Showing posts from August, 2019

More money for schools

The Prime Minister has announced that we are boosting schools with an extra £14 billion, levelling up funding per pupil across the country so every child has a world class education . (This represents an increase of about 10% in real terms funding for schools. We should not accept the idea that there can be winners or losers when it comes to our children’s futures.  That’s why the Conservatives are providing additional funding now and for the future for every school, with those historically underfunded receiving the greatest increase.  Additionally, we have also pledged to meet the £4.5 billion requirement for teachers’ pensions from outside the education budget. This means that every penny of the extra £14 billion will go straight to school and delivering the best educational outcomes for our children.  We can deliver the change people want, giving every child the world class education they deserve and properly funding our schools – getting this country back on the road to

Music to relax after campaigning

Some very mixed weather did not prevent Copeland Conservatives from going out survey canvassing in Cleator Moor today. 250 survey forms and reply paid envelopes issued to local residents. Well done to all Conservatives who were out campaigning in whatever weather today, And here is some appropriate music to relax to:

Cumbria and Lancashire Joint Health Scrutiny

There will be a meeting of the Cumbria and Lancashire Joint Health Scrutiny committee at 10am on Friday 6th September in Committee Room 2 at the Cumbria County Council offices at County Hall in Kendal. The purpose of this joint committee is to hold the NHS to account on cross-regional health issues affecting both Cumbria and Lancashire. The meeting will be open to the public. The Agenda and part one reports are available on the Cumbria County Council website here , and the main items for consideration are: 8. Renal Dialysis Services in Lancashire and South Cumbria 9. Update on Fragile Services at UHMB (University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay) 10. Reconfiguration of Community Beds within the acute hospitals 11. Stroke Services

Quote of the day 31st August 2019

"I don't know enough about the details" ( Sir David Attenborough admits to the News and Star that while he "thinks" he is opposed to the West Cumbria Mining proposals for a new coal mine in Whitehaven, his opposition is not based on a fully-informed knowledge of the "complicated" facts,)

Preparing Britain's ports for Brexit

The Transport Secretary has  announced  £30 million to upgrade ports in preparation for Brexit, ensuring we are ready to leave the EU on 31 October – whatever the circumstances. The new funding will be  spent on upgrades to port infrastructure, road and rail links and building resilience within local government to ensure trade continues to flow smoothly at our ports after Brexit. Ports across England can bid for a share of £10 million for upgrades to enhance capacity, while a further £5 million will be provided to Local Resilience Forums for infrastructure improvements and £15 million will  go towards longer-term road and rail link projects to ensure more freight can get where it needs to be faster. This is part of the Government’s £2.1 billion investment to step-up the country’s preparations for leaving the EU, and comes a week after £9 million was announced  for local councils and Resilience Forums to support their Brexit planning for major air, land or sea ports.

Quote of the day 30th August - Tom Harris on Ruth Davidson

"In our highly partisan political culture, where those who support other parties are regarded as enemies who must be defeated rather than people who happen to hold different opinions, it’s easy to forget that democracy only works when voters change their minds and switch their political allegiance between the parties." "Which is where Ruth Davidson comes in. She did something that few other political leaders – at least in Scotland – even bothered attempting: she appealed not just to her own party’s traditional supporters but to those of other parties." "On a personal level, as someone from a different political background and tradition to Ruth, I am filled with sadness that this devout champion of the Union has departed the stage. She has always been kind, thoughtful and very, very funny whenever I’ve been in her company. It should not be a weakness in any politician to admit that an opponent is sincere, capable and good. Ruth is all those things and the fact

Helping business prepare for Brexit

The Business Secretary is launching a £10 million fund for business organisations and trade associations, ensuring businesses have the support they need as they prepare to leave the EU on 31 October.  For businesses that still feel unprepared for Brexit, the government is determined to do everything possible to ensure they are fully ready.  We know that companies often rely on the wider business community for help and advice with planning, and the Business Readiness Fund will give business groups the necessary tools to engage with this crucial task.  The funding forms part of the £108 million recently announced to promote and support businesses in ensuring they are ready for our departure from the EU.  Why this matters : This funding will mean business organisations from all sectors across the country can stand resolutely behind businesses large and small to support them in preparing for, and seizing the opportunities of, leaving the EU.

The Queen's Speech

The Prime Minister has announced that there will be a Queen’s Speech on 14 October, bringing forward a new bold and ambitious legislative agenda: investing in the NHS, reducing violent crime and cutting the cost of living.  Having a new Queen’s Speech will enable us to put forward a fresh domestic programme, while also ensuring that there is good time before and after the European Council for Parliament to further consider Brexit issues.   If a deal with the EU is forthcoming, Parliament will then have the opportunity to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill required for ratification ahead of leaving the EU on 31 October.  This has been the longest Parliamentary session in close to 400 years and in recent months one of the least active. Having a Queen’s Speech will enable the Prime Minister and the Government to focus on crucial public priorities – investing in the NHS, reducing violent crime and cutting the cost of living.

