Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 in review

It is that time of year when people look back over the last twelve months and reflect on the highs and lows. This blog is no exception (although reading other's thoughts over the last few days it is clear there is much consensus on 2010).

Highs;
- The excitement of the TV debates (and Gordon Brown's first performance, which will forever be known as the "I agree with Nick" night!)
- David Cameron’s “big, open and comprehensive” offer to the Lib Dems the day after the election; it was a stunning and breathtaking moment (especially for those of us who were at that time highly sleep-deprived!)
- The Coalition negotiations and the poker faces of Hague, Laws and co with the UK press chasing them down the street for five days
- Seeing David Cameron on the steps of Number 10- it made the previous few months all worth it
- The Rose Garden press conference; another stunning occasion which hardly anyone who watched could quite believe was happening
- A personal highlight was seeing my name on a Parliamentary election ballot paper for the first time and the privilege of representing the Conservative Party in Halton; a truly humbling experience

The lows;
- Alistair Stewart shouting throughout the first TV debate!
- Just coming up short on election night (despite the amazing result in Cannock Chase with Aidan Burley defining the odds to win)
- Gordon Brown’s petulant exit from Number 10 to avoid being photographed leaving in the dark (not quite how our constitutional arrangements should work!)
- Almost every Liverpool FC game!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas

I would like to wish all readers of this blog a very merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful, and healthy New Year.

Thank you

As the year draws to a close, it is a great opportunity to thank everyone who supported me this year in my campaign in Halton. Your help was simply fantastic. I will always be grateful for all that did for me and our brilliant local Councillors and Council candidates.

It was a huge privilege to work with you during 2010.

What a year!

2010 has been a huge year for our country. We eventually saw the back of Gordon Brown and his failing Labour Government, and then saw the Conservatives and Lib Dems put party differences to one side and come together to work in the national interest.

It has not been without it bumps and scrapes along the way, but who seriously would have thought it could be any different? We are two distinct parties. We have our own ideas and policies. Our own identities. But we have put our country first to give Britain the strong and stable government it needs, at a time when it needs it most.

The challenges we face working as a Coalition are nothing compared with the challenge of clearing up the mess the Labour Party left behind. I am really proud of the progress the Government has made since May, especially as it had to make so many difficult and often unpalatable decisions. We are already starting to see signs of improvement in our economy and in society; the longer this Government continues, the more progress I believe we will see. We can look forward to 2011 with a renewed sense of optimism that our great country is back on track.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Great news for Halton

I am absolutely delighted with the news from this week's Spending Review that the Mersey Gateway project is being supported by the Treasury.

The hard work done by Halton Borough Council, the Mersey Gateway Team (led by Steve Nicholson), and local and national politicians of all parties looks to have paid off. They all deserve great credit for their commitment and endurance during this long campaign.

It is also a great tribute to this Government, who has recognised that although paying down the deficit (after Labour's decade of debt) is our priority, so too is investing in key capital projects which will deliver jobs and prosperity for our country. As I have written many times before, the Mersey Gateway project will benefit not just the people of Halton, but the whole North West region.

In these dark economic days, this is a ray of bright shining light. Well done to everyone involved.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Chancellor supports Mersey Gateway

I was really pleased to hear the Chancellor's supportive comments last week about the Mersey Gateway project, describing it as an ‘incredibly important project’.

We all know how difficult the economic climate is within government and what a mess the Labour government left us with. We also know how important this project is for Halton and the north west; delivering jobs and investment that will build a long term legacy of growth for the region.

During my time as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate in Halton I gave my full support to the project, trying to use whatever influence I had with the key decision-makers.

I hope that the new government will be able to support the Mersey Gateway despite the disastrous economic situation it has inherited.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

New leader. New Labour?

I would like to congratulate Ed Miliband on his election as Leader of the Labour Party.

But the closeness of his victory- only made possible by the strong support of the trade unions- raises questions about whether he really has a strong enough mandate to deliver change for his party. If he now focuses on repaying the unions for their support, ditching New Labour and lurching to the left, then he will take the Labour Party on a huge backward leap. He also has to prove to the country how he can be the solution to our economic and social problems, when he was part of the team that got us into this mess, and one of the few members of the Cabinet who appeared to support Gordon Brown.

His election yesterday begs lots of questions. How he answers them over the coming months will determine whether the centre ground of British politics is a lonely place.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Liverpool FC

I have always tried to avoid blogging about Liverpool FC for fear that once I start, I will not be able to stop! But this week I feel I have to break the habit.

Wednesday night's result was desperate. Our start to the season has been awful. Roy Hodgson has inherited a club, and a team,,in a mess.

Until the ownership issue is resolved properly, and the off the field uncertainty is removed, we will struggle to find the consistency we need on the field. But we must also remember that although Roy has made some moves in the transfer market (which look so far to have been very positive) he has a huge job ahead to clear out some of the dross he was left by the previous manager.

This dross not only creates short-term selection problems, but a longer-term drain on the wage bill. We have too many overpaid, under-achieving players. It is very simple. The players we currently have (apart from a small few) are not good enough.

Liverpool fans do not need me to list the players who are not fit to play for the club, or to state the obvious areas in the squad we need to invest. What we do need is to back our new manager with time and support, hope for a speedy resolution to boardroom uncertainty, and hold our nerve through this rocky period. It is a long, dark winter ahead, but I believe there will be a golden sky at the end.

In Conference!

We are now in the midst of Conference season. Earlier this week I was in Liverpool for meetings at the Lib Dem conference; the first time I have attended our coalition partner's annual gathering.

It was pleasing on two fronts; firstly, to see Liverpool do a magnificent job at hosting such a large scale event (testament to the huge development in hotel and conference facilities in recent years), and secondly to feel a genuine mood of commitment to the coalition delivering its five year programme.

Although politics is a fickle business and the media love to talk about divisions and splits, I saw a real sense of unity and determination to finish what we have started in the national interest. I am looking forward now to Birmingham!

Heart speaks unto heart

Last week's Papal visit to Britain was a triumph. It showed the Holy Father at his best; kind, gentle and thoughtful, spreading huge amounts of joy wherever he went.

I hope that the unfair image of him as a stern and cold man will now be banished. For a man in his eighties to keep that hectic schedule during his visit with a constant smile and warmth for those who had come to see him was to his great credit.

The highlight of the visit for me was the Pope's visit to a nursing home in Vauxhall. To take time to go to see some of the oldest and frailest members of our community, who were unable to travel to see him, to spread his message of faith and love was really moving.

I hope we do not have to wait another 28 years for another visit.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Northern Ireland

The recent upsurge in dissident republican activity is a cause for concern but we should try and keep it in perspective.

The people perpetrating this recent violence, and probably planning more, have no constituency. They represent no community and no strand of public opinion. They represent only the past and not the future.

