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Showing posts from March, 2024

MoD Defence intelligence update 31st March 2024

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An Easter Prayer

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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

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

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"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!

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  "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

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

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

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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

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MoD Defence intelligence update 29th March 2024

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DC calls again for the release of all Hamas hostages

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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!

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The Prime Minister's Good Friday message

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"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

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 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

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

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UK support to civilians in Gaza

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 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

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

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Quote of the day 27th March 2024

"The UK πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ has done the right thing by extending our tariff-free, quota-free imports from Ukraine πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ 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

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MoD Defence intelligence update 25th March 2024

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MoD Defence intelligence update 24th March 2024

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Sunday music spot: Thomas Tallis, "Salvator Mundi"

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MoD Defence intelligence update 23rd March 2024

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

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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

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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

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

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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"

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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

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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

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

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MoD intelligence and support for Ukraine updates 19th March 2024

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

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Sunday music spot: First movement of the Vivaldi Gloria

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Saying of the day - Happy St Patrick's Day

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MoD defence intelligence update 16th March 2024

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

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MoD Defence intelligence update 15h March 2024

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

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

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MoD Defence intelligence update 14th March 2024

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Growth figures for January

This post is about initial and provisional GDP growth figures. For the avoidance of doubt, it refers to absolute GDP in real terms after adjusting for inflation, not GDP per head. Initial figures released yesterday suggest that the economy returned to growth in January, and grew by more than it contracted in December. You can find these initial figures at: GDP monthly estimate, UK - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk) The initial figures show that the economy grew in January 2024, with GDP up 0.2 per cent and that our services industry and construction services are growing.  I was going to call this post "UK economy returns to growth" but actually it should not be taken for granted that the slight negative growth initially reported at the end of last year actually happened.  As I have explained in previous posts on the dangers of building strong narratives from weak data, which you can find here , here and here , initial GDP growth figures tend to be revised. In the

Quote of the day 14th March 2024

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MoD defence intelligence update 13th march 2024

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Midweek music spot: Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave)

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Cleaning up Britain's waterways

This week the government   announced plans for water companies to invest over £180 million to prevent sewage spills across the country ,  driving the largest infrastructure investment in water company history, as we stick to the plan to tackle pollution and clean up British waters.  The amount of sewage being spilled into our rivers is completely unacceptable - and whilst we have taken tough action to tackle this, there is more to do. That is why we have announced plans for water companies to fast-track investment of £180 million to stop more than 8,000 sewage spills over the next year. This funding will be invested in AI systems to help manage storm loads, the installation of thousands of new in-sewer monitors to check flow and spot blockages early, and the recruitment and training of specialist staff. Whilst Labour and the Liberal Democrats continue to snipe on the sidelines, we are sticking to the plan to tackle pollution and clean up British waters by protecting and strengthening o

Quote of the day 13th March 2024

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MoD Defence intelligence update 12th March 2024

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Tuesday music spot: "The Final Countdown"

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"The final countdown" sung by the band Europe, with a visual track of scenes from the Battle of Geonisis from Star Wars Episode II, "Attack of the Clones." This is the battle which made all Star Wars fans at the time think "Oh, that's why Obi-Wan Kenobi thinks Storm Troopers can shoot straight." Near the start of the original Star Wars film, "Episode IV, A New Hope," Obi-Wan refers to  Imperial Stormtroopers shooting accurately. This line was ridiculed by fans because for the rest of that film and the original trilogy, Stormtroopers were notorious for being unable to shoot straight when firing at the heroes (e.g. characters with "plot armour" who cannot die if the story is to make sense.)  My son fell about laughing while we were watching "The Mandalorian" when the character Mayfield, who is an Imperial army veteran and a sniper, reacts defensively to a joke about whether an Imperial soldier could be a good shot, and says

Protecting the Muslim community

I have previously written about the measures the government has taken to protect Britain's Jewish citizens. Just as there is a totally unacceptable rise in hate incidents against Jewish people  there is also an alarming rise in equally unacceptable hate incidents against Britain's Muslim citizens. This week the government set out plans to protect our Muslim communities. The Conservative government is investing over £100 million to protect Muslim schools, community centres and mosques as we stick with the plan in standing against hate crimes, abuse, threats, and harassment against British Muslims. Anti-Muslim hatred has absolutely no place in our society and the rising number of hate attacks against British Muslims is very worrying. That is why we are investing £117 million over the next four years in new security measures, including alarms, fences, and CCTV cameras to protect Muslim schools, community centres and mosques.  This is an increase of £4.9 million in funding for the

More people in work, wages rising faster than inflation

It has been a long hard slog recovering from the damage done to the world economy by the pandemic, but the British economy is starting to turn the corner. New jobs figures show there are over 4.1 million more people in work since 2010 , showing our plan is working as we drive down inflation and grow the economy. Key statistics :  Employment: There are almost 33.2 million people in work in the UK (up 76,000 over the last year and up by over 4.1 million since 2010). Employment rate: Near record highs at 75 per cent (up by 4.8 points since 2010). Unemployment: There are 1.3 million people in unemployment (down by over 1.1 million since 2010). Unemployment rate: The unemployment rate is 3.9 per cent (down by 4 points since 2010) – near record lows. Wages: Regular pay is continuing to grow and outpace inflation (up 6.1 per cent in November 2023 to January 2024). Youth unemployment: There are 437,000 fewer unemployed young people since 2010.  Other good news:: There are 30.4 million people i

Reforming electricity markets

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Today, the Energy Secretary set out the Conservatives'   plan to deliver more gas power stations as part of our sustainable transition to net zero , as we stick to the plan to ensure proportionate and pragmatic transition, keeping bills down for families. The UK is the first major economy to cut its emissions by half since 1990, showing our plan is working. We must stick to the plan as we deliver net zero in a sustainable way without increasing costs for hardworking families. That is why we will set out our plan to support the building of new gas power stations to maintain energy supplies for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. The choice is clear: stick with the plan that is working under Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives who will deliver a brighter and more sustainable future for the country, or go back to square one with Sir Keir Starmer and Labour who will just drive up bills for families with their 2030 decarbonisation promise which they themselves originally

Quote of the day 12th March 2024

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"Anti-Muslim hatred has absolutely no place in our society." Prime Minister Rishi Sunak , message to community leaders on a visit to London Central Mosque, where he announced £117 million in new security measures to protect Muslim schools, centres and mosques across the country.

MoD Defence intelligence update 11th March 2024

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Ramadan Mubarak

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Wishing a happy and blessed Ramadan to Muslims in the UK and around the world 

MoD Defence intelligence update 10th March 2024

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A Mothering Sunday prayer

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Below is a picture of the candle which I lit in St James's Church after the service this morning.  Prayed on this Mothering Sunday for all mothers everywhere and especially those on both sides affected by Putin's illegal, devastating and bloody invasion of Ukraine and by the almost equally bloody war in the Middle East.

Quote of the day for Mother's Day 2024

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MoD update 9th March 2024 part 2: latest intelligence on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

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MoD update 9th march part one - freedom of the seas

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Saturday music spot: The Pink Panther Theme Music

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MoD defence intelligence bulletin 8th March 2024

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Music to start the weekend: "The King Shall Rejoice," by Handel HWV 260

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Quote of the day 8th March 2024

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Sweden's entry to NATO takes effect

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MoD Defence intelligence update 7th march 2024

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