Friday, April 30, 2021

Iain MacWhirter on the SNP

Extracts from an interesting interview with Iain MacWhirter on the Spiked website:


"the Institute for Fiscal Studies" ... "basically says the SNP’s manifesto is a joke and is completely unsustainable without massive tax rises,"


"There are also the authoritarian tendencies that have emerged in the SNP in recent years, which have appalled many people, myself included – not least the Hate Crime Bill." 


"The SNP itself used to be an outsider party which fought for freedom of speech, because it used to be regarded as a traitorous organisation, a bit like the IRA. It had to fight to get freedom of speech to have its own politics recognised. But now it’s trying to clamp down on it. It’s disturbing. Perhaps it just confirms that any government which is in power for too long succumbs to authoritarian tendencies – the SNP’s power has corrupted it."


You can read the full interview here.

Vaccination update

 


Music to start the weekend: Bach's "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" sung in German by VOCES8

Number of doctors and nurses in the NHS reaches a record high

Latest figures show that the number of doctors and nurses working in our NHS is at a record high - on track to deliver on the Conservative manifesto promise of 50,000 more nurses in our NHS by 2024.

  • At the last General Election, the Conservatives promised to deliver 50,000 more nurses for our NHS, to be achieved by increasing recruitment by 31,000 and improving retention 19,000. This will ensure the NHS can continue to provide world-class care into the future. 
     
  • We are delivering on that promise, recruiting 6,300 more doctors and 11,200 more nurses for our NHS over the last year, and so on track to deliver on our manifesto commitment to get 50,000 more nurses working by 2024.   
     
  • In building our NHS back better, we will ensure patients continue to receive the care they deserve as we deliver the life-saving vaccines that will secure our path back to freedom.  

Quote of the day 30th April 2021

"We're seriously going to start attacking people for making private visits to memorials?"

(Dan Hodges on Twitter, in response to a tweet from Paul Waugh which appeared to attack the PM for making a personal visit to the National Covid Memorial Wall opposite parliament on Tuesday night.)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Latest UK Vaccination statistics

 


More help for India

The UK government has announced a further shipment of vital oxygen equipment to India which will help to save lives and support a key friend in the global fight against the pandemic.

  • We stand side by side with India during their hour of need and are determined to support the Indian people through this difficult time.
     
  • That is why Britain is sending an additional shipment to India of life-saving oxygen equipment, following up our previous delivery on Tuesday of nine airline containers full of oxygen concentrators and ventilators, which will help to prevent the tragic loss of life from this terrible virus.
     
  • We will continue to work closely with the Indian government as part of the UK’s support for the international community in the global fight against the pandemic.

The new booster programme: continuing protection against COVID-19

The UK government has secured an additional 60 million vaccine doses for our booster shot programme, which will protect the most vulnerable from new variants and keep us all safe as we build back better.

  • Britain's vaccination programme is bringing back our freedom, but the biggest threat to that progress is the risk posed by a new variant.
     
  • That is why the UK has secured an additional 60 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to support our booster programme later this year, which will be developed in line with expert advice to ensure that we have the strongest possible protection against new variants of the disease.
     
  • Ensuring that those with the highest clinical need are protected from the disease will keep us all safe and free as we continue to cautiously ease restrictions.

Backing the police: fighting crime: keeping our communities safe

 

The Conservative government is giving our police the powers and resources they need to keep us safe by:

  • Recruiting nearly 9,000 new police officers over the last year, keeping our streets safe. We have already recruited 8,771 new officers, and we are on track to recruit 20,000 extra officers by 2023. As part of this year’s £636 million boost to the police funding settlement, more than £400 million will go towards recruiting additional officers.
     
  • Strengthening police powers, ensuring they have the tools and resources to cut crime and target persistent offenders. The PCSC Bill gives the police additional powers to get knives off our streets, creates a new criminal trespassing offence to stop unauthorised encampments from terrorising our communities, and provides greater powers to tackle non-violent protests that cause significant disruption to the public.
     
  • Boosting police funding by £636 million this year, ensuring our frontline officers have everything need to keep us safe. This brings total police funding up to £15.8 billion for 2021-2022, including £400 million to recruit 20,000 new officers by 2023, £914 million for counter-terrorism policing, and £1.1 billion to target national priorities such as reducing serious violence and clamping down on county lines.
     
