Showing posts from February, 2017

Some people never learn ...

If you were to ask me to identify the article by a British politician which represented the worst attack of political hubris in British history, I would have to point to " We cannot be killed " published in the News Statesman, dated 25th September 2007, by the then Labour MP Siôn Simon. You would think it would be difficult for even a Labour politician to make a bigger idiot of himself than Sion Simon had managed the previous year with a spoof David Cameron video but this article managed it with the highest ratio of wrong predictions to sentences ever seen in an article. " Shortly there will be an election ," he wrote, (there wasn't as Brown bottled it.) " at which Labour will increase it's majority. " (when the next election came Labour lost it's majority and made net losses of 91 seats.) Simon also predicted that the forthcoming Labour victory " ought to herald another decade of strong, confident, consensual Labour governmen

Whom the gods would destroy

There are two British political parties which seem to be doing their best to destroy themselves, reminding me of the saying below which is usually attributed to Euripides (though see here for what appears to be the actual origin of the expression:)   The Copeland by-election has highlighted how Labour's current leadership is making a position which would have been a difficult challenge for the most competent leader far worse, but UKIP too seem determined to destroy themselves. Had UKIP not managed to damage themselves with unforced errors over the address of their leader and candidate in Stoke Central and with the mess they got into with comments about the Hillsborough tragedy, I believe there is a good chance that they could have won the Stoke by-election and a certainty that they would have come closer. Now we see ridiculous rows over whether their one MP, Douglas Carswell, blocked a knighthood for their former leader Nigel Farage, while at the same time, Farage  argue

Quote of the day 28th February 2017


The wicked wit of the late Gerald Kaufman

I am not going to pretend that I was a fan of the late Sir Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, who has died at the age of 86. But on the principle of " Nihil Nisi Bonum " I will remember one good thing about him - his brilliant wit and incisive turn of phrase. Twenty years after the event, and on a day when I definitely did not feel much like laughing, I recall that I was nevertheless reduced to fits of laughter by Kaufman's speech proposing the loyal address at the start of Tony Blair's government in 1997. The speech is recorded for posterity by Hansard at but here is an extract: Madam Speaker, this is the first speech that I have made from this side of the House for more than 18 years and it is my first speech as a Government Back Bencher. I shall therefore be unprecedentedly--and, quite possibly, unrepeatedly--loyal. Indeed, let me dispel immediatel

My final post on ridiculous explanations for the Copeland by-election result

I'm not going to do any more posts on the subject after this one as it is time to move on. However, I did think this not-entirely serious summary of the Corbynista explanations put forward for Labour's shattering defeat in Copeland last week, which has been shared by a number of people on left and right such as former Labour MP Tom Harris, was funny enough to be the last word on the subject (especially for Michael Jackson fans). Meanwhile, rumour has it that this was the reaction in Number Ten to Jeremy Corbyn's statement on Sky News that he intends to lead the Labour party into the 2020 General Election:

More ridiculous explanations for the Copeland election result continued ...

The Mirror - yes, the Mirror - has the full list of excuses presented on the Andrew Marr show by Labour's newest life peer Shami Chakrabarti for the Copeland by-election in an article which you can read here . If you are going on telly to defend Labour's position and the newspaper which is Labour's best friend in Fleet Street is laughing at you, then you really have a problem ... Even from the viewpoint of a government supporter I believe Britain needs a decent opposition and Labour is not providing it.

Quote of the day 27th February 2017


More ridiculous explanations for the Copeland result continued ...

Daft explanations for the Copeland by-election result continue to roll in, mostly from members of the Labour party. I have not yet seen one to beat the suggestion by "Heavy Metal Politics" to which I awarded the wooden spoon yesterday - that the Conservative win was caused by a power cut. (The power cuts concerned actually hit Manchester, Lancashire and the Peak District rather than Copeland.) However, the suggestion by Labour's newest peer Shami Chakrabarti on the television this morning that the result was down to Storm Doris and the related suggestion that Labour voters "don't have cars" came pretty close. If Shami thinks that Copeland never had wet and windy weather during the previous 80+ years when the seat returned Labour MPs she obviously does not know the area very well. And I have not noticed a sudden drop in car ownership in the more Labour-inclined wards of the constituency over the last two years either ...

