Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NO SHOCK: Government win vote on Iraq

I don't know why everyone gets so excited about the govenrment losing votes. Today's opposition day motion on Iraq, tabled by the Nationalists, was a classic example. First it wins LibDem support then also the Conservatives. Then a few typical Labour rebels play up. Then the bloggers go bananas saying Labour will lose and then the media pick up on it. Everybody goes over the top and ... hey presto a small but workable government majority of 25.

I knew Labour would win this one ... the perenial rebels have isolated themselves and the middle ranking trouble makers haven't got the guts to rebel when they should do. And do remember that there are still hundreds of clones on the Labour side ready to do Blair and Brown's bidding.

So next time you hear the inevitable phrase "government set to lose" ... just calm down and think it'll never happen. Not because of the Labour whips, but because the hearts of Labour MPs aren't in ousting Blair (yet).

Now Hereward Cooke thinks he's an MP

A while ago a LibDem activist told me that he thought that then-Deputy Leader Cllr Hereward Cooke may have bene losing it a bit. The now-Leader of the Opposition thinks he is an MP ... well, given some comments from tonight's council meeting anyway. Take a look...

"This motion bought before the House" - for House, read Council Chamber


"What is written down here on the order paper" - for order paper, read council agenda

A few of us in that council want to be MPs, but pretending you are is going a bit far!

p.s. Interesting that outgoing LibDem Leader Ian Couzens insisted on speaking to nearly every debate as well as incoming Leader Hereward Cooke. Whilst the real Deputy Leader Brian Watkins said nothing. Does Couzens think he's made a mistake?

Great Council

Last night I went to a residents meeting and to a Conservative Campaign Group. Tonight was full council - it was great! However I am now official shattered so will give you all the gossip tomorrow!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Town Close Survey Results

During the last few weeks we distributed personalised surveys to local people in Town Close. We enclosed freepost envelopes and the return rate was well over 25% - not bad for a party political survey. Here are the results (more or less) in full.

Take careful note of the voting intentions - as this survey was sent to people of all political sorts and none. All figures are percentages.

How would you vote in an election tomorrow?
Green Party 30
Conservative 27
Liberal Democrat 22
Labour 21

Are you in favour of Norwich going Unitary?
Yes 20
No 35
Don't Known 45

Are you satified with the state of your local park?
Yes 20
No 80

Do you think that council tax is...
Too High 72
Too Low 1
About Right 27

What should happen to the junction at the corner of Brazengate and Grove Road?
The no-entry sign should be abolished 45
The no-entry sign should be strongly enforced by the police 36
Don't Know 19

Are you concerned about parking in your area?
Yes 37
No 45

Would you like to see your area become a 20mph zone?
Yes 49
No 36

What is your view of the bus service in Norwich?
Good 26
Poor 26
(The rest do not regularly travel by bus)

Where are the local litter hotspots?
These all appeared several times: Tesco Express (Grove Road), Lakenham Way, Brazengate, Trafford Road, Unthank Road

Do you support a twin bin system for Norwich with waste one week and recycling the next?
Yes 10
No 81

I will let you decide which of those are worthy of note, but keep in mind that roughly two thirds of respondants would vote for a left-wing party and less than 30% are out-and-out Conservatives so you cannot say that the response group is biased.

I think the council should note the numbers of people not informed about unitary as a priority (we shall see if this is matched in other areas).

What do you think?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Beer and Politics

My day has been in three very distinct parts today. Firstly I was made to clear out the room which is to become the nursery (again). I did it, with only a minimum of whinging. Then I went off for a couple of hours to a Group Leaders Meeting at City Hall. All very interesting but highly confidential. All I can say is that Adrian Ramsay and I sat in the wrong room for a quater of an hour like a pair of plums - typical City Hall plot! Then when all the serious stuff was over I met up with friends and we went off to the Norwich Beer Festival to enjoy some of the cultural offerings! Crawled home some time later ... although a few people wanted to extend the drinking (much braver than me and with fewer small children). The Beer Festival is one of the best thing about Norwich and is a time when everybody comes together. They should have been proud of their efforts this year.

Those quotas in full

Instead of putting quotas on the religion of pupils in schools, why don't we have a quota on Labour Education Secretaries who are good at their jobs?

Well, actually, a single one would do!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

People are too quick to attack Osbourne

George Osbourne already has one of the hardest jobs in Westminster - being Shadow Chancellor. But to do so when you are young, posh and best mates with Cameron must make it worse. So every utterance of the Shadow Chancellor is analysed and he is being torn to pieces by a press determined to prove that the young turk cannot take on Brown and win.

