Showing posts from November, 2017

Extra music spot: Brandenburg Three (Bach)

A little bit of Bach to finish off November ...

Ten myths about the Queen Elizabeth class carriers answered

The UK Defence Journal has put up a good piece which answers the ten most common myths about the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth class carriers . I doubt if any class of ships in recent history has been the subject of so many false or misleading rumours, often repeated by people who ought to know better such as politicians. Yes, the carriers will have aircraft, and not just American aircraft. No, the computer systems for the carriers will not depend on Windows XP. Yes, there will be escorts to accompany and protect the carriers. Nuclear power would not have been a better solution. It's a great benefit for submarines, enabling them to spend a year hidden underwater, but carriers have to operate aircraft, which need large quantities of aviation fuel, so an operating aircraft carriers have to be regularly resupplied with fuel for the jets and helicopters even if a nuclear reactor removes the need for regular refuelling of the ship herself. The article includes the ans

Quote of the day 30th November 2017


Midweek Music spot: Purcell's Rondeau

Yes, I've posted versions of the Rondeau from Abdelazer a few times before, but I found this exquisite performance by Voices of Music this week and it's just too good not to share ...

McDonell wouldn't give the costs - so the TPA has.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, declined to give the numbers to Andrew Marr about how much Labour's spending plans would cost the country. So Duncan Simpson of the Taxpayer's Alliance had a go. He thinks that Labour would spend an additional £100 billion in 2017-18 (on top of the current government’s spending plans) and £329 billion over the course of this parliament when tax rises are included. By 2022-23, debt interest on Labour spending commitments would come to £7.4 billion . Over six years Labour’s extra spending would mean £25 billion in higher debt interest Total debt interest payments would be £272.5 billion between 2017-18 and 2022-23. Debt interest per household over this period would come to £9,461 . You can read the full report here .

Quote of the day 29th November 2017


Tuesday music spot: first part of Handel's "Dixit Dominus"

For anyone who is interested and does not already know, "Dixit Dominus" means "Thus says the Lord" The lyrics in Latin for the first chorus are: Dixit Dominus Domino meo: Sede a dextris meis, donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum. which translates as The Lord said unto my Lord: Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot-stool.

Number of Copeland Councillors to be cut from 51 to 33

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has announced today that they will reduce the number of councillors serving on Copeland Borough Council from 51 to 33 and opened a consultation on what the new wards should be on which they are elected. This is in line with the position which had been unanimously supported by the Mayor and the former all-party executive of Copeland Borough Council but the issue of how many councillors there should be precipitated something close to civil war inside Copeland Labour party. The council's fomer Deputy Mayor and Leader of the Labour group on CBC, Lena Hogg, resigned from the council following what one might tactfully describe as a serious disagreement in which the Labour group did not support the position of their executive members. As the row continued they went into majority opposition and suspended their members of the council executive for refusing to resign. All for nothing, it would now appear, as the Local Gov

Quote of the day 28th November 2017


Improving Community Rail Services

Earlier this month the government launched a consultation which represents an enormous opportunity to improve under-used stations and rail lines across Cumbria.   The Community Rail Strategy will help local community groups bid for cash to adopt under-used stations and rail lines, with millions of pounds of investment available for successful schemes.   Nearly 60 partnerships have been set up around the country since 1993, and have helped to revive and reshape more than 80 routes and stations, thanks to volunteers, community engagement and funding from the government and train operators.   The potential benefit to us in West Cumbria is considerable. If we can improve opportunities for people to get to places of work like Sellafield or to shopping centres by rail, and improve the facilities at our local stations, that would not just be an excellent thing in itself, but it could also reduce the pressure on the road network with which routes like the A595 are not coping, an

Congratulations to Harry and Meghan

Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle whose engagement has just been announced. I wish them a long and happy marriage.