Cumbrian student Oli Coulson on Trudy Harrison's historic win

West Cumbrian student Oli Coulson has written a good article on United Politics with his take on the historic victory in the Copeland by-election which you can read here .

Sunday Music Spot Vivaldi Gloria first movement, King's College Choir


Quote of the day 26th February 2017


And the prize for the most ridiculous explanation for the Copeland by-election result ...

Over the past 38 hours there have been all sorts of absurd explanations put forward for the election result in Copeland. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have blamed just about everyone on the planet for Labour's disastrous showing in the by-election except Jeremy Corbyn. I'm sharing links to some of the most absurd not because I wish to gloat - well not much anyway - but because I think even disappointed Labour supporters, if they have a working brain and are not members of the Cult of Corbyn, will find some of them quite funny. A strong contender for the most barking mad article on the subject is a piece by Paul Mason called " Labour won Stoke Jamie Reed lost Copeland ." which accused Reed and Hunt of being part of "the Blairite plan to stage two electoral disasters on one night." It's a little difficult to take this seriously given that it was actually the present leadership of the Labour party that decided to stage the two by-elections together

Saturday music spot: Libera - Voca me


Conservative party chairman Patrick McLoughlin writes

Conservative party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin, who had been in Copeland yesterday, also found time to send out this message yesterday: Today is an extraordinary day. Our Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison has been elected as MP for Copeland, a seat that has been held by Labour since 1935.   Trudy’s brilliant, positive campaign, focusing on protecting local jobs, securing investment and standing up for vital local services has delivered Copeland an advocate to ensure the area is no longer ignored and forgotten.             It is the first time since 1878 that there’s been a comparable government by-election gain and is an important show of support for the Prime Minister’s plan to make a success of Brexit.              We couldn’t have done this without the support of people like you, right across the country.   Help us keep up the momentum and build a country that works for everyone - please donate today.

Quote of the day 25th February 2017


ANORAK ALERT! How remarkable was the Copeland result?

Apologies, this post is for those with an "anorak" interest in elections only. Number Cruncher Politics just tweeted this chart which shows how the majority by which governing parties won or lost by-elections changed compared with the previous general election. Government gains are in the top left of the chart, above and to the left of the "Origin" where the two Zero lines intersect: the Copeland by-election is the only result in this quadrant since 1983. Government holds are results in the top right, above and to the right of the Origin. A government hold with an increased majority would be in that quadrant and above a line going up from left right at 45 degrees from the origin - which has not happened since 1983. Opposition holds - or seat changes between opposition parties - are in the bottom left hand quadrant and by-elections where the government of the day lost a seat are in the bottom right. Markers which are well below the dotted "best fi

Quote of the day 24th February 2017

"It's been very clear talking to people throughout this campaign that Jeremy Corbyn doesn't represent them. "They want a party which is on the side of ordinary working people, which will respect the way we voted in the referendum and which will build a country which represents everyone. That's why they voted for me tonight." (Trudy Harrison MP - Victory speech after the Copeland By-Election declaration.)

Congratulations to Trudy Harrison

Here are the Copeland results in full, with percentage shares of the vote. Trudy Harrison (Conservative) 13,748 votes (44.25%, increase +8.46%) ELECTED Gillian Troughton (Labour) 11,601 (37.34%, -4.92%) Rebecca Hanson (Liberal Democrat) 2,252 (7.25%, +3.80%) Fiona Mills (UKIP) 2,025 (6.52%, -9.00%) Michael Guest (Independent) 811 (2.61%) Jack Lenox (Green) 515 (1.66%, -1.32%) Roy Ivinson (Independent) 116 (0.37%) Conservative majority 2,147 (6.91%) 6.69% swing Labour to Conservative Electorate 60,602; Turnout 31,068 (51.27%, -12.53%)



