Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Rump Parliament Meets Today

Just over 350 years ago a certain Colonel Pride purged the House of Commons to make it more compliant with the Cromwellian Army’s demands. The Commons had already lost its Royalist MPs and moderate members. The remaining members made up what history calls the ‘Rump’ Parliament.

In an effort to create unity, Cromwell and his acolytes further divided the nation as he mistook any difference of opinion for sedition.

Today, as the number of MPs saying they are leaving the Commons at the next election gathers apace, and another large number are braced to leave the Commons involuntarily, the Parliament has a ‘Rump’ quality to it. So it would be better for the country for Gordon Brown call an election now and not leave legislation to his very own, discredited, ‘Rump’.

Friday, October 30, 2009

All the News That’s Fit to Print (in Cambridge)

“All the News That’s Fit to Print” is the motto of the New York Times. However, in Cambridge the competition is between the Cambridge News ( ) and Richard Taylor (

For detailed commentary and analysis of the city’s muncipal issues, the winner is Richard Taylor. His site is an almost Victorian-style local newspaper – and I mean that in the sense of thoroughness, propriety and detail – delivered over the internet, with the opportunity for those concerned to state their own cases via the comments sections.

For those who want to know how a Conservative councillor is making a difference to the city, then go to This is where the work of Chris Howell and the Coleridge Conservative team is showcased. You can see for yourself the combination of councillor casework and city-wide issues that are being addressed. Electing a Tory has already made a difference to Coleridge and the city, some more colleagues for Chris in May 2010 would make an even bigger impact.

Add the sites to your favourites if you want to see how the city is doing.
(And, for the NY Times archive, visit

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back on the Blog Again

Winning a blog award was unexpected.
There's been a short hiatus, but I am back on the blog again (but it will be a bit of time before the back-catalogue is fully available).
Different address, same view of the world.

Baby Boom City

Beckett's first birthday party was on Monday, but we have only just managed to clean the house again.

A great 'thank you' to the friends who came and huge apologies to the county planners because they are now grappling with a Cambridge baby-boom for which Stacey and I take part responsibility.

If you are a planner, there's a cupcake or two left that you can claim as compensation for the extra work...

The Exchange of Letters

Dear Pauline,

For nearly two years now I have been the Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Cambridge, working with James Strachan and now Sarah El Neil as the chairmen of the Association.

During that time we saw the election of a Conservative back onto the City Council, our party overtake Labour at the European Elections to challenge the Lib Dems for top billing, and campaigns to improve life in our City including against congestion charging and to keep post offices open.

However, having done this, and with the prospect of an autumn election passing, I am now stepping down. The Association has a new leadership and I believe needs a new person to take the fight into the final months of the campaign. I hope my successor can be chosen swiftly.

I look forward to working with whoever is chosen to ensure Cambridge plays its part in the election of a Cameron-led government. You know that at the next election the question will be whether Gordon Brown or David Cameron will be Prime Minister. Only a vote for a Conservative candidate will put David into Downing Street.

Yours sincerely,
Richard Normington

Dear Richard,
I accept your resignation on behalf of the Cambridge City Conservative Association.

Thank you for your generous offer of support for a new candidate, and for the work you have done during your time as PPC.

Best wishes for your future
Baroness Perry of SouthwarkHouse of Lords

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thought for the Day

A society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save; in a society which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the nature of that spirit, that spirit in the end will perish.— US Judge Learned Hand, 1953

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get on with the Student Finance Review

The Conservatives have been calling for ministers to get on with the review into student finance.  

The review should be on a cross-party basis, so we can end the uncertainty for universities and students. The model for this type of review is the Dearing Report.  It made 93 recommendations concerning the funding, expansion, and maintenance of academic standards in 1997.

The idea that those who benefit from higher education should meet some of the cost of their degrees is a point which has been won in principle. However, we must ensure that those who could gain from university are not put off by the prospect of debt, and that they have a good chance of staying the full course to earn their degrees.  There will be a lot of investigating, debating, and decision-making to be done.  So the earlier start we make on it, the better.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Setting out the Conservative Stall

Cambridge City Conservatives, supported by the University Assocation, were in the Market Square setting out the Tory stall for the next election. The country is crying out for change, if you want to help to bring it about, please contact us today!

Richard - 07 929 000 582

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lib Dem Councillors in Section 106 Circles

The West/Central Area Committee meeting descended in to low farce. The committee, including three ‘Executive’ councillors, could not work out how money from developers – paid under ‘Section 106’ – was allocated in the city. This followed a question asking why most of the development was in Castle Ward but the S106 projects listed in the agenda were in Newnham.

