Showing posts from January, 2023

Making sure there cannot be another Grenfell Tower

This week Housing and Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove announced the the government will   give housing developers six weeks to sign a contract requiring them to fix unsafe buildings and reimburse taxpayers   or face significant consequences – protecting innocent leaseholders from unfair and crippling costs. Too many developers, along with product manufacturers and freeholders, have profited from unsafe buildings and have a moral duty to pay for the repair – instead of leaving innocent leaseholders to face the often significant costs. That is why yesterday the government gave developers six weeks to sign a contract requiring them to fix unsafe buildings and reimburse the taxpayer where public funds were used to cover repairs – which is expected to see them commit to more than £2 billion of repairs, with those that fail to sign or comply facing significant consequences.  This new contract will help to restore confidence in the sector and lift a weight off the shoulders of many leaseh

Protecting Britain's Environment

Today the government announced a   five-year delivery plan to restore nature and improve the quality of our air, waters and land , helping to build a cleaner, greener country for future generations. Our natural environment is fundamental to the health, economy and prosperity of our country, so we must do all we can to protect it. That is why today we announced our five-year delivery plan, which will ensure every household is within 15 minute’s walk of a green space, restore at least 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitats, work with councils to improve air quality, and incentivise farmers to adopt nature-friendly practices.  These steps will help to preserve our environment, increase our access to nature, and make Britain a healthier, greener place to live. 

MoD Defence intelligence summary 31st January 2023


Tuesday music spot: "Music for a while" (Henry Purcell) - The King's Singers


MoD Defence intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine 30th January 2023


Monday music spot: Vivaldi's Concerto in C major for two flutes, strings & bass


MoD defence intelligence update on the situation on UKraine 30th January 2023


Baker's Law

My last thoughts on the Nadim Zahawi affair. Some people would have criticised the PM whatever he did on this, my opinion is that the best way to ensure that you neither throw innocent people out of the airlock over allegations which might turn out to be untrue or unduly protect those who need to be held accountable over concerns which prove all too well-founded is to have a due process and apply it properly. That is what Rishi Sunak did by asking Sir Laurie Magnus to investigate the concerns about former Party chairman Nadim Zahawi and acting promptly and decisively when Sir Laurie found that there had been a serious breach of the ministerial code. It was also right to publish the letter from Sir Laurie and you can read it in full on the government website at Letter from Sir Laurie Magnus to the Prime Minister, 29 January 2023 - GOV.UK ( This letter actually answers most of the questions being asked about the affair. In many ways it is a great shame to lose someone from the

Improving Urgent and Emergency Care

Today, the government   published a major plan to improve urgent and emergency care services , as part of the plan to deliver the Prime Minister’s priority to cut waiting times. The NHS is facing serious challenges as a result of the Covid pandemic and the worst flu season for over a decade. We saw the highest ever number of people attending A&E in December, which combined with high hospital occupancy rates means some patients are facing unacceptable delays.  The Conservative government is already working to tackle waiting lists – raising health and social care funding to record levels, investing over £750 million this year to speed up the discharge of medically fit patients, delivering on our elective recovery plan to bust the Covid backlogs, and hiring a record number of doctors and nurses.  Today, the government launches an Urgent and Emergency Care Plan to fix A&E and ambulance waiting times over the next two years by:  Increasing capacity with £1 billion for more beds and

Quote of the day 30th January 2023

“Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that there are people opposed to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill who are 'transphobic … deeply misogynist, often homophobic, possibly some of them racist as well' was a deeply cynical attempt to tar her political opponents with the worst kind of brush.” Leader article in The Scotsman , available here in full: Gender Recognition Reform Bill: Nicola Sturgeon's disgraceful attack on critics suggest she has lost the plot – Scotsman comment | The Scotsman Further extracts from the Scotsman Comment piece “ Sturgeon’s remarks damage the cause of transgender rights. The case of Isla Bryson, who raped two women while a man and started the transition process before being sentenced, demonstrates a fundamental point – that there is not an absolute right to self-ID. ” “ Instead, it is a qualified right, as in some rare cases, it is not possible to treat a trans woman in exactly the same way as a so-called ‘cis’ woman because of a conflict of rights. In this c

The Global Imams' Council response on the shootings in Jerusalem


PM reiterates backing for Ukraine

Rishi Sunak has said that the “hearts of the British people” are with Ukraine. The prime minister also paid tribute to the ongoing bravery of ordinary Ukrainians. With just weeks to go before the first anniversary of the conflict, Mr Sunak reiterated his pledge that the UK government would stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes” . His renewed support for the people of Ukraine came as he passed a personal message to the Ukrainian ambassador to pass onto to President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine at a fundraiser at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Part of the auction included a signed photograph of Mr Sunak with the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, donated by the prime minister. Speaking at the event he said: “The hearts of the British people are with the brave people of Ukraine as they fight for their freedom. We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

