Showing posts from February, 2024

Leap year day music spot for February 29th 2024 the Paradox song from "Pirates of Penzance"


MoD Defence intelligence update 29th February 2024


Protecting Britain's Jewish Citizens

Last night   Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a speech at the Community Security Trust , to sh ow that we will do whatever it requires to keep our Jewish community safe and protect our democracy and our values that we all hold dear. The Hamas attack of October 7 was the most abhorrent act of terrorism against Israel that any of us have ever known. It’s been followed by record levels of antisemitism in this country that are utterly sickening.  That is why the government has set out a plan to strengthen the security of the Jewish community. In October an additional £3 million was announced for CST taking the government's total support to £18 million for this financial year. And the government is committing a minimum of £18 million every year for the next four years.  That is why the PM also summoned police leaders to Downing Street yesterday to discuss concerns about the campaign of intimidation mounted by protesters after the Hamas terror attacks on Israel on October 7.  We will neve


Harry Cole on X, formerly twitter, this morning. I make no comment about the tax affairs of the Deputy Leader of the Labour party, but this is not good media management and does not encourage confidence ... :

Polls are now open in the Rochdale by-election

Polls are now open in the Rochdale by-election. They will remain open until 10pm today (29th February 2024) If you are a resident of Rochdale YOU WILL NEED ID TO VOTE. Details of the approved forms of ID and other details of polling stations can be found on the Rochdale Borough Council website at Polling stations | Rochdale Borough Council If you have a postal vote and have not yet returned it you can still vote by completing your postal vote and handing it in at any polling station There is no official Labour candidate in the election because the candidate who Labour originally nominated, was - eventually - dropped by the party after making comments supporting an absurd Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. The candidate admitted that his comments had been  "deeply offensive, ignorant and false." The comments came to light too late for him to be removed from the ballot so he is still standing. The Conservative candidate in the election is Paul Ellison. Good luck today Paul: if peo

Quote of the day, Thursday 29th February 2024

James Tapper's article in the Guardian - that's right, the Guardian - on Sunday about today's by-election in Rochdale ended with the following quote. Between showers a queue has formed outside one of Rochdale’s soup kitchens, in Drake Street, and Muhammad Aziz has a shopping trolley of food collected from local businesses and families to give away, offering bread, muffins and cakes to people.   “I do this every day,” he said. “Rochdale has a lot of deprivation and a lot of poverty. We’re trying to make Rochdale better again, help people back on their feet.”   And how will he vote?  “I’m a Conservative,” he says. “The Tories are the people who can bring the money from London.”

MoD Defence intelligence update 28th February 2024


Midweek music spot: chosen to reflect the weather in West Cumbria this evening


Action to keep world shipping lanes open

On Saturday, US and British forces conducted an additional round of proportionate and necessary strikes in self-defence , alongside our allies, to defend lives and protect global shipping, in the face of dangerous and destabilising Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. The Houthis’ have now conducted several dangerous attacks against commercial shipping and coalition naval forces since mid-November, as well as a direct attack against British warships in the Red Sea. That is why on Saturday, alongside the US and other international partners, we conducted a fourth round of proportionate and necessary strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen. The threats to shipping must cease and we remain prepared to back our words with actions.

Quote of the day 28th February 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 27th February 2024

The Russians have lost another "eye in the sky" plane. These are exceptionally expensive and valuable assets. Today's MoD intelligence update refers to the chance that the Russians "inadvertently shot down their own aircraft while attempting to protect it." I am reminded of a line from a cartoon about the Falklands when the Argentines apparently did the same thing: in context it would be "Nice shooting Comrade, now try hitting one of theirs."  

More funding for early support hubs

The government is announcing extra funding for Early Support Hubs , helping children and young people receive better mental health support as we stick to the long-term plan to make our healthcare system faster, simpler and fairer to ensure a brighter future for all. Every child and young person should have somewhere to go if they are struggling with worry, anxiety or stress, and early intervention is paramount to prevent more severe problems from developing.  That is why the government is investing a further £3 million to expand the number of Early Support Hubs to improve access for children and young people to vital mental health support and offer early interventions to boost wellbeing before their condition escalates. This comes on top of an additional £2.3 billion of funding a year to transform and expand mental health services in England, as we stick to the long-term plan to invest in children and young people’s mental health to build them a brighter future.

