Thursday, November 30, 2017

Extra music spot: Brandenburg Three (Bach)

A little bit of Bach to finish off November ...

Ten myths about the Queen Elizabeth class carriers answered

The UK Defence Journal has put up a good piece which answers the ten most common myths about the Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

I doubt if any class of ships in recent history has been the subject of so many false or misleading rumours, often repeated by people who ought to know better such as politicians.

Yes, the carriers will have aircraft, and not just American aircraft.

No, the computer systems for the carriers will not depend on Windows XP.

Yes, there will be escorts to accompany and protect the carriers.

Nuclear power would not have been a better solution. It's a great benefit for submarines, enabling them to spend a year hidden underwater, but carriers have to operate aircraft, which need large quantities of aviation fuel, so an operating aircraft carriers have to be regularly resupplied with fuel for the jets and helicopters even if a nuclear reactor removes the need for regular refuelling of the ship herself.

The article includes the answers to these and a number of other commonly stated myths about the carriers and you can read it here.

To save Jim checking (unless you want to read about the other issues) it doesn't address the issue of an alternative aircraft type which would have required catapults and landing arrester gear - either the UK defence journal don't regard the debate around this one as a myth or it isn't one of the ten most common criticisms, or both. Of course during the expected long service life of these ships there is always the possibility that they may be refitted with cats and traps instead of the current ski ramp if that makes more sense in terms of the aircraft available in the future.

Quote of the day 30th November 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Midweek Music spot: Purcell's Rondeau

Yes, I've posted versions of the Rondeau from Abdelazer a few times before, but I found this exquisite performance by Voices of Music this week and it's just too good not to share ...

McDonell wouldn't give the costs - so the TPA has.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, declined to give the numbers to Andrew Marr about how much Labour's spending plans would cost the country.

So Duncan Simpson of the Taxpayer's Alliance had a go.

He thinks that Labour would spend an additional £100 billion in 2017-18 (on top of the current government’s spending plans) and £329 billion over the course of this parliament when tax rises are included.


  • By 2022-23, debt interest on Labour spending commitments would come to £7.4 billion.
  • Over six years Labour’s extra spending would mean £25 billion in higher debt interest
  • Total debt interest payments would be £272.5 billion between 2017-18 and 2022-23.
  • Debt interest per household over this period would come to £9,461.


  • You can read the full report here.

    Quote of the day 29th November 2017


    Tuesday, November 28, 2017

    Tuesday music spot: first part of Handel's "Dixit Dominus"

    For anyone who is interested and does not already know, "Dixit Dominus" means "Thus says the Lord"

    The lyrics in Latin for the first chorus are:

    Dixit Dominus Domino meo:
    Sede a dextris meis, donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum.


    which translates as

    The Lord said unto my Lord:
    Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot-stool.


    Number of Copeland Councillors to be cut from 51 to 33

    The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has announced today that they will reduce the number of councillors serving on Copeland Borough Council from 51 to 33 and opened a consultation on what the new wards should be on which they are elected.

    This is in line with the position which had been unanimously supported by the Mayor and the former all-party executive of Copeland Borough Council but the issue of how many councillors there should be precipitated something close to civil war inside Copeland Labour party.

    The council's fomer Deputy Mayor and Leader of the Labour group on CBC, Lena Hogg, resigned from the council following what one might tactfully describe as a serious disagreement in which the Labour group did not support the position of their executive members. As the row continued they went into majority opposition and suspended their members of the council executive for refusing to resign.

    All for nothing, it would now appear, as the Local Government Commission has gone with the Executive's recommendation.

    There now follows a consultation on the new boundaries using which the 33 councillors who form the new council will be elected from 2019 onwards.

    In drawing up these new boundaries, the Commission has to try to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters.

    The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect the interests and identities of communities across Copeland.

    Professor Colin Mellors, Commission chairman, said:

    “We are asking local people and organisations to help us draw up new wards for Copeland. As we develop the recommendations, we will take into account local community identities as well as ensuring electoral equality for voters.

    “If you have a view about which communities or neighbourhoods should be part of the same council ward, then we want to hear from you. And if you think a road, river or railway makes for a strong boundary between communities in your part of Copeland, then this consultation is for you."

    He added:

    “We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during this phase of the review whoever it is from and whether it applies to the whole of Copeland or just a small part of the council area. Residents will then have a further chance to have their say after we publish our draft recommendations in April 2018.”

    Copeland residents now have until 12th February 2018 to submit your views.

    The new boundaries and the reduction in councillor numbers will both come into effect at the local government elections on 2nd May 2019.

    Further information about this review, and interactive maps of the existing wards, can be found at

    consultation.lgbce.org.uk and www.lgbce.org.uk.

    Quote of the day 28th November 2017


    Monday, November 27, 2017

    Improving Community Rail Services

    Earlier this month the government launched a consultation which represents an enormous opportunity to improve under-used stations and rail lines across Cumbria.
     
    The Community Rail Strategy will help local community groups bid for cash to adopt under-used stations and rail lines, with millions of pounds of investment available for successful schemes.
     
    Nearly 60 partnerships have been set up around the country since 1993, and have helped to revive and reshape more than 80 routes and stations, thanks to volunteers, community engagement and funding from the government and train operators.
     
    The potential benefit to us in West Cumbria is considerable. If we can improve opportunities for people to get to places of work like Sellafield or to shopping centres by rail, and improve the facilities at our local stations, that would not just be an excellent thing in itself, but it could also reduce the pressure on the road network with which routes like the A595 are not coping, and thereby mitigate the knock-on impact of those problems on villages like Moor Row, Bigrigg and St Bees.
     
    Transport minister Paul Maynard MP has launched a consultation into how the Community Rail Partnerships scheme can be expanded and it is hoped that the expanded scheme will launch next year.
     
    You can have your say about this scheme online at
     
     
    or write to

    Kulvinder Bassi,
    Zone 4/21,
    Great Minster House,
    33 Horseferry Road,
    London,
    SW1P 4DR

    I would urge anyone reading this with an interest in rail services in our area to take part.

    Congratulations to Harry and Meghan

    Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle whose engagement has just been announced. I wish them a long and happy marriage.

    Quote of the day 27th November 2017



    Sunday, November 26, 2017

    MPs and Film Directors are not above the law,but let's try to give justice for both sides

    Niall Ferguson has a good piece in The Times this week,

    "Stop harassment but don't slide into secular Sharia."

    He starts by pointing out that a lot of those who experienced the what was regarded in the late 20th century as sexual liberation now understand what it must have felt like to be a regency rake who lived long enough to see the Victorian era, as

    "We are living through a revolution in manners not unlike the one that occurred in the second and third quarters of the 19th century. In the space of a generation, libertines became pariahs."

