Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year...

Wikipedia, the answer to many questions in 2010. And often right, too.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

True Grit

There’s a lot of finger pointing going on about the failure to have every road, pavement and cycle path gritted, salted or cleared during the last cold snap.

Like everyone else, I slipped and trod carefully for a few days. What struck me most was the reluctance of businesses to clear the paths around their own premises. Part of this is probably the fear that if you try to clear up the snow but someone else slips, you will be blamed: cue the sound of ambulance chasing lawyers and the no-win no-fee firms featured on day-time TV. However, there is also a deeper malaise. Why wait for the council at all? The council by its very nature must focus on the main roads - and if you think that the council tax we pay can provide the snow clearance service found in countries where they expect prolonged periods of the white stuff, then a more realistic view of the world is needed.

So the Labour candidate got it wrong on a number of levels when turned up at Shire Hall with a shovel. One was he should have started outside his own party’s HQ, sending us a photo of those pavements actually cleared, before he popped over to blow his raspberry at the County Council’s chief executive.

If we spend our lives waiting for the government to come to rescue us or to carry out things that we could do ourselves, then the country is doomed. When there’s another snowfall like this, we need a mindset that is less I’m All Right Jack and more True Grit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Closed on Mondays?!

Yes, you can still find signs on businesses saying that they are ‘Closed on Mondays’ or ‘Closed for Lunch’ during a normal week. You find them in Cambridge.

I was supposed to go a particular pub tonight and found it was ‘Closed on Mondays.’ So it’s a dinner at the Kingston Arms instead.

Earlier, trying to post a parcel in the run up to Christmas at two local post offices, I found both were shut for lunch. You have to ask what was the point in campaigning for post offices to stay open when they close for one of the most important parts of the day, at a time when other people are most likely to be able to get out of their workplaces?

I believe that owners have the right to set their own business hours. However, if they set hours that inconvenience customers, they are in no position to complain if business is down.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Where to Put the Shovel?

The Labour candidate for Cambridge posed with a shovel in front of Shire Hall with an offer to help clear the snow.

Labour politicians should steer clear of shovel photo opportunities. The party has made more and nastier messes over the last few years that will require much longer clearing up.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas

Prime Panto

We had a great time at the Cambridge Arts Theatre for the performance of Dick Whittington. There were traditional panto elements, songs and jokes. How times have changed though: one of the mooted punishments for King Rat was to be made Speaker of the Commons.

The Dame, Brad Fritt, held the whole thing together with sparkling turns from a great cast including Julia Buckfield as Dick and James Hirst as King Rat. And what a rat.

This was great family entertainment. The run lasts until 17th January, so there’s still time to see it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cold Enough to Freeze...

The "Keep Gibraltar British" sticker off the car window. It is cold out there!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

County Shopkeepers Upholding the Law

Not a single shopkeeper tested by the county’s trading standards body was found to have sold alcohol, knives or other age-limited products since September. The county’s watchdog conducted over forty test buys. This is good news in the campaign against under-age drinking and the anti-social behaviour associated with it.

Cambridgeshire Trading Standards , which is part of the County Council, enforces of over 80 acts of Parliament and approximately 1000 sets of orders and regulations made under those acts.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nick on Target

Nick Hillman, the new Conservative candidate for Cambridge, "hit the ground running" this weekend. The ground was hidden by snow.

See his blog on for details.

The comments on the time and energy spent dealing with rogue letter boxes are ones that activists from all parties will recognise. The most dangerous boxes are the ones at the bottom of the door with a stiff brush barricade and a quiet dog ready to pounce on stray fingers.

For me, today was for cleaning the house and driving to Heathrow to collect the in-laws (who were supposed to land at 9.05am but finally turned up at 3.43pm). My delivery round will be done by Tuesday. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

S106 Sets Lib Dems in Further Spin

Councillor Chris Howell’s blog on the East Area Committee shows the Lib Dems in a further spin over Section 106 payments. After the confusion at another committee about how the tax worked, the Lib Dems in this part of the city were in denial that it was a tax at all.

The City Conservative manifesto – which I wrote – promised, “We will not take part in the arbitrary ‘bidding war’ as to the % of affordable housing to be included in each development – by their natures, each application should be examined on its own merit.”

Chris says, “it is a tragic irony that Council demands for affordable housing are probably doing most to keep housing unaffordable for the vast majority of the local population.”

Quite right.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow and NHS No Shows

The snow across the city brought the usual English responses: surprise it happened; hope of a three-day weekend; delight at not see the markings on the road (like double yellow lines or parking bays) and a real fear that the other road users don’t know what they are doing.

We were expecting two parts of the NHS to pop by to see Catherine: a health visitor and a midwife. The midwife called to say she was sorry she could not make it. That’s fine, we understood, and we arranged a new time and date for her. However, we waited half an hour beyond the appointed time for the health visitor. No show. No message. Nada. After 30 minutes of foot tapping it was time to take the initiative. Only after Stacey chased did we get the call.
The excuse for not ringing us was that there was nobody in the office to help with getting our number…

Not good enough.

The appointment was made on Wednesday. The snow warnings were loud and clear yesterday. Our doctor’s surgery was open today. Why the surprise and why no preparation even as part of the usual pattern of work?

I don’t mind people cancelling things because of the snow. I object to people just not turning up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Not Quite, White

It’s not unusual for the Guardian to get its facts wrong and Grauniad spelling mistakes are an honourable tradition. However, Michael White’s blog on the Cambridge selection contained two howlers in need of correction.

The first was my name: Normington, not Norrington. Having received letters for
Normanton, Worthington, Nozmington and even - thanks to a bizarre printer problem - Normanator, I am inured to this.

