Friday, December 31, 2004

As I think it is excellent (rather obviously), I thought that I would re-print Michael Howard's New Year Message in full:

New Year is a time of hope.
But this year, as every day brings more news of the disaster unfolding across Asia, our hopes for the future are overshadowed by the tragedy that has engulfed hundreds of thousands of lives.
We watched the scenes of destruction with a sense of disbelief. The scale, the speed, the ferocity of what happened on Boxing Day is difficult to grasp.
Yet Britain's response has shone a light on our nation's character. The last week has shown that the warm, caring heart of Britain beats as strong as ever.
At the start of a year which will almost certainly see a General Election, it is worth thinking about what unites us rather than what divides us.
What is it that we, as a great nation, believe?
People in genuine need - the sick, the aged, the vulnerable, the persecuted - should be helped.
People should be judged on their ability and their potential, not their background, religion or the colour of their skin.
People's property should respected.
People who take responsibility for themselves and their families should be rewarded.
People who work hard, risk their money by starting new firms, and invest to create more jobs, should be encouraged.
People who break the law, who have no respect for other people's freedom or property, should be properly punished.
People should have the opportunity to live their dreams.
These are values that I believe most Britons hold dear.
In the weeks ahead, I will be setting out how the Conservatives can turn these beliefs into reality - reaching out to the millions of people who these share these values.
Of course, some of the things I have to say will be controversial. I do not believe in sweeping the truth - however painful it may be - under the carpet.
I will outline the choices facing Britain at the election. How much tax do people want to pay?
Who will give taxpayers value for money - the clean hospitals and good, disciplined schools they want? Who can be trusted to get a grip on the disorder on our streets and the chaos in our immigration system?
Mr Blair has had his chance to tackle these problems. His approach has failed. Britain is heading in the wrong direction for a simple reason: Mr. Blair has the wrong solution to the problems we face.
His government is a bossy, interfering government that takes decisions that should be made by individuals.
That requires a bigger state and more bureaucrats - which has to be paid for in taxes.
The result is big government and higher taxes eroding incentives, undermining enterprise and denying people choice.
Worst of all, it is a government that has wasted people's money and failed to tackle the problems families face today.
This is the record that Mr Blair will have to defend in the months ahead. It is time to hold him to account.
The question is simple: why should we trust him now and think he would be any different next time, when he has let us down so many times in the past?
Britain is a first class country. Our country and its people brim with ambition, drive and creativity. We can overcome the challenges we face.
We can cut crime. We can improve public services without asking people to pay more in taxes. We can have progress without losing what makes Britain great - its tolerance, the respect for the rule of law, the ability of everyone to fulfil their potential. We simply need to change direction.
The election will give Britain the chance to change. The debate will soon begin on how we can create a Britain in which everyone, no matter his or her background, has the chance to build a better life. I hope you join in it.
I wish you a very happy, peaceful New Year.
The news from Asia really has put everything into perspective this Christmas. With the news that a lady from Colney - in Norwich South - is amongst those killed, I issued the following press release urging people to donate:

Parliamentary spokesman Antony Little has encouraged Norwich to take up Conservative leader Michael Howard’s challenge to the British public to match the £15 million of Government aid to help the victims of the tsunami disaster.

Antony, and his wife Louise, have donated via the special telephone hotline 0870 60 60 900.

Mr Howard said something could be done "at all levels". He said he has himself donated £250 to the appeal fund. He said the British public had always responded generously in the past to disaster appeals and he was confident they would dig deep now. "It would be really good if we could match, as individuals, the £15 million which the Government has pledged," he said. "It would be really terrific if the British people could match the £15 million, doubling the money available for relief."

Speaking at a reception in Norwich, Mr Little said in the areas affected many people survived on as little as a dollar a day, so small sums of money could make a significant impact.

Echoing the words of Michael Howard, Antony said: "The really important thing is that everything that can be done now to get help to the people who need it now should be done. As we speak there are people sitting on rooftops, sitting on hills, without any clean water, at risk of death from disease. And if disease is allowed to get a grip in these areas we face another calamity possibly as big in scale as the one we have just seen from the earthquake and the tsunami."

”Individuals want to help, individuals want to take some responsibility for themselves and I think that is to be encouraged."

“I know how Louise and I felt watching the appeal being made on the BBC and how we feel each time the death toll goes up. Our donation is hopefully one small step to turning somebody’s life around. I urge everybody in Norwich to donate.”

Friday, December 24, 2004

As it's Christmas Eve and we're away for a few days now visiting friends and family, I'd like to wish everybody a very "Merry Christmas" - looking forward to 2005!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

On another point, the Budd inquiry will have no doubt shocked the government, as Blair’s inquiries are there for the sole purpose of finding him innocent of all charges. I am surprised by this morning’s Guardian poll about 67% of the public wanting Blunkett back at some point. Michael Howard did an excellent job pointing out that he lied in all this. Am I the only one left in electoral politics that believes that ministers (and, for that matter, Prime Ministers) should quit if they are found to have lied? Tomorrow I am also at our print company to look at the new design for our “Matters” series of newsletters. Whilst Westminster may fetter over a new catholic education secretary or the PMs Christmas cards, the real stuff of politics still goes on locally!
It’s day two in the Big Christmas House. Antony is getting increasingly frustrated that he can’t find a mass that finishes at a sensible time. Louise is attempting to make mincemeat in record speed and without letting it stand at any point. Despite trips to Diss, Bowthorpe and Costessey, they still don’t have the shopping they need, despite only entertaining for one day over the festive period. Tomorrow the farce continues, as Antony has the glass in his car replaced and attempts to mark some ‘A’ Level essays. Who says there isn’t anything fun about Christmas?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Just back from St. John’s Cathedral, have been to a celebration service. Really good time. Feels a bit weird now that school has finished. Unfortunately the only celebration I get is going to the design company to look at the new layout for our “Matters” newsletters. There is going to be a really big change for next year!

Everybody is asking me how my chances have changed with Clarke’s promotion to Home Secretary. One is tempted to say that the bigger they are, the harder they fall! I actually think this improves my chances. Firstly is that Clarke is still saddled with his tenure at Education. I know 10,000 students at UEA (and countless more over the last seven years) who won’t forget which party and which person ushered in fees. But now Clarke is responsible for the area of biggest failure under Labour. He’s dumped with bringing down crime, waging a war against knives and tackling our immigration crisis. Michael Howard cut crime, now we’ll see if Clarke is made of the same stuff. I really think that gives a second edge to the fight in Norwich South, because now crime and education will be at the fore. And with the Tories currently 19% ahead on law & order issues, this could be the final nail in Clarke’s political coffin.

To paraphrase Dr Reid, on accepting the Health portfolio, “***k, not the Home Office.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I think Blunkett has made the right decision here, see below for my press release about Mr Clarke's appointment as Home Secretary:

Charles Clarke’s Conservative Opponent at the next election has wished the new Home Secretary good luck in his post and has urged the Norwich MP to start “a real fight back against crime” before the next election.

Mr Clarke – the cabinet minister who as Education Secretary introduced top up fees - takes up the job at a time of rising violent crime in Britain.

Mr Little, a 25 year old teacher from Notre Dame High School in Norwich, sent his congratulations to Mr Clarke but also a tough warning of the task ahead.

Speaking to a meeting of the Norwich Conservatives’ Campaign Group at the time of the announcement, Antony said:

”Charles Clarke is now one of the last Blairites in this failing New Labour government. I wish him well in his new job, but he must now get a grip on the crime and anti-social behaviour that is ruining lives in cities like Norwich.”

“I hope Mr Clarke brings a new broom to the job and commits himself to increasing police numbers, like the Conservatives have done, commits to getting more drug addicts into rehab, like the Conservatives have done and commits to scrapping unnecessary police bureaucracy, like the Conservatives have done.”

“Mr Clarke holding his seat after the next election is no certainty, with the Conservatives breathing down his neck in Norwich South. He may not have long to make his mark, so I wish Mr Clarke luck for however long he has as Home Secretary. A few months is more than enough time to start a real fight back against crime.”

“Within a week of being in power the Conservatives will have scrapped Labour’s early release programme, which will stop criminals getting out of prison early and will reduce crime. Let’s see what Charles Clarke can achieve in a week to help reduce crime.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Christmas week is the normal mayhem in school at the moment. Have GCSE mock re-takes tomorrow and Thursday and it always seems to take such an effort to organise anything. Plus I have the photographers in for the Yearbook photos tomorrow as well. Lunchtime is a coursework catch up club – aaarrrggghhh! “Free period” seems to be a euphemism for “working even harder that I would do if actually teaching”. Tomorrow I am also on (joy of joys) Formal School Detention duty. Can’t wait.

Today I attended the funeral of Colin Barker, a very good friend of mine. It was a moving service and there was a really sincere tribute by his sister. It makes you think that you never truly know people half as well as you should. I have found out so much about Colin today, and yet I’ll never be able to share any of it with him. Rest in peace, Colin.

This evening I have been doing more general election planning. However, as somebody said today, it all rather pales into insignificance really.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Despite the festive season coming thick and fast nothing seems to be slowing down! Following last week’s dental disaster I was back at school on Friday to “enjoy” the Sixth Form Panto, which seems to have become an excuse for smut and sexual innuendo – quite good, really! Even got a mention or two in the play – apparently you can’t mention the s-word around future Tory MPs!