  • Enshrining a new police covenant into law, enhancing support and protection for our frontline police officers. The initial focus of the covenant will be on physical protection, health and wellbeing, as well as support for families. It will also create a statutory duty for the Government to do more to support the police, both those currently serving and retired.
     
  • Delivering a £45 million Safer Streets Fund to tackle theft, robberies and burglaries in our towns. The money will go towards measures proven to cut crime including locked gates around alleyways, increased street-lighting and the installation of CCTV. This will stop offences that blight communities and cause misery to victims from happening in the first place.
     
  • Investing £65 million into dismantling county lines gangs, keeping our towns and children safe from drug gangs. In January 2021 we announced £40 million of new money to tackle county lines and drugs supply, bringing the total invested to £65 million since November 2019. The funding has already seen over 3,400 people arrested, more than 550 lines closed, more than £9 million street value of drugs and £1.5 million cash seized and more than 770 vulnerable people safeguarded.
     
  • Delivering £148 million of new investment to cut crime and protect communities from the scourge of illegal drugs. This funding represents a comprehensive drive to cut drug-fuelled crime and violence in communities as we build back our country safer after the pandemic. Our investment includes £28 million for Project ADDER that brings together the police and drug recovery services to target and reduce drug-related offending and drug use.
     
  • Delivering over £130 million to tackle serious violence and turn our young people away from crime. This funding includes £30 million to support the police to take targeted action in parts of England and Wales most affected by serious violence, as well as up to £23 million for a new early intervention programme that will help stop young people from being drawn into the cycle of violence.
     
  • Toughening up sentences for assaulting emergency workers, recognising the debt of gratitude the public feels towards them. In line with our manifesto commitment, we are bringing forward legislation to double the maximum sentence for those convicted of assaults on frontline staff including police officers, firefighters, and paramedics.

We have supported our police through coronavirus by:

  • Delivering an extra £30 million to help the police enforce coronavirus regulations, helping to protect the NHS and save lives. The £30 million funding will allow police forces to increase patrols in town centres, ensuring that people are complying with the new restrictions, particularly in high-risk areas.
     
  • Launching an income loss recovery scheme for police forces, help them to recover a proportion of income they have been losing due to the pandemic. The scheme will apply to sales, fees and charges where forces would usually generate income, such as policing of sporting fixtures or providing security at airports. The scheme will enable forces to recover 75p in every £1 of budgeted income lost due to COVID-19 restrictions this financial year, once forces have absorbed 5 per cent of those losses themselves.

Recruiting more police

 

  • When he became Prime Minister, Boris Johnson made a commitment that we would recruit more police officers, cut crime, and make people’s streets safer.
     
  • Today it was announced that one year into the Conservative government's recruitment programme, nearly 9,000 additional officers have been recruited across England and Wales, meaning that we have smashed our first-year recruitment target, and are well on track to recruit the extra 20,000 new police officers we promised.
     
  • To build on this progress, we need Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners locally who will work with the Government to recruit police officers and cut crime as we Build Back Safer from the pandemic.
     
  • And so on 6 May, the choice for the British people could not be clearer – Conservatives who keep their promises and get on with the job of recruiting more police to make our streets and communities safer, or the Labour Party, who are more interested in playing politics than delivering on the people’s priorities.

Quote of the day 29th April 2021

 


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Midweek music spot: François Couperin's "Les Barricades Mystérieuses"

First steps towards self-driving cars

Initial proposals were published today which could make it possible for the first types of self-driving cars to be used on UK roads by the end of the year - a major step towards making car journeys safer, greener, and more reliable.

  • Self-driving vehicles are the future of transport - they could end urban congestion, improve road safety, and make life easier for people across the country. 
     
  • That is why the government has today set out how a vehicle fitted with technology which allows it to drive itself in a single motorway lane in slow traffic could be used on UK roads by the end of the year - provided they pass robust safety checks, with the driver able to easily and safety take control when needed. 
     
  • By reducing human error, which contributes to 85 per cent of accidents, we can continue to make our roads safer while creating thousands of new jobs in an exciting new industry. 

A quarter of UK adults now fully vaccinated

 


Brexit deal finally approved 660 votes to five.

