Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year's Eve

Having not been able to get a table at Jacque, my favourite resturant, I was delighted to get a call from them to say someone had cancelled, so I'll be there tonight with eight friends to bring in the New Year. May I wish every reader of this Blog a very happy and prosperous 2005.


I don't think any of us fully appreciated the horror of what happened in South East Asia when we heard the news on Boxing Day. We do now. The pictures are truly horrific - none more graphic than the front page of today's Sun newspaper. I'm watching Sky News as I type this and can only imagine the grief of those who have lost loved ones. My sister has spent quite some time in Thailand but I have never been there apart from a two hour stop over on the way to Australia.

I was in Lloyds Bank in Cromer this morning and in front of me a man brought in a bag of money which had been collected on the streets of Cromer during the morning. There must have been a couple of thousand pounds in it at least. The lady behind me donated £100 to the appeal. It's not just governments who are duty bound to help on occasions like this and it is magnificent that individuals are doing their bit too.

It makes party politics look all rather petty doesn't it?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Norfolk By Election Success

Last week the Conservatives had a spectacular result in a County Council by-election at Downham Market. My friend Shelagh Hutson achieved a massive 17% swing, and even better, the LibDems were pushed into fourth place. Here's the result in full...

Con 1,301, Lab 223, UKIP 191, Lib Dem 190. (June 2001: Con 2857, Lab 1666, Lib Dem 508, Green 157).Con hold. Swing 16.8% Lab to Con.

Cromer, Crematorium, Will Young and New Year Blowout

I discovered the most brilliant shop in Cromer today. It's the Garden House giftshop in Garden Street. I bought about a dozen presents there which essentially meant I'd done all I needed to. Hurrah! I'm a day ahead of myself. Normally I buy all my presents on Christmas Eve!

I then went to Colin Haddow's funeral at St Faith's Crematorium. There was a huge turnout. I have to admit I have never been to a crematorium before and have something of a phobia about them. I'd always vowed never to set foot in one. I don't know why it is that Christmas time always seems to be a time of year when people I know depart this earth.

Popped over to Keith & Pepi Simpson's later on this afternoon. Keith is MP for Mid Norfolk and his wife is a good friend with dubious tastes. She is obsessed by Will Young. So naturally I bought her a very tasteful Will Young related Christmas present. (I've actually met Will Young...but that's another story) Nothing would drag out of me the small but perfectly formed item of clothing with Will Young's face on it I bought her. No siree.

Tried to book a new year's eve dinner at my favourite restaurant, Jacque, in Cromer but they are fully booked. Damn and blast. Why didn't I think of this before? It's a superb restaurant. CLICK HERE for more details.

The Throng Awaits

Just off to Cromer to finish off my Christmas shopping. I'm very ahead of myself this year. It's normally around now that I start my present buying.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A word in your ear, Alistair me old Mucker

This sleazy government doesn't change does it? Last week Alistair Darling took all Norfolk roads projects off the Government's priority list. Outcry, Uproar from the EDP and local politicians. Charles Clarke then rings up his mate Darling and says "Do us a favour Al, put the A11 dualling back on the list - that should keep 'em quiet". Alistair does his duty and reinstates the A11 dualling (conveniently forgetting the A47) but delays it for a year, thinking that will keep us yokels quiet. Big mistake. But doesn't it stick in the throat that it was only reinstated because Charles Clarke happened to have had a word. And just as bad, Charles Clarke's special adviser dictated a press release to the EDP an hour before Gillian Shephard, the local MP was told about the happy news.

Roll on the announcement about the Outer Harbour at Yarmouth. This has been trundling on since I was working in Norwich in the mid 1980s. I'm not holding my breath.

Best Politician's Blog!

Word reaches me that The Guardian is organising a Best Politician's Weblog Award. Thank you to the anonymous blogger who pointed this out to me. I thought it must be James, as he seems to be the biggest fan of this Blog, but he will not doubt correct me. If the urge overcomes you, feel free to nominate this Blog by CLICKING HERE!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Straddling both Side of the Fence

On January 23 2002 the motion before the House of Commons was “That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for an identity card for British residents; and for connected purposes.” Norman Lamb is listed in Hansard as voting in favour.

Last night Norman Lamb voted against the introduction of ID Cards. I look forward to his explanation for his change of heart. I’m used to LibDems sitting on the fence but to straddle both sides requires a special talent.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Pass the Sick Bag

I've done it again. On Boxing day I'm going to brave freezing temperatures to take part in the annual Boxing Day dip at Cromer. I'll be joining the intrepid North Norfolk Beach Runners for the festive swim to raise funds for BREAK. Funds raised will be used to provide seaside holidays for children and adults with disabilities at BREAK centres in Norfolk. I hope the good people of Cromer will have lined their stomachs after the Christmas Day festivities because the sight of me in my trunks might be a little too much for some. I only hesitated for a few, er, weeks before agreeing to take part in the Boxing Day plunge. It was either that or take part in a sponsored walk over red hot coals. I’m used to having my fingers burnt but I drew the line at my toes.

Saturday in Wells

Yesterday I went to Wells to take part in the protest against the closure of the hospital. There were about 200 people there and Norman Lamb and I both made short speeches. The whole thing is a disgrace. I spent the rest of the day Christmas shopping in Wells and Holt and then went to the Fakenham Choral Society Christmas Concert. It's the first time I have ever had to queue up to get into Church! Adrian Bell, the vicar of Fakenham is certainly very enterprising and puts on the most fantastic events.

Colin Haddow

Our District Council Group leader Colin Haddow died on Wednesday. Colin had been suffering from Cancer but his death was very sudden. He was a very brave man and our hearts go out to his family. He had been a District Councillor in Horning for ten years. We'll all miss him very much.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Today, Tomorrow

It's 1am and I am about to go to bed. Very frenetic day. IDS arrived over an hour late due to traffic. What is it with me and visiting speakers? Boris Johnson went to Peterborough instead of Norwich, Cecil Parkinson ended up driving down the M11 the wrong way and now this! IDS did an hour on North Norfolk Radio and we then went to the Princess Diana Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre at Mundesley. More of this another time, as it was a real experience. It's a truly superb facility and we spent an engaging two hours there talking to the staff and patients. Then on to The Feathers in Holt for a dinner. IDS and I then had a superb time in the bar talking to local people and having drinks bought for us! He scored a real hit with a group of about 20 raucous young ladies. I think they thought we were the strippograms!

Tomorrow I am going to Wells to take part in a demo against the closure of the hospital. Again, more of this tomorrow. I'm falling asleep typing this so I think I had better stopzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Wells Cottage Hospital to Close

I learned yesterday of the Primary Care Trust's plans to close Wells Cottage Hospital. To see the EDP story CLICK HERE. The PCT says it is until January 30th to cope woth a bout of sickness, but it is clear that they really want to shut it permanently. If we're not careful we won't have any Cottage Hospitals left in North Norfolk soon. The PCT says it isn't down to money but all these closures cannot be coincidences.

Today I have Iain Duncan Smith visiting. I'm taking him to the Princess Diana Addiction Rehabilitation Centre in Gimingham and then to a dinner in Holt.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bye bye Blunkett

David Blunkett will resign in the next 60 minutes. You read it here first.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Take Part in my New Monthly Poll

Every month I'm going to test the North Norfolk temperature by inviting you to take part in an online poll. I'm not going to pretend it's scientific, but it might yield some interesting results. The technology is relatively sophisticated so don't even try to vote more than once! To get going CLICK HERE.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

My New Logo

This is my new campaign logo. You'll be seeing it rather a lot over the next few months. It's designed by a young graphic designer in North Walsham. I'm using it on some campaign merchandise - mugs, mousemats, keyrings etc, which you can buy by >CLICKING HERE. All profits from the sale of these items will go to my campaign. Posted by Hello

Great Article by Jezza

There's a great artcle in the Sunday Times today by Jeremy Clarkson, headlined Let's break all Tony's laws

I see that pretty soon parish councillor henchmen will be prowling round our villages at night, handing out £50,000 fixed-penalty notices to those whose lights are keeping people from getting to sleep. Well now; I live opposite a football pitch that, each evening, is illuminated by several starburst gigawatt lamps. They’re an eyesore, for sure, but since I understand that it’s jolly hard to play football in the dark I have not complained. Instead I’ve simply hung two pieces of material in front of the window. I like to call them “the curtains”. I have tried, really I’ve tried, to understand why legislation is needed to prevent people from using lights at night but then I’ve tried hard to understand why dogs aren’t allowed to kill foxes any more. And I don’t get that either. Or why I can’t use my mobile phone when I’m stuck in a traffic jam. Every single day there is a small piece in the papers that announces the introduction of a law banning something which you thought was harmless. And here’s the thing. You raise your eyebrows momentarily and then you turn the page. It’s only when you add up the number of new laws that have come along since His Toniness grinned his way into No 10 that you realise just how much of our freedom he’s tried to erode in the past seven years. Last week Boris Johnson told us that you may not legally fix a broken window pane in your own home unless you are a qualified broken window mender and that when the work is done you must get it inspected by a broken window inspector from the local council. Furthermore, it is against the law to change or tamper with the electrical sockets in your own kitchen. There’s so much more to come as well. Greyhound tracks will soon need new super licences, you will not be allowed to tread on a stag beetle, you will not be able to have unprotected sex or a few drinks with your friends after work. Cheese will have to be marked with a government health warning and you will be prevented from telling jokes about homosexual men, lesbians, Muslims, Catholics, the Irish and foxes. Gary Lineker will only be allowed on television after the watershed, in case children are enticed into his dangerous salt and vinegar world, you will not be allowed to get your dog to kill a rat — because it’s a wild animal — and you will be banned from giving your mum a headstone when she dies in case it falls over. Naturally you will also be banned from smoking in public, owning a Bible, sending Christmas cards that feature the nativity and smacking your children. Happily, you will be allowed to drive a car, but not at more than 20mph, not if you’ve had a piece of sherry trifle and certainly not if it has four-wheel drive. All of the above will be covered by legislation, but where this is not possible Tony uses the Hoxton Thought Police instead. As a result I was told last week that I am now “not allowed” to talk about Siamese twins and must in future refer to them as “conjoined”. Why? Down’s babies used to be called mongoloid because it was felt some of their facial characteristics made them look as if they were from Mongolia. And I can see why that might be upsetting. For both Mongolians and those with Down’s. But the expression Siamese twins is used because the first pair ever to reach the world’s consciousness — called Chang and Eng — happened to be from Siam. So who’s going to be upset? Siam doesn’t even exist any more. Are these idiots now saying I can’t refer to Dutch courage? And if so, who will stand up for the right of measles if I call them German? To be honest, however, none of this interference is going to make any difference to my life. That’s why I’m not whingeing, because I shall continue to call people while driving, and tell them stories that Cherie Blair would find offensive. Furthermore, I’ll carry on calling two people who share body parts Siamese twins. I will eat as much cheese as I like and I will still give my dog a whole packet of prawn-cocktail-flavoured crisps whenever she rips a rat to pieces. This evening I’m thinking of smacking the children. For fun. And then, when I go to bed tonight, after I’ve altered all the wiring in my kitchen and drunk two bottles of wine I’ll leave the outside lights on. And dream about the glimpse of G-string I saw in the office last week. In other words, in a single day I will break 14 laws and seven social taboos that simply didn’t exist before Tony came along. And I shall do so with impunity because there’s no way in hell he can possibly enforce all his Big Ideas.

