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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Laura Milne - a life cut tragically short

A young girl with learning difficulties is brutally attacked, then lying in a semi-conscious state, has her throat slit. Then her attackers dismember her body. 

The murder of Laura Milne was savage and those responsible should be put behind bars for life. SLaura Milne (left) and her murderer Stuart Jacktuart Jack was responsible for cutting Laura's throat and dismembering her body, so he received a mandatory life sentence, and will serve at least 18 years behind bars. Laura's family are outraged, and rightly so. When will life ever mean life? How brutal does a murder have to be?

I have been thinking about this post for a few hours now, and words still fail me. I don't want it to turn into a rant, so I will end it here, other than to say click HERE for a report of the events in court today. There you will also be able to view the judge's full sentencing remarks. They are not long and worth reading, although after reading them, I think you will be amazed how he managed to pass down such short sentences.

Gordon Brown needs a Billy

During these turbulent times, what Gordon Brown needs is someone who is unquestioningly loyal to him and will never desert him to further their political ambitions. He has his wife and his children, but they probably answer back, and I can't imagine our leader enjoying that. What he needs is a Billy.

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Billy is Becky's Mum's border collie and he takes being loyal very seriously. He has even been known to make into the bathroom before her, just to make sure she is okay. Wherever she is, Billy goes too.

He was even being very loyal to me today; looking up at me in an adoring way. Although I was having my lunch at the time, so perhaps he had his eye on the tuna!

Unfortunately for Gordon, Billy is not for sale.

Geraldine Smith and Bob Marshall-Andrews fire back at David Miliband

"What has David Miliband ever achieved, apart from furthering his own career? If David Miliband was placed back on the backbenches, then I think he'd become the non-entity that he was before his accelerated promotion."

I guess David Miliband isn't on Geraldine Smith's Christmas card list! The MP for Morcambe and Lunesdale certainly doesn't mince her words. Nor does her colleague, Bob Marshall-Andrews:

"The complete and conspicuous absence of mention of the prime minister at this particular stage obviously conveys its own message. It is a quite deliberate message but, as I say, it is a duplicitous message which is the worst possible kind of politics. I think [Mr Brown] should sack him if he doesn't resign and mount a proper leadership challenge."

Does this mean you are egging him on, Bob?

Question: How many mobile phones do you think Gordon Brown has got through in the past 48 hours?

Double Standards from Brownites

Brownites have attacked David Miliband for being disloyal. What short memories they have.

For years, Brown created mischief for Tony Blair. The pair of them routinely needed the arbitration services of John Prescott. And if I remember correctly, it was the same Brownites who were extremely disloyal to Blair for years, acting on their master's behalf.

Whatever you think of Tony Blair, you have to admit that he is a leader, something which cannot be said about Gordon Brown, or any of his cronies.

Milliband sets out his stall

If David Milliband is not unofficially running for the Labour leadership, then his remarks yesterday have not done anything to quell the rumours that he is.

Click HERE to listen to him yesterday and to read the  interesting comments from Brown loyalists. They are preparing for battle, although it was different when they were briefing against Tony Blair, so they think.

Highlights of the Brown v Cameron battles - Part 3

In this clip, David Cameron tries to get some of the questions answered that Gordon Brown had previously dodged. You have to hand it to the prime minister. There are times you think he is answering the question, but he never quite does. Of course, there are other times when he point blankly refuses to answer. His old mate, Tony Blair, was brilliant at this game.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pull over on the left in a safe location

Drivers beware. Under new proposals from the government, if you park your car more than 19.7 inches (50 cm) away from the kerb, the council will able to fine you £70. I can hear the cash registers ringing at town halls the length and breadth of the country.

I hate drivers who routinely park nowhere near the edge of the road, especially on roads where it is difficult to get past a parked car with oncoming vehicles. The problem I have with the latest proposals - which will probably not become law as the government will have changed their minds by tomorrow - is the thought of over zealous traffic wardens out and about with a tape measure. You can imagine them booking cars that are just a centimetre over the prescribed distance. If a car is causing an obstruction the police already have the power to remove it. The existing law is perfectly adequate. Drivers already feel they are cash cows and this will do nothing other than to reinforce that opinion.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"NO!, NO!, NO!!"

As an extra bonus, a return to 1990, with Margaret Thatcher at the despatch box. This is a heavily edited version of her famous speech

Highlights of the Brown v Cameron battles - Part 2

Bar Darling from your local! Cameron pokes fun at the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but gets his point across when he asks if there is any other country who is putting up taxes to get out of their current economic problems.

While the cat's away...

While Gordon Brown is away enjoying some quality time with his family, there is more activity going on in Westminster than there usually is at this time of year.

Harriet Harman wasimage relishing the chance of standing in for the prime minister, although it now seems that she isn't. Brown has made sure we know he is still running the country from his bunker in Suffolk.

 

Alistair Darling thought he might be the boss forimage a while. He still may be, as Brown  has not issued a statement about him yet, although I'm sure his protege will not do too much to rock the boat.

 

David Milliband is looking to the future and building bridges rather than sand castles. The Telegraph  image reports that he will be holding a series of 'outreach'' meetings around the time of the Labour Party Conference. There is nothing like reaching out with one hand and feeling around for a dagger with the other.

 

During all of this, anonymous ministers and MPs are briefing against Brown, although none of them really know who would replace him and they also know there really is very little chance of getting all the arithmetic right to force him out anyway. Labour MP, Gordon Prentice, has publicly called for the prime minister to go, although he said the same about Tony Blair.

Is it any wonder Gordon Brown doesn't look relaxed?

McCain leads Obama

Two days ago I said HERE that Barack Obama had failed to get a poll bounce after his jaunt around the Middle East and Europe.

It seems that I was right when I said that it is McCain who has connected with the American people. In a Gallup/USA Today poll, Obama's previous lead of 6% has been cut to 3%, but the most telling is the poll of likely voters, where McCain has a 4% lead. Last month, Obama was leading by 5%. image

I'm not getting too excited about these figures. During the 2004 race, Bush and Kerry were constantly running neck-and-neck. Occasionally one of them would surge ahead, however this was only transitory. I can see this year's race being very similar.

What it do say though is that Americans are not impressed with Obama on issues of defence and foreign policy. They are also not impressed with a candidate acting as if he is the president. It looks arrogant. You have to look presidential in order to get elected, but addressing the masses in Berlin and trying to get a JFK moment went too far. Kennedy was president at the time of his speech in Berlin. Obama still hasn't been formally selected as the Democratic candidate. There is always a fine line politicians have tread in order to get elected. Obama is in real danger of over stepping the mark. Remember Neil Kinnock in 1992? I'm sure Obama won't go that far as he is far more politically astute than the Welsh Windbag ever was or is.

I am salivating at the thought of the next four months of this election. It has caught the public imagination, which is good for the political process and we may see Americans voting in record numbers.

Highlights of the Brown v Cameron battles - Part 1

I have been looking at some videos on YouTube of the various battles between Gordon Brown and David Cameron this past year in the House of Commons. I will post a different one every day for the next week.

This one is after Brown 'bottled' calling a general election.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Power sharing talks are deadlocked in Zimbabwe

Thabo Mbeki thought his diplomacy had worked. He foolishly thought he could get Robert Mugabe to enter meaningful talks into power sharing with the MDC; the rightful government in Zimbabwe.image

He didn't listen to world opinion and now the talks are deadlocked. Mugabe wants to offer Morgan Tsvangirai - who the majority of Zimbabweans voted for as their president - the job of third vice-president. No doubt if the talks fail, there will be return to violence and murder.

There is only one way to deal with a tyrant like Mugabe. He needs to be forcibly removed and African leaders have it in their power to do it. They just lack the will and the bottle.

Smoking in a bar

Donal Blaney is going to do something this week that I used to be able to do, but alas this particular avenue of pleasure has been turned into a cul-de-sac. I am of course referring to smoking in 'a public place.'

As Donal is currently in Washington DC, he will be able to light up a cigar in a bar without the health fascists trying to get the place closed down.