However the most recent episode - an apparent rebuke for using an F-word about Brown in the Commons isn't what it seems. Whilst the pres sbang on about a lack of judgement etc. I wonder if they bothered to look at this in context.

Osbourne was quoting the Pensions Sevretary John Hutton who had said that Brown would make "an effing awful Prime Minister." Such division is good play for the opposition.

Speaker Martin was right to ask Osbourne to apologise - and, by the way, his apology was excellent ("I withdraw the quote from the Work and Pensions Secretary") - but the press are wrong to persue Osbourne in this way.

Osbourne is a very intelligent guy who is doing a fine job as Shadow Chancellor. I think the media always like to pull down a winner, perhaps?

39-31-16 - vital statistics

I love opinion polls (it's the teacher in me...) and tonight Sky is reporting that YouGov have Cameron on 39%, Labour on 31% and dear old Sir Ming down there on 16%.

That puts Yarmouth and Norwich North into the blue column still but does at least give Charlie a majority of 970 over the Conservatives, according to the Baxter site.

He's still in our sights...

And to think that we pay Bob's wages

Bob Russell is the Member of Parliament for Colchester and has a reputation for being clever and a decent constituency MP. So why does he get involved in stupid things like this?

Bob got upset when a Downing Street briefing referred to the "black market". Bob believes this, like persumably any phrase with the word "black" in it, is racist and tried to make political capital out of slamming No.10.

Bob thinks we should call it the "grey market" - although apparently senior citizens groups are outraged at the LibDem MPs suggestion. Can't think why...

I don't like the PC culture but have to admit that it has benefited the country in many ways. The good work of the PC culture is being drowned out by this nonsense. And to think, we mere taxpayers forked out for Bob's time to make such a silly complain.

Last Day of Half Term

...is tomorrow and to celebrate I am going to a Group Leader's Meeting whilst Emily has her jab at the Lakenham Surgery! I have been very busy with a number of constituency issues this week, in particular the case of the play equipment on Toftes Place and the parking issues that continue in Three Score. I will be in a position to sort through the last of the surveys this weekend and should have some scores on the doors for you early next week. I am also quite worried that my Alfie, our big fat ginger Tom, is being bullied by another cat. Ho-hum!

I knew she couldn't last!

Gillian Shepherd is a politican through and through. Despite giving up her role as a Tory MP and taking on one as a Tory peer, she doesn't seem to have calmed down in the way that a lot of their Lordships do. Iain Dale reports that she has now been elected as Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers. I was at a recent meeting where she was elected President of the Norfolk & Suffolk Area Conservatives too. No rest for Gillian it seems!

LibDems targeting this blog? Don't make me laugh

I do this blog because I have the time and energy to do so. People can log on and see what I'm up to and read my views on various issues.

However recently I have had a lot of comments from "annonymous" people complaining about this, that and everything. That's OK, I love political discourse. The past few days I have had several all of which fall into a certain pattern. It goes like this.

"I have been a Conservative voter for 114 years until I read this blog. You are being so horrible towards those jolly nice LibDems that I have switched my allegance of a thousand years and will be backing Sir Ming and his yellow troops. You are the worst kind of Tory and I hope you perish in as vile a way as possible."

Again, I quite like the cute notion that die hard Thatcherites read this blog and suddenly start trying on their first pair of sandals.

But to recieve that many in just a few days? "Shurly Shome Mistake?"

Well, no ... one of their number has let slip that this is part of a "LibDem campaign to discredit" me and this blog! Oh dear, the e-equivalent of writing a letter in green ink.

Firstly, why bother? And secondly ... why bother?

I'm not so sure that any number of LibDems have the time and energy to do so but if there are any likely lads (or ladettes) out there doing so, I'm glad to waste your time!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

EDP slams Norwich South LibDems for being secretive

The EDP has been stalking Tory selection processes for as long as can be remember and one man, political editor Chris Fisher, has almost made a career of it. In today's column he talks about how positive and open the recent spate of Tory selections has been - after a few jitters, both Mid Norfolk and Great Yarmouth Tories have been open and democractic in their selection procedures including inviting non-Tory members to contribute. Mr Fisher compares this to the secretive world of the Norwich South LibDems where one day, bish-bang-bong, Simon Wright appears as their PPC. The LibDems then have the nerve to complain that the Tories have got loads of coverage and their man got very, very little. Mr Fisher says they would have reported on it if the LibDems had told the press that they were selecting! Maybe Chris had ought to read my blog which had been predicting this for months? Anyway, Chris Fisher then blasts the LibDems for keeping their selections quiet and praises the openness of the Conservatives. Nice to be praised for a change.