Atticus Today

The Sunday Times Atticus column is a regular reader of this blog. Today's column quotes my local residents survey. Enjoy...

The voter suggestions a Tory hopeful must ignore
What are going to be the big issues at the next election? Keen-as-mustard Tory candidate Iain Dale decided to find out by conducting a comprehensive survey of voters in North Norfolk, the seat he will be fighting.

He sent out a questionnaire to each voter, asking: “What single thing would you suggest to improve the quality of life in your area?” Here are three of the radical schemes that were suggested to Dale: letting down all the tyres on Margaret Beckett’s caravan; the introduction of communism (and this from a UKIP voter); for you to f*** off back to London where you belong.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Hard Drives & Celluloid

The fire's alight. The Christmas tree is up. God is in his heaven. And friends are about to come round for dinner. Life's good sometimes, isn't it?

Today I have been in Holt and Sheringham. Sheringham this afternoon was especially rewarding. We got more Conservative pledges in an afternoon than any other afternoon I can remember. It was like shelling peas. What is interesting is that the concept of voting Conservative as the only way to get rid of Blair seems to be catching on very well. I'm starting to get recognised quite a lot as well.

Yesterday was what you can loosely describe as packed. It started off with a visit to Fakenham High School for a couple of hours. I had a half hour grilling from the Student Council which was highly entertaining. We covered issues such as why Religious Education was compulsory, tuition fees, school trips and mixed ability classes. I then visited a company called Anglian Chemicals in Fakenham before driving to Hoveton to see someone about street lighting. It was then on to Cromer for a house meeting.

I've also had a couple of pieces in the EDP this week - one about my night out with the Police in North Walsham and today a piece about the LibDems and their plans to impose a tourist tax - or not. They keep denying it's their policy to do so, yet it's still on their national website. Anyway, the EDP had some fun with it.

On Wednesday night I went to London to go to the Today Programme Christmas Party. I spent twenty minutes talking to Lord Chris Rennard, who is Chief Executive of the LibDems and their General Election strategist. We've always got on rather well. I also found myself giving Christine Hamilton a bear hug. The things one does at Christmas parties...

I'd love to tell you what I was doing on Thursday, but if I did, I'd have to shoot you. Why don't you all have a guess in the comment section? The only clue I will give is that it involves celluloid and hard drives. That's got you thinking hasn't it?

Friday, December 10, 2004

And verily he spake unto the world

Came back home tonight to find the Christmas Tree already decorated. Verily I'm in a Christmas mood. Goodwill to all men. And all women (Cruella, are you watching?). And all Jack Russells. And even to Liberal Democrats.

This week has been one things after another, which has meant I have neglected this Blog. Apologies. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow when I'll tell you what I have been up to this week. Too tired now. The wooden hill to Bedfordshire beckons.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

An Early Appearance

A special prize for anyone who caught my appearance on GMTV this morning at 6.30am. Yawn yawn. I was on with Tony Banks - a sort of out with the old and in with the new interview. I like Tony. In fact I compiled a book about hima few years ago called The Wit & Wisdom of Tony Banks. he was Sports Minister at the time and was none too amused as he was trying to be taken seriously. I'm glad to say it never quite worked and he remained his mischievous self.I'm sorry he's decided to leave the Commons. No doubt they'll pick some New Labour robot to replace him.

Saturday Night in North Walsham

On Saturday I spent the evening on patrol with North Walsham Police. There are clearly some very serious anti-social behaviour problems in North Walsham. While a zero tolerance approach appears to have reaped huge rewards in Sheringham, we now need to see those same measures implemented in North Walsham. But this can only be done in partnership with the local community, and in particular the Town Council. What I witnessed on Saturday night shocked me. There were a large number of police officers patrolling the town, yet they are powerless to combat the effects of alcohol. Every incident I witnessed was alcohol related. I witnessed the immediate aftermath of a knife attack outside The Feathers, several groups of youths clearly worse the wear for alcohol in the Precinct and there were several fights and incidents of public disorder around the market place and in Sainsbury’s Car Park. In addition, while the Police were dealing with the knife incident I witnessed two people pushing a car into a lamppost in the market place. The Police did a fantastic job in getting to all the incidents very quickly and dealing with them appropriately, but the common theme was alcohol. Without the fuel of alcohol none of these incidents would have happened. The Town Council should emulate Sheringham’s example and enforce a no public drinking order. I understand they have already discussed the issue but have failed to act on it. Now is the time to do so before it is too late. I’m not surprised that for many people the Market Place is a no go area on a weekend evening. This situation cannot continue. We must give the local Police all the tools they need to do their job, and a ban on public drinking in North Walsham is one of them. We need a zero tolerance approach and if the Town Council does not want to play ball with that approach I’d like to know why.

Dirty Liberals

If you ever had any doubts about the LibDems dirty tricks department CLICK HERE. And don't forget to visit CHARLESKENNEDY.CO.UK. It's a real eye-opener.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


There's an article in the property section of the Telegraph today on the sea defences (and lack of them) at Happisburgh, and the consequences for property values. CLICK HERE for more.

Right to Defend Your Home

You may remember my part in the Radio 4 Listeners' Law at the turn of the year, where I insisted that a so-called Tony Martin Law, giving homeowners more rights to defend their homes, was on the shortlist. I was delighted to read an article in the Telegraph today where the Metropolutan Police Commissioner echoes my thoughts. CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Here's a short quote from the article: "My own view is that people should be allowed to use what force is necessary and that they should be allowed to do so without any risk of prosecution. "There's a definite feeling around when I go out on the beat with officers and talk to members of the public that we need clarity in the law." He said the current legal test of "reasonable force", which has evolved in common law, seemed to be weighted against householders and left the public confused about their rights. Sir John suggested replacing it with legislation that put a statutory duty on police, prosecutors and the courts to presume that the force someone used in their home against a violent intruder was within the law, unless the facts clearly disproved this."

I quite agree.


Just off for a morning's canvasing in Briston. We have a team of people from Mid Norfolk coming to lend a hand. This afternoon I'm in North Walsham and then this evening I am spending the evening with North Walsham Police. Must go - am late!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Fakenham Christmas Trees

Last night I attended a superb event in Fakenham Churech organised by their very go-ahead Rector Adrian Bell. The church was decked out with 52 brilliantly decorated Christmas Trees, each one devoted to a local charity. I went round and spoke to most of the charities and had a thoroughly brilliant time. I'm one of those people who believes this ia a bit early to start Christmas festivities (I do all my shopping on Christmas Eve usually!) but this event really got me in the Christmas mood. Ding Dong Merrily on High!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Bye Bye Blunkett?

Well it's not looking good for Mr Blunkett is it? I have to say that on a personal level I feel very sorry for him, but it is looking increasingly obvious that his personal circumstances have at the very least coloured his judgement. If you examine all 8 of allegations it really does not look very good. I'm tempted to rehearse them all here, but I'll spare you that. I was in the House of Commons yesterday and the general feeling was that he would survive. I don't think he will. And remember, this prediction comes from the man who bet £20 at 80-1 on a Conservative majority of 21 in 1992. Just a shame my friend (an estemed solicitor in Hoveton) forgot to put the bet on for me... I've nearly forgiven him. Almost. Sort of. Ok, alright then, I'm still seething. I may forgive, but I NEVER forget.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Well, What Did you Think?

I have just got back from appearing on Newsnight to talk about the David Blunkett situation. I was on with Labour MP Clive Betts, with whom I had done a News 24 interview earlier this evening. Clive is a nice guy but does rant a bit. So in contrast I seemed to be the voice of sweet reason (for once!). I will happily admit that I was quite nervous about appearing on this programme and was a little suspicious as to why I had been asked. But when I was sitting there waiting for the opening titles to roll and felt remarkably calm. Jeremy Paxman, who had obviously seen the earlier News 24 piece had earlier sttled me down by greeting with the words "Hello, you attack dog!" I replied that I thought that was normally his role. He then said "Oh you're not going to have a go at me about the Michael Howard interview are you?" Luckily I hadn't seen it. Anyway, I everyone tells me I did OK. Roll on Question Time!


