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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.

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