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He quite rightly says here that the smoking ban is something Conservatives should not have voted for in the House of Commons. I agree. It's a long time since I last wrote about this subject, but I can assure you dear readers my views have not changed. The fact a pub landlord can't be allowed to say whether they will allow or disallow smoking in their establishment is a victory for those who want to dictate how we live our lives.

I hope this subject is something a future government will look at again and allow smoking in well ventilated places, if that's what people want.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Terrorists strike in Istanbul

If you need anymore evidence why we need to continue to fight the war against terror, look at this video from Istanbul.

This is the aftermath a cowardly attack. Two bombs were detonated tonight, killing at least 14 and injuring scores of innocent people

Read more HERE.

Harriet Harman defends Gordon Brown

If you had been lost on a desert island for the past 11 years and saw this interview with Harriet Harman, you would think Gordon Brown was the best and most respected statesman we have ever had. It's not his fault, honest.

Why are there Conservatives for Obama?

Something I often find puzzling, is why some Conservatives in the UK regularly align themselves with Democrats in the US. The natural allies of the British Conservative Party in the US is the Republican Party.

Roger Helmer MEP discusses this and says 'Conservatives fimageor Obama? It makes about as much sense as Conservatives for Gordon Brown.'

He is, of course, right. Read his full article HERE.

New poll in marginal seats is bad news for Brown and Labour

Elections are not fought and won in safe seats - although what constitutes a safe seat for Labour at the moment is anyone's guess. Elections are won in marginal seats and the opinion poll in today's Sunday Telegraph is devastating for Labour, who are 24% behind in marginal seats. This is what the new political map would look like if the Conservatives get a 10% swing from Labour in a general election.

 

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Click HERE for a larger image

 

Labour would lose 157 seats and the Conservatives would have a majority of 90, and that is with a 10% swing; the swing could be one or two percentage points more based on polling in recent weeks which have given David Cameron a consistent lead of 20 percentage points.

It is also interesting to see that Jack Straw could also very easily lose his seat in Blackburn and there are many of us who think he could act as an interim prime minister. After his holiday, Brown will try a rearguard action in a bid to silence his critics and win back his popularity with the voters.

He will do what Labour governments have always done; spend, spend , spend. He will try and convince the British people he understands their pain and announce a series of measures to help hard working families. It is the job of the Conservatives to explain that all the prime minister is doing to storing up more economic problems for the future and that the credit card for the UK government has already exceeded its safe spending limit.

What Brown could do is cut down the size of the public sector, but he is not going to do that. Not only do public sector workers form a large part of Labour's core vote, but the thought of more battles with the unions is something he does not want to contemplate.

He is between a rock and hard place and most of it is of his own making. It is not his fault there is a global credit crunch, high fuel and food prices, but it is his fault that for ten years as Chancellor of the Exchequer he spent and borrowed at such high and irresponsible levels. President Bush has been able to ease the pain of Americans, a luxury Brown has not got in his armoury, unless in his heart he has given up and he really doesn't care what problems the next Conservative government inherits.

David Cameron will have a tough job as prime minister and I predict Labour will try to blame all the problems he inherits as problems the Conservatives have made. Remember all Labour governments end their time in office with an economy is ruins; 2010 will be no exception.

Barack Obama fails to get a poll bounce

Gordon Brown and Barack Obama

It looks like Barack Obama's jaunt over the past few days has done nothing to help him in the polls. He seems to think he can gain percentage points by leaving his country behind, trying to look like a statesman. In doing so, he is forgetting that everything in politics is local.

Contrast Obama with his rival John McCain who has been pictured in America meeting with the Dalai LaJohn McCainma and talking with shoppers in a supermarket. 

Prancing around the world looking presidential and giving a speech to the masses assembled in Berlin is one thing, but when Americans are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of fuel and food goes through the roof, who do you think connects with the hopes and fears of the ordinary citizen?

In trying to look good for the folks at home, all Obama is doing is showing his inexperience.

What shall we do with a faulty lawnmower?

When something doesn't work the way it should, I am sure all of us at some point in our lives have given it a thump. It never works, but somehow we seem to feel better.image

Even I though would not react like this man, Keith Walendowski  from Wisconsin who grew tired of a faulty lawnmower. He shot it. He said, "It's my lawnmower and  my yard, so I can shoot it if I want."  The quote from Dick Wagner, from Wagner's Garden Mart is also priceless. "Anything not factory recommended would void the warranty." For everything else there's Mastercard!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama's JFK moment



Here are two pictures. Do you see the resemblance? If you don't, let me tell you. Both are giving speeches in Berlin.



One was President of the United States and - despite the spin to the contrary - was a disastrous president. The other one hopes to become president and - despite spin to the contrary - will be a disastrous president.

Do I have to say anything more?

Alan Duncan enters into a civil partnership

Conservative MP, Alan Duncan, entered into a civil partnership with his partner, James Dunseath, at Marylebone  Register Office last Thursday.

I'm sure all readers will join with me in congratulating them and wishing them every happiness.

The woes of Gordon Brown

It seems that the majority of Americans still think Tony Blair is British Prime Minister. For the sake of our country - not my party - there are times when I still wish he was.

Iain has posted a picture from the CNN website, showing Obama and Blair together. Click HERE to see the caption. It doesn't get any better for Brown.

Friday, July 25, 2008

U-Turn if you want to - although Labour is definitely for turning

When I looked at the newspaper this morning, I noticed Labour were planning to to add free primary school meals to their manifesto for the next general election. Costing £1 billion, I did wonder which credit card it was going on and of course I am against such a measure. Free school meals should be available for those families who are in strained financial circumstances. It is not the job of the state to provide meals for all our children under the age of 11. That is the job of parents.

Then I look on the Daily Referendum blog tonight and discover the government has made a U-turn on this policy. You know when all is not well in the heart of government when a policy doesn't last for 24 hours and this government is becoming a repeat offender. Those who carry knives visiting victims in A&E had about the same shelf life. Perhaps the government realised after they made this annoucement that it was not Tory policy? Well, they've knicked all the popular ones so far!

The SNP victorious in Glasgow East

I am surprised at the result. I was sure Labour would just hold on to this seat, although with the government's popularity about as low as it can get, last night proved that just about anything is possible. The heat is once again on Gordon Brown and all the inevitable questions about his future are being asked.

In any ordinary circumstances, the prime minister's position would have been untenable; but we are not in ordinary times. As twitchy as Labour MPs may be, they know it would be electoral suicide to have yet another unelected prime minister; although rats deserting a sinking ship seldom think before they jump. There isn't anyone who wants the job either. No-one is keen to volunteer themselves as the new captain who is sailing directly at the iceberg, with no way of turning the ship around. So for the moment, Brown is safe, although he will no doubt face hostility at the Labour Party Conference in September.

When will he go? If the local election and European election results are dire next spring, I think his number will be up. If Labour replace their leader with just one year to go before a general election, the interim prime minister - probably Jack Straw - should be able to steady some nerves and prepare the way for a new, younger leader. The British people will just about stomach yet another prime minister they haven't voted for, as they know the next general election will be less than a year away.

Gordon Brown is not up to the job. The whole country knows that, regardless of their political persuasion. Labour Party members know it, as do Labour MPs, ministers and cabinet ministers. There is only one thing that can save him now; the generosity of the British people. If they really want to put the boot in next spring, they will finish him off.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Polls have closed in Glasgow East - live blog

The polls have closed in Glasgow. For what it's worth, I predict a recount or two.

23:07: The turnout in around 46%. The most optimistic Labour prediction is 'too close to call.' The Labour pessimists are saying 'we've lost it.'

23:11 Cluttered Desk says, "I’m told from a very good source that glasgow city council boss steven purcell believes that the snp have won the glasgow east byelection or that it may just go to a recount."

23:43 The turnout is 42.25%. Not as high as previously reported by the BBC!

00:32: Margaret Curran has arrived at the count. Not long to go. It looks like the SNP have won.

