Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Longest British military campaign in history ends...

The massive progress towards normality in Northern Ireland means the longest campaign in British military history officially ends tonight.

As the Army operation ends after 38 years, Sir Hugh Orde police chief of the Province, says soldiers have not been needed on the streets for many months and he is confident police can cope long-term without Army back-up.

So for the first time in almost four decades, troops are not needed to provide security in Northern Ireland. From tonight, there will be a maximum 5,000 troops garrisoned there - but not for use in the Province. Instead, they will be on the same basis as troops everywhere else in the UK.

It's a far cry from the height of The Troubles when 30,000 British troops were based in Northern Ireland.

Since the troops were first deployed in 1969 - as a temporary measure to protect the Catholic community - more than 300,000 have served in Northern Ireland (one of them being my brother!).

Seven hundred and sixty three of the 300,000 were killed and over 6,000 maimed by paramilitaries in year after year of sectarian bloodshed and bombings which many thought would never end...

Thank goodness it has.

Put the flags out to celebrate Britain...

I was away on holiday and totally missed the welcome news from our new Prime Minister Gordon Brown that he has scrapped the stupid ban which prevented public buildings flying our national flag except on a limited number of specific days a year.

I’m delighted that our union flag can now fly over public buildings 365 days a year, not just on 18.

Our union flag belongs to everyone who believes in our country – not just the raving right-wing lunatics who have, over the years, attempted to steal it.

Hat-tip to Michael for highlighting the good news...

Falling crime across Lincolnshire welcomed...

Lincs Free Press report on latest crime figures.

Lincs MP and Lord Saatchi join attack on Cameron...

Outspoken Lincolnshire MP Edward Leigh has urged David Cameron to go back to traditional Tory mantras on immigration, low taxes and Europe.

His words of advice come on the same day as the man who master-minded Margaret Thatcher's successful advertising campaign criticises Cameron for "nicey-nicey" policies which won't won the next general election. Lord Saatchi says Cameron's Conservatives lack "an expression of true Conservative ideology".

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rats in a sack...

Guess who's blaming each other for Gordon Brown's surge in the polls and the string of political and public-relations disasters that have led to David Cameron's nosedive...?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chas Kennedy deflates LibDem byelection spin with sober truth...

In the aftermath of Labour's win in the Ealing Southall by-election, much of the media swallowed bizarre LibDem claims that they were the real winners and that the result showed Labour was fast losing ground.

The BBC duly reported LibDem Ming Campbell saying the Ealing Southall result was blow for Brown.

The BBC also broadcast, as if it were a fact, that Ming Campbell was the main beneficiary in Ealing Southall.

ITV reported the result as good news for Ming and the Indy headlined on a night of LibDem cheer.

The truth was that for the first time since 1989, the LibDems had failed to take a by-election from second place.

But the day after the result, LibDem spin went into overdrive: at least one national TV crew ignored celebrations by the real winner and instead followed LibDem activists parading through the streets of Southall celebrating puncturing the Brown bounce.

The LibDems have carred on their charade ever since: Ming's claim of a blow for Brown still appears on the LibDem website

But on BBC's The World this Weekend today, asked to assess Gordon Brown's first month as Prime Minister, Charles Kennedy finally admitted the sober truth.

He said Labour's two by election victories - particularly Ealing Southall - were a good boost for Brown

Chas clearly hasn't read the script. Praps he meant to say blow...

Cameron fails to reach key Midlands and North voters, says senior Tory...

David Cameron fails to impress voters in key areas of the Midlands and the North where the next general election will be decided...Who says so? Er, the Tory MP who quit Cameron's front bench over the self-inflicted Grammar Wars saga.

In an interview with the BBC's World this Weekend Graham Brady MP adds to the Tory Leader's current crisis by saying David Cameron's appeal is limited to urban liberal circles around London.

I presume Mr Brady is not including urban liberal circles in the London Borough of Ealing where Cameron was humiliated last week when his hand-picked candidate managed only third place in the Ealing Southall by-election after standing for David Cameron's Conservative Party.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, today's Sunday Telegraph reports that David Davis, Cameron's rival for the Conservative Party leadership - has made what it calls an impassioned plea to Tories to rally behind David Cameron.

The Telegraph says Davis's intervention came:

after Mr Cameron's most difficult week as Tory Leader and amid barely disguised panic over a nine-point Labour lead.
The Torygraph says the Tories have been in disarray since coming third in the Ealing Southall by election and a badly timed trip to Rwanda while flood ravaged parts of Britain - including his own constituency.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Passions running high over traveller site plans, says ET...

Haven't had a chance to sit down and say what I want to say on last night's meeting which I posted on briefly HERE.

But here's a photo and report from the meeting as seen by the Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

Muslims to the rescue...

Mosques across Leicester yesterday raised more than £5,000 after Friday prayers to help send 20,000 bottles of drinking water to flood victims in Gloucestershire.

Story in tonight's Leicester Mercury

Lincs gets grants to help flood youngsters...

Lincolnshire children affected by last month's floods are to benefit from a Government grant of more than £200,000 to the county according to BBC Radio Lincolnshire.

The cash is Lincolnshire's share of the Government's £10 million aid package and will support summer activities for youngsters housed in temporary accommodation during the school holidays.

The money will also help fund family support workers.

Friday, July 27, 2007

2,000 residents say 'No way' to travellers and gypsies in The Deepings...

At least 2,000 local residents turned out to the public meeting tonight to send a strong message against South Kesteven District Council's plans for a travellers and gypsy site in The Deepings which I posted on HERE.

Officers from Grantham-based SKDC bravely presented their plans which include five possible sites in Market Deeping, and attempted to answer a host of hostile questions.

The sports hall at Deepings Leisure Centre was filled to its 400 capacity half an hour before the meeting was due to start - it's always difficult to estimate the size of a crowd, but I reckon there were at least four times as many people standing outside as there were inside.

Unfortunately, a plasma screen due to relay the presentation was damaged during the set-up, so those outside (including yours truly) had to make do with listening to the meeting via speakers.

However, John Hayes MP, who chaired the meeting, frequently came outside to pass the microphone around to hear as many views as possible.

I managed to make a few comments as parish and county councillor for Deeping St James. I told SKDC that they had made a complete hash of the 'consultation' to date, and have no faith that it will result in fair and rational decisions.

