Showing posts from October, 2016

Halloween, Trick or Treat, and evidence that anyone can have a good idea.

Halloween means these days that we seem to have adopted an American tradition, but at least this evening we seem to have adopted it properly. "Trick or Treat" in America is for small children, who go out in the early evening dressed up in costume, often with a parent or older sibling in the background to keep an eye on them. It is harmless and will not frighten any frail older people. At one stage the British equivalent seemed to be teenagers in hoodies, which could be frightening in the wrong sort of way. Well, we did get quite a few trick-or-treaters this evening, but they were mostly little kids (with someone older to look after them) who had gone to considerable trouble over their Halloween costumes. The one problem this leaves us is that the large supply of sweets which we got in to provide for trick of treaters is an almost irresistible temptation for our own household, sabotaging both the adults' diets for the week and any attempt to persuade our children t

Bank of England governor's term extended

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, who was appointed for a five year term with the option to extend for a further three, has announced that he will stay to 2019 e.g. extend the original five year term by one year. Looking at his overall performance Carney is generally seen by the markets as a successful governor: there had been some speculation in the press, ranging from the foolish to the utterly idiotic (e.g. a joke that Jacob Rees Mogg MP might be given the job was taken seriously in some journalistic quarters - as if the government would want another by-election!) that he might be encouraged to go early but this would really not have been a good idea. This speculation appears to have come from that part of the Brexit supporting spectrum who imagine that a 52% to 48% victory in the referendum gives them some kind of mandate to drive out of senior public office anyone who has said something they disagree with. That is really not a good idea. The headbangers on b

Alf Williams RIP

Earlier today I attended the funeral of Alfred Williams, a stalwart of the Kells community in Whitehaven, who has died at the age of 74. Alf was a true gentleman in the modern sense, a polite and courteous man who always thought of others, and was great fun to be with. He worked at Sellafield for many years, was very involved in raising money for Mayfield School, and was a stalwart supporter of the Rugby team at Kells who formed up to give him a guard of honour as his coffin was taken into and out of the church. He was also a keen golfer, an active freemason, and very involved in a whole range of charitable activities. His funeral at St Peters' church, Kells was very well attended indeed with dozens of people having to stand, which I think says something about how popular he was with everyone who knew him and how much he will be missed. Rest in Peace.

Diwali 2016: Theresa May's message

Prime Minister Theresa May's message to mark Diwali. "I am delighted to send my very best wishes to everyone celebrating Diwali, a festival which holds such significance for so many people. Indeed, right across the world, lights decorate the streets, flowers adorn homes, treats are served and presents exchanged – all marking the triumph of light over darkness. But the festival of lights isn’t just relevant for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. It is relevant to all of us, those of all faiths and none. We can all learn from the example set by Lord Rama, whose return from exile is marked by these 5 holy days. That epic story teaches us about building strong families and communities, shunning wrongdoing and evil, and choosing the right path. It promotes the values of service, responsibility, unity and tolerance. We need those values more than ever as we build a country that works for everyone – a country where no matter what your faith, your beliefs or your background, you ca

Quote of the day 31st October 2016

"Some Brexiteers flush with victory seem to have forgotten that undermining a Governor of the Bank of England is the markets equivalent of playing with matches in a petrol station." "They’re loudly unhappy with the Chancellor of the Exchequer too. This combo – trashing the Governor of the BoE and the Chancellor simultaneously – is completely and utterly nuts." "The situation got so out of hand that what can only have been a (poor) joke in a recent column suggesting Jacob Rees-Mogg as successor to Carney was recycled as a serious runner. It is not. Really, it is not." "We’re in ravens at the Tower of London territory here with Carney and Hammond. What they symbolise via the authority of their respective offices is stability, relative calm and continuity. Perception and confidence matters, a lot." ( Iain Martin , an intelligent Brexit supporter, responds here in a very well written article at Reactions to the attempt by some journalists a

A trip to St Bees

My wife and  enjoyed a trip to St Bees beach this afternoon, and shared a walk along the sand followed by refreshments at the café. I have lived here twelve years now and I never cease to be amazed at how beautiful Cumbria is.

