31 July, 2006
I was away on holiday and out of the media loop while this was building up and seeing the situation as it is now is very difficult. Israel has been the target of a sustained campaign of terror attacks but their response seems almost impossible to justify, I feel that the priority must be for both sides to stop and then take whatever the next step might be.
29 July, 2006
When I wrote about Megan's Law last month I made the point that paedophiles who are known to be a danger to the public should be under lock and key. I didn't expect that they would be handed that key.
Having two dangerous criminals "walk out" of Prescoed Open Prison is totally unacceptable. Prison overcrowding have driven the Prison Service to use "open" prisons to house dangerous criminals and this walking out is just the latest of a number of such abscondments.
This is the most basic of duties for the Home Office and yet again they have failed.
I have a problem with this advertising on a number of levels. Firstly it is political advertising and it is being done with public money, political advertising should be done with political money not public money.
The congestion charge is not popular and of dubious effectiveness, despite this our tax money is being spent telling us that Ken's pet project is working. What do you think the reaction would have been if Margaret Thatcher spent millions of pounds of public money on adverts saying "The Poll Tax is good for you"?
Secondly the adverts are based on some rather flimsy stats, this is the basis Roger Evans' complaint. Here are some extracts from his letter which make the point well.
"The phrase "Less Congestion" is not strictly accurate, given that the most recent report by TfL showed that the average speed in central London was just 10mph. This is an increase of just 0.5mph since the introduction of the charge. In addition, the report also showed that the observed excess delays have risen since 2003/2004 from 1.6 minutes per kilometre to 1.8 minutes per kilometre. Recent proposals by the Mayor to shift the focus away from tackling congestion to tackling emissions show that this point is accepted."Richard Barnes AM had previously used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that Transport for London spent £3.1m on recent advertising campaigns and responding to news that £1.77m had been spent on a TV and advertising campaign Roger Evans said:
"Similarly, the phrase, "Less road traffic emissions" is also misleading. According to the London Air Quality Network, the body tasked with monitoring air quality in London, the measured levels of the most harmful pollutants showed an overall average increase of 2.5% since the introduction of the charge. At some sites, the increase was as much as 67.9%. Again, the new focus on emissions testifies that the Congestion Charge has not been successful in reducing emissions. The Mayor recently admitted that London is on course to miss the European Union emissions targets."
"I understand the need for effective communication between public authorities and
the public at large, but I do believe that a clear balance must be struck between communicating in order to inform and communicating in order to electioneer. I believe that, in this case, the tone and content have deliberately over stepped the mark into electioneering. You do not, for example, see Treasury adverts with phrases such as, "Millions invested in health and education". Such phrases would, rightly, be deemed as electioneering and have indeed featured in Labour Party campaign posters in the past. There is nothing wrong with promoting your party and their policies during an election campaign, but using public money and the perceived independence of public bodies to promote the same party political messages is an abuse of resources."
"Instead of wasting it on self-promoting PR stunts, [Ken Livingstone] could have
spent it on 11 more double decker buses or 14 further single decker buses. It
might have been spent improving measures to tackle the extreme heat within the
Tube system, or even handing out free bottles of chilled water to travelers. All
of these would be a far more effective use of London taxpayers money than this
shameless piece of political grandstanding."
I appears that the loss of so many Labour councilors in May has had an effect, good job too. I won't be counting any chickens just yet but this is the most significant development for a long time.
28 July, 2006
I was down the A2 in Dartford helping out at council by-election wearing sandals. I don't have a beard and I don't believe in giving the vote to prisoners but I have to confess the footwear was quite liberating.
I got through to the last 6 in the Dartford selection for the 2005 general election and I promised that I would help out in the future. Well now I have made good on that promise and Andy Lloyd, our candidate won.
Good new all round.
Power cuts are what will bring our minds flooding back to the 1970's when powercuts were a regular occurrence. Ah those happy memories.
27 July, 2006
Two weeks away with my family in the sun, lovely! I won't bore you with the details but if any of you are thinking of going down to the Lot-et-Garonne region of France I would highly recommend it.
I have turned the comments facility back on so that you can add your thoughts to mine. I have managed to stay away from almost all news while away so it will take a little time to plug back in, once I get my head around events I will start posting.
14 July, 2006
In addition, I'll switch off the ability to post comments & James will switch it back on when he returns.
11 July, 2006
10 July, 2006
I have always had a soft spot for Paddy Ashdown, he used to be in the SBS. His flirting with Labour before the 1997 general election was a mistake but I think he probably realises that now.