As the independent member noted, “Councillors don’t understand the rules of the game”.

The Lib Dems have run Cambridge City Council for a long time now, there are no excuses.

Cambridge Deserves Better.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

“Quick Election Count” Call from the City Conservatives

The City Council does not know whether to count the votes for the General Election immediately after polling closes, as it has done before, or if it should wait until the next morning.

Conservative City Councillor Chris Howell, and Parliamentary candidate Richard Normington, are pressing the case for “a quick election count” on the night.

Chris hopes to present this motion at the City Council on 22nd October:

"This Council believes that the interests of democracy and the country are best served if the result of a general election is confirmed as soon as possible after the close of polls. It therefore strongly supports general election counts being conducted on election night immediately following the close of polls, and requests that the returning officer takes note of this opinion."

Richard said, “I hope all parties will support this motion. The public expect a speedy service, and they are right to do so. Election counting is no exception.”

14th October 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tories Back City’s Traders in Parking Battle

Conservative City Councillor Chris Howell and Richard Normington, Conservative Parliamentary spokesman, hit out at the City’s ruling Lib Dem group for ignoring the concerns of the city-centre traders over parking fee rises.

Councillor Chris Howell said, “I have frequently made the point in Council that the recession might lead to lower parking revenues and you can't keep putting them up and expect to pull in more cash.”

Richard commented, “These councillors lost hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds on the folk festival and are trying to claw it back from the parking funds without a thought for the city centre traders. The council needs imagination, not a blunt instrument of blanket rises. For example, lower off-peak charges may actually yield more funds as more people come into the centre to shop.”

Councillor’s Concerns ‘gagged’

Chris added, “I argued that high charges were hitting independent traders. However, when we discussed city centre shopping viability at a Council debate in April the Leader of the Council tried to stop me speaking, on the grounds that high car parking charges weren't relevant to the motion. They need to recognise the damage their car parking policies are doing to the vitality of Cambridge.”

13th October 2009

A14 Campaign Backed by Business

The campaign to upgrade the A14 as fast as possible was backed by business today.

We have reached the point where 'upgrade the A14' is repeated as often in modern times as 'Carthago delenda est' by Cato the Elder in ancient times [though the improvements for the A14 would save lives, unlike Cato's destructive plea].


Friday, October 9, 2009

Party Conference Round-up

This week David Cameron set out bold plans to deal with the big problems the country faces.

The scale of the challenge is immense. For example, Gordon Brown is presiding over a crisis where the country will spend more money on the interest payments on our national debt than on schools. Today, for a single mother with two children, earning £150 a week, the withdrawal of benefits and the additional taxes mean that for every extra pound earned, she can keep just 4 pence. Four pennies in the pound is the Labour reward for self-improvement. Britain deserves better.

Conservatives will empower people to take charge of and improve their own lives with a transparent and accountable government.

We will trust the professionals. Schools, hospitals, universities and police will not be subject to the current arbitrary, responsibility-sapping, box-ticking nonsense from central government.
We will put liberty first, ending Labour’s ‘Big Brother’ government with its expensive databases, 42 days detention, and surveillance state.

Some choices ahead are difficult. For example, the plan to raise the pension age is not a popular one. But it will make it possible to increase the basic state pension in line with earnings, and not just for one year, but for every year. It is also accompanied by a plan to enable the elderly to be spared the forced sale of their homes to pay for care.

Cambridge voters will decide whether they want their voice to be heard and someone to take to the field for them, or if they want the city to be on the sidelines with a Lib Dem MP, marginalised at Westminster and ignored by the party's leadership over tuition fees.
The choice in 2010 is between David Cameron and Gordon Brown as prime minister.

Only a Conservative vote will secure a Cameron government, restore Cambridge’s voice on the national stage, and give Britain the change it deserves.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Richard Pledges to “do his bit” for British Armed Forces

Richard Normington, Cambridge’s Conservative Parliamentary spokesman has pledged to do his bit for the British Armed Forces family. He met with representatives from The Royal British Legion at the Conservative party conference in Manchester where he was presented with a copy of the Legion’s manifesto for the next general election.

The manifesto sets out priorities for the next Government to improve conditions for the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It encourages MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) to “do their bit” for Service Personnel and their families, the bereaved, veterans and dependants.

Kevin Shinkwin, the Legion’s Head of Public Affairs, said, “We’re really grateful to Richard for making the time to meet with us and listen to our concerns. Our message to every candidate standing at the general election is very simple: ‘It’s time to do your bit’.

