27 March, 2006
23 March, 2006
I am giving them this plug because:
1 They have their business premises in Deptford.
2 They seem like a really nice bunch.
3 They are exactly the kind of people who we should be supporting. (Left the City to set up this local business).
4 They give 10% of their profits to help water provision in Africa.
I wish them the best of luck for the future.
By the way if anyone else has a business or group that deserves a plug drop me a line.
The fact that Blair and Kelly unnecessarily disemboweled their own bill to placate backbenchers means these extra Â£millions will probably be wasted. Pity really.
1. The £200 payment made to pensioners before the election to help with council tax bills has been abolished. It was the centre-piece of his Budget last year and not mentioned in his Budget this year (page 188).
2 Gordon Brown did not mention the fact that this Budget adds £5.5bn to Britain’s tax bill – already the highest ever – over three years. Of this £5.5bn, £4.8bn was not even contained in the Budget measures announced today. Tax as a proportion of GDP has been revised up from 40.7% to 41% by 2010/11.
3 Even after that, Brown has revised up his borrowing to £175 billion over the next six years – £7,000 per family. The current deficit for next year almost doubled from £4bn to £7bn.
4 Brown made much of environmental taxation but the proportion of taxes raised by environmental taxes has fallen from 6.4% to 6.2% (page 262). The Climate Change Levy will, according to the Red Book, raise less revenue in the next three years after the changes he announced. Friends of the Earth responded by saying: “Gordon Brown’s latest Budget will do little to tackle the huge challenges posed by climate change”.
5 There was no mention of the NHS at all. For years the Chancellor made the NHS his priority. Now it is in financial crisis he simply ignores its existence.
6 There were no measures to implement the Turner Report or to restore incentives to save.
7 The Treasury have revised down long-term productivity growth from 2% to 1.75%.
22 March, 2006
21 March, 2006
The probation service is not the same as the prison service. People on probation have to check in periodically with their probation officers but they are not under 24 hour observation. Blaming the probation service for the actions of these people is unfair and sidesteps the main problem.
The criminal justice system is under a huge amount of pressure to make space for new prisoners so probation and early release are being used to clear space in prisons. Criminals who pose a threat to society should be in prison, we also need much better rehabilitation processes while they are there, but that is another argument all together.
General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley also died recently.
Who will be remembered in the same way, I wonder?
19 March, 2006
You can read what happened here. The short story was that Clarke was very rude and insensitive to Rachel’s father. The story has grown on the internet over the last week (here and here) and now Clarke has apologised, let’s see if there is an enquiry.
The prize for the least surprising news of the year goes to: Gordon Brown taking more of your money than any other chancellor in history.
If the money was being well spent few people would be complaining, however no one believes the money is being well spent anymore. High taxes and high waste is not a good selling point for someone wanting to be Prime Minister.
I have always felt that this rot started at the top, could this series of events prove me right? It is clear that the Nu Labour cabal is distancing itself from Bair, will he still be in office t the end of the year? I don’t think so.
17 March, 2006
I can't say that I am surprised but it is a pity none the less.
MH's role in uniting the party, starting us on the road to recovery and paving the way for David Cameron cannot be overlooked.
It won't be for a few years yet but I wish him well in whatever he does next.
Yet again the Big Yellow Box applicants didn’t come to the meeting so they weren’t able to witness the chorus of disapproval from local residents, elected members and council officers. Cllr Barrie Anderson made a short sharp statement outlining the Conservatives position on this. We don’t want it. Cllr David Britton reinforced this as he proposed the application be turned down.
Cllr Ingleby could learn a thing or two about public speaking from these guys, he recited a long list of planning guidelines, officers advice, legal summaries etc. By the end of it I, and most of the residents, were struggling to stay awake and had probably forgotten what point he was trying to make. At least he opposed it.
The application was refused.
Next it was upstairs to listen to a decision on the new school at Ladywell. Unfortunately I missed some of the debate because I was at the planning meeting. Various interested groups were debating the merits of the site and ultimately voted in favour of the site. A more complete assessment of the evening can be read here.
16 March, 2006
I am waiting for the usual Labour spin about the “unelected House of Lords” opposing the will of the “elected House”. This conveniently ignores the fact that the Lords are trying to force the Government to do what they said they would do at the election. You don’t hear Clarke talking about the government “opposing the will of the electorate” do you.
