Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

I would like to wish all readers of my blog a very happy New Year.

2010 is a huge year for Halton and our country. I hope that together we can deliver the change that is desperately needed.

Best wishes,
Ben

Monday, 28 December 2009

Giving Halton and Britain the change it needs

I am extremely grateful for all the offers of help and support I have received over the last 14 months since being selected in Halton.

I appreciate however that not everyone has the time, or is able, to come to Halton to help out on the campaign, but they still want to play their part and have asked me how they can help.

By donating a few pounds they can make a big difference to the campaign. I have therefore established a “fighting fund” to raise money for the final months of the campaign. It can be accessed by clicking on the "donate" button on the right hand side of my blog.

Every pound donated will be spent in Halton. Every pound donated can make a difference. Every pound donated will mean a lot to me. I really appreciate any support you can give as together we try to give Halton and the country the change it needs. A few pounds can make all the difference.

Please feel free to share this link with any friends, colleagues, neighbours etc.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish all readers of my blog a very merry Christmas.

Best wishes,
Ben

Weekly News- letter published on the economy


The following letter was published this week in the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News:

It is easy for politicians to attack bankers for their greed and incompetence. But we also need politicians to be straight with the British people on failure of the Government to tackle our current economic problems.

In Britain we have a £178 billion deficit. The Government will spend £64 billion a year on debt interest; this is equivalent to the money raised each year from fuel duty, inheritance tax, stamp duty and council tax combined. The deficit will also push up interest rates over time, meaning more expensive mortgages and credit card bills for all of us.

This is a dire state of affairs, made worse by the Government’s failure to take the tough decisions needed on spending before the election, which means there will be higher taxes and higher interest rates if they win the election.

Last week, the Government had an opportunity to be honest with the British people and use its Pre-Budget Report to take the action needed to help our economy. Instead, they failed to set out a credible plan for dealing with our debt crisis. They failed to show how they would return the economy to growth, but instead punished hard working people by introducing a National Insurance hike which will mean a smaller pay packet for anyone earning £20,000 or more.

By contrast, the Conservatives are being straight with people. We have made tough decisions to cut the cost of Whitehall by a third, reduce benefits for better-off families, bring forward the increase in the state pension age, and freeze public sector pay for all but the million lowest earners. We have also set out a plan for supporting the economy back to growth by being pro-enterprise and pro-wealth creation. Within 50 days of taking office we would introduce an Emergency Growth Budget to reduce the main rate of Corporation Tax to 25p and the small companies’ rate to 20p.We will cut red tape on business and abolish tax on the first ten jobs created by new businesses during the first two years of a Conservative government.

Unlike Labour, we are not ducking the tough choices. We have bold plans to fix our broken economy. Only the Conservatives can offer Halton and the country the change it desperately needs.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Friday, 18 December 2009

Hillsborough panel

I welcome the news that an independent panel has been formed to oversee the disclosure of the Hillsborough disaster documents. It is also heartening that the Bishop of Liverpool, The Right Reverend James Jones, has been asked to chair the panel. I hope this panel will help us get to the bottom of this great injustice.

Halton MP Derek Twigg has been instrumental in campaigning for justice in relation to Hillsborough and the setting up of this panel. He has done excellent work on behalf of the families and all those concerned about this case. He deserves great credit for his commitment and hard work. I was able to thank him personally when we met earlier this year and I do so publicly again now.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Another weekend on the campaign trail

Despite the cold weather this weekend, it was great to meet up with colleagues and friends in Halton as we continued our campaign before the local and general elections. We have now clocked up many, many weekends of pounding the Halton pavements and are continuing to receive an excellent response on the doorstep.

It is clear that this week's cynical budget has hardened many people's resolve to remove this exhausted government when they eventually get the opportunity next year.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Pre Budget Report

We shouldn't be surprised, but once again this failing Labour government showed it was more interested in politics than the country this week.

The Pre Budget Report was all about putting off the tough decisions until after the election. It was all about saving Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling's jobs. It was all about appearing to be fair, but was really a cynical ploy to avoid the real action needed to solve our national economic crisis.

To take one example, increases in child benefit and disability living allowance; it looked like great news but the changes are only rises for the period of the election, followed by real terms cut after the election.

Britain has a £178bn national deficit; where was the government's plan to tackle it this week? The country deserves better than this cynical and exhausted government.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax is a real concern for millions of people in Britain, who work hard and save all their lives to try to hand something on to their children and grandchildren.

Currently more than two million homes are worth more than £325,000 and are at risk from Inheritance Tax. The Conservative Party believes that only millionaires should pay inheritance tax. That is why we propose raising the threshold upon which the tax should be paid to £1 million. Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are constantly telling the country that cuts in Inheritance Tax are not a priority. What they need to explain is why they have cut it last year, and this year, and why they still propose to do it next year. Is this yet more hypocrisy from Labour and Gordon Brown?

Class war

Gordon Brown signalled last week that he wishes to fight the next election on “class” lines. This is frankly bizarre, especially when we consider that Tony Blair spent fifteen years modernising the Labour Party to shake off this out of date approach to politics in Britain.

As I wrote recently in the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News, Labour got its fingers burnt in Crewe last year when it tried to run a by-election campaign against “Tory toffs”. The people of Crewe responded emphatically, rejecting Labour’s negative message, and electing Edward Timpson. Thankfully, in Britain we care about where people are going, not where they are from. We care about whether the people who want our vote have the right ideas and values to represent us; not worrying about which school they went to, or whether their parents were rich.

It is the hypocrisy of Gordon Brown on this issue that disturbs me most. He makes constant references to Eton as if to embarrass David Cameron, but doesn’t mention that Labour’s most successful leader, Tony Blair, went to one of Scotland’s most prestigious public schools. He sees David Cameron’s background as a barrier to high office but not (rightly) John Prescott’s. What a strange way to try and win an election in 21st century Britain.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Weekly News- Afghanistan letter


The following letter was published in this week's Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News:

The British people are questioning our mission in Afghanistan and asking whether the war can be won. A recent ComRes opinion poll showed that 64 per cent said that the war is “unwinnable”.

These respondees are not questioning the dedication and bravely of our troops, over 230 of whom have laid down their lives since 2001, but are questioning why they are in Afghanistan.

One of the reasons the British people believe the war cannot be won is that the Government has not properly explained to us our mission.

The mission should be to deny Al Qaeda territory to plan more attacks against Britain and to prevent any resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism that will inevitably lead to more attacks on the streets of Britain, and against our interests around the world. That has to be better explained by the Government.

Along with this confusion over our mission, concerns have been rightly raised over the availability of helicopters for our troops, the provision of body armour, cuts in the TA budget, and the risks our troops faced to provide security for the recent deeply-flawed and discredited elections and to support President Karzai’s corrupt administration.

We need to focus our efforts, not on trying to impose democracy in Afghanistan, but to help the Afghan Government provide the security forces it needs to tackle the Taliban and Al Qaeda on its own.

As we continue to ask British soldiers to fight and die in the conflict, we need to ensure they are not fighting and dying in vain. We need to remember why they are in Afghanistan. And we need to give them the tools they need to do the job so they can return home.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Weekly News- Rebuilding trust in politics


The following letter was printed in this week's Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News:

Politics and politicians have taken a major knock in the last year. All of us involved in politics have to rebuild trust with the electorate before the general and local elections, due at the latest by the beginning of June 2010.

In Halton, the Conservatives are committed to doing our bit to restore faith in politics and prove that we can deliver real change for local people.

Between now and the elections, we will make specific promises to the people of Halton of practical things we will deliver if elected in 2010. These pledges will offer the people of Halton a clear choice when they come to vote; knowing exactly what the Conservatives will do if put in charge of the Town Hall.

As we finalise our pledges for the elections, we are committed to listening to local people. We have already received lots of encouragement from local residents who have shared their ideas with us. To tell us what you think our priorities should be, please email via Ben Jones’ blog (http://benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com) or write to us at Halton Conservatives, 63 Victoria Road, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 7RP. We would like to hear from as many people as possible across Halton.

