30 September, 2006
How many Conservatives does it take to change a lightbulb? Change?!?!?!?
Not any more. DC and Francis Maude are embracing blogs even though both have received a bit of stick from bloggers in the recent past. I say well done.
Blogging is not an activity it is a mindset. Putting your thoughts into the public domain and asking people to comment on them is what it is all about, there is also an army of people scrutinising you. This is an incredibly good discipline for politicians and I think that politics can only be better for it.
Well done to DC, I think that this is a great move. Can you see the Labour party leader putting himself forward like this?
29 September, 2006
The example that I gave was an incident on our summer holiday in
One day he turned up limping and whining, he clearly had something wrong with his foot. I’m pretty confident with dogs so I had a look. It turned out that he had a thorn stuck into the soft skin between the pads of his paw, I pulled it out and the dog ran off happy.
Are political careers built on such things?
28 September, 2006
- Deny terrorists an ungoverned space in which they can foment and export terror. 11 September taught us that terrorism thrives where there is no stability, no effective government, no security.
- Help the people of
build a democratic state with strong security forces and an economy that will support a civil society. Afghanistan must be restored as a secure and stable state. Afghanistan
- To support international efforts to counter the narcotics trade which poisons the economy in
and poisons so many young people in this country. 90% of the heroin which hits our streets originates in Afghanistan . Afghanistan
- The Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team will work with
officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development to deliver a tailored package of political, developmental and military assistance. Specifically, its mission will be to help train the Afghan security forces, to facilitate reconstruction, and to provide security, thereby supporting the extension of the Afghan Government’s authority across the province. UK
I am particularly drawn to the last sentence.
Specifically, its mission will be to help train the Afghan security forces, to facilitate reconstruction, and to provide security, thereby supporting the extension of the Afghan Government’s authority across the province.
If you feel that this sounds slightly at odds with an intensity of conflict that warrants the recommendation of six Victoria Crosses, you are not alone.
I was spitting tacks after reading about this speech by Des Browne in the Guardian, but after my last tirade I have decided to pause before writing about defence issues. As a Conservative I feel that it is not only my right to highlight the inadequacies of the Labour defence team but my duty to. Trying to divert attention away from the issue in hand by accusing us of “undermining our troops” is transparent and cynical.
How does he justify this statement: "But we are not asking our soldiers to act as narcotics police. That would undermine the clarity of their mission and their ability to get the local people on their side."
With this one: To support international efforts to counter the narcotics trade which poisons the economy in
Mr Browne if our criticisms are unjustified then counter them. If you can’t then, as I have said before, you should be looking for another job.
27 September, 2006
Battersea now has a very capable and hard working candidate in Jane Ellison and I am sure that she will be the MP for Battersea.
The process was more fun than I thought it would be and Michael Portillo gave us all quite a grilling, not nasty, just thorough. Lots of people said kind words and assured me that I would get a good seat, I would like to thank them. The Battersea association were great, very friendly and very efficient. Sam Gyimah and Louise Bagshaw were also great fun and I am full of confidence for them too, hopefully we will all be on the green benches in a few years.
I had forgotten what an emotional roller coaster the whole seat selection process was, someone once said that it was like falling in love only to be dumped.
26 September, 2006
The latest bombshell from Margaret Hodge at the DTI is to make PLCs fill in a form proving that they thought about the environment and their employees while making their business decisions. Now thinking about your company's effect on the environment and society in general is important and those that do will ultimately perform better in the market as consumers become more tuned in to ethical business and adjust their purchasing accordingly.
The popularity of fair trade products, free range and organic food and duel fuel cars shows the change in consumer priorities. Getting companies to fill out forms will not change their behaviour, consumer power will.
If the DTI only planned to hit PLCs with this it would be bad enough, but it looks as though Hodge wants to spread this farce to privately owned companies, the bulk of which are one person operations. Time spent filling in forms is time not spent doing business, the last thing small businesses need is more hurdles to jump over.
25 September, 2006
The BBC now give me the chance to see if I know more about politics than I do about football. The fantasy cabinet game looks like fun, go on, have a go.