Action on migration

Today the Home Secretary will call on the global community to take collective action on migration , as the Conservatives stick to our plan to stop the boats, break the criminal gangs and build a fairer immigration system. We have made good progress on our priority to stop the boats, with the number of illegal migrants arriving in the UK down by 36 per cent last year compared to 2022. We are sticking to the plan with new legislation to deliver our Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda but there is more to do to tackle these global migration issues. That is why the Home Secretary will set out our ambition to address mass migration, including a global response to address the root causes of migration and recognise the impact that it has on the countries that people leave, as we stick to the plan.

Watch out for roadworks on the A595 on the evening of March 7th

 Included in the National Highways list of forthcoming roadworks •  A595 , from 8pm March 7 to 6am March 8, slight delays (under 10 minutes): A595 northbound and southbound, Egremont to Bigrigg, Multi way traffic signals for LED upgrade works. National Highways is responsible for maintaining motorways and major A-roads, so closures of smaller roads will not be included in their schedule. "Under ten minutes" ??? Hmm. I wouldn't bet my shirt on that.  Allow plenty of time if you have to travel on the A595 that evening between Egremont and Bigrigg.  And if you live in one of the villages nearby, such as (but not limited to) St Bees, Moor Row, or Keekle, watch out for traffic trying to avoid those roadworks.

MoD Defence intelligence update 26th February 2024


£4.7 billion local transport fund launched

Today the government launched the new £4.7 billion Local Transport Fund for the North and Midlands , reallocating savings from HS2 to invest more in the transport schemes that matter most to people. In October the Prime Minister set out a new vision, to focus on the journeys that matter most to people, that drive growth and jobs and truly level up our country. He committed to take every pound that would have been spent extending HS2 and invest £36 billion into transport.  This means that today the government can invest a record £4.7 billion through the new Local Transport Fund, providing almost 11 million people across the region with almost nine times more transport funding. This is the first transport budget of its kind for our smaller cities, towns and rural areas. It will pay for the infrastructure communities truly want: building new roads; improving road junctions and pavements; installing or expanding tram lines; improving stations. The Conservatives are sticking to our plan to

Quote of the day 26th February 2024

"If we surrender to the siren song of those in our country who argue that America has no interest in freedom’s cause, history teaches we may soon send our own into harm’s way to defend our freedom and the freedom of nations in our alliance.  We must support Ukraine in their fight for Freedom. We must send a deafening message: Putin must stop or Putin must pay." (Former US Vice Pre sident Mike Pence .)

The PM's statement on the need to defend democracy from intimidation.


MoD Defence intelligence update 25th February 2024


Sunday Music spot: Singet dem Herrn (Bach - Sing to the Lord a new song, BWV 225)


Quote of the day 25th February 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 24th February 2024


Health Secretary Victoria Atkins on the doctors' strikes


Continued UK support for Ukraine

I make no apology for blogging a third time today about the war in Ukraine and the support Britain has given and will continue to give to Ukraine.As we mark two years since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK government has announced a new package of 200 Brimstone anti-tank missiles in a further boost to defend Ukraine and continue our support for the brave Ukrainians who are fighting this war. Over the course of the Ukrainian war, Britain has been at the forefront of the global response. Since the start of the conflict, the UK has sent almost 400 different types of capabilities to Ukraine and last month, the Prime Minister announced we will be investing a further £2.5 billion into military support for Ukraine, taking our total support to over £12 billion, accounting for military, economic and humanitarian aid. We are continuing our support by announcing a new package of 200 Brimstone anti-tank missiles in a further boost to defend Ukraine. Britain will not