Together, we can give Halton and the country the change it desperately needs.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones (Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton) and Councillor Peter Murray (Leader, Conservative Group, Halton Borough Council)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Liverpool Hope Radio; The Lisbon Treaty

Yesterday, I did a live interview on Liverpool Hope Radio to talk about The Lisbon Treaty. The programme had interviewed local Labour MP Jane Kennedy and UKIP MEP Paul Nutall, and asked me to provide a Conservative Party perspective.

I reminded listeners of the betrayal Gordon Brown and the Labour Party had committed in refusing the give the British people the referendum it had promised in it's 2005 manifesto. I also reiterated the Conservative Party's commitment to our continued membership of, and support for, the European Union, but emphasised that we want to an open, flexible Europe, which serves the people not the other way round. I also reminded listeners of David Cameron's commitment to change the law so that never again would a government be able to agree to a Treaty that hands over areas of power from Britain to the EU without a referendum.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Weekly News- BNP blasted by Ben Jones



British National Party deputy leader Simon Darby defends use of Sir Winston Churchill in campaign material amid criticism from Ben Jones, prospective Conservative candidate for Halton

http://iccheshireonline.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100regionalnews/tm_method=full&objectid=25252813&siteid=50020-name_page.html

THE BNP’s use of Winston Churchill’s image on its campaign material has been blasted by prospective Conservative MP for Halton, Ben Jones.

But senior figures at the BNP have hit back, claiming former Tory Prime Minister would have agreed with many of its views.

Images of the Second World War leader – a Tory for most of his career – have appeared alongside BNP leader Nick Griffin on his party’s website.

Mr Jones – who will stand against Derek Twigg MP at the next election – said: “Winston Churchill is rightly regarded as one of the great Britons of all time, who was a national hero during the Second World War.

“It is unfortunate that an organisation like the BNP, which is neither great nor heroic, should seek to use his image on their website and in their campaign materials.

“The best way to defeat the BNP is to ensure that all mainstream political parties tackle head-on their lies and bigotry and get their own supporters to the polls on election day.”

Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, said Churchill would have shared many of his party’s views.

He said: “We believe if Churchill had the same political outlook now as he had then, he’d be thrown out of the Conservative party.

“Under mainstream parties we’ve seen the sell-off of British gold, and seen the loss of more freedoms to the EU.

“Thatcher took us into Europe and ensured we were wrapped in the tentacles of the EU federalist monster.”

He added: “If he were here now, we’d be the only party he could join.”

Friday, 20 November 2009

Dithering on MP's expenses

One of the biggest issues facing the country this year has been MP's expenses. We could have reasonably expected action on it to form part of the legislative programme announced this week by the government. No such luck. Despite all the talk of cleaning up politics and restoring faith in politicians, the government has failed to act when it had the perfect opportunity. The story doesn't end there.

Just hours after the Queen’s Speech, the Prime Minister was already doing one of his famous retreats. He refused David Cameron’s offer of help to pass new laws the public demand on expenses reform; instead he sat talking to Harriet Harman. Then, following criticism from Sir Christopher Kelly, he changed his mind and admitted new laws are needed. It's another total shambles from this failing government and failing prime Minister.

It also confirms what I have written here for some months; they still do not get it!

Queen's Speech

This week, we once again saw the Prime Minister put party before country. The Queen's Speech had one objective; save the Labour Party from electoral defeat. Gordon Brown had nothing to offer the country except a series of half-measures aimed at partisan point-scoring, which even Cabinet Ministers admitted was about playing politics not improving people’s lives.

What a shameful act by this failing government, which is out of steam, out of ideas, and hopefully soon, will be out of office. We don't need more of this desperate clinging to power; we need a general election.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Traffic chaos; we need the second bridge

The recent Silver Jubilee Bridge chaos experienced by local residents and businesses confirms my long-held view that we need the second bridge, and quick. I join Derek Twigg MP in his calls for the matter to be put beyond doubt by the Transport Secretary acting quickly to confirm approval for the project. The report of the Public Inquiry is due next month; I hope the people of Halton will not be left waiting on this vital issue.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

A great year

A year ago today, I was selected as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton.

It has been a huge honour and a real privilege to fulfil this role over the last twelve months. I am grateful for all the help and support I have received from local people and look forward to continuing to work with them to fight for the things that we care about; safer communities, better public services, more openness and honesty in politics, a fair deal on tolls for the new bridge, protection of Halton's greenbelt, and more besides, between now, the general election, and hopefully beyond.

I will continue to campaign with my Conservative colleagues in Halton, for the change that our borough and the country desperately needs.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Weekly News- Candidate’s promise to “do his bit”

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2009/11/09/webhead-55368-25125665/

THE Tory prospective parliamentary candidate for Halton has pledged his support for the armed forces.

Conservative Ben Jones - who will go head to head with MP Derek Twigg at the next election - made the pledge when he met Royal British Legion representatives at the recent Conservative party conference in Manchester.

He was handed the RBL’s manifesto for the coming election, which sets out priorities for the next Government to improve conditions for the British armed forces past and present, as well astheir families.

Kevin Shinkwin, the Legion’s head of public affairs, said: “We’re really grateful to Ben for making the time to meet with us and listen to our concerns.

“Our message to every candidate standing at the general election is very simple: ‘It’s time to do your bit’.”

Mr Jones, said, “They are an outstanding organisation, making a huge contribution to our country.

“They have an important role to play in highlighting the needs of the whole Armed Forces family.

“I have pledged to do my bit and would encourage everyone to do the same by visiting www.timetodoyourbit.org.uk.”

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance Sunday

It was a great honour to take part in the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Widnes today. Alongside Councillor Peter Murray, I represented Halton Conservatives, joining the march through Victoria Park and laying the Party’s wreath at the cenotaph.

It was extremely humbling to stand alongside hundreds of local people, including veterans and their families, whose bravery and sacrifice we remember today. I was also struck by the number of young people who attended the ceremony to show their support and respect. At this difficult time for our whole armed forces family with the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, we remember not just the fallen from the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts, but the daily sacrifices being made by our troops and their families in our name. I was very proud to be with some of them today.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Merseyside Conservative Ladies' Lunch Club


Yesterday I spoke at the Merseyside Conservative Ladies' Lunch Club at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. I was very grateful for the invitation and enjoyed catching up with many long-standing friends and meeting new ones. In my speech I focused on the campaign in Halton (updating the ladies on what we have been doing over the last tweleve months since my selection), the national political picture, and what factors I believe will decide the next election.

I also talked about my background and political history, explaining my reasons for joining the Conservative Party saying; "It was conviction that brought me into the party; a conviction that this is a great country, with proud values and a capacity for its people to achieve anything if they are given the freedom and the opportunity to do it.

I have always believed that we should only have as much good government as we can afford; that society does exist, but as David Cameron says, it is not the same thing as the state; and that a Conservative government should reward those who take responsibility for themselves, and care for those who cannot."

Weekly News- letter published


The following letter was published this week in the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News:

"I have followed with interest the recent letters from Frank Harasiwka and subsequent related correspondence.

Underneath the usual Lib Dem tactics of trying to be all things to all men and misleading the electorate on the positions of their opponents, there lurks a more corrosive message. Mr Harasiwka’s references to the “Burlington Club” and George Osborne not having had a “proper job” are an attempt to smear my Conservative colleagues, and to turn the next election into a class war. Labour got its fingers burnt just down the M6 last year when it tried to run a by-election campaign in Crewe against “Tory toffs”; you would think politicians would have more faith in the British people than to think they would fall for this nonsense.

In Britain we care about where people are going, not where they are from. This great country of ours is a place where someone from any background can rise to the height of their chosen field. Forget political differences; the fact that John Prescot could make the journey from ship steward to Deputy Prime Minister is a tribute to our country and the fairness of our values. In the same way, David Cameron and George Osborne shouldn’t have their school or their background held against them.