One of the big local issues in Battersea at the moment is concern over the future of the independent shops on Northcote Road brought about by rent increases. The shopkeepers and many local residents are worried that higher rents will push out the individual, owner run shops and fill the road with the same high street brands that you find in every other shopping street in the country.
They have a good point,
But why are the Conservatives fans of small business? Is it a purely pragmatic, economic attraction? I don’t think so.
Here is my take on it.
Small privately owned businesses are analogous to the way that Conservatives would like the country to be and the big multiple outlet chains are the Labour party’s world view. Labour love centralised, big and controlled, Conservatives love local, small and autonomous.
With the big chains consistency is the order of the day, whether McDonalds, B&Q or Marks and Spencers, they are never appalling and never dropping below a set level of service or product quality. But to maintain that consistency they have to set the bar at a fairly modest level. McDonalds don’t do Gordon Ramsey, B&Q don’t do Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen and M&S don’t do Ozwald Boeteng.
The Conservatives on the other hand embrace diversity.
With private, independent shops you do sometimes get a bad one with poor service or overpriced products. But you also get gems, some absolutely great shops, ones that you tell your friends about, ones that you go out of your way to shop in. More variation than the big chains but with a higher top end and over time the bad shops go out of business and are replaced by better ones.
23 September, 2006
Now the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that this is what the Conservatives have been saying for years. Can Labour actually let go of some power, delegate and trust people? I'll believe when I see it.
Here is the team of friends and supporters who helped me out today, I would like to say a big thank you to them because they came out dispite having very little notice.
I had chance to catch up with Mark Clarke and congratulate him on becoming Chair of Conservative Future and on his plans to help our target seats. He has promised me a lot of support if I get selected for Battersea, although I am sure he will be a big asset to whoever get the seat.Because I am used to campaigning in Lewisham I am still getting used to hearing what a great job the council are doing.
22 September, 2006
Paras are a tough bunch and this report indicates that they are at breaking point, military infighting is never a good sign.
The government sent out boys to do a job but did not give them the tools that they needed. We should be pounding on the doors of number ten about this, please tell me that it is not just the Tories that are outraged.
I'm lucky because I work just over the river from Battersea Park and can walk to the constituency in ten minutes. So for the last few lunchtimes and evenings I have been walking and talking to the good people of Battersea.
Ken Livingstone comes up a lot.
And Blair is almost as unpopular.
The good news is that everyone, absolutely everyone, I have spoken to is very happy with the performance of Wandsworth council.
What I will try to find out is:
Why if so many people are fed up with Labour, locally and nationally, and so happy with Conservatives locally they didn't vote in a Conservative MP?
Answers on Wednesday night.
20 September, 2006
Last night I was at the second round of the parliamentary selection process for Battersea and the exciting news is that I got through to the final round. I know two of the other three people who got through and they are strong candidates so the final round will be tough.
Battersea will have an open primary so anyone from Battersea can come along hear what we have to say and decide which one of us takes on Labour at the next general election. It will be on Wednesday evening next week and will be hosted by Michael Portillo at the Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill.
I appologise for the cliched picture but it is probably the best know building in the constituency.
I have written about Brown's wafer thin track record before and I think that the closer we get to Blair's handover the more scrutiny Brown will be under. Will he be able to take it?
I have written before about the apparent eagerness to prosecute soldiers, the string of cases that have been thrown out indicate that much of the eagerness is unfounded.
Cpl Payne has let his regiment and his colleagues down and I have little sympathy for him. It will be interesting to see how strong the cases against the others are. Was it really a case of culpability through the chain of command or an example of blamestorming?
I have discovered that big boxes create more excitement than small boxes, even for a two year old, I also discovered that tearing off wrapping paper seems to be more fun than playing with the presents themselves.
Two years ago this lunchtime Susie was out cold under a general anaesthetic because Rupert was a C section baby and her spinal block wasn't working. I was scared witless. Like a lot of C section babies Rupert was very calm when he was handed to me and I had him to myself for about 20 minutes until Susie was brought back into the recovery room.