    Ferguson enjoys a certain amount of Schadenfreude at the expense of various left-wing American men who were quoted virtue-signalling by saying how dreadfully Donald J Trump treats women and are now themselves facing credible allegations of having behaved far worse towards women than anything which has yet been proved against the current US President.

    Sadly throughout history there have been people in positions of power who think that the rules do not apply to them, whether it is the rules about money, power, sex, or treating those who work for you decently.

    Ferguson goes on

    "I’m against sexual harassment. I condemn anyone who abuses their power in the workplace for gratification. So I am on the side of this revolution in manners. My concern is only that such revolutions have a tendency to overshoot. I wonder: do we risk sliding into a kind of secular sharia, in which all men are presumed to be sexual predators and only severe punishments can prevent routine rape? Will one-to-one work meetings between a male and a female co-worker soon be a thing of the past? What next? A more general segregation of the sexes?"

    Rape is wrong. Sexual harrassment is wrong. Allegations of either should be properly and fairly investigated and anyone guilty of either brought to justice.

    Let's just make sure people are actually guilty before we use either the courts of the power of social condemnation to wreck their lives

    The Cold Genius in context

    Since, sadly and it's their loss, very few people today will have seen and heard the opera King Arthuyu with music by arguably the greatest ever British born composer, Henry Purcell, (Britten and Elgar probably being his nearest rivals) here is the first part of Act II of the opera so you can see how funny the piece I posted for today's music spot is in context




    There are eight pieces in this exerpt:

    Prelude

    What ho 
    What Power art thou  (a. k. a. The Cold Genius)
    Thou Doting Fool
    Great Love, I know thee now
    No part of my Dominium 
    Prelude
    See, see, we assemble

    Sunday music spot "What power art thou?" (The Cold genius)

    It's a rather chilly day in West Cumbria today as winter draws in so "What Power art thou" from King Arthur, also known as "The Frost song" and "The cold genius" seemed rather appropriate ...


    Quote of the day 26th November 2017

    I think I'll go back to quoting historical figuresand deceased authors - unlike Channel 4 they can't update their words and force me to make umpteen rewrites to the post! So how about


    Saturday, November 25, 2017

    The Chancellor writes about the budget

    This post was originally put up the day after the budget.

    Unfortunately because of a conflict between the code from the message from CCHQ and that on the blogger site the post was not displaying properly and the bottom half of the post was clashing with the previous two posts.

    So here it is again.

    The chancellor of the exchequer, Phil Hammond, writes:

    Conservatives

    "Yesterday we released the Autumn Budget.

    This is a Budget for Britain that backs families and businesses.           

    We’re tackling the cost of living by boosting your pay and cutting your taxes.
    We’re investing in skills and infrastructure by spending more on research and introducing a National Retraining Scheme.
    We’re building the homes Britain needs, increasing the number we deliver to 300,000 a year.
    And we’re taking a balanced approach to our economy by dealing with our debts while investing in our country.           

    This Conservative Government is building a Britain fit for the future.

    And we start by tackling the cost of living. That’s why we’re boosting pay by ensuring the National Living Wage rises from £7.50 an hour to £7.83. So the lowest paid get the support they need.

    This means that a full-time worker on the national living wage earns £2,000 a year more than they did before it was introduced.           

    We’re freezing fuel duty again, saving a typical driver £160 a year. So you can fill up your car without emptying your wallet.           

    We’re introducing a new railcard to give discounted travel to 26-30 year olds, helping young people afford a journey to work.           

    And we’re cutting your taxes, raising the tax-free personal allowance to £11,850. Because you earn money for yourself and your family, not for the Government. But a Britain fit for the future means a Britain that invests in its future.           

    That’s why we’re spending £30 billion on upgrading our infrastructure, so companies can set up knowing they’ll have access to world-class infrastructure.           

    It’s why we’re spending over £2 billion extra on science and innovation – as well as setting up the world’s first Artificial Intelligence commission. Which will put Britain at the forefront of the technological revolution.

    Most important, investing in our future means building more homes.           

    That’s why we’re increasing the number of homes we build to 300,000 a year – the biggest annual increase since 1970. So that the next generation can get on the housing ladder and get on in life.           
    To make the dream of home ownership a reality, as of yesterday, we have abolished stamp duty for first time buyers purchasing property up to £300,000.           

    That’s a saving £1,660‎ on the average first-time buyer property and means no stamp duty at all for 80% of first time buyers from yesterday. And to make sure everyone gets the support they need, we’re investing more in our NHS.           

    We’re going to spend an extra £2.8 billion on health, including £350 million for additional beds this winter. We will deliver an additional £10 billion package of capital investment over the course of this Parliament. So you know that the NHS will be there for you when you need it. Yesterday’s budget shows that we’re backing families and businesses. Preparing for Brexit and beyond. And building a Britain fit for the future. "

    If you would like to support the our plans to build a Britain that is truly fit for the future please donate today.

    Thank you,




    Philip Hammond
    Chancellor of the Exchequer" 

                         





    Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 4 Matthew Parker Street, London, SW1H 9HQ

    Saturday Music spot: Soul Limbo (The Test Cricket theme)

    As the Ashes have started and we are now on day three of what looks like a thrilling cricket series ...




    Quote of the day 25th November 2017


    "Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, was unable to put a figure on how much his party’s plans to invest around £50 billion would add to the national debt.

    And the answer he did give suggests he doesn’t understand how government debt actually works."

    This was the original title of a Channel 4 Factcheck article about the shadow chancellor's Andrew Marr interview.

    After I had put it up here, the title of the article was subsequently changed to

    "John McDonnell doesn't tell the whole story about Labour's borrowing plans."

    and the article was slightly reworded - in the words of the notice at the end of the revised article,

    "Amendments were made to this article on November 25 to clarify the difference between paying the interest on the national debt and paying the debt off. The headline was changed and an incorrect figure was removed."

    Bear with me, I think it is worth explaining what has and has not changed in what Channel 4's Factcheck article says.

    The original article suggested that McDonnell "appears to be conflating GDP growth with tax revenue" which in my opinion is a completely reasonable interpretation of the gap between what he said and the whole picture.

    Channel 4's revised article still says that

    "what he didn’t mention is how much Labour’s plans would add to the underlying national debt.

    And the key to answering that is working out how much their investment would yield in tax revenue."

