Friday, January 29, 2010

No Jab, No School


In 1998, there were 56 cases of measles in England and Wales. In 2008, there were 1,370.
With the conclusion of the MMR scare started in 1998 - that it was a scare - now is the time to make it clear that children without jabs should not be allowed into state schools. If parents with a voodoo-lifestyle want to home-school their kids, that's fine with me. Just keep the potential plague-bearers away from my children.
Oh, and by the way, where were the courageous journalists always in search of truth? Our media was far too happy to trumpet unquestioningly the scare story and not to search for the science beneath it. It took six years for the fourth estate to come around to questioning this quack, but full marks to The Sunday Times for doing so. If we had relied on the broadcasters, they would probably still be telling us that cholera was caused by bad air.

No jab, No School. Simples.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Assisted Suicide? Doctors Who Kill.


Assisted suicide is the subject of the Cambridge News vote.

It is a tragic subject, but I would not want to give doctors this power in law. Just because someone joins a caring profession does not mean that they are more equipped to care than the rest of us. For some the opportunity to fulfil an ambition or to fill a wallet is too much temptation. Mengele, Crippen, Shippen and a few others come to mind, including that paediatrician: Ayman al-Zawahiri.

This article from the New York Times concludes:

In the end, we doctors are no different than the rest of you. We probably turn killer less often than most other occupations. But our ranks have and will always include the deeply flawed, the greedy, the delusional, bunglers, rationalizers and just plain sociopaths - like every other population.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Best of Luck Ely


Rev Dr Anthony Russell is retiring as the Bishop of Ely. I enjoyed meeting him when my mother was the chairman of the county council. We attended many civic events together and quite a few services too.

While Bill Westwood as Bishop of Peterborough has an unchallenged place in my Episcopal view – he was a rebel, being the only Thatcherite on the bench of bishops and the first to take out a subscription to Sky TV – Anthony Russell’s interest in agriculture and the rural community gives him a great place, regardless of his political leanings [which I don’t know, and that in itself makes it a rarity in the C of E ].

Not all Bishops of Ely have done the country or its people so well. It was his predecessor, Robert Morton, who created ‘Morton’s Fork’ as the rule for tax collection, and one taken to heart by the Treasury today:

"If the subject is seen to live frugally, tell him because he is clearly a money saver of great ability he can afford to give generously to the King. If, however, the subject lives a life of great extravagance, tell him he, too, can afford to give largely, the proof of his opulence being evident in his expenditure."

Ouch.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Tear Down This Wall"


Opponents of globalisation and free trade often call for tariff – tax – barriers to “protect” local industries. These barriers include taxes on medicines.

IPN provides an interactive map with a global overview of the average rates of import tariffs for medicines. As IPN notes, “Tariffs are a regressive tax on the sick, which drive up the final retail price of medicines.”

The European Union and the United States emerge on the side of the angels. Others are in the wrong: putting their state's profit over their people's health.

To quote Ronald Reagan outside the Brandenburg gate: “Tear down this wall!”

See: www.policynetwork.net/health/map/

Monday, January 25, 2010

Parking Charges Up

The on-street and off-street charges are going up. As the on-street charges must always be greater than the off-street ones – because planners want us to look for places in the car parks not cruising the streets for vacancies – the recent rise in off-street prices has now brought about the matching rise for on-street ones. Is it a variation of one of Newton’s Laws?

Vote in today’s Cambridge News Poll on this…

Of course, even for those on bicycles, parking is still a problem. As Miss Cole says, “I don’t park it at the station. The station is like a cesspit of cycles. I don’t think it’s nice to put it in so much danger.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

Saving Cyclists from Theft

Yet another example of how even one councillor can make a difference is that of Conservative Cllr Howell for Coleridge.

Councillors have the power to set some policing priorities through the community safety partnership, but are usually reluctant to do so, taking the safe route of accepting the police proposals wholesale.

Chris says: "I was one of the first councillors to change neighbourhood policing priorities at an area committee. At first police were surprised but nowadays we can get a healthy debate. I am glad that I was able to do the same at the city level but why did the Lib Dems sit on their hands at the vote? Do the Lib Dems not believe in local accountability for policing?"

See here for more details of how fighting cycle theft – and Lib Dem fatalism – is a priority: http://cherryhintonroad.blogspot.com/2010/01/action-on-cycle-theft-now-priority.html

Sweet Point from the Telegraph


Had the family been truly committed to Cadbury's independence, it would have kept the business private. Once the company's shares were floated on the stock market, they were tagged "for sale". Jeff Randall

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Government, Not the Banks…


The County Council has to cut its spending power by a fifth over the next five years.

