Showing posts from June, 2019

Supporting our Armed Forces

Yesterday events took place all over the country to mark Armed Forces Day, paying tribute to the exceptional contribution our service personnel past and present make to our security and prosperity.  Key facts :  The Conservatives have increased the defence budget by £1.8 billion, to £40 billion by 2020-21, so that our Armed Forces have the right capabilities to keep us all safe.  We’ve enshrined the Armed Forces Covenant into law, highlighting the importance we place on supporting our service personnel.  All veterans will also receive a new ID card to mark their time in the Armed Forces. This will allow veterans to easily verify their service to the NHS, their local authority and charities, helping them to access support and services where needed.  Why this matters :  Our Armed Forces protect us and defend us around the world and serve communities throughout our country. Armed Forces Day gives us all the opportunity to thank service personnel for their contribution and to r

Sunday music spot: Anton Bruckner "Locus iste" sung by The Sixteen

The lyrics of this lovely anthem by Bruckner are "Locus iste a Deo factus est, Inaestimabile sacramentum, Irreprehensibilis est." Which can be translated as follows: "This place was made by God, A priceless sacrament; It is without reproach."

Quote of the day 30th June 2019

"Unless you're Anti-Semitic, walk away from labour - it stinks from top to bottom."   Headline on an article in today's Sunday Time by Rod Liddle, who was a member of the Labour party for many years but was suspended by the party three years ago for criticising Labour over Anti-Semitism. You can read his article here . He concludes by writing of his suspension "A glad and happy day, that was."  "I was deluded for too long and should have got out of my own volition."

Music for Armed Forces Day: Great British Marches


Armed Forces Day

Today is Armed Forces Day when we remember all who serve and have served in Britain's armed forces, keeping us safe in peace and war. Many of those who serve have paid the supreme sacrifice to protect us. Thank you to them all.

Quote of the day 29th June 2019


Labour and Anti-Semitism

None of Britain's major parties can afford to be complacent about any form of racism, be it Anti-Semitism, prejudice against Muslims, or any other type of bigotry. I don't think any of our parties are 100% free of all of them and we all need to be on the watch to ensure our parties remain tolerant and inclusive. However, only the most partisan Labour supporter can dispute that Labour has a particularly serious problem with Anti-Semitism, and the failure of the current party organisation to deal with it is beginning to alarm not just opponents of the leadership but even some of Jeremy Corbyn's most loyal allies. As a case in point, the re-admission of the egregious Chris Williamson, the MP for Derby North and a man who makes John McDonnell look like Andy Pandy, has horrified more than a hundred and twenty Labour parliamentarians. Williamson had been suspended after suggesting that Labour had been "too apologetic" over Anti-Semitism but a three-person di

Boris and Jeremy come to Cumbria

Both candidates in the Conservative leadership election are in Cumbria in the next 24 hours. Exact details are not being released for security reasons but there is a hustings debate in Cumbria tomorrow afternoon and both candidates are visiting various constituencies in the county before coming to the hustings. Then tomorrow evening they will be taking part in the "North West Region" hustings - again the details are not being released for security reasons but it is a major city in North West England.

How farming benefits from the government's Modern Industrial Strategy

Through the government's Modern Industrial Strategy, we are helping farmers cut down on pollution, minimise waste and produce more food thanks to a £22 million investment that will transform farming in the UK. Key facts : 31 projects across the UK will benefit from our Transforming Food Production Challenge. You can find a list of the projects here . The funding will support projects that boost food production and cut down on waste including using electricity instead of herbicides to tackle destructive weeds and ground-penetrating radars that monitor potato crops. This investment in the latest technological developments is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy, and commitment to boost R and D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. Why this matters : The UK is a global leader in technological innovation. The projects announced today will ensure we lead the way in supporting our vital farming industry, delivering high quality food for consumers while reducing th

57,000 UK jobs created by Inward Investment

Statistics out this week showed that over 57,000 new jobs were created as a result of inward investment from global projects in 2018-19, showing the strengths of the British economy, world-class talent and business friendly environment.  Key facts :  In 2018-19, there were 1,782 new inward investment projects.  UN figures recently showed that the UK has retained its position as the top destination in Europe for foreign direct investment, attracting more inward investment than France and Germany combined.