Happy birthday Rupert.
19 September, 2006
Des Browne MP is not at the top of my Christmas card list at the moment and every time he opens his mouth or puts pen to paper he slips a little further down. In a speech this evening he is going to say that the MOD and Labour ministers underestimated the resolve and tenacity of the Taliban.
We he might have done but I didn't. And neither did (Lt Col.) Patrick Mercer MP when he said "When I was instructing at the staff college, if a student had presented me with this plan for Afghanistan, I would have failed him, and failed him comprehensively,"
When John Reid said that this deployment could be successfully completed "without a shot being fired" was he lying or just incompetent? Heads should roll over this, British troops have been killed because the Labour party were too arrogant to listen to experienced military voices (not me) would told them that they were trying to do too much with too few troops and too little equipment.
Lions in Helmund, donkeys in the cabinet.
The exam results were released back in the mid summer. The release dates were questioned at the time and a number of commentators and bloggers mentioned that results were down. Labour tried to spin the figures, situation normal.
So why has this all hit the headlines now? Well Dizzy speculates that it could be in Gordon Brown's interests to see the cheeky cockney contender brought down a rung or two. YMSTICPC
18 September, 2006
They are still committed to very high spending levels, they say that they won't cut the overall tax burden but will cut their top 50% rate and swap it for green transport taxes. The problem with that is that if their green tax changes consumer behaviour, which I assume is what they want, their revenue from green taxes will drop.
That presents them with a shortfall, which will be filled with.........?
The original rushes of the David Cameron interview is now available for download. It's not in a proper podcast format but it is all in MP3 format so you can stick Dave in your Ipod, next to your Smiths tunes.
The voice of Dave direct to your earholes.
Canada, Conservatives win after 12 years in the political wilderness.
Britain, Conservatives win after 12 years in the political wilderness?
17 September, 2006
The example that the BBC use is an out of date search warrant. How out of date would be acceptable, an hour? A day? A year? A decade? Search warrants have expiry dates for a reason, they prevent the police having an open invitation to enter your hour for all time, once they are out of date they are out of date!
My worry is that a move to ignore technical errors will just lead to more sloppy investigating. In light of the Damilola Taylor and Stephen Lawrence investigations I think that the criminal justice system should be encouraged to get tighter rather than slacker with its procedures.
16 September, 2006
I think back to his voice which carried so much passion for his subject and so much authority and I compare it with the voices on the BBC now. No contest really.
He will be missed, my wishes go out to his family and friends.
Like the "Danish cartoons" earlier this year it is the response by some members of the Muslim faith that worries me. I am a Tory and as such I get slagged off all the time, I don't burn effigies of my detractors, I don't riot. My response is to shrug my shoulders and carry on doing what I believe to be right and maybe try to win them round.
Would it be a bit arrogant to suggest the Muslim faith take a leaf out of my book? Probably.
15 September, 2006
Here are a few snippets:
On his attitude to business and business people:
"Understanding business is an important part of who I am and of what the Conservative party is"
On scrapping the DTI
"I often used to look across during DTI questions and see eight ministers. What on earth do they all do? I remember when the DTI used to own the coal mines and the ship-building industry and the car industry. Even then there were fewer than eight ministers. The bureaucracy under this government has just grown and grown and it’s our job to prune it back."
"Our key commitment is to get back for Britain our opt out from the social chapter," he responds. "It is through the social chapter that so much of this legislation is coming. It is all very well Blair going on in the European parliament about the failure of the European social model. He signed up to it."
You can read the full article here.
Labour head honchos are working out which hospitals will closed not on the basis of need but on the basis of which ones will harm their election chances the least.
Some conservatives may think that this will hurt naturally conservative areas because Labour see them as a lost cause. The truth is that it will be in the staunchly Labour areas that people will be hit the hardest. Labour don't feel that they can lose these seats so they don't care about them.
If you think I am being excessively cynical have a quick think about what is happening with Labours urban development plans. Are they directing funding to their traditional seats in the north of England? No they are trying to shoehorn as much social housing as possible into the gardens and green spaces in the south east. The Thames gateway is less about economic need and more about gerrymandering.
