Showing posts from April, 2017

Probably the best squelch of the election so far ...


Sunday music spot: Bach's Cantata 'Glory to God in the Highest'


Quote of the day 30th April 2017


Music to relax after campaigning: Brandenburg One (J.S. Bach)


Quote of the day 29th April 2017


Good news for the UK Economy

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) which represents the British companies which make and trade in cars and vehicles describes March 2017 as the best month since the turn of the millennium for UK car manufacturing.

Quote of the day 28th April 2017


Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Brandenburg Three


Letter from the PM

Theresa May, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, sends this appeal to Conservative supporters:     "Last week I stood on the steps of Downing Street and announced plans for a General Election, to be held on Thursday 8th June. We need this election now to secure the strong and stable leadership that the United Kingdom needs to see us through Brexit and beyond. We need it to lock in the economic progress we have made together. Every vote cast for the Conservatives will strengthen my hand in the Brexit negotiations, to get the best deal for all in the UK. And that’s why I need your support. You can get involved in our campaign by signing up to volunteer today:  Or if you can’t volunteer right now, please make a donation instead:   The choice facing people at this election is clear - between strong and stable leadership with me as your Prime Minister, or a coalition of chaos with Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the SNP and others.   Their

A request to Britain's cartoonists

Well, Lynton's latest  dead cat certainly got the attention today. Who would have thought that   one obsolete word which had it's previous fifteen minutes of fame in an election on the other side of the Atlantic more than a hundred and thirty years ago, could attract such a lot of attention. Just one small request to Britain's cartoonists. Please could you spare us the sight of any more parodies of   Gerome's 'Phryne revealed before the Areopagus'  which originally looked like this: but was parodied like this in reference to the previous group of people who were referred to as Mugwumps and  James G Blaine , the presidential candidate of their own party who they declined to support. I don't know whether the thought of Boris Johnson as Hypereides or of Jeremy Corbyn as Blaine/ Phryne  is more off-putting. The US Presidential election in 1884 between Blaine and Grover Cleveland was one of the most heatedly contested in history, making not j

J K Rowling and the Corbynista left

I hope it is a measure of my independent judgement that, despite the fact that I strongly disagree with some aspects of her political views and she with my party, I admire the author Joanne K. Rowling. As Sydney Harris once wrote, I greatly admire the ability and hard work that got J. K. Rowling where she is today, I admire the fact that she gives generously to causes she thinks are right without expectation of any reward even when I don't support those causes myself, and I admire the courage with which she stands up for her views and does so in a dignified and moderate way even when the act of standing up for her convictions  provokes vicious criticism from some of the most unpleasant people in politics. Previously having put her head over the parapet as a supporter of the Union between the countries of the United Kingdom, J.K. Rowling has come in from some pretty nasty abuse from the "Cybernats" and less pleasant supporters of Scottish Independence, people who

Quote of the day 27th April 2017

"Every vote for him is a vote to weaken our economy. Every vote for me is a vote for a strong economy with the benefits felt by everyone across the country." ( Theresa May on the choice on offer at the General Election on 8th June, after which either she or Jeremy Corbyn will be Prime Minister)

Praise for Trudy Harrison's maiden speech

Trudy Harrison made her first speech in the House of Commons yesterday, having been elected earlier this year as the first Conservative MP to represent Copeland since the seat was created eight decades ago, and now facing a battle to be re-elected thanks to the general election. The full text of her speech is available at the Hansard site here , and it can be seen on the "ParliamentliveTV" site here (this link shows the whole of the business for Tuesday 26th May, you can find Trudy's speech by using the slider on the right to go to 13.14.13). Today's parliamentary review in The Times by Patrick Kidd (which you can read in full  here ) was mostly about Trudy's maiden speech and I quote below an extract from it. Referring to the fact that Trudy was about to face re-election and had been looking to get a timeslot to deliver her first speech, before the dissolution, Patrick Kidd wrote: "Yesterday she delivered. After two months of ducking, she turned out