The basic idea is sound and was supported by the Conservatives. It strived to give greater freedom to schools and parents, encouraging the expansion of good schools and provides more autonomy for head teachers.
This was very much the backbone of the Conservative policy going into the last general election. Most Conservatives that I have spoken to about this felt that it was a bit timid but was at least moving in the right direction and for this reason it was entirely appropriate for us to support it.
The main problem with the smooth passage of this bill is that the Labour front bench would rather have a fight with the Conservatives and placate their own looney left backbenchers than get good legislation through the house. Consequently Kelly and Blair have hacked, chopped and distorted their own policy to win over the out of date hardliners when they already had a guaranteed majority for the vote.
I have made the point before that either they think that the bill is the right move or they don’t. If they do they should have accepted the Conservative offer of support and left the bill unchanged. If they thought that the bill was wrong they should not be putting it through at all.
What they have done is distort the bill, cutting out some of its most important elements and replacing them with clauses that actively prevent good schools from expanding. Despite these last minute bodged changes their backbenchers still refused to support them.
Blair and Kelly started the education debate with two options, either a good bill with a backbench rebellion or no rebellion but a weakened bill. In traditional Nu Labour style they chose a “Third Way”, a weakened bill and a backbench rebellion.
They are too clueless to be in government.
15 March, 2006
This unit would be made up of existing council staff, its members will be recruited from those people who have shown the most commitment and passion in their dealing with the least well off in Lewisham. The unit would work alongside councilors to find community, charity or faith groups and assist them in helping the most in need in the borough.
Up and down the country there are non-governmental groups and social entrepreneurs doing incredibly effective work. Being community based and community driven they are able to react quickly and effectively, more so than government ever could.
A lack of activities for young people, youth crime, school exclusion, family breakdown, long term unemployment and isolation of the elderly are just some of the things that create real hardship in this borough and others. The Conservative party is passionate about addressing these issues, David Cameron and Iain Duncan-Smith have set up the Social Justice Policy Group to look at ways to improve the lives of the worst off.
In Lewisham the Mayor and council have a responsibility to address these problems but it is arrogant to believe that the council is always best placed to be improve lives. If local groups can be used as part of the implementation process not only will the council be able to help more people more effectively but it will also help communities come together.
In addition to its outward focus it will have an internal role within the council. The Social Enterprise Unit will be the cross departmental champion, it will ensure that effective help is never hindered by interdepartmental bureaucracy or rivalries. It will become the touchstone to ensure that the council always acts in the most effective way with regard to the poorest and most in need in Lewisham.
As Mayor I will ensure that Lewisham Council works in conjunction with community groups rather than in competition to them. Helping people to help themselves is not enough; I will help people to help each other.
There were also a number of the great and the good including the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Lewisham, the Regimental Honorary Colonel (Brigadier Styles, my old Army boss) and Steve Bullock (current Mayor of Lewisham). I didn’t really get much chance to talk to the Mayor and I resisted the temptation to ask try on the chain of office.
Point to note for the Mayor, when visiting military people it is generally a good idea to have polished your shoes before hand.
Rehman Chishti, a young Muslim barrister, impressed Francis Maude when they crossed swords in Horsham at the General Election in 2005, it looks as though the feeling was mutual.
Nice to see the Labour party wasted no time in saying what a nobody he was.
What bit of “No” do Yellow Box not understand.
A big yellow box in a residential area would be out of place, the associated traffic would detrimentally affect the local area and the 24-hour access would disturb local residents. There are a number of industrial or retail estates around the borough that would be much more appropriate.
13 March, 2006
There is a lot of talk about defections to the Conservatives at the moment and I have to confess to being party to this too. Most of the people talked about will never cross the floor but the fact that so many people are considering it is a good thing.
It shows that other parties believe that we are on the up and they think that they can best improve things by being a Conservative.
If you want to find out more visit Cllr Iain Lindley, another councillor in the same borough.
Sir Ian clearly thinks that there is a move to oust him, with some justification in my view. He has now apologised, but will it be enough?
12 March, 2006
The poorest 10% of the population are now poorer than they were in 2001, not just in relative terms but in absolute terms with their average income down fro £92 per week in 2001 to £91 per week in 2005. This is a truly appalling record for a party which claims to be progressive and socially just. These figures show, yet again, that Labour's brand of top down solutions do not work.
