Tag Archives: ukpolitics

Keep evenings lighter

    it is all the more baffling that we do not make the obvious move and reverse yesterday’s ludicrous clock-change so as to increase the quantity of joyous sunlight that is available to us all

lighter evenings would save lives, save CO2, save money, generate jobs and growth

Just when you think the world can’t get any madder, along comes dear old Hattie Harman and takes the biscuit. At last the bossyboots Paulina has decided to pick on someone her own size — herself!

UK’s Nuclear Power

 … by aiding the Indians, as we must, we are effectively supporting them to achieve a nuclear independence that we cannot ourselves afford

We do not yet know whether Commander Andy Coles will face a court martial for his heroic exploits aboard HMS Astute, but some disciplinary procedure seems inevitable. The poor fellow will be frogmarched down a holystoned Admiralty corridor until he stands before a bench of grizzled sea-dogs, champing their pipes and gazing with pitiless gunmetal eyes as they spit out their staccato questions.

How the devil, they will want to know, did he manage to ground Astute (magnificently named, eh?) off the Isle of Skye, a stretch of water hardly unknown to the Royal Navy. “Coles,” they will growl, “you have held us up to ridicule. We have spent billions devising a state-of-the-art stealth submarine, and you have contrived to reveal its secrets to the Russians, the Chinese and to every dinghy of chortling rubberneckers that went out to look. What have you got to say for yourself, hey?”

Continue reading UK’s Nuclear Power

The Tube Strike

I address myself directly this morning to the three million people – including many readers – who use the London Underground network; and I have no inhibitions whatever in focusing on these passengers, because the irritation they are experiencing as a result of industrial action is not only disgraceful, but an omen for the entire country as we struggle to come out of recession

If you have been kept waiting, or if your day has been wrecked, or if your colleagues and staff have been unable to make it to the office, then the first and most important thing I should say is how deeply I regret this strike and the inconvenience you are suffering. And if you are wondering why it is happening today, when the Tory party conference is taking place in Birmingham, then I hope the answer is obvious.

This is a nakedly political strike. It has nothing whatever to do with health and safety – nor have the union leaderships raised any such fears in the course of the negotiations.

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Meeting the Pope at Heathrow

 No wonder we had a complex. No wonder we had always been divided in our feelings towards continental Europe. We had a deep childhood sense of rejection

There we were on the tarmac at Heathrow as the papal jet prepared to land. The cameras were trained on the night sky. The red carpet was rolled out. The charming Foreign Office people tried for the umpteenth time to remind me where to stand – and all the while my mind was whirring with a single question. It is a problem that goes to the heart of the relationship between church and state. It is a question that will be studied by future generations of students of theology and patristics, because the answer we give – and the answer you give, off the top of your head – is an indication of the balance currently existing between the privileges of spiritual leaders and the egalitarian demands of our temporal world.

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Our borders should be tight, not closed

I like to think I have campaigned pretty consistently against pointless quotas and restrictions

Sheesh. Cool it, folks. I know that from time to time this column has scandalised some readers with its laissez-faire approach. I opposed the ban on fox-hunting. I had a pop at mandatory booster seats for 10-year-olds and warnings on wine bottles that the contents can make you drunk, and I have drawn attention to the paranoid airline rule that an unaccompanied adult male may not be allowed to sit next to children. I have even defended the inalienable right of every freeborn Englishman or woman – provided he or she is in full command of the vehicle – to ride a bicycle while talking on a mobile phone.

I like to think I have campaigned pretty consistently against pointless quotas and restrictions, and sometimes readers have objected to my libertarianism. But never have I provoked such pant-hooting anger as when I suggested, the other day, that we might revisit the new cap on the number of talented people who can come to work in this country.

Continue reading Our borders should be tight, not closed

Boris Johnson to run for Mayor in 2012

To-day’s announcement by Boris Johnson of his intention to seek a second term as Mayor of London will be welcomed by many Londoners and come as a huge relief to the current leaders of the Conservative Party.  A recent discussion of the question “Should Boris return to Parliament ?” prompts a well-wisher to offer —

Some Suggestions


For some time a popular, although little organized, movement has been proposing the adoption of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, as leader of Conserv­atism in the u.k.  Let us first consider the reality of the situation.

