Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Copeland Conservatives Website

During the Copeland by-election we replaced the content of Copeland Conservatives' website with a link to the website of our then candidate in the by-election, Trudy Harrison (now the MP.)

We left this arrangement in place during the General Election.

We are now rebuilding the Copeland Conservatives website, which has the address

http://copelandconservatives.com/


Trudy Harrison MP has her own website which can be found at

https://www.trudyharrison.co.uk/


Copeland Conservatives are on Facebook at Copeland Conservative Association,

and Copeland Conservatives Campaign page,


and on Twitter at @CopelandTories.


Cumbria Conservatives are also on Facebook at Cumbria Conservatives

Cumbria Conservative Conference

There are still a few tickets available for the Cumbria Conservative conference on Friday 3rd November and the Pre-Conference Dinner on the evening of Thursday 2nd November.

These can be booked online at https://cumbriaconference.co.uk/.

The first session of the conference, which is open to party members in Cumbria whether or not they are attending the rest of the conference but is not open to non members of the party, is the Inaugural Genearl Meeting of the Cumbria Conservative Association which replaces Cumbria Area Conservatives. This new body will replace Cumbria Area Conservatives and is intended to help Conservatives in the six constituencies in Cumbria to work more effectively together.

All Hallow's Eve

Today is All Hallow's Eve (the day before All Saints Day) usually shortened to Halloween.

I can tell because the items themed for ghosts, witches, monsters and horror have started to be replaced in the shops with material themed for Christmas

I was told as a child that this time of the year was originally a great Pagan festival which was co-opted by the early Christian church and is now an important three-day festival, "Allhallowtide" in the Christian calendar, but that the only thing from either which remains in the popular consciousness are the name "Halloween" for the first day of that festival and a parody of the way medieval Christian propagandists depicted the previous pagan festival.

When you start looking into the truth of this it becomes clear that things are a bit more complicated. Judeo-Christian traditions commemorating the dead actually look back thousands of years, even pre-dating the life of Jesus and going back to the Old Testament (See 2 Maccabees 12:42–46.) Different Christian traditions commemorate the dead in different ways and on different dates although all of them do something to commemorate the departed and most of them have such a commemoration about this time of year. There was indeed an ancient Celtic festival marking the Autumn equinox, on 1st November, known as Samhain.

To Catholics, who do not believe that most of those who eventually get to Heaven can go straight there, having to go through a process called "Purgatory" first, Halloween was a vigil before the main feasts of All Saints Day on 1st November, when the saints in heaven are commemorated, and All Souls Day, usually on 2nd November (in some countries and traditions it is put back a day to Monday 3rd November when the second day in November is a Sunday) is a day for prayer for all the dead including those who are not yet in heaven and may be in Purgatory on their way there. In some countries the Catholic church also refers to All Soul's Day as the Day of the Dead.

Allhallowtide is the combined festival consisting of all three days.

The Church of England, like many protestant denominations, does not have the same doctrines around Purgatory but does pray for the dead on All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day
without making the same theological distinction between the two.

Most human cultures have had some sort of celebration to mark both Solstices and both equinoxes -even if it's only fiddling with our clocks to change between British Summer Time and Grenwith Mean Time although now we mostly use phones to tell the time and they change automatically. Most cultures have also had some form of commemoration of the dead.

I am not sure I still buy into that "The Catholics set it up this way to sabotage the pagans" narrative but I do think that elements of both have entered into the peculiar modern tradition of Halloween.

The biggest shame is that over the past 20 years we have ditched the traditional British "Penny for the Guy" for an unfortunate imported version of the American "Trick or Treat" practice - in the USA it's only very small children who take part in this with their parents or older siblings watching from a safe distance so it doesn't have the appearance,  as it often can when teenagers call on pensioners, of demanding money with menaces.

To anyone reading this who is remembering loved ones who have died over the next three days, I will remember both you and your loved ones in my prayers.





































("All Souls Day" / Day of the Dead by William-Adolphe Bouguereau)

Quote of the day 31st October 2017


Monday, October 30, 2017

Cumbria Conservatives at number ten

A number of Cumbria Conservatives recently visited Ten Downing Street as part of a reception organised by the Prime Minister to meet Conservatives from the North West of England.

Unfortunately the trains were badly disrupted that day and not all those invited were able to make it, but those who were had the opportunity to meet the PM and government ministers and raise issues relating to the needs of Cumbria.

Here are the Cumbria contingent at the reception, including Trudy Harrison MP, with the PM.


Second quote of the day 30th October 2017

Hat tip to Guido Fawkes for this comment from Labour Shadow Women and Equalities minister Dawn Butler about suspended Labour MP Jared O’Mara:

“He probably still has further to go on his journey.”

Ministerial visit raises money for Hospice at Home

Over £500 was raised for local charities recently at a meeting hosted by Copeland MP Trudy Harrison for a visiting minister, Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse.

Trudy Harrison recently welcomed Jake Berry, the minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, to Copeland to highlight West Cumbria's innovation, nuclear excellence and local priorities for investment.

A ministerial dinner was held, sponsored by Morgan Sindall, at which guests donated £569 to the Hospice at Home West Cumbria charity. Over 60 manufacturing and nuclear based companies and educational organisations including Gen2, Lakes College and secondary schools attended.

Trudy Harrison said:

"I was absolutely thrilled that the supply chain event raised more than £500 for Hospice at Home West Cumbria. For more than 30 years this charity has provided exemplary care for many local residents, supporting those caring for someone with a life-limiting illness, or struggling to come to terms with bereavement and I am delighted that the money raised during the event will help towards continuing their excellent work."


Stella Walsh, senior fundraiser, said:

"On behalf of Hospice at Home West Cumbria I would like to thank Mrs Harrison for the donation of £569 which was raised from the Northern Powerhouse Ministerial Dinner. We are extremely grateful to all involved for supporting our cause during the business dinner."

"Our vital services cost more than £1.2million every year, and only a quarter of this comes from the NHS - the remainder has to be raised through our fundraising activities and charity shops."

More details on the News and Star website here.

Quote of the day 30th October 2017


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday music spot: 'Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs' from Handel's Messiah

Sunday reflection spot

This is what my former colleages on St Albans Council used to call a "hardy perennial" in the sense that it is not the first time I have used this story and probably won't be the last either. But as it is a year since I last posted it ...


