Showing posts from April, 2018

Thoughs on Amber Rudd's resignation and the Windrush affair

I suspect that Amber Rudd could have survived as Home Secretary because polling evidence suggests that the public did not see her as the main culprit for the poor treatment of the "Windrush Generation" and continues to support the policies which, through wrongly applied, led to that poor treatment. I also suspect that Matthew Parris is quite right when he argues here that it is most unlikely that she deliberately lied to parliament. I suspect the most likely explanation for the apparent discrepancy between her statements about whether the Home office had targets for the removal of illegal immigrants and the documents which have been produced is human error - even those people with the best memories sometimes misremember things. Nevertheless, although Amber Rudd has made a big contribution to the government and has a lot still to offer, I think she probably made the right decision to resign. I also have a lot of time for Sajid Javid and I hope and believe that he will

Sajid Javid appointed Home Secretary

Following Amber Rudd's resignation Sajid Javid has been appointed Home Secretary. He issued this statement following his appointment: "First to say it is a huge privilege to be asked by the Prime Minister to become the next Home Secretary. My first priority is to make sure the Home Office always does all it can to keep British people safe. It is a huge privilege and something I take very seriously. The most urgent task I have is to help those British citizens who came from the Caribbean, the Windrush generation, and make sure they are all treated with the decency and fairness they deserve. That is what people want to see and my most urgent task. I will help the Home Office every day to deal with its major tasks of tackling crime, including serious crime, fighting terrorism and extremism, and dealing with illegal immigration. In doing that I am really privileged to have a fantastic group of people here, the staff here, who together will work to make our country even stronge

Quote of the day Monday 30th April 2018


Reflections on the treatment of the Windrush generation

Before I write anything else it must be made clear that  the so called "Windrush generation" have every right to be here in Britain. The treatment of those people within that group  w ho lost jobs, had operations cancelled or were threatened with deportation because a policy aimed at illegal immigrants was wrongly applied to them, was utterly wrong, indefensible, and should not have been allowed to happen. It is right that the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have apologised, taken action to correct the mistake and pay compensation. We do need to learn lessons from this so that similar unacceptable treatment of people who have every right to be in Britain does not happen again. We also need to recognise that his happened because nobody - no political party, neither side of the Brexit debate, no lobby group - has a workable policy which resolved the following almost insoluble dilemma. On the one hand, 1) Britain's public services such as the NHS would collapse

Sunday music spot: Psalm 23 sung to Brother James' Air


Quote of the day 29th April 2018


When a joke becomes reality

I operate a Toyota Aygo, which because of its low fuel usage and emissions and because of when it was first registered, attracts an annual car tax of zero. (The system of car tax takes emissions into account: it was made less generous in 2017 and again this month but the changes were not retrospective for cars first registered during the period when some very low emission vehicles paid a zero rate of car tax. Those vehicles still attract a zero rate.) But the government still needs to keep tabs on such cars, and check what vehicles are being operated, by whom, and that they have been insured and if necessary have an up-to-date MOT. They use the tax database to manage this. So I still get an annual reminder from DVLA telling me that I have to go through the regular procedure of confirming that I have the vehicle - by taxing it at a tax rate of zero. And essentially it  has not been worth anyone's while to redesign the paperwork for registered keepers of zero tax cars from that

Music to relax after campaigning or Swimathon: Corelli's Concerto in D Major

For everyone who has either been out campaigning today or taken part in Swimathon 2018:

Swimathon 2018 update

My son and I have now completed Swimathon 2018 today at Hensingham pool. I completed the 5,000 metre challenge in two hours and one minute, so I can now say that I have swum 5,000 metres for charity every year for twenty-five consecutive years. My son John completed the 2,500 metre challenge. Well done, John. The Swimathon is Britain’s largest charity swim, and gives people of very varied swimming abilities an opportunity to raise money for charity by swimming distances of up to 5,000 metres. It has supported various charities over the past thirty-one years - two years ago it supported Sports Relief for instance. The 2018 Swimathon event is in aid of Marie Curie, who look after thousands of terminally ill people, and also, for the first time, Cancer Research UK, one of the world’s leading cancer charities. Marie Curie, the UK’s leading charity for people with any terminal illness and their families, has been Swimathon's charity partner ten times since it launched