Project Gigabit

This week  the government confirmed that  one million properties in hard-to-reach communities can now access lightning-fast broadband thanks to Project Gigabit , as we stick to the plan to speed up interest connections for families and businesses and grow the economy. Fast broadband speeds are essential to modern day life, which is why we announced Project Gigabit in 2021.  Thanks to the Conservative long-term plan, more than one million properties in hard-to-reach communities have now been upgraded with access to lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband, helping to grow the economy and improve services for households.  Conservatives will sticking with our long-term plan to improve access to the fastest broadband, allowing households to connect to the internet seamlessly to make work and leisure easier as we build a brighter future for all.  Full disclosure - I am writing this post as a Conservative activist but am also an employee of Openreach and hold a modest number of shares in the

Saturday music spot: J. S. Bach's Harpsichord Concerto no. 6, BWV 1057


Admiral Radakin on the progress of the war in Ukraine


Two years since Putin invaded Ukraine

When Ukraine gave up one of the world's largest nuclear arsenals, in exchange all five of the permanent members of the UN Security council gave security assurances in exchange.  The assurances from France and China were somewhat weaker and in separate documents: but Russia, the United States and Britain all signed documents known as the Budapest Memorandum  in 1994 which they promised to respect the borders of Ukraine. Yet, in 2014, Putin's Russia illegally annexed the Crimea, part of Ukraine's territory. Then, two years ago today, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in which Putin attempted to conquer the entire country. Putin's illegal invasions of Ukraine quite clearly broke the promises in the Budapest Memorandum and are arguably the most egregious breach of a treaty since World War II.  Under the promises we made at the time, Britain and the USA are required to seek immediate UN security council action to provide assistance to Ukraine. Putin thought th

Quote of the day 24th February 2024


Music to start the weekend: "Salvator Mundi" by Thomas Tallis


Backing British farmers

This week the Prime Minister spoke to farmers about  a major new package of support for the farming industry. The Conservatives have a farmers, a long-term plan to champion our countryside and protect British farming for the next generation. We have delivered better targeted funding for farmers and protected our best farmland – but there is more that can be done.  This week the government announced our largest ever package of competitions and grants for farmers worth £427 million, as well as a UK-wide Food Security Index, new rules to make sure farmers always get fair prices for their products and cuts to planning red tape to help farmers grow their business. This action will secure the future of the farming sector for generations to come.

New agreement to help stop the boats

Today the UK government announced a working arrangement with Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which will help make further progress in stopping the boats. This builds on agreements with France, Albania and Turkey, which with other measures the Conservative government has taken, and which have already delivered real progress in reducing illegal channel crossings, which are down by over a third.  The UK has been making strong progress, with the number of small boat crossings down by 36 per cent last year and more than 24,000 people with no right to be in the UK removed.  The new agreement with Frontex will provide the UK with access to new levers and intelligence to make the UK’s borders safer and more secure and help crack down on vile people smuggling gangs.  While we are sticking to our plan and making progress, the Labour Party have no plan to tackle the small boat crossings. Labour say that they will work with our neighbours but as today's agreement shows, we

Quote of the day 23rd February 2024

This is taken from the poem "Dane-geld" by Rudyard Kipling. You can see read the whole poem at  Dane-geld – The Kipling Society

Baby loss certificates

The government is   launching baby loss certificates to formally recognise the loss of a baby during pregnancy , improving support for grieving parents during this devastating experience. Losing a baby during pregnancy can be a hugely traumatic experience, which is why we are launching baby loss certificates for parents who have gone through a loss of pregnancy before 24 weeks. From today, parents can apply for a certificate to record the loss of their baby if they chose to do so, formally recognising their experience and ensuring they feel heard as part of our commitment to make healthcare faster, simpler and fairer. The government is committed to ensuring bereaved parents feel supported through their grief and recognise their loss, as we stick with the long-term plan to deliver our Women’s Health Strategy and improve women’s healthcare and maternity support.

