There was an error in this gadget

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve and the bins have been overflowing since Christmas Day. Why the bin men needed an extra two days off, I don't know!

Before I wish you all a Happy New Year, Steve Green decided to tag me on Christmas Eve with a meme asking me for eight wishes for 2008. So here goes:

1. The Conservative Party to go from strength to strength.

2. The government to finally scrap the proposed ID cards. (Plenty of hard campaigning there for all of us).

3. The government to increase defence spending and give our troops the pay, conditions and equipment they deserve.

4. Durham County Cricket Club to win the County Championship.

5. The cost of fuel to go down.

6. To be settled back home and the memory of flooding to be well and truly behind us.

7. To become a councillor. (That's a dream my fairy godmother couldn't grant me!)

8. To be a happy, healthy family.

All that remains is for me to thank everyone for reading and contributing to my blog over the last year and I hope to see you all - and more readers - doing the same in 2008. Have a very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

What next for Pakistan

I didn't think I would be writing again in this blog this year, however the recent events in Pakistan have made me put 'pen to paper.'

Pakistan has a long history of bloodshed since its formation in 1947. Democracy has never flourished there. If the military take a dislike to the elected government of the day, a predictable coup d'etat takes place and then we are back to square one. Although it seems Benazir Bhutto was not killed by the Pakistani authorities, what is happening there at the moment is history repeating itself. The main difference now - as opposed to previous times - is that Pakistan is now a nuclear power and a linchpin state in George Bush's war on terror. Never before has Pakistan been so important to the West.

President Musharraf will now have to react in a way that is seen to be correct for all sides, which is impossible. There are elections due on January 8 which should take place, but with calls for those elections to be boycotted, he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Being stuck between a rock and a hard place doesn't begin to tell the story.

Just how much unrest and bloodshed there will be cannot be predicted, however Britain and the US are already overstretched and with possible action needed in Iran and Iraq still remaining volatile, military action in Pakistan is not an option.

Benazir Bhutto's assassination in a tragic event in the already troubled history of Pakistan. Another chance to take the democratic route has hit the buffers. Another chance to move from the past and move the Pakistani economy forward has gone. There will be other chances, but this one was the best chance there has been in years. We can only hope another one is around the corner.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Signing off for 2007 (probably)

I was writing a post last night about my grandmother. It would have been her 97th birthday yesterday. I didn't get the chance to finish what I was writing, nor have I had the chance today either. Life is simply too busy at the moment.

I think this will be the last post I will do this year. There is too much wrapping to do; so many people to see and a house that needs to be ready to move back in to at the beginning of January. Becky and I are completely knackered, and there is still a hell of a long way to go.

It has been a very eventful year for me. I fought an election campaign; lost - but helped get a few councillors elected. Just after the election, Becky and I got together. Then came the floods! Since then we have hardly had any time to spare. We are both looking forward to a less stressful 2008.

I will take this opportunity to wish all readers and very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous and Peaceful New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Christmas Tale

Steve Green at Daily Referendum has this little ditty on his blog. You'll laugh.

A return to the 70s?

The government bail out of Northern Rock is costing taxpayers £1800 each. It could well be nationalised

Bin Men in Hull are unhappy about their pay and conditions, and may possibly take industrial action.

Bin Men on strike and nationalisation; doesn't this remind you of Labour many years ago?

Nick Clegg

After a bitter election campaign, the Liberal Democrats have elected their leader. It would be churlish of me not to congratulate Nick Clegg, however, to say he has an uphill task ahead of him is an understatement.

Anyone who is interested in politics will know what a divided party they are. Clegg's narrow margin of victory will publicise this to the electorate, although I don't think there are many who are interested who the LibDem leader is.

Compare his narrow victory to the convincing margin David Cameron achieved two years ago. He has only got this far because the Conservative Party were willing to get behind a leader. I don't see this happening to the LibDems.

They are a party who is always willing to deal in untruths and backstabbing in local politics, so it does not surprise me that they have let their facade down and have revealed their true colours on the national stage.

Unless Clegg can do something about his own personal image - hardly anyone knows who he is - the Conservatives and Labour will continue to squeeze his party further.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Post Office Closures - a local story

I want to tell you a story about Martin Bailey-Dalton. He is the postmaster at Grovehill Road Post Office in Beverley. Him, his wife and four-year-old daughter moved to Beverley just over three months ago from Hampshire. Not long after he bought the business the Royal Mail decided to close the post office, leaving him with a £175,000 mortgage, a property to sell and the fear that even after compensation is paid, he will not even come close to breaking even.

In properties all around the area there are signs in windows protesting against the closure. No one wants it. No one wants to trek in to Beverley town centre to join the long queues at the main post office. This is the human side of post office closures and before anyone thinks of petitioning the prime minister on the Downing Street website, 1500 local residents have already signed a petition against the closure and their calls have been greeted by deaf ears.

These closures will deeply affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the country. The elderly will no longer be able to access services without travelling. A hub of the local community will be taken away and the silence from the government is deafening.

Hull Floods Bill highest in the country

The Audit Commission have revealed that the floods bill for Hull City Council will be £51.43m; the highest in the country. The council will have to find £36.51m of that bill.

One of the reasons the bill is so high is that the council has had to fork out around £10m to repair council homes affected by the flooding.

Meanwhile the government bails out Northern Rock with billions of pounds worth of taxpayers' money, but will not even come close to paying the bill facing the council tax payers of Hull: £36.51m is peanuts in comparison. I have had the misfortune of being flooded; my insurance bill will increase dramatically and now I will have to pay more council tax and possibly face a reduction in council services.

Thank you Mr Brown for all your help, but then you know already that the voters in this city will misguidedly elect three Labour MPs at the next election. We really have been pissed on from a great height.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

US Politics

One of the many things about American politics that fascinates me, is the way you can hear two men 'slug it out' on a televised debate; hurl insults and general vitriol at each other and then discover they are both members of the same party.

After the debate - if you want to call it a debate - between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, I am convinced that neither of them are fit to become President of the United States. With all the problems that beset America at the moment, they think it's worth spending time attacking each others' religious views. Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister and Romney is a Mormon and the former suggested that Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers.

The level of debate in the UK is not very high at times, but at least it hasn't sunk that low.

EU Treaty

Brown turns up late and signs the treaty. Now it's gloves off time. The British people are demanding they have their say in a referendum and nothing short of that will do.

That's all.

PM ousted

The prime minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, has been ousted in a vote of no-confidence.

We can only dream!


Link: BBC News

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Police Federation calls for Smith to resign

The Police Federation have called for the Home Secretary to resign. They say they have no confidence in Jaqui Smith's ability to deal with their pay or conditions.

Is there anything this government can handle properly? For the Police Federation to call for her resignation and call a likely ballot of members as to whether they want the right to strike, shows how low the morale is amongst police officers.

For the rest of us; we want the Home Secretary to resign because we don't have any confidence in her full-stop. And while we are still talking about people resigning, perhaps the whole cabinet should be thinking about their positions. Are any of them competent?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sorry...

...for the lack of blogging lately. God still won't give me a 40 hour day. I will get back soon when I can fit everything into 24 hours.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Nativity

Would you Adam & Eve it; or more appropriately, would you Mary & Joseph it? If I recall, Mary & Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, in Judea, to register their names in a census. That's the gist of it anyway. The only reason they could not find accommodation for the night, was because they arrived late and all the rooms were taken. Simple as that.

Could anyone tell me then what that has to do with asylum seekers entering Britain illegally and then being turned away from these shores. Nothing? I would agree; unfortunately the BBC do not.

Iain Dale has referred to an article from The Spectator which reports 'the BBC making a new version of the Nativity, with Jesus and Mary as asylum seekers turned away by Britain.'

Just like Iain, I will let you draw your own conclusions, however I would like to ask one question: Is this a dig at Christianity or do the BBC think everyone who tries to enter Britain should be allowed to stay indefinitely? I can't make my mind up.

Terrorism

After the Oxford Union debate recently with Nick Griffin and David Irving, many column inches and air time have been devoted to the subject of free speech. Readers know where I stand on this issue, so I won't articulate my views again.