Remember, this is the same Council who made a dog's breakfast with their failed £650,000 glossy campaign (funded by council taxpayers) to sell-off their entire stock of council houses.

That was only a few months ago. Now the traveller/gyspy site farce.

SKDC is consulting on 19 potential traveller gypsy sites in Grantham, Bourne, Stamford and Market Deeping, when only one site may - or not - be needed to serve the entire district.

It's late now, so I'll try to post a fuller report on the meeting tomorrow...

Cameron unleashes his attack dogs: bowsy wowsy...!

David Cameron has set his 'top attack dogs' on the Prime Minister in a desperate attempt to end the Brown Bounce according to the Tory's favourite paper, the Daily Mail.

And who are Cameron's secret weapons? Step foward wee Georgie (his mum thinks he's in cubs) Osbourne and Chris Grayling.

Grayling's disastrous performance on Newsnight last night appears to have been the first salvo in Cameron's all-out war.

Today's Mail says unleashing Osbourne and Grayling is Cameron's response to steady the Tory ship after his spectacular own-goals such as Grammar Wars, two humiliating third places in by-elections, and criticism from within his own ranks for flying off to Rwanda for a photo-call while his Witney constituency suffered floods.

Truth is wee Georgie and Chris G are more like poodles than rotweillers: Sure as eggs is eggs, Gordon will eat them both for breakfast.

* Meanwhile, the YouGov poll in today's Torygraph says Labour has opened a nine point lead since Gordon Brown became PM, surging ahead to 41%, with Cameron's Conservatives are down to 32%.

There's only one poll that counts of course - and there's a long way to the next General Election.

Travellers and Gypsy sites: nothing suitable in The Deepings...

I’m planning to be at tonight’s public meeting over the white-hot issue of possible traveller and gypsy sites in The Deepings.

I seconded a motion by Councillor Andy Pelling at last night’s meeting of Deeping St James Parish Council, to the effect that:

After initial consideration of the stated requirements for a traveller and gypsy sites, DSJ Parish Council believes that there are no such suitable locations in The Deepings.
Councillor Ray Auger, a member of the Conservative Cabinet at SKDC, suggested it was unreasonable for the Parish Council to come to a view before the consultation period begins. He was one of three parish councillors to abstain.

In the end, no-one voted against and the motion was passed.

While we need to listen to all the arguments put forward in South Kesteven District Council’s yet-to-begin consultation, I believe it is important that DSJ Parish Council provides leadership in big issues which affect our community.

We will fully debate the issue at our August meeting before making detailed representation to SKDC who will make the final decision in the autumn on identifying gypsy and traveller sites across the entire district.

Councillor Kate Shinkins will represent DSJ Parish Council at tonight's public meeting which starts at 7.30 at Deepings Leisure Centre here in Deeping St James.

There’ll be a presentation on SKDC’s proposals by Mark Harrison, Planning Policy Manager. The meeting has been organised by MP John Hayes.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Are the wheels coming off Cameron's bike...UPDATED

As David Cameron's honeymoon as Tory Leader ends in splits and division, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's seems to be just starting...and sending Labour MPs off on their summer hols with a welcome spring in their step...

We're a long way and many events from a General Election of course.

But as Gordon said at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, it's a good job Dave has a car following him when he cycles to Parliament - to pick up the bits that have started falling off!

UPDATE: More bad news for Dave and another boost for Gordon:

The Torygraph reports a YouGov for C4 poll which shows more than half of voters do not believe the Tory leader is in control of his own party.

Just 22 per cent of those questioned thought David Cameron was in control of the Tories, compared to 52 per cent who said he was not.

The Torygraph reports:

In stark contrast, Gordon Brown was viewed by 62 per cent of voters as being in control of the Labour Party, while just 16 per cent said he was not.
The same poll confirms that voters believe the Conservative Party itself is well to the right of Cameron.

Meanwhile Chris Grayling from Cameron's frontbench team has just been on Newsnight to try to calm things down. He admitted it hadn't been a good month for the Tories -and interestingly pointed to the self-inflicted Grammar Wars which started the bad run of luck.

Grayling bizarely compared the Brown-bounce with the last time there was a change of Prime Minister mid-term:

He pointed out that the Tories were well behind in the polls when Margaret Thatcher was ousted and that John Major enjoyed a similar bounce to Brown when he entered 10 Downing Street.

Grayling says the Major bounce only lasted four or five months before the polls settled down and the Opposition (Labour) were back in front...

What he didn't say, of course, was that a couple of years later, new Prime Minister John Major went on to win the 1992 General Election, despite the fact that Labour were well ahead in the polls.

Keep 'em coming Mr Grayling!

Missing Madeleine: McCann's local paper bans 'spiteful' campaign...

Thursday's Times reports that the McCann's local newspaper has banned spiteful and defamatory comments about Madeleine's parents.

Nick Carter, Editor of the highly respected Leicester Mercury, writing in his own paper, says:

A tiny minority of people seem to want to say nasty, spiteful and defamatory things about the McCann family.

They are bombarding our site, and we had no choice but to block comment entirely on reports about the family.
After the deluge of comments dumped on my blog over the past few days after I commented on Madeleine's abduction, I have every sympathy with Mr Carter...

Welcome for biggest ever ships order: And why the Taliban must be defeated...

As another British soldier - this time a Royal Anglian - died today serving his country in Afghanistan, anyone questioning why British troops are there at all could do worse than watch this truly chilling Channel Four News interview with the new commander of Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan…

In a separate but related development, today also saw Prime Minister Gordon Brown order the two biggest ships ever to be built in Britain - and ever to sail with the Royal Navy. The new aircraft carriers, each three times bigger than the flagship carrier Ark Royal, and even too big to be constructed in a single yard - will dramatically increase our military and humanitarian capacity.

Admiral Sir Alan West, retired First Sea Lord, says that the new carriers will give the Royal Navy
...Ability to project power with four acres of British sovereign territory that you can move anywhere in the world.
The massive order was welcomed by the Daily Torygraph, but the £20 billion plans didn’t stop the Tories sniping about military overstretch and claiming we’re not spending enough on defence.

Earlier claims that commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq left no soldiers at home to respond to the floods emergency were spiked by pictures on today’s front pages which told the real story.

They showed the Army bringing welcome relief to thousands of flood victims – by helping to deliver four million litres of vital bottled water to those whose taps have dried up due to too much rain!