MoD intelligence summary, and announcement of more aid to Ukraine

 The MoD has announced today: "As part of our latest military aid package, the UK is providing 200 more Brimstone missiles, a precision-guided anti-tank missile, to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.   This aid plays a crucial role in stalling Russian advances. #StandWithUkraine. And here is the daily intelligence bulletin:

The row on Gaza in the commons yesterday

No party covered itself with glory in the House of Commons yesterday during the debate about Gaza. We have limited influence as a country on the tragic events in the Middle East: we should be using what we have to work for a fair and lasting peace in which the lives of both Jewish people and Palestinians are valued and protected. I agree with the Conservative government statement on this, which reads as follows: "Yesterday, we made clear that our position on Israel and Gaza remains unchanged – we are calling for an immediate pause to fighting in Gaza, to get humanitarian aid in and get the hostages out. Israel has suffered the worst terror attack in its history at the hands of Hamas. Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas in line with international humanitarian law but we know Palestinian civilians are facing a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We want the fighting to stop now which is why we tabled an amendment to the SNP’s motion yesterday setting

Quote of the day 22nd February 2024

"Hurt, slightly bewildered, Hoyle crept back to the Commons to apologise for breaking parliamentary convention. Labour had told him its MPs were under threat, afraid of attacks on their families and their security being at risk if they couldn’t register publicly that they had voted for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” . This, say Hoyle’s people, was a pressure that weighed heavily on him. And if that’s true, that is more serious than anything else that happened in the Commons chaos of yesterday: that MPs, and even their party leaders, are saying they are under such threat, so physically intimidated, that they felt they must vote in a particular way. The speaker seemed to endorse that as a good reason for allowing them the chance to cast a vote under threat. Pause and think about that: it really is a sinister new low." Polly Toynbee , writing in the Guardian here about yesterday's row in the House of Commons yesterday.

Thursday music spot: Vivaldi's Concerto for 2 Mandolins in G major


Investing in a million new homes

 Conservative plans for the economy and new housing mean that we are on track to have delivered a million new homes by the end of this parliament and new infrastructure to match.

Rishi in Wales

Today,   the Prime Minister is visiting North Wales on a levelling up tour , as the Conservatives stick to our long-term plan to level up the country to spread opportunity, create jobs and revitalise local communities for a brighter future for all. Levelling up is about providing people with better opportunities to work, travel and feel proud of where they live, which is why we are delivering major projects across the whole of the UK to deliver a brighter future.  As we confirm that more than one million homes, businesses and public buildings can now access the best internet speeds thanks to our investment, the Prime Minister is visiting North Wales to visit communities and businesses to see how they are benefitting from greater connectivity and investment in the region.

Making Britain a Science Superpower



The UK government is calling for a humanitarian pause to fighting in Gaza, to get humanitarian aid in and get the hostages out.  Israel has suffered the worst terror attack in its history at the hands of Hamas.  Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas in line with international humanitarian law but we know Palestinian civilians are facing a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  The UK is calling for a pause to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life. 

Protecting Children from abuse

Today the government announced tough new measures to crack down on child sexual abuse, better protecting children from vile sexual predators.  Too many children who have been victims of sexual abuse have been failed in the past, but the Conservative government is determined to crack down on this. So the government is introducing tough new measures requiring those in positions of responsibility to report allegations of child sexual abuse by law and powers to block registered sex offenders from changing their name.  These measures, recommended by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, are backed by robust criminal penalties, protecting children from sexual abuse in the future. These reforms will send a clear message that children will never be let down, whether in schools, sports settings, or any supervised environment, delivering on our plan to secure a brighter future for children across the country.

Has there just been another "Recession that never happened?"