The Conservatives are looking at a radical change in the way that government deals with the problems of the poorest in society. Working with charities, community groups and faith groups we will reinforce what already works and let those at the coalface drive the improvement.
The environmental impact of millions of new water consumers in the north west of Kent would be massive both in Kent and in London. This will add to the increased levels of transport into London, where the jobs are and the huge increase in levels of waste that will need management.
Please Mr Prescott stop and think for a minute.
10 March, 2006
By interweaving the tax and benefits systems Gordon Brown has to be held responsible for plunging thousands of people into financial difficulties. The complicated and ineffective system hit the news last year as thousands of poorly paid families were told to hand back overpayments. Now many pensioners face the same fate.
For most of the people effected by this the money is spent and they have little chance to pay it back. The chancellors tax first think later attitude has hurt the very people that government should be helping.
Brown must be held to account over this.
Christine became something of an icon because of her famous "chair" photo. The incident was the subject of the 1989 film scandal.
After his resignation John Profumo threw himself into charity work in the East End of London and was awarded the CBE for this in 1973. It is sad that he will probably be remembered far more for the scandal than for the decades of unpaid work that he gave to the Toynbee Hall charity.
08 March, 2006
I will of course keep you updated.
When everyone except your cronies thinks that a plan is rubbish, it might be time to consider the possibility that your plan is, indeed, rubbish.
The implication of closing a surgical ward is that an operating theatre may also close. After a period of unprecedented spending it is ridiculous that there needs to be cuts at Lewisham, or anywhere else for that matter.
Who has taken the blame? Not the Health Secretary but the civil servant tasked with sorting out the financial mess of the governments creation. At least he gets a peerage out of it, better than a gold watch I suppose.
I have not received a reply to my letter about the blood tests yet. I will give it a few more days and send another, watch this space.
Please, please, please sign my petition. Here
06 March, 2006
It will be very interesting to see a leadership contest where his biggest selling point is that he will be more of the same. No one wants more of the same Gordon. Dare to be different.
I think we should concentrate on creating good drivers who are aware of their surroundings and don't drive at speed rather than making Lewisham's roads into assault courses for cars.
Despite these things I am glad that he is advising the party in a formal capacity, unlike anyone in the Labour government he has a track record of making urban regeneration work.
It's nice to see that Sarah Teather’s press released was used almost unchanged, nothing like a bit of lazy journalism on a Monday morning.
03 March, 2006
Jeremy Brier is a law student and a council candidate, he also has an uncanny knack of being able to distill the complicated Jowell situation. He has written a brief overview which is well worth a read. Here are a few choice bits.
Well it's good news for all those teachers at College of Law! David, Tessa and Tony have just created a tailor-made case study for any undergraduate lawyer to get their teeth into for hours, containing a seemingly unending variety of discrepancies, sleights of hands, failures of due process and just plain old fashioned New Labour greed and stupidity.With regard to her failure to declare the money in the Register of Membersinterestss.
The only way she can get out of this (her only possibledefensee as far as I can tell) is the completely implausible argument that she was unaware of the cash injection. Ignorance is bliss, eh? In order for this to be the case, she would have to be blithely, willfully, or perhaps even clinically brain-dead (in which case she should resign in any case).And on the result of the internal enquiry.
No. It is not possible and, on the current evidence, no judge in the land would believe her professions of ignorance. But then again, when you have your old mate Tony judging you, why any need to tell the truth?
I find it very difficult to believe the a clearly intelligent and analytical woman would sign a £350,000 mortgage agreement without asking questions, by accident. I can easily believe she signed without asking questions on purpose.
“Please don’t tell me I don’t want to know”, is not a legitimate position for a minister of state to take on an issue like this.
I don’t say this often but I am 100% behind him on this issue and I am glad that he has taken it up. Elastic bands aren’t expensive but they aren’t free either, dropping them is financially wasteful, unsightly and discourteous to the local community. Clearing them up falls onto the locally funded street cleaners.
It can’t be that difficult for the posties just to pop them into their pockets and take them back to the depots for re-using. Remember, re-using is better than recycling. Get with the program posties!