Canadian Trade Deal signed

I am very pleased to see that the comprehensive trade deal between Canada and the EU which I wrote about recently has now been signed.

UKIP in their own words

"a rabble of no-name, no-talent nobodies" ... "These people would be out of their depth in a paddling pool, and couldn’t be more unfit to run a modern political party." (Arron Banks , UKIP donor, on most of the candidates who stood for the UKIP party leadership in the first election this year, in a Guardian article called " UKIP is being run by circus clowns .") "a motley collection of amateurs; leftovers from a bygone age, when UKIP was a ragtag band of volunteers on the fringes of British politics." Watching them try to run UKIP is "like watching a team of circus clowns trying to carry out a pit stop at the Silverstone Grand Prix." (Arron Banks  was equally scathing about UKIP's National Executive Committee in the same article.) "opportunist carpetbaggers " ... leaders of a cabal which "would utterly destroy UKIP" (Arron Banks wasn't too flattering about UKIP's one MP Douglas Cars

Sunday music spot for All Saint's day: Holy is the True Light

The words of this short anthem by William Harris seem particularly appropriate for All Saints' day, which the Christian church celebrates today to remember all the saints. (Tomorrow is All Soul's day when we remember all the departed, though there is an All Soul's service at St James' church Whitehaven at 4pm this afternoon.)

Sunday reflection spot Hebrews 1, 12.

At St James' Church, Whitehaven this morning the Revd. Robert Jackson used one of my favourite passages from Scripture, the opening words of Chapter 12 of the letter of Paul to the Hebrews. I have previously told a story about this verse, which I make no apology for repeating: " I can resist anything except temptation " (Oscar Wilde) A group of clergy were discussing which biblical quotations were the greatest help to them in avoiding sin. A fiery young deacon, just out of his theological college, quoted Romans 6, Verse 23: "For sin pays a wage, and that wage is Death, but God gives freely, and his gift is eternal life, in union with Jesus Christ our Lord." A recently ordained lady curate, while accepting that the passage from Romans reminds us of something very important, preferred passages which concentrated more on the infinite love and compassion of God, and cited John, Chapter 14, verse 15: "If you love me, you will obey my commands, and

Quote of the day 30th October 2016

The quote below is usually attributed to Keynes though there is no proof he actually said it. There is, however, proof that another distinguished economist, Paul Samuelson, who was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in economics actually said something very similar on Television in 1970 and 1978 - and on the second occasion Samuelson attributed the remark to Keynes . Whether it's really Keynes who first said this or not, it is highly relevant to a discussion I had with friends on Facebook this week, so here is the quote:

The nonsense from both sides continues even after the EU referendum

During the EU referendum campaign I posted a whole series of posts about how too many people on both sides were publishing vast quantities of utter nonsense. There were honourable exceptions on both sides, but the amount of nonsense written and spoken during the referendum made it one of the most depressing campaigns I've witnessed in my entire life. I am not sure whether it was more depressing that in many cases people genuinely appeared to believe the rubbish they were spouting, (which is why I have tried to avoid using the word "lie" to describe it) or that others seemed to be cynically manipulating and misrepresenting the facts. As, for example with the utterly misleading suggestion - and "misleading" is a very kind word, but it was the word used by Andrew Dilnot, the UK statistics boss responsible for the Office for National Statistics who the Leave campaign claimed to be quoting, so we will stick with it - that £350 million a week could be made avai

Comeback of the day

On the subject of Labour leaders killing people. Yesterday's "comeback of the week" referred to responses to an article on how Jeremy Corbyn could become PM, in which various people had tweeted things like " kill everyone else on earth ?" Today Tony Blair tweeted that "We need real solutions which provide real change not fake fantasies which make enemies out of neighbours." The response from @Shy_Society was "Well you should know all about fake fantasies eh, Tone, given you took our country to war based on one ..."