The second was the reason for my departure. There is one contributor to his blog who is on the money…
The other debates in the blogsphere worth reading are on Conservative Home, Tory Bear and Richard Taylor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Boost for the Beer Quarter

The Milton Brewery is set to open its first Cambridge-based pub in January after taking ownership of the Devonshire Arms. The Devonshire was like the Kingston, pre-makeover: a pub with no beer.

This move by the Milton Brewery will add lustre to the Petersfield/Romsey area, known to my friends as the 'Beer Quarter' for the high density of pubs with great real ales.

The Empress, The Blue, The Salisbury, The Live and Let Live, the Kingston Arms and the Geldart will have a new rival but also yet another reason for people to visit. Enjoy!

Christmas Carol Commentary

The politically correct get their hands on Christmas Carols... (according to an email sent to me by a friend today).

Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow

In a one horse open sleigh

O'er the fields we go

Laughing all the way

A risk assessment must be submitted before an open sleigh is considered safe for members of the public to travel on. The risk assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly if passengers are of larger proportions. Please note, permission must be gained from landowners before entering their fields. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

While Shepherds Watched

While shepherds watched

Their flocks by night

All seated on the ground

The angel of the Lord came down

And glory shone around

The union of Shepherds has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided, therefore benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available. Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year that they should watch their flocks via cctv cameras from centrally heated shepherd observation huts.Please note, the angel of the lord is reminded that before shining his / her glory all around she / he must ascertain that all shepherds have been issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and Glory.

Little Donkey

Little donkey, little donkey on the dusty road

Got to keep on plodding onwards with your precious load

The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load that a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry, also included in the guidelines is guidance regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period. Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear face masks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles. The donkey has expressed his discomfort at being labelled 'little' and would prefer just to be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height or lack thereof may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.

We Three Kings

We three kings of Orient are

Bearing gifts we traverse afar

Field and fountain, moor and mountain

Following yonder star

Whilst the gift of gold is still considered acceptable - as it may be redeemed at a later date through such organisations as 'cash for gold' etc, gifts of frankincense and myrrh are not appropriate due to the potential risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions. A suggested gift alternative would be to make a donation to a worthy cause in the recipient’s name or perhaps give a gift voucher.We would not advise that the traversing kings rely on navigation by stars in order to reach their destinations and suggest the use of RAC routefinder or satellite navigation, which will provide the quickest route and advice regarding fuel consumption. Please note as per the guidelines from the RSPCA for Mr Donkey, the camels carrying the three kings of Orient will require regular food and rest breaks. Facemasks for the three kings are also advisable due to the likelihood of dust from the camels’ hooves.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer

had a very shiny nose.

And if you ever saw him,you would even say it glows...

You are advised that under the Equal Opportunities for All policy, it is inappropriate for persons to make comment with regard to the ruddiness of any part of Mr. R. Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr R Reindeer from the Reindeer Games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence. A full investigation will be implemented and sanctions - including suspension on full pay - will be considered whilst this investigation takes place.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tonight! Mince Pies & Mulled Wine

Come join the Coleridge branch

From 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm

86 Argyle Street,



£3.00 per person

Book via 01223 210 275 or 07 929 000 582

Monday, December 14, 2009

A14 Gridlocks Cambridge Again

Today's traffic chaos is yet another example of the knock-on effect of A14's problems choking Cambridge.
If you really want to fight congestion, the first step should be to upgrade the A14 and the second to build a proper orbital road for the city so eastbound M11 traffic can avoid the current interchange.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Palmerston, Revenge and Research

I was looking up the Victorian statesman Lord Palmerston and found that St John's College Library houses some of his papers. The college is part of a seven year-old, self-funded project to provide a single point of networked access to Cambridge catalogues of archives and manuscript collections.

For example, I had forgotten that in December 1851 Lord John Russell dismissed Lord Palmerston from the government for recognising Louis Napoleon Bonaparte's coup in France. However, Russell in his turn had to resign after the defeat of his government was engineered by Palmerston.

In Palmerston’s words, he had his “tit for tat with Johnny Russell”.

A good result too. Forget the Spanish advice about revenge being a cold dish; it’s from a country where they eat too late anyway.

Nick Hillman for Cambridge

Nick Hillman emerged victorious at the Open Primary today.

I congratulated him both in person and on Conservative Home.
Richard Taylor has a more detailed analysis.
Overall, a good result for Cambridge.

Station Parking Shambles

Councillor Chris Howell has a note on his blog about the horrors one can encounter parking bicycles - his was 'kebabed'.

If you want some more fun I suggest you watch the station at about 6.45pm when the full chaos of the temporary parking scheme comes to the fore. Law-abiding folk who go to the waiting zone spaces can be blocked in the car park for ages. Bring a book.

New Tory Candidate by the End of the Day

Off to the Open Primary this morning...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama's "He's Not Bush" Prize

Nominations for potential winners of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ended on February 1. The US president took office 12 days earlier on January 20.

The Nobel prize committee said he deserved the prize because of his, "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples."

In twelve days?

Barack Obama said as he collected his prize, "Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize... my accomplishments are slight."


The committee also said, "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."

Which is not the same as actually achieving something.
Thinking like the Nobel committee, I'm off to the Perne Road shops to buy a lottery ticket. I will spend at least ten pounds on buying things because although the lottery draw has not taken place, at least I have the audacity of hope that I will win at least a tenner.

Police at the Shops

Two PCSO's were at the Perne Road shops this afternoon to see that things were OK when school was out. Visibility is one of the benefits of the PCSO system.

Move along then, nothing to see here now...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oneplace... Eventually

The e-mail promised:

Oneplace, the reporting website for Comprehensive Area Assessment, is now live. For independent information about how local public services are tackling their major issues, visit:

I got:

The Oneplace website is busy
Unfortunately the Oneplace website is experiencing high volumes of traffic, please try again later.

