God bless America

If you believe that America is a breeding ground for obsessions with celebrity culture and paparazzi pictures, maybe this story might begin to restore your faith a little. It might even make you laugh.

Tom Richmond

Will Miliband's lack of experience help his cause?

Appointing David Miliband to the post of Foreign Secretary, one of the most crucial jobs in British politics, was an interesting move by Gordon Brown.  The Guardian today talked about how it was a canny decision, as Miliband is not associated with any of the previous policies on Iraq and will therefore be seen in a more positive light by his foreign counterparts when dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan.

But does this logic withstand serious scrutiny?  Does David Miliband have the credentials to provide strong leadership in such a key area?  Will his lack of experience show when dealing with the White House?  Can anyone honestly say that he is completely free from associations with Blair's policy on Iraq?

Tom Richmond


The BBC are sorry

Today we headed back from our break in Norfolk at around 10:00am as I wanted to get back at around lunchtime. Luckily our way into Newark wasn't effected by flooding and we made it with 10 minutes to spare before Blair's final Prime Ministers questions ever.

Now maybe I'm a bit of a political geek – or maybe I just wanted to watch Blair's last performance in the Commons. I put the BBC on and thought the coverage was fine – and just as Blair was about to give his final comments Andrew Neil had to cut the coverage short at which point I scrabbled for the remote and just about managed to get Sky News on.

Now I'm a Tory. I havent been a fan of many thinks the Labour Government has done, however I do have alot of respect for the office of Prime Minister. That's why I have the mug Blair used when he came to visit the headquarters of the company I used to work for. It was the mug that one of the longest serving Prime Minister's in history used. That means something to me.

For the BBC to take the decision to cut short coverage is absolutely appalling.

It now seems as though they are sorry. Stephen Brook for Media Guardian has an excellent piece in which he comments, "A row is understood to have occurred inside the corporation over the decision to cut away early from the coverage." Well I would hope so! In a world where TV is dominated by celbrity this and fame that – is staying with coverage of Parliament for an extra 5 minutes really too much to ask?

Andrew Neil the presenter of The Daily Politics who had to tell viewers that coverage of Blair was ending apparently said, "I think it's disappointing that the final historic remarks of the prime minister and his historic standing ovation were not broadcast live on terrestrial television," I suspect he said alot more to whoever took such a stupid decision. I hope Andrew forces someone to apologise to the viewing public on the next Daily Politics, though I won't be holding my breathe! At the moment the finger of blame seems to be pointing at the head of television news, Peter Horrocks, though perhaps we will never know whose decision it was!

It really comes as no suprise to me as to why so many people pay alot of money to Skyevery year , yet still object to the licence fee – if this is what we get from the BBC.


PM Browns speech outside No. 10

Play it now:

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 Gordon Brown is now the new Prime Minister of the UK. To hear his first speech made outside 10 Downing Street, click the link below

Highlights include:-

  • A new Government with new priorities.
  • Strong in purpose, steadfast in will, resolute in action
  • Heard the need for change
  • I will build a Government that uses all the talents
  • I will try my utmost
  • Let the work of change begin

All change please

 Well we rushed back from Norfolk and by luck had the only open road into Newark after the Trent just burst it's banks.

I've just watched PMQs – which if you missed it, you can listen to here. All in all it was a bit of a "love in" but I have to say that I think Labour will miss Blair. I think we will see a very different Premiership under Brown, and I'm not so sure the public will warm to it.

Blair and his wife (not the first lady – as we don't have one!!!) have left the Palace, and Brown is about to make his way to become Prime Minister.

What will be fascinating will be the forthcoming reshuffle over the next day or so. I really do expect some pay back for the loyal Brownites who stuck with Gordon over the last decade.



You can buy it by clicking this link here.

Stupid Americans

I use the phrase – as I have family who are Americans – but when you read about cases like this you thank god our legal system isn't like this… well not yet anyway.

Bye Bye Blair?

It can't be true….. can it?

Of course Dizzy Thinks had it first here.

Quentin Who?

Everything happens when you take a break! 100 yards from my house in Chesterfield there has been water up to the windows – though thankfully the estate I am on is fine!

Then it turns out that down the ro ad from where I live in Newark, the MP for Stamford and Spalding, Quentin Davies has decided to defect to Labour.

Well here is may take on things. One has to think that this was part of an orchestrated plan by the Brown camp to try to show Brown as being substance driven, and Cameron like Blair – being driven by media headlines.

This analysis is false, and one must also questions whether Mr Davies was thinking of standing down at the next election anyway. I have to say that I do not always agree with what David Cameron says. Mind you – I dont always agree with everything Tim Montgomerie, Iain Dale or even my wife says (don't tell anyone about that last one!).

The Tory party hs always been a broad church and always will be. Under it's big tent you can find the likes of Roger Helmer with the likes of Ken Clarke… and why? The reason is there is more that unites us than divides us.

Does Mr Davies support an incoming Prime Minister who has crippled our pension funds? Does he have more in common with Harriet Harman than people like David Davis and William Hague. If he is so pro European does he really have much in common with Gordon Brown's unique brand of Euro-scepticism? I really don't think he does!

Quentin Davies was only a few miles away from me – down the A1 – and perhaps it says alot that I really don't know much about him, or what he stands for. I suspect the members of his local party will feel very let down – as will all the voters who put their X next to a Tory candidate. I hope the party moves swiftly to get a new candidate in place, who will start to represent all those people who Quentin Davies has let down today!

(Thanks to ConservativeHome for the pic which they got online only minutes after the story broke).


Which drugs should be available on the NHS?

Hearing stories about patients being denied access to drugs for certain conditions is becoming alarmingly frequent. Once the emotive aspects of each individual story have been splashed across the news, the issue of why the drugs are not available on the NHS is usually given some attention.

The fundamental problem is not the effectiveness of NICE, the organisation responsible for deciding which drugs are available.  NICE must balance the cost-effectiveness of providing treatments, which will inevitably lead to many drugs being turned down.  The real problem is the nature of centrally-run and centrally-funded healthcare systems. Cost-effectiveness is not discussed in other countries such as the USA, where competing healthcare providers view offering a range of treatments as a way of attracting customers and will therefore seek out innovative drug therapies without the need for government intervention. Almost every major Western nation apart from the UK has a competitive healthcare market of sorts (normally funded by the government but run by independent firms) and newspaper headlines about patients being denied their chosen treatment will continue indefinitely unless our whole healthcare system moves towards a more competitive model and the government's hands are taken off the steering wheel of the NHS.

Tom Richmond