The votes are in - now to count them

Polls closed 30 minutes ago in the Copeland and Stoke by-elections. Under normal circumstances both would be absolute nailed on certain Labour holds. As I explained earlier the electorate sees by election as a "free hit" opportunity to give someone a kicking, but it is very unusual for them to aim this at the opposition. Even when the government is well ahead in the polls opposition parties usually increase their majority in by-elections. The reality is that anything less than convincing holds in both seats will be a sign of a problem for Labour. Expectations have got totally out of control with ridiculous suggestions such as the rumour posted on the Whitehaven News website that the Conservatives think we are going to win Copeland by 4,000 votes. If that suggestion really came from a Conservative they were smoking something they should not have been. It is far more likely that this apparently preposterous suggestion was expectations management by Copeland Labour, eith

Music to relax as the election finally ends: "Adoramus" by Libera



Polls are open for another three hours in the Copeland and Stoke by-elections. Can't speak for Stoke but in Copeland it looks even closer than the last two general elections. Every vote could count. If you are a Copeland or Stoke Central elector and have not yet voted you can vote up to 10pm this evening. You do not need your polling card to vote. If you have a postal vote which you have not returned you can hand it in at any polling station in the relevant constituency up to 10pm. If there is a last minute rush, any qualified elector turning up to vote who is inside the polling station or in a queue outside before 10pm will be able to vote.

Reminder - polls are open until 10pm this evening

Today is the Copeland by-election (and also the Stoke by-election) Polling stations are open until 10pm this evening but if you are able to go and vote now before Storm Doris hits the UK that might be a good idea ...

How remarkable would a Conservative win in Copeland be?

If the normal rules of politics were in effect, the Conservatives would not have a cat in hell's chance of winning Copeland or Stoke today. The normal rules are NOT in effect and everyone who has spent any length of time in Copeland realises that there is a very real possibility of a Conservative win. Copeland Labour party are more worried than I have ever seen them and their "babies will die" campaign should be seen as a sign of desperation more than anything else. A by-election is usually seen as a cost-free opportunity for the local electorate to give someone a kicking, and on the vast majority of occasions the people they choose to kick are the government. That is why even governments which are well ahead in the opinion polls very rarely gain seats in by-elections, and most of those occasions when it has happened have been freakishly unusual - for example, the last time a government of any party gained a seat at a by election 25 years ago was both while that gov


Polls are now open in the Copeland and Stoke by-elections They opened at 7am and will be open until 10pm today (23rd February 2017)

Quote of the day 23rd February 2017 - BY ELECTION DAY



Tomorrow (Friday 23rd February 2017) is polling day for the Copeland and Stoke by-elections. If you are an elector in Copeland then for an effective local champion who will fight for jobs and services including our precious NHS vote for Trudy Harrison the Conservative. If you are an elector in Stoke Central and want to be represented by someone who is neither a fantasist nor someone who tweets sexist and offensive things about women, vote Jack Brereton. Polls are open from 7am to 10pm. Wrap up warmly and try to vote as early as possible because the weather forecast is that Storm Doris will hit and conditions will be horrible. Heavens only knows what that will do to the turnout ... 

As we finally reach the election: Music to relax after campaigning

As we finally reach the end of an election campaign which has been going on for two months and seems like it has been going on forever, with polling day tomorrow, the only possible choice for my " music to relax after campaigning " slot was " Faith of the heart " which was the theme tune of "Star Trek Enterprise."

One day to go to the Copeland By-election: Trudy Harrison interview

With one day to go to the Copeland By-election here is Conservative candidate Trudy Harison's interview with Andy Barwise of CFM radio.

Quote of the day 22nd February 2017


Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major


Combined tidal barrage and bridge plan moves a step closer.

The idea of a combined bridge, tidal barrage and possibly power connection linking Barrow and Millom with Lancashire grow a step closer this week according to the North West Evening Mail . Ideas along these lines have been supported for some years by local politicians from most political parties (though not, as we learned at the Millom hustings on Sunday, the greens) The Northern Tidal Power Gateways scheme would use a series of tidal turbines to stretch around Morecambe Bay while giving motorists a long-awaited link between the M6 and Barrow and Millom. The Northern Tidal Power Gateways project is led by Alan Torevell, chair of Dewhurst Torevell, who said this week: "It is hoped that before the end of Autumn 2017 there will be sufficient confidence to move into the feasibility phase of the project, where all the necessary planning requirements will need to be met and any remaining environmental concerns alleviated, to enable a start to be made." In the project'

