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Showing posts from 2024

Well done England

 Congratulations to the England men's football squad on their one-nil victory over Serbia in the Euros

Happy Father's Day

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Happy Father's day to all dads reading this.

Eid Mubarak

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  Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating at home and around the world

Second Hustings of the Campaign

I took part in the second hustings of the campaign in Leeds North East today, which was organised by the local Hindu community. This was the first time such a hustings has been organised by the Hindu community. It was well attended by local residents. There was a lot of questions to the candidates present all of which were polite, respectful, and friendly. Like the first hustings organised by the Jewish Community, the event was a credit to the organisers and the community. The organisers have prepared an excellent manifesto with issues affecting the Hindu Community, which I endorse, and I will be posting some more about this tomorrow.  So far I have also been invited to events organised by Age Concern, about the railway and light rail network, and I have been invited to and agreed to attend a hustings organised by the Roundhay Environmental Action Project (REAP) I will be attending as many as possible of the events in Leeds North East constituency to which I am invited.

MoD Defence intelligence updates 14 June 2024

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Quote of the day 14th June 2024

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"If you value your pension, vote Conservative. If you value your home, vote Conservative. If you value your future, vote Conservative." ( Penny Mordaunt )

Conservative tax proposals

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MoD Defence intelligence update 12th June 2024

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Helping young people to buy their first home

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Conservative policies in the manifesto

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Extending the £2 cap on bus fares   Protecting female-only spaces Spend 2.5% of GDP on defence by 2030 Cut national insurance, reducing the tax paid by ordinary workers Help people acquire more skills throughout life: more apprenticeships A secure future for you and your family

Quote of the day 12th June 2024

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"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.  Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters." Sir Winston Churchill, speech in the House of Commons, November 1947

Conservative Manifesto Launched

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The Prime Minister has launched the Conservative Party Manifesto – setting out a clear plan backed by bold action to chart a course to a more secure future for you and your family.  Uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action. From securing family finances by announcing a clear plan to cut taxes for working people to increasing Britain’s security in a more uncertain world – the Prime Minister set out a bold manifesto to chart a course to a more secure future. We will support working people and build a stronger economy by: Cutting taxes for working people. We will cut tax for workers by taking another 2p off employee National Insurance so that we will have halved it from 12 per cent at the beginning of this year to 6 per cent by April 2027, a total tax cut of £1,350 for the average worker on £35,000 – and the next step in our long-term ambition to end the double tax on work when financial conditions allow. Cutting taxes for the self-employed. We will cut taxes to support the s

Please note that my email address has changed

At the time I first started this blog I was parliamentary candidate for Copeland, and I set up an email address which included the name of that constituency. I continued to use that email for a number of years, it still seemed relevant as I also served as a member of Copeland Borough Council and on the Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council. However, last year both Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council were abolished and last week the Copeland constituency followed them into history, at least for now. So I have been trying to phase out that email address. I thought I had removed it from all my social media before announcing my candidacy for Leeds North East in the 2024 General election. Unfortunately it can be quite hard to scrub old and no longer accurate information from the internet, due to things like cached pages, and one of the websites which publishes details of candidates managed to dig up my old email and publish it again. I asked them to correct it,

First Hustings of the campaign

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I was delighted to take part in the first hustings of the campaign in Leeds North East yesterday, which was organised by the Leeds Jewish Community. The questions to the candidates present were sometimes quite robust in content but they were always polite, respectful, and friendly. The event was a credit to the organisers and the community. Later this week I will be attending a hustings organised by the Leeds Hindu community, and so far I have also been invited to and agreed to attend hustings organised by the Roundhay Environmental Action Project (REAP)

"Pot, Kettle, Black" comment of the year

This morning, shortly before the launch of the Conservative manifesto, Sir Keir Starmer accused the Conservatives of having a "Corbyn-style manifesto." Let's leave aside for the moment the fact that at that moment he could not have seen or read the manifesto he made this comment about. This remark came from a man who endorsed and stood on two actual Jeremy Corbyn manifestos.  

Recruiting 8,000 more police officers

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At the last election the Conservatives promised to recruit 20,000 more police officers. We have kept that promise. Today, 10th June 2024, we announced a manifesto commitment to recruit a further 8,000 more police officers.  Under the Conservatives, crime has fallen by 54 per cent since 2010 and we have recruited 20,000 new police officers since 2019, but we know we need to do more to improve local policing. That is why we will recruit 8,000 new full-time police officers with full power of arrest as part of a new Neighbourhood Policing Uplift Programme. This new manifesto commitment will mean a new police officer for every ward in England and Wales. People expect to see police officers on the streets where they live. Our 8,000 extra officers will be focused solely on policing their local beat, cutting crime and helping people feel safer in their area. We will do this by: Recruiting 8,000 new fully warranted police officers as part of a new neighbourhood policing uplift programme. We wil

MoD Defence intelligence update 10th June 2024

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Is Britain about to elect the Hoborn & St Pancras answer to Robespierre?