    The original article went on to say that:

    "Put simply, Mr McDonnell said that his planned investment won’t add to the government debt because he seems to think that:
    • £1 of government investment = £1 of GDP growth = £1 tax revenue
    When in fact, the formula looks like this:
    • £1 of government investment = £1 of GDP growth = £0.35 of tax revenue"

    This has now been revised to the following very similar statement

    "Put simply, you might take Mr McDonnell’s claim that the planned investment would “pay for itself” to mean that:
    • £1 of government investment = £1 of GDP growth = £1 tax revenue

    When in fact, the formula looks like this:
    • £1 of government investment = £1 of GDP growth = £0.35 of tax revenue"

    They original article concluded that ..

    "he was answering a question about how much his plans would add to the national debt.

    He suggested that for every extra pound the government spends on investment, it will get the same back in tax revenue “immediately” because it “puts more people back into work, they pay their taxes and as a result of that you recover your costs.”

    Mr McDonnell said the increase in debt payments under Labour would be “minimal”.

    But that’s based on a false assumption that every pound of government investment will bring in an extra pound in tax revenue. In fact, for every £1 of additional investment, the government can only expect about 35p more in tax revenue.

    On that basis, we can’t see how Mr McDonnell can sustain the claim that Labour’s plans will pay for themselves through taxes."

    The revised version still accuses John McDonnell of not accurately describing the full picture.

    However, while still disagreeing with him, C4 now interprets the shadow chancellor's comments differently and instead of suggesting that he appears to be conflating national income with tax revenue, C4 now suggests that his statement is based on the claim that the extra government income might cover the interest on the extra debt but they add that he is failing to mention that the extra government revenue will not begin to cover the extra debt.

    The article now continues

    "It’s possible for Labour to claim that tax revenue might offset the interest on the additional debt.

    But there’s no way that enough revenue could be raised to cover the additional debt itself.

    Does it matter if we have more debt?

    The Institute of Fiscal Studies carried out a detailed analysis of Labour’s spending plans before the last election.

    They said Labour’s extra spending on infrastructure “could still be consistent with debt falling as a share of national income”.

    But they said the national debt would fall much more slowly than under Conservative plans.

    And Labour would have to raise taxes substantially too."

    They conclude

    "So the national debt would inevitably grow under Labour plans, and take longer to pay off."



    Both versions refer to a good article by Julian Jessop, chief economist at the Institue of Economic Affairs,

    "Why there really aren't any magic money trees"

    which explains the analysis above in more detail. Jessop sounded a word of warning to people on both sides of the political spectrum but particularly Labour, and explained why the rare economic conditions in which the idea that government tax revenues increase to pay back government spending could come anywhere near being true simply do not apply to the UK today.

    (Obviously this article has been rewritten several times to reflect changes in the Channel 4 article it describes.)

    Friday, November 24, 2017

    Oliver Kamm and Phil Collins on Genocide denial

    When World War II ended and the extent of mass murder by the Axis powers became apparent, most of the world exclaimed in horror "Never Again!"

    But tragically instances of genocidal mass murder - mostly not on quite the same sale as the Nazi holocaust but still ghastly in scope - have continued in various parts of the world right up to this year, with the masscre of the Rohinga Muslims in Myanmar and the atrocities committed by DA'ESH (the so-called "Islamic State" Caliphate) against Yazidis and Christians being two recent examples.

    If you want to find out how much even today some people are trying to exterminate other group of human beings, the website http://www.genocidewatch.com/ is one source of information.

    And it seems that whenever there is a genocide, there is someone who is prepared to deny that it is taking place.

    The who deny genocide are most often on the extreme right or extreme left, but some of them are good at sucking up to more mainstream politicians and, frankly, some of those mainstream politicians of all the main political parties need to be a bit more savvy in watching out for this.

    One example of a person who has been cosying up to a number of politicians in various major parties is Marcus Papadopoulos, described by Guido Fawkes blog as an "Assad-loving genocide denier."

    There is a description of Papadopoulos and how he operates here.

    He has not been the only genocide denier who has attempted to refute overwhelming evidence of some of the worst crimes of the late 20th and early 21st century/

    Oliver Kamm has written a powerful piece on the CAPX website called

    "Genocide-denying charlatans have poisoned the left"

    about some of those on the left of politics who have fallen into the trap of whitewashing "the crimes of the worst thugs and dictators in the post-war world provided only that they defined themselves against America."

    He referss to the duty of those like himself who are on the left of politics to guard against this sort of apologia for vile crimes from some of by fellow left-wingers.

    If you are registered to see articles on the Times website, former Labour advisor Phil Collins, now a Times journalist, has a lacerating article on the same subject this week called

    "What Corbyn shares with Mugabe and Mladic."

    Mr Collins describes the Labour leader and shadow chancellor as "a brutal pair of Frandsters" and says of Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of staff, Seumas Milne that

    "Alas, one of the most infantile radicals is in the nerve centre of the Labour Party."

    As he points out,  "Milne used to shame The Guardian newspaper and its readers by writing articles of fatuous cynicism, all of which were predicated on the notion that there was no conflict anywhere in the world that was not, essentially, the fault of America. Milne’s writing groaned with the clich├ęs of anti-western stupidity" which defended vicious mass murderers like Slobodan Milosovitch and Ratko Mladic.

    With friends like this ...

    To be honest I think that all of us should be on our guard against that kind of poison whoever it comes from. There are vile crimes being committed around the world by regimes an movements of various types, right and left, and we should all avoid being taken in by those who leap to the defence of any of them.

    WCH Maternity call in result

    The Independent Reconfiguration Panel which considered the call-in on maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital has confirmed the Success Regime/CCG decision. This means that a consultant-led service will continue to be provided for at least another year but its continuation beyond that is dependent on recruitment and retention issues being resolved.

    As someone who is convinced that consultant-led maternity needs to be maintained at WCH and that the recruitment issues can and will be solved I am pleased that this will continue for now but disappointed that the question mark has been left, partiocularly as 12 months seems to me an unreasonably short period for the trial.

    But I believe that this challenge must, can and will be met.


    More on my local hospitals blog here.

    Quote of the day 24th November 2017 - Ministerial Statement by Michael Gove MP

    "This Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals.

    It has been suggested that the vote last week on New Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals - that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain - that is a misconception.

    Ministers explained on the floor of the house that this Government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals – whether on farms or in the wild. The vote against New Clause 30 was the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals.

    The Prime Minister has made clear that we will strengthen our animal welfare rules. This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU. The Withdrawal Bill is not the right place to address this, however we are considering the right legislative vehicle.

    We are already proposing primary legislation to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and the creation of a new statutory, independent body to uphold environmental standards.

    The current EU instrument – Article 13 – has not delivered the progress we want to see. It does not have direct effect in law – in practice its effect is very unclear and it has failed to prevent practices across the EU which are cruel and painful to animals.

