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,

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,

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