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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford dies

I am just about to leave for the airport for a week's holiday. I switched on to BBC Breakfast news and found out Gerald Ford has died. He can hardly be regarded as one of the greats- indeed he is the only man to become Vice President and then President and never to be elected to either office.

He was briefly VP after the resignation of Spiro Agnew in 1973, who resigned after charges of tax evasion. He was eventually given three years' probation.

After Nixon resigned, it only took Ford a month to grant the former president a pardon. He announced his decision on a Sunday morning, vainly hoping it would not cause too much of a stirr. That undoubtedly made sure he would never be elected president himself, although after two scandals in a year, it was unlikely anyway the republicans were going to stay in the White House.

The current president has paid tribute to Ford, praising his integrity and common sense. I can't see where he gets that from. Those days from 1973 - 1980 are days the republican party would rather forget. Good things do come out adversity, however, and if the '76 election had not gone the way of the Democrats, Ronald Reagan may never have become president.

Having said all of that, I do send his widow, Betty, and his family my condolences.

I will be back to blogging in a week's time and a Happy New Year to everyone.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What are the seven best things I did this year?

Just as the turkey is digesting and you are trying to work out how much wine you have consumed - and failed to work that one out - you realise you have been tagged. Wonderful, I thought. So here it is - thanks to Bel - the seven best things I did this year:

1. I started my blog. (I hope you all agree it was a good thing)

2. I got actively involved in political campaigning again.

3. I became a school governor

4. I renewed and strengthened friendships.

5. I visited a friend in the US, twice.

6. I helped my parents move from a large house in to a smaller, warden controlled, flat. This is more for them, as it was the best move they could ever have made. They love it.

7. I can't think of anything else. Quite frankly, 2006 is a year I would rather forget, for personal reasons. 2007 is going to be much better and I can't wait!


I know I am duty bound to pass this tag to others, however, I will not compel anyone to do it. If you want to, then post it on your blog and send me a message, and I will read with interest.

British, through and through

You Belong in the UK

Blimey!
A little proper, a little saucy.
You're so witty and charming...
No one notices your curry breath


I got this from The ThunderDragon and The Last Ditch.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm on holiday

I've finished work now - apart from a friend's son's driving test tomorrow morning - and I am about to go and see my parents for Christmas. As they do not have an internet connection, it will be no more blogging for a while.

I briefly return home on Boxing Day and the next day - unless there is fog - I will be flying out to France for a week to stay with some friends.

The Conservative Party is ending the year with a decent lead over Labour, although as we all know, it will have to increase much more. However, a decent lead is a positive and I would rather be David Cameron right now than Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.

May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More support for an English Parliament

I've have got these quotes from Iain Dale. The support for an English Parliament is growing. Before too long it will be unstoppable. The first quote is from the Speaker of the Welsh Assembly and the second from Frank Field, a Labour MP, whom many of you will know.

Lord Elis-Thomas said: "In England I detect there is a strong feeling that the consequences of devolution for England must now be addressed. I think it is important for those of us who campaigned for devolution in Scotland and Wales to support that. There should be a proper English Parliament, and that could be arranged very easily if the Commons sat on a Tuesday or Wednesday as an English parliament."

Frank Field said: "I think the danger is that the English voters will see that we are against the English, and as they make up the vast majority of voters and return the vast majority of MPs, it's not a position to get into if you're only worried about the politics of it." He said English voters had to see Labour represented their views adding: "There's going to be another big sweeping issue that the electorate in England has got a clear view on, and the Labour Party is opposed to it."

The support is growing every day.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

English Parliament

John Redwood has recently started a blog and has made an entry on his thoughts on an English Parliament. Read it here. As there are over 500 elected English MPs, I agree with him.

Life on the Edge

No, I'm not talking about John Prescott's personal life. This story in the Hull Daily Mail, is about property owners who are about to lose their homes through coastal erosion.

The government has a non-intervention policy when it comes to coastal erosion and therefore the council is not allowed to intervene. So, if you are someone whose home is about to fall in to the sea and of course lose your money in that property, what will the government do for you? Make you pay for its demolition! Yes that's right, the government who will not allow councils to intervene and try to halt the erosion will make you pay to demolish your own home. And on top of that will not give you a penny in compensation. In East Yorkshire only a few properties are at risk during the next five years, so it hardly going to cost the Treasury a fortune.

This government's answer to all problems is throw money at it. And if that doesn't work, throw even more money at it, yet it cannot help people who are about to lose their homes in this way. Call me cynical, but if this was happening in Labour constituencies, do you think there may be a different response?

Blair stands by the special relationship with the US...

And so would I for that matter, but the Chatham House report didn't say that we should scrap the relationship. It said Blair's legacy would be the "disaster" of Iraq and his failure to influence the US.

The special relationship initially referred to the friendship between Churchill and FDR and has at times been weak and strong. It was particulary strong between Thatcher and Reagan, where there was a meeting of minds and the two of them regarded themselves as equals. That did not mean the UK supported the US blindly, and vice-versa.

Blair is regarded as Bush's poodle and for very good reasons. The 'Yo Blair' incident earlier this year only reaffirmed what we thought. Having said that, shortly there will be a new president and a new prime minister. How strong the special relationship will be then, will utimately depend on the new incumbents.