Just agreed to do Newsnight live in the studio with Paxman tonight on Blunkett's troubles. Pray for me!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Another Busy Day

It's nearly midnight and I am typing this in my sitting room in Swanton Abbott in front of the first log fire of the year. Sometimes life is just perfect. Today hasn't been bad either. Up at 7 to collect John Redwood to visit Holt WI Market. Anglia TV and the EDP were there. We then went on to North Norfolk Radio where we had a hilarious 45 minutes on air with presenter Sue Marchant. JR was in fine form and rather funny. He even explained about his day last weekend making Christmas Puddings. This afternoon I was in Fakenham and Langham and this evening I spoke at a Conservative do in Blakeney. Have to admit I'm feeling knackered (again) but have a real feeling that things are going well at the moment. If only the national polls would show some movement.

Busy Busy Busy

I'm nearly asleep as I type this. It's been a long day. In brief - into Norwich for a briefing from Liam Fox for the Norfolk target seats. Then back to Swanton Abbott to meet the plumber who is servicing my boiler. Then into North Walsham to pick up my rather innovative Christmas cards. Then to Thorpe Market to meet a very nice lady from the English Democrats. Then into the office for a couple of hours before speaking at tonight's North Walsham Conservative Dinner with John Redwood.

Tomorrow I'm taking John Redwood to the WI Market in Holt. We'll be on North Norfolk Radio between 10 and 10.30am. I then have an afternoon in Fakenham before meeting someone in Langham and then attending Blakeney Conservatives Beaujolais Nouveau evening.

On Saturday I am in Fakenham canvassing all day and attending the farmers market. I'm then going on to Wicken Green for a meeting with the residents association and then onto a house meeting in Lessingham. And on Sunday I shall have a rest. Fat chance.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

Woe is me

Got up at 6 to go to East Harling for the 5 Live interview. Think it went OK. Quite why we spent half the time talking abour racism in rural areas I really don't know...

Feeling as if I have a cold coming on... Catching an episode of West Wing then an early night. Feel like **** warmed up, if you'll pardon the expression.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Just finished going through my surveys - must have looked at about 2,000 today. Especially liked the person who answered Communism to the question What single thing would you suggest to improve the quality of life in your area?. Turned out to be a UKIP voter. Hmmm. But the winner of best answer to that question goes to Mr B from Hoveton who suggested "Let down the tyres on Margaret Beckett's caravan and give Labour a reality check." I like his way of thinking.

More seriously, tomorrow it's a drive to East Harling near Thetford to appear on 5 Live, then I'm driving down to London for a meeting with my friend Tony Benn (and I'm being serious - he calls me his favourite Thatcherite entrepreneur). Then onto Central Office -or Conservative Campaign Headquarters as we now call it - before an afternoon chairing a meeting on the Government's Gaming Bill. In the evening I'm meeting with David Davis to talk about policing. My evening on Friday with Sheringham Police gave me some food for thought and some ideas to pass on to him.

And my email is down. I feel bereft.

I can't believe I am typing this watching I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. I promised myself I would not watch the first episode of this series so I wouldn't get hooked on it. Looks like I failed there then. Not that I have actually heard of many of those on this series. Who is Fran Cosgrove, for goodness sake? Nancy Sorrell? Who she? I shall be voting for that creep Paul Burrell to do the bush tucker trial. Or should I get a life?

On the Radio

I'll be on Radio 5 Live's Breakfast Show tomorrow morning talking about the rural vote at 8.05am.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Charles Clarke's Latest Wheeze

Stephen Pollard has a superb piece on Charles Clarke's latest ridiculous piece opf social engineering - share disruptive pupils around the schools. You really couldn't make it up. CLICK HERE to read more.

Brass Monkeys

God it was cold today. This morning a team of us were out on the venerable doorsteps of Sheringham. I keep being told that Sheringham is a LibDem stronghold but that's not my experience at all. At lunchtime I drove over to Happisburgh to see Di Wrightson whose tearooms are about to topple over the cliff. What a terrible situation to be in. She's fairly stoic but there's no doubt she's been totally let down by the system. The amount of erosion since the last time I visited was shocking. Are we really to leave the sea to do its worst? This afternoon we were in Tunstead. This must be about the most Conservative village in North Norfolk if the people we called on this afternoon were anything to go by. It must be because my constituency chairman Peter Talbot lives there!

I've spent this evening at home in Swanton Abbott going through my surveys. Call me a saddo if you like but I really enjoy it! I won't reveal yet how many we've had back but the number has astonished me. I think they should all be back by the end of the month at which time I'll publish the results. Betcha can't wait.

Friday, November 19, 2004

O2 Given their Marching Orders

I don't normally put press releases on here, but this has all just happened, so forgive me...

This afternoon North Norfolk District Council issued a STOP Notice to O2 and ordered them to stop transmitting from the mast on North Walsham Police Station within three days. North Norfolk Conservative Candidate Iain Dale, who attended the Planning Committee meeting supporting North Walsham residents welcomed Committee's decision, calling it "principled and a justified response to real public anxiety about the health effects of the TETRA mast."

Iain Dale comments:

"This decision should restore people's faith in local democracy. The Council have taken a brave and courageous decision which ought to receive the backing of the whole population of North Norfolk. They have issued a STOP notice in the knowledge that O2 may react by taking the Council to court. They have stood up to a giant company which has tried to ride roughshod over local people. O2 say that there is no other site for the mast. I find it very odd, and a great coincidence, that the only site which they find suitable happens to be on the police station. In the end we must adopt the precautionary principle outlined by Sir William Stewart in his report. We cannot play with people's health or people's lives. I strongly urge O2 to act responsibly and find an alternative site for the TETRA mast and to follow proper planning procedures in future.

"This issue has brought local politicians of all colours together, united in one cause. I pay tribute to the effort of the CATS (Campaign Against Tetra Siting) campaign and in particular the indefatigable work carried out by Matthew Pennington. CATS know that the story probably doesn't end here and everyone will need to carry on the campaign until O2 have finally agreed that another site can be found."

Editor's Note

The Conservative Party recently launched a new policy on the siting of telephone masts under the slogan of "YOU DECIDE WHERE THEY GO". Further details can be found at

Tony Blair's Tan

A friend of mine appeared on Newsnight last night. Read on...

"The make-up woman for Newsnight told me she has done that Tony Blair six or seven times. She does not like him. He does not condescend to talk to her. All he says is “Don’t take off my tan”. I asked her about the famous time Tony Blair appeared to have a bizarre red/orange face when being interviewed. She told me that on that occasion, he had insisted on having a freelance make-up artist. He had doubtless demanded, as usual, that his tan should be preserved and the artist had gone a bit too far. Schadenfreude’s the word."

And they say he's vain...

Survey Responses

Many of you will have received a local residents survey over the past few weeks. We have had many thousands of them sent in, many with very good ideas about how North Norfolk life could be improved. Once we have collated the results I'll be publishing them, but we have a few very hilarious comments made on the question "What single thing would you suggest to improve the quality of life in your area?" . I particularly likes the person (anonymous of course) who replied "For you to **** off back to London where you belong. You are not wanted here." Charming! Seeing as I haven't lived in London for seven years and don't even work there I'm not quite sure where he got that idea from. Another suggestion was "Making the national lottery easier to win". I liked that one. More to follow another day!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Hunting Ban

I have just come back from a School Governors meeting at Cromer High School to learn that the Speaker has invoked the Parliament Act to force through the hunting ban. It's got little to do with animal welfare, of course, but let's not rehearse old arguments. I dread the reaction to the inevitable TV pictures of 25,000 hounds being put down. It's a total disgrace and illustrates how out of touch this government is with the countryside. I was interested to read in the EDP today that Norfolk LibDems are unhappy that Norman Lamb voted for retaining a licensed form of hunting. And also that Norman doesn't think it will be a big issue in North Norfolk at the next election. In his dreams...

"North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who voted for a continuation of hunting under licensing, said he did not think the hunting ban would play heavily in his constituency in the election. But disapproval of his voting on the issue was voiced by Norwich Lib Dem activist Anthony Hall who issued a statement on behalf of party members in Norfolk who approve of the ban. "The Liberal Democrats are split 50-50 on this", he said."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Oh Dear, I've Upset Auntie

It seems I have upset the BBC. Yesterday I was interviewed by Nicky Campbell on the 5 Live Breakfast Show, ostensibly about mavericks in politics (why did they ask me, I wonder?!). Nicky ended up asking me why Michael Howard had sacked Boris Johnson for lieing rather than having an affair and making his mistress pregnant. I calmly replied that it was interesting how the media were obsessed with another Tory sex scandal but the BBC had issued a blanket ban on any discussion of David Blunkett's adulterous relationship with Kimberley Fortier. Nicky seemed a little non-plussed at this and spluttered that Blunkett was married and Fortier wasn't pregnant, as if that was somehow OK then. I replied a little sharply that she he might not be married but she was, and she was also pregnant. The interview then moved on.

This morning this exchange was duly reported in the William Hickey dairy column in the Express. They described Nicky Campbell as 'nonplussed'. If he was, it had passed me by.

I then received an email from a senior political honcho at the BBC pointing out that the BBC had not covered Boris's marital affairs until he had been sacked. Oh well that's alright then. The BBC also said there had not been a ban on mentioning Blunkett's affair. That's rubbish. There was no mention of it on any of their news bulletins or on their news website. And quite frankly nor should there have been if it was a private matter. But it wasn't Blunkett's Ministerial responsibility covers marriage and divorce law, and by flying a civil servant over to his holiday home in Italy Blunkett made it a matter of public interest, But the BBC didn't see it that way. They rarely do.

