30 May, 2008
27 May, 2008
It was clear that people were really worried, a cluster of events in quick succession makes some people in this historically safe part of London feel like they were in South Central Los Angeles. They were frustrated by the lack of police officers on the streets, by the criminal justice system, by the number of prison places, etc.
Much of this frustration was taken out on the police officers at the briefing, even though they knew that the police were not in a position to change them. The police can only do what resources and the legal framework allows.
Anyone who has read this blog will know that I feel the police have been let down by the political system. This evening I witnessed hard working police officers getting a hard time because of problems created by this government, they did it with good grace and never took the easy option of blaming someone else. There are a number of people in the government who could learn a thing or two from them.
24 May, 2008
Like Jimmy, Rob Knox seemed to be a good kid just getting on with life. I am not going to speculate about the details of this, and as a member of the MPA I will now be working closely with the local police to try to stop tragedies like this happening again.
Once again I find myself sending my sympathies to the friends and family of a talented and much loved young man.
23 May, 2008
Just like in London, voters have rejected the nasty, personal and deceitful attacks from the Labour party and have supported a candidate representing real change. I have some thoughts on this campaign and Labour's predicament but I will save them for later, this is Edward Timpson's moment.
22 May, 2008
I have never seen so many political posters up! Crewe, Nantwich and the surrounded villages were flooded with them and the really great thing was that the vast majority of them were for Edward Timpson.
The local team were upbeat and working hard, I get the feeling that we could get a good result in the small hours of the morning.
The drive back took forever, mainly because I had to keep stopping to get some sleep, but I'm back now and I'm happy to have done my small bit to help a great candidate and a very professional campaign.
21 May, 2008
20 May, 2008
Having crossed the floor from the Conservatives to Labour he embarked on a report for the government telling them what everyone else already knew. Davis' report said that the armed forces needed more recognition and support, as the Americans would say "no sh*t Sherlock!"
Many of the proposals are very sensible, indeed they are things that I and other Conservatives have been saying for years. It is just a pity that these high profile plans seem to be put forward rather than real support for the troops. It shouldn't be the case of either or but of both.
16 May, 2008
Split lips? Bruised faces? Fractured jaws? Broken bones? All these things are being dished out by Mugabe's henchmen and much much worse. It gets to to stage where the words that the papers and news reports use to describe violence lose their meaning.
Conservativehome has two photographs of a women who was beaten across the buttocks as a punishment for supporting the MDC. If you think that beaten across the buttocks doesn't sound like too much of a punishment these pictures will change your mind, the pictures show truly horrific injuries. The Daily Mail felt that there were to gruesome to publish.
These are very disturbing images, please be aware of this if you chose to click through.
Injuries sustained by Zimbabwe opposition supporter.
14 May, 2008
London's hospitals are generally performing well below the national average, there are some pockets of good news but mainly there are lots of red lights on the chart.
After years of increased health spending it is almost depressing to see that our hospitals are still not meeting patients expectations. There are plenty of great people working in the NHS but these result show that, despite all Labour's spin, their top Stalinist approach just does not bring in the results.
Recruit good people, give them the tools that they need and let them get on with it. How hard can it be?
Avoiding the question like a pro, Gordon must be so proud of her. Pity the feeling isn't mutual!
13 May, 2008
This death has shocked me deeply, not just the fact that it happened to such a clearly peaceful and caring boy, but Lee is an area I know well. I went to school just yards from where the killing took place, it is where my eldest son goes to school now. I have campaigned around that area numerous times, I have good friends who live on the street.
It is so very close. It is so easy to imagine how it could have one of my boys in a similar circumstance in a few years time. I'm am not sure I could have spoken of forgiveness with the strength and dignity of Mrs Mizen, had I been in her place.
My sympathies go to his friends and family.
There doesn't seem to be much of consistent plan in the Treasury. Action, counter-action, reaction, inaction. Order, counter-order, disorder.
I will make my personal position clear, I like the idea of raising the lower threshold for income tax. It is simple to execute, costs nothing to administer, needs no forms and helps the lowest paid most. And I'm not talking about a couple of hundred quid either I think it should be increased by thousands.
So why am I not jumping for joy at Alistair Darlings latest emergency statement to the house? There are many reasons.
It is an unplanned, un-costed, knee-jerk reaction to a problem created by his now boss. It is too little, too late. It is clearly designed to shore up Brown's position as PM and avoid a humiliating defeat in Crewe and Nantwich. And most of all it looks as if it is a one year only fix.
We should not forget that the scrapping of the 10p tax band was a cynical move to pay for a cut in the basic rate, just to wrong foot the Conservatives. This is little better.
Until Labour stop spinning for short term political advantage they will be doomed. I would love to just let them get on with it but they are screwing up the lives of millions of people in the process and I can't just sit back and let that happen.
The Londoner, the Pyongyang-style free sheet is soon to be no more. Rather than spending millions of pounds of taxpayers' money telling them that the Mayor is solely responsible for making the sun rise each morning, Boris is going to plant more trees.
To be honest, I'm not entirely convinced that he is going to be digging the holes and popping the saplings in himself but you get the picture.
12 May, 2008
This move will mainly benefit people in outer London who make occasional trips into the centre of town. The one off non Oystercard prices are punitive and it is little surprise that many people in this group use their cars for much, if not all, of the journey.
Livingstone's relationships with the train companies wasn't good and this prevented the roll out of Oystercard readers across the surface rail networks, Boris' less confrontational approach seems to be getting more done.
You don't have to pick fights in order to win battles.
