Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Music to unwind after campaigning: Now Is The Month Of Maying

To relax after the last day of campaigning in May.

For more than one reason I really missed a trick not using this one earlier in the month!

Debates in context

Well, that "leaders debate" was a couple of hours which the people who watched won't get back, I suspect it will only influence the most miniscule number of votes because the people watching had already made up their minds how to vote.

In historical context the decision of the Prime Minister and the First Minister of Scotland not to attend is not at all unusual.

Here is a potted history of all the times over the past fifty-three years when a leader's debate has been called for and why it usually didn't happen.

There has been precisely one election - in 2010 - when it was agreed to get the plausible candidates to be Prime Minister (Brown, Cameron and Clegg at that time) in front of the cameras for a series of three debates. Here is an interesting BBC report from the time on the history leading up to that series of debates.

Since them, in an understandable but ultimately futile attempt to be fair to all parties, we have had endless arguments about who should take part and to be honest the set piece debates with seven parties represented have not been tremendously valuable. I think this has been a classic case of trying to please everyone and ending up by pleasing nobody.

I note that even some people who until this evening had criticised Theresa May for not taking part are now saying that after watching it they don't blame her.

The SNP manifesto fact-checked

Amazingly the most ridiculous manifesto put forward by a party represented in parliament in this election is not that of the Labour party, dire though their offering is.

No, it belongs to the SNP and is fact-checked by Channel 4 at

Large parts of the SNP  manifesto relate to matters determined by the Scottish parliament: the promises and claims concerned were relevant to the recent election for MSPs but have no relevance whatsoever to the Westminster MPs who are currently being elected.

"For instance, the SNP are promising “the continuation of free university education in Scotland”.
But it is constitutionally impossible for their MPs in Westminster to do this, because education is a devolved issue in Scotland."

The SNP's addiction to borrowing and to the "magic money tree" appear to be even worse than Labour's: for instance

"The SNP seems to be the only party openly flouting one of the “golden rules” of managing public finances: that governments should only borrow money to fund long term investment in the economy, rather than just plugging holes in tax revenues."

The SNP's rhetoric is against what they call "austerity" and pro spending on services like the NHS - yet in spite of the fact that the Barnett formula ensures Scotland gets financial support from the rest of the UK to match the levels of NHS and other spending in England, they SNP government in Scotland has not always done so.

"Healthcare spending in England increased by 9.2 per cent in real terms between 2011/12 and 2015/16, according to the Treasury. In Scotland, meanwhile, the SNP oversaw an increase of just 3.7 per cent in Scotland."

The SNP only care about breaking up the UK. You cannot trust them to be right-wing, you cannot trust them to be left-wing, you cannot trust them to manage Scotland's resources effectively. The only thing the SNP are good at is stirring up trouble.

Problems with Polls

The first thing to say about polls is that the only one that matters takes place on 8th June.

The opinion polls led people to have false expectations in the 2015 general election, in the 2016 referendum, and in the 2016 US Presidential election. The latter was the most understandable since Hillary Clinton did carry the popular vote - although this should warn us not to map polls directly to results in Britain too, since just as the US uses a state-by-state electoral college to elect their president, Britain elects a House of Commons from 650 constituencies each returning one MP.

Part of the problem is that pollsters have to make a large number of assumptions and adjustments to correct for bias in their samples - some types of voter are much harder to reach - adjust for differential turnout, guess what voters who say they have not yet made their minds up are likely to do, etc. These assumptions can radically affect what the poll predicts.

There is a very good article by Andrew Hawkins, chairman of pollster COMRES,

"Who will vote and why?"

which you can read in full here.

His article explains why some polling companies are giving the Conservatives larger leads than others: those which are predicting larger leads tend to be making their adjustments on the basis that voter turnout by age will follow the normal historical pattern (e.g. older people, who are more likely to vote Conservative, are also more likely to vote) and that those who make up their minds late will be heavily influenced by their view of party leaders. The main clue in 2015 that the Conservatives were going to do better than some headline polls was that David Cameron's ratings were much better than Ed Miliband's - and even though her approval ratings are no longer at the extremely high levels with which she entered the campaign, Theresa May has an even larger lead over Jeremy Corbyn than DC had over Red Ed.

I think Andrew Hawkins' arguments are probably more right than not, and what he is saying certainly lines up with what I am finding on the doorstep in West Cumbria.

But we don't know. If the Corbynistas are right and lot of young people who normally do not vote are motivated to do so this time, those pollsters who are predicting a hung parliament or even Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister could be right.

Essentially nobody can take the electorate for granted or be certain what is going to happen.

Quote of the day 31st May 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

NUGEN statement on their strategic review

Following a meeting at Whitehaven Golf Club on May 16th, NUGEN issued the following statement about their Strategic review.

NuGen’s CEO Tom Samson held a series of meetings with elected representatives and technical and special interest groups in Cumbria to discuss the company’s current transitional phase.