00:34: Labour are still saying it is close, but are putting out excuses why they are having a bad night. It definitely looks like the SNP have won.

00:44: John Mason has arrived at the count, to flash bulbs inside the counting hall. He is giving the thumbs up. So we have it. The SNP have won.

00:52 About 10 minutes to go.

01:34 The dreaded R word - recount. Time for bed. I'll fill the results below, tomorrow.

CURRAN, Margaret (Scottish Labour): 10912

MASON, John (SNP): 11277

RANKIN, Davena (Scottish Conservatives): 1639

ROBERTSON, Ian (Scottish Liberal Democrats): 915

SNP majority: 365




Why on earth do parents do it?

From BBC News: In February this year, a judge in New Zealand made a nine year old girl a ward of court, so she could change her name from - wait for this - Talula Does The Hula In Hawaii. For obvious reasons, the judge said the little girl was exposed to teasing and her parents had given her a social handicap. I think her parents should be sectioned.

The comments section on the BBC website also makes interesting reading. One commentator has two daughters called Storm and Skye and a son called Blade. It beggars belief what goes thought the mind of parents when they name their children. I'm sure they would not like to be inflicted with the names they give them and when their children come home from school and tell them they have been bullied, they probably go straight to the school and complain, abdicating any responsibility.

At least the girl in New Zealand is now free from her parents' folly. What will become of poor Storm, Skye and Blade?

The SNP may be ahead in Glasgow East

The Birmingham Post blog has heard there is gossip from Westminster that the SNP are ahead in the Glasgow East by-election. This was published nearly five hours ago, so things may have changed. If there is any truth in the gossip and Labour does loose the seat, Brown is a dead man walking. I don't think he'll last to the end of the year. He'll be gone in September.

UPDATE: Is this the reason why George Ryan - who was tipped as the Labour candidate - failed to show up at the selection meeting?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

China to allow demonstrations during the Olympic Games

BBC News has reported that China will allow protests during the Olympic Games, however, they will only be allowed in three designated city parks and if you wish to demonstrate, you will have to apply for permission from the Beijing government and the police.

This, dear readers, is progress, although with all the hoops one has to jump through, I'm sure the demonstrations will be very well organised, and a PR triumph for the Chinese government. They wouldn't have it any other way.

James Purnell and the con of reform

I remember in the 1980s when John Prescott was Labour's Employment Spokesman. Every month when the unemployment figures were released, Prezza came on the television claiming the figures were a mixture of lies and fiddles. I don't know whether he came on the TV every month, or perhaps the BBC and ITV just replayed the same footage month after month - his rhetoric never changed.

James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has now decided he is going to direct his attention to Incapacity Benefit, because (surprise, surprise) many of our work-shy fellow citizens prefer the extra cash Incapacity Benefit gives them over Unemployment Benefit. One wonders if Mr Purnell will now come on the television and admit that the unemployment figures are a mixture of lies and fiddles? I won't hold my breath.

Not that Mr Purnell is advocating anything new. Frank Field thought the unthinkable 10 years ago and was rewarded by getting the order of the boot, but 10 years ago the economy was strong and Gordon Brown could spend and borrow all he liked. Having vast swathes of voters dependent on state hand-outs suited him. Now we are skint, so getting a million or so off benefits and back into work where they should be, is an attractive proposition.

Other commentators have noted the timing of this announcement. Those looking for conspiracy theories will say this is a swipe by Mr Purnell aimed directly at the prime minister. Why make an announcement now, days before the Glasgow East by-election? It's as good as saying vote for me today, and tomorrow we'll stop your benefits and make sure you earn an honest crust - probably for the first time in your life. Gordon Brown would have made sure this policy was announced when he was out of the country - just in case he got any flack - and as far as Glasgow East is concerned; so what? Labour will retain this seat, albeit with a vastly reduced majority and the party is expecting the worst anyway. I doubt this policy is going to make thousands of voters switch their allegiance. Nor do I think Purnell is jockeying for position if the leadership of his party becomes vacant. Most voters on hearing his name will say James who? They have never heard of him. John Major came from relative obscurity to become Foreign Secretary in the summer of 1989, and swiftly became Chancellor of the Exchequer. When the Conservatives did their hatchet job on Margaret Thatcher, Major was a household name. James Purnell's time - if indeed he is destined for the top job - is many years away. If he has any sense he will look at William Hague and realise it is a thankless task rebuilding your party after a general election defeat. Let someone else take charge, watch them fall and then put your hat in the ring.

The electorate should not be conned by this announcement. Labour has not had a Damascene moment and realised what Conservatives have been telling them that the welfare state is too large and welfarism is badly damaging the country. They may have stolen Tory policies, but it doesn't mean they believe in them. Gordon Brown has been forced into a corner - a corner of his own making - and if he wants to retain the votes of middle class voters, then this is a policy that may work. I'm sure it will not, as what we will probably end up with is Incapacity Benefit under a different name, with a reduction in claimants, but nowhere near enough. Labour is now dependant on the dependant and it can't reduce its dependency too much. Purnell is doing his master's bidding. By the time he rises further up the greasy pole within touching distance of the top job, the events of this week will be long forgotten. He can afford to preside over a disaster. Others, such as David Milliband, cannot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A three-mile round trip to get your bin emptied

That is what the residents of Litherskew in Upper Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, are having to do. Not only do they have to put up with fortnightly collections - which is a disgrace - officials in Richmonshire District Council have the nerve to tell them the maintained road serving their hamlet isn't good enough anymore. They must now place their wheelie bins on the nearest highway one and a half miles away.

This council is Conservative run, and the local MP is William Hague. The leader of the council has promised officials will review the policy, but this simply isn't good enough. It should never have happened in the first place. If this was some loony Labour council, you wouldn't be surprised, but a Tory council?? Residents, unsurprisingly, think the situation is bonkers. One can only hope it is remedied sooner, rather than later, including reinstating weekly bin collections.

 

Hat tip: The Daily Telegraph

Big Brother is watching you?

There were many that dismissed David Davis in his recent by-election campaign. There were many who said, 'If  you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.' I wonder what those people would make of this story.

There were 10,000 snooping operations sanctioned by councils last year. Remember, these operations are justified by anti-terror legislation. What terrible offences have ordinary citizens been guilty of? What serious threats to national security have been uncovered? You will be surprised - or perhaps you won't.

Following parents to school to make sure they are not breaking catchment area rules, dog fouling and under age smoking are apparently the biggest threats to our security. Forget Islamic terrorists, this is much more vital.

Gordon Brown has ordered a review; so we know nothing will change. Sir Christopher Rose, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, says that councils may be stripped of their powers unless they use them properly; so again we know nothing will change.

The British people are sleep-walking their way into an Orwellian state - and this is not an exaggeration. The more power you hand to local councils and QUANGO's, the more they will snoop into your life. If surveillance is needed, it should be ordered by a judge; not by a tin-pot official in your local town hall or a faceless bureaucrat in the Health and Safety Executive . One would assume that spying on a 16 year-old having a crafty fag would then be dismissed. A major task of the next Conservative government will be to review this legislation and restore our freedoms.

Cheap food and drink anyone?

Guido and Iain Dale are both reporting how MPs are having a jolly good old time in the bars and restaurants of the House of Commons at our expense. Every £10 that is spent by our elected representatives is subsidised to the tune of £4.30 by the good old taxpayer.

As Guido says, how on earth will they survive 12 weeks without unsubsidised booze?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Zimbabwean deal?


Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai shake hands and the 'first tentative step' towards a peaceful, political solution in Zimbabwe has been taken.

It is possible that Robert Mugabe will fulfill his part of the bargain and stop the political violence - although I doubt it will stop fully. If Mugabe is true to form, he will have a rabbit up his sleeve. He didn't look very happy earlier today and I am sure if he really thinks he is going to lose his grip on power, then the violence will resume. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Once a sadistic dictator, always a sadistic dictator.