Quote of the day 27th November 2017


MPs and Film Directors are not above the law,but let's try to give justice for both sides

Niall Ferguson has a good piece in The Times this week, " Stop harassment but don't slide into secular Sharia ." He starts by pointing out that a lot of those who experienced the what was regarded in the late 20th century as sexual liberation now understand what it must have felt like to be a regency rake who lived long enough to see the Victorian era, as " We are living through a revolution in manners not unlike the one that occurred in the second and third quarters of the 19th century. In the space of a generation, libertines became pariahs." Ferguson enjoys a certain amount of Schadenfreude at the expense of various left-wing American men who were quoted virtue-signalling by saying how dreadfully Donald J Trump treats women and are now themselves facing credible allegations of having behaved far worse towards women than anything which has yet been proved against the current US President. Sadly throughout history there have been people in positions o

The Cold Genius in context

Since, sadly and it's their loss, very few people today will have seen and heard the opera King Arthuyu with music by arguably the greatest ever British born composer, Henry Purcell, (Britten and Elgar probably being his nearest rivals) here is the first part of Act II of the opera so you can see how funny the piece I posted for today's music spot is in context There are eight pieces in this exerpt: Prelude What ho  What Power art thou  (a. k. a. The Cold Genius) Thou Doting Fool Great Love, I know thee now No part of my Dominium  Prelude See, see, we assemble

Sunday music spot "What power art thou?" (The Cold genius)

It's a rather chilly day in West Cumbria today as winter draws in so "What Power art thou" from King Arthur, also known as "The Frost song" and "The cold genius" seemed rather appropriate ...

Quote of the day 26th November 2017

I think I'll go back to quoting historical figuresand deceased authors - unlike Channel 4 they can't update their words and force me to make umpteen rewrites to the post! So how about

The Chancellor writes about the budget

This post was originally put up the day after the budget. Unfortunately because of a conflict between the code from the message from CCHQ and that on the blogger site the post was not displaying properly and the bottom half of the post was clashing with the previous two posts. So here it is again. The chancellor of the exchequer, Phil Hammond, writes: "Yesterday we released the Autumn Budget. This is a Budget for Britain that backs families and businesses.            We’re tackling the cost of living by boosting your pay and cutting your taxes. We’re investing in skills and infrastructure by spending more on research and introducing a National Retraining Scheme. We’re building the homes Britain needs, increasing the number we deliver to 300,000 a year. And we’re taking a balanced approach to our economy by dealing with our debts while investing in our country.            This Conservative Government is building a Britain fit for the future. And we start

Saturday Music spot: Soul Limbo (The Test Cricket theme)

As the Ashes have started and we are now on day three of what looks like a thrilling cricket series ...

Quote of the day 25th November 2017

"Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, was unable to put a figure on how much his party’s plans to invest around £50 billion would add to the national debt. And the answer he did give suggests he doesn’t understand how government debt actually works." This was the original title of a Channel 4 Factcheck article about the shadow chancellor's Andrew Marr interview. After I had put it up here, the title of the article was subsequently changed to " John McDonnell doesn't tell the whole story about Labour's borrowing plans ." and the article was slightly reworded - in the words of the notice at the end of the revised article, "Amendments were made to this article on November 25 to clarify the difference between paying the interest on the national debt and paying the debt off. The headline was changed and an incorrect figure was removed." Bear with me, I think it is worth explaining what has and has not changed in what Channel

Oliver Kamm and Phil Collins on Genocide denial

When World War II ended and the extent of mass murder by the Axis powers became apparent, most of the world exclaimed in horror "Never Again!" But tragically instances of genocidal mass murder - mostly not on quite the same sale as the Nazi holocaust but still ghastly in scope - have continued in various parts of the world right up to this year, with the masscre of the Rohinga Muslims in Myanmar and the atrocities committed by DA'ESH (the so-called "Islamic State" Caliphate) against Yazidis and Christians being two recent examples. If you want to find out how much even today some people are trying to exterminate other group of human beings, the website is one source of information. And it seems that whenever there is a genocide, there is someone who is prepared to deny that it is taking place. The who deny genocide are most often on the extreme right or extreme left, but some of them are good at sucking up to more mainstrea

WCH Maternity call in result

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel which considered the call-in on maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital has confirmed the Success Regime/CCG decision. This means that a consultant-led service will continue to be provided for at least another year but its continuation beyond that is dependent on recruitment and retention issues being resolved. As someone who is convinced that consultant-led maternity needs to be maintained at WCH and that the recruitment issues can and will be solved I am pleased that this will continue for now but disappointed that the question mark has been left, partiocularly as 12 months seems to me an unreasonably short period for the trial. But I believe that this challenge must, can and will be met. More on my local hospitals blog here .