Monday, December 18, 2006

We are the most Eurosceptic of them all

Only 34% of us here in Britain think membership of the EU is a good thing. The most Europhile nation is Ireland. 78% of the Irish think it's good to be in the EU. Citizens in ten of the member states give the EU an approval rating of 50% or less. If the EU was a country, I think the president or prime minister would be desperately trying to change policies and appeal to the electorate. But as the EU is not a democratic nation state, we all know what will happen as a result of this survey. Nothing at all.

hat-tip: UK Daily Pundit

Drugs

PraugeTory posted yesterday about the Ipswich murders and you will see a couple of comments from me there too. Read it here.

I was reading the Hull Daily Mail today and on the front page was the excellent news that the police have seized two dairies containing the names and contact details of dozens of suspected drug dealers and users in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. Read it here.

Drug users need help; it is the drug dealers we have to drive off the streets. So good to see inroads in my part of the world.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Labour are a shambles

So a spokesman for Blair says the leaked memo has not come from No. 10. Well they would, wouldn't they? Read it here.Whether it has or it hasn't, makes no difference to me. They are a shambles; they know they are a shambles and they know the electorate have the same opinion.

Bring on Gordon. The dour Scot, who will try to distance himself from Blair, even though he was Chancellor for 10 years, will be no match for a revitalised Conservative Party under Cameron.

Shambolic, tired, sleaze ridden. What ever you call it, this government is on the way out.

And the TIME person of the year is?

You, or us, to be more precise. I have recieved an e-mail from Time with a link to its cover story. Time has regognised to power of the information age, and the power that ordinary people have through blogs, myspace, youtube, etc. Read more about it here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Smoking

I know, for some, smoking is an emotive issue, and I can't say smoking cigarettes is good for you, and yes, I would dearly like to 'kick the habit.' I have, however, just seen an advertisment on behalf of the Department of Health and this has made me mad. It describes smoking as the biggest health threat known to man.

Why is it then, that other European countries who have a high rate of smoking in their population, don't have the same levels of smoking related diseases as we do? Is it because of diet? Why are there people who have smoked all their lives and still live to a grand old age? How many people can you name who have died from passive smoking? Roy Castle? Is that it? It probably is. If you walk down a busy high street with stationary cars around you belching out fumes, you can't tell me that is less of a health risk than smoking?

Smoking is not good for you, but neither is eating a large amount of fatty foods, lack of exercise, etc. It is not the biggest evil in the world. If you don't like the smell of cigarette smoke, then that is an honest answer and I have sympathy with you. But if you think you are going to die if you smell cigarette smoke and it is the greatest evil known to man, then you are deluded and believe the health fascists. The same health fascists change their minds on such a regular basis; so why should we believe anything they say? The government should spend our money wisely, instead of trying to create fear.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Voters favour McCain over Clinton in '08

I have just received an e-mail from the Los Angeles Times with this link. It makes interesting reading.

Diana inquiry

So, Lord Stevens has finally reported after three years of intensive investigation. And the result? The car crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed was a tragic accident. I could have told you that three years ago. If there was a conspiracy on the part of any security services, they would have covered their tracks so well, Lord Stevens would never have stood a chance. This report has been a complete waste of money. The paparazzi were probably the people who were the most responsible. If it wasn't for them, plans would not have been changed and a drunken chauffer would not have been unexpectedly called to drive the two of them away from the Ritz. But if we blame the paparazzi, then those who buy the publications that contain those photographs are just as culpable. Personally, I couldn't give a damn what 'celebrities' get up to, but it seems there are many people who do.

What a good day to bury bad news

You have to hand it to those Labour spin doctors. With the media trying to divide itself between Ipswich and Lord Stevens we hear the news that 2500 post offices will be closing. Another nail in the coffin for rural communities. This is a government which simply does not care about anyone other than their own voters. And of course Tony Balir being interviewed by the police and the announcement by Lord Goldsmith; just a coincidence? Another good to day to bury bad news!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tory lead diminishes

Although this may seem negative, it is interesting to note that if Gordon Brown was PM, David Cameron would have a bigger lead than previous polls. Read about the poll here.

Although at heart I have always been a Tory, David Cameron brought me back as a member of the party. I back him and I fully expect him to be the next prime minister. Although Gordon Brown will try and set himself apart from Blair, he cannot get away from the fact he was the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the Blair years. Cameron offers something different. He offers a fresh approach and when middle England comes to make a decision, they will back him.
There are many constituencies - like Brigg and Goole which has a small Labour majority - that can easily become Tory and do not underestimate the British electorate. People in those constituencies will know how important they are and will vote the Conservatives back in again. This is not going to happen without any work - far from it. It will mean all activists will have to get out and deliver leaflets, knock on doors and canvess on the streets. We have to show the electorate that the Conservative Party is back in business. If we do, we will be back in government.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fiji

Now that the coup - which was widely predicted - has taken place and once again Fiji is suspended from the commonwealth it is interesting to see what ordinary Fijians thinks about this. So I looked at the online edition of the Fiji Times and looked at the letters page. You will see they have seen this all before. Perhaps the commonwealth leaders should take note. Read the letters here.

Augusto Pinochet


Pinochet may well have helped us in the Falkland's conflict and although help is always appreciated and in many ways was critical the fact remains he was a nasty dictator who was responsible for the torture and death of his opponents. Baroness Thatcher must have the biggest pair of rose-tinted spectacles to view him as a friend. Just because someone helps you doesn't mean you have to be eternally grateful and show a blind eye to mass murder.
He may have turned Chile around and made it the most successful economy in South America, however for those families who still mourn their loved ones who disappeared during the Pinochet years, no tears will be shed.
UPDATE: I was looking on The New York Times website and saw the healine, 'Pinochet Passes, Chilean Bloggers React.' Read about it here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bob Piper

Bob Piper's racist slur at that Conservative Party has reached the BBC. Click here to read the story.