Pres. Mbeki may think his 'softly, softly' approach will bear fruit. It won't, and it will blow up in his face. Morgan Tsvangirai should be president of Zimbabwe. The whole world knows that; not just the people of Africa. Nothing less will do, and the international community must insist that the will of the Zimbabwean people is recognised.

Guide to Political Blogs 2008-9: Vote for your Top Ten Blogs

It's that time of year folks when Iain Dale asks for your votes to rate all the political bloggers in the UK. He would like plenty of votes himself and so would I. I know I am being shameless, but if you have it in your heart... Enough of the begging!

If you do want to take part in helping to rate all the political blogs in the UK, click HERE.

Goodbye to acres and Crispy Peking Duck

If there is anyone who still thinks Great Britain is a sovereign nation, then they are either mad or they are living on a desert island.

Once again the European Union raises its ugly head and decides on matters that should be left for us to decide. From January 2010, you will not be allowed to register land in acres. Instead you will have to use hectares. For those who don't know, a hectare is 2.471 acres. The following is from The Daily Telegraph:

After being agreed last week, the new ruling will come into force in January 2010.

The Tories are angry that unlike some other EU countries, who sent Cabinet-level ministers to the meeting on 15 July, the Government only sent Jonathan Shaw, a junior minister at the Department for Environment Farming and Rural Affairs, to represent Britain's interests.


This is typical of our government who willingly signs away our rights without any of us knowing about it. Mark Francois - the Shadow Europe Minister, who I canvassed with in Crewe a couple of months ago - said:

"It is this kind of pointless interference into the nooks and crannies of our national life that frustrates people about the EU. Whether we use hectares or acres should be a matter for Britain to decide, not the EU.

"Once again this weak Labour Government has meekly given up yet another of Britain's rights to Brussels. They need to think again and insist that we must keep our right to use our ancient traditional measure of land if we wish."

And that is the point. It may seem a small thing, but we should be making those decisions here in Britain. It is for us to decide.

To make matters worse, The Daily Telegraph also reports that Crispy Peking Duck could be on the endangered list. Not because we are running out of ducks - there are plenty of them to go around - but because Europe is once again interfering. Apparently the ovens used to cook the ducks are imported from China and they emit too much carbon monoxide. Eleven restaurants have already had their ovens permanently closed by environmental health officers in Westminster (of all places) and it is expected that other councils will follow suit.

A Conservative government has to look at our relationship with the European Union. The interference in our way of life is intolerable and has been for decades. Personally, I would like to see us out of the EU if we cannot renegotiate our membership. The EU - as it stands - is one of the biggest threats to our freedom and our way of life. We know Labour won't do anything about it. We can only hope David Cameron will.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blogs that are new to me - Curly's Corner Shop, the blog!

I don't know why I have never come across this blog before as it is in Iain Dale's Top 100 Right-Wing blogs.

Curly is a former member of the Conservative Party who lives in South Shields. Although he is not active in party politics, he has still kept his right of centre views and keeps in touch through blogging.

He describes himself as 'South Tyneside's premier blogger, a right of centre viewpoint on national and local news and sport.' He is a prolific blogger and whether he is the premier blogger of South Tyneside or not, he lives up to the second part of his statement.

He comes from a part of the country I know well. About 11 years ago I used to pop in to South Tyneside Hospital in South Shields on a regular basis. It is also a great place to get a curry.

There are many Conservatives in the North-East of England; some don't even realise it yet. It's good to see a blog like this one taking a right of centre viewpoint on local issue in a Labour heartland. We will never turn the North-East blue, however, it can and will be bluer.

Check out Curly's blog. You won't be disappointed.

Summer flowers




I am not much of a gardener, so I leave things like that to Becky. Here are some pictures of our hanging basket, and pots at the front of the house.

The ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe will be introducing a new banknote tomorrow worth Z$100 billion and Zimbabweans are already saying that the note is worthless. Inflation has officially exceeded 2,200,000% and economists say the real rate is many times higher. (Figures from BBC News)

I am sure I am not alone in not being able to comprehend all those figures. I was complaining yesterday when the cost of a loaf of bread went up 10p. I am not going to start and work out what the weekly inflation rate is in Zimbabwe.

This country was the bread basket of Africa; now you need billions of dollars to buy a bread basket. Robert Mugabe has stated he will go in God's time. As I have stated here before, I will be very happy to speed the process up. If you are not being persecuted, tortured or murdered, you can't afford to live. Will Pres. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa act and do what is necessary to force change? I think you will have to spend billions of dollars to get someone to catch the pig flying outside your window.

Africa doesn't help itself

The Two Wolves has an an excellent post that will make you think again before you contribute to African Aid Charities. I strongly recommend you read it. Click HERE.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Councils to get the right not to empty your bin

The front page of 'The Daily Telegraph' today has the headline, 'Councils can now refuse to empty your bin.' It is referring to an amendment added quietly to the Environmental Protection Act by the government.

Basically, if you don't put your bin out 'properly', put it out too early or don't stick to some new rules foisted on you, such as not recycling enough waste, your bin will not be emptied. It gives each local authority carte blanche to do what they feel.

Please note, this amendment in to an environmental bill, so the government will have you believe it is all in the interests of being 'green' and improving the environmental health of the country. How not emptying your bin and leaving rubbish for longer than is necessary can be good for public health is beyond me. Although it will be good for the rat population; they will think all their Christmases have come at once.

All any government can do is encourage us to think about the environment. You are not going to get the public on your side by waving a big stick. If councils do start refusing to empty bins for the flimsiest of reasons, the environment will suffer through the increase in fly-tipping, which is also very costly for local authorities to clear up.

What backbench Labour MPs who have slender majorities are thinking is not difficult to guess. They must feel the government is deliberately working against them with one unpopular measure after another.

Blogs that are new to me - Kezia Dugdale's Soap Box

As promised in my previous post, this weekend I am going to highlight some blogs that are new to me. All of my reviews will be labelled 'new blogs' so they can easily be found by readers. I did promise that they wouldn't all be Tory blogs, so I am going to start with a Labour Blog.

Kezia Dugdale has the following on her profile:

Kezia is a Scottish Labour Party activist in Edinburgh where she lives and works. She currently sits on Labour's Scottish Policy Forum representing the Lothians and has a strong interest in Higher Education, Equality and Housing policy. These views are hers - not necessarily those of the Scottish Labour Party.

The blog - Kezia Dugdale's Soap Box - came to life at the beginning of 2007. The General Election in 2005 was a whirlwind for her, so she decided that a blog would remind her of the events leading up to the Scottish Parliament Elections. She stood as a candidate, however, by her own admission, she didn't stand a chance of getting a seat as the fourth preference on the candidates' list for Labour Lothians. She said she stood about as much chance as the Edinburgh Central Countryside Alliance Candidate! She also acted as the agent for Sarah Boyack, who has been an MSP since 1999.

Kezia's blog not only informs you of what life is like for an activist - which I can relate to immediately, especially as both of us didn't stand a chance of getting elected in our respective seats - but I also get an insight of Scottish politics, albeit from someone who can't stand the SNP. Mind you, if I had to look at Alex Salmond's face more than I do at the moment, I think I would have the same feeling.

At the moment she is quite naturally concentrating on the Glasgow East by-election. With much to play for, I imagine every Labour and SNP activist in Scotland will be descending on Glasgow this weekend . Having been involved in two by-election campaigns of late, I am sure they are all having a great time.

Whatever you think of Kezia's politics, the blog is well written and that's why I am including it on my list.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Blogosphere

When ever I pick up my copy of the 'Oxford Companion to Music' I find what I'm looking for, then notice something else, and something else, and before I know it an hour has passed. I love the way one entry leads to another.

Blogging is very similar. If I see a new contributor on my comments page or see a new blog through the site meter, I always check it out. That usually leads me to many blogs I have never seen before.

With this in mind - as my car is off the road - this weekend I am going to highlight some blogs that are new to me. There is some excellent writing out there just waiting to be found. I hope you will agree with my choices and promote them too and they won't all be Tory blogs either. Some are from other persuasions and others have nothing to do with politics.