Quote of the day 24th November 2017 - Ministerial Statement by Michael Gove MP

"This Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals. It has been suggested that the vote last week on New Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals - that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain - that is a misconception. Ministers explained on the floor of the house that this Government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals – whether on farms or in the wild. The vote against New Clause 30 was the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals. The Prime Minister has made clear that we will strengthen

How not to understand mathematical language

Returning home late this evening I was listening to "Today in Parliament" on BBC Radio Four and heard a classic example of how mathematical and scientific language can come over to the lay person as more alarming than is really appropriate. The BBC was reporting on evidence given to parliament by a distinguished professor who was talking about the impact of pollution on various health problems. Referring to the statistical correlation between pollution levels and increased incidence of these diseases he drew what the BBC announcer desicribed as an alarming conclusion. As edited the broadcast did not explain with complete clarity exactly what the professor was talking about (I suspect his full speech probably did.) However, to me as a statistician it was evident that he has to have been talking about the best fit line of correlation between the increased incidence of disease and the number of particles of pollution per unit of atmosphere when he said "The line .

The Chancellor writes: Building a Britain fit for the future

This post with a letter from the chancellor about the budget, posted originally on Thursday 23rd November 2017, was not displaying properly, so I have reduced it to this stub and re-posted on Saturday 25th November. Here is a link to the new location of the post.

Businesses create jobs

I am really pleased that one of the items of promotional material which CCC has sent to me for use putting forward the positive aspects of the budget was written by someone who, unlike too many people involved in politics, actually gets where jobs come from . It doesn't say " We have created a thousand jobs per day ." It says, " Under the Conservatives, Businesses have created a thousand new jobs every day. " Bravo!

Updated list of road closures due to flooding in Cumbria

Please take great care if you have to travel in Cumbria today As of this morning the updated list of road closures in the county due to flooding was as follows: Cumbria - M6 Two lanes are closed and there is slow traffic on M6 Southbound between J36 A590 (Kirkby Lonsdale) and J35 A601(M) Carnforth. Aldingham - A5087 Coast Road A5087 Coast Road is closed both ways near Riddings Lane. Grasmere - A591 A591 is closed both ways between B5287 Stock Lane (Grasmere) and Greenbank Road (Ambleside). Kendal - A591 A591 is just passable due to flooding on A591 both ways at Hawes Lane / Whetstone Lane. Crooklands - A6070 A6070 is closed both ways between A65 / A590 (Crooklands Roundabout) and A6. Kendal - A684 A684 Singleton Park Road is closed both ways between Park Side Road and Hayclose Lane. Soutergate - A595 A595 is just passable and there is heavy traffic both ways between Burlington Close and Tippin's Lane. Nook - A65 A65 is j ust passable both ways near Nook.

Quote of the day 23rd November 2017

"The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well." (H. T. Lelie) (Image: "The Game of Life" by Tito Solomoni)

Rain and Flood cause chaos in many parts of Cumbria

I've arrived home a short time ago after attending a meeting in Edinburgh and from my own journey from West Cumbria Edinburgh and back am painfully aware how dire the weather has made travelling in many parts of the UK including Cumbria. Rain and flooding have caused significant disruption in many areas of the county, HOMES AFFECTED The Environment Agency is warning residents living near the River Kent to take "immediate action" amid fears of flooding. MOTORWAY CLOSURES One lane is closed on the M6 southbound between Junctions 40 and 39 because of a collision (11.50pm). Two lanes of the M6 are closed between Junction 36 (Barrow) and Junction 35 (Carnforth) because of flooding and a three-vehicle collision (11pm). One vehicle has overturned. MAJOR TRAIN ROUTES Trains are not running this evening between Cumbria and Lancaster or between Lancaster and Preston for safety reasons. Replacement buses taking train passengers from Preston and Lancaster to Barrow

Ode for St Cecilia's Day (Boyce)

Today, the 22nd of November, is commemorated as Saint Cecilia's Day. She is regarded as the Patron Saint of music and in consequence some excellent music has been written to commemorate today. Here is an example by the English composer William Boyce.