Public spending plans for the next year

The Chancellor has announced the Spending Round will take place on Wednesday 4 September, clearing the decks so we can focus on delivering Brexit while supporting our vital public services. The Spending Round will set out the government's our plans to deliver on the Prime Minister’s priorities – to recruit 20,000 more police officers, to improve front-line NHS care and to properly fund our schools.  Thanks to the hard work of the British people over the last decade, we can afford to spend more on people’s priorities – without breaking the rules around what the Government should spend and ensuring we continue to live within our means.  The Spending Round will give departments certainty over their budgets for next year and ensure that we continue to focus relentlessly on making sure we’re ready to leave the EU on 31 October, whatever the circumstances.  Why this matters : By delivering Brexit on 31 October we can focus on supporting our public services and bringing about t

Ruth Davidson MSP

I am deeply sorry to learn that Ruth Davidson MSP has resigned as leader of the Scottish Conservative party. She has been an inspiration to Conservatives not just in Scotland but throughout the UK. Among the stories being shared today was the time the car belonging to one of her Scottish Conservative colleagues developed a flat tyre at a key moment in the 2016 elections just after the manifesto launch. Three blokes without a clue what to do watch Ruth Davidson change the tyre in the pouring rain. I understand that her resignation is due to a mix of reasons both political and personal: sources close to Ms Davidson told the Scottish Sun last night that her decision to resign was not a direct result of yesterday's national political events. Ruth will be desperately missed and will be a hard act to follow. I very much hope that she will stay involved in national politics. Conservative leader and PM Boris Johnson tweeted: "On behalf of everyone in the Conservative &

Quote of the day 29th August 2019

"The response from faux-left Remainers has perhaps been the most infuriating – and certainly the most delusional. Corbynistas are protesting in Westminster tonight. Some have even called for a general strike, to the end of crushing the votes of millions of workers. Today activists invoked the Peterloo massacre, and the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, as they called people out on to the streets. Clearly, they don’t realise that in this particular battle for democracy they’re on the side of the other guys. The ones with sabres and tear gas." (Tom Slater, Deputy Editor of Spiked Online, from an article " Who will defend democracy " in which he argues that it was a mistake to prorogue parliament for the conference season but that the anti-Brexit critics of the decision "do not have right on their side. In fact they are far, far worse." )

Parliament prerogation music spot “Insanae et Vanae Curae” (Haydn

As the entire British political class throws the most monumental hissy fit at the government arranging for parliament to take a break from week two of September to week two of October (exactly the season when parliament always takes a break) the obvious choice for a music spot for the day is Haydn's "Insanae et vanae curae." The words of this musical masterpiece, which seems particularly appropriate this evening, can be roughly translated into English as follows: "A crazed and hopeless passion invades our minds,   Again and again madness fills our hearts and robs us of hope."   "How can it profit you, O mortal, to seek for earthly riches but take no thought of Heaven?"   "Yet if God is for you, all things are possible for you."

Revitalising Britain's High Streets

This week the Prime Minister has announced that 50 more towns will share £1 billion of funding to re-energise their high street and keep it a vibrant heart of the community. The Prime Minister has expanded the Future High Streets Fund, confirming that another 50 towns in England will be given a share of £1 billion to redevelop their high streets.  This funding is part of the Prime Minister’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund announced last month which will ensure that towns are getting the improved transport and broadband connectivity that they need to create more jobs.  Why this matter s :  With our towns and high streets facing challenges, the Conservatives are committed to re-energising these communities, ensuring that they remain vibrant places where people want to go, meet and spend their money.

Queen prorogues parliament ...

Order signed today proroguing parliament from between the 9th and 12th September, to return on Monday 14th October.

Calm down dears! Government calls normal break for Party conference season

It is quite normal for government to put forward a recess in late September and early October for the party conference season and to prepare for a new session of parliament including a Queen's Speech. Today the government announced that they have asked HM the Queen to proporgue parliament so that it will not sit during approximately the period when it would normally be in recess, e.g. from the second sitting week in September until Monday 14th October. This is not significantly different from what happened in previous years. Last year parliament did not sit between 13th September and 9th October. In 2017 parliament did not sit between 14th September and 9th October. I'm grateful to Stephen Pollard for tweeting this list of recent parliamentary breaks: I don't recall anyone accusing the government of staging a coup when they arranged for a similar parliamentary recess last year or the year before, but British politics has entered a strange through-the-looking-gla