    In contrast, here in the UK, we are improving animal welfare standards without EU input and beyond the scope of Article 13. We are making CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses – a requirement which goes above and beyond any EU rule. We will consult on draft legislation to jail animal abusers for up to five years – more than almost every other European nation. We propose combatting elephant poaching with a ban on the ivory trade which is more comprehensive than anywhere else in Europe. Our ban on microbeads which harm marine animals has been welcomed by Greenpeace as “the strongest in the world”, and is certainly the strongest in Europe.

    Once we have left the EU there is even more we could do. EU rules prevent us from restricting or banning the live export of animals for slaughter. EU rules also restrict us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months. Article 13 has not stopped any of these practices – but leaving the EU gives us the chance to do much better. We hope to say more in these areas next year.

    This government will continue to promote and enhance animal welfare, both now and after we have left the EU."

    Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, ministerial statement on Animal Welfare which you can read in full here.

    Thursday, November 23, 2017

    How not to understand mathematical language

    Returning home late this evening I was listening to "Today in Parliament" on BBC Radio Four and heard a classic example of how mathematical and scientific language can come over to the lay person as more alarming than is really appropriate.

    The BBC was reporting on evidence given to parliament by a distinguished professor who was talking about the impact of pollution on various health problems.

    Referring to the statistical correlation between pollution levels and increased incidence of these diseases he drew what the BBC announcer desicribed as an alarming conclusion.

    As edited the broadcast did not explain with complete clarity exactly what the professor was talking about (I suspect his full speech probably did.)

    However, to me as a statistician it was evident that he has to have been talking about the best fit line of correlation between the increased incidence of disease and the number of particles of pollution per unit of atmosphere when he said

    "The line ... goes through the origin. There is no safe level."

    (I was driving and not in a position to record the exact words used: they included all the words quoted in inverted commas above and the first sentence may have been something like this - the line of correlation between pollution and disease goes through the origin.)

    I've no problem with what the professor said. I do have a problem with the way the BBC presented it.

    The way the presenter emphasised how alarming the professor's evidence was suggests that she may have fallen into the trap of misinterpreting the comment above and particularly the words "There is no safe level" as .meaning "Even an infinitesimal amount of pulltion is highly dangerous."

    It is certainly likely that a listeners with no knowledge of correlation or the graphical depiction of relationships would interpret the broadcast that way and therefore be under a misapprehension about what the professor's evidence means.

    In the context that the best fit line of correlation goes through the origin, the words "there is no safe level" do NOT mean that even an iufinitesimal level of pollution is highly dangerous, it means that there is no positive level of pollution at which the effects are zero.

    The words "The line goes through the origin" imply that a very tiny amount of pollution does a very tiny amount of harm.

    One item of very good news this week was that judges are to be provided with guides to scientific issues written in accessible language with input from people like the Royal Society to help them understand scientific concepts relevant to decisions which courts have to make.

    One of the first such guides will cover DNA fingerprinting, and the third, I am very pleased to learn, will cover statistics.

    I really wish someone would make journalists read something similar.

    The Chancellor writes: Building a Britain fit for the future

    This post with a letter from the chancellor about the budget, posted originally on Thursday 23rd November 2017, was not displaying properly, so I have reduced it to this stub and re-posted on Saturday 25th November.

    Here is a link to the new location of the post.

    Businesses create jobs

    I am really pleased that one of the items of promotional material which CCC has sent to me for use putting forward the positive aspects of the budget was written by someone who, unlike too many people involved in politics, actually gets where jobs come from.

    It doesn't say "We have created a thousand jobs per day."

    It says, "Under the Conservatives, Businesses have created a thousand new jobs every day."




    Bravo!

    Updated list of road closures due to flooding in Cumbria

    Please take great care if you have to travel in Cumbria today

    As of this morning the updated list of road closures in the county due to flooding was as follows:

    Cumbria - M6 Two lanes are closed and there is slow traffic on M6 Southbound between J36 A590 (Kirkby Lonsdale) and J35 A601(M) Carnforth.

    Aldingham - A5087 Coast Road A5087 Coast Road is closed both ways near Riddings Lane.

    Grasmere - A591 A591 is closed both ways between B5287 Stock Lane (Grasmere) and Greenbank Road (Ambleside).

    Kendal - A591 A591 is just passable due to flooding on A591 both ways at Hawes Lane / Whetstone Lane.

    Crooklands - A6070 A6070 is closed both ways between A65 / A590 (Crooklands Roundabout) and A6.

    Kendal - A684 A684 Singleton Park Road is closed both ways between Park Side Road and Hayclose Lane.

    Soutergate - A595 A595 is just passable and there is heavy traffic both ways between Burlington Close and Tippin's Lane.

    Nook - A65 A65 isjust passable both ways near Nook.

    Ingleton - A65 A65 New Road is partially blocked both ways between A687 and Green Lane.

    Warwick-On-Eden - B6263 B6263 is closed both ways between A69 and Cumwhinton.

    Carlisle - Kingmoor Road Kingmoor Road both ways closed between A689 and Hartley Avenue.


    The authorities strongly advise drivers NOT to drive through flood water. Drains and manholes can become dislodged, leaving them uncovered - risking serious damage to vehicles. And as I know to my cost having once made this mistake, if the water gets into certain parts of your car it can do considerable damage which it is expensive and time-consuming to fix.

    Quote of the day 23rd November 2017

    "The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well."

    (H. T. Lelie)



    (Image: "The Game of Life" by Tito Solomoni)

    Wednesday, November 22, 2017

    Rain and Flood cause chaos in many parts of Cumbria

    I've arrived home a short time ago after attending a meeting in Edinburgh and from my own journey from West Cumbria Edinburgh and back am painfully aware how dire the weather has made travelling in many parts of the UK including Cumbria.

    Rain and flooding have caused significant disruption in many areas of the county,

    HOMES AFFECTED

    The Environment Agency is warning residents living near the River Kent to take "immediate action" amid fears of flooding.


    MOTORWAY CLOSURES

    One lane is closed on the M6 southbound between Junctions 40 and 39 because of a collision (11.50pm).

    Two lanes of the M6 are closed between Junction 36 (Barrow) and Junction 35 (Carnforth) because of flooding and a three-vehicle collision (11pm). One vehicle has overturned.

    MAJOR TRAIN ROUTES

    Trains are not running this evening between Cumbria and Lancaster or between Lancaster and Preston for safety reasons. Replacement buses taking train passengers from Preston and Lancaster to Barrow have been stranded on the A6 because of flooding (11.27pm).

