Showing posts from March, 2017

A traffic milestone

Yesterday this blog passed three-quarters of a million page views since the traffic monitors went up eight years ago. Thanks to all those who visited in that time, I hope you found it interesting.

What will the 27 EU nations want in the Brexit talks

There is a very interesting roundup of the possible negotiating positions of the other 27 EU members during the forthcoming Brexit talks at the Politico's site at Well worth a read, especially by Brexiteer fantasists under the illusion that the talks will be easy or, indeed, by any Remoaner pessimists under the impression that everyone else will be out to get Britain.

Quote of the day 31st March 2017


Thursday music spot: Couperin's Les Barricades Mystérieuses


Swimathon 2017

On Sunday week, 9th April 2017, my son and I will be taking part in the Swimathon in aid of Marie Curie's work for people with Terminal Illness. I first took part in the Swimathon twenty-three years before in 1994 so this will be the 24th consecutive year I have swum the 5,000 metre challenge. My fifteen-year old son John is joining me and taking part in the Swimathon for the fourth time: he will be swimming the 2,500 metre challenge.   The Swimathon is Britain’s largest charity swim, and gives people of very varied swimming abilities an opportunity to raise money for charity by swimming distances of up to 5,000 metres.  The 2017 Swimathon event is in aid of Marie Curie, who look after thousands of  terminally ill people.   A big thank you to those who have already sponsored either me, or my son John, in previous years or who have already sponsored us for this year. It is possible to sponsor swimmers online: If you would be kind enough to sponsor me, and would like to u

Quote of the day 30th March 2017


The PM writes on the Plan for Britain

The Prime Minister writes: Let’s make a success of Brexit. Let’s make a success of Brexit Today we formally begin the process of leaving the European Union. This is a moment for our country to come together and to forge a new partnership with Europe and with the rest of the world. Pledge your support for our Plan for Britain today.             When I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the whole United Kingdom – young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between. And yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home.             It is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country.             For, as we face the opportunities ahead of us on this momentous journey, our shared values, interests and ambitions can – and must – bring us together.             We

Theresa May's interview with Andrew Neil on Brexit


Prime Minister's letter to Donald Tusk triggering Article 50

Theresa May's letter to European Council president Donald Tusk triggering Article 50 and thereby beginning the process of British withdrawal from the EU can be read in full on the government website here .

Nigel Farage says he will emigrate "if Brexit is a disaster."

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said on his LBC radio show  that "If Brexit is a disaster, I will go and live abroad. I will go and live somewhere else." Gosh, thanks. Nigel. I'm sure that if it all does goes wrong those who can't afford to leave or would rather stick with this country through thick and thin, and who will have to live through the mess you will have helped create, will be delighted to know you've gone swanning off to escape the consequences. I don't think Brexit is going to be a disaster, but I am seriously unimpressed with the man. If the South Thanet by election is rerun and Mr Farage stands again I suspect that quote might be played back at him.

Friday music spot: The Bach Magnificat


Article 50 day

The news today is wall-to-wall Article 50 as the letter formally giving notice that Britain is triggering the process of withdrawal from the EU will be handed to Donald Tusk at about the time this post is scheduled to appear - 12.30pm BST on Wednesday 29th March 2017. One lot of people are going mad about how wonderful this is, another lot are sunk in apocalyptic despair. Most of us just recognise that it is an important change and want the government to get on with negotiating the best deal they can. I suspect the deal we end up with will be a lot less extreme than the more hardline Brexiteers are hoping of the more hardline Remoaners fear. The government fought to leave their negotiating position as open as possible during the debates on the Article 50 bill precisely so that they could have more room for flexibility within the negotiations. Those negotiations will be difficult. I hope that Theresa May can get a good deal. But she will not get everything she asks for - as Philip

