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.