"I can resist anything except temptation" (Oscar Wilde)

A group of clergy were discussing which biblical quotations were the greatest help to them in avoiding sin. A fiery young deacon, just out of his theological college, quoted Romans 6, Verse 23:

"For sin pays a wage, and that wage is Death, but God gives freely, and his gift is eternal life, in union with Jesus Christ our Lord."

A recently ordained lady curate, while accepting that the passage from Romans reminds us of something very important, preferred passages which concentrated more on the infinite love and compassion of God, and cited John, Chapter 14, verse 15:

"If you love me, you will obey my commands, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforter, who will be with you for ever - the spirit of truth."

An elderly canon, who had been listening in silence, congratulated the previous speakers on being able to quote such beautiful and high-minded passages as a way to avoid sin.

"But for me," he said, "The words which are of most use in resisting temptation come from Chapter 12 Verse 1 of the letter of Paul to the Hebrews:

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses ...."

Quote of the day 29th October 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Music to relax after campaigning: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 BWV 1051

Egremont South campaign today

Great campaign session today by Copeland Conseratives towards the  by-election for a vacant Egremont South seat on Copeland Council. The by-election is on Thursday of the coming week (2nd November.

Our excellent local candidate Jeff Hailes, who is West Cumbrian born and bred, seems to be getting a lot of support.

I spoke to one local resident (no names, no pack-drill) who has been Labour for many years and has fond memories of hearing a Labour Prime Minister speak many years ago. But he added that he won't be wearing a Labour rosette in this by-election and that the behaviour of the Labour councillors at this week's Copeland Borough Council meeting, which he saw from the public seats, made him wonder if he's been on the wrong side.

If my memory is not playing tricks on me, the fomer Labour PM who he mentioned was Clement Attlee. Of course, Labour has changed since Clem Attlee's day, which is one of the reasons his grandson, the present Lord Attlee, is a Conservative and served in David Cameron's government.

If you are an elector in Egremont South, whichever way you decide to vote, please do remember to vote on Thursday.

Clocks go back tonight

Don't forget to put your clocks back one hour tonight!



The political views of academics

Chris Heaton-Harris got himself into rather a spot this week because his attempt to find out what was being taught in Universities about Brexit was interpreted as the precursor to some sort of attempt to challenge academic freedom.

There are academics of all political persuasions, but there is some evidence - thought not nearly as strong as is often made out that those who are attracted to an academic career do not break in the same proportions in their views as the population as a whole.

For example there was a massive correlation between level of education and support for "Remain" and the overwhelming majority of academics were pro-"Remain."

The fact that the EU's activities in support of education and research is one of those parts of the organisation which is highly successful undoubtedly had a lot to do with this.

If the rest of the EU's activities worked as well as this part of it does, Leave would have been lucky to get 10% of the vote.

Similarly it is often alleged that academics are more left wing than society as a whole. But is the evidence for this as strong as people think?

There is an interesting study which you can read here, called

"Is the left over-represented within academia?"

by Chris Hanretty who is Professor of Politics at  Royal Holloway College. It seems convincing at first until you look at the sample sizes.

It starts off by pointing out that a study suggesting a left-wing bias among academics, the Adam Smith Institute report entitled

“Lackademia: Why Do Academics Lean Left?”.

was based, to an uncomfortable extent, on the findings of two self-selecting surveys run by the Times Higher Education: one survey from before the 2015 general election and one survey from before the EU membership referendum.

As Hanratty righly points out, self-selecting surveys are generally not a reliable way of ascertaining public or group-specific opinion on an issue. People with strong views, and virtue-signallers, are much more likely to fill them in.

He used instead the Understanding Society survey, which contains information both on closeness to political parties and on occupation. This data also supports the view that left-wing opinions are over-represented within academia, compared to the general population - but fortunately Professor Hanratty did include the size of the sample.

This survey is repeated in waves, and hanratty has looked at six of them. He says of the way the data is presented

"This allows me to identify all respondents whose current job fell under the heading “College, University, and Higher Education teaching professionals”. The number of respondents in this category varies over successive waves of the Understanding Society survey, but is never lower than 178."

Individually that makes the number of academics in some of the individual waves is far too small for statistical conclusions about the proportion of support for individual political parties to be reliable, although tendancies which are consistent over all six are much more liable to be statistically meaningful.

Unfortunately UKIP was not separated out from "other" in the first four waves, a decision which Hanratty rightly describes as "rather eccentric" and means that although his conclusion based on the final two waves of data that UKIP is under-represented among academics may well be right, the sample size is so small that the degree of statistical confidence in this conclusion is so weak as to be almost worthless as evidence.

The statistical evidence from the Understanding Society survey that academics are less likely to identify with the Conservatives and more likely to identify with Labour than in the population as a whole, however, a result which appears overall in in all six of the individual waves, appears to be much stronger (I can't comment more definitively than that without access to the actual numbers.)

Does any of this actually mean anything important, however?

In my opinion, non except that the Conservatives probably need to work harder to maintain the support we do have among students.

Quote of the day 28th October 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

The wonder of Cumbrian weather

To Kendal and back today, spending much of the day in County Hall at training events (doing various work jobs in between)

Weather this morning was absolutely extraordinary, alternating between thick fog and bright sunshine, between beautiful and clear views over the mountains and having to slow down because I could only see a couple of hundred yards ahead.

Quote of the day 27th October 2017

By a huge irony I nearly did have to go back to yesterday with this post. Knowing I would be in Kendal most of the day for a County Council training event I had scheduled it to appear early this morning, but the schedule command didn;t work properly. Found it it and the other posts planned for today had not appeared shortly before midnight ...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The problem with "No Deal."

I'm inclined to agree with the government that, although "No deal" should not be their negotiating objective while trying to agree a new relationship with the EU as Britain prepares to leave, ruling it out completely would undercut our negotiating position.

However, the difficulties involved in leaving the EU with no agreement of any sort about what Britian's relationship with the remaining members of the organisation would be immense.

Disentangling a 43-year relationship was always going to be an incredibly complicated job and anyone who thought it was going to run smoothly was as foolishly overoptimistic as those who suggest that a "no deal" Brexit would be no problem at all are being now.

