Showing posts from November, 2019

Music to relax after campaigning: Air On The G String, J. S. Bach


Working to keep Britain Safe

Conservatives are ensuring counter terrorism policing has the resources it needs. At the Spending Round we announced that the budget for counter-terrorism policing would increase in line with inflation, including continuing the additional £160 million announced at Budget 2018, which maintains current counter-terrorism capability and protects officer numbers ( HMT, Spending Round 2019, 4 September 2019 ). We are developing a new Counter-Extremism Strategy to keep people safe. In October our Commission for Countering Extremism published its report, which will inform our new Counter-Extremism Strategy. Our 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy was the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and our new strategy will reflect the changing nature we face from extremism whilst building on the positive work already delivered ( Home Office, Blog, 7 October 2019 ). We are taking action to ensure there is no safe place for terrorists online. We will legislate to make the UK the safest place in

Full statement from the PM on the London Bridge Attack

Following yesterday’s appalling incident, please see the Prime Minister’s statement below.  'I've just been briefed by the commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police about the events at London Bridge this afternoon and while this is an ongoing investigation, the police can confirm that this was a terrorist incident. And clearly, my thoughts are first with the emergency services, with the police, the bravery that they showed in going towards danger as they do. I also want to pay tribute to the extraordinary bravery of those members of the public who physically intervened to protect the lives of others and for me, they represent the very best of our country and I thank them on behalf of all of our country. I think we are all very saddened also to learn that some people have been injured in this event and our sympathies are very much with them and with their loved ones. Clearly, the Metropolitan Police are continuing their investigations and I

Improving standards in Schools

Yesterday the Conservatives announced how we’ll improve standards in schools by giving Ofsted greater powers and more money – so we can make sure that every child in this country is getting a world class education. This will mean: Longer inspections to be sure of the full breadth of a school’s activity.   No-notice inspections to ensure inspections truly reflect the day to day experience in schools.   £10 million additional funding to back Ofsted.   End of outstanding exemption – meaning all schools will be checked.

Campaigning resumes

Campaigning for the election has resumed today following a pause announced last night as a mark of respect for the London Bridge terror attack victims.

Watch for frost and ice

A lot of frost and ice on the ground this morning and through to the early afternoon. Please do take great care if you are out and about.

Quotes of the day 30th November 2019

Responses to the London Bridge terror attack: Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she wanted "to thank the members of the public who have helped, either by showing extraordinary courage by stepping in to tackle this attacker".  "Speechless. Members of the public with nothing but a narwhal tusk and a fire extinguisher tackle a murderous terrorist. Heroism, pure and simple."  (Matthew Thompson on Twitter) One member of the public ‘ran to the attacker and stamped on his wrist to make him drop the knife he was clutching. ‘Thomas Gray, 24, said he was “just a Londoner doing his bit” and went to the pub for a pint afterwards “to shake it off”’  (Henry Jones on twitter, quoting the Times) "It only gets more British: "Thomas Gray, who was driving his classic mini over London Bridge at the time of the attack, said "One thought was going through my mind - stop the dude. I’ve played rugby for most my life and the rule on and off the

Social Media campaigning suspended

As a mark of respect to the victims of the London Bridge terror attack, social media campaigning for the general election has been suspended. I will therefore not be putting any party-political posts on this blog until further notice.

The London Bridge terror attack

Horrified to learn of another terror attack in London in which, at the time of posting, the attacker and two innocent members of the public have lost their lives and three more members of the public have been seriously injured. I gather that the Met Police's commissioner, Cressida Dick told a press conference the stabbing attack in the London Bridge area, which has been declared a terrorist incident, began at an event at Fishmonger's Hall this afternoon. Within five minutes of being called officers confronted the suspect - who was shot dead by police - she said. The suspect was wearing what is now thought to have been a hoax explosive device. He was a former prisoner and had been convicted of a terrorist offence, "sources" have told the BBC. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to Downing Street from his constituency, convened a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee at 21:30. He said the emergency services and members of the public who

