Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Bring on 2009!

2009 is a hugely important year for our country. More than any other time in the last 20 years Britain needs strong, clear, and responsible leadership as we face into the uncertainties of the economic downturn. Britain needs a government with the right judgment to tackle these challenges and the long term answers to sort out the mess we are in. Britain needs change.

We in the Conservative Party must continue to put the case for change in our country. We must continue to work hard to win the trust of the people we seek to serve. I am looking forward to playing my part in Halton and giving the people of Runcorn, Widnes and Hale the representation they deserve.

2009 is also a hugely important year for me personally as I am getting married. I cannot wait.

Bring it on!

Congratulations Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett's knighthood stands out in today's Honours list. Although he has received the award for his hugely successful writing career (I must confess to never having read any of his books- sorry Terry!), I am delighted for him having been moved by his campaign for more research into Alzheimer's disease, after he was diagnosed with the illness in 2007. His speech at Party Conference this year was one of my highlights of 2008. In that speech he announced a donation he had made to the Alzheimer's Research Trust and challenged us all to "match it for Pratchett"- that would be a good new year's resolution for us all.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers of my blog a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Time for some honesty

We should not be surprised that the Prime Minister ends the year as he has spent much of it; blaming others for his government's failings. In today's monthly press conference Gordon Brown continued to peddle the nonsense that the economic problems we face in Britain are solely created by a global, or American, phenomena. Once again he is treating the British people like fools; we can all see how ill-prepared Britain is for this crisis with our crippling national debt, the reckless approach he has adopted to the public finances, and the failure of his own financial regulatory regime.

Rather than acting like he has saved the world, I suggest our Prime Minister would be better served by speaking frankly and honestly with us about how he and his government left Britain so exposed to the recent economic downturn. Like the addict who will not admit he has a problem, the Prime Minister has no chance of finding real solutions for Britain until he faces up to the real problems we have in the economy.

I strongly recommend readers add the article below to their Christmas reading:

Friday, 5 December 2008

Why we should care about the Damien Green affair

I am struck by the number of people saying "politicians are spending too much time talking about Damien Green- how does this affect me?".

I believe it is absolutely vital for the preservation of the rights we all enjoy living in our great country that we have people standing up and being counted on this issue. This is not an issue of Party, but an issue of principle. Of course, no MP, and no office or property, should be above or outside the reach of the law- I don’t incidentally hear anyone arguing for that. But the right of MPs to question governments of all colours and bring to the attention of the public information that is the national interest which the government is suppressing because it is embarrassing needs to protected at all costs.

The information leaked from the Home Office was not compromising national security but giving the public information it had a right to have. The day we don’t have officials and MPs standing up for us all in this way is a sad day for our free society. To most people this is an open and shut case.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Tory calls for more permanent school expulsions

EDUCATION chiefs have rejected claims that more pupils should have been expelled for incidents in the borough’s schools last year.

Figures released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families show that 630 pupils were temporarily excluded from school in Halton during 2006-07.
Of these, 123 were sent home for assaulting other pupils, 41 for assaulting adults, and 13 for alcohol and drug offences.

That year also saw 194 excluded for “persistent disruptive behaviour”, 133 for verbal abuse against adults, 17 for bullying, 11 for sexual misconduct, and five for racist abuse.

Ben Jones, prospective Conservative MP for Halton, said that more excluded pupils should have been permanently expelled. He said: “Many teachers are doing their best to maintain discipline, but it’s unbelievable that, here in Halton, so many bullies are being allowed back into the classroom. “The victims of bullying shouldn’t have to put up with
seeing their tormentors stroll back into the classroom after a few days away from school.”

A Halton Borough Council spokesman, said: “The incidents leading to the fixed term exclusion of pupils exist on a wide spectrum of seriousness. Permanent exclusion is a sanction that is rightly reserved for incidents at the most serious end of this spectrum.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The hard work starts here

Last night I was given the honour of being adopted by the Halton Conservative Association as their prospective parliamentary candidate.

I am absolutely delighted and humbled by the faith they have put in me and will repay that faith with 100% commitment and dedication.

I am looking forward to working with all our councillors and members to give Halton the representation it deserves, in Parliament and on the Council. Together we will take the fight to Labour and Liberals- the hard work starts here!