PM's message to G20 summit

Ahead of the G20 Summit in Japan the Prime Minister has called for international co-operation and compromise to deal with the global challenges we face.  Key facts : The Prime Minister said: ‘My message to G20 leaders this week is this: it is only through international co-operation and compromise that we can protect our citizens’ security and prosperity and make the world a safer and a better place to live.’  She added: ‘The international community must stand together against Iran’s deeply destabilising activity. Our priority should be the urgent de-escalation of tensions and we need to find a diplomatic solution to the current situation.’

Quote of the day 28th June 2019


Carbon Capture

Today the Energy Minister visited the UK’s largest Carbon Capture Project, which the Conservative government is backing with £26 million of taxpayers' money to help meet our ambition of ending our contribution to global warming entirely by 2050.  Key facts : £26 million will be awarded to nine companies to accelerate the rollout of carbon capture storage in the UK.  Once operational, the new facility in Cheshire will capture 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – the emissions reduction is equivalent to 22,000 fewer cars on the road.  This funding puts the UK at the forefront of the rollout of this technology and demonstrates how our Clean Growth Strategy is delivering for all parts of the country.  Why this matters:   Carbon capture, utilisation and storage has an essential role to play in our efforts to tackle climate change, helping us to meet our ambition to end our contribution to global warming entirely by 2050.

Cumbria County Council

Spent most of today at County Hall where Cumbria County Council met today and the evening in Rheged where Cumbria Conservatives heard from the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid. 1) The report on Adverse Childhood Experiences presented by the council's Director of Public Health, Colin Cox, was widely welcomed from all sides of the chamber and rightly so, it was a very powerful report. You can read it here 2) With Armed Forces day due this week, the council organised events in honour of local residents and council staff who have served in Britain's armed services and the "Help for Heroes" campaign. 3) Very powerful speech from councillor Will Clark about the important work of the Cumbria Air Ambulance who were called out when he was involved in the accident which put him in a wheelchair - credits them as having been for him and others the difference between life and death. 4) I raised with the relevant portfolio holder the need for further public consultation with se

Quote of the day 27th June 2019


Midweek music spot: Mozart Symphony No 40, first movement


Housing for all

The Prime Minister today spoke of the need for new design laws to ensure high-quality housing and confirm plans to strengthen tenants’ rights, ensuring safe, affordable homes for all.  Key facts :  Addressing the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Prime Minister confirmed plans to end so-called ‘no-fault’ evictions, stopping landlords evicting tenants at short notice.  She also spoke about the need for new regulations to mandate developers to build higher-quality housing, ending the postcode lottery which sees different rules apply in different parts of the country.  The government has already capped rent deposits and abolished letting fees, taken 80 per cent of first-time buyers out of Stamp Duty and increased the number of affordable housing starts to nearly 54,000 this year.  Why this matters :  Conservatives are committed to giving hardworking people the opportunity to realise the dream of home ownership, whilst also ensuring tenants have the protections and security th

July meeting of Copeland Local Committee.

The next meeting of the Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council will take place on Tuesday 2 July 2019 at 1.45 pm at Cleator Moor Civic Hall and Masonic Centre, Jacktrees Road, Cleator Moor, CA25 5AU. The meeting will be open to the public. The agenda and reports pack can be found here , and the main items on the agenda after the usual boilerplate are as follows: 5. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Local Committee held on 21 May 2019 6. COPELAND HIGHWAYS WORKING GROUP  To consider a report on Highways which provides details of the meeting of the Highways Working Group held on 14 June 2019. 7. AREA PLANNING REPORT To consider a report which provides Copeland Local Committee with an update on work and activity undertaken to promote and progress Area Planning since the last meeting of Committee. It is also to advise Local Committee on their current budget position. 8. LOCAL COMMITTEE CHAIRS AND LEADERSH

Nick Cohen on political heresy

Nick Cohen has a very persuasive article in Standpoint which you can read here about the importance of political heresy. The article is mostly about Republican opponents of Trump and Labour opponents of Jeremy Corbyn, but is applicable to almost every political movement. We should beware of being too quick to denounce heretics. In many cases they keep us honest. Nick Cohen's piece concludes: "I always listen to heretics. Their inside knowledge of the movements they have left means that it is worth taking the time to talk to them, as long as you remember they don’t have a sacred status. Minorities can be as wrong as majorities, and just because their former allies revile them does not mean they are right. But come now, look around—in our times heretics are the best guides we have through the mire." 

