Showing posts from June, 2024

UK GDP growth in first quarter of 2024 fastest in the G7


Quote of the day 26th June 2026

"Freedom of speech is the most powerful feature of our democracy. If you’re calling for women to shut up and wishing they didn’t exist, you are the problem." (Prime Minister Rishi Sunak)

Quote of the day 25th June 2024 - statement from Giles Watling.

Below is a statement released by Giles Watling, Conservative candidate in Clacton, about the hustings which had been planned in the constituency, but which was cancelled because Nigel Farage's team failed to respond to repeated invitations to take part. Incidentally, the Reform candidate for Clacton is not the only candidate for Reform or other parties who has not turned up to hustings in the relevant constituency. There have, so far been four hustings in the constituency where I am standing, Leeds North East, all four of which I have attended. Of the eleven candidates standing, six have made it to at least one hustings. The five candidates who have not managed to get to a single hustings in Leeds North East are the candidates representing the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the Yorkshire Party, the SDP, and the Reform party.  The Green candidate sent apologies - including for the Climate and Environment hustings. The Yorkshire party candidate twice indicated that he would atte

Quote of the day 24th June 2024

"Our politics would be so much healthier if people were allowed to hold - and express - different views on sensitive subjects without everyone shrieking about what a terrible person they must be." Isabel Oakeshott on X, formerly Twitter, yesterday.

Leeds leads against Anti-Semitism march this afternoon

This afternoon in Leeds city centre my wife and I were among several hundred people who took part in a peaceful march for peace and against Anti-Semitism organised by Leeds Leads against Anti-semitism. The theme was "Our love is stronger than your hate." The march was held to call for an end to Anti-Semitism and racism. Speakers called for peace in the middle east, for Jewish people and all the communities in the UK to be able to go about their lawful business free from hate and fear, for the return of the hostages. Anti-Semitism has no place in British society. Nor does any other kind of hatred or racism, and that's why I was delighted to be invited to take part in this march.

Quote of the day 23rd June 2024


MoD Defence intelligence update 22nd June 2024


Music to relax after campaigning - Bach's Harpsichord concerto in A major BWV 1055

A good campaigning session today.  Here is some music to which to relax afterwards.

Quote of the day 22nd June 2024

"As I’ve just argued on 5Live, the biggest issue in Europe today - by far - is the killing, mass wounding and terrorising of innocent men, women and children in the Ukraine war.  No one, in any way whatsoever, should give even an inch of excuse for the bloodstained author of all of this: Vladimir Putin.  Not the EU. Not Nato. Putin." ( Tim Montgomerie on X, formerly Twitter)

Action for older people

I met representatives of Age UK today as part of their "Tea with your next MP event." We discussed issues including access to GP appointments, public transport, support for t he voluntary organisations which do so much to help older people, and adult social care. I committed that if elected I would act as a champion for older people. Here is a press release I published after the event explaining what the Conservatives will do for older people if elected.

Music to start the weekend: J.S. Bach's harpsichord concerto in F


Green Belt

When John Prescott said a few years ago that the green belt was a Labour achievement and they meant to build on it, everyone knew it was an amusing slip of the tongue. It looks like some people in the Labour party are taking that idea very seriously. This quote appeared in an article in politicos: We DO need more houses in this country - and the Conservative manifesto also promises to build more - but this approach really isn't the best was to achieve this. Approving every planning application in sight is a recipe for sending hundreds more cars down already congested and unsafe roads, building on flood plains and leaving nowhere for water to go but into people's homes. It isn't even the most effective way to get more affordable homes - because developers do not need  to comply with requirements in a local plan to include a share of affordable homes in all large developments if they know you will approve every application they put in anyway. The new houses we build have to b

Quote of the day 20th June 2024

  "The unspeakable sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th last year is an undeniable fact. Yet there are still those who seek to deny that these atrocities ever took place. On this International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, I call upon the world to affirm that there can be no hierarchy of victims in which Israeli women are doubted and ignored." Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

The amnesty in Northern Ireland should apply to everyone: including veterans

 This is why it is wrong to prosecute British Army veterans and police officers over events during the troubles in Northern Ireland. Not because anyone is above the law. Nobody is above the law. But because the law should apply to everyone. And if you have an amnesty for events during the troubles,  it should apply to everyone , including those who were serving their country. We have had an amnesty for "paramilitaries," which is a euphemism for terrorists. I don't like it. But it was necessary to achieve peace. And under that amnesty 428 convicted terrorists were released from prison. But if we have an amnesty for the actions of terrorists during the troubles, it should apply to the actions of soldiers and police officers who were serving their country and trying to defend the communities in Northern Ireland, often in circumstances requiring extremely difficult split-second decisions while in great personal danger. It was a huge mistake by the Blair government not to insi

Inflation falls to 2%

Inflation has fallen to 2%, hitting the Bank of England target for the first time since Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine sent prices in general and energy prices in particular soaring. See details by following this link: Inflation has returned to the Bank of England’s 2.0 per cent target . The rate of increase of prices is now less than a fifth of what it was when Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister We cannot be complacent about this. Prices are still high, and although the prices of some specific items have gone down, the average level of prices is rising at a lower rate rather than falling. And inflation in Britain is now lower than in most of our main competitors. Inflation is also down to a level low enough that it is realistic for most people's wages and pensions to keep up with it and grow faster than inflation so that their real income can grow and they can become better off. The global pandemic and the impact of the war in Ukraine have clobbered almost everyone's