September meeting of Cumbria County Council's local committee for Copeland

The next meeting of the County Council's local committee for Copeland consisting of all the county councillors for Copeland Borough divisions will take place on Monday 2nd September 2019 at 10.15 am at Ingwell Hall, Westlakes Science park. The meeting will be open to the public. The full agenda and supporting documents can be found here , but the items on the agenda which may be of particular interest include 1) Review of traffic speeds in several areas of Copeland and proposed action 2) Parking and traffic orders : results of informal public consultation on fifteen proposed changes to the Traffic Regulation Orders for Copeland, of which is proposed that two should be dropped and the remainder proceed to formal consultation. The proposed changes consist of a weight restriction on the U4009 at Low Moresby, turning restrictions at Sellafield main gate and changes to on street parking orders at Millom, Haverigg, Lowca, Egremont, St Bees and Cleator Moor. 3) Highways devol

Quote of the day 28th August 2019


More ultra-fast broadband for Rural Areas

The government is taking action to accelerate rollout of the latest 5G technology in rural areas so we can unite Britain by connecting countryside communities.  We are launching a £30 million fund which will see up to ten rural locations chosen to run innovative trials of the newest 5G technology to stimulate investment, drive business growth, encourage innovation and connect people.   We are also looking at how we can simplify planning rules to improve rural mobile coverage.  Why this matters : Reliable and fast broadband is essential to the economic survival of rural communities: without it the opportunities for local businesses to keep up with the market will vanish and the flight of young people to better connected parts of the country will accelerate. By ensuring that every part of the country receives the next generation of 5G technology, we will boost local growth, unite our regions and bring the country back together.

Quote of the day 27th August 2019


Helping children in the world's conflict zones

At the G7 yesterday, t he Prime Minister announced  £ 90 million of UK funding to help ensure education for 600,000 children living in conflict. ·         Innocent children suffer the most from the brutal reality of life in the world’s most dangerous countries, and g irls are more than twice as likely to be out of school if they live in conflict areas. ·         This funding brings us one step closer to ensuring that every girl in the world gets twelve years of education. ·         The Prime Minister  has also  call ed  on G7 countries to dedicate more of their aid budget to education, which currently accounts for less than 2 per cent of global humanitarian aid. Why this matters :  All  children should have a chance to succeed – no matter where they are born. It is only through equipping the adults of tomorrow with learning and skills that we will break this cycle of instability.

Boris in Biarritz

This bank holiday weekend the Prime Minister is attending the G7 Summit, delivering the message that Britain is an international, outward-looking, self-confident nation.   G7 leaders are meeting in Biarritz at a critical moment for the world and for Britain, as we face unprecedented global challenges.   Britain will be an energetic partner on the world stage, standing up for liberty, democracy, the rule of law, equality and human rights – the ideals that we share with our friends and allies.   The Prime Minister has met with President Trump and discussed how Brexit presents many opportunities for deepening our already robust economic and commercial relationship, including a comprehensive trade agreement.  Why this matters : As we leave the European Union, Britain will remain at the heart of the alliances that span the world. And we will continue to use the breadth of our expertise in diplomacy, defence and development to uphold and safeguard the global order on which peace

Bank Holiday music spot: Bach's Concerto for Violin & Oboe in c minor


Quote of the day 26th August 2019

"I'm 58 and the only hill I'm over is the one I hiked last weekend" (Carol Vorderman, suggesting that the abilities of older people are too often overlooked.) 

England win Third Test with stunning comeback

Congratulations to England on their astonishing comeback in the third Ashes test at Headingley , winning the match by one wicket to level the series at one match won for each side with two matches to go. If Australia had won they would have made certain of retaining the Ashes by going two-nil up, making it impossible for England to move ahead of them even if they won both the remaining matches. Up there with the top Ashes comebacks of all time - third Test at Headlingley (from having betting odds of 500:1 against at one point) and fourth at Edgbaston in 1981 by the Brearley/Botham/Willis side.

Quote of the day 25th August 2019


Music to relax after campaigning: Telemann: Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Trumpet

Well done all those who have been campaigning today or otherwise talking to residents on the doorstep. I was canvassing with and for the Conservative candidate for the Penrith South by-election for Eden District Council, Helen Fearon. This by-election is taking place in a ward where the margin in May this year was just 14 votes, so everything to play for! Great response on the doorstep.  Well done also to Copeland Tories who were out today in Bransty. For everyone who was campaigning, surveying residents' opinions or otherwise out on the stump today, here is something to relax to: George Philip Telemann's Concerto in D major for Violin, Cello, Trumpet and Strings, TWV 53:D5

Strengthening our NHS

The NHS is always there for us – free at the point of use for everyone in the country – and truly showcases the very best of Britain That’s why the Prime Minister has made it his immediate task to make sure frontline services have the funding they need, to make a real difference to the lives of NHS staff, and above all, of patients. It’s time to make sure the NHS receives the funds it needs , to continue being the best healthcare service in the world. Getting our country back on the road to a brighter future by: Upgrading 20 hospitals – ensuring that money for the NHS really does get to the front line. We’ve committed an extra £1.8 billion for the NHS – including £850 million for 20 hospitals – to ensure front-line services have the funding they need, supporting doctors, nurses, and of patients.  Improving treatment for patients by injecting £250 million into artificial intelligence within the NHS. The government is are setting up a National Artificial Intelligence Lab to ensur

Quote of the day 24th August 2019


The Thin Blue line, continued

Today Wallingford, the home town of the late PC Mark Harper, paid a special tribute to the policeman who was killed in the line of duty last week, and was remembered in places all around Britain by a minute's silence. Homes and businesses throughout the town displayed blue ribbons, representing "The Thin Blue Line" as a mark of respect.