I have just been reading one of my favourite blogs - The Norfolk Blogger - and discover that Ofcom have granted a temporary licence to an Islamic radio station who broadcast good luck messages to some of Britain's most dangerous terrorists.

Do I hear government ministers denouncing this? No. What we hear instead is the government attempting to raise detention without charge to 42 days and ministers pronouncing that the views of the BNP and David Irving do not have he right to be articulated in a public forum.

When will this government get serious about tackling terrorism? When will they stop playing lip service to the problem? Allow intercept evidence to be used in terror cases. Give the police and security services the adequate resources they need to do their job; and for crying out loud make sure radio stations and websites that advocate terrorism are shut down and the perpetrators are brought to trail.

The Christmas Story - if you can remember it

'O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie...'

I am sure all of you have heard this Christmas Carol; not that Bethlehem is very still at the moment. Amazingly - according to Sky News - more than 1 in 4 adults in Britain have no idea where Jesus was born. As someone who was brought up on the Christian Church and I was also an organist for 18 years, you would expect me to know he answer to that riddle, but surely this is just general knowledge, plain and simple. I am not going to go on a rant about the standards of education, but I think we are in a position at the moment where our teachers have to concern themselves with league tables so much, that some of our children are missing out on a more rounded education. It also seems apparent that the thirst for knowledge of the average citizen is not very high after they leave full-time education. A sorry state of affairs indeed.

Read the report HERE.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cutting taxes the H&F way.

I've just read this on Iain Dale's blog. If Hammersmith and Fulham can do it, why can't councils up and down the country?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blasphemy

Can anyone tell me why we still have blasphemy laws? If as a society we value free speech, then we also have to accept that we do not have a right to be offended. I have not seen, 'Jerry Springer - the musical' and from the excerpts I have seen on television, I don't think I will in the future. People of faith have to accept that there are those who do not believe what they believe, and sometimes others will want to poke fun. If your views and faith are strong enough, then surely it doesn't matter. By taking this case to court, they have done the producers a favour. As soon as you try to ban something, you always create more interest.

Speeding and drunk coppers

As someone who has recently fallen foul of the law - I was caught speeding by a camera on the M74 - this story made me laugh

Meredydd Hughes, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, and the former chairman of roads policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), has been banned from driving for 42 days for doing 90 mph in a 60 limit. This is the man who wanted more hidden speed cameras to catch out motorists. Poetic justice indeed.

We had a police officer here who thought drink drivers were worse than scum. He is currently banned from driving and I won't give you three guesses as to what his crime was. Glass houses spring to mind.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Google

Iain Dale inadvertently clicked the publish button, instead of the save button last Saturday, and by mistake published an embargoed story from Sky. He deleted it within 10 seconds, but already Google Blogs had picked it up and fed the story around the world. Google really is damned quick!

I remember publishing a post on Madeleine McCann, and within 5 minutes of publishing it, someone had picked it up, from Google, and was reading it in Washington State, USA.

So, when you want your story around the world quickly, Google will do it for you. If you make a mistake; there's nothing you can do.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Gillian Gibbons - a final thought

It is good news that Gillian Gibbons has been released from prison and is now flying back to the UK. There is a but in that though.

What Baroness Warsi and Lord Ahmed have done has been done with all the best of intentions, however for the Sudanese president to grant her a pardon, there has to have been a crime in the first place. Ms Gibbons was not guilty of a crime. There was a time when a British Passport meant something. It doesn't seem to anymore. By negotiating with the regime in Sudan, we have legitimised their judicial process and that is a mistake. We should get back to those times when Britain never negotiated with terrorists or rogue states.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gillian Gibbons and Islam

I needed some time for reflection before I commented on the case of Gillian Gibbons. My initial reactions could not be printed.

For starters, the current regime in Sudan is bonkers. On top of that they are dangerous with it. Without wanting to sound in any way racist, the majority of Sudanese are also - compared with Western standards - uneducated. These nutters understand that and basically brainwash. No other word for it. Why is life so bad for you? Blame it in America. Who are the infidels? The decadent West.

It reminds me of Communist days when loudspeakers would adorn the lamp posts around the town square; the party officials could address the faithful and brainwash them in to thinking how much better their life is compared to those in the decadent West. Hitler did it. He brainwashed the majority of Germany in to thinking all their problems were to due the Jews. He turned innocent young men in to monsters after they joined the SS. Robert Mugabe does it today in Zimbabwe. All his country's problems are due to Britain.

What we see with Islamist extremists is not new. It has been going on for centuries and just as we have fought against fascism and communism, we have to fight against this other form of dictatorship. Once Ms Gibbons is deported back to the UK, we should drastically reduce aid to Sudan. We should teach them a lesson that they do not bite the hand that feeds.

Finally, we all need to take note that free speech is something we should be proud of and if necessary, fight for. Go to one of these Islamist states at your peril. Even the most innocuous remark could land you in front of the firing squad.

Detention without Charge

One of the organisations I am proud to be a member of is, Liberty. I don't need to ramble on just how much our liberties and human rights are important, and how they are being slowly eroded by the most anti-libertarian government anyone can remember in Britain. Whoops! I just have.

I received an e-mail from Liberty yesterday, which I am partly re-printing here. If anyone feels as strongly about this subject as I do, the please join Liberty and lobby your MP. Thank you.



In 2005, Liberty campaigned successfully to prevent Government proposals to raise the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 90 days. The active support of Liberty members was crucial in helping us to defeat the Government's proposals then. We need your help again.

The Government is proposing to extend pre-charge detention in terrorism cases once again, this time to a possible 56 days. Liberty believes that any further extension beyond 28 days is unjust, unnecessary and will not - as the Government has argued - make us any safer.

A new Counter-Terrorism Bill is yet to be published and you can still help us to influence the debate by taking action now.

What you can do

Did your MP vote against extending pre-charge detention back in 2005? If so, we will have written to you to let you know. Urge your MP to maintain their principled position by standing their ground on this issue. If you unsure how your MP voted, visit
www.theyworkforyou.com to find out, or download our list to see if your MP’s name is on it.

Remember, the best way to get in touch with your MP is to write to them rather than telephone - this will only annoy them and is unlikely to get you very far. For more tips and advice, read Liberty’s
guide to lobbying your MP.

One way you could help is to write a letter to your local paper, highlighting your concerns and listing the
alternatives suggested by Liberty. Better still, encourage a group of friends to write letters too - there is strength in numbers! Remember, it is better to keep the letter short and to the point. Your local paper is more likely to print your letter without editing it, if it is succinct.

All the information you need

· Take a look at a list of the
alternatives to extending pre-charge detention
· Read our detailed
'Questions and Answers' information sheet.
· Find out
what the papers say about pre-charge detention. You can read excerpts from leader columns in almost all of the major national daily newspapers opposing the extension of pre-charge detention.
· There is lots of advice and information available on our website, just go to
www.chargeorrelease.com

Get in touch!

If you need more information on the campaign or advice on any of the above points, please don't hesitate to get in touch by
emailing us.
Finally, remember to sign up to the Charge or Release email list today by sending an email to
chargeorrelease@liberty-human-rights.org.uk. We will keep you updated with campaign news and ways you can help.
_______________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pathetic Labour

Matthew Parris is at his withering best in 'The Times' today. If you want to read how pathetic Labour is under Gordon Brown, click HERE.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Harriet's guilty as hell

According to Iain Dale, Harriet Harman is about to admit that she did extend the mortgage to help finance her campaign. Well, well, well. There was a time when government minister would have resigned over a matter like this, but I can't see Harman doing so. If Brown has any guts at all he should fire her from her cabinet post and the Labour hierarchy should lean on her to resign as Deputy Leader too. It is people like her who bring politicians of all parties in to disrepute.

Brown's approval down to 23%

Looking over the YouGov poll in the Telegraph today, a few things jumped out at me. Gordon Brown's approval rating is 23%. I didn't think it could get much lower when it was 10 points higher a month ago. Even George Bush can manage 33%.

On key questions of government competence, the vast majority of those polled thought the government was poor or very poor; and they also thought that the government team was 'lightweight.'

This poll must be the worst for any sitting government since opinion polling began; and that is not an exaggeration.


