Showing posts from May, 2024

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


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

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


Quote of the day 30th May 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 29th May 2024


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


Quote of the day 29th May 2024


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 ( and more details on the Daily Mail site at   'Lifelong Tory voter' now backing Starmer exposed as Labour councillor ( 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


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

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

Quote of the day 27th May 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 27th May 2024


Grant Shapps on how Conservative plans will upskill the next generation

Writing in the Daily Express, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps sets out in an article called " Britain’s going to toughen up because our adversaries certainly are. " how our bold new model of national service for 18-year-olds will up-skill the next generation, with real-world skills, values and experience they could never learn in a classroom, giving them what they need to succeed, make our nation more secure and strengthen our national security. In uncertain times we need to honest about the long-term challenges we face, including generations of young people who don’t have the opportunities they deserve. That is why a future Conservative Government will introduce mandatory National Service for every 18-year-old to be spent in a competitive, full-time military commission or spending one weekend a month volunteering in their community. Uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action to chart a course to a secure future. Our plan will ensure the youngest generations, and ou

Bank holiday music spot: Vivaldi Concerto for 2 Mandolins in G major


Bim Afolami on the impact of Labour's policies on Business

The Labour party has been making a real effort to sell itself as friendly to business. There is no doubt that both "New Labour" under Blair and Starmer's current Labour leadership are less hostile to business than "old Labour" or the Corbyn left were. That does not necessarily mean that they understand the realities of business economics as well as they think they do. As Bim Afolami, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and MP for Hitchin and Harpenden in the last parliament (now standing for the redrawn constituency of Hitchin after his old constituency was split up by the  boundary commission) writes in this article, with very very few exceptions Labour candidates in this election are public sector or pressure group workers, trade union activists, or lawyers. Well worth a read.

MoD Defence intelligence update 26th May 2024


Quote of the day 26th May 2024

"As Putin's three-day war enters it's third year ..." ( Start of an MoD press release yesterday about the enormous cost of the war to Russia. It is estimated that the financial cost of the war to Russia so far exceed $211 billion - not to mention that they hae also lsot tens of thousands of human lives.)

Protecting Pensions

People who have worked hard their lives deserve to enjoy their retirement with security and dignity, which is why the Conservatives have committed to the Triple Lock in our manifesto .• The Conservatives have increased the State Pension by over £ 900 this year, are providing additional cost of living payments to pensioners to help with high energy bills, and we are delivering pension reforms to boost pension pots for hardworking people.  • The choice at this election is clear: the Conservatives who have increased the State Pension by £3,700 since coming to power and will protect the Triple Lock, or Labour who raided pensions when last in Government and want to increase taxes on pensioners. The Conservatives will protect pensioners by:  • Protecting the Triple Lock and uprating the State Pension by £900 this year, protecting pensioners’ incomes. We have protected the Triple Lock we introduced in 2011 and will uprate the State Pension by 8.5 per cent in April 2024 in line with average e

Campaign report 26th May 2024

 A lovely afternoon to be out campaigning in the Hillcrest area of Whitehaven.

Second music spot for Trinity Sunday: another version of Stainer's "I Saw the Lord"

I jumped the gun by posting a version of Sir John Stainer's anthem "I saw the Lord" last Sunday, because it's more appropriate to Trinity Sunday, which is today. That is both because the lyrics of the anthem reference the Trinity, and because most of them are taken from the prophet Isiah's account of his vision of The Lord in the year that King Uzziah died, which forms the Old Testament lesson appointed for today.   So as a second music spot for Trinity Sunday, here is a different recording of Stainer's masterpiece, this time sung by The Sixteen.

Sunday music spot: "Sing Joyfully" by William Byrd


A new model of National Service

Today  the Prime Minister has set out that a future Conservative government will introduce mandatory National Service  for every 18-year-old, to be spent in a competitive, full-time military commission or spending one weekend a month volunteering in civil resilience.  We have so much to be proud of as a country, but we also need to be open and honest about the long-ter m challenges that our country and our society faces. One of the challenges we want to tackle is that we have generations of young people who don’t have the opportunities they deserve.  That is why we will introduce a bold new model of National Service for 18-year-olds to be spent either in a competitive, full-time military commission over 12 months or with one weekend per month volunteering roles in the community, like as a special constable, RNLI volunteer, or NHS responder. This will give young people real world skills, while contributing to their country and community. We have so much to be proud of in Britain, but we

Campaign report 25th May

I was out today in beautiful weather in Mirehouse with Andrew Johnson, the Conservative candidate for Whitehaven and Workington (Centre in photograph below) and the team. We had a friendly reception. Uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action to chart a course to a secure future. Today the Prime Minister campaigned in North Yorkshire and London, setting out the choice for this General Election. Only the Conservatives have a clear plan and will take the bold action needed to deliver a secure future. Keir Starmer will do what Labour always do take us back to square one.  Whilst Keir Starmer spent the day pulling off his eighty-ninth u-turn of his leadership, once again demonstrating that he has no conviction, the Prime Minister continued campaigning across the country, making clear the choice at this election: the Conservatives who have a clear plan and will take the bold action to secure Britain’s future or Labour who will take us back to square one.  