Quote of the day 21st February 2017


With three days to go Labour trot out the worst election cliche in British politics

With just three days until the Copeland by election, the Labour campaign has followed up their atrocious "babies will die" election material by wheeling out the most over-used cliché in British political debate. Their candidate has now said that there are " Three days to save the NHS in West Cumbria ." Labour and their allies have used variants of this line at least fifteen times in the last 20 years, and Britain still has an NHS:

Music to relax after campaigning, Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No.6 first movement


There is More joy in heaven over one sinner that repents ...

Trevor Philips, who when he was 19 was one of those who persuaded the National Union of Students conference to adopt a policy of "No Platform for Racists and Fascists" has now come out in the Sunday Times against the policy here . By coincidence,  here is a current example of the way an equivalent policy has been abused in the United States: a society of Chinese students objected using the language of anti-racism to a visit an speech by a supposedly offensive "oppresser" (sic) -  the Dalai Lama. This is not so much a case of "generation snowflake" being oversensitive as that of supporters of a highly oppressive regime or movement co-opting the language of social justice to label the victims of that regime or movement as the oppressors and try to silence them. That tactic has also been employed on this side of the Atlantic, and while the "No Platform" policy exists there will be attempts to abuse it in this way. I welcome the fact that one

Quote of the day 20th February 2017


Sunday music spot: "Lord let me know mine end" by Greene


Interesting straws in the wind with five days to go

I still think the Copeland by-election is looking too close to call between the Conservatives and Labour. The Conservative vote is looking pretty solid, and motivated by the possibility of giving Labour in general and Jeremy Corbyn in particular a black eye. In a constituency dominated by the nuclear industry, it is a serious problem for Labour that their leader was passionately anti-nuclear for decades: as one Cleator Moor voter responded to Michael Crick when told that Corbyn had changed his mind about Moorside. "If he can chance his mind for the by-election he can change it back afterwards." And it is no good Labour representatives telling us that official party policy is to back Nuclear. To get investors a British government would have to convince them they were serious about backing the project and there is no way that Jeremy Corbyn would be credible. The one card in Labour's hand is the threat from the success regime to local maternity services but they may

Quotes of the day 19th February - understatements of the year to date.

Tony Blair's comments on Brexit were " unhelpful " - Jeremy Corbyn " I've had a difficult week ." - Paul Nuttall

Music to relax after campaigning: J.S. Bach's 'Komm, Jesu, komm'


Quote of the day 18th February 2017

"Some of us have not forgotten that Labour increased outsourcing in the NHS faster than the coalition or the Conservatives. And we had to fight proposals to cut services like maternity when they were running the government too! Voting Labour to stop privatisation of the NHS is like supporting King Herod for better childcare!" (Copeland voter, conversation on the doorstep. The comment about the level of outsourcing when Labour's Andy Burnham was health secretary is accurate as the graph below shows)

Could Britain break -up?

Nothing in this world lasts forever. We tend to think of nation states as though they were immortal because many of them last much longer than the average human lifetimes but there is no reason to imagine that any of the states which exist today are more immortal than the Empires of Alexander, the Mughals, the Aztecs or Incas, the Roman Empire, the Confederate States of America, or the Soviet Union. A very current and welcome example is that in 2017 there is an excellent chance that DA'ESH will lose their remaining territory and with it their claim to be an Islamic caliphate and a significant proportion of their ability to wreak torture, slavery and murder on innocent human beings, though sadly the threat from Jihadi terrorism will not go away any time soon. I hope that there will still be a United Kingdom of Great Britain for my grandchildren and my many-times great grandchildren to live in, but I do not deceive myself that such an outcome is inevitable. It would be a very r

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Triple Concerto in A minor


Quote of the day 17th February 2017


The Copeland by-election cardiovascular workout continues

Out today evening delivering magazines in Lowca and Low Moresby for Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison. As with the Valley area of Whitehaven you might think from the name that would not be too bad, but "Low Moresby" is low only in comparison with Moresby Parks and neither this village nor nearby Lowca is exactly flat! So up and down a lot of steep slopes tonight. However, it was undoubtedly exercise. Apologies to the lady who opened the door to put the rubbish out at the exact moment I came to the door delivering and had a shock finding someone on the doorstep. The Copeland by election cardiovascular workout continues apace ...