MoD Defence intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine and Russia 29th January 2023


Record number of police officers in Cumbria

The number of police officers in post in Cumbria Constabulary is now 1,344 which is the highest it has ever been. Cumbria's Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner was the first in the country to recruit more officers under the Police Uplift programme, put in place to increase the number of police officers. Numbers of officers are being increased around the country. As announced on Wednesday, 1,420 new police officers have been recruited in the past three months – and 16,753 since 2019 – as part of that Police Uplift Programme, putting the Conservative government well on track to keep the promise of 20,000 more police in the 2019 Conservative manifesto.

The PM's letter to Nadhim Zahawi

Governments should not "Mark their own homework" in respect of ethical decisions. Accordingly it is right that there should be an independent ethics advisor, that issues should be referred to him or her, and that the advice of the independent ethics advisor should be acted on. I think it made sense for the PM to refer the case of former Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi to the ethics advisor and act on his recommendations. This is the text of the letter which the PM sent this morning to Mr Zahawi after doing so.  "The Right Honourable Nadhim Zahawi MP Dear Nadhim, When I became Prime Minister last year, I pledged that the Government I lead would have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level. That is why, following new information which came to light in recent days regarding your personal financial arrangements and declarations, I asked Sir Laurie Magnus, the Independent Adviser on Ministers' Interests, to fully investigate this matter. You agreed and u

Come back Catherine Bennett, all is forgiven.

Earlier this month I gave Observer/Guardian journalist Catherine Bennett the  " Nitwit of the week award   for incompetent and inaccurate left-wing journalism" for a piece on the corrupt former MP John Stonehouse which wrongly suggested that he was a Conservative MP, and which had to be swiftly amended when it was correctly pointed out that he had actually been Labour. Credit where it is due, she has written a piece this weekend which correctly calls out woman-hating misogynists in all parties and specifically including the Labour party. You can read it by clicking on this link: Forget Andrew Tate – what about the host of misogynists in Labour’s ranks? | Catherine Bennett | The Guardian And before anyone accuses Catherine Bennett of being transphobic, or makes the same charge against me for linking to her article, I could not find a word in the article which says anything critical of trans people for being trans people or expresses an opinion for or against proposed Gender Re

Music for Candlemass: When to the temple Mary went (Eccard)

I do love Eccard's anthem about the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple. If you only listen to one piece of music this week, make it this one.

Quote of the day 29th January 2023


The Campaign against Anti-semitism's statement on the attacks in Jerusalem.


Clare Drakeford RIP

Condolences to Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales on the tragic news that his wife Clare has suddenly passed away. Rest in Peace.

MoD Defence intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine at 28 January 2023

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 28 January 2023 More details of UK government action to support Ukraine at: http:// #StandWithUkraine

Campaigning in West Lancashire

I joined one of the two teams out in West Lancashire today campaigning for Mike Prendergast (the tall chap just right of centre in the top picture below) who is Conservative candidate in the by-election on 9th February. I was out in Parbold and getting a friendly reception on the doorstep: here are some pictures of the teams who were out today. (Before anyone accuses me of trying to suggest we had more people out than we did, the top picture is Mike with the Young Conservative contingent, the third one is everyone who met at the Conservative constituency officer in Ormskirk, so yes, some people are in both pictures.) Thanks to all the residents of West Lancashire to took time to talk to us about their concerns and issues: good luck to Mike in the election.

Saying of the day 28th January 2023

"There are many different kinds of intelligence. Wisdom is knowing which of these is the best one to deploy in a particular situation."  (This is a saying rather than a quote as this one comes from me.)

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor

A nice piece of Bach to relax to after campaigning in the West Lancashire by-election: see subsequent post.

A comment for Holocaust Memorial day from UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace


MoD Defence intelligence update summary on 27th January 2023

One of the things which has cheapened the quality of debate on social media (and other places) is the number of people whose first response to any opinion or statement they disagree with is to call the person who made that statement a liar.  I got so fed up with the over-use of that allegation in the comments section of this blog that I banned such comments for a time. Here the MoD gives a master class in how to cast doubt on someone's credibility without resorting to such crude tactics:  

Music for Holocaust memorial day - "Requiem Aeternam" from the Mozart Requiem mass


Light the Darkness

Candle lit at 4pm today to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. We will not forget. #HolocaustMemorialDay, #HMD2023 and #LightTheDarkness.