Will Lloyd wrote in The Times today that " Labour are in a punitive mood. " The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, never lets anyone forget that he was once Director of Public Prosecutions, and sometimes acts more as if he still is than he did when he was actually still in the job. Some people - especially in his own party - might wish he had gone after criminals when he was DPP as ruthlessly as he has purged members of his own party who dare to take a different view. I can't help wondering if the present leader of the opposition is the Holborn & St Pancras version of a modern Robespierre. Cross them, and they'll come for you: it might be a more modern and civilised purge than a tumbril to take you to the guillotine, but they'll come for you nonetheless. The journalist Michael Crick has an interesting take on this which you can find on Facebook at Michael Crick on Novaralive at Facebook on why he is horrified at the way Labour has run their selection processes a

Quote of the day 10th June 2024 - "Pour encourager les autres"

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There is an absolutely extraordinary piece in The Times today which appears to argue - I am not making this up - that from Labour's perspective the execution of Admiral John Byng in 1757 was a "useful" thing. What Labour can learn from Admiral Byng (thetimes.com) Voltaire wrote at the time in "Candide" of Byng's execution that shooting Admiral Byng was intended "pour encourager les autres" e.g. to make the other admirals fight harder - and Will Lloyd appears to be arguing that this should be and indeed, apparently is, going to be Labour's approach. "Labour are in a punitive mood" writes Will Lloyd in the article. See next post for further thoughts.

Sunday music spot: the Allegri Miserere

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This morning at St James' church Whitehaven, the organist played a riff of the Allegri Miserere after communion. It's such a wonderful piece that I was moved to post it as today's Sunday music spot. I am posting it because it is an exceptionally beautiful piece of music and for that reason only.

Music to relax after campaigning: Handel's Sarabande

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A great series of campaign sessions today in various parts of Yorkshire. And something to relax to afterwards!

Quote of the day 8th June 2024

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  One of my favourite quotes, and one which I make no apology for re-posting. Particularly appropriate during an election. It is worth bearing in mind that almost any policy that a party may announce will have knock-on consequences, which may be positive or negative, for their ability to deliver other policies. 

Music to start the weekend: "If ye love me" by Thomas Tallis, sung by The King's Singers

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Cutting tax on hardworking families

Today, campaigning around the country, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak   will announce a £1,500 tax cut for 700,000 hardworking families .  Building on the   bold action we have taken to reform the childcare system , we are announcing a clear plan to increase the threshold for families that pay the Child Benefit Tax Charge   from £60,000 to £120,000 . We will also make the system fairer by moving to   a household system , rather than means testing individuals – a move that will directly support single parent households and   close the unfair Child Benefit loophole   that punishes middle income parents. Our   clear plan   will   cut taxes for 700,000 families by an average of £1,500 .  

Quote of the day 7th June 2024

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Rob Burrow RIP

This week supporters, well-wishers and fans gathered at Headingley Stadium to pay tribute to Rob Burrow, who sadly died after struggling with Motor Neurone Disease for a number of years. Rob Burrow played for Leeds Rhinos for 16 glorious years, which saw him win trophy after trophy as part of the team. He retired from the sport in 2017 and two-years-later, in 2019, he announced he had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). After his diagnosis, he spent his life spreading awareness around the disease and raising money to help fund treatments and research into the condition. Along with his close friend Kevin Sinfield, his wife Lindsey and his children, he raised millions. He also inspired millions through his efforts around world and was awarded an MBE and CBE for his work. Sadly, on June 2, he died. He was determined that the next generation of people affected by this disease would get better care. Rest in Peace

Supporting our veterans

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  Today, 6th June 2024, the Conservatives announced plans to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to be a veteran.  We are proud of our record of supporting veterans – but we want to build on our clear plan with bold action to make sure the UK remains the best place in the world to be a veteran.  That is why we have set out a clear new plan for veterans, including a new Veterans’ Bill to enshrine veterans’ rights, a dedicated minister, extending tax breaks for businesses who employ veterans, and cheaper railcards – recognising and rewarding veterans throughout their lifetimes.  We will do this by: Bringing into law the first ever Veterans’ Bill, enshrining veterans’ rights into law for the first time. We will introduce the UK’s first ever Veterans’ Bill to enshrine veterans’ rights into law, such as ensuring military qualifications have an equal standing with civilians’ qualifications in law for the first time, securing the UK’s status as a world leader in support for vete