I would also like to pay tribute to my fellow candidates who were unsuccessful last evening. They are all outstanding individuals who will do our Party and our country proud when they are selected.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A lifetime of service

Senator John McCain showed this morning the dignity and good grace in defeat that many of us have admired in him for many years. He came up short on election day but his outstanding contribution to this campaign and his years of service to his country are undimished.

I like so many others think how different the last eight years could have been if he had won the Republican nomination in 2000.

"Renewal as well as change"

Regardless of your politics, today is a truly historic day.

Barrack Obama's stunning victory in the US Presidential election sends a clear message to politicians around the world. His message of hope, renewal and change has resonated with the United States, and in parts few thought he could reach. The sight of thousands of Americans, some of whom were voting for the first time, queuing for hours (often in the rain), to have their voices heard was moving and humbling. I hope this renewal of the democratic process in the US, after engaging and enthralling primary and election campaigns will now be felt in Britain. We need to reinvigorate our politics and offer the British people the sort of hope and choice that the US has been given.

That, however, is for another day. Today we should congratulate President-elect Obama on his magnificent victory and wish him every success as he prepares to take up his great office.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Eight days out

We are just over a week from the US Presidential election and Barrack Obama looks to be on course for a historic victory.

It is incredible how the course of the campaign has changed so dramatically along with the economic turbulence gripping the world. As attention switched to the economy (stupid!) John McCain has struggled to convince America that despite all his experience and years of service he has the answers and can provide the change Americans are looking for. Given Gordon Brown's current poll ratings (despite the frankly ludicrously positive press coverage he has received in recent weeks) it may be that Britain will draw the same conclusion; to get real change you need to vote for it.

Economical with the truth

Despite living through the last 14 years of New Labour I admit to being surprised at the extent of the recent spin over economic policy. It is amazing (although I know I should not be surprised) that suddenly the Prime Minister and his Chancellor tell us that this was part of the master plan all along; the massive borrowing and mountains of debt was all for a logical, sensible reason. It was all because that's what Keynes advised governments to do in a downturn.

I think most of us are finding that a spin too far, even allowing for Peter Mandelson's recent return to the fold.

Friday, 17 October 2008


I am delighted to see Gordon Brown following David Cameron's lead in taking key meetings out of London with a proposed Cabinet meeting in Liverpool in early 2009. I do think however the people of Liverpool would be more impressed if the Prime Minister showed the sort of commitment to the city that David Cameron, Chris Grayling and the Conservative Party have been showing for the past three years. They have been listening to the people of Liverpool and proposing real solutions to our society's problems that would make a real difference across the city.

The people of Liverpool will not be fooled by this cheap political stunt by a desperate Prime Minister, who is more worried about lost Labour votes than tackling real issues for Liverpool.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Deckchairs on the Titanic?

Today marks an extraordinary day for Gordon Brown and his government with the re-appointment of Peter Mandelson to the Cabinet. As the country is crying out for answers and leadership in the face of the current financial crisis and following the Prime Minister's promise of an open and spin-free approach to government, he has turned to the twice-resigned, former spin doctor to revive his economic and political fortunes. This looks a desperate act from a desperate man.

In creating a new national economic committee, the Prime Minister claims to be "reinventing government". This is frankly bizarre. I believe the British people would simply settle for Gordon Brown managing the government as it stands and tackling the problems we face with clarity and purpose. Today is further evidence that Gordon Brown may know the questions we face as a nation but he has none of the answers.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Overdue change

I welcome the news today that Sir Ian Blair has resigned as Commissioner of the Met. I also welcome the role that the Mayor of London has played in bringing Sir Ian's increasingly flawed reign to an end.

What I do regret is that Sir Ian did not feel that his conduct in the role over recent months and years had warranted resignation before the Mayor's welcome intervention this week. As someone who lives in London and wants to see the highest standards in public life maintained, I have watched with growing despair as the Commissioner has limped (arrogantly in my view) from crisis to crisis undermining public confidence in the Force (not a Service!) and the office he has held.

I welcome this chance for fresh leadership. I hope that the Mayor and the Home Secretary can work together now to make a speedy and positive appointment. Call me old fashioned, but I would like someone appointed who focuses more on catching criminals and making London safer than political correctness and social engineering.