    Other rail services affected:
    • Carnforth Railway Station is partially flooded.
    • Due to flooding at Aspatria all lines are blocked.
    • All trains cancelled between Maryport and Carlisle.
    • Due to flooding between Arnside and Carnforth some lines are blocked.

    The A6 at Levens has been closed in both directions since 9.19pm and localised flooding is being reported along the A6 between Lancashire and Cumbria.

    The following other roads have been affected:
    • A590: Significant floods are being reported at the end of the dual carriageway at Newby Bridge; Lindale Hill; at Levens at the bottom of the hill before the A6 turnoff and at the Brettargh Holt roundabout.
    • Ulverston Road between Leece and Gleaston is closed.
    • The A5087 Coast Road near Aldingham is closed (Barrow/Ulverston).
    • The A591 at Rydal (Lakes) is closed between Greenbank Road and B5287 Stock Lane.
    • The A595 at Muncaster is just passable.
    • A684 Castle Green Road in Kendal is closed.
    • The A66 is closed to high sided vehicles due to strong winds between A685 (Brough) and A67 (Bowes).
    • A6 at Milnthorpe is just passable due to flooding between B5282 Park Road / B6384 Main Street (Milnthorpe) and Pool Darkin Lane (Beetham). The A6 is just passable at Carnforth due to flooding on the roundabout with the M6 junction.
    A large number of schools were closed today although most are expected to re-open on Thursday 23rd November.

    Ode for St Cecilia's Day (Boyce)

    Today, the 22nd of November, is commemorated as Saint Cecilia's Day.

    She is regarded as the Patron Saint of music and in consequence some excellent music has been written to commemorate today. Here is an example by the English composer William Boyce.

    Quote of the day 22nd November 2017

    "David Cameron has been desperate to ditch Nadine Dorries since her election - how daft of her to serve him up a reason on a plate."

    (Comment on  Nadine Dorries taking a holiday from her job as an MP by flying off to the jungle to take part in "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here" in 2012 by -

    Kezia Dugdale MSP, former leader of Labour in Scotland, who has now decided to fly off to the jungle to take part in "I'm a celebrity, get me out of here."



    As Guido Fawkes pointed out, how silly of her to serve up the Corbynistas a reason to purge her on a plate ...

    Tuesday, November 21, 2017

    St Bees Parish Council and Egremont Town Council

    I attended St Bees Parish Council last night and Egremont Town Council this evening.

    Issues discussed included roads, drainage, war memorials, street lights, Copeland's new planning policies and a presentation on a proposed new £8 million flood prevention scheme for Egremont which sounds like very good news. More on that one in another post later this week.

    Mugabe resigns

    At long, long last Robert Mugabe has resigned as President of Zimbabwe.

    I am no fan of Ian Smith, but his prediction when asked by Rod Liddle about Mugabe

    "He'll be there for thirty years, murder all his opponents, and wreck the country"

    was a pretty good call.

    Since it is likely that Mugabe's successor will be one of his former lieutenants, I am not holding my breath waiting for a new age in Zimbabwe. Let us hope that the call for free elections from Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change is listened to.

    Fisking Paperchase

    Here is some light fisking of the apology issued on social media by Paperchase who abandoned a promotion with the Daily Mail in response to a campaign group "Stop Funding Hate" (SFH)

    According to Guido Fawkes' blog, SFH’s stated aim is to “take on the divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support”

    I frequently disagree with things written in the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily express - even more frequently than I disagree with things written in the Times, Telegraph or FT and nearly as often as I disagree with things written in the Daily Mirror or the Guardian.

    But if I tried to cause financial harm to any or all of the above newspapers every time one of them published something which I strongly disagree with, I would be undermining democracy and free speech in this country. And so are SFH.

    So here is my response to the Paperchase apology.

    Paperchase: "We’ve listened to you about this weekend’s newspaper promotion."

    CJW: "No you didn't. You listened to a bunch of anti-free-speech cranks who do not represent me."

    Paperchase: "We now know we were wrong to do this -

    CJW: "You did nothing wrong by running a promotion with a national newspaper and I have no problem with your listening to - I just mean listening to - SFH. Everyone is entitled to express their opinions, including SFH. But in my opinion you were wrong to accede to their blackmail."

    Paperchase: "we’re truly sorry and we won’t ever do it again."

    CJW: "You should be sorry for giving in to blackmail, not for running the campaign. But if you imagine you can run a business without ever again placing an advert which anti-free-speech campaigns like SFH will take exception to - especially now you have proven you can be bullied into changing your policies - you are nearly as remote from reality as they are."

    Paperchase: "Thanks for telling us what you really think"

    CJW: "You're welcome."

    Paperchase: and we apologise if we have let you down on this one.

    CJW: "You have indeed let us down. When you apologise for giving in to SFH I will be happy to accept your apology."

    Paperchase: "Lesson learnt."

    CJW: "I wish."

    In the words most often attributed to Voltaire,


    Quote of the day 21st November 2017

    "Northern Ireland will exit the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom. We will not countenance a border in the Irish Sea.

    "I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment on this point. The GB market is not only critical for Northern Ireland but for the Republic of Ireland."

    "We want to see a sensible arrangement that can work for all concerned. The democratic wishes of the British people must be implemented."

    (DUP leader and First Minister of Nothern Ireland Arelene Foster)

    Monday, November 20, 2017

    Quote of the day 20th November 2017

    "A few weeks ago, I signed a letter that was published in The Times that said racism was no longer a central problem in our society. Had someone asked me at the time what I thought would happen to an MP being blatantly racist, I would have said they would be fired immediately."

    "Yet when the disturbing racism of the Labour MP Emma Dent Coad was revealed this week, hardly a word was uttered in condemnation."

    "What is deeply disturbing is the fact that Dent Coad is in a position of power and respect in this country and the man who leads her party has refused to discipline her and indeed has made no comment about it."

    "When the Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris used the phrase ‘nigger in the woodpile’ earlier this year, she was immediately suspended and had the whip withdrawn. Theresa May showed leadership and demonstrated by her actions that racism will not be tolerated within the Conservative Party."

    "The Labour Party cannot now say the same. One of their MPs has directly attacked a black person using three terms of abuse—token, ghetto and boy—that have been unacceptable in the black community for decades and nothing has been done."

    (Katharine Birbalsingh, from a blog post, "The silence over Labour's 'legitimate' racism.")

    Sunday, November 19, 2017

    Sunday music spot: William Harris, "Holy is the True Light"

    Quote of the day 19th November 2017

    "You don't need a number"

    (Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP while repeatedly refusing to answer questions from Andrew Marr on his BBC programme today about how much more debt Britain would incur if Labour were elected and carried out their promises of wholesale nationalisation of the railways, post office and untilities.)

