National Citizen Service Bill

The National Citizen Service was a scheme that was the championed by our former Prime Minister David Cameron. I was there when he launched the idea at an event which was held at Amir Khan’s Gym in Bolton before the 2010 general election. Basically, National Citizen’s Service involves a young person attending a three week structured scheme where they attend a residential course and also get involved in community and charity week. For many young people it is the first time they have ever been apart from their parents.

The National Citizen’s Service Bill establishes a statutory basis for the scheme. It was announced in the Autumns Statement in 2015 that the scheme is being expanded from 80,000 places a year to 300,000 places a year by 2020. The present NCS Trust which is the overarching body controlling the scheme will be established a Charter body by a Royal Charter to guarantee its future independence from government and party politics. The Bill which has already been through the House of Lords was given an unopposed second reading after the debate yesterday.

Today is an opposition day with the debates in the main chamber being decided on by the Scottish National Party. In Westminster Hall there is a debate on the future of the Pennine Acute NHS Trust and so I will be attending that debate.


Rochester and Strood Result

Not entirely unexpectedly my former colleague and now friend in another party Mark Reckless held on to his seat in Rochester and Strood. It would be churlish not to congratulate him and indeed UKIP on their success. I understand they become only the 4th Party since World War 2 to win two by-elections in the same Parliament so quite an achievement.

So what does it mean? It will undoubtedly cheer up UKIP members to have gone from zero to two MP’s in a short period of time but I would caution against too much euphoria. Their success will mean UKIP policies will come under greater scrutiny than they The margin of victory in Rochester was rather less than the polls had suggested and the bookies now have the Conservatives odds on to regain the seat in May next year.

As for the conservatives my view is that our task remains essentially unchanged we must continue to make the case for a strong and secure economy. The only way to having strong public services is to have a strong and growing economy. The economy is moving in the right direction but there is still much more to do. The next election will be about giving the British people a choice: do they want to go back to the Party of more spending, more borrowing and higher taxes or do they want to stick to the Party that is putting Britain back on the road to recovery. In short do they want David Cameron to be Prime Minister or Ed Miliband?

Oh and just in case anyone is wondering can I just mention again I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of leaving the Conservative Party and joining another Party Red, Green, Yellow or …Purple. ( I don’t expect it will stop the media speculation but hey they have got a job to do!)

David Cameron on the NHS

Yesterday I joined several Bury Councillors and supporters at Stretford to hear David Cameron deliver his first speech of 2008. As this year will mark the 60th year of the foundation of the National Health Service it was very appropriate that the Leader spoke on the NHS. He explained at some length how the next Conservative Government will not only be 100% committed to the NHS but also how we will seek to strengthen and improve it.
We will empower patients and healthcare professionals. The dozens of top down targets that exist at present will be streamlined with the emphasis being on quality of outcomes.

Candidates Conference

I have been to two events in the last 24 hours both of which have taken me outside Bury and an opportunity to see how things are going, politically, in the wider world.
Last evening Sue and I went to a dinner in Manchester where the guest speaker was Councillor John Walsh who contested Bury North for the Conservatives in the 2001 General Election. He is now the Regional Chairman of the North West Conservative organisation and it was interesting to hear of the developments which are taking place in other parts of the region.

After a few hours sleep I was up early to catch the 6am train to London to attend a one day Conference organised by the Conservative Candidates Association. It was held in Methodist Central Hall in Westminster where the left wing Fabian Society where also holding there AGM so there were opportunities to exchange views with those holding different political views.

We heard what progress is being made in selecting Candidates in the seats which do not yet have a Candidate. If a General Election had have been called last month the Conservatives in common I guess with all parties would have had to use emergency powers to impose Candidates but now the Party has reverted to the original timetable. We heard an address from the Party Chairman Caroline Spellman MP and after lunch there were different training sessions available. So after seven hours travelling it has been a long day and just time to watch the Festival of Remembrance and David Cameron’s appearance on Parkinson.
Finally, good news for all Shakers fans as I see Bury overcame Workington 4-1 down at Gigg Lane today in the first round (proper)of the FA Cup.