Hat Tip: Shane Greer

Gordon 'Bean' Brown


I got this picture from Andrew Percy, the prospective Conservative candidate for Brigg and Goole. You have to laugh!



Thursday, November 29, 2007

Labour woes, part...? I've lost count.

And so it goes on. I said yesterday that Brown come become the most embattled prime minister in recent history. With events moving so fast, I think he has become just that.

An opinion poll in the Telegraph tomorrow puts the Conservatives 11 points ahead of Labour - 43 to 32. Two months ago, Labour enjoyed the same lead. The Met will be feeling the collars of Gordon Brown and his entourage. Harriet Harman has failed to register loans she received to help fund her campaign for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. Peter Hain has admitted he has not declared £5000.

Iain Dale predicts Harman will be gone by Monday. I think he is right. If she has any honour, she will resign as Deputy Leader and resign as Leader of the House of Commons before she is pushed. She has so clearly broken the law. If a Tory had done that, I can just hear the condescending platitudes emanating from her. She will now have to swallow some harsh medicine. With worries that the economy it set for a downturn and Brown's crisis management non-existent, Labour must now realise that their time in power is coming to an end; and it can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More trouble for Brown

Life doesn't get any better for Gordon Brown, does it? As he and his government lurch from one crisis to another, his political future and credibility rests in his hands. You can't blame everything that goes wrong on him, but as I noted a few days ago, he is not coated in Teflon like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

David Cameron, during PMQs today, told him he was not cut out for the job he has wanted for over a decade. If this theme runs, he may just become the most embattled prime minister in recent history.

Acting LibDem leader, Vince Cable, said that in a few weeks Brown had gone from Stalin to Mr Bean. I think Brown will be reminded of that quote for quite some time.

His problems all stem from his dithering. If he had gone to the polls when he should have done, I believe he would have had a mandate for five years and he could have ridden any storm knowing there wasn't any pressure on him to call an election. If he continues to stumble from one crisis to another and the opposition parties can continue to exert pressure and exploit his many weaknesses, he may be forced to call an election earlier than expected. If he doesn't, he will condemn his party to as big a drubbing as John Major's Conservative Party in 1997.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A new motto for Scotland

There is a popular misconception that Scots are tight with their money; although after listening to an interview with Sean Connery, you can understand how these misconceptions arise. Alex Salmond, however, proves that when it comes to spending taxpayers' money, he is prepared to splash out.

He wanted a new motto for Scotland and spent £100K on getting one. What is it you ask? "Welcome to Scotland." I think I need to get in to the motto writing business.

Amy Winehouse




You get told before the show has started, that your favourite uncle died at dawn. More than that your Ma and Pa have parted, your broken hearted, but still go on.

Yes, there's no business like showbusiness, but unfortunately for Amy Winehouse, she simply cannot continue her tour without her hubby, who is remanded in custody at the moment.


Showbusiness ain't what it used to be!

Oxford Union Debate.

Last night was a victory for free speech. Nick Griffin and David Irving hold views that I abhor and I would love to debate with them. It is the way we do things. Resigning from the Oxford Union - as one Tory MP did - shows political correctness gone mad and more than a hint of 'I know what's best for you.'

I would not provide links for them on my blog, as blogging is not debating, but if you want people like these to be exposed for what they are, you have to debate with them. Apparently the debate was balanced and enlightening. I just wish I had been there.

Monday, November 26, 2007

LibDem Defection

In recent months, other parties have tried to portray the Conservative Party as the nasty, bigoted, racist party. I know there are those who will be all three, but that goes for any party or organisation.

Sajjad Karim - a LibDem MEP - has defected to the Conservatives and has spoken of how impressed he is with David Cameron's views on immigration. He described them as sensible, rational and positive.

Of course, the LibDems not being very happy with him have stated that the reason he has defected is because he is only second on their candidates list for the North West Region at the next Euro election. Well, if they believe that, they believe in flying pigs. No-one switches party on that sort of a whim.

It proves that the Conservative Party is an all inclusive party for everyone in Britain. Welcome aboard Mr Karim

The wheels are coming off Mr Brown.

We all had a good time in London at the weekend. We went to the Tower of London, a brief look inside Parliament and a visit to the Queen's gallery at Buckingham Palace.

I'm still catching up on the news, but I notice once again Gordon Brown is showing he is nothing like 'Teflon Man' Tony Blair. The man seems to attract everything that is flying around him. If I was a Labour MP I would be getting very worried at the moment. This definitely seems like the start of the wheels coming off the Labour juggernaut. The public see Brown and his team as weak. Unfortunately, he is not a Chairman or CEO of a major organisation, who can be given the push early by the shareholders. The electorate must wait. Who knows how much more damage he will have inflicted on Britain by then.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Holiday

I won't be blogging for the next few days. We are all off tomorrow to London for the weekend. The hotel does have wireless, however the look on Becky's face told me it would not be wise to bring my laptop along with me!

See you all next week.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

UKNDA comment

Yesterday on this blog I highlighted the work of the UK National Defence Association.

This morning I received a comment and I have decided to publish it here for those who do not read the comments section.

Dear Mr Allison,

May I, as the CE of the UKNDA, most appropriately be the first person to welcome you to the UKNDA and to congratulate you on highlighting the need for a UKNDA.

I hope that this blog will encourage many more people to join us in promoting the case for sufficient, appropriate and fully funded Armed Forces that our country needs to defend effectively our people, their security and vital interests at home and wherever they may be.

Sincerely -

John Muxworthy

Cdr, RN CE UKNDA

May I take this opportunity to recommend the UKNDA to all my readers and encourage you all to join.

Conservatives and Education

The Conservative Party has announced that it intends to scrap Key Stage 1 and instead introduce a simple reading test. They also want to ensure that all pupils can read at the end of Year 1.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with my party over this. Children should be encouraged to read from an early age; this is without doubt, but setting yet more targets and pushing reading down the throats of young children who are not yet ready for it will be counter productive. I believe we start formal education too early in Britain. Children prior to the age of seven - in my opinion - should be taught to read and learn basic arithmetic in an informal, fun setting, as well as in the home. If you want children to learn you have to make sure they enjoy it first and that they do not feel they are failures.

I hope this policy announcement will be open for discussion and then dismissed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

UKNDA

Another issue close to my heart is defence. In the USA, members of the military are regarded as heroes. Here in the UK they seem to be regarded by a large sector of society as no better then a street beggar. This government talks the talk very nicely on how it values our armed forces, but in reality it cuts defence spending so much that our armed forces do not have the vital equipment they need to do their jobs. With our armed forces stretched around the world you would think the government would be significantly increasing spending on defence, instead of making the token gestures they do at the moment.

I have joined the UK National Defence Association that is campaigning for 'SUFFICIENT, APPROPRIATE and FULLY FUNDED ARMED FORCES that the Nation needs to defend effectively our Country, its people, their security and vital interests at home and worldwide.'

To go on to their website click here.

Transaction 2007

Sorry for the lack of blogging this past week. It has been 'one of those weeks.' I won't go into detail, but I am sure you will understand what I mean when I say I feel like a 'blue-arsed fly!'

On to other things. I have received an e-mail from someone representing http://www.transaction-2007.com/. They are an organisation campaigning for lower taxation on fuel, which is an issue very close to my heart. As I have said before the rising cost of fuel will cripple the economy if it is allowed to continue and all the government is interested in is the short-term gain of extra revenue flowing into the Treasury. They are putting the long-term interests of the British economy in jeopardy; as they do with so many of their policies.

Check out this website, join the forum and find out how the campaign is going.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cameron on 'Parky'

I watched David Cameron being interviewed by Michael Parkinson on the television last night. He told a very funny story which you can read here.

He may have had the finest education money can buy and have come from a privileged background, but he has the common touch and this is a huge advantage for the Conservative Party. I couldn't imagine Gordon Brown being as comfortable on a show like that. After his disastrous appearance on Jonathan Ross's show some time ago, Cameron opened up to the warm interviewing style of 'Parky' and interacted well with the other guests. Being on that show has given Cameron a chance to communicate with sections of the British public who would never watch a political interview; and he succeeded. Good on him.