However, I can't help this feeling that the reason that the Norwich South LibDems kept their selection contest a secret was because of the man that they were about to select. Simon Wright is not a hard working local campaigner, nor a national 'A' Lister, but a full time LibDem politican in the paid employ of the party. He quit work as a teacher in order to fulfill his political ambitions. He represents Fakenham whilst living in Eaton and has some very fruity political opinions to boot. He is interested in getting elected as an MP rather than serving a community as their MP.

The Tories are open about their selections because our candidates are good, strong, campaigners with positive track records.

The LibDems stay silent about their selections because they are embarrassed about their candidates, their pasts and political motives.

Full Council Agenda

Tuesday 31st October if you want to turn up - in the Council Chamber, 1st Floor at City Hall.


1. Lord Mayor's Announcements
2. Long Service Awards
3. Declarations of Interest
4. Public Questions (that's your bit!)
5. Petitions
6. Minutes of the Last Meeting
7. Questions to the Executive - I will be asking about parking on Bishey Barnabee Way in Three Score and Eve is putting one down about how fast the council can obtain short stay parking bays outside of shops.
8. Council response to the Government White paper
9. Approval of the Tree Strategy
10. Motion on Waste (Proposed by Cllr Stephenson) - see below
11. Motion on Educational Attainment (a joint one by Cllrs Morphew and Cooke)

It is worth pointing out what the Greens want to achieve under point 10 motion:
- Reward scheme for businesses to reduce packagaing on their products
- Get the council to encourage people to complain about excessive packaging
- Write to retailers asking them to introduce carrier bag tax
- To write to the government to offer Norwich as a pilot area for a national plastic bag tax.

Your thoughts on this would be appreciated as I am certainly in two minds on this.

And one last point, about the tree strategy - why couldn't this be produced as an online PDF only as thus save a few dozen trees in the process? I've now had three copies of this document...

Hope to see you there

Poll joy for Cameron as Tories take 10 point lead

David Cameron will no doubt be toasting ICM tonight as a mixture of the Tory tax proposals and the shock (a-hem) resignation of Clare Short from Labour have rocketed the party into poll position.

Cameron's Conservatives are now at 39%, whilst Labour have collapsed to 29%. Sir Ming's LibDems trail even the unpopular Blairite government at 22%.

According to leading election experts such a result if reproduced at a general election would give David Cameron a working Commons majority.

Seats that would fall to the Conservatives would include Norwich North and Great Yarmouth. Charles Clarke's majority over the Conservatives would be slashed to just 378 in Norwich South ... one more heave guys?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Beckett, Howard and Pritchard

Margaret Beckett is the most useless Foreign Secretary since the last Labour Foreign Secretary. Her warm-ish words about Iraq, splashed over today's Times, will win her no friends on either side of the fence.

Michael Howard is a good witness to call on the Cash for Peerages enquiries. How long now before PC Plum goes knock, knock, knocking on Tony's door? I'll bet if we find the PM guilty ... it'll be after he leaves office anyway. Good on Howard for being so honest about the whole thing.

Ros Pritchard is the BBC's new political drama where a housewife and supermarket manager becomes PM via starting her own Purple Alliance Party - fighting off toffish Tories and useless Blairites. It is political insanity but I'd forgive that if the script or acting was any good. But as neither are, I'm going to have to say that this is utter crap and once again my license fee is wasted. I'm watching Torchwood tonight on BBC3 so that had better cheer me up. The only good thing about Amazing Mrs Pritchard is it may go some small way to convincing people that politics isn't rocket science, but it isn't easy either.

New Homes, Old Problems

Grafitti, litter, fly tipping, cutting trees, speeding, street cleaning ... all problems faced by every community, right?

Of course, but whereas you could go straight to your council or councillor to sort out those problems people in Three Score don't have that luxury.

You see Three Score is a new development (well, by new, we mean four years old) and as such all of these jobs seem to lie with the developers and not the council. But do the developers do what they are told? Don't hold your breath.

But wait a moment - do the people of Three Score get a council tax reduction because they get fewer services? Of course not - living in Bowthorpe means paying all the tax and getting fewer services.

This is a disgrace and should be sorted. ASAP.

UPDATE: An equally bizarre fact came to my attention tonight. Whilst, for example, Bladewater Road and Mardle Street are not adopted, the pathways that links them is. Could the system be any more complex?

WARNING: Mother-in-Law Watch

I have recently been informed that the world wide web, and this site in particular, has been breached by my mother-in-law and thus all of my abusive and rude comments must cease (regarding her that is, not the other parties.) Oh dear.

Just joking, as if I'm brave enough to take her on!