For my part, I went to my local state schools in Rainhill and St Helens. I was the first person in my family to go to University, and I live in London now because that’s where my wife and I work. I hope when Halton’s voters come to cast their vote at the general election, they will vote for candidates because of their values, their commitment to local people, and their plans for tackling the issues that matter.

Over the next few months, I hope that we will hear more from candidates about their ideas and values, not their prejudices."

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Weekly News- MP Chris Grayling tours Farnworth, Widnes



http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-breaking-news/2009/11/03/mp-chris-grayling-tours-farnworth-widnes-55368-25080449/

ANTI-SOCIAL behaviour was the main topic of discussion when shadow home secretary Chris Grayling MP visited Widnes this week.

Mr Grayling, who is also the Conservative shadow minister for Merseyside, was taken to St Luke’s Church, Farnworth, which has seen a number of incidents of graffiti and vandalism.

Ben Jones, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Halton, said: “Chris is spending a lot of time listening to people up and down the country in his role as shadow home secretary, seeing for himself the effect crime and anti-social behaviour has on communities.”

Mr Grayling met Farnworth residents, police officers and representatives from the church and Halton Borough Council’s anti-social behaviour co-ordinator to discuss vandalism and under-age drinking in the area.

Mr Jones added: “It was a great pleasure to have him visit Halton and to spend time talking about this key local issue.

“I look forward to his continued support for the area if he becomes home secretary after the next general election.”

Friday, 30 October 2009

No more family firms in Westminster

It looks like the Kelly report, due to be published next week, will propose the end to MPs being able to employ members of their family. I would welcome this change as we move to restore confidence in our politics.

In March (before the expenses scandal hit) I made a pledge on my expenses which included not employing members of my family (http://benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-expenses-pledge-to-voters-of-halton.html).

It is no good MPs now complaining about the unfairness of these changes; they only have themselves to blame for turning a blind eye where abuses of the system were taking place.

The penny still hasn’t dropped

It was disappointing to hear Jacqui Smith using the old defence that “I took advice” and “it was within the rules” in relation to her expenses on Question Time last night. When will the penny drop? The anger felt across the country is about MP’s using the system for their own ends, or being party to the culture of silence around expenses and allowances by looking the other way. They cannot continue to hide behind the rules or the Fees Office, they need to take responsibility for their own actions.

I hope the penny will drop soon. Perhaps in Ms Smith’s case it will be when the people of Redditch get to give their verdict on her conduct at the General Election.

Friday, 23 October 2009

The BNP and Question Time

Yesterday was a good day for free speech and democracy in Britain.

I fully support the BBC’s decision to allow BNP Leader, Nick Griffin, to be a panellist on Question Time. The voters elected him to the European Parliament and the BBC were right to reflect this in their decision to invite him on their programme.

His appearance and subsequent abject performance confirmed what I have felt for a long time; the more opportunities the BNP get to put their case the better, as it only serves to expose their bigoted, racist and frankly bizarre, ideas and beliefs. Last night’s programme was good for our democracy as it allowed many people who may have voted for the BNP, or been tempted to vote for them, to see the truth lurking behind their election rhetoric. Those who felt they were standing up for Britain will have seen a party only interested in dividing and discriminating.

All politicians need to face into the BNP. We need to debate with them, and fight to expose their despicable, hate-filled prejudices. Last night was one step on the road to doing that. I look forward to more of the same.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Hillsborough papers update

A number of media sources are reporting success for the Hillsborough families in their fight to gain access to papers relating to the disaster that have been kept secret from them. One source (the Daily Mirror) reports that the Government will, within three weeks, announce it is setting up The Hillsborough Independent Panel into the tragedy, including a representative from the families.

This will be extremely welcome news, if the "full disclosure" promised by the government is delivered.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Weekly News- Halton Tory candidate uses conference to air borough issues



http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2009/10/15/halton-tory-candidate-uses-conference-to-air-borough-issues-55368-24929603/

BEN Jones, the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Halton, attended the Party Conference in Manchester last week. During the week, he met leader David Cameron and Halton Borough Council representatives to discuss important local issues.

Mr Jones said afterwards: “Conference is a great opportunity to meet with a range of people and organisations to discuss key issues affecting the people of Halton.

“I used my time productively to hold a series of meetings to discuss the Mersey Gateway project, issues affecting older people in Halton including social care provision, law and order - especially in relation to anti-social behaviour - and health needs.”

He continued: “I took every opportunity to meet with key organisations, senior party figures and other candidates to promote Halton and to speak up for the needs of local people.

“With the general election probably just a few months away and by May at the latest, this conference season has been important in helping voters compare the ideas of the respective parties as they decide who can give Britain and Halton the change that it needs.”

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

They do not get it

The reaction of a number of MPs to Sir Thomas Legg’s audit and letters showed they still do not get it. MPs who are now complaining they have been unfairly treated by Sir Thomas will not get much sympathy from me or most voters in Halton.

All MPs, whether they have been asked to repay money or not, need to take responsibility for the mess that Parliamentary expenses and the reputation of politicians and politics is in. They all failed to deal with the culture of expenses and allowances in Parliament, whether by claiming money most of us feel they shouldn’t, or by turning a blind eye to others claiming them. Their lack of leadership is to blame for the current crisis, not Sir Thomas Legg.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Criminal justice system breakdown; David Cameron gives his view

Following my recent comments about the need for the CPS and the Court Service to better support the police in the fight against crime, I was very interested in David Cameron's comments on this issue in his Conference speech this week:

"It is about a breakdown of all the things that are meant to keep us safe......a complete breakdown of responsibility. A breakdown of morality in the minds of those thugs a total absence of feeling or conscience. A breakdown in community where a neighbour is left to reach a pitch of utter misery. And a breakdown of our criminal justice system.

Every part of it, the police, the prosecution services, the prisons......is failing under the weight of big government targets and bureaucracy. The police aren’t on the streets because they’re busy complying with ten different inspection regimes. The police say the CPS isn’t charging people…because they have to hit targets to reduce the number of unsuccessful trials.

And the prisons aren’t rehabilitating offenders…because they’re focused on meeting thirty-three different performance indicators.

This all needs to change. I’m not going to stand here and promise you a country where nothing bad ever happens. I do not underestimate how difficult it will be to deal with this problem of crime and disorder.

We cannot rebuild social responsibility from on high. But the least we can do the least we can do is pledge to all the people who are scared, who live their lives in fear and who can’t protect themselves, that a Conservative Government, with Chris Grayling, with Dominic Grieve, will reform the police, reform the courts, reform prisons. We will be there to protect you."

Thursday, 8 October 2009

It’s time to do your bit


It was a real pelasure to meet representatives from the Royal British Legion at Conference this week and pledge my support for the British Armed Forces family. I would ask you do the same by going to www.timetodoyourbit.org.uk

Family, Community, Country

Having listened to David Cameron’s speech today in Manchester, it is very clear who he is, and what he stands for. The theme of ‘family, community, country’ ran throughout the speech, as did his pledge to re-establish responsibility at the heart of our society and his message that big government is at the heart of many of our problems. I could not agree more.

It was an honest, direct and realistic speech, which set out the real challenges we face as a country. I felt his speech set out a ‘one nation’ vision for our country which explained what compassionate Conservative is and would mean for Britain saying; “A Conservative government will reward those who take responsibility, and care for those who can’t." This is the sort of politics I joined the party for.

We now have to continue to work hard to win the support of the people, and a mandate to change our country. The full text of David Cameron’s speech is available by following this link; http://conservativehome.blogs.com/files/fulltextofcameronspeech.pdf

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Education ideas for the future

I particularly enjoyed Michael Gove's speech today which offered the country radical new ideas for government. I thought this phrase in his speech worthy of repeating; "We desperately need good schools in every neighbourhood. We want a new generation of independent state schools funded by taxpayers but run by teachers and responsible to parents, not micromanaged by politicians. That is the way to give parents what they want – smaller schools with smaller classes, good behaviour, great teachers and restored confidence in the curriculum."

