Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Time to kick The Sun again?

The Sun, so long the bane of the earnest political comics of the 1980s – and I don’t mean the elected ones – lost its place as the number one Left-wing ‘hate’ paper to The Daily Mail in the mid-1990s.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

National Award for East Chesterton Campaigner

Popular East Chesterton campaigner, Kevin Francis, scooped a national award for the third time in a row. Richard Normington congratulated him: "Kevin won the 'Pride in the Job award'. He does a lot of work for East Chesterton residents, showing the same attention, care and dedication. Well done!"

"Taylor Wimpey project manager Kevin Francis has won a top national building industry award for his work at George Wimpey's Lion Mills development in Soham. Kevin began his career as a carpenter in the army, working around the world. This is the third and consecutive time he has won the Pride in the Job quality award given by the National House-Building Council." Cambridge News.

29th September 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Babysitting 'ban' is Bonkers

Two police officers were told they were breaking the law by caring for each other's children.

More 'Big Brother' from Labour. The regulations were never intended to stop informal arrangements, and it's just further evidence of a Government which believes the state is better at bringing up children than parents. Once again, we need common sense not loopy laws.


City Lib Dems in Open Space Spin

Local Lib Dems are spinning how their party’s policies will give residents more say on open spaces. 

Cambridge needs sensible planning policies, That is why the Conservatives are committed to
strengthening planning controls to prevent over-development of suburbs - as recommended by English Heritage.

However, the Lib Dem-run City Council is busy agreeing to garden grabbing and big developments without adequate open spaces today. The council’s planning policies are in a mess and, when they are not too busy axing trees or trying to impose huge changes to Jesus Green, people should be reminded that this is the Party that approved the grotesque Travelodge at the Cambridge Leisure Centre.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Englishman's Home...

... is a new Lib-Lab tax.   It's a case of Big Brother meets Location Location Location as both Labour and Liberal Democrats have now signed up to intrusive tax revaluations of people’s homes. Cambridge residents of all backgrounds face the twin strikes of higher income tax and punitive property taxes.

The Conservatives are pledged to stop any house tax revaluation and abolish council tax inspectors’ rights of entry into our homes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Letter Published in the Cambridge News Today

Letters to the Editor

Cambridge News

Dear Sir,

Last week, both the Conservative Party and Cambridge’s Lib Dem MP set out alternatives to Labour’s ‘Big Brother’ state and, by the way, to stop taxpayers’ money being wasted on expensive and ineffective IT databases.

Our point of difference is that the re-election of a Lib Dem to Westminster would prop up a Labour government: his leader, Nick Clegg, will not support a Conservative administration should there be no overall majority at the next General Election.
The message for Liberal Democrat supporters is that the Conservative Party is the only party that can bring the change we need. Of course, nobody is expecting them to become card-carrying members of the Conservative Party, but we are asking for help to form a progressive alliance to get rid of this failed Labour Government.
So, if you want to see the back of Gordon Brown and Labour's ‘Big Brother’ state, and if you care about our schools, our quality of life and our liberties, then join us in one national movement that can bring real change.

If you are a Liberal Democrat and really want to change our nation's government, only a Conservative vote at the General Election can do it.

Lib Demo?

The Cambridge News shortened my use of 'Liberal Democrat' in the letter published today [but not available online] to Lib Demo.  An interesting choice. 

I do feel sorry for the sub-editors. This is the party that was called 'The Social and Liberal Democrats' and insisted on being known as 'Democrats' for short.  It changed its name again, and the new 'shortened' version became two words: 'Liberal Democrat'. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What is the Point of a Lib Dem MP?

Everybody knows that having a Liberal Democrat MP cannot affect government policy, but can someone explain why our MP could not stop his leader from announcing that the Lib Dems would keep tuition fees for students?

Whatever one's views on tuition fees, the policy hokey-cokey at the Lib Dem conference was a farce.

Could it be that he only comes 45th in the list of the 50 most influential Lib Dems?

23rd September 2009

Postal Strikes Cost Jobs Too

Why should people spend time trying to save post offices when the postal unions keep going on strike?