Everything to play for

The biggest mistake anyone could think about the 2017 general election would be to imagine that the outcome is certain. Anyone who thinks that could not be more wrong. One reason so many opinion polls have got recent elections and referendum result "wrong" is not because the polls failed to reflect what people were thinking when the fieldwork was carried out but because they generated a self-defeating prophecy. If some voters who would back Boris Johnson to win a small majority think that he is heading for a landslide (which he almost certainly isn't) they might be tempted to cast a protest vote for someone else to limit the size of that landslide.  The result could be another hung parliament which means at best another election in six months and at worst a Corbyn government. Similarly there are voters who like Labour but detest Jeremy Corbyn, some of whom will vote Labour as long as they don't think Jeremy Corbyn will actually become Prime Minister as a resu

Six Conservative pledges

Here are our guarantees for you and your family: Extra funding for the NHS, with 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP surgery appointments a year.  20,000 more police and tougher sentencing for criminals.  An Australian-style points-based system to control immigration.  Millions more invested every week in science, schools, apprenticeships and infrastructure while controlling debt.  Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.  We will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance.

Quote of the day 29th November 2019


Making poor mobile signal a thing of the past

We set out this week how Conservatives will make poor mobile phone signal a thing of the past , ensuring no community is held back because of poor digital infrastructure. Currently only 66 per cent of the UK landmass has geographic coverage for customers of all four network operators. This will rise to 95 per cent or more under our plan.   In our first 100 days, we will finalise a £1 billion agreement with mobile phone operators to pool existing phone masts, and build new ones, bringing dramatically improved mobile service to the countryside.   This builds on a raft of commitments by this Conservative Government to ensure that rural areas are not left behind, including £5 billion to accelerate the rollout of the highest-speed internet across the country – eradicating the digital divide, boosting regional economic growth and improving productivity.

Getting people in work

New figures show that the number and proportion of children living in a workless household is at a record low; there are more working households than ever before; and 12.5 million households have all members over 16 in employment, up 331,000 over the past year.  Work is the best route out of poverty, and we want to help people into work, so they have the security of a regular pay packet and can provide for their children. Labour won’t allow the country to move on from Brexit and their dangerous plans would wreck the economy – meaning higher taxes, more debt and fewer jobs. Key facts:  More children than ever before are living in a working home. More children than ever before are now living in a household with a working adult, as the proportion of children in a home with at least one adult in work is 91 per cent.  The number of children in households with all adults in work has increased by 262,000 in the last year, to 7.7 million – a rise of 1.7 million since 2010.  The number

Two weeks to go

Two weeks today is polling day in one of the most important general elections I can ever remember. People involved in politics always describe the current election as important, but this one really is. Cynics often say that there is little real difference between the parties but you cannot say that this time. The policies offered by the major parties are more different than any I can ever remember. The Conservatives will deliver Brexit : a Conservative majority government will leave the EU with the deal which is on the table, on or before 31st January 2020. Conservatives will also increase government spending by a moderate amount to pay for 20,000 more police, the biggest every programme of building and improving hospitals, increasing the number of nurses by 50,000 compared with what will happen if nothing is done (partly by recruiting more, partly by making the profession more attractive so that fewer nurses leave) and improve school funding. The Lib/Dems will stop Brexit: 

Quote of the day 28th November 2019


Music to relax after campaigning: Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in A Minor RV356


Quote of the day 27th November 2019

"For as long as we think the problem we face is one of anti-Semites and not as one of anti-Semitism we will misdiagnose it. The "virus" metaphor has been one factor - albeit one among several others - that has stood in the way of Labour facing up to its problem. Jewish leaders and their allies habitually reach for the "virus" or "poison" metaphor, and this prevents them from calling Labour to account more effectively. When Labour leaders and supporters say there are few anti-Semites in the party, they are right. But this leads them to imagine mistakenly that they can address anti-Semitism by ejecting "a few bad apples." The reality is that Labour’s anti-Semitism problem is neither so simple nor contained: the issue is one of anti-Semitism, not anti-Semites. This is something that will only be addressed by education, contrition and a leadership able to recognize and explain to members how racism can enter a political party, even one

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Muslim prejudice

Last year I successfully proposed, in a non-partisan manner which was able to obtain all-party support, that Cumbria County Council should adopt the IHRA working definition of Anti-Semitism. I said while proposing that motion that no party is completely free of Anti-Semitism and that no party can afford to be complacent about it. I also said while proposing the same motion that there are other forms of prejudice which are also very worrying and called out prejudice against Muslims as one of them. The previous comment about Anti-Semitism applies to these forms of prejudice too - that no party is completely free of such prejudice or can afford to be complacent also applies. The extraordinary comments by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, warning that the Labour party is not doing enough to root out Anti-Semitism should be treated very seriously. I think it is almost impossible to credibly dispute that the worst problem with a form of racism in a mainstream political party on the UK mai

Conservatives promise Whitehaven Relief Road.