Jonathan AItken

If you believe that prison is there for rehabilitation as well as punishment, then there cannot be any objections to Jonathan Aitken's appointment to Iain Duncan Smith's Centre for Social Justice.

When Mr Aitken was asked if this meant a return to front line politics, he said, "No, and I don't ever expect to. I made a bad mistake - I paid a heavy price for it and I expect to go on paying a price for it. And that's life and I have to live with that."

They sound like the words of someone who should be heading a taskforce in to prison reform. He's done his time and knows the score. Good luck to him and hopefully we will be able to get some sensible policies on how to reform our prison system; although anything would be better than the mess we have at the moment.


Link: BBC News

Friday, November 09, 2007

No Fuel Day

There is a 'Facebook' group entitled, 'NO FUEL DAY - MONDAY 19th NOVEMBER 2007.' It currently has 75,074 members.

The price of fuel in this country is - put simply - extortionate, and the government piles on the agony by increasing fuel duties, even though they know the price of oil is going through the roof. This group quite rightly states that the high cost of fuel has ramifications for the economy as a whole. Businesses have to put up their prices as the cost of transporting materials and the cost of delivering the final product rises as a result higher fuel costs. Our hauliers are at a disadvantage with their competitors on the continent. Some hauliers who are struggling at the moment may go out of business if they cannot pass at least some of the increase on to their customers. The Treasury of course doesn't think like this. All it hears is its cash registers ringing.

I will not be joining this Facebook group however. Whilst I have sympathy with what they are trying to achieve, this is not the way to go about it. If the mailbag of every Member of Parliament was bursting to the seams with complaints about this matter and the government was continually pestered, things would start to change; slowly at first, but there isn't a politician in the land who wants to to lose their job over an issue that can be easily resolved. Marches and a rallies should also be organised to take place in central London and in cities all over the country. Pressure needs to be put on the government and the squeeze has to be concerted. Trying to get the nation not to buy fuel for one day isn't going to make one iota of difference.

Speaking in Japan

We have all seen the internet adds and had spam e-mail telling us how we could be worth a small fortune in just a few months if we click here and hand over some of our hard earned cash for this report or another. Well, Tony Blair does not need to try this. All he had to do is turn up and speak to some property developers in China and pocket an estimated £237,000.

As a free marketeer, I say good luck to him. I just wish someone would pay me a thousand pounds for speaking to them, but you do wonder why on earth anyone would think he was worth that sort of money. Not that he is the only one. According to The Times, Bill Clinton has pocketed $40 dollars since he left the White House. Margaret Thatcher got a cool £60,000 for one after dinner speech and Ronald Reagan raked in $2 million in Japan after he left office.

After Gordon Brown leaves office, do you think anyone will pay him for his speeches? The International Insomnia Society, perhaps?

Flooding

It appears that the widespread flooding that was possible along the East Coast of England is not going to happen. As someone who has been flooded this year, all I can say is thank goodness. Anyone who has been flooded knows what a depressing experience it is from beginning to end; especially when you see your possessions going into a skip. People keep on reminding me that the insurance company is paying for new items, but that is the only silver lining around a very dark cloud.

Sorry...

...for the lack of posts this week. To be honest I really haven't had the inclination or inspiration to write anything. I am still off work with a bad back and I have been fruitlessly surfing the internet and playing games, etc. I will, hopefully, be returning to work next week as I am not feeling too bad at the moment, although when I go out and drive my car the back pain returns, so how I am going to manage eight hours a day is anyones guess. I will just have to take it as it comes.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Frustration and Joy

July and August were very quiet blogging months. They can be summed up thus: more problems with the insurance company and the loss adjusters; and Becky and I got engaged in Paris. And the icing on the cake was the first piece of silverware for Durham County Cricket Club in their first Lords' final. Brilliant stuff.

In June it rained and rained

For me, June was a month I would rather forget. On Monday June 25, Hull was thrown in to chaos as the biggest flood the city has seen, flooded thousands of properties and as readers of this blog will know, my house flooded. This is what I wrote the day after:

Many of you will have heard about the floods that have besieged Hull and surrounding areas during the past couple of days. Unfortunately I have fallen victim to the floodwater. Yesterday afternoon at around 4.00pm the water came through the floorboards and soaked the downstairs carpets and flooded the kitchen floor. Becky and her son were held hostage with me, as getting out of Kingswood was an impossibility. We simply had to retreat to the upstairs and hibernate up there.

This morning there was the usual smell you associate from this sort of this thing. I also have drainage problems and can't have a bath or flush one of my toilets without the risk of it overflowing. Thankfully I will not have to live there until things are sorted out, as Becky's mum had kindly allowed me to stay with them.

So watch this space and I will keep you up-to-date with all the latest developments as they occur. I do feel lucky however. There are many people whose homes have been flooded with two to three feet of water and they will find it difficult to find another place to stay if their insurance companies will not oblige them with a hotel room. Out of adversity, everyone is pulling together and that 'wartime spirit' is very evident and visible.


Thankfully things are moving at a good pace, eventually, and today the three of us have been out choosing a carpet, tiles and paint. We hope to be back home by Christmas, but even if we don't, we know it will not be too long in to January. The trails and tribulations have been many and the loss adjusters until recently have been worse than useless. A few weeks ago a new loss adjuster started to get things moving and I have been very grateful to him. Without his professionalism, I don't think we would have been in a position to move back until spring at the earliest.

The busy month of May

May was a busy month. At the beginning we had the local elections and on the day of those elections, Madeleine McCann was abducted in Portugal. Tony Blair announced his resignation as Prime Minister at Trimdon Labour Club in his - then - constituency and the Queen was a big hit in the USA. On a more personal note, Becky and I got together.

The story that is still running, however, is the abduction of little Maddie. I wrote this not long after her disappearance. I still think it is a fair analysis. It certainly got the comments coming in to the blog.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Video Blogging

In April I attempted some video blogging. In all honesty I found it a big hassle and it took quite some time to just speak for a couple of minutes in to a camera. Below is my first attempt.


ovie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/WGtbVHTicSA&rel=1">

And the election went better than anyone of us could have dreamed. An overwhelming majority on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.

Ann Widdecombe

In March I wrote this:

I have just seen this link on Conservative Home.Once again Ann Widdecombe lightens up a debate with her insight. The line I like the best is: So anybody imagining that it makes a jot of difference if Mrs Bloggs replaces her lightbulbs with low energy ones might just as well throw a sugar cube in Loch Ness and claim a serious contribution has been made to sweetening the water.What more can I say?

There isn't anything else to add!

US Presidential Race

In February I wrote this:

So, Rudolph Giuliani has finally put his hat in the ring for the 2008 Republican nomination. I think this will be a two horse race; between McCain and Giuliani. I still want McCain, as I have said in a previous post, but the fight will be a tough one. They are two strong men. Hopefully, either one of them will beat the Democrats. The Democrats do not have a worthwhile candidate at the moment. If they choose Hilary, they will lose. She has too much baggage and she is not popular with the American people. The other candidates are either not known or are gaffe prone. Time will tell though.

Okay, I was wrong about the Republican nomination. It is not a two horse race, but I still think the Democrats will select Hilary, and that will be the biggest mistake they can make. She is much too divisive a figure in US politics. So here's hoping they select her, so we can get at least another four years of Conservatism in the White House.

Gordon Brown

At the beginning of January I wrote this:

Read here what Gordon Brown's vision is. If I have read him right, he believes in smaller government and the servant state.

This is the chancellor who wants - and indeed does - tax us more. The man who believes in the state interfering more in our lives, rather than less. I can feel a general election coming very shortly. This has to be a ploy to con the electorate in to thinking he is somehow different than the rest of the Labour Party, and different to his past too.

How many people does he think he can fool in to thinking he has had a 'Road to Damascus' experience? Listening to people? You have only done that at election time and then conveniently forgotten what you were told.How many more lies is he going to tell?

I don't think Brown has changed, do you?

Fireworks again

The second post I wrote on my blog on November 5 was , unsurprisingly, about fireworks. Click here to read it. I still stand by every word.

As the fireworks and bonfires have once again started early and are set for the next three days, please spare a thought for the animals who are affected. Becky's Mum has a border collie who is terrified of loud noises, and there are many more animals like him.

