Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Labour split over EU budget?

It is interesting as a somewhat neutral in this debate. I say neutral as I'm fairly torn.

On the one hand I'm pro Europe and understand that countries like Greece, Spain and Italy need shoring up with cash BUT at a time when the UK economy and services need money it seems crazy to pay more money out.

In a way, I guess I back the motion's principle.

The Labour party have been very vocal in their criticism of the Government position to pay up. They've also been keen to stir up the anti Europe wing of the Tory party, knowing that is their big weakness.

However, there is another interesting facet that's not been considered in Labour's motives. Just ten days ago Labour's MEPs in Brussels voted in favour of implementing the rise that Ed Miliband is desperate to overturn.

This could mean one of two things;

1. The Labour party have some serious problems with the London branch saying one thing and the Brussels bunch another. As leader Ed should be making sure everyone is singing from the same song sheet.
Is there a division between the two limbs of the party?
Are the MEPs not representing their constituencies properly?

2. As the Prime minister stated in PMQs; This is playing politics and rank opportunism.

Either way I think they should go away and look at themselves in the mirror and do some soul searching.

Although saying that, it was Mr Cameron who said that Labour's MEPs voted that way so I'm trusting his researchers. If I'm wrong blame them!

Star Wars VII - don't do it George!

There are somethings that are more important in life than the political squabbles of a few or the oneupmanship of Gunwharf party politics.

The most important thing? Star Wars.

Following yesterday's announcement I have been shocked to my very core. For those of you who missed it, Disney have splashed $4bn and bought out Lucasfilm - to cap that they've announced the release of Star Wars Episode VII for 2015.

Am I excited that I get to go and watch a new Star Wars in the cinema? Hear the opening music and read the scrawl as it treks over the star-field for the first time and await the inevitable space ship? That I get to take my little girl to share a precious lifetime moment?

No, I'm deeply vexed and hurt. I've not been this hurt since Nick voted for the rise in tuition fees.

But it is only a movie... I hear those of you who don't know me say.

Star Wars is my thing. You might think it was being a Libdem or German aircraft but those are only facets of who I am. For a decade Star Wars defined me. I grew up watching it every Christmas on ITV and the old Betamax recording of Return of the Jedi every weekend until at the age of twelve I rediscovered The Empire Strikes Back. Watching the AT-ATs crossing the Hoth wilderness I fell in love. I've always been an Empire man.

I've got all manner of merchandise, including two lightsabers, models, lego, Darth Vader pen, action figures, computer games, around 4000 of the Decipher CCG cards, Role playing game books (D6 and the controversial D20) - coincidentally I came 2nd in the Star Wars RPG category at the Student Nationals in '06. I've also got a good chunk of the sequels.


After the curtain went down at the end of Jedi in 1983 many thought that was the end and kids like me (aged 3) would only see them on tv. In 1992 an author called Timothy Zahn wrote a trilogy of books, that were sequels to Jedi, often nicknamed the Thrawn trilogy which relit the touch paper. Great series like Mike Stackpole's X-wing books, Kevin J. anderson's Jedi Acadeny series... We've watched the lead characters grow up, get married, have kids, lose loved ones and yes *spoiler* even Chewbacca died.

For two decades now George Lucas has reaped the financial rewards of these books and watched his universe expand and develop and now they will probably deny its very existence.

A Galaxy far far away without Mara Jade, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Jacen & Jania Solo or my favourite Admiral Natasi Daala just doesn't bear thinking about.

Now I've put up a lot of crap from George in the past. Boba Fett a clone, getting rid of the original Emperor scene and subbing in Iain McDiarmid in ESB, Han Solo shooting first and Jake Lloyd as Anakin. It is easy to look down on Episode I but it was a good cinematic film and Jarjar... Well kids like him and at least Ahmed Best's performance was good (and better than Natalie Portman, Ewan MacGregor and Jake Lloyd put together). Episode II was like watching Dawson's Creek in space but Return of the Sith redeemed the lot.

I fear the future... I fear the Galaxy I know and Love will be torn away and ruined.

On behalf of the fans, the geeks, the nerds - my fellows and brethren who have dedicated themselves to this franchise, who have dressed up as a Jedi or Sith, who have stood next to Daala on the burning Knighthammer, who know what a MT-AT is, or who Lt. Tanbris is - Don't do it George. Please leave it be.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Is this the end of the EDL?

This weekend saw the English Defence League's large rally fizzle to just 200 followers marching on Westminster instead of their intended target in the East end. Some are trumpeting the end of this vile movement but I fear that is unfortunately, wishful thinking.

Firstly is the ideology at the core and the prejudice that is shown. Recent writing suggests that the working class are more likely to to be less liberal and have racial prejudice than the upper or middle classes but that is a frightful generalisation.

It falls into two lines of thought for the EDL, blame/envy and fear. Envy at the nice houses and jobs that immigrant families work for, a place to blame for their own hardships. Anger at State support for immigrant families whilst they see their benefits cut and living conditions fall.

Fear of the unknown. It is easy to differentiate the two cultures based on clothing, ethnicity, religion, language etc and file the label of "they're not from here or one of us."
Throw in the fact that Islamic terrorists attacked this country and they think they have an even more just cause as they equate the actions of an extreme minority of radicals as the beliefs of an entire religion. It would be like equating the actions of the Waco cultists with the whole of Christianity.

There wasn't such an anti-Irish movement because there was very little to differentiate between an Englishman and an Irishman.

I hasten to add that I do not believe the EDL are the voice of the masses, far from it. Just the very vocal voice of a small minority of racists that has also caught up people with some genuine feelings of disenfranchisement and twisted it to fit their needs.

Then around the core of this "thought" are those who like a good fight. The ones with the face masks who want to have a go at a copper or do some damage to property and theft. Doesn't matter what the cause is, it will always attract this type of person - even Watt Tyler had them!

Unfortunately, like a Hydra, if you cut the head off one organisation another will arise and use the same body. We've seen this sort of organisation before with the BUF attacking Jews in Tottenham in the 30's and again in the 60s and 70s against Afro-Caribbean immigrants. The EDL are just the latest incarnation.

Luckily they cannot succeed in the long term. They have no real aim, nor do they have a political wing. Could you imagine the SA taking over Germany on their own without the NSDAP political wing (or indeed the attempted absorbtion by traditional Conservative elements in Germany to combat communism)? Or Mussolini's blackshirts? Even Mosely had a political party which thankfully failed utterly.

At best this group are an annoyance and engage in criminal behaviour (inciting racial hatred) that will never gain any real sway on politics or thought. They should be acknowledged as a problem though and buried between the lines (deep, deep, deep between!!) there is a voice of common concerns from the people at the bottom about their economic hardships.

Unless you treat the root with education and address underlaying poverty then this is a beast that not even Saint George can slay.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The White elephant of Highspeed rail travel?

With the proposition of the new HUB airport still grabbing all the media attention and every political sinew within the Medway towns it is time to look at one of the best alternatives - HS2.

One of the major problems with airport capacity is the amount of short range internal flights such as Eastleigh ( ok, Southampton airport) to say Newcastle turning a five and a half hour train journey into an hour and twenty minute flight with check in and check out- you don't even need to drag your luggage up and down escalators or across London on the Tube!
There's also the cost with a single train fare on that journey costing £170.50 for a single against the cheapest non-stop Flybe flight of £77 one way!

Just for a comparison, if you wanted to go from Paris to Berlin, a journey of 651miles (as opposed to the 343miles of Southampton to Newcastle) costs £169s (€211) and takes eight hours twenty minutes including a change at Mannheim or Frankfurt am main depending on your route.

So obviously those of us with access to an airport are more likely to fly quickly and cheaply rather than battle with the UK's ageing rail network...

Hang on, hold the phone... What about HIgh Speed travel?

Well, that's something different. Like in the case of our European neighbours it is more than possible. The construction of new lines such as the HS1 Ebbsfleet to St Pancras, from that terminal to a HUB in Birmingham where it could springboard out or even do it from London to Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester and even Edinburgh and drastically reduce journey time.

Imagine a five hour journey from London to Edinburgh. You wouldn't lose a whole day travelling at each end of your holiday.