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Brandenburg Five


Quote of the day 26th April 2017


Remembering the Brave

I returned home this evening after taking a short break from election campaigning to visit London for a ceremony which directly commemorated sixty-four very brave men and implicitly the sacrifice of many thousands. Today was commemorated in Australia and New Zealand as ANZAC day, remembering the sacrifice of the brave soldiers from Australia and New Zealand in two world wars and particularly in the Gallipoli campaign. It is not a coincidence that it was also chosen for the unveiling, by Field Marshall the Duke of Kent, of a memorial outside Freemasons' Hall in Covent Garden to the Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross during World War one. The campaign in which the brave soldiers from Australia and New Zealand paid such a heavy price also saw great courage and sacrifice from other parts of the British Empire including Lancashire, the county which was home to my parents and grandparents. On the day of the Gallipoli landings which was chosen in Australia and New

Quote of the day for ANZAC Day 25th April 2017

Today, 25th April 2017 is ANZAC day in Australia - so today's quote is a tribute to the brave soldiers of Australia and New Zealand from an opposing general.

Good news on trade

The latest CBI trade survey shows British exports rising strongly: the strongest rise in overall export orders for six years, non-EU orders rising at the fastest rate on record.

Quote of the day 24th April 2017


When the polls are too good ...

There are a number of reasons why I think that Conservatives would be most unwise to put too much reliance on all the opinion polls suggesting Theresa May is in an unassailable position. The first is, as we found out over the 2015 General Election, the EU Referendum, and the election of Donald Trump, polls have a significant margin of error: sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes between the poll being taken and the actual vote people change their minds. And people have six weeks between now and 8th June to change their minds. The second is that even if a poll is right, if votes are in the wrong place the candidate or party with most votes can still lose - as Hillary Clinton found out in 2016. The 2017 general election is actually 650 local contests and it's possible to pile up votes in your own party's safe seats or reduce margins a bit in the other party's safe seats while loosing in the marginal which determine the election. In recent decades Britain's electoral

Music spot for St George's day from the.Household Division bands

Major Frederick Ricketts who composed under the pen name Kenneth J. Alford , is possibly the greatest composer of British military music - the piece which everyone knows but nobody realises he wrote was "Colonel Bogey." He was a Bandmaster in the British Army, and Royal Marines Director of Music. Conductor Sir Vivian Dunn called Ricketts "The British March King." To mark St George's Day today, here the massed bands of the Household division play his piece " The Standards of St George."

Quote of the day for St George's day 2017


The Economist's take on the election

There are some newspapers and magazines for whom any endorsement they make in an election is as predictable as that the sun will rise in the East and set in the West. The Economist is not one of them - they have backed the Conservatives and Labour in various British elections in the past, while in the US at various times they have backed the Republicans or Democrats or refused to back either. The magazine has not yet said who they back in the forthcoming British general election, and indeed the articles they have so far published about it are not entirely aligned, with one  here describing the view taken by the markets and by subsequent articles in the same magazine as one which, quote,  " may turn out to be right but it is quite a bold call ." Bold call, perhaps, but certainly an interesting one. I do not endorse every word in the articles " Back into battle " which argues that a bigger majority would improve the government's position at home and esp

Scene from an election campaign

This morning and part of the afternoon I was campaigning in Dearham for the excellent local Conservative candidate for the County Council Dearham and Broughton division , Hugo Graham, and members of the Workington and Copeland associations. As I came up one drive and reached the vicinity of the front door I noticed that there was a sign asking certain categories of people not to call, one of them being canvassers, so I was just starting to turn round when the door opened. I was starting to apologise to the householder and explain to her that I had only just seen the sign, when she asked if I was calling from the Lib/Dems or the Conservatives. I said the latter, which was apparently the preferred response, and she asked a couple of questions such as where the candidate lives - I was able to introduce her to Hugo and confirm that he lives in the village within a couple of hundred yards. Anyway, the objection to being canvassed didn't appear to apply to us, and the lady explaine

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

A wonderful rendition of an iconic piece of organ music. There was a lovely comment on the YouTube page where I found this. Someone had written that his neighbour called the police to complain that he was playing this too loudly and the Bach lover added, quote, " and they arrested him!"  Whatever the other strengths and weaknesses of that particular constabulary may have been, any police service that arrests people for trying to stop you listening to Bach has great taste in music.