In respect of my post here, the Independent newspaper reports that, and I quote, “ Ben Broadbent, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, said the recession talk over the past few days has been 'unhelpful.' He suggested there was the possibility that upward revisions in the future may mean that a recession never actually took place." It is not difficult to see that Ben Broadbent is correct. Based on the initial and provisional figures released last week, the Office for National Statistics said economic activity declined by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of the year from the previous three-month period. That followed the previous quarter's 0.1% fall, which meant that the British economy is considered to be in recession. However, such provisional figures tend to be revised upwards by an average of 0.15 percentage points. If that happens this time, and if the present quarter returns to growth - which looks very possible as the Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said

Midweek music spot: The Seekers sing "The Carnival Is Over"


MoD defence intelligence update 21st Feb 2024


Quote of the day 21st February 2024


Labour-run Birmingham City Council to put up taxes 21%

Taxes are at record levels. There are various good reasons for this, including the costs of dealing with the pandemic and with keeping energy costs down during the energy crisis after Putin's invasion of Ukraine.  But I am convinced that most people would agree that taxes on ordinary people are far too high, and while we still have a cost of living crisis, putting taxes up further is a really bad idea. So heaven help the residents of Labour Birmingham.    Last night, Labour- run  Birmingham Council revealed their plans to hike up local taxes by 21 per cent and cut services ,  showing that where Labour run things they run them badly and hike up taxes. Last year, Labour-run Birmingham City Council was forced to declare bankruptcy after years of failure and mismanagement.  Now hardworking Birmingham residents are facing a 21 per cent hike in their bills at a time when they are already facing financial pressures while Labour councillors plot to cut vital local services. Dogs bark, duck

Support for victims of the war in Ukraine

Yesterday, the UK government announced a  new visa extension scheme for Ukrainians who sought sanctuary in the UK in the aftermath of Russia’s illegal invasion , reaffirming our commitment to those who are still fighting to defend the principles of freedom and democracy. Almost two years on, the cost of Putin’s war in Ukraine is being felt across the world, from increased energy bills to food prices – so it is only right that we continue to stand with our allies. That is why we must keep providing certainty for those Ukrainians in the UK fleeing the conflict and reassurance to their loved ones on the front lines defending their country. We will not falter from our commitment to Ukraine, in their darkest hour and in the better times to come. We will continue to provide the assurances Ukrainians needs for the long term whilst ensuring the British people remain in control of who comes here.

MoD Defence intelligence update 20th February 2024


Support for Farmers

Today the Conservative government announced a major new package of support for farmers, as we stick to our long-term plan to champion our countryside and protect British farming for the next generation. We have delivered better targeted funding for farmers and protected our best farmland – but there is more that can be done.  That is why the government is announcing our largest ever package of competitions and grants for farmers worth £427 million, as well as a UK-wide Food Security Index, new rules to make sure farmers always get fair prices for their products and cuts to planning red tape to help farmers grow their business.  Meanwhile Labour can’t say how they will support British farming – in government they failed to provide the connectivity, jobs and investment rural communities needed, and years later they still have no plan to support the countryside.  Only the Conservatives are listening to the voices of rural people and taking the long-term decisions needed to secure a bright

Quote of the day 20th February 2024

"I think your referendum went rather better than one of mine."  ( David Cameron , Foreign secretary, in the Falklands yesterday, referring to the 2013 referendum in which the people of the Falkland Islands voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining a UK overseas territory.  Of 1,517 votes cast, 1,513 were in favour, while just three votes were against. The referendum was held in response to Argentina's call for negotiations on the islands' sovereignty. Before his visit to the Falklands, DC had said this:

MoD Defence intelligence bulletin 19th Feb 2024


Government announces crackdown on mobile phone use in schools

Today the government announced a crackdown on the use of mobile phones in schools across England, minimising disruption in classrooms to improve outcomes and provide a brighter future for children and young people.  Schools are places for children to learn and mobile phones can be an unwanted distraction in the classroom. That is why we are issuing new guidance today backing head teachers in prohibiting the use of mobile phones throughout the school day. The government is providing our hard-working teachers with the tools they need to take action and improve behaviour, and taking the right long-term decisions to ensure all children receive the best possible education and brighter future.  Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented: "Almost one third of secondary school pupils said that their lessons were disrupted by phones. Today’s guidance will help schools put an end to this."