Quote of the day 29th March 2017


Of sexism and absurd priorities

There were two news stories today which women - and men who want women to be treated fairly and decently - could reasonably be annoyed about. But one was very much more serious than the other What baffles me is that the former seemed to get vastly more attention in the broadcast media. Issue 1) A cricketer - apparently a fit, strong man aged 34 - was convicted of hitting his wife with a cricket bat and subjected her to other types of serious physical abuse such as pouriug bleach down her throat. However, despite admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm against his former partner,  cricketer Mustafa Bashir was spared a custodial sentence because the judge was not convinced she was "a vulnerable person." The judge said he did not believe the 33-year-old receptionist was vulnerable because she was “an intelligent woman with a network of friends” and had a university degree. Sentencing Mr Bashir to an 18-month jail term suspended for two years, Judge Mansel

Message from the Party Chairman: The Plan for Britain

The Conservative Party Chairman writes:   The Prime Minister has announced Our Plan for Britain: A Global Britain that is outward looking A stronger economy where everyone plays by the same rules A fairer society where success is based on merit, not privilege A united nation that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home There are big elections on 4th May and together we can deliver a strong result right across the country . Our Plan for Britain will deliver a country that is stronger, fairer, more united and more outward looking than ever before. It’s a plan to get the right deal for Britain abroad and a better deal for ordinary working people at home, but we need your help.             Labour are better funded than they have been for a long time, relying on union money and the support of the hard-left campaign group Momentum. We rely on hardworking people like you, so please donate

Quote of the day 28th March 2017


Monday Music spot: "In the Navy" (Down Periscope credits version)

One of the funniest ever nautical films, "Down Periscope" starring Kelsey Grammer, enlisted the Village people for the end credits of the film to join the cast of the film in spoofing their own official music video fot the song "In the Navy." Here it is. Down periscope - In the Navy from VictoriaDoran on Vimeo .

Timeline of the Dalek invasion of London

Thanks to J K Rowling and Andrew Lilico for retweeting this amusing timeline from @Excelpope

Quote of the day 27th March 2017


Has Britain become a "democratic one-party state" for a decade or so?

Alistair Meeks has posted today at "Political Betting" about " Politics in a democratic one party state ." His argument appears to be  that because the SNP has no interest or ability to appeal outside Scotland, the Lib/Dems were smashed down so heavily in 2015 that they will take a while to get back into serious contention for power, UKIP are bereft of a purpose for existence having achieved their main objective and too divided and disorganised to be a major threat to the Conservatives, and Labour seems to have abdicated any serious wish to appeal to the centre ground, we have entered a period of politics in which only the Conservatives matter. It's an interesting argument but I think it is not so much wrong as seriously overstated. Unless Labour manage a significant change of course which would have to include both new leadership and a much greater wish to appeal to a wider range of voters, they are in serious danger of  a very heavy defeat at the next

Sunday music spot: Albinoni - 12 Concertos, Op.9

I usually don't post a music spot of this length but this collection of Albinoni concertos was too delightful to ignore.

Quote of the day 26th March 2017 (Mother's Day)


Best Spoof posts of the month

1) Nicola Sturgeon refuses to accept results of England vs Scotland six nations rugby match 2) Farage says Carswell has never really let the hate flow through him 3) Trolls defy terrorists and carry on posting rubbish as normal 4) Theresa May drafts her Dear Jean (Claude Juncker) letter 5) Nicola Sturgeon announces plan to rebuild Hadrian's wall and adds that England will pay for it

Don't forget we lose an hour tonight !!!

Clocks go forward an hour tonight in the UK as we switch from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time. One second after 1:00:00 am GMT on Sunday 26th March the time will be 2:00:01 am BST. So we get one fewer hour's sleep. Especially don't forget if you are going to Church tomorrow as walking into the Mothering Sunday service an hour after it starts would be particularly embarrassing. Most people manage to forget the time change at some stage in their lives and most people only do it once. I'm just glad I managed to do it in the Autumn rather than the Spring and so nobody was there to see me turn up for church an hour early. That was more than thirty years ago when I was a student and I've never made the mistake again ...