Seconds out, Round 2. Next Monday, you may recall from an earlier posting, I shall be doing battle with Nicky Campbell again - but this time live in the studio - or should I say from the Farmhouse in East Harling from which the programme will be broadcast. Posted by Hello

Negative Campaigning from Labour - I Couldn't Possibly Comment!

And here's the other side... Posted by Hello

Before James accuses me of negative campaigning I'd just like to point out this is a pledge card produced by the Labour Party. And good on them! Posted by Hello

Monday, November 15, 2004

EDP Front Page

Glad to see the EDP reporting the continuing decimation of Norfolk's Health Services. It's all money driven and how the local PCTs can get away with saying it's all for the patients' own good I do not know. 57 beds are being closed all over Norfolk, 26 of them in North Norfolk alone on the pretext that these people can all be cared for adequately at home. Absolute rubbish. If they could be cared for at home they would be already. And as I understand it many of the nursing staff are going to refuse to do home visits on their own. A complete shambles, and all courtesy of Dr John Reid, Labour's Secretary of State for Health.

Saving my Radio Face

Now I shall definitely be on your wireless tomorrow morning at about 7.50am on Radio 5 Live talking about mavericks in politics. Quite why they have asked me to talk about this I can't think... Should I be pleased or insulted? Am I the next Boris Johnson? Oh dear...

Silly Me

I've just got up at 6am to drive to do Radio 5 at East Harling and just checked the directions to the farm the show is being broadcast from to find that it is actually NEXT Monday, not today! So the question now is: to go back to bed or not? What an idiot...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

On the Radio

I shall be on the Radio 5 Live Breakfast Show tomorrow morning at 8.05am live from a farm in East Harling. Nicky Campbell is broadcasting the whole show live from Norfolk!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Boris & a Nosering

Alas poor Boris. Stupid boy.

Today we had 23 canvassers out. The residents of Horning, Barton Turf, Neatishead and Catfield didn't know what had hit them! Anyone would think an election was imminent. We have chosen an excellent County Council Candidate for the area, Chris How. He seemed to know everybody. The last door I knocked on was opened by a youngish chap with tattoos all over his neck, a nosering, an eyebrow ring and about a dozen earrings. 'Oh Christ', I thought. So I went through my spiel and to my utter amazement he was a total Tory! Just goes to show, never pre-judge. The weather was foul this morning and we all got soaked. People must have thought we were mad carrying on. But I'm not deterred by a bit of moisture. Oh, no. Much tougher than that.

Tomorrow I shall be going to a Remembrance Day service and then catching up on yet more phonecalls and paperwork.

I've also been designing my election posters. I'd love to show you now, but if I did I'd have to kill you. It's that secret. Shhhh.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Visit to the N&N

Well if I ever needed convincing that we need an expanded Cromer Hospital (and I didn't!) I don't now. I had an apointment to meet David Prior at the Norwich & Norfolk (for the unitiated, David was Conservative MP for North Norfolk 1997-2001 and is now chairman of the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital Trust) at 9am. I left Swanton Abbott at 7.45 so for once in my life I could arrive early for a meeting. Guess what time I got there... 9.25. Unbelievable. Get that Northern Distributor road built now! David took me on a tour of the hospital. I hadn't been before so it was quite an eye opener. He obviously gets round the place quite a lot as all the staff knew him well. It's great news that eight renal dialysis machines are being installed at Cromer soon. Had lunch in a pub in Aylmerton - the Roman Camp, a real find.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Today's Events

Today I went to see my graphic designers in North Walsham and spent most of the rest of the day huddled in campaign meetings. This evening I went to Cromer Town Council's Planning Committee meeting to hear about the traffic problems in Cromer. I then spent an hour doing some telephone canvassing.

Tomorrow I am going to see David Prior at the N&N in Norwich and am attending a meeting on Biofuels at the Showground in the afternoon.

So Yasser Arafat is dead. As someone once said, "I wonder what he meant by that". He has a lot to answer for. Bill Clinton blamed him for his Presidency ending in failure. Personally I think a certain Ms Lewinsky had a bit to do with that, but it is quite clear that Arafat singlehandedly scuppered a deal that was on the table in 2000.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Catching Up & More LibDem Hypocrisy

Apologies for the fact that I haven't posted anything for a few days. No excuses. Here goes for a quick catch up.

SUNDAY: Spoke at Cromer Conservative do at lunchtime. Good event. Nice people, including a very nice young blonde lady who wants to stand for the Council. I'm delighted we are getting so many more young people involved.

MONDAY: A day at work.

TUESDAY: A day in London. Morning with the accountant, lunch at the Conservative Womens' Conference, afternoon at the dentist, evening at the Conservative History Group. Funny thing happened at the dentist. I told her I was now a Conservative Candidate and lived in a little village that no one outside North Norfolk has heard of. The dental assistant asked what is was called, so I said 'Swanton Abbott'. Turned out she went to school there as a child. Small world.

TODAY: Another day at work. Sent out a press release today on yet another example of LibDem hypocrisy on the Council. It is the policy of the LibDem controlled Council to transfer Council Houses to the tenants after a vote. Last week LibDem Holt District Councillor Ron Stone (Holt) was pictured handing a petition to Norman
Lamb calling for his own District Council to face a Judicial Review over
the transfer of Council homes to their tenants. Norman Lamb was pictured
accepting the petition.

Today in the House of Commons LibDem Party Chairman Simon Hughes made
clear that the Liberal Democrats national policy is to oppose such
transfers. His comments came in a question to the Prime Minister at
Question Time.

I said in my release: "I have today written to Norman Lamb asking for his
views on the transfer. Does he support his own local Party who want to
transfer the houses, or does he accept LibDem national policy which is
to oppose such transfers, and if so, is he going to support Councillor
Stone's petition? Mr Lamb is used to straddling both sides of a fence.
Perhaps he would like to tell the people of North Norfolk which side he
is going to come down on. People are fed up with politicians who try to
be all things to all men."

TOMORROW: A day in Cromer.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris has a superb article on The Times today on the failed Devolution Referencum in the North East.CLICK HERE to read it.

Let's Get Rid of this Quango

I think it's now time to abolish the self-styoled Eastern Region Assembly. Yesterday it met in Southend of all places to approve Government plans to build 400,000 houses in East Anglia. The vote in the North East shows that no one wants these expensive talking shops which cost the taxpayer a lot of money with no conceivable benefit. I hope we will be committing ourselves to abolishing such wasteful quangos when we return to power.

Abbey Road in Fakenham!

We had a good team of 7 people out this morning tramping the streets. We covered a huge area of Fakenham. Here's what one voter said: "I was taken in by Norman Lamb last time, but I won't make that mistake again." And here's a comment from a LibDem voter: "I always thought Norman Lamb was a good MP but you have put a spoke in his wheel." I have to say that we came across quite a few converts today, both in Fakenham and Walsingham (where we were all afternoon). There are always a lot of people out on a Saturday but if the reaction to us is this good every week we'll win. Even people who aren't Conservatives seem genuinely pleased to see us out on the streets meeting people and listening to them. Interestingly I am getting recognised quite a lot now. I started to introduce myself to at least three people today and they all said they knew who I was. Not bad after only a year.  Posted by Hello

On the Radio Tomorrow Morning

I will have a short cameo on Radio 4's Broadcasting House in the morning (9-10am) talking about political superstitions and omens.

Getting to be an Old Git

Last night I went out for a drink to the Black Swan in North Walsham with three of my younger campaign team. One of them has come down all the way from St Helens to help for five days. That's commitment for you. Another is at uni in Canterbury and is coming out canvassing all day today. The Black Swan seems to be the place to be in North Walsham on a Friday night. I think I was the oldest person there by a country mile! Good music though, although I must be getting to the old git stage of life as it was very loud! Today is a campaign day in Fakenham and Walsingham.
Wasn't Prescott's face a picture yesterday? Thank God the idea of regional assemblies is now as dead as a dodo. I think I shall call for the abolition of the Eastern Region Assembly in a speech I shall be making in Cromer tomorrow. It's a talking shop which we don't need.

Friday, November 05, 2004

An Incredible Result

I have just heard the result of the North East Referendum on having a regional assembly. Quite astonishing. I look forward to John Prescott explaining that one away. At least we can put to bed the idea of having a regional assembly in Cambridge now. And so to bed...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Dubya Slays 'em

I'm hugely enjoying the constant hand wringing in the media about Bush's victory. They seem to be a state of total shock. As I've said on this Blog before, I'm hardly W's biggest fan, but he has upset the entire liberal consensus, and that can only be a good thing methinks. I heard him do a press conference this afternoon and he seemed to be different. Maybe it was because he was completely knackered, but I just have this feeling that he's going to surprise a few people in his second term. And I don't mean by invading Iran.

A Day in Oxford

Yesterday I drove to Oxford to give a speech to Oxford University Conservatives. I thought I'd probably get an audience of about two, but there was actually a rather good turnout. I spoke about politics and the media and it seemed to go fine. Amazingly it was only the second time I had been to Oxford. In the evening I started work on a new idea for my website, which I hope to put love sometime later this month. I could tell you what it is, but it's so secret I'd have to shoot you...

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

From Stibbard to the US via Fakenham

I spent the morning in Stibbard at the playschool, which is seeking funds to build a new building adjacent to the new school. I promised to help in any way I could and got landed with an invitation to be 'gunged' at their fundraiser next July. How could I refuse? I then spent a quiet moment at my Grandmother's grave in Stibbard churchyard. I never knew her as she died 9 years before I was born.

I spent the afternoon on General Election planning and then traipsed along to Fakenham to attend their Town Council this evening. It was quite entertaining. The LibDem District Councillor Simon Wright, who is also Norman Lamb's election agent, got a bit of a rough ride.