Saturday morning I was out with my team in Town Close and we got a really good reception. I have to say that the last time I canvassed that particular area it was 2001 and I was the County Council candidate. Then we were struggling but today people had so much more time for us. In fact it took ages to canvass just two roads because of the number of people who wanted to talk. Sadly the Labour vote seems to be up, but more at the expense of the LibDems. A couple of Labour switchers to us, but far more LibDems saying that they are ready to vote Conservative again. A rather charming gentleman, ex-RAF, told me about his fears for the future of the armed forces if Labour wins again. Ironically he voted for Blair in ’97, then didn’t vote in ’01 but will now vote Conservative. I was recognised (hurrah!) – a grandmother of one of my year group, saying I’ll definitely have her vote. However I spent most time with a lady who works for the N&N, filling me in on some of the ways in which the NHS works at the highest levels that would scare the public if they knew. I said I wouldn’t give out details, so I won’t, but they certainly match experiences that my wife told me about from her time in the NHS.

Following canvassing I fought my way through Norwich, spent enough money to start a small inflationary boom and then came home for Christmas card writing and the X Factor final. Does that make me a nerd? Yes. Clearly. But I did make up for it for going to see Phantom at the UCI Riverside last night. Fantastic, fantastic fantastic! Highly recommended night out. Tomorrow I am leafleting in Bowthorpe then off to the in-laws for Sunday Lunch.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Today has been proof that despite our cynical attitude towards public services they really can come together. I’ve been getting pains in my teeth for a while now and a Christmas party in Norwich really set them off. All night I was up with the pain and no amount of pain killers worked. Both Louise and I had a really bad time (me in pain, her having to listen to me in pain.)

This morning I phoned a dentist ho advertises in the EDP – no appointment for another 2 weeks. No good with me still on the verge of exploding with pain. So I call NHS Direct who put me onto emergency walk-in dentists found on the old West Norwich hospital site on the Bowthorpe Road. Sure enough, an appointment was made for 10o’clock this morning. Even better I was in the dentist’s chair by 10.05. I needed to have one tooth out, one cleaned up and a filling. It took all in all no more than half an hour. The cost? Just £27 – a really acceptable price to pay for the work and stopping my agony.

Still being in some discomfort I wasn’t looking forward to the journey home, but I stepped out of the dentists, crossed the road, and caught the No.21 straight away, which dropped me back outside my home in Bowthorpe. Fantastic service.

Politicians don’t say it enough, but when push comes to shove our public services can and do work. They worked for me today and I’m sure they work for thousands of people everyday. The thought going through my mind on the way was why such services can have problems. It isn’t the professionals who work in them – they were top quality the whole way through. It must be the politicians.

Labour had better take note (and the Tories for that matter) – public services run better without us. Freedom and choice make the public services better not Whitehall led “reform”.

So let me say this loud and clear: Thank You, NHS.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

It has been a week of mixed emotions around here. On Wednesday we were told that Colin Barker, a good friend of mine and a very active member, passed away at his home in Norwich. Our thoughts and prayer go to his wife Judy at this time – very sad news for us all. Colin was a hard working, dedicated and thoroughly human friend to us. Colin had that very Norwich-outlook on life. Never to be rushed, he believed in plain speaking and was always popular for those reasons. Colin had an affable presence on the doorstep and I believe one of the very few people who could pinpoint how to make the Conservatives popular in Norwich. He’ll be greatly missed by all.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Have made frontpages in both the EDP and the Evening News over the issue of Speed cameras in Norfolk. I am surprised by the findings of the report but we must have faith that the police and the county council have it right. It is so important that people have faith in speed cameras as life saving devises, not cash cows.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

With all their gloating about being the most "wired" (not to be confused with "weird", I'm sure) party, isn't it strange that leading LibDem blogger Jody Dunn has fallen silent since her crushing in Hartlepool, with noted Tory blogger's from Norwich, North Norfolk (Iain Dale) and Kingston (Kevin Davis) entertain and inform rather more often?
Despite all the rushing around this weekend has felt really relaxed. On Saturday we had a really big action day out in New Costessey. For some reason, this rather nice suburban area of Norwich has become known as a LibDem stronghold, but it certainly didn’t live up to that reputation! We had 12 people out canvassing and covered some big areas. Interestingly enough, as we get nearer the election the Labour vote seems to be hardening up again, with the LibDems suffering. Worryingly there were a large number of “won’t votes” out there too. Got a few more poster sites and deliverers so came back feeling tired but happy!

Sunday has so far been dominated by “shoe shopping” (an experience I endure roughly twice a year and hate on each occasion) and marking yet more GCSE coursework. It is starting to ruin my life!

Interest poll in most of today’s papers says that two thirds of people expect tax to rise under Labour. I’m just surprised it’s not nearer to 99%…

p.s. Now getting really angry with gamecube

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Gamecube watch: I've been playing Lord of the Rings now for 4 days as a serious new hobby and have so far failed to win or achieve anything.

School went ok-ish today - had a potential trainee teacher in with me, all good fun. After school there was a very long Pastoral Board meeting, which was thankfully made all the better by the existence of tea and cake. This evening we're off to see friends who have just returned from India.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I am afraid that this week has so far been dominated by some very, very, VERY boring things. That includes moving house stuff, attempting buy Christmas presents, a draft budget for the General Election, details to do with the website design, a last minute cover (thank you, Mrs Paton), lots of meetings and my desire to actually finish one of my gamecube games.

However, I fully intend to use this very public medium to set out my stall on the key national issue of Morrisons.

Now, they say that a dissatisfied customers tells 9 others ... get ready you nine.

We usually shop at Sainsbury's in New Costessey. However, we thought that we would give Morrisons a go. Everything fine up until now. Then, having paid and left (all okay so far), we discovered that our tub of low fat tomato and something-cheese flavoured sauce had exploded. So, off marches our Tory hero to the customer services desk. Only to find one very under siege young lady with 5 angry looking customers waiting. Fearing leaving my heavily pregnant wife standing in the car park for too long, I asked the lady on the kiosk if she could call anybody else to help on customer services given the queue. "No," replied the ever-so-helpful young lady, "that's not my job, I'm in charge of the kiosk." I could see that, I replied, but all she had to do was call for somebody else to come and help. Still getting nowhere, I endeavoured to find a service manager. Ah, there's one by the lettuces! So off I go - could she help me? "No," replied the even-younger-young-lady "you have to deal with customer services." In desperation I go back to customer services where the still same 5 people were still waiting in the queue. Finally I dumped the exploded pot of sauce and purchased a whole new one myself.

So, which one of Morrisons 100 reasons to shop there was the friendly customer services...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Am using this blog as an excuse not to carry on marking my GCSE coursework. The last two Sunday’s have been spent almost exclusively doing this – and I never feel as if I am getting anywhere! I have been following the debate about the ethical stance of banks and of the service gap in the High Street names with care – a subject many of the Sunday papers are returning to. It was interesting therefore to see where the cheques that we received this week came from. We sent out an appeal to party members and supporters last week and have had a phenomenal response. However (apart from people’s magnificent generosity) it was clear that people are moving towards ethical banks, on-line banks and (most notably) NatWest – who put the “most” effort into customer service. Is it getting across to people – and with the lumbering giants of the banking world take notice? Hint, hint…

Financial matters very much in the forefront of my mind at the moment, particularly the hideous task of trying to move houses. We were two days away from exchange recently when the man we were buying from dropped out, landing us with a £3,000 bill and nowhere to move to. We’ve since found another house, but have been played around there too. Naturally we are much more reluctant to part with £500 to get a survey done without any guarantee the move might or might not go ahead. The law really must be changed here; I believe to land the seller with the responsibility of providing sale information. Only when we start to switch systems can people buy with confidence.

Talking of which I am glad to see Oliver Letwin, the shadow chancellor, on the BBC today saying that the Conservatives will raise the threshold of stamp duty and give first time buyers stamp duty exemotion. Great stuff!

Oh, and I went to the hairdressers to find former LibDem Transport Chief Gordon Dean in the chair next to me. Wise man, Mr Dean. Always had time for him – makes some sense. Had long conversation about why nobody believes LibDem plans for pensions!

Friday, November 19, 2004

I have just had the first figures back from the hits on – my new campaigning website – and it looks very, very good. A very positive piece in yesterday’s Evening News has clearly helped, plus a giant e-mail out to supporters too!

I am afraid that campaigning is getting the boot for tonight – am absolutely shattered despite is only being around 4pm and need to go home, crawl up and sleep for hours on end. Coming down with something too!

To keep you up-to-date, I went to a governors meeting last night, but spent a slightly more dull couple of hours monitoring the traffic in Norwich to see if the changes had made a difference to the late-night-shopping chaos. Pleasingly it clearly had! Though I’m sure nobody will thank the County Council for seeing a problem and acting quickly.

Wednesday I went to the Bowthorpe Community Partnership. Always a fun evening because (apart from the people who go) it is always a chance for some honest, robust debate about where the community is going. Despite pushing and pushing for action on the roads in Three Score, the police are still concerned that nothing will be achieved. When visiting a friend in Tizzick Close, Three Score, we went for a walk to find road blockage points – points where either the road is too narrow or cars are parked so that, say, ambulances and fire engines couldn’t get through. Around just the new section of Bowthorpe we found six blocks! Why is nothing being done?!?

So, home to a rather warm duvet…

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Conservatives drive for NDR questionnaires to be returned

Go on! What are you waiting for...

Norwich Conservatives are using their organisation to push for local people to return their questionnaire on the Northern Distributor Route (NDR).

Thousands of questionnaires landed on doormats today, aiming to find out which route was most popular. Last time 78% of people said they wanted the NDR but were split on where to site it.

