Michael Gove’s statement on his voting intention in the EU Referendum

On 20 February 2016, Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice, gave a detailed statement on his position regarding the EU Referendum

Vote LeveFor weeks now I have been wrestling with the most difficult decision of my political life. But taking difficult decisions is what politicians are paid to do. No-one is forced to stand for Parliament, no-one is compelled to become a minister. If you take on those roles, which are great privileges, you also take on big responsibilities.
I was encouraged to stand for Parliament by David Cameron and he has given me the opportunity to serve in what I believe is a great, reforming Government. I think he is an outstanding Prime Minister. There is, as far as I can see, only one significant issue on which we have differed.

And that is the future of the UK in the European Union. It pains me to have to disagree with the Prime Minister on any issue. My instinct is to support him through good times and bad.

But I cannot duck the choice which the Prime Minister has given every one of us. In a few months time we will all have the opportunity to decide whether Britain should stay in the European Union or leave. I believe our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU. And if, at this moment of decision, I didn’t say what I believe I would not be true to my convictions or my country.

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Two speeches this week about the ‘privledged few’

Ed Miliband this week spoke at how society, he suggested, works for the ‘privileged few’. He also alluded to what he claims are vested interests, having previously suggested hedge fund managers and political donors are one such.

There was another speech this week, from a hedge fund donor to the Conservatives, making his maiden speech in the House of Lords in a debate on Women: Homelessness, Domestic Violence and Social Exclusion in which Michael Farmer said,

“….. I will give three brief facts of my career. I started work at 18 as an £8 per week difference account clerk in a London Metal Exchange member firm; I became a Christian when I was 35; and in the last ten years I have been an active supporter of the Centre for Social Justice, especially of their policies which support families.

However, the background that I would emphasise to your Lordships is my sister’s and my childhood. We were born at the end of the war, and both our parents were alcoholic. My father died from this when I was four, and violence was a part of that backdrop. We were soon bankrupt and, with a mother still struggling with drink, my sister and I experienced the poverty, neglect and shame that are such potent drivers of social exclusion.

I benefited from attending the boarding house of Wantage state grammar school, and in this context I welcome the Prime Minister’s determination to help more looked-after children gain places at today’s state boarding facilities. A good education is invaluable for social mobility; hence I am a sponsor and governor of ARK All Saints Academy in Camberwell.

My sister was not so fortunate; she left school at 14 and, in her subsequent years, struggled with broken relationships, alcoholism and depression. I am telling your Lordships this not only to explain why my heart and head would wish to be involved in today’s deliberations, but also to come back to that House role of scrutiny and opinion revision when we consider one another. ….”

Government ministerial reshuffle

Reading Guido’s running blog on the ministerial comings and goings, wife and I tittered over this,

12:30pm: Penny Mordaunt is the new PUSS at DCLG.

No disrespect to Penny, but to be the new puss must be fun. I know, it’s really Permanent Under Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government. Can see why it’s shortened.

We need open primaries to nominate parliamentary candidates

Often perceived as the only benefit of being a member of the Conservative Party is a vote in candidate nomination for the parliamentary seat.

I’ve exercised that benefit a few times over the years. Once to select a replacement for my MP, Enoch Powell, who resigned from the party shortly before the general election on 23rd February 1974. My memory is a bit hazy on the numbers, but I don’t recall there being more than 100 people, probably a lot less.

The current number of paid-up members of the Conservative Party is nowhere near what it was. How, therefore, is it possible to involve more people in candidate nomination. The solution is to use an open primary.

An open primary to nominate a candidate allows residents in a constituency, irrespective of party allegiance, to be involved in candidate nomination. Douglas Carswell MP and MEP Daniel Hannan have argued well of the benefit of holding open primaries.

It takes courage for constituency officers to relinquish a large degree of control over candidate nomination, as Tonbridge and Malling’s Conservative party agent Andrew Kennedy describes.

