Posts

Showing posts from 2024

Quote of the day 15th April 2024

President Zelesnkyy's take on the Iranian attack on Israel: "Ukraine condemns Iran’s attack on Israel using “Shahed” drones and missiles. We in Ukraine know very well the horror of similar attacks by Russia, which uses the same “Shahed” drones and Russian missiles, the same tactics of mass air strikes. Every effort must be made to prevent a further escalation in the Middle East. Iran's actions threaten the entire region and the world, just as Russia's actions threaten a larger conflict, and the obvious collaboration between the two regimes in spreading terror must face a resolute and united response from the world.  The sound of "Shahed" drones, a tool of terror, is the same in the skies over the Middle East and Europe. This sound must serve as a wake-up call to the free world, demonstrating that only our unity and resoluteness can save lives and prevent the spread of terror worldwide. The world cannot wait for discussions to go on. Words do not stop drones a

Further statement by Grant Shapps on the Iranian attack on Israel

Image
"Last night the UK intercepted and destroyed multiple one-way attack drones - launched by Iran and its proxies - that posed a threat to civilian lives in the Middle East.  Additional Royal Air Force  aircraft were deployed this weekend to bolster our presence. I thank our armed forces personnel for responding so quickly and effectively to such a serious threat. Their professionalism is second to none. All aircraft returned safely to base."

Grant Shapps on Iran's attack on Israel

Image
 

Quote of the day 14th April 2024

"I have a horrible feeling that very soon the lessons all states are going to learn from this world wide crisis is that if you have nuclear weapons, you are protected. If you don’t, you are made to suffer. And that means nuclear weapons will be developed wherever possible." ( Phillips O'Brien today on X, formerly Twitter,  here ).

Sunday music spot: "If ye love me" by Thomas Tallis

Image

MoD defence intelligence bulletin 13th April 2024

Image
 

Operation Prosper - supporting our veterans

The government has   announced Operation Prosper that will provide funding to support veterans into high-skilled jobs , championing the brave men and women who have risked their lives to protect our country and sticking to the plan to ensure a brighter future for all.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our veterans and they deserve our full support to continue contributing their incredible skills to the prosperity of our country. Whilst veterans' employment is at an all-time high at 89 per cent, there is more we can do.  That is why the government is  launching a dedicated employment support service, backed by £2.1 million, where they can hone the skills they developed in the military in key sectors like cyber and energy, guiding them into high-skilled high-paid jobs and helping to grow the economy.  The Conservatives are committed to making the UK the best place in the world to be both a veteran and a citizen, as we stick to our plan to grow the economy to ensure a brighter futur

Music to relax after campaigning: Gioachino Rossini, Overture from "The Barber of Seville"

Image
Out this morning in various parts of the former South Copeland area campaigning for Mike Johnson, the Conservative candidate to be Cumbria's next Police, Fire & Crime commissioner.  Mike himself was in Millom, I was out on his behalf in Ravenglass and Gosforth.)  A glorious piece of music by Rossini to relax to afterwards.

Music to start the weekend: Steeleye Span "All Around My Hat"

Image

UK economy returns to growth

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that the UK economy is returning to growth and has has grown for the second month in a row, as we work to deliver on our priority to grow the economy. These are of course provisional figure and may be revised - but UK economic statistics are at the same time some of the most accurate and most cautious (e.g. pessimistic) in the world, and they tend to be revised upwards . These figures are a welcome sign that the economy is turning a corner, and we can build on this progress if we stick to our plan. Last week our cuts to National Insurance for 29 million working people came into effect across Britain, as part of our plan to reward work and grow the economy.

NHS Waiting lists down

Image
After a very difficult period, there are signs that thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, waiting lists are starting to turn the corner. Overall NHS waiting lists have decreased by almost 200,000 since September. This is the biggest 5-month fall in over 10 years outside the pandemic Made possible by the hard work of NHS staff, who are helping us make access to care faster, simpler and fairer for patients.