Conservative Spokesman Antony Little is leading the drive, which will see an e-mail and web campaign – plus leaflets – to encourage a high return rate. Antony said: “It is vital that people return this questionnaire. This could have far reaching affects on our City, especially areas such as Thorpe Hamlet and New Costessey.”

“Only with a high return rate can this massive consultation exercise mean anything.”
Sorry for the long delay in posting, and thank you to all those who check regularly! It would take a heck of a long post to explain why - house moving crisis! Still, to keep you going, a press release from today:

Conservatives drive for NDR questionnaires to be returned

Norwich Conservatives are using their organisation to push for local people to return their questionnaire on the Northern Distributor Route (NDR).

Thousands of questionnaires landed on doormats today, aiming to find out which route was most popular. Last time 78% of people said they wanted the NDR but were split on where to site it.

Conservative Spokesman Antony Little is leading the drive, which will see an e-mail and web campaign – plus leaflets – top encourage a high return rate. Antony said: “It is vital that people return this questionnaire. This could have far reaching affects on our City, especially areas such as Thorpe Hamlet and New Costessey.”

“Only with a high return rate can this massive consultation exercise mean anything.”

Sunday, October 24, 2004

It has been a strangely busy day. Louise is feeling much better hence she spent this morning attempting to bankrupt me through Christmas shopping bargain hunting whilst I led the way leafleting in the Golden Triangle. This afternoon, whilst I went around the new development in Bowthorpe introducing myself, Louise has been busy at home. Now we’re both desperately cleaning the house and I am (I’m afraid) slacking slightly.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bugger! No, I don't mean getting soaked out canvassing, but the football result!
Am typing this in my constituency office before going out on the stump for the whole day. First up is a walkabout around Norwich, then over to the South Park area for leafleting and then canvassing. Thank you to all those who have returned the Park Lane Junction Petition – a huge response!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I’m just back from a fantastic evening speaking to the UEA Politics Society. I say roughly 30 people came to hear my views on the political situation in Norwich. I don’t think I’m quite what they expected! One student said afterwards that I was “young, honest and so unlike the Tory Party nationally.” Not quite sure how to take that (!) but she did say that she would no at least seriously consider voting for me, if not the Conservative Party. Topics we covered included the rise (and fall) of UKIP, the US elections, sport in school, the electoral system, the fall and continued fall of the LibDems in Norwich, buses, Student Loans Company and the next Leader of the Conservative Party. Interestingly, no questions on top up fees or Iraq … but you may expect that from a group who specialise in the study of politics as a science. Good opportunity to meet them all informally at the pub afterwards too!

Fantastic response to our “Park Lane Junction” petition so far, and I’m setting up and launching an e-mail address for that petition tomorrow with the newly formed Nelson Ward Branch. First wave of our pledge voters mailing went out today! All fingers (and toes) crossed…

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Some weeks seem to be all about politics and other weeks about anything but. This has been one of those weeks. It is now half term – just – and the week in school has dragged along. I’ve done a shed load of marking and worked on lesson plans for next half term for much of the week so far. Saturday and Sunday were spent pushing two exciting projects in the party along – sending out surveys to Cringleford and writing to all of our Conservative pledges to ask for their help in ousting this rotten Labour government. Hopefully we’ll get a good response. Still, there was also time for a spot of leafleting in Nelson Ward too!

Monday I attended the funeral of Kath Hopes – a good woman and loyal supporter of the party. She was a tremendous partner to Vic and I’ll certainly remember her warm hospitality and good Norfolk humour. The St. Faith’s crematorium was absolutely packed – a tribute to what Kath meant to us all.

Tuesday night was then spent on a lads curry night. I don’t think I’ll say any more.

And tonight … well, Louise is out on the raz with her work colleagues whilst I sit at home! We had our second scan today – it was amazing, so real. The technology today meant we could see details down to his/her face and counting the numbers of fingers and toes. I am so excited about being a dad – and thankfully there are no complications! Truly an amazing time, so thank you to all at the N&N

Friday, October 15, 2004

It’s always a pleasure writing this blog straight after school on a Friday because it helps to put the week into perspective, after my last post on Monday. The week has simply flown by.

Tuesday we went out canvassing (again, I hear you cry) down Unthank Road (again, I hear you cry – well, it is a very long road!) and then onto a sheltered housing scheme. The support there was excellent and spent a long time talking to the warden and her husband about provision for senior citizens. Such friendly people and so many offers to come in for tea!

I went straight from that to a Campaign strategy meeting to meet our new director of such matters – a lady by the name of Katie and a real laugh to boot! We laid some really exciting plans out that will really transform the way in which we campaign in Norwich.

Wednesday was so physically tiring at work that I can still feel the pain in my feet! The amount of campaigning that went on that night was incredible. We had UEA students out delivering on campus and in University Ward, another team leafleting in Nelson Ward and I led a canvass team out in Town Close. I make it nearly 20 people out of the streets for me on a wet Wednesday night. It can only make you feel good about what is to come! Got home really late though…

Thursday at work got no easier and in the evening I went to a North Norfolk Conservative event at Holt. I went with our new County candidate for Eaton, Nathan Bennett. It was hosted by the excellent PPC Iain Dale and the guest speaker was Taunton MP Adrian Flook who made a speech called “How to beat a LibDem”. Apart from being very amusing – he described their campaigning tactics in full – he also gave us some great ideas on how to counter their attacks.

Tonight on the other hand I may just catch some time with the wife and unborn child (phew!) before an all day canvass-athon in Thorpe Hamlet tomorrow and leafleting on Sunday. Also worthy of note today was my LibDem opponent’s letter attacking me in the EDP. I won’t say any more – I’ll leave that for others to think about, but I’m sure of my ground!

Monday, October 11, 2004

From about an hour ago when I thought that the week was fairly free, my diary has just filled up a treat! Tomorrow night I am joining a team out canvassing the part of the Unthank Road that they didn’t do on Saturday (they’re keen!) and then onto a Campaign Strategy Meeting. Wednesday I’ve had to cancel being at a leaflet drop with the UEA students in order to attend a Town Close canvassing session. Thursday I am heading up to North Norfolk for Iain Dale’s meeting with a senior Tory MP to discuss the topic “How to beat the Liberal Democrats” – a topic I am very keen on! Friday I may even see my wife…

Back from a very interesting session meeting residents who live off Hall Road. The blocks of flats look fairly standard from the outside but what a large number of people had done to them on the inside was incredible. A mixture of people who had bought their own flats and those still rent off the council. Crime and public transport were the two major issues here and it is interesting the number of former Labour voters who are – in my view – seriously now shopping around for another party to vote for. It doesn’t matter how often Mr Blair promises to “think big”, if there is no delivery on the ground people just won’t trust him (or other politicians for that matter). Although, in Labour’s favour for just a moment, I did find 2 former LibDems who have swung back to Labour – because the LibDems are “too left wing”! I was also very pleased to be instantly recognised on the doorstep. “Yes, Mr Little, you’re my man,” he said before ordering me to get off his doorstep and start converting his neighbours!

Newsflash: Just opened my mail to find a letter from a lady in Lakenham blasting the LibDems for promising a pension hike. “Utter political nonsense” she says. Oh dear, looks like making big, uncosted promises isn’t as safe as it used to be!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I am feeling really tired and rather under the weather. Saw Iain Dale on TV this afternoon - most impressed - and was the forced out baby shopping again. Later we went leafleting in Cringleford - followed the Greens around by the looks of things - and since then I've come home to collapse. Apparently my mother has started production of a blanket. God help us.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I dread to think of the number of miles across the constituency I have done today. Last night Louise and I went out for dinner in Diss but (for reasons best left) we ended up at the Marsh Harrier on the A140! This morning was then an early start, co-ordinating a delivery network meeting. As part of our “timetable for action” we are delivering a copy of our timetable to ever house in the constituency – no mean task!

From the office two teams of canvassers went out – one off to the Unthank Road and the other (including me) to my old stomping ground in Town Close. I am amazed how many people still recognise me as a former Grove Avenue resident. I even stood for county council there in 2001 – and one gentleman reminded me a pledge I made then to tackle rat running! A couple of hours on the doorstep really cheered me up. I can remember canvassing it in 2001 and feeling quite depressed after it, but today it was really good. This area has been LibDem dominated for some years but by my calculations we are now second, running Labour really hard.

Straight from there back to Bowthorpe and then back into the City. A resident showed me around the new Riverside development and we spoke about some of the issues arising from people living so close to a nightspot centre. The flats really are marvellous – I love modern architecture and they’ve done an excellent job. Mainly occupied by young professionals I was surprised at what a good reception we got from them all. Two issues were most frequently raised – they were keen on Michael Howard’s pledge to lower tax when we can. Most people appreciate services come first but nearly all said they felt they paid too much tax for what we got back. Secondly was anti-social behaviour and particularly shouting, swearing and poor behaviour through the day as well as the night. Then, right on queue, as we watched out the window one young lad – egged on by two younger ladies – kicked a glass bottle that somebody had left in the street and the glass shattered across the road. Where, I was asked, were the police or security to pick up on this? What could I say?

Whilst at Riverside I was compelled to purchase lots of stuff for the new nursery! We then went on to a residential home in Lakenham where Louise and I had been invited to tea. The LibDems had apparently been around to declare their policy of an extra £25 a week on pensions. One rather astute lady said to me: “Madness, dear. They can promise what they like because they know they’ll never have to deliver.” Would that big hike not encourage them to vote LibDem, I asked: “Not a bit,” she replied, “it’s a bribe, and not even a bribe we’ll ever receive.”