We apologise for the inconvenience.

One day Oneplace will work... but why is it that things are launched without preparation?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Catherine Elizabeth Normington

Catherine was born at 5.20am at Addenbrooke's hospital. Mother and baby are both well. A lot of tea was consumed.

Chaps, Put the Coffee on… And Everyone Make Tea

Both Tea and Coffee are good for you…

Today’s BBC story says,

Drinking coffee could help to cut the risk of advanced prostate cancer, a US study suggests. It found the heaviest consumers had a 60% lower risk of aggressive tumours than men who did not drink any coffee. Coffee has an effect on the way the body breaks down sugar and also on sex hormone levels - both of which have been linked to prostate cancer.

This follows the older “Tea 'healthier' drink than water”.

Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers. The researchers recommend people consume three to four cups a day…

Monday, December 7, 2009

Exams Rather than Coursework

I have always preferred exams to coursework for the simple reason that the other kids in the class could never squeeze their parents into the chairs for the exam. Some argue exams are just a case of rote learning; which is marginally better than cut and paste from the internet...

One of the plays I did for my A Levels was Macbeth.

Explain, from Macbeth, Act 2:

"Naught's had, all's spent, Where our desire is got without content. 'Tis safer to be that which we destroy / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy."

Either answer yourself or cut and paste the following:

These lines belong to Lady Macbeth (3.2.6-9). Finally, she realizes how futile and hollow her desire for power has been. "Naught had" equals "nothing had"; "all's spent" means that there is nothing left to bargain with; "Desire without content" means that even though she has gotten what she ostensibly wants, the price has been too exorbitant, the purchase dissatisfying.

"Tis safer to be that which we destroy," may mean that it is preferable to hold our baser instincts as possibilities of being rather than actual states of existence, an argument sustained by the end of this line, "than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy." Once realized, Lady Macbeth can no longer negotiate multiple interpretations of possible "selves." She sees what has become of letting her baser nature subsume her better instincts. There seems to be no returning to a purer self.

Full List of Candidates for the Open Primary

The local assocation website now has the names and short biographies of the candidates...

- Eve Conway- Chamali Fernando- Jane Gould- Mark Higgins- Nick Hillman- Sarah El-Neil

Eve Conway

At a time when the headlines are dominated by the ongoing saga over MPs' expenses, my political priorities are to restore confidence in the integrity of politicians by being a first-class MP who truly represents my constituents.

I am a good communicator with years of extensive media experience, in both television and radio. As a journalist and broadcaster, I am used to putting across issues in a strong way and will be able to use this skill to speak up for constituents in Cambridge. From working as a journalist, I know what concerns people in Britain today - be it social, economic or political - and as an MP, I would actively campaign to bring about change where needed.

I understand issues that affect the Cambridge constituency from time spent working for BBC News locally.

As an MP in Britain, it is important to understand the attitudes and opinions of people of different ages and from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. As President of Redbridge Rotary Club, I presided over one of the most diverse Rotary Clubs in Britain, with members from six different religions.I am actively involved in voluntary and community work and local campaigning and started the Rotary Young Citizen Awards.

Chamali Fernando

Chamali Fernando – “more than just a Cameron cutie!”

A hard-hitting, no nonsense, seasoned doorstep campaigner who may be small but packs a mean punch, is hoping to be your Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge.

Chamali achieved instant national recognition as the youngest candidate to be shortlisted by a mainstream political party for the role of Mayor of London.

During her eight years of hard graft and notable success as a barrister, her broad legal practice has enabled her to help people in the private, public and corporate sectors.

Chamali, a former resident of Cambridge, passionately believes this city can lead the fight back in changing the fortunes of our nation, through its international reputation for excellence in academia and innovation in business.

Where Chamali has had the single greatest impact in her voluntary activities has been in her frontline role for the Coalition for an International Environmental Court. She has presented to leading political figures on the immediate need to create this court to safeguard the future of our planet.

Outside work, Chamali enjoys amateur dramatics, architecture, cooking, netball and outdoor life.

So when selecting your Conservative PPC for Cambridge, VOTE CHAMALI FERNANDO - your action-packed candidate, determined to become your MP.

Jane Gould

After training at the Royal College of Music, Jane forged her business career as a sales professional in Financial Services and Engineering. She has lived and worked in and around Cambridge for over twenty years.

As Director of Sales, she helped to set up Global Inkjet Systems, part of Cambridge’s internationally renowned Industrial Inkjet cluster.

Jane now focuses 100% on voluntary work and political activity. She is a Job Club founder and Leader and plans to plant another in Cambridge. As Regional Board member on the Government’s Total Place project and Founder Chairman of 50+ Forums, she is an authority on age-related issues.

Jane’s style is to find common ground on which to build campaigns and relationships. She believes in a State which allows change from the grass roots; practical action and common sense. As Bob Walter MP says “Jane’s ability to get things done is second to none”.

Married with an adult daughter, Jane was a working single parent and knows exactly how harsh life can be.

Jane will hold regular meetings around Cambridge, so people can share concerns directly. She will work to improve life wherever she can. In her elusive spare time, she plays flute in her Church band, grabs a round of golf and makes cakes.

Mark Higgins

I am 28, and a barrister of four years’ experience from North London. I was educated at RNIB New college, Worcester and ST John’s College, Oxford where I read law with French. I have been completely blind since birth.

My overriding commitment is to social justice and giving people the tools to succeed. That is why I will jealously guard the reputation of Cambridge as an academic powerhouse and technological pioneer, press for immediate resolution of the student finance difficulties, advocate a reversal of the closure of special schools and work closely with local communities.