D Day commemorations, Day two

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In Normandy, and all around the UK, events have been taking place today to commemorate the heroes of D-Day who began the liberation of Europe from a murderous fascist dictatorship eighty years ago today. World leaders, and many of the surviving D-Day veterans were in Normandy. In Egremont this morning, the Friends of Egremont Castle raised the D-Day flag. I was unfortunately unable to be there because I am in Leeds today. But here in Leeds I attended a moving ceremony at Leeds War Memorial where the Lord Lieutenant, Ed Anderson CBE, laid a wreath at the memorial, in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Abigail Marshall Katung, and other civic leaders. (The above lines, which were read at the ceremony today, are of course from "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon)

Quotes of the day for 6th June 2024, the 80th anniversary of D-Day

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  I am also reminded of the words which the commander of Army Group 21, Field Marshall Montgomery, sent on the eve of D-day to all the troops in his Army Group taking part: 21st ARMY GROUP MESSAGE OF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF To be read to all Troops 1. The time has come to deal the enemy a terrific blow in Western Europe. The blow will be struck by the combined sea, land and air forces of the Allies together constituting one great Alled team, under the supreme command of General Eisenhower. 2. On the eve of this great adventure I send my best wishes to every soldier in the Allied team. To us is given the honour of striking a blow for freedom which will live in history; and in the better days that lie ahead men will speak with pride of our doings. We have a great and a righteous cause. Let us pray that ” The Lord Mighty in Battle ” will go forth with our armies, and that His special providence will aid us in the struggle. 3. I want every soldier to know that I have complete confidence in

D-Day commemorations, day one

Today the Prime Minister will attend the D-Day celebration, commemorating 80 years, as we remember the sacrifice of British and allied soldiers who took part in D-Day, marking the beginning of the liberation of Europe.  D-Day stands as a timeless testament to the valour of those who fought and continue to fight for our freedom and today, we pay tribute to the Greatest Generation who gave so much in defence of our freedom.  Only through the sacrifice of these brave men and women was the evil of tyranny defeated in Europe, securing our freedom and the future of our children and grandchildren. We are committed to preserving their memory and remembering their sacrifice.

Second quote of the day 5th June 2024

 Let us put aside our differences in this country and remember what is going on in the rest of the world, and remember the innocent victims of the wars which are going on, particularly the children. President Zelenskyy posted this yesterday. "Russian terrorists have robbed an entire generation of Ukrainian children of a normal life and shattered their trust in adults. Many little Ukrainians will never grow up because they were killed in Russian attacks.  Thousands have been kidnapped, transferred from Ukraine to Russia, and scattered among strangers. Most of them are unable to contact their families. The way Russia treats Ukraine and its people is a deliberate and calculated genocide.    On June 4, we come together to remember the innocent children who have been victims of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Violence against them is the most heinous crime. Russia will never be forgiven."

Quote of the day 5th June 2024

"Take it from someone who has appeared in a few TV debates: if you can only talk about the past, like Keir Starmer did tonight, it’s because you don’t have any plan for the future.  @RishiSunak does." David Cameron on last night's TV debate between Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer

Controlling Immigration

Today,  4th June 2024,  the Conservatives announced a clear plan  to implement a cap on immigration, to  bring immigration down to sustainable levels. We have supported those fleeing the war in Ukraine and China’s actions in Hong Kong which pushed up immigration levels. But we know net migration is still too high.  That is why we have a clear plan to bring net migration down to sustainable levels by implementing a legal cap on immigration, which falls every year of the next Parliament. Under our plan, ministers will decide on a new cap for migration, based on what the British economy needs, this will then be subject to a vote in Parliament – giving MPs direct control of immigration levels for the first time.   Only Rishi Sunak has a clear plan to reduce levels of migration by taking bold action to cut numbers every year, giving families the security that they will always be able to access the public services they deserve.    We will do this by: Implementing a legal cap on migration, en

Quote of the day 4th June 2024

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From tonight's debate

Chris Whiteside selected for Leeds North East

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I am honoured to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for Leeds North East in this general election. I look forward to engaging with the voters of Leeds North East about the important issues facing this great city.