I don't know if this is permanent or not but I thought I was a good time to migrate the information across to this blog. I will be posting old stuff here over the nest few weeks until it is all across. Please bare with me whilst I do this.
02 March, 2006
I am married to Susannah (Susie) and have two young sons, Frederick (Freddy) born in Lewisham Hospital on the 30th April 2002 and Rupert also born in Lewisham on the 20th September 2004. We have a dog, Rosie, who is a German Shorthaired Pointer and we all live in the heart of Lewisham.
For over 10 years I have been a member of the Territorial Army, rising to the rank of Major and until October 2005 I was the Battery Commander of 266 (Parachute) Battery Royal Artillery (Volunteers), a unit that has provided front line troops in the recent war in Iraq and for the subsequent peace support operations. I played rugby at Blackheath for a number of years but I have hung my boots up recently as family, the TA and politics take up all of my spare time.
I have campaigned on a number of local issues including saving Ladywell Leisure Centre and preventing ward closures at Lewisham Hospital. I narrowly missed being elected onto Lewisham Council in May 2002. I stood as the Conservative candidate in Lewisham East in the 2005 General Election and came second with a 4.1% swing.
I worked with Dominic Grieve MP on a number of community cohesion projects, setting up meetings between Dominic and influential individuals from social, community and faith organizations. This has helped the Conservative Party to really understand the needs of people in urban communities and put forward policies that will be of real benefit to them.
As the author of community cohesion discussion document in July 2002 I worked closely with Oliver Letwin's team (while he was Shadow Home Secretary) on ways in which the Conservative Party can build better relations with the UK's black communities and appeal to a wider range of voters, particularly the young. This work culminated in me speaking from the floor during the Conservative party conference October 2002. Drawing on personal experience, I highlighted the importance of close families and the role that they play in the prevention of youth drug addiction and associated crime.
Never mind, dull it is then.
01 March, 2006
Now all I need to do is get him to say that I have no chance of becoming Mayor of Lewisham. Go on Tony, you know you want to.
Unknown to most of her listeners she was suffering from cancer and this claimed her on Monday.
Her politics and mine were clearly a world apart but I would make a point of listening to a show if I knew she was going to be on it. My favourite quote of hers was about the documentary on the BNP, “some people say we should deny them the oxygen of publicity, I think we should deny them the oxygen of oxygen.”
She will be missed.
The list of speakers included the “bright young things” who have recently been brought in as party Vice Chairmen (Vice Chairpeople, chairpersons, chairs?) Grant Shapps MP, Justine Greening MP, Margot James and Sayeeda Warsi. Their contributions were interesting and polished but rather overshadowed but the interesting and remarkably unpolished Boris Johnson.
The speeches were made from a slightly raised dais in the middle of a cavernous room, as little of the audience area was tiered the less tall speakers were at a slight disadvantage, something to think about when showcasing Justine, Sayeeda, and Grant, much less of a problem for Zac Goldsmith and Margo, both much taller than you would think.
The drinks after included mineral water and smoothies and, thankfully, some Cobra beer. These after event drinks are a good chance to catch up with people that you dodn’t see for months at a time and exchange campaigning anecdotes. An interesting aspect of last night’s event was that I met a number of bloggers who I feel I know very well but don’t really know at all.
First there was Boris, then I bumped into Greame Archer before having a quick chat with Iain Dale (again much taller than he looks from his site). I also had a chance to meet Tory Convert whose blog is a regular read of mine, she introduced herself by saying “Hello, aren’t you Hugo Chavez?”.
Much of the media is obsessed with a supposed Conservative “Clause 4” moment, an opportunity for DC to have a battle with the traditionalists and show that the party had really changed. Some of the papers were assuming that this document was a “Clause 4” moment. An attempt to draw the a conflict out into the open.
This is all clearly rubbish, the Labour party ditched Clause 4 (a commitment to nationalisation of industry) because it was a rubbish idea. The battle with the hard left was because the hard left didn’t realise what a rubbish policy it was. Almost everyone I know in the Conservative party realises that something needs to change if we are going to be re elected, the internal debate is about how far and how fast.
I think that the booklet (which can be downloaded here) is clearly a proper Conservative booklet and the principles within it are Conservative principles. We are in a process of change but we are not tearing ourselves apart, despite what our opponents may wish.