Jumping through the hoops to get a passport.

According to The Sunday Times, this is what we will have to do to get a passport in the near future. Tony Blair still insists ID cards will combat terrorism and help in the fight against illegal immigration. Does he really believe it or is he starting to believe his own spin? As I - and many others - have said before, ID cards would never have stopped the 7/7 bombings.

What the article doesn't say is the type of questions you may be asked at an interview in the passport office. That is the bit that concerns me. The record of this government on civil liberties is shocking, so I am not filled with any hope here. I can imagine the questioning being very intrusive. I cannot think of anything else they need to know about me. In previous employment I have signed the Official Secrets' Act twice. As a driving instructor I am on an official register. As we speak, a CRB check is being done on me so I can become a school governor. Perhaps they are going to get me to sign a declaration to say I have never been involved with espionage and have never tried to overthrow the government by non-legitimate means. As if I would admit to it if I had done. No, I can see yet more liberties that we have taken for granted going down the swanny river, all in the cause of Blair's costly, beaurocratic folly.

Friday, December 08, 2006

General Sir Mike Jackson Speaks Out.


General Sir Mike Jackson, the recently retired chief of the army has launched an attack on the government. Read more about it here. What the general has said is typical of the man. I remember a Royal Marine telling me he went in to a gym on a base in Iraq and noticed there was a guard outside the door. He said he knew the man inside the gym was an officer so he said, 'Hello Sir', and the two of them got talking. The officer was asking him how conditions really were for him, was he being treated properly, did he have the right equipment, etc. This marine thought nothing of it until he saw the telelvision the next day and noticed it was Mike Jackson. He may have been a general, but he never stopped caring about the men and women in his charge, depsite the politics.

Sir Mike is correct to criticise the MoD for the poor pay of our armed forces and the lack of basic equipment. This is - as he says - causing a bad recruitment problem, even though the MoD - quite naturally - will not admit to the scale of the problem. I was told by some soldiers recently that when Tony Blair went on a visit to Afghanistan a few weeks ago, he was 'booed' by the soldiers there and the army found it very difficult to get anyone to pose in a picture with the PM. That is what the troops on the ground think of Blair and I'm pleased Sir Mike has spoken out.

Rapist wins £50K

Read the full story here. This is a man from Somalia who was convicted in 1998 of raping a woman by knifepoint; who showed no remorse for his crime and refused to go on a sex offender treatment programme. The authorities quite rightly kept him in costody after he completed his sentance so he could be deported. He refused to leave voluntarily and it proved impossible to remove him forcibly because of the absence of a recognised government in Mogadishu and the refusal of commercial airlines to carry deportees.

So why is he awarded £50K? Because he should have been released on bail, even though he would have absconded and there wouldn't have been a cat in hell's chance of finding him again. Have our judges gone mad? Here is a man who should no longer be in this country, who would have most likely have offended again and we are giving him fifty grand for his trouble.

On a very serious note, does this ruling open the floodgates for others in the same position. Everyone has human rights, yes; but if you should longer be here, are dangerous, have been convicted of a crime and are awaiting deportation, you should not be realeased.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What about the NHS Mr Brown?


Highlighted by George Osborne today, was the fact the Chancellor never mentioned the crisis in the NHS. With so many cuts happening all over the country, you would have thought this was an issue he may have tried to address. Put simply, he is more interested in becoming prime minister next year than whether people have to travel many more miles to access services that are local to them now.

The Green Chancellor?

Some of the headlines I have read since Gordon Brown delivered his pre-budget statement have been describing him as the 'green chancellor.' Today he has increased fuel duty by 1.25p a litre and has increased the tax we have to pay to get out of the UK from £5 to £10.

This is simply an excuse to raise more revenue for the Treasury under the guise of being green. I have been looking up some figures to see just how much of an impact all forms of transport in the UK have on the enviroment. If you include domestic car use, haulage, sea travel, air travel (not including international air travel) and trains you may be surprised by the figure. The total amount of CO2 created is around 13%. Air travel is responsible for just 2% of CO2 emissions, although scientists tell us it is nitrous oxide that is more dangerous to the ozone layer than the CO2. Even so, 87% of CO2 is created by means other than us going about our daily business.

A 1.25p increase in fuel duty is not going to stop me driving and charging me an extra fiver to fly out of the country is not going to stop me flying. And I don't feel guilty at all, not while China and India start polluting our atmosphere more each day. These tax rises are what they are; tax rises and I am sure as we speak the Treasury will be thinking up all sorts of new ways to tax us under the guise of being 'green.'

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A cricket fan in mourning

Before I go to bed, I am sure many of you along with me have been angry today. England contrived to lose this test match; driving at wide balls that should have been left. Paul Collingwood, Kevin Peiterson and Matthew Hoggard put England in a great position to draw, and the rest of the team should hang their heads in shame. Today was the fifth day of a test match; not a one-day international. All that was required was to bat the overs out. It isn't pleasant to watch, but so what? Australia just one-up in the series would have been better than two-up. I cannot see England recovering from this position. If you squander chances against Australia this is what you can expect.

Alexander Litvinenko

The Russian government have flatly refused to extradite anyone the British authorities want in connection to the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. Yet we will happily consider any Russian requests for extradition. Have a look at John Wilkes' blog. He, as always, will tell you more.