MEPS voted last night on whether to approve the EU-UK trade agreement which was reached on Christmas Eve last year and has been in effect on a temporary basis since the beginning of the year.

The vote was announced shortly after 8am this morning, and the deal was overwhelmingly passed with  660 MEPs voting for, five against and 332 abstentions. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has welcomed the news, which brings over four years of acrimonious negotiations between the two sides to a formal end.

At least in terms of the legal negotiations involved in Brexit, and with the exception of the Northern Ireland Protocol which still presents issues, we can finally say. to quote a football expression,

"They think it's all over - it is now!"


Revitalising school buildings

The Conservative government is investing in our schools with almost £1.8 billion available to schools across England this year to help keep their buildings in good condition, so every child is learning in the best possible environment as we level up education.

You only have to look at schools around Cumbria to see this - from Gosforth to Whitehaven, school buildings which were starved of investment under the last Labour government have been or are being rebuilt and our programme to build back better" continues.


  • No child should be held back from achieving their full potential as a result of the condition of the school they attend. 
     
  • As we build back better, we are transforming schools in the worst condition across England, increasing the annual allocations to maintain school buildings by over 20 per cent this year to £1.8 billion, which comes on top of our one-off injection of £560 million last year. 
     
  • We have been unequivocal that the best place for a child’s education and life chances is the classroom, and as we deliver on our promise to level up education, we will deliver the ones they deserve.

Progress on the Kickstart scheme

This week it has been announced that the flagship Kickstart Scheme has supported over 16,500 young people into jobs since it launched last year - helping our next generation of workers take their vital first step in securing a good job.

  • Young people are often hardest hit in challenging times like these, which is why we have put them at the heart of our Plans for Jobs – and last year launched our Kickstart Scheme which provides new, subsidised jobs for young people on Universal Credit between 16-24.
     
  • More than 260 young people have started a Kickstart Job every day in the last six weeks alone - bringing the total to more than 16,500 across the country, with more to come as our economy unlocks in line with the roadmap.
     
  • This will help to give more young people the opportunity to succeed as we level up the entire country and build back better.

Quote of the day 28th April 2021

 "The greater good" is seldom good for all.


(Timothy Zahn, from the dedication of his new novel hitting doorsteps this week about the early life of Mitth'raw'nuruodo, better known as Grand Admiral Thrawn.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Nine days to the local elections

There are just 9 days until the 2021 Scottish and Welsh elections and local elections in England, one of the largest sets of non-Westminister elections in British history. Here in Cumbria there is a Police and Crime Commissioner election and various council by elections.

  • Conservative candidates for Mayor and for councils are focused on the people’s priorities, delivering better services and lower council taxConservative councils charge on average £93 less than Labour controlled councils in 2021-22 for a Band D home, and £120 less than Liberal Democrat run councils. 
     

And across the country:

  • Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners can be trusted to keep our communities and streets safe. Conservatives back our police.  Labour, however, voted against measures to deliver tougher sentences for offenders, get knives off our streets, and ensure dangerous criminals spend more time behind bars. Labour PCCs are also less likely to be rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ on measures of effectiveness than Conservative PCCs.
     
  • Conservative mayors are creating thriving local economies by attracting investment, improving transport links and creating good-quality jobs. While Conservative mayors like Ben Houchen and Andy Street are levelling up their regions with huge increases in investment, better jobs and more local homes, Labour mayors leave their communities paying the cost of their financial incompetence and mismanagement.
     
  • By electing Shaun Bailey as Mayor and getting more Conservatives into the Assembly, London can get the fresh start it deserves. After five years of chaos under Sadiq Khan - with spiraling crime rates, a lack of affordable homes and increased council tax - we can help our capital thrive once again as we build back better.  

And it is Conservatives who will stand up for the Union, and help to build a better, stronger and more united Britain as we build back better from the pandemic.

  • In Scotland, the only way to stop an SNP majority, say no to another divisive referendum, and get the Scottish Parliament 100 per cent focused on rebuilding Scotland from coronavirus, is to vote Scottish Conservative & Unionist on your peach party-list ballot. 
     
  • And in Wales, after 22 years of Labour-led governments, only the Welsh Conservatives will deliver the recovery plan needed to create the jobs, hospitals and first class schools that the people of Wales deserve.

