Showing posts from July, 2017

Monday music spot: "I'm a Believer" song The Monkees

Another song from the Monkees TV show which became a huge hit five decades ago (and had another burst of popularity a little more recently courtesy of Shrek and Donkey ...)

Action on Mental Health

Mental health is often a Cinderella service which has been neglected by governments of all political colours. So I am pleased to learn of the announcement by Jeremy Hunt that 21,000 more mental health nurses will be recruited and that £1.3 billion will be spent to treat an extra one million people by 2021.

Quote of the day 31st July 2017


Remembering the 3rd battle of Ypres.

This weekend we remember one of the most terrible conflicts in which Britain was involved during the 20th century: the third battle of Ypres, also known as the battle of Passchendaele, is generally considered by historians to have lasted from 31st July 1917 to 10th November 1917. Nobody has ever agreed exactly how many people were killed and wounded but it would appear to have been a little over half a million (around 260,000 on each side.) Huge armies fought in dreadful conditions over a landscape which had been turned to a quagmire of mud and lunarised by heavy artillery. Those of us who have been lucky enough never to be within a hundred miles of a battle can have no conception of what it was like, but we can understand that it was horrible. The last few survivors of the battle died of old age within the past decade. The cost of the battle, and the sacrifice of those who took part, must not be forgotten. Rest in Peace.

A hard border in Ireland would be a tragedy - and a sea border would be a farce

When on holiday or visiting family in Ireland I usually arrive on the island via a ferry at Larne and drive through Northern Ireland before reaching the country of Ireland.  So have occasion to cross the UK's one land border, which when Britain leaves the European Union in 2019 will become Britain's border with the EU. It is a meandering border, several hundred miles long, which is not marked or policed. In many places you only know you have crossed it because the speed limit signs change. People on both sides of the border work, shop and socialise across it. Many shops and businesses anywhere near the border take both pounds and Euros. After a lot of agonising about which way to vote, the difficulty of finding a satisfactory means of dealing with this border which does not sabotage either the economies of both parts of Ireland or the ambition for Britain to regain control of it's borders was a significant factor in my eventual decision to vote Remain. The re-creati

Sunday music spot: Tallis "If ye love me" sung by The Sixteen


Quote of the day 30th July 2017


Saturday music spot: The Monkees "Last Train To Clarksville"

I used to watch the Monkees TV show as a small boy because it was often very funny and I liked the music. The significance of the words of songs like this one completely escaped me at the time. Now I understand that Clarksville was a departing station for young men drafted to fight in the Vietnam War I realise that lines like " And I don't know if I'm ever coming home " had a lot more kick than I appreciated ...

Charlie Gard RIP

In a statement issued on yesterday evening, the parents of Charlie Gard said: "Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie." Prime Minister Theresa May said: "I am deeply saddened by the death of Charlie Gard. My thoughts and prayers are with Charlie's parents Chris and Connie at this difficult time." Pope Francis tweeted: "I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him."

Quote of the day 29th July 2017

" A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence ."   ( Jim Watkins )

Friday music spot: The Pointer Sisters "I'm So Excited"

This 80's classic song was used as the opening theme and at certain key points of the 1990 film/TV version of Judith Michael's book "Deceptions" so I can'[t hear it without thinking of Stephanie Powers dancing on a boat ...

On enlightened capitalism:

Last week Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson MSP published a most thought-provoking and excellent article on the "Unherd" site which was titled: " Ctrl + alt + del Conservatives must reboot capitalism ." This article was well worth a read and anyone who has not done so can find it here ." It was a very wide ranging piece which began by pointing out some of the massive benefits which the market economy has brought to greatly improve millions of people's lives, but went on to point out that, particularly in the past decade, those benefits have not always been visible or evenly spread and that for some people. as she put it, "market failure piled upon social failure piled upon political failure " have left them with poor options and no stake in the system. It is hardly surprising that many such people have turned to the siren voices of populists of right or left who reinforced their feelings that "the system" is stacked a

Quote of the day 28th July 2017


Thursday music spot.

