Posted in Parliament, Politics

It’s been great being away, but good to be back blogging again, and I’ll start with James

I see it’s just over a month since I last posted.   But it’s been a good one.

I’ve had two short holidays, both great, but it doubles the pressure before and after.   Trying to clear everything up before going, then in the week in between, as well as doing the special job I came back for, trying to catch up on what had arrived while I was away and clear again before going for my second break.   During that second break I didn’t even read the newspapers.   Then when I finally returned, lots of meetings and catching up in between.

At last, a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and I have to confess that I’ve spent a good few hours today reading up on all my favourite blogs.

There’s a lot I would have liked to comment on at the time, but probably a bit out of date now.

Still, here goes, and I’ll start by saying how great it was to see that my good friend, James Brokenshire, has been selected as PPC for Old Bexley & Sidcup.   James was an outstanding candidate at Hornchurch.   I’ve never seen anyone work harder, and he absolutely deserved to gain the seat back from Labour.   He was heavily involved in the constituency, and was a fine MP.   It was a tragedy that the boundary changes fractured Hornchurch into three pieces, each tagged on to an existing constituency, leaving nothing for the incumbent Hornchurch MP.   Those constituencies which did not select James, as he began the round of trying to find another seat, have lost an excellent constituency member, but Old Bexley and Sidcup have gained one, (dv).

Amusing to think that a constituency which once had the grumpy and rather inarticulate former Prime Minister as its MP, will now have the delightful family which is James, Kathrine and the children!

Posted in England and the English, Politics

Work out what is best for each country, but don’t bother about England

Have just heard James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, on Question Time.

The panel was answering a question about Scotland  –  Referendum  –  wee Wendy, and a member of the audience talked about Scottish members voting on English matters, but not the other way round;  no prescription charges in Wales;  and so on.

So little James bravely speaks up about the virtues of preserving the United Kingdom, and then says that with devolution they have tried other forms of government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so they can “work out what is best for each country”.

There’s something missing here isn’t there?   What about England?   It seems we are not old enough or responsible enough to have the self-government the other three countries of the United Kingdom have.  Labour doesn’t have to bother to “work out what is best” for England.   We just have to put up with having Brown’s scottish comrades make the rules for us.

Just how blinkered are these people that they can’t see the unfairness of having a completely different constitutional framework for England than for the other three countries?

A Parliament for England now!

Posted in London, News, Politics

Congratulations, Mayor Boris

Well, we’ve waited all day for the London result, and it was sure worth waiting for.

A high turnout, one of the highest ever in London;  over a million first preference votes for Boris;  and a majority of almost 150,000 on the first preference votes, and 140,000 on the combined first and second.   53% of the vote for Boris and 47% for Ken.

The London Mayoral election is quite unlike any other.   The media attention and the pressure are enormous.   I was there for the first ever Mayoral election in 2000.   We had a basement headquarters office for our inner team, and every time we stuck our noses outside there were a couple of TV crews there.   I know how hard Boris’s team has worked this time.  If it was anything like us it was 18 hours a day, seven days a week.   So congratulations to Boris’s team, and to all the London Conservative Associations for their hard work.

I have to be a bit biased and say that Steve Norris was a strong and popular candidate on two occasions.   I believe that if he had stood again, in the current political climate, he would have won.   But that takes nothing from what Boris has done.

The first Conservative Mayor of London  –  congratulations and we’re expecting great things from you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Assumed consent will lead to withdrawal of consent

The trouble with this and any Labour government is that it doesn’t allow for people like Mr Womble on Tour and me.

I see the question of “assumed consent” for organ donation is being raised again  –  this time by the Royal College of Nursing.   And that is despite the very clear statement on Mr WoT’s blog that nobody is to assume his consent.

You see that’s the thing about people like me.   I have carried a donor card and been on the central register since the scheme was first set up.   But as soon as the government sticks its great boot in to try to take control over what I’m doing, then I immediately think oh well, I won’t do it then.   I’ll withdraw my donor registration and refuse consent.  

Governments, particularly Labour ones, want sheep who meekly do what they tell them.   But Sepoy and Mr WoT are not like that.   We like to run our own lives, and any move to compulsion or assumed consent has a negative effect.