David Davis obviously understands this, to judge by his answers yesterday when interviewed by the Brexit select committee as described here.

Incidentally, I disagree with most of Ian Dunt's editorial comments in the article just linked to. However what the article does quite well is give some of the reasons why, as David Davis explained to the committee, the idea that it would a good thing for either side if Britain left the EU without some form of agreement on a whole raft of issues is "off the scale" improbable.

When the government says that they won't completely rule out a "no deal" option it is a little bit more than the negotiating ploy it is sometimes presented as being by the opposition or certain elements in the media.

As I understand the article linked to above, when the UK government say that "no deal is better than a bad deal" they mean that they won't hand over large sums of British taxpayer's cash above and beyond what the UK is already committed to pay in exchange for a trade deal unless the trade deal is worth it. They are not threatening to walk away from the talks altogether, and in my opinion they are right not to make that threat because it would not be credible.

What stops me from being very rude indeed about the people who are jumping up and down saying what a great idea it would be if Britain walked away from talks with the EU and deliberately abandoned any plans to get a deal, is that it's just possible that rather than actually being stupid enough to believe what they are saying, their words are part of a plan to make the EU think there is strong pressure on the UK government to walk away. The idea being to make EU negotiators less likely to make unreasonable demands on the British government if they think that such demands are more likely to result in a "no deal" outcome which would be bad for everyone.

To be honest I see that as a variant of the Kruschev "bang your shoe on the table to frighten the other side and make them think you're irrational" strategy.

There are occasions when the "bang your shoe on the table" strategy works but it does depend on the temperament of the people you are negotiating with. Harold MacMillan is supposed to have simply looked round at the interpreters and said "I wonder if I might have that translated?"

Trouble is, as the Greeks can tell you to their cost, the EU is quite good at calling people's bluff. I think it's wiser to play these negotiations with a straight bat and be open about the fact that ending up with no deal is not an outcome we want. Otherwise they'll just be even more inclined to think Britain has gone mad than many of them are already.

UK economy grows faster than expected

Figures published this week show that the UK's economy had higher than expected growth in the three months to September.

Gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter rose by 0.4%, compared with 0.3% in each of 2017's first two quarters, according to latest Office for National Statistics figures.

The pound rose more than a cent against the dollar and nearly a cent against the euro in the first couple of hours of trading after the announcement.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said:

"We have a successful and resilient economy which is supporting a record number of people in employment.

"My focus now, and going into the Budget, is on boosting productivity so that we can deliver higher-wage jobs and a better standard of living."

When grown is considered by sector, the largest part of the modern UK economy, the service sector,  expanded by 0.4%.

In particular, computer programming, motor traders and retailers were the businesses that showed the strongest performance.

Manufacturing expanded by 1% during the quarter - a return to growth after a weak second quarter.

The figures take the cumulative increase in GDP since 2010 to 15.8% in real terms.



Here is a chart produced by the Office for National Statistics showing Cumulative UK GDP growth (line graph) and growth by quarter (Bar graph) over the past ten years. You can see on the graph the substantial negative impact of the 2007/8 recession, that the economy has been growing since then, recovered to the pre-recession level in the second quarter of 2013 and is now about ten percent above that level and 15.8% above where it was in 2010.

Quote of the day 26th October 2017


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What's the most stupid thing a nation has ever done?

Michael Bloomberg is a very clever man.

I do, however, agree that the Guardian was right - this does happen occasionally - that when Bloomberg suggested that Brexit is the most stupid thing a nation had ever done "Until we Trumped them," he was underestimating the competition for the title of daftest actions in history.

The Guardian has their suggested list of alternatives for the daftest actions in history as per the link above. Here are my top eight:

1) Invading Russia (Napoleon, Hitler, and everyone else who's tried it)

2) Killing or expropriating the most productive farmers in your country (Stalin, Mao, Mugabe)

3) Trying to kill or arrest every skilled person in your country (Cambodia)

4) Banning the export of your most important export good (Confederate States of America)

5) Depending for your defence entirely on foreign mercenaries (Vortigern, many others)

6) Abolishing all banknotes not divisible by the President's favourite number (Myanmar)

7) Acting on the advice of the Delphic Oracle (Midas)

8) Executing Ghengis Khan's ambassador (The Khwarezmid empire)

It is no coincidence that very few of the regimes responsible for the above mistakes are still around, though sadly one or two are.

Jim King has commented below that starting the First World War should also be on any good list of the daftest actions taken in history and I reckon that's pretty hard to argue against.

I think most of the above disastrous errors put any of the decisions taken in Britain in 2016 or 2017 into perspective as at worst second league in the bad move stakes. What do you think was the most stupid decision in history?

Music to relax after campaigning: Pachelbel's Canon and Gigue

Another successful campaign event

Out canvassing again this evening in Egremont with Conservative candidate Jeff Hailes, canvassing for the Egremont South by-election on Thursday 2nd November.

Friendly response on the doorstep, I get the impression that Jeff is doing very well.

Flood prevention in North Egremont

Skirting Beck & Whangs Beck Flood Risk Management Scheme Public Consultation Event

The environment agency is  holding a public consultation on their plans to reduce flood risk in the North Egremont area.

You can drop in to see them between 2pm and 7pm on Monday 6th November 2017

The venue is Falcon Club, Croadalla Avenue, Egremont, CA22 2QN

Quote of the day 25th October 2017

Research shows that people who don’t trust the media often think they don’t hear the views of 'people like me'. They should, but we should also confidently tell them that they will hear people with whom they’ll disagree. As I once tweeted in response to a complaint from former culture secretary John Whittingdale,

“'Do not adjust your set. Normal service from the BBC means you will hear people you disagree with saying things you don’t like (that’s our job).'”

(Nick Robinson, article entitled "If mainstream news wants to win back trust, it cannot silence dissident voices" which you can read here.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Centuries of history in one image

Hat Tip to the UK Defence Journal which tweeted this picture today of the supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth passing the berth of HMS Victory.

250 years of Royal Navy history in one image.


Campaigning in Egremont

Successful session on the doorstep in Egremonth South this evening with our excellent candidate in the forthcoming by-election on 2nd November, Jeff Hailes.

