Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If the Answer is PR, You’re Asking the Wrong Question

As the details come out of ‘Flipping-gate’, or whatever the term is for the current MPs’ expenses scandal, there is a general feeling that we have had one rule for ‘them’ and another for us, and ‘something must be done.’

David Cameron set out the Conservative response yesterday. It was sensible and proportional.

However, beware Liberal Democrats reaching for the ‘Proportional Representation is the answer’ lever.

First, under PR we – as voters – would lose the direct link with a person whose job is to represent us in Parliament. You may disagree with the political affiliation of our MP but at least we know he is responsible for Cambridge and cannot pass the buck on to anyone else. He, in turn, knows that he has to report to us for his activities. That is right and fair. However with PR we would have several MPs and none of them would be directly responsible to individual voters. The sharing of responsibility among public bodies, as the Chancellor found out in the banking crisis when he set up a three-way system, means that nobody is really responsible.

Some types of PR take MPs further away from the voters than others. The closed list PR system we use for European Election is a case in point. Even the Single Transferable Vote means having multiple MPs for the same area and brings about the anomaly that the successful candidates are elected using the second preferences of the votes for third, or lower, preference candidates.

Second, PR puts power in the hands of minority parties. In the coalition-making process the mainstream parties can be held to ransom by single-issue sects or fringe interests. Under PR we would vote at the election but the politicians would go on to decide who was actually in the governing coalition.

This moves us neatly to another benefit of the current system: one of the joys of our first-past-the-post system is that we – as voters – can sling parties out of power. PR could put voters at the mercy of a party that would merely change its coalition partners rather than leave office.

The British people have the right to tell a party when its time in government is over.

“Gordon, it’s over.”


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Petition for an Immediate Election

Sign our online petition:

"We, the undersigned, believe that the best way to sort out the problems facing Britain and to restore trust in our political system is for a dissolution of Parliament and a general election so that people can pass their verdict on MPs’ behaviour at the ballot box."


Monday, May 18, 2009

Introducing our County Council Candidates

Conservative candidates for the Cambridgeshire County Council elections and East Chesterton Cambridge City Council by-election are seeking your vote on 4th June.

We need strong Conservative voices elected from the city area to give Cambridge a place at the heart of county decision making.

Cambridge Conservatives are pledged to fighting ineffective and burdensome government targets that pile costs on councils, making it harder for them to offer value for money.

Congestion charging and excessive development such as building high density housing on Marshall's airfield without adequate infrastructure are examples of some of the problems that only the Conservatives can tackle. A Conservative government would sweep away many of the targets and constraints on local decision-making - locally Labour and the Lib Dems are still wedded to taking orders from Whitehall so we need local Conservatives in place for us all to be able to benefit from the localising revolution we can anticipate.

Contact Cambridge Conservatives on 07929 000582 or

Pictured: Matthew Adams (Kings Hedges), Tim Haire (Abbey), David Willetts MP, Andrew Bower (Coleridge), John Ionides (Trumpington)

18th May 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

There's Nothing BRITISH about the BNP

National Socialism is a cruel creed. This is a new website exposing the unsavoury side of the BNP.

"The BNP want you to believe that they are a moderate party who provide you with a protest vote against the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem parties. They are not. The party is built around a leadership and philosophy that wants British citizens deported just because of the colour of their skin."

Hang in there...

No more than 384 days, 10 hours, 50 minutes, 22 seconds until voting closes at the next General Election.

But don't worry because Gordon Brown says the recession will be over in 138 days, 5 hours, 20 minutes, 22 seconds.

Although the IMF says it will last until 596 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes, 22 seconds.

Visit for comment on the financial crises.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Lib Dems' 'Area Committees' cost us dearly

It costs Cambridge City Council at least £114,300 a year to stage its 24 area committees, which are attended by just 24 people on average.

So taxpayers spend £195.70 per person to take part.

The Area Committees need the axe.

Action on Expenses Welcomed

David Cameron took the right decision today to tackle the Commons expenses scandal. More will have to be done over time.

When I was responsible for a budget, I had a simple test for my spending: if I could justify it to a room full of the actual fundraisers then it was OK.