So who's going to win the US election tonight? Buggered if I know. I suspect it will be Bush. That's scuppered his chances then!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Warming the Cockles

Just seen this on my WEBSITE. Warms the cockles of the old ticker. It comes from someone I met a couple of weeks ago.

A hint of compassion in his voice as he posed questions for a deeper understanding. Listening intently and posing relevant unsoundbite like comments. How strange, I thought....not just an MP but also a human refreshing!! Good luck with the campaign I know who the smart money is on

A Varied Day

I think I can safely say this was a varied day. It started with me attending the first meeting of the Coltishall Task Force, which I have been appointed to. About 20 of us met in the Church Hall at Coltishall to thrash through the remit of the group and map out the way ahead. I persuaded them that there should be a specific mention of the effects of closure of the base on small business in the terms of reference and also that we should ask the MoD to contribute to the cost of an economic study. Again, this was an example of people of all parties coming together in a spirit of genuine co-operation. This afternoon I went to visit a lady in Cromer who had asked to see me and then spent a couple of hours on General Election planning - which believe it or not I had planned to do long before all this speculation about an early election. This evening I went to Horning Parish Council. Tomorrow I'm off to Stibbard and Fakenham before settling down to an evening watching the American election results. Then on Wednesday I'm off to Oxford to talk to the University Conservatives before heading up to Liverpool to host and Ann Widdecombe evening.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

A February Election?

The papers are full of a snap election in February. I have been warning my colleagues for some time of this possibility on the basis that if the PM thinks he will win, but knows his Labour Party members won't lift many fingers to help him campaign, why not call an election at a time which you know will cause maximum inconvenience to your opponents? I never thought I would say this but I really do think it's time we had a debate on Fixed Term Parliaments. Why should the PM have this power to call an election on a whim? A wicked thought comes to me. What if he went to the Queen and she said no?! She would be within her constitutional rights I think, as you really do need a good excuse to have an election before the end of the fourth year of a Parliament. Thoughts?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Canvassing in Cromer

This afternoon we did three hours canvassing in Cromer. We deliberately picked an area not known for its habit of voting Conservative and I have to say it was an interesting, if sometimes depressing experience. I say depressing not because we weren't getting support, but because of the huge number of people who said they would not vote. Admittedly some of them hadn't voted for sometime anyway, but I have never had a canvassing session where so many people were quite happy to say it. And it's the way they say it. There's very little anger, just a sort of resignation that voting can't change anything. It just shows what an awful lot of work there is to do to restore the trust in politics and politicians which has been eroded in recent years. On a more positive note, we got four new poster sites! And also many people said they had filled in my survey.

With the North Norfolk Harriers

Yesterday lunchtime I met up with the North Norfolk Harriers at Aldborough for their first meet of the season. I'm pictured here with the Master, Roger Bradbury. It's terrible to think that this might be their last season, but I assured him and his colleagues of my support in their fight against the government's pernicious Hunting Bill.  Posted by Hello

Rebecca House Petition

We started our petition to keep Rebecca House open today in the marketplace at North Walsham. In two hours only 1 person refused to sign. And not a single person hadn't heard of the plans to close it.  Posted by Hello

Friday, October 29, 2004

Ode to a Wheely Bin

A constituent sent me in this little poem. Thought I'd share it with you.

The Government has done it again
Rushed a decision to give us all pain.
Wheelie bins are really ugly receptacles at best
And for many there is nowehere for them to rest.
What we want is a common sense poloicy to apply
Because with the objective we all want to comply.,
For those who are happy with bins that is good
For invalids and those with no access there should
Be the alternative of the bags as we have now
We will sort them effectively; we know how!
The choice should be ours to make
Not a bullying tactic for goodness sake.

Andrew Motion, watch out? Or not?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Busy day

An early start to attend the North Norfolk District Concil planning meeting on the future of the TETRA mast at North Walsham Police Station. It was quite heated. The Council decided to enforce a STOP notice but give O2 7 days to respond to a letter. I then drove down to Briston to meet a local farmer who has problems with free range pigs roaming over his land. It was then off to North Walsham to visit the Salvation Army (see below) before driving back to Cromer for a meeting with my Campaign team. Tomorrow I have a mountain of letters to reply to and phone calls to make. In the evening I'm in Fakenham attending a Meet the Candidate evening, which is open to all, organised by Fakenham Conservatives.

Visiting the Sally Army

This afternoon I visited the Mildred Duff Eventide home in North Walsham to be briefed on their plans for a new building. The home is run by the Salvation Army. Unfortunately North Norfolk District Council turned down their planning application for a new home on the existing site this week. Councillors described the design of the new building as 'alien to North Norfolk'. Having seen the plans I can't understand it and am going to take it up with them. We can't afford to lose this facility. They have 22 residents and have plans to take 40, including a special unit for 10 dementia sufferers. With Rebecca House closing it is vital the planners find a way through the present situation. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

This made me laugh..

Just to prove Tory candidates do have a sense of humour... I got this from my Agent today on the Joys of a Helpdesk.

Helpdesk: What kind of computer do you have?
Female customer: A white one...
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi, this is Celine. I can't get my diskette out.
Helpdesk: Have you tried pushing the button?
Customer: Yes, sure, it's really stuck.
Helpdesk: That doesn't sound good; I'll make a note ..."
Customer: No ... wait a minute... I hadn't inserted it's
still on my desk... sorry ....
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
Helpdesk: Click on the 'my computer' icon on to the left of the
Customer: Your left or my left?
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
Helpdesk: Good day. How may I help you?
Male customer: Hello... I can't print.
Helpdesk: Would you click on start for me and ...
Customer: Listen pal; don't start getting technical on me! I'm not
Bill Gates damn it!
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi good afternoon, this is Martha, I can't print. Every time I try it
says 'Can't find printer'. I've even lifted the printer and placed it
in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can't find
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
Customer: I have problems printing in red...
Helpdesk: Do you have a colour printer?
Customer: Aaaah....................thank you.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
Helpdesk: What's on your monitor now ma'am?
Customer: A teddy bear my boyfriend bought for me in the supermarket.
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
Helpdesk: And now hit F8.
Customer: It's not working.
Helpdesk: What did you do, exactly?
Customer: I hit the F-key 8-times as you told me, but nothing's

There's more, but I think I'd better stop here!

Rebecca House in the House

I'm watching the Parliament Channel as Norman Lamb has an Adjournment Debate on Rebecca House in a moment. It seems proceedings are being held up by Points of Order. I'm glad Norman has got this debate as he will hopefully be able to hold the Minister to account. Richard Bacon will also be speaking about a simialr facility, Cygnet House in Long Stratton, in his constituency which is also facing the axe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

RAF Coltishall

Here's a short press release I just sent out.

Iain Dale is to join a Task Force set up by Norfolk County Council to examine the future of RAF Coltishall, which is set to be closed. Dale lives almost at the end of the Coltishall runway at nearby Swanton Abbott. The Task Force meets for the first time on Monday under the chairmanship of cabinet Member Tony Tomkinson. Local MPs Keith Simpson and Norman Lamb are also on the Task Force.

Iain says: “I know from talking to my neighbours in Swanton Abbott and people on the base what a devastating blow it was to hear of the base’s impending closure. It’s important that we all come together now to see what can be salvaged. I would like to think there might be a continuing military use, but with the appointment of Defence Estates to look at disposal of the site this seems unlikely. I am particularly concerned about the many local businesses – pubs, shops etc – who rely on the base for their trade. The role of the local planning authorities will be crucial in any plans the Task Force comes up with and I am sure they will all play a constructive role.”

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Let's have Fewer MPs!

I understand the Conservatives will have a manifesto commitment to reduce the number of MPs in Britain from 659 to 550. I would fully support such a move. It'd mean each constituency would have 100,000 voters instead of the current 70,000 (although North Norfolk is currently 82,000) but Andrew Turner on the Isle of Wight already has 100,000 and is regarded as a good constituency MP. I would also like to see a cut in the number of government ministers from 100 to about 75. I doubt whether we would have any worse government! I'd be interested to hear what others think about this.

Where are you on the Left to Right Scale?

CLICK HERE to take the Political quiz, which tells you where you are on the Left/Right scale. I came out as a Libertarian Conservative. No surprise there then.

Liberal or not?

I was interested to read in this week's LibDem News (part of my staple reading) that Norman Lamb's agent Simon Wright has been tio Germany to campaign for the FDP, who camopaign under the banner of 'Die Liberalen'. I hate to tell Simon but the FDP are to the right of the Conservative Party and run on a very Thatcherite economic agenda. A strange bed partner for a Liberal North Norfolk Distrct Councillor I would think. Perhaps he's thinking of defecting to us? Perish the thought.

Friday, October 22, 2004

On the Radio

Typing this at the BBC. Just about to go on 5 Live for two hours, so if you're here between now and 1am tune in to Radiuo 5 Live on 909 or 693! We're discussing why anyone would want to go into politics. Quite!

Old Man In a Hurry

There'll be more on yesterday's events tomorrow, but I am in a rush as I am off to Cambridge to the Thatcher Archives to a seminar on the 1979 election. Yes, I know it's a bit anoracky, but there you go.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I'm typing this at North Norfolk Radio while my colleague David Ruffley MP does an interview about the effect of fuel duty on rural areas. We're off to Binham in a minute and then to a lunch in Wells. Later on I'm meeting St John's Ambulance and then heading off to Sidestrand Parish Council.