Happy Birthday Dear Blog

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.

I posted the above on Friday 3 November 2006. I really didn't know what I was doing a year ago, but I thought the idea was good. What has happened since then has been amazing. I have so many blogging friends and thanks to Praguetory, I met up with Andrew Percy and got working for him in the local elections this year.

This weekend I will be republishing some of my older posts and looking back at the previous twelve months.



Friday, November 02, 2007

Paul Tibbets R.I.P.

Paul Tibbets - the pilot of the bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima - has died, aged 92. The Los Angeles Times has an article about his life and the lead-up to the bombing. Click here to read it.

I imagine now yet another ethics debate will rage. More than sixty years after the bombing there will still be those who will moralise about something they never had to experience; world war. Bombing Japan in such a way undoubtedly saved hundreds of thousands of American lives and brought a swift end to the Second World War. Tough decisions had to be made, and this was the right one.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The party of the future

My good blogger friend, Steve Green, who writes the Daily Referendum blog, referred to an article published on Labour Home entitled 'Show us your vision, Gordon.' Steve says it is a real eye-opener, and it is.

I know Steve won't mind me mentioning this, but he has become a Conservative Party member through blogging. He has become a Conservative after years voting for Labour. I too was born in to a Labour family and in my teenage years became a Conservative, as I could see that conservatism was the only way forward. I have referred to an article written by Martine Martin before, but I will let you read it again. It proves why the Conservative Party is the party of the future.

In that great old 1946 film A Matter of Life and Death, pilot David Niven describes himself as "Conservative by birth, Labour by experience" just prior to leaping from his plane with no parachute - an action I can sympathise with if that sentiment were true.

I, on the other hand, describe myself as the opposite; Labour by birth, Conservative by experience.


But what exactly does it take to turn someone from a fairly hard-up background (my dad was a Labour ex-coal miner and my mother ended up a single parent) into one of the "Tory Girls"? Here is a short step by step treatise on the making of a young Tory.

Step One - Education
The most important thing any government can do for any child is to give it the chance to succeed, whatever its social strata. The greatest mistake that New Labour has made with its culture of political correctness is to believe that by denying children the chance to compete (non-competitive sports days, anybody?) those with less aptitude in certain areas will be less discriminated against, and hence more will succeed in general. In practice the gifted ones lose out and the less academically talented are merely prevented from finding their real areas of skill and persuaded that they deserve everything they want without working for it. The result is entirely lose-lose.


Social conscience has always been a Conservative trait no matter what the Guardianistas would have us believe. I know this to be true because the Conservatives once gave me a precious gift which I will never forget; a way out. Their Assisted Places Scheme, which was created in 1982 to help underprivileged yet academically talented children go to a private school, helped me get out of the education which saw my siblings drop out without even gaining GCSEs and into a specialist music school.

Crucially, the money awarded wasn't handed to me on a silver platter in the way Labour's current money-grab deals are; I had to work, prove myself and get scholarships and bursaries off my own bat. Therein lies an important difference (it seems worthwhile to note that this occurred when I was almost 11. As John Prescott will no doubt tell you, that is the age at which long-abiding impressions of parties apparently form!).

Step Two - Education
In 1997 Labour scrapped the Assisted Places Scheme. They did not quite succeed in taking back my award but the possibility caused me great distress at the time. I learned in that year that Labour may purport to stand for the "common man" but if it conflicts with their rabid hatred of anything they perceive to be remotely upper class then the common man can go throw himself in front of a train. Perhaps they thought I had sold out by digging my way out of the poor trap rather than just trying to drag everyone else down into it in order to redistribute, I'm really not sure.


Labour has changed over time of course with the coming of New Labour. It is marginally less anti-elite nowadays, probably because those running it are from private schools themselves. The point is that it made me realise just how fortunate I had been and I still feel gratitude for the help I recieved today.

Step Three - Education
It was reported the other day that by the end of this decade Blair's top-up fees are almost certainly going to hit £5000 a year. Currently I am a student at Blackadder's third great university, Hull. However had I been an entrant for this year there is no way I would have even bothered going to University at all. Since the gap between rich and poor has not been altered under the New Labour government, there can be no doubt that the children of less well off parents will be the ones to suffer, just as Michael Howard predicted. Not since the Assisted Places Scheme was demolished have Labour made such a great push towards educational inequality.

There are thousands of places at various universities left untaken, and enormous levels of competition for relatively few others. Popular universities such as Leeds are not taking the top-up fee option. Others - coincidently the ones offering courses nobody in their right mind would take up - are already requesting further cash. The equation is not a difficult one. I only hope that when the renewed Conservative Party are ready to announce their policies, they will be able to do the maths and find the solution. Past experience tells me they will.

So there you have it. It's really quite simple. Education is everything. Had Blair really meant what he said when he talked about "education, education, education" in 1997, and had they actually improved the state education system to a level at which the poor do not require a helping hand to get a decent education, perhaps I would be more sympathetic to his party.
The fact is, whilst they are simply too tied down into unworkable socialist policies to ever close the wealth gap, a future Conservative government could comfortably have the best of worlds; a helping hand for the poor-but-talented to get into specialist schools that will nurture their gifts set alongside a long term project to improve state schools as a whole with a deeper emphasis on vocational learning. I sincerely believe that the wholesale emphasis on academia is very harmful and causes those with more practical skills to get turned off by education, to the detriment of society.


At the Built to Last Roadshow in Leeds (which I reported on here) David Cameron hinted at the beginnings of a policy to bring more career-based learning into education from the age of 14. This would equip children with a much wider range of learning - the example he used was fixing car engines, I believe - and give them the skills to get a well-paid steady job without needing a degree and the heavy burden of debt it now brings.

The last Conservative governments created a new demographic of Tory Boys and Tory Girls from less well-off backgrounds who are now of the age to start making a difference in Conservative Future. Our next task is to prepare for the assembly of the next generation model... Conservative Future's Future! Once back into power it is vital that our party makes fixing the education system at all levels a top priority and stand up to snide Labour suggestions that Conservatives only look after the wealthy. I and many others are living proof that this is simply not true.

Today has been cancelled


Click on the image to enlarge


Yes, today could have been the date of the general election. The reason we are not voting is all down to the Conservative Party. If we had not had such a great conference, outlining sensible, popular policies, the British electorate could have had their say. On behalf of the Conservative Party, I wish to apologise for offering the British public an alternative to New Labour and therefore depriving them a chance of change.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A two-horse race

Nominations are about to close for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, and no-one else has thrown their hat in to the ring.

It is vital for the Lib Dems that they choose the right leader this time around and Gordon Brown and David Cameron will be watching closely as to what 'bounce' they get in the polls. Politics in the UK is very volatile at the moment and although a general election is an event far in the future, it is essential that all parties perform well in the polls now. This is how New Labour did it in the 1990s. They were consistently ahead in the polls for years.

From the Conservative perspective, Cameron knows he is in the driving seat at the moment. It is essential he stays there.

Poster


Some people just don't have a sense of humour. Take a look at the comments section on Iain Dale's blog in response to this picture.
CLICK on the picture to enlarge

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Backache and the English Parliament

There are times when I just can't be bothered, and tonight is one of those occasions. I attempted to go to work today and lasted for just over an hour. The backache was so bad I had to throw in the towel and go and see my GP. I have been given strong painkillers that are not doing the job they are supposed to, however they are making me very tired. The GP has also given me a sick note for two weeks. Hopefully the rest will get my back sorted along with the exercises he has given me to do.

One final thought for the evening. The debate on the English Grand Committee proposal rages forth and there are some opinions I simply cannot work out. One comment on my blog said that such a committee will result in the break-up of Britain. Why? If you believe that, then surely an English Parliament could have the same effect? Then I hear Britain is being regionalized, but elected Regional Assemblies have proved as popular as a lightening strike. If anyone can enlighten me, then please feel free to comment. Right now I am preparing to pick my darling up from work and then go to bed!