Boris meets Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

This week the Prime Minister has met with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron. He has made clear that Britain will be leaving the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances. No ifs, no buts. We would prefer to leave with a deal and we will work in an energetic and determined way to get that better deal.  This week the Prime Minister has written to Donald Tusk making clear the Government’s position that the backstop must be abolished.  If it is not possible to reach a deal we will have to leave with no deal. The government is are turbocharging preparations, retooling government and making sure all necessary funding is made available. We will be ready by 31 October.  Why this matters : Boris Johnson and the Conservatives will implement the decision of the British electorate in the referendum and leave the EU by 31 October. We will get our country back on the road to a brighter future

Hospital Food

Today the government has launched a review into hospital food to make sure a hospital meal helps, not hinders, the patient’s recovery.  Since entering Downing Street the Prime Minister has made it very clear that his government will make sure our world-class NHS has everything it needs to continue providing the very best front-line care.  This root-and-branch review will guarantee hospitals serve nutritional, tasty and fresh meals that will not only aid patient recovery, but also fuel staff and visitors as they care for loved ones and the vulnerable.  Restaurateur Prue Leith CBE will act as an advisor to the review which will establish new national quality standards for the food served to staff, patients and visitors.  Why this matters : This review will ensure our NHS remains the standard-bearer for healthy choices, as it works unstintingly to improve the nation’s well-being.

Quote of the day 23rd August 2019


A minute's silence at 11am tomorrow to honour PC Andrew Harper

Thames Valley Police Force has announced it will be holding a minute's silence at 11am tomorrow (August 23 2019) to pay tribute to their fallen colleague, Andrew Harper, who was killed in the line of duty last week while responding to reports of a burglary near Sulhamstead on the A4  A statement read: "We will be holding a one minute silence across the force tomorrow (23/8) at 11am in memory of PC Andrew Harper.  "Please be aware that these are private events and we kindly ask that the privacy of our officers/staff is respected across the force." Other police forces (including here in Cumbria) and individuals will be joining in.

The thin blue line - an ex-copper writes

Britain is very fortunate in the quality of the vast majority of our police officers. Any organisation as large as the police will sometimes make mistakes and the quality of leadership is still paying the price for the consequences of the lamentably successful attempt by Blair's "New Labour" project to introduce politically correct attitudes from the top down into every organisation they could reach. Nevertheless the dedication and bravery of the vast majority of front-line police officers is amazing and far better than we probably deserve considering how they are all too often treated. It's not a safe job. May police officers have laid down their lives in the line of duty. Here in Cumbria we remember PC Bill Barker from Egremont, a hero who lost his life during an episode of flooding while warning motorists that a  bridge was unsafe and fell victim to the very danger he was warning people against. As one of my school classmates pointed out on a recent post

Review of HS2

Yesterday the government announced and independent review of the HS2 (High Speed Rail phase 2) plan in order to obtain clear advice on the best way forward in respect of this project.  The Prime Minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits.   Douglas Oakervee and his expert panel will consider all the evidence available, and provide us with clear advice on the future of the project.  The final report will be sent by the autumn and inform our decisions on next steps for the project.  Why this matters : This review will provide the evidence to ensure Britain is investing in projects that deliver value for money and the best results for people across the country.

Good luck to all students collecting GCSE results today

Best wishes to all the thousands of students who get their GCSE results today. Congratulations to those who have done well. Hope all of you, whether you have got the results you hoped for or not, find a positive way forward for the future.

Quote of the day 22nd August 2019


Another Boris critic admits he's got something right ..

This morning my quote for the day was a reference and link to an article by estwhile Boris Johnson critic Bruce Anderson, " Was I wrong about Boris? " At the end of the day I'm posting a link to an article by another Johnson critic, Charlotte Henry, who has found a subject on which she does agree with him. It's called " On vaccines, Boris Johnson has hit the nail on the head " and you can follow a link to it by clicking on the title.

Midweek music spot: Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute

SPOILER ALERT I had heard this piece of music sung on its own many times before I actually went to see the opera "The Magic Flute." However, my German was not nearly good enough to have picked up what the Queen of the Night is actually saying in this area. When I did go to see the opera and found out what the words mean, it was, as the author and composer intended, a pretty major shock.  This very powerful performance has English subtitles. If you already know the story, or are are otherwise not worried about a "spoiler" telling you about a pretty major story development, I can recommend this performance. If you are not already familiar with the plot of the story and might want to see it at some point in the future without advance knowledge, I would advise against watching the video clip.