Tuesday music spot: Bach's fugue in E minor known as "The Wedge"

Quote of the day 27th April 2021

"Iran's decision to sentence Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to another year in prison is cruel, inhumane and wholly unjustified. She must be allowed to return to her family in the UK and we will continue to do all we can to get her home."


(Boris Johnson yesterday via Twitter)

Monday, April 26, 2021

Support for India

The UK is sending lifesaving medical equipment to India to support the country in its fight against Covid-19 – standing side by side with our Indian friends in the global battle to defeat this virus.

  • The situation in India in their battle against Covid-19 is deeply worrying, with the country reporting its highest numbers of new daily cases and deaths since the pandemic began and facing severe shortages of oxygen.
     
  • That is why Britain is sending shipments of over 600 oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India, with the first shipment arriving tomorrow, providing vital medical treatment to prevent the tragic loss of life from this virus. We will continue to work closely with the Government of India to identify what further assistance we can provide.
     
  • The fight against Covid-19 is a global effort and we will do everything we can to support the international community in this battle, helping to save lives across the world.  

HMS Queen Elizabeth's first operational deployment.

Next month Carrier Strike Group 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, will set sail for its maiden operational deployment.

  • Ther landmark review of the UK's foreign, defence, development and security policy, published last month, committed Britain to having the broadest, most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific of any European country.
     
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escorts group will sail to India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the wider region next month, engaging in a series of events to maximise bilateral relations – benefitting Britain's trade and political alliances. 
  • These ships will also conduct a series of joint military exercises, demonstrating our interoperability with allies and enhancing our capabilities to defend against shared threats.
  • This deployment has been closely co-ordinated with our friends and allies in NATO and the Indian Ocean area and this force will exemplify both international and inter-service co-operation. The air group on HMS Queen Elizabeth will include both RAF jets and a squadron of US Marine Corps ones, and besides the carrier, Royal Navy destroyers, frigates and an Astute class nuclear submarine, the group will also include a US Navy destroyer and a Dutch frigate.
     
  • This deployment will help further strengthen relationships across the globe and demonstrate our commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and confronting threats to international order – symbolising Global Britain in action.

Vaccination update

 46,650,008 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have now been administered in the United Kingdom.

+340,496 doses in the latest 24hr period.

33,752,885 people have received one or more doses, of whom 12,897,123 have also had their second.






Monday evening music spot: Albinoni's Oboe Concerto in D minor (3rd movement)

Levelling Up

The government is to publish a landmark Levelling Up White Paper - setting out bold new policy interventions that will continue to deliver on the promises made to the British people at the general election and improve lives across the country as we recover from the pandemic.

  • Levelling up is at the heart of the Conservative agenda and was at the centre of the 2019 manifesto. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we are committed to ensuring that the whole UK can benefit from the same opportunities.
     
  • That is why the Conservative government will publish a Levelling Up White Paper later this year – led by the Prime Minister – to focus on challenges faced across the country including improving living standards, growth, and increasing and spreading opportunity. 
     
  • After such a challenging year, there has never been a more important time to unite and level up the country by bringing opportunities to every single part of the UK.

Quote of the day 26th April 2021

"We stand side by side with India in the shared fight against COVID-19. Vital medical equipment is on its way from the UK to India to help stop the tragic loss of life from the virus and we’ll continue to work closely with the Indian government during this difficult time."

(UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as the UK sends medical equipment to India to help with the terrible wave of COVID-19 infections sweeping that country)

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Help to Build

The government is to launch a new ‘Help to Build’ scheme with over £150 million in new funding to make it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes.

  • Building your own home shouldn’t be the preserve of a small number of people, but a mainstream, realistic and affordable option for people across the country.
     
  • That is why we are making it easier and more affordable for people to build their own homes through our £150 million ‘Help to Build’ scheme, which will provide an equity loan on the completed home and lower the required deposit.
     
  • These plans will help get more people on to the housing ladder, ensure homes suit people’s needs, whilst providing an important boost to small builders and businesses as we build back better after the pandemic.

Sunday music spot: Handel's "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" from "Solomon"

Trade with Australia

The government has announced a major breakthrough in our negotiations with Australia, taking us one step closer towards a UK-Australia trade deal.