The people of Northern Ireland have spoken and chosen peace, democracy and leaders who can work together for the common good. For those of us who love Ireland, north and south, we hope that all sides of the community will continue to reject these extremists who offer nothing but a return to dark passages and sad days.

A mosque at Ground Zero?

The question of whether a mosque should be built at Ground Zero in New York is not for me a moral question; it is one of pragmatism and sensitivity.

I believe that people should have the right to worship freely and without prejudice, but there can be little doubt that a mosque built at Ground Zero will cause upset and offence, not least to the families of those who were murdered by the 9/11 hi-jackers, who killed in the name of their twisted form of Islam. Those families and all affected by the events of that terrible day deserve to be shown some sensitivity.

I think that common sense should prevail and the mosque be built elsewhere.

The Pope’s visit

The build-up to the Pope’s visit to Britain has not been without controversy. I am hoping His Holiness’ visit goes well, not just because I am a Catholic, but because if it does, it will reflect well on our country and our values of tolerance, respect and openness.

The Pope is not just a religious leader but also a Head of State and as such is entitled to be welcomed here with the same grace and respect as any other world leader. He is also entitled to be welcomed and heard without some of the unpleasantness and intolerance that has been shown towards him and his forthcoming visit in recent weeks. Sadly, I expect to see this anti-Catholic, anti-Pope vitriol to increase over the next few weeks. This is regrettable.

I do not expect everyone in Britain to support the Church or the views the Pope takes, or to suppress their strong views in our free society, but I hope that they will be tolerant, respectful and fair to the Pope. I would expect other faith leaders to receive the same treatment; why should the Pope be any different?

Monday, 26 July 2010

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I wish I could say the outcome of the Tomlinson/G20 investigation surprised me; no charges to be brought against the officer involved. But it did not.

As someone who supports the police in their extraordinarily difficult job (and has been out on patrol with them and seen at first hand the extreme challenges they face) it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain that support when they appear to be above the law.

Time and again an IPCC, CPS, or internal investigation either clears the officers involved, or concludes there is insufficient evidence to warrant further investigations or a prosecution. This damages the police's reputation and harms the public's confidence in them. We need to feel that we are all judged by the same standards and laws and not having these applied differently if you wear a uniform (even if you try to conceal your identity number!). This case has saddened me greatly but that can be nothing compared to the pain and sadness of the Tomlinson family. They tragically join a long list of people who feel denied justice following police action.

This failure to have justice done, or seen to be done, must end. The families involved deserve it, we as citizens deserve it, and the police themselves (many of whom will be equally saddened by these decisions on) deserve it.

Prison works?

Ken Clarke's recent comments in relation to prisons has caused a stir. My view is very clear; there are some crimes that require a prison sentence (to protect the public and punish the perpetrator) and others that do not.

There are too many people in prison for relatively minor offences, who have been in prison before (again for relatively minor offences) and will return again (the re-offending rate for minor offences is very high). The system is clearly not working. We need to break the cycle of re-offending and should focus more attention on rehabilitation of minor crime offenders who we can stop graduating to more serious offences, which going to prison helps them to do.

It is too easy to say Ken Clarke is being soft on crime or too liberal; perhaps we should focus instead on having a genuine debate about how we tackle repeat offenders before it is too late for them, or for us.

Lockerbie bomber and BP

As we approach the first anniversary of the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the circumstances of his release and the alleged involvement of BP has hit the news. Nothing in the eleven months since his release has altered my view that the decision to release him on “compassionate grounds” was a disgrace. As I wrote in August last year; “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.”

What we need now- as promised by the Prime Minister- is the release of all the materials connected with the decision to free this mass murderer to ensure the whole story of his release is heard. The 270 victims and their families deserve nothing less.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Common sense PM

David Cameron's early weeks as Prime Minister are a pleasing vindication for those of us who voted for him as leader in 2005. Like many, I saw in him a quiet, unstated pragmatism which served my party well and now is turning it's attention to our country.

Witness his comments this week about Raol Moat and his upcoming visit to the United States which shows a man who has a common sense approach to people and life and a strong sense of pride in our country but realism about our place in the world and the state of our society. What a refreshing change after thirteen years of hubris, interntaional grandstanding and self indulegent jumping on tragic band wagons. If this is the new politics, I like it.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Saville

For those of us who have followed the history of Northern Ireland (and in my case have close family links) last week’s publication of the Saville Report and the Prime Minister’s House of Commons statement was momentous.

Like many others, I have been horrified by the time and money spent by the Inquiry, but the clarity of his conclusions and the Prime Minister’s statesmanlike comments made it worth while. I hope the families affected and the people of Derry can take some comfort after 38 years of anguish and injustice. I was very proud of David Cameron’s response and the honesty of his comments. At last justice has been done.

Good progress

It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged and in that time the coalition government has made impressive progress facing up to the huge economic problems left by Labour. The Government has shown that you can be honest and transparent about the size of our nation's problems without talking down our country. It has also shown (and will again in Tuesday’s budget) that it will take the tough decisions needed to clean up Labour’s mess. The coalition is showing it really means business.

I was also delighted to see the launch last week of the ‘free schools’ policy, which will promote higher standards in education through competition and choice. This is a policy which has the potential to make a huge difference to the lives of children all over Britain; I was proud to campaign on it during the election and will be prouder still when it starts to improve the life chance of thousands.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Coalitions

A lot has been written over the last week about our new coalition government. It is rightly seen as a break from recent British political tradition and a novelty worthy of significant comment. I would contend however that we have been experiencing coalition governments in Britain for the last 40 years, within the existing two big parties.

Take a look at the Conservative Party. It is a broad church. You can choose your favourite labels to characterise the various groupings or ideological schools of thought; wets, drys, Thatcherites, One Nation Tories, Eurosceptics, Europhiles, the list goes on. The same is true of the Labour Party; New Labour, Old Labour, the left, the right, Blairites, modernisers, Militant, Bennites, Socialists, Social Democrats, etc.

The great strength of the “old” parties is this diversity of views and ideas which have sustained them and allowed them to renew both in office and in opposition. What has kept the Conservative Party together throughout its history is a shared belief in the values of freedom, choice, responsibility and the power of the individual over that of the state. What gives me hope about the new formal coalition in Britain is that the two partners share these values and a belief that putting the people in charge of their lives is the key to good government.

The new coalition has made a good start and has the chance of succeeding if it remembers that what unites it is much greater than that which divides it. This idea has kept the two big parties more or less together throughout their histories despite many great challenges and predictions of splits or divisions.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Local newspaper coverage of Halton result


The Weekly News and World have covered the election result in Halton (links below) including this reference;

Conservative Parliamentary candidate Ben Jones was magnanimous in defeat and wished his rival well. He said: "I’m pleased with the backing we received. It’s been really enjoyable campaign in Halton and talking to people on the doorstep. I wish Derek good luck in Parliament."