MoD Defence intelligence update 25th May 2024


Keeping energy prices down

Yesterday Ofgem confirmed energy prices will fall again by £122, and the Prime Minister announced that under the Conservatives the Energy Price Cap will be protected and energy levies will fall as we take a responsible and pragmatic approach to Net Zero which secures family finances. Whilst there is more to do, news today that energy prices will fall again by £122 shows that our plan is working. But we must go further which is why we have a clear plan to protect the Energy Price Cap, get energy levies falling and invest in new technologies like offshore wind and new nuclear. We must not risk our progress and the choice at this election is clear: stick with the plan under the Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives for a practical approach to balance reaching net zero without families paying for it or Labour, who are not being honest about the cost of net zero to you and your family and risk our energy security.

MoD Defence intelligence update 24th May 2024


Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS shares child-friendly advice on managing asthma

One in 11 children and young people in the UK are living with asthma, but would you know how to help someone having an asthma attack? On World Asthma day earlier this week, NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria shared some child-friendly messaging to help keep people safe and raise awareness of what can trigger such an episode. I thought this was worth reposting. Asthma can affect people of all ages and often starts in childhood. While it can improve during adolescence, it can also return or worsen later in life.  Often triggered by things like smoke, pollution, cold air, exercise, or infections, asthma usually leads to coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. However, it can usually be managed with inhalers and other medication. Claire Uttley, senior specialist asthma nurse practitioner for children and young people at Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said:  “It is important that those children and young people with the condition understand what trigg

Sticking to the plan


Quote of the day 24th May 2024 - Nick Ferrari on Labour's private school tax plans.

Above: Nick Ferrari on Labour's plans to put VAT on private school fees. He points out that if 10% of private school parents can't afford the extra cost, state schools will  need to find places for another 60,000 children. Full disclosure: I went to schools which were state schools when I started there, but my secondary school was forced to go private while I was there because a Labour government scrapped the "Direct grant." I sent my own children to the best state schools I could get them into. But those who want to pay for their children's education twice, by send their children to a private school while paying the income tax and council tax which fund state schools, should be allowed to do so. Labour often repeats the falsehood that the taxpayer is "subsidising" private schools, but the reality is the opposite. For every child Labour price out of private school, a state school is going to need another place in a classroom, another desk, more books and

Energy bills fall

This morning the energy regulator confirmed that  energy bills will fall again by £122 as the Conservatives announce our clear plan to keep the cost of energy down   for families by protecting the energy price cap and securing Britain’s energy.   Labour would risk our energy independence and clobber families with higher costs to reach net zero .   The war in Ukraine has sent energy prices soaring across Europe. The Conservative government stepped in to pay half the average family energy bill last winter, but families are still paying too much.  That is why the Conservatives will  keeping the Energy Price Cap and are setting out a bold new plan to drive bills down and put energy customers in the driver’s seat, helping families to switch suppliers for a better deal. In stark contrast, Keir Starmer is shamelessly visiting Scotland today – the very place where Labour would decimate 90,000 jobs in Scotland by turning off the North Sea oil and gas industry after taxing it to extinction, taki

MoD Defence intelligence update 23rd May 2024


Key points on this election

The Prime Minister has called a General Election which will take place on 4 July. Here are the key points to remember:  Uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action to chart a course to a secure future. The choice at the election is clear: stick with the plan by choosing bold action for a safer, more secure and more prosperous future with Rishi Sunak, or go back to square one with Keir Starmer and the same old Labour. CHOOSE sticking with Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives who are working through a clear plan and will take the bold action needed to deliver a secure future for you, your family, and for Britain in an increasingly uncertain world REJECT going back to square one with Keir Starmer and Labour, who don’t have the conviction, courage, or plan needed to navigate an increasingly uncertain world and secure a brighter future for our country The UK has faced unprecedented challenges caused by Covid and Ukraine. This has made life more difficult for the British people. By st

Quote of the day 23rd May 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 22nd May 2024