Playing with housing to win elections is bad, and I am happy to condemn Dame Porter and her ilk in that, but playing with health provision is unforgivable.
A lot of people ask why so much effort is put into logos, the answer is that they do get absorbed by the people that see them and like all subtle, subconscious communications it is really important that the message is right.
I like this new logo, it reinforces the importance of the environment, it implies stability, longevity and support. Let me know what you think.
14 September, 2006
I may still play around with the template a little but not at 10pm on a Thursday.
I know that the subject of schools will come up in the future and I might as well cover my views on the subject now.
Jimmy's point was that I didn't care about the state school system because my boys were going to private school. Firstly this is a very hollow argument, I like to think that I have both empathy and sympathy for those in situations other than my own.
I am not gay but I support gay marriage, I am fairly well of but still want to fight poverty, my boys are going to a private school but I still want to improve the quality of education for those who cannot afford what I can afford.
I will not play politics with the future life chances of my children, not now, not ever. They are more important to me than anything else and if that means that I open myself up to a degree of attack, so be it. There is nothing hypocritical about my position, I would love to give everyone enough financial freedom to decide whether they wanted to send their children to a private school or not. I also want to give parents the choice of state school if that is what they want.
A lot of parents are wreaked with guilt about the state school/private school decision and go through extraordinary lengths to square the circle. Moving to a better catchment area, lying about their religious convictions, paying for after school tutors or driving across town adding to pollution and congestion just so that they can say "Of course Timmy goes to a state school".
Colfe's is my "family" school, it means a huge amount to me that my sons will go to the school that I went to and that my uncles went to (my dad didn't get in) and that my friend teaches at.
I make no apology.
David Cameron and Francis Maude have really embraced blogging and bloggers even though both have received a degree of stick from online c(C)onservative community.
Iain Dale and Tim Montgomerie are two torch bearers (tree huggers?) for the Conservative online renaissance and will have quite a high profile at conference with a bloggers stand. I will be helping out with Tory Radio's Johnathan Sheppard and being a “Home affairs correspondent” for Conservativehome’s conference coverage.
I have always felt drawn to the home affaires brief and I hope to cover the main platform pieces, fringe meetings and some interviews with the shadow home affairs team and the shadow law officers.
If you have questions on crime, policing, prisons, ID cards, immigration, internal security, etc stick it into the comments section or send me an email.
And now back to the studio………………….
13 September, 2006
Unemployment at a 6 year high.
School results falling.
Mass home repossessions a real threat.
Inflation at 9 year high.
A party hat for the best link to a good news story.
On RealBusiness.co.uk (the site I work on) we have a desktop alert service which lets you know when our site is updated, the really good bit is that you can add other blogs so that you can be alerted to them too.
You will get information on the small/medium sized business sector but all good Tories should be interested in that anyway.
Click here to download the software (a few seconds over a broadband connection) then simply drag the RSS logo from your favorite sites onto the alert box and Bob's your uncle. Oh seeing as I gave you the tip please make me the first one that you add.
They are big and noisy and impressive; modern British tanks are also well protected, pack a punch and are reliable, the guys that work in them love them.
Modern British tank units evolved from cavalry units and maintain a strong equestrian feel, tankies play polo and sometime croquet. Their officers have a reputation for being posh and effite but history has shown over and over again that when called upon to be tough they rise to the occasion.
This is an armored personnel carrier, their primary fuction is to transport, support and protect infantry.
This is a self propelled gun, they are artillery pieces which fire shells over the horizon, or over obstacles using the parabolic nature of their projectiles' flight.
They are have tracks and a gun but they are not all the same.
(PS there is a bonus prize for the first comment which highlights the deliberate mistake)
12 September, 2006
This is Freddy in his uniform ready to go off to school. He goes to Colfe's and is the third consecutive generation of the Cleverly family to do so.
The pose is probably linked to his obsession with the Incredables.
When the people in this picture are not?