Tomorrow approaches and I’m off to watch a film…

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I am just back from what felt like a really busy evening. I went straight from school to my Norwich office where leaflets to be delivered to every house in Norwich declaring our “timetable for action” had been delivered – brilliant timing as we managed to get going straight away around Mancroft ward. I then went from there to one City estate to meet local people about the problems that they face. The problems included anti-social behaviour, drugs and apathy towards education. However, their political dilemma shone through. They simply cannot remember the Conservatives winning in their area (although one of two older residents could remember having a Tory MP). This estate was solidly Labour but post-1997 they felt that even Labour ignored their concerns. Then came the LibDems – one lived around the corner, another in the next street. They were elected – finally – with big majorities and the feeling was that they were on the side of residents. Nothing changed – all talk from the Liberals and no delivery they said. So what now? A few toyed with UKIP from the right and Green from the left. If we are to stop the fringes of politics from expanding the two main parties need to address this void in political trust. I am pleased that at least Michael Howard has started. I spoke to the people and shared in their concerns. Unfortunately, I said, without being elected I could not help. Even if I was elected I may not be able to transform their lives straight away, but at least I would try. They seemed pleased just for my time – will they vote Conservative? I don’t know, but I’m just hoping they find faith enough in politics to vote at all.
As ever you can contact me on One lady from Earlham Road e-mailed to ask if there are to be any female candidates in Norwich at the next election. Norwich – and the Norwich Conservatives – have a good record of having female candidates at local level, but not so at national level. With men selected for both major parties, plus also for the smaller LibDem and Green Parties, will any women get selected? If you have a hunch or an answer please get in touch!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Well, now that the blogging seems to have got over its little "bug", I can update you on progress this week.

Monday was a bit of an experience. I spent much of the evening out canvassing a sheltered housing scheme in the City, and was given a really warm welcome. The warden was very supportive of what the Conservatives have been saying. The residents took their chance to take me to task on a lot of things! From the re-routing of buses through to the Tory policy of linking pensions with earnings! It is good to spend time - real time - doing this sort of thing because you can really get a grasp of "issues" - not the first thing that flies off your mind but the true political nitty gritty that may change how people vote. My agent may not like it - I spent 90 minutes with just 30 voters -but I view it as vital. In the new spirit of the Conservative Party I made just one promise (and I can keep this one) - win or lose I'll visit again after the election to talk more about their concerns.

Following that it was back to school for open evening for the new intake of year 7 & 8 pupils. I must admit to getting quite nervous (and not a little upset) because I don't feel ready to leave my year 11s and consider a new year group yet. Still, I smiled and did my bit. Put a lot of parent’s minds at rest with regards to High School transfer. Really nice that one parent who lived in Cringleford said she'd vote for me (after years of voting Labour), and even got an invite for tea!

Tuesday didn't get any less hectic - I took 11 of my finest to a charity 5-a-side competition at the Powerleague in Bowthorpe. They were by far the youngest in the competition but did really well. They were mature, calm and played like a dream, even though 3 of the best players in the year group were injured. We - supported by a lot of Dads! - saw the boys thrash the businesses of Norwich (*how many nil was that?!?) but we did crash against the semi-pro teams. Only after we faced a drubbing at the hands of a certain local large firm did one reveal that they played about three times a week! Well done boys, the whole school is proud of you.

Then onto today. School was manic - in the nicest possible way - and after school a really big team of us went out canvassing along one of the major routes into Norwich. We haven't been down there for some time, but it did look really good. Got a few more poster sites and even an offer to stuff envelops. Plenty of people who voted LibDem at local elections coming back to us for the general election. Resident of the day had to be the chap who - despite having ignored the doorbell - followed me down his enormous drive to shake my hand! Before telling me he just wanted to see the face of the man he wasn't going to vote for! Perhaps the good news was he is still switching from Labour to the Greens. Whilst we're on the Greens, they've apparently selected Cllr Holmes to fight Norwich North at the next election. Well done on your selection Adrian - plenty of scope for mistakes there, with another Adrian fighting Norwich South! Still, at least we know which Green will lose to James Tumbridge now! ;-)

Tomorrow, apart from the normal things, we are doing a leafleting session with the UEA Conservative Future and then I've been invited to go canvassing around one of the estates in the City. It'll certainly be different and I hope to get a lot out of it. We've got to start standing up for people in society abandoned by this Labour government and only by going and talking to them can we even start to put it right.

As for Howard's speech yesterday, just fantastic.

What will a Conservative MP mean for Norwich South?
School discipline, more police, cleaner hospitals, controlled immigration, lower tax.And accountability - an MP accountable to parliament and, more importantly, to the people that elected him.
It sounds from all of my sources in Bournemouth that the Conference is getting of to a flying start! Well, a drinking and eating one anyway! Iain Dale is sure to keep us posted, as is the new look Conservatives website. As for me, well, the delight of an OFSTED inspection is just one please to await me this week. Followed by the new intake Year 8 parents evening (scary thought, me ever being head of year 8), a tutors meetings, charity 5-a-side football match, canvassing in Eaton and the City and delivery teams out in Wensum and Nelson. Even have to make the trip to Diss sometime this week. Life is getting full – and Louise is getting bigger!
p.s. Am I the only one that thought Kilroy’s pathetic “let’s kill the Tories” soundbite might come back to bite him?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

A double dose of doorstepping today - firstly in Town Close and then onto Colney.

I began the day in the office to get an update on traffic plans in Norwich from Eve Collishaw and then spoke to a representative of the South Harford Pensioners enquiring about our new Conservative policy to link pensions with earnings, not inflation. After initially being very sceptical about the whole thing I really believe they were won around on the issue. The Conservatives are, after all, the natural home for the "grey vote".

We then went out onto the doorsteps of Town Close and got a really good reaction - from those who were in! Have pledged to go back to the same roads one evening this week to catch the outs. Very strong Tory support with issues ranging from education to inheritance tax! I also met loads of Green supporters, all of whom claim to have switched from the LibDems. The Greens really feel they can do well at both local and national level. I'm not sure myself, but most people say they prefer the Greens principled stands to the "cheap electioneering" of the LibDems - one voters words, not mine.

I then went back to Bowthorpe for lunch and onto Colney for a very wet afternoon session! Boy, I almost know how it feels to have a rural constituency. I love campainging in urban towns and cities but there is nothing better than going for a romp in the countryside and finding a Conservative behind every door. The people in Colney are so friendly - they all wanted to talk so we only completed half the village! You know a tight knit community when everybody mentions the same issues - work on the B1108 Watton Road and expansion around the new N&N. Had a long conversation with the Chairman of the Colney Parish Council and (don't tell my agent) even got to pop around Colney church for a look!

It's been a pretty good week in the media too! Wednesday saw me in the Evening News giving the council the rough end about the dreadful closure of Carrow Road Bridge on the previous Saturday (don't get me going) and today I am calling (once again) for the City Council to scrap the bus lane on the Newmarket Road and really give the motorist a break. As ever John Peacock - a senior Green Party activist and so-called public transport campaigner - disagreed with me. It strikes me that when we have a bus service worthy of the name that we can start looking again at Bus Lanes.

Not off to conference (will stick with my lovely Year 11's instead) but wish all those going a fantastic week!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

What a great start to the week! A full five period day (bit of a Christmas sing-a-long with Year 9) followed by a fantastic canvassing session in the City. We started off by visiting a sheltered housing scheme and got a really warm reception. We then headed off and did some door knocking down Eaton Road, the home of my former school CNS. Got quite a mixed reception – plenty of people are beginning to look at Blair again, but former LibDems mostly. A lot of good Conservatives and a few poster sites too! My team is really shaping up for this fight and even on Charles Clarke’s doorstep he’s fighting the LibDems for second place.

Funnily enough, one of his neighbours said that despite “claiming” to live in the road, Mr Clarke has never called! I’m really enjoying getting out and about – not to ask for votes but just to see what’s concerning people. Crime is definitely topping the poll, with transport making ground on it. I have to say that Iraq was mentioned only once (against the war) and hunting once (pro-hunting).

One man even asked if there was to be a Respect – The Unity Coalition (George Galloway) candidate. Anyone like to shed any light?

Yesterday I joined a team leafleting in Mancroft ward – the great thing about the City wards is that I always find new homes in the back streets and alleyways that impress me! I then went on to the first UEA Conservative Future dinner out, starting at the Union bar and moving into the City.
On my way there I met an old friend and union hack who, rather funnily, told me that he was having problems deciding on how to vote. He simply couldn’t vote Labour (who can?!?) but after having met the local LibDems he couldn’t vote for them either. As the anguish crossed his face he slowly admitted: “Maybe, just maybe…”

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The trouble these days is that everybody has to try and out-do everybody else!

Just as LibDem Watch find 10 good reasons not to vote LibDem, the News of the World has to go and find thirty!
Comment of the day from one lady, when I called on her yesterday in Thorpe Hamlet:

"My dear boy, if you're only going to be an MP, you'll never be able to afford my house."

How very true.
Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, but I thought I’d bring you up-to-date on the last week:

Monday: School Gov. meeting at Cringleford First & Middle
Tuesday: Canvassing along the Newmarket Road
Wednesday: Meeting to discuss future school provision in Bowthorpe
Thursday: Conservative City Group Meeting, making a speech on pensions and post offices
Friday: Leaflet trip to Town Close
Saturday: Canvassing in Thorpe Hamlet
Sunday: Now in the office trying to wade through survey results!