Boost for hospices

The Prime Minister has announced a £25 million cash boost for hospices, alleviating the everyday pressures faced on the frontline and ensuring they are able to continue their vital work supporting people at the end of their lives.  This additional funding will protect hospices and palliative care services which support around 200,000 in the UK each year, helping to keep them open and improve the quality of end of life care, ensuring people are able to die as comfortably as possible.   The money will also support the sector by relieving workforce pressures as well as introducing new services – such as out-of-hours support, respite care and specialist community teams.  Why this matters :  End of life care is vitally important, as our NHS is committed to caring for everyone from cradle to grave. This cash boost will protect hospices and palliative care services so people across the country will have the best, most personalised and dignified choices when they die.

Quote of the day 21st August 2019

"Myself, along with Matthew Parris, Max Hastings and Simon Heffer are proud, stiff-necked characters who would never make concessions to secure consensus and who certainly do not write to be wrong.  Yet in recent months, there has been agreement, at least on one crucial point: we have vied with each other to pour boiling oil on Boris. We all insisted that a Johnson administration would quickly disintegrate into risibility and chaos, exposing the country to manifold perils.  Well, that has not happened. It may be that we were all wrong. I had assumed that although Boris wanted the self-aggrandisement of power, he would not move beyond ‘to be’, because he would have no idea what to do.  That turned out to be nonsense. He had prepared for office. From the first moment, he displayed Montgomery’s favourite attribute: grip." (Bruce Anderson , from a Spectator article, " Was I wrong about Boris? " Spoiler alerts - he concedes that the answer may well be "Yes.

More support for Young People's mental health

The government is providing £3.3 million to support more young people with their mental health, as part of our plan to boost frontline NHS services . The government has announved that it will provide £3.3 million to expand 23 local projects across England supporting children and young people’s mental health.   Thousands of young people will benefit from new mental health support including counselling, mentoring and wellbeing programmes in their communities.   The projects supported by this money have an emphasis on improving access to support outside of NHS services, including for groups such as LGBT young people or those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.  Why this matters : Ensuring young people have access to good mental health support can help them to thrive later in life. That’s why we are transforming local mental health care – backed by an extra £2.3 billion a year through the NHS Long Term Plan.

Borrowdale Road, Mirehouse to close at the end of August for carriageway repairs

As part of Cumbria County Council's action to fix potholes and repair roads in poor condition, there will be repair work coming up later this month in another road in my division. Borrowdale Road in Mirehouse, Whitehaven will be closed temporarily for about three days from 27th August 2019 to allow Cumbria Highways to carry out carriageway patching works. The road will be closed from its junction with Skiddaw Street extending in a westerly direction for a distance of about 100 metres.  Alternative Route :  A way for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists will be maintained at all times and a suitable alternative route for vehicles will be signed and available via Derwentwater Road, Meadow Road and Skiddaw Road.

Quote of the day 20th August 2019

"This headline is completely false. And it is scare mongering to suggest that this is government policy. ✅ T he State Pension age is 68 which is fair, sustainable and affordable for all generations.  👍 This Government is helping millions of people enjoy a secure retirement." The above quote comes from Amber Rudd, responding to reports of  a think-tank recommendation that the retiring age should be raised to 75 which was wrongly presented by left-wing newspapers and some Labour politicians as if it were a Conservative policy. It is not. I quoted David Brin the other day - see box below. To have any chance of finding imaginative and original solutions to your problems you will need to consider a wide range of ideas, including some ideas which, when you do look at them, you will conclude are ridiculous. The idea of raising the retirement age to anything remotely like 75 in the sort of timescale suggested by that think-tank report is a classic example of such a ridic

A new police covenant

The Home Secretary has announced measures to crack down on violent crime, and plans for a new police covenant to ensure that the law acts as the deterrent it should be, to keep our streets safe. The government is are accelerating plans to establish a Police Covenant, ensuring that brave officers who serve the county get the support and respect they so richly deserve.  Earlier this week, the government published draft guidance to underpin new knife crime prevention orders, which will give the police an additional power to help steer vulnerable people away from serious violence.   Why this matters :  This Government will always give the police the support, resources and powers they need – including recruiting 20,000 new officers over the next three years and empowering them to use stop and search.