A heavyweight team for government

This week, the Conservative Party has shown what a great team we have as we prepare for the general election and, hopefully, for government. The senior team of Cameron, Hague, Osbourne, Clarke, Gove, Grayling, (I could go on) dwarfs the Labour Cabinet (Brown, Darling, Balls, Harman, Milliband, Bradshaw; I could go on and on and on!) which is full of tired, discredited and failed politicians, desperately trying every trick in the book to cling to power.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Meetings at Conference



Conference is a great opportunity to meet with a range of people and organisations to discuss key issues affecting your constituency. I have been using my time in Manchester to hold a series of meetings to discuss the Mersey Gateway project, issues affecting older people in Halton including social care provision, law and order (especially anti-social behaviour), health needs and issues in Halton, and education; as well as showing my support for fantastic organisations like the Royal British Legion.

The Conference venue



I know I’m biased- with my North West and Manchester connections- but what a fantastic venue this has been for Conference. Not only the Conference centre which is a great space to hold the main sessions (with the dramatic G-Mex structure as the backdrop), but also a great layout for side meetings, the exhibition hall, and other facilities. On top of that, Manchester the city is such a great advert for the north of England. I hope we are back again soon.

We’re all in this together

George Osborne’s message to conference and the country was both honest and mature. I was pleased to hear some specific measures aimed at tackling our national debt crisis created by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, but also a clear message that we will all have to play our part in getting the country out this mess. It was such a contrast to the re-announcements and desperate spin we heard last week in Brighton. We are not just talking about tough choices but making them, whilst still looking out for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

Monday, 5 October 2009

David Cameron in Manchester

David Cameron showed again today that he is setting the agenda in Britain with an excellent speech to Conference and the launch of our welfare reform proposals. What struck me most was how direct and straightforward his language and plans were in stark contrast to the Prime Minister in Brighton last week.

I also had the pleasure of a brief 1-2-1 meeting with David in Manchester today, and a photo taken with him (that will be posted here over the next few days). He was in relaxed form and it was good to see up close the man who will hopefully be our next Prime Minister. My overidding impression was that whatever "it" is, he has it.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Party Conference

I am delighted we are returning to the north west for our annual conference next week. Our gathering in Manchester comes at a vital time for our country as we face major challenges at home and abroad. This week the Conservative Party will set out our message of change for the country. I will be there all week and will be blogging throughout; watch this space!

TV debates; the dithering is over

At last, our dithering Prime Minister has agreed "in priniple" to take part in televised debates with David Cameron and Nick Clegg. This is good news for democracy and will offer voters a new and interesting way of helping them decide how to vote at the next election. I am looking forward to the debates, and hope these are the first of many.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Weekly News- Halton Conservative Party team join volunteers to tackle work at St Luke’s Church in Farnworth, Widnes


http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2009/10/01/halton-conservative-party-team-join-volunteers-to-tackle-work-at-st-luke-s-church-in-farnworth-widnes-55368-24819976/

A TEAM of volunteers has been helping to make way for a community centre in Farnworth.

The group was joined by members of the Halton Conservatives to clear an area of St Luke’s grounds where a new centre is to be built.

Ben Jones, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Halton, said: “I was delighted the church accepted our offer of help.

“I look forward to the community centre opening and being a fantastic facility for local people.

“The day itself was great fun, although there was some aching the next day as a result!”

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Gordon Brown and "that" question

A lot of people have asked me this week whether I think Andrew Marr was right to ask the Prime Minister “that” question in his TV interview on Sunday; "A lot of people use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through, are you one of those people?". My view is no, he was not.

I believe that the Prime Minister (and all of us) has a right to privacy in relation to his health and other aspects of his private life and that this type of questioning is dangerously close to perpetuating the sort of prejudice and discrimination against ill-health (whether physical or mental), disability, or a range of other challenges, that many people deal with in their lives on a daily basis.

Let me absolutely clear; I believe Gordon Brown is an awful Prime Minister and a man totally unfit for the office he holds. That is not because of his alleged ill-health, or any alleged use of painkillers or other drugs, it is because he has the wrong ideas and the wrong approach to lead our country.

If we start from a premise that someone who has battled with a disability, or has used prescription drugs in their life to help them deal with a physical or mental health condition, cannot be Prime Minister, it is a very sorry state of affairs. Thankfully, I have greater faith in the British people and our country than believing we would do that.

Beware the small print

Earlier this month I signed the Sky TV petition calling for debates between the main party leaders (http://benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com/2009/09/tv-debates.html). It looks today as if the Prime Minister, after much characteristic dithering, will accept the challenge (or at least that's what his grim spin machine was briefing last night in Brighton). I am not celebrating just yet because after many years of Gordon Brown budgets and speeches, we know there is often a sting in the tail hidden in the small print.

Broken Britain

I have written before about the problems of our "broken society" in Britain. Nothing brings those issues into sharper focus than the truly awful case of Fiona Pilkington and her family. They were dreadfully let down by many organisations over many years with tragic consequences, but the root cause of their problems was not the failure of the police, social services and the local council (horrendous though they were) but the failure of society to stand up for the vulnerable in our communities and for some individuals and families to take responsibility for their own actions and treat others with respect.

Anti-social behaviour is a scourge of our society. Our failure as a country to deal with over the last few years should be a source of national shame. Along with rebuilding our economy, rebuilding our society will be the great challenge for the next government.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Weekly News- welcome to the political run-in


The Weekly News has printed the following letter from me;

I'd like to welcome Liberal Democrat Frank Harasiwka to the General Election campaign, after his selection last week, just seven months before the likely polling day and nearly a year after I was selected to represent the Conservative Party.

The voters of Halton know that it is the Conservatives who have councillors in both Widnes and Runcorn; that we are the only Party to have gained council seats in the last five years; and are the Party best-placed to give Halton and the country the change it needs, having been the main opposition to Labour in every General Election in Halton.

They also know that the only way to get rid of this failing government and Prime Minister is to vote Conservative.

Regardless of all that, Frank; you are welcome to the campaign.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones
Halton Conservative Parliamentary Candidate

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Honest leadership

I have written a number of times this year about the Prime Minister's failure to be straight with the British people. This week's u-turn on public spending is perhaps his worst offence.

We can all see the damage the mountain of public debt is doing to our country and the need for tough decisions and cuts in spending. Whilst David Cameron has been honest and direct with the British people, Gordon Brown has spent months avoiding the truth, including some extremely misleading statements in Parliament; something he must now surely regret.

Strong leadership is about good judgement and integrity. Gordon Brown has consistently shows he has neither.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Conservative candidate for Halton Ben Jones claims Cheshire Police attempts to snare offenders are being undone by the Crown Prosecution Service


http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2009/09/17/conservative-candidate-for-halton-ben-jones-claims-cheshire-police-attempts-to-snare-offenders-are-being-undone-by-the-crown-prosecution-service-55368-24703715

EFFORTS to snare prolific career criminals in Halton are being undermined by the soft legal system, claims MP hopeful Ben Jones.

Mr Jones, the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Halton, says frontline officers know who the most prolific offenders are, but efforts to put them behind bars are being ‘undone’ even after they’ve been caught.

He said: “From my recent meetings with Cheshire Police, it’s clear they have a good idea who is the source of most of their burglaries. From these discussions, it’s clear that identifying repeat offenders is not the problem. But getting the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to pursue them or the courts to take firm action is where their hard work gets undone.

“Officers told me of one recent case of a Halton man, who upon leaving court had reoffended and was in custody again within an hour. The public has a right to expect the CPS and courts to back up the police in getting these people off the streets and out of our houses.

“Whether in Halton or elsewhere they have to do better; the current approach is failing us all.”

Ian Rushton, the chief Crown prosecutor for Cheshire, said: “The CPS is committed to bringing criminals to justice and protecting the communities we serve.