Following recent news on challenges to NuGen’s Moorside project due to shareholder and reactor vendor issues, NuGen initiated a series of face-to-face meetings with communities and representative groups in West Cumbria to discuss the current situation.

Held at Whitehaven Golf club, the Moorside Technical Group (MTG) was followed by an elected members’ briefing where parish council, local authority and county councillors were briefed on NuGen’s plans, and given the opportunity to ask questions about the situation.

Tom Samson set the scene by outlining NuGen’s “tough start to 2017” when the extent of financial issues affecting Toshiba and reactor vendor Westinghouse became apparent.

He said these issues, unconnected to Moorside, had then prompted current shareholder ENGIE to decide to exit the project in line with shareholder agreements.

“At the end of March, it became clear we at NuGen had to take a step back due to these circumstances and revisit some fundamental elements on which we had been building the programme to deliver Moorside.”

“As has been reported we took the decision to “hit the pause button” in order to explore our options to move forward to our objective – which is to deliver the next generation of low-carbon baseload electricity by the mid-2020s, for the benefit of the UK’s future prosperity.”

Mr. Samson said there were a “universe of options” – but that NuGen could not exercise those options unilaterally, and had launched a Strategic Review, sanctioned by the NuGen board and in consultation with the UK Government, to explore a range of options which could include new investors, technology and financing solutions to ensure Moorside is delivered.

“The key exam questions are straightforward in the circumstances. What is the best option for Moorside in technology and funding, to allow us to progress this phenomenal project of national significance, with confidence.”

Speaking to elected officials Mr. Samson stressed the importance of Moorside to the UK’s future energy needs but said funding and ownership through development to construction phases, was the key consideration of the review.

“We have achieved a great deal so far, and the Moorside project has created significant international interest. Westinghouse has achieved design acceptance for the AP1000 reactor from the UK nuclear regulators, and this is of major benefit to the UK. So this, along with other considerations, including options for new partners, will form part of our review. We have 100% backing from Toshiba as we move forward through this transition.”

Mr. Samson told local stakeholders he had formed an independent panel of experts including the internationally-renowned nuclear expert Dame Sue Ion, and Norman Haste, an expert on construction who was involved in mega-projects like Crossrail, and who helped deliver Sizewell B, the last nuclear power station to be constructed in the UK.

Mr. Samson added: “It is incumbent on NuGen to come up with answers to these difficult exam questions. Once we have completed the Strategic Review and consulted on our findings with the Government we can begin to redefine our timelines – and then we will hit the fast-forward button.”

“As I said on a recent television interview – I am 110% sure this phenomenal project, which will be transformational for Cumbria and the North of England, will go ahead.”

Conservative plans for Social Care

The challenge of paying for good social care is one of the biggest facing our country.

Here is what the Conservatives will do about this huge challenge if Theresa May is re-elected in the General Election on 8th June.

Most memorable point from last night's TV election discussion

Question: Did you think the Falklands war was a Tory Plot?

Jeremy Corbyn: No

Question:  Why did you say you did, then?

(Twitter post about last night's debate)

Link to story about how Jeremy Corbyn did make that comment at a Haringey council meeting in 1982 can be found here.

Quote of the day 30th May 2017

"There is no safe way to vote Labour on June 8th"

(Penultimate sentence of an article on CAPX by Graeme Archer which you can read here.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Pensions - Conservatives have protected pensions and will continue to.


The Conservative-led coalition government introduced the "Triple lock" on pensions in 2010. As a result,

The state pension has increased by more than £1,250 in the last seven years.

A decade ago, poverty blighted the retirement of many older people. That’s why we introduced the Triple Lock – where the State Pension rises by whichever is highest of earnings, inflation, or 2.5 per cent.

That has worked – increasing the full basic state pension by over £1,250 in cash terms and reducing pensioner poverty to historically low levels. This also represents a significant increase in real terms in the state pension.

The Conservatives will keep the "Triple Lock" until 2020 in line with the 2015 manifesto.

After that there will be a "Double Lock" so that the state pension will increase in line with inflation or average earnings, whichever is higher.

We will also take action to ensure that workers cannot lose out because their employers mismanage their pension schemes.

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to protect the pensions of workers against irresponsible behaviour by company bosses.

In recent years, the employees of large, household-name companies have found their pensions put at risk by the irresponsible behaviour of bosses like Robert Maxwell. But responsible companies managing their pension scheme in the right way have found their competitive position suffer from that same behaviour.

This is bad for both workers and the market as a whole, and that’s why we will act. A Conservative Government led by Theresa May will give the Pensions Regulator the power to scrutinise takeovers and unsustainable dividend payments that threaten the solvency of a company pension scheme.
Under our plans, any company pursuing a merger or acquisition valued over a certain amount or with over a certain number of members in the pension scheme would have to notify the Pensions Regulator, who could then apply certain conditions.