Quote of the day 28th April 2018

"As I watch and listen to Jeremy Corbyn ... I feel guilty. "Guilty that as a horribly naïve graduate I was so very sure -  and I was certain, I remember the certainty - that voting for Cobyn in 2015 was the right thing to do. "I am scathing of Trump supporters who have no interest at all in the truth, and only in standing by their man and winning at all costs, but back then I don't think I was any better." "Subsequently it is possible to become more discerning and to anticipate common features in the armories of campaigners like Brand and Corbyn such as their oversimplification of hugely complex issues, which are not at all conducive to helping wide-eyed young people develop into rational and responsible grown-ups." "As for Jeremy Corbyn himself, it dawned on me last week as one after another Labour MP rose to tacitly criticise the leadership's lacklustre, and perhaps even disingenuous response to the rise of anti-Semitism within the

Swimathon 2018 takes place this weekend

Both I and my son John will be taking part in Swimathon 2018 this weekend. For me this marks a quarter century of swimming for charity. If all goes well it will be the 25th consecutive year in which I have completed the 5,000 metre challenge. I first took part in the Swimathon twenty-four years ago in 1994. In the intervening period, if my memory is not playing tricks on me, I have taken part at various different pools in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Bricket Wood, Harpenden, Norwich, Cockermouth, Ulverston, Preston, Workington, Wigton and Whitehaven depending on where I was at the time and which pools were taking part in Swimathon that year. This weekend I will be taking the plunge in my local pool and fitness centre, Copeland pool in Hensingham, Whitehaven. The Swimathon is Britain’s largest charity swim, and gives people of very varied swimming abilities an opportunity to raise money for charity by swimming distances of up to 5,000 metres. The 2018 Swimathon event is in aid of

Comeback of the week

The Guardian quoted " a senior tory source " as saying of some Remain supporters in parliament that " You could offer them free sex and chocolate and they still wouldn't vote for Brexit. " Jim Pickard, chief political correspondent at the FT, came back with " When this man offers you a Ferrero Roche the right answer is no ."

Quote of the day 27th April 2018: "The madness of Lord Adonis"

" In the past weeks, Adonis has launched an assault on the BBC, which with a few tweaks the Daily Mail could run. He has denounced the “ Brexit Broadcasting Corporation ” in the same derisive voice old Tories once denounced the “ Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation ”. "It is important to get the easy explanations for disappointed Remainers’ anger at the BBC out of the way. The simplest is that Lord Adonis and other Labour figures are trying to divert opponents of Brexit from the failure of the opposition to oppose. "A second and to my mind compelling argument is that Lord Adonis has gone mad. Yet if he has, many others have gone off their rockers with him. In my experience, the belief that the BBC failed to do its job is everywhere in liberal Remainer circles. "Every successful political movement now targets journalists in general and the BBC in particular. Even politicians who affect to oppose Donald Trump imitate his methods. "Jeremy Corbyn and his c

Good and bad reasons not to support the Lib/Dems

There are a whole slew of good reasons not to vote Lib/Dem. Their attitude to the EU referendum result has come very close to sticking up two fingers at the British electorate and even some people who voted Remain but accept the majority decision - including me - find he attitude of those who seem determined to try to overturn the result to be unhelpful and damaging. At a local level, particularly where they are strong, Lib/Dem tactics are often, shall we say, controversial. There are considerable swathes of the country where if you ask all the other parties, "which of your opponents use the dirtiest tactics" they will reply in unison "The Lib/Dems." (In Cumbria that would certainly be the answer given by my Conservative colleagues in South Lakes and when I lived in St Albans this was the answer which would have been given by all the other parties there and in much of the rest of the East of England. Lib/Dems in local government often have a history of being b