Issues raised by residents included the environment nad fly-tipping.

Good advice for new and aspiring MPs ...

Quote of the day 24th October 2017

Some highly-educated professional people still consider it perfectly acceptable to describe those who voted for either" (Trump or Brexit) " as stupid." 

"Rarely do these well-credentialed professionals with some power (however big or small) consider what it is about their own attitude and behaviours that turns people off. Or why it they have been on the losing side of so many recent political debates."

"In short, the people who think they know everything are the ones who don’t understand, and don’t even want to find out why other people think they are wrong. Their arrogance is their biggest enemy."

"In the coming years, politicians and business leaders will demand to be heard, and for their views to be taken seriously before our future and fate outside of Europe is sealed. That’s right and as it should be. But let’s not forget that’s all everyone else wants too.

If we don’t proceed with greater respect for each other, by the time we leave the EU the divide between “them” and “us” will be even bigger than before. The consequences of that could make the disruption of Brexit seem like a picnic – and the arrogant among the intellectual elite will have no-one else to blame but themselves."

(Extracts from article written by Baroness Tina Stowell, former leader of the House of Lords, calling for mutual respect. The article was published on CAPX,  and you can read it in full here.)

Monday, October 23, 2017

RT (formerly Russia Today) is propaganda, not news

In the past few days, two distinguished British journalists;

Oliver Kamm of the Times on the CAPX website here,

and Nick Cohen in the Guardian here,

have written about Vladimir Putin's UK propaganda channels, RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik.

The former Soviet Union used to have news outlets callesd Tass and Isvestia, which mean "News" and "Truth" in Russian. Ordinary Russians would joke when they didn't think the KGB was listening,

"In 'Truth' there is no news, and in 'News' there is no truth."


I don't necessarily agree with every word either of Nick Cohen's article

"Russia's free pass to undermine British democracy," or Oliver Kamm's piece,

"Time to crack down on Russia Today and its destabilising propaganda"


But I do think that they are both right that every word which comes from RT or Sputnik should be treated with a bucketful of salt by any intelligent person. Kamm says of RT that

"It has the trappings of a normal news channel but not the substance, ethos or ethics. The same is true of Sputnik."

He also writes,

"Vladimir Putin’s regime murders critics, harasses opposition parties, poisons dissidents, locks up protesters, assassinates journalists, represses gays, invades neighbouring states and annexes their territory, shoots civilian airplanes out of the sky, interferes in the electoral processes of democratic states, and aids the unspeakable campaign of civilian slaughter waged by Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

With a record like this, the Russian president has an incentive to shut out scrutiny and spread disinformation. And he does.

His tools include the English-language state propaganda organs Russia Today (RT) and the Sputnik agency. These purported news outlets are agents of a hostile foreign power; civil society as well as democratic governments should say so and treat them accordingly."


Unlike Putin, most people in Britain believe in free speech. We do not shut down news channels because they say something we disagree with, even things we think that only a crank or a fruitcake could possibly believe.

That doesn't mean we should not subject them to scrutiny. And any supposedly serious politician who accepts invitations to appear on RT - such as, for instance, Alec Salmond, Jeremy Corbyn and several members of his shadow cabinet - should be asked questions about his or her judgement.

He who sups with the devil needs a long spoon ...

I see that the Labour party, in the latest of their long series of U-Turns about the EU, are talking of supporting amendments by backbench Conservatives to the EU withdrawal bill.

I am all in favour of proper scrutiny for this bill and in particular to ensure that the enormous powers that it gives are not subject to "mission creep" - for example I am pleased that there is a sunset clause ensuring those powers expire two years after Britain leaves the EU.

Similarly I am all in favour of the British Parliament having the final say on the deal under which Britain leaves.

But I hope people are very careful what they vote for. If parliament actually does veto a deal, the way the EU's Article 50 is written - with a two-year countdown to exit which it takes the unanimous agreement of the other 27 member states to extend - means that the most likely result of such a vote would be  Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal at all.

I'm afraid the previous record of Labour oppositions in voting for whatever would be most damaging to the government of the day regardless of how much damage is also done to the country, leads me to suspect that they might welcome the chance to put Britain in that position so they could blame the Tories for it.

Action to simplify the house buying process:


Quote of the day 23rd October 2017

"The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as in playing a poor hand well."

(H.T. Lelie)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday music spot: "Come Ye Daughters" from Bach's Matthew Passion

Quote of the day 22nd October 2017

"I don't ever want to see another referendum in my lifetime."

(Kenneth Clarke, former Chancellor, in a speech which you can read about here, also suggested that there is "little doubt" that Britain will leave the EU and any second referendum on the terms of exit would be "folly." He added

"The political class as a whole, leaving aside eccentrics like me" ... "they've all decided that this referendum" ... "is the voice of the people."

"They did all say during the referendum that they were going to be bound by it so they do regard themselves as bound by it.")

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Music to relax after campaigning from Haydn's "The Creation"

Recitative "And God created man"

Air "In native worth"

Recitative "And God saw everything that he had made"

Chorus "Achieved is the Glorious Work"

Air "On thee each living soul awaits"

from "The Creation" by F Joseph Haydn

Campaiging in Egremont

Despite the rain we had a good turnout today for a Copeland Conservatives campaign day this morning for the Egremont South by-election with Trudy Harrison MP and the excellent Conservative  candidate in the election, Jeff Hailes


Pictures for Trafalgar day

To mark Trafalgar day and commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the Royal Navy in

 * defending our nation,
 * protecting freedom over a period of hundreds of years, and
 * abolishing the slave trade,

here are four pictures by artists including Montague Dawson, Constable,  and Geoff Hunt commemorating the battle of Trafalgar 212 years ago today, and the age of fighting sail:





Quote of the day 21st October 2017 (Trafalgar Day)


Friday, October 20, 2017

Employment position improves in Cumbria

Since the Conservatives have been in government there has been a steady improvement in the numbers in work and fall in the number of people out of work throughout the country, for men and women alike, for younger and older workers alike.

Most of the increase in employment is in permanent full-time jobs.