In cases where there is no credible plan in place and no willingness to ensure the solvency of the scheme, the Pensions Regulator could be given new powers to block a takeover. This would include the power to issue punitive fines for those found to have willfully left a scheme under-resourced.

If fines proved insufficient, the company directors in question could be struck off for a period of time and a new offence could be introduced to make it a criminal act for a company board to intentionally or recklessly put at risk the ability of a pension scheme to meet its obligations.

In short we will tighten the rules on pensions during takeovers, and increase punishments for those caught mismanaging schemes.

This is all part of how Theresa May and the Conservatives plan to build a stronger economy and deliver a more secure future for families across the country.

School funding: the facts

This is what the Conservatives are actually proposing in respect of education funding:

Quote of the day 29th May 2017

"Walking the streets of Manchester, I find tolerance rather than hatred"

(On learning of the terrorist attack) "Not Manchester, I think. Terrorist attacks happen everywhere else, but not here, not in my home city."

"I feel sad and angry. How could anyone target children?"

"I go out into Manchester city centre. Other than a few police officers in Market Street, which is where all the shops are, it seemed like any other day. Hundreds of people were in St Ann’s Square laying flowers in tribute to the victims."

"Where’s the hate, I wondered? The vast majority of people in times such as these come together and offer support. Do not believe the loud voices shouting about “Islamophobia” and the backlash against Muslims."

"British people, on the whole, are marvellous and tolerant ...  British Muslims are overwhelmingly fortunate to live here."

(Extracts from an excellent article in the Sunday Times by British Muslim Iram Ramzan, a Manchester-based journalist and founder of Sedaa, a website for writers of Muslim heritage.

You can read the article in full here.)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dan Hodges on why he will be voting Conservative

There is a good article by former Labour and union activist Dan Hodges on why he will be voting Conservative on 8th June which you can read here.

One person had criticised him with the words "So you're going to vote for May because you don't like how Jeremy Corbyn wears his tie."

Dan replies

"It was never about his tie. On Friday, my wife and son were due to attend an Ariana Grande concert at the O2 arena. When people target – don’t simply murder, but deliberately target – children, I expect my Prime Minister to say ‘the blame is with the terrorists’, and then stop."

Eight positive reasons to vote for Theresa May's Conservative team

Sunday Music spot: Vivaldi's Gloria (Choir of King's Cambridge)

Four movements of Vivaldi's magnificent "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" (Glory to God in the highest) sung by the choir of King's College, Cambridge.

The Institute for Fiscal Stuties on Labour's manifesto

It would be fair to say that the Institute for Fiscal Studies is no friend to either the Conservatives or Labour. They have been critical of both the Labour and Conservative manifestos.

Personally however I find their criticisms of Labour's preposterous spending plans both more convincing and more damning.

Labour candidates may claim that their manifesto plans are "fully costed" but the reality is that the Institute for Fiscal Studies has taken those plans to pieces.

Labour says it can raise £49bn a year through tax rises - £52bn minus £3bn of slack.

The IFS argues that at the very least £11bn of that £52bn is not going to materialise on the grounds that the party has overestimated what it will get from taxing the rich and hitting tax avoidance (see below).

They also warned that the remaining £41bn was "very generous" and that corporation tax rises wouldn't deliver the claimed savings beyond 2022.

Taxing the rich and companies hits everyone, not just the rich

The IFS warned that Labour's planned rises in corporation tax and stamp duty will hit more than just the rich. The party's decision to extend stamp duty to derivatives and bonds will include those saving in private pension funds among the "likely losers", said the institute.

And IFS deputy director Carl Emmerson said Labour's plan to hike corporation tax for larger businesses to 26% would again hit pension funds with shareholdings, and would ultimately be passed on to workers through lower wages or to consumers through higher prices.

"This isn’t to say we shouldn’t tax businesses," added Emmerson. "But we shouldn’t pretend that it is somehow victimless and hence fundamentally different from personal taxation. The impacts on households are just less transparent."

Tax rises aimed specifically at high earners are the least effective

Labour's flagship tax measure is to hit the highest earners with an income tax rise, supposedly to protect everyone else. Tax will be raised on everyone earning more than £80,000 a year.

Not so fast, says the IFS. While Labour is planning to raise £6.4bn a year from these measures, the think tank warned that just a low level of "responsiveness" - higher earners changing their behaviour, such as by moving abroad - would reduce this to £4.5bn a year. Medium responsiveness would cut it to £2.5bn, and high responsiveness would slash it all the way down to nothing.

The IFS say that the idea that Labour can fund their programme by only hitting the richest 5% and companies "will not happen" and that in practice they would have to raise taxation to the highest peacetime levels ever experienced in Britain to deliver their promises.

Labour's tax avoidance figures are unreliable...

Left wingers have a habit of ascribing heroic new funding streams to clamping down on tax avoidance. Labour's manifesto pledges to raise £8.8bn from hitting tax avoiders and evaders.

The IFS believe that "at least half of that is unlikely to materialise".