Yes, countryside will be spoilt by the construction. I remember the campaigns to oppose the Eurostar route through Boxley valley. However the damage isn't that bad (though I'm sure some residents would not agree!) and it is only a thin sliver of land compared to the massive swathe of destruction a new airport, especially in the estuary, would cause. We also know that Rail is a greener form of transport than aircraft.

The big problem will be cost to the commuter. Commuters in Kent were given the RPI+3 formula to help pay for HS1 service by the last Labour government and hence our fares are cripplingly high. Most of us don't even use the bloody thing. Yes it is quick if you want to get into London or want to get a connection for Kings Cross but it if you work in South or central London the time you save you then spend on the tube getting to work at the added expense of the tube and for an HS ticket.

For HS services, indeed for rail in general, operators need to keep prices affordable otherwise they'll turn an exciting, green infrastructural improvement into a great big white elephant.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Badger Cull in Parliament

On Tuesday Tracey Crouch raised the following point (annotated whilst watching I-player)

As a member on this side of the house who is against the cull can I welcome the Secretary of State's announcement today but I have to say Mr Speaker it was upsetting to see members opposite laughing throughout the Secretary of state's announcement when Bovine TB has such a devestating effect on our farmers. However will the Secretary of state accept that the proposed cull will reduce BTB by 16% and if anything spread and increas the disease across the UK and will he instead reconsider his decission to start the cull next year and instead focus all of his efforts on developing and approving a cattle vacination as soon as possible?

The response was a bit of a brush off but I will disect that afterwards. (Copied from Hansard)

I am glad I have a few months to try and swing my hon. Friend round to my point of view, and I am sorry that she does not support it at the moment. I would not dismiss a 16% reduction in bovine TB in the light of a horrendous annual increase—we are looking at a 25% increase in the disease in the outlying areas. My hon. Friend, and Opposition Members, keep sniffing at the figure of 16% but, as one member of the farming community said, they would not sniff at a wage increase of 16% and it is a significant number. The Government believe that we will arrest the dramatic increase in the disease, and start to bring it down.

So what is he saying?

Basically sticking to his guns and dismissing what Tracey and indeed opposition MPs were saying against the cull.

The debate continued Thursday with Tracey again coming out against the Cull. Her final comment hits the nail firmly on the head;

Reactive culling does not work. It will spread the disease—evidence suggests that it may even increase the incidence of the disease. So it is clear that the Government need to listen to the scientists and rethink their strategy.

Her point, again very well made. There does appear to be holes in the debate and that in my opinion should not have got this far.

There is always that odd dycotomy of people who think that the city folk do not understand the Countryside or the rural ways or that they get attached to fuzzy creatures being cute but this is not the case. As a former rural lad, (I grew up in Marden just off the Weald - I did notice Helen Grant, Maidstone & Weald's MP, who lives in the same village, was absent on Tuesday) I never understood the pros of fox hunting or reactive culling. On top of that are the statistics which are in Tracey's section of Hansard. If the majority of the disease is being spread from cattle to cattle and contracted from lots of other wildlife how can you just target the badger population? Citing other examples from around the world where similar measure had been tried and failed also showed the futility of the measure. It was clearly a knee jerk reaction that was short-termist and clearly the money would be better spent on vaccination and further research. After all, this isn't the dark ages.

Just like the 155 Bus route this is a shining example of campaigners and activists changing representatives mind's, in the case of Tracey, and have an impact on national Politics.

This is what Politics should be about and am genuinely pleased.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

PCS and Unions barking up the wrong tree

On Saturday I saw the protesters forming up for their march through London in the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth park that surrounds my work place, the table of Socialists with their slogan Get the Tories out! and General Strike now! 

I even had to personally evict five young people in the process of disguising themselves as Ninja from Museum property - interesting garb for a peaceful process. 

Within work there were several PCS leaflets scattered around and I got to reading one of them and found I disagreed completely with it but as I hadn't got anything else to read I cracked on and jotted down some notes.

First off...The Government's plans are not working

I admit the results are not orgasmic however the latest figures show employment and apprenticeships are up and may keep rising. Inflation and interest are kept low and the world banks have still got confidence in Britain's economy and business. Times are tough but they aren't Spain of Greece TOUGH.

270,000 Public sector jobs axed in the last year.

In all honesty, and talking as a public sector worker whose future is far from secure and has been living under the shroud of redundancy for sometime, the public sector is bloated. The Labour years saw the bubble expand and expand at the same time as technology such as Internal Emails and greater automation would have replaced some traditional posts. CCTV and sensor alarms in museums mean that you no longer need to stand a person next to the Picasso painting for hours on end and save yourself the man power.

Too many place were running on "What we like" staffing levels rather than "What we need plus."

Now Government has asked its departments to streamline and save costs so that they continue to put money into other things like NHS, care groups, education etc... After all, as the Sun's headline read once; What is more important Hospitals or museums? Seriously ask yourself the same question, would you rather well paid nurses or two people stood guarding the same wing of the art gallery?

Other government departments with giant behemoth bureaucracies needed to thin their numbers and ask serious questions as to who was needed and who was surplus, the same as any business. The simple fact of the matter is that the Coalition inherited an economy that just simply could not longer support all of these jobs however much it may or may not have wanted to.

The Government, like a business had to do one of two things - cut its size down by streamlining and getting rid of sections that were wasteful or increasing its' income by taxation. 

The PCS are, in my opinion barking up the wrong tree. Especially when the TUC got Ed Miliband to speak at the rally. It was he who stated that Labour wouldn't change the cuts if they got into power in 2015, the leader of the party whose dithering and lack of controls on the banks got us in this disaster in the first place, whose own shadow Chancellor stated he would be tough on public sector pay, both of whom were at the treasury as the good ship Economy sailed full speed into this Iceberg. Just reeks of hypocrisy.

Yes these are hard times, I know they are, I feel the tightness of the noose and I worry daily for my family and friends but this is the situation we find ourselves in - lest we forget.

I do agree that cuts need to be done with the deft of a surgeon and not a drunk headsman. Indeed the Liberal Democrats are doing this in Coalition, steadying the hands of the axe and getting the poorest out of income tax, Clegg has promised to safe guard housing benefits, Pupil premium, paid apprenticeships and pressing for a mansion tax on Britain's wealthiest to help pay for those who need it. We are listening and thinking of those in need and not politically grandstanding or point scoring. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Tracey Crouch MP, a "Hopeless" "Serial Rebel"?

I try not to be partisan (no really...) I'm a liberal and a fan of good democracy, representation and the like but maintaining a healthy dislike for misrepresentation of the truth and bold face lying.

I find it difficult when MPs like Tracey are about. It is a veritable fly in the ointment. I don't sit around at home waiting for MPs to screw up so I can criticise them or link them tenuously to some cock up. Nor am I a PPC with a party agenda or axe to grind.

However, every now and then it is good for an opposition party member to point out to the electorate that they're being sold short by their representative or their views are being ignored in Parliament such as where is Reh? Or Helen Grant ignoring constituents (post to come soon) but with Tracey... I struggle to find anything.

Oh there are broad party issues that Tracey and I would disagree on. I'm more pro-Europe and believe to my very core in Lords reform for example. If we did agree on everything though I'd be a Conservative or she'd be a LibDem (Tracey, if you're reading this and decide you really do agree with Nick just let me know & I'll put in a good word for you. ;-) )

Seriously though, other than these broad party beliefs, which ultimately you need to respect someone's politics whether you agree with them or not, I can't fault her.

Someone said to me almost two years ago;

You'll never see Tracey Crouch in Medway, not until 2015. Her power base is in Aylesford and the valley.

This piqued my interest and I thought that here was one to watch, the people of Chatham would not be represented and there would be plenty of scope for stories.

Tracey has proved her critics wrong - even pacing Chatham high street the day after the first sign of a riot during last year's London riots. She could have stayed bottled up in Aylesford where there has been no fighting since the days of Hengist and Horsa's invasion but nope she was on the front line. She has a high media footprint as well with plenty of visits to places, local businesses, schools, youth groups, sports teams, Chatham town FC home matches - even speaking to Save the NHS protesters as well as really worthy causes such as the GetCamin campaign.

