Showing posts from 2022

Ring Out, Wild Bells (Fletcher)


Farewell to 2022

What can we say about the year which is finishing: in many ways the first (printable) reaction when asked to describe 2022 is that it was yet another truly awful year. The year began with hopes that we might be able to truly start the recovery from COVID - and although there would have been challenges, and the cost of living might have presented challenges even without the war, I am absolutely convinced that the world could have started that recovery while protecting the environment without the ambition, greed, and treachery of one man. That man is, of course, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, whose barbaric and illegal invasion of Ukraine has been catastrophic not just for his own country and the country he invaded but, in its economic consequences, almost every country in the world including Britain. Without those impacts I am convinced that many of Britain's ills, most of the loss in people's living standards, and probably many of this winter's strikes, could have been

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine at 31 December 2022

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 31 December 2022 More details of the UK government's response are available at: http:// #StandWithUkraine

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s New Year message for 2023.


Ten year Vaccine deal agreed

Shortly before Christmas a 10-year deal with Moderna has been announced which will boost our UK-made supply of jabs for Covid, flu and other diseases.  A new cutting-edge manufacturing centre will create 150 high-skilled jobs and can produce 250 million vaccines per year. Fantastic  news for Britain's health resilience over the next ten years, and for jobs for the people working for the new centre and its supply chain.

Saturday music spot: another version of "Gaudete" from The Gesualdo Six


Mortgage Guarantee Scheme extended to December 2023

It has been announced that the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme will be extended until December 2023 , helping people with 5 per cent deposits onto the property ladder and into their own homes. In the face of today’s economic pressures, it is right to support hard-working families to secure their first home or move into their dream property. That is why the government has extended the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme until December 2023 – providing the financial guarantee families need to cover 95 per cent of a house worth up to £600,000. This scheme has already helped 24,000 households – 85 per cent of whom are first-time buyers – and will now help more people to secure their own home.

Quote of the day 31st December 2022


11 million Winter Fuel Payments and Pensioner cost of living payments made so far

As at shortly before Christmas  over 11 million Winter Fuel Payments and Pensioner Cost of Living Payments   have been made to pensioners across the UK so far this winter, helping pensioners with their energy bills. In the face of cold weather and increased global gas prices it is right we put support in place to ensure vulnerable households can heat their homes.  That is why the government has delivered 11.6 million Winter Fuel Payments and Pensioner Cost of Living Payments to pensioners across the UK so far this winter, meaning over 99 per cent of eligible pensioners have already received up to £600 to help with their energy bills since the rollout began in November. These payments are just one part of the wider support package the government is  delivering to help with rising bills – with remaining payments being delivered by 13 January.

Mod Defence Intelligence update summary at 30th December 2022


Music to start the weekend: "Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus"


Quote of the day 30th December 2022


What have the Tories ever done for us? Here are four things


Blogging resumes

For the past few days, including the first four days of the Christmas holiday, I was unable to access this blog. The immediate issue which caused no longer applies. The intelligent reader will easily be able to imagine a number of possible reasons why that might occur and why, for the security of my family in an age of cyber-aware criminals, I might not want to publish those reasons for anyone in the world to read.  Many of my family and friends already know what happened: anyone who knows me personally and has not yet heard is welcome to contact me directly and ask, the issues are well on the way to being resolved and there is no serious reason to worry. I plan many of the posts which appear here in advance, and unfortunately only one of those which I had written for this period actually went live on schedule, so rather than waste the work on the rest I have added them, showing with the dates they were originally planned for. I am not going to retrospectively add posts such as quotes

Latest MoD Defence intelligence update summary at 29th December 2022


Quote of the day 29th December 2022

For anyone who wants to check the context in which Orson Scott Card put this line into the mouth of a fictional character, it can be found in the early chapters of the novel, "Ender in Exile." 

Midweek music spot: "Baba Yetu" - by Christopher Tin

The lyrics to this piece at those of the Lord's Prayer, in Swahili. It was the award-winning theme music for the Game Civilisation IV, although the video which accompanies this version are from the introductions from a later version of the same game, one of the variants of Civilisation VI.