I believe little can be achieved if we don’t restore faith in politics, which means more than reforming expenses. It means being more thoughtful about our lawmaking and not enacting rushed measures that so often encroach on our civil liberties, but most importantly treating constituents better. This means voicing the best interests of Cambridge to ensure that, for example, concerns about the A14 or the airport site produce results. In addition, through public meetings and better use of technology I will give constituents greater opportunities to hold me accountable.

Whilst I inevitably won’t always be popular, I will represent Cambridge with dignity, approachability and integrity. That way, I hope to be a candidate of which Cambridge will become proud.

Nick Hillman

Cambridge does not always receive its fair share of national resources. Only last week, it was announced local schools won’t get funding to cover the recent increase in births. So we need a local MP who will fight to put Cambridge’s interests at the heart of the next Government. I have the experience to do that.

I am Chief of Staff to a senior MP at Westminster and specialise in university policy. Previously, I worked for pension companies and, before that, I spent five years as a History teacher.

I have worked in local schools, including Hills Road Sixth Form College, so I know the needs of young people and public sector staff. I have lived on King Street, and I cycle, drive and use public transport, so I understand local transport pressures. I was once the victim of an unprovoked assault in the city, so I will tackle anti-social behaviour and work for safer streets.

It is because Cambridge is our favourite place that my wife and I held our wedding reception here earlier this year, and we will move here later this month.

I pledge to fight a clean campaign on policies, not personalities.

Please visit

Sarah El-Neil

As a longstanding resident of Cambridge, my association with our City is from very early childhood. I have travelled widely and speak three languages.

My campaigns in the local City Council elections, and my role as Chairman of Cambridge City Conservative Association have given me a thorough grounding in the issues of fellow residents. The good contacts that I have fostered in the County and City Councils would help me to pursue effectively any matters that are raised with me.

After working for many years at Addenbrookes’ Hospital, I am now a practising Consultant Paediatrician. The needs of Health Service staff, and other Key Workers, are of particular interest to me.

My links with local Universities and their student bodies, provide me with useful insights into their needs and concerns. I recently participated in a public “Question Time”-style panel on the Copenhagen Treaty and Climate Change.

My children and I are constantly looking to reduce our Carbon footprint. Fundraising for local charities and school based teaching are very rewarding aspects of my voluntary community work. My hobbies include Jazz and Blues singing, and Amateur Dramatics. It would be a great honour to be selected as your Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Runner for the Primary

The first out of the gates, who is going at quite a pace, is Nick Hillman. He has a website and is already attending local events. Nick’s personal statement is:

"I am hoping to be the Conservative candidate for Cambridge in the 2010 general election.

My main political priorities are:

improving transport
tackling crime and anti-social behaviour
spreading educational opportunities
reducing poverty

I have lived, worked and studied in Cambridge, and my wife and I held our wedding reception in the heart of the city in February 2009.

I currently live and work in London but we have pledged to make our home in Cambridge before the end of this month if I am selected. We can move to the city before the end of the year as we are currently renting from friends."

Thanks Nick, there's more on the site for those attending the open primary on 12th December to read. I will publish the other websites or biographies as they come out... If you are running then let me know!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Woman Doctor Declared “Dictatorial”

This story of resignations and unfair dismissal will remind people that a poor manager is a poor manager, regardless of gender.

Dr Glenda Stone, the head of a government taskforce to promote women in business, has lost her position, along with her seat on Lord Mandelson's small business forum. News of Stone's ousting as women's business tsar came as an employment tribunal found she had bullied workers including female staff with her "dictatorial and intimidating" approach.

Dr Stone’s, "Bullyish, intimidating and inflexible,” conduct shows that bad behaviour is an equal opportunities offence. The ACAS advice is worth reading.

The Open Primary Sprint

The names of the candidates for the open primary to select my successor are due soon. With just over a week to go, this is now more a sprint than a Grand National.

Here are some racing jokes to keep going until the riders are put under the starter’s orders:

- The tipster said this horse would walk in. It did, but all the others galloped.
- I bet on a great horse yesterday! It took seven horses to beat him.
- The horse I bet on was so slow, the jockey kept a diary of the trip.


This man was sitting quietly reading his paper one morning, peacefully enjoying himself, when his wife sneaks up behind him and whacks him on the back of his head with a huge frying pan.
He asks, "What was that for?"
She replies, "What was that piece of paper in your pants pocket with the name Marylou written on it?"
He says, "Oh honey, remember two weeks ago when I went to the horse races? Marylou was the name of one of the horses I bet on."
She is appeased and goes off to work around the house. Three days later he is once again sitting in his chair reading and she repeats the frying pan swatting.
He says, "What's that for this time?"
She answered, "Your horse called."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Clocking Colin

“This is the moment a senior councillor [Colin Rosenstiel, Lib Dem]was told to leave a train carriage by police after refusing to move his bicycle…” reports the Cambridge News today [Thursday].

The Coleridge Conservatives had this story on their website as an exclusive on Tuesday.

It is probably not a surprise that the person who took the photo wants to remain anonymous...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cambridge and Cui bono?

If you want see more Latin in schools then visit the Cambridge School Classics Project. It is a worthy venture.

I took Latin at Ramsey Abbey (comprehensive) in the old county of Huntingdonshire. I enjoyed Latin more than modern languages because the lives of Hannibal, Caesar and Cicero were much more interesting than visiting the shops or what I did during my school holidays.

Cui bono? Wikipedia has the answer:

Cui bono ("To whose benefit?" / "as a benefit to whom?") is a Latin adage that is used either to suggest a hidden motive or to indicate that the party responsible for something may not be who it appears at first to be.

Commonly the phrase is used to suggest that the person or people guilty of committing a crime may be found among those who have something to gain. The party that benefits may not always be obvious or may have successfully diverted attention to a scapegoat, for example.

