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 (

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

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 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

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;

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

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!”