Saturday, April 25, 2009

Downing Street Petition: Ask Gordon Brown to Resign

Here's a petition that looks interesting... the deadline for signatures is 22 October.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy St George's Day

Today is the day to raise a glass, or just a smile, for the patron saint of England.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

“Britain simply cannot afford another five years of Labour.”

Cambridge's Parliamentary Spokesman, Richard Normington, commented on today's Budget: "Labour's run out of ideas almost as fast as it has run out of taxpayers' money. This Budget is more bust and no boom. In addition, Labour's broken a manifesto pledge not to put up income tax and missed the chance to fix the banking supervisory system that helped to get us into this mess. Britain deserves better."

The Budget saw David Cameron point out that Labour’s attempts to deal with the recession have failed, and the mortgage support scheme, which was announced five months ago still has not helped a single homeowner. He condemned the Budget as a, “missed opportunity,” and said it should have been used to help Britain move from an economy built on borrowing and debt to one built on savings and investment.

22nd April 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Do you remember Gordon’s ‘Prudence’?

At the start of the Labour government in 1997, Gordon Brown promised us prudence in public finance. Prudence, of course, was dumped.

A publication by the National University of Singapore shows that using sensible forecasts of growth – not wildly optimistic ones based on best wishes, or a fear of annoying Gordon Brown – brings windfall benefits. In Singapore’s case, using conservative estimates for planning over a 25 year period brought an unexpected income gain worth £142 million per year.

This, the report concludes, was ‘
simply a by-product of the [Singapore] Government's philosophy of “fiscal prudence”.’

Let's dump Gordon and bring Prudence back to Britain.
‘Singapore's recurrent budget surplus: The role of conservative growth forecasts’

Department of Economics, National University of Singapore, Block AS2, #05-11, 1 Arts Link, Singapore 117570, Singapore

Quango Can Go - Scrap Strategy!

This letter from Andrew Bower, prospective Conservative candidate in Coleridge Division for the forthcoming county council elections, was published in today's Cambridge News, but not in the on-line edition:
Quango can go

The government is trying to impose a mind-bogglingly large number of homes on Cambridge on top of the excessive number already planned, via its undemocratic regional quangos.

While I am glad that the city Labour leader is questioning the latest figure (News, April 15), wouldn't it be better if he lobbied the government to follow the Conservative pledge to abolish top-down housing targets and put the responsibility back into the hands of accountable local councils?

We should try to kick the Regional Spatial Strategy into the long grass until we can have a change of government.

Andrew Bower
Coleridge Conservatives
Argyle Street

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pledge on science skills, training and apprenticeships wins warm welcome.

“This is good news for apprenticeships and those looking for retraining. However, I welcome in particular the plans to help postgraduates," said Cambridge's Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman, Richard Normington as he welcomed the £600 million package of Conservative measures. He added,

“Postgraduates are the often overlooked key to the success of our higher education sector. By strengthening this section at a crucial time, the Conservative plan will keep British universities at the forefront of research for years to come.”

Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the move, saying: “If we do not act now in the Budget we are going to lose the next generation of engineers and scientists. The Budget must help the thousands of graduates and people on apprenticeships so they are not scarred for life.

Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, David Willetts, added: "It is young people above all who are the victim's of Labour's recession. We are offering new hope to apprentices worried about losing their training and university leavers who cannot find a job."

Details of the Conservative Plans for science skills, training and apprenticeships:

  1. £350 million to provide funding for 25,000 new Masters Degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at an average of £14,000 each. This would help the many thousands of graduates leaving university who will struggle to find work when they finish their courses this summer. Instead of losing the next generation of scientists and engineers to long term youth unemployment we need to make sure there are funded places for them to continue their studies. The Royal Society says this policy “could potentially transform the landscape for postgraduate scientific research”
  2. £100 million to fund an extra 50,000 learners aged over 25 in STEM and other subjects. Tens of thousands of low skilled people over 25 without the equivalent of 2 A-levels will lose their jobs over the next year and be unable to find work. This funding will allow them to improve their skills, mainly in Further Education colleges, instead of slipping into long term unemployment.
  3. £150 million to support the thousands of apprentices that risk losing their training place during a recession. There is clear evidence that thousands of young apprentices are suffering particularly badly during the recession. At the moment that often means they can't complete their apprenticeships and end up with no qualification at all. The TUC have called on the Government to “ensure that any apprentice can complete their training and stay in work”. This new funding would be used to establish a clearing house to transfer apprentices to other employers and to pay for maintenance payments and training places if alternative apprenticeships are unavailable.
The pledge is affordable so long as the government adopts the Conservative budget proposals.
20th April 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cambridge Wordfest

This morning there were people at the railway station distributing the programme for Cambridge Wordfest – a literary festival set to take place 23-26 April.