The party has double counted £2.5bn in extra revenue, and £1.6bn which Labour's offshore company levy is expected to raise won't materialise at all as people respond by ditching those ownership structures, said the IFS.

And what's left of the plans comes with "downside risk".

What the IFS could have added is that insofar as Labour's corporation tax rises do raise extra tax revenue they will leave companies with less money available for investment. That is likely to exacerbate the problem of low productivity growth which has been the worst problem holding the British economy back under governments of all colours for more than a decade.

Quote of the day 28th May 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Music to unwind after campaigning: W. F. Bach's Harpsichord Concerto In E Minor

Copeland Conservatives had two good campaigning sessions today in Distington and Gilgarran, canvassing for Trudy Harrison and conducting a postal vote knock-up.

As something for anyone who has been out campaigning today to unwind to, here is a Bach Concerto.

But when I say "Bach" I don't mean Johann Sebastian Bach - J.S. Bach is the best known member of the family today but by no means the only one. As Wikipedia puts it,

"The Bach family was of importance in the history of music for nearly two hundred years, with over 50 known musicians and several notable composers, the best-known of whom was Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750).[1] A family genealogy was drawn up by Johann Sebastian Bach himself in 1735, his 50th year, and completed by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel."

This rather charming Harpsichord concerto was written by Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, the eldest son of JS Bach and a very distinguished musician in his own right.

Things I've learned today ....

That trying to post both a picture and a poll (serious or otherwise) on the same tweet is not something which twitter handles very well, unfortunately ...

Health Minister Philip Dunne on the next phase of work at WCH

A government Health Minister has praised Copeland’s Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for her commitment to local health services and spoken about plans to further develop West Cumberland Hospital if the Conservatives are re-elected.

Straight after being sworn in after winning the Copeland by-election Trudy Harrison met with Philip Dunne, Minister of State at the Department of Health, to reinforce the strength of local feeling, the need for vital services to stay in Whitehaven and to urge the required funding to complete the final phase of construction at West Cumberland Hospital.

Philip Dunne, Minister of State for Health, who recently visited WCH, said yesterday:

"Trudy Harrison has already shown herself to be a strong champion for local health services and has lent her support to West Cumberland’s bid for new capital investment as part of the long planned improvements in this area.”

The trust has been removed from Special Measures, a fully staffed maternity ward is in operation, and in addition to the £90million already invested by the Conservative government, funding has been secured for the final phase of the hospital’s construction.

Mr Dunne added: “I am pleased to say this will be a priority project if a Conservative Government, under Theresa May, is re-elected on June 8th. Our recent manifesto promised the most ambitious ever investment in NHS buildings and with these local proposals clearly needed and already very well advanced, we look forward to getting that investment here in Copeland as soon as possible.”

Trudy Harrison said: “I am encouraged with the progress made at West Cumberland Hospital, however, my work is far from finished and we still have a long way to go. I am confident that, if elected, I can secure the investments and improvements we so desperately need.”

Boris writes ...

Boris Johnson writes ... 

"We can’t let Corbyn get away with this.
We can’t let Corbyn get away with this Chris


Last night Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed by Andrew Neil – and spent the whole interview trying to escape from everything he’s said and done in his 30 years in politics. 
We can’t let him get away with it.
Everyone needs to see this video showing his true views – so please watch and share it right now.



The fact is Jeremy Corbyn backed the IRA, doesn’t support NATO, wouldn’t renew Trident, wants to increase immigration and wants to massively increase taxes on working families.
And can you imagine him negotiating Brexit on behalf of Britain? 
But if we lose just six seats, Theresa May will lose her majority and Jeremy Corbyn could become Prime Minister, propped up by the Lib Dems and the SNP.
We can’t let this happen to our country. 
So please share this video on Facebook and Twitter today – or forward this to your friends and family.

Boris Johnson 
Foreign Secretary 


Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ

Quote of the day 27th May 2017

In which the leader of the Labour party demonstrates that he does not understand the meaning of the word "borrowing."

Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed by Andrew Neil in this clip below first broadcast on 26th May and the section in which they discussed borrowing runs from 22 minutes to 24 minutes into this interview:

Here is a transcript of part of the relevant section:

Note that this post has been modified: originally I posted an image here in good faith which appeared to be a reference to this interview but it's authenticity has been challenged. I therefore took it down and replaced with video and text showing clearly and definitively what was actually said.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Music to relax after campaigning, "Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen" (Bach)

Bach to work with Copeland Conservatives out campaigning in Bransty ward this evening in glorious sunshine.

I think it was the first time since I have lived at this latitude that my wife warned me as I was on my way out of the door to go campaigning to put some sunscreen on (which I did.)

For all those who have been out campaigning this evening and doubtless returned home hot tired and thirsty, here is some music to unwind to.

