Showing posts from July, 2022

Congratulations to the Lionesses

Congratulations to the England Women's Football team for winning the European championship, beating Germany two-one in extra time in the final this afternoon. Incredible performance, the first major championship won by an England football team since 1966 more than fifty years ago. 

Quote of the day 31st July 2022


Quote of the day 30th July 2022


Quote of the day 29th July


A musical memory of the late Bernard Cribbins - "Right, said Fred."


Fairness and safety for leaseholders - the Building Safety fund

Today the government's   £4.5 billion Building Safety Fund opens for new applications   – protecting leaseholders in high-rise homes from unfair bills in making their homes safe. The Conservative government introduced the Building Safety Act to ensure that building owners and landlords were held accountable for making buildings safe – and we are determined to ensure leaseholders in high-rise homes are not left with unfair bills for safety costs.  That is why the £4.5 billion Building Safety Fund has been reopened for new applications – qualifying leaseholders in high-rise homes will be spared from unfair bills for building safety costs, while those responsible for the issues, and the owners of the building, will be held accountable.   This fund will provide fairness to leaseholders while making homes safer across the country. 

Bernard Cribbins RIP

Sorry to see that one of my favourite actors, Bernard Cribbins, star of everything from Doctor Who to Right said Fred, from Fawlty Towers to the Wombles over a career which spanned seven decades, has died at the age of 93. He gave such a lot of pleasure to so many people. He will be missed. Rest in Peace.

Declare the next Eurovision venue Ukrainian territory for the evening.

There is an excellent suggestion on the letters page of today's Times from a Rohan Fernando that the building in which the next Eurovision Song Contest takes place should be declared by the UK government to be Ukrainian territory for the duration of the event. There is a precedent for this. In 1943 when Queen Juliana of the Netherlands gave birth in exile, the Canadian government declared her hospital suite to be Dutch territory for the duration of her confinement so that the baby would be born free of the Nazi German occupation but on Dutch soil. Similarly if the UK government declares the building where we host the next Eurovision, which Britain has already said we will do jointly with Ukraine, to be Ukrainian territory for the night, it will mean that Vladimir Putin's illegal war has failed to prevent the event taking place on Ukrainian territory.  I think this is a really good idea and I hope that whoever wins the contest to be our next Prime Minister adopts it.

Commonwealth Games begin in Birmingham

Today,   the Commonwealth Games begin in Birmingham   – celebrating sporting success as we showcase the best of Britain on a global stage. As it happens, I was in Birmingham yesterday for work reasons and there was a palpable sense of anticipation in that great city with signs about the Games visible everywhere. The UK has an outstanding reputation for hosting major sporting events, and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will be another fantastic opportunity to showcase the best of Britain on a global stage. Over the next 11 days, Birmingham will host 6,500 athletes and officials from 72 Commonwealth nations and territories – and tonight’s opening ceremony at the Alexander Stadium is expected to bring a global television audience of over 1 billion people.    The investment in the games will also bring an economic boost to the West Midlands – creating 40,000 new jobs and volunteering opportunities, £38 million investment in innovation programmes, £24 million in business and tourism pr

Quote of the day 28th July 2022


Midweek Music spot: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4


Award for President Zelenskyy

Yesterday   the Prime Minister awarded President Zelenskyy the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award , recognising the President’s courage, defiance and dignity as we stand steadfast with the people of Ukraine.  The Ukrainian people, led by President Zelenskyy, have moved the hearts of millions and stirred a global wave of solidarity in the face of Putin’s barbaric and illegal war.  That is why we awarded President Zelenskyy with the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award via a virtual ceremony yesterday. The award signifies President Zelenskyy’s courage, defiance, and dignity – all Churchillian qualities – in the face of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The UK stands steadfast with the Ukrainian people, and we will continue to support Ukraine until she rises as a free sovereign and independent nation.

Quote of the day 27th July 2022


Congratulations to the Lionesses

Congratulations to the England women's football team for booking their place in the final of the women's European football championship with an emphatic four goals to nil semi-final victory over a very good Swedish team this evening.