County Councillor Jill Tuck, Leader of the Council, said: "The next five years contains the bleakest outlook for public services nationally for decades. Dealing with those longer term pressures, painful though they are, is at the heart of our budget plans and is one of the most challenging tasks we have ever had to undertake.”

It is grim under Gordon's Premiership.

However, one of her colleagues added, “Ultimately public services are having to shoulder a heavy burden for the Government's bailing out of the banks.”

That's true, but it lets Gordon Brown off the hook.

The government allowed the country as a whole to borrow and spend, spend and spend. It did not have the means to keep track of spending, or the property bubbles, through the Tripartite system created by Gordon Brown in 1997.

Basically the Tripartite system worked like this: the Financial Services Authority thought it was the Bank of England’s job, the Bank of England looked to the Treasury, while the Treasury [Chancellor Gordon Brown] didn’t want to see problems because it had already abolished ‘Boom and Bust’.

Power 2010 - Vote Now

The Power 2010 campaign is gathering a list of the top five constitutional and political reforms the public wants to happen. The idea is to set the agenda for the General Election by presenting the list of reforms to the candidates.

Stopping ID cards and rolling back the database state is my first choice.

If you'd like to participate, please go to the website www.power2010.org.uk/votes

I have also supported three other proposals:

Stronger local government: Give greater decision making and taxation powers to local government

Strengthen select committees: Give select committees in Parliament more power to scrutinise legislation and hold government to account

Reduce the use of statutory instruments: Prevent the government creating new laws in a way which bypasses Parliament.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr President

On the first anniversary of the Obama presidency the BBC described the historic Republican Party win in Massachusetts as something that would rob the Democrats of their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

“Rob?" I choked on my cornflakes reading this.

“Deny”, yes; but not rob.

Elections are ‘robbed’ by fraud, bribery or intimidation. They are not robbed by counting the votes fairly.

The Massachusetts people spoke. Someone at the BBC did not like what they said.

How many zeros in a billion?


This US viral is doing the rounds... it hits the mark.

The next time you hear a politician use the word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money. A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of it's releases.


A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were Living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

A billion Pounds ago was only 13 hours and 12 minutes at the rate this government is spending it.


The roll call of taxes... Building Permit Tax Cigarette Tax Corporate Income Tax Dog License Tax Income Tax Unemployment Tax Fishing License Tax Food License Tax Fuel Permit Tax Petrol/Diesel Tax Hunting License Tax Inheritance Tax Inventory Tax (tax on top of tax) Liquor Tax Luxury Tax Marriage License Tax Property Tax Real Estate Tax Service charge taxes Social Security Tax Road Usage Tax Local Tax Vehicle License Registration Tax Vehicle Sales Tax Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago... And our nation was one of the most prosperous in the world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Go-Spend

Staff from Go-East, Labour’s quasi-regional government for the East of England, went on a £7,500 away day to Chilford Hall. That's £50 per person. Nice work.
The kicker here was that they were told not to let on to anyone. This is a classic case of marking something ‘secret’ therefore ensuring that everyone reads it. If Go-Spend staff had merely toddled the 11 miles from their own office for this meeting it probably would have slipped public notice as one of the routine wastes of time and money.

As for the content, "to plan for the future, review and improve how we work with and for people in the region", I wonder if abolition was on the agenda?

Monday, January 18, 2010

For Portland, Pig and People

It is great news that the Portland Arms is to be reprieved. I remember the earlier campaign to save the Flying Pig. Well done!

It is vital that the community continues to use these pubs and the pub owners do everything they can to make their business profitable. It is a two way contract that both sides must keep.

One Global Warming Warning Melts Away

As a former member of the Conservative Research Department I have a fear of misquoting figures and the need to question the ones I have been given. When conducting debates with political opponents, I respect their integrity and assume that it is the interpretation of the figures that are the source of disagreement, not that they are being made up in the first place.

The revelations of dodgy graphs and the perceived manipulation of peer reviews at the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU), are examples of the former. Today’s laughable explanation of where the claim that the Himalayas were going melt came from, is a shocking example of the latter.

Read and weep, with laughter or fear, the article in The Times.