Rather than prattling on about the benefits of an open primary, you can read more about them from the experience of the one held yesterday at Tonbridge and Malling,

What an advocate for modern democracy, trusting the people to decide.

Praising Britain: 1-Opening Speech

It’s tough finding the right title for a series of positive articles on Britain. I considered Boosting Britain,  Bigging-up Britain, and even the boring phrase Britain Matters. I’ve settled on Praising Britain, because that’s what the articles will be about. Praising people and organisations who help the economy grow.

Stable economic growth is what the nation needs. Growth to reduce our debts, and more than anything, we need it to come from private investment, not government spending.

Enough. Here’s what’s prompted this series, it’s the Prime Minister, David Cameron’s impromptu statement, at the recent G20 meeting in Russia, in response to Russia’s put down that Britain is a “a small island no one listens to”.

Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience.

Britain is an island that has helped to clear the European continent of fascism – and was resolute in doing that throughout World War Two.

Britain is an island that helped to abolish slavery, that has invented most of the things worth inventing, including every sport currently played around the world, that still today is responsible for art, literature and music that delights the entire world.

We are very proud of everything we do as a small island – a small island that has the sixth-largest economy, the fourth best-funded military, some of the most effective diplomats, the proudest history, one of the best records for art and literature and contribution to philosophy and world civilisation.

For the people who live in Northern Ireland, I should say we are not just an island, we are a collection of islands. I don’t want anyone in Shetland or Orkney to feel left out by this. 

I’m thinking of setting this to music…

The Spectator helpfully offer a series of musical choices to play along with Cameron’s short speech. Guido Fawkes has the video of the speech, to which they’ve added their musical choice.

Review of the County Council candidates

Here’s what I know about the candidates for Surrey County Council in Surrey Heath. These are local elections, and residency in the ward is one of my judgements in any election, which I’ll be focussing on in this review. Apologies for this being a rather long post.

There are six county council wards in Surrey Heath, two of which have changed significantly. These two new wards for County Council elections are; Lightwater is now part of a new ward comprising Bisley, Lightwater, and West End; while Chobham joins with Bagshot and Windlesham to create the other new ward.

Bagshot, Chobham, and Windlesham: In this ward two candidates are local parish councillors – Ruth Hutchinson [LibDem] and Mike Goodman [Conservative]. Hear Mike being interviewed HERE. Both have strong links into their communities. Robert Shatwell [UKIP] on the other hand is not resident in the ward – living in Woking. I do think ward residency is a requirement in local politics. Richard Wilson [Labour] brings tribal politics to local elections, which I believe is not appreciated by the majority of the local electorate, being more suited to national politics. He’s also given to gratuitous comment on Twitter and elsewhere about local councillors and others, a sure sign of the lack of the necessary ability to work with others to improve our communities.

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Remembering the Blessed Margaret thru two videos

I lack the eloquence and intellect to offer a eulogy to Margaret Thatcher. I know others will do it better. I heard  Charles Moore, Michael Howard, and Norman Tebbit on BBC Radio 4 World at One provide just such measured responses.

The Margaret Thatcher Foundation has two videos to understand the qualities of Margaret Thatcher as a great Prime Minister and person. I’ve watched both again, an unquestionable great in world politics. The eulogy to Ronald Regan I’ve commented on before, contains this fine turn of phrase, which equally applies to her.

For the final years of his life, Ronnie’s mind was clouded by illness. That cloud has now lifted. He is himself again, more himself than at any time on this Earth, for we may be sure that the Big Fellow upstairs never forgets those who remember him. And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as heaven’s morning broke, I like to think, in the words of Bunyan, that “all the trumpets sounded on the other side.

Michael Howard said of her speech to Parliament that it was the finest he ever heard, and was amazed at her strength and courage to deliver such a speech at such a moment.

Watch and reflect on the passing of the greatest political post-war figure of our nation.