A clear plan with bold action for a secure future

The Prime Minister has today called a general election. The choice at the election is clear: stick with the plan by choosing bold action for a safer, more secure and more prosperous future with Rishi Sunak, or go back to square one with Keir Starmer and the same old Labour. CHOOSE sticking with Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives who are working through a clear plan and will take the bold action needed to deliver a secure future for you, your family, and for Britain in an increasingly uncertain world REJECT going back to square one with Keir Starmer and Labour, who don’t have the conviction, courage, or plan needed to navigate an increasingly uncertain world and secure a brighter future for our country Q: Why are we having an election? Inflation has returned to its normal level and the economy is turning a corner. Now the public should choose who has the clear plan and can deliver the bold action needed to secure a better long-term future for our country and our children, in an increasin

Quote of the day 22nd May 2024 - PM calls election for 4th July

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking today on the steps of Downing Street, said: “In the last five years our country has fought through the most challenging times since the Second World War. As I stand here as your Prime Minister, I can’t help but reflect that my first proper introduction to you was just over four years ago. I stood behind one of the podiums, upstairs in the building behind me. I told you that we faced a generation defining moment, and that we as a society would not be judged by some government action, but by the small acts of kindness we showed one another. You met that challenge and then some. And I have never been prouder to be British. And when I introduced the furlough scheme, I did so not because I saw a country simply in need of desperate help, albeit we were, but because I saw a country whose future hung in the balance. I could be bold and trust in the tens of millions of you at home, that you would rise to the moment, or I could accept the inevitable, millions

Midweek music spot: "The Summer Lady" (Steeleye Span)


Inflation falls to 2.3%

The ONS has released  new inflation figures  today, 22nd May, showing that the rate of inflation has fallen to 2.3 per cent, down from its peak of 11.1 per cent. High Inflation around the world  has made life tough for families over the past couple of years which is why we have made tackling it our number one priority.  Today is a major moment for the economy as not only have we more than halved inflation, but the rate of inflation is back to normal levels and its lowest point since 2021. We know there is more to do, but with rate of inflation down at 2.3 per cent from its peak of 11.1 per cent in 2022, this is more proof our plan is working. We have to stick with the plan under Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives: inflation back to normal, economy growing joint fastest in the G7, wages rising, taxes cut and triple lock protected. There is more to do. But we cannot let Labour take the country back to square one, with their £2,094 tax raid on working households, broken pledges on pensions

MoD Defence intelligence bulleting 21st May 2024


Egremont Town Council AGM

I attended the Annual General Meeting of Egremont Town Council this evening. The annual town meeting for residents of the area will be held next Tuesday, 29th May, at 5.30pm at the Market Hall.

Tuesday music spot: F. Tarrega's "Recuerdos de la Alhambra"


Quote of the day 21st May 2024


BT delays timetable to move all customers from PSTN to digital lines until January 2027

BT Group has revised its timetable for moving all customers off the PSTN and onto digital landlines, and the new target date is January 2027 rather than December 2025. The company states that it has improved the programme to better protect vulnerable customers and those with additional needs and will bring migration more in line with Openreach’s fibre rollout. Its statement reads: “The revised approach will result in a single switch for the majority of customers (businesses and consumers) – from copper to fibre - with all customers now expected to have moved off the old analogue PSTN by the end of January 2027.” BT Group’s Consumer division has re-started switching zero-use landline customers who have a broadband connection to its Digital Voice landline service after s an industry-wide pause. As I understand it, a major reason for the delay is the need to ensure that vulnerable customers who use safety systems such as Telcare do not have their service interrupted or disrupted by the ch

MoD defence intelligence update 20th May 2024


"A day of shame for the British state" - PM apologises for infected blood disaster

There are no adequate words to describe how shocking and atrocious the infected blood scandal is - the original failure, the refusal to recognise it, the cover-up, and the fact that it has taken so long to get to the truth. The NHS, the civil sevice, and government ministers of all parties failed the victims and their families. Here is the apology which the Prime Minister made today.

Monday music spot: Bach's Double Violin Concerto

I've not usually heard the first or second movements of this concerto played quite this fast, but it works very well. A wonderful performance to listen to if you like J.S. Bach's music.

Quote of the day 20th May 2024

 The French 1868 song, La Menagère, included the line, “Cet animal est très méchant: quand on l’attaque il se défend” Which might be translated as "This animal is very wicked - when it is attacked it defends itself."