Royal Marines

Today, in Afganistan, one marine has been killed and another is stable in hospital after a battle with the Taleban. I have taught dozens of marines to drive over the years and I can tell you they are the finest men you could want to meet. They have an atttitude of, 'Lets get the job done.' They are some of the most sarcastic men you could ever want to meet, however, they are the best trained men in any armed forces in the world. We all should be very proud of them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mince pies

Now I know this is something not many bloggers will talk about, but I have to share this with you. According to the BBC, organisers of a village Christmas party have been told they must carry out a risk assesment of their mince pies - or their festivities will be cancelled. The reason for this? Well, the local council in Embsay, in the Yorkshire Dales, say posters should be displayed warning villagers that the pies may contain nuts and suet pastry and the cocoa content and the temperature of the hot chocolate must also be checked.

I don't about you, but I think there are more than just traces of nuts in the council there. One of the local residents said the rules had made the small party as difficult to arrange as the Great Yorkshire Show! I'm with him on that one. I do have one thing to add, and pardon me for any ignorance shown. If you had an allergy to nuts, would you eat a sweet mince pie? I thought you wouldn't!

Beware of a middle-aged man giving away free candy!

My mother always taught me as a child; never accept sweets from a stranger. It has always helped throughout my life and today is another day I remember her wise words. The 'Iron Chancellor'- or 'Prudence' as I like to call him - will lower the rate of income tax by 2p in the first twelve months of his premiership. Now we all have to call him 'Uncle Gordon.' Well, Uncle Gordon, I have one thing to say to you. You have taken more candy off me in the past ten years than you can ever give me back; so bugger off!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

According to The Sunday Times today "THE Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has expressed his anger at Britain’s failure to gag Alexander Litvinenko in the final hours of his life, the cabinet has been told."

Well, what a surprise there! Under Putin's presidency, many critics of him have died under mysterious circumstances, including twenty-one journalists. Once a KGB man; always a KGB man.

Campaigning in Goole


Yesterday I had an excellent day in Goole. As part of the NHYes campaign, I accompanied Andy Percy, our candidate for Brigg and Goole, Martine Martin and Neil Cropper from Hull University CF and other activists and helped collect signatures for a petition against NHS cuts. I also met Timothy Kirkhope MEP, leader of the Conervatives' in the European Parliament. Timothy joined us for the morning.

The response was great and many people we approached had no idea just how many cuts were happening to THEIR services. Goole is a Labour town, which made the response we got even more fantastic. When you talk to people, everyone has a tale about the NHS. Unfortunately today, many of the stories are not positive and that is largely due to the cuts Gordon Brown is making. I look forward to many more vists helping Andy win this seat for the Conservatives.

MPs Salaries

Do our MPs deserve a salary increase of 66% to increase their salaries to £100,000? Members of the US House and Senate get $165,000, and although that is around £30,000 more, I don't think they would ever try to get an increase of 66% in one go. We are trying to get more people participating in elections and the whole political process. This is not going to help.

Friday, December 01, 2006

BNP Update

Following on from my entry yesterday; the BNP did not win the council seat. They did however get 26.7% of the vote and for me that is worrying. I think it is a protest vote and perhaps it is the electorate trying to give a wake up call to the major parties. 26.7% it still high and the highest percentage of the vote the BNP have ever had in North Yorkshire. All of us who are members of the major parties need to get out on the streets and get our message accross to reverse this trend.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

BNP

Have a look at Martine Martin's blog, and you will see she has been campaigning for the Conservatives' in Scarborough. Then look at the reply from the BNP secretary in Scarborough and you will see what a bunch of ignorant, bigoted, nasty, violent, abusive, disgusting, racist thugs they are. I have tried to find his e-mail address, but it seems everything to do with the BNP is centralised, so I cannot get hold of him. Everyone who has received a message similar to this on their blog should contact their local newspaper. Eventually the nationals will get hold of it and hopefully the electorate will really see how repulsive these people are. Martine reacted with typical good humour. These people should crawl back under the stone they managed to escape from.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blog Regulation

Many blogs have covered the story, so I don't want to labour - pardon the pun - on about this one. I only have one thing to say. The majority of political blogs are Conservative. I believe this is an important way to energise Conservatives to get out there on the streets and support their local candidates. The Lib-Dems have many bloggers too and I am sure it is important for them to do the same. Unfortunately, for Labour, blogging doesn't seem to have 'taken off' for them. So what do they want to do? Regulate! Why am I not surprised Labour want to regulate? Because they are frightened.

More NHS cuts

Do remember when Labour used to say the NHS was only safe in their hands? They said things like, we created the NHS and it is only us who can be trusted with it. So why am I not surprised to find more people trust the Conservatives' with the NHS than Labour? Look HERE.

This is yet another example of how Labour want to centralise everything and take away local services from local people. When anyone asks me why I am a Conservative, my reply is always the same. 'I believe in the individual, family and community, making decisions for themselves and about themselves without having the interfering hand of government meddling in their affairs.' Centralising hospital services many miles away from some communities is another example of taking away choice and convenience and effects some of the most vulnerable citizens; such as the elderly. Thank goodness the East Riding has Conservative MPs who will fight these changes. Graham Stuart, the Beverley and Holderness MP said, 'I will use every weapon at my disposal to maintain our hospitals.' And I know he will.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Diana

Iain Dale has an interesting piece on Princess Diana. If she had died now, would we feel the same? I remember the day she died. I turned up at church to play the organ and I didn't have a clue she had died. Suddenly everything was different. I had to change the music and the air was very sombre. We had a service for her on the Friday - the day before her funeral - and on the day I watched her funeral with my Dad; both of us sobbing. She was a remarkable woman and her causes still go on today. Who can forget her touching AIDS patients? It made us all realise we couldn't catch AIDS by being next to them. She broke down barriers of ignorance and made us all aware. She will always be in the public conscience and how we would react now does not matter. She was one of a kind.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Iraq

The latest bombings in Iraq today show us all that civil war is not imminent; it is here. If this is not civil war, then I don't know what is. I don't think the suicide bombers even know what they are fighting for now. There have been over 3000 deaths in Iraq in October and this month could be even more bloody. Everyone knows my views on the war. I was against it, as I predicted, correctly, Iraq would descend in to bloody chaos. I wish I had been wrong; but I was not. What we now have to decide it what the coalition response is going to be.