And these fundraisers were not the likes of Wall Street or the City, but pensioners at a coffee morning.

This audience was clearly tougher than the Commons Fees Office ever could be.

Every politician should use a test like this. It keeps one rooted in reality.

Richard Normington

12th May 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

ID Card Piloting Scheme Slammed,

ID card scheme is unworkable, unwanted and unaffordable.

They won’t stop a single crime, but would cause misery for law-abiding people as yet another tangle of red tape is dropped on them by an out-of-touch government.

The database would be a one-stop-shop for fraudsters.

I am delighted that a Conservative government is pledged to scrap this scheme as quickly as possible.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day?

Do we need two Bank Holidays in May?

Especially if one is more associated with tanks trundling down Red Square than anything else?

Personally, I’d move this weekend's Bank Holiday to October. It

would spread the holidays across the year, filling the ghastly autumn gap when we all feel the strain.

Trafalgar Day, 21 October, looks like a good alternative, as would Guy Fawkes on 5 November. On balance, I would say 'Rule Britannia' and raise a glass to Nelson and the Navy which kept us free from Napoleon's tyranny.

Richard Normington

Cambridge’s 42 percent Slump in Home Sales

“New figures expose how Gordon Brown’s recession has sent our local housing market into a 42 percent freefall. The impact on home sales is being made worse by Labour red tape and taxes,” says Cambridge’s Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman, Richard Normington, “it is time for action on the real economy, not tinkering with tax bands in 2010.”

Cambridge House Sales

Year Sales

2006 – 2,363

2007 – 2,243

2008 – 1,382

-42% Change since 2006.

Source: Hansard, 24 March 2009, col. 314W and Hansard, 24 April 2009, col. 969W.

A Better Way. Conservatives call on the Government to use its emergency powers to suspend the Home Information Pack’s (HIPs) immediately, and then abolish them completely. We also want the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers to be raised to £250,000, taking 9 out of 10 first-time buyers out of stamp duty altogether, giving an important boost tohousing market.

Labour’s Land Registry Fees – UP. On 14 April, the Land Registry announced massive hikes in the fees charged for registering a property and for property searches. Fees will increase by as much as 33% and will see the cost of registration of a property worth between £100,000 and £200,000 go from £150 to £200.

The Land Registry ironically blames the housing market crash for the hikes: “As a government agency with trading fund status we need to cover our operating costs and return on capital employed from our fee income. Due to the downturn in the property market and the deterioration in the economy generally, our intakes of work fell heavily in 2008 and 2009 leading to an unsustainable reduction in our fee income.”

Labour’s Red Tape and Trouble: The Home Information Pack:

· HIP required before you market your home: The Home Information Pack rules apply to England and Wales. Since 6 April 2009, a seller must have a completed Home Information Pack before putting their home on the market. Previously, they merely had to commission a Pack, which can take many weeks to assemble – especially in the case of complex leasehold properties. This is the end of the so-called ‘first day marketing’ provisions.

· Property searches must be complete: In another change to the HIP rules, Home Information Packs will also take longer to produce. From 6 April 2009, every property search “must be complete”. Previously, insurance could be taken out to protect against the delayed searches missing vital data. This previous provision was introduced because of the delays in obtaining information from local authorities.

· Pointless property questionnaire: All Home Information Packs must also now have a new ‘Property Information Questionnaire’ that must be completed by the seller before the home is advertised. The questionnaire includes questions on past history of flooding, past insurance claims, treatment for dry rot or damp, when electrical wiring was last checked, if planning permission or building regulation approval was given to past structural alterations and rights of access. However, there is no external checking of the accuracy of the form, and in all those cases, the seller can merely tick a box “don’t know”.

· HIPs unreliable and add to costs: The independent Carsberg Review in June 2008 warned that HIPs were the “worst of both worlds”, adding to red tape and costs, but not providing reliable information. It warned that they were duplicating costs, since “a substantial number of conveyancers ignore its existence and recommission searches on receiving instructions from their buyer client” (RICS, Sir Bryan Carsberg’s Review of Residential Property, June 2008, p.42).

1st May 2009