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.

Friday, November 6, 2009

'Thank You' from No2ID

I received this email from Andrew Watson, our local No2ID organiser. I expect my successor to support this campaign entirely. The database 'big brother' state must be reined in.

6th November


I've only just caught up with last week's news that you're standing down as Cambridge's Conservative PPC, so I'd like to thank you for supporting NO2ID so enthusiastically over the last couple of years - your help has been invaluable. Needless to say, we'll carry on campaigning up to the next election, in the hope that a new government will roll back the worst excesses of the "Database State". I hope NO2ID can maintain the excellent rapport with the Cambridge Conservatives that we established during your time as PPC.


See for more on the cause.

Councils Control Just £1 in £20 of their Budgets

The Conservative campaign to put more of the ‘local’ into local government is reinforced by the latest news from The Municipal Journal.

It reports, “New figures analysed from the 13 Total Place pilots show just 5% of local public spending is controlled by elected members, it emerged this week… out of £7,000 per head spent on local public services, only £350 comes under democratic control.”

Furthermore, one council reported having 49 different ‘funding streams’ from central government, each with its own restrictions and reporting mechanisms. The average cost of compliance – reporting back to Big Brother in Whitehall - is £1.5 million per council.

Councils of every political stripe must campaign to reverse this situation.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

David Howarth Won’t Fight the Next Election

The Lib Dem MP for Cambridge announced today that he is standing down.

Is this contagious? I announced my departure last month.

I hope Tony Juniper (Green) and Daniel Zeichner (Labour) will stay in place at least until December.

David is a conscientious man who works diligently on local affairs, for local people. I like him.

However, his party is a different matter. The next election will see either Gordon Brown or David Cameron in Downing Street. Cambridge having a Lib Dem MP in the Commons in 2010 would be about as useful as a well presented rubber plant on the green benches.

We need a new government, and only a Conservative vote can deliver one.

Europe - A Letter from David Cameron

Dear Richard,

Yesterday the Lisbon Treaty was signed by the President of the Czech Republic. It is now set to become EU law.

I know from the huge number of letters and emails that I have been receiving how much people will resent the fact we cannot now have the referendum we were promised by Labour.
But I have always been clear that, if this situation came about, I would immediately set out how a Conservative Government would respond.

First, if we win the next election, we will prohibit, by law, the transfer of further power to the EU without a referendum. Never again should it be possible for a British government to transfer power to the EU without the British people's consent.

Second, we will introduce a United Kingdom Sovereignty Bill to make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament.

And third, we want to negotiate three specific guarantees with our European partners over powers that we believe should reside with Britain, not the EU.

We will negotiate the return of Britain's opt-out from social and employment legislation in those areas which have proved most damaging to our economy and public services. We also want a complete opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. And we would negotiate for a return of powers in criminal justice to prevent EU judges gaining steadily greater control over our criminal justice system.

If I am elected Prime Minister, the British Government I lead will be an active member of the European Union. Like every other Member State, we will fight our corner to advance our national interests. But our guiding principles will be that Britain's interests are best served by a European Union that is an association of its member states - and we must never allow Britain to slide into a federal Europe.

David Cameron

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Communications Allowance to be Cut

The Kelly report on Parliamentary expenses is dominated by duck ponds and the posh versions of ditches. As the public reels in disgust at the hidden taxpayers’ largess lorded on the MPs lifestyle choices, there is one item up for the chop which really does deserve a higher profile: the Communications Allowance.

The guidance to MPs reads:

2. The Communications Allowance provides funds to allow you, as a Member of Parliament, to communicate proactively with your constituents and inform them about your Parliamentary duties. You may claim up to £10,000 per year from this allowance.

That’s right, £10,000 a year to spend on self promotion. This was later raised to £10,400 to take into account inflation.

The guidance says the self promotion includes:

Regular reports to constituents
• Newsletters
• Targeted correspondence relating to local or constituency-wide issues such as:
— Contact with local groups
— Circular letters
— Questionnaires or surveys
— Petitions
• Contact and surgery details, including advertisements
• Costs associated with the publishing, printing or distribution of the above, including direct mailing and
• Set-up and maintenance of websites
• Purchase (or leasing) of equipment for the specific purpose of producing the above items (equipment which may be used to this effect but has other uses - such as photocopiers – should be claimed from your IEP).
• Freepost facilities

All paid for by us, the taxpayer.

Good riddance to duck ponds, moats and politics-on-the-rates.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bolting Stable Doors with HMRC

An E-mail update received this morning starts:

On 14 October 2009 the Financial Secretary to the Treasury proposed significant changes to the current rules governing how group companies are taxed…

One of the problems with making the British tax codes more complicated is that the government has to keep changing the rules just to stay in place. This is because the ‘law of unintended consequences’ means clever lawyers and accountants do their duty to their clients by keeping payments to the legal limit by finding unusual routes through the thickets of legislation planted by government. HMRC in its turn will plant more legislation order to block the way, and so the cycle moves on.

The real victim is the ordinary, decent person who only wants to pay what is right but is faced with a web of laws designed to entangle trained professionals.

“Keep it simple, stupid” is the best policy. Clear out the credits, exceptions and special pleading and replace them with simple, flatter taxes.

Taxes levied at lower rates are more likely to be paid. First, it becomes more cost-effective to comply and, second, there isn’t the resentment that the government is ‘ripping us off’ that fuels many a potential tax avoider.

As for the proposed changes, read and weep:

Potential Impact. As such, this new exception is of a much narrower scope and it is intended that only buy backs that are “undertaken as part of genuine corporate rescues will benefit from the buy back profits not being subject to tax”. Certain securitisation structures for one should be reviewed in light of this. That said, it may still be possible, subject to any new legislation, for tax neutrality in relation to a discounted debt buy backs to be achieved via alternative routes; namely in the form of waivers implemented under schemes of arrangement or a capitalization share issue.

For the full joy of this tax update read

Monday, November 2, 2009

On Your Marks. Start a Business!

In the UK, we can start new businesses at a good speed in about thirteen days or so. This is better than Germany (18 days) but the same as Mexico and worse than France (7 days) or the prize-winner New Zealand (1 day).

Pity the poor entrepreneurs of Brazil (120 days) or Surinam (694 days).

For the full list, see

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More than a ‘Model T’ Poppy Appeal

I did my second stint at the Sainsbury’s in Coldham’s Lane supporting the British Legion’s poppy appeal. There was not the frantic rush for poppies from last Saturday, when the appeal had just started, but we had a steady stream of people wanting to show their support for our armed forces throughout my stay.

When I first volunteered, I expected to have the standard 'poppy with the pin' to give out; a variation on Ford’s 'Model T' car where, when the mass production of cars began, you could have any colour you like - but it had to be black.

However, there was so much more than the 'poppy with a pin' on offer. We had the stick-on poppy, the larger poppy which looks striking on ladies, two different kinds of stickers, a metal Legion badge, a car tax holder, a remembrance cross, a big poppy for the front of the car, a key chain, a magnificent range of wreaths, a book mark and even a little furry thing.

The furry thing went down well with the children, as did the stick-on poppies. These items ensured that little ones did not become pincushions (however, as my one-year-old has decided that cardboard is really a food group, the life span of some of these poppies may be less than intended unless parents' keep a watchful eye).

Of course, even with the choices on offer I still go for the 'Model T' option, poppy-with-pin, every time...

See for the appeal, for the national site and for Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.

The Cambridge branch has a dedicated team of collectors, but will always need more.