I don't condone civil disobedience but I would find it very difficult to condemn members of the British Legion if they chose to ignore these stupid rules and marched anyway. I would also be very interested to see the photo of the first policeman to step in and arrest one of them.
Why don't we just let a little bit of common sense prevail for a change?
1. Tony Blair is seen to be unpopular with the unions.
2. The only member of UKIP that anyone has ever heard of is voted in as their party leader.
Answers on a postcard please.
11 September, 2006
There is a lot of anti-Americanism at the moment and at times it is easy to forget that much of the American government’s recent actions were triggered by the thousand of deaths that day in
Whenever I catch myself drifting with the media flow towards these positions I remind myself of a training session that I attended in 2003. Only 18 months or so after the attacks an American Army Reserves General was talking through the support that the
The US General stood up and said “I am honoured to be addressing officers of the British Army, our greatest and closest friends in the world”. British soldiers are a cynical bunch and an opening like that would usually be greeted with laughter but the sincerity of this man was disarming. He was there as corpses were pulled from the rubble. He was there as desperate people jumped from windows a hundred floors up. He was there when
There was a time in the early 1940s when the tables were turned and a British General could easily have said the same of the
Perhaps knowing this has given him the freedom to be radical, in the way that second term US presidents feel liberated. Perhaps that is why he is grasping a the nettle, tackling the issue that keeps us all awake, that scares us most when we think of the UK's creaking transport system.
Bells on bicycles.
I jest ye not. It will cost you £2,500 or a spell in jail if you can't ring your little ding-a-ling while out riding your bike. I always feel a little sorry for MPs who lose their seats, irrespective of their party but some make it hard not to laugh.
08 September, 2006
The worst kept secret in British politics is now well out of the bag. Everyone know the relationship between Blair and Brown was coming apart and now it has been confirmed that Brown has done nothing to poor oil on Labour's troubled waters.
Brown has got it in for Tony, we all knew it, we can all see it. So why hasn't Tony sacked him? They can no longer believe that anyone still sees them as a united team, and keeping Gordon close has clearly failed to stop his plotting.
A piece of advice Tony, show some balls and give Gordon the elbow.
The lack of media coverage is appalling and the attitude of the government is ..... well I have expressed my views on this before.
I strongly advise that you watch the video in this article and Mr Browne (if you are reading) please do not assume that just because moral is high things are going well. You might mope in the face of adversity, British soldiers are made of sterner stuff.
But I don't.
I want this sorted, either get rid of Blair now or shut up and get on with it until he decides to go.
Until this is sorted nothing will happen in government. Ministers will not want to set direction or make decisions for fear of getting on the wrong side of their potential new boss. MPs will be completely internally focused, jockeying for position, joining the campaign teams of their favorite candidates. Civil servants will not commit their departments to major projects until they are confident that their new minister will not change tack. In short everything stops.
Changes of leadership always results in distraction. When Michael Howard announced an extended departure I was worried, it turned out to be good for us as a party. But it only worked for us because we were in opposition and did not have a country to govern.
Blair, Brown et al keep saying how much they care for the country, if they really care more for the country than for themselves they will get this whole debacle sorted quickly.
07 September, 2006
But who initiated the plan? Tom Watson? Quite possibly and who is pulling his strings? Someone he met while working at the treasury perhaps?
Freddy is going to Colfe's and will be the third generation of Cleverly to do so and Susie has followed a long tradition of Cleverly mums by forgetting to take his gym kit in today. Oooooops.
Not tackling an issue, not talking about tackling an issue but talking about talking about tackling an issue.
He makes it clearer in his article.
06 September, 2006
Here is a quote from his resignation letter:
"For the sake of the legacy you have long said is the only one that matters - a renewed Labour party re-elected at the next general election - I urge you to reconsider your determination to remain in office. "
Clearly Tony isn't happy.
Because I don’t care. I found the Lib Dem leadership campaign more interesting because I felt that there was an opportunity for real change within their party. Hughes and Hume would each have led the Lib Dems in very different directions, as opposed to Ming who seems hardly to be leading them at all.