“Charging a person with a criminal offence is a serious matter. We’ll only charge an individual if we feel that we have a realistic prospect of conviction."

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Helping to make a practical difference


The Blue Blog (the Conservative Party’s blog) has included a posting from me on our recent “social action” work in Halton.

Please click on the link below to view it:
http://www.conservatives.com/News/Blogs/Helping_to_make_a_practical_difference.aspx


Friday, 11 September 2009

TV debates

I have today signed the Sky News petition to support a TV debate between the party leaders at the next General Election. This is one in a number of measures I believe politicians of all parties need to take to rebuild trust with the electorate and re-engage with the large number of disillusioned voters across the country.

I hope the Prime Minister (eventually!) agrees to take part, following the lead set by David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

The link to the petition is below;
www.skynewsleadersdebate.epetitions.net

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Justice for Michael Shields

I am delighted that Michael Shields has today been pardoned and will be released from prison. Michael, his family, and supporters have been through the most horrendous ordeal over the last four and a half years but they remained resolute and courageous in their fight for justice.

There remain many questions for the Justice Secretary and his colleagues to answer, having kept this innocent man in prison for so long, but that is for another day. Today is a day to celebrate; a day to be thankful that this awful miscarriage of justice is over.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Social action in Halton




Today, members of Halton Conservatives and other volunteers joined me to help Farnworth Church with their Community Centre project. We spent today clearing an area of the Church grounds which has been designated as the site for the new Community Centre, in advance of next week’s Heritage Day when visitors will tour the area. It was great fun and the progress made was impressive; although there may be some aching joints tomorrow as a result!

I am committed to helping in our local community in Halton and was delighted Farnworth Church accepted our offer of help. I look forward to the Community Centre opening and being a fantastic facility for local people.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Weekly News- Conservative Ben Jones claims up to half of violent attacks in Halton are booze-fuelled


THE Tory prospective Parliamentary candidate for Halton claims alcohol could be behind up to half of all violent attacks in the Widnes and Runcorn.

According to Home Office figures, there were 2,351 assaults in Halton between April 2008-9. And Ben Jones – who will be taking on MP Derek Twigg at the next election – claims up to 1,105 of the attacks could be drink-fuelled. He blamed ‘lax’ licensing laws for the problem and called for more council powers to tackle the issue. He said: “Labour’s licensing laws are too lax. We don’t want a return to the old days where every pub shut at 11pm. But local councils like Halton need greater powers to tackle the binge drinking and violence that plague our town centres.

"The reckless sale of high strength, bargain basement alcohol is damaging health and fuelling violence. Conservatives believe that socially-responsible adults should be able to have a night out in Widnes and Runcorn without fear of violence. We need to make our town centres feel safe at night once again.”

DCI Nick Bailey, of Cheshire Police, said: “We recognise that alcohol is a major catalyst for many of the violent crimes we see in Runcorn and Widnes. “Police and partners are working closely together to take steps to reduce the number of incidents of alcohol-related crime and disorder, and to educate people about the potential impact of their behaviour. Officers are also successfully utilising powers under section 27 of the Violent Crime reduction Act 2006. This allows a police officer to issue an individual aged 16 or over with a direction to leave a particular area for a period of up to 48 hours.”

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Repeat burglary- update

Unfortunately, recently published Home Office figures reinforced the experience of my friend reported here last weekend; http://benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com/2009/08/repeat-burglary.html. The figures showed a huge increase in house burglary and other robberies contributing to 61 offences per 1,000 heads of population (the highest crime levels in Cheshire).

I have today written to the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, asking him to remind the CPS and the Courts of their vital role in the fight against crime. It does not help to the people of Halton to have police officers catching criminals in the morning only to find them released and re-offending in the afternoon.

Monday, 31 August 2009

The government is slow to help during the recession

I met a recent graduate over the weekend who has reluctantly "signed-on" with Jobcentre Plus after trying without success to get work. They have so far not received a single penny in help from the government due to "a backlog". Surely the government could have seen this coming and made arrangements to speed up payments to those in need of help- often only for a short period of time- during the recession. This Labour government failed to prepare our economy for the downturn and subsequent recession, and now they are failing to help those in most need.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Repeat burglary

One of my friends who lives in Halton was burgled this week. I don't know who was responsible but from my recent meetings with Cheshire Police it is clear they have a good idea who is the source of most of their burglaries.

From these discussions with local police officers it is clear that identifying these repeat offenders is not the problem; getting the CPS to pursue them or the courts to take action is frustratingly where their hard work gets undone. They told me of one recent case of a local man man, who upon leaving court had re-offended and was in custody within an hour. The public has a right to expect the CPS and courts to back up the police in getting these people off the streets and out of our houses. Whether in Halton or elsewhere they have to do better; the current approach is failing us all.

Mental health challenges

I met two paramedics this week who talked me through their daily workload. They told me that around 1 in 5 of their 999 call-outs were to assist people who were having mental health issues. They were doing a fantastic job in the circumstances but complained of not having enough local mental health specialists, crisis teams, or support and training in this area. This conversation confirmed my long-held concern that mental health services continue to be the poor relation of the NHS; under-funded and under-resourced.

With 1 in 4 our of fellow countrymen having mental health issues it is vital that we give our health professions the backing to tackle this huge challenge.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Bold Heath Quarry- update

Since meeting with the Bold Heath Action Group in March(www.benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com/2009/03/bold-heath-quarry), I have been following the progress of the appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. We are now entering a key phase of the appeal with this week's public inquiry in St Helens and are awaiting the verdict from the Inspector. As I wrote in March (on this blog and to the Inspector directly), I hope he makes the right decision and protects the heath and safety of local residents who stand to suffer if the quarry is permitted to be turned into a landfill site.

Regardless of the decision, the process that has brought us here raises serious questions about the power of the Planning Inspectorate (a Government Body) and it's ability to overrule the will of elected representatives and local residents.

Monday, 24 August 2009

PM gone to ground

Once again the Prime Minister has done one of his disappearing acts. It’s curious that he can find his way to the camera to lecture the world on economics, or appear on YouTube, or comment on the latest celebrity news, but not to speak on an issue of national importance such as the release of the Lockerbie bomber. The British people have the right to know what their Prime Minister thinks about the release of Mr al-Megrahi. It may be seen by him as a matter for the Scottish Government but it affects the reputation of our whole country.

Mr Brown has proved once again that when the going gets tough, he gets going.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Home Information Packs (HIPs)

If, like me, you have just moved house you will welcome the plan from Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, to scrap HIPs after the next general election.

As he writes this weekend; “Next week marks the second anniversary of when Home Information Packs became mandatory. Just to recap, what this discredited HIP law does is to ensure that anyone wanting to sell their house has to first reckon on shelling out several hundred pounds to comply with this much ridiculed red-tape. It is now illegal to place a For Sale sign in front of your own home without first having this expensive paperwork in place. Weary sellers have little choice but to sigh at yet another piece of burdensome bureaucracy, suffer the delay and stump up the cash. During the past couple of years I've faced four different Housing Ministers across the Despatch Box and have presented each with compelling evidence demonstrating not only that HIPs aren't working, but that they are actively causing harm to an already embattled housing market.”

HIPs have made moving house even more expensive and difficult. Grant is right to say that the HIPs debacle has become shorthand for a government that has run out of ideas and should now be run out of office.

Action needed to reverse Labour’s binge-drinking culture

I sent the following press release to local newspapers this weekend:

Ben Jones, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton, this week added his voice to calls for action to rein back in Labour’s licensing laws and take tough action against the uncontrolled spread in binge-drinking.

The latest Home Office crime figures have revealed that across Halton there were 2,351 violent attacks last year. Based on Government surveys of crime victims, this suggests that 1,105 of these attacks could have been alcohol-related.

There is growing concern about the overlapping problems of late night drinking, fast food outlets selling alcohol at night, under-age drinking, the easy availability of high-strength alcohol, and retailers like supermarkets selling alcohol below cost-price. Labour’s licensing laws, which came into effect in 2005, have created a presumption in favour of alcohol licences being given out, and imposed tight restrictions on who can object to any licensing application.

