29 September, 2008
I had a very interesting trip up to Brum, chatting with Lynton Crosby and his lovely wife. The train seemed to be full of people heading for the conference. I'm told there are 10,000 people this year.
The speeches are all very well attended, so much so that I couldn't get in to see Boris' and had to watch it on the bank of tellies on the BBC stand. I thought it went very well, please use the comments section to let me know what you think.
Catching up with friends and colleagues means that passage through the conference is always slow and I've had some very interesting conversations, including one with the Guardian which may result in me writing a piece for them.
The mood is upbeat but focused, more to follow later.
28 September, 2008
I was expecting something a bit like CHiPs. (Anyone under 35 need not worry about that reference).
What I got was the sight of 20 or so of Bexley's local police, clad in lycra ready for their charity bike ride to Amsterdam.
Photos to follow unless I get a brown envelope from the Borogh Commander full of used 20s. He did look so fetching!
Best of luck to the whote team.
26 September, 2008
Boris was on good form, equating the five Olympic rings to the five hoops that London would have to jump through to deliver a top class set of games. I was then lucky enough to attend a reception with some of the Olympians from the 1948 London Games, Christine Ohuruogu from the 2008 team and a number of medal prospects for the 2012 games.
I had a good chat with Ken Parr from the small bore rifle team (didn't we always used to win that) and members of the flat water kayak team. What a great bunch. I find it very easy talking to sports people (being and sad sporting wannabe myself) and I genuinely enjoyed the conversation. I'm increasingly looking forward to the 2012 games and watching the people who I have had the honour of meeting so far.
24 September, 2008
He clearly hates doing the whole "I'm just a normal guy " act. Here is his face just after he did his line about not being popular and coming to parliament to server the country.
23 September, 2008
So, congratulations to Roger Evans who is now the leader of the Conservative group. Roger is one of the good guys. He was welcoming and helpful when I first arrived at City Hall and was the first to congratulate me on election night in May. He'll do a great job as group leader.
His election created a vacancy for Deputy Group Leader and guess what. They chose me! So thank you to the members of the Conservative group for their confidence and best of luck to Roger in his new role.
22 September, 2008
This inquest will run concurrently to the investigation into Sir Ian's involvement in the Impact Plus tender and Tarique Ghaffur's employment tribunal.
When troubles come they come not as single spies but in battalions. I decided to use this headline today but had a nagging feeling that I had used it before, I looked back through the archive and indeed I had. It was almost exactly a year ago on the 19th September 2007 and I was writing about Sir Ming Campbell, he was gone within a month!
I'm not reading anything into that.
18 September, 2008
After that meeting I hopped onto the train down to the Charles Darwin School to watch the unveiling of their anti-knife pledge wall. After the visit to Feltham YOI and the professional standards meeting (both of which brought me down a bit) it was great being involved with teachers, students and the local safer neighbourhood team in Darwin Ward. Their enthusiasm was infectious.
The students at the school are making a very public statement. They reject knife culture and are thinking about the realities of knife crime and the repercussions on the lives of the victims and perpetrators.
A big thank you to everyone involved (only some of whom are in the photo above), it is a part of my job that I really enjoy.
17 September, 2008
Part of that "bouncing ideas" process involved me visiting Feltham YOI and talking to a number of the team there. It was an eye opener.
I have never set foot inside a prison of any sort before but I grew up watching Porridge on the TV, it is impossible to completely detach the picture that that program creates about what prison and prison life is like. Feltham YOI had very little in common with Slade Prison and the people had little in common with Norman Stanley Fletcher or Mr MacKay.
Seeing so many young men incarcerated was saddening. In places the inside of Feltham looked like a series of school corridors with various classrooms, student art on the wall etc. but the heavy barred doors with their chunky, industrial looking locks were a constant reminder that this wasn't some tough inner London school but a place the detain (and hopefully rehabilitate) young men and boys.
Feltham has had its issues and the death of Zahid Mubarek was a low point for the prison. There have been a lot of changes at management level and it is clear that there are well thought through policies in place. Talking to members of the management and the Prison Officers has left me with an increased confidence in the place.
I expect that I will go back to Feltham because the visit has triggered almost as many questions as it answered.
16 September, 2008
The boys (and one girl) were on excellent form and were going through their training with enthusiasm and focus. I was assured that they were always as focused and it had nothing to do with me, the Mayor of Bromley or Frank Bruno being there.
Big Frank still generates a real buzz even though he has been away from competitive boxing for years. Indeed some of the kids might not have even been born when he was at the top of his game, but they were still very exited about meeting him.
Not me, I was being all cool and aloof as this photo shows.
15 September, 2008
12 September, 2008
The wood straddles London and Kent. Or Kentish London and Kent, being part in the Borough of Bexley and part in the Borough of Dartford, this also means that it straddles the Low Emissions Zone (LEZ).
I am not a big fan of the LEZ! I particularly dislike the ugly and intrusive signs that litter the boundaries of the two boroughs I represent. On my way back from the wood I found what must be the most useless of all the LEZ signs.
And to think part of my council tax paid for that sign to be put up.
11 September, 2008
The fuel announcements today were practical and sensible, the figures involved were modest. With that in mind it would be hard and rather disingenuous for me to be overly critical.
I'm glad that they didn't go for a windfall tax, not because I have any great love for the energy companies but because it won't help. Across the country people are feeling the pinch financially, what they need is help making ends meet now and help to reduce their bills in the future.
Slapping a big, one off, tax bill onto the energy companies won't do that, it may cheer a few people up in a spiteful sort of way but little more. That money would work it's way back onto our bills eventually and giving the most wasteful government in recent history more of our money doesn't fill me with confidence either.