Boris Johnson. Dear oh dear oh dear.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Her Mother's Daughter

Carol Thatcher and me at our fundraising lunch at Pinewoods. She's a reet laff, as a northern acquaintance of mine might say. Posted by Hello

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bleary eyed

I overslept today - very unlike me. I opened my eyes to find the clock saying 8.58. Aaaagh! Spent the day in the office. Not much to report. Just one of those typical Mondays. Tomorrow I am going to a PCT meeting about the new hospital in Cromer. We also have a lunch with Carol Thatcher.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Fathers for Justice

On Friday evening I met a couple of guys in North Walsham who are members of Fathers for Justice. Their stories really moved me. They want nothing more than to be involved with the upbringing of their children, yet our legal system seems to be totally biased against them. Each of them are allowed 5 hours supervised access every month - not every week - every month. I told them that I could not condone some of the more extreme campaigning tactics used by F4J but it is clear to me that there is something deeply flawed in our child protection system if fathers like these are denied proper access to their children. The guiding light in any system of family law must be the welfare of the children. But no one is telling me that children are better off without the full involvement in their upbringing of their father. I don't doubt that there are many terrible circumstances where it is not possible to have two parents with equal access but that does not mean that we shouldn't look at reforming the law so the rights of access for fathers is strengthened. Here's a press release I have just issued. If you'd like to visit the F4J East Anglia website

IAIN Dale, North Norfolk's Conservative Parliamentary Candidate held talks this weekend with representatives of North Norfolk Fathers for Justice in North Walsham. He told them he endorsed calls by Conservatives nationally to review family law and give divorced parents greater rights of access to their children. Today divorce affects almost 150,000 children every year, more than two-thirds of whom are under the age of ten.

Iain Dale explained:

"When relationships break up, too many children become unfairly cut off from one of their parents, as well as grandparents and other close relatives. The current legal system isn't working, trapping many families for years in the courts running up massive legal bills."

Under the three-point plan to guide a review of family law by Conservatives:
· There should be a strong presumption in favour of equal rights for parents to have an influence on the upbringing of their children.
· Mediation should as far as possible always be the first step - taking matters to court should be the last resort for parents who separate.
· The procedures and powers of the family courts should be much more open and fair.

Iain added:

"The current system is hugely expensive, inefficient, unfair, insensitive and often, fairly chaotic. All of this causes resentment, frustration and anger in families across North Norfolk. I believe there should be a presumption that the extended family has a crucial role to play in the upbringing of children."

"Fathers for Justice exists because many fathers have been excluded from their children's upbringing by a legal system which often acts against them. However, I must be clear that while I support many of the aims of F4J I do not condone some of their campaigning tactics. There is a fine line between a harmless stunt and an act of dangerous irresponsibility."

Have a BREAK

On Friday I spent a very informative and enjoyable morning with BREAK in Sheringham. Break is a charity which runs several children's homes and provides holidays for children with learning disabilities. I toured their Sheringham holiday home and then met some of the people at DAYBREAK, the day centre.
They do a fantastic job in providing superb facilities. I even took a dive in a ballbath. Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Woh Black Betty Bambalam

Sheena's the one on the right. Circa 1982! My sister Tracey and I used to call her Black Betty (her middle name is Elizabeth) after the song which was in the charts at the time. She didn't like it all. Kids eh? By the way, my friend Gloria, who used to be Ann Widdecombe's secretary, used to manage The Ramones, who sang Sheena is a Punk Rocker. Also, Deborah Harry. Must have been a challenge. Anyway, enough of this, back to politics tomorrow, when I'll be reporting on my recent acitivites on behalf of the good burghers of North Norfolk. Included will be a report on my excllent meeting with my new friends at Fathers for Justice, my visit to BREAK when I dived into a ball bath. Now if that doesn't tempt you back tomorrow, nothing will.  Posted by Hello

Friday, October 15, 2004

Sheena is a Punk Rocker

I had the shock of my life last night. My sister Sheena rang me very late to say "I've got something to tell you". I have to say my blood ran cold. Whenever anyone says something like that I always think they're about to tell me someone has died or they have a life threatening disease. But far from it. At the ripe old age of 38 she's five months pregnant. Hurrah! It's only taken her and Alan 18 years, but no doubt they've enjoyed the practice!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

School Governors & How to beat a LibDem

Spent a lot of the day at school governors meetings. I am a governor at Cromer High School. This gives me a great insight into the problems facing our schools today. Talked to several people today about the ridiculous Shoreline Management Plan, which effectively abandons large parts of the North Norfolk Coastline to the sea. More on this anon. This evening I hosted a function at the Feathers in Holt at which we heard from the Conservative MP for Taunton, Adrian Flook, who beat a LibDem MP, Jackie Ballard in 2001. The title of his talk? How to beat the Liberal Democrats. And very illuminating it was too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The next couple of days

Another day strapped to the desk. Tomorrow I have two school governors meetings in Cromer. On Friday I am spending the morning at BREAK in Sheringham and then talking to representatives from Fathers for Justice in North Walsham. Hopefully no purple powder will be in evidence! On Saturday I am in Holt all morning before going to my father's 75th birthday bash in Saffron Walden.

A Day in the Office

It's not generally known that candidates have to keep the wolf from the door just like anyone else. We don't get paid, we don't get expenses - just for the record! So today was spent at the office working. No politics, no campaigning... well, perhaps just a little. Had a bit of a gossip with various people about the South West Norfolk parliamentary selection. It's now down to the final 6, of whom I personally know three. Having been through it myself I really feel for them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Rebecca House

Apologies for the length of this press release, but please do persevere to the end. I hope my anger comes across.

Iain Dale, Conservative Candidate for North Norfolk, today organised and chaired a meeting for relatives of Rebecca House patients to discuss their plans to campaign against its closure. The meeting was also attended by Norman Lamb MP and Labour candidate Phil Harris. Following this, Iain Dale and Norman Lamb accompanied the 30 or so relatives to a meeting with the Mental Health Trust at Rebecca House.

Iain says he was "shocked and dismayed" that no senior representative from the Mental Health Trust had bothered to attend this important meeting. He says: "I expected to see either Chief Executive Pat Holman or the Chairman Maggie Wheeler there, or at the very least Policy Director Kathy Chapman. I think a number of the relatives were quite insulted that they didn't turn up."

There was also a bid to gag Iain Dale and Norman Lamb, who were told they could not particiapte in the meeting, merely observe. The relatives made clear that they had asked both Dale and Lamb to be their voice and both participated fully in the proceedings. Iain says: "It is outrageous that they tried to gag us. Who do these people think they are? All we are doing is trying to protect the interests of the patients at Rebecca House and their relatives. I'm not going to be gagged by anyone."

Alison Leathers, the project manager for the Mental Health Trust then told the meeting that there will be a 12 week public consultation on their plans to close Rebecca House, Cygnet House and part of Ellacombe, at a stroke abolishing 100 beds and replacing them with a new 28 bed acute unit at the Julian Hospital in Norwich. At the moment 60 of these beds are in use. At the Julian there will be 20 full time beds with 8 for respite care. This means that some 40 patients, two thirds of those currently in NHS care, will be forced to find alternative accomodation. At the moment no such beds exist.

Iain says: "The authorities are putting the cart before the horse. They know the beds aren't out there so why proceed with these plans when they have no way of implementing them? They have given no thought at all yet to the need for respite care and how that can be provided and there is no way that dementia sufferers can be put in normal residential care homes, even if there were free beds, which there aren't."

Alison Leathers explained to the meeting that some patients would be transferred from Rebecca House to Hellesdon Hospital pending the building of the new Julian unit. This breaks a pledge she and Kathy Chapman made to Iain Dale in March where they specifically ruled out Hellesdon as an option. Iain says: "It is a disgrace that they have shifted their position on Hellesdon when they told me in March that it was not an appropriate setting for dementia care. Either I was misled or they knew all along this was what they intended to do. Either way it is a pretty shabby way for a public authority to behave and I will be asking Maggie Wheeler for a public apology.

Iain accused the Labour Government of creating continuing care criteria which "do not stand up to either clinical examonation or any judgement of common sense".

Rebecca House was only built 10 years ago, as a specialist dementia care unit. It's closure is described by Iain as a "criminal and negligent act which we should hold Dr John Reid personally responsible for".

Iain Dale and Norman Lamb committed themselves to campaigning for Rebecca House to remain open for specialist dementia care. Iain says: "If the Mental Health Trust abandon their responsibilites at Rebecca House we must see whether there are any other options, such as the Primary Care Trust taking it over, or for a private sector carer to opeate it. Whatever happens, North Norfolk cannot afford to lose such a wonderful facility.

In conclusion Iain comments: "I am angry - very angry that good and honest people have been treated in this way. The only thing they want is for their relatives to be cared for and not treated as statistics. The Mental Health Trust should examine their consciences. It's not too late for them to admit they are wrong and that Rebecca House should stay open."

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Politics Show

Just got back from Norwich after appearing on the BBC's Politics Show. I had four 40 second soundbites - not exactly a lot to develop an argument! I commented on Rebecca House, Gillian Shephard's retirement, Conservative prospects and immigration. I think I did OK. Someone has commented that I seemed to lose control of my right hand (steady on!) but I am a great admirer of the Andrew Marr school of gesticulation!

Saturday, October 09, 2004

On the TV on Sunday

I'm going to be on the BBC Politics Show tomorrow (Sunday) lunchtime talking about Rebecca House and Gillian Shephard.

Rebecca House

Here's a press release I issued this morning...

"North Norfolk Conservative Candidate Iain Dale has organised a meeting of relatives of patients who receive permanent and respite care at Rebecca House in North Walsham to take place at North Walsham Community Centre at noon on Monday 11 October. Iain Dale will chair the meeting and has invited North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and North Norfolk Labour Party Candidate Phil Harris to the meeting and both have accepted. They will discuss the Mental Health Trust's plans to close the dementia care unit.

Iain says: "I am pleased that Norman and Phil have accepted my invitation to attend as it shows everyone is united in their opposition to these ill thought out plans. We very much hope that Norman will be able to raise the issue in Parliament. Relatives are angry not only at the Mental Health Trust's plans but the outrageous way in which they advised the press of the closure before contacting the relatives. I have been to three meetings with the relatives at Rebecca House over the last six months and they have all been very emotional. The purpose of this pre-meeting is to talk about what the relatives want to get out of the meeting later in the afternoon with the Trust.