MoD defence intelligence update summary as at 28th December 2022


MoD Defence intelligence update summary as at 27th December 2022


MoD Defence intelligence update summary at 26th December 2022


Quote of the day for Boxing day 2022

 “Only twenty-seven people in Britain can explain why the day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day, but that doesn't stop millions from marking it by staying home from work. An intriguing side effect of thus having two consecutive public holidays is that no matter what days of the week they fall on, the British can easily justify taking the whole week off. Suppose Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday, with Boxing Day on the Wednesday. Well, then, what is the point, the contemporary Bob Cratchit cries, of bother to open up the office or factory on Monday, when we all plan to knock off work by lunchtime because it's Christmas Eve? And it's hardly worth cranking up the heat for a working week that's now been whittled down to just two days. By the time we finish complaining about our ingrate in-laws and the cheesy Christmas television programs and the blatant materialism of our kids, it's time to go home for the weekend. Isn't it simpler for Mr. Scrooge to close the

Christmas music spot:, From "There Were Shepherds" to "Glory to God" from Handel's Messiah


Quote of the day for Christmas 2022


A Christmas Message

For anyone reading this who is of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Bahai faiths , May the God of Abraham be with you and all who you love at this time, guard, guide and protect you. For anyone reading this who loves the Christmas story: May the Joy of the Angels, The Eagerness of the Shepherds The Wisdom of the Magi The Patience of Joseph The Love of Mary and the Hope represented by the baby Jesus be with you this Christmas season and throughout the year For anyone reading this of any other faith , may your God be with you at this time. And for everyone reading this , I with you and your family good health and happiness at this time and a New Year 2023 which is far better than any of the last two or three years have been for any of us. In other words:  HAPPY CHRISTMAS! 

MoD Defence intelligence update summary at 24th December 2022


Quote of the day for Christmas Eve 2022


Quote of the day 23rd December 2022


MoD defence intelligence update as at 23rd December 2022


MoD defence intelligence update summary 22nd December 2022


Housing for veterans

Today the government announced a new housing scheme for veterans backed by £8.5 million to finally end veterans’ homelessness and give veterans the support they need this Christmas.  No one, not least those who have served this country, should be homeless and Conservatives are committed to putting an end to veterans’ homelessness in the UK. That is why the Conservative government is committing £8.5 million in funding and supporting a dedicated pathway, set up in collaboration with our charity partners, so veterans can get the support they need this Christmas. The funding will support more than 900 veteran supported housing units with specialist help for former armed forces personnel. We remain steadfastly committed to ending veteran homelessness in 2023 whilst also putting in place the vital pathways required to help those veterans who are currently homeless to get on their feet again.

MoD Defence intellience update summary as at 21st December 2022


MoD Defence intelligence update summary at 20th December 2022


Using our roads better - making it easier for people to afford buses

The government is investing £60 million to cap bus fares outside London at £2   and launching the "Get Around for £2" bus scheme, cutting fares for most bus travellers by a third. Buses are the most popular form of public transport in England, making up half of all journeys – and we are committed to making sure they remain accessible to everyone. That is why this week the government is launching the Get Around for £2 bus scheme, investing £60 million to cap single bus fares outside of London at £2 from 1 January to 31 March 2023 – a third less than the average local bus ticket of £2.80. By making sure that customers are paying a fair price for bus journeys, we will take two million car journeys off the road and save money for families, students and commuters.

Quote of the day 20th December 2022


It all adds up

At the weekend, the government   launched the "It All Adds Up" energy saving campaign , to help households cut hundreds of pounds from their energy bill this winter. No-one is immune to rising energy bills this winter, so it’s in everyone’s interest to use every trick in the book to use less energy while keeping homes warm and staying safe. That is why this weekend, the government launched the "It All Adds Up" energy saving campaign, with tips on simple, low or no-cost actions that households can take to immediately cut energy use and save money while ensuring people are able to stay safe and warm this winter – as well as longer-term measures they can take to improve their homes energy efficiency. Everyone can benefit by taking note of the advice in this new campaign and following the easy steps to cut their fuel bills – potentially saving hundreds of pounds for families this winter .

Rishi in Riga

Today, the   Prime Minister attended a Joint Expeditionary Force meeting in Riga , calling on our allies to strengthen their efforts to counter Russian aggression and restore peace in Europe. The Joint Expeditionary Force is a group of Northern European allies with a shared desire for peace in Europe – Britain is working in lockstep with them to defeat Putin and help Ukraine liberate itself. That is why today the Prime Minister met with Joint Expeditionary Force leaders in Riga and urging his Baltic, Nordic and Dutch counterparts to match this government’s commitment on military aid to Ukraine by sustaining or exceeding their 2022 levels of military support to Ukraine in 2023. Britain will continue to work alongside our allies to support Ukraine, stand up to Russian aggression and restore peace in Europe – so that we never face the threat of unprovoked aggression on the continent again.

Ruthless tactics from an earlier Russian military leader

Know what today's MoD defence intelligence summary of how the Wagner group's tactics work reminds me of? Zhukov's ruthless tactics effective against the Nazis - another regime who used their people like sandbags - at a price. They only make sense if you value tanks and equipment more than people. I suspect Wagner Group's tactics may be less effective against an army like that of Ukraine who value their people and teach them to learn and to think.