Come together

It was clear to those of us in Birmingham this week that the Party Conference was overshadowed by the global financial crisis. That was both understandable and right. Britain, along with many other countries, is facing uncertain economic times that don't just affect the bankers and the money men of the City, but our own financial circumstances, mortgages, and pensions. It is right for the media and the public to be concerned and look to the Conservative Party for it's response and ideas.

This week I have been very proud of my Party and our Leaders who have risen to this challenge and put the national interest before party politics. I hope to see this continue as we work with the government to steer Britain through these turbulent economic waters.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Real leadership

The conference highlight for me so far was this afternoon's debate on "caring for an elderly population" with several highly moving contributions, including from the author Terry Pratchett who spoke about his battle with Alzheimer's. It demonstrated the commitment the Party is making to issues that touch the day to day lives of millions of Britons, including my own family, to see this discussion given so much time on the main conference agenda. The session was expertly led and closed by Shadow Health Minister Stephen O'Brien, who along with Andrew Lansley and the rest of the health team, shown throughout the health debates the sort of mastery of their briefs and leadership a future Conservative government will need to show to clear up the mess created by this failing Labour government.

Country before Party

We have made an excellent start to our conference in Birmingham. George Osborne made a strong statement of intent for a future Conservative government today. He showed the sort of leadership today so lacking from No 11 Downing Street as we move into increasingly uncertain economic times. He was joined by Alan Duncan who reminded the conference why we are considered the "party of business". He reminded us that businesses not governments create jobs and wealth.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Plan for change

I am in Birmingham over the next couple of days to attend the Conservative Party Conference. The country is looking to the Conservatives for answers over the next four days. Given the lack of leadership being shown by the Prime Minister, it is a big week for David Cameron and George Osbourne. I am sure they will deliver.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The whole truth?

Ruth Kelly's decision to leave the government to spend more time with her family leaves a number of questions unanswered.

Is this the real reason for Mrs Kelly resigning from the government? Has this really nothing to do with her alleged concerns over Gordon Brown's leadership? Is it just a coincidence that Mrs Kelly is said to be very unhappy with the government's pursuit of the embryology bill through Parliament? Does Mrs Kelly really believe she will now be able to spend more time with her family given she will remain a Member of Parliament expected to be in London more days a week than in Bolton? One thing is for sure; it has taken the gloss off the Prime Minister's "triumph" in Manchester yesterday!

Party before country

Whilst Gordon Brown focused on his role as leader of the Labour Party yesterday, fighting for his job, the country continues to wait for the Prime Minister to show some real leadership during the current financial crisis. He may have pleased his Party faithful but he did not address the serious concerns that ordinary men and women up and down our country face. We had more of the usual combination of flashy gimmicks and flamboyant spending of public money (for cheap short term good headlines) but none of the solutions we need to move the economy forward.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Another relaunch

The Prime Minister launched another "fightback" today with an article in "The Monitor". In it he says there is a "need to forge a new kind of government". He's right. But the change the British people want is not another failed Labour relaunch but a general election to deliver real change for Britain.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Fiddling while Rome burns

Gordon Brown's package of measures to help restore confidence to the housing market and help us deal with higher petrol, food and energy bills is a further indication that he is completely out of touch with the needs of the British people. The Prime Minister has dithered all summer and for what?

He and his hapless Chancellor continue to throw half-baked, ill thought out, and ineffective measures at problems that require decisive, positive action. Real action is needed now on stamp duty (not tinkering at the edges), on excise duty on fuel, and on inheritance tax. How much longer does the country need to suffer this continued failure from the occupants of Downing Street?

60 days and counting

We are now inside the final two months of the US Presidential Election. The two conventions have come and gone and we are starting to get a feel for what an Obama or McCain Presidency would mean for America ,and the rest of the world. It looks to be one of the closest elections in recent times with any decision, speech, or "gaffe" being portrayed as the potential turning point or decisive factor.