Blogging Scrutiny Meeting

Following a heady couple of days of throwing stuff out of my house to make way for lots of new stuff to clutter the place up, I went to a scrutiny meeting this afternoon which was discussing, amongst other things, the transport strategy and the future of disabled parking in Norwich.

I have to admit to quite liking scrutiny. I know that other councillors find it a bit tedious at times but the much quieter and more thoughful debate that goes into it seems to get better results than some of party politiking at other meetings. Of particular interest today was the incredibly interesting submission of Labour Councillor David Bradford on why disabled blue bagde holders should still get free parking in the surface car parks in the city. He is disabled himself but is very much able to see all angles of the debate. A great contribution. This led onto an interesting sub debate about the enforcement of the current legislation, the number of diabled car parking spaces available and even the systematic abuse of "parent and toddler" spaces!

There was a funny moment when a few councillors complained that we didn't have the right info to scrutinise the NATS (transport strategy) in full ... it turns out because traffic stats need to be collected over a minimum of 4 years to make them worthwhile. I have to say that the document in front of us was pretty 1D on stats concerning itself only the number of cars and not factoring in speeds, journey times or anything like that.

As I say, a good meeting all in all. However it is just a pity that the public turn up to watch the slanging match that is full council but not a single person attended today's meeting!

p.s. For those who care, I voted against charging the disabled for their parking, I questioned in depth the spending policies of the council and I got utterly confused by NATS.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Coming Up...

Tomorrow I am taking part in a mass sponsored walk raising money for various charities. It is taking part at Whittlingham Broad and should be good fun ... depending on rain fall! Also tomorrow is pub day with some old friends to catch up on the gossip. It is also Louise's last day at work before maternity leave! Scary thought! Baby in 7 weeks and counting...

Bamboozled by American Express

I have just had the women who can speak the fastest ever in the world wide world just try and sell me something from American Express and I cannot work out if I bought into it or not. Remarkably for me, I couldn't get a word in egdeways. What the hell just went on? Who am I? Where am I?

Monday, October 16, 2006

What Norwich is saying about Unitary Status

As part of our recent survey we asked if people were for, against or undecided about unitary. 12,500 surveys have been devlieverd across the City in the last 3 weeks. Although I don't have the finite results, I'd thought I'd share today's post bag with you. The comments about unitary are often more thoughtful than anything us politicans come up with.

"Are you in favour of City Hall taking more power as a Unitary Council" - voting intention in brackets

No - If anything the districts should be abolished and Norfolk County Council shound run all the services (LibDem)

Don't know - but then I don't know what the word unitary means (Con)

Yes - Well, services can't get any worse (Con)

No - Labour have always dreamed of this (Con)

No - It'll cost a lot more in the long run (Con)

Don't Know - but no if Labour continue to waste money like they have done (Con)

No - for unitary, read 'expensive' (LibDem or Green, undecided)

Yes - but I rarely visit City Hall (Lab)

Yes - I feel that the county uses Norwich (Con)

Yes - It'll save money by not having to have that bloody awful magazine (Lab)

No - I don't consider City Hall competent enough to spend my money wisely (LibDem)

No - I just don't think City Hall could cope with any MORE powers!!! (Con)

Yes - Anything to get power away from central govt. (Con)

No - Typical waste of time and money (LibDem)

Yes - subject to the council being able to organise itself (LibDem)

No - Smacks of Big Brother. Expensive (Won't Say)

Yes - It will mean a return to proper Tory opposition in Norwich (Con)

No - Until we have decent leadership (Lab)

No - £2m overspend. Have YOU people forgotten??? (LibDem)

No - Bonkers. Bonkers. Bonkers. And that's just the politicans (Green)

Yes - Brings services closer to people (Won't Vote)

I will have fuller figures available soon as to the breakdown. My two absolute favourites from today are the man in Eaton Rise who attacked the £2m overspend ... and then said he'd vote LibDem and also the one who said 'yes' ... but I rarely visit City Hall.

Ah, the electorate! More survey responses later in the week.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Labour Leader opens his heart to "Little's Log"

I am pleased that Council Leader Steve Morphew has set a few things straight regarding some of the gossip currently floating around City Hall.

Firstly he says that he will re-stand in Mile Cross. This is good news for the Mile Cross Labour Party and bad news for the LibDems.

Secondly he says that some bored hacks and loose lipped councillors have been pulling my chain regarding the so-called Labour vendetta against me. Working relationship is a-ok between us.

I am also pleased that the second highest office holder in the City (behind the Lord Mayor, who doesn't have time I'm sure) reads this blog.

Glad to set the record straight Steve.