    Personally I do think a chancellor does need to understand the numbers.

    Saturday, November 18, 2017

    Saturday music spot: Bach Double Violin Concerto

    Two masters of the violin, Yehudi Menuhin and David Oistrakh tackle one of my favourite Bach pieces.

    I'm old enough to remember Yehudi Menuhin - the man who brought Vivaldi back into fashion with the elite before Nigel Kennedy made him popular with everyone with reasonably broad tastes in music - but had not heard Oistrakh before stumbling on this recording.

    Isn't the internet wonderful sometimes?>

    Nick Cohen on Hungary

    There are lessons for all of us in a powerful piece in Prospect by Nick Cohen about the decay of democracy in Hungary, called

    "Tyranny's new trick: in Hungary a government wages war on Liberalism."

    Authoritarianism has been taking new forms around the world. We cannot assume that democracy is the natural order of things, and even where the forms of democracy exist they can be subverted. We should watch what happens in states like Turkey and Hungary and be on our guard to make sure that they do not happen here.

    I have blogged before about the doubt about who really said

    "The price of freedom is eternal Vigilance."

    (apart from Malclm MacDowell as Admiral Tolwyn in Wing Commander IV - a character who proved the point by being the threat to freedom himself)

    But whoever said it, it's good advice.

    Of Newspapers, Intimidation and Character assassination

    I support the freedom of the press. However annoying it is, Britain would be less free and government worse without it.

    That's why I opposed Section 40 and the Leveson over-reaction to phone hacking.

    As I have quoted Eric Pickles here as having said long before he became a cabinet minister,

    "If the press is drinking in the last chance saloon, a wise government will think long and hard before calling time."

    Of course, the fact that I have always defended the freedom of the press makes it all the more infuriating to me when they abuse it. And there have been some pretty egregious cases of such abuse on the front pages this week.

    One minister who voted Leave and strongly supports Brexit said of the Daily Telegraph front page attacking some of his pro-remain colleages that it was obvious who came well out of that headline,

    "and it isn't the Daily Telegraph."

    Today's Sun headline is worse.

    If the allegations in large letters on the Sun front page are true are false they are a particularly nasty libel and character assassination, if true it is invasion of privacy and still potentially character assassination because the Sun itself admits in much smaller letters on the front page that there is no way to be certain who was responsible for the material concerned.

    I quoted earlier this week what the police officer who was acting head of the Metropolitan Police at the time said about the allegations which today's Sun headline is about.

    ""I regret it's in the public domain."

    "There was no criminality involved, there were no victims, there was no vulnerability and it was not a matter of extraordinary public interest."

    Nothing in the Sun's story today even challenges, much less refutes, any of those points.

    Quote of the day 18th November 2017

    "He took to avoiding responsibility. Unlike George Washington, be would have said

    'Father, I cannot tell a lie. Tony Blair chopped down the cherry tree.'"

    (Jonathan Powell on Gordon Brown, review called "The Fatal Ambition of Gordon Brown" in the New Statesman of Brown's new autobiography "My life, our times.")

    Friday, November 17, 2017

    The Putin Problem

    When the Berlin wall came down, when the Soviet Union was replaced by a Russian Federation which actually held elections, most people hoped that we were entering an era in which Russia and the Free World could be friends.

    We were justified in hoping that relations would continue to be substantially better than they had been during the pre-Gorbachov era - however bad relations between the West and Russia may be, they are vastly better than they were during the "Cold War" era between about 1948 and the late nineteen-eighties.

    But sadly, during the long era when Russian politics has been dominated by Vladimir Putin, the collapse of Communism has not been followed by a move forward to wholehearted demcracy and peace but a reversion to and older model wearing modern clothes - authoritarian nationalism clothed in the trappings of democracy.

    One of the more challenging aspects of this for those of us who believe in free and open societies is that Putin appears to be willing to spend an absurd proportion of Russia's wealth on taking advantage of the West's open societies to dump nonsense into our media.

    The most rediculous recent example came when Russia's Ministry of Defence posted a screenshot taken from a computer game as what it called "irrefutable proof" that the US was aiding DA'ESH (the so-called Islamic State.)



    Russia claimed the image above right showed an IS convoy leaving a Syrian town last week aided by US forces.

    Actually it came from the smartphone game AC-130 Gunship Simulator: Special Ops Squadron (unmodified above left.)

    Russia puts a lot of resource into news outlets like RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik based in Scotland and there always seem to be plenty of anti-establishment politicians who think it is clever to take the Russian Rouble. In spite of the utter rubbish these channels put out.

    I am not one of those Remain voters who think that the Brexit vote wsa the result of Russian interference, and not do I think that the Russians got Trump elected.

    I do think that Kremlin propagandists have been meddling in the West's elections and votes, putting out a whole series of contrdictory messages, with the aim of making our politics more divisive and unstable, and they succeed just as well if they undermine confidence in the result when some of the facts of their meddling come out as they would have if they had actually changed anything (which I don't personally think they did.)

    What we are seeing from Russia is a new form of Asymetric warfare waged as much with tweets, cyber-attacks and Facebook posts as planes or submarines. Clearly as a society we need to wise up to this, improve our cyber security and make sure we are careful who and what we believe online.

    What we don't need to do is panic or jump to the conclusion that every democratic vote is the result of nefarious Russian tactics. Ironically that would simply hand them victory.

    But as for those politicians who are misled into acting as "useful idiots" for Putin, who let their hatred for the EU lead them to repeat any of the self-serving nonsense Putin puts out about Ukraine, or their hatred for the USA lead them to repeat any of the rubbish that the russian propaganda machine puts out about Syria: W.S. Gilbert got the number of the likes of Corbyn, Farage, Burgon and Salmond a century ago in the comic opera "The Mikado" when he put this perfect description of such people into the mouth of the eponymous character ...


    Emily Thornberry can't give an example of a country where Corbynomics worked

    On BBC Question Time last night Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, was asked to name a country where the economic policies of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn (in context, particularly that of "borrowing billions more") have worked.

    She waffled about Labour being a social democratic party - which is all very well but Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are quite open about their policies being something radically new, e.g. not Labour's traditional social democratic approach - and when the audience was shouting at her to answer the question eventially suggested that examples of countries where social democratic policies had worked included Germany and Sweden.

    I think those Germans who are familiar with the economic policies of Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell - which is probably not a large group - would be astonished to hear their country described as an example of a country where such policies have been tried.

    Given that Germany's last experience with massive borrowing lead first to hyperinflation and then to the takeover of the country by the Nazis, I suspect the number of Germans who would agree that the history of their country is an example of a massive borrowing programme being successful is very small indeed.