  • As we look to continue to rebuild our economy and forge new partnerships around the world – a trade deal with Australia offers brilliant opportunities for UK companies to benefit from access to new markets.
     
  • This deal will deliver for every corner of the UK and our economy. This is a win-win for both our nations. The securing of this deal will support jobs across the country and help us emerge stronger from the pandemic with a strengthened partnership with our Australian allies.
     
  • the government will continue to seize the new opportunities our exit from the EU has brought - delivering lower tariffs on great British products and new access to exciting markets across the globe.

Quote of the day 25th April2021

 


Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Cummings reversal

I have been amused to see on social and MSM media today that there seems to be a quite substantial overlap in that

The people who, while Dominic Cummings was the PM's principal advisor

  •     regularly called Cummings a liar
  •     said that Boris Johnson's failure to sack Cummings would undermine him

appear to be the much the same people who have been posting today, some time after Boris did indeed dispense with Mr Cummings' services, and after DC turned on his former boss, and

  •    now say that they believe Cummings
  •    suggest that his attack on Boris might undermine the PM.


It is not exactly unusual on either side of the Atlantic for former aides, advisors or even former ministers whose services were no longer required to publicly attack their former boss.

Nine times out of ten such attacks do far more damage to the reputation of the person making the attack than to the person attacked. The people who believe it are mainly those who already desperately wanted any possible reason to believe something bad about the former boss.

The main exception, the point when an attack by a former colleague can be hugely damaging, is when it comes in a resignation speech  - and even then I can recall only two really devastating resignation speeches in my adult lifetime (from Sir Geoffrey Howe and Robin Cook.)

Margaret Thatcher was brought down by the former. 

Blair survived the latter but it was the first really serious torpedo hit below the waterline in the decline which took him from being a colossus who bestrode British politics as no more than half a dozen people have in the past century to the figure who David Cameron summed up in the phrase "He was the future, once." 

I don't think Dom Cummings is another Geoffrey Howe or Robin Cook. We will never know whether the Brexit campaign won because of his leadership or in spite of it. I thought during the campaign that he had blown it: I described his atrocious session giving evidence to the Treasury select committee in 2016 as "shockingly divorced from reality" at the time, and I still stand by that opinion. 

However, given the outcome of the referendum, you can with 20:20 hindsight make an argument, which I assessed here, that the Cummings strategy actually worked. But at the price of heavy reputational damage, particularly to the reputation for integrity, of all those involved.

Last year a number of readers of this blog asked what I thought of Mr Cumming's conduct at the start of the pandemic and I replied that I didn't consider myself able to give a view as I didn't know the facts of the case. However, I now find the sight of a man denouncing the former boss who stood by him when half the political class of this country were calling for his head to be unedifying at best.

He will be remembered - if he is lucky enough to be remembered at all - for a misleading slogan on the side of a bus which provided the Brexit campaign with a new version of the "dead cat strategy."

Music to relax after campaigning

Fantastic campaign session today in beautiful weather in Barrow & Furness constituency supporting the re-election campaign of Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall and Conservative candidates in several local by-election. 

All five of Cumbria's Conservative MPs were there to support Peter and the local candidates standing: here is an picture of them with appropriate social distancing - 















And now to relax on arriving home from campaigning: Hendel's "Pastoral Symphony" of PIFA from the Messiah.

Half the UK population has now had at least one vaccination dose.

Half the UK population has now had at least one dose of an approved, tested, safe & effective vaccination against a deadly virus none of us had heard of 15 months ago.. 

Fantastic achievement!

Congratulations to all the scientists, NHS staff, volunteers, & everyone else involved.









That includes more than 12 million people who had both of their two doses and are now fully vaccinated.

As of 24 April, 45,580,400 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given in the UK.

Quote of the day 24th April 2021


 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Vaccination update


 









Music to start the weekend: Clarke's trumpet voluntary (The Prince of Denmark's March)

Happy St George's Day

 Happy St George's Day, and thanks to "Workington Man" for this image



Left-wing journo Kevin Maguire posted on Twitter this morning

"Happy St George’s Day, a day plastic patriots and racists ignore St George was a migrant worker from and in the Middle East who they’d ban from a UK he never visited anyway."