Even more scary than having to deal with a civil disturbance is defying the Government whips which she did when representing Chatham's mesothelioma sufferers recently when she voted against the Legal aid bill. Although recently billed as a "Serial Rebel" in a speech at Labour Party conference a cursory glance at her profile on theyworkforyou shows this isn't the case. Voting in Government is never easy despite what politicos and opposition supporters may suggest. There are times when a national strategy that offers to improve things will be hard for your constiteunts, budget cuts fit into this but what do you do? Things are very rarely cut and dry. Cllr Osborne (the Labour PPC for 2015 in C & A) accused Tracey of when it comes to crucial votes she just abstains. in the Messenger's letter page but what else can you do when torn between the Nation and the constiteunt? This is of cource not applicable in clearly objectionable cases such as the Rail fare rise to RPI+3 (in which Tracey secured a meeting with the secretary of state on behalf of us beleaguered commuters) or indeed the dreaded Boris island which she, and others have fought against openly against party big hitters like Boris Johnson and George Osborne - hardly looking after her own advancement at the cost of her Constiteunts!

Lets also take a case study of the bus routes with in Kent. The simple fact of the matter is that KCC and Medway Council cannot afford to keep up with the subsidy for bus transport within their areas and, taking a leaf out of the last Labour Government's book, passed the rise in fairs to those that used the service and freed up money for other worthy causes. Makes sense.
Then there is looking at how to be more cost effective and that means axing services that aren't used heavily or at all. Again makes sense.
However, it takes a good elected representative to listen to complaints and protests and mediate between the bus company (Arriva) and users groups which is what has happened in the case of the 155 bus route from the Medway towns through to Aylesford.

In her recent column for the Medway Messenger Tracey even shows she isn't a mindless party robot or not open to debate and has indeed listened to constituents, animal rights groups and thought about the issue before voting, something that I fear is beyond a lot of politicos who only see in black and white. It takes a brave person to stand up and admit they we're wrong on an issue and that they have reflected on their choice and arrived at a different conclusion.

I'd love to be able to tell you that this Tory MP was, as accused at the Labour Conference, indeed Hopeless or to ratify my colleagues prediction that she would not be seen in Medway before 2015, but it is simply not the case. Tracey works hard for her constituents and in a world where many politicos see politics and Government as Black and White (or Red and Bluw) you'll find Tracey deep in the grey area and the only thing I can fault her on is that she isn't my MP and that the people of Chatham and Aylesford are lucky to have her.

If anything, the only thing I can find Hopeless about the whole thing is the attempts of the opposition to pin her with Incompetant or hopeless tag - if they want to win the 2015 election in Chatham and Aylesford they're going to need to do A LOT better.

Appeared on the Conservativehome Must be read list

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Nick Clegg's response to Gary McKinnon announcement

Here follows Nick Clegg's response to Theresa May's announcement in the commons yesterday:

In opposition, we were unequivocal: Gary McKinnon should not be extradited. I said at the time that he was too vulnerable to be uprooted from his friends and family and sent across the Atlantic, and if there was a case to answer it should be here in the UK.
So today I am absolutely delighted by the Home Secretary’s decision to withdraw his extradition order.
I want to congratulate Gary and his mother Janis on their deserved victory. They have campaigned tirelessly and I pay tribute to their strength and determination.
But there was another significant moment as well: the Coalition Government has announced that we will seek to amend the US-UK extradition process to make it fairer in future.
We’re adding a so-called “forum bar” which will mean that British courts can decide to block a request for extradition if it is in the interests of justice to try the case here. This will increase the overall transparency of our extradition arrangements and will better balance the safeguards for defendants.
We will let you know more detail in due course on this announcement because today is about Gary. Today is a day for celebrating

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Scotland to break free?

I can imagine that one of George III's ministers looked at the world map in 1783 and the newly independent American states and said;

Don't worry my Liege, they won't last as an Independent nation. They'll need England

The same thing is happening now with Scotland. Many Unionists - if indeed that is the term - are arguing that Scotland needs the Union to survive.

It is true that both nations have a large interlinked economy and infrastructure and that the separation would be gradual and staged - unlike the ripped plaster that was the Americas and India.

Yes Scotland has benefitted from the Union with England and Wales with many great innovations have gone North but it has been reciprocal with many great explorers and statesmen as well as inventions like television and breach loading rifles have come south.

Scotland's economy is also doing better than ours with the Scottish paying in more than they get out, they also have a good claim on the North sea oil and gas which will fall into Scottish territorial waters.

The big concern for both sides of the border is the competitiveness for trade that will develop as England and Scotland will fight for contracts. It is a bridge that may have to be crossed but it is something that a fledging Scotland would have to deal with.

The third question was definitely favoured by the SNP because they are concerned that many Scots will feel that after about 300 years breaking free will be too dicey a step but would favour more devolution. This tiny victory of David Cameron's may sway the ballot in 2014 but Alex Salmond remains buoyant and optimistic.

After all the vote is two years away and ultimately an open race. As they say - it is far too early to say!

One thing is for certain, and if I may quote Tom Wilkinson's General Lord Cornwallis (from the Patriot - an apt choice compared to the comparison of the Americas.)

Everything has changed. Everything must change.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Whom to tax?

In a Tale of Two Conferences there seems to be a desparity of thinking between the two Coalition parties.

George Osborne has proposed saving another £16bn from the budget by 2016/7 harvesting from the Welfare system in savings rather than rising taxes.

Vince Cable and the Libdem conference voted in favour of Mansion taxes to hit homes valued over £2m as rich internationals can hide their money abroad but they can't move their houses.

Which one is more in line with the public view of things?

Fair enough the Conservatives are not talking about rising taxes BUT if you are cutting benefits and people's income then they will still end up at the same destination - less money in their already depleted pockets.

One of the brave strategems is the cutting of housing benefits for the under 24s making people stay at home and save up for a deposit rather than just finishing school and demanding a house. In a way it sounds very good but at the other end of the scale - if you can't get a job, you become a drain on your parents pocket.

Although there is a feeling of entitlement that has swept through this nation - The state HAS to do this for me etc, that should be overcome, there are also lots of genuine cases of welfare. It is easy to weild the axe and say that people don't need this and that but it should be weilded with campassion and thought like a surgeon with a scalpal not a drunk headsman.

So who is going to stand up for the working family?

Ed Miliband? He couldn't stand up if his seat was on fire.

Nope, our hope lies in the hands of the Right Honorable Nick Clegg MP who is frankly a little confused and angry by the Chancellor's announcement.

According to his Radio 4 interview the other day the Deputy Prime Minister says he hadn't agreed to the Housing allowance change - a fact backed up by Simon Hughes on BBC's Question time who when asked about it said; We don't agree with it and we'd scrap such a move.

Nick went on to say;

The idea that of the £16bn we're going to scoop out £10bn from welfare - which will inevitably hit the poorest before asking anything of the wealthiest -no. Flatly, no.

I start from a very simple principle that when we're all having to make sacrifices... you ask people at the top and then work down. You don't ask people at the bottem and work up.

I think it's unrealistic to assume that you can't make any more savings from welfare... but it hasn't been agreed in Government.

I certainly don't agree with the idea that you just pluck a £10bn figure out of the sky and say 'that's what we're going to do' without asking how you can do that more fairly

These will be welcome words for many people in the same boat (and indeed the many who are worse off than I) as my family across the nation, many living in Medway and other urban areas.

It seems that the Conservative element want to wring blood from a stone and countless administrations have tried it before and run up against a brick wall. As the Wealth gap appears to grow more and more distant with each passing year can it not be said; Enough is enough?

I understand that it isn't fair that the "Sucessful" are stung more than the "Unsucessful" but the simple fact is that people are at the end of their bank balances and unable to support themselves or their families and the rich well...

It seems to me that for the "Duration of the economic emergency" we should look to the Haves rather than the Have nots for more money and why a Mansion tax has been ignored is beyond me.

In the spirit of World War One, whose centenary is up coming they should ask; Not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country and if we're truly in this together Dave and George... why do the many who have less have to suffer more than the less who have more?

Shouldn't we just forget World War One?