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2010/05/13/halton-mp-derek-twigg-says-he-feels-humbled-after-being-re-elected-to-parliament-55368-26431514/

http://www.runcornandwidnesworld.co.uk/yoursay/yourletters/8163545.A_huge_privilege/

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Our new Prime Minister

I am delighted that David Cameron has become our new Prime Minister.

David has shown great leadership, courage and integrity since becoming Leader of the Conservative Party in December 2005; none more so than in the last five days in putting our national interest before our party's interest to form a new government.

Nick Clegg has also shown great leadership and vision over these last few days. I wish them both well as they work to bring our great country together.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Thank you letter to local newspaper


I have sent the following letter to the Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News;

Last week, the people of Halton went to the polls in their thousands to elect their Member of Parliament. I would like to congratulate Derek Twigg on his achievement of being returned as the MP for Halton for a fourth time and thank my fellow candidates for the fair and clean way in which the campaign we fought was conducted.

For my part, it has been a huge privilege to serve as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton since November 2008, and to work with the members and supporters of Halton Conservatives. I am extremely grateful for all their support for my campaign, especially during the last four gruelling weeks. I am very proud of our positive and determined campaign.

Most importantly, I am grateful for all the support I received from the people of Halton on Thursday, over 8000 of whom gave me their vote and helped us achieve a 3% swing from Labour to the Conservatives. I am humbled by the trust they placed in me. It has been a real pleasure to meet so many local residents over the last seventeen months, and to receive hundreds of their emails, letters and calls.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Questions for the Halton candidates; #4 (and final)


Each week in the build up to polling day, the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News asked readers to submit a question for all of the candidates to answer. The final question was "Our readers go to the polls today - what is your final message to them?"
My answer is below;

This is the most important election in a generation. We face a record budget deficit, equivalent to Greece. Our society is divided and broken, and in need of repair. Our politics has been discredited and damaged after the expenses scandal in Westminster. And we are fighting a war in Afghanistan with no end in sight.

We need change and a fresh start.

The only way we can make a fresh start with a new government on Friday is if you vote Conservative on Thursday. The choice ahead of you is clear; five more years of Gordon Brown, or change with David Cameron and the Conservatives. A vote for any other Party will leave us stuck with Gordon Brown and Labour.

I have campaigned for change in Halton since my selection in November 2008. We need change after 13 years of Labour government and over 30 years of Labour control of Halton Council. We need change to get our economy moving; change to build our big society; change to fix our broken politics; change to make a difference here in Halton.

We need our country to come together to deliver that change. You can help by voting Conservative on Thursday.

Thank you

The last seventeen months have been fantastic.

It has been a privilege to serve as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton and to work with the members and supporters of Halton Conservatives. I am extremely grateful for all their support for my campaign, especially during the last four gruelling weeks.

Most importantly, I am grateful for all the support I received from the people of Halton on Thursday, who gave me their vote and helped us achieve a 3% swing from Labour to the Conservatives. I am humbled by the trust they placed in me.

We must continue to campaign for change in Halton, which we need after over 30 years of Labour control of the Council.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Weaver Vale

I am absoluetly delighted that Graham Evans has won in Weaver Vale. Having spent huge amounts of time in the constituency over the last four weeks, I am really pleased for Graham (who has worked incredibly hard since his selection in 2007), and for the people of Weaver Vale who have elected a first class MP.

Halton General Election result

I have set out the result from Halton below, which shows a 3% swing from Labour to the Conservatives and an increase in our vote.

I am very pleased that we finished well clear of the Liberal Democrats in second place, and very proud of our positive and determined campaign. As I said in my speech after the declaration last night, I congratulate Derek Twigg on his achievement of being returned as the Member for Halton for a fourth time.

I am returning to the Halton Stadium this morning, hoping for more good news from the local election count!

Labour 23,843
Conservative 8,339
Lib Dem 5,718
BNP 1,563
UKIP 1,228
Green 647

Majority 15,504
Turnout 60.2%

Swing of 2.9% from Labour to Conservatives
Conservative vote up 0.3%
Labour majority down 5.2%


http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/election2010/results/constituency/b97.stm

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

24 hours to choose a new government and save Britain from five more years of Gordon Brown

Only by voting Conservative tomorrow will you get a new government that starts cleaning up the mess we are in on Friday.

A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for five more years of Gordon Brown.

We need our country to come together to deliver the change we desperately need.

You can help by voting Conservative tomorrow in Halton and across Britain.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Message of change


I have been asked for my final message to the voters of Halton before Thursday's election. I have set this out below;

"This is the most important election in a generation. We face a record budget deficit, equivalent to Greece. Our society is divided and broken, and in need of repair. Our politics has been discredited and damaged after the expenses scandal in Westminster. And we are fighting a war in Afghanistan with no end in sight.

We need change and a fresh start.

The only way we can make a fresh start with a new government on Friday is if you vote Conservative on Thursday. The choice ahead of you is clear; five more years of Gordon Brown, or change with David Cameron and the Conservatives. A vote for any other Party will leave us stuck with Gordon Brown and Labour.

I have campaigned for change in Halton since my selection in November 2008. We need change after 13 years of Labour government and over 30 years of Labour control of Halton Council. We need change to get our economy moving; change to build our big society; change to fix our broken politics; change to make a difference here in Halton.

We need our country to come together to deliver that change. You can help by voting Conservative on Thursday."

Nearly there....

There are now just over 48 hours to go until polling day. I have been greatly encouraged by the response to our message of change on the doorstep and around Halton. I have taken part in two hustings with my fellow candidates and, despite some disappointment with all politicians following the expenses scandal, I have sensed great engagement with the debate we are having on how to tackle our nation's challenges. I will continue to put our message of change, fresh ideas, and new leadership over the next two days, asking people to come together to deliver change that Halton and Britain so desperately needs.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Final reminder.......

Questions for the Halton candidates; #3


Each week until polling day, the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News is asking readers to submit a question for all of the candidates to answer. The third question was "Under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour are widely perceived as problems in Halton. What steps would you suggest to address these issues?". My answer is below;

There is no doubt that these are major problems in Halton. I’ve seen that first-hand going out on patrol with Cheshire Police, and also talking with local residents who lives are blighted by anti-social behaviour. Labour has failed us in this area; whether through their lax licensing laws, or their approach to criminal justice, which has created plenty more laws but not any greater order.