In Cumbria the fall in the number of people claiming benefit varies from the significant - 10% in Workington - to the dramatic - 55% in Westmorland and Lonsdale. Here are the figures by constituency:







Friday music spot: "Awake us, Lord, and hasten" (Bach)

Egremont Bridge re-opens

Pleased to learn that the Egremont Bridge is open again.

I think we need to learn a few lessons from the events of the past few days but this is good news.

Quote of the day 20th October 2017


Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Antisemitism barometer

For decades many people thought that antisemitism had been so throroughly discredited by the crimes of the Nazis that it was no longer a serious problem.

Unfortunately, as Andrew Neil pointed out in his powerful speech on Monday which you can watch or read by clicking on the links in a post on this blog yesterday, that view may or may not have been justified in the immediate aftermath of World War II but it is not true today. The great majority of the British people firmly reject racism in all its forms including antisemitism, but this pernicious form of racism still exists and needs to be challenged and fought against more vigorously than is sometimes the case.

Following on from that post, here is a graphic showing the results of a YouGov survey of 2058 British Jews, commissioned by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) in which they were asked to what extent the main political parties in Britain harbour antisemites among their MPs, members and supporters.



Even the party which comes best out of this - the Conservative party with "only" 19% of Jewish people thinking that the party's MPs, members and supporters include antisemites - cannot possibly be satisfied or complacent that nearly a fifth of Jewish people in the survey held that opinion.

For the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP those figures are significantly worse.

But every decent member of the Labour party should hang their head in shame at the finding that no less than 83% of British Jews surveyed felt that the Labour party includes antisemites among it's MPs, members and supporters.


Blaming the media, which is the default Momentum response to any embarrassing criticism, just will not cut it in this case.

Here is a link to a page on the "Campaign against Antisemitism" website in which they discuss the responses of all the main political parties to questions the campaign had asked them and complaints the organisation has made.

https://antisemitism.uk/politics/

And here is a link to the research supporting the "barometer" referred to above.

https://antisemitism.uk/barometer/

I don't believe that any reasonably fair-minded person of average or above average intelligence can read this data without concluding that all Britain's political parties need to do more and the Labour party has a serious problem.

£2.5 million road improvements in Bransty

The government has announced that it will put £1.67 of taxpayer funding from the National Infrastructure Productivity Fund into the "North Shore Access Project" to improve the safety and people movement at the Bransty Road junction area of Whitehaven. An additional £0.8 million will come from the Energy Coast, delivering a total of £2.5 million of investment.

This represents the approval of a bid from Cumbria County Council for junction and pedestrian improvements aimed at getting better access and road safety between the South end of Bransty Hill, the railway station, Tescos, and the North Shore area.

You can read details of the CCC bid which the Department of Transport has now approved at

http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/eLibrary/Content/Internet/544/3887/4292111643.pdf 

Quote of the day 19th October 2017

"Philip Hammond understands the Government’s job better than anyone in the cabinet. Sacking him wouldn’t just be bad for Britain; it’d be bad for Brexit. And I say that as someone who is glad Britain is leaving the European Union."

"Why are his critics’ attacks so incoherent? The answer is simple: they are wrong and Hammond is right. Not right because we are all doomed because of Brexit. Not right because he wants Brexit to fail. But right because he realises it’s complicated."

"There will be plenty of opportunities for Britain once we leave the European Union but untangling ourselves is a thorny process involving a high degree of uncertainty. It is upt to the Government to manage that uncertainty."

"Hammond is being attacked for doing his job. He is not the first Chancellor to face accusations from his own side that his tightfistedness is all that stands between the country and the sunlit uplands. And he will not be the last."

(Oliver Wiseman, extracts from an article on CAPX about Chancellor Philip Hammond which you can read here.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Has political argument in Britain stopped?

I don't necessarily agree with every word of Nick Cohen's article,

Political Argument in Britain has stopped when we need it most,

but I do think his basic point that we have become much more tribal in our thinking and that this is potentially damaging to Britain has a lot of truth in it.

You can see it, for example. in the fury which greeted both the Prime Minister and her deputy when both in their different ways refused to recant of having voted Remain or provide the pro-Brexit side with the answer they wanted to hear, that they would now vote to Leave the EU.

Incidentally, of those of my friends who voted Remain,  a larger proportion than I would have expected do think they would now vote Leave. and I respect their view as I respect the decision of the electorate, but I have no regrets whatsoever about having voted Remain myself.

The attempt from some people to almost bully people who voted Remain into saying they have changed their mind - as opposed to saying that they will obey the majority decision, which is not the same thing - has been something between weird and frightening.

The demands for Philip Hammond to resign or be sacked for trying to find pragmatic ways to make Brexit work are far more than frightening. At the risk of annoying some of my ppro-Brexit friends, IMHO if Theresa May were to listen to those who are trying to persuade her to sack Hammond the  the words of Euripedes would come to be seen as a prophecy about her government:





And I think Nick Cohen is right on the money when he says that the possiblity of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister makes it all the more important that those people on the left who can see the serious problems with the Corbyn faction of the Labour party and the way they operate should not be afraid to speak up and oppose them.

We are living in politically dangerous times and failing to debate the issues of the time or falling neatly into mental silos is not the way to navigate through those dangers.

Unemployment falls again

The latest jobs figures from the Office of National Statistics are out today and show continued improvement.

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between March to May 2017 and June to August 2017, the number of people in work increased, the number of unemployed people fell, and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work also fell.

There were 32.10 million people in work, 94,000 more than for March to May 2017 and 317,000 more than for a year earlier.

The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.1%, up from 74.5% for a year earlier.

There were 1.44 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 52,000 fewer than for March to May 2017 and 215,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 5.0% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975.

Andrew Neil lays into left-wing antisemitism

Andrew Neil made a very powerful speech on Monday at the Holocaust Educational Trust appeal dinner about the rise of antisemitism, particularly on the left.


Neil argued that antisemitism on the political right is - rightly - called out and condemned but antisemitism on the left is all too often tolerated. He said:

"I don’t say that the antisemitism of the left is entirely new. Those of you who know your history of Soviet Russia will know that it is not new, that there is a strain of antisemitism that has always run through parts of the British intellectual left. But I believe that it is more prevalent, that it is on the rise, and that it is given far too easy a pass. It gets away with it in the way that the antisemitism of the far right is not allowed to get away with it."