Saturday music spot: Corelli's Concerto Grosso Opus 6, 4th movement (Allegro)


On "Submarine" May's style of government

Theresa May has a very different political style from any of her recent predecessors. This could be a strength or a weakness in different circumstances, but I personally think Britain lucked out in that, after the 23rd June 2016 referendum landed the country with an immensely challenging negotiation, we managed to end up with a PM who is known for being meticulously careful and pays attention to detail. I also thought that her speeches after this week's tragic terrorist attack showed a great deal of strength. There is an interesting analysis of her style of governing and crisis management on the Politicos site at

Quote of the day 25th March 2017

"It's not just on stilts, it's on telegraph poles." John Rentoul of the Independent responds to the suggestion that the idea of Emily Thornberry standing for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour party was " nonsense on stilts. " (The original tweet from Emma Burnell had pointed out that having the Labour leader and deputy leader both from Islington wasn't a good idea. John Rentoul pointed out that Emily Thornberry would also need nominating signatures from 50 Labour MPs or MEPs to challenge sitting deputy leader Tom Watson and "she hasn't got them.")

Allie Renison on the need to leave Referendum divisions behind

Rather too many of the comments I have read about Brexit since the vote to leave the EU on 23rd June last year have ranged from Panglossian optimism from "leave" supporters or die-in-the-ditch pessimism from "Remainers" to completely barking off-the-wall insanity from both extremes such as Hezza's suggestion that leaving the EU is like handing the Germans retrospective victory in World War II. (Can both sides PLEASE give the WWII and Hitler references a rest?) Too many on both sides are still fighting the battles of the referendum campaign instead of moving on. There is a very good article on Conservative Home by Allie Renison, who is Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors which suggests how we can move on from this and concentrate on getting the best deal for Britain. Here are a couple of extracts, " We throw around these labels , “Remoaner”, “Brexit fanatic”, with alarming alacrity, not realising how painful divisions are be

Contacting Emergency Services when you cannot speak

There are a number of circumstances when someone may need to call emergency services but not be able to speak. The example which was  publicised in a Metro article this week was the situation where a caller is being held hostage by someone who does not realise that they have access to a telephone, of if the caller does not want to give away his or her location to a terrorist or other criminal. It is also possible, however, that you might have had a fall, accident or attack of illness which rendered you unable to speak - an injury to the throat can do this, or if you are choking - but not unable to push the buttons on a phone. If that is your situation, there is a means of letting the operator know that it is a genuine emergency call and not just a case of a mobile phone in someone's pocket being pressed by random movement and causing an accidental call to be made. When you call 999, an operator asks which emergency service you require before rerouting the call to the polic

You Will Never Defeat Us: Andrew Neil's message to "Jihadi Johnnies"

Andrew Neil opened "This week" with a tribute to PC Keith Palmer and a message to Islamist wannabee terrorists: " You will never defeat us " because for every terrorist there are thousands of heroes like Keith Palmer.

Nominations open for County Council elections

Nominations have now opened for the Cumbria County Council elections (and for elections to other county councils and for Directly Elected Mayors for the West Midlands and Manchester.) Nominations are open from 10am today (Friday 24th March 2017) to 4pm on Tuesday 4th April. The election will be on Thursday 4th May and polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

Quote of the day 24th March 2017


Full statements by PM Theresa May, Speaker and party leaders

This clip shows the full session in which the Speaker, the PM, and the leaders of other parties spoke in the House of Commons in response to yesterday's terrorist attack. All of them paid tribute to the late PC Keith Palmer and all those police officers and the men and women of the emergency services who work to defend us all.