Last Thursday Mr Cameron gave a speech to the upper echelons of the Imperial War Museum, a couple of Government ministers and the press. It was special for two reasons.

1. I was there, not in the room but down the corridor working security and holding the PM's door open.

2. A further £5m has been pledged to the Museum's regeneration project and the Centenary World War One Gallery.

Indeed, in little over two years the Country will be marking and remembering the start of World War One, the largest war the world had seen since the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814. (the hundred days Waterloo campaign of 1815 doesn't count as it was limited to the Low countries, Britain, France and Prussia.)

The scale of the carnage on both the Eastern and Western fronts was ludicrously high but with both sides armed with the most modern equipment and a command structure that had spent a century fighting native armies it was some what inevitable.

Even on the lesser known fronts the death toll was high, look at Gallipoli or the war in Iraq which saw the majority of British & Indian POWs die in Turkish care.

I think it is important to remember the war that signalled the end of the nineteenth century and in whose wake the first wave of social change came to Europe. People's thinking was rapidly changed and the face of military and political theory changed overnight..

There is also the human tragedy to remember. The waves of soldiers climbing out of their trenches on that bright morning on the Somme and walking towards the German lines only to find the barrage had failed when the German machine guns openned up.
The communities whose young men were wiped out often in the case of the Pals regiments, in one go.
The three cruisers Hogue, Arboukir and Cressy sunk in 40 minutes taking 1459 sailors to their deaths.
The Kindermort in 1914 where the rapidity and rifle discipline of the withdrawing British army cut down swathes of the advancing German armies which were spearheaded by the fresh in take of 17 year old volunteers. German command, whilst counting their dead believed the out numbered British force had armed each man with a machine gun so great was the death toll.

Words like Ypres, Somme, Passchendale, Gallipoli, Mustard gas, Zeppelin, trenches - They're all scars on the living memory and family history. I was quite lucky and only one of my relatives died and one was wounded and one had a very near miss when his warship exploded!

However the war is fading from memory as there are no more surviving veterans and even those whose fathers fought are thinning in number. My nan was born in 1917 and passed away aged 90 some five years ago and I only have one grandparent left but likewise he's 91 now!

Those that visit the Imperial war Museum do filter through the galleries respectfully viewing the remains of the war and symbols of victory over the Kaiser. School groups are less interested, complaining about the smell in the Trench before hurrying through to look at the Nazis. It holds no relevance for them.

Even the reasons for going to war are long forgotten. Unlike the Second the Germanic powers of the Central powers were not the evil of Nazism and the Kaiser and Franz Josef's Empires were little different to Britain or France. The overall cause can be put down to German aggression or Empire building but coming from Britain that is a little hypocritical  War had been somewhat inevitable for some time and both the Royal Navy and German high seas fleet had been itching to test out their comparative strengths. However it was hardly a fight of good vs. evil!

There has always been stories of "lions led by donkeys" throughout our history that no one remembers now. In 1776 the British army advanced in rank order at a steady march three times on Bunker hill, the American infantry forced them to retire twice under heavy fire and only when they ran out of ammunition did the "Lobsters" take the field.

General Braddock and his men walked into a massacre at Monongahela in 1755.

The last stand of the Gloucesters on Gloster hill during Korean war in 1951.

Heroism like Lieutenant Latham wrapping the King's colour about him and suffering grievous injuries from the French Cruassiers at Albuhera or Lieutenant Coghill and Melvill's heroic ride to save regimental honour after the massacre of Isandlwana in 1879 which saw 1300 British and NNC troops butchered by 20,000 angry Zulu warriors.

How many of these incidents are remembered any more? Who cares what happened in 1776? How is it still relevant to us in the modern age? Who cares about Korea - Who even knows it happened?

No one remembers the Boer War, a war that ended just over a century ago and cost my family TWO great-great grandfathers. This may be because we were the bad guys in that war or just because no one is there to remind us of it.

For me, the relevance is that the War had been pointless. We say "They died for us" but they didn't, not like my Grandparent's generation did. Despite the shelling of Great Yarmouth and a smattering of air raids the UK was never under threat. They died for the official reason that Belgian neutrality was violated but really because one of Queen Victoria's grandsons spoiled for a fight with the others.

They died for "King and Country", because Kitchener told them to, because they were expected to.

Although the adage of "we should remember to stop it happening again" isn't applicable because it did happen again - we should remember them and the War for its futility.

We should not let this War to end all wars be forgotten like so many others and should impress upon the young the conditions that the British Empire asked its soldiers to live, fight and die in.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Rail prices to rise but only at RPI+1


My monthly season ticket
As many of my regular readers or followers on Twitter will know I'm a commuter. I travel to London most days from Gillingham. Unlike some commuters I don't earn a large amount of money, in fact I've had to move around in my job and get a position with more pay just to stay ahead of the increases. Unfortunately I have reached the end of the promotion chain for the moment and with the Museum industry facing cuts I can only look forward to a 1% pay rise this year. This would mean that I would definitely need to find a new job next year as if fares had gone up by RPI+3 in 2013 I'd be losing money going to work!

So you can imagine I am ecstatic that I get to keep my job for the moment.

Personally this is something that transcends party politics for me. Personally I don't care who does it, how they do it or who voted what - just so long as my fares stay affordable and to be honest the majority of commuters feel the same.

None of the parties are blameless in this struggle. Yeah the Tories ballsed up privatisation almost two decades ago which has lead to some disastrous franchises like Connex but Labour imposed RPI+3 on the Kent commuter to pay for HS1, a service most of us can't afford to use. Then Labour relaxed it for the election year in 2010 to +1. George Osborne then tried to raise it to RPI+3 and again the parties began to squabble.

Daala at Tssos Beacon
As I read political blogs from both sides playing football with this, PMQs and indeed even Maria Eagle's opening comments and answers within the Opposition day motion to cap fairs at RPI+1 I think back to my favourite book as a teenager. In Darksaber Admiral Daala gathers all of the embattled Imperial warlords and demand they reach a solution to the power struggle and redirect their powers against the Republic. After three hours of squabbling she loses her temper and gasses the lot and takes over herself. Like Warlords Harrsk and Teradoc the lead politicians and politicos seem to have lost sight of the reason this is a debate in the first place and are to busy trying to score political points over each other.

I should point out that I am not suggesting that we gas Parliament!

When I first read the Opposition day motion on capping RPI+1 I thought this is a good motion, clearly something that needs to be debated. However as I read it I became more and more disillusioned by the whole affair as I read the transcript of the whole thing. It was slowly evolving into a stick to beat the Conservative Government with and to score points rather than for the voters - or so the language of the answers led me to believe. I have since written to Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch about the motion and asked why they didn't vote for it and the response was that the whole thing was thoroughly opportunistic and that they had abstained. However Tracey did manage to get a meeting with the Secretary of state to be attended by other North Kent MPs. It is they who have secured the 1% rise in this meeting.

Here is what she said;

I am sure that I shall like my right hon. Friend better in his new role than in his last.
The shadow Secretary of State was kind enough to quote accurately comments that I made to my local newspaper reflecting my constituents’ concern about rail fare increases. I said that I would continue to make representations on the matter. Rather than succumbing to the political opportunism displayed by the Opposition, who imposed RPI plus 3% uniquely on south-eastern commuters, will my right hon. Friend meet me, and fellow Kent Members, to engage in a substantive conversation about rail fares and services for our constituents?

However I'm sure many commuters, like myself, will just be jubilant that someone was listening and that someone has done something to keep the fairs affordable for at least another year, so I guess yet again I find myself saying - Thanks Tracey et-al.

I also want to just briefly talk about Nationalisation of railways. There is alot of talk recently of going back to the good ol' days of National rail and all I can say is - are you crazy?

Don't get me wrong I loved BR trains as a kid, I love slam door trains, the uniforms, the colours , the fact you could travel as a kid from Gillingham to Marden for £1!!!! (Seriously - it costs £5.75 for an adult now a days)

Can you remember the horrendous crashes in the late 80's early 90's? Cannon street? The danger of the old rolling stock? Can you imagine the bumbling government ineptness that has made a pig's ear of most of the NHS still controlling our railways? Whose to say that RPI+3 would not have gone on anyway? Would we be seeing a similar lack of investment in our railways that we had seen in the 80's and what we're seeing in other Government administrated departments?