As campaigning resumes the PM writes

As campaigning resumes, Prime Minister Theresa May writes:

Subject: An important message Chris

An important message Chris


The last few days have been some of the most difficult that we have faced as a nation. All acts of terrorism are cowardly attacks on innocent people, but the attack in Manchester stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice.
We experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester, but we also saw the best. The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester. The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together. And in the days ahead, those must be the things we remember.

As I said on the steps of Number 10, our country and our way of life will always prevail. And in just under two weeks’ time millions of us will go to the polls, exercising our democratic right to vote.
Our local campaigns resumed yesterday – and our national campaign today. Our candidates and volunteers will be knocking on doors across the country, talking to voters about the issues facing Britain. 
Thank you for your support - and for making Britain what it is today.

Rt Hon. Theresa May MP
Theresa MayPrime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party


Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ

Quote of the day 26th may 2017

"A moment’s thought will confirm that there is no foreign policy Britain could introduce that could possibly appease the likes of Abedi.  We are damned if we intervene, and damned if we don’t.  If we intervene, we are accused of imperialism and wars for oil.  If we don’t, we are accused of indifference to the plight and slaughter of Muslims." 

"But in any event, foreign policy is not, repeat not, the sole or even the main cause of Islamist terror."

"Military intervention, non-intervention, secular government, liberal democracy, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, women’s freedom, gay rights, Jews, Shia Muslims, Sufis, the technological superiority of the west, the backwardness of much of the Muslim-majority world – all these assemble in the minds of Islamist fanatics, like a collage on a teenager’s wall, to provoke a primal scream of fear and hatred.  That many of them have previous form as criminals and addicts, are not in a stable relationship, and come from broken families shovels fuel on the fire. "

"And just as there is no foreign policy that could appease people like these, so there is no domestic policy either, short of handing them Muslim-majority enclaves of our cities to govern, and wishing them the best of British."

"To point all this out to much of the Left, however patiently, is to meet accusations of racism and Islamophobia.  Since the facts are incompatible with its worldview, which is shaped by a sense of adolescent protest, the facts must therefore be wrong. So it must stop its ears."

(Paul Goodman, extracts from article on Conservative Home which can be read in full here.)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Campaigning to resume after a minute's silence at 11am today

As previously mentioned the UK will be observing a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the Manchester bombing, at 11am today (25th May.)

Local political campaigning will resume at noon today following that act of respect, and then national political campaigning will resume from tomorrow.

There are legitimate difference of opinion about how long political campaigning should have been suspended for in the wake of this dreadful act of terrorism, but I think this gets it about right.

I don't agree with those who suggest that suspending campaigning for a few days was a victory for the bomber.

If the political parties had stopped campaigning because they were afraid, it might be seen that way, but that is not what happened. As one Mancunian friend of mine tweeted observing Manchester's busy shopping centres the day after the bombing, "the terrorists can't even stop us shopping!"

Most of Britain's politicians chose to suspend campaigning for a few days as a mark of respect to the victims, not because anyone was afraid of terrorists.

Suspending the campaign in memory for the victims for two or three days and resuming today when there are still two weeks left for parties to get the message over for and voters and journalists to challenge them does, in my humble opinion, strike the right sort of balance between respect for the victims and ensuring that the terrorists do not prevent proper democratic debate.

Quote of the day 25th May 2017

"Donald Trump says re Manchester the terrorists want to be called monsters, so he's going to call them losers."

(Faisal Islam, on twitter)

"OK. You know what? That isn't stupid."

(David Baddiel, on twitter.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A music spot in memory of the Manchester victims

"Lux Aeterna" (Eternal light shine apon them) from the Mozart Requiem

Minute's silence tomorrow

There will be a minute's silence at 11am tomorrow (Thursday 25th May) in memory of those killed in the Manchester terror atrocity.

Quote of the day 24th May 2017

"What on earth goes through the mind of someone who could do this? Yet the sacrilege of it must be the point. The more blameless the victims, the more everyday the circumstances, the more we all see ourselves in it and the wider the impact.

The natural instinct is to hunker down at home and count your blessings, retreat into the domestic and familiar – which is one reason politicians have rightly suspended campaigning for a few days, to the palpable disappointment of those whose opportunism knows no bounds. As if anyone wants to see MPs sniping at each other about their manifesto costings right now, or fielding shouted questions about counter-terrorism strategy while posing for photo opportunities in Nuneaton nurseries."

Of Manchester:

"My parents moved to Manchester in the 1990s, the heyday of the Haçienda club, when I went to university. Some of the best nights of my life were spent back home in that city. It was always big enough to be exciting, but still just small enough to be intimate and friendly, somewhere you’d bump into people you knew in the queue for club, chips or cab.

On Monday night it opened itself up to the stranded and traumatised exactly as I’d expect – drivers taking people home for free, people offering strangers shelter – and Manchester will surely put an arm around those affected for months to come.

It will overcome this, just as it overcame an IRA bombing two decades ago; I doubt this atrocity will change the city half as much as its perpetrators hope."

(Gaby Hinscliffe, from a Guardian article,

"Manchester reminds all parents of the dread of losing a child.")

