Showing posts from November, 2018

David Aaronovitch writes about George Soros

There are legitimate and illegitimate reasons why some people disagree with the billionaire financier George Soros. Whether you are pro or any Brexit, I would hope we can all agree that those Brexit supporters who object to a rich man who does not live in Britain and is not a British citizen spending significant amounts of money campaigning against Britain leaving the EU are not necessarily being Anti-Semitic or racist - they would express that opinion regardless of the race of the person spending the money. Equally it is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that some of the attacks which have been made on him and his Open Society Foundations (OSF)by authoritarian leaders around the world, starting with Vladimir Putin and continued by Victor Orban in Hungary, President Erdogan of Turkey, and many others, has been a classic example of scapegoating by regimes looking for someone else to blame for their failures. Nor is there any doubt in my mind that some of that scapegoating can

A595 Whitehaven Relief road public consultation THREE WEEKS TO GO

Regular readers of this blog will know, but I make no apology for another reminder, that there is a current public consultation about a possible A595 relief road for Whitehaven.  I believe this has the potential to significantly improve the viability of West Cumberland Hospital and outcomes for patients, as well as having great benefits for the local economy and for the quality of live of residents of the villages in the area affected by rat-running. This is a first stage consultation by Highways England who have not yet defined a route for the proposed new road and they continue to assure me that they are genuinely interested in suggestions from local stakeholders and the public about where the road should go. (Apparently there have already been a large number of positive and constructive points made.) One of the suggestions which has been discussed between local county councillors and Highways England is the possibility that the relief road could include a speci

Reminder: "Saturday Chataway" with Trudy Harrison MP tomorrow

The next "Saturday Chataway" surgery with Trudy Harrison MP and local councillors (councillors of all parties and levels have been invited) will take place at Captain Shaw's school in Bootle from 10am to 12 noon at Captain Shaw's School in Bootle tomorrow (Saturday, 1st December 2018). All residents of the constituency are welcome to bring your concerns, problems or issues.

Quote of the day 30th November 2018


Russia's shameful blockade of the Kerch Straits

While I understand that Brexit is taking up a lot of the attention of the UK press, it is a matter of great regret that less attention has been paid to Vladimir Putin's outrageous and extremely dangerous acts of aggression in the Kerch Straits and the Sea of Azov. In 2003 a treaty between Russia and Ukraine guaranteed ships of both nations passage through the Kerch straits, a narrow stretch of water between the Crimea and Russia which is the only way to sail from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov and therefore the only access to the open sea from several Russian and Ukrainian ports on that sea. Last Sunday, in what appears to have been an unprovoked and egregious violation of that treaty, Russian units fired on several Ukrainian ships which were attempting to pass through the Kerch straits on their way from the Ukrainian port of Odessa to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. Russia seized the Ukrainian vessels and 23 members of their crews. This is the latest chapter in a campaign

Watch out for poor weather if travelling today

This week's inclement weather has continued and a number of roads in Cumbria and the North West have been seriously affected by water on the road, fallen trees, and accidents. Do take care if you need to travel.

Copeland Conservatives website relaunched

Copeland Conservatives have been using a temporary website for the past 18 months which gave contact details for the association and for Trudy Harrison MP but had limited functionality. As of this morning our new website has gone live at New features include a " Pothole patrol " survey where residents can nominate any potholes or particularly bad stretches of road which you think should receive part of the £12 million the government has given Cumbria to improve and repair local roads. You can access that survey here .

Government legal advice

There are suggestions from a number of people who really ought to know better that the government should not just provide a balanced briefing for MPs on the legal advice they have received, and not just publish a summary of the advice as they have agreed to do, but publish the advice in full. This would be an act of insanity. The line from CCC this morning reads " Legal advice We’ve already committed to providing Parliament with a full, reasoned position statement. There is a longstanding convention, followed by successive governments, that legal advice to the government remain confidential. This enables government to receive frank and full legal advice in confidence, just as everyone else can. " I think that is entirely reasonable. The point about full legal advice is that it includes an assessment of the weaknesses as well as strengths of your own position. Providing that sort of detail to the other side in a negotiation (or dispute or court case) by publishing

Quote of the day 29th November 2018


PM condemns Anti-Semitism and Mysogyny

Earlier this week Prime Minister Theresa May delivered an impassioned speech condemning antisemitism and misogyny - only minutes after leaving the Commons following a gruelling session over her Brexit deal. In what the Jewish Chroncle described as " a remarkable display of energy " the Prime Minister opted not to pull out of a pre-planned speaking engagement to address a conference on antisemitism, despite having just spent more than two hours defending her EU withdrawal agreement to angry MPs. Speaking to a Downing Street reception on Monday evening, the PM said it was " clear that in 2018 Jewish women are under dual attack ". Echoing the theme of the Sara Conference that took place in Westminster, she said MPs such as Luciana Berger who she said were " abused for being women and abused for being Jewish ". The Sara Conference, the first of its kind, spent the day exploring the relationship between hatred of Jews and hatred of women, discussing ne

Hath not a Muslim eyes?