If we all tried to highlight some other blogs each week, then we would all have a higher readership and a more diverse selection of blogs to read.

Just a thought.

Government Borrowing at its highest since 1946

If the government continues borrowing at the rate it is at the moment, it will be putting itself in the red to the tune of £100 billion a year. This will be highest rate of borrowing since 1946. Iain Dale has more detail HERE.

MOT

My car failed its MOT today on two things. A rear tyre needs replacing; no problem, but the main thing is it failed its emissions test. What a thing to fail on, as if an extra bit of CO2 in the atmosphere is going to mean the end of the world as we know it. So basically my car - once the tyre is replaced - is roadworthy. It doesn't have any major defects. It is safe to drive, but I still can't use it until Monday when they will sort out what is causing the emission problem.

What a load of rubbish.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Some quotes from Glasgow


I have a few quotes from the Labour and SNP websites as they try and garner votes in the Glasgow East by-election. Firstly, some background on Margaret Curran's demands. She is - of course - the Labour Party candidate.

Margaret Curran has a five-point plan to make the East End a safer place to live. I'm not going to bore you with all the details, as you can find them out for yourself, however, there are two things she is demanding.


Police need to use cars to get around, but it’s no substitute to walking the beat. I have demanded an emergency meeting with Strathclyde Police to get officers out of cars, and be visible on the streets. That way police can spot trouble and build a sense of community.


She hasn't said whether her demands have been met yet. I don't know what is braver - getting out of your car in the East End of Glasgow or meeting Ms Curran.


I will campaign for more CCTV in the East End – and I will demand that Westminster make it easier for the police to use and retain images.


She knows when she gets to Westminster she will have as much influence as a newly elected councillor on Glasgow City Council, and so do her potential constituents. She can demand all she likes, Gordon won't take any notice of her.



Now to the SNP. Their candidate, John Mason had this to say.

"When I launched my campaign to become MP for Glasgow East, I called on Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling to cancel the duty increase, as part of a programme to deliver fuel justice for Scotland.

"With eight days to go until the by-election, they are finally caving in to Scotland's demands.


Nothing to to do with getting their woman elected then, John? It must be down to your persuasive manner.


There is nothing like an election to get you making promises you can't keep or making claims you know aren't true. Only a week to go.

Welcome back to New York, Hillary



The New York Times
reports today that Mayor Michael Bloomberg (right) is going to hold a 'welcome home' bash for Hillary Clinton. Naturally, the main reason for this is to highlight the $23 million debt her failed campaign has amassed. He wants New Yorkers to reach for their cheque books to offer a helping hand to their battle weary heroine. (My spin, but the bash will help, won't it?)

Anyone who gives her a penny, is a fool. It is because she is a megalomaniac who couldn't see the writing on the wall, that she is in the position she finds herself in. She has been irresponsible and now expects others to pick up the tab. She can go bankrupt for all I care.

A thought on burglary

There are times when only a few words are required to sum up this government and the liberal agenda in general. The following letter from Michael Bright, Langton Green, Kent, was published in The Daily Telegraph today:

SIR - I was greatly amused to read on Monday that burglary is too minor a crime for magistrates to send perpetrators to prison and to learn on Wednesday that I may shoot them like pheasants.

Liberalism - the incoherent mumbo-jumbo it always has been.


More costs for the motorist?

Stuck in a traffic jam? Tempted to use the hard shoulder? Thanks to the awfully nice Ruth Kelly, soon you will, although there will be a £5 administration and processing fee.

This government just doesn't get it, does it?

Read the full story HERE.

UNISON Picket Line

As I was driving past County Hall in Beverley this morning, I noticed the UNISON Official Picket Line. To describe it as a line is being very generous; it was one man and he didn't have a dog with him. He was being very friendly to all those walking past him entering through the staff entrance, so I don't know how many people were on strike today.

These latest waves of industrial action in the public sector are highly irresponsible. I have enormous sympathy with those who say their pay is not keeping up with inflation, although we really don't know what the level of inflation is. It certainly isn't what the government publishes. Everyone - both in the public and private sectors - are feeling the pinch. I have seen my fuel bills go up by around £150 a month, fewer pupils requiring driving lessons, as well as higher energy and grocery bills. I am self-employed. I run my own business. I know there is nothing I can do other than to market my business more and ride the storm. Spiraling wage costs will only make matters worse. It will fuel inflation and cause more job losses, not that public sector unions are ever bothered about that. When was the last time you heard about massive job losses in the civil service and local government? They have - more or less - a job for life with a guaranteed pension, something the rest of us can only dream about.

It will be a difficult task for a future Conservative government to turn things around in two years' time. What I can guarantee is that the unions will make matters much worse in the fag-end of this Labour government. It is just history repeating itself.

The credit crunch explained

I got this via Blaney's Blarney. As you will find out, the one thing forgotten in the equation is that what goes up, may come down.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Alistair Darling - the motorist's friend with one eye on Glasgow

How much do you think the cost of a barrel of oil will be in September? $150? $160? The simple fact is we do not know, as the price of oil is dictated by the market. We all hope it will go down in price, although I think the chances of that happening are slim.

Why then did Alistair Darling announce he was going to freeze the 2p increase in fuel duty due to be levied this October? The government's response is: we are thinking about hard pressed families. My response to them is: you are thinking about the Glasgow East by-election.

Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer is on top-form today in The Daily Telegraph. He has a withering analysis of welfarism and how Labour has consistently failed its 'core voters.' He links this to the Glasgow East by-election and reels off some statistics about the constituency so shocking that you would think he was commenting on a third-world city.

Read his excellent article HERE.

Fair trade coffee

An Englishman's Castle has an interesting post on fair trade coffee. Read it HERE. I always wondered why it tastes so foul. Now I know.

Events at the Israeli/Lebanon border

Today was a public holiday in Lebanon as Israel handed over five Hezbollah terrorists and the bodies of nearly 200 more.

Israel, however, was mourning. It's side of the deal was to receive the bodies of two of its soldiers.

Thousands lined the streets in Lebanon to welcome home their 'freedom fighters' and hear Hezbollah's leader, Sheikh Nasrallah, speak of Lebanon's 'great Islamic resistance'.

Israel are now planning two military funerals for tomorrow.

Doesn't all of this show the difference between two countries and two religions? Israel knew they were getting the raw end of the deal, but they value and respect human life and because of this they wanted to give the families of the dead soldiers the opportunity to lay the loved ones to rest.

Islamic extremists, as we all know, have scant regard for the sanctity of human life. Will there ever be peace? If it's in my lifetime, I will be surprised.

Conservative MPs expenses laid bare

The Conservative Party today released details of their MPs expenses. Although I welcome this, I really can't see it capturing the public attention. When we hear stories of MPs having their noses in the trough - and I have commented on this subject - I wonder how much interest there is outside the Westminster Village and those of us who commentate on politics. I don't think the average party member pays much attention to the debate. There is the odd media storm and then another topic dominates the agenda, and all is forgotten. It is because of this apathy, MPs have always managed to get away with claiming everything, including the kitchen sink and I am sure many of them will continue to 'oink oink' their way through life for many years to come. If they really want to get their noses in the trough though, they should try get a job in Brussels!

To peruse how wisely Tory MPs have spent your money, click HERE.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How low can Labour sink to win a by-election?

Thanks to Guido, we now know. Margaret Curran - the Labour candidate - publicised she had the endorsement of a 93 year-old war hero who didn't look a day over 70. It turned out he was a 67 year-old Labour activist who nominated her on her ballot papers. More votes lost there, me thinks. Click HERE to read Guido's post.

Speed cameras and road safety - an oxymoron?

Many bloggers have commented on Swindon Council's decision to spend taypayers' money wisely by proposing not to plough £400K into the Wiltshire Safety Camera Partnership, and instead spend it on real road safety measures. I don't comment very often on road safety matters, but as a driving instructor, I suppose I have more views on this subject than the average motorist.