Conservatives promise Whitehaven relief road Chancellor Sajid Javid and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps were in Cumbria today to launch the Conservative party's North West manifesto. Speaking in Cleator Moor this afternoon, they promised a Conservative majority government will proceed with the scheme which had massive local support in a recent public consultation. The announcement was warmly welcomed by the audience. Sajid Javid and Grant Shapps also promised to proceed with other proposals to unlock the potential of the North West, including making the transpennine A66 route a dual carriageway, providing better trains on local rail services, and reviewing the possibility of reactivating the rail line to Silloth as part of a programme of reversing the Beeching-era cuts to the rail network.

Follow on quote of the day 26th November 2019

"The Chief Rabbi is, sadly, quite justified in saying what he says. I can't vote to put the appalling people at the head of the Labour party into power. I'm stunned at some of the people who can." ( Philip Collins @PCollinsTimes on Twitter today)

Quote of the day 26th November 2019

"The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud - of dignity and respect for all people." "It has left many decent Labour members and parliamentarians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed of what has transpired." Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain , writing in today's Tunes. He added that it was " not my place to tell any person how they should vote " but he urged the public to " vote with their conscience ". The Chief Rabbi also said that the response of Labour's leadership to threats against parliamentarians, members and staff has been " utterly inadequate " and said it " can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism ".

Boris in Wales

Today, the Prime Minister is in Wales – launching our Welsh Conservative manifesto. The United Kingdom is the most successful political and economic union in history. Together, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are safer, stronger and more prosperous. And as the Conservative and Unionist Party, we believe our best days lie ahead. With a Conservative majority government, we will improve connectivity and infrastructure across the whole of our country. Our exciting Marches Growth Deal is part of that bold vision and will make a real difference for people on both side of the border.   Labour has a rotten record in Wales and has let down people across Wales badly, from healthcare services to a lack of investment in transport networks. The Conservative Party will put that right.   But in order to unleash this domestic agenda and deliver our exciting plans for Wales , we need to get Brexit done, move on from the division of the past few years and get parliament working

Quote of the day 25th November 2019

“All Labour governments end with an economic crisis.  As far as I can tell, the only difference with Corbyn and John McDonnell is they intend to start with an economic crisis.” ( Boris Johnson )

Conservative manifesto launched

The Prime Minister has launched the 2019 Conservative General Election Manifesto.  If there is a majority of Conservative MPs on 13 December, we will get our new deal through Parliament. We will get Brexit done in January and unleash the potential of our whole country. We guarantee: Extra funding for the NHS, with 50,000 more nurses and 50 million more GP surgery appointments a year. 20,000 more police and tougher sentencing for criminals. An Australian-style points-based system to control immigration. Millions more invested every week in science, schools, apprenticeships and infrastructure while controlling debt. Reaching Net Zero by 2050 with investment in clean energy solutions and green infrastructure to reduce carbon emissions and pollution. We will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance. Please support a majority Conservative Government so our country can move on instead of going backwards. Here is a link to the full Manife

Sunday Music Spot: Sanctus from Mozart's short mass in D


How not to conduct a politicsl discussion

A sad reflection on the state of British politics provided today by a tweet from an SNP parliamentary candidate: Now I have not always been the greatest fan of the Liberal Democrats and am seriously out of  sympathy with the platform on which they are fighting the current election. But I cannot see that shouting obscenities at canvassers who you think are Lib/Dems - or any other party for that matter - is exactly constructive or commendable. The fact that a parliamentary candidate thought it was OK to give a "Big shout out" to someone who did this - or for apologising when she realised she had shouted at the wrong party, which should make no difference at all - is a very good metaphor for the deplorable state of political discourse in this country.