The Police Federation has warned that the need to police town centres around the clock is making it harder to answer emergency calls elsewhere.

Conservative leader, David Cameron, has explained how the Conservative Party will tackle the problems of binge-drinking Britain:
· Stronger powers and more discretion for elected local councils, and a greater say for local residents on licensing applications.
· Tougher penalties for premises which sell alcohol to under-age drinkers.
· Reviewing the rules which allow fast food outlets like kebab shops to sell alcohol into the early hours.
· Changing the law to stop the ‘loss-leading’ sale of alcohol by retailers.
· Rebalancing the duty on alcohol: reducing rates on low-alcohol beers and ciders, and increasing it on very high-strength products (the likes of Tennent’s Super) and on alcopops.

Ben Jones said: “Labour’s licensing laws are too lax. We don’t want a return to the old days where every pub shut at 11pm. But local councils like Halton need greater powers to tackle the binge-drinking and violence that plague our town centres. The reckless sale of high-strength, bargain-basement alcohol is damaging health and fuelling violence.

“Conservatives believe that socially responsible adults should be able to have a night out in Widnes and Runcorn without fear of violence. Parents should be reassured that their children are not going to come to harm. Halton’s community pubs should not be tarred with the same brush as irresponsible ‘vertical drinking’ bars or fast food outlets peddling booze into the early hours. We need to make our town centres feel safe at night once again.”


Please read the following related story from earlier in the month by clicking here: http://benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com/2009/08/weekly-news-dont-walk-away.html

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Weekly News- Derek Twigg MP; yes man?



Below is the text of a letter published by the Weekly News (alongside others):

I read with interest the letters in last week’s Weekly News about Derek Twigg MP.
It is clear that in the wake of the Westminster expenses scandal and the overall conduct of politicians, Britain’s voters are looking for more from their elected representatives than simply being “yes” men and party stooges.
Since my selection as the Tory candidate in Halton last November, people in Widnes and Runcorn keep telling me that they want their MP to stand up for them and be their voice in Westminster, not Westminster’s or their party’s voice in Halton.

That is my commitment if elected; to speak up for Halton and not hide behind party lines.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Compassionate grounds

Following the release of Ronnie Biggs on “compassionate grounds” we are faced with another shocking case; this time the convicted Lockerbie bomber. Mr al-Megrahi was convicted under Scottish law for the murder of 270 people. Incidentally, thus far he has served the equivalent of a fortnight in prison for each victim.

It now appears he is on the verge of release on “compassionate grounds”. This stinks. I believe that, as a rule, when someone is guilty of multiple murders they should not be allowed out of prison early. This crime was so heinous that Mr al-Megrahi should die in prison.

It is true that you can judge a society by how it treats its prisoners and how it doles out justice. As a result I have long been opposed (and remain opposed) to the death penalty. But to retain public confidence in the judicial system I believe convicted criminals should serve their time. In this case and that of Mr Biggs, no amount of ill-health should make any difference.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Ronnie Biggs

I am appalled by Jack Straw's decision to release Ronnie Biggs on compassionate grounds. Given he has never showed any remorse for his crime; added to his original offence by escaping from prison (also a crime); and then spent most of the last 46 years sticking two fingers up not just to the police, courts and Ministers, but to the rest of us, it is a deeply flawed decision.

The damaging message this decision sends out is that if you are sentenced to 30 years in prison, you can decide to serve only 10 years, and the 10 years which are most convenient for you. This was not a good day for justice in our country.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Bobby Robson

Britain today lost one of its great sporting ambassadors with the death of Sir Bobby Robson.

There is some outstanding coverage of his life and career on the BBC website, including footage of his appearance at the 2007 BBC Sports Personality of The Year ceremony, which is extremely moving. I was 12 during Italia 90 and like many my age I remember vividly Bobby’s incredible grey suit and his jubilant jig around the dugout.

I also remember Bobby as not just a great manger, with a hugely successful career, but achieving all that he did in the game by maintaining his decency, his integrity and his good humour. He was in the truest sense of the word a “great” man; there are plenty of people in football who would do well to follow his magnificent example.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Social mobility

I have just read the report of Alan Milburn’s ‘Panel on Fair Access to the Professions’, published last week. It is an interesting and thought-provoking report, which opens up an important debate on social mobility in our country. It focuses much attention on the belief that the professions in the UK are a “closed shop” to those who are not from well-off or connected families. A good deal of the response to the report has aimed it’s fire at pushy parents, “elitist” private schools, and the failure of top universities and the professions to accept those from poorer backgrounds.

I have a different take on the problem. I think blaming the professions and private schools misses the point. I believe blame lies in the failure of the state school system (which I went through) to equip so many school leavers with the education they need to get on. Having previously worked in large “professional firms” myself I do not believe they try to recruit identikit people; they are looking for people who can do the job, who often require high levels of academic achievement.

We should be focusing our attention on raising standards in state schools, improving careers advice so that students are aware of the opportunities open to them, and emphasising the importance of ambition, hard work and commitment. I do agree with Alan Milburn’s panel that more should be done to provide mentors, role models and work placements; but the key is raising standards, and instilling the message that with hard work and ambition, anything is possible.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Farnworth vandalism

Farnworth Councillors, Peter Murray, Phil Drakeley and Phil Balmer, and I have sent the following letter to the local newspapers in Halton:

“We are disgusted at the recent vandalism at Farnworth Church.

The damage done to gravestones and benches, which have great sentimental value to local people is disgraceful. We appeal to anyone with information about this to contact the local police and offer your help. As a community we must send out the strongest possible signal that this sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable; that includes the families and friends of those responsible.

This sort of behaviour has to stop.”

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Under-age drinking- don’t walk away

This week we heard the story of Gary Reinbach, who died aged 22 from multiple organ failure brought about by alcoholic hepatitis. This tragic case brings into sharp focus the growing problem of under-age drinking in our country, which can lead to serious health problems, and for some, early death. Yesterday’s Guardian newspaper ran a short story from a north west paramedic (Steve Evans) who recalled his shocking experience from a night’s patrol in Widnes, in which he collected several children (aged 11 and 13) unconscious through drink.

I would like to pay tribute to the work of Steve whose campaign called ‘Don't Walk Away’ is trying to raise awareness amongst teenagers of the dangers of alcohol and choking/hypothermia, and offering advice to them about the need to send for an ambulance and the importance of the recovery position.

Steve and colleagues are trying to tackle a national problem which in my view is symptomatic of our broken society. As with all of the problems we face as a nation there is something each of us can do to help; we can set an example to young people in relation to alcohol, we can be role models, we can not walk by on the other side of the road when we see youngsters in drunken difficulty, and crucially we can press policy makers to ensure that education is dramatically increased on the dangers of drinking at a young age, and excessive drinking at any age. As a nation, and as individuals, we have to do more.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Today in Halton


I spent today meeting a range of organisations in Halton, including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Halton Haven, and The Brindley. It was genuinely inspirational to meet people at these three organisations who are making a huge contribution to our community.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Labour needs to be straight with us on Afghanistan

Labour is failing to be straight with the British people on Afghanistan.

Politicians of all parties need to be frank about the difficulties and the dangers our troops are facing in Afghanistan. One is that they do not have enough helicopters. A key reason for this is the Government’s lack of forward planning because in 2004, when British troops were deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, they decided to cut the helicopter budget. This is now having a significant impact on the safety and security of our troops; a view expressed by a range of senior current and ex-military figures, including the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord Guthrie.

Gordon Brown claims there has been a 60 per cent increase in the number of helicopters, but at the same time, we have had a 100 per cent increase in the number of troops. What is it that stops Gordon Brown admitting when clear mistakes have been made? Why won’t he give a simple, honest answer to a simple, honest question?