Calling speed cameras, safety cameras, still doesn't take away the perception that they are a cash-cow for the Treasury. It is easy for any driver to forget what speed they are doing by the hundred and one distractions there are on the road. I nearly got caught by a camera a week ago. I was coming over a flyover in Hull. I was going downhill and looking to see if any vehicles were about to join from the slip road. Before I knew it my speed had increased and thanks to a driver on the other carriageway who flashed his headlights, I managed to bring down my speed before the mobile camera caught me. I wasn't doing anything dangerous, however I could have easily collected three points on my licence and handed over £60.

Similar stories to this are being repeated at an alarming rate around the country. People whose only crime is to momentarily loose their concentration are having their licences endorsed. Road safety campaigners will keep on banging the drum that speed kills; but speed doesn't kill. It is the irresponsible use of speed that kills. Driving dangerously close to the vehicle in front of you will cause more accidents than doing 100mph on a quiet motorway. A few years ago the police would have used their discretion in awarding fixed penalty notices; now you see fewer police cars as they rely on cameras. Not that cameras prosecute those driving too close, who are high on drinks or drugs. They don't prosecute the tired driver who is falling asleep at the wheel and if Hull is anything to go by, you will never see a camera or a police officer near a school, catching those who are driving dangerously near children. No, it is much better to divert your resources where the most revenue can be generated.

Now we can move on to the subject of traffic calming. Almost every school in Hull is now in a 20mph zone, with the usual speed bumps. The problem here is that these 20mph zones are mandatory 24 hours a day. Where is the sense in this? No-one pays attention to the speed limit, especially the police, who you routinely see driving through at around 30mph. It has cost Hull City Council tens of thousands of pounds to dig up the road, install speed bumps and erect speed limit signs, when all that was needed was an advisory 20 mph speed limit and a flashing sign warning drivers of the potential hazards ahead. Job done.

What the government and local councils fail to realise is that the majority of drivers are responsible and can make decisions for themselves. They exercise their judgement by making hundreds of decisions every day they drive. When they see children milling around the side of the road, they naturally slow down and deal with the hazards around them.

My professional advise is to scrap speed cameras, unless they are on roads that have a poor safety record. Install more flashing signs, especially around schools. Have a national review of speed limits. There are many roads where the speed limit is too high and many where it is too low. Introduce variable speed limits; there are many roads where it is perfectly safe to drive at a higher speed at night. Treat the motorist with respect and they will respond in a positive manner. Treat them as a cash-cow and a target and you lose their respect.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't send burglars to jail

Someone burgles your home, leaves it in a terrible mess and you have to take time off work, suffer the stress involved and may see your insurance premium rise. Thankfully, this is something that has not happened to me, but if it did, I would want to see the perpetrator of the crime brought to justice. Wouldn't you?

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London have a different interpretation on justice to me. They say magistrates should be banned from sending those guilty of non-violent, minor offences to prison and they regard burglary as one of those minor offences. This really is the most liberal, wishy-washy balderdash anyone could come up with. What message does this send out to the 'would be' burglar? You can wreck lives, make people feel totally insecure in their own homes, but you will not be imprisoned for the offence. Instead, you can go and pick up litter on community service.

Unless you have strong deterrents, the rule of law completely breaks down. It is the job of the courts to administer justice as they see fit. Magistrates give of their time freely. Their only reward is to get the satisfaction they are putting something positive back into their communities. They need to be allowed to do that without tying their hands behind their backs.


Hat Tip: The Daily Telegraph

Catholic vote may cost Labour votes to the SNP in Glasgow East

Bishop Joseph Devine, who is apparently the second most senior Roman Catholic bishop in Scotland has said that Labour cannot rely on the Catholic vote in the Glasgow East by-election. Catholics have been outraged at the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill and the fact MPs rejected lowering the abortion limit from its current 24 weeks to 20 weeks.

There was a time when all Catholic priests had to do was say jump and their flock replied, 'How high?' Those times - thankfully - are now a thing of the past, although I am sure there are many who will vote against Labour on this issue.

What I did find amusing was the reaction of the two main candidates. Margaret Curran - the Labour candidate - has said she would vote with the government on the HFE bill and saw no need to change the current law on abortion. Her rival - the SNP's John Mason - said he was 'extremely uncomfortable' about the research proposals in the Bill and was in favour of lowering the time limit for abortion.

I can't say whether Mr Mason is playing politics or genuinely believes his words, but either way Ms Curran would have been better to dodge the question. She would not have been disloyal to her party by doing so, as MPs had a free vote on both matters.

I have said on previous posts that Labour will still win this by-election, probably with a substantially reduced majority, but still win. As a third of the electorate in Glasgow East are Catholic and some may vote SNP purely on this issue, Labour may be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Knife crime

Donal Blaney has an excellent post on knife crime. Read it here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Off for the weekend

I didn't think I would be blogging at all today. I had some work to do this morning and we were then supposed to be setting off immediately for Co Durham, however, there has been a delay, so I have a little spare time.

Becky and I are going to an 80th birthday party this evening for my old organ teacher, who is also a close family friend. It is his birthday tomorrow. Tomorrow would also have been my Dad's 74th birthday, so I have mixed emotions at the moment. My Mum has organised for Dad's ashes to be buried in his parents' grave. The local vicar - another friend - is going to conduct a short service at the grave. I can't say I am looking forward to that, but as Dad did not tell anyone what he wanted doing with his ashes, Mum has decided this is the best option.

I won't be back until tomorrow evening, so you won't hear from me until then. I will be turning comment moderation off.

Dirty European Socialist

It's not often you see me urging readers to go and have a gander at a Labour blog; tonight though I am going to make an exception. I got a comment from someone calling themselves Dirty European Socialist. I had never heard of him until this evening.

If you go onto his blog, you will see he has a little campaign all of his own going on. It's called, Boycott the Tory Blogs. He urges his readers to stop reading Tory blogs, now!

As I said in the first paragraph, I received a comment from him on my 'tory blog.' I must make a reciprocal comment...

UPDATE: He doesn't seem to allow comments. There's a true democrat for you. You must read his post on 'Boycott the Tory Blogs, Now!' It's hilarious in its rhetoric and lack of grammar.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Iran and Israel - in response to a comment

In a comment on my last post on Iran and Israel, I was asked to pad the post out with some facts. I am happy to do this.

Firstly, I do not believe - as some might have you believe - that Israel is spoiling for war. Yes, the Israeli air force did perform an exercise over the Mediterranean Sea. Some will say Israel was playing a game of brinkmanship, and it certainly doesn't harm to show your enemies the force you have at your disposal, but it cannot be forgotten that Israel is the country that is receiving a threat and not the one who is looking for war.

The politics in Iran are complicated. Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was elected in 2005. He has called the holocaust a myth and has said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map. I don't know how he plans to do this, however, I don't think he was considering doing it in a peaceful way. He, though, is not in charge of Iran. The man who really holds the power is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who boasts the title of Supreme Leader, and he is just as militant as the president. The Supreme Leader always seems to get his man elected as president; such is his influence. The recent tests of long-range Iranian weapons and - despite UN security council resolutions - the continuation of Iran's nuclear project, has put Israel in an invidious position. Israel knows that it only takes one war to destroy her. Israel also knows that it cannot necessarily rely on the United States for military assistance, although Secretary of State Rice has made all the right noises this week.

Israel can be criticised for its treatment of Palestinians, however, when you have Palestinian terrorist organisations blowing up your fellow countrymen, you have to be tough in your dealings with them, especially at checkpoints. What Israel has never done is threaten to wipe any of its neighbours off the map. If Iran and Syria would get on with running their respective countries and afford Israel the same courtesy, none of the events we have witnessed during the past week would have happened. As I have said in a previous post, if UN resolutions are to mean anything, we should be there standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel in trying to neutralise the Iranian threat. If diplomacy fails, there is no other option but to attack.

Bloghounds


A new group has been formed and it is launched today. To find out more about Bloghounds click HERE. If you are a small to medium size blogger, like what you see and want to join us, then please feel to apply for membership. You have nothing to lose.