Quote of the day 11th April 2024

“It is the greatest scandal that I have ever seen in the criminal justice process. “We’ve had many miscarriages of justice but nowhere as many as these we need to re-evaluate how we approach criminal cases of this kind.  “Something went very very wrong.” Sir Anthony Hooper , the retired High Court judge who had been brought in by the Post office  as chairman of a working group, which reviewed cases of sub-postmasters who believed they had been wrongfully blamed for shortfalls, giving evidence this week to the Inquiry into the Horizon scandal. He added that he had repeatedly told the then head of the Post Office, Paula Vennels, that he was concerned that there had been miscarriages of Justice and the Post Office case didn't add up. Addressing the inquiry, he said: “As I say in my witness statement, I tried to make it clear to Paula Vennells and to the chair [of the board] that the Post Office’s case didn’t make sense and I felt that throughout and no doubt Second Sight [forensic a

MoD Defence intelligence update 10th April 2024

Image
 

Monday evening music spot: "Gute Nacht" from JS Bach's motet "Jesu meine freude," BWV. 227

Image

MoD Defence intelligence update 8th April 2024

Image
 

Quote of the day 8th April 2024

Britain and France signed the "Entente Cordiale" a hundred and twenty years ago today. Before that Britain and France had often been opposed in the past, but for the last 120 years we have been friends. Long may this continue. To mark this anniversary, Britiah and French soldiers took part in ceremonies in each others' capitals. British soldiers have taken part in the traditional ‘changing of the guard ceremony' in front of the Elysée Palace in Paris for the first time, to celebrate 120 years of the Entente Cordiale between France and the UK. While in France today, 16 members of the UK Embassy's Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards - wearing their traditional ‘bearskin’ headdresses with black fur - took part in the ceremony, ‘replacing’ their French counterparts from two sections of the French 1st Infantry Regiment. The French Army Choir then sang the two national anthems, God Save the King and La Marseillaise, all in the presence of President Emmanuel Macron and th

State pension increased today under the Triple Lock

Image
Today, the basic state pension will increase by £900 as part of the Triple Lock guarantee. The Conservatives will always back British pensioners.

A Sunday reflection

Today is sometimes nicknamed "Low Sunday" which is the Sunday after Easter, where the attendance at church is usually contrasted with the peak attendance the previous week. To be honest, this morning it didn't feel like that. There were not quite as many people at St James' Church Whitehaven this morning as there had been on Easter Sunday - which had been the best attendance I remember seeing since the start of the pandemic but it was still a respectable turnout by the standards of the last few years - higher, I would say, than the post-pandemic average. Christianity is embedded deeply into the culture and society of Britain, to such an extent that Britain's leading atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins described himself recently as a "cultural Christian." Needless to say he took quite a bit of flak over those comments but I'm not going to add to it - it is perfectly possible to be influenced by a religion and find some of its' values and cultural p

Sunday music spot: "If ye love me" by Thomas Tallis, sung by The King's Singers

Image

MoD Defence intelligence bulletin 7th April 2024

Image
 

Action to help people in Gaza

Image
News from the Foreign Office today A Royal Navy ship will help get life-saving UK aid into Gaza as part of an international effort to set up a humanitarian maritime corridor in early May. Britain is also pledging £9.7 million for aid, equipment and expertise to help set up the maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza.

Quote of the day 7th April 2024 - PM's statement on the six month anniversary of the October 7th terrorist atrocities

Image
 

MoD Defence intelligence update 6th April 2024

Image
  I am reminded of a cartoon issued during the Falklands war, after Argentine soldiers on the Falklands accidentally shot down a fighter jet from their own air force.  The caption, which seems equally appropriate to this story of the Russians shooting down one of their own planes, was something like, "Nice shooting comrade - now try hitting one of theirs!"

Music to relax after campaigning: "Hark, all ye lovely saints above" (Thomas Weelkes)

Image
Out this morning campaigning with Andrew Johnson, Conservative candidate for Whitehaven and Workington, in support of Andrew's campaign and that of Mike Johnson, currently Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria and standing to be the PCFC in May's local elections. It was very windy with the afterblow from Storm Kathleen, but we got the job done.  And here is a cheerful madrigal to which to relax after campaigning ...

Consultants strike ends: Health Secretary's statement

Image
 

MoD Defence intelligence update 5th April 2024

Image
  Also: The UK Government continues to support Ukraine with the delivery of lifesaving medical equipment.  £2 million worth of surplus medical equipment, including ventilators, pumps and monitors has been donated to support vital medical care needs.