Defence intelligence update summary at 19th December 2022

  Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 19 December 2022 Find out more about the UK government's position at: http:// #StandWithUkraine

Quote of the day 19th December 2022


MoD Defence intelligence Summary 18th December 2022 - "It ain't half cold, Mum."

Latest defence intelligence summary - the Russians are attempting to improve the morale of their troops on the front line with two special "creative brigades" tasked with providing entertainment. The allies did things like this during World War II, but on the face of it, one has to wonder if this is something of a sign of desperation. Perhaps one day someone will make a film or TV series about this and call it  "It ain't half cold, Mum."

One liner of the week

 "Harry Kane's penalty was such an awful strike, even Mick Lynch wouldn't defend it." (From this week's "Dead Ringers" on BBC radio 4)

Happy Chanukah

Happy Chanukah, or Hanukkah, to anyone of the Jewish faith who is reading this.  

More details on the School Rebuilding Programme

Thousands of children will benefit from schools fit for the future: 239 school buildings will be transformed as part of the government's ten year action program. Here in Copeland the last Labour government made all sorts of promises about "building schools for the future" but never actually did anything. But there have already been major improvements delivered while the Conservatives have been in office at St Benedicts, at Whitehaven Academy, at Jericho school and at Seascale. Pupils across England will benefit from transformative new school buildings as  239 more schools and sixth forms  will benefit from renovation projects. The new projects build on the 161 that have previously been announced, with construction works now nearing completion on the most advanced sites. It means in total 400 out of 500 schools and sixth forms have now been selected for rebuilds through the ten-year School Rebuilding Programme. The new buildings will be more energy efficient for future win

Sunday music spot: "For unto us a Child is born" from Handel's Messiah


Quote of the day for the fourth Sunday in Advent

 From "The Snarky Vicar" -

What do Scotland's "yes" voters really want?

An interesting poll published in a newsletter by Eddie Barnes of "Our Scottish Future" which asked voters in Scotland which aspects of the Union they would like to keep suggests that the divide between the two is not nearly as binary as it usually appears. If the poll is anywhere near accurate - a rather large "if" - a big majority of Scots, and a majority even of "Yes" voters, would like to keep Joint Working with NHS England on treating specialist conditions and buying new drugs No internal borders for people and goods A common UK old age pension Common UK intelligence and counter-terror services A common approach to international diplomacy A common welfare and and benefits system. A majority of Scots and a plurality of Yes voters would like to keep common UK armed forces with access to a UK passport and citizenship. If this is accurate, that isn't really independence at all, it's a looser federal-type union with greater devolution. The poll sugg

John Rentoul on the prospects for the next election.

Nobody who has lived through 2022 is going to dispute that the Conservatives are having a difficult time at the moment.. Sometimes governments which go through such a difficult period in mid-term subsequently recover and win the following general election: Mrs Thatcher managed it twice and John Major once. Sometimes governments which go through a difficult time fail to get it together and lose at the following election. Nobody should ever take the British people for granted and no party can be confident about the result of the next election: by the same token there is everything to play for. There is an interesting piece by John Rentoul, chief political correspondent for The Independent, about a recent debate by political commentators on who might win the next election, which you can read by clicking on the link below: you may have to register. This is how Rishi Sunak could win the next election | The Independent

Second quote of the day 17th December 2022.

"The biggest lesson from the past year is to recognise that we are part of a generational struggle for the future of the global order." ( Admiral Sir Tony Radakin , extract from his Chief of the Defence Staff's annual lecture 2022. A longer extract can be seen and heard by clicking on the video below.)

Saturday music spot: O Come, All Ye Faithful, at Westminster Abbey


MoD Defence update summary for Saturday 17th December 2022

  The MoD has also tweeted this afternoon: As part of its aid package, the UK has provided Brimstone 2 missiles, a precision-guided missile, to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This aid has played a crucial role in stalling Russian advances. #StandWithUkraine

Protecting land and ocean habitats

This week the government announced almost £30 million investment to protect the world’s land and ocean habitats , providing nations with the tools they need to protect fragile ecosystems. Countries can put nature back on the road to recovery with a strong Global Biodiversity Framework that incudes a commitment to see at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and ocean protected by 2030.   That is why we are investing nearly £30 million to support developing countries in delivering the ‘30by30’ target aimed at protecting at least 30 per cent of the world’s land and ocean habitats by 2030, as well as £5 million of funding for projects which showcase the incredible work underway.  This funding announcement signals a major commitment to provide nations with the tools they need to protect fragile ecosystems and tackle some of the causes of habitat loss such as deforestation and unsustainable farming and fishing practices. 