Vaccination saves lives

Vaccination has been one of the most successful measures to prevent premature death in the history of medicine. That's not just my opinion, it is that of the NHS and most doctors. It is a tragedy to see that Measles cases are increasing in the UK. This is the wholly avoidable return of a very unpleasant disease which kills children, and it is happening mainly because of a drop in vaccination levels which in turn has been caused mainly by misleading nonsense spread by supporters of the anti-vaccination delusion (and by Russian bots.) There are some people who for genuine medical reasons should not have particular vaccinations at particular times, If in doubt you should always consult your GP. But for the vast majority of people the benefits of vaccination massively outweigh the trivial risks involved. That's why the Prime Minister has ordered urgent action to improve the number of children and young people receiving life-saving vaccinations, halting the spread of infecti

Remembering the William Pit disaster

This week has seen the 72nd anniversary of the terrible disaster at William Pit in Whitehaven which killed 104 miners in August 1947. The explosion which hit the mine that month also made 89 women widows and left 230 children without a father. I remember attending the 60th anniversary commemoration in 2007 when four thousand people walked in procession from St Nicholas's gardens to the site of the former mine. This was very far from being the only terrible disaster to hit Whitehaven during the years of coal mining. It was the worst of fourteen explosions at that mine, but there were also disasters at the other mines in the town, and in particular one at Wellington Pit in 1910 was even worse. The Whitehaven coal field suffered many disasters and innumerable smaller accidents. It has been estimated that over 1700 men, women, and children lost their lives while mining coal in the Whitehaven collieries. The saddest spot in Whitehaven is the memorial in St Nicholas' garden

Quote of the day 19th August 2019

"Protectionism almost always ends up making the protected industry weaker and less able to compete against foreign imports...  Instead of protectionism, we should call it destructionism." ( Ronald Reagan , 1985) Reagan also said in one of his last broadcasts as President: "In recent years, the trade deficit led some misguided politicians to call for protectionism, warning that otherwise we would lose jobs. But they were wrong again. In fact, the United States not only didn’t lose jobs, we created more jobs than all the countries of Western Europe, Canada, and Japan combined. The record is clear that when America’s total trade has increased, American jobs have also increased. And when our total trade has declined, so have the number of jobs. Part of the difficulty in accepting the good news about trade is in our words. We too often talk about trade while using the vocabulary of war. In war, for one side to win, the other must lose. But commerce is not warfare.

The problem with A levels - a former headmaster writes

There is a thought-provoking piece on the CAPX website about the issues with A levels and the focus of higher education in Britain by former Headmaster John Claughton. Among his concerns are the "rapid, massive, and deeply damaging rise in unconditional offers" and more generally, that the UK post-16 education system is very highly specialised to an extent which he argues is too great. Claughton writes: "Another, more worrying trend has emerged in recent years. Although A-levels were invented by universities as the criterion of entry, there has been a rapid, massive, and deeply damaging rise in unconditional offers. In 2019, 38% of all offers made through UCAS took this form, whereas five or six years ago such offers barely existed. This explosive growth merely reflects the need, if not desperation, for universities to fill their spaces.  So, in too many cases A-level performance has become less significant than the predicted grades which schools put onto UCAS fo

Leave Harry and Meghan alone

It seems impossible at the moment to pick up a national newspaper or spend any significant amount of time on mainstream or social media without finding some childish attack on or ridiculous and highly dubious "story" about Prince Harry or his wife. Can't believe that I'[m the only person who's fed up with it. Leave them alone.

Sunday Music Spot: Vivaldi's "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" (1st movement)


Sunday reflection: the fate of Christians in the Middle East

Not all that long ago there were a wide range of religions and cultures in the Middle East. These included Christian and Jewish communities which had been there for thousands of years. In the last couple of decades, thanks to the barbarism of DA'ESH (the self-styled "Islamic State" caliphate) and other extremists this is ceasing to be the case. Five years ago there were more than 15,000 Christians in Mosul, the third largest city in IRaq, and their community had been there for 1,700 years. Then DA'ESH arrived and gave these who didn't flee three choices - concert to Islam, pay a "Jirga" tax, or die. Most fled. Since the liberation of Mosul Only about forty have returned. Jews, Bahai's and those Muslims who belong to the "wrong" traditions, such as Ahmadi Muslims, have also faced persecution. "Christianity in Iraq, one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction" acc

Quote of the day Sunday 18th August 2019


Alternative Saturday music spot: the Bach version

I have never been able to decide whether I prefer Vivaldi's Concerto for four violins in B minor, (RV 580) as the composer originally wrote it, or the alternative version which Johann Sebastian transcribed into A Minor and set for four harpsichords. I really like them both. So that you can compare, here is Bach's version, the concerto for 4 harpsichords (BWV 1065.)

Saturday music spot: Vivaldi's Concerto for 4 violins

This is the piece which Bach subsequently rearranged and transposed for four harpsichords in its original form as composed by Antonio Vivaldi:

Gosforth Show and St Bees Flower show

Spent this morning at the excellent Gosforth Show just off the A595 between Gosforth and Seascale, on the Copeland Conservatives' tombola stall which was raising money both for party funds and for a local charity. Despite yesterday's vile weather it has been absolutely beautiful in Gosforth and indeed most of West Cumbria today and the field didn't get too sodden so the show is going really well. On the way home my wife and I called at the St Bees Flower show which is being held in the sports hall at St Bees School. Two great events both of which are, if you're interested, still open this afternoon.