I suspect the implication that people who display the cross of St George today or give St Geroge's day greetings are "plastic patriots and racists" goes down like the proverbial lead balloon with a lot of the people Labour used to say they stood for.

As former Labour MP Tom Harris responded,

"I just can’t understand why the Left keep losing elections. A real mystery."

Terms of Reference fo the Fan-led review of British Football

The government has set out the terms of reference for our fan-led review of football – outlining how the governance of our national sport can be improved by putting fans’ interests and experience first.

  • Whilst just about everyone has warmly welcomed the decision by all six Premier League clubs to withdraw from the European Super League, the government  remains committed to ensuring football is run for the fans.
     
  • That is why a fan-led review – run by Tracey Crouch MP - will look closely at the issues of governance, ownership and finance and take the necessary steps to retain the game’s integrity, competitiveness and, most importantly, the bond that clubs have with its supporters and the local community.
     
  • Football is for the fans, and the government is unequivocally on their side. Our review will ensure fans’ voices are heard when it comes to the future of our cherished national game.

Supporting our film industry

Today the UK Government launched a £7 million Global Screen Fund, helping independent film and screen content made in every corner of the UK to export to markets around the world.

  • The United Kingdom has an independent screen industry to be proud of – and we want to help them compete globally and bring further recognition to their quality.
     
  • That is why the government is today launching our £7 million Global Screen Fund, which will help boost the international competitiveness of UK content by funding business development, co-production and international distribution activities in order to increase their global reach and revenues.
     
  • This will help export the extraordinary talent and creativity of the UK to audiences around the world, supporting our talented filmmakers and screen businesses as we build back better from the pandemic.

Yesterday's virtual summit on Climate Change

Yesterday the Prime Minister addressed the the US Climate Leaders’ Summit, leading from the front as Britain calls on the international community to match the UK’s world-leading emissions targets and safeguard our planet for future generations.

  • The world has to turn the tide on climate change this decade or risk being remembered as the generation that failed to protect our planet.
     
  • That is why the Prime Minister urged fellow world leaders at the opening session of President Biden’s Climate Summit to match the UK’s world-leading climate change targets, meeting this global challenge with a global response.
     
  • Britain continue to go further and faster than any other major economy in tackling climate change, with yesterday’s sixth Carbon Budget setting into law the world’s most ambitious climate change targets – to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, bringing us more than three-quarters of the way towards being Net Zero by 2050 – showing that it is possible to slash emissions while fuelling new technologies, green innovation and creating jobs in the process.
     
  • We want to see the international community match our ambition and get serious about tackling climate change in the run up to COP 26, as we can only build back better, and greener, and protect our planet if we come together to take action.

Quote of the day 23rd April 2021: PM's statement at Leaders Summit on Climate Change yesterday

Boris Johnson yesterday at the Climate change virtual summit:

 



"I’d like to begin by thanking President Biden very much for bringing us together today in the way that he has and for setting out the problem in the eloquent way that he did at the beginning, and of course for returning the United States to the front rank of the fight against climate change.

I’m really thrilled by the game-changing announcement that Joe Biden has just made. And I’m proud that the UK is doing the same.

We were first country to pass legislation for net zero. We have the biggest offshore wind capacity of any country in the world, the Saudi Arabia of wind as I never tire of saying. We’re halfway to net zero.

We have carbon emissions lower than at any point since the 19th century, we’re ending support for fossil fuels overseas and doubling our international climate finance.

We’re actually speeding up because we see the obligations for developed countries to do more, we’re legislating to deliver 78% of the reductions needed to reach that goal by 2035.

As host of COP26, we want to see similar ambitions around the world and we’re working with everybody, from the smallest nations to the biggest emitters to secure commitments that will keep change to within 1.5 degrees.

And I think we can do it. And to do it we need the scientists and all of our countries to work together to produce the technological solutions that humanity is going to need. Whether it’s carbon capture and storage or solving the problems of cheap hydrogen delivery or getting to jet zero flying, getting to net zero flying, making sure that we can roll out EVs properly, making sure that our homes stop emitting such prodigious quantities of CO2, moving to sustainable domestic living.