    Quote of the day 17th November 2017


    Thursday, November 16, 2017

    Action on building homes


    The number of new homes delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but the Prime Minister has said that there is more we can do to build the homes the country needs.

    Speaking ahead of a visit to a housing development in Barnet, North London today (Thursday 16 November), which coincides with the publication of new statistics on housebuilding, Theresa May said:

    “For decades we simply have not been building enough homes, nor have we been building them quickly enough, and we have seen prices rise.

    “The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do.

    “We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most.

    “That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the Government’s response.

    “Today I am seeing the work now underway to put this right and, in coming weeks and months, my Government will be going further to ensure that we build more homes, more quickly.

    “This will be a long journey and it will take time for us to fix the broken housing market - but I am determined to build a Britain fit for the future.”

    Quote of the council meeting today

    "You always get a long debate when you agree."

    Cllr S Collins, Cumbria County Council, 16th November 2017

    It sounds crazy. But it happened today. Twice.

    Quote of the day 16th November 2017


    Wednesday, November 15, 2017

    Latest employment figures

    The Office for National Statistics said today that the number of jobless - people not in work but seeking a job - fell 59,000 to 1.42 million during the three month period from July to September.

    The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3% - its lowest rate since 1975 - and down from 4.8% a year earlier.

    Minister for Employment Damian Hinds said the unemployment figures showed the "strength of the economy".

    "A near-record number of people are now in work," he said. "Everyone should be given the opportunity to find work and enjoy the stability of a regular pay packet."

    There was a small fall in the number of people in work to 32 million, down 14,000 from the last quarter, according to ONS data. Matt Hughes, a senior ONS statistician, said employment had declined after two years of "almost uninterrupted growth", but was still higher than last year.

    The simultaneous drop in the number of workers and unemployed people is due to the rise in people who are classed as "economically inactive" - those not working and not seeking or available to work.
    This includes people studying, retirees, the long-term sick, or those looking after family, and rose by 117,000 to 8.8 million over the quarter.

    Mr Hughes said: "There was a rise in the number of people who were neither working nor looking for a job - so-called economically inactive people."

    Separate ONS data showed a bright spot for productivity, which increased by 0.9% in the latest three months - the strongest growth rate for six years.

    Today’s employment figures show that
    • the number of people in employment has increased by more than 3 million since 2010
    • the UK has the third highest employment rate in the G7
    • the number of workers aged 50+ has almost reached 10 million – a record level
    • youth unemployment has fallen by over 40% since 2010
    • there are a near record 780,000 vacancies in the economy at any one time
    • the proportion of young people who are unemployed and not in full time education remains below 5%


    Jerry Pournelle RIP

    I learned today that one of my favourite science fiction authors, Dr Jerry Pournelle, died earlier this year at the age of  84.

    Pounelle was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean war. Afterwards, he studied at the University of Washington, where he graduated with three degrees including a Ph. D in political science.

    He was the co-author with Larry Niven of "The Mote in God's Eye," which in my humble opinion is probably the best "First Contact" novel of all time and a great many other novels and non-fiction works written either on his own or in collaboration with other authors, particularly Niven and Steven Barnes.

    He is also remembered for defining what he called the "Iron Law of Bureaucracy" as follows:

    ...in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself.

    Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent.

    The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions."

    There were a number of projects he was working on which I am most disappointed that neither I nor anyone else will get to read as he would have finished them.

    Rest in Peace.

    Nimco Ali on race and politics

    Nimco Ali, who is a British woman of Somali origins best known for campaigning against the barbaric practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has written a powerful article in the London standard called

    "It makes me livid that the Labour party assumes black people must support it."

    I have met people on both sides of the political divide who make lazy assumptions about race and politics. Three of the most widespread (all of which are wrong) are that

     * anyone whose skin isn't white must be left-wing
     * racism is only found on one side of the political spectrum
     * anyone of asian origin must be a Muslim

    Humans are so much more complicated than we too often realise

    Nimco Ali's piece can be read here.

    Cumbria County Council meeting

    There is a meeting of Cumbria County Council tomorrow (16th November 2017) at 10am at County Hall in Kendal. The meeting is open to the public

    The agenda includes

    * the half-year Treasury Management review,
    * minutes of two important meetings of the Audit and Assurance committee
    * Motions on Infrastructure and on Wigton Hospital
    * The scheme of councillor's allowances.

    The full agenda can be read here.

    Innocent until proven guilty?

    Nine years ago, in November 2008 while Britain had a Labour government, an opposition politician was arrested because he was too effective at attacking the government, on bogus national security grounds based on the pretext that government documents had been leaked to him.

    As the FT, a newspaper which had endorsed the Labour party at the previous election, wrote in an article calling on the then Home Secretary to resign, "it was clear that all he had done was reveal some of her department’s shortcomings." 

    I wrote at the time here and elsewhere that this arrest posed a disturbing threat to British democracy, not least because arresting opposition politicians for criticising the government is the sort of thing you expect from tin-pot banana republics rather than mature democracies. 

    Ironically almost every member of the cabinet in 2008, certainly including the Prime Minister of the day, could have been arrested during previous Conservative governments on exactly the same grounds - Gordon Brown had gone on television in the 1980's while an opposition spokesman himself and openly boasted about doing exactly what an opposition spokesman was arrested for under his premiership e.g. receiving leaked government documents.

    I think possibly the only time in my life I have ever agreed with Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott was when I published here the list of 29 Labour rebels, including those three, who defied the Labour whips by voting for a proper and more independent inquiry into that arrest.

    An official review of the arrest did criticise it as "disproportionate" and found that "less intrusive methods could have been used." The police involved in the arrest do not by any means deserve all the blame for this as the inquiry also found that they were "misled about the national security implications of the leak" by someone who was at the time a senior official of the cabinet office.

    No charges were ever brought against the opposition MP concerned and nobody involved with that police investigation has claimed - then or now - that the search of his office and home had found any evidence of illegal behaviour.

    Time has turned and as a result of the swings and roundabouts of politics the opposition MP concerned, Damian Green, is now Deputy Prime Minister.

    And I find it a worrying and disturbing precedent that the former police chief who had been in charge of the leak inquiry, former Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, has taken it apon himself to allege to a Whitehall Inquiry into sexual harrassment that pornography was found on one of the computers taken from Damian Green's parliamentary office in 2008.

    Mr Quick has "form" in this area. While leading the investigation into Damian Green he made an attack on the Conservative party which was described by a future Attorney General as "intemperate and in truth completely deluded," could not substantiate his allegations, and withdrew them and made an unreserved apology the following day.

