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


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:

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;

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.