This afternoon has to be spent planning lessons and marking books, or there will be trouble tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I never did report back on the Easton by-election which was a fantastic result for local Conservatives. The seat borders Norwich South, so it gives all parties something to think about. Labour didn't even have a candidate, but the LibDems threw the kitchen sink at this one. Even saw my LibDem opponent there on polling day! It was a textbook campaign for the Conservatives and really showed what could be done - and a c.7% swing to us later, another Tory Councillor on South Norfolk District Council!

Full Result:
Margaret Dewsbury (Cons) 500 votes
LibDem 336 votes
Green 40 votes

Conservative hold, majority 164

Well Done to Margaret, Vince and the team!
Yesterday’s canvassing went really well – but surprised how long it took because people wanted to talk. Got more poster sites along the Newmarket Road and the whole team seemed to really enjoy it. I have to say that there is a great feeling to the whole campaign, which is surprising because there is normally a lull during the other parties conferences. The advantage to me in an area like that is people are watching the LibDem conference, not liking their policies and switching back to the Tories!

Apparently (!) “The Sun” even had a few choice things to say about the LibDems yesterday – I haven’t seen an attack on a Leader like that since Kinnock. Kennedy claims he’s pleased with the coverage – I’ll bet my hat he’s seething!

Great result last night – our first win of the season!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I wonder what has prompted Normo Lamb, the soon to be ex-MP for North Norfolk, to pin his colours to the masts and declare that they are going to win Norwich South and South Norfolk? He should concentrate on holding his own seat, rather than making silly predictions that means he'll have to eat his hat after polling day. For more fun, see Iain Dale's letter in the EDP!
Just when will South Norfolk District Council get their act together and work with residents around the showground to stop this from happening?
The last few days have been really hectic as the campaign on the ground gets running again. Friday was a very special day at school – the 200th anniversary of the Notre Dame Order and the 25th anniversary of the school as a comprehensive. We had a whole school celebration in the sports hall at which the former Headteacher of Notre Dame and John Pinnington, our current Head, addressed us. That was followed swiftly by a beer and scotch egg night out, not least at the Billy Bluelight pub on Hall Road.

Saturday meant getting up nice and early and we hit the ground going in Eaton following the selection of our county council candidate. We had a really good response, and I was surprised by the degree to which people are probing what the LibDems stand for. I met only one out-and-out Labour voter – on Chestnut Hill, off Church Lane – and a lot of people very angry at the decline of the public services / Iraq war / rising taxation / mistrust of Blair (* delete as appropriate). However I had many good discussions about the LibDems too and quite a few switchers back to us. Their concerns fell in three categories: those who believed them to be dangerous tax rising pro-crime lunatics, those who though they were just a bit crazy with policies such as free cod liver oil for all and those who thought they’d never win so it didn’t matter what they say. One gentleman on Abinger Way said he normally voted LibDem at local elections but realised that the only way to remove the Labour government is by voting for a Conservative MP. “Another powerless LibDem MP won’t do anything but prop up Labour.” I enjoyed his comment so I wrote it down!

Saturday night I donned my best Elvis suit and headed to Cringleford Church Hall for our President, Judith Virgo’s, xxth birthday bash. A fantastic party – Judith certainly knows how to do things properly! Must admit, woke up slightly worse for wear!

Sunday we were at another party – this time for Lisa Ivory, my Agents wife, who is off to India for 7 weeks with Norwich Union. The morning was spent going through surveys and despite my best efforts the evening spent sleeping rather than planning Monday’s lessons.

Monday morning, hence, was a manic plan-athon. Monday evening was spent at Cringleford First & Middle for a governors meeting and then (moving at lightening speed) into Norwich for a Conservative meeting at the new Campaign Centre.

Wow, not a moment to spare! Just waiting at school now ready to head off to the Newmarket Road for more door stepping. Roll on polling day!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Daily Telegraph had a wonderful editorial entitled "Lib Dem Utopia" which clearly exposed the gap between LibDem thinking and reality. I think that may have to be reused in the future! Here it is in full, with kind thanks to North Norfolk's Iain Dale.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The best comment recieved during our recent telephone canvassing in Eaton:

Q: What more can the government do to combat anti-social behaviour in Norwich?
A: Resign

I'd like to buy that man a pint ;-)
Press release I issued today:

Local campaigner backs increase in Specials

City Campaigner Antony Little has strongly back plans for the next Conservative Government to restore the number of Special Constables – which have dropped by 44 per cent under Labour – to at least 1997 levels, by paying them.

Antony, the Conservative parliamentary spokesman for Norwich South, has spent the summer months investigating ways of cutting crime and anti-social behaviour in the City. His recent "Norwich Survey 2004" showed that 81% of Norwich residents claim to have "never" seen a policeman on the beat in their area.

After a walkabout on Riverside with local Conservative Councillors and activists campaigning on the issue, Antony said:“Rather than gimmicks, Conservatives believe in paying the Specials. We will not only reward Special Constables for the valuable role they perform, but that may also help to boost their numbers to at least 20,000 over five years.

“We want to revitalise the Specials - not just by paying them but by allowing them to choose to be available for call out at short notice. At the moment too many regular police officers are diverted from their core duties to perform tasks Special Constables could do.

“Our proposals would bring the Special Constabulary in line with other reserve police forces across Europe and other reserve forces in the UK, such as the Territorial Army and Retained Firefighters.”

Antony has recently highlighted the rise in violent crime in Norwich, the fall in the clear up rate and the decline in the number of specials.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Good day at school today, plus had a great opportunity to catch up with an old UEA friend who has come to stay and look around to see if she really wants teaching as a career.

Have new updated personal profile on - plus lovely picture of me! Notice the party has a new campaigning website for the Hartlepool by-election. I do hope people see through the negative stunts and misleading barcharts and vote according to policies and candidates.

Interestingly the number of people who returned their Norwich Survey 2004 saying they'd vote according to candidate not party is large. I'm sure that can only do me good - I want my campaign to based on the doorstep, meeting people, listening to concerns and offering real solutions. No doubt my opponents - and we all know which party I mean - will want to debase this election into a silly tactical voting contest but I'm not sure the people of Norwich will fall for it. We want a local man to be our MP and be ready to stand up to a nanny state government that has failed us all.
Statistic of the day:

Where would you like to see more of your taxpayers money spent? (Note, respondants could give more than one answer)

Cutting Crime 47%
Education 35%
NHS 31%
Pensions / Senior Citizens 30%
Transport 29%
Defence 3%

Just a selection but interesting I thought - it really does support my theory that law & order and education will be the big two themes of this election (in which case, Labour and Charles Clarke don't stand a chance). In many ways you might have expected the top three (as they always poll the top in lists of voters concerns) but the next two interest me a lot - a real feeling that pensions are heading for crisis point and that transport is now neglected under Labour. I hope the Conservatives are ready to take both those policy bulls by the horn!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Just got time to settle down and blog after another hectic weekend. Friday was shockingly busy at school and Louise has not been well recently. We had some old school friends up to stay – my Best Man in fact – and took a tour of North West Norfolk, taking in Kings Lynn, Castle Rising and going up and down the coast. Fish ‘n’ Chips on a freezing cold beech (lovely) and then some ride on the seafront which almost caused them to make a re-appearance. Nice.

I spent the afternoon in the office sorting through the surveys that have been coming back in their hundreds. I am no longer surprised at the sheer number of new members and the offers of help we are getting – the feeling on the doorstep is good and that is being reflected in people’s willingness to get involved in the Conservative Party again.

A couple of nights ago we did an evening of telephone canvassing across Cringleford, where the Tory vote seems incredibly strong. One lady thanked me (and, as a politician, it isn’t often that happens) for my campaign to expose the true face of the LibDems. That’s fine, I said, I fully intend to carry on! I never think telephone canvassing is as good as knocking on doors (though much warmer on cold nights!) and to reinforce that, one gentleman said he’s only talk to me if I called on him. True to form the next night I went around to meet him. A lovely man, ex-RAF, who voted Labour in ’97 and ’01 but felt he was ready to come back to the Conservatives now!

Survey quotes of the day: (A new regular feature):

Question: What is the solution to anti-social behaviour?

“Zero tolerance policing – small crime leads of big crime” (Chester Place)

“Encourage better parenting” (Park Lane)

“Starts from cradle discipline then into schools” (Hellesdon Road)

“Greater financial penalties” (Mile End Road)

I’ll try to post a few each day to give you some idea about what people in Norwich think!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Well, that's another day at the chalkface over with - and a tiring one too. My period one going into period two is a mad dash across the school site (better keep fit than leafleting!) only to find that three quarters of my GCSE group weren't there! I am starting to get nervous quite early on about the number of lessons left and the coursework I haven't yet marked. Better go - have an assembly to write and then off to help in the Easton By-Election.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

When a friend text me to say that “RJ is now in the Shadow Cabinet”, I briefly thought that Michael Howard had finally come to his senses and appointed John Randall to his rightful place around the Shadow Cabinet table. However, it subsequently turns out to be John Redwood. I am actually quite pleased about this appointment – love him or loath him, Redwood is one of the strongest performers in the Commons and the Party and we do need his intellect and talent back on the frontbench. I can remember when he was Shadow Trade and Industry and what a fantastic job he did them. Slowly but surely the big beasts of the Tory Party are coming back, united under Michael Howard, ready for government.