I have read some commentators whose opinion is get out now; we are not doing any good, in fact we making the situation worse. This is fundamentally wrong. Although British and American troops are loosing their lives, that is nothing compared to the Iraqi death toll. Iraqis are killing Iraqis in ever increasing numbers and if we do pull out now the situation will get worse; not better.

Other commentators prefer the deadline approach. This too is fundamentally wrong. If we say we are going to withdraw on such a date, it leaves our troops badly exposed. Insurgents will take every opportunity to target our forces before the withdrawl date. It is also impractical on another level. We cannot predict accurately what the political situation will be like in say, a year, or next spring, as the British Foreign Secretary hopes for.

The only thing we can do is stay there for as long as it takes and forget targets and deadlines; at least for the time being. This will take years and the British and American electorate will not like it; but that is what happens when you invade another country. It is your responsibility to see it out to the end. When I last visited the US in March of this year, I noticed many signs outside businesses saying, 'Bring our boys back home.' I can empathise with the family of a serviceman and if it was a son of mine out there I would want him back to, but this is not the right response. It is an unfortunate part of life that some countries will fragment unless there is a brutal dictator in charge. It is an unpalatable thought to those of us in the west; however it is true. The terrorists didn't get a look in when Saddam ruled. Getting rid of a dictator my sound good and look good on paper, but before we get ourselves involved with anything like this again, we have to look at the consequences of our actions and determine whether it will be in the long term good for the world. There are many people and many countries throughout the world where democracy is alien. They do not see it our way. There are tribal and caste systems in place and they seem to be happy. We must resist the temptation of forcing democracy down other peoples throats and telling them they should be grateful. I hope and pray we learn our lessons from Iraq and not jump in too quickly in to another country, without thinking about the ramifications.

Freedom of information

Martine Martin has a good peice on Freedom of Information and how the government might just get around it on cost grounds. It seems as if the government giveth in one hand and taketh away with the other, when it is in their interests, of course.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stand on his head and juggle ice-cream.

Yes, believe it or not, if you go on to the 10 Downing Street website, you can petition the prime minister to do just that. At the time of writing, 1087 people have petitioned Tony and the good news is you have up until August 16 2007 to sign up. What on earth in the point of this petition section? Currently over 3000 people want the fox hunting act repealed. All of us know that is not going to happen. You can also e-mail Tony on the website, as if you are going to get a personal reply! A lot of the website is good; other parts are just a propaganda machine, telling us how much money Labour has spent making our lives better. New Labour; new ways to waste taxpayers money.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Teachers

For some reason this has been spinning in my mind for a couple of days and I have to put pen to paper.

I want to tell you a story about a friend on mine. My friend is a twin and throughout his schooling in the 60s, he was told he would never come to anything; unlike his brother. His brother recently retired as a police Chief Inspector; so he did okay; but what about my friend? He became a highly qualified motor engineer. Good so far? The story doesn't end there. He went back to college; sat 'O' Levels and 'A' Levels; went to King's College, London, got a Bachelor of Divinity degree and became an Associate of King's College; got ordained a priest in the Church of England, and is still in the job and is an honorary canon of Durham Cathedral. So things turned out alright there then. He was constantly put down by his teachers and so gave up in school, but that didn't mean he was stupid; that is evident.

Now let me tell you a story about me. At the tender age of five, I didn't pick up reading as quickly as my fellow classmates. So, I was put at the back of the class and forgotten about. I went, a couple of years later, to a remedial reading class that was run by a family friend. She told my mother after a few sessions there was nothing wrong with my reading, it was the teacher's fault.

Teachers can inspire or they can destroy. If it wasn't for my music teacher at school I would never have learned the piano, organ and got involved with musical theatre. I would not have the musical appreciation I have now. If it wasn't for my French teacher, I would not have the love of France and the French language I have now. Those two teachers were passionate about their subjects and the enthusiasm they showed rubbed off on me.

A lot is spoken about education and I applaud good teachers everywhere for their tireless work; but for those bad teachers everywhere, I have this one sentence to say. Get another job; you are potentially ruining the lives of many young people.

I have been tagged

I was looking at Robert Rams' blog and thought, I hope I don't get tagged on this one and before I knew it Robert had tagged me. Well here goes. Ten things I will never do.

1. Vote tactically. I did at the last election, to my shame. We all should vote for what and whom we believe in. In my defence, I was trying to get rid of Labour. It didn't work. I'll never do it again.

2. Trust a word Tony Blair says. I haven't believed him much anyway, but if he told me my house was on fire, I would rest at ease, knowing everything was alright.

3. Travel on a fast ferry. I am hopeless at sea and thought a ride across the channel on a fast ferry would be better than a slower one. Fast ferries are smaller, and I felt as sick as a dog.

4. Fly British Airways. This is not just to do with the cross saga. I dislike their dirty tricks. Ask Freddie Laker and Richard Branson.