There is an excellent line-up of events for all interests, ages and tempers.

As my own way of helping to get the word out, I hope you will visit to see the full works.

Richard Normington

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Tory £30 billion Green Technology Recovery

Now is the time to help the environment, the economy and British industry with a green technology recovery programme. Today, the Conservatives are setting out steps that the Government could take in next week's Budget that would enable £30 billion of private sector investment, and lay the foundations for a stable, competitive and low carbon recovery.

This will include £6,500 to improve the energy efficiency of every home in Britain.

According to official government figures, British firms have less than a five per cent share of the global market for green goods and services - less than France, Germany, Japan and the United States. Labour's record is all talk, no action.

16th April 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009


One of the Conservative commitments for the next general election is to restore cabinet government to our foreign policy decision-making and establish a national security council.

We need to learn the lessons from Iraq so that we do no repeat the mistakes in places such as Afghanistan.

I support the - long delayed - decision to hold an inquiry. The inquiry must cover the decision to go to war, and examine the mistakes that were made in its conduct and its planning. There is also concern that the remit should be set out in a statement to Parliament and that the Leader of the Opposition, and Privy Councillors in Opposition parties, are consulted properly.

Save the Great British Pub

With nearly 6 pubs closing every day of the week, and Cambridge pubs under threat, we believe that the Government should be doing more to save the Great British pub.

33% of the price of every pint goes in Beer Tax to the Chancellor. Now the Government plans to increase beer tax further.

We are calling on the Government to help save our pubs and safeguard jobs by:
  1. Cutting taxes on lower alcohol drinks such as low alcohol beers and raising taxes on problem drinks like high strength ciders; and alcopops in order to use the tax system to target binge drinking whilst ensuring that responsible drinkers and the traditional British pub are not unfairly penalised;
  2. Enforcing existing laws to deal firmly with irresponsible drinkers & premises;
  3. Trusting adults to make informed choices, not punish them for the actions of an irresponsible minority; and
  4. Supporting the British pub as a vital part of local communities.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NHS Fellowship Group at Play

The Cambridgeshire branch of the NHS Retirement Fellowship group invited to me for a morning talking politics - as part of an all party panel - listening to the welcome by the branch President, Dr. Mary Archer, and a briefing by the Fellowship's Executive Director, Mike Brown. There was a Bring and Buy, a Plant Stall and a Raffle in aid of the Air Ambulance at lunch. I had to leave to spend the afternoon campaigning... and missed the real fun real fun: talks on 20 years in journalism, a gardeners' question time and a general knowledge quiz. The local Fellowship organiser can be contacted at 1 The Fairway, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SR. Membership is open to everyone who worked in the Health Service. If you can join, do join.

Richard Normington

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Points for the London G20 Summit.

We face three separate crises.

The first, and purely British, is the public borrowing crisis. Borrowing has got out of hand. Debt will be Gordon Brown’s largest legacy to future generations. The G20 can't do anything about this, it is up to to us.

The second, and focused on the international banking industry, is the consequence of the financial bubble and its effects on the money markets, property values and interest rates. Here there is role for national action and international co-ordination.

The third is global: we have reached the down part of the economic cycle [a cycle Gordon Brown said he had broken… “no more boom and bust”]. The G20 has a key role in getting the global economy going.
Right now, international leadership is needed to ensure coordination and coherence in national measures to respond to the crises. The G20 process provides a valuable framework for this. It is essential that the London Summit shows real progress and a credible boost to economic confidence.

Today’s crisis shows that regulation of banking and credit institutions must be strengthened. However, regulatory reforms must be carefully calibrated and it needs to be recognised that regulation alone cannot prevent markets from malfunctioning. People are not machines, and managing of markets and expectations is really an art, not a science. However, getting the baseline right is important. The Summit should strengthen the drive to promote international standards, for example in accounting and financial reporting.

One idea is to frame a system that would make credit more expensive if the tide of cash turns to a torrent. It is usual normal now for Central Banks to have an inflation target, with the means to manage it. The same could be done for credit. It could be that a rise in credit to a set level would bring on an interest rate rise by the bank or the imposition of higher capital requirements on the banks at fault (Northern Rock…).

International trade is a major contributor to global economic growth. Falling levels of trade coupled with protectionist tendencies in some countries and the withdrawal of credit for trade finance are acute concerns. The London Summit must agree urgent measures to sustain international trade while continuing to work for the conclusion of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Agenda, in order to provide an early global stimulus through trade liberalisation.

The best way to bring prosperity is through trade, jobs and economic growth.

Lastly, the UK and the City of London have the capacity and the will to lead international markets through this crisis. It is in our nation’s interest that, as a result of learning these difficult lessons, the City emerges strengthened and better adapted to the needs of the 21st century.