Extracts from Prime Minister Theresa May's speech to the House of Commons today. The full text is available on the government website here . "Mr Speaker, yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy. But today we meet as normal – as generations have done before us, and as future generations will continue to do – to deliver a simple message: we are not afraid. And our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism. And we meet here, in the oldest of all Parliaments, because we know that democracy, and the values it entails, will always prevail. Those values – free speech, liberty, human rights and the rule of law – are embodied here in this place, but they are shared by free people around the world. A terrorist came to the place where people of all nationalities and cultures gather to celebrate what it means to be free. And he took out his rage indiscriminately against innocent men, women and children. Mr Speaker, this was an attack on free p

When a "Spoof" site says no more than the truth

Sometimes the truth is so absurd that Spoof websites find it difficult to parody. Sometimes the opposite happens. Today one of the clearest statements of things not being absurd came from "The Daily Mash" a spoof site who publish parodies of news stories designed to amuse, who today wrote " London in grip of normality ." "LONDON is today in the grip of normality, with millions having their breakfast then going to work.   As the sun rose on a slightly chilly but otherwise pleasant spring day, residents of the metropolis faced up to doing the things that they would ordinarily do.     Librarian Susan Traherne said: “I’m going to have a bowl of Jordan’s Country Crisp with the dried strawberry bits in it and a cup of tea, and then get on the busy tube train to my work.   “I might read a few pages of my book on the way, if I can be arsed.   “As ever it will be a long and tiring day, and the city can be frustrating but it’s really not t

PC Keith Palmer RIP

The brave police officer who was murdered during yesterday's terrorist attack in Westminster has been named as PC Keith Palmer. He was 48 years old and was a husband and father. Before serving his country as a police officer for fifteen years he had served his country in our armed forces. MP James Cleverly tweeted this morning "I've known Keith for 25 years. We served together in the Royal Artillery before he became a copper. A lovely man, a friend. I'm heartbroken." Remembering PC Keith Palmer and thinking of his family and those of the other victims today. Rest in Peace.

Quote of the day 23rd March 2017

I have already posted a video and the full text of the PM's statement last night However, I thought it was worth highlighting the concluding words of that address, about how parliament will meet today as normal and how people in London will live their lives today as normal, as today's quote of the day to make the point that terrorist attack's like yesterday's will never succeed in destroying Britain's democracy. "The values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere. That is why it is a target for those who reject those values.  "But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.  "Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal. And Londoners - and others from around the world who have come here to visit t

The Guardian gets one right

No group of human beings has a monopoly on truth or falsehood, on wisdom or foolishness. I disagree with much that appears in The Guardian but occasionally they get something right. Jonathan Freedland has a column on the Guardian website this evening, " Bravery and simple humanity have shown Westminster at its' best " which is an example. Here is the conclusion of the column. "Yet if those who denounce Westminster had only seen it today. The speed with which the police and the emergency services ran towards danger when every human instinct would propel most of us away from it. The help ordinary people gave other ordinary people when they saw them lying hurt on Westminster Bridge. The security officers who brought a tray of tea to the police officers standing guard, watching over them. The visitors herded to safety , including a mother pushing a baby in a buggy. And the group of schoolchildren who reportedly decided to cheer up all those in lockdown in par

Prime Minister Theresa May's statement on today's terror attack

Here is the text of the Prime minister's statement on today's attack "I have just chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee, COBRA, following the sick and depraved terrorist attack on the streets of our Capital this afternoon. "The full details of exactly what happened are still emerging. But, having been updated by police and security officials, I can confirm that this appalling incident began when a single attacker drove his vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring many more, including three police officers.   "This attacker, who was armed with a knife, then ran towards Parliament where he was confronted by the police officers who keep us – and our democratic institutions – safe.Tragically, one officer was killed. The terrorist was also shot dead.  "The United Kingdom’s threat level has been set at severe for some time and this will not change. Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley will giv

Midweek music spot Lux Aeternam from the Mozart Requiem

I had something different lined up for tonight's midweek music slot but it can wait for the weekend. Instead, remembering the police officer who died at Westminster this afternoon and the other innocent victims who also died as a result of the terrorist attack, here is a movement of the Mozart Requiem The words mean "Grant them eternal rest O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them."