Posted in Uncategorized

Smeaton gets his gallantry medal

Good to see that John Smeaton got his medal from the Queen at Tuesday’s investiture.

He’s the baggage handler at Glasgow Airport who helped a police officer being attacked by a terrorist last June.  A car was driven into the airport building, and John wrestled a suspected terrorist to the ground.

He was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.   He described getting the medal from the Queen as the “proudest moment of his life”. 

We should be proud of him.   He is a hero and thoroughly deserves the medal. 

Posted in Uncategorized

Send “gotten” back across the Atlantic

I know I’m boringly pedantic about our beautiful English language, but I’m becoming increasingly irritated at the way Americanisms are becoming the norm.

The latest is “gotten”.   It is frequently heard on radio and television, including from those who should know better.

The past participle of the verb “to get” is “got”.

The Americans can do what they like in their own land.   They’ve already spent centuries mangling English.

Here in England, though, let’s cherish our language, and consign “gotten” to the rubbish bin.

Posted in History

Special badge for Spitfire girls

I’m delighted to see that the Spitfire girls, (the members of the Air Transport Auxiliary), are to get a special badge in recognition of their courage in transferring aircraft from factories to airfields and between RAF stations in Britain and France.

It’s been a long time coming, over 60 years, but better late than never and there are, thankfully, still some of these redoubtable ladies alive to receive the badge.   There was a similar situation a couple of weeks ago with the Women’s Land Army and the Women’s Timber Corps, who have also been given a special badge.

With the land girls, it was decreed that the badge would only be available for those still living, and I suspect this one will be the same.   Wouldn’t it have been a nice gesture to have given it to the families of deceased land girls and ATA pilots?  After all, the cost wouldn’t be that great, and they all deserve recognition.

Medals and badges are a contentious subject.   A few war veterans get seriously agitated at Bevin boys getting recognition, and aren’t even that keen on the National Service badge introduced a couple of years ago.   And just how far do you take it.   You could say that WWII housewives deserve a badge for scrimping and saving and making do and mend, for giving up their aluminium saucepans, queueing for meagre rations and serving up Woolton Pie to their families.

Those in the front line armed services, of course, must be the only ones to receive gallantry awards, such as the VC, MC, DSO, DFC.   That is right and proper.   And campaign medals are for taking part in particular campaigns.

But we can’t deny that, in a world war, lots of civilians made a huge contribution to the war effort, from the ARP and fire service to the munitions workers.   In some cases people had little choice.   Young men itching to become pilots or submariners were directed down the mines.   It was one in ten, and if your number came up there was nothing you could do.   Some girls anxious to repair fighters and bombers or work in RAF control rooms as WAAFS were directed into munitions factories because that was the need at the time.   So they all missed the chance of campaign medals, however willing they would have been.   A badge is different from a medal, and is a very suitable recognition of service given by “civilians” in time of war.

While we’re on the subject of medals, there is one group of servicemen who were disgracefully deprived of a campaign medal, and recent pressure for that wrong to be put right seems to be falling on deaf ears.   That is, of course, the members of Bomber Command of the RAF.   Despite the earlier exploits of brave young pilots like the Dambusters, by the end of the war public opinion had turned against the blanket bombing of Germany.   Because of that, Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, the war-time head of Bomber Command, always felt that Bomber Command had not received the recognition it deserved, unlike Fighter Command whose pilots were widely lauded.   And there was no campaign medal for Bomber Command.

Back to the Spitfire girls  –  there were 164 of these ladies, delivering not just Spitfires, but Hurricanes, Lancasters, and other WWII aircraft.   Between them they clocked up 415,000 flying hours, and delivered over 308,000 aircraft.   Lord Beaverbrook, then Minister of Aircraft Production, said of the ATA pilots,

“They were soldiers fighting in the struggle just as completely as if ……  engaged on the battlefront.”

One of the surviving pilots, 87-year-old Miss Margaret Frost, said

“You had to fly the Spitfire without any radio system, and the only way you knew you could land at an airbase was when someone stood on the runway with a green light rather than a red light.”

It is believed there are only about 15 of these ladies still alive.   Hopefully a decision will be made, and a badge designed and issued while there are still some of them left.