The Last 4 in Mid Norfolk

Mid Norfolk Tories now have 4 people from whom to choose their next MP - Vicky Ford, George Freeman, Laura Sandys and James Tunbridge. I only know James, who unsuccessfully challenged Norwich North last time, but I wish them all well.

And I urge them not to believe rumours doing the rounds on blogs that some sly members have voted for some weaker candidates to make it easier for whoever the chosen one is.

Twelve strawberries and a raspberry in a bowl ... which do you pick?

My Day

This morning I was dragged around Norwich kicking and screaming being forced to buy furniture. Then we met up with friends and headed off to the National Childbirth Trust event in Wymondham (I have to say, again not my choice.) I am just back from delivering leaflets in Clover Hill, have put Emily to bed and will catch up with some council work. The tragic events of this week demand action from the community's elected representatives. I hope we can find a way forward on this and prove that politicans can achieve something.

Labour's news update

I have tonight been passed something that is very interesting indeed. Either Labour in Bowthorpe are about to change council policy dramatically or somebody is going to be very embarrassed. More later.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mid Norfolk Tories to select on ability

Lots of foaming mouths over at ConservativeHome as the Mid Norfolk Conservatives shock the world by proclaiming they'll select their candidate based upon ability rather than by some kind of 50:50 gender ratio. I'm sure the EDP (and Mr Fisher) will be seething too, but the fact that so many candidates have withdrawn means that local chaps James Tumbridge (who lost Norwich North in 2005) and John Flack )Regional Deputy Chairman) get another bite at the cherry despite losing out first time around.

Mid Norfolk Tories should stick to their guns - and pick the best person for the job.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Live Blogging BBC Question Time

Is it safe to release people with tags?

Clive Anderson (TV broadcaster): Doesn't sound safe but we have a huge prison population. We need to integrate people back into society. A good half way house? But this can't go too wrong as people won't stand it. An experiement worth having.

Alan Duncan (Conservative Shadow Trade Secretary): No, and it's getting worse. This is meant to rehabilitate by phasing in, but this is being forced on us by the prison crisis. There are only 80,000 prisoner places - with only 200 places left. Government is to blame. Is challenged by David Dimbleby (DD) on how you can predict prison population. Duncan bats off question. No applause yet.

Vera Baird (Labour's Constitutional Affairs Minister): A great opening line - "he would say that, but he's wrong." Defends the Labour government line. Praises the judges - says that tagging is not meant to reduce prison numbers. It is a halfway house. Challenged by Duncan and DD on that matter - says it helps but that isn't the main purpose. Rather a lot of praise for Home Secretary Dr Reid. DD asks if the numbers will change the policy. Baird says no. Still no applause.

Member of the audience says she cannot work out what tagging means. Surprised to note that tagging doesn't mean an absconder will be picked up.

Nicola Sturgeon (SNP Deputy Leader): Tagging is good but no alternative to prison. Says Scottish prisons are at 15% above capacity. Says that prisoners re-offend. Wants alternatives to custody. But we must lok up dangerous people. Applause at last.

Audience: Tackle the causes of crime!

Tommy Sheridan (Founder of Solidarity Party): Speaks of his time in prison and the number of people with drink problems. Says we need confidence in the system. Suggests leagalising cannabis to cut prison numbers. Gets a small clap. Says that tagging is prison on the cheap - blames government too,

Baird: Says none of the people released are violence.

Anderson: They are made violent by prison. Clap for a very stupid remark.

Audience: Programme has a good effect on re-offending rates.

Anderson: The scrubs was built by prisoners ... wants a third cut off sentence for good behaviour and a third if they undertake work to build more prisons. Big clap.

Baird gets out of that one very well. Quite impressive so far.


When can tabloids investigate the private lives of MPs?

Duncan: Politicans should never complain about the press. The press do behave badly and often not warranted. He says he has suffered. Says that the newspapers shouldn't break the law or fake things. DD asks why Duncan was investigated - says he can't remember. Says the press should remember about the misery caused by family. Says we should have a free press. A good, honest answer. Audience member laughs at this.

Sheridan: Says he is sensitive. Says 42% of all press is owned by Murdoch - not free press. Drags journos down to the gutter. Murdoch is vindictive against people he doesn't agree with. Says the press can get stuck into politics. Hates the Sun and News of the World for following people and for enjoying people's pain.

Audience: Does Sheridan regret wriiting a column for the NOTW?

Sheridan: Never have!

Strugeon: Justified when the press thinks that a public figure is in the wrong or being hypocritical. Should never use children or break the law. However they should also be held accountable. Also backs the free press. Somebody jests that it is only OK if the MP is a Conservative! Sturgeon agrees with this - Anderson quips with "you can't have one rule for the Tories and one for the Tommies." Sturgeon is humiliated by the audience laughing at this. Agrees that Labour is as bad as the Tories. Says Sheridan has integrity but people won't vote SSP again.