For the record: climate change happens. We must get used to change, adapt to it and where we can – and it is in our interests to – try to avert it. If climates didn’t change we would not have had an ice age or forests with dinosaurs, whose bones would turn up later to the delight of Darwin and Dawkins.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Life in the UK



Take the test and decide for yourself how useful it is for assessing whether people should live here. Have cup of tea while you do it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lib Dem Candidate Found


The Liberal Democrats selected Julian Huppert to stand their corner at the next General Election. I knew Julian when he was leader of the county Lib Dems, providing more coherent opposition in Shire Hall than we have today, and he is a likeable character. Of course, putting a Lib Dem into the Commons has proved to be about as useful as a rubber plant if you are looking for anything more than a rather grandly titled local councillor.

My colleagues in the Coleridge Conservatives will confirm that I predicted this selection, but I wish I had put money on it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Vote Camfed!

A Message from Camfed - and I hope you too will vote!
Camfed is a finalist in the Chase Community Giving competition and stands to earn $1 million for girls in Africa-but we can't win without your help.

To receive the grand prize, we need to earn more votes than any other charity in the international competition. We'll use $1 million from Chase to provide some of the poorest girls in Zimbabwe with four-year high school scholarships, transforming their lives. Please help us send them to school!
Vote for Camfed now through Jan. 22 by clicking here:http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/301903
Once you've voted, tell your friends. By voting for Camfed and asking everyone you know to do the same, you and your friends, colleagues and family members can help educate hundreds of girls in Africa. There's no easier way to make a difference.
We've included a sample message below to help you spread the word to friends and colleagues. Thank you for your support!
Sincerely,
The Camfed Team
--------------------------------
Dear Friend,
I support the nonprofit Camfed, which fights poverty and AIDS in Africa by educating girls. They are a finalist in the Chase Community Giving competition and stand to win $1 million to educate girls in Africa-but they need our help.
All you have to do is vote for Camfed now through Jan. 22 by clicking here: http://apps.facebook.com/chasecommunitygiving/charities/301903
Since the charity with the most votes will receive the grand prize, we control the outcome. Please vote for Camfed and forward this message on. There's no easier way to change girls' lives in Africa.
Thanks very much!

Rubber Tree Wannabe Chosen Tonight


Having a Liberal Democrat MP is about as useful to Cambridge at the national level as putting a rubber tree on the Commons green benches.

The six candidates hoping to take over from the amiable, diligent but nationally irrelevant David Howarth are on show to their fellow Liberal Democrats tonight. It is worth noting that all of them are councillors. While this is good at one level – the pavement politics – it highlights how parochial the Lib Dems are, with a squint that does not get beyond the last chair in the council chamber.

The choice at the next election is whether we have a Brown or Cameron government. Even the Lib Dem leader says that the party with the largest number of seats should lead the next government, so why vote Lib Dem and rule oneself out of making the choice?

If you want change, only a vote for Nick Hillman and the Conservatives in 2010 will contribute to bringing it about.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pothole Hotline - Gritting News

Below is the report by County Councillor John Reynolds. The council is asking people to notify it of potholes via the website or via the contact centre on 0345 045 5212 (contact centre is open 8.00 am-8.00 pm, Monday to Saturday). “We will repair them as soon as resources and weather conditions allow.”


From County Councillor John Reynolds

January Report

I want to update you on both the Cambridgeshire and national gritting situation and as I write this report (January 12th) the snow in our area is at last melting away but many other parts of the country are still griped in deep snow and ice.

Cambridgeshire started the gritting season with all our four salt barns full with a total of some 12,000 tonnes, enough to do at least 60 full gritting runs which is the average number over each of the winter periods in the past 15 years. We have over the past ten years invested in 35 gritting lorries designed to the latest standards each of which can spread up to 5 tons of salt.

Salt works by turning the ice or snow surrounding each salt granule into a saline solution which has a lower freezing point than water. The action 0f traffic is essential for salt to be effective - moving the salt granules around and eventually meting the ice and snow.

Since 16th December we have carried out well over 40 runs, including on Christmas Day, plus undertaking a couple of secondary runs and numerous bits of spot salting on footways and cycle ways. Each full gritting run uses over 200 tons of salt and covers about42% of all county roads, the Highways Agency are responsible for the national road network.

We do have some material that is not suitable for the gritters which we are using in a targeted way to fill grit bins and to treat some of the busier footways. During this extremely cold spell we have worked with city, district and parish councils to treat as much as we can. Our teams have been working very hard, around the clock in very challenging conditions.

Nationally many areas have been harder hit than us, for example in the north and Scotland, this has meant that deliveries of replacement stocks normally destined for us have had to be redirected to those most in need. This happened last year and is a partnership between the Department for Transport, Local Government Association and salt suppliers to prioritise which authorities receive deliveries and when. Each council provides regular information on their salt stocks to help decision making.