Clocks go back tonight in Britain

Don't forget that we get an extra hour tonight in the UK as the time changes from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time and therefore the clocks go back an hour at 3am.

Saturday music spot: "You raise me up" (sung by Aled Jones)


Quote of the day 29th October 2016


Work starts on Royal Navy's new Dreadnought submarine fleet

Great news for Barrow, Cumbria and Britain as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announces that work has started on the new Dreadnought submarine fleet with a £1.3 billion investment. The money will also be spent furthering the design of the submarine, purchasing materials and long lead items, and investing in facilities at the BAE Systems yard in Barrow-in-Furness where the submarines will be built.   Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Britain’s ballistic missile submarines are the ultimate guarantee of our nation’s safety – we use them every day to deter the most extreme threats. We cannot know what new dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s so we are acting now to replace them. Along with increasing the defence budget to buy new ships, planes and armoured vehicles, this shows that this Government will never gamble with our national security. The investment will support delivery of the manifesto commitment on which this Government was elected, to retain

October's local election results

Indebted to Political Betting for the following roundup of council by-elections: Last night the Conservatives and Labour both held seats they were defending and an Independent seat stayed Independent (not sure it counts as a hold when one Independent councillor replaces another.) But the pattern of those seats which did change hands in October is interesting ... GAINS SNP GAIN Garscadden and Scotstounhill on Glasgow from Labour UKIP GAIN Headland and Harbour on Hartlepool from Labour Liberal Democrats GAIN Culloden and Ardersier on Highland from Labour Local Residents GAIN Limpsfield on Tandridge from Conservative Labour GAIN Witham North on Braintree from Conservative Independent GAIN Abergele, Pensarn on Conwy from Labour Liberal Democrats GAIN St. Mary’s on the East Riding of Yorkshire from Conservative Conservatives GAIN Rothwell on Kettering from Labour Independent GAIN Heacham on King’s Lynn and West Norfolk from Conservative Conservatives GAIN Strood South on Me

Global Warming - or a new "Little Ice Age"

There is evidence that our sun goes through a cycle measured in centuries in which the amount of heat and light it gives off varies slightly, as a result there have been colder centuries which are sometimes known as "little ice ages" and it was during the last such period, in Georgian times, that London could hold "frost fairs" on the river Thames which had frozen over in winter. The mid 20th-century was one of the periods when the sun gave off more heat and light, making that period much warmer than the previous two centuries, and I recall that during my childhood there were scientific predictions that this phase would come to an end within a century causing the climate to become significantly colder. Latterly, of course, we have had the opposite fear, that the increase in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere would lead to global warming. The great majority of scientists believe that man-made global warming is taking place as a result of human emission of c

Comeback of the week

The Independent has an article with the title " There's one thing Jeremy Corbyn could do that would make him the next Prime Minister ." Gareth Soye and several other people tweeted back with variants of " Kill everyone else on Earth ?"

Quote of the day 28th October 2016


Growth down slighly, but above expectations, in the three months after the Brexit vote.

Good news for all sides of the argument in the latest ONS figures for UK economic growth. For sensible people who are more interested in the success of the UK than scoring political points, it is good news that the economy expanded by 0.5% in the July-to-September period, according to the Office for National Statistics. As chancellor Philip Hammond observed, "The fundamentals of the UK economy are strong and today's data show that the economy is resilient." The Office for National Statistics says that "the pattern of growth continues to be broadly unaffected following the EU referendum". Good news also, however, unfortunately, for headbangers on both sides of the Brexit debate for whom the facts are only important insofar as they can be twisted to show that their own side was right all along and everything the other side said during the referendum campaign was rubbish. For the Remainers, economic grown has dropped from 0.7% in the three months prior

News Thump on the vandalism of Donald Trump's "walk of fame" star

The News Thump satirical website has an interesting take on the vandalism of Donald Trump's Hollywood walk of fame star . They have suggested that the real motive behind this was to take Trump down to six horcruxes and the next step is to stab a copy of "The Art of the Deal" with a basilisk's tooth, if anyone knows where in the real world one might find such a thing. The article concludes by saying that " when Trump handed his jacket to his spokesman to hold, the spokesman cried ‘ Dobby’s Free! ’, and vanished." I think someone has been reading a little too much Harry Potter ...