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A piece of Whimsy on a very sad day.

This afternoon I will confess to being quite upset at seeing the picture of the lovely eight-year-old girl who was one of the 22 people murdered last night in Manchester in an indescribably evil act of barbarism.  A few minutes later I read a tweet in memory of the late Sir Roger Moore, who has also just died, with a charming story about his kindness and humour towards a seven-year-old boy (and again 23 years later when the boy had become a man.) Here is the tweet. I hope those who do not share any religious faith or may think this comment to be theologically unsound will forgive me a piece of whimsy which is giving me a little bit of comfort on a very sad day.  I'm imagining Sir Roger Moore and that eight year old girl meeting outside the Pearly Gates, and him cheering her up with his unique sense of humour the way he did that seven year old boy back in 1983.

Sir Roger Moore RIP

When he was cast to play James Bond, Roger Moore, who has died at the age of 89 after a short battle with cancer, reportedly said "I'm not as good as Connery but I'm taller."

I disagree. Connery was and is a brilliant actor but Roger Moore was just as good.

I will particularly remember him as Bond and as The Saint but he had a very rich and varied career.

To paraphrase the theme from one of the Bond films, "Nobody did it better.

Rest in Peace.

More quotes on the Manchester atrocity

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, tweeted that

"My heart is in Manchester this night. Our thoughts are with the victims."

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull told the Australian parliament,

"This is an attack on innocents. Surely there is no crime more reprehensible than the murder of children."

"This is a direct and brutal attack on young people everywhere, on freedom everywhere."

Metro Mayor of Birmingham Andy Burnham, transcript of speech this morning:

Statement from the Muslim Council of Britain:

President Trump:

"My thoughts are with the people of Manchester after this terrible attack."

Of the perpetrators:

"They were evil losers. I won't call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that was a great name. I will call them losers from now on. And we'll have more of them. But they're losers, just remember that.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany expressed her "sorrow and horror" over the attack, and added

"This suspected terrorist attack will only strengthen our resolve to work with our British friends against those who plan and execute such inhuman acts. I assure the people in Britain: Germandy stands by your side."

The attack in Manchester has also been condemned by the newly elected President Macron of France, by Vladimir Putin of Russia and by the leaders of Spain, Canada, Japan, China, Poland, India, Pakistan, Ukraine and many other countries.

All campaigning suspended: the Regional Chairman writes


In view of the terrible incident in Manchester last night and out of respect and remembrance for those killed and injured, the Prime Minister has decided that there should be no campaigning of any sort at any level until further notice.

I am sure that all our thoughts are with those affected.

Rt. Hon Sir Robert Atkins
Chairman, North West Conservatives.

Replacement quotes of the day 23rd May 2017

Following the dreadful atrocity at Manchester here is what various people have had to say.


“This was a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society - young people and children out at a pop concert.”

“The great city of Manchester has been affected by terrorism before. Its spirit was not bowed; its community continued.

“This time it has been a particular attack on the most vulnerable in our society - its intention was to sow fear - its intention is to divide. But it will not succeed.”



"We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.

“All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”

Breaking News - police statement on Manchester Arena explosion

Thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the reported explosion at Manchester Arena, particular those who have died and their families and loved ones, and all those who have been injured or are searching for people they love.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Who are today's real nasty party?

Which of Britain's political parties do you think would be most likely to act as in the way described in the following true story?

During a general election campaign, a nurse confronts the leader of a government, complaining about the stress under which NHS staff are placed and adding that she has to make use of food banks.

The governing party goes into full attack mode against the nurse: a parliamentary candidate

 (I would say MP except that technically there are no MPs during a general election)

wrongly describes the nurse on a BBC programme as being married to a councillor of an opposing political party.

Facebook pictures showing the nurse on a holiday abroad are plastered all over social media as she is vehemently attacked online by hundreds of supporters of the government party. The same pictures and appear in a prominent newspaper.

It soon comes out that the parliamentary candidate who attacked the nurse on the BBC was encouraged to do so by a government minister who told her that the party had checked out the claim and it was accurate.

Only in fact it wasn't, and the parliamentary candidate concerned had to apologise. The leader of her party and head of the government excused the candidate with the words "She made a mistake, an honest mistake and she apologised for that."

If you have not already heard this story, which party do you think attacked the nurse in that way?

If you answered that it must have been the Conservatives, and gave that answer because of your view of that party or for any reason other than that the Conservatives are running the UK government at the moment, perhaps you ought to have a serious think about your attitude to people who don't share your political views. No, it wasn't the Conservatives.

If you answered that it sounds like the sort of thing the New Labour government did, then to be honest you have a point. Perhaps you remember the smears against 94 year old NHS patient Rose Addis under New Labour or the New Labour special advisor who tried to dig up dirt on the Paddington Rail Crash survivors group? But on this occasion it wasn't Labour.

In fact the government concerned was the Scottish government and the culprits were the SNP.