5. Judge people on face value. I was in a gas station in the southern suburbs of Chicago earlier this year. It was a poor neighbourhood and I felt ill at ease as my friend - an American - and I were the only white people there. I accidentally bumped in to a very big, tall guy, and cringed. He apologised! People are people and they never stop amazing me.

6. Stop fighting for our rights. Americans are lucky. They have the right to freedom of expression and speech enshrined in law. This government takes advantage of the fact we do not.

7. Stop laughing. Laughter is the best medicine.

8. Buy the Daily Mail again. Just because we disagree with non-conservatives politically, doesn't mean people of other parties have nothing to offer. The Daily Mail spits out vitriol for the sake of it.

9. Take my parents' for granted. When one of them nearly dies, you learn to value them even more.

10. Quit, give in or give up. Churchill told us never to and if he had, where would we be today?



Yes Robert, that was more difficult than it first seems; although it is a good exercise. Now I will send this tag to these people. Praguetory, Martinemartin, AndyPercy, and send one accross the Atlantic to MediaLizzy

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Should our troops be paid more?

I saw in the newspaper yesterday, Tony Blair addressing our troops in Afghanistan. He told them how proud he was. Then a Lance Corporal in the Royal Marines asked the prime minister about more pay for troops on active service. He has a point. Tony said he couldn't make any promises. Come on Tony! It is hard work on a six month tour and they should be rewarded and they shouldn't have to pay tax on their earnings when they are on tour. And then I hear Cherie Blair is likely to pocket £100K on the US lecture circuit, trading on the fact she is the prime minister's wife. So, it's okay to swell the Blair coffers, but not to reward our troops.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Calling all Conservatives in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire...

Andy Percy, the newly elected candidate for Brigg and Goole will welcome your help. Labour has just under a 3000 majority and that is looking more than vulnerable. This is a must win seat at the next election. If you can give him your help; please do and help get a Conservative government.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Iain Duncan Smith

I have just been reading an interview with Iain Duncan Smith in The Sunday Times. Some people in his position could have retreated into political obscurity; griping on the backbenches and causing trouble. No; instead he has been fighting for the poorest in our society and he will soon present a report on how to tackle some of the problems on our most run-down estates. I say our run-down estates, as this is happening here in Britain; not somewhere obscure a few thousand miles away. It is so refreshing to see a Conservative tackling these problems head-on. It is our area. We want to bring everyone up, whereas the left would rather drag everyone down and with IDS we have a passionate voice. Good on you!

A trip to the coast

This afternoon, I have been communing with nature. No, it was nothing illegal, so I didn't get arrested. I visited a friend in Lincolnshire and we headed off for Donna Nook on the Lincolnshire coast. RAF Donna Nook is a RAF firing range and for some unknown reason, starting around ten years ago, seals go there to give birth to their pups. Last year almost a thousand pups were born there and although this year the numbers are down, getting up close and personal with baby seals and their mothers is wonderful. Some of the pups were just a few hours old, with large, doleful eyes. One mother was patting her pup on the head before the pup started feeding off her. They will be there until the end of the year and if you go at the beginning of December you will probably see the greatest number of seals. Take the kids and just watch their faces.

Tony Blair in Pakistan

I have just been watching a press conference with Tony Blair and President Musharraf. What Blair is doing as he grandstands his way around the world, is to try and secure a positive legacy. Bill Clinton tried in vain to secure middle east peace at the end of his presidency, and it seems Mr Blair is doing exactly the same. As noble an aim as it is, the Iraq war will come back to haunt him. One of the main reasons I was against the war, was because it would destabilise the region. And that is what it has done and has set back the chances of peace.

Mr Blair also now admits to what everyone else in the world thinks, that the violence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion has been a disaster. Another reason not to go to war in the first place. Anyone who understands the history of Iraq, knew the country would descend in to bloodshed.

Unfortunately for the prime minister his legacy will be Iraq and probably cash for peerages. His government promised so much, yet failed to deliver. It accused the tories of sleaze, but is sleaze ridden to the core. Tony Blair looks jaded and knows he is on the way out and the sooner he goes, the better.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Are Christians being persecuted again?

According to The Times today, Christian Unions in various universities around the country are preparing to take legal action, because they are being refused free use of university facilities; taken off the list student organisations and are generally being targeted. Why? Because they are too exclusive. They do not allow non-christians on their governing bodies. They are seen to be too narrow.

This is political correctness gone completely bonkers. Of course a Christian Union is going to be exclusive in the fact only Christians are going to be members. Of course they are only going to have Christians on their governing bodies. Why else would you want to run a Christian organisation, if you weren't a Christian? Before we know it, the Church of England will be forced to have non-Christians on its synods; after all the church would not want to exclude, wouldn't it?

As political correctness is something I have never really got my head around and never will; I will say this. If an Islamic society was treated in exactly the same way, it would make headline news and the story would run for days. It would indeed be wrong to treat Muslims in this way, just as it is wrong to treat Christians in this way too. In this country we have to get back to real equality and freedom of expression and speech; and that means for everyone.

Friday, November 17, 2006

ID Cards

For anyone interested in the ID cards debate, check this out on looking for a voice blog, ,for Friday November 17. http://lookingforavoice.blogspot.com/ You will see how ID cards work; albeit in an extreme way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tony Blair & Consensus

I heard today, Tony Blair intends push again for 90 days without charge for terrorist suspects, however, he wants to acheive this through consensus. I was wondering if that was the same consensus he was talking about before the Iraq war. I remember him on television in Gateshead, appearing before a studio audience, ensuring us all he would not go to war without UN approval. We all know the outcome of that one, and although I would agree the UN doesn't have any teeth, what Mr Blair says and what he does, are quite often two very different things.

