PMQs 17th November 2010


To listen to Prime Minister’s Questions from 17th November 2010 click the play button above.

Do electricity companies really want you to save money?

I watched with interest the EDF energy ad on TV where they are seemingly suggesting they want you to save electricity, and by doing so they will provide a gadget that if I understand monitors you electricity – and allows you to switch appliances off.

We are customers of EDF and called up to say can we sign up to the discounted rate (which had just run out) and also have the free gadget advertised. Oh no. You can only have the gadget if you are on the standard tariff. To be honest you are better going on the discounted rate as it may save you £200 a year and the gadget will only save you around £60 a year. Well as any rational person that’s what we’ve done. Essentially we have been told – you will be better off having cheaper electricity and not thinking about saving electricity and EDF will allow you to do one, but won’t also help encourage the other.

That is fine. They are a company wanting to make money, but it goes to show they aren’t that interested in energy conservation as they say, otherwise you would expect people signing up to any new contract would be offered an energy saving gadget. Wouldn’t you?

Too populist policies?

Poor old Harriet Harman. Fresh from being “monstored” by her own MPs following the Phil Woolas Affair she wasn’t on top form at PMQs raising the issue of Elected Police Commissioners. A strange topic to raise at PMQs. No mention of Ireland and a potential bail out. Mind you, no backbencher raised that one either.

What I found bizarre was the comment from Lord Falconer on the Daily Politics, who argued against Elected Police Commissioners on the grounds they may introduce policies that are too “populist”. God forbid we get the police concentrating on what the law abiding majority want them to. Sorry Lord Falconer – giving the people what they want has a name. It’s called democracy. And when you have lived with the worst performing police force in the country, maybe I will take your comments against doing what people want a little more seriously.

Exclusive interview with Nick de Bois MP


To listen to our exclusive interview with Nick de Bois MP click the play button above.

Enough about the Royal Wedding already!

I’m not anti monarchists. Frankly I would rather have the Royal Family than an elected Head of State any day, but I’ve already had enough talk about next years Royal Wedding. I get it that William is a future King. But when we have the BBC with a helicopter focusing in on Buckingham Palace for some reason and someone seemingly a “pundit” when asked do you know Kate Middleton, say I don’t know her, but I’ve met her then it’s we can only imagine what kind of forensic media scrutiny we will see over the months ahead.

It’s nice for the happy couple to be, and nice for their family. It’s even nice for the country to look forward to a Royal Wedding, but, whilst it my sound churlish, I’m already growing tired of some on the inane media coverage we are seeing.

East Coast trains – on track for improvement?

Those who read this website will undoubtedly be aware of some of the issues I, and indeed fellow commuters have had with East Coast Trains. On Friday I went to their Head Office partially hoping they would be a complete shambles and that I wouldn’t like their Chairman. How wrong could I be. I have met some impressive people in my time, but I have to say that their Chairman Elaine Holt is up there with the best of them. I suspect rail is a male dominated industry. I could be wrong, as I am speaking from little knowledge of the area. I speak as a customer of a service who felt let down, and Elaine was as focused and reassuring as anyone I have met when I worked in the retail area. Why is that relevant? Well in retail you realise that if you don’t look after your customers, someone else certainly will. My preconceived notion of the railways was they didn’t really care about their customers, as on many lines your choice was no choice. You use the service whether good or bad, and in that respect why would you really want to listen to your customers.

I don’t want to go into detail as that would be unfair as it was a private meeting, but lets just say valid points were taken on board. Some were already known. Some were being addressed. Some will be addressed. The point is a Chairman of a large company was willing to explain why certain decisions had been taken, why others hadn’t and take on the chin where criticism may be appropriate.

Elaine was so willing to listen that she agreed to travel down with a group of commuters in the New Year to listen to their issues. A brave decision, but clearly from someone who knows her company well. When someone leads from the top like that, it gives you faith that perhaps some of that willingness to improve will trickle down.

I don’t for one minute think some of the improvements will be easy. The cynic in me will always believe that staff who are happy to travel in first class when teh train is full of fare paying customers (some of who are standing) will continue to try to do so. The cynic in me will believe that staff who have got used to partaking in the “free” food which is part of the first class complimentaries will still try their hand.