Audience: Should hunt down hypocritical MPs, but it should only be exposed if it affects their work.

Sheridan: Papers should only attack love-rat MPs if they lecture other people about their lives and their morality. "The NOTW lied about me"! Says the NOTW still hasn't paid.

Anderson: Backs freedom of the press but doesn't like the papers. I'm finding Anderson very irritating. Press like stories with sex in it - soap stars, TV presenters etc. But it isn't their fault because we like reading it! Says that Murdoch isn't plotting personally against Sheridan.

Sheridan: Impossible for working class people to get justice in issues like this because there is no legal aid. People need lawyers! Jury decided they believe Sheridan rather than Murdoch.

Baird: Doesn't need to be hypocritcal - all politicans are targets. So much press intrusion in MPs families too.

Audience: Appeal is a right, Sheridan would have appealed! SSP rejoiced with McLeish (former First Minister) and McLetchie (former Tory Leader) fell.

Audience: Sheridan puts self image above his party.

Audience: Country is run by business and the press.

Audience: Why has this taken up so much time in the show?

Sheridan: Doesn't oppose NOTW appeal. Murdoch hates socialism and trade unionism. Gets a big clap.


Why should countries with nuclear weapons stop other countries from having them?

Baird: We have reduced our nuclear weapons. Is non-nuclear but wnats to listen to the arguement.

Sturgeon: Doesn't want North Koreans to have nuclear weapons. Should act to stop them. But UK should reduce our nuclear weapons.

Duncan: North Korean has a risible nutter as their leader. Get real. Shouldn't give up nuclear weapons because people would take advantage. Most serious forum is India and Pakistan.

Anderson: More worried about nuclear power than nuclear weapons. Makes a feeble gag about Bush.

Cue big row on QT about America, Iraq etc etc Have swtiched off. Have found a blog written by one of my students - you can find it here. My lessons are described as fun but fast moving. I'm also the most important Tory in Norwich South - hurrah!


Is Gordon Brown too Scottish to be PM?

Sturgeon: Brown is trying to pretend he isn't Scottish! He isn't fooling anybody in England and is annoying Scotland. Why isn't he trying to be PM of an Independent Scotland!

Anderson: Scottishness shouldn't get in the way. This is put about by his rival - ironically John Reid (who is Scottish). Raises the West Lothian Question. If Brown doesn't get it, it'll be a tradegy.

Duncan: Shouldn't matter where you come from. There is, however, tension between England Scotland and that needs to be sorted out. Duncan says he was misquoted on Brown. Says his policies will lose him the election not being Scottish!

Baird: Says Brown is proud to be Scottish. Gets big laughs by saying Blair is a democrat.

Decsends into chaos again. Come on DD get a grip.


Cue another boring question about Iraq.

Thank god it is over - a great start but became very predictable.

Blair crushed at PMQs

I know, I know.

William Hague was brilliant at PMQs and regularly beat Blair to within an inch ... and then went on to lose the 2001 election.

However it gives a boost to the Conservatives to watch Cameron do the same to Blair too. With Labour and the government on their knees, Cameron knew when to kick a man when he's down. The paper reviews today were spectacular and certainly rebuffed those who say that Cameron doesn't get stuck into Blair.

Cameron bobbed and weeved and stuck several good blows - particularly on the spat with Brown. In comparison, Sir Ming Campbell looks like a political pygmie still...

I know that a good PMQs doesn't a summer make ... but it's a good start to the autumn.

Giving Westminster government a bad name

Sion Simon is a former Telegraph hack, uber-Blairite and now Labour MP for a Birmingham Constituency. Yet despite holding these responsible positions, Mr Simon has appeared dressed in a T-Shirt and baseball cap declaring his name is "Dave" (Cameron) and asking voters to sleep with his wife, live in his house and take his children.

This is a disgraceful nasty personal attack from one of the House of Commons biggest hypocrites. Having been shown up to being such a nasty piece of work, you might have thought that he'd apologise - but no. Mr Simon may have given a boost to Mr Cameron's real website, but has once again lowered the extremely low name of MPs. This particular attack - on Cameron's family integrity and particularly that of his wife - was one of the nastiest things I have ever seen in politics.

Given his inability to see why this is so wrong, why isn't Labour taking action against this vile little man?

Guido has the video here.

