Sunday, February 21

Heading for a hung Parliament, says Hezza

Michael Hesseltine's apprently told senior colleagues we're heading for a hung Parliament.

It comes after yet another poll shows the Conservatives losing ground and Labour starting to gain it, with the lead down to six points.

Lord Tebbit, writing in today's Telegraph, has these cheery words:

Whoever walks into No 10 after the election will face a desk overflowing with more and worse problems than any incoming Prime Minister since Winston Churchill in 1940. Certainly Margaret Thatcher faced a trades union movement led by insurrectionists who had already brought down Edward Heath and Jim Callaghan, and an economy in terrible trouble – but the troubles facing the country today are both wider and deeper than in 1979. That is not all: Margaret Thatcher had a far stronger Parliamentary Party and a far stronger Party in the country than David Cameron.
Hmm, a far stronger party in the country..? What might have weakened the party in rural Norfolk again..?

Forcing Cameron cuties onto the shires might turn out to be the least of David Cameron's worries if he becomes Prime Minister.

Lord Tebbit says:

In short, if he becomes Prime Minister, David Cameron will have more to worry about than whether he imposed enough Cameron Cuties on the demoralised remains of the Tory grass roots supporters. Perhaps the most corrosively poisonous inheritance facing the next Government will be the crisis of trust between the British people and the new political class which seems destined to dominate Parliament.
A few more MPs standing for seats where they are known and respected members of the community might help.

Sunday, February 14

Climate change ain't what it used to be

So they're now saying the climate change thing might not be happening after all and there's been no "statistically significant" increase in temperatures since 1995..?

A whole industry has grown up on both sides of this debate. They're using it to justify everything from tax increases to all kinds of changes in the way we live.

Be nice to know who's really right. Just for a change.

Wednesday, February 10

Norfolk stays local after Labour bottles unitary

Communities and councils across Norfolk were up in arms about a single unitary council governing services across the county. And the Tories said they'd overturn it anyway if, sorry when, they win the election.

So today Local Government Minister Rosie Winterton decided it was a no-brainer and ruled it out anyway.

"Across Norfolk we listened carefully to the views of interested councils, MPs and other stakeholders and the option of a unitary structure for the whole of Norfolk did not have sufficient support from key councils," she said.

"As a result the Government had no option but to rule out a unitary auithority for the whole of Norfolk, as it could not succeed without local support."

Turnip Taliban hearts were warmed by the Keep Norfolk Local campaign, run by five district councils. They hit the nail on the head and refused to give up.

Nick Daubney, leader of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Council, said the decision was "a total vindication" of their stance.

"The Secretary of State's decision informs our view that the Boundary Committee consistently failed to listen to the people of Norfolk, who have overwhelmingly backed the retention of their local council," he said.

Notwithstanding the damage thousands of job losses would do to the local economy, the so-called financial savings were nothing more than a red herring - you wouldn't get your bins emptied more often, there wouldn't be more money to spend on gritting the roads and your council tax would not have gone down had this gone through, make no mistake about that.

Meanwhile, Norwich City Council has also been given the go-ahead to run services in the city as a unitary council.

Turnips will find it hard to get too worked up about this, bearing in mind the Tory pledge to scrap any unitaries in the pipeline.

The county council has already said it plans to mount a legal challenge.

Wonder what this ill-fated exercise has already cost taxpayers, with all the miilions spent on preserving the status quo.

Sunday, February 7

Will Gordon catch Dave on the hop..?

More see-sawing in the opinion polls, with pundits calling Dave's U-turn on cuts a wobble. The Telegraph reckons Brown could now call an election in April, with the polls pointing to a hung parliament if he does.

That means the Lib Dems would effectively hold the whip hand, unless they manage to implode between now and polling day.

There's little between the two main parties, with both toeing the line that cuts are needed but not so harsh they harm recovery.

Brown looks a lot more confident. He seems to soak up the punishment like a sponge and keep on troshin'.

Dave's not currently buttering many parsnips. But most of rural Norfolk will still vote Tory, because that's what rural Norfolk does.

Thursday, February 4

Taking the pea out of Norfolk's economy

News that farmers in Norfolk and Suffolk are set to lose £5m after Bird's Eye cancels their contracts to supply peas is a bitter blow.

It clearly highlights the risks of having your economic eggs in too few baskets.

Sugar beet growers are also under growing pressure, with spiralling fuel prices upping the cost of transporting beet to Wissington or Cantley.

Let's hope they're not next. Because there's a limit to how many campsites and golf courses the Norfolk countryside can sustain.

Tuesday, February 2

Benchmarks for Britain, not for Norfolk

Eight Benchmarks for Britain is apparently the keystone of Conservative policy where the economy's concerned.

Search it for the word rural and it comes back with "0 documents and 0 instances".

Here are a few soundbites:
"We will safeguard Britain’s energy security and reduce our exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices by ensuring that we have a diverse range of electricity generating capacity and a resilient energy infrastructure."
No mention of how this government in waiting plans to tackle the volatile fuel prices most people in rural Norfolk notice every time they fill their car up, in the county where pump prices are some of the highest outside London.
"We will increase the proportion of tax revenues accounted for by environmental taxes, but any additional revenues from new green taxes that are principally designed to change behaviour will be used to reduce the burden of taxation elsewhere."
This is what the fuel duty escalator was all about when the Major Government launched it. Instead of becoming an environmental tax, it's become a tax on living in the countryside.
"We will protect health spending in real terms and honour our commitments on international aid, but the plan will include cuts in many other departmental budgets, as well as a one year public sector pay freeze in 2011 excluding the one million lowest paid workers, bringing forward the date at which the state pension age starts to rise to 66 to no earlier than 2016 for men and 2020 for women."
So we're all going to have to go on working longer to pay for Labour in the long run - especially if we're unlucky enough to live in rural Norfolk.

Eye in sky targets rural crime

Does the fight against rural crime really need squadrons of drones - un-manned spy planes equipped with surveillance cameras, to go with all the other cameras which watch us as we go about our daily business, which somehow don't seem to be turning the tide against crime despite the zillions spent on them.

CCTV in town centres is widely believed to have done nothing more than displace crime from urban to rural areas.

Who's going to end up paying the bill for this latest pilot (sic) scheme, reported in the Guardian..? The likes of you and me, no doubt.

Richard Littlejohn has some more colourful views.

Un-manned aircraft will doubtless strike a chord with Norfolk police. If nothing else, they'll go with all the un-manned police stations across the county.

How about something even more radical - like spending the money on extra coppers..?