Not so much the Calvery riding to the rescue, but the Royal Logistics Corps, driving in on their DROPS trucks which were designed to deliver munitions direct to the frontline rather than bottled water to flooded out civilians.

It is true of course that we ask an awful lot of our military, particularly our soldiers.

But what the Tories fail to mention is that one of the welcome dividends of the Northern Ireland peace deal brokered over many years by Tony Blair, is that thousands of British troops are no longer needed to patrol the streets of the troubled Province.

And in Iraq, quietly, but surely, thousands of soldiers have been withdrawn: there are now just 5,500 British troops in Iraq, reduced from a peak of 44,000.

Following today’s aircraft carrier order, Defence Secretary Des Browne was on Channel Four news – but presenter Jon Snow wasn’t interested in the new ships, which secure 10,000 British shipbuilding jobs for a decade and will serve our Royal Navy for half a century into the future.

Instead, Jon Snow was asking Des Browne to respond to their truly chilling interview with the new Taliban commander. The interview was bravely and exclusively recorded by award winning journalist Nick Paton Walsh and a crew in a secret location in the mountains straddling the Afghani-Pakistani border.

Mansour Dadullah’s words demonstrate more starkly than any politician could achieve precisely why the Taliban must be stopped from regaining control of Afghanistan.

Dadullah, make it clear that the Taliban goal is

...to kidnap as many westerners as possible, to fight infidels all over the world and to implement one religion around the world.
He has no qualms about seeing children trained to behead infidels and he predicts a spectacular terrorist attack will succeed soon in Britain.

That is why the Taliban must be defeated once and for all and why British troops – like the professional soldiers of the 1st Batallion The Royal Anglian Regiment, currently serving in Helmand Province – must continue to play their part.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pray for our councillors over travellers site decisions says Vicar...

Pray to help our local councillors come up with the best locations for travellers sites says Reverend Mark Warrick, vicar of Deeping St James and former chairman of our parish council.

Mark also has words of wisdom for those campaigning against travellers sites in the Deepings following the massive outcry against South Kesteven District Council's announcement which earmarked sites in the Deepings.

I posted most recently on this issue HERE.

Writing in this month's Priory News, the local church magazine Mark says:

The district is required to provide more spaces than at present for the accomodation of travelling people - there are simply not enough pitches for the number of people living the nomadic life, which is why there are so many illegal camps, of course: the caravans exist and have to be parked somewhere.

Given that the travellers' site will go somewhere in the district, our Councillors will need to hear comments from us on where they might best place the site. Comments like, "We don't want it here," while possibly expressing a true sentiment from some, will not really help them make up their minds, because they are going to hear that comment from every town they consult!

In order to have a really effective consultation, comments which suggest the suitability of one location over another are what the Council needs to hear, or some locations over some others. If all they get is a general hubbub of dissent then the consultation will have achieved very little.

A simple remark that, for example, the proximity of Grantham and Stamford to the A1 gives them an advantage from the travellers' viewpoint over Bourne or the Deepings, will be much more helpful to our Councillors than several pages about house prices and crime which will sound exactly the same in all four towns! They do not need telling that a travellers' site will be unpopular: they already know this.

Councillors have to make some difficult decisions and do not get many thanks for some of them: please pray often for our councillors at parish, district and county level, and especially at this time for Ken, Ray and Bryan our District Councillors and their colleagues as they struggle with this important and difficult matter.
I haven't yet heard the views of our district councillors - Tories Ray Auger and Bryan Helyar and LibDem Ken Joynson on this most thorny issue.

But they'll need all the help they can get on this one!

Missing Madeleine's father gives a fuller response to neglect campaign...

Gerry McCann, father of missing Madeleine has posted a fuller response to Monday's Daily Mail story highlighting the campaign to have him and his wife prosecuted for neglect.

On the Find Madeleine website, Gerry McCann writes:

There is a very upsetting story on the front page of a British National Newspaper today. The headline suggests that Kate and I face prosecution for neglecting our children by dining 50 yards away and checking on them regularly.

We know that there has been criticism in some quarters of our actions but at the time, we felt our actions were responsible. We were essentially performing our own baby listening service although we have talked of the guilt we felt at now being there at the moment Madeleine was taken.

We have been advised that legally our behaviour was well within the bounds of responsible parenting and subsequently been assured that no action will be taken. These types of criticism, particularly at this stage, as well as being hurtful are extremely unhelpful in the search for Madeleine.

From the moment we discovered Madeleine missing Kate and I have done everything in our power to try and help get her back.

Our opinion now is completely clouded by what has happened to us and of course has sent shock waves through thousands of families.

The real issue is that we should not have a constant fear of abduction of our children from their bedrooms, gardens or streets for that matter.

What Kate and I did was at worst naïve and no one should forget that the real criminal is the predator who has taken a completely innocent child in such a premeditated fashion. It is this act that has wreaked havoc on our family and affected millions of other people.
I'm sure the campaigners who think that the McCanns are the real criminals will not be satisfied until they are locked up (which is not of course about to happen).

But surely the priority should be to find Madeleine - and the person or persons who abducted her.

Thanks to Doris, one of the voices for prosecution here on my blog, for pointing out Gerry's diary on the Find Madeleine website.

Missing Madeleine McCann: parents hit back...

Missed this from Monday's Daily Mail in which the McCann's respond to a smear campaign against them which demands they are prosecuted for neglecting their children.

The Mail reports that an Internet campaign in Portugal is urging police to investigate the McCanns because the couple left their children alone in their holiday apartment on the fateful night little Madeleine went missing.

An article in Portugal's Sol magazine accused Madeleine's parents and the other families in their holiday group of constantly altering their version of events and suggests that they were a very strange group that never stayed with their children.

Gerry McCann said: The authorities have assured us they regard the criticisms as without foundation.

The family's spokesman Justine McGuinness said:
If they could turn back time there are things that they might have done differently, with the benefit of hindsight. But it is impossible to say whether, had there been an adult in the apartment at the time of the abduction, it would ahve stopped a predator.

There are, sadly, several cases of children being taken by an adult with criminal intention while they have been very close by their parents.
Meantime, I've attempted to answer a few of the comments on my previous post on this subject.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tory grassroots losing confidence in Cameron - new poll...

More trouble for David Cameron: many Tory voters have come to dislike him and he's no longer attracting new support to the Conservatives. Cameron's Conservatives are on their lowest share in any ICM poll since the dying days of Michael Howard's doomed leadership.