I was at the CSJ this afternoon and I listened to David Cameron’s speech which was dubbed as his “hug a hoodie” speech even before he had made it.
The point that David was making was that it is just a prejudicial to write off young people as criminals because of an item of clothing as it is to write them off because of the colour of their skin. I make the point of talking to “gangs of youths” who hang around in Lewisham and in almost every case the young people come across as fundamentally good, if bored, kids.
Youth crime is bad and getting worse and demonising all young people is lazy and counterproductive. If we just write off young people or even first time young offenders we will never get to the bottom of why they offend and what we need to do to stop it.
This is not about the Conservatives going soft on crime, as David said "Of course we should never excuse teenage crime, or tolerate the police ignoring it. We need tough sanctions, protection and punishment".
There have been a number of reports about the speech most of them implying a desire by DC to shake the hornets’ nest with the party as a whole. I saw a number of Conservative MPs from the “right” of the party nodding through the speech, the truth of this speech and the reports of it seem only passing acquaintances.
The Conservatives have always been tough on crime, tough but fair. Labour have been deperate to be seen as the party tough on crime and in doing so they have lost sight of the “but fair” element of the tough but fair stance.
I met Kevin Davis while I was there and he has put his thoughts on the speech in his blog.
07 July, 2006
I was concentrating on navigation so I was only half aware of the report of an “electrical explosion” on the tube shortly before I went into my meeting and cut myself of from the news for a few hours.
By the time I came out of the meeting the true picture was emerging. My first thought was to call an Army mate who worked in HQ London to see what assistance I could offer. He told me to wait as he was swamped with similar calls from TA soldiers, Royal Marine Reserves, Royal Navy Reserves, etc. etc. In the end I completely forgot about going back to the office in Richmond and went home, got my uniform ready and waited.
The call didn’t come.
I watched the events unfold on TV like everyone else and felt a hollow and sick as everyone else. The events and their causes have been picked over a great deal in the intervening year so I won’t go through them again here.
I would recommend the excellent blog by Rachel from North London, it helped me to understand the events and their repercussions.
I still use the tube, the bus and the train. I won’t let this change the way I live my life. I also believe that we must not let the fear of terrorism distort our view of justice and freedom. Measures have to be taken and defences made but limiting the treedoms of law abiding people here in the UK is handing a victory to those who took lives this time last year.
I say this because I don’t want the following to be taken the wrong way. Losing North Norfolk could have been the best thing that happened to Iain (politically).
If he had won he would have been a backbencher, I am sure he would have been good but he would have been one of many. He would have been tied down in committee work, case work and the myriad of other things that MPs do in their working lives. His blog may have been an interesting enough read but probably hamstrung by his position in the house.
The fact that Iain is not an MP has given him much more freedom in his writing and commentating. This freedom may well cost John Prescott his job. And no bad thing that.
Obviously Guido will have played a large part in this too but he is at a disadvantage because he keeps his anonymity sacred. By becoming the public face of Conservative blogging Iain is wielding more power than any Tory backbencher.
Does this mean that Iain should give up hope of being an MP? No! Iain deserves to be an MP, he has shown an ability to resonate with people and his commitment to conservatism is legion, when the time comes he should pass on the baton to another blogger and take up his well deserved place on the green benches.
And before you accuse me of trying to steal his crown remember I intend to be in the Commons with him.
06 July, 2006
What struck me most was that the reporter has captured the stoic nature of our soldiers. I have written before about the willingness of soldiers just to get on with the job in hand, this piece shows that this willingness extends to even the most testing of environments.
The star so far is, without a doubt, 20 year old Matt Pollard. He has taken all members of the panel so I can't really guess where his political affiliations lie, although he did say that he was amazed that he agreed with a Lib Dem early in the program.
05 July, 2006
Yet none of these seemed to be of particular interest to the traditional media. The network of conservative bloggers has driven the news agenda with regard to John Prescott and the traditional media have belatedly and in some cases unwillingly followed.
Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes have driven much of this and they deserve credit for highlighting the ineptitude and dishonesty of our dear John.
There are lessons for us all.
Politicians (our party included) need to learn that the old rules are obsolete. The cosy relationship between MPs and the lobby is gone. There is now a small army of people who will crawl over their activities and expose any and all inconsistencies. MPs will have to be much more open and honest, no bad thing!
Traditional media journalists will have to be much quicker off the mark with their stories and much more accurate in their reporting. I write this BLOG and I have an agenda, I make no attempt to hide it. I am not a disinterested observer; I am a Conservative and what I write needs to be read with that in mind. If the traditional media want to outdo the blogging community they will have to be fairer, quicker and more accurate, no bad thing!