We can do this together across the world. It’s going to mean the richest nations coming together and exceeding the $100 billion commitment that they already made in 2009 and I stress how important that is. "

Full text of the speech available here.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Vaccination update

 


Thursday music spot: Haydn's Trumpet Concerto 1st movement

The 2021 Brit awards

The government has announced that the 2021 BRIT Awards ceremony will go ahead with a live audience as part of the programme of trials for the safe return of large events, taking us one step closer to a summer of live music and sport that we can all enjoy.

  • Britain continues to take steps to getting back to doing the things we love, whether that’s meeting friends and loved ones, or attending live sport and music.
     
  • The 2021 BRIT Awards ceremony has been added to the Events Research Programme, and with attendee testing and controlled settings, this pilot will further trial approaches to managing and mitigating transmission risks at events, reuniting live audiences with the best of British talent while providing a vital opportunity to see how we can get large crowds back safely as soon as possible.
     
  • The return of live audiences is fantastic news for the music industry as we begin to welcome crowds back safely this summer.

Quote of the day 22nd April 2021

"AstraZeneca produces a vaccine at no profit only to face a wave of criticism, Dyson puts his hand in his pocket to the tune of £20 million to try and make a new ventilator and faces a wave of criticism. No good deed goes unpunished."

("Guido Fawkes" on Twitter.)


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Vaccination update


 










Happy birthday to Her Majesty

 H.M. the Queen is 95 years old today.

Happy birthday, your majesty.


Midweek music spot: Franz Xaver Mozart - Piano Quartet

No, the Christian names are not a typo. 

Franz Xaver Mozart was the youngest child of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

He was a very good composer but unfortunately for his reputation he went through his life with his music constantly being compared to that of his late father - and being compared to W A Mozart would be a challenge for anyone. 

But as I think this piano quartet demonstrates, F X Mozart was quite capable of writing some pretty good music in his own right.

The Overseas Operations Bill

Today the Overseas Operations Bill returns to the House of Commons for its final stages of debate. The Bill will deliver on protection for service personnel and veterans from endless legal cycles and repeated investigations.

  • Our Armed Forces put themselves in harm’s way day in, day out, to keep our country safe – so it is only right that we protect them from vexatious claims and repeated investigations. 
  • This is not about putting our armed forces above the law, but about giving British soldiers, sailors and air force people similar rights not to be placed in "double jeopardy" by being investigated repeatedly for the same allegations, to those which civilians take for granted, and about introducing a reasonable time limit to claims similar to the "statute of limitations" principle in the laws of many countries including Britain.
     
  • The Overseas Operations Bill will prevent the legal pursuit of our troops where there is no new evidence, by introducing a new five year limit on the time in which troops can be subject to civil legal claims, helping to stop unfounded investigations. 
     
  • The government will introduce separate legislation to address the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland as quickly as possible - and in a way that focuses on reconciliation, delivers for victims, and ends the cycle of reinvestigations into the Troubles in Northern Ireland delivering on our commitments to Northern Ireland veterans.
     
  • By terminating the cycle of reinvestigations and claims that often plague our veterans, we can repay the extraordinary commitment and courage shown by the men and women who defend our nation, as part of our continued commitment to make the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran. 

The future of British football (after the six UK clubs pulled out of the European Super League)

It is welcome news that six premier league clubs involved from the UK have now decided to withdraw from the European Super League. 

Lot of people who understand football far better than I would claim to have presented a convincing case that a "closed shop" of the existing richest clubs who can never be promoted or relegated and do not face competition from outside their own group would have been very bad for the game.

The government remains committed to the fan-led review of football chaired by Tracey Crouch of football and will work hard to protect the integrity of "the beautiful game."

  •  As the Prime Minister has said, football is in our national DNA. We invented it, we helped export it around the world, and it has been a central part of British life for over a century.
     
  • While we welcome the decision of these clubs involved to withdraw from the competition, we remain convinced of the need for reform. Our fan-led review, chaired by Tracey Crouch MP, will look at everything we can do as a government to support all football clubs across the country, from governance reform to competition laws and the mechanisms which allow football to take place – so we can ensure this never happens again.
     
  • Football is for the fans, and the government is on their side – and their voices must always be heard when it comes to the future of our national game.

Tackling climate change

Today Britain will enshrine into law the world’s most ambitious climate change target, which will accelerate our efforts to meet our commitment of Net Zero by 2050, as we continue to raise the bar on tackling climate change -  championing innovation and green jobs as we build back better. 