County Council attendance

The Cumberland News published some analysis on Friday of the attendance figures for members of Cumbria County Council at meetings, with a suggestion that this could be improved if the council went back to meeting "via Zoom." Actually the council used Teams rather than Zoom but that's not the important point, which is that meeting online has some real advantages for ordinary members of the public who want to follow what their elected representatives are up to but don't have days at a time during office hours to come to Carlisle or Kendal to watch us in person. A large majority of county councillors do attend the vast majority of meetings we are supposed to get to and indeed the Cumberland News' figures support that view.  Unlike some other authorities, the county council does not publish collected statistics for attendance - and perhaps it should -  though it does publish who attended each individual meeting, so I presume the paper collated these statistics themsel

David Trimble RIP

I was sorry to learn of the death last night of Lord David Trimble, former leader of the Official Ulster Unionist party when it was the largest party in Northern Ireland and former First Minister of Northern Ireland. I did not personally know David Trimble but his contribution to the Good Friday agreement and his role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland speaks for itself. By all accounts he was a very honourable, pragmatic and decent man, who will be greatly missed. Rest in Peace.

Quote of the day 26th July 2022


July meeting of Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

 I attended the meeting of Cumbria Health Scrutiny committee today The meeting heard presentations on the provision of Mental Health Services in the North East and North Cumbria, on the new Health and Care act, and on dental services in North Cumbria.

Help for Small Businesses

The government has   announced further support for small businesses feeling the squeeze of worldwide inflationary pressures , creating jobs and driving economic growth.   Small businesses are the lifeblood of the British economy, which is why we are determined to support our traders and entrepreneurs in dealing with global economic challenges.  That is why we have extended the Recovery Loan Scheme, ensuring we continue to provide much-needed finance to thousands of small businesses across the country, while stimulating local communities, creating jobs and driving economic growth.  The Recovery Loan Scheme has supported almost 18,000 British businesses over the last year and this extension will ensure they continue to access the finance they need to navigate the months ahead. 

Quote of the day 25th July 2022

 "We have reached the ultimate stage of absurdity ... where some people are held responsible for things that happened before they were born, while other people are not held responsible for what they themselves are doing today." ( Thomas Sowell , American Economist) 

Action to stop the use of UK libel laws to muzzle legitimate free speech

This week the   Justice Secretary announced reforms to crack down on corrupt elites abusing the UK legal system to silence critics , upholding freedom of speech.  For too long, corrupt elites have used the threat of endless legal action to muzzle their opponents by abusing defamation and privacy law.  This problem goes back a long way - the late Robert Maxwell was showing how to abuse our libel laws to suppress the truth decades ago and it's only been possible to write this without risking bankruptcy after he committed suicide. You can find some very concerning examples of the problem in Nick Cohen's book " You can't read this. " So I was pleased that the government has now announced a package of measures allowing courts to throw out baseless claims quicker and a cap on costs to prevent the mega-rich, such as Russian oligarchs, from using expensive litigation as a weapon to silence their critics.  The government is determined to put an end to this bullying and pro

Sunday music spot: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major BWV 10


Quote of the day 24th July 2022


Saturday music spot: Overture from Rossini's "The Barber of Seville"


Building on Britain's relationship with India

On Thursday the British and Indian goverments signed an  agreement to recognise each other’s higher education qualifications   – which will remove market barriers and help young people from both countries to benefit. International education is one of our finest exports, so we must ensure that we remove barriers to allow the best and brightest to study and work here. That is why the UK government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India to recognise each other’s higher education qualifications – including A Levels, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. This agreement will boost our economy, enrich our campuses and communities, and create more opportunities for UK students to study in India.

Quote of the day 23rd July 2022


Music to start the weekend: Vivaldi's Concerto for 2 Mandolins in G major


More help for Ukraine

This week the government announced plans to send a further   50,000 artillery shells and hundreds more anti-tank weapons to Ukraine , helping to ensure that Putin’s illegal invasion fails.   Britain has been leading the world in our support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion, but we must ensure that our support continues until Russia ends their hostility.  That is why the UK government has now announced plans to send additional ammunition and weaponry to Ukraine – including 50,000 artillery shells, 1,600 anti-tank weapons, 36 artillery guns, 20 self-propelled guns, drones, and counter-battery radar systems.  Together with our international partners, we will continue to ensure Ukraine has the tools to defend their country from Putin’s illegal invasion.

Helping those most in need deal with the Cost of Living Crisis

Today it was confirmed that   7.2 million cost of living payments of £326 have been made to low-income families , as part of the government programme to help households with the cost of living.  Ministers promised to help protect those on the lowest incomes from the global inflationary pressures caused by a range of international factors, and we are committed to delivering on this promise. That is why over 7 million households have now received an automatic £326 payment to help with the cost of living, with the second half of the payment coming in the Autumn. Over 8 million of the most vulnerable households will receive £1,200 of direct support to help with bills over the winter.  This payment will give vital support to families across the country as they manage the cost of living.  