The Roman orator and statesman Marus Tullius Cicero, in his speech Pro Roscio Amerino, section 84, attributed the expression Cui bono? to the Roman consul and censor Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla:

L. Cassius ille quem populus Romanus verissimum et sapientissimum iudicem putabat identidem in causis quaerere solebat 'cui bono' fuisset.

The famous Lucius Cassius, whom the Roman people used to regard as a very honest and wise judge, was in the habit of asking, time and again, 'To whose benefit?'

Cui bono is always a good question to ask… but nobody benefits from the loss of Latin in schools.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

209 Stays On Air

The community station announced: "We’ve reached our target of £28,000 – thanks to all of you generous people, we’ll be on air for another three months."

Last Day for Dinner Tickets

We are on the verge of a sell-out, so if you want to come to Wednesday's Coleridge branch dinner please call Stacey Normington ASAP on 01223 210 275.

Plans are afoot for the next event: a mulled wine evening on 15th December. For those who are not needed at the Association Executive, a convivial glass with a mince pie is on offer. Price £3.

There is disappointment in some quarters that the Executive is currently scheduled to clash with this event, but it is a reason to rejoice, not despair – it means more pies for the workers!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blair v7.0 transformed into Brown v0.5

Monday Humour... this post is taken from City Unslicker

Dear Tech Support:
I am still having trouble with this program. I was told that Blair v7.0 would continue being in operation until at least 2010. Yet I have discovered that since the Iraq update Blairv7.0 is no longer supported. Instead Laboursoft advised me to install Brown V0.5. This has proved totally unsatisfactory. Brown V0.5 runs very slowly,is erratic and is very expensive. The specs for the Prudence program are totally off. No way will this run on 1mb Ram! More like 8mb Ram. I'm very disappointed.
How can I go back to Blair v7. ?
Adam Uff
___________________ __________________
REPLY: to Adam Uff
Tech Support: N.Urd
Sorry, but Blair 7.0 was becoming very unpopular and corrupt so Laboursoft took the decision to discontinue it. You had Brown V0.1 already installed as a utilities background program with Blair V.1.01. It had some useful features like SellGold and the game BoomBust. However Brown V.05 is the operating system and is proving very difficult to remove. I will send you patch 1.00 Miliband to see if this helps.
___________________ __________________
REPLY:Adam Uff
Installed Miliband patch but it did not do anything except add a banana logo to the opening screen. It totally failed to purge Brown from the operating system. Also I now find that Chancellor/resentful/bitter which was a separate program under Blair V.07 is now part of the Brown v.05 core program and cannot be operated independently. Its very frustrating as that is where the finance files are. Also Brown V.05 is taking up a lot of the resources from the other programs. Its constantly relaunching itself from the desktop. I don't believe this program is very stable.
I've removed the Vince data Cables as they weren't doing anything and tried booting from a previous 1997 backup but it won't restore. I just get this message
ERROR £200,000,000,000,000 UNSUPPORTED DEBT.
___________________ __________________
REPLY:Tech Support: N.Urd
Hi Adam
On Livingstone V8.0 I used Bozone and it completely cleaned out the registry and restored all the corrupted files. Have you tried that?
___________________ __________________
REPLY: Adam Uff
Bozone is only a London local program and cannot delete Brown V.05. I have just checked for Spyware.
WoW. I ran DavidDavis and found 1000's of spyware all over the place. Jacqui CCTV, JohnsonDNA, 42 daysReid, Eye-Dcard-4U. There is also a program called Mandlespin and Equality restore. What do you think. Is that bad?
___________________ __________________
REPLY:Tech Support: N.Urd
Yes that is bad. Mandelspin is a self replicating backdoor worm that pervades everything without any user intervention. It does not attach itself to any existing programs but still consumes huge resources and keeps spreading itself. Do not open anything up if near Mandelspin.
Equality restore looks harmless but it is the old Harmanx Trojan under another name. A very nasty piece of spyware and as hard to remove as Brown 0.5. Harmanx monitors your bin levels, methane emissions, alcohol consumption, double-entendres, skirt lengths and also all emails and phonecalls. Harmanx can also lose all your data and transfer your online accounts to a failed bank.
I'm afraid it may have to be a complete reformat. Even then that may not work and you might have to just junk the whole PC and start again. Election2010 is promising to remove Brown V.05 and all that other malaware completely but its not available until the new year Then you install Cameron V1.00 and hope for the best, but that's completely untested at the moment.
I'll open up the comment board in case any readers have any solutions for the removal of Brown V.05 or some other applications or programs that might help your situation.
Tech Support

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bishop's ‘No Dipping’ Clause in Flu Advice

The local churches in our diocese have the go-ahead to get back to traditional Holy Communion rituals. This follows the Swine Flu Scare of ’09 (not to be confused with the Bird Flu Scare of ’08 and next year’s combined strain causing the Flying Pig Panic of ’10).

The News reports, “In respect of wine, the advice is that the rim of the chalice should be firmly wiped with a purificator after each communicant and that it should be thoroughly cleaned after use. Dipping the bread in the wine is out, too.”

Dipping the bread in the wine?

It is an ancient tradition. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of his character, The Franklin:

Of sanguine temperament by every sign,
He loved to dip his morning bread in wine.

Or as he really said:

Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.
Wel loved he by the morwe a sope in wyn

However, there are some things you just can’t do in a church… and this is one of them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coleridge Branch Events - All Invited!


Coleridge Branch Inaugural Dinner
Wednesday, 2nd December 2009
At 8.00 pm
Guest speaker: Graham Stuart MP
Cherry Hinton Constitutional Club 144 Cherry Hinton Road
£17.50 per person (Branch & CUCA Members) £20.00 per person

Mince Pies & Mulled Wine
Tuesday, 15th December 2009
From 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm
86 Argyle Street, Cambridge, CB1 3LS
£3.00 per person


American Chili Night
Thursday 14th January 2010
From 7.30 pm
130 Perne Road, Cambridge, CB1 3NX
£5.00 per person

Burns Night Dinner
Monday, 25th January 2010
Local venue. Details to be confirmed.