Personally, and as much as I dislike Southeastern, I find myself saying maybe we should stick with the private companies. I travelled on Great Western a month ago and it was fantastic, plenty of staff, clean stations and trains, everything running well - they were a franchise i enjoyed travelling on. I can't imagine a Nationalised rail providing anywhere near the same level of service.

It isn't a Messerschmitt Mr Cameron

First published on the 11-10-2012 on my History blog.

Today, during his trip to the Imperial War Museum David Cameron referred to the Museum’s Focke-Wulf Fw 190 as a Messerschmitt. Normally this would not be a problem but unfortunately he said it within earshot of an amateur Luftwaffe historian – me.

Now it may not seem like too much of an error but to put it into context it would be like comparing a Spitfire to a P. 51 Mustang.

So if you’ll bear with me I will provide a brief biography of both aircraft and within you will see the differences.

BF 109 G's note the Daimler Benz inline engine & small cockpit
The Messerschmitt Me 109 was designed by Robert Lauser and Willi Messerschmitt at the Bayern Flugzeugwerke with the first prototype flying in September 1935 with a Rolls Royce Kestrel engine. It was designed as the Messerschmitt entry to a RLM specification for a new single seat fighter to replace the aging He. 51 biplane. The 109 saw of challenges from Focke-wulf and Arado fairly easily. The big competitor was the Heinkel He. 112, the competition was so close that both machines were dispatched to the Condor Legion in Spain to take part in the civil war. Despite the superiority of the Heinkel machine the 109 was chosen.

The 109 was the first fighter to kick off the revolutionary designs that would come to the frontlines of air forces around the world including the Dewoitine D.520 and Supermarine Spitfire. The 109 was the first all metal fuselage fighter with an enclosed cockpit with a new high-powered engine. The Me 109 R (later listed BF 209) one many pre war air races. During its brief spell in Spain the 109 acquitted itself excellently ripping through the older Soviet models of the Republican forces and hand in hand with the modern Heinkel He 111 and Junkers Ju. 52 bombers (as well as the excellent Junkers Ju 87 Stuka) handed aerial superiority to the Nationalists.

By the outbreak of the Second World war the Messerschmitt 109D (dora) was the standard model of the Luftwaffe which was slowly being replaced by the superlative E (emil) model. Whilst on a par with the Spitfire, Hurricane and D.520 they’re massed numbers over the Panzer thrusts and with superior tactics with experienced officers who had served in Spain quickly gained superiority.

When it came to the Battle of Britain the 109 E with its four machine guns and two MG FF cannons maintained superiority in the early months of the battle. It was only when the OKL directives to push the 109s to fly deeper over England that losses began to mount and the limits of the range became apparent. When the Luftwaffe switched targets to London the 109 was working at the limits of its range and only had enough time for twenty minutes of air combat over the capital which would mean that the Jagdflieger would have to keep an eye on the fuel gauge or risk ending up in the drink on the way back to France.

The pinnacle of the 109 design, the F (Friedrich) model was coming into the frontline. The F was superior to anything else in the air at the time and quickly maintained superiority over the RAF in the Balkens, Africa (where Marseille shot down six Hurricanes in one day – TWICE!) and Russia. When Hauptmann Pingel crash landed his Friedrich outside Dover in ’41 he handed the RAF an intact model for evaluation and soon the Spitfire was modified to meet the design.

The G (Gunther) came out in ’42 but was only meant to be a stop gap for the proposed BF 209 fighter but when it didn’t come it continued to be the mainstay of the Jagdflieger. The G was covered with “boils” with extra armament and additions to the fuselage but it took its toll on performance and the model was quickly out performed by the P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang and the newer models of Spitfire – even by Yak 9’s in Russia.

Despite this there was the 109K (Kurfaust) which saw limited production which was designed for high altitude fighting, the 109 T which was a 109 E with an arrester hook for Aircraft carriers and the post war models including the Hispano Ha. 1112 in Spain (which was powered by the Rolls Royce Merlin and a squadron were used in the making of the Battle of Britain movie) and the Avia S-99 (powered by a Junkers Jumo 211 engine, which had been used in Heinkel He. 111 bombers.) which served with the Israeli airforce.

The 109 was the highest scoring fighter in the war. Aces like Erich Hartmann who scored over three hundred kills aided this. It was also the most heavily produced aircraft of all time until recent years with 30,573 machines built in Germany during the war accounting for 47% of all aircraft built for the Luftwaffe!

FW 190 A- note the radial engine and bubble cockpit
The Focke-wulf 190 was designed by Kurt Tank with the maiden flight being in June 1939 and, unlike the 109 was powered by a radial engine rather than the sleek inline liquid cooled engine. The Radial engine, which many experten claimed was a hindrance, actually gave the craft a greater lift and able to carry heavier loads. This led to the 190 being used for torpedo aircraft roles, anti-tank ordinance and the MistellenThe original A1 model was fitted with four 7.92 mm Machine guns (two in the fuselage and two in the wing) and two outboard MG FF cannon on wing mounted pods which gave it quite a punch and it was swiftly nicknamed the Butcherbird.

After its eventual introduction in 1941 it quickly proved itself superior to anything the RAF had to offer until the Spitfire Mk. IX came to the front line which levelled the playing field again. On its arrival to Russia in 1942 it made an immediate impact despite the Soviet’s believing the 109 was the threat. With modifications the ground attack units became quite a menace to the Soviet armour.

The big problem with the 190 A was that its manoeuvrability at high altitude was quite poor in comparison to other craft but more than made up for it at medium and low altitudes. Focke-wulf quickly rectified this problem by using the inline Junkers Jumo 213 engine thus creating the amazing long nosed Fw 190 D (dora). However this model lacked the high rate of turn and roll that the A model had had. The Dora was supposed to be a stop gap according to Kurt Tank for the Ta. 152 which when tested by Herr Tank left six Mustangs that “bounced” the prototype in its dust!

However positive feedback of the Dora from the pilots changed the minds of OKL. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe it was too little to late as it didn’t come into service until the end of 1944. The retreating Wehrmacht and destroyed German production meant that there was a shortage of numbers being produced and the ageing 109, far beyond its useful production life and the vicious 190 were unable to stop the tide of Allied aircraft.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

David Cameron's conference speech 2012

In May 2010, this party stood on the threshold of power for the first time in more than a decade.
We knew then that it was not just the ordinary duties of office that we were assuming.
We were entering into Government at a grave moment in the modern history of Britain.
At a time when people felt uncertainty, even fear.
Here was the challenge:
To make an insolvent nation solvent again. To set our country back on the path to prosperity that all can share in. To bring home our troops from danger while keeping our citizens safe from terror.
To mend a broken society.

Two and a half years later of course I can't tell you that all is well, but I can say this:
Britain is on the right track.

As Prime Minister it has fallen to me to say some hard things and to help our country face some hard truths.

All of my adult life, whatever the difficulties, the British people have at least been confident about one thing. We have thought we can pay our way.That we can earn our living as a major industrial country and we will always remain one.

It has fallen to us to say - we cannot assume that any longer.

Unless we act, unless we take difficult, painful decisions, unless we show determination and imagination, Britain may not be in the future what it has been in the past.

Because the truth is this.

We are in a global race today and that means an hour of reckoning for countries like ours.

Sink or swim. Do or decline.

To take office at such a moment is a duty and an honour and we will rise to the challenge.Today I’m going to set out a serious argument to this country about how we do that.
 How we compete and thrive in this world how we can make sure in this century, like the ones before, Britain is on the rise. Nothing matters more. Every battle we fight, every plan we make, every decision we take is to achieve that end Britain on the rise.


Though the challenge before us is daunting, I have confidence in our country.


Because Britain can deliver. We can do big things.We saw it this summer.The Jubilee, the Olympics, the Paralympics the best country in the world and let’s say it: with our Queen, the finest Head of State on earth.

I was trying to think of my favourite moment.Was it telling President Hollande that no, we hadn’t cheated at the cycling, we didn’t have rounder wheels, it was just that we peddled faster than the French?