MoD Defence intelligence update 4th June 2024

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Protecting Women

The debates about the rights of women and girls and the need to protect them, and similarly about about the need to protect Trans people, have become intertwined in the most toxic way. It has somehow become  difficult to make a statement about the needs and rights of women without one group of people calling you a transphobe, or about the needs and rights of trans people without another group suggesting you want to abolish all protection for women. We need to find language, and reinforce the law, to respect women and protect rights for which women have been fighting for centuries, without disrespecting or harming trans people, and vice versa. And it is apparently that the law needs to be clarified. Today the Conservatives are    are  announcing a clear plan to amend the Equality Act to make clear that the protected characteristic of sex is biological sex , enhancing protections and maintaining single-sex spaces for women and girls’  dignity ,  privacy   and  safety .  The Labour Party

MoD Defence Intelligence Update 2nd June 2024

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Expending Community Care - Pharmacy First

This morning the Prime Minister set out   a new plan  to boost and expand community healthcare. A Conservative government will deliver 250 new or modernised GP surgeries, 2.5 million more checks and more care services in pharmacies, bringing treatment closer to home as part of our clear plan to secure a modern NHS for the future and help patients get the care they need.  The Conservative government has been delivering a clear plan to secure the future of the NHS, including by  cutting waiting lists which have fallen by around 200,000 over the past six months and  delivering the first ever Long-Term Workforce Plan.  But we must continue to take bold action by investing in more out-of-hospital care so that people don’t need to go to hospital in the first place. So we are boosting out-of-hospital care by delivering ten million extra consultations through Pharmacy First by expanding which conditions pharmacists can treat, building and modernising 250 GP surgeries focused on areas of high h

Quote of the day 2nd June 2024

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My friend Iain Dale posted this quote from Theodore Roosevelt on Twitter yesterday.  

Saturday music spot: Elton John's I'm Still Standing

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Quote of the day - Lyrics to "The Glorious First of June"

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These are the lyrics to the 18th century song "The Glorious First of June" commemorating a naval battle on 1st June 1794  which both the British and French claim as a victory. And here's the unusual thing - they were both right, because both sides succeeded in the objects for which they fought. The Royal Navy's primary objective was to confirm their naval superiority in the Western Approaches and enhance Britain's security by damaging the French fleet, and the Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Howe (left of centre in the painting below) achieved exactly that, inflicting a severe tactical defeat on the French Atlantic fleet. In fierce fighting the British captured seven French ships of the line, one of which later sank, without losing any. However, the French navy's objective had been to ensure that a grain convoy got through to France where people were starving due to a poor harvest, and they achieved it. Howe went for the French fleet, which was the main threa

Music to start the weekend: "Music for a while" by Henry Purcell (The King's Singers & Jakub Józef Orliński)

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Quote of the day 31st May 2024

“If Keir Starmer can’t deal with Dianne Abbott, how on earth is he going to deal with Vladimir Putin?” (Chancellor Jeremy Hunt )

Remembering D-Day

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Next week is the 80th anniversary of the D-Day assault, Operation Overlord, which began the liberation of Europe. There will be a series of national events and also local events all over the country.   More details of events which the royal family are taking part in can be found on the internet at The 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings | The Royal Family I will be posting details of local events in Leeds and Egremont in the coming days.

The Conservative pledge on Tax

This morning,    writing in The Daily Telegraph , the Chancellor confirmed under the Conservatives,  we will not increase the rates of income tax, National Insurance, or VAT, and we will focus on cutting the unfair double tax on work.  We are the only party with clear plan to cut taxes for working people, by taking bold action to secure your family finances.  The Conservatives will take bold action to cut taxes. We will cut National Insurance until it is gone whenever it is economically responsible to do so, making work pay, and our Triple Lock Plus will keep the State Pension free from income tax, supporting those who rely on it in retirement. Labour cannot say the same. There are big choices facing the country at this election, not least on the economy. After the turbulent years of Covid and the energy crisis caused by Putin, Rishi Sunak has restored stability to the economy, meaning we have been able to cut taxes. When it’s affordable, we will continue to cut this double tax on work

Music to relax after campaigning: Vivaldi's Cello Concerto in D Minor RV 407

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Quote of the day 30th May 2024

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MoD Defence intelligence update 29th May 2024

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Delivering 100,000 more apprenticeships

On 29 May 2024, the Conservatives announced we will deliver 100,000 more apprenticeships by the end of the next parliament and we will pay for this by cutting low-value degrees which make people poorer.   We want young people to secure the best opportunities with a good well-paid job which means we need to crack down on university degrees which make people poorer at the expense of the taxpayer. That is why we have set out a clear plan to deliver 100,000 more apprenticeships per year by the end of the next parliament, funded by changing the law to close the poorest performing university courses. This will make sure we continue with the rollout of our successful apprenticeship program which since 2010 has seen over 5.8 million people get the skills and opportunities they deserve.  This bold action will ensure young people have the skills they need to get good, secure jobs. Labour would halve the number of apprenticeships and take young people back to square one. We are doing this by : De