Boosting productivity and growth

Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is setting out a plan to boost productivity and grow the economy - building on the freedoms which Brexit provides and improving the livelihoods of British people.  The government has steadied the ship and are on our way to reducing inflation. Now we must start to look to the future and grow the economy to create better paid jobs. That is why in a speech today, the Chancellor is setting out plans to boost productivity and grow our economy, and caution against an attitude of declinism about Britain. He will set out how we will focus on key industries such as digital technology and advanced manufacturing and use our Brexit freedoms to energise our plan - including reforms to Solvency II to unlock £100 billion of investment.  Conservatives are committed to delivering on the people’s priorities – halving inflation, growing the economy and creating better paid jobs for people across the country.

Light the Darkness at 4pm today, to remember.

Light The Darkness by placing a lit candle safely in your windows at 4pm.  You and your loved ones are encouraged to join Light The Darkness safely at 4pm on Holocaust memorial day today, Friday 27 January, to remember those who were murdered for who they were and to stand against prejudice and hostility in the world today. Join the conversation on social media by uploading a photo of your candle, using the hashtags #HolocaustMemorialDay, #HMD2023 and #LightThe Darkness.

Quote of the day for Holocaust Memorial Day

"What is abnormal is that I am normal. That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal." ( Elie Wiesel, survivor of the Holocaust)

Supporting Britain's farmers

Today the government set out   detailed plans for the nation's farming sector , supporting farmers to produce food sustainably while protecting nature. Farmers are at the heart of our economy – producing our food and conserving the land it comes from – so we must help to ensure that their practices are both environmentally and financially sustainable. That is why today the government announced that the roll out of the Sustainable Farming Incentive will be accelerated, providing funding for farmers for managing hedges for wildlife, planting nectar-rich wildflowers, and managing crop pests without using harmful insecticides. This will ensure that farmers are financially supported as they protect our environment, while making our food production more sustainable.

Joan Smith asks why the courts and media have such problems with the pronouns for the Clydebank rapist

Joan Smith has an article on Unherd which takes a clear position about the individual who was originally known as Adam Graham, and who while living and and identifying as a man, raped two women. On Wednesday a jury returned guilty verdicts against this individual for both crimes.  Between being charged with these offences and being found guilty, the individual started the process of legally transitioning to female gender and now seeks to be known as Isla Bryson. In my view the vast majority of transgender people deserve support and dignity. But convicted rapists and proven sexual predators, whatever their gender and self-identification, deserve a place in a prison cell - and should be imprisoned where they can neither be victimised themselves nor further victimise others.  We send people to prison as punishment and to protect society, not to but them where they may be harmed by other prisoners, and that applies whatever their gender. Many women prisoners are highly vulnerable individua

Another Luke Skywalker Tribute - this time with the Jennifer Saunders version of "Holding Out for a Hero" from Shrek 2

Following on from yesterday's midweek music spot, I had to add this alternative Luke Skywalker tribute with "Holding out for a hero," but this time the music is the Jennifer Saunders version from Shrek II (and any lingering doubt that the hero figure is Luke Skywalker is removed.)  

Tanks a lot, continued

Yesterday   the Prime Minister spoke to the leaders of the United States, Germany, France and Italy and welcomed the decision by allies to send battle tanks to Ukraine   - standing with our Ukrainian partners as they repel Putin’s illegal invasion.  It is clear that Russia is now on the back foot in Ukraine, providing a window of opportunity for international partners to accelerate efforts to secure lasting peace in Europe. That is why yesterday the Prime Minister spoke to world leaders, welcoming the decision by the United States and Germany to follow our lead in sending battle tanks to Ukraine, and calling on allies to intensify their support in the coming weeks and months. Following Britain's decision to send a squadron's worth of Challenger II Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) to equip the Ukrainian army, with the USA's commitment to send 31 M1 Abrams MBTs, Germany's has now agreed both to send 14, another squadron's worth of their own Leopard II MBTs and give permission

Latest MoD Defence intelligence update summary on the situation in Ukraine at 26th January 2023


Police numbers update

As mentioned yesterday, Now stats show more than   16,700 extra police officers have been hired across England and Wales as part of our 20,000 new police officer commitment , helping to cut crime and keep communities safe.  The Conservatives were elected in 2019 on a promise to the British people to recruit 20,000 extra police officers – cutting crime and making our streets safer.   That is why yesterday we welcomed figures revealing that 1,420 new police officers have been recruited in the past three months – and 16,753 since 2019 – as part of our Police Uplift Programme, and a record number of officers have been recruited from an ethnic minority background. This demonstrates the importance of a Conservative Government – cracking down on crime and making our communities safer.   