Canada Trade deal back on - progress on issues with Belgian regions ...

It appears that CETA, the trade deal between the EU and Canada, may have been rescued: the BBC is reporting  here  that the Belgian PM says an agreement has been reached with the six regional parliaments including those which were blocking the deal and therefore the agreement can be signed next week. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that an agreement" was found after the latest round of negotiations with Belgium's French-speaking communities who had been holding up the deal. A signing ceremony on Thursday was cancelled after the region of Wallonia vetoed the agreement. A Belgian deal would still have to be approved by the other 27 EU members. Under Belgium's federal system, the national government cannot sign the deal unless all six regional parliaments approve it. Links to analysis pages on the BBC site Is Ceta a good model for Brexit? Eight things about Wallonia Reality Check: Could Walloons sink a Brexit trade deal? French-speaking Wallonia,

Delivering an economy that works for everyone


Quote of the day 27th October 2016

"I want to deliver the will of the British people while the Leader of the Labour party wants to frustrate it." ( Theresa May at Prime Minister's Question Time)

Boris Johnson pinches his new Special Advisor from Nicola Sturgeon

In one of the more interesting turnarounds of the last past week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has recruited as his new Special Advisor, David Frost someone who was previously advising the Scottish government about BREXIT. Mr Frost said at the time Ms Sturgeon set up the Standing Council on Europe that it is important to " bring clarity to the transition to Brexit as soon as possible " and that the UK government should work to " ensure the current open trading environment is not affected."

ONS says that earnings are rising fastest for the low-paid

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that over year to April 2016 earnings have risen fastest among the lowest paid, apparently due to the introduction of higher minimum wage levels. Wages rose by 6.2% for the lowest paid UK workers, above the national average, thereby reducing wage inequality between April 2015 and early April 2016, the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate. The pay gap between men and women has also shrunk slightly, it said. Pay overall rose at its joint highest rate since the financial crisis, driven by wage rises in the private sector. Weekly earnings for full-time workers were 2.2% higher in April from a year earlier, or by 1.9% after inflation. Despite the increases, the Resolution Foundation think tank points out that typical earnings still remain 6.8% below pre-financial crisis levels. The median average full-time worker was paid £539 a week - or £28,028 a year - before tax in April 2016. In a sign of the growing &quo

Another example of why I called for a moratorium on Nazi comparisons

Here is a classic example of a talented speaker abusing his abilities in a way which discredits both Britain and the arguments which he is making. It also illustrates the point I made a few days ago when I appealed to people of all parties to hold off on comparing anyone they disagree with to Hitler and the Nazis. A few years ago I and my Conservative colleagues in Copeland said, as you can read in a letter to the Whitehaven News from our then chairman here , that it was inappropriate for the Labour MP for Copeland to compare David Cameron to Nazi collaborator and traitor Vidkun Quisling . It was equally wrong for Nigel Farage to compare Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to Quisling in this speech in the European parliament, for exactly the same reasons. Farage was rightly picked up by the chair for doing this just as Jamie Reed was asked to withdraw his similar comparison by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. As you can see in the clip below, he declined to apologise and tri

The post-satire era - more true words spoken in jest?