Editor's Note: The pre-meeting will take place at 12 noon at North Walsham Community Centre. The relatives will then meet the MHT at 1.30pm at Rebecca House with Iain Dale.

This is the first time the three main party candidates have met on the same platform.

Will there be a Green Candidate?

I was asked today by someone if there will be a Green Party candidate in North Norfolk. Anyone care to shed any light on this? I hear rumours that RESPECT will put someone up.

If ever I needed cheering up...

Today is the day I have wanted to see for a long time. It's the day which told me I will win the election. You had to be with me to believe it. I was out in Wells this morning and Wicken Green this afternoon. The number of people who told me they were really impressed by our conference was astonishing. And they were normal people, not political obsessives. We got a dozen new poster sites today too. I can't tell you how optimistic I feel. Now, after three...


On the Telly

To all my adoring fans (if only...) you can see me on the Politics Show this Sunday... but only in the eastern region! I was also on the Today programme this morning, which went quite well. I had to do it down the line but Stephen Pound and Sarah Teather were both in the studio. It was all about leaders' speeches at party conferences. Sarah Teather even managed to get a mention of the Hartlepool by election in, which was quite skilful of her. My sotto voce sigh of 'Oh God' raised a titter with Ed Stourton.

I had several potential candidates for South West Norfolk ring me today for advice. The interviews are this weekend. It brings back memories. I know several of the candidates. But I'd better not be indiscreet... (spoilsport!)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Debating Europe in Fakenham

What a fantastic evening. Fakenham Chamber of Commerce invited me to take part in a debate on the European Constitution with the Labour Candidate Phil Harris and LibDem MEP Andrew Duff. I had a fantastic time and really enjoyed myself. Phil Harris is a very nice chap and the debate was good. Andrew Duff is a complete federalist and quite happy to say so. I can respect anyone who nails their colours to the mast even if I don't agree with them. The audience was receptive and there were a clear majority on my side of the argument. The probable UKIP candidate Stuart Agnew was very put out that he had not been asked to speak, but he made up for it by asking 4 questions. Unfortunately Mr Agnew is so obsessed by this one issue that he can't quite get the fact that if you vote anything other Conservative in the General Election you are more likely to end up with a Labour Government which will continue to sell this country down the river, supported by their Federalist LibDem friends.

Tomorrow I'm out in Wells and Wicken Green.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Let's Get Going

A superb end to a great week. I left Bournemouth today completely reinvigorated for the battles ahead. I don't think anyone could deny we have had a good week in Bournemouth. There is a real self belief about the Party now which I haven't seen for some time. I've come away with some great new innovative campaigning ideas which I'll be deploying over the next few months. It's a sobering thought that by the time of next year's Party Conference my life will have completely changed - one way or the other. Now it's up to me to ensure that I meet the expectations of all those who have placed their trust in me.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Tuesday's Conference Update


1. Spoke at media fringe meeting on who controls the political agenda - politicians or the media. Other speakers were Ann Widdecombe, David Yelland, Matthew d'Ancona and Polly Billington. Went really well and I much enjkoyed it despite leaving all my notes behind. I'm better when I wing it!

2. Did an interview with the BBC World Service which was terminated after I accused Blair of lieing over the Iraq war. A disgrace. I shall be making a formal complaint.

3. Great speech from Michael Howard. Inspirational and deeply personal.

4. Office just had a call from a UKIP voter who saw me speaking yesterday and is now going to vote for me. Hopefully he won't be alone.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Quick one

Am v knackered and it's only 7.30 on day one of the conference. I'm just heading off to the Eastern Area reception and I then have to deputise for Simon Hoggart at the Spectator/Policy Exchange quiz. And if Boris Johnson doesn't shopw up I will have to chair it. God help me. Just done interviews with News 24 and Newsnight on Oliver Letwin's speech today. I spoke in the debate and urged us to promise to scrap Inheritance Tax which I regard as a deeply unjust tax in dieing. The rich avoid it by employing expensive lawyers and it is now beginning to hit people who cannot conceiveably be described as rich. Had a v good fringe meeting with William Hague who spoke about his book on Pitt. More tomorrow (hopefully!)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Off to Bournemouth

Just off to the Party Conference in Bournemouth. It's going to be a very busy week. This is my schedule for Monday...

9am-12.30 Politico's stand
12.30-2 Target seat briefing
2-4.00 Take part in Tax & Economy Forum on Platform
4-5pm William Hague Booksigning
5.30pm Co-chair Conservative istory Group Fringe meeting with William Hague
7pm Attend London Olympics Reception
7.30pm Attend Eastern Area Conservatives Reception
10pm Attend Policy Exchange/Spectator Quiz
11pm Attend Absolutely Equal Party

I'll try to keep you up to date with the conference as often as I can.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Iain Wins Fight to Restore Roughton Road Bus Service

Here's a Press Release I just issued.

North Norfolk Conservative Candidate Iain Dale has persuaded Norfolk
County Council and Sanders Coaches to reinstate bus services to the
Roughton Road area of Cromer. The 44 service was withdrawn in July, but after receiving several letters from local residents Iain Dale and
Conservative District Councillor Sue Arnold took up their case. Iain Dale learnt today that from Monday 4 October the 16 & 18 services will now stop at Roughton Road in addition to their normal route. Iain Dale comments: "I was concerned that Roughton Road residents were being cut off after losing their service. Many people relied on the 44 bus. While there is a railway station at Roughton Road, many elderly
residents cannot climb the several dozen steps up to the platform. I am
delighted that Sue Arnold and I have persuaded the County Council and Sanders to provide new services to the Roughton Road area. I am grateful to the County Council for listening to us and acting on our representations." Local resident Pearl Paice said: "This is great news and we're all delighted. I'm so grateful to Iain and Sue for their hard work."

Editor's Note: The 16 service runs from North Walsham to Holt on Tuesdays and Fridays. The 18 service runs from North Walsham to Sheringham on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Radio 5 Live Tonight - Listen!

I'm going to be on 5 Live for 2 hours tonight from 11pm to 1am. So if you want to hear my lame excuses for the Hartlepool by-election (I have none) tune in! 909 or 693AM, digital radio or Channel 855 on Satellite. Believe it or not my mother always listens to me on satellite TV so she can video it!


I'm watching the US presidential debate at the moment. If this is the best John Kerry can do then he is in big trouble. Deeply unimpressive. Rather like our result in the Hartlepool by-election.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Calm before the Storm

My company is running the bookshop at the Conservative Conference next week so it's a bit of a busy time. However, even this doesn't stop your ever hardworking candidate from doing a spot of political telephoning. I've been calling a random selection of people who have returned my local residents survey. Almost always they seem to find it difficult to believe that a politician would actually bother to find out what they think. I've never actually phoned someone and then thought it was a waste of time. Had a fascinating conversation with a home carer. She had written me a really heart wrenching letter about her life as a carer. The woman deserves a medal. What she actually gets is £6.08 an hour.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Is the LibDem Council doing a good job?

The excellent North Norfolk Radio are carrying an online poll this week on whether the Liberal Democrat controlled North Norfolk Council is doing a good job. I hear on the grapevine that all council staff have been asked to vote to say how good the council is!

To register your vote

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is the first anniversary of my selection as Conservative Candidate in North Norfolk. It's been quite a year one way or another.

The EDP carries an article today about the likely runners and riders to succeed Gillian Shephard in South West Norfolk. They name David Prior, Marion Rix, Andrew French and Jonathan Morgan as likely applicants. I suspect there will be about 400 people applying and the roads of the constituency will be rather busy this weekend with wannabe MPs researching the area. It's a relief I don't have to take part!

Monday, September 27, 2004

King Size Nanny State

Is New Labour's attempt to turn us into a Nanny State now complete? I ask this because I read today that the Government has persuaded the makers of Kit Kat and Mars bars to discontinue their King Size versions. Dear oh dear. Are we really not capable of deciding for ourselves what we should eat? I shall go out tomorrow and devour three King Size Kit Kats as a protest. Just kidding. I think.
Today I published details of a ward closure at Benjamin Court Hospital in Cromer and commented on the clsoure of the Rebecca House Hospital in North Walsham. Both of these moves are deeply worrying. My releases are too long to add to the Blog but you can read the Banjamin Court one by CLICKING HERE and the one of Rebecca House by CLICKING HERE. I am growing very concerned at the number of residential and daycare units in North Norfolk which are being either closed down or run down in some way by the relevant healthcare or social services authority. On each occasion the explanation always given is that it is important that care be provided in the patient’s home where possible. In theory there is nothing wrong with this aim, but I worry that this policy is being driven by financial necessity rather than clinical or medical reason. The situation at Rebecca House Dementia Care Unit in North Walsham is a classic example. The closure of the day unit at Kelling for motor neurone patients and a Day Centre in Holt for people with learning difficulties are others.

My day was lightened when I was told by North Norfolk Radio that the Council's refuse collectors were refusing to empty wheelie bins at some houses where the owners were known to be gay. I thought this was a wind-up first of all, but it seems not. The Council have now promised to discipline those responsible. And quite right too.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Dirty War

Just watched the Dirty War drama on BBC1 about a dirty bomb going off in London. Frightening stuff.

Yesterday I spent the day out on the stump in Stalham and Mundesley. Today I have been preparing a speech on the European Constitution and catching up with correspondence and phone calls.

Amazing stuff in the papers about Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. I can't help thinking that their relationship is going the same way as that of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson.