National Holocaust Memorial

The Prime Minister has announced plans to introduce legislation to pave the way for a new National Holocaust Memorial, standing next to the Palace of Westminster which contains the Houses of Parliament. The Memorial will honour the memory of the millions so cruelly murdered and preserve the testimonies of brave survivors.

Quote of the day 26th January 2023

  The quote, "There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to leave our children: one of these is roots, the other, wings." usually without the reference to a wise woman, has been variously attributed to Goethe, Henry Ward Beecher, Ronald Reagan and various other people.  The Quote Investigator website suggested that the most credible source for the origin of the saying is the "Wise woman" quoted in Hodding Carter's book, "Where main street meets the river" as cited in the image above.

Police numbers

Figures released today show that police forces around the country have already recruited 16,753 new police officers for England and Wales, making great progress towards the commitment in the Conservative manifesto to deliver 20,000 new officers. 

MoD defence intelligence update summary on the situation in Ukraine at 25th January 2023


Midweek music spot: "I Need a Hero" with "The Rescue," The Mandalorian Season 2 Finale

With the start of "The Mandalorian" Season three getting closer and closer at 1st March 2023, I thought this version of Bonnie Tyler's "I need a hero" showing the rescuers rescued at the conclusion of the finale of Season two might be an appropriate music spot for today.  Note that this clip is a fairly major spoiler if you have not watched the Mando season 2 finale yet and might at some stage want to do so.

Cracking down on crime, protecting women and girls

Today at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), the Prime Minister reaffirmed our commitment to cracking down on crime and tackling violence against women and girls, as we build a safer society for future generations.   The Prime Minister promised to deliver on the people’s priorities and to keep people safe.  That is why we have taken action to crack down on crime and get rid of dangerous criminals – giving police greater powers to bring perpetrators to justice, bringing forward tougher sentences for the most violent criminals, and delivering on our commitment to recruit 20,000 new police officers.  

Decarbonising Britain's roads

Today the government  announced £30 million in future roads funding to decarbonise our roads , using  new technology to cut carbon emissions, improve regional connectivity, and create well paid jobs for the future. The UK is a world leader in technology and innovation and we must use that strength to drive decarbonisation and the next generation of high tech jobs that go alongside it. That is why the government is investing £30 million into seven new regional projects across the UK, from Lancashire to Devon, through the Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads competition, supporting green infrastructure projects tackling the long-term decarbonisation of highways, including streetlights. Through innovation and investment Conservatives are creating good, well paid jobs for the future across the UK – as we accelerate the road to net zero.

Removing barriers to trade

This week   the International Trade Secretary announced we are cutting trade barriers , supporting the Prime Minister’s promise to grow the economy and deliver more jobs, higher pay, and better lives. We are a trading nation at heart and by tradition, so we know that backing British businesses and promoting free trade is the surest way to prosperity that the world has. That is why the government is removing 100 unnecessary trade barriers, growing UK exports every year so we are exporting over a trillion pounds of goods and services a year by 2030, making the UK the top investment destination in Europe, sealing high quality deals with India and CPTPP, and defending free trade to make the world more secure.  Backing British businesses at home and overseas will bring in investment to left-behind communities, delivering more jobs, higher pay, and better lives.

Quote of the day 25th January 2023


Light the Darkness: this Friday is Holocaust Memorial Day

Each year people from across the UK take part in a national moment for Holocaust Memorial Day. At 4pm on 27 January 2023, the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, people across the nation will light candles and put them safely in their windows to: remember those who were murdered for who they were stand against prejudice and hatred today Iconic buildings and landmarks will light up in purple during this powerful national moment of commemoration and solidarity. There will also be a national online commemoration ceremony at 7pm on Thursday 26th January for which you can register here .