I originally posted this comparison two years ago and was disappointed to notice today that both the performances I linked to at that time have since been removed from YouTube. So here it is again with two links to some of the (many) performances which work today. In 1711 Antonia Vivaldi published an excellent concerto for four Violins and supporting instruments. I believe that like most of his music it was popular for a time, almost forgotten for many years, and then revived in popularity in the 20th century. (Yehudi Menuin and Nigel Kennedy had, I think, rather a lot to do with the revival in popularity of Vivaldi, and I used to own an audio cassette, in the days of that now largely vanished technology, with a great performance of this piece led by Y.H.)  Here is a more recent performance ... Johann Sebastian Bach liked this piece so much that, some two decades after it was first published  he transcribed it for four harpsichords. Here is a modern performance of his versi

Quote of the year

"Anyone who thinks the West Cumberland Hospital doesn't have a future, or that we are closing it, can think again." Stephen Eames, Chief Executive of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, on the news that  between £35 million and £50 million of new government money is to be invested in improving facilities and services at West Cumberland Hospital, as quoted in today's Whitehaven News.

Melanie Phillips on the tragic case of Charlie Gard

The tragic story of Charlie Gard is every parent's nightmare. There are no right answers about how to deal with such a case: no decent human being can feel anything but sorry for the plight of this infant and his mum and dad. All parents must be thinking something along the lines of "There, but for the grace of God, go I" (or the equivalent is for those of other faiths or none.) To have such cases resolved by the courts should be a last resort: it is far better than decisions about the clinical care of any child should be taken by doctors in consultation with the family rather than by juidges and lawuers. The only thing even worse than having such decisions end up in independent courts would be having them taken by politicians, commentators or twitter - let alone by politicians commentators or twitterati thousands of miles away. There is a thoughtful piece on the subject by Melanie Phillips on the subject which you can read here and which I recommend. She concludes

Quote of the day 27th July 2017


Of philistines, maths and log tables

One of the things which most disappoints me which stops people achieving their full potential is a disdain for key educational subjects, and there is no worse example than people convincing themselves that they cannot do maths, or that this essential subject is more difficult than it actually is. There was an example on BBC Radio Cumbria yesterday, with two presenters who referred to a sportsman with a degree in maths. I think they were trying to suggest that he was more clever than people often assume athletes are, but it came over as "maths is boring and difficult" and this is not an opinion which people in positions of influence in the media or anywhere else should be encouraged to promote, even accidentally. Examples of the comments made on Radio Cumbria included one about algebra being difficult and another which was disparaging about logarithmic tables " what are they and what use are they ?" Oh dear, oh dear. Sigh. I suppose it doesn't help that d

Quote of the day 26th July 2017


Flood resilience grants deadline extended

The deadline for anyone affected by the floods in Cumbria following Storm Desmond to apply for a flood resilience grant has been put back to the end of September. If you were affected and have not applied for help, don't lose your chance to do so.

Suddenly people are noticing again that Corbyn's Labour cannot get anything right

  Jeremy Corbyn issued the following tweet today: “As school holidays start today, many will struggle to meet childcare costs, which have doubled under @conservatives.”   However, this simply is not true, contradicted what the official Labour party statements said, and they had to scrabble round to correct him. Unfortunately as Channel4's FactCheck points out here the correction is wrong too ...

Quote of the day 25th July 2017

"Labour is not being straight with voters about its' stance on student debt or the EU." (The Times leader headline yesterday.)

Cumbria Health Scrutiny

Cumbria's Health Scrutiny committee - a joint committee run by Cumbria County Council but which also contains one councillor from each of the six districts in the county met this morning at County Hall in Kendal. There was an interesting discussion about the minutes of the call-in meetings on 22nd March. I asked for the work programme for the committee for the forthcoming year to look at the lessons which could be learned from that scrutiny process and this was taken on board. It was also noted that the committee will be reviewing what actually happens to the service as a result of the decisions the NHS success regime took. There was also a very interesting presentation to the committee from the NHS care commissioning bodies. Among the issues noted was the challenge of recruiting staff and it was noted that the huge investment which has just been agreed in our local health services - £65 million pounds announced last week -is something we must shout about as it demonstrates

Corbyn and Student debt

Today's daily mail headline: So when he said  here that reducing the existing "massive debt" burden of those who have already graduated was a "priority" and added "I will deal with it" Jeremy Corbyn did not realise what the costs involved were. I am reminded of a comment by William Safire: And someone who says he will deal with an issue when he has no idea how much it will cost, whether he describes it as a "promise", a "pledge" or a "priority" or an "ambition," cannot know whether he will be able to do what he is saying he will do or not. Even if such a man turns out to be right - which Jeremy Corbyn did not - he is not being straight with people.