There seem to be more and more posts on "spoof" news websites like the Boris Johnson one referred to in the previous post which have far too much truth in them. Others have titles like " Paul Nuttall is not leadership material even for UKIP " and Battle of Hastings latest: you lost, get over it, Normans tell Anglo-Saxons " (That one finishes with a Norman saying " It's time to accept the result and shut up about it, I doubt people will still be moaning about Brexit in a thousand years " and getting the reply "Oh yes we will."), And in amongst them is one called World enters post-satire era from News Thump which is way, way too close to the truth for comfort. Lines from this include "The world has entered a new era where it has become impossible to distinguish between satire and reality." “If a merry online japester makes up something utterly outrageous and unbelievable about, say, Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin the o

Many a True Word is spoken in jest

I heard a people talking in the post office yesterday about the fact that Boris has threatened to lie down in front of the bulldozers at Heathrow and suggesting that this was a positive reason to support the third runway. The article, " Tickets to watch Boris Johnson lie down in front of Heathrow bulldozers sell out in seconds "  on the News Thump site may be an example of  a true word spoken in jest ...

Quote of the day 26th October 2016


The "Ed Stone" comes back to bite Labour again

You'd think even the Labour party would not forget something as obvious as an eight foot block of granite when submitting their election expenses returns, but apparently not ...   Labour has been fined £20,000 by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare all of its general election expenses - including the stone tablet unveiled during the campaign, the 8 foot so-called . "Ed Stone", carved with ex-leader Ed Miliband's key pledges. The commission's investigation was prompted by calls from journalists asking why Labour's 2015 general election return, published in January, did not include the stone carving, which was widely mocked after being unveiled. It turned out that failing to declare  two payments totalling £7,614 relating to the tablet was not the only mistake in Labour's election expenses return. These two payments were  among £123,748 of payments missing from Labour's 2015 election return. A further 33 receipts, worth £34,392, wer

Operation "Nelly the Elephant" continues (goodbye to "The Jungle!")

French officials say that the clearance of the unofficial refugee camp known as "The Jungle"  continues on schedule and will be complete by Friday. (If the operation has a title it really should be "Operation Nelly the Elephant." after the expression "Goodbye to the Jungle" in that song.) I hope the people dismantling the camp can make sure that any unaccompanied child refugees - and I mean real children, not me posing as children - in the "Jungle" are treated with compassion. As such children were already greatly at risk as long as the camp was in existence and they were in it, I don't believe that taking action to close it was necessarily heartless or wrong. However, we should not assume that everything will go smoothly. The French authorities admit that they think 200 people will try to stay. I hope their contingency plans if the number proves larger than that are robust.

Heathrow expansion

There is no ideal solution to the question of airport capacity in the UK. Even much smaller airports than Heathrow and Gatwick, such as Luton, put enormous pressure on the local road and rail network - as I know because the impact of Luton Airport was an extremely sensitive issue when I was a St Albans councillor. Both Heathrow and Gatwick already contribute to serious congestion on the M25 and on local rail services. So it is not surprising that the government proposal today to expand Heathrow was controversial. However, I don't think we can put our heads in the sand and pretend that the number of runways which was adequate for the South East of England 75 years ago will still be adequate a hundred years later in 2041 (It is 75 years since we built a new runway in that part of the country.) I am attracted to the "Boris Island" concept for a new airport in the Thames Estuary but unfortunately am not convinced that it is either practical of affordable. Britain

Quote of the day 24th October 2016

"Freed of the brake that Britain put on developments, old integrationist aims have been dusted down.  The core of an EU army has been put forward.  New proposals on Europe-wide insolvency protection measures are being proposed.  The European Commission has sanctioned Apple, and Ireland, for their tax arrangements.  Ten countries are pressing ahead with a financial transaction tax.  Less Europe has so far found no takers. In Britain the different camps have read into this what they want to see.  Leavers see this as proof that the EU was always going to integrate further and faster and that Remain’s lies to the contrary have been exposed.  Remainers see this as proof that without Britain’s influence the EU will develop in a way that is harmful to Britain (and to the EU’s own interests).  Take your pick.  Both can be true, of course." ( Alistair Meeks , article about current EU attitudes to Britain following the Brexit vote on the Political Betting site.)