Sana Ali

In May of this year I highlighted the tragic case of Sana Ali. She was a young Muslim women who was sadly murdered. Since then the comments section on this blog has been used as a forum for those who want to discuss the case. I wasn't too bothered at the beginning, but when the comments were getting abusive, I decided to close the comments section. Someone contacted me and asked for the comments section to be opened again. I agreed, but since then my blog has simply been used as a place where unfounded allegations are being peddled by anonymous writers. I have decided to close the comments section for good. This is my final word on the subject, however, may I suggest that someone opens up a forum on, say, Yahoo. I will happily publicise the URL for them and direct them from here to there.

As many of the comments have been abusive and unfounded, I wish to disassociate myself from them. I will leave the comments section open on this post for the next 24 hours for anyone who wants to vent their spleen, however if anyone leaves a comment or contacts me personally with any comments that are of a threatening nature, I will contact the police. I sincerely hope it will never come to that.

English Parliament

After I posted on Sir Malcolm Rifkind's proposal of an English Grand Committee (as opposed to an English Parliament) I received a comment very quickly rubbishing the idea. I said I would write again and give you my views. So, here they are:


Firstly, I think this is a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal of an English Parliament, however we all know this is not going to happen under a Labour government. I was fortunate enough to be sitting in Strangers' Gallery in the House of Commons when the Scottish Devolution Bill was going through Committee Stage back in 1998. I heard Tam Dalyell speak against it. Remember he was the author of the 'West Lothian Question.' You might have thought his collegues would listen to his arguments, but they didn't. I saw at first hand what many of the Scottish Labour MPs were like. Thugs. Not only did they not show any respect to Tam Dalyell, but they barracked former prime minister John Major too. They never listened to any of the arguments from respected parlimentarians, and Tony Blair pushed this ill conceived legislation through parliament knowing the 'West Lothian Question' would not go away.


Mike Ion accuses the Conservative Party of making mischief by calling for an English Grand Committee; playing on Brown's Scottishness. Rubbish! This government has pushed through unpopular measures - such as tuition fees - on the backs of Scottish Labour MPs. They inflicted on the English something which their constituents did not have to put up with. The Conservative Party has consistantly made its position clear, and it has argued against the rights of Scottish MPs to legislate on English matters.

I would like to see a situation where we have a First Minister for England, who appoints a cabinet and other ministers. What I do not want to see is more politicians elected. English MPs can sit in the House of Commons on set dates and the chamber will then be known as the English Parliament.

Those who want an English Parliament should not dismiss Rifkind's proposal outright. Think of it as a stepping stone. At least with a Grand Committee we will have English MPs legislating on English matters. This has to be better than what we have now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lewis Hamilton

I remember watching Jeremy Clarkson on the television a few years ago talking about Formula 1 drivers. In every interview any of the racing drivers gave, they never cited the real reason for living in Monaco; tax. They spoke of the climate, the jet-set lifestyle, other drivers being around them, but never spoke about the real reason.

Today Lewis Hamilton has said he going to move to Switzerland. His reasons are because he can't go anywhere in the UK without being recognised. Poor lad. Does he think he is the only famous person who has that problem? A very taxing problem indeed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Migrant Workers

Norfolk Blogger has a good post about migrant workers. Read it here.

If we do not have the skills already in this country then it is vital for the economy we import labour. I had a very long discussion with Wayne at Central News about this months ago. It will not surprise you to hear that the BNP and I never ended up agreeing.

Blair's Memoirs

Tony Blair has struck a deal for the publication of his memoirs. No doubt this will make him millions of pounds and set him up perfectly to run for President of Europe as and when the time arrives.

I will be interesting though if he goes in to detail about his relationship with Brown. He probably won't and the whole thing will be a damp squib. I imagine he will do he same as Alistair Campbell and gloss over everything. Or maybe Campbell missed them out of his book to pave the way for Blair? We'll just have to wait.

Rifkind proposes an English Parliament

Sir Malcolm Rifkind has suggested that an English Grand Committee should be set up to legislate on purely English matters. As much as I agree with the suggestion, it is hardly an original suggestion. Many of us have been arguing for the same for quite some time. The West Lothian question still hangs in the air and Labour are not going to resolve it. It is in their own self-interest to keep the votes of Scottish MPs to drive through unpopular legislation that will not affect their constituents.

The Leader of he Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, has also spoke out in favour of an English Parliament. He told Andrew Marr on BBC1 that "I think the right solution is to have a Scottish Parliament and an English Parliament - I believe independent parliaments - and to do the job properly, as opposed to having some sort of spatchcock solution to appeal for votes in middle England."

"I would like to see people in England have the same rights and entitlements as those in Scotland."


He is - of course - absolutely right. He is consistent in his views and does not want something different for England. Brown of course is a different proposition altogether. Disingenuous doesn't begin to tell the story.


Quote from BBC News

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blogpower Roundup

A reminder to everyone in Blogpower that it will soon be the end of the month and Gracchi has the honour of doing this month's 'Blogpower Roundup.' If there have been any posts that have caught your eye and you think they are worthy of a mention in dispatches, then send the URL to blogpowerroundup@googlemail.com.

Voting Age

At the SNP conference, the party has unanimously voted in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 years. I have a problem with this, although when I was sixteen and was involved in my first election campaign, I would have loved to vote.

The law at the moment is in a muddle. Recently the legal age for buying tobacco was raised to 18 years. So although the law states you are not responsible enough to smoke, it does think you are responsible enough drive a car, have sex and get married - albeit with the latter, you must have your parents' permission.

If you are deemed responsible enough to vote at 16, then surely you are responsible enough to drink alcohol, smoke, have sex, drive a car and get married without your parents' permission? Until this changes - which it will not - the voting age has to stay the same.

Abortion



Since the Abortion Act of 1967, an estimated 6.7 million abortions have taken place in the UK. Anti-abortion campaigners displayed these figures on the Palace of Westminster last night.



This is a very controversial statement, but can you imagine what the population of the UK would be if those terminations had not taken place?


Blogpower

When I announced last Saturday that I would be doing reviews of all Blogpower blogs - which I am still writing - I apologised to Zaftig, as she would be last in my alphabetical round-up. She must have taken this to heart, as I see Ruthie is now on the roll as 'Ruthie Zaftig.' The things people do to get a quicker review from me!

Bush and Clinton

I got this from Will B. Very funny.

Parliamentary Roadshow


Theresa May has launched a new website called Parliamentary Roadshow - bringing parliament to the people. The aim is to go out-and-about, talk to voters, find out what their problems are, and then raise it with the government. It is there to show that politicians care.


I eagerly clicked on 'Yorkshire and the Humber' on the map of the UK to find out when I could meet her. Unfortunately, I am told 'there are currently no visits in this region listed. More are being added all the time, so please check back.' Never mind, I thought, let's see where else she is going to. Nowhere to be precise. The only thing listed is a visit to the West Midlands on October 24.


I don't decry what she is doing, but by going nowhere on your roadshow, you are playing directly in to the hands of the opposition parties who will accuse us of gimmicks. Unfortunately this is exactly what this website is at the moment. We can only hope for more progress soon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Where was the good samaritan?

There are times when you wonder how low some members if our society can sink. There was a time when if someone collapsed in a street, everyone would would either come to their aid or make sure that someone else had done so, before getting on with their business. Okay, the example I am about to refer to is extreme, but I cannot imagine this happening in years gone by.

Christine Lakinski had a challenging life. She had to endure many medical problems. When she collapsed in a street in Hartlepool you would have thought someone would have come to her aid. No. Instead she had the misfortune to have Anthony Anderson walking nearby. He threw a bucket of water over her, then urinated over her, and then covered her in shaving foam. He also told his two friends that this would make good YouTube material. Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of it.

Was there a good Samaritan, ready to come to her aid. No. A large group surrounded her - after witnessing Anderson's disgusting behaviour - who thought this was highly amusing and the incident was filmed on a mobile phone camera. Christine was declared dead at the scene.

Thankfully Anderson has been sentenced to three years in prison. A magistrate had the good sense to refer this case to crown court so a longer sentence could be imposed and I'm sure the judge would have given him longer of he could.

Words fail me. How can our society sink so low?

A tribute to Speaker 'Jack'

Iain Dale has a tribute to the late Lord 'Jack' Weatherill. Read it here.