The Jewish Chronicle's take on the General Election

Some very good plain common sense on the value of democracy from the Jewish Chronicle here . "The most common reaction to Theresa May’s decision to call an election seems to be a moan that we are being asked to take part in the third national poll since 2015. But a sense of perspective is necessary (not least in comparison with the people of Northern Ireland, who on June 8 will be casting a vote for the seventh time in three years). " At a parochial level, issues that mean much to our own, small community will rise to the fore as parties compete to persuade us that they are most worthy of our support. " But more fundamentally, while it may be trite to point out how many people have died for the right to vote, it is no less true for that. "Whatever the motivation may have been behind the calling of the election, we should celebrate our ability to choose our next government — something denied to the majority of our fellow human beings. "The next se

Quote of the day 22nd April 2017

"Maybe next time we have a mid-term PM so ahead in the polls, opposition parties will think twice before chanting 'unelected' at them for months." ( Martin Hoscik @MartinHoscik on twitter)

Trudy Harrison readopted for Copeland

Congratulations to Trudy Harrison who was readopted this evening by Copeland Conservatives as the Conservative candidate for Copeland for the June 8th General Election.

Music to relax after campaigning: Corelli's: Christmas Concerto, Adagio Opus. 6 No. 8


Quote of the day 21st April 2017

Jedremy Corbyn's very divisive speech yesterday seem to me to put British people against one another and stigmatise anyone successful, treating those businesses and rich people who pay their taxes, create British jobs and pay their workers decently as if they were acting like those who do not. It reminded me of this quote by American economist Thomas Sowell: Replace " Americans " with " British people " throughout and this perfectly sums up the problem both with Jeremy Corbyn's platform and with that of the Scottish National Party.

First Car Crash interview of GE2017 ...

Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes have called out the interview by Labour's Dawn Butler on Radio 4's PM programme this afternoon as  the first car-crash interview of the 2017 General Election campaign . Struggling to explain what exactly Labour would do to correct the "rigged system" she accused Theresa May of trying to rig democracy by calling an election. Had she been one of the thirteen MPs who voted against calling the election this rather strange comment would still have been daft but might at least have been consistent. But, thanks to the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the PM no longer has the power to call an election without the agreement of parliament. It now takes a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons to call an early election, which Theresa May obtained yesterday by 522 votes to 13. Obviously the Conservatives do not have anything like two thirds of MPs and the election could not have been called without the support of large numbers of opposition MPs

Music to relax after campaigning: Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Rinaldo

Gorgeous performance of this exquisite aria from Handel's opera "Rinaldo" sung by the soprano Kirsten Blaise and accompanied on period instruments. The lyrics translate as "Let me weep over my cruel fate, and sigh for freedom. Let my sorrow break the chains of my suffering, out of pity."

Quote of the day 20th April 2017

" No, May is not like Erdogan. Theresa May’s snap election has caused the Guardianista class to lose their minds. Martin Kettle writes that 'Theresa May in Downing Street sounded like Turkey’s authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan' . This is just bonkers. Erdogan is an Islamist autocrat who rules under a state of emergency, jailing political opponents, arresting journalists, controlling the airwaves, censoring social media and passing a law which could see him stay in power until 2029. Theresa May has called an election." (Guido Fawkes, article on his website here . )

Music to relax after campaigning: Henry Purcell's Rondeau

Giving my age away here, but to me this is the theme from the BBC's "The first Churchills" a costume drama about the lives of John and Sarah Churchill, the first Duke and Duchess of Marlbrough who of course lived in the same late Stuart era in which Purcell wrote this. "The first Churchills" was broadcast as a series when I was a child and I remember being fascinated by it. I also loved this Henry Purcell's piece which was the programme's theme tune, and which was of course later adapted by a number of more modern composers including Benjamin Britten and Andrew Lloyd-Weber.

Postal votes arrive

My postal vote for the County Council election on 4th May has arrived today. I think this is the only time I can ever remember receiving my vote in one election on the same day that another election was called.

Parliament approves June 8 election by 522 votes to 13.