Giving local democracy a bad name

As you might have guessed from this blog I like Steve Morphew - he is by far the best Labour Leader in a long time, he is competent and has the long term city interest at heart. Yet tonight I learn that he has refused to help a UEA student with his dissertation because he is doing so under my tutorage. Cllr Morphew is holding a sword above the head of a good student because of his percieved "row" with me (one sided, as far as I'm concerned). He even cited this blog as his reason why.

The UEA student is party politics free and is working with me because UEA's Prof. Greenaway approached me to work with him. I agreed because I have his best interest at heart. Yet, despite representatives from Greens, Tories and LibDems agreeing to work with him, Cllr Morphew (and thus Labour) refuse to help. My head is in my hands over this one.

Why Steve, why?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Telegraph: Tory bedblockers set to frustrate Cameron's A-List

The Sunday Torygraph has an amusing contrast today. On the frontpage it screams about Cameron's surging lead over Labour in general and Gordon Brown in particular. Then, much more interestingly, on page two it talks about a plot by ageing (well, 60s and 70s) Tory MPs not to stand down from their seats.

The failure of scores of Conservative MPs to resign means that Cameron's A-Listers may (shock of shocks) have to fight and win marginal seats off Labour and the LibDems instead of being parachuted in safe seats. Now I know that some A-Listers have, shall we say, limited campaigning experience but you might have thought it was better to put the "best and the brightest" into the seats where we need to win instead of the ones that we already have?

Anyway, old codgers such as Nick Winterton, Douglas Hogg and Peter Viggers have said that they are ready to stand again, and again, and again.

I am (quelle surprise) no fan of the A-List but I do rather want it to work, if only because I believe Cameron when we says that he wants the party to change. These MPs are rather a spoke in the A-List wheel.

I wonder, at the end of this parliamentary session of selections, how many people will have failed to be selected (or elected) despite being on the A-List? A lot more if CCHQ don't find some way around the Tory codgers department!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Who should be the next MP for Mid Norfolk?

A Conservative, of course, but which one? The plum Tory seat is selecting this week from the 20 remaining hopefuls - 18 of David Cameron's A-Listers and 2 local candidates.

Unlike many seats Mid Norfolk isn't a single coherent community constituency and should be one of the safest Tory berths in the country. Some people have called for the locals to reject the biased and unwanted A Listers (Corrie star Adam Rickett has been plastered all over the EDP saying he'd give all manner of bodily parts for the seat - wouldn't we all, darling?). Others have said that this seat should select somebody who'll make the frontbench (and the ministerial limo) straight away. Others say they should choose somebody young who can grow into being a star.

As I didn't apply for Mid Norfolk and had no interest in doing so, I feel I can comment from a position of objectivity.

I am opposed to the A List and feel that some seats should be fought by local people capable of overturning key Labour and LibDem majorities. However, if we are to support Cameron and make the A List work, then Mid Norfolk must be one of the seats that selects from it. Whoever is selected will work hard and become a part of the community. This is a banker seat and perfect for an A List candidate who can demonstarte how the party is changing.

Who should it be? I don't know, but when Gillian Shepherd stood down we have had a vacancy for a strong female Conservative MP in Norfolk.

An 'A' Lister would be good, a female candidate would be good, a future cabinet minister would be good. As long as they are a Conservative, I will be happy.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Make Eve's Day

Rumours are flying around City Hall at the moment (prompted by an annon comment on this blog) that Labour's Leader is going on the chicken-run at the next election. Steve Morphew is currently councillor for Mile Cross. Vic Elvin used to be the LibDem Councillor for the same ward. Labour always comfort themselves saying that Vic won on a personal vote and was the only LibDem who would win Mile Cross. The Vic sadly passed away and a young guy called Carl Mayhew went and held onto the seat for the LibDems. Now, apparently, Labour is convinced that if the seat could be won by Mayhew, it could be won by any LibDem. So our Steve, so vital to Labour's success, if off on the chicken run, all the way to ... Catton Grove, currently held by Conservative Eve Collishaw.

Is Eve scared of the challenge? Not a bit of it ... the Tory warhorse declares to me, "Bring it on Morphew"!

Monday, October 02, 2006

David Cameron starts blogging

The great leader, Mr Cameron, has started blogging and more importantly it includes a webcast with Tory Radio superstar Jonathon Sheppard and blog supremo Iain Dale. Read it - it's great.

Survey responses

We have had a lot of survey replies back already - as a veteran of these things, this sort of reply has been excellent. You normally get fairly few in the first days, it then peaks at 4-7 days and then dies off. We'll see ... and I'll publish results as they come in.

Review of Tory Conference: Day Two, Monday

The conference was dominated by the speeches by the public services team - Health Spokesman Andrew Lansley and Education Spokesman David Willetts - and also by David Davis on beating crime.