Driving local residents and firms away from using your service is not the usual way of promoting your business.

So a series of postal strikes will not safeguard jobs, but it could cost more of them in the long term.

What this whole affair shows is that the government has no clue about the problems facing the service or how to set out about tackling them. It is time for change...

Richard Normington

Government Put on the Spot - Congestion Charge Decision Deferred.

The County Council plans to bring forward the Transport Innovation Fund [TIF] bid for money for Chesterton Station and put the final decision on congestion charging back to late in 2010, beyond the General Election which must take place by June.

Richard Normington, Cambridge’s City Conservative Spokesman, said, “ A Conservative government will not introduce compulsory congestion charges. Kicking the Congestion Charge decision beyond the General Election date is good news. Also, bringing forward the proposal for the railway station improvements will put Labour Ministers on the spot. If they are serious about congestion and public transport, they should approve the plan.”

He added, “With both the Labour government and the local Liberal Democrats coming down in favour of congestion charging; only a Conservative vote at the next General Election is certain to stop this poll tax on wheels.”

23rd September 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lib Dems in Flip Flop Conference

One day they are for scrapping tuition fees in higher education, the next day keeping them, and the day after to try to scrap them... but on a future date to be decided.

One day the Lib Dems are calling for 'savage' cuts in spending, the next they are talking about cutting tax without explaining how it will be paid for.

Their plans for a local income tax would mean soaring tax bills for hard-working families while it's not clear how their house tax can be introduced without huge administration costs for anyone living in a home in council tax band F or higher.

Liberal Democrat supporters who want to see the back of this governmnent must now be in despair. They have a party leadership in greater confusion than Labour's, and which will not commit to supporting a Conservative-led adminstration should there be a hung Parliament. Vote Lib Dem, Get Labour?

The only vote that will remove Labour from government is a Conservative one.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quango’s ‘Guilt Clause’ for Cars Could Hit Cambridge

“The proposal to find the car driver at fault automatically when there is an accident with a cyclist could only create injustice and anger, especially in a place like Cambridge,” commented Richard Normington, the City Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman. "And cyclists, in their turn, would be at fault if they were in collision with a pedestrian. This is just as wrong."

He added, “Justice should be based on individual responsibility and not spurious group rights."

"A lot of work is being done to promote cycling, especially by the County Council, but this takes us down the wrong route. A cycling city like Cambridge needs support, not policies that instigate collective guilt and promote conflict.”

The Times
reports, “Government advisers are pushing for changes in the civil law that will make the most powerful vehicle involved in a collision automatically liable for insurance and compensation purposes.” Cycling England, an agency funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), is behind the proposals. It's Chief Executive said, “I would like to see the legal onus placed on motorists when there are accidents.."


21st September 2009

Police Want Web Advice

E-cops Update: Cambridgeshire Constabulary's marketing team would like your help. They are currently looking for people to come along and take part in a focus group about their website.

If you'd like to take part, and you're available on either 10-12pm or 2-4pm of Tuesday 29th September, and you can get to police headquarters in Huntingdon, please contact Niki Humphrey on 0345 456 456 4 Ext 8106 or by email

Sessions will last approximately 2 hours and refreshments will be provided.

You don't need to have ever looked at the site before to take part as they will have computer access to it on the day, but if you are already a visitor, then they'd love to know what you think.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time to reverse the rise of the ‘surveillance state’

A future Conservative Government will drastically scale back the intrusive and ineffective ‘Big Brother’ state. New policies by Conservatives are pledging to offer an alternative to Whitehall’s curtailment of civil liberties and stop taxpayers’ money being wasted on expensive and ineffective IT databases.

This comes amid growing concern about the Government’s new Independent Safeguarding Authority. This scheme could force 11 million adults to be vetted and monitored – even if they just give lifts to children as part of a school run or local football club.
  • Conservative proposals include:
  • Scrapping the National Identity Register, which will contain personal details of every citizen, and abolishing the Identity Cards that will accompany the database.
  • Ditching the ContactPoint database – which holds the names, dates of birth, schools and home addresses of all 11 million children in England until the age of 18, but is entirely separate from the children at risk registers.
  • Ending the permanent retention of innocent people’s DNA on the National DNA database.
  • Preventing councils from using controversial anti-terror laws to spy on local citizens; surveillance could only be used where necessary to stop a serious crime (involving a custodial sentence) and where a magistrates’ warrant has been obtained.
Subjecting all new laws to a new ‘privacy’ test, and beefing up the role of the privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner.