Paul Goodman, the editor of Conservative Home, has an excellent piece on the site called "Hath not a Muslim eyes?" which is, of course, an oblique reference to the speech in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" in which his character Shylock reminds us that Jews are human beings. The article is a response to attempts by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims to put forward a working definition of prejudice against Muslims which might perform the same function as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of Anti-Semitism. As Paul says, it is to the credit of the all-party group that they have not attempted to silence criticism of religion as opposed to prejudice against the human beings who believe in that religion. He writes: “ Criticism of religion is a fundamental right in an open society and is enshrined in our commitment to freedom of speech,” it says in its report , Islamophobia Defined , which proposes the de

Midweek Music Spot: "In The Navy " (Down Periscope)

Village People's song "In the Navy" - this video is the closing credits sequence from the Kelsey Grammer nautical comedy "Down Periscope" and features the band Village People themselves, the cast of the film, and a few clips from it. This post dedicated to the Royal Navy Submarine Service. Postscript 2022: I noticed in March 2022 from this blog's traffic counters that a significant number of people were looking at this 2018 post. Then I realised that the Youtube video which it linked to was no longer available. But fortunately, there is an updated version of that video so here it is instead!

Notes from yesterday's Copeland local committee

The Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council met yesterday at Cleator Moor. More detail to follow on some of these points but the meeting included 1) A very interesting and positive presentation from the deputy head of Millom School about access to higher education and how the school has used a grant from the local committee. 2) Update on the Terms of Reference: under this item a previous decision to co-opt the elected mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie as a non-voting member of the committee was confirmed and it was agreed that we will also invite the deputy mayor, Cllr David Moore and the new chairman of the Copeland branch of CALC (Cumbria Association of Local Councils, which represents Parish and Town Councils in the county) Cllr Andy Pratt. to attend. 3) Consultation on the A595 and proposed Whitehaven Relief Road - a very useful discussion on what should be fed into the County Council's response to this Highways England consultation, of which more anon. 4) Wh

Next Saturday Chataway with Trudy Harrison MP - Captain Shaw's Bootle

The next "Saturday Chataway" surgery with Trudy Harrison MP and local councillors (councillors of all parties and levels have been invited) will take place at Captain Shaw's school in Bootle from 10am to 12 noon at Captain Shaw's School in Bootle this coming Saturday, 1st December 2018. All residents of the constituency are welcome to bring your concerns, problems or issues.

Quote of the day 28th November 2018

“One of the most pathetic — and dangerous — signs of our times is the growing number of individuals and groups who believe that no one can possibly disagree with them for any honest reason.”  ( Thomas Sowell , American Economist) Actually this probably should not just be quote of the day, but quote of the year.

Reminder: A595 consultation events tomorrow and Thursday

There are two more "drop-in surgery" public consultation events at which residents of West Cumbria can learn about, discuss with Highways England, and respond to the proposals for a Whitehaven relief road, The first is tomorrow at the Beacon Portal at Whitehaven Harbour and the second is on Thursday at Westlakes. Full details as follows: Date Time Venue Address Wednesday 28 November 2pm – 7pm Beacon Museum The Beacon Portal, West Strand, Whitehaven, CA28 7LY Thursday 29 November 10am – 2pm Ingwell Hall (Gunson Room) Ingwell Drive, Westlakes Science and Technology Park, Moor Row, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA24 3JZ You can also read details of the consultation material and respond online at The consultation continues until 19th December.

They Also Served

Many words which have been written or repeated in the past 48 hours memory of the late Baroness Trumpington, a wonderful woman who died yesterday at the age of 96. Some of the most moving, which are reproduced below, are an extract from a speech she gave in support of a posthumous pardon for the brilliant mathematician and Bletchley codebreaker Alan Turing. She described how civilians who worked at Bletchley park during the war as Foreign Office employees did not originally get any recognition for their work. For many years after the war what the Enigma Code breakers had done was still secret. But someone who realised how unfair it was that people who had carried out work without which we would probably have lost the war had no recognition at all for it decided that they should be entitled to what the noble lady described as a "slightly ridiculous" badge which said "I also served." The words "They also served" should serve as a reminder to us that behi

Quote of the day 27th November 2018


Baroness Trumpington RIP

Jean Barker, Baroness Trumpington, Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and Privy Councillor, has died at the age of 96. She was one of the most popular politicians of any party because she was one of the most authentic; she would say exactly what she thought to anyone, including Margaret Thatcher when she served as one of her ministers. (Mrs Thatcher valued Lady Trumpington for this - contrary to the impression which many have of her, Margaret Thatcher liked people who stood up to her; she was well aware that not enough people had the courage to tell her what they really thought and appreciated the counsel of those who did.) Jean Campbell-Harris (as she then was) spent most of World War II working in Naval intelligence at Bletchley Park, serving in the team which cracked German naval codes.  After the war she had a rich and varied career which included serving as a city councillor, county councillor, Mayor of Cambridge and JP before being made  UK Representative to the

Winter is icumin in ...

Take care if you are driving anywhere in Cumbria or northern Britain today or tomorrow. Watch out particularly for ice. It is not that unusual at this time of year to have to clear ice from a car's windows first thing in the morning, as I did at the start of today. However, it is unusual to park your car at a meeting which starts at teatime and find when it finishes three hours or so later, several hours before midnight, that you have to clear ice off the windscreen before you can safely drive home. I had to do that this evening.

Theresa May's Statement at the EU council about the Brexit deal

The Prime Minister’s Press Statement at the EU Council, 25 November 2018 "Today marks the culmination of a long and difficult process of negotiation between the UK and the EU.  There were those who said that reaching a Brexit agreement that worked for both sides was an impossible task.  From the start, I rejected that counsel of despair and set about negotiating a deal that worked for the UK and the EU – one that delivered on the result of the referendum and set us on course for a prosperous future while maintaining a close relationship with our friends and neighbours. Thanks to the hard work of both sets of negotiators, that is what we have today agreed. I want to take a few moments to speak directly to the British people and explain what this deal means.  First, control of our borders. Not an emergency brake on free movement or a promise of greater transition controls in the future – but an end to the free movement of people, in full, once and for all. That is what th