As you know, like last year, we are seeing many potholes with many more likely to form in these extremely cold conditions. We are asking people to let us know of any problems in their area - they can notify us via our website or via the contact centre on 0345 045 5212 (contact centre is open 8.00 am-8.00 pm, Monday to Saturday). We will repair them as soon as resources and weather conditions allow.

Yours
John Reynolds

County Councillor: John Reynolds, 4 Hollytrees, Bar Hill, CB23 8SF. john.reynolds@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Clarissa Dickson-Wright, Lucy Cavendish College

29th January 2010: This event is our key fundraiser for the 2010 general election campaign. The evening will start with a sparkling wine reception, before we sit down to a three-course meal. Wine, coffee and petit fours are all included.

Clarissa will be talking about her fascinating life – from being the country’s youngest female barrister though her life as a TV chef and beyond. Her most recent book, Rifling Through My Drawers: My Year in a Life, was described by one newspaper as ‘delightfully outrageous’.

Tickets can be obtained (at £75 per head) from Mrs Jilly Hurley at jillyhurley@googlemail.com.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Judge is the Jury?


The first Crown Court trial in England that does not feature a jury is underway today.

This undermines part of our inheritance of freedom, Magna Carta.

The great charter said:


(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.


(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.


What with the threats to habeas corpus – like executive detention orders - and the abolition of double jeopardy – enabling people to be charged for the same crime twice - the ‘modernisers’ in New Labour have legislated away our ancient liberties.

Bowl of Soul

...Or American-style chilli.
The completely informal bowl of chilli and drop of something is available on Thursday night for £5 as part of the Coleridge Conservative fundraisers (OK, by charging £5 this is a fun-raiser rather than a wallet squeezing exercise).


For more details contact us on 01223 210 275. There will be a raffle.

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Wonder Howarth Jumped…


The Lib Dems inched closer to economic reality today by saying, “Extending free childcare, free personal care for the elderly and a "citizen's pension" would have to be "put on hold" and tuition fees ended over six years.”

It’s the tuition fee tick that will hurt the Lib Dems most in Cambridge. By kicking the tuition fee cut into the long grass for six years – that’s at least two general elections – they have made it the kind of promise that nobody believes will ever happen (both because of the policy and the national prospects of the party putting it forward).

Tony Blair’s introduction of tuition fees were one of the big issues in the defenestration of Anne Campbell as the Labour MP for the city. It’s going to be hard to motivate the current generation of students to campaign for a theoretical cut in six years time… and I can see how this would have made for some rather awkward campaign moments for the current MP who made his name driving an anti-tuition fee bandwagon.
There is an earlier post on the usefulness of a Lib Dem MP.

It’s What They Do Anyway…


Five days late but with a photo of Lib Dems to show, the local paper caught up with the Coleridge Blog about cycling in Cambridge.

The new contra flow cycle signs will permit cyclists to carry on bicycling the wrong way down certain one way streets. The decision to use clearer signs than what Conservative Councillor Chris Howell calls the 'warning, low flying motorbikes' is good news. The new sign uses the usual red disc with a horizontal white bar but with an "Except Cycles" below it.

I know my cycling friends are all in favour, especially the Conservative Councillor for Coleridge, but I am still wary. Will there be a sign at the other end telling motorists, “Cyclist coming right at you”? Especially when so many people are willing to spend hundreds on pounds on the cycle but not bother with a light when they get on it?

Friday, January 8, 2010

More A14 Obstruction from City Lib Dems

On the same day as the Cambridge Liberal Democrats say they oppose the widening of the A14 because it, “will bring more cars to the city,” the Cambridge News reports earlier this morning, “A foreign lorry’s trailer broke off as it was travelling along the A14 – smashing into a car.”

First, if the Lib Dems get their way, they would build a congestion charge tax wall around the city.

But more realistically, the A14 is a major road connecting the east coast ports to the industrial Midlands.

The number of lorry drivers diverting to view The Backs or go shopping at the Grafton will be minimal. The number of lives lost and people injured because of the delay in upgrading this road is already too high. We need the upgrade now.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

City Tory Helps Save Election Night


The campaign to keep the quick election count on Thursday night was won in Cambridge.

Councillor Chris Howell led the campaign locally, with helpful support from me as the then parliamentary candidate and the powerful backing of Conservative Home.

As Chris writes, "The motion to Council was proposed by myself, and was probably the first time a Conservative proposed motion has been approved at the City Council for a great many years!"