The Biased Broadcasting Corporation

We knew this already, but Conservative Home has the proof. There are eleven times more liberals working at the BBC than Conservatives. Read the full report on Conservative Home here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Indiana Jones - eat your heart out!



Apparently this is the classic movie closest to my personality. You learn something new every day!

Spending watchdog doesn't watch his own expenses very closely

People in glass houses should not throw stones. This is my response to the resignation of Sir John Bourn as Comptroller and Auditor General. He has managed to run up an expenses bill of £365,000 on 43 overseas trips in three years; and he is the public spending watchdog.

What always amazes me when I read stories like this one, is how intelligent people can think they can get away with behaviour like this. All the good work he has done in the past has gone for nothing. He will be remembered as the man who said do as I say, not as I do.

Read the full story here.

Flooding




The flooding in the East Riding of Yorkshire in June was worse than previously estimated. Read the full story here.

Back update

A quick update on my back problem. I went to see my GP this morning and he gave me stronger pain killers that apparently will give me constipation. Don't you just love side effects! I have also been referred to see a physiotherapist - when I don't know.

I have all of this week off work - so at least I do not have to sit in a car all day. Hopefully I will be feeling better to start work next Monday.

Alright... Calm Down Yea?


The thing I find really difficult about politics sometimes is the somewhat one minded behaviour of some people on certain issues. Let’s take abortion for example. We had this week a somewhat frantic Nadine Dorries on her blog accusing the abortion industry of controlling the select committee, setting up again an us versus them mentality which there being no bridge in the middle, just two sides glaring at each other’s somewhat reminiscent of the trenches in world war 1... And look where that got us!

I’d like sometimes for people to step back and emotionally detach themselves from the debate when emotion simply gets in the way. Don’t get me wrong, emotion is awesome, it drives people, it gives people passion, but the reality is that you start gambling with lives when you let your emotions boil over when it comes to issues like abortion.

Why can’t we have a third opinion? Dare I say it, a third way? I constantly accused not supporting life, when in fact I am pro life, while at the same time being pro choice. Thinking ahead, I would find it very hard to abort a child, I don’t know if I could say “yes, it’s alright” unless the mother was in serious danger. But at the same time I don’t want to limit people in their freedom to choose just because I don’t personally agree with abortion. As I’ve said so many times before, it’s about personal choice; the state shouldn’t be deciding if it is moral to do something, the state should be giving you the tools to decide for yourself. In this case the tool is the 1967 abortion act and it is best, I think, that it stays as it is.

Will B

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What famous leader are you?


I got this from Grendel, via Daily Referendum. It's the first time I have ever been compared to JFK, but I guess it could be worse. Okay, okay; I know I'm trying to convince myself. I wish it had been Churchill

PMQs

Gordon Brown will be glad of the rest from PMQs. The State Opening of Parliament has come at just the right time. Once again he shows how rattled he gets when David Cameron turns up the heat. Cameron on the other hand how cool he is on the big occasion. As the months roll by, the voters will be able to judge for themselves which one they think is the better leader; someone who is easily rattled or someone who is cool in a crisis.

We may have been glad to see the end of Tony Blair, but we all know how he would have reacted to David Cameron during their exchanges in the past three weeks. At the very least, we could have confidence that Blair was a cool head when a cool head was needed. Since the wheels have started to come off the Brown premiership, we no longer have the confidence our new prime minister will react in the same way. Cameron is looking more prime ministerial and his front bench team are looking more like ministers. More of the same please.

I've returned from holiday

We returned home from Scotland this evening. It was a little cold at times and the views weren't always clear, but it didn't rain and the welcome was warm and friendly.

I woke up on Saturday morning with a bad back and thought I must have slept in an awkward way, however I am still suffering and I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow morning. The pain tends to ease on an evening, but I wake up in the morning almost unable to bend or stretch my back at all. Hopefully the doctor will be able to sort something out for me tomorrow as ibuprofen isn't working at all.

Finally, my thanks also goes out to Shades and Welshcakes for their guest posts. It's good to be able to leave my blog alone for a few days and know it is good hands.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fantasy Government

I have been thinking about political stuff to put up here and today an opportunity presented itself on a plate.

I found out today that a work colleague of mine is a fledgling political blogger. His Blog is called Womble on Tour and he describes himself as a right of centre ex-voter.

He has invented an interesting Meme called Fantasy Government. If you want to check it out and join in, follow the link here and scroll down.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Sicilian Way of Death

Welshcakes Limoncello from Sicily here. Many thanks to Andrew for inviting me to post here during his holiday.



I've been racking my brains for an interesting topic and decided that, as we are coming up to the Sicilian festival of I Morti [2nd November], you might like to know about death in Sicily. It's not a very cheerful subject but I think there is something to be said for the way Sicilians treat it - as truly a part of life: whole families picnic among the graves of their relatives on the Day of the Dead and if children have been good they receive presents which are said to be from their ancestors. No one here grows up being afraid of death and if you have a bereavement you can be certain of not being left to bear it alone and you are not expected to display the "stiff uppper lip".



The following is an edited version of a post to my blog of 1.7.06:



Among the main tourist attractions of Palermo are the grisly Catacombe dei Cappuccini and the most popular feast day here is I Morti on 2nd November. Therefore it should be no surprise that Sicily has numerous death and mourning rituals and these, like the bread, vary from town to town and even village to village. I can only tell you of those I have read about and seen:


It is the tradition to have the body embalmed and brought back to the family home and there it remains, usually in an open coffin, for family and friends to pay their respects prior to the funeral [which takes place fairly quickly after the death. In Britain we have to queue for a slot in the crematorium chapel’s schedule, usually, just as we have queued for everything all our lives; the final indignity!] Family members hold a vigil during this time. Louise Hamilton Caico, writing in 1910, tells us of the women of the house making great outward shows of grief – wailing and screaming which could be heard through the entire village and tearing at their hair - and even, in remote areas, of families paying women to come and cry loudly! Now when a death occurs the notice giving details is put up on a special board outside the church and there is often a notice outside the house or workplace of the deceased, along with one of condolence from the work colleagues of the deceased and / or the bereaved. The front door or main door of a house or block of flats is left open day and night for people to come and sit with the bereaved family and, if you do not know them well, you just go in and offer your condolences, sit with them until the next person or group arrives, and then you can take your leave. The purpose of this, of course, is that the family are not left alone. Here you can talk about death, grieving and the deceased person. [In Britain it is not uncommon for an acquaintance to cross the street rather than have to speak to you if you have had a bereavement; people just do not know what to say.] No one, by the way, takes advantage of the open door to commit a crime; Sicilians have much too much respect for death. Some families leave all the windows open, too, so that the soul can depart easily. I rather like that.
Sometimes the death notice, informing you where you can view the body, will tell you that there is no need to take il conzu. This fascinates me: the conzu are offerings of prepared meals as it used to be considered disrespectful for the family to light the stove or cook during this time. [Caico mentions it.] It still seems to me a sensible custom: disrespect apart, a family may be just too distressed to feed themselves properly during this initial period of shock, disbelief and sorrow.
People do still wear black for up to a year after the death of a close relative. I know Queen Victoria overdid it and that’s probably why we Brits are reluctant to openly show our emotions following a death [Princess Diana apart but there was more to that, psychologically]. On the whole, I’m with the Sicilians: it seems to me entirely appropriate to wear, for a while, some outward symbol that says, “I am grieving”. I think it’s much healthier to acknowledge the terrible thing that has happened to you and your distress- and to make as much noise about it as you need to. Following the death of my mother in 1993 I received more understanding here than I did at home from people who had known me for years.



One last, strange detail: during a visit to the Museo Etnografico here in 1993, I heard a child from an Italian school group mention that the people in the pictures on the wall of a replica of a peasant house must be dead. On asking my Sicilian colleague Marco how the child had come to make that assumption, I learned that it was because the pictures were placed flush against the wall: if the people had been alive, the tops of the frames would have projected out from the wall.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In a continent (not very) far, far, away...

Guest post from Ian (shades of) Grey



As far as I remember, Andrew is a bit Euro-sceptic. (If you believe in small Government, it is hard to also believe in huge Hyper-Government as well!)