Bloggers have put their heads above the parapet now. The fact that John Prescott’s people put out a rebuttal is a strong indication that Labour will be turning their guns on us soon. I don’t have deep enough pockets to defend myself in a big libel case and I imagine most other bloggers are in the same boat. Therefore we need to be above reproach in the accuracy of what we write, no bad thing!
There are a number of Lib Dems that I like, I won't blight their political futures by mentioning them by name, they know who they are.
I dislike their party; I believe that it has been kidnapped by people who put advancement before anything and everything else. The disgusting backstabbing and disloyalty shown to Charles Kennedy and the sudden string of negative revelations that blighted other leadership candidates is a very public example of this, as is the sustained personal attacks made against Bob Neill in Bromley.
For another example I would recommend that you read through the comments attached to my recent post on Josephine Rooney. The initial reaction of Cllr Mark Morris (leader of Lewisham's Lib Dems) says everything that you need to know about the Lib Dems.
When I am trying to win an argument I do it by trying to win the argument, it seems that the Lib Dems' first course of action is to try to discredit their opponent.
Dirty politics, dirty party.
Tony Blair has refused to help so perhaps this is the best way to do something about it.
I am not too happy about how the government views the deployment to Afghanistan, Simon Jenkins is also getting rather hot under the collar about it. I also find it rather distasteful that the government says that more troops will be sent if needed but that no request has so far come.
This is an abuse of the relationship between the military and the government. When soldiers are given a task and to the resources available they have a habit of getting on with it without complaining. If the army were firemen, or train drivers they would have refused to go into Afghanistan so poorly resourced. They are not firemen or train drivers, they are soldiers and as such they get on with the job without complaint. They should be given the tools to do the job right from the start and not have to beg for them now.
We also need to ask ourselves whether the job that the Paras battle group is doing now is the job that we were told they were sent to do. It seems to me as if it is not. This is not the first time that British airborne troops have experienced "mission creep" recently. I am beginning to suspect that there was a political plan that was not made public and the troops mission has been amended once in theatre. I have no proof but if this is the case it shows a deep-seated lack of honesty both towards the troops involved and towards the country as a whole.
The Parachute troops (Para Reg and support regiments) are very, very good at what they do. The loss of five soldiers from this deployment in such a short space of time is very, very alarming. I wrote some time ago about my fears that the 16 Brigade deployment was being done on a shoestring and could end in disaster. I hoped then that I was wrong, I still hope I was wrong, I fear that I was not.
The BBC reports another member of the 3Para Batlegroup has been killed
Today was not one of them.
I read that the North Koreans are practicing blowing up the world, here, here and here. It is interesting that the anti nuclear defence lobby seem t have quietly forgotten that the North Koreans are a real threat. You plan defence for what you cannot predict rather for what you can.
04 July, 2006
Members of the business community and the Conservative party have been opposed to this extradition for months, finally with less than a month to go Ming Campbell have added his faltering voice to the chorus.
Well done, better late than never I suppose.
I mentioned that David had done this to my wife and she said "Did he do it today?" I replied "Yes", and the clearly thinking about the thunder storms this afternoon Susie said "He must have got wet".
Fits of laughter from both of us.
03 July, 2006
02 July, 2006
Labour didn’t come up with a workable answer and went ahead anyway. When Blair won a number of key English votes only with the help of Scottish MPs the issue was going to come to a head.
Far from being a “knee jerk” reaction, as Labour and the Lib Dems would have you believe, this issue has been discussed in Conservative circles since devolution happened. The knee jerk reaction has come from Gordon Brown, who knows that his Scottishness is a big negative when it comes to being PM precisely because of the West Lothian question, a negative at least partially of his own creation. He has spent the last six months wrapping himself up in the English flag, and convincing no one.
Labour would love us to promote an English parliament as it would be a step closer to regional assemblies, which I oppose. The Conservatives, as natural unionists, are keen to keep the UK together English votes for English issues is not a perfect solution but it is better than carving up the UK, as Labour would like.
01 July, 2006
I can remember my father’s voice from when I was younger “Don’t mess around with that, you’ll break it”. I find myself thinking this when the boys look at my Great Granddad’s watch.
I also think this when I see the Labour government’s attempts to control everything. Their latest triumph of tinkering is in the nursery sector. Their fanatical over regulation is now forcing a number of nurseries to close, once again hitting the very people they are trying to help.
My two boys have an excuse for breaking things, they are young and they don’t know any better. What’s Labour’s excuse?