Poll woes for Brown favour the SNP in Glasgow East

A YouGov poll for the Scottish Daily Telegraph makes interesting reading.

SNP: 33%
Labour: 29%
Conservatives: 20%
LibDems: 14%

Allowing for the usual plus and minus adjustments, it is fair to say that the SNP and Labour are neck-and-neck with everything to play for. This is a massive turnaround in Labour's fortunes from a year ago, when they were 15% ahead of the SNP. The majority of Scots polled also want Labour to lose the Glasgow East by-election.

There can be no doubt now that Gordon Brown is Labour's biggest electoral liability since Michael Foot, and it is not just in England; his fellow Scots dislike him as much as anyone in the UK. I still think Labour will win in Glasgow East, but their majority will be so pitifully small, Brown's position will become untenable in September when the party faithful gather for their conference. Expect some fireworks there.

David Davis MP

David Davis was always going to win this by-election; the question was always going to be by how much. The voters in Haltemprice and Howden were well informed about the issues. They would have had to have their heads in the sand if they still thought yesterday this election was just about 42 days. Although DD has been returned with a large majority, we all know it an artificial one. Almost 66% of those eligible to vote, didn't bother to exercise their legal right to do so. This could have been for a variety of reasons.

Firstly - as I have already mentioned - it was a foregone conclusion DD was going to win. If it isn't going to be a close election, why bother voting at all?

Secondly, they may not have been interested in the subject of liberty. They may take the line that if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.

Thirdly, the majority of those who didn't vote were Liberal Democrat supporters who couldn't stomach voting for a man they have consistently voted against for many years.

I wouldn't think the weather had much to do with it. It wasn't that bad yesterday, and I always think that if you really want to vote, a rain shower will not put you off.

Although the turnout was much higher than predicted at the beginning of the day, I think 34% is still disappointing. It was never going to be as high as a general election turnout, but somewhere around 45-50% would have been a credible figure.

Having said all this, what DD has done is reverse public opinion. Before he resigned the majority were in favour of 42 days detention without charge; now the majority are against. To do this in such a short space of time is a remarkable achievement. With public opinion now against 42 days, it will be even harder for the government to bulldoze it through parliament; although we will see parliamentary ping-pong between the Commons and the Lords for the next year. The campaign for our liberty and freedom will now continue, and the campaign is in much better shape thanks to the selfless actions of David Davis, than it has ever been. Thank you DD.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Haltemprice and Howden by-election - the polls have closed

The polls have closed in Haltemprice and Howden, however, it will be some time before we hear the result. H&H is a rural constituency, so that will mean delays in getting all the boxes to the count in Anlaby. The counting staff will also have to have 26 piles of ballot papers. Rather them, than me. The result should be announced at around 2.00am, when I will be in the land of slumber.

There has also been problems at the Haltemprice Leisure Centre, where the count is taking place. The makeshift stage that is used at elections is not wide enough or strong enough to hold all the candidates, so all the candidates will have to stand around the returning officer on the floor, whilst the returning officer stands on his small platform. Then come the speeches; all 26 of them. Brevity will hopefully be the order of the day.

Israel 'ready to act' over Iran

Following on from what I said yesterday about a possible Iran/Israeli conflict, Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister has stated Israel is ready to act over Iran. He has stressed that diplomatic solutions with be explored first, however, Iran should be in no doubt as to Israel's intentions. With so many of their neighbours determined to wipe them off the face of the earth, they cannot afford to risk their security, and certainly cannot afford to lose a war of any kind.

One can only hope Tehran will see sense, although the chances of that happening are slim to non-existent. It may be controversial, but I wish we had backed Saddam Hussein during the Iran/Iraq war. Iraq was never the threat that Iran was and is. Saddam firing off a few scud missiles at Israel - that were easily shot down by American Patriot anti-missile missiles during the first gulf war - is child's play compared to the threat Israel faces now.

Israel is right to talk in tough, direct language and I'm sure they will back up their words with actions if the need arises.

Heathcliff Brown

I'm sure many have commented on this story today. Gordon Brown, trying to soften his image, likens himself to Heathcliff in Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights.' He may have been a dark and broody character - which hardly softens Brown's image - but he was also guilty of domestic violence, he was a possible murderer and exhumed the body of his lover twice.

As I said yesterday, Brown really needs to get some good advisers around him - and quickly. Our prime minister is a laughing stock and that reflects badly on Britain.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Iran and Israel

The Iranians have once again today flexed their muscles in testing their long-range missiles. They have stated that if the West attacks Iran, they will fire missiles trained at Tel Aviv. The question is whether they will use these missiles anyway, even though Israel has enough nuclear missiles to obliterate Iran.

I think Israel will attack Iran at some point in the not too distant future. Some commentators are saying it will be after the US Presidential Election, but before the new president is inaugurated. I can see why the Israelis would do that. If they think the US is not going to support them, they may as well strike when Washington is in a state of semi-paralysis as the current administration prepares to hand over and the new administration is bogged down trying to get a team together.

Either way, Israel has no choice but to attack Iran and if the United Nations Resolutions are to mean anything, we should also be supporting the right of a sovereign nation to protect itself against an aggressor who has clearly stated it wants that country wiped out. It's a very nervous time in the Middle East.

Glasgow East by-election. Nine candidates are standing.

This by-election is set to be a close run thing. With nine candidates standing, votes for the smaller parties could be crucial. For example, there is a left-wing party called Solidarity fielding a candidate. Normally parties like these only poll a few hundred votes at most, but a few hundred votes here and a few hundred votes there could make the difference for Labour, or the SNP, because if the SNP do win this seat it will be with a small majority.

The parties have started campaigning hard today and the main candidates will not be getting much sleep over the next two weeks. This is truly an election where very vote counts. Let's hope there is a high turnout.

Brown lectures us again

You have to hand it to Gordon Brown. In the space of three days he has managed to alienate just about all of the electorate.

First of all he lectures us about wasting food - and then gorges on a six-course lunch and a eight-course dinner. He also tries to stop the supermarkets offering special offers, the very things that are helping cash strapped families pay their grocery bills.

Now he is lecturing us about our cars and reducing CO2 emissions a few days after he boarded an aeroplane in London to fly to Japan, after it had flown without passengers from Texas. No doubt it will fly back home to Texas without any passengers either.

My advise to Brown is to hire some advisers that are going to challenge you and stop you opening your mouth when you shouldn't. At the moment you are obviously surrounded by 'yes men.'

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Busy day

I don't have much time for blogging today. I'm going out to Becky's presentation at Hull University tonight and then I have to print off and fill my application to go to this year's party conference. Please feel free to comment on some of my posts from the last few days and tell me what you think.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Celebration of Achievement

Tonight I was at Kelvin Hall School in Hull. I am governor there and was present at the 'Celebration of Achievement' awards.

The governors were presenting the certificates tonight, and I was first up handing over certificates to the first eight students. It never ceases to amaze me what a talented bunch of children we have at the school. Despite all the headaches of Building Schools for the Future and the general paperwork that goes along with the job of a governor, tonight demonstrates why you put yourself through it. I am back on Wednesday to present more certificates to students from Years 9-11.

Hazel Blears

I have just read this on Iain Dale's blog. The code Hazel Blears is speaking in is not very difficult to crack.

Harriet Harman for PM?

There are rumours Harriet Harman is taking soundings from colleagues to see if she will have any support to mount a challenge to Gordon Brown if everything goes tits up in Glasgow. For once in my life I am speechless. Is Gordon hated that much Labour would inflict Harriet on the nation?


Hat tip: Guido

Glasgow East by-election news

Margaret Curran, MSP, has emerged as the Labour Party candidate for the forthcoming by-election. She appears to have been the fifth choice candidate. It must make her feel wanted!

If she does manage to hold on to the seat for Labour, she has stated she has no intention of giving up her Scottish Assembly seat. How someone can combine the two jobs and do them properly, I don't know. It would seem the voters of Glasgow East will be voting for a part-time MP if they elect Ms Curran, which demonstrates Labour's desperation and contempt for the electorate in equal measure.