In gratitude for the work of our brave police officers

This image was shared by the Metropolitan Police Federation this evening in a message thinking about their members, all the brave police officers who have been protecting the public today. We should all be grateful for the sacrifice of the brave officer who died today protecting the home of democracy and for all those police officers who have given their lives protecting the people of our country.

We are not afraid

This logo has been shared on social media in response to the terrorist attack in London today

Statement from the parliamentary authorities about today's attack at Westminister

Mr Speaker and the Lord Speaker have made a statement following the terrorist attack in Westminster this afternoon.                           "An extremely serious incident has occurred in the Westminster area this afternoon. The Metropolitan Police is dealing with this and an investigation is underway. “On behalf of Members of both Houses of Parliament, we wish to offer our thoughts to all those affected and their families. “We would also like to that express our gratitude to the police and all emergency services.”   My thoughts, and I am sure those of almost everyone in Britain at this time, are with the family of the police officer who died in the line of duty defending parliament, and with the families of the other innocent victims who have died, and with the injured victims and their families.

Dire travel conditions in some parts of Cumbria today

There has been snow and severe weather in several parts of Cumbria over the last 24 hours. Corney Fell has been closed and several other roads such as the A6 near Shap are affected by ice and require drivers to be careful. If you have to travel in Cumbria today take extra care.

Quote of the day 22nd March 2017


What are the chances of an snap general election?

Yet more speculation from the press about the possibility of an early general election. Yet another dismissal of the idea from Number Ten: The Prime Minister's spokesperson yesterday responded to speculation about an early general election by saying " There is not going to be one ." and adding that the idea was " Nonsense ." The Prime Minister has now said so many times that she does not want a snap election or think the country needs one that she would have to have a very good reason to justify changing her mind. It is important to Theresa May that she is seen to be a woman of her word. "I've got the opportunity to get a bigger majority because Corbyn is so useless" would not cut it as an excuse, let alone as an argument to use when trying to get the required two-thirds majority for a dissolution  motion through the House of Commons. Most of the people who think that the Conservatives may call a snap election don't appear to have th

Study into possible Whitehaven by-pass commissioned

Cumbria County Council has agreed to commission a £60,000 study whose remit includes an investigation of the potential for a relief road for Whitehaven. The study will take about six month. Also taking place at the same time will be investigations to explore what improvements can be made to parts of the A595, A66 and A590. The study, a joint project with Highways England and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, will look at issues such as traffic flow and value for money. Findings will be submitted to Highways England and Transport for the North as part of wider work to identify transport priorities for 2020-2025.

Quote of the day 21st March 2017

"For the SNP to have one Tory leader more popular than Nicola Sturgeon is misfortune. To have two looks like carelessness." ( Liz Smith MSP , channelling Oscar Wilde's superb creation Lady Bracknell, in response to an opinion poll for Sky which found that both Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and PM Theresa May have positive ratings among Scots to the question of whether they are doing a good or bad job, and both score better than First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has a negative one.)

Vera Lynn at 100

Forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn who did so much to keep up the spirits of the heroes in our armed forces and civilians like during the dark days of World War II, is a hundred years old today. Her face has been projected on the White Cliffs of Dover. Many happy returns to a wonderful lady.

Trustees say St Bees School will re-open in September 2018

The trustees of St Bees school have released a statement today to the effect that they have created a partnership with Shenzhen International, a South East Asian education group, and the school will reopen in September 2018. The 432-year-old school closed with little warning in June 2015, due to falling pupil numbers and financial problems. The statement says: "Trustees have remained focused in their objective to re-establish learning and education at St Bees School. As such, the partnership has been established, with an agreement now in place for the reopening of the school. "Shenzhen International has been chosen for this partnership as their values are fully supportive to the ethos of the school. "The partnership has a clear and unified vision of educating global leaders for the internationally mobile world. "The commitment is to provide high quality academic education combined with a focus on personal development. St Bees School will be welcoming day