Quote of the day 24th July 2017


Quote of the day 23rd July 2017

"It is not inequality that bites deepest, but injustice. People expect that the CEO of a corporation will be the highest paid person on the payroll. What they don’t accept is that FTSE 100 bosses are paid 174 times the average worker’s wage in this decade – compared to 13 to 44 times in 1980." (Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davison MSP in an article on "Unherd" called " Ctrl + Alt + Del Conservatives must reboot capitalism " of which more anon ...)

Sunday Music Spot: the sixteen sing "Salvator Mundi" by Tallis



Just come back with my wife from watching the film "Dunkirk" in the cinema. Must confess to being very moved. It was a powerful film about a critically important event in our country's history. I can recommend the film.

Saturday Music spot: The Barron Knights "Oh Miami"

A humorous musical account of a supposed holiday in Florida

Corbyn's empty promises come back to bite Labour

During the general election Labour made two rash and irresponsible promises to past,  present and future students. They promised to scrap the tuition fees introduced by Tony Blair's Labour government and then increased by Labour after the party had clearly and explicitly promised in their 2001 manifesto not to do so. Jeremy Corbyn also referred to the existing debt owned by former students who went to university since fees were introduced and clearly implied that he would write off that debt. A good example of what Labour was saying during the election can be found in an interview he gave in the NME dated 1st June 2017 which can be found on their website under the title Jeremy Corbyn: " I will deal with those already burdened with student debt ." Let me quote verbatim the relevant part of the interview: “First of all, we want to get rid of student fees altogether,” Corbyn told NME. “We’ll do it as soon as we get in, and we’ll then introduce legislation to e

Isle of Man trips from Whitehaven cancelled at short notice

For thirty years the ferry MV Balmoral has run an annual series of summer day trips from Whitehaven to the Isle of Man. These have always been extremely popular. Those trips should have been running today: they were planned for the three day period from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd July 2017 However, at less than two week's notice the  Maritime and Coastguard Agency refused to give permission for the "International trip" to go ahead. The short voyage is at no time close to being out of sight of land, and the Isle of Man is a UK Crown dependency, but the voyage is technically classed as an international one. The agency was less than forthcoming about the reasons for the ban but hinted at safety concerns. They apologised for the short notice but appeared to blame the operator, White Funnel limited, saying "operators are encouraged to apply in good time and before making other commitments." Since this service had been running for thirty years I must confe

Quote of the day 22nd July 2017


£1 million regeneration scheme for Copeland goes live on Monday

A £1 million scheme has been launched to transform Copeland’s towns: applications to take part open on Monday. Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, launched the scheme for which it is hoped that £500k of taxpayers' money to regenerate shopfronts in Copeland’s towns and villages will attract match funding of £500k from the private sector. The Copeland Pride of Place Town Centre Regeneration Scheme encourages local business owners to enhance the external appearance of town centre shops and buildings as well as improving the borough’s built environment and street scene. Grants are available for up to 50 per cent of the value of the work required, up to a maximum amount of £5,000, to improve the external appearance of commercial property, principally the ground floor trading elevation. This 50 per cent contribution means that local businesses will be required to invest in their premises to match-fund the grant. The scheme is open to owners, landlords and tenants of units that are l

Those who shout loudest are not always right ...

John Stuart Mill was one of the wisest human beings who ever lived, and I believe that even though I do not share all his opinions. Here is one which I very much do share. I was reminded of that opinion this week when reading an article from Andrew Lillico on the Reactions site, " Those who shout loudest often aren't in the majority ." The article might be subtitled "( but often think they are, and that this gives them the right to shout down opposing views.)" I agree with Mill that we don't have the right to shut down opposing views even when we are in the majority, and I would still take that view even on the rare occasions when we have objective proof that we are right. When people think they are in the majority but actually aren't, the error is often caused precisely because opposing views have been shouted down. The article mostly gives examples of people who are broadly on the left shouting down what are seen as right-wing views but i