David Cameron, smilingSome years ago David Cameron, either off his own bat or at Mr. Johnson’s suggestion, stood for election to leadership of the Conserv­ative Party (c.p.) ;  his period as leader of H.M. Opposition was reasonably successful and, as 2009 drew to a close with a general election just six months away, the c.p. looked set to take power, after thirteen years, by a margin that brought to mind the days of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Mr. Cameron however, although enjoying general popularity, espoused many ideas decisively unpopular not only with swing voters but even with the core supporters of the c.p. :  most of all the subjugation of the British parliament to the profligate and unaccountable European Union (e.u.) and — in line with the vast majority of the scientifically illiterate body politic — the supranational anthropogenic-global-warming fraud.

On May 7, when the votes had been counted, the consequences were clear :  as the electorate had come to realize just how close these critical policies of the c.p. were to those of not only the Liberal-Democrats but even the retiring Labour administration, the vital marginal support the c.p. had enjoyed at the turn of the year had evaporated

The beneficiaries ?  The U.K. Independence Party ;  perhaps the British National Party ;  in all likelihood, however, the greatest winner of the lost ballots was the ‘none of the above’ party.  I suspect even the Liberal-Democrats benefited from the fact that there was nothing to choose between them and the c.p. in the two most important matters before the British people.  (“The Conservatives are no different from the Liberals :  might as well let the Liberals have a go.  They can’t do any worse, can they ?”)

Labour, despite having presided over the most disastrous phase of British history since the Civil War, managed to turn its own vote out ;  despite their strenuous efforts, c.p. workers — under the burden of the product they were having to sell — could not match their opponents’ performance.

Continue reading Boris Johnson to run for Mayor in 2012

Ed Balls: a new slump looms

It’s no use my telling them, of course, but the People’s Party is on the verge of making a historic mistake. They are about to elect one of the two Miliband brothers as their leader, when neither of these perfectly amiable north London intellectuals has ever said anything memorable about anything. (What is the definition of a millisecond? The length of time an average human being can watch a debate between the Milibands before switching channels.) And they are therefore going to reject my old friend and sparring partner, the boss-eyed and pugnacious shadow education secretary, Edward Balls.

Whatever you say about Spheroids, he not only has balls. He has ideas. He has conviction. He has a grasp of economic history, and as he showed in his Bloomberg lecture last week, he knows how to mount a compelling argument. Balls is like one of those Florida weather forecasters who has just seen something terrible on the long-range radar. Outside in the streets of Miami the sun may be shining, and the kids may be happily going about their daily business of shooting up and car-jacking each other. But far out over the Atlantic, deep in the armpit of Africa, Balls can see what he claims to be an accelerating whorl of low pressure.

A disaster is impending, he says, and sooner or later a hurricane is going to hit. It’s going to be a perfect storm, he says. Just as the housing market is looking peaky, just as the stock market is stuttering, just as VAT goes up to 20 per cent – whoomf – the Coalition’s spending cuts will come in and kick the stuffing out of the recovery. Confidence will fall away. Orders will dry up, he warns. Unemployment will climb so high that the welfare bill will wipe out other savings, and mutant rats (he all but says) will crawl from the neglected sewers and gnaw the faces of the unburied dead.

It must be admitted that his words are finding an audience, even among those who might normally be counted as state-shrinking free-marketeers. There was Martin Wolf in last week’s Financial Times, warning that “Ed Balls’s critique is right”; and blow me down, there was a leading article in the normally pur et dur Thatcherite pages of the Sunday Times. “An awful thought,” ran the panicky headline, “but what if Ed Balls is right?” If the Right-wing commentariat is getting nervous about the depth of the cuts, what about the Left of the Coalition? What about the Lib Dem rank
and file?

