think twice. The fact that Labour MPs are castigating their own leader in such strong language is most unusual: it partly reflects the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is so far off the wall. But there are consequences for parties which are this badly divided and not just for their electability. Politics is a team activity and the fact that parties which are seen to be very badly divided rarely get elected represents good judgement on the part of the electorate. The o

Sautrday music spot: Europe - The Final Countdown

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Although the vast majority of my favourite music was written in the 18th century or earlier there are just a few pieces of modern music which I really, really like and "The Final Countdown" is one of them.

Help us build a better Britain - a message from the Conservative Party

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  Over the last month Conservatives have announced policies to deal with modern day slavery; to keep families safe and secure by introducing a ban on ‘zombie knives’; and launched a new ‘Dementia Atlas’ to improve prevention, diagnosis and support for people living with dementia.             While we focus on making Britain a country that works for everyone, this is what our opponents are doing: Labour are fighting their second leadership election in less than 12 months. Totally lacking in ideas and fighting amongst themselves, they are failing to provide the leadership that this country needs. The SNP are more determined than ever to break up the United Kingdom. They are more interested in dividing our country by holding another referendum than governing Scotland so that it works for everyone.                 UKIP are also holding a leadership election, settling internal disputes rather than trying to make Brexit a success. At a serious moment in our country’s hist

On the breadth of team GB's success

It was pointed out last night that Team GB's 24 Gold Medals in Rio so far (that was the score at the time after the Ladies' Hockey win) have come in no fewer than fourteen different sports. as defined within the Olympics. Six cycling Gold medals, Three rowing Two each Gymnastics, Equestrian and Sailing One each in Athletics, Canoe, Diving, Golf, Hockey, Swimming, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon. That is a really extraordinary breadth of achievement and I am told that as of last night no other country had yet won gold medals in more than ten disciplines at Rio. (Postscript 21/8/2016: after day 15 Britain had gold medals in fifteen categories, the USA in twelve,  China in ten, Russia in nine, Germany in nine and Japan in five categories. No other country had won more than ten Gold medals in total) It is something which will make 99% of Britons very proud of the enormous effort put in by our athletes but of course you cannot please everyone. This year's " Every

Quote of the day 20th August 2016

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Congratulations to the Brownlee Brothers, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, Jade Jones, Nick Skelton and the British Women's hockey team

The run of magnificent performances from Team GB athletes in Rio just goes on and on. If I have been counting correctly, Alistair Brownlee has become the third British competitor, after Andy Murray and Laura Trott , to successfully defend an Olympic title in an event in which nobody had ever won consecutive Oympic gold medals before. And when Alistair and his brother Jonathan won gold and silver in the Triathlon I understand they became the first brothers to win Olympic Gold and Silver medals in the same event. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark won the gold medal in the in the women's 4.70 sailing event. Nick Skelton won gold in Showjumping and thereby became Britain's second-oldest Olympic gold medallist in his seventh Games. The 58-year-old, who initially retired 16 years ago after breaking his neck in two places, claimed individual gold after a six-way jump-off. It is Britain's first individual show jumping medal since Anne Moore's silver in 1972, and ad

The suicide competition

The two contenders to be Leader of the Labour party seem to be having a competition to see who can prove himself unfit to be Prime Minister - and both of them are winning. First Owen Smith suggests he would negotiate with DA'ESH. Then Jeremy Corbyn indicates that, like Trump, he would not necessarily honour the NATO guarantee to come to the aid of a fellow NATO member who had been attacked. DA'ESH are the worst bunch of head-chopping, slave-taking and completely intransigent rapists, terrorists and murderers the world has seen since 1945, a group that split from Al Qaeda because it isn't bloodthirsty enough. It is sometimes necessary to talk to the bad guys but for a potential Prime Minister to suggest that Britain might talk to the so-called "Islamic State" was a gaffe sufficiently serious to cast grave doubt on his judgement. The promise that the members of NATO will come to each others' aid if attacked and that an attack on one of us is an attack on

The first 100 days

There is an interesting article on the Cumbria PCC website, here , about the first hundred days in the job for our new Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall. A couple of short extracts: "As expected it has been a busy 100 days.  I am incredibly impressed by all the hard work and dedication that goes on not just in the police but across other agencies in order to keep us all safe on a daily basis.  Often this is in difficult circumstances and with a real threat of harm. "I have really enjoyed meeting people across the county and this is something that I am keen to continue to do as I am here to represent the people of Cumbria.  I would like to thank all the people that I have met or that have written to me for taking the time to let me know their concerns or take part in the Police and Crime Plan consultation.  I will use this feedback as I finalise the Police and Crime Plan in the autumn and this will set the future policing objectives for the Police as well as th

Quote of the day 19th August 2016

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Of course this quote isn't really by Abraham Lincoln but it "pretends" to be in order to make a point. (This is one of those false statements which avoids being a lie because it is not actually trying to fool anybody.) And to prove the point: I was looking for a quote on economics and found this image featuring two different people with the surname of Hayek. The quote is by Nobel laureate Professor Friedrich Hayek, from his work "The Fatal Conceit." The picture is of Selma Hayek.

Better to do Brexit right than in a hurry.