One thing is for sure, Senator McCain's bold decision to ask Sarah Palin to join the ticket has had a dramatic effect on the race for the White House. The Democrats don't whether to complain about her lack of experience (a bit rich given Senator Obama's record) or to criticise her family circumstances (a bit rich for "liberals"). Her performance at this week's convention shows that she means business and is likely to continue to grow into the role. It will be fascinating to see how this particular story develops over the next few weeks. This race is a long way from over.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Insult to injury

Judging by the reaction of the British troops the Prime Minister addressed yesterday in Afghanistan they were not exactly delighted to see him. It is hard to know exactly why; perhaps it's the result of the often appalling state of forces family accommodation back home; or maybe the failure to address their legitimate concerns about their leave arrangements; or perhaps it is the use of the troops by the Prime Minister for political advantage whenever he is in a domestic pickle (almost all the time currently!).

Yesterday he added insult to injury when he compared our troops efforts to those of our athletes in Beijing. He said "This week we are celebrating the Olympics where we have had great success, but this week also I believe that our Olympic athletes and everybody else in our country will remember that you have showed exactly the same courage, professionalism and dedication."

This comparison is not worthy of our troops and frankly is an insult to the sacrifices they and their families make, and risks they take on our behalf, every day. No wonder they feel the military covenant is broken.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

A real legacy

As the Olympics start this weekend, I am filled with mixed emotions. Excitement for the sporting spectacle ahead. Hope that the British competitors will succeed with personal bests and medals. Anticipation for the Games in 2012 as Britain becomes the host country. But most importantly for those of us who believe that sport can be a force for a good in the world, breaking down barriers, I hope that the Beijing Games will lead to greater openness in Chinese society, promote greater freedom of expression for the Chinese people, and encourage greater co-operation with the countries of the world.

Sport and the Olympics cannot in themselves solve all problems of repression and human rights in China, but they can certainly help. I hope that will be the real legacy of these Games.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Ground work

It is clear to me that David Miliband is preparing the ground for a leadership bid. His appearance on Radio 2 today was notable for a number of reasons, including an apparent inability to remember the name of the Prime Minister!

The current situation shows the Labour Party in a very bad light. It's members seem to have accepted the inevitable view that Gordon Brown has to go but seem to lack the courage to remove him openly and democratically. Most of the country agree that the Prime Minister needs to be replaced; not with another Labour Party stitch up, but with a General Election.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Time for a General Election

It is very clear that Labour has lost the confidence of the British people. Last night's defeat in Glasgow, following its humiliation in Henley, defeat in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, the victory of Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral Election and the crushing losses in the local elections in May, illustrate the point.

It is now time for Gordon Brown to call a General Election and give the British people an opportunity to give its verdict on his year in office and have a full debate over the future direction for our country.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Answers please!

I was at an event last night with fellow Conservative Party parliamentary candidates. David Cameron spoke to us for a few minutes and I was struck by the contrast of his message on the economy with that of Gordon Brown's.

Whilst Gordon Brown talks endlessly about the global economy, the credit crunch, and the world economic downturn, David Cameron actually addresses the day-to-day concerns of all of us; the cost of filling the car with petrol, higher utility bills, rising food prices and the impact of higher mortgages payments. It is clear to me that Gordon Brown doesn't really understand how the economic problems we face as a country are hurting all of us each day. He seems instead only concerned with ensuring that any blame for the problems are laid elsewhere and not at his door. The British people expect a little more leadership, insight and answers after 11 years of living in Downing Street.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Taking a lead

I welcome the move today by (most) Conservative MPs to publish their expenses and related office and staffing details. I hope now that all MPs, from all parties, will follow their lead.

It is disappointing that seven Conservative MPs have decided (so far) not to make this information available to the voting and paying public. All of us involved in politics lose credibility and respect as a result of the poor example which is set by a small minority of our representatives in Westminster and Europe. This level of transparency is the very least voters have a right to expect.

Friday, 11 July 2008


Many will wonder if it is a coincidence that the government is delaying the debate and vote on the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the run-up to the Glasgow East by-election? I guess the strong feelings in the constituency may have played on the minds of worried Ministers. Perhaps it will have the same effect as the sudden change in government policy over the 10p tax rate as we approached the Crewe and Nantwich by-election!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Congratulations David Davis

Congratulations to David Davis on his victory in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election.