Needless to say his comments have been rubbished by the Momentum trolls but Labour MP Wes Streeting, to his credit, responded that Andrew Neil's comments had been painful to listen to

"Not because it was harsh, but because it was fair."

You can read the text of Andrew Neil's speech here.

Quote of the day 18th October 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Fall of DA'ESH

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)  claimed today to have captured Raqqa, Raqqa, the capital of the self-styled "Islamic State" caliphate known to most people in the Middle East as DA'ESH.

A US military spokesman confirmed that about 90% of the city had been cleared. This morning the SDF cleared the last two major IS positions in Raqqa - the municipal stadium and the National Hospital.

Islamic State (IS) made Raqqa the headquarters of its self-styled "caliphate" in early 2014, implementing an extreme interpretation of Islamic law and imposing savage punishments on anyone who opposed it or who they considered un-Islamic including beheading, crucifixion, torture, or throwing gay people off the roofs of five-storey buildings.

The city also became the base for thousands of jihadists from around the world who heeded a call to migrate there by DA'ESH leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The SDF was formed by the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia two years ago along with a number of smaller, Arab factions. It says it is not aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or the rebels seeking to overthrow him.


Map showing control of Iraq and Syria (16 October 2017)

With the help of US-led coalition air strikes, weapons and special forces, SDF fighters have driven IS out of more than 8,000 sq km (3,100 sq miles) of territory. Last November, they began a major operation to capture Raqqa. They slowly encircled the city before breaking through IS defences on the outskirts in June.

For DA'ESH to be able to claim to be a Caliphate one of the requirements was to control territory. While they dominated a significant part of both Syria and Iraq including the cities of Raqqa and Mosul that claim was plausible. With the defeat of DA'ESH forces in both these cities, coalition forces are close to reaching the point where even the most reality-proof jihadist will be unable to sustain the idea that this blood-soaked death cult can make that claim.

The price, however has been terrible There has been a "staggering loss of civilian life" in Raqqa, according to UN war crimes investigators. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reported on Tuesday that at least 3,250 people had been killed in the past five months, among them 1,130 civilians. Hundreds more were missing and might be buried under destroyed buildings, they said.

I hope the rest of the world can help the people of Iraq and Syria to rebuild and that those who have joined together to defeat the evil of DA'ESH can resist the temptation to turn their guns on one another. The omens in Iraq are not good.

We most also recognise that while the defeat of DA'ESH is a huge blow to Islamist terrorism, it will not eliminate the threat of murderous Jihadist nutcases like the ones who have killed and maimed innocent people all over the world, from  Manchester to Mogadishu.
I have seen the following quote variously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Wendell Phillips and Desmond Tutu. Perhaps all of them said something of the sort. But I understand that it originated with John Philpot Curran:


Of storms, bridges, and Parish Councils

I attended St Bees Parish Council last night and Egremont Town Council this evening.

Both raised concerns about how the impact on Cumbria's roads of the recent storms has been handled.

There are a lot of conference calls and discussions between atgencies about how to deal with the disruption which storms and flooding have caused. A lot of people have been working very hard and I do not want to disparage their efforts.

Equally there are some lessons we need to learn. I will argue that when there is time to do so we need to have a review about how well the agencies communicated with one another and the public. The point has been made to me that there may have been some failings in this respect.

Particular concern has been expressed about the failure to communicate adequately with the public about the closure of the bridge in Egremont and to put in place and publicise alternative travel arrangements.

Closing the bridge may well have been the right thing to do but we need to make sure there are appropriate alternative routes and arrangements in place and they are properly communicated and concerns were expressed to me at Egremont TC tonight that this is simply not happening.

People have ended up walking round on the A595 which is not safe.

I will be taking the matter up with county officers.

Quote of the day 17th October 2017

This quote seemed like an appropriate follow-on to my post last night about the evolution, or lack thereof, of human intelligence ...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Is the film "Idiocracy" coming true?

The 2006 comedy film "Idiocracy" made the projection, intended as a joke, that because people of high intelligence supposedly tend to have only a small number of children while people of low intelligence supposedly tend to have lots, there would tend to be a catastrophic fall in intelligence.

In the film Luke Wilson plays Private Joe Bauers, a contemporary US soldier of perfectly average intelligence for the early 21st century who is selected for a suspended animation trial and accidentally put to sleep for five centuries instead of the one year period intended. He wakes to find a population consisting entirely of morons and that he is now far and away the most intelligent man in the world.

I had never taken the film too seriously, not least because intelligence is the product of a whole host of factors and not just genetics, and I don't take things reported in the Daily Mail as always being correct either, but I must confess that their article this week

"Are we becoming more stupid ?"

quoting research which suggests that average IQ levels in several western countries have dropped, did ring alarm bells.

The article referenced a more detailed and nuanced article in New Scientist manazine by Bob Holmes,

"Brain Drain: Are we evolving stupidity?"

The article begins by recording evidence that for at least a century average intelligence was increasing in a number of countries including the UK, Australia and Demnark. The fastest rise was recorded in Denmark  between 1950 and about 1998 where average IQ scores for comparable age cohorts of young men were rising by as much as three IQ points per decade.

Unfortunately the same evidence suggests that that the rise seems to have peaked at or just before the turn of the millenium and since then average intelligene as measured by IQ tests (which are not, of course, a perfect measure) may even have dropped slightly.

There are suggestions that the increase in average intelligence during the 20th century was due to better nutrition, living conditions and education: this is sometimes called the "Flynn Effect" after Professor James Flynn of the University of Otago. There is a suggestion that we have reached the limits of the Flynn effect and that average intelligence has been pushed down either by a less intellectually stretching culture or by genetic effects.

It would be very easy at this point to make faux-clever responses along the lines of

"well of course people are getting more stupid, how else do you explain the election of  (insert name of your least favourite politician here)"

Actually that would be a classic "dumbed down" response. This is a more serious and more long-term potential  problem, if the data are right, than the election of one generation of witless politicians.

I think we should be very careful to avoid jumping to conclusions about what is really happening to intelligence and why, but I must confess to being concerned about the evidence that we are not, as a civilisation, maintaining the progress in brain power that we were previously making.

Perhaps both as iondividuals and as a society we should be thinking about what we can do to stretch our minds more.