These problems are symptoms of the broken society we need to tackle in Britain. To do this we need a “big society”, where change is led by people not the state. We need to back families and encourage responsibility. We don’t want a return to the old days where every pub shut at 11pm, but we need greater powers to tackle the under-age and binge-drinking that plague Widnes and Runcorn. We will overhaul the Licensing Act to give Halton Borough Council and Cheshire Police much stronger powers to remove licences from any premises that are causing problems, and we will raise taxes on drinks linked to anti-social drinking. A Conservative government will also scrap the bureaucracy that keeps police officers behind their desks when they should be on our streets fighting crime and challenging trouble-makers.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Hope or fear; the choice at this election

I have sent the following letter to local newspapers in Halton;

We are now just over a week until Election Day and nearing the end of the leader’s television debates.

The country faces a clear choice on 6th May; five more years of Gordon Brown, or change with David Cameron and the Conservatives. It is also a choice between hope and fear.

Labour’s strategy in this election has been to frighten people, especially pensioners, with lies about what the Conservatives would do if elected. I have seen these Labour leaflets in Halton with local Councillor’s names attached to them. They, and Gordon Brown, should be ashamed. Elections should be about ideas, values and honest choices; not lies, fears and false dividing lines.

Let me deal directly with the Labour lies being peddled in Halton and across the country. A Conservative government will not abolish the pensioner bus pass, winter fuel allowance, pension credit, free TV licences or Sure Start. We would keep them all and build on them. We would also increase the basic state pension (restoring the link with earnings), provide 4,200 extra health visitors, and increase spending in the NHS each year (unlike Labour).

In this campaign we have been offering a positive plan for the future of Britain, including more support for pensioners. We believe this is a great country with our best days ahead of us. We believe that together we can change our country for the better. We do not believe in frightening people; we believe in giving them hope for the future.

We want to give Halton and Britain the change it desperately needs. We want the country to come together to deliver that change. You can help by voting Conservative on 6th May.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Letter in the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News


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

Michael Loftus’ letter in last week’s Weekly News caught my eye. He invited readers to pay attention to the detail of Conservative plans and “make your own mind up”. We welcome the opportunity to spell out what a Conservative government will mean for our great country as we approach 6th May. We are inviting the British people to come together to change our country.

Last week, we launched our election manifesto which is an invitation to the British people to:
• be your own boss
• sack your MP
• run your own school
• own your own home
• veto council tax rises
• vote for your police
• save your local pub or post office.
Our manifesto set out our plans to change Britain:
• Our school reform plan will raise standards and improve discipline.
• Our welfare reform plan will make sure that everyone who can work does work.
• Strong families are the bedrock of a strong society, so we are setting out plans to help make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe.
• We will cut government waste to stop Labour’s jobs tax, which will kill the recovery.
• It reaffirms our support for the NHS.
• It includes the boldest and most ambitious set of green measures ever put before the electorate by a mainstream party.

Our manifesto brings together all the work we have done over the last five years as we have changed into a modern, progressive Conservative Party. The central idea is that we’re all in this together, that working together we can change our country for the better. We are saying that no government on its own can solve the big problems we face- everyone is going to have to get involved- in Halton and across Britain. That’s why we’ve called it “Invitation to join the Government of Britain”.

We want to give Halton and Britain the change it desperately needs. We want the country to come together to deliver that change. You can help by voting Conservative on 6th May.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Questions for the Halton candidates; #2


Each week until polling day, the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News is asking readers to submit a question for all of the candidates to answer. The second question was "Do you feel the Mersey Gateway project is the answer to the area's road problems and do you think the introduction of tolls is the best way forward?" My answer is below;

Since becoming the Conservative candidate in November 2008, I have given 100% support to the Mersey Gateway project. It is a vitally important transport and regeneration project for Halton and the North West. 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. I have lobbied hard with key parties, including Shadow Transport Minister Stephen Hammond MP, to ensure the project is approved.

The Mersey Gateway project would make a huge contribution to answering our road problems, but is not the whole story. I would like to see further investment to re-open the Halton Curve and establish better rail links to other key locations, including Liverpool airport.

In relation to tolls, we need to be straight with people. Without tolling there will be no bridge. In order to toll the new bridge, we need to toll the existing bridge otherwise the it will not be used, and will not deliver the benefits we know it can. I know tolling is difficult to accept, that’s why my focus is on getting a fair deal for local residents and businesses, securing the maximum possible discounts.

Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; Shadow Health Minister visits Widnes Shopping Park with NHS Yes van


THE Conservative General Election candidate for Halton has told voters the NHS is his party’s top priority.

Ben Jones made the comments while accompanying shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien on the campaign trail in Widnes Shopping Park last Friday.

They were accompanied by the Conservative’s ‘NH-Yes’ van, which is touring the region. Mr O’Brien was in Widnes to lend his support to Mr Jones’s bid to unseat Labour incumbent Derek Twigg and to emphasise their party’s commitment to the NHS.

Mr Jones said: “The NHS is the Conservative party’s number one priority. My family and I have relied heavily on the NHS over the last 15 years and owe it so much.

“I am proud of the people who work in the NHS throughout Halton and the country. I am extremely proud, too, that David Cameron has made the Conservative Party the party of the NHS.

He added: “As we enter the last three weeks of the campaign, I believe we need new energy and fresh ideas to get Halton and the country moving, including supporting our fantastic NHS.”

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2010/04/22/shadow-health-minister-visits-widnes-shopping-park-with-nhs-yes-van-55368-26288761/

Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague addresses business leaders at the Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn


THE SHADOW foreign secretary has lauded a Runcorn science hub as an ‘inspiring story’ during a trip to the town.

Having toured the Heath Business and Technical Park (BTP), former Conservative leader William Hague gave a speech to a packed lecture theatre and spoke to the site’s directors about their expansion plans. SOG Ltd, owner and operator of the park, revealed that the company intends to add 180,000 sq ft of offices to the 60-acre site, and boost the workforce from 2,000 to 3,000 within the next five years.

It also wants to use the Heath as a blueprint for regenerating sites around the country. Mr Hague, who will be responsible for promoting UK interests overseas if the Conservatives triumph in the General Election, follows a list of political heavyweights to pass through the park, including Tony Blair, Ken Clarke, Gordon Brown, business minister Ian Pearson, science minister Lord Drayson and former ministers Lord Heseltine and Lord Sainsbury.

Mr Hague said: “I think it really is an inspiring story of how businesses can be developed and how science and skills can be kept together.

“It’s one I certainly did not know enough about. Now I want to make sure that George Osborne and Ken Clarke hear about what you have done here and told me about this morning.

“You have done all of this in a way that provides great employment and use of skills here in the North West without Government subsidies – in fact you have been subsiding the Government for the past 10 years.

“You are paying into the economy rather than taking out of it and that really is a model that we have to follow in other areas in the future.

“I hope a lot can be learned from what you have been achieving. I’m sure it can be and, if we are in Government, we will want to encourage that.”