Goodbye to the Jungle?

The existence of the "Jungle" migrant camp outside Calais is not in anyone's interests. It is not in the interests of the refugees who are there because conditions are terrible. It is not in the interests of the people of France because the camp has created a serious public order problem. It is not in the interests of the people of Britain because some - not necessarily all - of the residents of the camp and the "people-smuggler" gangsters who are exploiting them have been using violence and intimidation to try to blackmail tourists and truckers to get them into Britain. It is not in the interests of refugees still in the middle east because the existence of the camp may tempt them to attempt dangerous and illegal routes to try to gain entry to Britain - which are probably not those most likely to be successful. So I hope the attempt to disperse the camp this week is successful. But I am not holding my breath. Britain, while spending more on providin

Press freedom: government "to examine more options"

Following my blog post yesterday urging the government not to implement Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 it appears that they are still considering the issue and are not falling into the trap of automatic activation of the measure as soon as they are asked to do so. Ultimately I would like to see the idea of activating this section of the law abandoned, but I am pleased that the government is not making a Gadarene dash to implement it. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has insisted she will not be rushed into activating regulations which could see newspapers face "exemplary" damages if they are sued for libel unless they sign up to a state-backed system of press regulation. The Press Recognition Panel (PRP) - which was established in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards - is due to rule on Tuesday whether to recognise Impress, a new regulator set up by Hacked Off campaigner Max Mosley. If it does, Ms Bradley will have to consider whether to ac

Quote of the day 24th October 2016

"Artificial Intelligence could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. It could also be the last." ( Professor Stephen Hawking )

Don't activate Section 40

There are a lot of contenders for the description of the most ridiculous or unjust act put on the statute book in the last fifty years. Some would nominate Section 28: others might nominate Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 which until it was repealed in 2013 made it a criminal offence to insult somebody. The ban on Beef on the Bone and the Dangerous Dogs act would probably also get a mention. One of the daftest has not - yet - been implemented but there is a possibility that ministers might shortly be asked to activate it. They should refuse. Ironically the very same bill which removed one ridiculous law included another one. Section 57 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 scrapped the law that meant that it could be a criminal offence to insult someone. Unfortunately Section 40 of the same act has a serious claim to be one of the most unjust and one-sided laws ever passed. The Leveson Inquiry into the activities of the Press, and the Phone Hacking trials, demonstrated th

As DA'ESH falls back more atrocities are discovered

Let us hope that the liberation of Mosul from DA'ESH (the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" caliphate) proceeds as quickly as possible so that the authors of atrocities like this  do not have more opportunities to inflict their sick, sadistic and murderous activities on anyone for much longer. (Warning - the link above is not for the squeamish.) Sadly many of the fanatics responsible for the genocidal crimes of DA'ESH have no more respect for their own lives than they have for those of the innocent children they have ben murdering in horrible ways, so it is likely that they will resist strongly. But although we have made mistakes when we intervened in the Middle East in the past, helping the Iraquis and Kurds to liberate their country from the monsters of the so-called Caliphate - and don't forget, British forces in Iraq this time are assisting an elected government, however imperfect, to defend itself and rescue its people from probably the most evil regime of

Sunday Music Spot "In native worth and honor clad" from Haydn's Creation


Quote of the day 23rd October 2016

"When people ask me whether I think Project Fear lost us the referendum, I answer that Project Fear did in fact win. Just not ours. "Our problem is that the other side was much better at fear-mongering. "Their threats — of mass immigration, Turkey’s membership, and a European army — were far scarier to the British voters than our warnings of an economic slowdown." ( Daniel Korski, deputy director of the policy unit in David Cameron’s government, in a fascinating article, " Why-we-lost-the-brexit-vote " giving the inside story of the Remain campaign from the Number Ten viewpoint.)