Quote of the day 26th June 2019

Often attributed to Mark Twain (a.k.a. Samuel Langhorne Clemens) but according to the Quote Investigator website , the above saying " has been attributed to several other prominent humorists including: Josh Billings ( pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw ), Artemus Ward (pseudonym of Charles Farrar Browne), Kin Hubbard (pen name of Frank McKinney Hubbard), and Will Rogers. Yet, it is unlikely then any of them said it. The creator remains anonymous based on current evidence. "

Seagulls one, Sellafield drones nil

Question - what's the difference between the Islamic Republic of Iraq and a herring gull?  Answer - one is known for aggressiveness, is often a problem neighbour, has caused a headache for nuclear analysts and brings down drones - and the other is a country in the Middle East! The West Cumbrian News and Star has the front page headline today " Attack on the drones " about the story that a £30,000 drone which was being used by the Sellafield nuclear site to monitor traffic was attacked and brought down by a herring gull . The drone crashed on June 13th. An insider from the plant told the local press: "It came down after being attacked by seagull. "Thankfully, it didn't fall on anybody."  A local wildlife expert said that the bird responsible is most likely to have been an adult herring gull defending its nest or chicks and which might have perceived the drone as a threat. A spokesman for Sellafield admitted that they had lost the drone but

Delivering for the poorest in society

Last week, research from the IFS showed that the Conservative government's balanced approach to the economy is delivering for the poorest in society. Absolute poverty is at its lowest ever level – it was 19 per cent in 2017–18, down from 22 per cent in 2011–12.  Material deprivation among working-age families is 20 per cent lower under the Conservatives and has fallen amongst pensioners too.  Earnings growth since the 2008 recession has been strongest for low earners – thanks in part to our National Living Wage and changes to the personal allowance.

Quote of the day 25th June 2019


The irony meter is off the scale

Hat tip to Anne Wareham ( @AnneWareham ) on Twitter for the following: "Channel 4 News produced the delicious sight of Jon Snow complaining that the Tory electorate are all white men over the age of 55. Mr Snow is white, male and aged 71. The victim of his harangue was Nusrat Ghani, the brown-skinned, female, Conservative MP for Wealden, who is 46."

Adverse Childhood Experiences

The Agenda sheet for Thursday's County Council meeting, as directly quoted in the original version of the post on this blog about the meeting, describes item 12 as "Public Health Annual Report." On reflection I think this is a highly misleading title. That title, and all except one line of the covering report, gives the impression that it's a general report about all the public health issues in Cumbria and all the (vast amount) of public health work going on. But as a colleague pointed out to me today, this year's report is far more specific. To be precise, it is entirely about the effects through life of Adverse Childhood Experiences - which can mean anything from suffering one or more accidents or direct abuse to being brought up in difficult circumstances. It's a challenging area but the report - which can be read here - is actually an important one and worthy spending some time on.

Helping those with a gambling addiction

The NHS is launching the first gambling clinic for young people, as part of our commitment to help more people with serious gambling problems.  Key facts :  450,000 young people are gambling regularly, with 55,000 classed as having a gambling problem fuelled by online gaming sites and targeted adverts.  The first NHS gambling clinic for children will open this year as part of a new network of services for addicts being rolled out as part of our long-term plan for the NHS.  Up to 14 new NHS clinics are being opened across the country, and the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London will start offering specialist help for children and young people aged 13 to 25.  Why this matters:  These new specialist services demonstrate our commitment to tackle the danger problem gambling can pose and our determination to ensure society’s most vulnerable people are protected.