No… for me it was seeing that young woman who swam her heart out for years nine training sessions a week, two hours a time.

My best moment was putting that gold medal around the neck of Ellie Simmonds.And I am so grateful for what all those Paralympians did.

When I used to push my son Ivan around in his wheelchair, I always thought that some people saw the wheelchair, not the boy.Today more people would see the boy and not the wheelchair – and that’s because of what happened here this summer.

And the Olympics showed us something else.

Whether our athletes were English, Scottish, Welsh or from Northern Ireland they draped themselves in one flag.

Now, there’s one person who didn’t like that and he’s called Alex Salmond.

I’m going to see him on Monday to sort that referendum on independence by the end of 2014.
There are many things I want this coalition to achieve but what could matter more than saving our United Kingdom let’s say it: we’re better together and we’ll rise together – so let’s fight that referendum with everything we’ve got.

There are so many people to thank for this summer. Those that won the bid, those that built the stadia, that ran the Games and of course: the man who put a smile on our faces the zinger on the zip-wire the Conservative Mayor of London: our Boris Johnson.

And those Games-Makers.

You know, I’ve spent three years trying to explain the Big Society they did it beautifully in just three weeks. There is another group of people who stepped into the breach this summer – and we in this party never forget them.

Our armed forces have been on the ground in Afghanistan for over ten years now.

433 men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Just last weekend there was a memorial service for one of the fallen, and the eulogy said this:

“All that they had they gave. All that they might have had. All that they had ever been. All that they might ever have become.”

For all those who serve, and their families, I repeat the commitment I made when this Government came to office. By the end of 2014, all UK combat operations in Afghanistan will have come to an end.

Nearly all our troops will be home – their country proud, their duty done and let everyone in this hall stand and show how profoundly grateful we are for everything they do.


To meet the challenges our country faces, we must have confidence in ourselves confidence as a party.

We’ve been in office two and a half years now – and we’ve done some big, life-changing things.

Just ask Clive Stone, who you saw in a film earlier. I met him years ago, when we were in Opposition.
He had cancer and he said to me: the drug I need – it’s out there but they won’t give it to me because it’s too expensive please, if you get in, do something about it.

And we have. A new cancer drugs fund that has got the latest drugs to more than 21,000 people and counting.

There was a reason we could do that.

It’s because we made a big decision to protect the NHS from spending cuts. No other party made that commitment. Not Labour. Not the Liberal Democrats. Just us – the Conservatives.

To all those people who said we’d bring the NHS down I say well, yes, you’ve got a point.

I’ll tell you what is down.

Waiting lists – down. Mixed wards – down. The number of managers – down. Bureaucratic targets – down. Hospital infections – down.

And what’s up? The number of doctors, the number of dentists, the number of midwives, the number of operations carried out in our NHS.

So be in no doubt: this is the party of the NHS and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

We made a big decision to go on saving lives abroad too. I know some are sceptical about our aid budget. But picture the scene – you’re in a health centre in Kinshasa.

See the child with a needle in her arm, being injected with a Yellow Fever vaccine the difference between living and dying how can anyone tell me that’s a waste of money.

Since we gathered here in Birmingham on Sunday, British aid money has vaccinated 130 thousand children around the world. One hundred and thirty thousand children.

You, the Conservative party helped do that, and you should be proud of what you’ve done.

Here’s something else this party’s done in government.

Last December I was at a European Council in Brussels. It was three in the morning, there was a treaty on the table that was not in Britain’s interests and twenty five people around that table were telling me to sign it.

But I did something that no other British leader has ever done before; I said no – Britain comes first – and I vetoed that EU treaty.

We’re doing big, Conservative things.

For years people said you’ll never reform public sector pensions, the trade unions won’t stand for it.

Well, we’ve done it, and it’s going to cut the cost to the taxpayer almost in half.

For years people said benefits are out of control and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Well, because of our welfare cap, no family will be getting more in benefits than the average family earns.

For years people asked why we couldn’t get rid of those radical preachers who spout hatred about Britain while living off the taxpayer well, Theresa May – a great Home Secretary - has done it – and she’s got Abu Hamza on that plane and out of our country to face justice.

Be proud of what we’ve done already.

Two million of the lowest-paid workers being taken out of income tax altogether.

Over eighteen million households helped with a freeze in their council tax – and we’re freezing it all over again next year too.


Big, Conservative things - delivered by this government; made possible by this party. We can deliver. We can do big things. The Olympics reminded us how great it feels to be successful.

But we mustn’t let that warm glow give us a false sense of security.

All around the world, countries are on the rise.

Yes, we’ve been hearing about China and India for years but it’s hard to believe what’s happening in Brazil, in Indonesia, in Nigeria too.

Meanwhile, the old powers are on the slide.

What do the countries on the rise have in common?

They are lean, fit, obsessed with enterprise, spending money on the future – on education, incredible infrastructure and technology. 

And what do the countries on the slide have in common?

They’re fat, sclerotic, over-regulated, spending money on unaffordable welfare systems, huge pension bills, unreformed public services.

I sit in those European Council meetings where we talk endlessly about Greece while on the other side of the world, China is moving so fast it’s creating a new economy the size of Greece every three months. 

I am not going to stand here as Prime Minister and allow this country to join the slide.

My job – our job - is to make sure that in this twenty first century, as in the centuries that came before, our country, Britain, is on the rise.

And we here know how that is done.

It is the collective result of individual effort and aspiration the ideas you have, the businesses you start, the hours you put in.

Aspiration is the engine of progress.

Countries rise when they allow their people to rise.

In this world where brains matter more, where technologies shape our lives, where no-one is owed a living the most powerful natural resource we have is our people.

Not just the scientists, the entrepreneurs, the engineers not just the teachers, the parents, the nurses but all our people: including the poorest, those who’ve never had a job, never had a chance, never had hope.

That’s why the mission for this government is to build an aspiration nation to unleash and unlock the promise in all our people.

And for us Conservatives, this is not just an economic mission – it’s also a moral one.

It’s not just about growth and GDP it’s what’s always made our hearts beat faster – aspiration; people rising from the bottom to the top.

Line one, rule one of being a Conservative is that it’s not where you’ve come from that counts, it’s where you’re going.

We’ve been led by the daughter of a grocer, the son of a music hall performer by a Jew when Jews were marginalised, by a woman when women were sidelined.

We don’t look at the label on the tin; we look at what’s in it.

Let me put that another way.

We don’t preach about one nation but practise class war we just get behind people who want to get on in life.

The doers. The risk takers. The young people who dream of their first pay-cheque, their first car, their first home – and are ready and willing to work hard to get those things.

While the intellectuals of other parties sneer at people who want to get on in life, we here salute you.

They call us the party of the better-off no: we are the party of the want to be better-off, those who strive to make a better life for themselves and their families – and we should never, ever be ashamed of saying so.


This party has a heart but we don’t like wearing it on our sleeve.

Conservatives think: let’s just get on with the job and help people and not bang on about it. It’s not our style.

But there’s a problem with that.

It leaves a space for others to twist our ideas and distort who we are: the cartoon Conservatives who don’t care.

My mission from the day I became leader was to change that.

Yes, to show the Conservative party is for everyone: North or South, black or white, straight or gay.
But above all - to show that Conservative methods are not just the way we grow a strong economy, but the way we build a big society.

That Conservative methods are not just good for the strong and the successful but the best way to help the poor, and the weak, and the vulnerable.

Because it’s not enough to know our ideas are right – we’ve got to explain why they are compassionate too.

Because we know what we’re up against.

We say we’ve got to get the private sector bigger and the public sector smaller…our opponents call it ‘Tory cuts, slashing the state’.

No: it’s the best way to create the sustainable jobs people need.

We say help people become independent from welfare…our opponents call it: ‘cruel Tories, leaving people to fend for themselves.’

No: there is only one real route out of poverty and it is work.

We say we’ve got to insist on a disciplined, rigorous education for our children…our opponents call it: ‘elitist Tories, old-fashioned and out of touch.’

No: a decent education is the only way to give all our children a proper start in this world.