Professor Angus Dalgleish on Labour's NHS policy

Following up my quote of the day from this morning. "I don't think the NHS would survive a Labour government." 45-year NHS veteran Prof Angus Dalgleish gives his devastating take on Labour's NHS policy. — Sun Politics (@SunPolitics) November 23, 2019

Campaign update from Kells

Copeland Conservatives were out again today campaigning in Kells. Struck by the number of lifelong Labour voters who will not be backing them this time. One gentleman said to me that he will be voting Conservative for the first time in his life. Another told a colleague that he just cannot vote Labour while Jeremy Corbyn is their leader. Yesterday in Cleator Moor, another voter who is switching from Labour to the Conservatives told me that if you had told him ten years ago he'd ever vote Conservative rather than Labouir he'd not have believed you. I said "No, but it's not the same Labour party you used to vote for, is it?" and he agreed. These were not one-off comments. The only test of support which matters will be the one in the ballot box on 12th December and there is still everything to play for, but I am now cautiously optimistic.

Policy update: bursaries for trainee nurses to be reinstated

Great news that the Conservative manifesto includes re-introduction of bursaries for trainee nurses. Of all the economies which were made to reverse the financial crisis inherited by the coalition in 2010 when the government was spending a pound for every found pounds coming in, this was the one which most cried out to be reversed as soon as financial circumstances permit. Very welcome announcement.

Cartoon of the campaign to date ...

Boris Johnson used a very old, but entirely appropriate, line making the same point about Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit position: "He used to be indecisive, now he's not so sure." The old ones are the best ones.

Quote of the day 24th November 2019

"When I read the reports that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party is proposing a four-day working week, I could not believe any supposedly serious politician was contemplating something so fundamentally stupid.  "Yes, I can see it might buy Labour some cheap votes at the ballot box, especially from those won over by the economically illiterate, but electorally compelling, footnote — that a shorter week (32 hours) would involve no loss of pay.  " But this completely ignores the fact that reducing the hours of public-sector employees — doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, police officers, etc — would impose an extra cost on the Treasury, because the workforce would have to expand to ensure productivity and service delivery.  "What Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, are choosing to ignore is that this proposal would spell the end of the NHS as we know it. That's the same NHS the Labour Party is supposed to love and cherish. The same NHS that M

Supporting our NHS

The National Health Service is near the top of the priority list of the vast majority of voters. We need to give the NHS more support to deal with the challenges it faces And so today, we’ve announced that a Conservative majority government will: Give patients quicker access to the most cutting-edge medicines for cancer and other diseases through a £500 million Innovative Medicines Fund.   Double the dementia research budget with an extra £83 million each year to find a cure, helping hundreds of thousands of families who are currently affected by the disease.   Ensure that the NHS has the frontline staff it needs this winter – by radically changing doctors’ pensions so they can take on extra shifts over winter. All this is in sharp contrast to Labour’s four day week which would cripple our NHS, and leave it with less funding.

Unleashing Britain's potential

Here are some of the Conservatives' plans to unleash the potential of this dynamic country. A Conservative majority Government will: Build more homes, get people onto the housings ladder, and make renting fairer.  Yesterday, we’ve announced our plan to charge non UK residents more tax on homes they buy here to help make homes more affordable for UK nationals.   Cut taxes for 31 million people by raising the national insurance threshold from £8,632 to £9,500 – meaning a tax cut of approximately £100 for millions of workers.   Boost our economy and support small business with a range of tax cuts on business rates, jobs taxes, building taxes and R&D.   Crack down on crime and support vulnerable victims by properly punishing criminals and taking further action to prevent reoffending.   Make it easier to see your GP - with 50 million more appointments in GP surgeries, more GPs, more pharmacists and easier ways to book appointments, and a new visa to attract the best

Chris Moncrieff RIP

Christopher Moncrieff CBE, a political reporter who covered Westminster for more than 50 years for the Press Association, died yesterday at the age of 88. Chris Moncrieff continued to file stories long after he officially retired in 1994 and published articles in local newspapers in Cumbria until very recently - if my memory is not playing tricks he wrote at least one column in the Whitehaven news earlier this year. He was once described by Sir John Major as a "National Treasure" and by the Press Association's current editor-in-chief  Pete Clifton as a "legend". In 2007, the House of Commons press bar was renamed in Mr Moncrieff's honour. The new House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who first met Mr Moncrieff in 1997 when he was elected to Parliament, said: "Chris was the last of the great old journalists, the old school that everybody respected."  He is survived by the four children he had with his late wife, Margaret. Rest in

Music to relax after campaigning: Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, 3rd movement