Quote of the day 20th March 2017


Salmond and Farron go the full Donald Trump

Both Alex Salmond and Tim Farron have gone the full Donald Trump today, with Salmond getting into an absurd spin about whether he described the 2014 Independence Referendum as a once in a generation event, and Tim Farron accusing Theresa May of being anti-NATO. The former First Minister was speaking on Radio 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics programme earlier today, and said: “The phrase was not once in a lifetime, it was the opportunity of a lifetime, I said it on the Andrew Marr show, it’s just one of these collective myths that evolve.” Sources include Press and Journal here . However there is plenty of footage showing that he actually did say it. Andrew Marr asked Salmond whether he would come back for a second independence referendum if there was a narrow "Better Together" win, and concluded his question with the words "You've talked in the past about it being once in a generation, is that still your view?" and the then First Minister replied, as

Poll of the week

Speaking as a Conservative who believes it is in both our own interest and that of the country that we have at least a half-competent opposition to keep us on our toes, the total and utter failure of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party to provide it is becoming embarrassing. When the Conservatives last went through a really, really bad patch twenty years ago, the hardest thing to take was not when I encountered hatred. Nor was it being taken for a joke. The hardest thing to take from my political opponents was pity. Partly for that reason I try not to feel pity for members of the Labour party. The other thing I keep reminding myself is that the Conservatives are not popular, it is only the total failure of our opponents which makes us look less dreadful by comparison and we still need to do better and avoid complacency. Intelligent commentators who are not on the right or centre-right - a few of them do exist - are in a total state of despair and writing things like the column Nick Co

Sunday music spot: The Final Countdown with Star Wars video

There is an extraordinary range of both Star Trek and Star Wars parodies of famous songs on the internet. The quality varies from the very good indeed through those which have good ideas but are terribly executed to those which are utterly dire. Over the Christmas season a couple of years back I took a few Star Trek versions of Christmas songs and put them on this blog as A "Star Trek Christmas." At some stage this year I will spend a week putting up some of the best Star Wars musical parodies as a Star Wards musical parody week. This music video does not quite fit into that pattern: rather than being a parody it takes one of my favourite songs - "The Final Countdown" and fits to the lyrics a video presentation consisting of the battle at the climax of "Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones." But I offer it as fun to listen to.  

Quote of the day 19th March 2017


Saturday music spot: Telemann's Trio in A minor, Allegro


A Labour view of the Scottish Independence question

I've posted a number of views about Indyref2 from Conservative sources such as Ruth Davidson. But belief in the UK is not the prerogative only of those on the political right. Here is an article by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale opposing Scottish Independence from a socialist perspective. A short extract follows "Remaining in the UK means we can pool and share the resources of our entire country to invest more in schools and hospitals, giving everybody a fair chance in life. We are better placed to look after our older people through the UK pensions system, to provide security to our nation through shared UK defence, and we can make a bigger difference in the world as part of the UK’s broad network of humanitarian efforts. Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK is worth four times as much as our trade with the EU. That secures hundreds of thousands of jobs and provides our young people with almost unlimited opportunities. Leaving the United Kingdom would me

Up to a point, Lord Copper ...

It is often suggested that it is difficult for a supporter of Brexit to make the case for Scotland to stay in the UK. There is certainly a degree of truth in this: many of the arguments used by Scottish Nationalists and "Yes" voters in Scotland are extremely similar to those deployed by those who campaigned to take Britain out of the EU. Sinilarly many of the arguments used by "Britain Stronger in Europe and extremely similar to those used by "Better Together. Which is one reason I find it absolutely astonishing that the SNP's official position has until now been so resolutely anti pro-EU, even though many of their criticism of London also apply to Brussels. If there is another Independence referendum - and I note that Theresa May is not saying that she will veto any proposal from the Scottish parliament for one, just that she will not accept one at the present very inappropriate time - I would expect the internal inconsistencies between the positions of t