Saturday, February 27, 2010

The 'A Team'

Thanks to all who came along last night to the Corbridge Supper Club. It also gave me the opportunity to take a photograph of the 'A Team' in North West Durham. With their enthusiasm and energy we are already looking forward to the Election.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Out and about around North West Durham constituency. This poster seems to summarise the feeling on the street.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Matter of Life and Death

A very interesting piece was published by the telegraph today, written by Professor John Keown. He concludes "If we are not to slide, greased by euphemism, down the Dutch slippery slope and if equal protection of the law is to be guaranteed to all (not least the most vulnerable), the duty of the DPP is clear: resolutely to uphold Parliament’s clear prohibition on assisting suicide."
He has previously given an extremely interesting talk at the House of Lords, and I hope he soon returns to this side of the pond to stimulate more debate in our House of Commons.

Campaigning Week

This week is campaign week in North West Durham - if you want to come and help please do get in contact.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Accident & Emergency

This photograph was taken whilst I was working in A&E with a team of other doctors and nurses. In the dying days of this current Labour government the National Audit Office reported that only one hospital in England and Wales can report to have full consultant cover 24/7. Staff on the frontline know that the Labour legacy is a health emergency.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Agenda for Farming

This week I'm spending time with farmers around Lanchester, and I'm delighted this coincides with the party's launch of "agenda for farming", covering a whole range of policies relating to agriculture.

There are five key summary points:
•Enabling increased production whilst protecting the environment;
•Promoting fair competition;
•Reducing the burden of regulation;
•Further reforming the Common Agricultural Policy;
•Taking action on animal disease.
Then there are two new policies:
•Introducing rules into the new national planning framework to prevent, in all but exceptional circumstances, the development of the most fertile farmland; and
•Fundamentally reforming the Rural Payments Agency by appointing the Farming Minister as chairman of its Management Board as a way of improving accountability, reducing costs and driving up performance.
It's about time we elected a government who both understood and respected the countryside.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Today an article I wrote about Labour's lamentable NHS legacy is featured on the Blue Blog.

Equipment for Heroes

MOD procurement is in the newspapers again today. And, again, it’s in the papers because of cost overruns and delays. Enough is enough. Labour Ministers have lacked the strength of character needed to drive through essential reforms. We must improve the way we equip the men and women who risk their lives defending our way of life. Recently an Army Colonel at the Defence Equipment & Support organisation – the organisation responsible for managing MOD procurement contracts – said “we’ve been planning the Future Command and Logistics Vehicle for 10 years [a lightly armoured 4x4 with specialist communication equipment]. Time’s moved on so far since the concept was first envisaged. By the time we get it in to service it will be the Past Command and Logistics Vehicle”.

I understand that there are challenges when it comes to buying military equipment. It’s not the same as going to the shops to buy a new pair of shoes. It goes without saying that we need appropriate assurance and scrutiny that taxpayers’ money – your money – is being well spent. But, as anyone in business will tell you: time is money. How much has a 10 year procurement cost us? How many lives has the delay cost us? It’s time for change. It's time to vote Labour out of the MOD procurement process.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Recommendation

If you are looking for a great read then look no further than confessions of a pupil barrister. It can be bought here. If you thought that legal eagles spent their time studying behind antique desks, think again! This book lifts the lid on legal chambers and offers readers a unique insight into the dirty tricks barristers use to battle each other, in and out of court. It left me asking the question, do these characters think they are above the law?

Monday, February 15, 2010

We Need Growth

As Clement Attlee stated on the day before the NHS came into being:

"You can't distribute wealth until it has been created. Flourishing public servives depend upon a profitable private sector. You can't have care without enterprise."

We all know that Gordon Brown has been so busy concentrating on how he will spend other people's money that he has failed to balance the books. Today think tank Civitas suggests that we need to cut coporation tax to 15% to stimulate growth by attracting businesses and jobs to Britain.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Could or Should Robin Hood be Aiming for the Banks?

Bill Nighy stars in a short sketch about the "Robin Hood" tax - a 0.05% tax on a limited subset of banking transactions. The Robin Hood tax is not a new idea, and in 1972 James Tobin proposed something very similar. The Robin Hood tax message sounds simple: a minuscule tax on banking transactions aiming to produce an enormous tax revenue that could be spent on the public sector. However, reality is seldom quite so simplistic. Actions have unforeseen feedback effects. It's easy to sell a simplified message. It's much more difficult to create mechanisms that are effective, efficient and equitable.