The House of Commons has voted by an overwhelming majority in favour of the motion to call a general election on 8th June. There were 522 votes in favour including the majority of Conservative, Labour and Lib/Dem MPs. Most of the SNP abstained and there were only 13 MPs against, who Guido Fawkes has named as : Dennis Skinner Ronnie Campbell Ann Clwyd Paul Farrelly Jim Fitzpatrick Lady Hermon Clive Lewis Fiona Mactaggart Liz McInnes Alasdair McDonnell Graham Stringer Michelle Thomson Natalie McGarry What I must confess I do not get is the position of those opposition MPs who have accused Theresa May of putting the Conservative party's interests before those of the country by proposing a motion calling and election but who also themselves voted for that motion, or abstained. If they think the election is against the national interest, why didn't they vote against calling it? If they think it will be in the interest of the country to have an early election, h

Quote of the day 19th April 2017


The Labour MP for Barrow takes an impossible position

Britain is a parliamentary democracy. Our ministers and Prime ministers are accountable to us through parliament and the way that British elections have worked for more than two hundred years is that the voters choose the government by deciding which party to elect. There are other ways to run a democracy, but this is the system we use in Britain. Which is why the  statement issued by the Labour MP for Barrow and Furness today a classic case of nonsense on stilts. Or to paraphrase the Independent's John Rentoul, not just on stilts but on telegraph poles. John Woodcock has announced on his Facebook page here that he is seeking the nomination of his local Labour and Co-operative parties to stand again as Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, yet he also announces in the same statement that, quote, "I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn Britain's prime minister." There is a report about his statement here . This is utterly bizarre - how can you

Chris Deerin on why Theresa May is right to call an election

There is an article by Chris Deerin at CapX here on why he thinks Theresa May was right to call a general election.

Music to relax after campaigning: Corelli's Concerto Grosso in D Major Opus 6 No 4


Sir Patrick McLoughlin on why we need an election now

The Chairman of the Conservative party writes about why Britain needs an election: Why we need an election now: The Prime Minister has just announced that a General Election will be held on 8 June - and that we will shortly take the necessary steps in Parliament to ensure that this can happen.         We need this election now to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond. Every vote cast for Theresa May and the Conservatives will strengthen Britain’s hand in the Brexit negotiations. We will stick to our Plan for a Stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future. The choice is between strong and stable leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives – or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn.   We need an election because: It w

PM to ask parliament for 8th June General Election

Here is the full text of Prime Minister Theresa May's statement from Downing Street to the effect that she will ask the House of Commons tomorrow to vote for a General Election on 8th June.     "I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on June 8. "I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election. "Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became Prime Minister the Government has delivered precisely that. "Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations. "We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed b

Quote of the day 18th April 2017

"Mrs Thatcher will be remembered not as a great executive leader, because every Prime Minister is powerful, but because she is a teacher. The weakness of the Labour party over a long period is that it hasn't done any teaching." ( Tony Benn , 8th February 1992)

The Prime Minister's message for Easter 2017


Music to relax after campaigning: Barron Knights "A Taste of Aggro"


Nick Cohen on Free Speech

Nick Cohen wrote an excellent article last year in defence of free speech. I linked to a version of this at the time but I think it is worth reading and reminding people about again. Here is the conclusion: "When I argue for freedom of speech at student unions, I am greeted with incomprehension as much as outrage. It’s not only that they don’t believe in it, they don’t understand how anyone could believe in it unless they were a racist or rapist. The politicians, bureaucrats, chief police officers and corporate leaders of tomorrow are at universities, which teach that open debate and persuasion by argument are ideas so dangerous they must be banned as a threat to health and safety. Unless we challenge them in the most robust manner imaginable, whatever kind of country they grow up to preside over is unlikely to be a very free one. To fight them, you must emphasise censorship brings the hypocritical observance of conventional pieties. You must welcome, rather than mock, femin

Quote of the day 17th April 2017


Music for Easter day: S.S. Wesley's "Blessed be the God and Father"

Samuel Sebastian Wesley composed this masterpiece to be sung in Hereford Cathedral on Easter Sunday 1834. Legend has it that the only singers he had available were three trebles and the Dean's Butler who sang bass. This arrangement requires a slightly larger choir, though it is easy to realise that it would have been wonderful to listen to only with the original four voices!  