Quote of the day 24th June 2019


Second Sunday music spot: "I Saw the Lord" by John Stainer


First Sunday music spot: Overture from "William Tell" by Rossini

This is the overture to Rossini's opera, "William Tell." The final part of the overture, a brilliant musical picture of a troop of cavalry at the gallop, is known to musicians as "The March of the Swiss Soldiers" but it was also used as the theme tune for The Lone Ranger, hence the joke that the definition of an intellectual as being someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger. Any good performance of an exerpt from "William Tell," like this excellent rendition of the overture by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, reminds me of a very enjoyable evening spent listening to that opera, performed by the Austrian National Opera, in a box at the Vienna Opera House when I was on holiday in Austria in the late 1990's. Those of us in the box were a very cosmopolitan group - including a German, an American and a Dutchwoman as well as a Brit - listening to a performance in French of an opera set in Switze

Quote of the day 23rd June 2019


Saturday music spot: The Seekers "The Carnival Is Over"


Lord Finkelstein on Anti-Semitism

Lord Danny Finkelstein (aka @Dannythefink) made an important contribution to the House of Lords debate on Anti-Semitism this week . The speech lasted about three minutes and it is well worth three minutes of the time of anyone who cares about defeating Anti-Semitism to listen to it, which you can do at

Dealing with Cyber-bullying

The Education Secretary has called on social media influences and online celebrities to do more to promote healthy body image stereotypes to the young people who follow them, to ensure children are growing up with a realistic view on body image.  Key facts :  Conservatives want social media influencers, often followed by hundreds of thousands of young people, to help fight against negative body image, by making sure their social media content is less focused on appearance and ensuring there is more transparency about how online photos are edited.  New data has shown that 40 per cent of teenagers said that things their friends have said have made them worry about their body image.  From 2020, the Conservative government is introducing compulsory health and relationships education in every state funded school. This means every child will learn about internet safe and harms – including the unrealistic expectation of body image often found online.  Why this matters : The interne

Record numbers save through an occupational pension

New official statistics released yesterday show that a record number of people are saving for their pension, as Britain's savings culture has been transformed and this will mean that people have greater financial security in their retirement.  Key facts :  There are 45.6 million people with an occupational pension, the highest ever level. Since we introduced automatic enrolment in 2012, the number of people saving into private sector schemes has increased fourfold – from 2.7 million in 2012 to 11.0 million in 2018.  This shows what has been achieved since 2010 in the fields of both our employment successes and pensions policies.  The Conservative government is also backing industry to deliver pensions dashboards – capturing all someone’s retirement savings information in one place, helping people take control of their savings at the touch of a screen.  Why this matters :  By transforming the savings culture, we are enhancing the prospects of millions of workers by offer

And then there were two ...

After the final two ballots of Conservative MPs in the leadership election, two names go forward to a postal ballot of members of the party: Boris Johnson , former foreign secretary and former mayor of London Jeremy Hunt , the current foreign secretary. Ballot papers will be posted to party members to arrive between the 6th and 8th of July. There will be a series of sixteen hustings around the country, the first one in Birmingham at 3pm this afternoon at which Iain Dale will act as moderator. At these events party members will be able to see and listen to the two candidates who reach the final round. Party members can register to attend at . You don't have to attend the event nearer to you, you can attend another if the date makes that more convenient, and indeed you can register to attend more than one hustings session. You will need your party membership number to register. Qualifying party members should by now hav

Quote of the day 22nd June 2019


Reducing Re-offending

The government will offer vulnerable offenders targeted treatment and better access to healthcare to reduce re-offending saving taxpayers’ money and fewer victims of crime, making our communities safer.   Key facts :   ·          Mental health, drug or alcohol issues are often the root causes of offending, so probation and healthcare staff will inform judges if offenders should receive treatment, alongside their community sentence. This means fewer short-term custodial sentences, which are often unable to stop re-offending and fewer victims of crime.   ·          We will also pilot the use of cutting edge technology in prisons to connect them to the NHS to reduce pressure on prison and healthcare staff and improve access to care.   ·          Building on this we will publish the first ever Health and Justice Action Plan in the autumn to get people the right care, at the right time, in the right setting.   Why this matters : 