Please contact Stacey Normington on 01223 210275 for more information or tickets.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

A “Happy Thanksgiving” to all US citizens today (and those Brits who like Turkey dinners)

Despite the popular myth, it was a group of newly arrived English colonists in Virginia who held the first Thanksgiving... one year and 17 days before the bigoted, puritanical, kill-joy 'Pilgrim Fathers' landed in North America.

“Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”
4th December 1619

Enjoy the food and festivities!

Sign Up Now for the Open Primary

The City’s Tories are choosing my successor using the ‘open primary’ route.

The party will publish a shortlist of candidates after nominations close on Monday 30th November. There will be a public meeting at the Guildhall on 12th December to decide who becomes Cambridge’s next Conservative candidate.

Naturally, as a former Cambridge deputy chairman and Parliamentary spokesman, I will be in a position to comment with some knowledge on the runners and riders for this race. Watch this space closer to the time...

Register here to attend. It will be fun!

For the official site, visit

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meet Less, Pay Less and have Fewer Members = Real Commons Reform

Looking for ideas for Commons reform? Try Texas as a taster.

The legislature meets in regular session in the January of each odd-numbered year and the state constitution limits the regular session to 140 calendar days. Here, the House of Commons met for 165 days in the last session and 146 days in the one before. We are not noticeably better governed.

There are 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives, each with districts of some 163,000 people. Here, we have 646 members of the House of Commons, each with constituencies averaging 95,000 people. Our voters don’t get a better service.

A Texas House of Representatives Salary is $25,000 (£15,600) p.a whereas an MPs salary is £64,766 ($103,625) p.a. We certainly don’t get value-for-money.

This might be a flip set of comparisons, but remember that while UK has the sixth largest economy in the world an independent Texas would rank at between 10th and 13th (depending on the measurement).

And while we have a growing, intrusive government based in Brussels, they have an equally out of touch congress in Washington.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

209radio Under Threat

209radio is an excellent local station in need of a sponsor...
The following press release was issued today:

***Press Release: For immediate release***

Local Charity threatened with closure

An award-winning charity which supports dozens of local community groups, including the elderly, the homeless and people with mental health issues, is on the verge of closure due to a funding crisis.The community radio station 209radio, which broadcasts on 105FM in the Cambridge area, will not see out the year, unless it can gain substantial financial support from the people of the city it serves.

209radio uses education, training and the power of radio to support many vulnerable communities. Programmes such as Homeless Truths, Making Mental Notes (mental health), Headliners (head injuries), Silver Lining (elderly and homebound) and Polish Waves are a prime example of how the charity embraces the Cambridge community.

The Homeless Truths team recently managed to raise over £600 off their own back to support the relaunch of their worldwide unique show - entirely produced and presented by homeless and vulnerably housed people. Andrew Gardener CEO of Headway, the charity behind Headliners, explains the importance of the show: "209radio provides a voice for a group of people with acquired brain injury to run their own radio show. I've seen the group grow in confidence, skills and be able to live independent lives once more. If we didn’t have 209radio it would be a tragic loss for a group of people who are already disadvantaged through no fault of their own."

The station has only recently announced big plans to offer more to the citizens of Cambridge in 2010, which include renaming the station to reposition itself more strongly within the Cambridge community, but it can now only survive if someone comes forward able to offer it a lifeline.

Chairman of 209radio Clive Woodman is calling for support today or lose the station for good.
“We have reached a point now whereby we need stable regular financial support to help with our core costs and continue to provide this incredible and unique service to the residents and community groups of Cambridge. We are calling for anyone who can help financially to come forward now!”

We are also looking for the business community to step forward and take advantage of extremely competitive and low-cost advertising and sponsorship.

If you can help 209radio then they would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Louise Hawes on Tel: 01223 488413 / Mob: 07717 643940 or Jordan Chambers Tel: 01223 488418 / Mob: 07910 670970

Friendly Fire: County Lib Dems Hit City Lib Dems with Big Whine.

Today’s press release by the Lib Dems on the County Council is a classic.

The County Lib Dems' whining has hit an extra target in the Guildhall.

The City Council’s Lib Dems would never dream of having a system whereby the ruling party and oppositions are briefed together or try to run the council through ‘spokes’ [sic].

Whatever its faults, you are clear that the City Council is run by the Lib Dems.

Courage in Zimbabwe

In the 1990s I worked with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the International Democrat Union to establish an African regional union for parties striving for political and economic freedom on the continent. In Zimbabwe I supported the Forum Party and its successor, the Movement for Democratic Change. One of the bravest men I met was David Coltart. He sent me an email update on events in his country, where he is now part of the national unity government. Read his blog:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Co-existence in Coleridge

There are two questions of co-existence in Coleridge ward.

The first is between cars and trees on the verges. They are mutually exclusive. We can have one but not the other. The city council ignores the parking problem that causes unsightly quagmires because the answer – to turn some spots into parking places and plant trees in the others – is too expensive and (gasp, shock) encourages people to own cars (ok, they own them already…).

The second is between students and residents. Large concentrations of students can alter an area fundamentally. A, “Well done,” to local campaigners Andrew Bower and Cllr Chris Howell for doing their bit to bring residents and ARU together to deal with the problem. However, the whole Tiverton House saga is an example of how lax planning can lead to unintended neighbourhood change and new clashes that have to be managed with tact and firmness on both sides.

Cambridge News Today

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A14 Upgrade Campaign... A Missing MP?