Halton Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Ben Jones added: “It was great to welcome William to Runcorn to see how businesses are innovating to create jobs and prosperity in our community.

“This is the sort of enterprise which will help us to build on the recovery and take our economy forward.

“The Heath’s success has been built not on Government money, but on local business leaders’ ambition, vision, and ingenuity. It’s been a truly inspiring success.”

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2010/04/22/shadow-foreign-secretary-william-hague-addresses-business-leaders-at-the-heath-business-and-technical-park-in-runcorn-55368-26288776/

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

William Hague in Halton



It was great to be joined today in Halton by Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague. Together, we visited The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn, along with our fantastic Parliamentary Candidate in Weaver Vale, Graham Evans.

We were given a tour of the facilities with the Directors of SOG Ltd- owner and operator of The Heath- including Dr Peter Cook and John Lewis. We met a number of businesses based on The Heath and then William made a short speech (without notes and with great humour) before taking questions from the assembled audience of local business people and students from local schools and colleges.

It was inspiring to see how local businesses are innovating to create jobs and prosperity for our local community. This is this sort of enterprise which will help us to build on the recovery and take our economy forward after the recession. The success of The Heath has been built not on government money, but on local business leader’s ambition, vision, and ingenuity; transforming the old ICI plant into a thriving science and technology park.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Questions for the Halton candidates; #1


Each week until polling day, the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News is asking readers to submit a question for all of the candidates to answer. The first question was "Why should the electorate vote for you?". My answer is below;

I believe this is the most important election in a generation. The country has a clear choice between five more years of Gordon Brown and his failing government, or change and a fresh start with David Cameron and the Conservatives.

If elected, I promise to make the people of Widnes, Runcorn and Hale Village my top priority. I promise to be a different type of MP, bringing energy and fresh ideas. I promise to give you a strong voice in Westminster; not my Party a strong voice in Halton.

I have lived most of my 31 years locally, in Rainhill and St Helens. I went to local state schools before becoming the first person in my family to go to University.

I want to make a contribution to my country; that's why I work in the public sector and am a school governor. I have shown commitment to you since my selection in November 2008, working hard on local issues, including giving 100% support to the Mersey Gateway project.

I believe passionately that Halton and Britain needs change. We need a fresh start and new direction. Together, your vote and my hard work, can deliver change for our great country.

Candidate declaration- Ben Jones

Please see below my candidate declaration;


Letter sent to Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News on Conservative plans for Britain

I sent the following letter to the Weekly News today;

Michael Loftus’ letter in last week’s Weekly News caught my eye. He invited readers to pay attention to the detail of Conservative plans and “make your own mind up”. We welcome the opportunity to spell out what a Conservative government will mean for our great country as we approach 6th May. We are inviting the British people to come together to change our country.

Last week, we launched our election manifesto which is an invitation to the British people to:
- be your own boss
- sack your MP
- run your own school
- own your own home
- veto council tax rises
- vote for your police
- save your local pub or post office.

Our manifesto set out our plans to change Britain:
- Our school reform plan will raise standards and improve discipline.
- Our welfare reform plan will make sure that everyone who can work does work.
- Strong families are the bedrock of a strong society, so we are setting out plans to help make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe.
- We will cut government waste to stop Labour’s jobs tax, which will kill the recovery.
- It reaffirms our support for the NHS.
- It includes the boldest and most ambitious set of green measures ever put before the electorate by a mainstream party.

Our manifesto brings together all the work we have done over the last five years as we have changed into a modern, progressive Conservative Party. The central idea is that we’re all in this together, that working together we can change our country for the better. We are saying that no government on its own can solve the big problems we face- everyone is going to have to get involved- in Halton and across Britain. That’s why we’ve called it “Invitation to join the Government of Britain”.

We want to give Halton and Britain the change it desperately needs. We want the country to come together to deliver that change. You can help by voting Conservative on 6th May.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

BBC website covers Mersey Gateway and quotes me

Mersey Gateway pledge by Labour pre-election

The bridge will be 1km (0.6 miles) in length across the River Mersey
The transport secretary has confirmed the government will pass the Mersey Gateway project if Labour remains in power after the general election.

Lord Adonis detailed his approval in a letter to Labour candidate Derek Twigg.

The planned eight-lane toll bridge between Runcorn and Widnes is also supported by Halton Conservative candidate, Ben Jones.

Warrington South's Liberal Democrat candidate Jo Crotty said the bridge should be free for all motorists.

Ms Crotty said: "I fully support the bridge project - as it completes the network of motorways and should hopefully reduce some of the congestion in Warrington and over the Silver Jubilee Bridge.

"However, I do not agree with the way Labour has decided to fund it - by use of a private finance initiative.

We need to charge some kind of fee to ensure we can pay for the bridge.

Derek Twigg incumbent MP for Halton
"If the government just funded it from taxpayers' money - like they have done for a bridge in Scotland - there would be no interest to pay back so the toll would not be necessary."

Ben Jones said without the tolls there would be no bridge.

"Since becoming the area's candidate in November 2008, I have strongly supported the idea of a new bridge that will bring thousands of new jobs and really boost our local economy.

"We need to charge some kind of toll otherwise the bridge will not be built. But I can say if the Tories get into power I will be campaigning for the best possible deal for local people."

Derek Twigg said: "We need to charge some kind of fee to ensure we can pay for the bridge.

"Once the plans have been passed the toll amount can be assessed and obviously we will be looking into ensuring discounts for local people and keep the price down."

The Mersey Gateway proposals are currently with the government for final approval. The bridge will be 1km (0.6 miles) long, crossing the River Mersey and nearby the canals. Construction could start by 2011.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/england/8628223.stm

18 days to go....


Friday, 16 April 2010

Backing the NHS in Halton


I was joined today in Halton by Shadow Health Minister, Stephen O'Brien. He is touring the North West showing our support for the NHS; our number one priority. Stephen and I spent time talking to local shoppers at the new Widnes Shopping Park (and enjoyed the glorious weather!), hearing their views and concerns about issues ranging from the NHS, the economy, and last night's TV debate.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; Ben Jones on Mersey Gateway


THE Mersey Gateway Project will be given the go-ahead if a Labour Government is returned to power. In a letter to Halton’s Labour incumbent Derek Twigg, transport minister Lord Adonis says the party is ‘committed to taking the project forward’.

But the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have hit out at the comments, with one would-be Halton MP calling the move a ‘pre-election giveaway’. Project chiefs on the proposed £431m second crossing, which has cross party support, had been waiting anxiously for a decision but hopes were dashed when a General Election was called last week.

The Government has now dissolved and no major policy decisions will be made until Parliament resumes on May 18.

But in a letter to Mr Twigg, Lord Adonis, said: “Further to your recent representations I can confirm that Labour is committed to taking forward the Mersey Gateway bridge, which offers considerable benefits for Merseyside and Cheshire.”