DC visits the Falklands

Foreign Secretary David Cameron is visiting Falkland Islanders to see their work to build a thriving community and protect their natural environment. The UK is committed to upholding the Falkland Islanders’ right of self-determination. Postscript:

MoD Defence intelligence update 18 February 2024

  I suspect the Russian Black Sea Fleet's former commander might be wise to stay clear of any high level windows for a while ...

UK support for NATO


Quote of the day 17th February 2024: DC on the death of Alexei Navalny

"Navalny fought bravely against corruption.  Putin’s Russia fabricated charges against him, poisoned him, sent him to an arctic penal colony & now he has tragically died.  Putin should be accountable for what has happened - no one should doubt the dreadful nature of his regime." (Lord David Cameron - UK Foreign Secretary)

Nick Robinson's recommendation for viewing this weekend.

Nick Robinson, senior BBC political journalist, posted this evening a link to the BBC "Storyville" piece on the attempt to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has sadly died in the prison camp to which the Putin regime sent him on false and trumped-up charges. Nick writes: "If you watch anything this weekend watch this brilliant documentary about a modern Russian hero who stood up to Putin.  Navalny was persecuted, poisoned, imprisoned & died because he dared to do so." You can watch the documentary he linked to on BBC iplayer at BBC iPlayer - Storyville - Navalny

MoD Defence intelligence update 16th February 2024


Support for Ukraine

Today the UK government announced that Britain will supply thousands of drones to Ukraine, going further to bolster their defences and give them the capabilities they need to defend the people of Ukraine and win this war as Britain continues to lead the way in support.  We have upped our aid to Ukraine to £2.5 billion this year, but we must go further to ensure Ukraine can win this war. That is why, joint with Latvia, we will supply thousands of drones to Ukraine backed by an extra £200 million, including first-person view (FPV) drones which are highly effective on the battlefield. By supplying these drones to the front line, we will not only bolster Ukraine’s defences but we will do so in a way that leverages the strength of Western industry by creating a competition to produce these drones at scale, supporting jobs and driving down costs.

VOCES8 & VOCES8 Scholars: another recording of "Komm, Jesu, komm"


Music to start the weekend: Bach's Motet "Komm, Jesu, komm" (BWV 229)


Cutting Anti-social behaviour

The Conservatives are rolling out our plan to slash antisocial behaviour across the country , ramping up visible patrols to drive down crime, boost public confidence, and keep communities safe. Antisocial behaviour is a blight on our communities that takes away the public’s right to feel safe in the place they call home. That is why we are building on our successful pilot scheme by investing £66 million in England and Wales to enable every police force to deploy up to 20,000 hours of uniformed patrols in ‘hotspot’ areas, getting more officers out and visible on our streets to crackdown on crime and restore confidence.  We have also set an ambitious new target to smash another 1,000 county lines by August, bringing the total number of county lines dismantled to over 3,000 since the drug strategy launched in April 2022. Our plan to cut crime on our streets is working, with neighbourhood crime, including robbery and theft, almost halved since 2010. We must now stick with it so that every

Keeping up the fight to control inflation

The  latest figures  show that the annual rate of inflation in the UK in the 12 months to January held firm at 4.0 per cent on the CPI measure. (See yesterday's post on seasonal variation for a description of the shorter term movements.) Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have been working on five priorities. Through careful economic management inflation has halved, wages are growing, and mortgage rates are starting to come down.  That it why it is positive news that this week's new figures showed our plan is working and inflation has remained unchanged. Because of this progress, we have been able to afford tax cuts – reducing National Insurance from 12 per cent to ten per cent, saving an average worker earning £35,000 £450 a year.  By sticking with the plan we can build on this progress creating a brighter and more financially secure future for you, your family and our country. We are helping families with the cost of living by:  Delivering on our promise to halve inflation by

