30 October, 2008
I visited Closed Loop's plastic bottle recycling plant in Dagenham this morning. It was fascinating!
The technology behind it is state of the art and anyone who loved the bits of footage that the BBC used to show of production lines would have been impressed.
Conveyor belts, sifting devices, laser sorters, chemical analysers were all there in force. I loved it.
The are able to turn mixed bundles of dirty plastics into segregated plastic beads and flakes which can be used to make new plastic bottles.
Their end product is as good as "virgin" plastic and 10 to 15 per cent cheaper.
Big pat on the back.
29 October, 2008
A lot of angry voices commenting on this story say that they deserve it because they earn so much, I don't see how that is relevant. Their actions were completely inappropriate and that wouldn't change if they were working for free.
How anyone thought that this would make good radio is beyond me.
I could make some cheap gags along the lines of, "so much for global warming!" but I know that it isn't as simple as that. But it was freezing!
27 October, 2008
25 October, 2008
24 October, 2008
He abolished "boom and bust" remember? He was responsible for all those consecutive quarters of economic growth, even the ones when the Conservatives were in offices. Now it has come to an end.
You would have thought that having taken credit for all the good years, and I mean ALL the good years, Brown would at least have the guts to say "this happened on my watch, I'm responsible". Yeah right!
23 October, 2008
This week has been very uncomfortable for the Conservatives in general and George in particular but it seems clear the George has done nothing wrong. Brown made himself look stupid and opportunistic when calling for "the authorities to investigate", but was then unable to say which authorities and what they should be investigating.
Once the media realise that there is no meat on the obvious "Tory in dodgy donations" story they will be left with a less simplistic but much more important story. Why was the EU Trade Commissioner on the yacht of the world largest aluminium seller while negotiating a reduction in EU trade tariffs on aluminium?
It doesn't look good does it?
21 October, 2008
George Osborne has released a very clear and unambiguous statement, one leaving him no wiggle room or space for interpretation. Even the most fervent Labour supporter would have to agree that it indicates someone very sure of their ground.
It is well worth a read and I have included it below, over to you Lord Mandelson:
"George Osborne has met Oleg Deripaska on five occasions, four of which happened over a weekend in Corfu in August.
On Saturday January 26th 2008 at the Davos World Economic Forum, Mr Osborne was introduced to Mr Deripaska in the company of others including Peter Mandelson. They had a brief group conversation about the world economy.
On Friday August 22 while on a family holiday in Corfu, Mr Osborne and his wife were invited onto Mr Deripaska’s yacht by Mr Rothschild. Others present again included Peter Mandelson. The conversation involved Russian and British politics. There was no conversation of any kind about political donations.
That evening Mr Osborne attended a party at the Rothschild villa and sat on the same table as Mr Rothschild, Mr Deripaska and Mr Mandelson. Again, there was no conversation about party funding.
The following evening - August 23 – Mr Osborne attended a dinner at a local taverna. Mr Deripaska did not attend but both Mr Rothschild and Peter Mandelson
did. The conversation involved the state of British politics.
The next day - August 24 - Mr Osborne, who had been staying in a rented house but was now staying at the Rothschild villa with his family, mentioned to Mr Rothschild that Andrew Feldman – who Mr Rothschild had met once before - was holidaying half an hour away with his family and friends.
Mr Rothschild then invited Mr Feldman to join them for an early evening drink at the villa. This was a social invitation and at no point previously had Mr Osborne and Mr Rothschild discussed the possibility of a donation to the Conservative Party from Mr Deripaska.
Mr Feldman, Mr Osborne, Mr Rothschild and two other house guests gathered on the villa terrace. There was a discussion about British and American politics and in the course of which Mr Rothschild suggested to Mr Feldman that his friend, Mr Deripaska could be interested in making a party donation. Mr Feldman had not met Mr Deripaska previously and was not aware who he was.
Mr Feldman made clear that there are very strict rules on donations to political parties in the UK. He explained that there are only two ways of giving a political donation. Firstly, if you appear as an individual on the UK electoral roll. Secondly, if the donation comes from a legitimate UK trading company.
This is an explanation Mr Feldman gives regularly when asked about donations both privately and publicly. At this point Mr Rothschild said that Mr Deripaska owned UK trading companies including Leyland Daf. There was no discussion about how a donation by Mr Deripaska could be concealed or channelled.