I haven't heard a convincing reason for detaining someone for 90 days without charge. We all have to accept that in the age we live in - with a clear terrorist threat facing this country - some of our civil rights will have to be compromised for the security of our country, however taking three months out of someone's life without charging them with some sort of crime, is too long and I fear it is only the 'thin end of the wedge.' Are the police going to turn around and say in the future 90 days is not enough? Will it be 120 days? 150 days? Are we going to go down the Guantanamo Bay route?

I think the best route to take, is the case-by-case route. Give judges the power to decide on each case on its own merit, if there is a compelling case. I know this information is sensitive and I'm not talking about going down to the local magistrates' court. For that to work, the case would have to be heard in private, in front of a senior judge, who will be suitably qualifed in law to make such decisions. Giving the police a blanket 90 days goes too far and the prime minister should accept he has lost this one and not keep going back to parliament again and again until he gets his own way.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Queen's Speech

Today we heard a Queen's Speech I was expecting. Very general; low in detail. I really don't feel anymore informed today than I was yesterday. It seem as if everyone in Whitehall is waiting for Tony Blair to go, and for the new chap to take over; the heavyweight champion of the world, with the knockout punch. We do know the government will do everything in its power to bring Israel and the Palestinians together around the peace table. Middle Eastern peace is a priority. I would think this was noble if it were not for the fact the Middle East is a more volatile place now - thanks to the Iraq policy - than it was a few years ago; but we knew this policy already. This has more to do with the prime minister trying to secure a legacy - in the same way Bill Clinton tried at the end of his presidency. We also know Her Majesty's government will do everything in its power to help the government of Iraq work effectively. How? Who knows. The devil is in the detail, as the saying goes; but we don't have the detail, do we?

We also know the government will push through the ID cards bill. They know it would not have stopped the 7/7 bombings in London. They know it is going to be costly and they know it is going to be hugely difficult to implement. Our only hope is that Gordon Brown is not as convinced on ID cards as he makes out, and he will kill it dead in the water when he becomes PM. I don't really think it will happen, but I like to live in hope.

If anyone heard Ming Campbell this afternoon, you will have heard him say there have been 365 new Acts of Parliament since Labour came to power. That is amazing! Even I was surprised it was that many. Three new bills a month, on average. I think I would have trouble naming fifty Acts of Parliament; and this lot have enacted 365. Our rights and freedoms are being steadily eroded in this country by a prime minister who has little or no regard for our ancient ways and customs. Again - living in hope - I can only hope that his replacement will have more respect for our unwritten constitution and will not try and take more of our rights away from us. Control freaks? This lot have rewritten the text books.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Alan Johnson

According to polls and surveys that are carried out, what people hate about politicians is that they will not give a straight answer and instead try to cover there backs by hiding in cleverly worded English. I don't know if Alan Johnson thinks he is being clever but I saw through him straight away. He said that he "fully expects to vote for Gordon Brown to be become the next Labour Party leader." So, fully expects? Hm... He said the chancellor "would be an excellent prime minister. " More support there then; but just wait for the next quote. He said, "It would be fine for Home Secretary John Reid to run for leader."

So what he is really saying is if he votes for Brown, he said he would; if he votes for John Reid or anyone else who enters the race, he said that he definately didn't say that he would vote for Brown; and if he votes for someone other than Brown and Brown wins, he said that he would make an excellent prime minister. You may think you are being clever Mr Johnson, but the rest of us have seen through you in a second.

Should Prince Harry serve in Iraq?

I would like to hear your views on this subject. Until recently, I didn't have an opinion either way. He is very keen to pay a full part as an officer in the British Army, and good on him for that. Looking at him in his uniform at the cenotaph in Whitehall yesterday, you could see in his face the pride he has wearing that uniform and being an officer; however I don't think he should go.

Can you just imagine what a coup it would be for the insurgents if they killed the third in line to the British throne; the son of the Prince of Wales; the Queen's grandson? By going he will be making himself an obvious target and more importantly, the men who he will be leading will be at an increased risk too. I know Prince Andrew saw active service in the Falklands, but that was different. That was a straight forward war - if such a thing exists. What is going on in Iraq is not standard warfare; it is trying to uphold law and order in a bitterly divided country where a number of factions are trying to vie for power. He should not go, if for no other reason than the increased risk his men will face if he leads them.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rememberance Day

This morning I played the organ for the Rememberance Day service in Ferryhill, Co Durham. It was great to see so many children there and proves that the various youth movements we have in this country are still going strong. There was one small 'fly in the ointment' however.

I am sure you will agree with me that Her Majesty is a wonderful, inspirational queen. However, she cannot be present at every cenotaph in the country. Her representative in every county is the Lord Leiutenant; and they in turn cannot be present at every cenotaph in their county; so a representative is sent along. Our representative arrives this morning and announced herself by saying, "I am the Queen's representative and I will not be parading." The parade marshall told her that she should, and she then replied, "The Queen doesn't parade." Not exactly the sort of person you warm to, is she? Even though she was the representative of the representative, she thought she could still liken herself to the Queen. It reminds me of an old story. A Queen's chaplain once famously said. "As Her Majesty was saying to me the other day; she dislikes people who name drop!" We all know someone like that; don't we?