And the Brown 'bounce' is gaining momentum ICM poll in tomorrow's Guardian.

Missing Madeleine McCann: Dad goes US...

The father of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann was today forced to
defend leaving his daughter in a hotel room while he and his wife went for a meal on the night she was snatched.

Our local BBC news in the East Midlands - where the McCanns live - reported tonight that Gerry McCann is in the US on a 'fact-finding mission' to see how the Americans deal with child abduction and exploitation - at the same time as publicising Madeleine's case.

He apparently met senior White House staff - but he was grilled by American TV networks ABC, CNN and CBS about why he and his wife Kate did not hire a babysitter to watch their three children as they dined with friends.

Gerry McCann said:

The kids were sound asleep and they were being checked regularly. We didn't think we needed a babysitter. We are good parents and what we did felt perfectly reasonable at the time.

Hindsight is an incredible thing. Clearly we couldn't have predicted what was to happen.
Dare I say that sounds reasonable to me? Personally, I think talk of prosecuting the McCanns for neglect is less than helpful.

The focus must remain on finding Madeleine and the criminal - or criminals - who took her.

Cash-strapped Council spends £187k at exclusive hotels and golf clubs...

How much of your money do you think Lincolnshire County Council spent last year at some of the county's most exclusive hotels, Golf Clubs and restaurants...
Would you believe a staggering £187,000...? That's the figure exposed in tonight's Lincolnshire Echo.

As you'll see, yours truly is quoted in the story: I'm angry that just a few months ago, the Tories who run the council claimed they were so cash-strapped that they had to treble home care charges from £40 to £120 a week for some of the most vulnerable pensioners.

I posted extensively on the disgraceful home care charges saga at the time (for example HERE and HERE as Labour councillors - and others - attempted, in vain, to force a rethink.

But the Tories claimed that the massive hike in home care charges was the only way out of their financial hole. It left some pensioners forced to find an EXTRA £4,000 a year.

What angers me is that since then, the same council has been officially slammed - again - for providing some of the poorest social services in the entire country.

It's worth noting that justifying the £190,000 spend in the Echo is left to an officer rather than a Tory Cabinet member - exactly what happened when the new policy was presented for Executive decision at the Council.

The Tory councillor expected to present the policy decided not to attend the crucial meeting - apparently she had a much more important political engagement at Tory Party Conference!

Missing Madeleine: don't blame the parents (or me...)

I’m a deluded, stupid, disgusting, negligent law-breaker, a child abuser, who should be sacked immediately...

Just a flavour of the abuse that’s been hurled at me over the past couple of days. Over 60 messages since Friday. And the fire is still incoming.

All because over a month ago, I happened to express sympathy for the parents of missing Madeleine McCann…

It all started with this post: on 12th June.

I noted that:
When Madeleine first went missing, there were questions raised about why they left their children in their holiday apartment while they went for a meal.

I certainly remember doing exactly the same when our children were small.
Predictably, my post didn’t raise a titter. But last Friday, well over a full month after it first appeared, an angry campaign suddenly started cranking up against me.

Over the weekend, apparently outraged commenters claim to have reported me to Social Services and to the Police for allegedly neglecting my children while on holiday a quarter of a century ago.

I’ve been asked if my kids were as good looking as Maddie (how bizarre’s that...?) and whether I’d defend Madeleine's parents if they lived on a council estate (even more bizarre...?)

The McCann's have been accused of being criminals and swingers: I’ve been told they have no charisma, and that they’re playing a charade…

Some clearly regard Madeleine's parents as criminals and raise questions about why they are raising money rather than looking for their daughter.

But surely the sickest comments are from those who suggest the entire story is a hoax because there’s no conclusive evidence that Madeleine is even missing…
(Forgive me, but you have to wonder whether these crazy conspiracy theorists believe little Madeleine’s hiding behind the grassy knoll…)

Sensible people have urged me to treat the commenters as loonies and religious nuts and warned me to turn on the monitoring button to filter out the nonsense – particularly the potentially libellous comments.

I’m not in the habit of removing or blocking comments on my blog – I’ve always welcomed dialogue and try to reply, even to those who have diametrically opposed views to my own. We’re all entitled to our opinions and should not be afraid of healthy debate.

In the 18 months or so I’ve been blogging, I recall only ever removing one – maybe two – comments that I considered bordered on libellous (to others as I remember)…

But there is a limit…!

And unlike the self-righteous commenters, I don’t pretend I was the perfect parent. I did my best: sometimes I got things wrong. But I’m enormously proud of how my children have grown into the caring adults they have become.

In any case, it may all be a bit of a storm in a teacup as my memory may have failed me. My wife is adamant that we never actually left our children sleeping in a hotel room, specially abroad – and she’s usually right!

Of course, times were different 20-odd years ago when our children were small. And they were even more different when I were a lad and it was normal for parents to drive to a pub and leave the kids in the car with a bag of crisps and a bottle of pop if you were lucky.

We enjoyed family holidays at Butlins where parents were encouraged to leave children in chalets and go out for evenings – and there were regular alerts of baby crying in chalet xxx often chalked up on a board rather like hymns at a church service.

As I say, different times.

Of course, no modern ‘How to Raise Children’ handbook would advocate leaving children asleep in a hotel room while parents go out for a meal. And I wasn’t saying it’s OK either.

Just as the new Home Secretary Jackie Smith last week admitted she occasionally smoked cannabis when she was a student, she wasn’t saying it was OK.

But the fact is thousands of British parents on holiday do leave their children sleeping in the room while they pop out for a meal or a drink - though I suspect there will be far fewer following Madeleine's disappearance.

The point is, surely this: the McCanns have been to hell and back since their daughter disappeared. They are going through enough heartache without a personal and rather nasty campaign calling for them to be prosecuted for leaving their children in a hotel room while they went a few yards for a meal, even though they checked on them every half hour.

As for their actions since, I see nothing odd or strange in clutching any straw that might just help lead to their little girl’s safe return.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Floods hit Ambridge...

The current floods have become so serious that the storyline on The Archers has been changed for tonight's episode.

With water levels even higher than in the record floods of 1947, the everyday story of ordinary country folk was starting to look a bit daft with talk of combine harvesters and normal summer activities in Borsetshire which is surely in the heart of the flooded region.

