In defence of Zac and the environment

I start off writing this with a ‘vested’ interest. The vested interest is I like Zac Goldsmith. I first met him scarily over 20 years ago. His dad gave this northern know nothing his first job. We have kept in touch on and off over the years, so I regards him as a friend. And I think sometimes you need to stand up for your friends.

When we were both making our way in politics, some more successfully than others I interviewed Zac, and you can listen to it here.

He came to the important issue of the environment long before I did, although I think we both now have a passion for it. Mine more focussed o n how gardening and what small changes can be done there can be scaled up to have a global impact, whereas Zac seems to focus on far bigger picture issues.

I know we will hear all the arguments about how undemocratic the Lords is. That for me is a separate argument. If a Labour Government can have the likes of Mandelson and Adonis in it, then a Conservative Government must have a Goldsmith in it fighting for the environment.

Its a policy area where the Conservatives not only need to lead, but need to deliver, and with their swathes of northern seats, there is a whole new demographic to engage with.

I for one welcome Zac back and look forward to his independent streak of Conservative environmentalism making an impact.


The only video you need to see to understand why people buy what paper

Have the banks learned their lesson?

We are currently in the process of trying to sell our house and move a little further into the countryside to a place with 2 acres of land. I always said i wouldn’t shed a tear if a few estate agents went under. Imagine my surprise when the local branch of a national estate agent who are trying to sell our place phoned up and said they had been told they will be closing this Friday. A bit of a pain, but estate agents are much of a muchness in my book.

What is interesting is the attempts to get a mortgage. We dispenses with the mortgage advisor who wanted to charge £400 for recommending deals worse than you could find by taking 5 minutes to read the Sunday papers and instead went to the bank where I have had an account since secondary school, and where my business account now resides.

The last time I got a mortgage it seemed to be a relatively simple procedure. Show me what you earn, show me what you spend and then have some money. Since the banks essentially acted with haste lending too much to people who could ill afford the repayments things are different. We have a house with no mortgage that we intend to sell to pay for building work. We have enough cash to put a sizeable deposit on what we want to buy, and want to fix in for five years at an amount that my wife alone could easily afford. Yet we have to go through a rather onerous process of showing earnings over the past few years, expenditure, proof of savings, and indicate provide in depth details about the property we want to buy.

My only question is, why wasn’t this always the case?

East Coast trains get customer service – now they just have to deliver

Last week the Chairman of East Coast trains, Elaine Holt travelled down with a group of commuters from Newark in order to hear some of our gripes and moans about the service. Firstly, I have to say how impressed that the Chairman of our rail company took the time to come down with us, but what was even more impressive, for me at least, was recognition that while some things the company did were excellent, some things were not.

Our issues ranged from poor customer communication, with messages from head office seemingly not filtering down to passengers, to a poor attitude of a minority of staff when dealing with fare paying customers. The old issue of train staff sitting in first class was even dealt with more swiftly than I would ever have imagined. No sooner had three staff (clearly without the right tickets) entered first class, than up jumped the Chairman and asked why they were sitting in first class seats. The staff headed off to standard, which is where they should be sat.

Of course recognising issues and sorting them out are two different things. More trains stopping at our station is great. Getting the trains to run on time will be more of a long term problem, with some issues clearly outside of the gift of the train operating company. And changing the bad behaviour of their staff? Well every day since the Chairman’s visit their staff are back sitting in first class, so time will tell whether knowing about the issues means something will be done.

If Elaine Holt has anything to do with it, I have no doubt this will certainly not be a case of words and no action. And woe betide any staff choosing to ark themselves in first class when she returns for another catch up in April.

Seven Days Show 58


The latest episode of The Seven Days (episode 58) is now online. In the show this week we discuss Andy Gray and Richard Keys; Dominc Raab and feminism; what the negative growth figures mean; whether people have been impacted by the cuts yet; is there really a NATIONAL Health Service; forests; libraries and whether there is an eite political class.

To listen to the podcast click the play button above.

Privatise the Forests or keep them public?

So just where do you stand on the great forest debate??

For those wanting forests to remain nationalised

For those wanting a bit more private involvement

Get them here…. selling like hot cakes.

NHS refused to give me holiday jabs as they would take too much time

This is certainly not an NHS bashing post. Those on the left often sneer at Tories suggesting how do they know or care about the NHS – as they are sure we never use it. This is a case of wanting to use it, and being refused.

Next month my wife has a birthday with a zero in it. For that reason we are having a holiday of a lifetime – part of which includes time in Kenya. For that we needed two jabs each and some malarial tablets. Before Christmas, in fact over 4 months before travel we ask our local GP if we could book time in to get the treatment. No we expected to have to pay for the vaccines (although in certain places we know you do not) but would have thought our GP or the nurse at the practice could administer them. We were told the practice had ceased to administer vaccines for holidays as they take too much time. Being me, I had an email exchange with the practice manager pointing out that having been in good health, I have actually not seen a doctor for 16 years so I was a tiny bit put out that when I could do with 10 minutes of their time it was somewhat annoying to be told what I requested took too much time.