Quote of the day 21st July 2017


£65 million for health in Cumbria

More than £65 million has been awarded to support the development of health services in West, North and East Cumbria. This will include between £30 million and £50 million to be made available for West Cumberland Hospital. (WCH) The work at WCH will include a new diagnostics suite, housing cardiology, breast screening, a vascular lab, and a new mortuary. It is expected that the work will be completed by Spring 2018. Trudy Harrison MP has welcomed this " fantastic news " which will mean faster diagnostic turnaround for conditions including cancer, shorter waiting times, and better patient care. The announcement of £65 million for health services in West, North and East Cumbria was made yesterday morning by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens at the Kings Fund, and includes significant investment in:     Cancer care including a new radiotherapy machine,      £30 to £50 million for the next phase of development at WCH    

Quote of the day 20th July 2017


Talleyrand and Brexit

My first reaction on seeing that George Tregfarne had published an article on CAPX about   Talleyrand and Brexit was " What did he mean by that?" (This was the supposed response of European statesman to the news that the brilliant statesman and arch-survivor who served five consecutive regimes in France from the French Revolution through Napoleon and the Bourbon restoration had finally died.) But the point of the article is that Talleyrand's doctrine of legitimacy is the best way through to successful Brexit. This is described in the article as “ all sides should, for a moment, put aside their demands and start from the position: 'How do we achieve a legitimate outcome, which will be practical and be widely accepted?'” Talleyrand wrote: “ The spirit of the times in which we live demands that in great civilised states supreme power should only be exercised with the consent of bodies drawn from the heart of the society that it governs.” Tregfarne points

Quote of the day 19th July 2017

"I lost the Band-Aid while I was making a Thousand Island salad dressing" ( Tim Burton quoted in the Sunday Times this week. They suggested their readers would be relieved he became a film director and not a chef.)

Money, Money, Money - from Jane Austen to Smartphones

Today being the 200th anniversary of the death of the great writer Jane Austen, the Bank of England unveiled the design of the new £10 note which bears her image (and for which part of the manufacturing process will take place at Wigton in Cumbria). I very much welcome both the long-overdue recognition of an important writer and the role Cumbria is playing in modernising the British currency. However, I think that another piece of news which I saw this week in the New York Times about money may have much more long term significance. Paul Muzur has written that " In urban China, cash is rapidly becoming obsolete " and so are credit cards. The article begins as follows "There is an audacious economic phenomenon happening in China. It has nothing to do with debt, infrastructure spending or the other major economic topics du jour. It has to do with cash — specifically, how China is systematically and rapidly doing away with paper money and coins. Almost ev

Egremont Town Council

Attended Egremont Town Council this evening. There were a number of issues discussed affecting the county council including the need to progress improvements to the A595 and traffic schemes through parts of the Town Council area such as Bigrigg and Egremont. There were also a large number of residents present about the planning application currently with Copeland BC for a coach depot at the former County Council depot site in Baybarrow Road Egremont. This site was sold by the County Council prior to my election - there was concern expressed about it at the Egremont Town Council meeting in February - but local residents are particularly concerned at the potential greater impact of the current proposals. I was asked to investigate a number of potential issues relating to this and will do so.

Tuesday music spot: Cliff Richard "Out In The Country"

This cheerful and enjoyable tune makes me laugh for all the wrong reasons ... In my early twenties I and some friends in the moderate wing of the late and unlamented FCS used to sing a range of modified songs taking the mickey out of out external opponents in NOLS (the National Organisation of Labour Students) and our internal opponents, e.g. the people who eventually got FCS shut down by Norman Tebbit for being too right wing. No, that's not a joke. These songs, most of them written by myself or Paul Goodman, were the student political youtube parodies of the eighties. One of the best was a version of "In the Country" called "The International Secretary" in which the chorus was changed from " Out in the country " to " Out of the country " and a few more minor changes made the song all about the sort of student politician you can find on both left and right who spends more time supporting looney extremists on the other side of the

Quote of the day 18th July 2017

That I am posting the following quote should not be taken to imply approval of everything Stephen Daisley says in this paragraph: "Among my infinite repertoire of unpopular opinions is admiration for Tony Blair. I am one of those merry partisans — I hesitate to use the plural — who reckon that for all his faults he was a good’un. But even those who disagree with me (such people tend to be known as ‘the majority’) ought to acknowledge his insights into politics and the European scene. Particular attention is deserved for this aperçu: ‘ If a Right-wing populist punch in the form of Brexit was followed by a Left-wing populist punch in the form of unreconstructed hard-Left economics, Britain would hit the canvas, flat on our back and be out for a long count.’" This comes from an article " Blair may be a shouty old uncle but he's got a point about Corbyn " My view of Tony Blair is shared with those Stephen calls "The majority." Nevertheless yo