Quote of the day 26th April 2018

"It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic." ( Thomas Sowell , American Economist)

Remembering ANZAC day - and the 1st Battalion the Lancashire Fusiliers

One hundred and three years ago today the Gallipoli landings began. Thousands of brave fighting men from Australia and New Zealand took part,  and a great many were killed or wounded. Today is ANZAC day when we remember those brave men, especially those who fell in that battle. Britain has been lucky enough to have many brave and loyal allies from around the world, particularly from the Commonwealth. None have been braver or truer friends than the Australians and the New Zealanders. I have never been within a thousand miles of a battlefield, but if I ever did find myself in a foxhole, I cannot think of anyone I would rather have at my back than an Aussie or a Kiwi. One of the greatest complements ever paid to the ANZAC fighting men came from an enemy Field Marshall who came up against them in the following war: We should also remember the Indian, Gurkha Rifles, Irish, Jewish and English troops who took part in the Gallipoli campaign. The troops who landed on 25th A

Midweek Madrigal: "The Silver Swan" by Orlando Gibbons


Quote of the day 25th April 2018


Statue unveiled to Milicent Fawcett

A statue to Suffragist Millicent Fawcett is being unveiled now (11 am on Tuesday 24th April 2018) in parliament square by the Prime Minister. This will be the first of the statues in that square to commemorate a woman, so it is very appropriate that it should a statue of one of the leading campaigners who argued that women should be able to vote, and that one of those taking part in the ceremony, a hundred years after the first women won that right, by a woman Prime Minister. Here is a quote from Theresa May on the subject of Millicent Fawcett's struggle. The PM also said earlier today: " I would not be here today as Prime Minister, no female MPs would have taken their seats in Parliament, none of us would have the rights and protections we now enjoy, were it not for Millicent Fawcett. It is an honour to be unveiling her statue in Parliament Square later today ." Dame Millicent Fawcett was Born in 1847, a pioneering feminist, intellectual and union leader w

Quote of the day 24th April 2018


Congratulations to William and Kate

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their third child. I see there has been wall-to-wall coverage of this happy event, but I don't think it is at all surprising, after the year or two that we as a country have had, that lots of people both among press and public should want to take the chance to enjoy a bit of good news.

Quote of the day 23rd April 2018

"There is no indignity in being afraid to die. But there is a terrible shame in being afraid to live." ( Terry Nation , line spoken by a character called Alydon in the Doctor Who story "The Daleks")

Drop-In public consultation session on North Shore, Whitehaven plans at Tescos this afternoon

Residents of Whitehaven and others with an interest in traffic in the town are reminded that the second of two "Drop-in" public consultation sessions on the proposed highway improvements in the North Shore area will be held this afternoon and evening (Monday 23rd April 2018), from 3pm-7pm at the Tesco Superstore, Bransty Row, Whitehaven, CA28 7XY. Details of the consultation on Cumbria County Council's proposals to improve road safety and traffic flows in the North Shore/Bransty Row area can be found on the council website at / The proposed scheme includes: introduction of traffic light controls on Bransty Row/North Shore Road junction improved pedestrian crossing points and links between the harbour, the new developments and the town centre's historic core enhancement of the road junction at Tangier Street/George Street to improve traffic flow and facilitate development relocation of southbound bus stop on Bransty Row

Happy St George's Day

Wishing every English person who reads this, and indeed anyone else who reads it, a happy St George's Day (23rd April 2018)

Music to relax after campaigning: The Carnival Is Over


Quote of the day 22nd April 2018


Britain's "First coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution"

Yesterday (Friday 20th April 2018) was, according to the national grid, Britain's first day when no coal was used for power generation since we have had a national grid. It has been described as Britain's first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution although I put that in inverted commas in the title of this post as we cannot be certain that one of the small number of households with a coal fire used it. Considering what a warm couple of days we've had, I would not expect that there would have been too much coal burned by anyone other than the National Grid either. This is actually very good news because in terms of damage to the environment, coal without carbon capture is one of the dirtiest fuels there is.