The list of issues on which Labour is not being straight with the British people gets longer by the week; we deserve better.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Henry Allingham

The loss of Henry Allingham offers us an opportunity not only to remember his extraordinary life and contribution to our country, but that of his amazing generation of servicemen and women who served us so magnificently. There is one comment which he made on a visit to the Somme in 2006 which sums up their attitude. He was asked how he wanted to be remembered; "I don't" he said, "I want to be forgotten. Remember the others."

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

We must protect them

I share the profound sense of loss felt across our country following the death of our servicemen in Afghanistan over the last few days. I was in Halton tonight and over the weekend and was hearing the anguish of local people whose hearts go out to the families of those brave soldiers lost in action.

We need to be clear on the purpose of our mission in Afghanistan, and clear that we have given our troops the best chance of winning the fight with the minimum loss of casualties. On the latter issue, we must ensure that our troops have the right equipment for the job; including armoured vehicles and helicopters where necessary. Given their immense sacrifices in our name, we must not let our forces down by failing to protect them; that would be the ultimate betrayal.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Weekly News- Mersey Gateway bridge is 'a must’, says Halton's Tory PCC Ben Jones


http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2009/07/09/mersey-gateway-bridge-is-a-must-says-halton-s-tory-pcc-ben-jones-55368-24105614/

AS the public inquiry into the Mersey Gateway project drew to a close, Halton’s Tory Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Ben Jones reiterated his 100% support for the project.

In a submission to the Conservative Party’s Commission on Transport for the North, he said the bridge represents a huge development and regeneration opportunity. Mr Jones wrote: “The Mersey Gateway project is a vitally important transport and regeneration project for my constituency and the North West region.
“It’ll help alleviate traffic congestion, support local businesses to be more competitive, act as a catalyst for regeneration in the area, and create new jobs. This much-needed and long overdue development is welcomed by local people and those across the political spectrum.”

He added: “In my role as PPC for Halton, I spoke in favour of the project at the North West Area Conference in March 2009. I’ve have been campaigning on this important issue since my selection in November, working with others, including neighbouring PPCs and local councillors.”

Mr Jones urges the commission to support the Mersey Gateway project. “This is more than a bridge; it has the potential to be a catalyst that will connect communities and lead regeneration and investment throughout Halton and the North West. He continued: “I’ve followed the public inquiry proceedings closely and am looking forward to reading the outcome early next year. “In the meantime, my Conservative colleagues and I are continuing to press for a fair deal on tolls for all local residents and businesses.”

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Real help for victims of the recession

Whilst this failing Labour government lurches from leadership crisis to backbench rebellion, we are proving real answers to our country's eeconomic problems. Below are five practical measures we are proposing to help people through this recession.
  • A big, bold and simple National Loan Guarantee Scheme to help get credit flowing and save jobs.
  • A two year Council Tax freeze, worth over £200 for the typical family.
  • Tax breaks for companies which create new jobs, and cuts in National Insurance and Corporation Tax for all small companies.
  • Up to £6,500 worth of energy efficiency improvements for every household, saving energy and reducing bills.
  • Abolition of stamp duty for nine out of ten first-time buyers.

Recession hurting Halton

Labour’s recession is hurting Halton. In June, the unemployment claimant count rose by 86% (on this time last year). The rate of unemployment in Halton is now nearly the worst in the north-west (ahead only of Knowsley and Liverpool).

Gordon Brown believes that, before the credit crunch, the British economy was fundamentally strong, which is why he won't apologise or take any responsibility for what went wrong. He claimed he had ended boom and bust, but we are now facing one of the deepest recessions in the developed world and people in Halton are paying the price. If Gordon Brown can't admit his past mistakes then how can he offer a way out of our problems?

Conservatives understand that, under Labour, the economy was built on debt. We are offering a different plan for economic recovery, based on savings and ownership not borrowing and debt. We will build a new low-carbon, high-skilled, productive and balanced economy that will be the engine of sustainable growth, and we will reform the public finances and system of financial regulation so that no Labour Government is able to bankrupt us again.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Better government; not more government

Over the last 12 years, this Labour government has passed nearly 500 Acts of Parliament; six on immigration, eight on terrorism, twelve on education, eleven on health and social care, and twenty-five on criminal justice. It has created new criminal offences at a rate of nearly one a day (helpfully pointed out yesterday by Philip Johnston) and over 1000 quangos.

As citizens we are entitled to ask, does all this extra legislation make our country any better-governed? Has this legion of new laws solved the problems in our society? Has more government action been the answer?

Or is it more evidence of that New Labour trick of always wanting to be seen to be acting, or announcing or re-announcing a new policy or initiative, rather than actually doing something that will make a real difference to people up and down our country?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Michael Shields

I am surprised and disappointed to hear that Jack Straw has "provisionally" rejected an appeal for a pardon from Michael Shields. The six month wait, since the High Court ruled the Justice Secretary had the power to free Michael Shields, has now ended in anguish for Michael and his family.

Like Michael Shields, I was in Istanbul in May 2005 to watch Liverpool play AC Milan in the European Cup Final; I have followed his case with great interest. I hope Mr Straw can be persuaded to reconsider his position before making his final ruling on this case.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Supporting Halton

Today I made a submission to the Conservative Party’s Commission on Transport for the North supporting the Mersey Gateway project. I have included an extract below:

“The Mersey Gateway project is a vitally important transport and regeneration project for my constituency and the North West region. It will help alleviate traffic congestion, support local businesses to be more competitive, act as a catalyst for regeneration throughout the area, and create new jobs. This much-needed and long over-due development is welcomed by local people and those across the political spectrum.

In my role as PPC for Halton, I spoke in favour of the project at the North West Area Conference in March 2009, and have been campaigning on this important issue since my selection in November 2008, working with other neighbouring PPCs and local councillors."

My recommendation to the commission was to "support the Mersey Gateway project. This is more than a bridge; it has the potential to be a catalyst that will connect communities and lead regeneration and investment throughout Halton and the North West.”

Education, Education, Education

After 12 years of failure by this Labour Government, yesterday’s speech by Shadow Education Secretary, Michael Gove, gives those of us who care about education some real hope. He analysed the failure of the current system and presented some positive ideas for the future.

Below are some of the policies outlined:
- New powers for teachers to control violent behaviour.
- New powers for heads over pay and conditions which will break the grip of Unions.
- New powers for all state schools to do top quality international exams.
- More control of universities over exams, which will expose and reverse dumbing down and break the power of the QCA.
- Big shake-ups for all the quangos and the Whitehall structure.
- A genuine system of school choice with organisations and parents free to set up new schools (and radical changes to planning law and building regs to make this possible).
- Parents free to control the taxpayers' money spent on their child so they can switch it to one of the new charter schools, and radical freedoms for these schools outside the grip of the state.

The full text of his speech can be read by clicking here: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/files/090630-gove-speech-to-rsa.pdf

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

More of the same from Labour; treating us like fools

Yesterday, Gordon Brown launched Labour's 'national plan'; another relaunch of his failing Premiership. It is a dishonest programme based on dishonest spending figures. How can we know whether any of his plans will work if Gordon Brown won't tell us how he plans to pay for them? Yet again, he is treating us all like fools.

This is the kind of dishonesty that puts people off politics and politicians. We need to be straight with people about the need to cut spending and about the radical reforms that are needed in our country.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Mersey Gateway- inquiry closing

As the public inquiry into the Mersey Gateway project draws to a close, I would like to reiterate my support for the project. This project amounts to more than a bridge; it represents a huge development and regeneration opportunity for Halton and the surrounding area.

I have been following the proceedings closely and am looking forward to reading the outcome of the inquiry when it is published later this year. In the meantime, my Conservative colleagues and I are continuing to press for a fair deal on tolls for all local residents and businesses.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Treating us like fools

The Prime Minister and the Labour Party continue to believe they can treat us like fools. We had the cancelled election of autumn 2007, when Gordon Brown said the worsening polls had not been a factor in his decision to cancel the election; last week’s pretence that he never intended to move the Chancellor, the Foreign Secretary or the unelected First Secretary of State in the Cabinet reshuffle; and now more nonsense about public spending with the Prime Minister claiming that spending will rise over the next few years under Labour whereas the Conservatives will make huge cuts to frontline service. This is a desperate attempt to con the electorate.