June meeting of Cumbria County Council

The next meeting of Cumbria County Council will take place in the council chamber at County Hall, Kendal, on Thursday 27 June 2019 at 10.00 am. the meeting will be open to the public (for those residents whose employment and other circumstances allow them to travel to Kendal and spend a good part of a working day there.) I live in hopes that one day we will follow the example of more forward-thinking and modern authorities and live-stream the proceedings. One are in which we do operate in a manner appropriate for the 21st century is that the full agenda and supporting papers are available on the internet at . The main items for consideration are: 7. Minutes of the Cabinet  (minutes of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 6 June 2019) 8. 2018/19 REVENUE AND CAPITAL BUDGET MONITORING REPORT - SUMMARY OF YEAR END POSITION AND 2019/20 CAPITAL BUDGET UPDATE To consider a report from the Deputy Lea


The first three T Level qualifications will be taught from September 2020, with a second wave being introduced in 2021, giving more young people the opportunity and skills they need to get on in life.   Key facts :   ·      T Levels will be high-quality technical alternatives to A Levels, combining classroom theory, practical learning and an industry placement.   ·   The Education Secretary confirmed this week that new T Level qualifications in Digital, Education and Construction will be taught from September 2020, with further T levels in Health and Science taught from 2021.   ·   The Conservative government will support these T Level providers with an additional £3.75 million so they are ready to provide the courses by September 2020.   Why this matters :  T Levels represent a much needed, high quality alternative to A Levels, so more young people can access the education best suited to them whilst gaining skills that

Quote of the day 21st June 2019


Second quote of the day 20th June 2019


Protecting loyal consumers

The Conservative government is taking action to ensure consumers are not unfairly targeted and penalised for their loyalty when paying for everyday services.   Key facts :  Following concerns raised by Citizens Advice in a ‘super-complaint’, a Competition and Markets Authority investigation found that there is a loyalty penalty of around £4 billion a year in a few selected markets.   ·          Currently, the CMA must go through courts in order to assess whether firms have overcharged or misled customers.   ·          Today, we have committed to simplifying that process by giving the CMA new powers to decide itself whether consumer law has been broken. This means firms that overcharge or mislead their customers could be hit with direct fines without the need to go through a court.   ·          A simpler process will act as a powerful deterrent to firms that are penalising loyalty.   Why this matters :  The key to succ

Quote of the day 20th June 2019

(This is quote is taken from his play "St Joan.")

Midweek Music spot: Cliff Richard "Out In The Country"


Action to stop the waste of food.

Following a call for action, all major supermarkets have signed the government's proposed ambitious pledge to halve food waste by 2030 and save families across the country billions of pounds every year.  Key facts :  An estimated 10.2 million tonnes of food and drink are wasted each year, worth around £20 billion. Families spend £15 billion every year on food that ends up being thrown away, worth £500 a year for the average household.  More than 100 of the biggest players in food have signed a pledge to take ground-breaking action to drive down food waste.  The leading household names took the step after the government's Food Surplus and Waste Champion urged them to ‘Step up to the Plate’ and they will also help raise awareness of the issue through a week of action.  To go further in meeting our pledge the government is inviting organisations to apply for the second round of more than £6 million funding to slash food waste.  Why this matters :  Food waste is an imp

Quote of the day 19th June 2019


Conservative leadership ballot round 2

Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Sajid Javid go forward to the next round.

Supporting Aerospace

Yesterday, as part of our modern Industrial Strategy, the Business Minister launched a £24 million fund to support businesses that are developing new solutions to UK aerospace challenges.   Key facts :   ·          As part of a competition, up to £12 million government funding, matched by industry, will become available for UK aerospace suppliers.   ·          We have also announced a new programme to help SMEs develop innovative technology, including 3D aerospace structures to lighten aircrafts and bring them to market quickly to boost their global competitiveness.   ·          This is part of a £3.9 billion commitment by Government and industry to support UK aerospace manufacturers.   Why this matters :  This new funding forms part of our modern Industrial Strategy – helping to ensure the UK remains a global player in aerospace manufacturing, while boosting R&D activity, developing new technology and increasing the