St Bees Parish Council

I attended the meeting of St Bees Parish Council this evening. The meeting was preceded by a "drop-in" consultation on Copeland BC's draft Conservation Area design guide. Issues discussed included cycleways (with particular relevance to the possibility that improved cycleway may be provided by a forthcoming development), road markings and safety generally in the Outrigg area of St Bees, the forthcoming Mining planning application, the Sellafield travel plan, and issues around hopes for improvements to local roads.

Monday music spot: "It was on a Monday morning ..."

Classic Flanders and Swann, "The gas man Cometh."

New Independent report ranks NHS as best of 11 countries

An Independent report has ranked Britain's NHS as the best health service of those in eleven leading countries. This is of course down to the hard work and dedication of Britain's doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives and all the other people who work in our NHS.

Quote of the day 17th July 2017

" The only winner in the cabinet briefing war is Jeremy Corbyn ." ( Katy Balls , title of a Spectator article which you can read here .)

Spoof articles and when people confuse fiction with reality ...

There have been some amusing spoof articles over the last few weeks. London mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of ignoring London's White Walker problem according to someone at News Thump who has perhaps been watching a little too much Game of Thrones. The Evening Harold had an interesting post the day after the election: Father Christmas returns to Narnia at last. But the best post I've seen on a spoof website today isn't really a spoof at all, and it was posted eight years ago but is getting thrown up by search engines today because of a certain controversial announcement made within the past couple of hours. Here is a link to a Daily Mash post in 2009 if you want to read how " Fans of Doctor Who are reminded that it's a science fiction story for children ." Quite. (The same people did one more recently which WAS a spoof, " New Doctor should be a Dalek, say Daleks ," in which the Supreme Dalek complains that “ It’s not the 196

Shadow Chancellor admit's Labour student fees promises just a "ambition"

Any young voter, parent of a young voter, or anyone else who voted Labour in June because they believed Jeremy Corbyn's promise to scrap tuition fees and write off student debt would be well advised to watch  this clip in which Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell admits that these promises were only "a real ambition" but not a promise, adding "we're not going to promise something we can't deliver." (Hat tip to Guido Fawkes) As Guido says, " It was fantasy politics, a pack of lies all along…"

Sunday music spot: Orlando Gibbons "O Lord, in thy wrath"

The choir of Clare College Cambridge, under the direction of Timothy Brown, sing "O Lord, in thy wrath rebuke me not" by Orlando Gibbons.

Quote of the day 16th July 2017


Health Scrutiny meeting 24th June

I have today received the agenda papers for the forthcoming Cumbria Health Scrutiny meeting on 24th July which are available on the CCC website  here . This meeting will receive the draft minutes of the now notorious meetings on 22nd March for which the actual scrutiny meeting minutes are available  here and the record of the "dispute resolution" meeting with the NHS "Success Regime" which took place during the recess is available here . There is a protocol for attempting to resolve disagreements between the Health Scrutiny Committee and the NHS organisations which the committee is supposed to scrutinise before you get to the stage where the committee "calls in" decisions and refers them to the Secretary of State. The manner in which that protocol worked on 22nd March was deeply unsatisfactory. If the minutes are correct the Health Scrutiny spent most of the seven-hour period between 10.30 am and 5.30 pm discussing the concerns raised by thousands o

Second Saturday Music spot: The Barron Knights "The Sit Song"

In this eighties song the Barron Knights were extracting the Michael from Barbara Woodhouse, who at the time was a celebrity dog trainer ... Postscript: I set this one to appear on the blog today a few weeks ago when doing some advance planning, and forgot that I had done so, hence two music spots today. A little different from the rather more cerebral piece of music I posted this morning but I hope that in their very different ways both gave pleasure - though this one is amusing rather than beautiful!