Let us be absolutely clear; our country’s public finances are in a mess after twelve years of Gordon Brown as Chancellor and Prime Minister. The figures the Prime Minister read out in Parliament last week show real terms spending (taking into account inflation levels, debt repayment of record proportions, and increased benefits payments, resulting from the recession) falling by around 7% a year from 2011. These are the government’s own figures from the budget, analysed by an independent body (the Institute for Fiscal Studies). We Conservatives recognise that we are entering a much-needed period of austerity with tough choices to follow. We are committed to being straight with the British people in describing what we need to do to get us out of this terrible economic hole; Labour’s debt crisis. Labour needs to be honest with the public about the implications of their debt crisis for the public services.

I was disappointed to see Derek Twigg repeat this Labour nonsense at Business Questions in Parliament last week. Surely the people of Halton and Britain deserve to be treated as grown ups and not treated like fools.

Halton today


I was in Halton today campaigning with colleagues who are committed to giving the Borough and the country the vision and government it deserves. Once again I was struck by the mood of anger and disappointment on the doorstep; a feeling of being let down by politicians, especially as we face huge economic and social problems as a country. I continue to believe that all of us in politics have to redouble our efforts to listen to, and be straight with, the electorate. If we do not, more and more people will stay at home at the next elections and by default allow the BNP and others to make progress.

Hillsborough files- further update

Three weeks after writing my second letter to the Home Secretary (six weeks after the first) asking about the unreleased Hillsborough files, I have received a further standard response from the Home Office's "Direct Communications Unit". Once again it completely avoids committing to the release of the files or any timescales for the decision on the release of files. It says an announcement will be made when “a decision has been reached”.

I will now write to the new Home Secretary. Perhaps he will answer the simple questions I am asking, over two months since his predecessor gave us hope that at long last we would get to the truth about this terrible injustice.

Carers Week

This weekend marks the end of Carers Week in which thousands of events have taken place throughout the UK. They have highlighted and celebrated the incredible contribution that carers make to our country; more than six million people, including 175,000 young carers under the age of 18. I continue to meet with and talk to carers and their organisations across Halton to see what I can do to help them. They are the unsung heroes in our society.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Weekly News- Massive thumbs-down to Gordon’s failing regime


http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2009/06/11/massive-thumbs-down-to-gordon-s-failing-regime-55368-23836062/

LAST week, Britain gave it’s damning verdict on this failing Labour Government.
I was in Halton during the week and found the mood on the doorstep one of anger and disappointment; it’s clear that the people of Halton are furious about the behaviour of MPs in Westminster and want a General Election to have their say.

It is also clear that the results were a disaster for Gordon Brown and the Labour Party. This is their worst election performance since the war. We need a General Election now so that the country gets the change it needs.

I’m looking forward to continuing to campaign in Halton in the build up to next May’s important local elections, and between now and whenever the Prime Minister finds the courage to call a General Election.

In last week’s elections, the Conservatives won as many votes as Labour and the Liberal Democrats put together. We are the only party with an MEP in every region of the UK.
We came first, increased our vote share and were 13% ahead of Labour. We performed well right across the country, topping the polls in every English region apart from the North East, and beating Labour in Wales for the first time ever.


We are ready for the General Election, whenever it is called.

BEN JONES
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Election results

Last week, Britain gave it's damning verdict on this failing Labour Government.

I was in Halton during the week and found the mood on the doorstep one of anger and disappointment; it was clear that the people of Halton are furious about the behaviour of MPs in Westminster and want a General Election to have their say. It is also clear that the results were a disaster for Gordon Brown and the Labour Party. This is their worst election performance since the war. We need a general election now so that the country gets the change it needs.

I am looking forward to continuing to campaign in Halton in the build up to next May's important local elections, and between now and whenever the Prime Minister finds the courage to call a General Election.

In last week's elections the Conservatives won as many votes as Labour and the Liberal Democrats put together. We are the only party with an MEP in every region of the UK. We came first, increased our vote share and were thirteen per cent ahead of Labour. We performed well right across the country, topping the polls in every English region apart from the North East, and beating Labour in Wales for the first time ever. We are ready for the General Election; whenever it is called.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Election day in Halton


I spent yesterday in Halton; talking to voters as they went to the polls. We will see how the results unfold across the country over the next few days, but one thing was clear to me; the people of Halton are very angry about the behaviour of MPs in Westminster and want a General Election to have their say.

D Day commemorations

This weekend marks the 65th anniversary of the D Day landings of 1944. It is fitting, the day after we voted in free elections around this country, that we take time to remember the great sacrifices made by so many to keep us free from tyranny. I will be thinking of my grandfather this weekend and all of his brave comrades for all they did for us.

I will also be thinking of the incredible sacrifices being made by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their courageous families, who carry a heavy burden on our behalf.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Four reasons to vote Conservative this week........

  • To make Gordon Brown change his mind and give us the referendum on the EU Constitution he promised.
  • To vote for change - if you're sick of Gordon Brown's hopeless Government and Labour's Debt Crisis, this is your chance to show it.
  • To support our plans to improve the NHS, for better school discipline, and to free our police from bureaucracy so they can get out and fight crime.
  • To tell Gordon Brown we want a General Election - now!

Election week

This week, Britain will elect 72 MEPs and 2318 councillors. These elections are the first electoral opportunity for the British people to send a message to all of us involved in politics that we must do better.

I will be in Halton during the week to continue to campaign on behalf of our MEP candidates and to meet with local people to discuss key local issues, including the vitally-important ongoing Mersey Gateway Public Enquiry (as well as how we can rebuild trust in politics, continuing my pledges on openness and expenses).

This week's elections are also an opportunity to put further pressure on Gordon Brown to call a general election. The country needs an election to give it's verdict on this incompetent government and morally bankrupt Members of Parliament.

Monday, 25 May 2009

ConservativeHome picked up my "openness" pledge

ConservativeHome has today picked up on my pledge on "openness"- please click on the link below to follow the story.

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/goldlist/2009/05/i-wont-even-claim-for-a-packet-of-hobnobs.html

Friday, 22 May 2009

Further pledge on "openness"

The recent controversy over MP's expenses and allowances has raised fundamental questions about the openness and transparency of MPs, and how their relate to their employers; the electorate. Abuses of the system by many MPs has seriously undermined the public's trust and confidence in the entire political system. As far as I'm concerned, politics and politicians need to change.

Today, I am making a further "openness" pledge to the people of Halton; setting out further actions I would take (alongside my pledge on expenses http://benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-expenses-pledge-to-voters-of-halton.html) to do my job as their MP.

I will continue to build on this pledge based on feedback as I believe it is vital that candidates and MPs listen to the electorate and respond accordingly if trust is to be rebuilt between voter and representative.

If I were to become the MP for Halton I would:
- Publish online my full voting, attendance, and speaking records from the House of Commons (and all written questions tabled and motions signed)
- Publish online a diary which details where I spent each day (and night) so that the people of Halton can see where I am working on their behalf
- Regularly update my website/blog so anyone can see what I work have been doing
- Publish contact details which include an "out of office hours" number so that constituents could contact me out of normal work hours
- Publish online my annual tax return/details of all my income (including any other jobs/paid appointments/work etc)
- Conduct regular polls/questionnaires of my constituents to find out their views on key issues- this help me decide how to vote in the House of Commons
- Hold regular surgeries at different times and locations in the constituency so it is convenient for my constituents
- Hold regular public meetings to discuss key issues concerning the people of Halton and account for my performance on their behalf- I would not make speeches at this meeting, but take questions and spend my time listening

The people of Halton have a right to know how I would behave as their MP, as I would work for them.