Like many others, I raised an eyebrow when he resigned his seat to force a by-election on the issue of 42 days detention and the erosion of civil liberties in Britain. However his principled stance in the face of this craven government, and his passionate defence of the values of freedom, liberty and justice, is to be applauded. I hope the wide coalition he has mobilised will continue to work together to keep this vital issue alive.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The broken society by-election

David Cameron is right; the Glasgow East by-election is about Britain's broken society. Although the oft-quoted statistics about poverty levels, life expectancy and educational failure in the constituency are shocking, more damaging for Labour, and for politics generally, is that the people of Glasgow East have been so badly let down by its representatives and leaders.

Despite expensive social programmes and soaring public spending the situation has worsened, not improved since 1997. The failure to mend our broken society (not just in Glasgow East, but in an increasing number of parts of Britain) is a shocking indictment of a government that just doesn't understand what has gone wrong (or won't accept it) and as a result, it doesn't know how to put it right. Like many of the problems we face in Britain, Gordon Brown and Labour believe the answer lies in spending more and more money.

The result in Glasgow may end the debate over the future of Gordon Brown, but more importantly it should start a serious debate about how we tackle the problems that afflict large parts of our society which is increasingly racked with division and dogged by a lack of hope.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

The fight goes on in Liverpool

City of Liverpool Conservatives are continuing to fight back as part of the Party's drive to reach out into all parts of the country. Liverpool and parts of the Mersey region have been included in the Party's City Seats Initiative (CSI) which is breathing new life into the Party in those major towns and cities formerly seen as virtually "Tory-free" zones.

The CSI works by forming a team of candidates from the approved list to work with local party members and supporters to encourage those who are currently applying and other local people to get involved and work together for the Party. In Liverpool the team has been in place for twelve months and is making huge strides forward in building Party membership, raising funds, creating a higher and more positive profile for the Party in the city, and most importantly, in increasing support at the ballot box.

The Party fielded candidates in every ward in the city on May 1st and made huge inroads into the Liberal Democrat’s majority in the key target ward of Woolton, as well as making great progress in other wards including Allerton, Mossley Hill and Cressington. Across the city the Party's total vote was up 37% on last year. The Party ran a positive and energetic campaign across the City and received excellent local press coverage for its alternative vision of change for Liverpool.

With a huge increase in membership (up over 50% in the last twelve months) optimism is high that in 2010, the date of the next local elections in Liverpool, the Party can take further giant strides forward. Richard Downey, the Party's excellent candidate in Woolton said:

"It was a pleasure to meet so many residents whilst canvassing in Woolton and to discuss some of the problems we experience under a Liberal Democrat run council and a Labour Government. Our campaign team knocked on every door in Woolton and Gateacre and we discovered that an overwhelming number of residents share our views".

Many of these residents had not heard from the Party for years but were receptive to our message of social responsibility and our ideas for mending Britain's broken society.

As Liverpool-bred Nadine Dorries MP wrote at the time, in 2007 the five Conservative Associations in the city (Wavertree, Walton, West Derby, Riverside and Garston) amalgamated and became "The City of Liverpool Conservatives". They elected a new chairman, the local entrepreneur behind the Caldeira cushion empire Tony Caldeira, and an executive to run its campaigning, all but two of whom are in their twenties.

Since that reorganisation, which breathed new life into the Party in Liverpool, the City of Liverpool Conservatives has been very busy. The team also has a hugely committed Shadow Minister for Liverpool in Chris Grayling MP, who is working hard on behalf of the Conservatives and the city; making monthly visits to promote the city, listening to local people and talking about key issues facing Liverpool. The team has also been offering support to local target seats such as Wirral West and Sefton and has held events welcoming David Cameron, George Osborne, Mark Prisk and Nadine Dorries to the city.

Following the May elections the City of Liverpool Conservatives are developing a campaign plan for the 2010 local elections and the next general election, under the umbrella of the Party's CSI.
The City of Liverpool Conservatives will soon select their candidates for the next General Election but between now and then the group will continue to work as team taking on Labour and the Liberals across the city and the region.

The City of Liverpool Conservatives do not underestimate the size of the challenge- the first being to get a Councillor elected to the city's Council- but they are committed and ready to meet the challenge and present a loud, relevant, and local Conservative voice on behalf of the people of Liverpool.

Author's note: I am on the candidates list and the Liverpool CSI team, explains the progress being made by the Party in Liverpool. Picture: Some of the Liverpool CSI team campaigning in May with Chris Grayling MP and Den Dover MEP.

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