    The acting head of the Met at the time of the arrest, Sir Paul Stephenson, (later Metropolitan Police Commissioner 2009-11), has told the BBC that he was made aware of the allegations but did not consider that it was appropriate either to take any further action or that the allegations have been published.

    "I regret it's in the public domain," Sir Paul said.

    "There was no criminality involved, there were no victims, there was no vulnerability and it was not a matter of extraordinary public interest."

    Even if it were true that there was inappropriate material on one of the computers involved, it would almost certainly be impossible to prove nine years later who was responsible for putting it there.

    Given that not one of the police officers who have discussed the matter say that it was actually illegal material, this simply is not a police matter. Nor does it appear to be any more relevant to the allegation that the present First Secretary of State "fleetingly" touched a young woman's knee and sent her an inappropriately suggestive text message than it was to the question of who leaked immigration documents to him a decade ago.

    To anyone who is not concerned by what has happened to Damian Green I would ask this question.

    Are you really happy with the principle that,  next time you say something the government of the day does not like, a cabinet office official can tell the police that you may be a threat to national security, you can be arrested, your home and office searched, and even if no actual evidence suggesting that you had ever done anything illegal is found, a police officer or former police officer is entitled to publicly allege after the event that something embarrassing to you had been discovered?

    And that this officer can make that allegation up to nearly a decade later, when it is unlikely that anyone could prove the truth, at a time picked when the allegation will do you the maximum possible damage?

    If you are not frightened by that prospect, you probably should be.

    Quote of the day 15th November 2017


    Tuesday, November 14, 2017

    Copeland Local Committee

    The Copeland local committee of Cumbria County Council met today in Cleator Moor.

    Agenda items included the report of the Highways Network Manager and a report on local library services, including particularly the branch libraries in the Hensingham, Kells and Mirehouse areas of Whitehaven, from the County Council's area manager.

    The latter followed on from a consultation on the future of these libraries.

    There was an extensive discussion on the best way to provide library services in these areas of the town, at the end of which it was agreed that a report should be presented to the corporate director with the results of the public consultation and emphasising the concerns expressed by councillors.

    There was a strong wish by councillors to provide a more effective service but this is not being achieved at the moment with branches open for only six or nine hours a week and a steep decline in usage, both from residents taking our books and those using computer services.

    On the Highways side I asked about the North Shore scheme in the Bransty Row area which has recieved government funding.

    The latest iteration of the scheme is to go through detailed design, be put to consultation over the next two years and it is anticipated that consultation with the public will take place in 2018. There will be a detailed report to the Highways Working Group at its' next meeting on 4th December.

    Kemi Badenoch responds to Emma Dent-Coad

    What do you think people would say - and in particular, what do you think Labour activists would say - if a white Conservative councillor or MP referred to a black Labour parliamentary candidate and London Assembly member as a "token Ghetto-Boy?"

    Can anyone doubt for a second that words like "racist" and demands for his or her suspension or expulsion from the party would feature in just about every Labour response?

    Well, those words were indeed used in a 2010 blog post about an opponent by a councillor who has since become an MP, but the person who wrote them is not a Tory, but the Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent-Coad, speaking about the then Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey.

    In my book that sort of language should be vigorously disavowed by any political party claiming to be civilised people opposed to racism, whichever party the person using it was a representative of.

    Shaun Bailey has understandably said that he was shocked and saddened by the hate-filled, racist article written by Labour MP Emma Dent-Coad which has surfaced this afternoon.


    A dignified and powerful response to Ms Dent-Coad's comments and to reactions from fellow Labour MP Clive Lewis whose idea of responding to criticism of racist comments by a Labour MP is to accuse the Conservatives of being more racist, came from the Conservative MP for Saffron Walden, Kemi Badenoch:

    “I’m a black conservative. I don’t think every offensive comment is racism, but when I see real prejudice I have to call it out. Emma Dent Coad’s comments were profoundly distressing, and a toxic reminder of the struggle black people face daily in defeating stereotypes. The fact that she made them while an elected councillor is a disgrace. This is why it is still relevant to discuss today. The tragedy is that someone who holds these views is an MP, representing a sizeable black population, make no mistake, this is racism…

    An assumption that there’s only one way to be black, and anyone who doesn’t conform is a “coconut” an “Uncle Tom” or a race traitor. It is a poisonous belief and destroys the lives of so many children. I once heard a black boy accuse another of “acting white”. Why? Because he wore glasses and liked reading. Imagine what it’s like being in a classroom where everyone thinks like that?

    Where do such attitudes come from? From “Community leaders” like Ms Dent-Coad, who want to tell us what to think and how to behave. They haven’t given us permission to leave our ghettoes, be Conservative or make friends with posh white people. This was Shaun’s crime. This attitude traps many black children within imaginary boundaries they believe they aren’t allowed to cross. They end up living less than the very best lives they can.

    I have read Clive Lewis’s awful remarks to Nimko Ali. Patronising and wrong-headed. Denying blacks a basic human right to support a party of their choosing. It’s the attitude I referred to in my conference speech -that you can’t be black and conservative. Emma Dent-Coad did NOT apologise for her offensive remarks, merely for Shaun being upset by them.

    My message to young black people everywhere is please, please feel free to be who you want to be. Don’t let Labour’s stereotypes and low expectations hold you back and never let them treat you like black sheep who will always follow them.”

    (Hat tip to Guido Fawkes for republishing Kemi's comments on Twitter)

    Quote of the day 14th November 2017


    Monday, November 13, 2017

    Putting this government in perspective

    The Guardian - not exactly a friend to this government - asked five commentators from various very different perspectives to answer the question

    "Is this Britain's worst postwar government?"

    Four of the five gave answers which can be summarised as "No, not even close."

    (The other didn't say yes or no, compare the present government to others, or write anything which can reasonably be classed as an attempt to answer the question.)

    You can read the five reponses here.

    Quote of the day 13th November 2017


    Sunday, November 12, 2017

    UK September industrial output growth figures

    It's not a good idea to go overboard about one good economic number, but the latest UK output figures  published this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) not only showed that Britain's industrial output grew at its fastest pace so far this year in September, but also represent six consecutive months of positive growth in output, which happens less frequently than you might think.

    "Industrial production has risen for six consecutive months, a feat last achieved 23 years ago," said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

    Production rose by 0.7% compared with the month before, according to the ONS figures. Separate data showed the UK's trade deficit in goods and services narrowed by more than expected in September.

    No complacency is due, we've a long way to go yet to earn the money to afford the world class public services we all want and to be able sustainably to increase real wages while paying down the huge increase in national debt since 1997. But let's not talk ourselves into doom and gloom either.