Quote of the day and MoD intelligence update

Putin has moved his defence minister Sergei Shoigu sideways to be secretary of the National Security Council, replacing him with Andrei Belousov, who is an economist with no previous military experience. Belousov commented that his task was to achieve victory "with minimal human losses" which considering the way the  Russian side has been conducting their illegal invasion of Ukraine can only be described as a sick joke. The Economist magazine responded acerbically "presumably just on the Russian side" and even that would be an improvement from the Russian perspective on the way the war was fought on Shoigu's watch. Whether through incompetence, complete contempt for human life, or most probably both, Russian military leadership throughout the invasion of Ukraine has been characterised by wantonly throwing away Russian lives as much as callously taking the lives of Ukrainians. Their air force bomb their own civilians as well as innocent Ukrainian women and child

Sunday music spot: "I saw the Lord" by John Stainer


MoD Defence intelligence update 18th May 2024


Music to relax after campaigning: "All Around My Hat" by Steeleye Span (2009 Remaster)


Quote of the day 18th May 2024

"With attention building for #DDay80, we shouldn’t forget today’s 80th anniversary of Monte Cassino, a hard-fought victory for Allied forces that paved the way for the liberation of Rome.  The Allies suffered over 54k casualties and their sacrifice will never be forgotten." Grant Shapps, UK defence secretary, on X (formerly Twitter)

Music to start the weekend: Bach's "The Wedge" Fugue in E minor BWV 548


Jeremy Hunt sets out plans to grow the economy so we can afford to cut taxes

Today   the Chancellor outlined the plans that he and Rishi Sunak have to grow the economy. Conservatives will stick to the plan for growth , and put in the hard work to cut taxes for hardworking British people, so that higher growth can deliver a brighter future for you and your family. Today, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivered a speech outlining the Conservative plan to cut taxes and grow the economy to put more money in the pockets of hardworking British people – building on the £900 tax cut to national insurance for the average worker and our plans to end the double tax on work when is economically responsible to do so.  Labour snipe from the sidelines but cannot name a single tax they would cut. Sir Keir Starmer stands for the same old Labour Party - higher unfunded spending, higher borrowing and higher taxes. They would take us back to square one.   Labour have admitted their unfunded energy promise will cost billions of pounds more than they originally claimed. Without a plan to p

MoD Defence intelligence update 17th May 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 16th May 2024


Age ratings for relationship education in schools

Today the government has   announced the introduction of new age ratings on Relationships, Sex and Health Education content in schools to ensure it is appropriately and sensitively taught , protecting children from inappropriate teaching and enshrining parents’ right to know what their children are being taught.  It is right that we should protect children from inappropriate teaching on sensitive topics and that parents should know what their children are being taught.  That is why the government has published updated guidance to ensure content is factual, appropriate and that children have the capacity to fully understand everything they are being taught. Parents will also have the right to see all the resources that are being used to teach children about these topics. Sex education will not be taught before Year 5, and at that point from a purely scientific standpoint.  It should not be controversial to teach our children that biological sex is a fact.  At secondary school, pupils wi

Thursday music spot: Elton John's "I'm Still Standing"


Quote of the day 16th May 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 15th May 2024


Expanding patient choice

Today the government announced a plan for   the largest expansion of patient choice in a decade , giving patients faster access to treatment and allowing them to decide when, where and how they access care as we stick to our long-term plan to cut waiting lists.  As we work to cut waiting lists, empowering patients to take control over their own healthcare is a key part of our plan for the NHS.  Today's announcement is the largest expansion of patient choice in over a decade, as we allow patients to choose when, where and how they access non-hospital treatment including podiatry, hearing aid care and some diagnostics tests, with pilots launching in the autumn. This will improve outcomes and make life easier for patients. By sticking to the plan Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have cut waiting lists by around 200,000 since September, helping patients get the care they need more quickly, while by comparison in Labour run Wales patients face the worst A&E waiting times in Britain

Midweek music spot: Christopher Tin's "Sogno di Volare" (The Dream of Flight - the Civ6 theme)


Economic stats show signs of the UK economy turning the corner

The independent Office for National Statistics released   job statistics this week which show real wages have grown for the tenth consecutive month , a wages finally start to outpace prices, putting more money in people’s pockets. We have made progress on our priorities, and in particular have delivered on the PM's  promise to halve inflation, which has fallen from 11.1 per cent to 3.2 per cent. We are also making progress on the promise to grow the economy which is beginning to  bounce  back and grew by 0.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2024.  This week’s statistics show that real wages have grown again for the tenth month in a row, with regular wages growing by 6.0 per cent in the past quarter compared with a year before, outpacing inflation at 3.2 per cent. The figures also show there are nearly four million more people in work since 2010 and economic inactivity is lower than any point under the last Labour government. Whilst there is more to do, today’s news shows we must st