At no point did Mr Osborne or Mr Feldman solicit or ask for a donation, suggest ways of channelling a donation or express any wish to meet with Mr Deripaska to discuss donations. The conversation moved on to the US elections. Some time later Mr Rothschild – having phoned Mr Deripaska – invited Mr Osborne, Mr Feldman and one other house guest for a further drink on Mr Deripaska’s yacht which was moored nearby.
Mr Osborne and Mr Feldman agreed to meet with Mr Deripaska and his wife and
family. They stayed on the boat for about an hour and drank tea. There was a discussion about British and Russian politics, education and Russian history. There was no conversation or mention of party funding or the possibility of Mr Deripaska making a donation to the Conservative Party. After the group left the boat Mr Feldman did not see Mr Deripaska or Mr Rothschild again and had no further conversations with Mr Deripaska.
Mr Osborne met Mr Deripaska again briefly the following lunchtime when both Mr Deripaska and Mr Mandelson visited the Rothschild villa. The conversation between them lasted no more than five minutes and again there was no discussion about political donations. Indeed Mr Osborne has had no further discussions with Mr Deripaska.. Nor has he had a further conversation with Mr Rothschild about donations.
On September 18 Mr Feldman and Mr Rothschild had a phone conversation about the possibility of Mr Rothschild hosting a fundraising dinner for the Conservative Party – something the Rothschild family have done before.
At the end of that conversation Mr Rothschild mentioned that Leyland Daf, a UK trading company owned by Mr Deripaska, was interested in making a donation to the party. Leyland Daf is well known to be a company recently purchased and owned by Mr Deripaska.
Mr Feldman said that he was not sure if such a donation was appropriate. He told Mr Rothschild that he would have to seek advice on the matter. Later that day it was decided after consultation with senior party officials that it would not be appropriate to accept such a donation. There was no futher contact from Mr Rothschild or Mr Deripaska and the matter was considered to be at an end.
For clarity – neither Mr Feldman or Mr Osborne have ever discussed with Oleg Deripaska the possibility of him making a political donation. At no point in any of these meetings and discussions did either Mr Osborne or Mr Feldman solicit or attempt to solicit a donation from Mr Deripaska. Nor did they at any stage suggest any way that a donation could be channelled or concealed through a British company.
This statement constitutes a full and detailed explanation of Mr Osborne and Mr Feldman’s dealings with Mr Deripaska. We would now urge Lord Mandelson to provide the same."
PS. Some friend that Mr Rothschild turned out to be!
19 October, 2008
Laugh or cry? Both I think.
Well, all my "down with the kids" credibility is blown. I have been informed by someone younger and cooler than me ("is it possible" I hear you cry) that Geraldine, aka Peter Kay actually got to number two.
17 October, 2008
I completely understood why David Cameron felt that he had to be supportive of the government in these difficult times, I'm not sure I would have been quite so measured but I'm not the leader of the opposition. Having supported the bail-out plan (to help with the short term situation) it is now right that we turn people's attention to the underlying problem. Gordon Brown.
This isn't just tribal politics on my part, I genuinely feel that Brown is damaging the country and making the lives on many British people worse, starting with the very people he should be helping.
As I have already said, the bank bail-out was not a triumph, it was a disaster. It's about time we told people that and reminded them why.
15 October, 2008
We are not out of the woods yet, as today's unemployment figures prove. Brown should stop bigging himself up and get on with being the Prime Minister.
13 October, 2008
Being angry with this situation is natural and justified, so is the anger aimed at some of the people involved. However what is not acceptable is the indiscriminate nature of the blame that is being flung around.
The blame game is easy to play and is always popular, it doesn't make it right. Taking the actions of a few individuals within a group to define the whole group is lazy and dangerous, it is bad enough when this is done by individuals but done at governmental level it's really worrying. Governments make laws, decisions and set the tone, if not done with a clear head more problems can be created than solved.
Where individuals have failed they should take responsibility for their actions but most banking employees are worrying about keeping their jobs rather than looking forward to big bonuses. The money that they were making was being taxed and spent, accounting for a significant part of the UK economy. Capping pay and bonuses will be popular, few people feel that people in the city deserve the big money that they have received in the recent past but it may prove to be totally counterproductive.