Quote of the day 16th February 2024

"The shocking rise in antisemitic abuse in the UK since October 7th demands deep soul searching from us all. Whatever our differences in religion, ethnicity, or stance on the war in Gaza, our Jewish neighbours need to feel and know they are safe. We must stand in solidarity with each other and call out all forms of antisemitism." ( Justin Welby , Archbishop of Canterbury)

MoD Defence intelligence update 15th February 2024


Frightening rise in Anti-Semitic attacks reported

Whatever you think of the events in the Middle East, it is inexcusable to weaponise a response to those events to fuel hatred of any community here in the UK. Jewish people in Britain are not responsible for the policies of the Natanyahu administration in Israel, or the actions of the IDF, whether you agree with those policies and actions or not. Palestinian people in the UK are not responsible for the ghastly atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on 7th October. Nor are Muslims. It is horrifying to see an enormous rise in Anti-Semitic attacks in the UK. Such attacks were already on a worrying upward trend in recent years, but they have rocketed since 7th October, according to figures reported by the Community Safety trust (and by all other reputable sources of information on such attacks.) This is intolerable. There is also a rise in Anti-Muslim attacks and this too is intolerable. In this environment it is critical that everyone who aspires to political office must be careful to avoid sayi

Seasonal Variations

Economic anorak post - for people with an open mind and an interest in economic statistics. Don't  bother to read if you are looking for simplistic "gotcha" information in either direction As you go through the year, there are various regular cycles in economic activity. At a time of moderate inflation, for example, prices may be going up a bit faster than the average annual rate at certain times of the year while prices are actually dropping at others. As they did last month. That wasn't a typo, I didn't mean that the rate of inflation might drop, and did so last month, but that prices might drop in a particular month, and actually did so last month! What! I hear you respond. The rate of inflation is 4%. Yes, the annual rate of inflation in the year to January was 4% based on the CPI measure. And because of these seasonal cycles, the year-on-year change is in many ways the best measure of the underlying inflation rate - as it does not have to be adjusted for seas

Thursday music spot: "Remember not, Lord, our offences" by Henry Purcell


Will this be another "Recession that never happened?"

Provisional UK economic figures for the second quarter are now out. Let's be clear and honest - these figures are disappointing. But they are provisional figures. The media is shouting this morning about Britain being in recession, but THIS IS NOT A RELIABLE FINDING. When the final figures come out it is highly likely that the numbers will be revised upwards, and if they are revised upwards by the typical amount applied to figures over the last few years, it is possible that we will find, not for the first time, that this "recession" never happened. Remember the so-called double dip recession of 2012? It never happened. Remember when everyone said Britain was the only G7 country whose economy had not returned to pandemic levels? It wasn't true. Last year, when an upward revision by the Office for National Statistics demolished some much quoted political narratives, John Burn-Murdoch published an excellent piece in the FT, THE DANGER OF BUILDING STRONG NARRATIVES ON W

UK Support for Ukraine

The UK has committed £7 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the conflict began, this includes £2.5 billion in military aid in 2024/25. This will allow us deliver advanced capabilities, equipment and training to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. #StandWithUkraine

Quote of the day 15th February 2024


Polls now open in Wellingborough and Kingswood

Polls are now open in two by elections:   in Wellingborough and Rushden  and in Kingswood  Polling stations will stay open until 10pm. Electors in those seats will need ID to vote. I was in Wellingborough and Rushden yesterday to campaign for Helen Harrison , the Conservative candidate. Her policies include Improving the local NHS , especially potholes Improving local roads , supporting a new by-pass and fixing potholes Back Rishi Sunak's bill to stop the boats In Kingswood the local Conservative candidate is  Sam Bromiley I believe these are two excellent candidates who would make great MPs.