Derek Twigg said: “This is wonderful news for Halton and the North West of England. The Mersey Gateway will free up the road network and bring more jobs and investment to the area.

“It is vital for this area to elect a Labour Government to ensure this comes about.”

Conservative candidate for Halton Ben Jones said: “For the past 13 years Labour has ignored local transport needs across the country, including here in Halton. Nearly three years after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, people will be sceptical about the timing of this announcement.

“They will be asking why it has taken the Labour Government until the eve of a General Election campaign to realise local transport infrastructure has been stuck in the slow lane.

“Labour need to be straight with people about how they are going to pay for their pre-election giveaways.”

“To now promise a positive decision after the election is held is another case of ‘jam tomorrow’ and the electorate won’t buy it.”
http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2010/04/15/mersey-gateway-bridge-at-halton-to-get-green-light-if-labour-returned-to-power-55368-26241877/

21 years.....

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster; the darkest day in the history of Liverpool Football Club and British football in general.

I have written many times about the ongoing fight for justice which has received some encouragement in the last 12 months, not least due to the dedication of the families and many around them including my Labour opponent in Halton, Derek Twigg.

For me however, today is a day just to remember those who died, and those whose lives were changed forever when 96 football fans went to a match on a sunny day in Sheffield and did not return. We all have our own memories of that terrible day and those that followed. My Dad and I gave our tickets away for the match; upper tier, Leppins Lane. I listened on the radio in the garden at home, wearing my Liverpool kit, waiting to recreate the great moments from the match. Aged 11 you cannot really comprehend what has happened but as the years go on the magnitude of those events sink in and the hurt and sadness deepens. Like most people who had some involvement in Hillsborough, I think about it every day, but today more than ever I think of our 96 brothers and sisters we lost but will never forget.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Runcorn and Widnes World; Boost for Bridge plan


HOPES for a second crossing of the Mersey to link Widnes and Runcorn have been given a crucial boost this week according to Labour leaders.

But transport secretary Andrew Adonis’ public announcement of Government backing for the multi-million pound scheme has been dubbed ‘electioneering’ by the Conservatives.

In a letter to Labour candidate Derek Twigg, seen by the World, Lord Adonis says Labour is ‘committed’ to the Mersey Gateway scheme which could bring thousands of jobs to the area both in building a second bridge and in economic benefits aftewards.

Mr Twigg said: “This is wonderful news for Halton and the north west.

“The Mersey Gateway will free up the road network and bring more jobs and investment to the area.

“It is vital for this area to elect a Labour Government to ensure this comes about.”

Outgoing council leader Clr Tony McDermott termed the message an ‘important milestone’.

The Government is still to announced the results of a public inquiry held earlier this year.

But Steve Nicholson, project director for the Mersey Gateway, said work is still required.

He added: “It is important for all the any decision is supported by documentation that is beyond legal challenge and the time taken to ensure this is achieved is well spent.”

But Ben Jones, Conservative candidate for the Halton seat, said he was pleased with the announcement but that it amounted to little more than electioneering.

He added:”The Labour Government spent 13 years not investing in major transport projects “We hope this is a genuine commitment and it is a shame he (Lord Adonis) has not supported this plan in Parliament.

“It is blatant electioneering.”

He said the project was a vital one for the area and said the Conservatives would look to move it forward as soon as possible should they be elected.

But he said he could give no commitment without seeing the books.

http://www.runcornandwidnesworld.co.uk/news/8099019.Boost_for_Bridge_plan/

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Former Foreign Secretary lends a hand to the Halton campaign

The Former Foreign, Defence, Scottish and Transport Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, showed his support for my election campaign, by attending a Halton Conservatives fundraising event in London last night. I was very grateful that Malcolm made the time to join me; he has been a truly outstanding public servant for over 35 years and sets a magnificent example for those of us who aspire to enter Parliament and serve our country.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; General election hopefuls go head-to-head for Halton seat


CONTENDERS from the three main parties go head-to-head for the Halton constituency in the General Election on May 6. They are:

Labour – Derek Twigg is Widnes born and bred, went to Halton College, was a civil servant for 19 years and succeeded Gordon Oakes as Halton MP in 1997. He has been under secretary of state in the separate departments of education, transport and defence. He has also been veterans minister.

Conservative – Ben Jones was born in Liverpool in 1978, has lived in Rainhill and St Helens and was state educated. He went on to study politics at Liverpool. He has strong links to the area having grown up nearby and having family living in neighbouring constituencies.

Liberal Democrats – Frank Harasiwka joined the Liberal Party in 1979. He has been an LEA governor at several schools and highlights economics, education, foreign affairs and constitutional reform as being his main areas of interest and expertise.

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2010/04/08/general-election-hopefuls-go-head-to-head-for-halton-seat-55368-26191817/

Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; Halton Conservative candidate Ben Jones joins protest against labour National Insurance proposals


HALTON’S Tory General Election hopeful has joined his party’s protests against Labour’s National Insurance proposals.

Ben Jones said: “Labour Ministers confirmed in the recent Budget that Gordon Brown’s Government will be increasing National Insurance on both workers and local businesses.

“Under Labour’s tax-raising plans, anyone earning over £20,000 a year will see their pay packet shrink. Labour will also increase the tax that local firms pay for hiring workers who earn £5,700 a year or more. By contrast, a Conservative Government will stop the most damaging part of Labour’s tax on jobs by cutting Government waste while protecting frontline services.

“The cost of Labour’s tax rise on employers will be reduced by more than half. And anyone earning between £7,100 and £45,400 – seven out of 10 working people across the country – will be up to £150 a year better off than under Labour’s plans.”

He added: “At least 19,800 working people across Halton will be better off as a result. A typical nurse, teacher, firefighter or police officer would save £150 a year.

“People on lower incomes will benefit the most as a proportion of their incomes. And an estimated 6,400 jobs across the North West could be saved by making it less expensive for local firms to hire workers.”

He continued: “For the last 13 years, working people across Halton have seen their taxes put up and their money wasted by this Government.

“Now Gordon Brown is planning a tax on jobs that will hit anyone earning over £20,000a year and destroy 6,400 jobs across the North West by taxing local businesses more.
Labour will kill the recovery with their tax on jobs. Conservatives will cut Labour waste to stop it."

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2010/04/08/halton-conservative-candidate-ben-jones-joins-protest-against-labour-national-insurance-proposals-55368-26191814/

Thursday, 8 April 2010

First three days.....


After three days of this month-long election campaign, the choice facing the country is clear; five more years of Gordon Brown and his government’s waste, debt and failure, or David Cameron offering energy, change, and a fresh start.

It is clear from talking to voters in Halton and Weaver Vale this week, that many people are ready for that change.