Quote of the day 17th December 2022


Latest MoD defence intelligence update summary 16th December 2022


Quote of the day 16th December 2022


Music to start the weekend: "O come, o come Emmanuel," sung (in Latin) by The Gesualdo Six


New support ships for the Royal Navy

Yesterday the Prime Minister visited Northern Ireland to mark the next generation of our world class Royal Naval Support Ships, strengthening our security at sea and across the globe.  With its proud tradition of skill and expertise, Northern Ireland – and its people – is rightly at the centre of our shipbuilding ambitions.  That is why the Prime Minister visited Belfast yesterday to mark the return of naval shipbuilding – with a £1.6 billion contract to develop and build the next generation of Royal Navy Solid Support Ships, creating up to 2,000 jobs in the region.  Belfast once hosted the biggest shipyard in the world; the thousands of high value jobs and the skills that are gained from delivering these new ships will now help to lay the foundation of prosperity for tomorrow. 

Investing in better policing to protect our communities

Yesterday the government announced that Britain's   police forces will receive investment up to £287 million next year , delivering more visible policing in communities to cut crime and help victims feel safe.  Making our streets safer has always been central to the Conservative mission to level up this country, because everyone should have the security that comes from having a safe street and safe home, wherever they live.  That is why we are continuing to invest in cutting crime and boosting confidence in our police – investing up to £287 million next year to take total funding for policing up to £17.2 billion. We are also giving policing the funding they need to maintain the 20,000 additional police officers to be recruited by next year.   With over 15,000 additional officers already recruited and thousands more on the way, this package will support our forces to keep our communities safe across the United Kingdom. 

The School Rebuilding Programme

During the lifetime of this Conservative government schools around the country have had long-awaited new buildings. In Copeland the last Labour government talked ceaselessly about promises of new school buildings but never actually built any. By contrast since the Conservatives came to power in 2010,  The new Whitehaven Campus for St Benedicts School and Mayfield,  Whitehaven Academy Seascale Primary School Jericho Primary School are just four of the schools which have benefitted from major new building projects. And the programme continues.  Today it was announced that 239 schools across the country will benefit from the fourth round of the School Rebuilding Programme, improving opportunities for our children with new state of the art facilities. The quality of facilities in schools can have a significant impact on a student’s learning experience, so we must ensure that we continue to invest in schools to offer children the best opportunity to succeed. That is why the government has a

MoD Defence intelligence update summary 15th December 2022


Protecting women and girls from rape

Rape is a vile crime and more needs to be done to protect women and girls from being attacked. That's why the government has today   announced progress on our Rape Review Action Plan , with the number of rape cases referred by the police to the CPS up 95 per cent, as we secure justice for victims. We need radical improvement in the way police handle rape cases and we are determined to increase the volumes of trials being heard and make sure more rapists face justice. That is why the government has introduced a 24/7 rape and sexual abuse helpline, pre-recording of evidence in court to spare victims the trauma of testifying during a live trial, and a new approach to police investigations that focuses on the behaviour of the suspect rather than the victim. We are making sure we are on track to meet our ambition to more than double the number of adult rape cases reaching court by the end of this parliament. Rape cases referred to the CPS are up 95 percent; cases charged are up two-thir

Keeping patients safe

The government is seeking to ensure that NHS staff continue to provide life-preserving and urgent care, but routine surgery and other planned treatment is likely to be disrupted, after union member nurses commenced their strike action. We are hugely grateful for the hard work and dedication of all NHS staff, including nurses, and deeply regret that some union members have voted for industrial action. These are challenging times, which is why we accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body in full – giving over one million NHS workers a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year, on top of a 3 per cent increase last year when public sector pay was frozen, alongside wider support with the cost of living. Our priority is keeping patients safe during the strike action – we have plans in place to minimise disruption where possible and to make sure that emergency services continue to operate.