I don't know what he'll make of Captain Euro, but it seems a bit cheesy to me and there is a whiff of indoctrination about it.

You can can find out about Captain Euro (Europe's superhero) and the twelve stars Euro team HERE.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph and au revoir for now

Charles Moore has written an excellent article in the Telegraph today. It really sums up the EU. Read it here.

I'm now preparing to go off on holiday and looking forward to walking along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. I will now hand you over to my capable guest authors. I will be back again on Thursday or Friday after returning from Scotland.

Are you a binge drinker?

Don't you just love the health lobby. A friend of mine went to see his GP, and the subject of alcohol came up. He told him he didn't drink at all during the week as he had to be up early in the morning for work, however on a Friday and Saturday he would quite often have a bottle of wine with his dinner. He was accused of binge drinking and told he was no better than those who routinely get themselves plastered on the streets of our town and city centres.

Today we hear that safe drinking limits recommended twenty years ago were 'plucked out of thin air' and were 'no more than an educated guess.' The medical profession felt they had to say something and that's what they did without any real scientific research.

I'm not encouraging anyone to go out and drink to excess, but perhaps the medical profession should concentrate on doing their job properly and try and keep our hospitals clean, rather than trying to frighten people into thinking they are putting their health at risk if they drink a couple of glasses of wine.

Blogpower Reviews 1

A Conservative’s Blog

Benedict White writes that ‘this is my blog to explain why I am a member of the UK’s Conservative Party and my political thoughts.’

Benedict and I think very much along the same lines and indeed looking through many of his posts, we seem to blog about the same things. I like his easy writing style and his analysis of the failings of New Labour is spot on. His blog is easy to navigate and you can easily read his catalogue of previous posts. Benedict lives in Mid Sussex, and his local MP is Winston Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames. He also links to another blog he writes called ‘A Geeks Blog’, although at the time of writing he hasn’t made an entry there since March of this year. Please keep on writing this blog though Benedict. Blogpower is all the better for having you.

A Young Conservative

I first came across William Burstow a few months before he joined us in Blogpower. He describes himself as ‘18, male, proud Briton, Unionist, Conservative, student, football supporter, blogger, singer, music addict, general politico. Also enjoys philosophy.’

Will is a young man with a big future. He is not afraid to go for the jugular and can be equally critical of his own party as he is of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. He hasn’t had the time to blog as much as would like to this year, but when he does it is well worth the wait. He is also going to do the odd guest post for me when I go on holiday this week. If you haven’t done so already, go and check him out.


Adelaide Green Porridge Café

Colin Campbell describes his blog as ‘random musings from Adelaide, South Australia – a nice place to live.’

Colin is a Scot who lives in Adelaide with his Australian partner, his two children, and a vast array of pets. It must be like a zoo in his house! He writes about his family, Australia, and doesn’t forget his native Scotland and must be very happy about the up-turn in the fortunes of the Scottish football team. He has been a member of our co-operative for a long time now, and we all enjoy the glimpses he gives us of life in Australia and makes us jealous too; especially when you look at your car covered in ice, as I did this morning, and think of the warmth and sunshine in South Australia at this time of the year. A fine blog.

Blogpower

For quite some time I have been meaning to write reviews of the other Blogpower blogs. Blogpower hadn't been going very long when I first joined. I was prompted to by Ellee Seymour and I liked the idea immediately. I don't know whether James had realised just how much work he was about to undertake or indeed how popular Blogpower would become. For me it has become a blogging family. Like all families we don't always agree, but we look out for each other and try to plug each others' blogs whenever we can.

I am going to start writing some reviews today and hopefully I will have them all finished inside a month. Hopefully, I will have some ready to be published later today. So I can't be accused of favouritism, I will start my reviews in alphabetical order (sorry Zaftig) and any new blogs that are added during this period, I will review at the end.

Iran

Ali Larijani - Iran's chief negotiator with the west over Iran's nuclear programme - has resigned. This is a significant development. Mr Larijani has always been keen on dialogue with the west; President Ahmadinejad is keener on the hard-line approach.



Earlier this year, I said at the end a video blog that we cannot allow Tehran to have a nuclear capability.
Hear what what I said here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Alan Coren

I couldn't retire for the evening without commenting on the passing of Alan Coren. One of the wittiest men in Britain. I always enjoyed his column in The Times and loved him on Call My Bluff. A great man.

MPs to have more time off

MPs might have more leisure time this coming year; a total of ninety days off. This is because the government will not have enough legislation to put before parliament.

Not enough legislation? This is novel for Labour, however it sounds like a great idea to me. But why should MPs have more time off? Surely select committees can still hold the executive to account, and surely MPs could have a look at some old, outdated legislation and remove it from the statute book. They could also have a few more set piece debates, holding the executive to account.

We all know that none of these things will happen as Brown & co don't want to be shown up anymore than they are already and the thought of less laws, rules and regulations would get them breaking out into a cold sweat and give them sleepless nights. Giving MPs more time off is a waste of taxpayers money, but the government aren't bothered about wasting that, are they?

A question to Gordon Brown.

I only have one thing to say to Gordon Brown this morning:

If they EU Reform Treaty is as good as you say it is for Britain, then why are you so frightened of a referendum to let the electorate of the UK decide?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

EU Reform Treaty

The leaders of the EU countries are meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. When they discuss the EU treaty, it will not be a surprise at just how many individual agendas will be circulating the room.

Poland wants more power for medium-sized countries. The Czechs want us all to have more powers to reject European Commission proposals. Bulgaria wants the Cyrillic alphabet recognised. Austria doesn't want too many foreign students at its universities. Italy wants more MEPs and they are willing to throw their teddies out of the window if they don't get their way. France isn't really committed to the free market as their economy wouldn't be able to cope. The Dutch and Belgians have steam coming out of their ears because of UK opt-outs. The Germans want credit if it all goes well and the Portuguese want an agreement so they can call it the Treaty of Lisbon.

There is one thing they all agree on though. They know the treaty is worded in such a complex way, that transfers of sovereignty will take place without anyone realising until it is too late. That's what Gordon Brown is hoping anyway. He knows this treaty is designed as a stepping stone towards full European integration. He knows we are going to lose dozens of vetos we enjoy now. He knows the EU is going to legislate and intrude into more areas of our lives. He knows the army of Brussels' bureaucrats have nothing better to do than to come up with skip loads of red tape. He knows the majority of citizens from EU countries want less interference from Brussels, not more. But it's not just Gordon who knows this. Everyone of those leaders tucking away at the finest cuisine Portugal can come up with, knows it too.

The peoples of Europe need to stand up and rid Europe of this tyranny. We have to tell our leaders that they don't know better than we do. We don't want bureaucrats sniffing into more and more aspects of our lives. You've gone much too far already. We have to tell them firmly, enough is enough. A common market of independent, sovereign nations, promoting free trade is good for everyone in Europe; not the bureaucratic, intrusive monster it has become.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Campaign for Fixed Term Parliaments

If, like me, you think the date of the general election should be taken out of the prime minister's hands, then check out the website for 'The Campaign for Fixed Term Parliaments.'

If you are on Facebook, click HERE to join the Facebook group.

New England Rugby shirts

If you fancy popping out to the shops and getting one of the new England Rugby shirts, then save yourself a journey. They've sold out. When the Rugby Football Union placed the order for the replica shirts at the end of last year, England had just been beaten by Argentina. Back then there was more chance of Ming Campbell becoming prime minister than England getting through to a World Cup Final. So I can understand why they underestimated the demand.

I had to laugh though when I read this in 'The Times.'

Some retailers were apprehensive about ordering tight-fitting shirts, because the physique of the average rugby fan is very different from that of the players. Even a moderate beer belly can cause the shirt to rise up, exposing an expanse of pasty flesh.

Brilliant! How carefully worded that was. You can tell I didn't get the quote from 'The Sun.'

Spotlight on Hull

This week Hull was announced as the second worse place to live in Britain. Apparently only Middlesbrough is worse. There is a good article in the Hull Daily Mail today that puts forward the case for the city. Over the past few years a lot of regeneration has gone on and the place is looking much better than it has done. It is not that bad a place to live. Read all about it here.

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter

    How much does the EU cost you?