It is also clear that politicians from all parties still have much work to do to regain the trust of the British people after the damage done to Parliament and politics in the last twelve months. There is still huge anger about the expenses crisis and great cynicism of politicians. I look forward to continuing my efforts to build trust with the people of Halton between now and polling day, and to present our plans to rebuild our broken politics to the people of Halton.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Halton and Weaver Vale candidates for 6th May; vote for change

We're off and running, at last!


After nearly three years of dithering, the Prime Minister has at last called the General Election.

There is a huge choice in this election in Halton and across the country - one that affects the life of every man, woman and child. It is a choice between five more years of Gordon Brown’s tired government making things worse, or change with David Cameron and the Conservatives – who have the energy, leadership and values to get Britain moving again.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Happy Easter

I would like to wish all readers of my blog a very Happy Easter.

Best wishes,
Ben

Business leaders back Conservative plans to stop Labour’s tax on working people

Conservative plans to stop Labour’s tax hike have been backed by the leaders of some of Britain’s largest companies. These include Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer and Next, which between them employ over half a million people including many in Halton.

This is the text of the letter published in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:

“SIR – Between us we run some of Britain’s largest companies and employ over half a million people. We are responsible for ensuring that our businesses and our employees come through the recession in good shape.

“The Government’s proposal to increase national insurance, placing an additional tax on jobs, comes at exactly the wrong time in the economic cycle. In a personal capacity, we welcome George Osborne’s plan to stop the proposed increase in national insurance by cutting Government waste. In the last two years, businesses across the country have cut their costs without undermining the service they provide to their customers. It is time for the Government to do the same.
Few would argue that the state cannot improve. In the last few years, the private sector has improved its productivity by around 20 per cent, while productivity in the public sector has fallen by three per cent. Savings can be made by removing the blizzard of irrelevant objectives, restrictive working practices, arcane procurement rules and Whitehall interference. Mr Osborne’s announcement marks the beginning of this debate. As taxpayers we would welcome more efficiency in government.

“As businessmen we know that stopping the national insurance rise will protect jobs and support the recovery.

“Cutting government waste won’t endanger the recovery – but putting up national insurance will.”

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News; Halton Tory prospective parliamentary candidate Ben Jones criticises budget


The following story appears in this week's Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News;

A TORY hopeful claims big tax rises are hidden in the ‘small print’ of last week’s Budget.

Halton prospective parliamentary candidate Ben Jones criticised what he described as the lack of a credible plan to deal with public debt.

He claimed:
Income tax will increase by stealth for 30 million people.

National Insurance will be hiked for workers and for firms, meaning anyone earning £20,000 a year or more will be worse off.

Duties on alcohol will rise by above inflation and a new cider tax will punish responsible drinkers.

Halton council tax bills will hit £1,350 – a rise of 97% since 1997.

Inheritance tax will rise by stealth, due to the decision to freeze thresholds at £325,000 for four years.

Anyone with a fixed telephone line will have to pay a yearly tax.

Business rates will rise by £1bn for local businesses, meaning soaring bills for many struggling firms.

The Government’s total debt is forecast to hit £1.4trillion, equivalent to every person in Halton owing £23,000, resulting in higher interest rates and more expensive mortgages.

Mr Jones said: “Our economy is still in trouble. People worry about their jobs, families see their incomes squeezed, and many small firms cannot get the support they need from the banks even though the Government bailed those banks out.

“Most people across Halton feel worse off than they did five years ago and yet Gordon Brown is carrying on the same old policies of waste, stealth taxes and debt. A Conservative Government will set about balancing the books, while protecting those on modest incomes.”

http://www.runcornandwidnesweeklynews.co.uk/runcorn-widnes-news/runcorn-widnes-local-news/2010/04/01/halton-tory-prospective-parliamentary-candidate-ben-jones-criticises-budget-55368-26147980/

Sunday, 28 March 2010

On the side of pensioners

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how we would protect pensioners in Halton, following some unprincipled scare-mongering by the Labour Party (http://benjaminjohnjones.blogspot.com/2010/02/labour-spin-on-bus-passes-for-halton.html).

I have included below some further details about our support for pensioners, and David Cameron's pensioners pledge.

We want to give people more choice over how they deal with their pension savings, more control over their income in retirement and more peace of mind in retirement:
• We will end the effective obligation to buy an annuity at 75;
• We will introduce a new home protection scheme to help stop people having to sell their homes to pay for residential care. Under this new voluntary scheme, people reaching retirement will have the option to pay a one-off joining fee (that we estimate will be around £8,000) in return for a guarantee that absolutely all fees for permanent residential care would be waived – for life.
• We will work with local councils to freeze council tax for two years and scrap Labour’s plans for an intrusive council tax revaluation of your home; and
• We will remove the stigma attached to council tax benefit by re-naming it council tax rebate.

As the election approaches, I expect Labour will continue to spread lies about my Party's policies, so let me make this absolutely clear:
• We will protect Disability Living Allowance for the over 65s and Attendance Allowance for pensioners;
• We will keep the winter fuel allowance;
• We will keep free TV licences for pensioners;
• We won’t cut the state pension;
• We won’t take away free bus passes for pensioners; and
• We will protect and respect the rights and security of social housing rents.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thanks to Halton helpers!

After another Saturday of campaigning in Halton, I wanted to say a big "online" thanks to everyone who has given up so much time over the last 16 months to help out; especially given some of the recent weather we have endured!

Just 40 more days to go........

Mersey Gateway- we must keep up the pressure


Those of us who have spent time sat in traffic either side of the current Runcorn Bridge (SJB) over the last two weekends do not need to be convinced about the need for the Mersey Gateway to get the go-ahead. It would appear that the decision to proceed will now be made after the General Election. I will continue to work with people from all political parties, and all organisations involved, to ensure they understand how much we need a green light for this vital project.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Budget bombshell; Halton hit hard

30 million people, including thousands all over Halton, were hit hard yesterday by Gordon Brown’s new stealth tax.

Labour has been caught once again hiding a stealth tax in the small print of the Budget. This time it is a tax rise thanks to personal allowances being frozen. It was the single biggest tax rise in the Budget and yet the Chancellor did not mention it. Once again, this Labour government is taking the country for fools.

Not only were 30 million people hit by this stealth tax rise, but the Budget failed to set out a credible plan to deal with the deficit (we are now borrowing more than at any time in our modern history- for every four pounds the Government spends, one pound has to be borrowed). Our debt interest is more than we spend on the entire school system!

The choice will be clear on election day. Five more years of Gordon Brown, with more of the same. Or David Cameron and the Conservatives who offer Halton and the country the change it desperately needs.

Three positive reasons to vote for Ben Jones; my message to the people of Halton


Working for you
I will make the people of Widnes, Runcorn and Hale Village my number one priority. I will be a different type of MP; I will give you a strong voice in Westminster.