Scotland deserves a better voice than the SNP, letters which also stand for Scottish Nasty Party.

Music to relax to after campaigning: Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata

Copeland Conservatives had a good campaign session in Whitehaven this evening and were joined by Alistair Burt who travelled all the way from Bedford to support Trudy Harrison.

Here is the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" for piano as something for anyone who was out campaigning today to unwind to.

Quote of the day 22nd May 2017

"We've actually produced a grown-up manifesto."

(Kenneth Clark MP asked on radio about some of the less popular measures in the Conservative manifesto refers to the fact that it actually addresses some of the difficult decisions which will have to be taken, for example to fund adult social care.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Music spot: "In native worth" from Haydn's Creation

"Jo Cox was a force of nature, a five-foot bundle of Yorkshire grit and determination absolutely committed to helping other people."

(Andrew Mitchell, Conservative International Development Secretary 2010-12, on Labour MP Jo Cox who was murdered a year ago and remembered around the country today.)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Music to relax after campaigning: Trio Sonata to the theme of "On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At"

A rather different treatment of the tunes to "On Ilkley Moor Baht 'at" in a baroque style ...

Labour campaign group promotes fake NHS poster

During the Copeland by election a huge proportion of the Labour campaign was devoted to scaremongering about the NHS much of which bore very little resemblance to the truth.

* They claimed that "the Tories" were proposing to remove hospital beds from Keswick Community hospital when the Conservatives were proposing no such thing and the actual proposal from the "success regime" for community hospitals was to INCREASE the number of beds at Keswick.

* They claimed that there was a threat from "the Tories" to remove Accident and Emergency service at West Cumberland Hospital when the Conservatives were proposing no such thing, and nor was the "success regime."

* In relation to the proposal from the "success regime" to remove in-patient maternity services at WCH - and this proposal did exist but all local parties oppose it - they suggested that  a vote for any party other than Labour would mean that "babies will die" and be brain-damaged.

It didn't work. It may have motivated their own supporters but a lot of other people found this sort of campaign tactic pretty low. Indeed, it is possible that the Labour health campaign, and the gap between that campaign and the positions adopted by Labour county councillors at the Health Scrutiny a few weeks after the by-election, may have contributed to Labour's by-election and current parliamentary candidate, Gillian Troughton, and two other Labour "health campaigners" losing or failing to successfully defend the county council seats they contested on 4th May.

But as usual, some parts of Labour have not got the message. Not content with trotting out again the old "Vote Labour to save the NHS" nonsense, Guido Fawkes reports  here that Labour Future, which is supposed to be a centrist grassroots Labour Party campaign group, has posted a fake NHS poster telling voters to buy health insurance. The poster, bearing the official NHS and Public Health England logos, claimed that “from January 2018 the NHS will no longer be a free service.”

Unsurprisingly this misuse of the NHS logo has not gone down well with NHS England. An NHS England spokesman told Guido Fawkes:
“We treat misuse of the NHS logo extremely seriously and we are investigating the origin of this clearly fake poster. As soon as we became aware that Labour Future had reposted this image we contacted them and asked them to remove it from their social media, which they did.”
According to the Evening standard, The NHS is to investigate the fake poster.

I should think so too.

Labour continue to insult the intelligence of voters with their NHS smears. They deserve to be severely punished for it in the election.

Communications problems

Can I repeat the apology to anyone who has been having difficulty getting hold of me in the past few days, particularly by email or social media.

I have been having, and continue to have, some intermittent but serious communication problems - nothing to do with the hackers who attacked West Cumberland Hospital and many other institutions worldwide, I suspect this will turn out to be just wear and tear on a copper cable. A visit by an engineer has reduced the problem but not eliminated it.

One person on social media is saying that he has sent me emails to which I have not replied. This is because I have not received them.

I'm not going to go over to a mobile supplier because mobile signal reception in the vicinity of my home is rubbish and BT Infinity is not yet available to me at home, though it will be soon.

Incidentally through no fault of mine I do NOT yet have a county council email which works, although county IT have this in hand. Please do not try to contact me via a county email addres for the next few days. Best email to use is

I'm still trying to sort out the problem, in the meantime please bear with me.

My telephone line is still working. My number is in the telephone directory because I want human beings to be able to get hold of me (except nuisance callers such as Carphone Warehouse, call centres conducting Market Research, or people calling about mis-sold PPI). My address is as on the County Council website and the imprint for this blog. (Scroll down to the bottom of the blog to see it.) 

Quote of the day 20th May 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Music to relax after campaigning: Ilkley Moor Bah t'at

As the PM was in Yorkshire today to launch the Conservative Manifesto, it seems only appropriate after campaigning to relax to the Yorkshire anthem, "On Ilkey Moor Baht 'at."

These are the words I know to the song (there are other versions!)