Very funny clip on the BBC Politics Show at lunchtime. They showed Norman Lamb at an Eastern Region fringe meeting at the LibDem conference trying to do his pantomime audience whipping up. "We're going to win lots of seats of Labour, aren't we?" he shrieked. "I think so" came a rather pathetic voice from the back. Hilarious.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Cheers Charles!

It's not often I open the Eastern Daily Press and am left open-mouthed. But today it happened. Their political editor Chris Fisher interviewed Charles Clarke (Labour MP for Norwich South and Secretary of State for Education) in advance of the Labour conference. This is what he said in response to a question about Norman Lamb's boasting about the LibDems winning Norwich South at the next election...

"Norman Lamb should concentrate on trying to keep his own seat. There is a very good Tory candidate standing against him"

Chris Fisher continued... "Not for the first time I concluded that there will be no tears from Mr Clarke if Iain Dale regains North Norfolk for the Conservatives."

I always liked Charles Clarke!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Pass the sickbag...

This is positively the last anti LibDem posting for a while, but you have to forgive me. Their conference has been so smug and nauseating I keep having to reach for the sick bag. Here's Norman Lamb's comments to the Guardian on Charles Kennedy's oration (if you can call it that - it was one of the most appallingly delivered leader's speeches I have ever heard)...

"Charles has come of age. There's a self-confidence about the man which is just growing every day. It all goes back to the budget [which he missed]. Yes, that was a wake-up call but ever since then he's just been superb and played a blinder ... I thought the most impressive thing about the speech was that he didn't spend any time slagging off Blair or Howard. It was entirely positive"

I know it's the role of a PPS to grease up to his leader, but I must have been listening to a different speech. Kennedy did little else but slag off Blair and Howard. Yet another example of LibDem hypocrisy.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

In a vain attempt to be kewl

Having exposed myself to shame and humiliation last week on Radio 5 Live when I made the startling confession to owning every CD Jason Donovan has ever released, I now wish to demonstrate that I am seriously 'kewl' as I have just bought a fantastic CD by a popular music beat combo called Maroon 5. Highly recommended.

Go on My Sun

I'm going to make an admission now. Are you sitting down? I buy The Sun every day. Shock horror. Admittedly it's mainly because it has the best sports gossip. Oops, I meant sports coverage. But it's also read by 5 million people and I reckon that if you're serious about politics you need to know what 5 million people are reading. CLICK HERE to see what Sun readers were treated to yesterday. Readers of a nervous disposition should click away now.

Arf Arf

This is hilarious. In my constituency survey we ask people who they would vote for, and then if they say 'don't know', which two parties are they choosing between. Congratulations to to Mr G of Weybourne who answered: An Xmas Party and Blair's leaving do.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Boris, Burnt Feet and Boring LibDems

Terribly excited about getting a link from Boris Johnson's new blog which you can view by CLICKING HERE. Coincidentally I finished a review of Boris's new novel SEVENTY TWO VIRGINS today for the EDP. I think it's going in on Saturday so I'll post it to the website when it appears.

A hectic day at work today preparing for our bookstand at the Conservative Party Conference. Had a long conversation with a lady from Stibbard about the playschool there which needs to raise money for a new building. Stibbard is getting a brand spanking new primary school building but the play school might be left homeless so I'm going to see what I can do to help. I was asked if I might like to do a skydive. I'm up for most things but as a friend of mine was killed doing that this year I declined with thanks. A few days ago a North Norfolk charity suggested I might like to walk over hot coals for them. I've heard of getting my fingers burnt but I draw the line at my feet! Anyone would think I was desperate for publicity... talking of which, the EDP printed a very truncated version of my letter (see below) today...Replete with picture of Norman Lamb. The Eastern Evening News quoted me talking about more Police for Norfolk and paying Special Constables.

Tomorrow I have a day in London. It starts with a meeting at POLICY EXCHANGE. This is a centre right think tank and I'm a trustee. I'm then going to listen to a Michael Howard speech on asylum and immigration and then by way of contrast going to talk to my theatrical agent (don't laugh) about getting more dates for my theatre show with Ann Widdecombe.

I could bore you to death about how boring the LibDem conference is, but I suspect if I'm bored with it dear reader, then so are you. And so to bed.

PS I just did a spellcheck (yes, I do sometimes!) and LibDem came up as an unrecognised word. The suggestion for its replacement was "lividness".

Monday, September 20, 2004

Delusions Delusions

Here's a letter I sent to the EDP today. Their political editor Chris Fisher wrote a very revealing article on the LibDems and Norman Lamb's plans to conquer the rest of Norfolk. I'm told that Norman Lamb believes the LibDems "won" the Easton by-election in South Norfolk last week even though we won it with a 4% swing to us! Quite astonishing. I think even the EDP are getting rather weary of their daily 'Lambograms'.

Chris Fisher's article (20 Sept) on the LibDems' plans to conquer Norfolk highlights their main weakness - which is that no one quite knows what they stand for, apart from wishing to be all things to all people. For instance, all their rural MPs voted against the Hunting Bill, yet their urban MPs voted in favour. Are they in favour of privatising the Post Office, as their Treasury spokesman says, or are they not? The truth is that their are promising the earth without having the faintest idea of how to pay for their ever growing wishlist.

The LibDems are proving to be the wheelie bins of British politics - receptacles filled with protest votes.

It is interesting that Norman Lamb thinks the LibDems are going to sweep Norfolk at the next election. He would do better worrying about retaining his own seat in North Norfolk. Rather than harp on about how well the LibDems are doing why doesn't he tell us what they actually stand for? Maybe he has forgotten that last week the LibDems were trounced by the Conservatives in a local government by-election in South Norfolk (Easton) at which they threw everything bar the kitchen sink. We won with a 4% swing from the LibDems to us.

Nowhere in his interview with Chris Fisher did he tell us about a single LibDem policy. Perhaps this is because he knows that a Local Income Tax will mean that a working couple in North Walsham will pay £650 more tax, that his fence sitting on Europe is no longer sustainable, that his Party's policy on legalising soft drugs and reclassifying hard drugs will be an electoral disaster and his Party's policy of imposing 40 new taxes on a population which is heartily sick of tax rises under Tony Blair, will guarantee that the LibDems remain the third party of British Politics. It is a sad reflection on the state of politics that Mr Lamb has refused to debate any of these issues with me in advance of a General Election campaign - a campaign in which I shall not only explain how a Conservative government will benefit North Norfolk but will also expose the hypocrisy underlying Liberal Democrat policies.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Gillian Shephard

I was very sad to learn last night that my friend Gillian Shephard has decided not to contest the next election. She has been a superb MP for South West Norfolk and the House of Commons will be a poorer place without her.

Yesterday we had a literary lunch at Fakenham Racecourse, which was addressed by Sir Bernard Ingham and Jo-Anne Nadler, author of Too Nice to be a Tory. In the evening I went to Kelling Parish Council and then drove down to Barnham Broom to do a bit of last minute knocking up in a local council by-election. I'm delighted to say we trounced the LibDems.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

LibDem Utopia

Today's Daily Telegraph editorial is headlined LibDem Utopia. I think any comment from me is superfluous...

Oh, what an earthly paradise this land will be when the Liberal Democrats sweep to power after the next general election! There will be free personal care for everyone who needs it, young and old. For students, there will no more tuition fees (never mind top-up fees).

More investment will be made in the very young. The over-75s will be given an extra £25 a week, and a million pensioners will be relieved of the indignity of means-testing.

To restore and preserve law and order, there will be 10,000 extra police on the streets. Pollution and congestion will be cut, while more and more of our needs will be met by renewable energy. There will be free off-peak travel for pensioners and the disabled.

And never again will anybody have to sell a house to pay for long-term nursing.

The great thing about all this is that absolutely nobody will have to pay for it. All right, almost nobody. For the great majority of British families, taxes will be cut. Council tax will be abolished altogether, and replaced by a "fair and affordable" local income tax.

Only the "very rich" will have to pay extra, and even they will be asked for just "a little" more.

This was the glorious vision of a Lib Dem Utopia, described yesterday in the party's draft manifesto. All that was missing was a promise that under Charles Kennedy's benign rule, chocolate truffles would sprout from every tree, and elves and fairies would bring us our breakfast in bed.

It is all fantasy, of course, but it is clever fantasy, and not to be dismissed lightly by the other parties. The Lib Dems, with their flair for electioneering, have identified the aggrieved and disaffected groups most likely to tip the balance in their most winnable seats, and have lavished their most tempting bribes upon them.

Meanwhile, they hope to go on cashing in on their old reputation as the cuddly party in the middle - a harmless refuge for disillusioned supporters of Labour and the Tories.

The trouble is that the new-look Lib Dems are not in the least bit harmless. Nor are they in the middle. The policies outlined by Mr Kennedy yesterday amount to nothing less than the old socialist recipe for national economic failure, tested to destruction by every Labour government of the last century.

It is beyond belief that only the very rich would have to pay more for Mr Kennedy's over-regulated, redistributive, Brussels-led Britain. For every middle-income taxpayer in the land, a protest vote for the Lib Dems next time will be very dangerous indeed.

But, as always when economies go wrong, it will be the poor, the old and the vulnerable who suffer most.

Monday, September 13, 2004

If there was one thing you could do...

One of the questions in my constituency wide survey is "What single thing would you suggest to improve the quality of life in your area?"

Here are a random selection of some we received today...

"A rethink on traffic management in Cromer. It was very badly thought out and does not make sense"

"Provide more activities for children to do instead of hanging around the streets."

"Environmental payment to farmers replacing present CAP payments"

"Less wastage of public funds to improve all public services. Bring in Common Sense please!"

"More social housing"

"Better weather" (!)"The same amount of investment for Norfolk as is being invsted in the North East and Yorkshire."

And my own personal favourite...

"A Tory Government and a Tory MP in North Norfolk!" Boom boom!