Sanctioning Iran

Following the judicial murder of  dual British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari (the accusation of judicial murder represents my words, not those of the government, but they have condemned it in almost equally strong terms) and egregious human rights violations against their own citizens, the UK government y esterday,   announced further coordinated sanctions on key Iranian officials , targeting some of the most senior members of the Iranian regime. The horrific violence the Iranian regime is inflicting on its own people is totally unacceptable and is rightly being met with the unified condemnation of the international community.  That is why the UK has announced further sanctions against key Iranian officials including the Commander in Chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ground Forces, the Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the Basij Resistance Force and their Deputy Commander.  In close cooperation with our international partners Britain is sending a clear messag

MoD Defence intelligence update summary 24th January 2023


Quote of the day 24th January 2023

 "Every age is modern to those who are living in it." ( Justice Benjamin N Cardoso )

"Clear, hold and build" - a strategy to crack down on the gangs

Today the government announced a crackdown against organised criminal gangs, stepping up our action against illegal drugs and violent crime to keep the British people safe. Organised criminal gangs that are perpetrating violent crimes and bringing drugs into the UK are blighting communities across the country and ruining lives. That is why, following a successful trial in West Yorkshire, the government has announced a new strategy to fight organised crime - ‘clear, hold and build’ - for all police forces in England and Wales.  This will see police ruthlessly pursue gang members to clear an area; hold the location so another gang cannot take over; and ultimately build the community into a more prosperous area. This new approach is a key part of our work to deliver on the Prime Minister’s pledge to tackle anti-social behavior as we crack down on violent criminals and bring them to justice, keeping the British people safe.

Monday Parody Song - Weird Al Yankovic's "Ebay" (parody of I want it that way" by the Backstreet Boys)

This video version of Al Yankovic's parody was made with attention to detail worthy of the parody videos which Weird Al himself does. If this doesn't have you rolling on the floor with laughter, you either have never used Ebay or heard the original "I want it that way" song.)

Improving mental health facilities

Today the government announced   £150 million investment in new mental health care facilities , providing compassionate care for those who need it whilst easing pressure on emergency departments.   Too often people suffering with their mental health are forced to use A&E when they should be receiving specialist treatment elsewhere.  That is why we are investing £150 million to build 150 new urgent mental health care facilities across England and Wales, including 100 new mental health ambulances to take staff directly to patients, providing compassionate care in a safe environment for those who need it.  These dedicated facilities will ensure patients can get the help they need whilst freeing up staff availability in emergency departments during these challenging winter months.  Mental health support has all too often been a half-forgotten, second tier service and I am pleased to see the government giving it more attention. 

Latest MoD defence intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine at 23rd January 2023


Quote of the day 23rd January 2023

  "The game of life is not much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well" ( H. T. Leslie . The painting above is "The Game of Life" by Tito Salomoni)

MoD Defence intelligence update summary at 22nd January 2023


Arthur Lamb RIP

I am devastated by the news that my friend and colleague, County Councillor Arthur Lamb died unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep yesterday morning. He was thirty-one years old. (Picture from Whitehaven News from CCC election count 2017) Arthur William Creighton Lamb was Chairman of Copeland Conservatives at the time of the Copeland by-election, in which the Conservatives achieved the first governing party by-election gain on a directly comparable basis since Worcester in 1878. He was still chairman when the Conservatives held the seat in the 2017 general election. That year he was also elected County Councillor for the Cleator Moor East and Frizington division of Cumbria County Council and at the time of his death was Chief Whip of the Conservative group on the county council. He was also Deputy Chairman of Cumbria Conservatives. Arthur was a perfect example of what is meant by the expression "An old head on young shoulders." He was exceptionally shrewd and had a real kn

Sunday music spot: Mozart's Sanctus from Missa Brevis in D Major - KV 194


Quote of the day 22nd January 2023

 ‘ It might never happen, love’ is no basis for law. (Title of an article in The Times by Janice Turner, which can be found at  ‘It might never happen, love’ is no basis for law | Comment | The Times )

MoD Defence intelligence update summary on Ukraine 21st January 2023


Music to start the weekend: Vivaldi Concerto for 2 Mandolines in G major


Saturday music spot: Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor


Building more homes on Brownfield Land

This week the government announced that   councils across England will be able to bid for a share of £60 million from the Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 , delivering homes for families across the country and growing the economy. "Brownfield land" is land which has previously been developed - so it would not include parks and open spaces or prime agricultural land. From the environmental point of view, putting homes on brownfield site often replaces an eyesore with a more attractive development, and it doesn't deprive a town or city of its "green lungs."  On the negative side for a developer such sites can be a little more expensive to develop but there is a plus for the developer too - such sites or often close to jobs and facilities and often have good communication links - so homes built on them can fetch a good price and be easy to sell because they are where people want to live.  It is important that we build homes in the right places. We must prioritise bro

Quote of the day 21st January 2023

"A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world." ( Edmond do Goncourt.   Probably fair comment at the time he wrote this - but as he died in 1896 we can safely say that Mr Goncourt had never attended any of the press conferences given by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.)

MoD Defence intelligence update on Ukraine 20th January 2023

  Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 20 January 2023 Find out more about the UK government's response at http:// #StandWithUkraine