Scripts for The Archers are usually written two months in advance - and recorded a full month ahead of broadcast. But the producers have taken the unusual step of responding to the floods with updated material freshly written this morning and performed at lunchtime in time inserted into tonight's recording.

Can't wait.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cameron's Eton chum quits...

David Cameron hoped things couldn't any worse after his humiliation in Ealing Southall and Sedgefield this week and calls for a vote of no confidence in his leadership from at least two of his own MPs...but then this.

Anyone seen a marquee...?

Great party before we left for our holidays. But while we were away, we left the party marquee we'd borrowed erected in our garden, as it was pouring with rain and didn't want to store it wet.

Our daughter who was left in charge of the house (and the cat) says it was still there until the day before we returned.

But then it went - complete with every single tent peg and even the decorative lights we'd purchased specially.

I haven't the heart to tell the owner that its gone yet and unless it turns up soon, I'll have to buy a replacement.

So if you've seen a lost white 20 feet by 10 feet garden marquee on your travels, please let me know...

Heavy rain causes water shortage...!

Severn Trent Water has this morning warned that they may have to cut supplies due to too much rainfall.

All we need now is a hosepipe ban...!

Tories call on David Cameron to quit...

Not my headline, but the Sunday Torygraph's. Political Editor Melissa Kite reports that at least two and possibly up to six Tory MPs have lodged formal requests for a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

The ST reports:

The bid to destabilise the Tory leader comes after months of dissent over his modernising strategy, including a revolt over grammar schools, and his party's humiliating third-place defeat in two by-elections last week.

A no confidence motion would be triggered if 29 MPs - 15 per cent of the parliamentary party - write to call for a vote. While there is no suggestion that anything like that number has done so, even a small number risks triggering similar demands from malcontent MPs.

One senior backbencher said: "There's a hole at the heart of the Cameron project. There is a feeling that Cameronism is exhausted... MPs want to know what is at the heart of all this rebranding. The fear is that there is nothing at the heart of it."
The Tory performance which resulted in a humiliating third place in both Thursday's by elections was a disaster for Cameron, but I'd be surprised if the rebels get the 29 signatures needed to spark a challenge to his 'leadership'.

He may be saved by Parliament's summer break which starts on Wednesday, leaving the disunity and grumbles to fester on and on into the autumn Conference season.

Interesting that the Grammar School wars is mentioned as partially leading to Tory MPs lacking confidence in Cameron.

At the time, Tory supporters attempted to dismiss Grammar Wars as insignificant. Commenters on this blog criticised me for going OTT on Grammar Wars.

Grammar Wars was in fact the moment that demonstrated that Cameron may well be the Tory answer to Kinnock - if he's lucky.

But as he's proved with spectacular mis-judgement in Ealing Southall, he ain't no Blair.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tories fed up of Cameron's PR stunts...

Saturday's papers maul Cameron following Labour's historic by election wins. George Jones in the Torygraph says after coming third in both by elections, Tory MPs admit Cameron is facing his toughest period since becoming Leader including fresh demands for fewer stunts and more policy from David Cameron.

The Times says Labour claims that Cameron's Conservatives are all spin and no substance are now being repeated by Tory MPs.

Labour's Quentin Davies campaigns against travellers' site in Stamford...

Our local Labour MP - Quentin Davies MP - has joined the campaign against possible travellers sites in Stamford announced by South Kesteven District Council. Quentin told the Stamford Mercury

Stamford, in case the district council has forgotten it, is the oldest conservation area in the country. It is one of the loveliest – I always claim the loveliest – stone town in England. Only Bath really rivals it. As such it is a major tourist attraction and much of the business and therefore the economy of Stamford depends on tourism.

Stamford also has a major traffic problem. Jams regularly stretch half a mile north and south of the single bridge.

Far from my concerns being selfish, I am quite convinced that Stamford is quite the wrong place for the travellers themselves.

Many of them live on benefit. If they are to have any chance of getting into a job and escaping from permanent welfare dependency, they need to be near a major source of employment.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tory MP slams Cameron's Ealing Tragedy...

The Conservative Home blog is buzzing with criticism of the failed Tory campaign in Ealing Southall which was personally directed by David Cameron. This damning indictment from London Tory MP Mark Field:

I believe that our by-election campaign in Ealing Southall may have done lasting damage to the Party’s outreach work in the British Asian Communities.

The centralised imposition of a Sikh candidate, who first became associated with the Party ten days before the by-election was called and whose most recent political activity had been attendance at a Labour Party fundraiser in mid-June, always had the makings of a fiasco.

The way in the sensitivities of local Tory activists were bypassed amounted to contempt towards our supporters and the electorate at large.

This potential calamity was clearly spelt out by local folk as soon as the normal candidate selection process was discarded in favour of CCHQ adopting the photogenic son of a prominent local businessman with no previous links to the Party.

Our consequent attempts to woo the Sikh vote in Southall by exploiting divisions which have wracked the local Sikh and Hindu communities for decades also struck many as blatant opportunism. This warning was conveyed privately to many senior members of the Conservative Party as the campaign progressed but it was apparently ignored.

To many neutral observers these actions betrayed a failure by our Party to treat sensitively the potentially explosive racial divisions within Ealing Southall. For sure the defection of five local Labour councillors, all Sikhs and whose ringleader was someone who only days before had failed to secure the Labour nomination for the by-election, made for good headlines at the start of the campaign.

However, it became increasingly evident that the Conservatives had been manipulated by this dissident group, who were misleadingly presented to the public as having defected on ideological grounds.

Worse still these self styled community leaders failed to deliver much more than a block vote of five. As a result, in spite of a frenetic and energetic PR campaign, our vote effectively flatlined at 22.5% - and this in a seat where in the 50 years to 1997 the Conservative share of the vote never dipped below 30%.

As the national political bandwagon moves on from west London my sympathies lie with the dedicated local Conservative association and our ruling Group on Ealing Council who are now left with the unenviable task of sorting out a divided and demoralised local Conservative force.

They won control of the council last year and I know from my time working with Ealing's Conservative activists that over many years they have worked tirelessly to build relations with local ethnic communities. Much of this effort now lies in tatters.

Local Tories - including the local council leader - were so disgusted that they didn't even bother staying at the count for the result.

Labour's twin historic by-election victories...

Just arrived home from the Ealing Southall by-election, totally exhausted. But what a perfect result:

An endorsement for our new Prime Minister Gordon Brown - and disaster and rejection for David Cameron, who has once again demonstrated desperately poor judgement.