Saturday music spot: Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" (Rinaldo);

This exquisite aria, sung here by Kirsten Blaise with Voices of Music playing original period instruments, comes from Handel's opera "Rinaldo" The words are Lascia ch'io pianga mia cruda sorte, e che sospiri la libertà. Il duolo infranga queste ritorte de' miei martiri sol per pietà. which translates as Let me weep over my cruel fate, and sigh for freedom. Let my sorrow break the chains of my suffering, out of pity. Performed by (left to right, back to front) Kati Kyme , baroque violin Gabrielle Wunsch , baroque violin Elizabeth Blumenstock , baroque violin Maxine Nemerovski , baroque violin Lisa Grodin , baroque viola Farley Pearce , violone Shirley Edith Hunt , baroque cello David Tayler , archlute Hanneke van Proosdij , baroque organ And of course,  Kirsten Blaise , soprano.

Communications issues continued

Can I repeat the apology given earlier to anyone who has been trying to contact me without success. I thought I had solved almost all the issues but this past fortnight some of them have returned with a vengeance. I managed to trace the messages from all except one of the people who posted on Facebook that they were waiting for me to respond to them. (Most of them were in my SPAM filters. I have marked them as "trust mail from this sender" and am checking my filters on a regular basis.) The county council set up an email account for me: there were a few dropped balls because some people tried to contact me on it before it was working, but that was sorted out and my county email account did work from late May until 2nd July 2017. Unfortunately I am not able to access my county council email at the moment. I am trying to get this resolved but may have missed some messages. If you tried to contact me on my county council email account after 2nd July, or if you have tried

Quote of the day 15th July 2017


Friday music spot: Purcell's "Music for a while"


Trudy Harrison promises to visit all nuclear businesses in Copeland over summer.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison has said that she will visit all 60 nuclear businesses in her constituency during parliament's summer break. Her comments were made after she spoke in a debate in Parliament this week on the UK's membership of Euratom - the European Atomic Energy Community, responsible for nuclear safety and security in Europe since 1957 – which Britain is set to leave at the same time as the UK leaves the EU. Brexit Secretary David Davis subsequently confirmed that ministers will press forward with plans to leave Euratom but he also insisted there is a "strong mutual interest" for close co-operation once the UK has left the bloc. Mrs Harrison said: “The Government’s position paper released yesterday demonstrates the absolute commitment to maintain a close and effective relationship with the Euratom Community." “As I made clear during this week’s debate, safeguarding has to continue under international law. It is imperative that new co-opera

A595 closed near Bootle due to RTA

There was a serious Road Traffic Accident about a mile north of Bootle this evening. The emergency services are dealing with the incident, but it has been necessary to put diversions in place (not at all an easy thing to organise in that part of the world) and delays were expected.

Quote of the day 14th July 2017


Employment at record levels

Latest employment figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released yesterday show that the number of people in work in Britain has passed 32 million while the number of people available for work but unable to find it has dropped below 1.5 million. Employment has grown by 324,000 over the 12 months to March 2017, taking the employment rate for people of working age up to 74.9% which is the highest since records began in 1971 while the number of people seeking work has dropped by 152,000 in 12 months while the unemployment rate dropped from 4.9% to 4.5% over the same period and is now as low on a comparable basis as it has been since the mid 1970's. Employment has risen in every region and nation of the UK since 2010. The increase was driven by increases in full-time jobs, not part time ones, and the number of both men and women in work has risen, with the largest increase being of women in full-time jobs. There has also been an improvement in the employment rat

Giving with one hand and taking away with the other ...

During the recent general election Labour promised to scrap student tuition fees. This week  Labour ministers announced that the tuition fee cap for students attending Universities in Wales will rise next year . The degree of double standards shown by the Labour party never ceases to amaze me.

Judging the Judges

I found it more than a little ironic that the same political party whose senior representatives complained bitterly that the government was not doing enough to protect the independence of Britain's judiciary when the press criticised senior judges as " Enemies of the people " for making a ruling which they liked and the press didn't like, also contains MPs who are the first to attack the suitability of any judge appointed to head an inquiry. To be fair this is partly a matter of political parties being coalitions of people with diverse views rather than individuals being inconsistent. Some of the same Labour politicians and left-wing publications who were at the fore in urging the government to defend the judges over article 50 have been desperately trying to distance themselves from those in their party and on the left who have been making personal attacks on judges such as Lord Justice Sir Martin Moore-Bick, head of the Grenfell Towers inquiry. But you could ver

Quote of the day 13th July 2017

"Presently, what we hear circulated on the airwaves by Sir Martin's detractors are complaints born not of evidence but of half-truth and prejudice. Nothing that has been said amounts to a sustained, reasoned critique. Criticism for this should be levelled not at the victims and families but at those whose public duty is to represent, inform, counsel and champion their interests. It is those representatives, exploiting tragedy and encouraging misnomer in service to their own agendas, who should be asking whether they are truly suited to their role." (New Statesman article accusing those MPs who have scored political points against the head of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry of " dabbling in fearmongering ," which you can read in full at .)