More importantly, the fare paying commuter part of me is enthused to believe that someone is listening and more importantly someone is willing to take on board comments and suggestions that may improve the business. It takes alot to impress me, but my god I was impressed. If the Chairman of East Coast trains is anything to go by, then I really do believe we will see an improved service which benefits both the consumer and taxpayer alike. If I were the Secretary of State for Transport I would get out of the way and let Elaine and their team get on with it. As they say, the time for talking is over, it’s time to do.

Tom Harris MP, he'll be back, I hope

It’s a sad day when someone like Tom Harris says he won’t be writing on his blog anymore. Even bloggers like Iain Dale can empathise with the kind of abuse that blogging can bring your way. Frankly one of the reasons I would now never consider wanting to be a Member of Parliament is the fact that people seem to think they have a right to abuse you, treat you like the lowest of the low, and believe you are on the take even if the complete opposite is true.

I understand where Tom is coming from. Constant abuse on a website can be very wearing and frankly he probably has much better things to do with his time, but part of me always things that if you have started a website as a platform to put your own views on. If you are the kind of person who is prepared and stand up and do something or say something rather than the vast army of arm chair generals who may be quick to complain, but slow to do anything. If you are the sort of person who becomes a Member of Parliament because you want to make a difference.

Then maybe Tom will be back on the Internet in one shape or another.

If he ever wants to do some podcasts then he knows where to come!

Seven Days Show podcast episode 49


In The Seven Days Show this week we discuss the NUS demonstration; how the NUS failed to lobby in any way on Wednesday; how the NHS is becoming more localised in the services it chooses to offer; why the entitlement society should be fought; whether what you put on twitter can be dangerous; whether we should be surprised that the Labour leadership team can’t even agree a policy on tax; Phil Woolas and why Iain is donating to his fighting fund; and when you should wear a poppy.

Roger Helmer straight talking on the referendum lock


East Midlands MEP, Roger Helmer has recorded a forthright podcast with his views on the referendum lock. To listen to what he has to say click the play button above.

Exclusive – Tory Radio survey suggests NUS and students didnt want to engage MPs

Watching events in London left me feeling that the NUS may well have let students down. Yes people have the right to protest. No people do not have the right to commit criminal damage or more. Putting that to one side (which I’m not so sure I should) I still felt like the message being given was that the march had to happen as it was  a last resort. No one was listening. It was time to take a stand. Really? Was that true?

So I thought, well I bet many MPs had interesting conversations that Wednesday. I wondered what points students had put to politicians as to why they felt aggrieved and what response they received. Maybe the 50,000 were angry because they had been told about the financial state of the country and they still think that education up until any age should be “free”.

So Tory Radio emailed all Tory MPs to ask them whether on Wednesday 10th November they were lobbied by students or the NUS. So far we have had over 50 responses from Conservative Members of Parliament. Out of those MPs a total of THREE MPs met a total of SIX people.

So six people bothered to meet three MPs to lobby on this issue which they cared about so much.

More importantly I can confirm that out of responses received we have over 50 MPs (so far) who had no one come to lobby them on the issue on Wednesday.

Come on NUS. You were in London on Wednesday yet you didn’t go and engage with MPs. Maybe it isn’t a case of MPs not listening, and more a case of you letting students down and not doing your job?

Indeed one MP told me, “All I heard was the shouting outside.  No one tried to come into Westminster to meet with me.” or what about the MP who said, “No lobbying which I was quite surprised about. I ended up going out to the demonstration and talking to students myself!”

Another MP who has a University on the edge of their patch yet had no one – students or indeed lecturers come to see them. So suddenly it all becomes clear. The march wasn’t a last resort. The march wasn’t about engaging, and frankly the result will be that if the NUS and students do decide to engage in the political process they will find Wednesday seriously damaged their cause.

If I were a student I’d be asking serious questions as to the strategy the NUS leadership took.

Appalling stat:- 41 police officers injured…. less Tory MPs were lobbied. Is this how to engage in the political process?