Apparently scientists cannot confirm whether we are living in a simulation after all

A few days ago I posted about an article in "Science Advances" which had been taken by the media as evidence that we are not living in some giant computer simulation like the one in "The Matrix."

However, the authors of the original paper,  Zohar Ringel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and Dmitry Kovrizhin at the University of Oxford told New Scientist they are a bit taken aback at the conclusions the media ad drawn from their work.

There are people on both ends of the spectrum - those who think it is unlikely that we are living in some kind of computer simulation and, surprisingly, one or two like technology mogul Elon Musk who think that there is only a billion-to-one chance that we actually live in reality and that it is more likely that we are merely data circling inside someone’s supercomputer.

However, the scientific consensus as reported by the New Scientist is that we cannot possibly know whether or not our universe is a simulation unless the model has blatant flaws like the ones Nardole and Bill discovered in "Doctor Who."

The New Scientist article quotes Marcelo Gleiser at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire as saying that

“To me, both the ‘are we living in a simulation’ question and any response to it based on current computer knowledge is silly.”

Gleiser argues that point: trying to answer these questions based on our current knowledge and machines is inevitably based on unreliable assumptions. As the article points out,

Quantum computers – if and when they become truly operational – may be much more versatile than we can imagine at this point. If we were in a simulation, humans would have little idea of what the laws of physics in the outside “real world” were like, whether quantum mechanics ruled, and what kind of computation was possible outside the bounds of our simulation.

So we're back to square one - until and unless we find a flaw in the Universe which can only be explained by its' being a simulation rather than real, we have no way of answering the question.

What the IMF really said:

For some perverse reason both the Daily Mail and the Guardian wrote up a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report as supportive of the Labour party's policy of increasing tax rates.

Both took a quote from the IMF's fiscal monitor which did indeed read as follows
"there would appear to be scope for increasing the progressivity of income taxation without significantly hurting growth for countries wishing to enhance income redistribution."
and those newspapers took that as encouraging a rise in tax rates in Britain. Actually that is NOT what the report says.

The quote above refers to OECD countries as a whole, and is NOT specifically aimed at Britain. The report goes on to suggest that
"Assuming a welfare weight of zero for the very rich, the optimal marginal income tax rate can be calculated as 44 percent."
and compares this with the average top tax income tax band in the OECD of 35%. So there is scope for those countries whose top rate of income taxes is in that area to increase it.

But this is not the case in Britain.

As we all know that extreme right winger George Osborne cut the top rate of income tax in Britain a few years ago from ...

50% to 45%.

That's right, after the Osborne top rate tax cut (which appears to have cost the UK exchequer a big fat zero in lost tax revenue), the top rate of income tax in Britain of 45% is currently one percentage point ABOVE what the IMF recommends as the optimum rate.

So they are not recommending tax increases in Britain at all.

Once you increase taxes above a certain level, you don't bring in any more revenue as people start doing things like employing creative accountants, moving money overseas, or not bothering to work as hard. There is some scope for argument about what rate of tax brings in the most money but I have always suspected that it is somewhere in the decile from 40% to 49% and definitely below 50%. The IMF figure of 44%, if perhaps quoted with spurious precision, sounds about right to me.

People just will not regard it as fair, or work as hard, if you take away half or more of every extra pound they earn.

As the Economist magazine explains in further detail in an article called taxing the rich,

"So not really support for Mr Corbyn at all."

Quote of the day 16th October 2017


Sunday, October 15, 2017

On cross-party friendships

There is a marvellous article in today's Observer which you can read here about five cross-party friendships at Westminster.

Getting anything done in politics often requires people to work across party boundaries. It is really important for the functioning of democracy that we do not regard people who don't share all our opinions as enemies.

I found the article immensely cheering that in these partisan times ten MPs and peers were willing to talk to a journalist about their friendship with someone on the other side of the house.

Sometimes there IS smoke without fire.

This is an updated version of a post first made four years ago.
Frequently when a nasty story is circulating about someone, or when the police have decided to investigate an allegation - as it is their duty to do if there is anything resembling evidence that it might be true - someone makes the comment that "there's no smoke without fire."

This is of course a very old saying. My experience from more than thirty years in active politics is that this particular saying is not true. 
 
Sometimes there really is smoke without fire, especially when it is in someone else's interests that there should be. Certain very widely believed stories are actually clever propaganda planted by the enemies of the people they are about.

Evidence against the theory that "there's no smoke without fire" goes back a long time. Although the Emperor Nero was undoubtedly one of the most evil rulers in history, many historians believe that he was actually innocent of the best known crime for which he is remembered - singing an aria as he watched the city of Rome burning. (He was certainly innocent of the allegation in the form in which it was most often quoted when I was a boy, of fiddling while Rome burned - the violin had not been invented in Nero's time.)

Nero murdered his mother after committing incest with her, murdered his wives, attempted to stamp out the Christian faith my torturing Christians to death in the area, and was responsible for the deaths of a very large number of innocent people. But he wasn't in Rome when the infamous fire broke out, and hurried back to the city to personally lead the firefighting efforts.
 
It would appear that the reason Nero was blamed for the fire is that one of his many enemies - probably a friend or relative of one of the many people he had put to death - cast the accusation that Nero had started the fire so that he could rebuild Rome in the style that he fancied.
 
This was a masterly allegation because it exactly played into the preconceptions many Romans already had of Nero, which based on his past behaviour was highly plausible. The Italians have a saying for this, "Si non e vero, e ben trovato" or "If it's not true, it's well invented."

The trouble is that the most effective slanders often ARE well invented - especially if they are muttered anonymously so that the victims of lies can't go to court and crush them by providing proof that they are false.

In one instance I know of a set of lies which was widely believed about a former cabinet minister,  and I know exactly where those lies came from. But for complicated reasons, the lies concerned never made it into print.

A very good friend of mine who was a Conservative branch chairman in the cabinet minister's constituency, happened to live next door to a senior activist of another political party. And that activist was unwise enough to discuss on his porch, not realising that he could be overheard from next door, their plans to undermine the minister concerned by spreading the lie that he was having a gay affair with another cabinet minister.