  • The UK is already leading the world in tackling climate change and setting ambitious targets – but we want to continue to raise the bar and set an example to other countries. 
     
  • That is why, as part of the UK’s sixth Carbon Budget, we will set into law the world’s most ambitious climate change target – to cut emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, bringing us more than three-quarters of the way towards being Net Zero by 2050 - fueling new technologies, green innovation and creating jobs in the progress. 
     
  • We want to see world leaders follow Britain's example and match our ambition in the run up to COP 26, as we can only build back better, and greener, and protect our plant if we come together to take action.

Quote of the day 21st April 2021

“Little by little and without warning, do-gooders and censorship have taken control. Obsessed by their image of upholders of morality, a whole load of people without culture, without experience and without courage are trying to impose their narrow-minded ideas on us. Their sterile, uniform and puerile ideas are seeking to invade humanity. 

If we have the misfortune not to think like them, they rush at us with all their dictatorial energy to try to make us be quiet. Humour is quietly disappearing as a result of their moralising speeches, freedom is in its death throes, creation is lifeless and democracy in great danger. In short, it is not good to joke in 2021…”


(Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who has been a singer/songwriter, a model and First Lady of France, launching a tirade against "cancel culture" on Instagram.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Vaccination update

 









Latest figures - As of 20 April, 

43,457,910 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given in the UK.





Labour's Hartlepool hospital hypocrite

The Labour party appears to be unable to fight an election without accusing their opponents of wanting to cut hospitals. Sometimes they raise issues which are genuine concerns: sometimes they are guilty of the worst and most blatant scaremongering, as their egregious by-election campaign in Copeland demonstrated in 2017.

But their candidate in the current Hartlepool by election is atrocious even by the low standards set by Labour in Copeland.

Guido Fawkes reports that  Labour’s Hartlepool candidate Dr Paul Williams invited Jonathan Ashworth up to complain about a lack of hip operations in the town. 

Williams accurately said this is the result of cuts, but he failed to be so open about who was responsible for them: Paul Williams himself. 

In 2013 Dr Williams was a commissioner and co-author of the report that recommended the removal of services – including critical care – from Hartlepool Hospital. The recommendation was adopted in full…

Not satisfied with closing down the hospital’s critical care unit, Williams also recommended slashing the number of planned operations, including hip replacements, despite admitting his proposals would “worry” local people:

You couldn't make it up. Unless you are a Labour candidate writing election material about the NHS in which case you can and will make up whatever you like.


Tuesday music spot: VIvaldi Gloria, first movement

Flexible apprenticeships

A consultation has launched today on plans to create new flexible apprenticeships – opening up even more careers to apprentices as we build back better from the pandemic and create new jobs.

  • Everyone should be able to get the experience and knowledge they need to get the job they want, while making sure employers have the talented workforce they need.
     
  • That is why the government has today launched a consultation on flexi-job apprenticeships, which will boost opportunities in sectors like the creative industries where employment is often flexible or short term - creating even more chances for people to experience the life changing opportunity an apprenticeship can bring as we build back better from the pandemic.
     
  • This will help create more opportunities for people across the country, giving them the hope, skills and experience to progress their career and drive our recovery from the pandemic as we build back better.

The new football super-league

Today, the Prime Minister was due to chair a meeting of senior football officials and fans’ representatives to discuss the proposed European Super League – maintaining that all measures are on the table. The government is determined to  do whatever it takes to protect the integrity of the game of football.

  • As the PM has set out today, football is in our national DNA. We invented it, we helped export it around the world, and it has been a central part of British life for over a century. 
     
  • That is why the government has reiterated our full backing to the football authorities as they consider a range of sanctions and measures to stop these tone deaf plans that go against the very spirit of the game. 
     
  • Alongside the work of the football authorities, a fan-led review of football, chaired by Tracey Crouch MP, has been set up to look at everything the Government does to support these clubs, from governance reform to competition law and the mechanisms that allow football to take place. The government intends to take any reasonable and practical measures possible to stop the European Super League going ahead. 
     
  • The government is and must be on the side of fans - and their voices must be heard when it comes to the future of our national game. It starts with fans, and it ends with fans.