Quote of the day 19th June 2024

"Inflation is at the Bank of England’s 2.0% target for the first time in three years, lower than in Europe and the United States – because we stuck to the plan.  There’s more to do, but the last thing families need now is an unaccountable Labour government with a big majority putting up their taxes." ( Jeremy Hunt , Chancellor of the Exchequer)

MoD Defence intelligence update 18th June 2024


Backing Britain's farmers

  Today, speaking to farmers and fishermen in Devon, the Prime Minister made clear that only the Conservatives have a clear plan to stand by Britain’s fishing and farming communities whilst Labour would impose a £1 billion tax raid on British food producers. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated our support for the family farm – including by boosting the farming budget by £1 billion, working with farmers to deliver the first legally binding food security target and protecting tax reliefs that ensure farming families do not pay inheritance tax. By comparison, Labour could only mange 87 words about farming in their entire manifesto. Here is how the two manifestos compare:

Doctor's Pay Deal

A Statement from the Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Victoria Atkins, about the agreement reached with the BMA for pay for SAS doctors

Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto in D Major Op. 6 No. 4, complete. Voices of ...

A good day's campaigning was rather brutally interrupted this afternoon when the heavens suddenly opened and it started to rain very heavily indeed. Both I and another Conservative candidate who I was campaigning with were most grateful to a very kind lady and gentleman who invited us in to shelter from the storm, and also offered us both a cup of coffee while we waited.  Otherwise we would have been drenched. Bit of a meme for Conservative candidates from the Prime Minister down to get wet from the rain during this election, but grateful to have been spared it. The age of empathy is not dead! And to relax on returning at the end of the day - a Corelli Concerto.

Register to vote today, and use your vote

 If you have not already registered to vote in the UK general election 2024, the deadline to do so is a minute to midnight tonight. However you vote, whether it is for the Conservative party which I support and for which I am standing as the candidate in Leeds North East or for any other party, it is important to vote. The right to vote is precious. People have fought and died for it. Groups in society within which a high proportion of people vote are less likely to be marginalised and more likely to be listened to by politicians of all parties. So whether you are inclined to support my party or not, I would urge you to register to vote today if you have not already done so, and I urge you to vote.

Quote of the day 18th June 2024


Opposing Anti-Semitism

I am very proud of the fact that, as a county councillor, I successfully proposed that the council of which I was a member should adopt the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism . and did so in a non-partisan way which was able to gain unanimous support. You can find a report of that meeting at Cumbria County Council adopts antisemitism definition | News and Star . So of course, when I was asked by the Campaign against Anti-semitism during this 2024 general election if I am willing to promote that definition I agreed to do so: I already support and have promoted this definition. The pledge which I have signed for this election reads as follows: Candidates' pledge on antisemitism I pledge to adopt and abide by the International Definition of Antisemitism (also known as the IHRA Definition), and to encourage and promote its widespread adoption and implementation, unamended and in its entirety, to the exclusion of any other definition or mod

Well done England

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

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's day to all dads reading this.

Sunday music spot: Rejoice In The Lord Alway (Henry Purcell)


Eid Mubarak

  Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating at home and around the world

Second Hustings of the Campaign

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

MoD Defence intelligence updates 14 June 2024


Music to start the weekend: the Albinoni Adagio

I have posted many times about the actual provenance of this piece. It is a mid-20th century creation by Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto, who claimed to have found a fragment of an Albinoni composition in the archives of a bombed-out German library, in Dresden, and recreated what the original might have been like from that fragment. That library did contain a trove of Albinoni’s compositions that were destroyed when the city was firebombed during World War II, so Giazotto’s claim was plausible. Whether or not there really was an Albinoni fragment, and whether or not it sounded anything like this, Giazotto's work is still a delight to listen to.

Quote of the day 14th June 2024

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

Conservative tax proposals


MoD Defence intelligence update 12th June 2024


Helping young people to buy their first home


Conservative policies in the manifesto

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

Quote of the day 12th June 2024

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

Conservative Manifesto Launched

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

Please note that my email address has changed

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

First Hustings of the campaign

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

"Pot, Kettle, Black" comment of the year

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

Recruiting 8,000 more police officers

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

MoD Defence intelligence update 10th June 2024


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

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

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

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

Sunday music spot: the Allegri Miserere

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

Music to relax after campaigning: Handel's Sarabande

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

Quote of the day 8th June 2024

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

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


Cutting tax on hardworking families

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

Quote of the day 7th June 2024


Rob Burrow RIP

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

Supporting our veterans

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

D Day commemorations, Day two

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

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

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

D-Day commemorations, day one

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

Second quote of the day 5th June 2024

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

Quote of the day 5th June 2024

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

Controlling Immigration

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

Quote of the day 4th June 2024

From tonight's debate

Chris Whiteside selected for Leeds North East

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

MoD Defence intelligence update 4th June 2024


Protecting Women

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

MoD Defence Intelligence Update 2nd June 2024


Expending Community Care - Pharmacy First

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

Quote of the day 2nd June 2024

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