Committed to you
I have strong Halton roots, living most of my life locally. I have been working for you since my selection in November 2008, including giving 100% support to the Mersey Gateway project.

Working with you
I believe passionately that Halton and Britain needs change. We need a fresh start and a new direction. Together, your vote and my hard work, can deliver change for our great country.

I will be taking this message to the people of Halton between now and election day.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The unions strike again

Labour's union paymasters at Unite are determined to inflict maximum travel misery on thousands of families. It is disgraceful that they have gone ahead with this unnecessary strike at British Airways which is hurting people all over Britain, including in Halton.

The Prime Minister should do all he can to urge Unite– who are major funders of his general election campaign (they contribute around 25% of Labour's funding)– to call off the strike. If not, he should stop taking their money.

We also face the prospect of strikes on our railways as another one of Labour's union paymasters, this time the RMT, threaten to bring our railways to a standstill. As someone who uses the railways every week, including this weekend to and from Runcorn, I know the impact of this sort of unnecessary action. I hope we as we enter the final weeks before the election, we are not also entering into a Spring of discontent.

The choice at this election

The country has a choice at this election; five more years of Gordon Brown’s tired Government making things worse, or David Cameron and the Conservatives with the energy, leadership and values to get the country moving.
If you vote for change at this election, we promise to;

1. Act now on debt to get the economy moving. Deal with the deficit more quickly than Labour so that mortgage rates stay lower for longer with the Conservatives.

2. Get Britain working by boosting enterprise. Cut corporation tax rates, abolish taxes on the first ten jobs created by new businesses, promote green jobs, and get people off welfare and into work.

3. Make Britain the most family-friendly country in Europe. Freeze council tax and raise the basic state pension, recognise marriage in the tax system and back couples in the benefits system, support young families with extra health visitors, and fight back against crime.

4. Back the NHS. Increase spending on health every year, and make the NHS work for patients not managers.

5. Raise standards in schools. Give teachers the power to restore discipline, and create new smaller schools.

6. Change politics. Reduce the number of MPs, cut Whitehall and quangos by a third, and let taxpayers see where their money is being spent.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Halton Council budget; Conservatives keep our word


I have sent the following letter to the local press;

In January, Halton Conservatives made our “pledges for change” to offer local people a real choice in this year’s elections. One of our pledges was to “cut the cost of politics in Halton”.

At the recent Council meeting to agree the Budget, voters got to see the Conservatives keeping our word.

Whilst the Labour Party was proposing significant savings in the social care budget, we were calling for budget savings to be made by changing the way councillors are paid. We made a proposal that would have saved nearly £100,000 a year by halving payments to councillors. We believe that councillors should show leadership when looking for savings in the budget and not let others feel the pain of cuts. We wanted to cut the cost of politics in Halton but our proposal was rejected by Labour councillors, thirty of whom benefit from the payments.

We need to ensure that despite the tough economic times we face, we do not punish the vulnerable in the search for savings in budgets. I am proud that my Conservative Party colleagues on Halton Council are standing up for the most vulnerable in our community and sticking to our promises. We have shown that our “pledges for change” would make a real difference in Halton. That is why we need more Conservative councillors elected in May. We want to give Halton and the country the change it desperately needs. You can help by voting Conservative in May.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton

Friday, 12 March 2010

Halton budget; standing up for the vulnerable in our community

As part of this year's budget settlement, Halton council have made cuts to the social care budget of £220,000. We believe that savings in other areas (like Councillor's allowances) should have been made instead.

We need to ensure that despite the tough economic times we face, we do not punish the elderly, disabled, and the vulnerable in the search for savings. I am proud that my Conservative Party colleagues on Halton Council are standing up for the most vulnerable in our community.

Halton Conservatives keep our word- we want to cut the cost of politics in Halton

Councillor Peter Murray and my Conservative colleagues on Halton Council have been showing what we mean by our pledge to "cut the cost of politics in Halton" by calling for a freeze on councillor allowances.

We pushed for rises in councillors’ allowances to be shelved for the next three years, instead of current plans to suspend rises only if the Labour-controlled council's staff pay does not increase.

The people of Halton face a real choice on Election Day. We want to cut the cost of politics in Halton. Others clearly do not.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Liverpool Daily Post; Ben Jones profile

The following profile is on the Liverpool Daily Post website;

Cheshire: Halton: Conservative candidate Ben Jones

BEN Jones currently works for a medical regulator and prior to that worked in management consultancy with Accenture and KPMG.
He was born in Liverpool in 1978 and lived in Rainhill and St Helens. He went to local state primary and secondary schools and was the first member of his family to go to University. He studied Politics at the University of Liverpool.
He now lives in London with his wife and spends time in the North West working, campaigning, and visiting family and friends. He has strong links to the area having grown up nearby and having family living in the neighbouring constituencies.



http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/election-2010/general-election/halton/2010/03/05/cheshire-halton-conservative-candidate-ben-jones-100252-25971196/

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Michael Foot

I was very sad to hear the news of the passing of the former Labour leader, Michael Foot, earlier this week.

Mr Foot was a huge figure in the history of the Labour movement and somebody who made an outstanding contribution to Parliament and public life. Like Jack Straw (who spoke in the House of Commons on the day his death was announced), I am a huge fan of Mr Foot’s famous speech in the House of Commons when telling the tale (brilliantly) of the magician and the gold watch. I came across this speech many years ago when first getting involved in politics and it, and many other speeches he gave, remain a source of great pleasure and inspiration.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

My response to Labour's desperate spin on the Mersey Gateway


I have sent the following letter to the Widnes and Runcorn Weekly News in response to their front page story this week (see entry from Thursday 25th February);

Last week’s lead story in the Weekly News proves a point; Labour will stop at nothing to get re-elected.

Labour MP, Phil Woolas’ comments about the Mersey Gateway being at risk if my party gets into government are very wide of the mark. My colleague, Bob Neill MP, summed it up perfectly when he said “Phil Woolas is talking rubbish. Labour’s regional planning quangos don’t build anything, but just add another layer of planning red tape.”

Last week’s story was well-timed. It came in the same edition of the Weekly News that I wrote; “I believe that all of us campaigning in 2010 owe it to the voters to be up front about the choices we are offering and not try to frighten them with false threats and artificial dividing lines.” I am disappointed the Labour Party does not agree.

I am proud of my support for the Mersey Gateway project since my selection in Halton in November 2008. I will continue to fight for it during the election campaign and beyond.

In this forthcoming election, I urge the people of Halton to listen to what candidates and parties are actually saying and doing, not to listen to desperate spin. I urge them to use their vote on Election Day to give Halton and the country the change it desperately needs.

Yours sincerely,
Ben Jones
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Halton