This particular lie never appeared in a political leaflet, it was spread by word of mouth. But within a few months we started picking it up, both on the doorstep and in London. Some looney who was probably acting on his own started distributing anonymous leaflets with an even worse version of the story, that the minister was supposedly dying of AIDS. The Conservative party had to spend some time during the following general election trying to keep this poisonous rubbish out of the press. Fortunately the journalists who became aware of it, either because they had some integrity and realised the story was rubbish or because they were afraid of being sued, declined to use it.

I have reason to believe that during that General Election there was a kind of "Mexican stand off" between the Conservative and Labour parties and their allies in the press. One newspaper allied to the Labour party had front page ready to go with this story about the Conservative minister, while a paper allied to the Conservatives had a front page ready to go with an equally foul story about a very prominent Labour front bencher. If either story had been published the other would have come out the following day. Fortunately nobody was daft enough to start this particular exchange. If they had, the party which would have benefitted would most probably have been a third political party, which, funnily enough, happens to be the very party whose activists invented the first story in the beginning.

Even if I hadn't known where the first story came from, I would be convinced there was no truth in either. The former minister who was supposedly dying of aids is still alive and well, was active in parliament until this year's general election, and still writes on Conservative Home and in the press. And the story about the Labour frontbencher must have been a pack of lies as well, because if there had been any genuine victims or a scrap of evidence someone would surely have taken it to Operation Midland or one of the other inquiries which have taken place following the Jimmy Saville scandal.

Unfortunately it is my impression that over the following twenty years, standards of accuracy, integrity and judgement in some sections of the media have fallen catastrophically below what was displayed at that time. You only need compare the good judgement shown by journalists in the nineties who refrained from a scoop which might have destroyed careers and lives at the price of printing what were probably filthy lies, with some of what came out during the Leveson inquiry and the ghastly mess the BBC got themselves into over sex abuse allegations.

When there is a story in the press about something supposedly said or done by a politician, we would be well advised to be aware of the possibility that it is the result of a misunderstanding, something misheard, or worst of all, a deliberate lie invented by someone with an agenda which would be served by discrediting the person the story is about.

We saw this with "Plebgate" where the former Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell MP, was accused in the media of having called a police officer a "pleb."  He was forced to resign.

There is no absolute proof who was telling the truth about what was said, and making sense of the different and apparently contradictory outcomes of the criminal trial of a police officer who pleaded guilty to lying about the incident, disciplinary hearings involving several other officers, and the legal action which Mitchell brought against News Group Newspapers (e.g. the Sun) is next to impossible.

What is not in dispute, however, is that there was an attempt to discredit him.

CCTV footage released after his resignation did prove that Mitchell's account of the incident was closer to the truth than accounts in the newspapers, supposedly taken from a police log.  I stress that this does not prove that the police officers directly involved in the incident told any lies and am not making any criticism of those officers.

Although Andrew Mitchell ultimately lost the libel case which he brought against News Group Newspapers because of a decision made on what the judge described as "the balance of probabilities," he was not the only person to lose his job over the affair: several police officers not directly involved in the original incident were found to have acted unprofessionally, been sacked or even in one case jailed, for making misleading comments or lying about the "plebgate" incident.

One officer was convicted of criminal misconduct and sentenced to twelve months in prison after he pleaded guilty to lying about the incident. Another officer, who was at the time a regional official of the Police Federation, was found guilty of misconduct and breaching professional standards by giving "misleading" accounts to the press of a meeting with Mr Mitchell. And including the officer who was jailed, four police officers were sacked for misconduct for offences such as giving "inaccurate and misleading statements" in connection with the affair.

In other words, whatever the truth of "Plebgate," no fewer than five people from whom society was entitled to expect a high standard of integrity were jailed, sacked or censured for attempting untruthfully to discredit Andrew Mitchell in the press or cover up the actions of others who did.

I have more than a few friends who are serving or former police officers. All of them are people of integrity as I believe that the vast majority of police officers are. But the events of the past few years has proven the existence of a toxic relationship between a minority of police officers and certain newspapers which has been highly damaging both to the cause of justice and to the reputation of both the press and the police.

Which brings me to the present and various allegations of child abuse being investigated by the police.

There have been too many cases in the past where true allegations of rape and child sexual abuse were not taken seriously enough. In what is probably the worst case, in Rochdale, this allowed more than 1,400 children, mostly girls aged between 11 and 15, to be raped or abused.

We must not make that kind of mistake again, therefore any such allegations must be taken seriously and properly and conscientiously investigated if there is any material chance that they are true.

Equally, the principle that an accused person is "innocent until proven guilty" has served the cause of justice well for centuries. Just as we should not assume without due investigation that allegations are false, neither should we assume that allegations are true just because the police are doing their job by investigating them. And neither the police officers leading an investigation nor anybody else should pre-judge whether an allegation is true or false before they have completed that investigation.

It ought to be possible to ensure that all such allegations are properly investigated without  putting the innocent through something which feels horribly close to a Salem witch trial. Unfortunately some recent investigations and their reporting in the media have conveyed precisely that impression.

And hence I repeat - sometimes there IS smoke without fire.

Highways working group cancelled tomorrow

There would have been a meeting of Cumbria County Council's Copeland Highways Working Group tomorrow morning, but it has been cancelled or hopefully postponed as the officers who would have been supporting it are busy on flood relief work.

I am sure this was the right decision. Hopefully they will be able to get action completed quickly on the flood damage of recent weeks and then we can get on with highways improvement work, but there is no point having a meeting to discuss new schemes and improvements when the network you have at the moment needs fixing.

If you have been flooded ...

A number of properties in Cumbria have been flooded over the past few weeks.

If you live in Cumbria and you are affected by floods here is the web page on which you can report it to get help and to help the authority plan for dealing with flood issues:

https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/planning-environment/flooding/floodriskassessment.asp

Sunday music spot: Henry Purcell's "Music for a while"


Comeback of the week

It probably was not wise for Hillary Clinton to be quoted saying

"We elected someone who committed sexual assault to be President."

Ian Dale (@IainDale) was among those who came back with comments like

"Yes. In 1992."

Tweet of the Week

My favourite tweet this week consisted of the image below of a pot and kettle, accompanied by a caption along the following lines:


"Jeremy Corbyn accusing the government of not having a clear policy on Europe."