Music to relax after campaigning: the "Albinoni" Adagio

A lovely piece to relax to for those of you who have been campaigning today. I have previously posted more than one performances of this piece: for those who have not already seen one of those posts or have forgotten, the rather curious history of this lovely piece of music and the reason why the name of the composer "Albinono" has been placed in inverted commas may be found here .

Quote of the day Saturday 21st April 2018

“The appearance of Anti-Semitism is always an early warning sign of a dangerous dysfunction within a culture, because the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. “At the end of his life, Moses told the Israelites: don't hate an Egyptian because you were strangers in his land. It's an odd sentence. The Egyptians had oppressed and enslaved the Israelites. So why did Moses say, don't hate? “Because if the people continued to hate, Moses would have taken the Israelites out of Egypt, but failed to take Egypt out of the Israelites. They would still be slaves, not physically but mentally. Moses knew that to be free you have to let go of hate. Wherever there is hate, freedom dies. Which is why we, especially leaders, have to take a stand against the corrosive power of hate. “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. Today I see too many good people doing nothing and I am ashamed.” ( Lord Sacks , former Chief Rabbi of the UK, speaking on

Best and the worst of Cumbria County Council

Yesterday's annual meeting of Cumbria County Council showed the authority at its best and worst. In the "best" column were the dignified and warm tributes to Cllr John Bell, who finished his term as Chairman of the Council for his work during the 17/18 civic year and to Cllr Elizabeth Mallinson, who was elected to take over from him and became only the third woman to be Chairman of Cumbria County Council since the creation of the authority in the 1970's. Also the discussion on the Public Health Annual Report , an excellent document which you can read here , an excellent session during which some excellent questions were asked and important points made from all sides of the chamber. And I was pleased to join in the support from all parties for a motion on reducing plastic waste. ( I thought for a moment that there had been one vote against, until I realised that we were actually voting at that point not for the actual motion itself but on a procedural motion to

Fun fact of the week

Residents of Cumbria taking part in Slimming World weight loss programmes have lost 17.6 tons of body weight between them, according to the report of Cumbria Director of Public Health during the discussion of his annual report at Cumbria County Council yesterday. This is equivalent to the weight of four adult African Elephants.

Second quote of the day 20th April 2018

"There are two people in this government who believe in global warming: you and me. We are therefore a majority." (Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to John Selwyn Gummer, now Lord Deben, who quoted her on BBC Radio 4 this morning.)

Quote of the day 20th April 2018


Music to relax after campaigning: Handel "The King Shall rejoice"

For all those who have been out campaigning today for the local elections to be held on 3rd May 2018 in many local authority areas in Britain.

So who decided to destroy the Windrush landing cards?


Quote of the day 19th April 2018


UK Inflation rate drops to 2.5%

UK consumer price inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index fell to 2.5% in the 12 months to March, the lowest rate in a year, according to the Office for National Statistics. It fell from 2.7% in February after prices for clothing and footwear, in particular womenswear, rose at a slower rate compared to this time last year.

Midweek Madrigal "I Heard a Voice" sung by the choir of King's College Cambridge


Annual General Meeting of Cumbria County Council

The Annual General Meeting of Cumbria County Council will be held tomorrow (Thursday 19th April 2018) at County Hall in Kendal commencing at 10.00 am. It is expected that the whole meeting will be open to the public. The full agenda and reports can be found on the County Council website here .

Quote of the day 18th April 2018

"Last night the whips said we would vote for this motion, which is logical given it's the opposition motion. This morning we were told we had to vote against. "You should not play games with matters of war and peace, which is why a load of us abstained. This party is becoming a joke." (Labour MP explaining on Politics Home why he and others declined to obey orders from Jeremy Corbyn's whips to vote against a motion about the airstrikes on the Syrian regime's chemical weapons facilities which had been tabled in Mr Corbyn's own name.)