Music to start the weekend: "Hooked On Bach"

Image

MoD Defence intelligence bulletin 4th April 2024

Image
 

Quote of the day 4th April 2024

Image
  "In 1949, in the hope of avoiding another devastating war, the UK joined together with a handful of allies to sign the North Atlantic Treaty and pledge that we would always come to one another’s defence. 75 years later, NATO has become the most successful alliance the world has ever known – and it continues to grow in size and strength. The 12 founding members have now been joined by 20 others, including Finland and Sweden, bringing together 3.5 million uniformed personnel in our collective defence. The UK has been at the heart of NATO since the start. Today, faced with new threats in Europe, we continue to lead – through our incredible Armed Forces, our growing investment in defence, and our utter determination to stand by Ukraine – which has strengthened allied unity like never before. I say it once again: Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO.  This anniversary is the moment to renew our historic pledge to this Alliance and to say that no matter who tests us, we will not waiver

Midweek Music Spot: J.S. Bach: "Gute Nacht" (Good Night) from the motet "Jesu, meine Freunde"

Image

Midweek music spot: JS Bach's "The Great" fugue in G Minor BWV 542

Image
The music theorist and educator Ebenzer Prout wrote various unofficial lyrics to several Bach fugues. In response other people wrote a number of equally unofficial lyrics taking the mickey out of Ebenezer Prout for doing this. Having heard of one of these, I can never hear Bach's "The great" fugue click on the above to hear it without the lyrics of one of these repeating in my head: "O Ebenezer Prout, you are a clever man, for you make Bach fugues as easy as you can." 

MoD Defence intelligence update 2nd April 2024

Image
 

MoD Defence intelligence estimate

Image
 

Stonehenge adjustment carried out successfully

Image
As part of the process of moving to British Summer Time yesterday, the stones at Stonehenge were all moved around by fifteen degrees. The process was slightly more expensive than usual as it required staff to work on some of the Bank Holidays over the Easter weekend. The Chief Executive of English Heritage, Dr Nick Merriman commented, "It is important that we remember and celebrate the contribution of the anonymous individuals who built Stonehenge thousands of years ago, and take care not to damage the stones as we go through the modern ritual of moving them fifteen degrees twice a year as the time band changes."  In the image below, one of the English Heritage staff involved is pictured on Saturday, preparing one of the stones to be moved. They will be returned to their original position when the country reverts to GMT in six month's time.

MoD Defence intelligence update 31st March 2024

Image
 

An Easter Prayer

Image
Here is a picture of the candle I lit this morning after the Easter Sunday service at St James' church, alongside those lit by others. I prayed for peace and happiness for Christians celebrating Easter here and around the world. I particularly prayed for a just and lasting peace to bring and end to the wars and conflict in the world, particularly in Ukraine and in the Middle East.

Easter Sunday music spot: The 'Hallelujah Chorus' from Handel's Messiah

Image

Quote of the day for Easter Sunday 2024: Rishi Sunak's Easter Message

Image
"As families come together this Easter, I want to pay tribute to the amazing work churches and Christian communities do in parishes across the country.  Your values of compassion, service and family are at the heart of our national life.   I wish everyone a very Happy Easter." Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Easter message 2024 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Happy Easter!

Image
  "Alleluia, Christ is risen!  Throughout the world, these words will resonate in many languages, from churches to homes to makeshift shelters and refugee camps.  ‘Christ is risen’ proclaims that whatever the circumstances of our world today, God is ever transforming it, reshaping it, and that the shape of things to come will be infinitely more glorious than anything we know right now.  On this Easter Day, we are filled with joy at what God brings, yet we remember all those for whom joy is hard won, and overshadowed by the realities of war, conflict and death.  We remember that to proclaim the Christ who died and rose again is to proclaim a radically different reality that challenges all the powers of this world, and all the forces that work for death instead of life.  And so today, in solidarity with all for whom this day is difficult, we proclaim:  Christ is risen!  “ ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while h

Quote of the day 30th March 2024

"Know it’s annoying to some people on here. But Labour politicians like Angela Rayner are going to get scrutinised just the same as the Tories. Sorry." (Journalist and former Labour and Union staffer Dan Hodges today on X, formerly Twitter)

MoD Defence intelligence update 30th march 2024

Image
 

Holy Saturday music spot: Bach's St. Matthew Passion, "Have mercy, Lord, on me"