Out Campaigning today

Copeland Conservatives have been out campaigning today in various parts of the constituency including Cleator Moor and Frizington. There will not be any "no-go" areas and we are trying to get round as much of this huge constituency as possible. Generally friendly reception, and we appear to be getting a fair bit of support, at least for this election, from people who are not naturally Conservative supporters. But we are not taking anything for granted - still everything to play for and no room for complacency. One doorstep brought back recollections of an amusing incident in Cleator Moor during the 2017 by-election. Trudy and the team were approaching a house I recognised, with a couple of dogs barking at us from the window, and I said  "Oh, yes, that's the dog who pulled my folder through the letterbox." This had happened back in the 2017 by-election in which Trudy Harrison was first elected MP for Copeland. Hearing the noise of barking, I had

Quote of the day 23rd November 2019


"The longest suicide note in history" has now been surpassed as the worst manifesto ever ...

Until this week the most preposterous manifesto ever put before the British electorate by a major party in a general election in my lifetime was that put by Michael Foot's Labour party in 1983, which was widely described as "The longest suicide note in history." (That particular put-down is widely believed to have come from Gerald Kaufman a member of Foot's own shadow cabinet. Conservatives rarely have to think up good lines to use to attack the Labour party- as Ted Heath once said, they do it so well themselves.) However, the manifesto which Labour have put out this week is so utterly impractical, duplicitous, unworkable, and just downright bonkers that it steals the title of the worst manifesto I have ever seen from any previous offering. This manifesto would be completely impossible to deliver, but any attempt to do the things Labour promises would have gigantic and in my opinion utterly disastrous consequences. Labour's manifesto is also completely m

Copeland political quiz question

Guess which Cumbrian politician said this of Jeremy Corbyn a few years ago: He described Corbyn as a " “throwback to an age of class war that has now gone,” and as the “political equivalent of Orangemen, locked in a struggle that no longer exists”, adding that “I have not and will not support him or his bonkers, unworkable, radically left-wing policies and that will bring nothing but ruin to the party.” Yes, the person who posted those words on social media a few years ago is now Labour's candidate for Copeland in the current election . He was right then. He is wrong now.

Quote of the day 22nd November 2019

The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has described the spending plans in the Labour manifesto as "colossal" and their promise to fund it by raising £80 billion from companies and people who earn more then £80,000 a year as "not credible."

Fixing Britain's housing market

Too many people are losing out because Britain does not have enough homes, of the sort people want and need, in the places they want to live, This is particularly tough on young people and families but it affects people of all ages. Purist ideological solutions are not the answer because both the market and the state have failed - the market has not delivered enough housing where it is needed but this has a great deal to do with state regulation. Britain's housing market is tightly regulated (as I should know having spent years on planning committees.) The main reason young people and others on low incomes are being priced out of good options on the housing market is that Britain simply does not have enough homes in the right places. So a majority Conservative government will take the following action: We are setting out a package of measures to build more homes, get people onto the housing ladder and make the renting market fairer .  We will: Build one million

Helping people with the cost of living

Yesterday, we announced that a Conservative majority government will c ut taxes for millions of hard working people . We will help people with the cost of living with our plans to: Cut taxes for 31 million people by raising the national insurance threshold from £8,632 to £9,500 – meaning a tax cut of approximately £100 for millions of workers.   Ultimately raise the threshold to £12,500 for all people which would put almost £500 in people’s pockets.   Since 2010 we have already cut income tax for 32 million people by raising the level of personal allowance to £12,500 – meaning a typical basic rate taxpayer now pays £1,205 less tax than in 2010. This tax cut demonstrates that once we get Brexit done, our priority is helping hard working people on low incomes and improving their lives.

Quote of the day 21st November 2019


Fighting crime and protecting the interests of victims of crime

I wrote earlier about how Conservatives will put the victims of crime at the heart of the criminal justice system. A Conservative majority government will deliver on people’s priorities by tackling serious violence, making our communities safer . We’ll give vulnerable victims the support they need to cope and recover by: Supporting rape victims – with a £15 million cash boost to cut delays, speed up charging decisions, and keep more victims engaged with the process until trial.   Protecting domestic abuse victims by passing our Domestic Abuse Bill by Spring 2020 and implementing it quickly.   Enshrining the rights of victims in law - with a Victims’ Law which that guarantees their rights and the level of support they should receive.   Boosting funding for specialist victim services – with a victim surcharge which imposes a levy on convicted offenders based on their sentence, with income contributing to the funding the MoJ provides to victim services.   Reforming the parole