If we get too hair shirt about the city we run the risk of driving much of our future prosperity overseas. We have all benefited from the money generated by the financial services sector and if we lose sight of that in our rush to vilify we will all suffer.
12 October, 2008
09 October, 2008
David Blunkett, Labour's home secretary from 2001 to 2004, called for - and achieved - the removal of Sussex Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse in June 2001,
over the police shooting of an unarmed, naked man, James Ashley.
Three years later, Mr Blunkett demanded the removal of Humberside Chief Constable David Westwood after his force was criticised in a report into failures in police intelligence in the case of Soham murderer Ian Huntley.
A bitter and very public tussle followed, between Mr Blunkett, Mr Westwood and
Humberside's police authority, resulting in a compromise whereby the police chief retired a year early.
I wonder what would happen if Boris insisted on choosing the head of the West Midlands Constabulary?
08 October, 2008
Boris gave details of the safer transport hubs and the roll out of the extra police for the transport network. He then took questions on Ian Blair, crime stats, Ian Blair, police funding, Ian Blair and Ian Blair.
Someone from the Today Program then asked why he was unwilling to talk about Ian Blair. You couldn't make it up.
Boris and the team then went off to the new leisure centre in Sidcup. Despite numerous requests Boris refused to put on his speedos and christen the pool. Shame, I say. What is he trying to hide? Londoners deserve to know!
06 October, 2008
It was great to see the work pressing at a pace and I think that the young athletes were quite excited about the project too. I am increasing less worried about getting the sporting facilities built on time and to a great standard, I'm still not happy about the funding for the Olympic village.
Part of me wants to believe it will just all come good in the end, that seemed to be Livingstone's plan, in reality it is going to take a lot of hard work and hard planning to make the maths work.
04 October, 2008
I was followed on the show by Jenny Jones AM from the Greens. For the most part I like Jenny but she seemed to have no trouble maintaining two completely contradictory positions at once. She criticised Boris for asking Sir Ian Blair to stand down yet was quite happy to call him a "murderer" in relation to the shooting of Charles De Menezes. That level of hypocrisy is breathtaking.
Why is it "political" for Boris to decide who is the Commissioner of the Met but not if the Home Secretary does? She is a politician too you know!
I'm also struggling to get my head around the idea that an MP from Reddich in the West Midlands, who may well not be Home Secretary for all that long (based on recent form) should have more say than the Mayor of London over who heads up London's police force.
All very strange.
Sir Ian Blair, Labour reshuffles and the US financial lifeboat are likely to be top of the agenda. Tune in and listen to the fireworks.
03 October, 2008
I wonder how long he'll last this time?
02 October, 2008
I have had my issues with Sir Ian which you can read in the archive of this blog, none have been based on party politics or concerns about Sir Ian's personal politics. They have all been criticisms of things within his operational and professional work.
Boris was probably more generous than I have been in the past and has genuinely tried to make the relationship work. There has been no vindictiveness from Boris either in the case of Sir Ian or anyone else. Boris made it clear that anyone who was willing to work with him for the benefit of London would be welcome.
This situation comes at a critical time, we promised to get a grip on youth crime in the capital and to be held to account if we didn't. The situation at the top of the Met has made it harder for us at do what we promised and that is a situation which could not go on.
I was in a meeting with the new members of the MPA this afternoon, Sir Ian addressed the meeting in a clam and professional manner even though he know that there would be a media scrum a little later in the afternoon. I was very impressed with his conduct at that point.
This is not a situation that any of us would have wanted but I feel that for the good of London it was the right thing to do.
01 October, 2008
This time last year David Cameron made big inroads in repairing that relationship. If this glowing report is anything to go by Alan Duncan has taken this as a starting point and done more to win back the support of this, traditionally Conservative supporting, sector.
Alan has a business background and I'm sure that this has been a key part in making our policies in this area effective and appealing. Labour seems not to understand value the small business sector or the entrepreneurs that are the driving force behind it. I'm glad that we are not making the same mistake.
This is my first conference as an elected anything and I underestimated how many people (lobbyists) wanted to meet me.
The conference has also been very busy and I have had to hide under a table to write this blog. Don't ask!!!!
I'll give you a full overview once I get to a proper computer.