Last nights Campaign Centre meeting was extremely positive – lots of people ready to go! Surveys coming in at an incredible rate – literally thousands returned so we’re taking a while to process them. The general feedback is that crime tops the concern list followed by education. Those will be the big campaign themes I suspect, rather than the ridiculous nonsense being pumped out by Labour (a prize for anybody who finds a Labour leaflet in Norwich South at the moment) and the Greens who are off on another anti-road bash by campaigning against the dualling of the A11. Still, let them be.

School today was pretty tiring too – Prince Edward was visiting today. Did I get to meet him??? Don’t start me on that one! All my classes seem really nice – have a huge GCSE set too. ‘A’ Level pupils show a lot of promise too. I like life at the moment!

Monday, September 06, 2004

The best news of the day is the new Tory plans on education after the party revealed where it is going to make £1.1bn of savings to redirect into the frontline of education.

The proposals – to streamline inspection processes, slim down the LEAs and cut staff at the Department for Education and Skills – would provide an extra £158 per pupil to be spent at the chalkface.

Seven quangos face the chop, in a “cull on bureaucracy” to provide for better teaching and learning.

These proposals will remove vast swathes of unnecessary government control over education spending here in Norwich, and put large sums of extra cash in the front line where it belongs, to be spent by Head teachers and professionals on the things that matter to schools.

It is essential that more money should go to front-line schools to help teachers, and less on paying for bureaucrats who simply harass us.

There can also be little doubt that few of my teaching colleagues will miss the quangos, bureaucracies and paper-shuffling empires which we will sweep away as part of these changes!
Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while – we spent last weekend at a friends wedding in Cley-next-the-Sea in North Norfolk (actually it was former PPC for Norwich South Andrew French’s wedding) and the start of school has been typically hectic. I find it amazing just how long it can take to get back into the swing of teaching – the other day I found myself utterly speechless (now, that is amazing!) in front of 25 year 7 pupils simply because they were staring back expecting me to say something profound. Still, new office sorted and now tings are back on an even keel.

The campaigning continues and we had surveys go out to 20,000 residents of Norwich last week – covering areas from Eaton and Earlham to Lower Hellesden, Thorpe Hamlet and Tuckswood. We’re starting to get the results back in and it looks like a fantastic response! A colleague at work told me today how unusual it was for a politician to actually ask the views of the electorate and she would reply. Another teacher – not ay my school – said that the questions were really spot-on about what matters to local people. I love that kind of feedback! From the first batch we’ve got loads of new members and poster sites so it looks good. In total in the last year I’ve now personally written to around 40,000 people – that’s half of the population of Norwich South!

Also on the agenda last week was the launch of the new Norwich South Conservatives Webshop (great deals for all!) and a new recruitment drive.

The week ahead holds a lot of teaching, plus I’m addressing the Norwich Conservatives Campaign Group tomorrow, have a regional press meeting on Wednesday, out canvassing on Thursday and then friends to stay for the weekend. My cousin is being christened on Sunday in Essex so it’s all go!
Norwich’s “Compensation culture” takes centre stage for Conservatives

A new Conservative campaign group in Norwich is set to tackle the problem of the City’s “compensation culture”. The group – made up of representatives from around the City – will tomorrow hear up-to-date figures about the amount that compensation claims are costing taxpayers in Norwich.

Many people now sue the council for personal injuries such as trips and falls on council land, but the “compensation culture” now heaps the pressure on council taxpayers and detracts from those making genuine claims of negligence.

I recently e-mailed Council Leader Ian Couzens to warn, “People target the council because they believe it is a soft touch”. Continuing, “I have grave concerns about what this might mean for the running of a local authority”.

Figures released by the council show that the council spends £106,000 a year on public liability insurance but also paid out £166,000 because they are still liable for an excess – with 60% of the claims being made for trips and falls on council land.

The scale of the compensation culture in Norwich is now costing each household in Norwich dearly on their council tax. We need to defend the rights of those who have genuine claims but clamp down on those who sue the council to make money.

Conservatives will suggest a dual policy to cover Environmental improvement and to reduce compensation payouts. We will pay for specialists to go around Norwich to look at areas where claims might arise and put things right before claims can be made. That means straightening pavements, sorting footpaths and repairing damaged playgrounds.

The LibDems must start to get a grip on power and sort these issues out now before they get totally out of hand.

Our policy will both improve our environment and still save money for council tax payers in Norwich.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I don’t want to get too obsessed with polls but the latest opinion poll for Norwich South is:

Clarke (New Labour All In Favour Of Tuition Fees) – 36% (down AGAIN)
Little (Norwich Conservatives) – 26% (up AGAIN)
LibDems – 24% (down AGAIN)
Greens – 11%

Using the 2001 turnout as a guide figure, that puts Clarke’s majority at a slender 3,800 and an election that is all to play for!
I am officially taking the weekend off from blogging because we have old university friends up to stay, but I could not let this new policy from the LibDems go past without comment. I just don't have time to go into what's wrong with their proposals to raise the crime age and get education and social services to deal with the vast majority of youth offenders under the age of 14 - but I would love to be a fly on the wall of the LEA and social services offices when that one lands on their desk! And the LibDems have the cheek to wonder why people think they are soft on crime. In the week that the Conservatives announced a return to a "respect culture" and a severe clampdown on anti-social behaviour (including fly tipping, grafitti and littering), people can really see the difference between the two parties. I have really focused on crime and anti-social behaviour since being selected for Norwich South - and one notable local Lib Dem this week accussed me of scare mongering. I think the only thing we need be scared about is a Lib Dem MP in this area and their so-called "law and order" policies.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I’ve really been enjoying the last week of the holidays. Whilst Louise continues in her quest to provide the perfect learning environment (?!?) yesterday I went out again in the City Centre delivering my latest edition of “Norwich Matters”. Got an amazing response from the August edition around the constituency – new members in Thorpe Hamlet, Lakenham, New Costessey, Mancroft, Cringleford and Bowthorpe! Really shows the enthusiasm for the Conservatives is well on the way back. Whilst out on Bull Close Road I met Green Councillor Bob Gledhill. Bob is a very rare Green politician (as well as being a former Geography teacher, I think) - utterly likeable, normal but still dedicated. Whilst some of the Greens (like all parties, I suppose) have people who are slightly fanatical and a bit scary, Bob is a really down-to-earth guy and I was impressed when he came to talk to my Year 10’s recently. It seems like the Greens are quite heavily targeting Mancroft Ward – it’ll make a really interesting fight next year, with Labour holding the County seat, the LibDems the City seats and both now the Greens and Conservatives targeting it.

Last night was the AGM of the Norfolk and Suffolk Conservatives, held in Diss. I was extremely bored during the formal part, but the guest speaker was excellent. John Gummer is one of our local Conservative MPs and an extremely experienced former government minister. His speech on localism and the route that the Tories need to get back to power was really hard hitting. Good for a local meet up and chat.

Today was mainly spent in the office getting things sorted for a major survey that we’re launching next week!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Completely ignore the blog below – nothing, of course, works out the way it should! The more time limited I seem to be, the less chance there is of things happening! When I got into Louise’s school on Monday morning, she promised me that she wouldn’t have much stuff to move. I have seen people relocate was less gear than she took. In fact, how it all fitted in her store cupboard in the first place (or how it fitted in my tiny Fiesta subsequently) was amazing. Over then to the new school and the new classroom - where all of the furniture (and I mean, all) was stacked in one corner. Following Louise’s standard cry of “not in my condition” I have to lug the whole lot around. Finally, now trying to get over to meet a group of deliverers in Town Close when I get a call from one of our activists in Lakenham – she’s about to do her delivery round in sheltered housing and would I like to come? Of course, I say, and half an hour and three dozen handshakes later… I must admit that I did enjoy it, even at a moments notice. Finally over to Grove Walk, Town Close, just in time for it to rain and for me to pick up Louise. Back we go and I finally get back to help finish the leafleting in Wensum Ward. Phew!

Then there was today … car went in for a service at Busseys, Whiffler Road, and thinking it should only take a few hours I head off into the City. Firstly was yesterday’s postponed meet with the Town Close Campaigners and a walk around Langham Place and leafleting around the Southwell Road area. Then, in the rain and failing to hear anything about the car, I go off to the City for a spot of lunch, canvassing and leafleting. A full six hours later my car is ready and my legs about to fall off. Particular killers are those flats!

Amusing story, I was caught by one middle aged man putting my leaflet through his door. He snatched it out of my hand and then looked slightly embarrassed when he saw me on the front! Not to be deterred, he then went into a big rant about how the LibDems were ruining the City and that I should be ashamed. Funny you should say that, Sir, I began… If I have to take abuse for the LibDems I hope I can take their votes too! Judging by the response I got on the doorsteps yesterday and today that looks like a pretty good bet.
Result of the last two days? Haven’t managed to be in a single place at the right time and loved every moment of it.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I feel absolutely shattered today - double dose of Sunday leafletting, firstly in my home ward of Bowthorpe and then over to Lower Hellesden and finishing off in Town Close. The really good thing about my helping other wards with their delivery is that I get to see parts of the constituency up-close that I wouldn't otherwise do. There is so much going on in the constituency at the moment it's almost hard to keep up! People seem really bouyed by the polls that have come back on our surveys!