On left and right in politics

WARNING - political anorak post, Do not read unless you are seriously interested in the intellectual side of politics. The trouble with referring to politics using terms like "left wing" and "right wing" is it attempts to put into a small number of boxes or a single-dimensional axis people's position on a whole range of issues which would work better when viewed in at least two dimensions. One of the most famous two-dimensional approaches is the "Political Compass" approach which ranks people left to right horizontally based on how much they support the free-market or economic liberty with a vertical axis based on how socially liberal you are with authoritarians at the top and those who are socially liberal at the bottom. Of course, that is not perfect either as the current attempts by various actors in the Conservative leadership to claim the mantle of Margaret Thatcher demonstrates, with one group claiming, correctly, that she believed in low taxes a

Quote of the day 22nd July 2022

“Love the way the Left are already  frantically trying to pivot from “Boris is the most right-wing, corrupt, incompetent, evil politician in British history” to “Truss is the most right-wing, corrupt, incompetent, evil politician in British political history”. Never change guys.” Dan Hodges on Twitter yesterday. NB - this is not a coded message indicating support for either of the two candidates in the Conservative leadership race, I am repeating with amused agreement a comment by a journalist who used to work for the Labour party about the hard left's narrative on the contest. I have no doubt that if Rishi Sunak wins the left will pivot again to "Sunak is the most right-wing, corrupt, incompetent, evil politician in British history."

Thursday music spot: Palatine Electric String Quartet perform Palladio by Karl Jenkins


Quote of the day 21st July 2022 - "Hasta la vista, Boris."

Boris Johnson's last words to the House of Commons as Prime Minister yesterday: Originally a Spanish farewell, this expression is now associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger whose character in the film "Terminator 2," which is a killer robot, uses the line to another killer robot just before blowing it to pieces. Some have suggested that this may have been a reference to Arnie's line in the previous film, "I'll be back." Don't think I buy that - certainly hope not because the killer robot who utters that line returns by crashing a car into a building, wrecking the place and shooting almost everyone inside.

Conservative leadership election goes to the membership

We now have the names of the two contenders for Conservative leader and hence PM which will go to a ballot of the party membership: Conservative members will probably have already received a letter from Sir Graham Brady with the details of the final MP ballot:

Midweek music spot: The Beach Boys, "Good Vibrations"


Problem solving courts

This week the government     announced plans to deliver our new Problem-Solving Courts , combatting drug and alcohol-fuelled crime and making our streets safer. More people die annually as a result of drug misuse than from all knife crime and road traffic accidents combined, ruining lives and costing society £22 billion every year. That is why the government is delivering on the commitment to introduce Problem-solving Courts through an £8.25 million pilot trialling a tougher approach to community sentences for low-level criminals in Liverpool, Teesside and Birmingham as part of our £900 million Drug Strategy. Getting criminal offenders sustainably off drugs is the gateway to getting them into work and a law-abiding future – rebuilding lives, cutting the cost to the taxpayer, and making our streets safer.  Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Dominic Raab MP said: "Getting criminal offenders sustainably off drugs is the gateway to getting them into work and

Quote of the day 20th July 2022

"The evidence clearly demonstrated that a vociferous faction in the party sees any issues regarding anti-Semitism as exaggerated by the right to embarrass the left," it says. "It was of course also true that some opponents of Jeremy Corbyn saw the issue of anti-Semitism as a means of attacking him. "Thus, rather than confront the paramount need to deal with the profoundly serious issue of anti-Semitism in the party, both factions treated it as a factional weapon." Extracts from  The-Forde-Report.pdf (  detailing the results of an inquiry into anti-semitism in the Labour party. No political party is completely free of racism or can afford to be complacent about it, and the Forde Report contains plenty of things which every party, not just Labour, should see as mistakes to avoid when seeking to eradicate racism.

Tuesday music spot: The Monkees, "Last Train To Clarksville"


And now there are three

 Results of the penultimate MP ballot. Conservative MPs will  now vote tomorrow on which two of Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss will go forward to the membership in a vote of all Conservative party members.

Boris Johnson's last cabinet meeting.