20th September 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cherry Hinton Festival

A great day out, with games, displays, food and even an open air history festival. Supported by both kind weather and enthusiastic participants. See

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rail Strike Called Off

Good news, though now we wait for the postal service to go out on strike instead.

Every Labour government ends with higher unemployment that when it started, greater national debt levels than when it started, and mutual recrimination with its major paymasters as they use the tail-end of the regime to try to bag benefits that no Conservative would give in to.

We need an election sooner, not later

18th September 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Physics at Work - 25th Anniversary

A great evening at the Cavendish Laboratory, showcasing how science can be fun.

Stacey and I sat in on presentations about crime scenes, water and polymers... if that sounds very dry when seen in the written word, the presentations were done with verve and enthusiam while the polymers were fun to watch! As a sideline, a James Bond gadget poster explained which of the fictional spy's toys were truly fictional and those that could work. It gave the simple, helpful scientic explanation for each item that even an historian by background - like me - can grasp.

Although history will always be my subject, Physics at Work won me over to the sciences for the evening. I hope for many young people that it can capture them for life.

The weblink is

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Addenbrookes for a Wisdom Tooth Operation

I had a wisdom tooth operation at Addenbrookes Hospital this weekend. The staff did a knock-out job, in my case literally, and I am one tooth less after a short spell under anaesthetic.

Thank you. They did great work.

Both the baby and I are on the same food, for a short while.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Help to Set Better Policing Priorities

Cambridge residents are urged to take part in the survey asking for policing priorities over the coming year. Copies are available online as well as through the library service.

Richard Normington commented, “This is a welcome innovation, I hope people will make their voices heard.”
He added, “One of the things we can’t change, however, is the culture of box-ticking and bureaucracy that central government has introduced over the years. That can only change when Labour leaves office, which I hope will be soon.”

In a message to local people, the authority said, “For the first time ever a 'People's Priority' will be included in next year's Policing Plan, meaning that you will get to decide what should be a priority for policing in Cambridgeshire.

Each year the Police Authority publishes a three-year rolling plan setting out what is expected of Cambridgeshire Constabulary in terms of tackling national and local priorities. It provides an overview of the resources available, how these will be used and specifies how Cambridgeshire Constabulary's performance will be monitored.

The Police Authority is asking you for your views on the 2009-2012 plan, which is available in libraries across Cambridgeshire and online (see link below) as well as asking them what should be included in next year's plan.

To give feedback on the Policing Plan or register your views for the 'People's Priority' please visit the Police Authority website (see link below) to fill in the questionnaire.

The overall 'People's Priority' will be decided based solely on the consensus of public opinion and will be included in next year's Local Policing Plan. The deadline for responses is 23rd November 2009.”


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Strikes to Hit Cambridge Rail Travellers Again

ASLEF union members voted today to go back on strike, bringing potential misery to Liverpool Street commuters again. The first date for the resumed strikes is set for Monday 21st September. The action will continue for the entire week.

Richard Normington, a daily commuter on the line and Conservative Parliamentary spokesman for Cambridge, commented:

“Commuters are being punished by a dinosaur union with a class war agenda. How can we promote greener methods of travel, like rail, when the people responsible seem determined to put us back on the motorways? ”

See: and the earlier which assured people that a deal had been found.

8th September

Monday, September 7, 2009

Elections Should be Decided on the Night.

There is a move to begin General Election counts on the Friday morning and not as soon as the polls shut at 10pm on the Thursday night.

For most the last two centuries, only the far flung constituencies counted the next day. They were the most rural of rural seats, where travel times to the counts were in hours, a large number of boxes had to be transported [holding only a few precious votes in each] and, in Scotland, sometimes this involved movement by boat. In previous centuries, the elections themselves were spread out over weeks.