Quote of the day 22nd November 2017

"David Cameron has been desperate to ditch Nadine Dorries since her election - how daft of her to serve him up a reason on a plate." (Comment on  Nadine Dorries taking a holiday from her job as an MP by flying off to the jungle to take part in " I'm a celebrity, get me out of here " in 2012 by - Kezia Dugdale MSP , former leader of Labour in Scotland, who has now decided to fly off to the jungle to take part in " I'm a celebrity, get me out of here ." As Guido Fawkes pointed out , how silly of her to serve up the Corbynistas a reason to purge her on a plate ...

St Bees Parish Council and Egremont Town Council

I attended St Bees Parish Council last night and Egremont Town Council this evening. Issues discussed included roads, drainage, war memorials, street lights, Copeland's new planning policies and a presentation on a proposed new £8 million flood prevention scheme for Egremont which sounds like very good news. More on that one in another post later this week.

Mugabe resigns

At long, long last Robert Mugabe has resigned as President of Zimbabwe. I am no fan of Ian Smith, but his prediction when asked by Rod Liddle about Mugabe " He'll be there for thirty years, murder all his opponents, and wreck the country " was a pretty good call. Since it is likely that Mugabe's successor will be one of his former lieutenants, I am not holding my breath waiting for a new age in Zimbabwe. Let us hope that the call for free elections from Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change is listened to.

Fisking Paperchase

Here is some light fisking of the apology issued on social media by Paperchase who abandoned a promotion with the Daily Mail in response to a campaign group "Stop Funding Hate" (SFH) According to Guido Fawkes' blog , SFH’s stated aim is to “ take on the divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support” I frequently disagree with things written in the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily express - even more frequently than I disagree with things written in the Times, Telegraph or FT and nearly as often as I disagree with things written in the Daily Mirror or the Guardian. But if I tried to cause financial harm to any or all of the above newspapers every time one of them published something which I strongly disagree with, I would be undermining democracy and free speech in this country. And so are SFH. So here is my response to the Paperchase apology. Paperchase : " We’ve listened to you about thi

Quote of the day 21st November 2017

"Northern Ireland will exit the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom. We will not countenance a border in the Irish Sea. "I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment on this point. The GB market is not only critical for Northern Ireland but for the Republic of Ireland." "We want to see a sensible arrangement that can work for all concerned. The democratic wishes of the British people must be implemented." (DUP leader and First Minister of Nothern Ireland Arelene Foster )

Quote of the day 20th November 2017

"A few weeks ago, I signed a letter that was published in The Times that said racism was no longer a central problem in our society. Had someone asked me at the time what I thought would happen to an MP being blatantly racist, I would have said they would be fired immediately." "Yet when the disturbing racism of the Labour MP Emma Dent Coad was revealed this week, hardly a word was uttered in condemnation." "What is deeply disturbing is the fact that Dent Coad is in a position of power and respect in this country and the man who leads her party has refused to discipline her and indeed has made no comment about it." "When the Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris used the phrase ‘nigger in the woodpile’ earlier this year, she was immediately suspended and had the whip withdrawn. Theresa May showed leadership and demonstrated by her actions that racism will not be tolerated within the Conservative Party." "The Labour Party cannot now say t

Sunday music spot: William Harris, "Holy is the True Light"


Quote of the day 19th November 2017

"You don't need a number" ( Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP while repeatedly refusing to answer questions from Andrew Marr on his BBC programme today about how much more debt Britain would incur if Labour were elected and carried out their promises of wholesale nationalisation of the railways, post office and untilities.) Personally I do think a chancellor does need to understand the numbers.