Music to relax after campaigning: Haydn's 'Insanae et vanae curae'

Today's music spot to relax after campaigning was chosen because, while the music is beautiful, the words appear particularly appropriate to the scaremongering about the local NHS perpetrated by Labour during the Copeland by-election. When translated into English the first two lines of the lyrics of this motet could almost have been written to describe how anyone unfortunate to be taken in by the Labour propaganda might feel. The next two lines, which are very similar in meaning to Mark's Gospel, Chapter 8, verse 36, * might be a reminder to the people responsible for writing and circulating this Labour propaganda, more than one of whom have publicly described themselves as "Christian socialists," about how hollow an achievement it is to seek worldly power, office or status by frightening vulnerable people with scaremongering and deception. The words of the motet are Insanae et vanae curae invadunt mentes nostras, saepe furore replent corda, privata spe. Qui

UK Employment at record high

Figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  show that The employment rate edged higher to 74.6%, which was a record high   "Continued moderate growth in employment has led to a new high in the total employment rate, while the rate for women has reached 70% for the first time on record," said ONS senior statistician David Freeman. The estimated number of people out of work dropped very slightly and ONS said the jobless rate held steady at an 11-year low of 4.8%. Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that the UK jobs market had remained resilient, despite warnings it would be hit by the Brexit vote. "The UK labour market continues to confound the doom-mongers with its resilience to the Brexit shock," he added. ONS figures also showed that real wages continue to rise, with average wages up at an annualised rate of 2.6% in the three months to December 2016 which is higher than either the 1.6% increase

Copeland by-election - one week to go

The Copeland by-election is one week today, Thursday 23rd February. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. You do not need your polling card to vote.

An excellent explanation of when PFI does and does not work

I have just seen a superb explanation of why PFI was a good idea for the purposes for which the Conservatives introduced it, such as toll bridges, but Labour were mad to use it to pay for hospitals. This was posted by "Armchair Critic" on the Copeland By-election thread of the Vote UK Forum One of the candidates in the Copeland by-election has been describing the use of PFI to fund hospitals as " Buy one hospital, pay for six." I don't agree with much else she says but on that point my only issue is whether the number should be higher than six. The £20 million a year we are still paying for the Cumberland Infirmary at Carlisle is a major reason why our local NHS trusts are short of money. Anyway, here is "Armchair Critic" on PFI: "PFI was a concept invented by the Conservatives in 1986 with the Dartford Crossing Act. The Dartford Tunnel was built in 1963, was loaded with debt

Quote of the day 16th February 2017

On a visit to Captain Shaw's school in Bootle, which was saved following a local campaign in which Trudy Harrison, Conservative candidate in the by-election on 23rd February played a leading role, the PM talked about the local NHS and the proposed Moorside nuclear development , to which she said the Conservatives are committed.   She had this to say about Trudy Harrison's support for local health services in Cumbria:   "Trudy Harrison does indeed know the importance of these services. She is opposed to the downgrading of these services. What is important is that Trudy Harrison is a candidate who has made clear her views not just to me but to health ministers, but she is also somebody who has a track record of delivering for local people. She would be the strongest voice for Copeland if elected on 23rd February. There is an issue about recruitment and retention of doctors. Trudy has come up with a very sensible idea that there should be a professionally-led

Music to relax after campaigning: Telemann Concerto for 4 violins


Trudy Harrison writes ...

