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.