The reason we want to reform schools, to cut welfare dependency, to reduce government spending is not because we’re the same old Tories who want to help the rich it’s because we’re the Tories whose ideas help everyone - the poorest the most.

A strong private sector. Welfare that works. Schools that teach.

These three things are essential to helping our people rise.

They are essential to our success in this world.

And you know what – Labour will fight them all the way.

So these things are not just the battle-ground for Britain’s future they are also the battle-lines for the next election – and it is a fight we’ve got to win, for our party and our country.


To help our people rise, then – number one – we need an economy that creates good jobs.

We need businesses, of every size, in every type of industry, in every part of the country – investing and taking people on.

There are some basic things they need to do that.

Low interest rates so they can afford to take out a loan.

And confidence that it’s worth investing - because the customers will be there, whether at home or abroad.

Getting the deficit down is essential for both.

That’s why our deficit reduction plan is not an alternative to a growth plan: it’s the very foundation of our growth plan.

It’s the only way we’ll get Britain on the rise.

Now I know you are asking whether the plan is working.

And here’s the truth: the damage was worse than we thought, and it’s taking longer than we hoped.

The world economy – especially in the Eurozone – has been much weaker than expected in the past two years.

When some of our big trading partners like Ireland, Spain and Italy are suffering, they buy less from us.

That hurts our growth and makes it harder to pay off our debts.

But here is the crucial thing you need to know.

Yes it’s worse than we thought, yes it’s taking longer, but we are making progress.

Thanks to the grit and resolve of George Osborne, we have cut a quarter off the deficit in the past two years.

25 per cent. 

That’s helped to keep interest rates at record low levels keeping mortgages low.  Leaving more money in your pockets.  Giving businesses more confidence to invest.

Creating more jobs.

And if you don’t believe me, just look at the job creation figures. Since this government took office, over one million new jobs have been created in the private sector.

That is more – net – in the last two years than Labour managed in ten years.


Now, the Labour politicians who got us into the mess say they have a different way out of it.
They call it Plan B and it goes like this:

We should stop worrying about deficit reduction, borrow more money and spend it to boost the economy.

It sounds so reasonable when you put it like that. Let me tell you why it’s not.

Right now, while we’ve got a deficit, the people we’re borrowing money from believe that we’ll pay it back - because we’ve set out a tough plan to cut spending and live within our means.

That’s why our interest rates are among the lowest in the world, even though the deficit left to us by Labour was one of the highest in the world.

If we did what Labour want, and watered down our plans, the risk is that the people we borrow money from would start to question our ability and resolve to pay off our debts.

Some may actually refuse to lend us that money.

Others would only lend it to us at higher interest rates.That would hurt the economy and hit people hard.

If you have a mortgage of £100,000, just a 1 per cent interest rate rise would mean an extra thousand pounds to pay each year.

Labour’s plan to borrow more is actually a massive gamble with our economy and our future.
And it would squander the sacrifices we’ve already made.

We’re here because they spent too much and borrowed too much. How can the answer be more spending and more borrowing?

I honestly think Labour haven’t learned a single thing.

When they were in office, their answer was always:

Borrow more money.

Now they’re out of office it’s: Borrow more money.

Whatever the day, whatever the question, whatever the weather it’s: borrow more money.

Borrow, borrow, borrow.

Labour: the party of one notion: more borrowing. I sometimes wonder if they know anything about the real economy at all.

Did you hear what Ed Miliband said last week about taxes? He described a tax cut as the government writing people a cheque.

Ed... Let me explain to you how it works.

When people earn money, it’s their money.  Not the government’s money: their money.
Then, the government takes some of it away in tax.
So, if we cut taxes, we’re not giving them money - we’re taking less of it away.  OK?

And while we’re on that - who suffers when the wealthy businessman goes off to live in Geneva?

Not him – he’s paying about half the tax he would do here it’s those who want to work who suffer because the jobs aren’t being created here.

We promised that those with the broadest shoulders would bear the biggest burden and with us, the rich will pay a greater share of tax in every year of this Parliament than in any one of the thirteen years under Labour.

Under Labour.

We haven’t forgotten, you know.We remember who spent our golden legacy, who sold our gold who busted our banks, who smothered our businesses  who wracked up our debts, who wrecked our economy who ruined our reputation, who risked our future who did this? – Labour did this – and this country should never forget it.


To get Britain on the rise we need a whole new economy more enterprising, more aspirational and it’s taking shape already.We’re getting our entrepreneurial streak back: last year the rate of new business creation was faster than any other year in our history.

Let me repeat that.

The rate at which new businesses started – faster than any year on record.

We’re making things again.

We had a trade surplus in cars last year for the first time in almost 40 years. And it’s not just the old industries growing, it’s the new. 

We’re number one in the world for offshore wind.
Number one in the world for tidal power.
The world’s first green investment bank.
Britain leading; Britain on the rise.  We’re showing we can do it.
Look at the new investment coming in.

In the last two years, Google, Intel, Cisco – the big tech firms – they’ve all set up new bases here.

And we are selling to the world again.

When I became Prime Minister I said to the Foreign Office: those embassies you’ve got turn them into showrooms for our cars, department stores for our fashion, technology hubs for British start-ups.

Yes, you’re diplomats but you need to be our country’s salesforce too. And look what’s happening.

In just two years, our exports to Brazil are up 25 per cent to China – 40 per cent to Russia – 80 per cent.

There are so many opportunities in this world.

I want to tell you about one business that’s seizing them. It’s run by a guy called Alastair Lukies.

He and his business partner saw a world with almost 6 billion mobile phones and just 2 billion bank accounts.

They saw the huge gap in the market– and they started a mobile banking firm helping people in the poorest parts of the world manage their money and start new companies.

He’s been with me on trade missions all over the world – and his business is booming.

Back in 2010, when we came to office, they employed about 100 people – now it’s more than 700.
Then they were nowhere in Africa, nowhere in Asia, now they are the global player, with one million new users every month.

So don’t let anyone tell you Britain can’t make it in this world – we’re the most enterprising, buccaneering, creative, dynamic nation on earth. And to those who question whether it’s right to load up a plane with business people – whether we’re flying to Africa, Indonesia, to the Gulf or China whether we’re taking people from energy, finance, technology or yes – defence - I say – there is a global battle out there to win jobs, orders, contracts and in that battle I believe in leading from the front.

To get our economy on the rise there’s a lot more to do – and frankly a lot more fights to be had.

Because there are too many of what I’d call the “yes-but-no” people.

The ones who say “yes, our businesses need to expand but no we can’t reform planning.”

It’s simple.

For a business to expand, it needs places to build. If it takes too long, they’ll just build elsewhere.
I visited a business the other day that wanted to open a big factory just outside Liverpool.
But the council was going to take so long to approve the decision that they’re now building that factory on the continent – and taking hundreds of jobs with them.

If we’re going to be a winner in this global race we’ve got to beat off this suffocating bureaucracy once and for all.

And then there are those who say “yes of course we need more housing” but “no” to every development – and not in my backyard.

Look - it's OK for my generation. Many of us have got on the ladder.

But you know the average age that someone buys their first home today, without any help for their parents?

33 years old.

We are the party of home ownership – we cannot let this carry on.

So yes – we’re doubling the discount for buying your council house…

…we’re helping first-time buyers get a 95 per cent mortgage…

…but there’s something else we need to do – and that’s accept we need to build more houses in Britain.

There are young people who work hard year after year but are still living at home.

They sit in their childhood bedroom, looking out of the window dreaming of a place of their own.

I want us to say to them – you are our people, we are on your side, we will help you reach your dreams.


If we want our people to rise so Britain can rise, we must tackle welfare.

Here’s two facts for you.

Fact one.  We spend £90 billion a year on welfare for working-age people.

Not pensions. Just welfare for working age people – and that’s one pound in every eight the government spends.

Fact two.  More of our children live in households where nobody works than almost any other nation in Europe.

Let me put it simply.  Welfare isn’t working. And this is a tragedy.

Our reforms are just as profound as those of Beveridge 60 years ago.

He had his great evils to slay. Squalor. Ignorance. Want. Idleness.  And Disease.

Here are mine.

First, unfairness. 