Today Boris Johnson will chair his last scheduled cabinet   meeting.  He has said that he will be  praising the resilience of public sector workers as we mark the one year anniversary of step 4 in the covid roadmap with the majority of restrictions lifted. Other points being made on his behalf are as follows: The pandemic was the greatest global threat to public health and the NHS in over a century, and our response would not have been possible without the superhuman efforts of our NHS staff, volunteers, scientists and clinicians who helped take on the virus. That is why the Prime Minister will praise the resilience of our public sector workers at his last scheduled cabinet today – as we mark the one year anniversary of England moving to step 4 of the covid roadmap, when the majority of restrictions were lifted, which would not have been possible without their incredible work and millions coming forward to get jabbed. One year on from a successful reopening, we can reflect on what our

Dealing with the heatwave

Readers of this  blog in the UK may have noticed that it is a little warm at the moment. Indeed, the Met office has issued it's first ever Red warning of danger caused by hot weather in some parts of the country, with an Amber warning for the rest of the UK including the North West. Everyone is advised to take care at the moment - drink plenty of water and other fluids, do not expose yourself needlessly to direct sunlight for any length of time, think carefully about whether you need to travel. The government has set out a plan of   action being taken to mitigate the effects of the record-breaking heatwave   – including increasing ambulance and 999 capacity. This is the first time in its history that the Met Office has issued a red warning for extreme heat – which means the heat poses a danger to all of us, but especially to those at particular risk. That is why the government has organised a meeting with ambulance trusts to ensure that they have more call handlers, more paramedics

Boosting production of nuclear fuel

An important step today in the development of low-carbon energy in Britain and potential good news for Cumbria: the government is  boosting production of nuclear fuel with a £75 million fund   to drive investment that will shore up our energy security while creating jobs. As Britain invests in eight new nuclear power stations, we also need to boost our investment in domestic nuclear fuel production so we have the material we need to power the nuclear reactors of today and tomorrow. That is why the government has today opened our new, £75 million Nuclear Fuel Fund which will give grants to projects that can increase the UK’s domestic nuclear fuel sector by designing and developing new facilities. This funding will kickstart projects in the UK and generate private investment in facilities that will fuel Britain’s eight new nuclear power stations, shoring up our energy security while creating jobs.

Investing in Railways in the North of England

Today the government has trebled investment in TransPennine route upgrades to over £9 billion   – slashing journey times and creating thousands of jobs across the North of England. The record-breaking integrated rail plan represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to redesign our railways using the best quality technology at our disposal. That is why the government is are trebling investment in the TransPennine route upgrades to more than £9 billion – doubling the tracks from Huddersfield to Westtown in Dewsbury to increase capacity and fitting the route with the latest technology, including complete electrification and full digital signalling. This new investment will slash journey times by up to 40 per cent, allow two additional passenger trains to run every hour, and make journeys more reliable and greener as we level up across the North.

And then there were four ...

Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch now go forward to the fourth round. Well done to Tom Tugendhat who fought a good, clean campaign emphasising the importance of integrity. It is worth pointing out that it's now certain that the Conservatives are about to elect either Britain's third woman Prime Minister (the first two, Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May were also Conservatives) or second ethnic minority Prime Minister (the first, Benjamin Disraeli, was also a Conservative) and first non-white Prime minister, Or just possibly both. Labour hasn't ever elected a woman leader or non-white leader. Labour talks endlessly about diversity but the Conservatives practice it - based not on closed shortlists but on merit.

Quote of the day 19th July 2022

"Oh, to live in a country where people were admired for building up personal wealth and not denigrated for it." (Former Labour MP Tom Harris responds on Twitter to a tweet from a current Labour spokesman playing the envy card against Rishi Sunak. My response was a follows: "I agree with Tom. There are many aspects of the Blair era that I don't miss, or regret are still with us. But I do miss that lots of prominent Labour MPs and councillors could and did openly argue being left-wing didn't mean stirring up hate and envy against successful people." )

Protecting the rights of airline passengers

The government has   announced stronger protections for passengers through our new Aviation Charter , helping people to navigate their protections and rights when flying. The chaotic scenes we have seen at airports are unacceptable - passengers deserve reliable services and to be properly compensated if things do not go to plan. That is why the government has published a new Aviation Passenger Charter - acting as a one stop shop so passengers know their rights for their entire journey from booking to travelling if confronted with delays and cancellations this summer.  This will give UK passengers peace of mind as they enjoy the renewed freedom to travel this summer - whether for holidays, business, or to visit loved ones.