Also spare a thought for those who are in camp at the moment but who have recently returned or who are soon to deploy. If even half of this report is true the attitude of the government towards soldiers has not improved, indeed as the economy suffers and Brown's attention is taken up with his own survival I fear that forces welfare will be pushed even further to the sidelines.
09 May, 2008
I found some things very amusing, the most notable of which was seeing Ken Livingstone in the public gallery. Ahhhhh. He rather reminded me of David Brent in the Christmas special of The Office.
Jenette Arnold was voted in as Chair of the Assembly with the Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens voting on block. Unfortunately Jeanette's hope to paint us as being in bed with the BNP backfired rather spectacularly when Richard Barnbrook voted with Labour to support Daren Johnson as Deputy Chair. Hopefully this will put an end to their obsession with this subject and ensure they focus at the job in hand.
Having written about the BNP a number of times in quick secession I now intend to give them the attention they deserve, which is almost none.
07 May, 2008
Here is a snippet that might get you in the mood.
You will have noticed that the BNP is almost never mentioned without the soubriquet “far Right”. The BNP doesn’t call itself Right-wing. On the contrary, it favours nationalisation, higher taxes, protectionism and (though it keeps quiet about this) republicanism. It markets itself as “the Labour Party your parents voted for”. Its manifesto calls for “the selective exclusion of foreign-made goods from British markets and the reduction of foreign imports,” and promises to “restore our economy and land to British ownership” and “to give workers a stake in the success and prosperity of the enterprises whose profits their labour creates by encouraging
worker shareholder and co-operative schemes”.
As Hayek wrote in 1944 in his brilliant chapter on “the socialist roots of Nazism”, the dispute between fascists and socialists is a dispute between brothers.
I spotted Boris coming in on his bicycle, without a media tail, much to the surprise and delight if London Bridge commuters, who smiled and waved as he went past. We had a quick chat about what to wear while cycling to work, Boris wears a suit I tend to go for sports wear.
Over the next few days we will complete the process of allocating committees and areas of responsibility. And I'll try to get through the thick pile of reading that has been put into my in tray for the Assembly's Annual Meeting on Friday.
Having not learned that publicity for the BNP gives them votes, Labour look as though they plan to use Richard Barnbrook as a political football. While on BBC Radio London on Sunday Labour's Jeanette Arnold took great delight in saying that "You will be voting with the BNP against me becoming Chair of the Assembly".
She just doesn't get it! Firstly she seems not to have noticed that we did rather well at the last set of elections which means that we do not need the support of the BNP. Secondly, if Labour insist on playing petty games like this they will be the ones who lose out. It is their constituencies which provide the BNP with most support.
05 May, 2008
I was a guest on the show answering the questions of callers about the election results with the other guests, Jenette Arnold AM for Labour and Ashok Viswanathan from Operation Black Vote.
Dotun and the programme's producer were being fiercely neutral but the young lady answering the telephones was having a tougher time.
Susie and I planned to have dinner after the show, so she came to the studio with me and was sitting in the studio's anteroom, this was also where the calls are filtered. Susie said that the nearly tearful look on the woman's face, while listening to the clip of Livingstone's nearly tearful concession speech indicated her political affiliation. As did her interaction with callers, Susie was stifling a laugh as she heard her answer the phone calls with the question "and what is your concern about Boris?"
04 May, 2008
Funny how Brown seemed completely oblivious to voters hurt a few weeks ago. At that point he was confident he could push through the tax grab on the low paid and get away with it. So much for feeling their hurt.
It is completely clear to even the least politically astute observer that Brown's only feels anything when he has lost a vote or runs the risk of losing a vote.
Over the next few days Labour ministers will come out with variations on the theme of "voters have given us a warning". This is a disgustingly arrogant point of view. It assumes that voters are only ever focused on Westminster and the Labour government. It clearly has not hit home to Brown, Harman, Smith et al that what voters wanted was a change of councillor or council or, in the case of London, a new mayor.
Voters don't want the Labour government to change, they want to change the government.
03 May, 2008
The mood was interesting. Lots of smiles and handshakes and promises of good working relationships in the future, and that was from the other parties. The members of the Conservative group were upbeat but it is clear that the focus will be on getting the job done rather than patting each other on the back. That said I had lots of congratulations from a range of Assembly Members for the scale of the win in Bexley and Bromley.
Boris' signing in speech showed the humour that we have come to expect but he also made the serious point that we need to make good on our election commitments and put political prejudice aside for the good of London. He also made it clear that he wouldn't tolerate and "dogs in the manger". On an unrelated note I noticed that Sir Iain Blair didn't clap at the end of the speech.
Seeing members of the BNP milling around the building put a downer on the day. You can thank proportional representation and the collapse of the Lib Dem for that.
UPDATE: To be fair the almost complete lack of UKIP campaign also was a contributing factor. The main culprit was PR, it is why I am so against it.
02 May, 2008
I had lots of help from the local activists, councillors, MPs and my predecessor Bob Neill. Bob is a good friend now and a great politician and I will need to work hard to fill his shoes.
I must also thank my agent, Andrew, my family and most of all my wonderful, supportive and gorgeous wife Susie.
Here are the main results:
CONSTITUENCY RESULTS FROM Bexley & Bromley
James Cleverly - CON - 105,162
Alex Heslop - LAB - 29,925
Tom Papworth - LD - 21,244
MAYORAL ELECTION RESULTS FROM Bexley & Bromley
Johnson - CON - 122,052
Livingstone -LAB - 40,670
Paddick - LD - 17,332