Anyone who has met the new MP, Virenda Sharma, knows he is a thoroughly solid, decent man who will be an excellent MP for the most diverse constituency in Britain.

Great result too from County Durham where Phil Wilson was elected to replace Tony Blair as Labour MP for Sedgefield - and where Cameron's Tories fell to third place.

I've known Phil for over ten years and know he'll be a first rate representative for the people of Sedgefield.

Historic Victories...?

Yes. Governments in third terms tend not to hold seats in by elections: in fact the Tories lost EVERY by election between 1989 and 1997.

Last night Labour won TWO with handsome majorities...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Travellers site proposals...

Working away until Friday, but have already booked my place at next week's public meeting when South Kesteven District Council will be explaining their controversial plans for travellers sites in the Deepings area.

It's clearly a highly emotive issue and I've asked SKDC for a full briefing on their plans prior to the public meeting.

Monday, July 16, 2007

60 hours to election and Cameron throws a cocktail party...

With less than 60 hours left in the crucial West London by election, candidates and activitsts from all the campaigns are on the doorsteps tonight talking with voters. All that is except Cameron's Conservatives...

Instead of listening to local voters concerns, the Conservative Leader is planning to toast his hand-picked perfect candidate Tony Lit at an exclusive £40 a ticket cocktails event.

Labour are suggesting it's rusty nails and whisky sours all round!

Watch out for Writs from Lits...

A Tory blogger fetes outrage about that £4,800 cheque handed to the Labour Party by the man annointed Tory candidate in Ealing Southall a few days later.

But PragueTory has a different tack to most.

He's seemingly unconcerned that Tony 'Tory (Play) Boy' Lit was handsomely supporting a Labour fundraiser just days before he was hand-picked and paraded by David Cameron as the perfect candidate.

PragueTory was busy blogging before Sunday breakfast. Under a post ironically labelled Labour Sleaze(who's he trying to kid?), PT warns us to watch out for Writs from the Lits.

He suggests that Labour MP Tom Watson, may have broken the law in publishing the evidence on his blog - which was later splashed across acres of Sunday newspapers and almost every TV news bulletin yesterday.

PragueTory says Tom's was the riskiest post he's seen published by an MP.

He warns the MP - and anyone else considering exposing the facts - that the Lit family are financially solvent (so it's OK to libel anyone who's broke then...?)

Sometimes risks are in the public interest.

Without the evidence of the cheque - and the wonderful photo of Mr and Mrs Lit cosying up to Tony Blair - the story might have made a diary clip or two, but definitely not the front page treatment it was deservedly given by the Sunday Telegraph and The Observer among others.

And Tony Lit may not have been fully exposed as a naked opportunist.

So I reckon MP Tom's done the voters of Ealing Southall a great service. And all in the nick of time before polling day.

Anyway, here's the cheque they're all talking about.

Oops. Does that mean I'll be in the dock alongside the fearless MP (and no doubt a posse of Fleet Street editors and TV bosses who picked up on the story after it was run on Tom's blog)...?

Since the cheque is definitely in the post, I'll wait for the writ too.

Meantime, I'm wondering if PragueTory will be setting his alarm clock a little later next Sunday...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cameron's Ealing Comedy...

Home from holidays, straight into the frenetic fray of the Ealing Southall by-election...

What an extraordinary by-election it is turning out to be.

Tory Leader David Cameron put his credibility on the line when he imposed his own hand-picked candidate, over-ruling warnings from members of the local Conservative Party about his choice, Tony Lit, son of a wealthy local businessman. (At least one prominent local Tory resigned in disgust at Cameron's astonishing intervention).

Cameron then stamped himself further on the local campaign to win the seat from Labour: Tony Lit appears on Thursday's ballot paper for David Cameron's Conservatives - unlike the Tory in the Sedgefield by election on the same day who is simply the candidate for The Conservative Party.

Cameron has been down to Ealing Southall three times in the past few days to parade his personal choice as a perfect and brilliant candidate - despite the fact that Mr Lit only joined the Tories the day before he was appointed by Mr Cameron.

True, the Tories appeared to make the running early in the campaign, claiming defections from Labour. But then some of the Tory claims turned out to be porkies...

But the real bombshell dropped this weekend, when Labour revealed that just days before he was appointed by Cameron, his perfect candidate wrote a cheque to the Labour Party for £4,800...and happily queued with his wife to have their photo taken with Tony Blair.

It's quite normal for candidates to have their pictures taken with party Leaders of course - but most do it with the Leader of the party for which they are standing!

While Tony Lit stands accused of blatant opportunism, this Ealing comedy is much more about David Cameron's lack of judgement and fitness to lead our country.

The real question is when did Cameron know about the cheque his candidate made out to the Labour Party less than a month ago - and how much did he tell local Conservatives.

It will be for the voters of Ealing Southall on Thursday to decide whether they agree with David Cameron's judgement that his candidate is the perfect choice to be their MP or whether they see through Cameron's Ealing Comedy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Changing Britain...Changing World.

First person I saw when I stepped back on British soil last night was an airport worker on his hands and knees. At first I thought he was cleaning the floor but quickly realised he was actually on what was presumably a Muslim prayer mat.
The first person I spoke to was the passport official who had to decide whether I was a genuine Brit with a right to enter the UK. He appeared to be of Asian descent.

The hotel where I had stayed in Cyprus was run almost entirely by migrant workers - mainly from Bangladesh and Poland.

The first TV report I saw on my return was about Chinese migrant workers setting up businesses over their border in the emptiness that is Russia's far east (5,000 miles east of Moscow).

Newsnight reported Russian action to expel the Chinese out of fears that they could eventually lose huge tracts of land - which the Russians and Chinese have spilled blood over within our life-times.

Separate but related issues of course.

I don't know too much about Russia's far eastern corner, but I have no doubt that here in the UK, immigration and migrant workers overall make a positive contribution to our society, not least by boosting the strength of our economy.

Back to work now, maybe more later...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

When technology lets you down...

In sunny Cyprus celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, so not much time for blogging. In any case the hotel can't get their act together to get an internet connection (well, actually they can, but connecting it to a coin box is more difficult apprently...in fact it all works fine, except when you put money in!!!)...

On Friday they called the engineer who was too busy. He doesn't work weekends and Monday was his day off, so he pitched up this afternoon and reported to the hotel that there is a problem with the connection to the money-box.