Out of this World: The Board of Trade to BIS

The musical chairs and brass plate changing that goes on for the Whitehall department dealing with business brought an interesting google point.

BIS is the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Or it could be the British Interplanetary Society.

British Interplanetary Society, Home Page, London, UK
Organization devoted to supporting and promoting the exploration of space and astronautics. Overview of publications and events, contact and membership ...www.bis-spaceflight.com/ - Cached - Similar

Of course from 1621 to 1970 it was known as the Board of Trade.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No2ID - No Minister!


A Labour minister was supposed to be in town to promote ID cards but didn't show up. Drop the policy if you can't defend it.
Full marks to Nick Hillman and the Coleridge team for turning up.

University Bonds and City Developments

The plan to fund specific long-term projects using bonds is something that American universities in the top tier, and many rungs below, are used to.

Here it is such a novelty that it merits a story in a national broadsheet as well as the local paper.

The real debate will come when we look at what the money is for: "a development in north-west Cambridge and the redevelopment of two city centre sites, New Museum and the Old Press."

Given the City Council's invertebrate planning regime, all sorts of long-term mistakes can be made in the name of modern design and faddishness. Remember, these are the people who brought us the post-Soviet bleakness of Cambridge Leisure Centre, the only place in England where the car park is better looking than the hotel.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tom Harris MP (Labour) Quote of Day

Don’t enjoy politics? Tough. I can’t stand football, but I still have to sit through sports “headlines” interrupting proper news bulletins every day.

- I had headed this Tom Watson in an earlier posting... whoops!

Nick Clegg: If You Cannot Say a Nice Thing, Say Nothing?

The Lib Dem Leader’s recent interviews have not done the party any good.

Those of us who stand for election know how the Lib Dems cuddly fuzzy image is belied by their nasty, gutter campaigning techniques and frankly bizarre bar charts designed to show ‘it’s a two horse race’ – even if their nag has not left the paddock.

Today the Lib Dem leader could not think, or would not say, a nice thing about either Prime Minister Gordon Brown or David Cameron.

As much as I disagree with Gordon Brown, he does have certain values and has done some good things: for example independence for the Bank of England. I also agree completely with Labour MP Tom Harris’s blog on politics today.

See, it can be done.

But Nick Clegg could not say a single nice thing. Nada. Not a word.

Of course, I will be accused of being ‘negative’ by pointing this out…

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January's Coleridge Branch Events


Coleridge Branch of the Cambridge City Conservative Association invites you to:

Burns Night Dinner with Nick Hillman (Monday 25 January)
Cherry Hinton Constitutional Club, 144 Cherry Hinton Road
Three course dinner
Tickets at £17.50 per person (Club, Branch & CUCA Members)
Tickets at £20.00 per person for all others

American Chilli Night (Thursday 14 January)
Informal Chilli bowls and chat.
130 Perne Road
Tickets at £5.00 per person


Please contact Stacey Normington on 01223 210275 or by e-mail at
stacey_neary@yahoo.com for more information. Make cheques payable to ‘Coleridge Conservative Branch’ and send to 130 Perne Road, CB1 3NX.

For the Coleridge Branch blog visit here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Keep the Presumption of Innocence.


Today's Cambridge News poll asks: "Should police be allowed to hold the DNA of innocent people?"


No.

I don't trust this government to run a whelk stall, why am I being asked to trust it with my DNA? My DNA belongs to me, not the state.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Recycling Stats Heap Shame on City Lib Dems


Conservative Huntingdonshire has extended its lead over Lib Dem Cambridge in the recycling stakes according to the latest statistics.

Despite lots of hot air on global warming being produced at the Guildhall for public consumption, the figures show a different story of how the Lib Dems have let Cambridge lose the race to recycle.

Now, some 57.2 per cent of household waste in Tory Huntingdonshire is for reuse, recycling or composting. This is compared to just 41.2 per cent for Cambridge.

The Tory authority extended its 2001 lead of one per cent to 16 percent today.

Crucially, the Tory council extended its lead by adding 6.4 per cent more households over the last three years compared to a meagre 1.6 per cent for Cambridge - some four times better than the rate achieved by the sanctimonious Lib Dem city councillors who hope to stand for parliament in place of David Howarth.

Councillor Chris Howell on his blog shows up the incompetence of the city’s Lib Dems when it comes to the practical ways of reducing energy consumption. We have to hope that the new recycling system for the city, long advocated by the City Conservatives, can bridge the gap.

The figures show that if you want to go green, you’re better off voting blue.