Schrodinger's pardon

Following on from my post earlier today here I have just seen an explanation of the legal issues relating to the so called "Turing Bill" by James Chalmers, Regius Professor of Law at the Unviersity of Glasgow, with the magnificent title of " Schrodinger's Pardon: the difficulties of the Turing bill ." That title is of course a reference to Schrodinger's Cat in the eponymous thought experiment in Quantum Physics, which manages to be both alive and dead at the same time until you look at it. Chalmers disagrees with the "Nicholson bill" proposed by the SNP to give people in England and Wales convicted of historic sexual offences a pardon for a different reason from the government, which argued that it might give a pardon for people who had been convicted of something which is still illegal. He argues instead that it would be completely unclear whether certain people would actually have been pardoned until they checked. As he points out thi

Traffic figures

Today this blog passed 600,000 pageviews since the traffic counters went live. Traffic has been running at about 700 pageviews a day for the past few days and just under 15,000 pageviews in the past month. Thanks to everyone who visited and I hope you found it interesting.

Britain, Ireland and Brexit

There is a fascinating piece in the Irish Times by Fintan O'Toole called " Britain's Irish question becomes Ireland's English question " which I strongly recommend as worth a read. The article is about the role Ireland might play in helping Britain to come to a sensible agreement with the EU about what our relationship looks like after Brexit. This will be anathema to those for whom "compromise" is a dirty word. Personally I do not belong to that group and I think Britain needs all the friends we can get at the moment to come to a workable compromise. And that does not mean trying to sabotage the Brexit vote, it means trying to build a future outside the EU which retains the co-operation with our neighbours and friends which we need in everyone's interests.

The Turing Bill

It has been proposed that there should be a retrospective pardon for those like Alan Turing who were convicted, which has been called a "Turing Bill," and the government has promised to support this. (It does not in fact apply to Alan Turing himself as he was given a posthumous Royal Pardon by the Queen in 2013.)  However, there is more than one different proposal about exactly how it should be done. Why then did Tory minister Sam Gyimah MP filibuster an SNP proposal yesterday to grant such pardons (in support of which Nigel Adams was speaking in my quote of the day.) There has been a lot of outrage on social media about this, with the suggestion being made that the government has abandoned the promise. This is not necessarily correct as is explained by Kevin Maxwell in an article in the Independent which you can read  here . As he says, "It was argued the SNP MP John Nicolson’s Bill would have wiped clean all historical sex crimes, whereas the Government sai

Saturday music spot: Andy Williams sings the theme from "Love Story" (Where Do I Begin?)


Quote of the day 22nd October 2016

"During my first term in office I voted against equal marriage for a whole host of reasons. "I thought at the time what I was doing was right but having now reflected and seen how that Act has made such a positive difference for thousands of couples around the country, I deeply regret that decision. "I got it wrong. I can tell you, many in this House will know how difficult it is for a Yorkshireman to admit that they got anything wrong. "So if I had the opportunity again, I'd vote differently. I want to apologise. "I want to apologise to my friends, I want to apologise to family members and constituents who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. "I want them to know that I believe in their full equality. "I won't have the chance to change that previous vote but I'm pleased to have the chance to stand in support of equality before the law today." (Nigel Adams MP , who voted against the Equal Marriage act in 2013, apologise

Fead God and Dread Naught ...

It was announced today that the first of the new generation of submarines to carry Britain's nuclear deterrent will be given one of the most significant names in Royal Navy history - HMS Dreadnaught. There have been nine warships in the Royal Navy with this name: one sailed with Drake against the Armada, another with Nelson at Tragalgar 211 years ago today. Perhaps the most historically significant, HMS Dreadnaught launched in 1906, instantly made every previous battleship in the world obsolete and from that point the name was used to describe all modern big-gun capital ships of the 20th century - but the HMS Dreadnaught launched in 1960 was historically almost as significant as she was Britain's first nuclear-powered submarine. Let us hope that the ship whose name was announced today is as successful, and more so in keeping the peace through deterrence - and that her weapon systems never have to be used.