The hotel don't seem to mind. There's no shortage of punters dropping money in, getting no service and walking away, so profits no doubt unaffected.

But now instead of taking the money, instantly rebooting and asking to be fed again, there's a fancy notice on the computer saying there's a problem.

So I've found an internet in a bar in downtown Paphos - much cheaper than the rip off hotel prices and more reliable.

Normal service resumes tomorrow, or maybe Thursday...

When technology lets you down...

In sunny Cyprus celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary, so not much time for blogging. In any case the hotel can't get their act together to get an internet connection (well, actually they can, but connecting it to a coin box is more difficult apprently...in fact it all works fine, except when you put money in!!!)...

On Friday they called the engineer who was too busy. He doesn't work weekends and Monday was his day off, so he pitched up this afternoon and reported to the hotel that there is a problem with the connection to the money-box.

The hotel don't seem to mind. There's no shortage of punters dropping money in, getting no service and walking away, so profits no doubt unaffected.

But now instead of taking the money, instantly rebooting and asking to be fed again, there's a fancy notice on the computer saying there's a problem.

So I've found an internet in a bar in downtown Paphos - much cheaper than the rip off hotel prices and more reliable.

Normal service resumes tomorrow, or maybe Thursday...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

What a weekend...

Britain's Lewis Hamilton on pole position for tomorrow's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Federer and Nadal in tomorrow's mens Wimbledon final, the Tour de France starts in London (a coup for Ken), England v West Indies at Trent Bridge (less said)...

And of course the most significant event - Al Gore's Live Earth concerts around the world - (there's even one on Antartic weith a sell-out audience of the 17 scientists who work at the ice station where its at!)...

Have the Yorkshire floods anything to do twith global warming...? Not sure...but good to see our Prime Minister visiting the victims and finding 14 millions in cash aid to repair some of the damage...

All on the second anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist attacks on London and the same weekend when an NHS doctor - trained to save lives - is charged with attempting to cause devastation...

Life goes on...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Portillo asks if Tories can ever win again...

For those who missed Michael Portillo's article 'Is this the start of a Tory collapse?' in the Sunday Times, here it is in full...(sorry I couldn't make the link work on this computer (not mine)...

I have always doubted that the Conservatives could win the next election. Now my question is different

It is time for plan B. The Conservative strategy for defeating Gordon Brown lies in tatters even before he has moved from 11 to 10 Downing Street. The Tories recognised that Tony Blair is unbeatable. But Brown, they thought, would be different. He would be deeply uncharismatic in contrast to both his predecessor and David Cameron and he would hand the election to his opponents by veering to the left.

Conservative high command is the victim of wishful thinking. It was never likely that Brown would shift from the centre ground. He is, with Blair, the architect of new Labour. It is true that he has stealthily redistributed wealth through his cumbersome family credit scheme. But the low tax rates levied on private equity investors illustrate that in 10 years as chancellor Brown has also encouraged the rich to get richer. He is not going to drive the middle classes into the Tories’ arms.

The Conservatives may have put their political capital into the wrong currency. There is no doubt that Cameron has more charisma than Brown, but in recent opinion polls the chancellor leaves the Tory leader far behind in comparisons of “strength”. It is just possible that Britain will elect a candidate on the grounds that he is more charming despite being much weaker, but the Tories should not count on it.

Three weeks ago George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, crowed that the Tories were the true heirs to Blair’s reform of public services. The idea took the Conservatives in the right direction because it emphasised how much they had changed. But Osborne went further, hinting that the outgoing prime minister’s achievements would be undone by the doctrinaire Brown. In just one speech last week Brown blew that strategy out of the water. He committed himself to academy schools and foundation hospitals. In truth it was always painfully obvious that he would.

Less predictable was Brown’s offer of positions in the government to the Liberal Democrats. For the Tories, William Hague did his best to portray their refusal of the invitation as a humiliating snub for Brown. More accurately, it plunged Sir Menzies Campbell into a fresh crisis over his leadership, with Liberal Democrats accusing him of vacillation and clumsiness.

It unnerved Labour MPs, forced to recognise Brown’s untrammelled authority to hire and fire without limiting himself to one party. It sent shivers through the Tories as well. They were reminded that Brown and Campbell are friends and even travel together to and from their constituencies in Fife. It is easy to imagine that the two could do a deal if Labour fails to get an overall majority in 2010 (assuming that last week’s events have not already destroyed Campbell). The prospect of a Conservative government slipped a notch further away.

Most of all Brown delighted the media with a move that was bold and unexpected. Newspapers want entertainment. Brown may not have the acting skills of Blair but he is none-theless a showman. Every news editor perked up as it became clear that dour does not mean dull.

Under the Conservative masterplan Brown would have spent the past seven weeks embroiled in a damaging leadership contest. The Tories pretended to be afraid that David Miliband might win (and noisily set up a stop-Miliband unit, like some second world war decoy), hoping to lure him into the fray. During the leadership hustings Brown’s personality “flaws” would be revealed to the public and panicky Labour MPs would either vote him down or elect him only with foreboding. Meanwhile, Cameron would be on the march, scrapping old Tory shibboleths (such as grammar schools) to emphasise that his party is renewed.

In fact Brown has faced no challenge. Labour’s handover has been smooth, bordering on the elegant. The chancellor has grown in stature, mainly by saying little, and has enhanced his reputation for cunning.

Sometimes I believe that it is easier to analyse the Iranian regime than to predict what Brown will do. Except that we do know that he will focus on winning. No enthusiasm for Europe, no sentimentality about the special relationship with the United States, no nostalgia for old Labour will deflect him from the single purpose of still being prime minister after the general election. We are about to get a lesson in ruthlessness and single-mindedness.

By contrast, the single thought that unites much of the Tory party (apparently) is a determination never to be elected again. Since the local elections its fortunes have sagged. The leadership has made mistakes, such as attacking grammar schools head-on and announcing the reintroduction of museum charges. But Tory MPs and the party rank-and-file have performed far worse. Their undisciplined revolt against Cameron’s modernisation project has confirmed that the party is divided. It reinforces the public’s view that even if Cameron is different, the party is unchanged.
The MPs unrestrainedly mouthed off to opinion pollsters, with 59% disagreeing that Britain is a better place to live than it was 20 years ago. If the Conservatives yearn for the past, the electorate will consign them to history.