Quote of the day 17th August 2019

"Those who’ve said privately they could never face making Jeremy Corbyn prime minister should explain how this wheeze is supposed to work. Are you banking on him not getting a majority after a confidence vote then someone else steps in? And he goes along with that?  Get real.  Or do you genuinely want to make him caretaker prime minister but it’s ok because it’s only for a few weeks?  Except it’s not is it.  For the 2nd referendum plan to work you have to hope he wins the general election and stays as PM. And even if you convince yourself it’s worth giving this gaslighting racist regime the keys to Number 10 to stop Brexit, you really expect these serial liar hard left Brexiteers to honour their 2nd referendum pledge as they smash up the country?  For God’s sake, wake up." ( John Woodcock , Independent MP for Barrow and Furness, who resigned from Labour because he could not stomach supporting Jeremy Corbyn as PM, explains why he still can't stomach the id

Brendan O'Neill on the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre

Brendan O'Neill has an interesting take on the contemporary relevance of  today's 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre which you can read at Spiked here . He argues that those in the political elite who are trying to stop Brexit are showing the same contempt for the views of the electorate as a whole as the people who sent in the cavalry showed two centuries ago.

PC Andrew Harper RIP

Andrew Harper, a police constable with Thames Valley police, was murdered while protecting the community last night. A p olice statement said PC Harper, who was from the Roads Policing Unit based in Abingdon, was "killed while performing his duties." PC Harper was 28 years old and leaves a widow to whom he had been married for just four weeks. Ten young men aged between 13 and 30 have been arrested in connection with his death. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted he was "deeply shocked and appalled" by what happened to PC Harper. Mr Johnson added that the officer's death was "the most powerful reminder that police officers up and down the country put themselves at risk every single day to keep us safe". Thoughts and prayers will be with his soul and his wife and family today. Rest in Peace.

An easy scam to spot.

Just had a fraudulent phone call from the world's most dozy crooks, with a recorded voice claiming to be ringing with a message from "British Telecom." They don't appear to have noticed that British Telecommunications PLC retired that brand name at the start of the 1990's, nearly thirty years ago, in favour of "BT" although the old name is still trademarked so nobody else can legitimately use it. So if you get a phone call from anyone claiming to be from "British Telecom" hang up at once: it's a scam.

Quote of the day 16th August 2019

"Darwinian adaptation to environment applies not only to nature but also to society. Just as you don’t find eagles living in the ocean or fish living on mountain tops, so you don’t find leftists concentrated where their ideas have to stand the test of performance."  ( Thomas Sowell , American Economist)

Ensuring medical supplies

The governments' preferred option is to leave the EU with a deal. However, whatever happens, there must and will be safe and secure supplies of medicines That's why the government is establishing an express freight service to ensure the supply of medicines and medical supplies into the country remains uninterrupted, as part of preparations to leave the EU by 31 October whatever the circumstances. The Health Minister is strengthening our preparations for Brexit by October 31 with an express freight service to deliver medicines and medical products into the country within 24-72 hours.  We will ensure that when we leave the EU at the end of October our frontline services are fully prepared, which is why we are bolstering our already extremely resilient contingency plans.  The new freight service will support existing plans such as building buffer stocks of medicines and medical products, procuring additional warehouse capacity and supporting companies to get ready to meet

Congratulations to all students who passed their A-levels

More than three hundred thousand A level students, mostly in their late teens, find out their A level results today. Congratulations to all those who passed.(I gather the overall pass rate remains the same as last year at 97.6% for students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.) Commiserations to all who did less well than they had hoped. Best wishes to everyone in both categories as they look to start higher education courses or start their working careers.

Quote of the day 15th August 2019


Asymmetric Money Illusion

It is more than eighty years since John Maynard Keynes, writing in his seminal book "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money," popularised the term "Money Illusion" which had been coined by Irving Fisher. It refers to the fallacy of treating the nominal value of a sum of money or level of income as equal to its' purchasing power. The reality is that in a time of inflation, even relatively low inflation of about 2.8% such as Britain is experiencing at the moment, a fixed income will be depreciating in value. It is bizarre that there seems to be limited understanding of this, as the childish and idiotic nature of most of the discussion on news programmes today about rail fare increases equal to the RPI demonstrate. In fact what we have is asymmetric money illusion. There is virtually no adult in the whole of Britain who is too stupid to realise that if you have inflation and prices are rising, then unless your income rises at least fast enou

New Railcard launched

The government is launching a new ‘16-17 Saver’ railcard which will make it cheaper to travel for over a million teenagers.  The brand new 16-17 Saver railcard will be launched next week, guaranteeing half-price travel for young people, saving families an average of £186 every year.  The brand new railcard means that a generation of rail passengers can now benefit from cheaper fares, keeping more money in their pockets and helping them get to school, college and work.  Railcards enable young people to travel more affordably, boosting education opportunities, communities and businesses.  Why this matters : We want to create a railway system that works for hardworking families – and with our record £48 billion investment in the railways, we are focused on providing passengers with the frequent, reliable and affordable journeys they deserve.