Back in the "homestead" the preparations for going back to school are in full flow - my wife is teaching a Year 1 class next year and I have the joy of reverting back to teaching full time History, so there's much preparation to do. Tomorrow, whilst Louise carries the teaching torch forward, I'm over in Town Close for leafletting in the morning and then canvassing in the City Centre in the afternoon.
Further to my post, below, about opinion polls, here is an extract from this week's FT - whose MORI poll (again, no friend to the Conservatives) shows yet more bad news for the LibDems. Charlie Kennedy this week said is party wasn't going in for unsustainable claims, yet his MPs are predicting he'll be PM within a decade. Errr....

The Liberal Democrats have failed to make significant political gains from their opposition to the Iraq war despite foreign affairs topping the public's list of concerns, a poll for the Financial Times suggests. The Mori survey offers little evidence to sustain Lib Dem claims that the party is set to break Labour and the Tories' traditional stranglehold on domestic politics, opening the way for a genuine three-party contest in next year's general election.

The poll conducted between August 12 and 16 puts the Lib Dems on 21 per cent of those certain to vote, markedly trailing the 32 and 36 per cent backing the Tories and Labour. Charles Kennedy, party leader, this week claimed his party was “without any shadow of doubt” in a much stronger position than at any time in his experience. But the Lib Dems' 21 per cent rating is only two points higher than its share of the vote in the 2001 general election.

The rating also suggests the party's opinion poll bounce from last month's Leicester South by-election victory has already evaporated. The 21 per cent rating is a three-point fall on last month. The proportion of people satisfied with the way Mr Kennedy is doing his job has also dropped, down from 44 to 39 per cent.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Tomorrow I am launching the Norwich branch of the national Conservative Survey on Disability. If you would like to recieve a copy of the survey or have any issues to raise before the deadline of 30th September, please get in touch:

Antony Little, 4 Constitution Hill, Norwich, NR3 4BU
Tel / Fax: 01603 482830

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I am spearheading calls for Norwich City Council and the Norfolk Constabulary to get tough on binge drinkers and declare parts of Norwich as a “controlled drinking zone.”

The plans, drawn up by the Norwich Conservatives, would see the zones as part of a crackdown on drunkenness and anti-social behaviour just as Norwich City Council seems set to give the City a 24 hour drinks licence.

Norwich City Council are on the verge of introducing 24-hour licensing as one way of stopping rowdy behaviour in City hotspots such as the Prince of Wales Road and Riverside. The plans that we are announcing today would clamp down on the kind of behaviour that puts people off going out socially in these areas.

The “zones” would be agreed by the City Council and the Norfolk Police, but would almost certainly include Riverside, the Prince of Wales Road and the area around Gentleman’s Walk – but they might also included open spaces where under aged drinking is a problem.

These areas have suffered higher crime in the past relating to drunkenness, anti-social behaviour, vandalism and graffiti,” said Antony. “Police officers and police community support officers can ask anyone drinking in the street or a park to hand over their cans, bottle or glass. Those who refused face a fixed penalty notice and the possibility of arrest.

We would also like to see Community Wardens and other park officials have these powers too.

Drinking is not banned in the zones. The aim is to curb rowdy behaviour that spoils other people’s enjoyments, especially during weekends and evenings.”
I ask Norwich City Council and the Norfolk Police to take seriously the request of so many local people to clamp down on rowdy behaviour in our City. I will do all I can to support and push these measures.
The editor of a new blog - UKFuture - e-mails me to say that we are now linked. And so we are. This blog appears to also concentrate some of its fire on the poor, old LibDems who I thought came out of Newsnight rather badly. Oh dear!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

There is a fascinating poll in today's Guardian which bears out a lot of what I have been experiencing on the doorsteps lately. Despite a LibDem campaign that has put Iraq at the centre, voters put that issue at the bottom of their priority list. People say to me that Iraq has damaged their faith in Blair and the Labour Government, but still issues such as education, the NHS and crime will decide how they vote - hence the ICM poll puts NHS top with 59%, the education on 42% and law & order on 35%. Maybe, in seats like Norwich South where it is the Conservatives who are challenging Labour, the LibDems may live to regret their "Iraq, Iraq, Iraq" strategy. The ICM poll - notoriously the worst of the major polls for the Tories - puts Labour on 36%, Conservatives 33% and LibDems down again on 22%.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I welcome proposed new laws by Conservatives to give local people the final say over the location of mobile phone masts. Representing the biggest changes in planning regulations since the 1984 Telecommunications Act, Conservatives would ensure all masts require full planning permission, that health concerns are taken into account and visual intrusion is reduced.

The policies come amid warnings that under 3G technology, there could be an estimated 100,000 more masts being sited across the country, in addition to new ‘Tetra’ and Network Rail masts. This policy could have stopped controversial Masts in places like the Bowthorpe Park, the Ipswich Road and in Eaton.

The erection of poorly-located masts has been causing considerable disquiet across many parts of Norwich. There is a presumption in favour of development inherent in the current planning system, which overrides local, environmental and safety concerns.

Under the new five point plan unveiled by Conservatives:
1. All mobile phone mast developments would require full planning permission, so that local councillors are clearly accountable and answerable for where masts are located.
2. There would be a single process for deciding all masts, including those on Network Rail or church property, Tetra masts, as well as small antennas being covertly installed in street furniture or signs.
3. Councils would be allowed to take health concerns into account such as near homes, hospitals and schools. Current national planning guidance prohibits this.
4. Mast operators would be required to demonstrate that any development does not result in unacceptable damage to visual amenity or harm environmentally sensitive features.
5. Councils would be asked to draw up their own supplementary planning guidance to ensure consistency and clarity for operators and residents, and ensure a plan-led approach to future development.

We all want to be able to use a mobile phone, but this doesn’t mean masts should be constructed without any regard for the well-being of local people. Conservatives will champion the interests of local residents and address the feelings of powerlessness and frustration experienced by those living under the threat of badly sited masts. Local councillors, answerable to local residents via the ballot box, should have the final say on the best location for any new masts.

If we had this new Conservatives then maybe the LibDems would have the guts to vote against more and more mobile phone masts instead of continually breaking their word and supporting them.
Antony Little unveils new City policy first on his weblog

The Conservatives say they would let car drivers use bus lanes as long as they are carrying adult passengers - and I think that City Hall would do well to test the idea on the Newmarket Road.

We want to allow vehicles to use the lanes if they contain up to two adults, but children would not be included in the scheme. The sheme could boost car sharing, without clogging the roads with the school-run.

It is one of a number of proposed measures which the Conservatives nationally say will help drivers deal with everyday traffic irritations.

Sunderland council has already opened up bus lanes to taxis, lorries and cyclists as part of a trial system, and now we want Norwich to get on-board with this congestion cutting initiative and take it further. There is a much underused bus lane on the Newmarket Road which would make an ideal trial scheme - if it works, we could roll it out elsewhere. This could be an imaginative scheme to cut congestion without resorting to the congestion charge of Labour and the LibDems."

There are a lot of people that use the Newmarket Road in and out of the City and it tends to be drivers on their own. Car-sharing has been trialled by councils such as Leeds and they use cameras to check up on drivers. I think Norwich City Council could do worse than run a trial system. It could be the answer to our City's congestion.
Back from my weekend visits to find rather a lot of e-mails and mail to go through – plus surveys from Cringleford, Colney and New Costessey still coming in, which is why I haven’t posted the results yet!

Spent much of the afternoon getting the house in order and then went into my constituency office to work on leaflets and press releases. Got a phone call from a gentleman who lives in Town Close to say that he had seen my letter about LibDem hypocrisy in the Evening News on Saturday and that had convinced him not to vote for them again. Everything seems to be in order – only a week and a half of the holidays to go, can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly.

Oh, and here’s a rather funny story from the world of the LibDems … wonder if the Norwich variety may follow suit?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

At the tender age of just 25 (ahhh!) I must be amongst the youngest parliamentary spokesman in the country, so here is the compulsory link for Conservative Future, the youth section of the party of which I am a member.
I am not sure if this is a good thing or not. Either way, Boris is welcome in Norwich South anyday...
It's been a while since my last post, but I have been away for a few days with my parents in Hillingdon. Good opportunity to catch up and have a drink to celebrate our recent good news - my wife and I are expecting our first baby next February. Needless to say we have two very excited mothers (first grandchild on both sides of the family). The excitement of the mothers doesn't even compare to the joy of the parents (and Daddy in particular!). Such good news, and hopefully just before the general election too. Don't even start us on names - most favoured so far are Michael or Howard for a boy and Margaret or a girl (!) I won't say anymore as I now know that my family monitor this site closely! Back in Norwich on Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Police stations are vanishing while crime increases: spot the problem

New figures from the Home Office show that 227 police stations have closed since May 1997, representing three closures for every month that Labour has been in power.

Rural areas have been hit hardest by the closure programme as services have been centralised in urban areas.

Essex has lost 59, Gloucestershire 23, Nottinghamshire 22, Hampshire 20 and Cumbria 10. Other areas which have seen double-figure closures include Greater Manchester (15), Gwent (10), Lancashire (13), South Wales (22), and South Yorkshire (12).

Police spokesmen argue that the cost of maintaining old and ill-equipped buildings justifies closures. In London and other major cities, police stations may be sold to property developers in order to boost funds.

The closure figures have emerged at a time when crime figures are increasing. Government ministers say the British Crime Survey points to a decline in crime – but the Survey excludes around 12 million crimes a year from its calculations, ranging from murder to shoplifting.

Although smaller police stations have been closing for a number of years, these latest figures highlight the difference between Labour’s talking about crime and what happens in reality.

On television, Government ministers tell us they are spending more on policing. In practice, violent crime is soaring and the public feels let down by Labour’s record.