But the two most interesting things happened away from the conference floor. Firstly the row over Tory donors and the role of CCS within the party. The media are, bless 'em, trying their best but Cameron has disarmed this story with his frank answers. Cameron is more and more relying on honesty - and it seems to be paying off. Cameron said that the party works within the law and that he had rewarded no donor with a peerage. Class act.

Secondly was the film with BBC anchor man Huw Edwards, shwon tonight at 10pm. Cameron came across extremely well and it showed him as very human. He tackled all of the issues head on. Such films - second on the running order - will certainly impact on the voters far more than the first issue.

Letwin did a good job on Newsnight.

Here in Norwich South, the good folk of Sunningdale, the Groves, Eaton village and the Branksomes got the Tory treatment. This evenning I was out with a team from Norwich North in Catton Grove too.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Today in Norwich South

Last night Louise and I went to see Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" at the Theatre Royal - an excellent performace and a great night out. We then went on to dinner and drinks with friends on Tombland. With Emily safely with Nana and Granddad, we got up late and has breakfast at Olive's on Magdalen Street. A trip to feed the ducks in Ringland and onto Sunday lunch later. I found time to watch a few hours of the Conservative conference (well, all of it really).

Today we've been delivering our surveys in the Mile End Road area, Christchurch Road area and Cecil Road area. We've started to get them back already - and I can exclusively reveal that it is currently 4 Conservative to 1 Green. No Labour or LibDems yet! Catton Grove Cllr Eve Collishaw was also doing hers today.

A busy day and am now very tired - need to go to work for a rest!

Rating the Tory Conference: Day One, Sunday

Francis Maude MP, Party Chairman
Said everything that needed to be said, but hardly the rabble rousing Chairman speeches of old. You never get the impression that the membership like Maude as much as they should. I was a Maude admirer of old, and was disappointed that he stayed off the frontbench for so long. Good on Howard for getting him to return and Cameron for keeping him on. Spoke well, sound speech - but no standing ovation and a pretty poor applause. My rating 7/10, Audience rating 5/10.

David Davis MP, Shadow Home Secretary
A very very good speech (much better than last year) during which he spent much of the time going over great former Tory PMs. His words on the likes of Pitt, Disraeli and Churchill went down well, but not as good as his remarks on Thatcher. Davis then spent the rest of the speech pledging to work with Cameron, which he did with real passion and I, for one, really believed him. A great effort, well recieved and we look forward to his set piece speech. My rating 8/10, Auidence rating 7/10.

William Hague MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary
Absolutely stunning - the master of conference speeches. It was joke laden, but serious where he needed to be. His jokes at Prescott's expense were just perfect. Clearly grown in stature. A mighty force in Tory politics - he is the most easy-to-listen-to Tory going at the moment. Great knock-about stuff. Audience went nuts and gave him a really great reception. Genuine and quick standing ovation. My rating 8.5/10, Audience rating 9/10.

Senator John McCain, US Republican
The man who many people think could be the next US President. I'm afraid he didn't show enough character for me and this felt much too much like a lecture. He did well to refer to Cameron as "my friend". His choice of subjects were rather predictable, and I would have liked him to speak on the future of the public services in the US. Obviously, though, he steered clear. He can do better than this, but still a coup to have got him as a speaker. The only speaker that I felt I could leave the room during the speech. However, conference seemed to really take to him. My rating 5/10, Audience Rating 7/10

David Cameron MP, Leader of the Conservative Party
Started off rather wooden but soon got into it with a series of good jokes. Cameron is a very natural speaker and his blast on Labour's initiative culture was brilliant. He was right to avoid mentioning the LibDems and will win plaudits, I'm sure, for moving his speech onto how the Tories will improve. The bulk of the speech was on the responsibility culture. He said he was proud of the Tories for supporting the recent education bill (good!). He mentioned crime - challenging the party to say that there was more to crime fighting than sounding tough and building prisons. Plenty of references to his family, although Samantha never looks natural in these circumstances. He made a great finish with his talk of sunshine winning and the party being about optimism. Audience clearly lapped it up, and he got a long applause - delegates on their feet for a while. I feel that this speech was better on content than delivery - he'll save his best for Wednesday. My rating 8/10, Audience rating 8/10

A word on the set and logo - excellent. I feel like the only person who really likes the oak tree. The set is simple but effective. The logo "A New Direction" was well chosen.

A word on the BBC - crap. The BBC Parliament channel spend their time focusing on various old people having a doze and Adam Ricketts. Apparently the conference looks and feels differently this year, so why won't the BBC show this?

A word on conference organisation - even crapper. I hear people have been queuing all day for their passes.

A great start.