A number of people who ought to know better have been arguing that Article 50 of the EU constitution should be triggered as quickly as possible. Almost without exception they are Brexit supporters who either think there is a possibility that the referendum result will not be honoured or find it politically convenient to pretend this. Well, the vote will be honoured and the detail of the negotiations matters a lot more than how quickly we leave. If we want to get a deal which delivers progress addressing the concerns of the 52% of people who voted to leave without making the fears of the 48% who voted remain come true, we have to get the details right and negotiate the best deal possible. We have not sorted out our own policy yet on how we want Brexit to work. When we invoke Article 50 we have only two years to negotiate. And a lot of next year may be a difficult time to negotiate because of the French, then German elections. I believe that a better stance would be to get our

Britain isn't safe with Labour under Corbyn OR Smith

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Labour's political suicide continues - Owen Smith suggests talks with DA'ESH

Just when you think the mess the Labour party is in cannot get any worse, they manage it. Yesterday on the Victoria Derbyshire programme even Jeremy Corbyn had the sense to see that talking to DA'ESH, the so-called "Islamic State" (also known as IS, ISIS or ISIL) is not a good idea. But not the supposed moderate Owen Smith. Anyone who has read the article addressed to the West, " Why we hate you and why we fight you " in the fifteenth issue of the DA'ESH magazine Dabik  should be under no illusions that the so-called Caliphate is interested in offering us peace - they want to exterminate anyone who has a different worldview. As I wrote, here , the Dabik article is completely explicit that all anyone who does not believe in their version of Islam can hope to gain from them is, quote, a " temporary truce ." With some enemies, even very bitter enemies, you can eventually make peace. But there are other enemies, like the Nazis and like DA'

Quote of the day 18th August 2016

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The new "Dead Cat" strategy

I was writing an article for the Whitehaven News this week about the remarkable events of Summer 2016. That article will appear in tomorrow's issue and I'm not going to repeat it here, but I am going to extend a train of thought which came from the article about the tactics used during the Referendum. Vote Leave produced and successfully used a new version of the  dead cat strategy . The "Dead Cat" strategy, much associated with the Australian campaigner Sir Lynton Crosby, is a means of changing the debate agenda during a campaign. If the media are focussing on an issue which is deemed to be helpful to the other side you distract them by getting someone on your side to say something extremely controversial, if not downright outrageous. As Boris Johnson  wrote in 2013 , "Let us suppose you are losing an argument." "The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and the more people focus on the reality the worse it is for you and your case. "Y

Despite the polls, there won't be an Autumn election: and probably not a 2017 one either.

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Because of the excellent opinion polls for the Conservatives in general and the new Prime Minister  in particular, there is some speculation among journalists about the possibility of an early election. The people who are suggesting that any such thing is likely do not understand either Theresa May or the implications of the Fixed Term Parliament Act. There is no prospect of an Autumn 2016 election, and the only scenario in which a 2017 election is likely would be if the House of Lords were sabotaging the process of government. Certainly this week's opinion polls look excellent for the Conservatives - IF you trust opinion polls. Today's Ipsos MORI Poll has the Conservatives up to 45% (That's slightly more than Maggie Thatcher got in her 1983 and 1987 landslides) and eleven percentage points ahead of Labour. Theresa May has opened up a  lead of 68% over Jeremy Corbyn in net satisfaction ratings, and this is the really amazing result - Theresa May even has higher

Unemployment falls to 1.64 million

According to  the Office for National Statistics (ONS) , UK unemployment fell by 52,000 in the lead-up to the EU Referendum, to 1.64 million. The figures cover the quarter from April to June. "The labour market continued on a strong trend in the second quarter of 2016, with a new record employment rate," according to ONS statistician David Freeman. "However, little of today's data cover the period since the result of the EU referendum became known, with only claimant count and vacancies going beyond June - to July for the former and to May-July for the latter," he added. The jobless total is now at its lowest for eight years, while the unemployment rate is at its lowest since the summer of 2005, according to the ONS figures. The employment rate reached a record high of 74.5%, with 31.8 million people in work in the three months to June - 172,000 more than the previous quarter. This tells us nothing about the impact of the Brexit vote, only that the

Congraultations to Jason Kenny and Laura Trott

After each winning another Gold medal last night in their respective events, it is not hard to see why Laura Trott and her fiancĂ© Jason Kenny have been described as Cycling's Golden Couple. Five competitions between them, five gold medals won. As of Tuesday night, had the couple been a country they would have placed 13th on the medal table, above Jamaica, Kenya and Brazil. Jason Kenny now has six Olympic golds from three Games, more than Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Bradley Wiggins. Laura Trott has won four Gold Medals in two Olympics, more than any other British woman. More on the BBC site here . What utterly amazing achievements from each of them.

Quote of the day 17th August 2016

From an article in The Times, supposedly in the voice of Owen Smith ... "I decide to give Jeremy a call. “ You must realise ,” I tell him, “ you can’t win an election .” “ Except for this election ,” says Jeremy, quite smugly. I sigh. Then I tell him he should at least fight fair. He’s having these rallies, all around the country. Far more than me. So, he should let me speak at them. To broaden the debate. “ Only a complete idiot ,” says Jeremy, “ would sacrifice an in-built electoral advantage just to broaden the debate .” “ But Jeremy!” I protest, “That’s precisely what the PLP did last time with you!” “ Exactly ,” says Jeremy. “ Fair point ,” I concede." (Hugo Rifkin, My week: Owen Smith  in The Times this week)

Fighting back against DA'ESH

The self-styled "Islamic State" which I prefer to describe as "DA'ESH" (for very similar reasons that  that I describe the party led by Adolf Hitler as the Nazis rather than the National Socialist German Workers Party) has been instrumental in destroying or wrecking thousands of lives and the more powerful it becomes the more lives this utterly evil group will destroy. So I was very pleased to learn today that hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been convicted of terrorism offences for inciting support for DA'ESh - it is suggested that he may have inspired up to 500 people to join the organisation. Many of those people will have lost their lives in battle or to airstrikes, and worse, many of them will have killed innocent people. Choudary will be sentenced in September and I hope the judge puts him behind bars for as long as the law allows. DA'ESH is guilty of the most dreadful crimes against everyone else in the region and even their own people, but