When both sides are right and you wish they weren't

UPDATE - since this post it looks like the issues being raised by Wallonia and subsequently another region of Belgium may have been resolved. At the time of putting in this update it is hoped to sign CETA shortly. Of course, the difficulties it faced are still very relevant to Britain as the original post below argues and those arguments largely still stand.  Am putting in a new post here with an update. Original post follows: You know what is the most depressing thing about the failure of CETA, the proposed trade deal between the EU and Canada, as Canada walks out of trade talks declaring a deal impossible and Brussels "incapable" after the treaty was blocked by one region of Belgium? It's the fact that this proves BOTH the Remain side and the Leave side right about things where I'd really hoped they were wrong. Ironically the vote by the Wallonia regional parliament in Belgium was driven by exactly the same sort of protectionist fears which some factions

Trafalgar Day

There are two anniversaries today - I previously posted about Aberfan, but this is also the 211th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Britain - and Europe, and the world - owe a tremendous debt to the men of Nelson's fleet who on 21st October 1805 struck a vital blow against the ambitions of one of the most dangerous men ever to live. Napoleon was a brilliant tactician and strategist, and not entirely without merit as a lawmaker and administrator, but he was also a ruthless megalomaniac. Any true democrat with a scintilla of imagination who has looked at the image Ingres created of Napoleon on his imperial throne, (below,) or visited his tomb at Les Invalides, should shudder at the idea of the kind of world such a man would have created. He built one of the most overwhelming personality cults which has existed in modern times - and came as close to conquering the world as any dictator in history. Horatio Nelson and the sailors and marines of the Royal Navy whose

Aberfan minute's silence at 9.15 this morning

Fifty years ago today 116 children died in the terrible Aberfan disaster when their school was buried in a pile of mining refuse. This ghastly tragedy was an example of why people should always be ready to challenge authority and it should never be forgotten. In memory of those who died and their families there will be a minute's silence at 9.15 am today, fifteen minutes after this post and exactly fifty years after the disaster. I will be observing it. Rest in Peace

Quote of the day 21st October 2016


Can we please have a two year moratorium on comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis

I have heard or read dozens of comparisons of various things to Hitler and the Nazis in the past twelve months. Precisely two such comparisons were, in my humble opinion, reasonable and proportionate: 1) Hilary Benn and others compared DA'ESH (the so-called "Islamic State" caliphate) to the Nazis for the cruel and vicious way, including slavery, rape, and mass-murder amounting to genocide, that they treat people in their power. 2) Andrew Mitchell and others compared the bombing of civilian targets in Aleppo by Syrian government and Russian aircraft to the bombing of civilians in Guernica by Hitler's Nazis. In these two cases, and these two cases only, specific and proportionate comparisons were made between ghastly crimes against humanity taking place now and similar actions by Nazi Germany. All other comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis which I have heard in the past year, wherever they came from were at best unfortunate and in most cases were classic exa

An Adam Smith Institute case against "Hard Brexit"

I must take issue with the accusation by some "Remain" supporters  such as Ben Chu   that leaving the EU immediately with no trade deal and scrapping all import tariffs is an unworkable "libertarian fantasy." Because this appears to be unfair to at least some libertarians. A comprehensive pro free-market demolition of the case for that course of action can be found at the Adam Smith Institute's website, written by Sam Bowman and called " The free-market case for hard-Brexit doesn't add up . He argues instead of an "open Brexit" which maximises our ability to trade with the rest of the world including as much access as we can get in reasonable terms to the European single market and which would probably look very much like "Flexcit." Ben Chu's piece makes a sensible attempt to categorise the possible outcomes Britain could try to negotiate into five categories as follows: * " Brexit One " the Norway/EEA optio