“The entire Armed Forces family needs the support of politicians from all parties,” he added. “Our manifesto outlines practical ways the next government can help, and we hope all the parties will give it serious consideration”. Richard said, “The Royal British Legion campaigns for the needs of the whole Armed Forces family. I have pledged to do my bit and would encourage everyone to do the same. Visit the general election manifesto website – - to find out more.”

8th October 2009

(The Legion staff member is Charlotte Tailby, Public Affairs Officer, and the photograph is credited to Photoshot.)

Pledge for 10,000 extra university places wins over The Independent

Today's Independent reports that the move is smart on a number of counts. "Politically it is astute for the Tories to position themselves as the friends of higher education at a time when public spending cuts are threatened. Until now it is the Labour Party that has been portrayed as the universities' supporter. The announcement acknowledges the importance of higher education to the British economy and to getting young people off the dole and into work. Offering graduates an incentive to pay back loans is a clever way to raise the money to pay for the extra places. This gives people who might not normally vote Conservative a reason to do so."

If The Independent is ready for change, then the country really is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Choice

Either David Cameron or Gordon Brown will be in Downing Street next year.

Cambridge Conservative spokesman, Richard Normington, said:

"I believe this year’s conference is showing why David Cameron and the Conservatives are better placed to lead Britain out of recession and to fix Britain’s broken economy and society. So this is to encourage you to watch David Cameron’s speech in Manchester, or read it soon after."


8th October 2009

Cambridge University Moving On Up

Today's news tells us that for global higher education: "Harvard is still top, while Cambridge moves up from third to second place. Oxford slips from fourth to fifth rank."

Good, but no ground for complacency.

This morning I raised the issue of the postgraduate sector at a meeting at the Party Conference. We need more British postgraduate students as they will provide the basis for our academic achievements in the future. We also need to make sure that the fiasco over student loans is not repeated next year, as this will affect the number of people entering or staying in higher education in the first place.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Joining 'My Conservatives'

is just a click or two away...

Taking Cambridge to Manchester

Richard Normington, Cambridge's Conservative Parliamentary spokesman, is in Manchester for the Conservative Party Conference.

He said, "I will be discussing some of the major issues facing our city, including education, transport and the economy. I will also see representatives from the voluntary sector including the Sure Start Childrens' Centres, the Royal British Legion and the campaign 'Fairness for the Elderly: Dignity in Retirement, Pensions and Long Term Savings'. On a lighter note, my wife and I will be at the Save the Great British Pub Quiz."

Richard added, "The difference between having a Lib Dem MP and a Conservative one, is that only a Conservative will be able to take Cambridge's case to the heart of government. If you are a Cambridge resident and want me to deliver a message during my stay in Manchester, please drop me line."

4th October 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Irish Referendum Today

As our cousins in the Irish Republic go to the polling stations to vote on the European treaty, it is worth reminding Cambridge voters that this is something our current Member of Parliament will not allow us to do. Every major party promised the British people a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - the renamed EU Constitution - at the last General Election. Labour and the Lib Dems' efforts to deny the British people any say at all on it is a breach of trust with voters.

And now to answer the obvious question... if the Treaty is not yet in force at the time of the next General Election, and a Conservative Government is elected, we would suspend Britain's ratification and hold a referendum, recommending its rejection.

Cambridge residents were promised a say in 2005, they deserve one in 2009.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grove Lodge Saved

The home of Charles Darwin’s wife – and arguably the only pretty building on the Murray Edwards College site – will not be demolished. Instead, the college authorities are looking at using Grove Lodge for fellows’ offices or student accommodation.

Thank you to everyone who worked for this outcome, including readers of this site, and for the College authorities taking into account the views of residents and revising their plans.


1st October 2009

A14 Delayed Again…

This is entirely predictable and what we have come to expect from this government. So it is in the blog, not the news...

The plan to upgrade the A14 was announced by the Government in 2001, after delaying the studies when they came in to power, with a planned public start date of 2008. The Highways Agency pledged earlier this year that work would begin in 2010-11. Now, with construction not starting until 2012, it will be the winter of 2015-16 before work finishes.

Cambridge Station: Meet the Managers Morning

The local managerial team was on show at the railway station this morning. Timing their appearance to coincide with regular commuters was a good start. The openness to new ideas was also refreshing. For example, it was pointed out that the Lost Property office’s hours, opening from 8am, could be changed for an earlier start on some days enabling the morning commuters to collect things on their way in to work and not just at the end of the day.

There are also some major changes planned for the station. The CB1 Development is the best known, but the establishment of an ‘island’ for new platforms in the station and extra work at the Hitchin bottleneck [where the Cambridge line meet the East Coast Main Line] offer the prospect of improved services.