Perhaps we should start by asking what is the Robin Hood tax trying to achieve? Then examine whether this tax is the correct mechanism to drive the behaviour we want, whilst remains alert to unintended consequences. A tax on bankers may sound an attractive proposition. After all, bankers - and MPs embroiled in the expenses gate scandal - are probably amongst the least popular people at the moment. But policy agenda should not be swayed by fads - we need to take a view that balances the short-term and the long-term.

The Robin Hood tax aims to curb excessive financial speculation and redistribute wealth. The first is a laudable aim. The second is a matter of political preference. You (and your conscience) can take your pick about where you sit on the spectrum of socialism to "non-redistributivism".
Taxes are blunt instruments. There are also other ways to bring stability to banks. They're less glamorous and perhaps less high profile than the Robin Hood tax. They certainly don't have such catchy names and are less well known to people outside of finance or economics. Capital Adequacy, solvency and maturity matching are all possible mechanisms that may drive the behaviour we want to see in our banks - but we need to make sure that the regulators have the teeth to enforce them.

As for unintended consequences? Businesses need effective and efficient financial markets to raise capital funds for growth and to hedge against risks. I suspect that bankers and businesses will raise their prices to compensate for costs that are created by the Robin Hood tax. Therefore price increases will work their way back to us, the customer. A stable banking sector that offers reasonably priced services is something I suspect we are all hoping for. But would the less glamorous approaches (capital adequacy, etc) be a better way to achieve our ambitions than Robin Hood?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Must Watch!

Dan Hannan another author in 'The Future of the NHS' has this to say:

Awaiting an Interesting Read?

Eamonn Bulter wrote a chapter in 'The Future of the NHS'. His new book is entitled 'The Alternative Manifesto'. The book has been described as a 'sort of workshop manual for fixing Britain, and it doesn't flinch from getting the spanner round those nasty problems that the politicians of all sides don't want to talk about.' In fact, the cover describes it not as a workshop manual but as a twelve-step plan to wean the political class off their fiscal alcoholism. It's offically released on the 25th Feb, however, early birds can buy it here.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Do we have Enough Staff in A&E?

The Northern Echo report that accident victims are dying unnecessarily at some of the region’s hospitals, according to a study by the National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO investigation found that many die because they suffer injuries at night or at weekends, when emergency consultants are not on call to provide the rapid diagnosis and treatment. This is more evidence that the Labour Party have not understood the NHS and have neglected our front line services here in the North East.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Importance of Winning North West Durham for the Conservative Party

I am looking forward to the year of change. Gordon Brown has sold our gold reserves at knockdown prices, sent our troops to war on a peace time budget and under funded the prisons service so that thousands of convicts were released without serving even half of their sentences. Labour have raised the tax burden on the poorest, penalised two parent families, allowed grade inflation in schools, ballooned quangos and lacked any moral leadership in dealing with the MP’s expenses scandal. Labour leave an irresponsible debt legacy.

These are just some of the reasons why I ask for your support in the up coming General Election. David Cameron must prepare to get Britain working again and we must ensure that we do as much as possible to ensure he gets the keys to Number 10. And this means winning North West Durham for the Conservative Party.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Has the Labour Party Ran Out of Gas?

The recent Green Paper on Defence reminded me of the independent report published last October by Sir Bernard Gray about Defence acquisition. Sir Bernard Gray recognised that the UK isn't alone in feeling let down by the way military equipment is bought. Around the world many nations face similar shortcomings: equipment arriving late, being too expensive and not delivering what was requested or expected.

However, just because this is a pervasive problem, should we sit back and accept it? The Labour government have lacked ambition, vision, drive and leadership to act on Sir Bernard Gray's recommendations. Labour have returned similar reports year on year. Perhaps in a similar vain to Labour's education legacy: the bar required to pass exams was reduced, so exam league results looked better. This ignores the commitment required to faciliate the needs of the most able child, whilst also deserting the struggling student.
If the Conservative's win the next election, I don't believe we will accept 'lowest common denominator results'. The men and women fighting to protect us have never given up because something wasn't easy. We owe it them to get better at delivering the right equipment at the right time. We also owe it to the taxpayers to make sure your money is being is being spent in an effective and efficient way. We need to take action and vote at the Ballot box.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Quotation of the Day

"News is the information system on which a democratic society depends: we are free to think what we like - but only on the basis of what we know."
Professor Justin Lewis
Cardiff University

Monday, February 01, 2010

Blogging and Dinner

Over the years of blogging I have been lucky enough to make friends with fellow blogger Ellee Seymour. Last night she hosted myself, Liz truss and Louise Bagshawe with an amazing array of food. It was a thoroughly delightful evening. In a world where we must remain vigilant to the dangers of having an on line profile, this was an example of celebrating wonderful internet connections.