With the Conference season in full swing this week has seen Labour’s annual gathering held this year in Bournemouth. Not surprisingly after a week of Labour dominating the news when an opinion poll is conducted Labour come out on top. I have to say I am surprised that newspapers have bothered to pay for polls to be done in the middle of the Coonference season. Far better to wait a week or so after the Conservative Conference and then see how the land lies.
On Thursday I joined Peter Ainsworth MP the Shadow Secretary of State for DEFRA ( Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ) on a visit to a succcessful Bury firm that recycles old laptops and then resells them. They have constructed a Green Garden out of a wide variety recycled materials which Peter officially opened.
I have a couple of engagements today and then tomorrow Susan and I are off to what I hope will be a sunny Blackpool for our own Conservative Party Conference.
At the last General Election, Labour promised us a referendum on the European Union ( “EU” ) Constitution but now it appears that promise is going to be broken.
Labour claim a referendum is not needed because the new document is called a “Treaty” rather than a “Constitution”. I don’t care what it is called for all intents and purposes the document is, by any measure, substantially the same as the original Constitution and it means giving away more powers to the EU. It would create a new EU president and lead to the loss of at least 60 of our national vetoes. It gives the
EU the power to make treaties and introduces a new ratchet clause that would make it easier for the EU to take on even more powers in the future. Just before becoming Prime Minister Gordon Brown said “the manifesto is what we put to the public. We’ve got to honour that manifesto. That is an issue of trust for me with the electorate.” That manifesto included the promise of a referendum.
There is now a cross party campaign for a referendum and if you think there should be a referendum please sign the online petition at
One of the more interesting news stories of recent weeks has been the regular revelations of behind the scenes tv executives of phone in votes. As someone who has witnessed at close quarters how some of the media operates it is satisfying that the underlying culture of arrogance and lack of accountability is finally beginning to be exposed.
I was amazed to learn that even a vote to name the Blue Peter kitten had been interfered with by someone who no doubt thought (as so many with left wing leanings believe) that the people can not be trusted. So, for some reason best known to themselves the viewers choice of Socks was overruled by those who think they know best and the kitten was called Cookie instead!
As it is Lib Dem Conference week I thought I would write a few words about the Liberal Democrats. I think that they will have been fairly pleased with the coverage their conference has had. I see some commentators are suggesting that Ming Campbell has tried to position the Lib Dems back towards being equidistant from the Conservatives and Labour. If that is the case I am not too sure how successful it has been. On mamy issues issues the Lib Dems’ policy is decidedly left of centre and in some cases arguably left of Labour. Aside from policy most debate has centered on whether Ming Campbell is too old to be leader. I don’t think he is. Ronald Reagan was two years older than Ming when he became President of the USA and held the job for eight years!
Last night I attended a community meeting with the Bishop of Manchester at St. Stephen’s Church Elton.
I had pencilled in possibly going to watch Yorkshire play at Headingly but as it has been torrential rain all day so far the prospects of play were not good so I have been with Sue to the gym.
It is difficult to imagine the feelings of all the thousands of families who awoke on Friday morning to discover that their savings which they thought were in the safest possible place were perhaps not all that safe after all. Whilst the Bank of England and the management of Northern Rock sought to reassure savers I can understand why so many thought it best to move their hard earned savings to a new home. The reasons behind the bank’s problems are complex but I know from my on experience in the legal services sector that there are some lenders who have a reputation for lending to borrowers who would find it difficult to borrow normally or who have a reputation for lending amounts greater than the value of the underlying security.
The apparently buoyant economy that has seen Labour win three consecutive elections has been built on borrowed money. The Government borrows; individuals borrow. Eventually the day arrives when it is time to start repaying those borrowings. Gordon Brown has repeated many times there must be no return to boom and bust……..Hmmm!
I hope for the sake of all the individuals and families who have large borrowings that there is no bust.
I went to a whiskey tasting evening on Friday and yesterday was out delivering leaflets and chatting to residents.
The Quality of Life Policy Group which has been chaired by John Gummer released their final report today. The Group has spent 18 months developing ideas to make Britain a world leader on green issues. They report contains a number of proposals to reduce pollution and improve the wider environment.
David Cameron set up six policy groups to make recommendations to the Shadow Cabinet, and the Quality of Life group is the final one to report back. The Party will now discuss and debate the proposals, before deciding which recommendations will become firm policies.
The full report can be read here
I’m back from the trip to London. All went well and as far as I could tell everyone enjoyed themselves. Both Windsor and Buckingham Palace are, as you would expect, full of antiques and paintings and whilst I have no expertise in such matters it was still very interesting to wander around and see them at first hand. The restoration work at Windsor following the 1992 fire is particularly amazing.
Yesterday, I had two meetings with Party colleagues and today I have been back at work