Today's news is, "Andrew Lansley, James Paice and Jonathan Djanogly have joined forces with John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, to discuss the delays in rebuilding the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton."

Where was David Howarth, Cambridge's MP? Missing.

Another reminder that the Lib Dems don't support the full upgrading of a dangerous road of national importance.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Democratic Finger on the TIF Trigger?

The County Council is now planning for the TIF bid, part 2, where the whole question of the introduction of the congestion charge is up for grabs. The Council intends to submit a full TIF Business Case to the government in December 2010.

The first point of discussion posed by the consultation is, “Options for trigger(s) for introduction of a congestion charge”.

If the trigger is to be pulled as soon as the authority's numbers say so, without any need to regain the approval of councillors, we have reached the ultimate in auto-pilot government. Unless one of the ‘triggers’ is a vote by the council, there is no local democratic control behind the actual introduction - or not - of the congestion charge.

Once again the officers may have seized the agenda from the members. Unless the members act with determination, it will be the officers who will decide if, when and how a congestion charge comes into force.

Lobby your county councillor now!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Local Labour Candidate Joins Losers for Electoral Reform

Electoral Reform here is code for ‘Our party can’t form a government, so change the system so nobody else can.’

Cambridge’s Daniel Zeichner is listed among the ranks of the soon-to-be-defeated quoted by Guido Fawkes

Real electoral reform would be to cut the number of MPs and increase the frequency of boundary commission reviews.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Will MP’s Wrongly Claimed Cash be Returned?

While the media has concentrated on MPs additional costs allowances – with their second homes, duck homes and moats – attention is now turning to another pot of public money available in Westminster: the incidental expenses provision.

According to the documents released by Parliament, Cambridge MP David Howarth claimed £4,200 for a press officer in 2007-08.

This was specifically ruled out of order in the MPs rule book at the time:
“Expenditure not allowable: Advice for individual Members on self promotion, or PR for individuals or political parties” (page 18).

While Mr Howarth did not benefit personally from this transaction, it looks like his party did.

This was public money, not a Lib Dem cash point for PR.

There are now questions to be answered:

What were the press officer's duties?
How can the Lib Dems justify taking the funds?
Has the money been refunded?
And if not, when will it be handed back?

The BBC reported, “ Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says the government should cancel its legislative programme and focus on cleaning up British politics.” He should start with his own party.

The Rule Book:

The Claims: The 'press officer' claims are for £600, £1,050, £750 and £1,800...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Missed the Bus?

The Guided Bus is running late. It almost doesn’t count as ‘news’, let alone demand the use of the word ‘shock’ before it by our local paper.

Make no mistake: rail was never a realistic alternative despite everything that cast.iron/ have had to say.
However, perhaps the County’s senior transport officials should have been concentrating on getting the bus right rather than shilling for Labour’s Congestion Charge (TIF) bid?

80 Years of the CRD

The Conservative Research Department gave me my first job in 1990. Margaret Thatcher resigned less than three months after I joined. This was unrelated.

You can buy the book Tory Policy-Making: The Conservative Research Department 1929-2009 on Amazon: Last night was the book’s launch party at the Carlton Club, the nearest thing the Tory Party has to a spiritual home, and it was great to catch up with so many old and now distinguished friends.
Today is the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Department. You can read about its achievements, and more infamous members, here:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cambridge East Meets Guildford

The government’s building programme includes the Cambridge East plan for 12,000 homes on the Marshall’s site. The ultimatum made to local councils is to either agree to the proposal, with some hope of influencing the final outcome, or to stick to principles and see the whole thing done by a special quango instead.

What a choice: Vichy puppet or full occupation?

Local Labour councillors say that because the Conservative county council has chosen the former course then the Tories favour the development. No. They just hope to make a bad situation a little less worse, and I hope that the allies will liberate us soon.

Cambridge is not alone. There’s an excellent blog, - which highlights the same thing happening in Guildford. The author goes on to ask

"It's NIMBY to object? Well, yes, it is... and your point? It's called my back yard because it is my back yard. It doesn't belong to some commissar to do with as he wishes. New housing development and planning generally should be under the control of locally elected councillors not quangocrats. Just like it always used to be."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Stacey!

Advice to Potential Candidates

The City of Cambridge Association advertised for my replacement on Friday 13th. The deadline for applications is midday on 30th November.

My advice, for what it is worth is:

Live in Cambridge. If you don’t live in Cambridge now, get a local address as soon as possible. The activists are familiar with candidates promising to move in but not doing so. Voters noticed a London address on the ballot paper in a previous General Election.

Commute to the Capital. The retiring MP, David Howarth, was a commuter who avoided the entire moats, ducks and second home expenses fiasco. If you can’t make this promise, matching what the sitting MP actually did, then don’t bother applying. Too many MPs are seen as transplanted Londoners and not representative of the places they were elected to.

Slam the Congestion Charge. The TIF bid is hurting, but the mortal blow has yet to come.

Assess your time commitment. The maximum commitment ‘24/7’ candidate would be single, with no living relatives and a lottery winner. If that’s you, you’re a shoe in.

Work with the City Councillor. Chris Howell has shown how having a Tory on the city council makes a difference.

Come to Events. Andrew Bower is leading the new Coleridge Branch [visit the website ]. We are holding a dinner on 2nd December with Graham Stuart MP- get tickets ASAP. They are available from my wife Stacey, the branch secretary, for £20 (email

Do Research. If you are reading this, then you probably are…

Best of luck,


Also see :

Saturday, November 14, 2009

More Planning… but Students Don’t Necessarily Count for Planning Purposes

Cambridge University is looking to build 3,000 homes and accommodation for some 2,000 post-graduate students in the North West of the City. The area is between the Huntingdon Road, Madingley Road (A1303) and the M11.