Image

Andrew Neill on the implications for Free Speech of Scotland's Hate Crime act

Image
I have always supported free speech within the law, and believed that the law should allow the maximum practical degree of free speech.  I was against the "No platform" policy when I was at University - attempts by the left to suppress free speech on campus are not new - and indeed worked with the then MP for Manchester Wythenshawe, Fred Sylvester, who proposed a bill to protect free speech in Universities and institutions of Higher and Further education not dissimilar to the rules the present government is putting in place. I supported the successful " Feel Free to insult me " campaign to remove from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, words which made it illegal to insult anybody. I'm not an absolutist on this - words have consequences, so it is right that we have laws concerning libel and slander, and it that incitement to commit crimes, particularly acts of violence or hatred, are and should be illegal. And obviously, although I will often allow comments

Good Friday music spot: "Come ye daughters, share my mourning" from Bach's St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244

Image

MoD Defence intelligence update 29th March 2024

Image
 

DC calls again for the release of all Hamas hostages

Image
David Cameron, UK Foreign Secretary, has written as follows: "Hostages brutally taken by Hamas on October 7 have been in captivity for over 170 days. We’re talking to our regional partners to keep the pressure on and keep the profile of hostages high.  We want to see the safe release of all hostages unconditionally."

Reminder: Clocks go forward on Sunday!

Image
 

The Prime Minister's Good Friday message

Image
"A very blessed Good Friday to Christians here in the UK and around the world."    Rishi Sunak, UK Prime Minister. He later added: "On this Good Friday, as we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, let us reflect on the values of compassion, charity and selflessness he embodied.  These values are at the heart of British values, inspiring us to build a society based on respect, tolerance and dignity for all."

Quote of the day for Good Friday, 29th March 2024

Image
 From the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Rev Justin Welby, this morning: "Good Friday feels like the opposite of good. Good Friday invites us into a place of utter desolation. It reminds us of everything that is not good in the world: gross injustice, abuses of power, scapegoating of the vulnerable and those who are different, betrayal, abandonment, and the horrendous violence that human beings always seem willing to inflict upon one another.  All that is ugly, shameful and sinful about humanity is brought into focus on Good Friday, as Jesus is nailed upon a cross.  And yet, it is Good. Not because of what takes place, but because within the worst of circumstances, Jesus demonstrates what it is to inhabit the broken world with profound and ultimate goodness. Jesus demonstrates the cost of goodness in the world – and does not shrink from it, despite the tears and fears of Gethsemane.  “From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clo

MoD Defence intelligence update 28th March 2024

Image
 

Maundy Thursday music spot: Go to dark Gethsemane (J. S. Bach)

Image

UK support to civilians in Gaza

Image
 A MoD statement today said: On Monday, the Royal Air Force airdropped over 10 tonnes of life-saving food supplies to Gaza, including water, rice and baby formula.  In recent weeks, the UK has delivered enough food to feed 275,000 people and a full field hospital by land. For more details click on this link .

MoD defence intelligence update 27th March 2024

Image
 

BAE Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, providing subs for the Navy to defend our country

Image
 

Quote of the day 27th March 2024

"The UK 🇬🇧 has done the right thing by extending our tariff-free, quota-free imports from Ukraine 🇺🇦 for most goods for another 5 years. The UK calls on Europe to follow suit to defend freedom & democracy against the invasion of sovereign Ukraine by dictatorial Putin." Rt Hon Grant Shapps , UK Defence secretary

MoD Defence intelligence update 26th March 2024

Image
 

MoD Defence intelligence update 25th March 2024

Image
 

MoD Defence intelligence update 24th March 2024

Image
 

Sunday music spot: Thomas Tallis, "Salvator Mundi"

Image

MoD Defence intelligence update 23rd March 2024

Image
 

Music to move house to after campaigning - J.S.Bach's Triple concerto in A minor BWV 1044

Image
Sadly I could not relax when I returned from helping Andrew Johnson and Mike Johnson today as we are in the middle of a house move this weekend - hence "music to move house to" rather than "music to relax." I shall be glad when it's over - though I shall be very busy supporting excellent candidates like Andrew, Mike and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of North Yorkshire, Keane Duncan, for the next few weeks.