So put on the back for not being spiteful, and a moderate well done for some very modest proposals.
By the way, when can we expect Brown's huge relaunch announcement that will blow us all away with its boldness?
For those of you that missed it the main thrust of the changes are a reduction in the size of the organisation, a shift of emphasis towards delivery and more natural clustering of functions. It will also mean that we can put in a 0% increase in the council tax precept.
These changes will be worked through between now and the end of the year. I'll keep you posted.
07 September, 2008
05 September, 2008
04 September, 2008
Press play and read on.
1. (2) Guido Fawkes
2. (1) Iain Dale
3. (4) Conservative Home
4. (3) Dizzy Thinks
5. (-) Political Betting
6. (-) Devil's Kitchen
7. (9) Spectator Coffee House
8. (12) Burning our Money
9. (42) John Redwood
10. (14) Ben Brogan
11. (20) EU Referendum
12. (15) Tim Worstall
13. (-) Tom Harris MP
14. (13) Archbishop Cranmer
15. (54) LibDem Voice
16. (16) Mr Eugenides
17. (-) Hopi Sen
18. (85) Daniel Hannan MEP
19. (-) Three Line Whip
20. (70) Stumbling & Mumbling
21. (35) Donal Blaney
22. (128) Boulton & Co
23. (-) Liberal Conspiracy
24. (8) Nick Robinson
25. (-) People's Republic of Mortimer
26. (11) Recess Monkey
27. (56) Adam Smith Institute
28. (27) Comment Central
29. (72) Luke Akehurst
30. (47) Waendel Journal
31. (38) LabourHome
32. (30) Ministry of Truth
33. (22) Tom Watson MP
34. (33) Nadine Dorries
35. (46) Dave's Part
36. (-) Letters from a Tory
37. (17) Norfolk Blogger
38. (-) Shane Greer
39. (-) Sadie's Tavern
40. (45) Samizdata
41. (32) Slugger O'Toole
42. (111) A Very British Dude
43. (21) Harry's Place
44. (-) SNP Tactical Voting
45. (61) Quaequam Blog
46. (104) UK Polling Report
47. (182) Socialist Unity
48. (59) Daily Referendum
49. (53) Liberal England
50. (172) Lynne Featherstone MP
51. (18) Paul Linford
52. (68) City Unslicker/Capitalists at Work
53. (51) Our Kingdom
54. (-) Labour Outlook
55. (63) Millennium Dome Elephant
56. (155) Paul Scully
57. (-) A Very Public Sociologist
58. (90) Peter Black AM
59. (78) Glyn Davies
60. (195) Obsolete
61. (99) Ordovicius
62. (-) UK Libertarian Party
63. (40) Biased BBC
64. (7) Croydonian
65. (69) James Cleverly
66. (-) Is There More to Life Than Shoes
67. (-) J Arthur MacNumpty
68. (120) Normblog
69. (-) Raedwald
70. (-) Three Thousand Versts
71. (-) Tory Bear
72. (-) Miss Wagstaff Presents
73. (52) Bloggers4Labour
74. (-) Pint of Unionist Lite
75. (151) Theo's Blog
76. (-) Kezia Dugdale's Soapbox
77. (71) Beau Bo D'Or
78. (25) Bob Piper
79. (-) David Cornock
80. (-) Forgesian Thinking
81. (-) Heresy Corner
82. (103) Love & Liberty
83. (125) The Daily (Maybe)
84. (161) Peter Hitchens
85. (81) Melanie Phillips
86. (0) Redemption's Son
87. (10) Ellee Seymour
88. (0) Lenin's Tomb
89. (83) Liberal Burblings
90. (-) Scottish Tory Boy
91. (-) Stuart King
92. (86) Matt Wardman
93. (34) Pickled Politics
94. (0) Ewan Watt
95. (41) An Englishman's Castle
96. (0) Centre Right
97. (0) Never Trust a Hippy
98. (0) Red Box
99. (76) Chris Paul's Labour of Love
100. (50) Last Ditch
We are now left holding the baby. Crossrail, concessionary fairs etc all have to be paid for and I doubt anyone will thank us if we scrapped the transport improvements that we have planned because of the £80 million shortfall that Livingstone left us with.
The good news out of all this is that Boris has been able to extend the operating hours of the Freedom Pass. So much for Livingstone's pre-election scare stories that we planned to scrap it.
I have little doubt that this will not be the last Livingstone bear trap that we find.
02 September, 2008
Talk about a let down. Having talked the country into a near recession and stalled the housing market with his "will he, won't he" hints about a stamp duty holiday. Darling has pulled the rabbit out of the hat only for it to be a damp squib (sorry about the mixed metaphor!).
The more I see of him, the more I think of Blackadder.
01 September, 2008
His article in the Guardian at the weekend, saw him doing a very good impression of Cpl Frazer and could have easily been titled "We're doomed!". He managed to single handedly drive down the Pound and take a big step towards a self fulfilling prophesy. As my good friend and colleague Dan Matthews said "do be quiet Mr Darling".
I have yet to see a single decision that Darling has made or a single action that has not resulted in a cock-up. I hope this is all an act, I hope that Darling will have a Prince Hal moment because the alternative is too ghastly to contemplate. An incompetent PM with and incompetent Chancellor. God help us!
Susie and I took both Freddy and Rupert in this morning, Rupert's uniform making him look 2 years older than he is. I probably won't feel different but Susie no longer has a child to look after during the day.
She has already planned a full program of work for the house, garden, local associations etc. She has also decided to take up triathlons. My only worry is that she'll soon be quicker than me!