There will be public exhibitions at Fitzwilliam College on Wednesday at 9am-5pm and in the Central Library’s conference room on Saturday, from 10am-6pm.

One of the disadvantages of building special accommodation for students, and not having them rent normal homes – or build normal homes with proviso that they be let as student accommodation, is that the extra housing does not necessarily count towards the governments targets.

So it does not matter that the extra population will use extra services, as far as Whitehall is concerned they simply don’t count.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bring on the Blue Bins

The Cambridge News is asking for people’s views on the new blue bins.

I like them. When I was the Conservative Parliamentary candidate I made sure that we raised recycling as an issue and mentioned Huntingdonshire to show how much better a Tory council could be compared to its politically correct rival.

Conservative Huntingdonshire has had blue bins for years.

Why did our own load of councillors opt for the boxes in the first place and why has it taken them so long to realise that the bins are better?

The change is welcome, but very late.

Of course, you might not agree with this point… but tell the News why.


“AS Cambridge City Council prepares to make the first collections of its new blue recycle bins the News is asking what you think? Have you received yours yet? Are you using it? Let us know by leaving a comment below or emailing us at Alternatively call 01223 434439.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Power of Two Minutes Silence

I was at a conference on the Middle East this morning. In between the discussions on infrastructure needs, banking capacity and market trends there was a two minute silence at 11am: marking the armistice that was signed in 1918 and came into force on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month.

Everyone in the room rose to respect the silence.

This was a powerful statement. It is a contrast with contrived anniversaries, think of the UN or even your local council with their innumerable ‘Day of X special interest group’ or ‘Month of Y target voters’, and you can see the difference.

There are no laws compelling us to carry out this act of remembrance. Nobody is fined for non-compliance or gets their names put on a state database.

Instead, it is a voluntary act: the more powerful and welcome for being so.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Primark brings Prime Customers to Cambridge

The newly opened Primark has been greeted by a few curmudgeonly, ‘ethical’ protestors and a lot of happy pre-Christmas shoppers.

The Cambridge News reported there was, “a massive spin-off for other shops in The Grafton and streets close by, with an overall 41 per cent increase in footfall recorded.”

This is a timely reminder to our local planners that city centre shopping is more than just the Grand Arcade.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Germany (East): Conservative Gain

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall coming down so I have listed some of the jokes from the old Eastern bloc that could only be whispered in their day.

One of my first visits to East Berlin was with the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation after the wall was breached. We went to the Stasi secret police HQ, with its torture rooms, and met the new generation of politicians like Chancellor Angela Merkel. I witnessed a people emerging from a living nightmare but who had – as President Obama would have put it – the audacity of hope.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan have an iconic status as the staunchest champions of Western values, something that our hosts reminded us. At the count for the first free elections, one person was heard declaring the result: “Germany (East): Conservative Gain.”

A freer Europe was the real gain for peace and democracy, and it made the Cold War worth waging.


What is Soviet ‘democratic centralism’?
It's when everyone together says, 'yes' and when everyone individually says, 'no'.

What is an exchange of opinion in East Germany?
You go to the Stasi with your opinion and, after torture, you return with theirs!

A socialist, a capitalist and a communist agreed to meet. The socialist was late. 'Excuse me for being late, I was standing in a queue for sausages.'
'And what is a queue?' the capitalist asked.
'And what is a sausage?' the communist asked.

An East Berlin customer asks at a shop, 'What's this, you don't have any meat again?'
'That's not true! There's no meat in the shop opposite. We don't have fish.'

Alexander the Great, Caesar and Napoleon observed the army parade in Red Square, as honourable visitors.
'If I had Soviet tanks,' Alexander said, 'I would have been invincible!'
'If I had Soviet planes,' Caesar speaks, 'I could have conquered the whole world!'
'And if I had had the Soviet newspaper "Pravda,”’' Napoleon said, 'the world, even now, would not have found out about Waterloo!'

Where were you born?
St Petersburg.
Where did you grow up?
Where do you live now?
Where would like to live?
St Petersburg!

See: and and /

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Brown to Stay...

Well, tens of thousands of people asked Gordon Brown to go but he's still there. wrote to me: "You signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to "resign". The Prime Minister's Office has responded to that petition and you can view it here:"


I was in Salisbury this weekend. This is a part of the country as associated with the army as places in my home of East Anglia are with the air force.

There was plenty of talk about, including the current needs of our armed forces and the rightness of their being in Afghanistan.

The Taliban of Afghanistan provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda to plan and execute international acts of terror, notably on September 11th 2001. The extremist world-view of both bodies makes them a threat to anyone who holds individual liberty dear.

British and allied forces are in Afghanistan to ensure it does not again become a launch pad for terrorist attacks on the rest of the world. They are not there to occupy the state against the wishes of the people but are there with a UN mandate and as part of our NATO duties.

Our goal must be to help make the country secure, so that it can be governed by Afghans for Afghans. It will not turn Afghanistan into a Jeffersonian democracy or any other specific outside model.

On a partisan note, the Liberal Democrats are gearing themselves up, most cynically, to be the anti-war party for the 2010 election. They hope to gain the same support for their opposition to the Afghanistan campaign in 2010 as they did for Iraq in 2005. It is worth noting that if the international community had followed the Lib Dems advice, bolting from Iraq in 2005, we would be seeing even more suffering in that country than we did following the troop surge by the US. Also, we have had the continuation in power of a democratically elected national government of Iraq. Odd, isn’t it, how the domestic ‘champions’ of democracy, trade unions and women’s rights would have abandoned them abroad?

I hope on this year’s two-minute silence, coming up on 11th November at 11am, that we take the time to thank everyone who has been to Iraq and Afghanistan – and elsewhere around the world in our service - for doing their duty.