Consultation on recreational drug use launched

Today a consultation is being launched on  tougher penalties for recreational drug users , tackling drug use which put lives at risk. The government's view is that drugs are a scourge on our society putting lives at risk, fuelling serious and violent crime and encouraging the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people. That is why the government is consulting on tougher penalties for recreational drug users including a ‘three strikes’ policy to escalate action against drug users. The policy could see repeat offenders ordered to wear electronic tags, undergo random drug tests or receive nightclub bans. Do you agree? Or do you strongly disagree? Or have you or anyone you know had your life affected by the impact of drugs in a way which might give you a relevant perspective on this difficult issue? If any of these things applies, please respond to the consultation. Taking on so-called recreational drug use is an important step in the strategy to reduce demand, make our streets

Quote of the day 18th July 2022


Paul Urey RIP

British aid worker Paul Urey, 45, has died while being held hostage by pro-Russia separatists in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Paul Urey did not go to Ukraine to fight or to hurt anyone - he went to help evacuate refugees. He was arrested and falsely accused of being a mercenary by a puppet state in Donetsk which is effectively a Russian state proxy. Dominik Byrne, the co-founder and chief operating officer of the Presidium Network, said at the time of Urey’s capture that he was working independently in Ukraine as a humanitarian aid volunteer. Britain's Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has summoned Russia's ambassador to the UK and told him that Britain holds the Russian regime accountable for what happened to Paul Urey. Britain’s Foreign Office summoned the Russian ambassador, Andrei Kelin, on Friday afternoon to express “deep concern” over reports of Urey’s death. The foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said:  “I am shocked to hear reports of the death of British aid

July 2022 meeting of Cumbria County Council's Copeland local committee

  The July meeting of the Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council will take place on Wednesday 20th July at 10.15am in Millom Network Centre, Unit 3, Devonshire Road Industrial Estate, Millom LA18 4JS. The meeting will be open to the public. The main items on the agenda will be Item 6. Whitehaven area Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (This extents out to places like St Bees)           To consider a report of the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure           The purpose of this report is to seek approval of the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan           (LCWIP) for Whitehaven and the surrounding area. Item 7. Parking Services Presentation            To receive a presentation on Parking Services Item 8. Minutes and report from the Highways working group meeting on 22nd June Item 9. Consultation on potential change of age range to St Bees Village Primary School                 This report provides background on the current formal consultat

Helping people with the cost of living

This week,   the first Cost of Living Payments were made . Over the coming weeks, more than eight million households will receive the first of two cost of living payments – easing the pressure on household costs for people across the country. A series of global forces have caused cost of living pressures around the world, so it is the government's utmost priority to help those families struggling with their finances. That is why the government set out a £37 billion support package, including a £650 cost of living payment for every household on means-tested benefits – around 8 million households. This week the first instalment of £326 begana start to be paid out, with the second to follow in the autumn. Pensioners will also receive an extra £300, while disabled households will get a £150 payment – on top of the £150 council tax rebate paid in April and the £400 cash discount on energy bills this Autumn. Through this support, over eight million households will receive at least £1,200

Sunday music spot: The Monkees "I'm A Believer" (Original Video)


Quote of the day 17th July 2021

"Russia has already lost this war, in terms of it's original objectives." Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakan on the BBC this morning - he said  that Russia had wanted to conquer the whole of Ukraine, and would never be able to do so, He added that the Mod think Russia has lost 30% of their combat power - 50,000 soldiers killed or injured, 1,700 tanks and 4,000 otherarmoured fighting vehicles put out of actionm, while trying and failing to subdue Ukraine. The Chief of the Defence staff was reiterating a point he made to the press a month ago, and you can read the details as the Guardian reported them in a news article which can be found by clicking on the link below: Russia has ‘strategically lost’ war, says UK defence chief | Ukraine | The Guardian

Saturday music spot: Nigel Kennedy - Vivaldi "Summer" 3rd Movement


July meeting of Cumbria Health Scrutiny committee

The agenda has now been published for the July meeting of Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee - which will be held on  Monday, 25th July, 2022 10.30 am at Cumbria House, Botcherby, Carlisle. The meeting will be open to the public. The main agenda items are 8) The Health and Care Act          To consider a report by the Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Adviser. 9)  Mental Health Services in North and West Cumbria and the rest of the area of the new Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust          To receive a presentation by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust  10) Update on NHS Dentistry in North Cumbria           To receive a presentation by NHS England and NHS Improvement Full details of the agenda and supporting reports can be found on the County Council website by clicking on the following link: Agenda for Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee on Monday, 25th July, 2022, 10.30 am | Cumbria County Council