But today, for the rest of the country, the deed is done by the early hours of the morning and so we knew the nature of the government before dawn*. It is worth asking who the delay benefits? The public expect a speedy service, and they are right to do so. Election counting is no exception.

There is an excellent post on Conservative Home setting out why the Thursday count should be kept. See

Cambridge City Conservative Councillor Chris Howell is taking this issue up locally.


*There is one recent exception, 1992: "The Conservatives knew the result before midnight, Labour accepted the result in the early morning, and the BBC did not concede until well into the next day".

True Blue Bins Teach City Lib Dems a Recycling Lesson.

City Conservatives have championed consistently the change to a better recycling system,

After going its own way for years by issuing residents two boxes for recyclable materials (and the inevitable soggy paper that comes with the ‘no lids’ boxes), the Lib Dem City Council will now replace them with a single large bin, with a lid.

This is in recognition that the recycling rate of Conservative-controlled Huntingdonshire, which uses the single bin, is considerably higher (Our summer 2007 In Touch pointed this out and the text is reproduced at the end of the article). The Lib Dems should have introduced the single bin in the first place, thus saving money on the two boxes, and garnering greater green credentials.

This autumn will see most households in the city get a blue recycling bin for all dry recyclables. The new bin will replace existing black and blue recycling boxes. We are reassured that the mixed recyclables will actually be taken to a sorting plant to be separated into different materials! Of course, we now have to see how the City Council manages the distribution of the new bins, and that they are not foisted on homes that can’t handle them.

Details of the change can be found on the City Council website:

And the leftover boxes? If you don’t want to return them, you can always plant some nice flowers them.
Conservatives Ahead in Recycling

Did you know that Conservatives in Cambridgeshire outperform the Liberal Democrat controlled City Council in recycling?

Six years ago there was only a marginal 1% difference in the performance of Lib Dem Cambridge and Conservative Huntingdonshire. The City Council deserves some credit for actually increasing the total amount recycled, however, today the gap is now 13%.

The Conservative council recycles or composts 53% of waste while our own local Lib Dem district is left lagging behind on 40%.

The Conservatives are well ahead in the race to recycle. Cambridge, with Conservative councillors, could do more for the environment.

In Touch, Summer 2007

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labour's Suez Moment

As the story of nods and winks behind the release of the Lockerbie bomber come out, this looks like Labour's Suez moment.

In 1956, the Protocol of Sèvres was a secret understanding between the UK, France and Israel to choreograph events so that the two European countries could intervene in the Suez Canal zone.

Like the Lockerbie release, there was always a grim pragmatism behind the policy. While today it is helping Libya join the rest of the world and win big trade contracts for the UK. Then, the realpolitik aim was to secure the canal zone for oil imports and stop the march of dictat nationalisations of European assets in the newly independent countries of the world.

The American government was not consulted about either action. It pulled the plug on the Suez gamble. It remains to be seen what will happen about Libya.

Richard Normington

Friday, September 4, 2009

Planning at Ten Minutes to Midnight

The East Area Committee met at 7pm last night and, as usual, the planning applications were heard well after the 9pm watershed. Yesterday was quite good in its own terms, not reaching the 11.50pm closure time of a previous one.

Added to the late-night nature of the meeting, you then have the perplexing system that forces those councillors who have taken public views to vacate their places at the table while others remain to deliberate. It certainly gives a new meaning to the term ' silent majority. ' This depleted group then goes through the items, trying to finish the meeting before midnight. The applicants and their opponents will have sat for several hours to reach this point to watch a decision go through on a handful of votes.

Politicians have little credibility today. The planning system that Liberal Democrats oversee in Cambridge does nothing to boost public confidence in quality of the decisions.

We need to set time frames that are realistic and reassure the public that the applications are taken seriously. The decisions should be taken at a forum where they don’t rely on a handful of votes from members who have had nothing to say.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

George Orwell on Leftwing Anti-Fascism

"The sin of nearly all leftwingers from 1933 onward is that they have wanted to be anti-Fascist without being anti-Totalitarian"(September, 1944, in Arthur Koestler).