What are hard-working people who travel long distances to get into work and pay their taxes meant to think when they see families – individual families – getting 40, 50, 60 thousand pounds of housing benefit to live in homes that these hard working people could never afford themselves?

It is an outrage. And we are ending it by capping housing benefit.

The second evil: injustice.

Here’s the choice we give our young people today.

Choice one: Work hard. Go to college. Get a job. Live at home. Save up for a flat. And as I’ve just said, that can feel like forever.

Or: Don’t get a job. Sign on. Don’t even need to produce a CV when you do sign on. Get housing benefit. Get a flat. And then don’t ever get a job or you’ll lose a load of housing benefit.

We must be crazy.

So this is what we’ve done.

Now you have to have to sign a contract that says: you do your bit and we’ll do ours.

It requires you to have a real CV and it makes clear: you have to seek work and take work – or you will lose your benefit. And we’re going to look at ending automatic access to housing benefit for people under 25 too.

If hard-working young people have to live at home while they work and save, why should it be any different for those who don’t?

The next evil: bureaucracy.

Sign on. Sign here. Come back in a fortnight. Repeat as required.

What does this do for the guy who’s been out of work for years, playing computer games all day, living out a fantasy because he hates real life?

For people like him we’re doing something new.

The Work Programme takes the money we’re going to save from getting people off the dole and uses it today to get them into work, with proper training.

We’re spending up to £14,000 on one individual to get them into work – and already almost 700,000 people have got onto the Work Programme.

So let’s be clear: in British politics today it is this party saying no-one is a write-off, no-one is hopeless and with Iain Duncan Smith leading this revolution let this be the party that shows there is ability and promise in everyone.

And just one more thing on welfare.

You know our work experience programme, where we give young people the chance to work in a supermarket, a shop, an office?

Here’s what one union official said about it.

I quote: “The scheme belongs back in the nineteenth century, along with Oliver Twist and the workhouse. It is nothing short of state sponsored slavery…”

Honestly. What an appalling, snobbish attitude to the idea of work.

We’re not sending children up chimneys, we’re giving them a chance. What’s cruel isn’t asking something of people – it’s when we ask nothing of them.

Work isn’t slavery, it’s poverty that is slavery and again it’s us, the modern compassionate Conservative party, who are the real champions of fighting poverty in Britain today.


To help people to rise, to help Britain rise, there’s a third – crucial – thing we must do. Educate all our children. And I mean really educate them, not just pump up the grades each year.

In maths, in science, in reading, we’ve fallen behind not just behind Germany and Canada but Estonia and Australia too.

This is Britain’s real school report and the verdict is clear: must try harder.

You’ve heard of pushy parents, sharp-elbowing their way to a better education for
their kids?

Well – this is a pushy government.

My approach is very simple.

I’ve got two children in primary school, and I want for your children what I want for mine. To go to schools where discipline is strict, expectations are high and no excuses are accepted for failure.

I don’t want great schools to just be the preserve of those that can pay the fees, or buy the nice house in the right catchment area I want those schools to be open to every child – in every neighbourhood.

And the reason I know that every child can go to a school like that is because with this Government, more and more new ones are opening.

We’ve heard from some of them this week not just the 79 new free schools – with over a hundred more to come but from some of the more than 2000 academies we’ve helped create – state schools given all the freedoms, and carrying all the high expectations, of private schools.

Yes – that’s my plan – millions of children sent to independent schools independent schools, in the state sector.

That’s the genuine revolution that’s now underway.

The Harris Academy in Peckham has increased the number of students getting five good GCSEs – from 12 percent when it was under local authority control to almost 90 percent now. The transformation has been astonishing – and the methods have been Conservative.

Smart uniforms, teachers in suits.

Children taught physics, chemistry and biology not soft options. Children set by ability – with excellence applauded, extra resources for those most in need but no excuses for slacking.

When you see a school like that succeed it prompts the question:

Why can’t every school be that way? Why can’t every child have those chances?

It’s not because parents aren’t ambitious enough – most of these schools are massively over-subscribed.
It’s because the old educational establishment – the left-wing local authorities, the leaders of the teachers unions, the Labour party theorists – stood in the way.
When we saw a badly failing school in Haringey and wanted to turn it into an Academy, the Labour authority, the Labour MP and the teaching unions said no.

When inspirational teachers and parents – in Hammersmith, in Norwich, in Bristol and in Wigan – wanted to open free schools, the left-wing establishment said no.

When we proposed: More pay for good teachers, Getting rid of bad teachers, Longer school days to help children learn, Flexible school hours to help parents work, More stretching exams for those who’re really able, Less nonsense about health and safety the left-wing establishment have said just one thing: No.

When you ask them: why is a school failing? Why aren’t the children succeeding?
You hear the same thing over and over again.
‘What can you expect with children like these?’ they say.  ‘These children are disadvantaged.’

Of course we want to tackle every disadvantage.

But isn’t the greatest disadvantage of all being written off by those so in hock to a culture of low expectations that they have forgotten what it’s like to be ambitious, to want to transcend your background, to overcome circumstance and succeed on your own terms?

It’s that toxic culture of low expectations – that lack of ambition for every child – which has held this country back.

Well, Michael Gove and I are not waiting for an outbreak of sanity in the headquarters of the NUT or an embrace of aspiration in the higher reaches of Labour before we act.

Because our children can’t wait.

So when people say we should slow down our education reforms – so adults can adjust to them, I say:

I want more free schools, more Academies, more rigorous exams in every school, more expected of every child.

And to all those people who say: he wants children to have the kind of education he had at his posh school - I say: yes – you’re absolutely right. I went to a great school and I want every child to have a great education.

I’m not here to defend privilege, I’m here to spread it.


I don’t have a hard luck story. My dad was a stockbroker from Berkshire. 
It’s only when your dad’s gone that you realise – not just how much you really miss them – but how much you really owe them.  My dad influenced me much more than I ever thought.

He was born with no heels on his feet and legs about a foot shorter than they’re meant to be.  But he never complained - even when he lost both those legs later in life.

Because disability in the 1930s was such a stigma, he was an only child.  Probably a lonely child. But Dad was the eternal optimist.  To him the glass was always half full.  Usually with something alcoholic in it.
When I was a boy I remember once going on a long walk with him in the village where we lived, passing the church he supported and the village hall where he took part in interminable parish council meetings.

He told me what he was most proud of. 

It was simple – working hard from the moment he left school and providing a good start in life for his family. Not just all of us, but helping his mum too, when his father ran off.

Not a hard luck story, but a hard work story. Work hard.  Family comes first.  But put back in to the community too.

There is nothing complicated about me.

I believe in working hard, caring for my family and serving my country. And there is nothing complicated about what we need today.

This is still the greatest country on earth.  We showed that again this summer.  22nd in world population.  3rd in the medals table. 

But it’s tough.  These are difficult times.  We’re being tested. 

How will we come through it?  Again, it’s not complicated.

Hard work.  Strong families.  Taking responsibility.  Serving others.

As I said on the steps of No10 Downing Street before walking through that door:  Those who can should, those who can’t we will always help.
The job of this party … of this government is to help to bring out the best in this country.  Because at our best we’re unbeatable.

We know Britain can deliver because we’ve seen it time and again.

This is the country that invented the computer, defeated the Nazis, started the web, saw off the slave trade, unravelled DNA and fought off every invader for a thousand years.

We even persuaded the Queen to jump out of a helicopter to make the rest of the world smile …. there is absolutely nothing we cannot do.

Can we make Britain the best place in the world to start a business, grow a business and help that business take on the world and win?  Yes.

Can we – the people who invented the welfare state in the first place – turn it into something that rewards effort, helps keep families together and really helps the poorest with a new start in life.  Yes.

Can we take our schools and turn out students that will take on the brightest in the world?  Yes. Of course we can.

Let us here in this hall, here in this government, together in this country make this pledge – let’s build an aspiration nation let’s get Britain on the rise.

Deficit, paid down.  Tough decisions, taJken.  Growth, fired up.  Aspiration, backed all the way. 

We know what it takes to win … to win in the tough world of today. to win for all our people to win for Britain.  So let’s get out there and do it.