Everyone over 50 to be offered an Autumn Flu and COVID jab

Everyone aged 50 and over will be among those offered a COVID-19 booster and a flu jab this autumn under plans to increase protection against respiratory viruses ahead of winter. I think this is absolutely the right thing to do, I will certainly be taking up the offer of a jab and encouraging everyone else who is eligible to do so unless they are advised be an appropriately qualified clinician that they have a particular reason not to do so. On coronavirus (COVID-19) boosters, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation ( JCVI ) has now published its final recommendations for this autumn’s programme. Under the advice, those eligible for a further dose will be: all adults aged 50 years and over those aged 5 to 49 years in a  clinical risk group , including pregnant women those aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression those aged 16 to 49 years who are carers residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older

Quote of the day 16th July 2022


Music to start the weekend: J.S. Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D-minor BWV 565


Helping people with Autism

Yesterday the government announced new measures towards   Building the Right Support Action Plan to help disabled people and those with autism , supporting them to live independently and improving the quality of their lives. It is important to make sure that autistic people and people with learning disabilities are supported in the best possible place for them, and able to live as independently as possible. So the government is speeding up discharges for people with a learning disability and autistic people, with funding of over £90 million – providing key workers for young people with complex needs and £21 million Community Discharge Grants for local authorities. We are also reforming the Mental Health Act and providing specialist training for health and care staff. This policy will make sure that people are treated with dignity and respect, experience personalised care and treatment, and can live an independent life in their own home as part of their community.

Helping offenders back into the community

Cutting crime does not just mean being tough on criminals, though that is sometimes called for: but it also means helping former offenders to go straight after they have paid their debt to society. Those who break the law must be dealt with - but after they have served the punishments decided by the courts it is important to help them get back into society and earn an honest living in the future. So it is a good thing that figures published today show that thousands of offenders are finding jobs, helping to protect communities by cutting reoffending and boosting the economy. Reoffending costs our economy £18 billion every year and we know that ex-prisoners who have the security which a job brings are less likely to reoffend.  The government launched Employment Advisory Boards, to link businesses with prisoners and to provide skills for former offenders. Since that policy was introduced,  4,000 ex-offenders have been helped into work and the number of former offenders in work six weeks

Quote of the day 15th July 2022


Thursday music spot: the LSO play "Hooked On Bach"


Conservative leadership second ballot results

  The Conservative leadership race is not yet in the bag for any candidate and it is worth remembering that in Tory leadership races the favourite nearly always loses. The most surprising thing is if the candidate expected to win at the beginning, does.  The next round of voting is on Monday after the TV debates. It is still possible that Tom Tugendhat or Kemi Badenoch (who has already done much better than pundits had expected) could play a blinder in the debate, or one of the frontrunners could stumble. Such things have happened before. Nothing should be taken for granted, but unless there is a game-changer in the debates it is likely that  Tom Tugendhat will go out in the next round and at that point Rishi Sunak is likely to pick up enough of the current Tugendhat supporters to have enough MP votes to guarantee that he will be one of the final two candidates put to the party membership in the final ballot. Again, nothing should be taken for granted but the final ballot of MPs is lik

Positive progress on Northern Ireland

We really need a reset on relations with the EU in terms of co-operation to sort out the trade position in respect of Ireland - I share the concerns of the government and many Businesses and people in Northern Ireland that the Northern Ireland protocol is not working as it was intended, but we cannot afford a trade war with the EU. So I very much   welcome the EU’s adoption of Britain's new peace and reconciliation programme for Northern Ireland and Ireland   a programme in which the UK government has shown positive leadership in challenging times for Northern Ireland. The UK government are continuing to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, address the legacy of the Troubles and work toward the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive at Stormont. That is why everyone should welcome the news yesterday that the EU have adopted the PEACE PLUS programme, which the UK is majority funding with £730 million, supporting the levelling up of Northern Ireland’s eco

Quote of the day 14th July 2022

Like yesterday's quote of the day, the following comment from American Economist Thomas Sowell is reproduced and endorsed here as a general warning and not as an attack on any specific individual.  Indeed, if it were aimed at any identifiable individual, it would breach the rules of this blog. I am agreeing with Thomas Sowell on the general principle that too many politicians - from, in my opinion, every part of the political spectrum, not just left or right - do not pay enough attention to the accuracy of what they say rather than singling out any individuals and attacking their personal integrity. If you interpret it as a coded message, you have misunderstood this post.