1. "Wheer hast tha' bin sin I saw thee (I saw thee)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at?
Wheer hast tha' bin sin I saw thee (I saw thee)
Wheer hast tha' bin sin I saw thee? (bin sin I saw thee)

On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At, On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At, On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At!

2. Thou's bin a-courtin' Mary Jane (Mary Jane)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at?
Thou's bin a-courtin' Mary Jane (Mary Jane)
Thou's bin a-courtin' Mary Jane (courtin' Mary Jane)

On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At, On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At, On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At!

3. Thou's goin to catch thee death of cowld (death of cowld)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at
Thou's goin to catch thee death of cowld (death of cowld)
Thou's goin to catch thee death of cowld (catch thee death of cowld)

On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At, On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At, On Ilkley Moor Baht 'At!

4. Then we shall 'ave to bury thee (bury thee)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at (etc)

5. Then worms'll come and eat thee up (eat thee up)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at (etc)

6. Then ducks'll come and eat up t'worms (eat up t'worms)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at (etc)

7. Then we shall come and eat up t'ducks (eat up t'ducks)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at (etc)

8. Thus we shall all have etten thee (etten thee)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at (etc)

9. That's 'ow we get our oan back (oan back)
On Ilkley Moor baht 'at (etc)

Quote of the Day 19th May 2017

(Stephen Daisley, on why Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party is not party most long-standing Labour supporters have traditionally backed. This comes from the same Spectator article as yesterday's quote, and it can be read here.)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

800,000 hits and onwards

Today this blog passed 800,000 pageviews since the traffic counters went on a few years ago.

Thanks to everyone who visited in that time.

Theresa May writes

Prime Minister Theresa May writes about her speech today launching the Conservative manifesto:

Forward together.
Forward together

Today I launched my manifesto for Britain’s future. It is a manifesto to see us through Brexit and beyond – and a plan for a stronger, fairer, more prosperous Britain.

The next five years are the most challenging that Britain has faced in my lifetime. Brexit will define us: our place in the world, our economic security and our future prosperity.

So now more than ever, Britain needs a strong and stable government to get the best Brexit deal for our country and its people. Now more than ever, Britain needs strong and stable leadership to make the most of the opportunities Brexit brings for hardworking families. And now more than ever, Britain needs a clear plan.

Our manifesto - called Forward, Together – will meet the great challenges of our time, beyond Brexit. You can read it here.

With this plan and with a strong hand through Brexit, we will build a stronger, fairer, more prosperous Britain, that works for everyone:

  • A higher National Living Wage and proper rights and protections at work
  • Capping rip-off energy bills and keeping taxes low
  • A good school place for every child, with more money for schools every year
  • The chance to own a home, with more affordable housing
  • The first ever proper plan to pay for and provide social care

Thank you,
Rt Hon. Theresa May MP
Theresa May,
Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party

Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ

Quote of the day 18th May 2017

"Of course, there is a narrow sliver of public opinion to the right of Jeremy Corbyn and the left of Norman Tebbit.

It’s called ‘the country’."

(Stephen Daisley, on winning the middle ground, in a Spectator article which you can read here.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Music to relax after campaigning: Let God Arise, Händel (Chandos Anthem 11)

Communication problems - an apology

Can I apologise to anyone who has been having difficulty getting hold of me in the past few days, particularly by email or social media.

I have been having, and continue to have, some intermittent but serious communication problems - nothing to do with the hackers who attacked West Cumberland Hospital and many other institutions worldwide, I suspect this will turn out to be just wear and tear on a copper cable.

(And before any fan of mobile broadband asks me why I don't go over to a mobile supplier, the answer is that mobile signal reception in the vicinity of my home is rubbish.)

I'm posting this during one of the few periods in the past 36 hours when the broadband connection has stayed up long enough to permit me to do so.

We're due an engineering visit tomorrow, in the meantime please bear with me.

My telephone line is still working. My number is in the telephone directory because I want human beings to be able to get hold of me (unless you are from Carphone Warehouse, conducting Market Research, or calling about mis-sold PPI in which case please don't bother.)

The Chancellor writes

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been doing some analysis of the proposals in the Labour manifesto. Big surprise - Labour's sums don't add up. This is what he has to say ...

Paid for by you, Christopher
We’ve been going through the numbers in Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto - and what we discovered might shock you.
The amount Labour want to spend is £58 billion more than the amount they are going to raise. That’s a £58 billion black hole in a single year - paid for by every family in the country with higher taxes and more debt.
Jeremy Corbyn said his manifesto was ‘fully costed’ - but if he can’t be trusted to add up properly, then how can anyone trust him to run the economy or negotiate the right Brexit deal for Britain?

This £58 billion black hole is yet another reminder of the clear choice facing people at this election – the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May and her Conservative team to see us through Brexit and beyond, or a coalition of chaos under Jeremy Corbyn.

Over the next 22 days, we need to make this choice clear to every voter in our country.

So please get behind this crucial campaign by making a donation today:

Thank you for your support,

Philip Hammond
Chancellor of the Exchequer

Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