As Michael Howard has stated in his speech about fighting crime and restoring respect, we need a new start in policing with more officers on the streets, less paperwork and bureaucracy and an emphasis on results, not targets.

In his speech on Tuesday, Mr Howard quoted Sir Robert Peel, the founder of Britain’s police force, who said, “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder – not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it”.

But in instances of domestic burglary or violent crime, said Mr Howard, “David Blunkett’s ‘Policing Performance Assessment Framework’ requires the police to ‘measure the victims’ satisfaction with the overall level of service provided’.

“What the victims of burglary and violent crime want is to see the criminal who caused the crime caught, convicted and punished.”

He added, “We need to police our streets, not de-police them. We need a police force which intervenes, confronts and challenges every kind of crime and disorder… in short, we need zero-tolerance policing.”
Just come back after a gorgeous curry at “A Passage to India”, on Magdalen Street, and feel the need to lie down. Spent most of today in the Conservative Office and in meetings with Councillor Eve Collishaw, our Leader on Norwich City Council. Combined with a visit from some of Louise’s family, it’s been a busy day.

Yesterday I went to campaign with the South Norfolk Conservatives at a district by-election for the Easton Ward. Great reception on the doorstep, and particularly plenty of enthusiasm for Michael Howard. Not very much support at all for the LibDems, contrary to their national literature. Not even I hope they do as badly as they did in this recent by-election!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Michael Howard's speech today on law & order, putting it firmly back on the political agenda. Crime, and the fear of crime, is a massive issue on the doorstep - as suggested by the returns on our surveys in Cringleford, Colney and New Costessey - and it is good that the Conservatives are making headway here. For anybody who doubts Michael Howards's sincerity on this issue, or for those who believe that we would not be tough on crime, please click here to read the speech in full. It's time for zero tolerance - a return to respect and cutting crime.
Council Dossier Row Engulfs LibDems

LibDem hypocrisy exposed: “They’ll blame anybody but themselves,” say Norwich Conservatives

The LibDem criticism of County Council Leader Alison King’s council dossier has backfired after the Norwich Conservatives revealed that the Lib Dem run Norwich City Council had too blamed the government for dumping legislation on them without adequate funding.

Alison King had put together 135 government acts in dossier to prove to a constituent the pressure being put on Norfolk by the Labour government. However, LibDem Leader Barbara Hacker once again chose to side with Labour and accused Cllr King of using a “pretty lame” excuse for the Conservatives’ running of the County Council and said that the council was more responsible for tax hikes than the government.

However, in the March edition of the LibDem leaflet “Lakenham Focus”, then-Councillor Linda Harper also attacked Labour for putting more and more legislation on councils. Under the front page headline “Government Dumps more onto councils”, Focus reports that Cllr Harper is “highlighting that the Labour Government has dumped more things for the council to do – but makes you pick up the bill through higher council tax.”

Norwich Conservative’s Parliamentary Spokesman Antony Little blasted the LibDems for their “blatant hypocrisy” whilst campaigning with the South Norfolk Conservatives at the Easton By-Election.

Antony commented: “County LibDems love to blame the council, not the government, whilst City LibDems love to blame the government, not the council. This shows the blatant hypocrisy in the LibDem position.”

“They love to blame anybody but themselves. If Cllr Hacker is right, then the LibDems should take the blame for City council tax hikes. However, it is clear that the Conservatives in Norfolk have got it right, and it is at least decent of the Norwich LibDems to agree with them.”

“Or is this another example of how Norfolk LibDems never agree with the Norwich LibDems? Two messages for two different groups of people. It is especially strange as Cllr hacker represents Thorpe Hamlet – a ward in Norwich City!”

Antony’s stinging attack on the LibDem position went on: “It is almost as if they make it up as they go along. Not quite sure what to say, but trying to please everybody. The LibDems made a hash of being in power in Norfolk and now once again they’re backing Labour to try and defend the government. It is becoming ever more clear that when the LibDems are trusted with power they don’t know how to behave.”

“Norwich market, community wardens, Magdalen Street flyover, chaos in the snow and now Council Tax. The LibDems love to stick their fingers in their ears, shift blame and hope nobody noticed. We’ve noticed and we’ll campaign day-in-day out to make sure the residents of Norfolk and Norwich know.”

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Lazy Sunday afternoon… after a bit of a lie in (following, sadly, one-too-many at the Garden House last night), the day has rather been dominated by my eating scrambled eggs in the garden and generally sitting around. Going for a long walk over Bowthorpe Southern Park later and who knows, maybe even a BBQ later. This is what summer holidays are for…

Saturday, August 07, 2004

My blogging fame now extends to Conservative Commentry - staple blogging diet of the party and much noted intellectual powerhouse. Thanks guys!
Why do LibDems never say they’re sorry?

I had a very interesting telephone conversation with an old school friend today and, as it tends to, the conversation turns to politics and in particular the recent London Mayoral Elections. My friend, who is a small-c-conservative, is one of a faithful band that I can rely on from my old sixth form class to always vote for the blues. Imagine my surprise she declared that she had voted for Simon Hughes, the failed Lib Dem candidate, and felt very angry because of it. Well, I said, I’d feel angry if I’d voted for Hughes too (unlikely that I would ever do so, as a Norwich resident I don’t actually have a vote in the London Mayoral Elections). However, my friend falls into a big category of people that always vote but pay very little attention to what is going on in politics. She told me that she had received Lib Dem leaflets bearing the slogan: “Only Simon Hughes can beat Ken Livingstone” (or similar, we all know them!) and had believed it. She really wanted Ken out of power and so would vote for anybody who stood the faintest hope of unseating him. Fooled by the LibDem hype (which they try in every election - ever), she duly voted for the man she thought would oust Ken. Then the result came in – Conservative Steve Norris runs second to Ken in a close contest, with Simon Hughes miles behind in third place. My friend was furious that she was tricked and should have voted for Norris. How many more people, she asked, fell for this “con trick” (her words)? The result in London gave away the LibDem lie that they are always best placed to beat Labour. Having only now bothered to check previous results which showed the LibDems always get crushed in London, my friend telephoned LibDem HQ to demand an apology – only be told that Simon Hughes was the only man to beat Ken … if only the voters had voted the way they should have. The moral, I said, was never to believe the LibDems when they claim to be the “only party to beat Labour” or “it’s so close”, because in elections anything could happen - it's down t the voters. In fact, I said, always vote according to what you believe. Just out of interest, did they say sorry, I asked? Don’t hold your breath…
Great news - we now have a third blogging Conservative parliamentary candidate in Kingston's Kevin Davis. It looks like he's doing a great job in holding a Lib Dem MP to account - so good, even LibDem Watch covers him! I have a personal interest in watching Kevin become the next MP for Kingston & Surbiton because my wife hails from New Malden, in the neighbouring Richmond Park constituency, so I know all about the lunacy of the LibDems in that part of London. Good luck Kevin!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

There seems to be a real perception at the moment that all politicians are the same and there is no difference between the two major parties. This view is supported when one week the Conservatives announce massive cutbacks in the Civil Service and then the next week the Labour government adopts the idea as policy.

However, beyond the headlines the real dividing lines between the parties are not noticed. Labour talks a Conservative talk, but can't walk the walk.

In the same week that Chancellor Brown announced the cutting of 100,000 civil service jobs, the government advertised for a further 1,000 public sector jobs - with a wage bill totaling £36m. Various positions, with wonderful job titles attached, that betray Labour's true feelings. They talk about cutting the bureaucracy, whilst continuing to let it grow.

The funniest and, at the same time the saddest, element of this fraud is that people are being hired to add to the numbers in a quango that the Government recently announced it was abolishing. Adding staff to quangos that do exist is bad enough; adding staff to quangos that don't exist is the ultimate sign of a government that has totally lost touch.

People may see the two parties as being similar but you have to look beyond the headlines. Labour believes in big government, the Conservatives believe in small government.
As research reveals a massive hole in the Norfolk Police Budget:


"Will the £7.8m black hole in police funds for next year land on council tax payers", asks Norwich Conservatives Parliamentary Spokesman Antony Little as new research again reveals how the government is failing to be tough on crime.

Some police authorities are so short of cash that cuts in manpower and service levels are in prospects, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has warned.

Responding to this news, Norwich resident Antony Little said: “Police authorities increasingly find their hands tied behind their backs by Labour’s centralising approach to policing. Police forces have every right to feel aggrieved at the lack of local control as they are held to ransom by a government that tells them how to spend their money and forces them to spend time on form filling and gimmicks and not on meeting local priorities and needs. We see it in the NHS and education and now we see it in the police service too.”

“Reports of funding problems and cutbacks in police forces across the country come as a double whammy for the public who have already paid for their police through the council tax. This news means one of two things - poorer standards of policing or a massive hike in the police precept on our council tax.”

Promising that an incoming Conservative government would fund an extra 40,000 police officers to tackle crime, the Antony added: “It is this type of commitment which is needed from the Government. Sadly they have refused to match it. Labour’s failure comes at a time when Tony Blair’s promise to be tough on crime seems increasingly hollow. Seven years of failed rhetoric have lead to crime soaring, with more than a million violent crimes last year alone.”

The survey found that Norfolk will be £7.8 million under funded.

"Think back to the last week's news", Antony declared. "The N&N is £15m in debt, there are to be up to 100 teachers laid off in Norfolk and now the police are struggling with a £7.8m black hole funding crisis."

"Labour cannot be trusted with our public services."

Check out Iain Dale's blog for another Conservative view on the crisis.