"Working Together" steering group meeting.

The next "working together" steering group meeting about delivering healthcare in North, West and East Cumbria, which is not merely open to the public but in which anyone can participate, will be held tomorrow (Wednesday 18th April) from 6pm to 8pm at the Samuel Lindow Building at Westlakes. More details on my hospitals blog here .


I am aware that there is a vast amount of concern at the moment about potholes throughout Cumbria, the roads having taken a lot of damage from the elements during the harsh weather of the last few months. You can report a pothole or any other dangerous problem with a road maintained by Cumbria County Council directly to the responsible officers. either by calling the Highways Hotline number on 0300 3032992 , or on line at This ensures the fault is logged and a unique reference code generated for that particular defect, it also enables the fault to be tracked. If you are having trouble doing this or are not seeing a satisfactory response in respect of any road in my division (which covers Bigrigg, Moor Row, St Bees, and the Western half of the Mirehouse area of Whitehaven) please feed free to contact me via email a t

Two powerful speeches on Anti-Semitism from Labour MPs

I do not often agree with Labour MPs and it is very rare indeed that I would consider publicising with approval speeches made by parliamentarians from that party. But the debate on Anti-Semitism in parliament today is a special circumstance and the speeches today by Luciana Berger MP and John Mann MP were both particularly powerful and deserve to be widely heard. If there is anyone who can listen to these speeches by Labour MPs and still think either that there is not a serious problem with Anti-Semitism today both in Britain as a whole and in the Labour party in particular, or continue to imagine that all the concern about Anti-Semitism is a "smear" which has been "weaponised" by opponents of Jeremy Corbyn, their capacity for self-deception is truly amazing. This is the speech from John Mann M.P. And this is the speech from Luciana Berger M.P.

The Windrush generation

Following public concern about the recent treatment that members of the "Windrush generation" who arrived in this country from the Caribbean many decades ago and had not sought the paperwork to prove their British status because they had not thought they needed to, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has apologised and taken a number of urgent steps to revolve the issue, which include the following: A new taskforce dedicated to helping those affected  Plans to work with departments across government to gather evidence on behalf of immigrants (documentation for every year is usually expected, such as bank statements or payslips) A pledge that all cases will be resolved in two weeks All fees for new documentation (normally £229) will be waived so people are not "out of pocket" A new website will be set up with information and a direct contact point The Prime Minister has agreed to meet Caribbean leaders who are in Britain for a Commonwealth meeting this week to discuss

Quote of the day 17th April 2018

"Those who would turn a blind eye, who would do nothing in pursuit of some moral high ground, should also be held accountable, for once, today as well." (Chris Leslie MP, Labour, speaking in the House of Commons yesterday)

Why a "War Powers" act would be a seriously bad idea.

The government should always be accountable to parliament after the event for everything it does including military action. There will be some instances where it is practical and desirable for parliament to discuss and determine in advance the principles and objectives of a potential military action. However, the idea that the executive should always require the prior approval of parliament for any military action in any circumstances is both absurd and dangerous. To compare Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Foot is grossly unfair to Michael Foot, but this Cummings cartoon first published during the Falklands war and taking the mickey out of Foot makes the point perfectly:  I share many of the concerns of those who do not want the UK to be involved in Syria's civil war, and I think it was wise of the US, French and British governments that the action they took at the weekend was clearly aimed specifically at chemical warfare facilities and designed to minimise the risk of esca

Guido's quote of the Day

The current quote on Guido Fawkes' parliamentary blog "Order, Order" is by former Labour MP and shadow minister Michael Dugher on how Jeremy Corbyn might have responded to the Nazi threat in 1939: “ Suspect Jeremy in 1939 would have argued that the League of Nations needed more time to investigate “alleged” German aggression in Poland and called for the violence “on all sides” to cease. ”

Quote of the day 16th April 2018


Second quote for 15th April 2018