Trudy Harrison, the excellent local Conservative candidate in the Copeland by-election, writes:   Nothing is more important than making a success of Brexit. It’s what we in Copeland overwhelmingly voted for at the referendum.             With the spotlight on Copeland, this is our chance to send a message that the result of the referendum must be respected.   Only by voting Conservative can you send a message that the result of the referendum must be respected. Labour want to ignore and forget what Cumbria voted for at the referendum.             Labour have been running things in Copeland since before I was born, and with very little to show for it. They’ve ignored and forgotten us on jobs, particularly the nuclear industry. They’ve ignored and forgotten us on investment and transport. And now they’re determined to ignore and forget us on Brexit too.   My plan to make Cumbria’s voice heard: b acking the Prime Minister

Quote of the day 15th February 2017


Postal Votes arrive

Our postal votes for the Copeland By Election arrived today. I will of course be using mine to vote for the excellent local Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison. Trudy is the candidate with the best plan to bring jobs and prosperity to West Cumbria and defend all local services. Trudy was born at the West Cumberland Hospital, as were her four daughters. She had to make the journey to WCH from Bootle while in Labour, so understands only too well what a long journey to the hospital to give birth is like and that having to go to Carlisle would be even worse. That's why Trudy is totally opposed to the success regime proposals to remove consultant-led maternity from West Cumberland Hospital and I believe she would be the best placed of all the candidates to convince the government to stop this dreadful idea.

Guido Fawkes caption competition winner

Guido Fawkes frequently does caption competitions and the winner of his most recent one , from a poster with the handle " bannedbyTelegraph ," was a cracker: "Clowns accuse Labour leadership of giving them a bad name"

Music to relax after campaigning: Andy Williams, Theme from Love Story

Valentine's Day edition of the "Music to relax after campaigning" series

Quote of the day for St Valentine's Day, 14th February 2017


Copeland By-Election Hustings

Congratulations to Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison on a great performance at the Copeland by-election hustings at the United Reformed Church in the Market Place at Whitehaven this evening. Thanks to the Whitehaven News for posting this recording of the event on their Facebook Page :

IS, "Islamic State" or DA'ESH?

Periodically there is an argument about what to call the terrorist organisation headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, hence this revisit of an issue I first blogged about just over a year ago. Like myself, Iain Dale always calls them DA'ESH and he gives a good and simple reason for doing so here . In my opinion a useful starting point in deciding what to call the present-day gang of murderers headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is to consider what we call the mid 20th-century gang of murderers headed by Adolf Hitler. I never lightly refer to anyone by comparison with Hitler, but DA'ESH are one of the few groups of people evil enough that the comparison is appropriate. If you have occasion to refer to the political party headed by Hitler, or to its' supporters, do you call them 1) By their official name translated into English  ( National Socialist German Workers Party )? 2) By their official name in German? ( Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ) 3) By the acr

Quote of the day 13th February 2017


Tonight's Keswick hustings

I thought Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison gave an excellent performance at tonight's hustings in St John's Church, Keswick. If you are thinking to yourself that I would say that, wouldn't I, the event was captured by the Cumbria Newspaper group on video and you can watch it for yourself and make you own mind up at

Sunday music spot: Hallelujah Chorus

I am keeping my fingers crossed that I may have cause to post this again in just over eleven days' time ...

Copeland by election hustings

The candidates in the Copeland By Election had a debate on the NE & Cumbria Sunday politics show which was recorded at the Beacon on Wednesday and broadcast at 11.30 today. There will be two hustings sessions over the next two days to which all the candidates have been invited. The first is at St John's Church, Keswick at 7pm this evening and the second is at the United Reformed Church, in Whitehaven's Market Place at 7.30pm tomorrow (Monday 13th February)

Superb Article by Dan Hodges on the PM's negotiating position on Brexit

Theresa May is determined to implement the public's decision on Brexit and to get the best deal she can for the UK while doing so.   But she is not, and never has been, one of those on either side who takes a rigid ideological line on the issue.   There is an excellent article in the Mail by Dan Hodges on the subject. Here are some extracts:     "There was no triumphalism in No.10. Instead, the events of last week are being seen as a victory born of necessity, rather than ideology.   "May is perplexed at suddenly finding herself the darling of Eurosceptics. Speaking to her inner circle before a meeting with leading Tory rebels, she remarked: ‘I don’t understand it. I voted Remain. Why do they think I’ve suddenly become some crazed Brexiteer?’   "Those who have become fixated by her ‘ Brexit means Brexit’ mantra, forget that Brexit did not always mean Brexit to May.    Indeed, her ambiguity on the matter prior to the referendum infuriated D