By the same token no one thought for a moment that Davis and Cameron were offering basically the same choice to the Conservative party.
But what options are being presented as realistic alternatives to Blair? Brown, one of the architects of the New Labour movement and controller of current domestic policy. Basically more of the same. Reid, Blair loyalist who is New Labour to the core. Basically more of the same. Johnson, vocal promoter of New Labour thinking. Basically more of the same. Miliband, Blair’s protégé etc. etc. etc.
You get the idea.
05 September, 2006
The "naughty traffic wardens" and the "Ann Widdecombe naked" are slightly worrying.
As at today the following units are represented in Afghanistan:
- 42 Commando Royal Marines
- HQ Group, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
- 1 Signal Brigade
- 7 Signal Regiment
- 16 Signal Regiment
- Royal Rifle Volunteers
- Support Battalion, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
- 14 Signal Regiment
- Headquarters 16th (Air Assault) Brigade and 216 Signal Squadron
- 7th Parachute Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery
- 32 Regiment, Royal Artillery
- 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment
- 9 Regiment, Army Air Corps
- 16 Close Support Medical Regiment
- 14 Signal Regiment
- 23 Engineer Regiment
- 22 Field Hospital Royal Army Medical Corps
- 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
- Household Cavalry Regiment
- The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5 Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland
- 10 Signal Regiment
- 33 Engineer Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps
- 11 Explosive Ordinance Disposal Regiment, Royal Engineers
- 13 (Air Assault) Support Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps
- 29 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps
- 7 Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
- No. 2 Force Protection (FP) Wing
- 34 Squadron, The RAF Regiment
- 21 Signal Regiment
- 9 Supply Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps
- 62 Works Group, Royal Engineers
- 24 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps
- 156 Provost Company, Royal Military Police
And elements of the following RAF units:
- 18 (B) Squadron RAF, operating CH47 Chinook helicopters
- 27 Squadron RAF, operating CH47 Chinook helicopters
- 24 Squadron RAF, operating C-130J Hercules transport aircraft
- 30 Squadron RAF, operating C-130J Hercules transport aircraft
- 70 Squadron RAF, operating C-130K Hercules transport aircraft
- 1 (F) Squadron RAF, operating Harrier GR7 aircraft
- 4 Squadron RAF, operating Harrier GR7 aircraft
- 47 Air Dispatch Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, supporting C-130K Hercules transport aircraft
04 September, 2006
I'm slightly behind everyone else in covering this but it is well worth a mention.
David Cameron is going to
I hope that he can be persuaded to keep up his blog once he gets back. I don't imagine that it would be easy but it would be great if he could. It would also be great if he could bring me back one of those giant Toblerones, the traditional gift of the international traveller.
Sir Richard Dannatt took over from Gen Sir Mike Jackson as Chief of the General Staff only last week and he has set his stall out almost immediately. You do not need a crystal ball to guess what he feels when he says of the 5% of spending earmarked for defence "There should be a national debate about whatever [is judged] enough."
Every element of the public sector pitches for more money and I am not advocating excessive military spending but when the volume of commitments increases but the funding does not match it , something has to give.
Compare the General's assessment with the "everything is rosy" message written by Mr Browne MP in the Guardian last week, who do you think is closer to the mark?
03 September, 2006
01 September, 2006
Until I read about the NHS IT system in Scotland. It works.
So why don't we just roll it out south of the border? Well read on.........
The accusations fly. First a Jewish reporter was called a Nazi and now a Trevor Philips is accused of pandering to racists. It is clear that our Labour mayor never lets reality get in the way of his vitriolic tongue.
I have long felt that Livingstone was a hypocritic and a reactionary, I am now coming around to the idea that he just isn't very bright. I think that all we need to do to beat him in 2008 is to let him talk, a lot. The more he says the more people will see just how clueless he really is.
Go on Mr Livingstone dig your own political grave.
For example both of us feel that there is little point in the green lobby being too judgmental and aloof, much better to lead than to push. He has started a cartoon which puts across a slightly more light hearted look at being green, it's worth a look.