To no avail – apparently GPs arent compensated for doing this type of work so they can choose not to do it. What should we do we enquired…. oh go to Nottingham and find somewhere there to do it.

So that is what we have done today, and the cost was around £350 in total.

Some would suggest that if you can afford a holiday then you should also pay for your own vaccines. Maybe so. But then shall we use the same argument to say if you can afford cigarettes you should also afford your own nicotine replacement therapy. Has the NHS decided that cheap prevention is not better than expensive cure. What if I didnt have £350 and came back with hepatitis? £200 plus a night for a stay in hospital doesn’t seem to make sense.

Is this kind of thing happening across the country. I would suggest foreign travel has become more common place than ever before, yet does our National Health System wash its hands of protecting people who have paid into the system, from a raft of disease? So, when those on the left sneer and say I bet you use private health care, maybe just maybe I couldn’t get the NHS to treat me the only time I have had to call on its services in 16 years.


I remembered I had the response as to why my local GP practice justified not offering this service:-

“It is not the time taken to give the vaccinations, it is the time taken to carry out a travel risk assessment – looking at where the patient is travelling to, which vaccinations have been given previously, what the risks for the area are, what vaccinations are needed, ordering in the vaccination and then organising an appointment. Other surgeries offer different levels of service. Otherwise there are various travel clinics in Lincoln and Nottingham.”

Hmmm – filling the form in answering what vaccinations had previously been given and where and for how long we were going took 5 minutes and was done in a waiting room prior to our appointment and the vaccines took under 10 minutes. Come on!

Prisoners votes will cause Cameron real issues with his backbenchers


I have made no secret of the fact that I am a ‘lock em up’ kind of person when it comes to criminals. Lets  just say I am of the Michael Howard school of thought when it comes to putting people behind bars. It will come as no surprise that I am therefore no fan of giving prisoners the vote. I do however recognise the difference between what I’d like and what in actual fact seems to be the legal situation.

If you ask many backbenchers about the issue of prisoners votes they will be quite adamant that they aren’t in favour. In his local paper Andrew Percy has essentially said he would allow prisoners the vote when Hell freezes over.

Andrew Bridgen the MP for NW Leicestershire is sceptical of the merits of giving prisoners the vote in this excusive podcast.   In another exclusive podcast Prit Patel the MP for the Essex seat of Witham raises the issue of how the UK is being forced to do this, even though it does not want to by Europe.

Indeed for me the interesting issue is the fact that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe met to discuss this issue yesterday. Attendees including the likes of Brian Binley, Christopher Chope and Claire Perry went out there with two voting for a report which essentially confirms that if prisoners votes are not implemented sanctions against the UK can be taken, with Claire Perry abstaining.  Surely I have misunderstood. These three Conservatives would vote no to such a thing? Please say it is my misunderstanding as to what happened yesterday. A parliamentarian wouldnt take the 260ish Euros they get for attending (plus business class travel) speak against and then abstain would they? I must be wrong? Correct me someone!

You may not expect a convicted killer to be an expert on prisoners votes, but I’m afraid you may be mistaken. Tory Radio took the opportunity to speak to John Hirst, known as jailhouselawyer to many online. I think it safe to say that he knows this issue inside out. If anyone can take on the establishment and win then he should certainly not be underestimated, no matter what you think of him.

In five years I have done sone interesing interviews, but if you listen to anything on Tory Radio, listen to the 50 minute interview I did with John Hirst yesterday, where he explains that talk of only offering votes to prisoner serving less than 4 years (let alone less then 12 months) will just not wash, and that the UK, in spite of comments from the likes of Jack Straw and even David Cameron, will be forced to give all prisoners the vote.

For Eurosceptics such as myself it gives added reasons to tell the ECHR and the EU where to go, and certainly underlines who governs this country.

Who pays for police lobbying?

I have no issue with lobbying. In my mind it leads to better more thought out legislation. I myself think I should lobby all MPs to get rid of Early Day Motions as I think they are a waste of money, not very effective, and something better could be introduced at a much lower cost to the taxpayer.

It comes as no surprise that the police are actively lobbying MPs, specifically on the subject of their pension. I actually applaud the likes of Nigel Tompsett for not being an armchair general like so many people in society and actually doing something.

The issue I have is that many of these letters are reaching MPs, having being franked and therefore paid for by the local police authority. Hmmm should the local police authority really be funding such an activity? I thought we were stamping out on the public sector lobbying what is essentially the public sector? Weren’t we?

PMQs 26th January 2011


If you missed the action from PMQs today click the play button above to catch up on all the action.