Friday, November 10, 2006

BNP

I heard on the news today that the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin and another party activist, have been cleared at Leeds Crown Court of inciting racial hatred. I thought this would be the outcome from the beginning as what he said was odious, offensive, and untrue, however, as much as I loathe him and what he stands for, we do live in a free society. As much as we loathe these people, they do have a right to express their views and as long as he doesn't call for his supportors to commit acts of violence against people of different faiths and ethnicity, I'm afraid we just have to put up with it.

Now I hear that Gordon Brown says race hate laws should be tightened as a result of this verdict. Thankfully the Lib-Dem's have said parliament must resist the temptation for more restrictions on expression. And I agree with them. I think our right to freedom of speech is being eroded and the last thing we need is politicians trying to pass 'knee jerk' legislation through Parliament. Our job is to argue against the BNP and try to convince people who vote for them that they are voting for a nasty rascist organisation.

Two minutes' silence

May I remind anyone who is reading my blog that tomorrow is November 11. At 11.00am please observe the two minutes' silence. We are not just remembering the fallen of two world wars, but people who have died in other conflicts Britain has been involved in; right up to today in Afganistan and Iraq. They have paid the ultimate price for our safety and freedom; the least we can do is tomorrow is remember them.
Today I decided I was going to have a healthy lunch, so I went to the fish & chip shop! Okay, maybe not as healthy as it could be, but none of these health gurus can convince me that fish and chips once a week is going to kill me. While I waiting for my fish to be cooked I commented to the owner that business was good today; and he told me a little story.

His business is located in a small, private housing estate. So, no passing trade. To drum up some business, he puts out two boards; one on the edge of the estate and the other a little way down next to a busy roundabout. Unfortunately, the local council objected to the board near the roundabout. So when he took it away his lunchtime business suffered badly. Now that he has decided to put it back again against the council's wishes, his lunchtime trade has doubled.

What is the council thinking of? Do they want to put the man out of business? This is yet another example of people sat behind desks with nothing to do other than to interfere. They do not have any knowledge of what it is like to run a business and probably never will. Come on, give this man a break. He is only trying to make a living. The fish and chips were beautiful too!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I don't think that the loss of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate has a lot to do with Iraq; but President Bush obviously thinks it has, and that is interesting. I also don't think the loss - if that is what you want to call it - of Donald Rumsfeld will make any difference to President Bush's approval ratings. His loss has been domestic. Americans have seen failure after failure on domestic policy. Of course he lied to the American people, just as Tony Blair lied to the British people, but the fact the fires Donald Rumsfeld - although I know he offically resigned - shows what a weak position he is in. Roll on the next presidential election. Whether the next president is Democrat or Republican is not what matters. I only care if there is another conservative there and that can come from either party, although I would rather go for Guiliani than Clinton.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Smaller government

Many years ago, I was serving on a standing committee in the Church of England. We were trying to decide what should be the main topic for discussion at a meeting. Should we have a main speaker? None of us present could think of anything and the rest of the agenda was looking like a complete waste of time. I said, 'Why don't we just not have a meeting. What is the point, if we have nothing of merit to discuss.' My thoughts were too radical. 'We must have a meeting', the reply came back, and indeed we did; the net result, a complete waste of time.

That has got me to thinking about parliament and way parliament works. I heard recently that since 1997 there are now over one thousand things we can no longer legally do. Over one thousand new offences. It seems as if parliament has to justify itself; if they are not constantly legislating, the electorate will think they are not working. What nonsense! A Member of Parliament has many jobs to do. They help their constituents with various problems, writing to ministers, tyring to get answers. They can table questions in the House of Commons and hold the executive to account. They debate the major issues of the day. All of these things are vitally important to our democracy. Parliament does not have to legislate for legislations sake. I want less government, not more government.

At the beginning of this years I visited a friend in the US. She lives in Indiana and we went on a guided tour of the State House in Indianapolis. Apart from sitting in the Chief Justice's seat in the Supreme Court; which was a highlight; I learned the State House of Representatives and Senate sat for around four months of the year, and yet despite this, democracy and state laws are not threatened. Perhaps a lesson should be learned here. Let's go for smaller government; fewer laws; and more to holding the executive in to account, than to legislating for the sake of legislating.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fireworks

The UK has gone health and safety mad. There was a case a couple of weeks ago where a school crossing patrol officer was absent on long term sick. Therefore you would think one of the teachers could help out and make sure the children could cross the road safely? That would of course be sensible, but not in the health and safety age. The council would rather risk the safety of the children, than put an untrained person in charge. With respect to 'lollipop men and women' everywhere who keep our kids safe, a school teacher should be able to grasp the job pretty quickly. Unfortunately this is how things are.

Therefore, why do will still allow untrained people to set off fireworks? It is rather like giving a rifle to a soldier and not give him any training. If he doesn't check that the safety catch is on, he could blow his brains out, and if you do not use fireworks safely, the same could happen. How, in this health and safety age, can this happen?

I believe you should have to undergo a course in how to set off fireworks safely, before you can buy them. Radical? I don't think so. It simply makes sense. A set of instructions in the box is not enough.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Liberty

For those of you who saw 'Vox Politix' on 18 Doughty Street last night, I hope you agree that Shami Chakrabati was brilliant. I saw her in a new light. I think Iain was right; on Question Time or the Today programme you only get a few minutes to get your point accross, but to listen to her for over an hour, I discovered what an intelligent, persuasive person she is. All Conservatives should be interested in our liberty. Tony Blair's government is determined to tell us how to live our lives and erode our liberties in the process. I am going to check out the 'Liberty' website and join-up. She has convinced me and I am sure the majority who watched the programme last night.

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