Saturday music spot: Bach Double Violin Concerto

Two masters of the violin, Yehudi Menuhin and David Oistrakh tackle one of my favourite Bach pieces. I'm old enough to remember Yehudi Menuhin - the man who brought Vivaldi back into fashion with the elite before Nigel Kennedy made him popular with everyone with reasonably broad tastes in music - but had not heard Oistrakh before stumbling on this recording. Isn't the internet wonderful sometimes?>

Nick Cohen on Hungary

There are lessons for all of us in a powerful piece in Prospect by Nick Cohen about the decay of democracy in Hungary, called " Tyranny's new trick: in Hungary a government wages war on Liberalism ." Authoritarianism has been taking new forms around the world. We cannot assume that democracy is the natural order of things, and even where the forms of democracy exist they can be subverted. We should watch what happens in states like Turkey and Hungary and be on our guard to make sure that they do not happen here. I have blogged before about the doubt about who really said " The price of freedom is eternal Vigilance ." (apart from Malclm MacDowell as Admiral Tolwyn in Wing Commander IV - a character who proved the point by being the threat to freedom himself ) But whoever said it, it's good advice.

Of Newspapers, Intimidation and Character assassination

I support the freedom of the press. However annoying it is, Britain would be less free and government worse without it. That's why I opposed Section 40 and the Leveson over-reaction to phone hacking. As I have quoted Eric Pickles here as having said long before he became a cabinet minister, "If the press is drinking in the last chance saloon, a wise government will think long and hard before calling time." Of course, the fact that I have always defended the freedom of the press makes it all the more infuriating to me when they abuse it. And there have been some pretty egregious cases of such abuse on the front pages this week. One minister who voted Leave and strongly supports Brexit said of the Daily Telegraph front page attacking some of his pro-remain colleages that it was obvious who came well out of that headline, " and it isn't the Daily Telegraph ." Today's Sun headline is worse. If the allegations in large letters on the Sun fr

Quote of the day 18th November 2017

"He took to avoiding responsibility. Unlike George Washington, be would have said ' Father, I cannot tell a lie. Tony Blair chopped down the cherry tree .'" (Jonathan Powell on Gordon Brown, review called " The Fatal Ambition of Gordon Brown " in the New Statesman of Brown's new autobiography "My life, our times.")

The Putin Problem

When the Berlin wall came down, when the Soviet Union was replaced by a Russian Federation which actually held elections, most people hoped that we were entering an era in which Russia and the Free World could be friends. We were justified in hoping that relations would continue to be substantially better than they had been during the pre-Gorbachov era - however bad relations between the West and Russia may be, they are vastly better than they were during the "Cold War" era between about 1948 and the late nineteen-eighties. But sadly, during the long era when Russian politics has been dominated by Vladimir Putin, the collapse of Communism has not been followed by a move forward to wholehearted demcracy and peace but a reversion to and older model wearing modern clothes - authoritarian nationalism clothed in the trappings of democracy. One of the more challenging aspects of this for those of us who believe in free and open societies is that Putin appears to be willing to

Emily Thornberry can't give an example of a country where Corbynomics worked

On BBC Question Time last night Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, was asked to name a country where the economic policies of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn (in context, particularly that of "borrowing billions more") have worked. She waffled about Labour being a social democratic party - which is all very well but Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are quite open about their policies being something radically new, e.g. not Labour's traditional social democratic approach - and when the audience was shouting at her to answer the question eventially suggested that examples of countries where social democratic policies had worked included Germany and Sweden. I think those Germans who are familiar with the economic policies of Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell - which is probably not a large group - would be astonished to hear their country described as an example of a country where such policies have been tried. Given that Germany's last experience

Quote of the day 17th November 2017


Action on building homes

The number of new homes delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but the Prime Minister has said that there is more we can do to build the homes the country needs. Speaking ahead of a visit to a housing development in Barnet, North London today (Thursday 16 November), which coincides with the publication of new statistics on housebuilding, Theresa May said: “For decades we simply have not been building enough homes, nor have we been building them quickly enough, and we have seen prices rise. “The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do. “We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most. “That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the Government’s response. “Today I am seeing the work now underway to put this right and, in coming weeks and months, my Government will be going further

Quote of the council meeting today

"You always get a long debate when you agree." Cllr S Collins, Cumbria County Council, 16th November 2017 It sounds crazy. But it happened today. Twice.