Midweek music spot - a classic advert from the past

One of the funniest adverts of all time ...

Thanks to the Police, Highways Agency and AA

I had a rather frightening, and indeed potentially dangerous  breakdown last night on the M6. Thanks to the emergency services for their quick and effective response. My car lost its electrical systems - including the hazard warning lights - late last night on a stretch of the M6 which had neither a hard shoulder nor street lights. I tried to reach the next hard shoulder or refuge but was unable to do so before the vehicle became unable to move. I had to use the last shreds of power to move the car as far off the carriageway as I could get - which was nothing like all the way - and then I and my passenger had to get out and stand on the other side of the crash barrier while I called 999. It was a very dark night - there was a full moon but it either had not yet risen or was obscured by cloud. We had a nervous few minutes watching while hundreds of vehicles shooting past, mostly travelling between 60 and 70 mph, had to avoid my car and each other. Fortunately for all concerned a

Quote of the day 12th July 2017


Quote of the day 11th July 2017

The graphic does not attribute this quote, but it does of course come from the pen of J.K. Rowling, who puts the words into the mouth of Professor Dumbledore in the first Harry Potter book.

Whitehaven Town Centre closed due to bomb threat at Morrison's

The Morrisons store in Whitehaven was evacuated today following a bomb threat. A spokesman said: "The store received a bomb threat and was evacuated as a precautionary measure." Emergency services attended. The town centre was closed to all traffic for a period. POSTSCRIPT - The all clear was eventually given.

Seoond phase of WCH development gets under way

Excellent news for residents of West Cumbria as the next phase of improvement at West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) in Whitehaven gets going. The second phase begins with work on an area to house a new Diagnostics Suite (Cardiology, Breast Screening, and Vascular Laboratory) and Mortuary beginning this month (July 2017). Following the £90m investment by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust in ‘Phase 1’ which saw the new hospital building open in October 2015, this next phase known as ‘Phase 1b’ represents a further investment of £8.9m. The Phase 1b scheme will prepare for the demolition of parts of the old hospital and for the subsequent ‘Phase 2’ of the hospital redevelopment.      The new Diagnostics Suite will be in a fully refurbished part of the old hospital building, providing patients and staff with the same quality of care environment that patients in the new hospital are already experiencing. The work is set to be complete by Spring 2018 and as part of this wor

Quote of the day 10th July 2017


Lake District awarded World Heritage Status

Great news for Cumbria today as the Lake District was awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO. The decision means that the Lake District has joined the likes of the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu by being awarded this status.   The national park was one of 33 sites around the world to be discussed by the Unesco committee in Krakow, Poland. The committee praised the area's beauty, farming and the inspiration it had provided to artists and writers. The Lake District is the second part of Cumbria to be put on the Unesco World Heritage List , the other being Hadrian's Wall. The committee suggested the impact of tourism be monitored and requested improvements in conservation efforts.      Lord Clark of Windermere, chairman of the Lake District National Park Partnership which put together the bid, described the decision as "momentous".

Sunday music spot: "The trumpet shall sound" from Handel's Messiah


Quote of the day 9th July 2017

"I suspect the Left overstates the degree to which Corbyn and Corbynism is popular. Labour benefited from low expectations during the election campaign. There was a sense in which a Labour vote was a cheerful protest vote precisely because so few people thought that Labour might actually win the election. Voting Labour was the best way to send a message to a government that foisted an unwanted election on an unhappy people. It was not necessarily an endorsement of everything in the Labour manifesto even if, individually, many of those policies polled well."   "Consequently the actual contents of the Labour manifesto and the party’s specific policy proposals were of relatively little importance. Labour offered an alternative – in terms of rhetoric as much as anything else – and that was more than enough. The contradictions in Labour’s offer mattered little; nor was it deemed necessary to explain how, precisely, that offer might be paid for. Labour’s weakness – that