Many years back, the Tories lost the instinct of loyalty and a decade in the wilderness has not reawakened it. MPs are running around criticising everything except their own behaviour. They offer no leadership to their constituencies and, lacking political education, Tory activists expect the party to pander to their prejudices. The Cameron gospel has few preachers.

Not surprisingly the Tories are losing their opinion poll advantage. Cameron’s wide lead was the only thing that kept the diehards quiet for a while. Now they can argue that the modernisation project is failing. When Blair in opposition was transforming his party he, too, relied on being ahead in the polls to keep his party in check.

After the exchange-rate mechanism debacle of 1992 Conservative support slumped and Blair was guaranteed a massive lead. Despite Iraq, Labour in government has never been as unpopular as the Tories were. The change of leadership is giving Labour a boost. Cameron’s prospects of taming his party have always been worse than Blair’s were in the mid1990s.

Lamentably, the signs are that Cameron is now caving in to Tory pressure. Hague and David Davis were wheeled out to reassure the faithful. Explicitly they contradicted Osborne’s message about the party being heir to Blair. Unlike Labour in the 1990s, the Tories had no need to change their policies, having always been right, they said.

It would be impossible for them to get further off-message. Cameron knows that reassuring the party and widening its electoral support are opposites. In sanctioning the Hague/ Davis press release, he raised the white flag.

We have been here before. Hague started as leader understanding that the party had to change but soon capitulated. Michael Howard briefly adopted modernisation talk but the walk was unmistakably reactionary. Does Cameron need reminding that when Blair had occupied the middle ground it was Hague who moved the Tory party sharply to the right? That is how he won only 30% of the poll. Hague’s one apparent enthusiasm in foreign policy (on which he is the party spokesman) is Europe-bashing. Depressingly, the signs are that he is to be unleashed again as the Tories cry tallyho against the new treaty.

If Cameron really has surrendered, the party is doomed. I had concluded, when I left politics, that the Tories were ungovernable and had a death wish. But Cameron is clever and charismatic; I believed he could succeed where I had failed, especially since even the Conservatives might learn something after three landslide defeats.

Now I am not so sure. Cameron has wobbled. Unless he regains control of his party at once, the project will be lost. It would be much better for him to press on even at the risk of being deposed than to settle into the leadership agony of Hague and Howard.

I have always doubted that the Conservatives could win the next election. Now the question in my mind is different: can the Tories ever win again?

Quentin explains why he's joined New Labour...

New Statesman

Plant robbers target Deepings...

Info from Lincolnshire Police:

Police are appealing for information relating to a break-in that occurred at a compound on Eastgate, Deeping Steet James. Offender(s) have cropped the lock from the gates securing the compound at some time between 2pm on Friday 29th and 8am the following morning.

Once inside the yard they have stolen a vibrator/whacker plate, a trailer and a black and orange Kubota mini digger. It is believed that the incident will have taken place during the hours of darkness and the offender(s) will have used a type of vehicle that will have enabled them to either tow the trailer or transport the stolen items inside.

The theft of plant equipment is a national problem and is very lucrative for offenders - it is estimated that one million pounds worth of plant equipment is stolen each week in the UK. It is also unusual to see the movement or transportation of any form of plant equipment, trailers or low loader vehicles during the night or early hours of the morning.

If you see any movement of plant we would ask that you report the incident to the police. It is important that you record the vehicle details, registration number and direction of travel. Police want to hear from anyone who was in Deeping St James, and in particular the Eastgate area and can recall seeing any suspicious activity or vehicles towing plant equipment.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Lincolnshire Police on 01780 752222 quoting incident number 150 of the 30th June. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Soaring poll ratings for Gordon Brown...

Tomorrow's Times says Gordon Brown is off to flying start as Prime Minister with soaring poll ratings as a strong leader.

In contrast to Brown's strength confirmed in a new Populus poll, David Cameron's weak leadership of the Tories is exposed.

Labour is up four points to 37 per cent since early last month and the Tories are down two at 34.

The Times concludes:

This is in line with two other recent polls and suggests that 14 months of a sustained Conservative lead has ended.
More worrying for the Tory grandees is the fact that the percentage of voters who regard Mr Brown as strong has jumped by 14 points to 77 per cent over the past month - a gap of over 30 points over Cameron on strength.

Those saying Gordon Brown has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister is up 16 points to 57 per cent, compared with 37 per cent for David Cameron. Only 31 per cent now say they prefer Cameron to Brown for prime minister.

John Hayes passed over by Cameron in Tory reshuffle...

South Holland and Deepings MP John Hayes has missed out on a place at the Tory top table in tonight's reshuffle announced by David Cameron.

Conservative Home, said to be the voice of the tory grassroots notes:

If talent and diligence were the key qualifications for promotion you would expect Greg Clark, Paul Goodman and John Hayes to be around the top table but they are not.
John seems to be in good company - I can't see mention of any Lincolnshire Tory in the new Shadow Cabinet.

John Hayes - and fellow Lincolnshire Tory Edward Leigh - are leading members of the right-wing Cornerstone Group of Tory MPs.

At least one of their members gets a place around Cameron's top table.

Conservative Home notes that the appointment of Owen Paterson of the Cornerstone Group is a nod to the right.

Thatcher flies in to Lincolnshire to mark Falklands Anniversary...

Margaret Thatcher was back in her native Lincolnshire at the weekend - but not to handbag the MP for the town where she grew up after he dumped the Tories and joined Gordon Brown's Labour Party.

Lady Thatcher was in the county for the first day of the RAF Waddington Air Show which helped mark the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War. At the time of the conflict, Waddington was home of the Avro Vulcan which flew the longest bombing sortie in history to crater the runway at RAF Port Stanley and deny its use to the Argentinians.

Good job Maggie didn't come for the second day of the show - it was cancelled on health and safety grounds following heavy overnight rain on Saturday.

Lincs Police say the cancellation was nothing to do with increased security following terrorist attempts over the weekend to bomb London and Glasgow.

I took this snap on Friday of aircraft spotters peering over the fence at RAF Waddington hoping to catch a glimpse of rehearsals for the air show...

Roadworks chaos in Lincoln City Centre...

Roadworks started this morning at the five-way junction at the bottom of Lindum Hill in Lincoln - and sparked massive tailbacks.

The good news is the multi-million pound work is designed to improve traffic flows through the city.

Bad news is it will take nine weeks to complete.

Best find another route!