MoD Defence intelligence update 14th February 2024


Ash Wednesday music spot: "Lord, for thy tender mercy's sake" by Richard Farrant


The Archbishop of Canterbury writes on Ash Wednesday

Today, 14th February 2024 is Valentine's day, but this year 14th February is also Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Archbishop Justin Welby published these comments today which I thought were worth sharing. "There is something final about ash.  It marks the presence of what used to be, but has been destroyed, burnt, obliterated. Something solid has turned to dust.  In my recent visit to Ukraine, I saw ash settle upon a world of rubble and destruction. Ash reminds us of the forces of death that harm the lives of women, men, children and all creation.   On Ash Wednesday, as we mark the beginning of Lent, we recognise that all of us are part of a story of sin and brokenness – none of us are untouched – through our own actions and choices, and through the actions and choices of others. We acknowledge our part and remember our fragility by tracing a cross of ash on our foreheads.  But this is not where it ends. Ash Wednesday tells us to turn away from sin, but more importantly,

The cost of Putin's war

We rightly pay attention to the dire cost of Putin's unprovoked aggression on the population of Ukraine, but his decision to start the war in Ukraine by ripping up his previous promises to guarantee the borders of Ukraine and invade that country has also had dire consequences for Russia. The average daily number of Russian casualties in Ukraine has risen by almost 300 during the course of 2023. If the numbers continue at the current rate over the next year, Russia will have lost over half a million people in Ukraine. Putin and the gang of sycophants around him are as much the enemy of the people of Russia as they are of the people of Ukraine and their other neighbours.  #StandWithUkraine

Extending the Affordable Homes scheme

I posted yesterday that the government has announced  a major shake-up of planning rules to boost housebuilding while protecting the Green Belt , part of our plan to deliver the homes people need. This is part of a package, which as I have also posted this week additionally includes  expanding the Affordable Homes Scheme to build 20,000 new affordable homes across the country, backed by a £3 billion increase in Government funding, supporting thousands of people across the country to realise the dream of owning their own home.  Unlocking housing supply is critical to enabling people to realise the dream of owning their own home.  That is why we are expanding the Affordable Homes Scheme, which provides low-cost loans to housing providers to build 20,000 new affordable homes across the country, thanks to a £3 billion increase in a Government-backed loan fund opening today. For the first time, the scheme can also be used to upgrade existing properties, making them warm and decent for tena

Quote of the day for Valentine's day 2024


MoD Defence intelligence bulletin 13th February 2024

Russia is a much larger country than Ukraine and, while Putin or anyone like him leads it, a threat to all its' neighbours. It will become a greater threat if we allow Putin's unprovoked aggression against Ukraine to succeed, which is one of many reasons the West needs to support Ukraine. However, do not let anyone tell you Russia is invincible. If the legislation described in today's MoD bulletin isn't a sign of desperation, I don't know what would be.

Quote of the day 13th February 2024

I was originally just going to put up the message of the day for Shrove Tuesday which I posted earlier rather than my usual "Quote of the day." But sadly I think there is a post which does have to be put up, It's from Dan Hodges on X, formerly twitter: "Today we’ve had:      a) 2 Labour candidates suspended for anti-Semitism      b) 3 people convicted of arousing suspicion of supporting an anti-Semitic terrorist organisation      c) A London theatre ban a comedian who ordered a Jewish audience member out of his gig. One day. Britain. 2024" Dan is right to call out that we as a country have a problem. Make no mistake, we are seeing a resurgence of racism in the form of Anti-Semitism, Anti-Muslim prejudice, and other forms of racism. None of the political parties and no other major organisation is exempt, and none can afford to be complacent about this. 

Building more homes - and the right homes in the right place

If we want our young people to have a future which includes their own home, then we need to build more homes - and the right homes in the right places where people need them. This means we need infrastructure-led projects to build more homes where the jobs are, not artificial creations in flood plains or on agricultural land where you have to have a car because you are miles from shops, hospitals or jobs. Rather than building all over the countryside, we need new homes on brownfield sites. So I was pleased to see the government announce today a major shake-up of planning rules to boost housebuilding while protecting the Green Belt , showing our plan to deliver the homes people need is working. In this Parliament the government has delivered the highest number of new homes in a year for three decades. But we want to do more. That is why the Conservative government has announced new plans to get councils to prioritise brownfield developments and cut bureaucracy, sticking to our long-term