If the SNP do win this seat - which I think is unlikely - this will definitely be the end of Brown, which as a Conservative I do not want. Brown may think he will have breathing space before the conference season starts. I wouldn't bet on it. I have a feeling the jungle drums will keep beating throughout the summer.

July 7, 2005

On Thursday 7 July, 2005, the normal hustle and bustle of London was destroyed. More than 50 people were killed and hundreds injured as Islamic suicide bombers waged their evil.

This is the reason why we must continue to wage our war on extremism and terrorism. It is also the reason why our excellent security services need more funding to do their job. The primary role of any government is to protect its citizens. Labour talk the talk; now it is time they got serious with the cash.

George Osborne's fuel tax proposal

George Osborne's proposal to link fuel duty with the cost of oil has merit. If there is a way to make it work, it will certainly help alleviate some of the pain motorists are feeling, and when the price of oil does stabilise, at whatever price, it may also help to keep the price at the pump on an even kilter.

As far as I'm aware, this is just a proposal open for discussion, and it is not Conservative Party policy. What pleases me though it that the Conservatives' are searching for ways to help. The 'will he or won't he' saga of whether the 2p per litre increase will come in to force later this year serves to reaffirm the image of the government as not caring about the plight of the British public.

The cost of snails

Every time we walk into a supermarket we are reminded how much our grocery bills have risen. The cost of meat, eggs, bread, butter, and just about everything else has rocketed since the beginning of the year.

I read this story earlier. The poor French are going to be poorer if they want to eat snails. As they don't have very many of their own, they have to rely on imports from Central and Eastern Europe, but unfortunately the snail-gatherers have lost their appetite for gathering the slimy blighters. The companies who buy the snails have had to put up wages to encourage the snail-gatherers to continue in their profession. Reading between the lines, one also gets the impression that - as France consumes 14,000 tonnes of escargots a year - there is also a problem of demand outstripping supply. You could say they are entering France at a snail's pace!

The cost of motoring

I was running low on fuel earlier today and called in at a BP service station on the M18. I knew I would have to pay 'over the odds' for diesel, however, at 138.9p per litre, even I was surprised at the size of the rip-off.

Let me give you some background to the location of these services. They are less than an hour's drive from Immingham refinery. So there are very little transportation costs. Considering some 20 miles up the road a Shell station was selling diesel at 129.9p, it is very obvious all BP are doing is profiteering. Yes, fuel has always been more expensive on the motorway. There is no justification for this, but we have got used to it. Now though - as we pay an extortionate amount of money for fuel - the price differential is becoming larger.

The government can do much to ease the burden of the motorist, however, so can the oil companies. They are making record profits as the price of oil rockets. They can help by charging a fair price across the board.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The last 24 hours

Last night the bairn stayed at his Grandma's. This was arranged so we could go out shopping today without him. Like any nine-year-old boy, shopping for clothes is not an ideal way of spending the day. We have been meaning to decorate his room, so Becky decided she would start last night. Before anyone thinks I am being lazy by letting her do all the work, I have a very good reason for not helping her. The smell of paint makes me very nauseous. I have tried masks in the past and they don't work for me and as Becky loves decorating, I think we have an ideal arrangement. My job was to move furniture and keep her supplied with cups of tea. I have to report I did my job admirably. With just a small amount of the room left to paint, we ran out of the stuff. Very frustrating, however, we knew we could get some more mixed. We eventually got to bed at 3am.

The alarm sounded at 9am, and - quite naturally - neither of us felt like responding by jumping up out of bed. We did do well in the end and managed to get into the car by 10.30, went off to B&Q, got some paint, and then drove to Meadowhall Shopping Centre at Sheffield. The reason for our expedition was to buy Becky a new dress. She has recently completed a science based access course at Hull College and on Tuesday evening she is being presented with her certificate during a ceremony at Hull University. My way of saying well done is to buy her a new frock for the occasion. We have previously trawled the shops in Hull, but our efforts have been in vain. If you can't find anything at Meadowhall, you are not going to find it anywhere else.

How difficult can it be to find a suitable dress? Very! We saw one we both liked, but encountered the usual problem; none were available in her size. We then went on to wear ourselves out and really didn't find anything we liked, so we went back to the previous shop and asked if there was one available in her size loitering in the back of the shop. There wasn't. We were then asked if we lived locally. We told them we had travelled from Hull, and the assistant got on the phone to the Hull branch and it transpires they have the same dress in Becky's size! We had spend hours walking around a shopping centre when we could have bought the dress in Hull after all.

I foolishly thought our shopping trip was over, but of course we had to 'accessorise.' Thankfully it did not take us long to find the shoes and handbag to go with the dress.

I thought I would give you this glimpse into my life to prove that not everything revolves around politics. I thought I would also put in print and publish my congratulations to Becky. She has worked very hard, through some difficult circumstances to achieve what she has done and I am very proud of her. She is starting a BSc (Hons) degree at Leeds in September and I am sure all my readers wish her the best of luck.

Thabo Mbeki plays into Mugabe's hands

Pres. Thabo Mbeki is once again showing he is a man of no moral fibre. Acting as the chief regional negotiator, he is still trying to get the MDC to work in a power sharing government with Mugabe. The man just doesn't get it. Robert Mugabe has tortured and murdered his way to victory. He doesn't have any true democratic mandate. He is an evil, brutal dictator, who - if I had my way - will be finding his way to God sooner, rather than later.

In another twist, Mbeki has held joint talks in Harare with Mugabe and leaders of a breakaway faction of the MDC. Does this spineless wonder think he can broker a power sharing government between two sides, neither of whom have a democratic mandate to govern?

As I have said before, Africa needs strong leadership from Mbeki and that is something he is incapable of giving. He should be putting pressure on Mugabe to resign, otherwise he'll pull the plug. Instead he goes for the soft option, which, as we all know, plays into Mugabe's hands.

Mbeki is flying to Japan where the G8 are meeting. We can only hope they can inject some guts into the man. I am not holding my breath.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis should never have been appointed Deputy Mayor without thorough checks being made in to his background. If that had been done, it would have been obvious he had never been a Justice of the Peace. No doubt other issues would have risen to the surface too. Having said that, Ray Lewis was not truthful with Boris Johnson. Boris's mistake - or more pertinently - his team's mistake, was to trust Lewis. That should not have happened.

What is comical is that Labour are now saying the Tories are in disarray. The unfortunate fact for Labour is that in a couple of weeks all of this will be forgotten. Ray Lewis has gone; Boris has acted quickly and life goes on. Labour on the other hand will have to get through a by-election in a few weeks' time. They will still have a lame-duck prime minister and they will still have to watch their vote crumble all around the country. They will still have fidgety MPs worrying about their job prospects and one of these days they will have to realise that they are responsible for the economy not being in a good state to weather the current economic climate.

Boris Johnson made a mistake, but lives to fight another day. He is not crippled by sleaze and corruption. Labour can get drunk on their spin today, however, tomorrow they will have to cope with the hangover of reality.

Glasgow East by-election

It seems that no-one is keen to contest the Glasgow East by-election for Labour. George Ryan, a local councillor who was favourite to run for Labour, has dropped out unexpectedly for 'family reasons.' It seems he does not want to put his family through the ordeal of a campaign.

Now Labour has to find a candidate, whilst the SNP and Conservatives already have theirs in place. With the current political temperature, just about any Labour seat is a target seat. The SNP are campaigning hard, whilst Labour are still in the blocks.

In 1995, when the Conservatives were suffering a meltdown in their vote, I don't remember the situation being as bad as it is now for Labour. They have a prime minister who is frightened to come outdoors when the going gets tough. They are starting a leadership contest in Scotland and they have yet to find someone to fight what should be, a safe Labour seat. Meltdown, chaos, whatever you call it, surely it can only be a matter of time before the party presses the nuclear button and forces Brown out of office.

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