The consensus around drastic and immediate deficit reduction is in danger of breaking down. That is because one of the key arguments no longer looks as strong as it did. You may remember that during the election and in the run-up to the June Budget, we were told that it was necessary to avoid a Greek-style sovereign debt crisis. We were told we would have to slash the deficit or else the markets would punish us with cripplingly high interest rates. Well, the deficit is still more or less what it was, and yet interest rates and bond yields are at historic lows. Of course it is a good thing to bear down on wasteful public spending, and the deficit must certainly be reduced. The question is how far and how fast this can be done without provoking a double dip recession – and the risk is that if there is a serious downturn at the end of the year, it is the Coalition that will cop the blame. Balls will be jubilant. Nouriel Roubini will be claiming his Nobel Prize for Gloom. The unions will be doing their best to fan the flames of public anger, and there will be a further toxic element to be introduced to the mix.

What else do we expect to happen around about Christmas, just as large numbers of public sector workers will presumably realise they have to look for a new job, and just as businesses of all kinds start to feel the chilling effects of cuts in public spending? The bankers will be getting their bonuses – that’s what.

I hope and believe that Balls is wrong about the double dip. I hope and believe that the economy will continue to recover, and that the Government can make the necessary deficit reductions without a new recession. But whatever the pain and anger of the public at the cuts – and some pain is inevitable – that anger will be hugely magnified by the spectacle of the banks doling out hundreds of millions of pounds in Christmas bonuses to the very people who, collectively if not individually, were responsible for the financial crisis.

Whether Balls is right or wrong to prophesy a new slump, the banks have got to understand that this year public feeling may be even more inflamed than last and politicians will be facing colossal pressure to appease public indignation – and the risk is that this year they may take steps of a fiscal or regulatory kind that would do long-term damage to London as a financial centre and as a tax generator for the rest of the economy.

We need two things to happen. We need the Government to be vigilant about the risks of a double-dip recession. And we need the bankers to break the habit of a lifetime and anticipate this problem. We still have time. There are months to go before we see this combustible contrast, between public sector lay-offs and vast bankers’ bonuses. The executive jet and the passenger-laden jumbo have entered the same airspace, at the same height; but there is still time to change course.

The banks have three months to get together and work out a way of showing restraint and a real commitment to the poorest and the neediest in our capital city and the country as a whole. Many financial institutions already have excellent corporate social responsibility programmes. But they could do much, much more. If they fail, there will be many who find an unbearable contrast between the fortunes of the bankers and those of the wider public. As John Prescott might put it, we need to nip this train crash in the bud.

This article is in The Daily Telegraph

Nelson Mandela and the holy quest

Poor old Dawkins. Poor old Hitchens. You know who I mean: the writers who make a mint with those blockbusters proclaiming that God is dead. They yearn for a human race composed entirely of scientific rationalists, and look at what they get.

You can mock the tenets of Christianity, you can drive people out of churches, you can claim that religion is bunk. But you will never eradicate the superstition in the human heart. Even in this supposedly godless age, we have a deep need to categorise things as holy or unholy; and if you want to understand how the search for holiness still drives our simple souls, look at the magnificent photo that appeared in the paper the other day.

Continue reading Nelson Mandela and the holy quest


How should you vote? Vote Match is a very straightforward brief quiz in The Daily Telegraph and helps you decide who to vote by matching your views on the issues most important to you with each party’s policies.  Have a go and click here

You can also predict the result of the Election with a free £5 and win £10.  The Times are offering a free £5 bet with Betfair if you think you can pick a winner from the closest election in decades.  Place your bet by midnight on 5th May 2010 here

Look out for the following key seats on election night:

Orpington – Boris’s brother, Jo Johnson, is expecting the results at around 5.a.m.

Richmond Park – Zac  Goldsmith

Brighton Pavilion


Romsey and Southampton North

Briston North West

Hastings and Rye

Feltham and Heston

Harrow West



Northampton North

Dudley North

North Warwickshire


Lancaster and Fleetwood

Bolton North East