MoD Defence intelligence update summary as of 14th December 2022


Today at Prime Minister's Questions

Today at PMQs, the Prime Minister underlined our commitment to building a stronger NHS for the future.  The Conservative government is strengthening the NHS workforce by: Recruiting a record number of doctors and nurses for our NHS, providing the world-class care patients deserve. There are 15,000 more doctors and 32,000 more nurses than in 2019, and since 2010 there are over 34,170 more doctors and over 44,820 more nurses working in the NHS.  Recruiting 26,000 more primary care staff by March 2024, ensuring our health service has the manpower it needs to deliver for patients. Hiring record numbers of clinical staff in the NHS, with over 33,000 additional hospital workers in the last year alone. Enhancing nurse training with a £25 million investment package, improving the skills of workers.  We are busting the Covid backlog and focusing on the issues that matter most to patients: The King’s Fund highlighted that NHS funding is 40 per cent higher than when Labour were in office, and the

More R&D Investment for advanced Telecommunications

Today the government also    announced a £110 million boost in R&D for next generation 5G and 6G telecoms technology   – strengthening our telecoms supply chains whilst supporting new technologies and the high-skill jobs they create.  Telecoms powering our phone and internet networks is evolving rapidly and with 6G on the horizon we must stay ahead of the curve.  That is why the government is awarding three top UK universities £28 million to develop next-generation 6G network technology – as well as providing £80 million to fund a state-of-the-art UK Telecoms in the West Midlands, supporting the already booming tech-sector in the West Midlands.  This funding will turbocharge work to strengthen Britain's telecoms supply chains, so we are no longer reliant on a handful of companies to develop and maintain the 5G networks our businesses and households rely on. Full disclosure: I work for Openreach and am a shareholder in the BT group of companies. This post consists entirely of in

Cutting Edge genomics research

Today the government   announced over £175 million for cutting-edge genomics research , creating the most advanced genomic health care system in the world – helping to save lives and improve health outcomes for patients.  Helping patients get better care means bolstering the NHS workforce but also funding ground-breaking new technologies and medicines. That is why the Conservative government is backing new genomic technology with £175 million – kickstarting world-leading research to explore the effectiveness of using whole genome sequencing to find a treat rare genetic disease in newborn babies and supporting new innovative cancer programmes, led by Genomics England – increasing the accuracy of cancer care.  The NHS is a world leader in genomics and by investing in this cutting-edge research we are cementing our status as a life sciences superpower whilst offering better care for patients. 

Tackling illegal immigration

Over 40,000 people have illegally crossed the Channel in small boats this year, putting pressure on local public services. Many originate from safe countries and travel through safe countries. That is unfair on those who come here legally, unfair on those who have a genuine asylum claim – and unfair on the British people who play by the rules.  The Prime Minister has prioritised this issue since he took office: he has delivered the largest ever small boats deal with France which increases UK-funded patrols by 40 per cent, re-established the Calais Group of Northern European nations to disrupt traffickers, and set a long-term ambition for a UK-EU wide agreement on migration. But we need to go much further. Today, the Prime Minister and Home Secretary are set out five new steps: A new agreement with Albania so that the vast majority of Albanian claimants can be removed – with weekly flights until all Albanians in our backlog are sent home. A new, permanent, unified Small Boats Operationa

MoD Defence Intelligence Update Summary 13th December 2022

Today's MoD Defence intelligence update summary   Also in relation to Ukraine: The Prime Minister announced a £50m package of air defence support, comprising 125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to counter deadly Iranian-supplied drones. The UK has so far sent over 195,000 items of kit back with Ukrainian recruits after they completed training here in the UK - each recruit receives over 40 items. Kit includes: Winter kit First aid kit Protective kit #StandWithUkraine

Quote of the day 13th December 2022

Russia's "imperial ambitions" inherited from the ex-Soviet Union "still thrive today." Putin and his "ideological servants " have hijacked the anti-fascist struggle "for their own political interests. " he said. Now, " resistance to Russia is called 'fascism' " and has become "the ideological justification for the insane and criminal war of aggression against Ukraine," ( Yan Rachinsky , the chair of the Russian human rights organization Memorial, which PUtin has now banned, acceptance speech as co-winner of the Nobel Peace prize which Memorial jointly won with the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) from Kyiv and imprisoned Belarusian human rights lawyer Ales Bialiatski.)

MoD Defence intelligence update 12th December 2022

Today's MoD Defence Intelligence update summary

European co-operation to deal with the challenge of illegal migration

Last week   the Home Secretary met with European interior ministers to discuss solutions to thye challenge of illegal immigration   – helping to reduce the number of small boat crossings while holding those responsible to account. Illegal immigration is a global issue, and we must work with our European partners if we want to reduce the number of people attempting to cross the Channel. That is why last Thursday the ‘Calais Group’ of European interior ministers met for discussions on tackling illegal immigration, where they discussed solutions to reduce the flow of illegal migration and agreed to support working arrangements between crime agencies such as the NCA and Interpol.  These discussions will help to bring solutions that will benefit all our countries and to ensure the criminals who profit in human misery are targeted and brought swiftly to justice.

Quote of the day 12th December 2022


MoD Defence intelligence Summary 11th December 2022

  Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 11th December 2022 For more details of the UK government's response: http:// #StandWithUkraine