Music to relax after campaigning: Torelli's Trumpet Concerto in D Major, complete

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Quote of the day 29th May 2024

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How not to conduct a political campaign

The Labour candidate for Stroud is in hot water this morning, after posting a video on X, formerly Twitter, in which a woman called Milly described herself as having been a 'centrist Conservative all my life' but said she was now voting for Labour and for him. There is one slight problem. The Guido Fawkes website swiftly pointed out that "Milly" is in fact Labour councillor Milly Hill, who represents the Cam East ward on Stroud District council. You can find Guido's article at Labour's "Hero Conservative" is Labour Councillor – Guido Fawkes (order-order.com) and more details on the Daily Mail site at   'Lifelong Tory voter' now backing Starmer exposed as Labour councillor (msn.com) When challenged about this, Councillor Hill admitted she last voted Conservative when David Cameron was leader - so at least three elections ago - and voted for Jeremy Corbyn in 2019. Sadly, there are people in all parties who play this kind of trick but this is a

Campaign Notes 29th May 2024

 Uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action to chart a course to a secure future. Today the Prime Minister will continue campaigning in the South West of England, setting out a clear plan to deliver 100,000 more high skilled apprenticeships a year – taking bold action to secure opportunities for our young people alongside our National Service plan.  Improving education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet to secure a better future for young people, which is why we have massively driven up standards since Labour left office and delivered 5.8 million apprenticeships.  The Conservatives will go further by scrapping "rip off" degrees that are not giving young people the skills they need and for which taxpayers are footing the bill, and instead will fund 100,000 new apprenticeships a year.  We are taking bold action and setting out a clear plan to secure young people’s futures.

Tuesday music spot: Bach's Prelude and Fugue D major BWV 532

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Tackling tax evasion and avoidance

Tackling tax avoidance and evasion A Conservative government will raise at least £6 billion a year by the end of the Parliament by cracking down on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion, improving tax compliance and closing the tax gap. Sticking to the plan:  In the last year, inflation has fallen from 11.1 per cent to 2.3 per cent, the economy is growing and we are cutting taxes for 29 million working people. If we want to continue with our clear plan and bold action to cut taxes, it is vital that people and businesses pay the taxes they owe. Under the last Labour government, the tax gap (the difference between taxes owed and taxes actually collected) was far too high. Since 2010, we have introduced 200 measures to tackle the tax gap which has already achieved significant progress, and we are taking further bold action to raise at least £6 billion a year more by the end of the next Parliament from continuing to crack down on tax avoidance and evasion. Only Rishi Sunak and the Conservat

Quote of the day 28th May 2024

A thread on X, formerly Twitter, from Conservative Home's Paul Goodman (who was MP for Wycombe 2001-2020)  MP retirements. A thread.  1) It’s claimed that Conservative MPs are quitting the Commons rather than lose their seats on July 4.  In some cases, this is true.  But it’s not the whole truth. Or even the most important part of it.  After all … 2) …At least 27 Labour MPs are also quitting. Five of these retirements were announced yesterday -  @KevinBrennanMP @KeeleyMP @spellar @ViendraSharma and @JohnCryerMP …. 3) … Which must be borne in mind.  27 is small scale compared to the 80 or so on the Conservative side.  And, certainly, there have been recent big-scale turnover before what are widely seem as fin de siecle elections.  Consider the figures ... 4) 117 MPs stood down in 2020 and 149 in 2010 (boosted in the latter case by “expenses”).  Otherwise, the highest recent total was 2015, in which 90 MPs quit.  (2017 and 2019 were snap elections, at which there tend to be fewer re

A new, enhanced Triple Lock

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Today the Prime Minister announced a new, enhanced Triple Lock Plus plan to protect pensioners - particularly the poorest pensioners who depend on the Basic State Pension. The new Triple Lock Plus will cut income tax for pensioners from next year and make sure the state pension is always below their tax free threshold. This will ensure dignity and financial security in retirement.  We have cut tax for working people by reducing National Insurance from 12 per cent to 8 per cent. Now we will cut tax for pensioners too. That is why, from next April we will increase the personal allowance for pensioners in line with the Triple Lock by introducing a new age-related allowance – a tax cut of around £100 for 8 million pensioners. And we will guarantee in legislation that the pensioners’ personal allowance will rise in line with the highest of earnings, prices or 2.5 per cent so that it is higher than the State Pension in each year of the next Parliament: the new Triple Lock Plus. We are doing