Quote of the day 16th November 2017


Latest employment figures

The Office for National Statistics said today that the number of jobless - people not in work but seeking a job - fell 59,000 to 1.42 million during the three month period from July to September. The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3% - its lowest rate since 1975 - and down from 4.8% a year earlier. Minister for Employment Damian Hinds said the unemployment figures showed the " strength of the economy ". " A near-record number of people are now in work ," he said. " Everyone should be given the opportunity to find work and enjoy the stability of a regular pay packet ." There was a small fall in the number of people in work to 32 million, down 14,000 from the last quarter, according to ONS data. Matt Hughes, a senior ONS statistician, said employment had declined after two years of " almost uninterrupted growth ", but was still higher than last year. The simultaneous drop in the number of workers and unemployed people is due to t

Jerry Pournelle RIP

I learned today that one of my favourite science fiction authors, Dr Jerry Pournelle, died earlier this year at the age of  84. Pounelle was born in Shreveport , Louisiana , and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean war. Afterwards, he studied at the University of Washington , where he graduated with three degrees including a Ph. D in political science. He was the co-author with Larry Niven of " The Mote in God's Eye ," which in my humble opinion is probably the best "First Contact" novel of all time and a great many other novels and non-fiction works written either on his own or in collaboration with other authors, particularly Niven and Steven Barnes. He is also remembered for defining what he called the "Iron Law of Bureaucracy" as follows: any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in edu

Nimco Ali on race and politics

Nimco Ali, who is a British woman of Somali origins best known for campaigning against the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has written a powerful article in the London standard called " It makes me livid that the Labour party assumes black people must support it ." I have met people on both sides of the political divide who make lazy assumptions about race and politics. Three of the most widespread (all of which are wrong) are that  * anyone whose skin isn't white must be left-wing  * racism is only found on one side of the political spectrum  * anyone of asian origin must be a Muslim Humans are so much more complicated than we too often realise Nimco Ali's piece can be read here .

Cumbria County Council meeting

There is a meeting of Cumbria County Council tomorrow (16th November 2017) at 10am at County Hall in Kendal. The meeting is open to the public The agenda includes * the half-year Treasury Management review, * minutes of two important meetings of the Audit and Assurance committee * Motions on Infrastructure and on Wigton Hospital * The scheme of councillor's allowances. The full agenda can be read here .

Innocent until proven guilty?

Nine years ago, in November 2008 while Britain had a Labour government, an opposition politician was arrested because he was too effective at attacking the government, on bogus national security grounds based on the pretext that government documents had been leaked to him. As the FT, a newspaper which had endorsed the Labour party at the previous election, wrote in an article calling on the then Home Secretary to resign, " it was clear that all he had done was reveal some of her department’s shortcomings."  I wrote at the time here and elsewhere that this arrest posed a disturbing threat to British democracy, not least because arresting opposition politicians for criticising the government is the sort of thing you expect from tin-pot banana republics rather than mature democracies.  Ironically almost every member of the cabinet in 2008, certainly including the Prime Minister of the day, could have been arrested during previous Conservative governments on exactly the sa

Quote of the day 15th November 2017


Copeland Local Committee

The Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council met today in Cleator Moor. Agenda items included the report of the Highways Network Manager and a report on local library services, including particularly the branch libraries in the Hensingham, Kells and Mirehouse areas of Whitehaven, from the County Council's area manager. The latter followed on from a consultation on the future of these libraries. There was an extensive discussion on the best way to provide library services in these areas of the town, at the end of which it was agreed that a report should be presented to the corporate director with the results of the public consultation and emphasising the concerns expressed by councillors. There was a strong wish by councillors to provide a more effective service but this is not being achieved at the moment with branches open for only six or nine hours a week and a steep decline in usage, both from residents taking our books and those using computer services. On t

Kemi Badenoch responds to Emma Dent-Coad

What do you think people would say - and in particular, what do you think Labour activists would say - if a white Conservative councillor or MP referred to a black Labour parliamentary candidate and London Assembly member as a "token Ghetto-Boy?" Can anyone doubt for a second that words like "racist" and demands for his or her suspension or expulsion from the party would feature in just about every Labour response? Well, those words were indeed used in a 2010 blog post about an opponent by a councillor who has since become an MP, but the person who wrote them is not a Tory, but the Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent-Coad, speaking about the then Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey. In my book that sort of language should be vigorously disavowed by any political party claiming to be civilised people opposed to racism, whichever party the person using it was a representative of. Shaun Bailey has understandably said that he was shocked and saddened by the hat