Quote of the day 14th August 2019

"These are the kinds of sentiments that have come to be associated with leavers – the idea that the country had been going in the wrong direction, that it had become unrecognisable. But after the referendum, they were suddenly being voiced by remainists. 'It was just so reminiscent of how radical-right voters would think,' says Rob Ford, a political scientist at the University of Manchester who has researched the rise of Ukip. 'And it was remarkable how quickly that mindset descended.' And so these people, who once dismissed radicals as unreasonable, have themselves become radicalised. They used to pride themselves on their moderation; now, spurred on by rage, they divide the world into enemies and allies. What they are doing is loud, obsessive, tribal, confrontational – politics, in other words." (Daniel Cohen extract from an article about the similarities between harldine Leavers and hardline Remainers in, of all places, the Guardian, called " ‘

Global Britain

The Foreign Secretary has set out his plans for a truly global future after Britain leaves the European Union on 31 October. After Brexit the Conservatives have no intention of retreating into "little England isolation but intent to take opportunities to deepen our partnerships around the world.  In his first fortnight as Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab has met the foreign ministers of 22 countries, who have spoken of their ambition to strengthen their ties with us.  The Foreign Secretary highlighted the United States’ readiness to sign a deal – which would boost business and enhance consumer choice on both sides of the Atlantic.  We will also work with Canada to boost investment, ensure a smooth transition on our trade and promote global values.  And we will bolster our commitment to the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions, developing stronger trade, and working together to ensure stability.

Employment figures

Latest figures continue to show that there are a record number of people in work, including a record number of women and disabled people, and wages are growing at their fastest pace in 11 years as Conservative policies are providing a solid foundation on which to build Britain’s economic future. With the number of people in work at its highest on record, more people than ever before have the economic independence that a job brings and can reach their full potential. But we must do more to deliver a strong economy to fund the public services we all rely on. Too many communities have been left behind, so we will go further to invest in infrastructure and skills so that everyone has a fair chance to get on in life wherever they live and whatever their background. Labour's announced policies would damage the economy. Just like the last time they were in power,  they’d leave us with more debt, higher taxes and fewer jobs, hitting ordinary working people and hurting the people th

Cracking down on crime in prisons

Sending people to prison is supposed to stop people committing crime, not create more opportunities for it. So today Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a crackdown on crime in prisons, taking action on issues which matter to voters so the public can see justice being done, punishment being served, and so that they feel protected.  The Conservative government will target all types of crime in prisons with cutting-edge technology to clamp down on drugs, weapons and mobile phones with a £100 million boost.  We’re also creating 10,000 new prison places and have ordered an urgent review into the prison sentences of violent and sexual offenders to properly protect the public from the most dangerous criminals.  Today’s announcement forms part of a wider package of measures to ensure we’re tough on crime and to protect the public, including the Prime Minister’s commitment to recruit 20,000 additional police officers and enhance stop and search powers.  Why this matters : Cons

Quote of the day 13th August 2019


Protecting the public from crime

The Prime Minister has ordered an urgent review into the prison sentences of violent and sexual offenders to ensure the public are properly protected from the most dangerous criminals.  The review – beginning immediately – will focus on violent and sexual offenders, assessing if their sentences truly reflect the severity of their crimes.  It will look at whether we need to change the law so they cannot be let out if they have not served their full time.  Finally, it will examine how we can break the vicious cycle whereby prolific, repeat offenders go from crime to prison to crime again and to more and more serious offences.  Why this matters :  This review forms part of our efforts to crack down on crime, recruiting 20,000 new police officers, creating 10,000 new prison places and increasing stop and search powers. We, like the public, want dangerous criminals kept off our streets, and properly punished for their crimes. This follows on from yesterday's statement in wh

Quote of the day 12th August 2019


Sunday music spot: "Noble in B Minor" Magnificat (Wakefield Cathedral Choir)


Sunday reflection 11th August 2019

In the present age when some - not all - religious believers are quick to disavow any scientific view that they find inconvenient and the more aggressive atheists are prone to claim that science is on their side, it is easy to see science and religion as opposed. This is not the only possible view and indeed, for most of the history of science the two were aligned, with religions leaders strongly encouraging the search for scientific knowledge and many of the greatest scientific minds in history, such as Isaac Newton, also being religious believers. While there have been obvious cases of genuine clashes between science and religion - the Catholic church's battle with Galileo, for instance, or the initial reaction of many religious believers to the theory of evolution - those who seek to present religion and science as opposed have grossly oversimplified some real events such as the murder of Hypatia and completely distorted others. The classic example of a myth presenting re