Campaign report

Image
Joined a great team out today in Seascale to support Andrew Johnson  for MP for Whitehaven and Workington and Mike Johnson to succeed Peter McCall as Cumbria's Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner

Quote of the day 23rd March 2024

"The UK condemns in the strongest terms the deadly terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall near Moscow. We offer our heartfelt condolences and express our deepest sympathy to the families of the many victims. Nothing can ever justify such horrific violence." ( David Cameron , UK Foreign Secretary) I agree with Lord Cameron. Whatever our problems with Vladimir Putin, the ordinary Russian people are not our enemy, and going into a concert and gunning down innocent people is no way to respond to any of the crimes that Putin has committed.

Wishing the King and the Princess of Wales successful treatment and a full recovery

Following on from the statement from the palace, I am sure everyone in the country will join the Prime Minister (see quote of the day earlier this evening) in wishing Catherine, Princess of Wales and His Majesty the kind successful treatment for their respective cancer conditions and a full and complete recovery.

Quote of the day 22nd March 2023

Image
 

Music to start the weekend: Steeleye Span, "All Around My Hat"

Image

More Zero Emission Buses

The government has announced  the rollout of almost a thousand new zero emission buses, backed by £143 million ,  to ensure people across the country have access to good transport links and can get around quicker and more easily.  Millions of bus passengers will enjoy cleaner, more reliable and more comfortable journeys as we invest £143 million to roll out 955 zero emission buses across 25 councils in England. This investment is another step in our plan to ensure everyone across the country has access to good transport links and that is why we are prioritising rural areas in this rollout.  We have already invested £3.5 billion into our bus network since 2020 as well as extending the £2 bus fare cap until the end of 2024, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.

A special music spot for everyone in the middle of a house move: Rolling Stones, "19th Nervous Breakdown"

Image

Giving every baby the best start in life

Today the government is launching  a new government campaign committed to giving every baby the best start in life , by helping parents to build secure bonds with their baby’s, creating a brighter future for families.  The first two years of a baby’s life are key for their future development, but it is often difficult for parents to understand how their babies communicate.  That is why we are launching the Start for Life " If They Could Tell You" campaign so that parents can improve their baby’s mental health by better understanding and responding to their needs.  As part of our plan, we are launching new guidance for frontline practitioners and providing additional support to parents on the Start for Life website.  We are delivering on our plan to support parents and to give children the best start in life, creating a brighter future for you and your family.

MoD Defence intelligence update 21st March 2024

Image
 

Quote of the day 21st March 2024

 "It's not the government's money, it's your money." (Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on X, formerly Twitter this morning, here )

Inflation falls further

New figures out today show inflation has fallen to 3.4 per cent - its lowest level in two and a half years, down from 11.1 per cent since 2022 – below the average rate of wage increases, effectively putting more money in many people’s pocke ts. It remains a priority to get inflation down to the 2% target to protect living standards for all, especially those on low and fixed incomes. Global factors including COVID and the war in Ukraine hiked up inflation, putting huge pressure on household finances. That is why we made it our priority to halve inflation. Because we stuck to our plan, inflation is now at its lowest rate in two and a half years at 3.4 per cent – a decisive fall down from 4.0 per cent last month and from its peak of 11.1 per cent. It is forecast to hit the 2 per cent target within months. Our plan is working and this sets the scene for better economic conditions which could allow further progress to boost growth and bring down National Insurance as we work towards abolish

MoD Defence intelligence bulletin 20th March 2024

Image
 

Midweek music spot: J.S. Bach's "The Wedge" Fugue in E minor BWV 548

Image

MoD intelligence and support for Ukraine updates 19th March 2024

Image
 

Monday music spot: The Windmills of Your Mind - Noel Harrison

Image

Sunday music spot: First movement of the Vivaldi Gloria

Image

Saying of the day - Happy St Patrick's Day

Image
 

MoD defence intelligence update 16th March 2024

Image
 

Saturday music spot: Henry Purcell's Rondeau from Abdelazer (Z570)

Image

MoD Defence intelligence update 15h March 2024

Image
 

Music to start the weekend: Vivaldi's Concerto for 4 violins in B minor

Image

Thursday music spot: "My Heart is Inditing" by Handel, HWV 261

Image

MoD Defence intelligence update 14th March 2024

Image