Happy Easter to everyone who reads this

Today Christians throughout the world celebrate the day when we believe that Jesus, the son of God,  rose from the dead. To everyone reading this who shares that belief, may the love of Jesus be with you today. To those of other faiths or none, peace to you today on this most holy day. To all who live in a country which celebrates this time with a holiday, I wish you have a good holiday. To everyone I wish you and your family good health and a Happy Easter.

Quote of the day for Easter Sunday 2017

“Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.”    ― N.T. Wright .

Is the Conservative lead 21% or 9%?

There are two opinion polls out for Easter Weekend. Opinium’s poll for the Observer shows a Conservative lead of only - only! - nine percentage points and therefore the gap between the two main parties dropping into single figures for the first time in more than two months, while the ComRes poll for the Independent and Sunday Mirror has it increasing to 21 percentage points, the biggest lead for a Tory government since September 1987. Opinion polls are not perfect and the gap between these two illustrates the point, though they are better than relying on anecdotal evidence. My personal view is that the real Conservative lead is probably rather more than 9% but rather less than 21%. There is an excellent article by Matt Singh of Number Cruncher Politics on the differences between the two polls which you can read here .

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach Harpsichord Concerto D minor BWV 1052


Quote of the day 15th April 2017


A final Good Friday post


Rob Semple on Cumbria Conservatives leading the way

Rob Semple is Chairman of the National Conservative Convention which makes him the senior elected member of the Conservative voluntary party. Here is an extract from an article he wrote yesterday on Conservative Home "I want to update those who were unable to make it to Cardiff for our recent Spring Forum and National Convention on developments that have taken place since. I was delighted that the forum was held on a larger scale again, and am grateful to our colleagues in Wales who hosted us. This gathering was our first since the historic win in Copeland for Trudy Harrison – winning a seat that has not been Conservative since 1935 was a truly stunning result. Trudy gave a great speech at the forum, and thanked activists from across the country who had braved often hostile weather conditions to play their part in her victory. It was a real team effort by volunteers, professionals and Parliamentarians across the Party – so thank you to everyone who helped out, whether that

Music for Good Friday part 2: Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus.

The second of two posts with music to mark Good Friday, here is one of the most beautiful Passiontide anthems ever written, " Ave Verum Corpus " (Hail, true body) by William Byrd.

Music for Good Friday part one: Bach's St. Matthew Passion, opening chorus

This is the first of two posts with music to mark Good Friday: the first chorus of J.S. Bach's Passion of Our Lord according to Matthew: " Come ye daughters, hear my mourning ."

Tim Farron does his best to offend everyone in Scotland

I had the unusual experience this week of briefly intending to defend Lib/Dem leader Tim Farron. Then I checked what he had actually said and realised he didn't really deserve defending ... Chris Deering tweeted that a Tim Farron speech in Edinburgh could be characterised as "Come to Scotland and tell us we're" (insert rude word here) in response to a Buzzfeed report of the speech, titled "Tim Farron Says Scots Were The 'Trailblazers' Of Personal Abuse In Politics" Seeing this headline, I thought to myself " Surely he didn't say that, he must have said the SNP, not all Scots ." Well, I looked and you can check it for yourself by clicking here , but unless Buzzfeed have seriously misquoted Tim Farron he did indeed appear, addressing his Scottish audience as "you," to suggest that Scots in general were trailblazers leading the way for the rest of the country in introducing " heated and personal abuse " in

Quote of the day for Good Friday 2017


Myths it's time to abandon 1) My enemy's enemy is my friend

This is the first in an occasional series of posts about old ideas which have far more influence than they deserve on our thinking, often without people realising it, and which it is high time we outgrew. The old idea I would like to suggest we consign to the bin today is this one: "My enemy's enemy is my friend." There have been historical instances of nations in Europe managing to make this principle work for them for a while. The "Ault Alliance" of Scotland and France against England in the days before the Union of the Crowns is perhaps an example, for instance, though Jacobites who attempted to revive it found themselves pawns in the game of European diplomacy and great harm came to Scotland as a result. However, if is relatively easy to point to the day in history when the harm done by this concept outweighed any good it had previously done, drowning the entire continent and a significant part of the rest of the world in blood. 28th June 1914. Tha