Monday, April 28, 2008

Breaking news: Cars crushed as tank rolls off lorry...

A miracle escape for Lincolnshire motorists this morning as a ten-ton tank rolled off a lorry crushing two cars in Gainsborough - see Lincs Echo.

This is just the latest in a series of similar incidents. I'm sure Lincolnshire Police will fully investigate whether the 'tank' was properly secured and why the accident happened.

In fact, the 'tank' is more likely to have been an armoured personnel carrier, as British tanks weigh in at over 50 tons.

And I've no doubt that had it been a fully-fledged tank, the drivers of the cars it landed on would not have lived to tell their tale...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Number of Lincs students doubles - thanks to Labour.

Great news to see that the number of young people in full-time education or apprenticeships has doubled since Labour started paying students a weekly allowance.

The Tories who control Lincolnshire County Council have done nothing to help young people continue their education. I believe it is outrageous that the Tories have scrapped free transport to schools and colleges for over-16s.

As Opposition spokesperson at LCC, I campaigned - with others - to continue free transport for those staying on at school and others in full time education.

My argument is simple: Lincolnshire has the lowest proportion of young people staying on at school and the least qualified workforce in the country.

It's no coincidence that we are also one of the lowest-pay, lowest-skill economies in the UK.

In my view, improving education chances is the key to changing this - both to benefit individuals, but also to strengthen the economy of Lincolnshire.

But Lincolnshire Tories won't listen. Instead of joining with Labour to encourage more of our young people to stay in full-time education, Lincolnshire Tories insist on snatching back a slice of the Educational Maintainance Allowance generously paid directly paid into their bank account by the Labour Government.

And next year, they intend grabbing an even bigger slice...

Despite the Cameron spin, Lincolnshire Tories haven't changed a bit.

Their Leader David Cameron says it's wrong to split children into sheep and goats through the 11-plus - but refuses to take on his own party.

So the same Lincolnshire Tories who top-slicing the budget of every state school in the county to raise £2 million to send a select few children to private school - - will next year take even more money from students for their travel.

The story of the increase in those staying on is in tonight's Lincolnshire Echo.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Celebrating St George's Day...

Chuffed to see that the flags will fly in Downing Street today to celebrate St George's Day...

Yes, I know that's the Union Flag, I'm's right that the flag of our nation, the United Kingdom, takes precedence over the flag of St George!

Personally, I prefer the Union Flag, of which the red cross of St George is a part. Sadly, over the past generation, we've allowed the flag of England to be hi-jacked by hard-right extremists.

For too long, it's become a symbol of hate, all too often a associated with trouble, skinheads, football hooligans, thugs and the BNP rather than tolerance and all that is the real Englishness in the 21st Century.

(And if the BNP are supposed to be the British National Party, why is it they associate so closely with the flag of St George and not the British flag?)

Seeing decent people grab back the flag of St George from the nutters who try to steal it for their own ends is both welcome and long overdue...!

I'm proud to be English, proud to be a Brit and proud to be a European.

Well-worth celebrating hope rather than hate.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Russian Bear returns to test Lincs aircrews...

Good to see our Russian friends providing Lincolnshire-based aircrews with top-rate counter-terror training.

According to a report in the Lincolnshire Echo(from last week, missed at the time), Russian bombers have been intercepted by Royal Air Force fighters 28 times over the last seven months.

Newly operational Eurofighter Typhoons based at RAF Coningsby in south Lincs are regularly scrambled to shadow Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear-H and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers.

Throughout the Cold War era, regular cat and mouse 'games' tested reactions of both sides.

As a cub reporter on the Lincolnshire Standard in the late 1960s, I well remember the excitement of reporting - as much as we were allowed to know - how Lincolnshire-based RAF aircrews regularly intercepted Soviet bombers trying to nudge British airspace...

Then the fast jets of their day were the English Electric Lightnings - like the one pictured - and they flew from high on the Lincolnshire Wolds at RAF Binbrook between Louth and Grimsby.

It all ended of course in the nineties with the collapse of the Soviet Empire - and today's main threat is not the Cold War hotting up, but terrorism.

RAF Binbrook has long since closed. Today, RAF Coningsby in the south of the county is one of two so-called Quick Reaction Alert bases in the UK with the specific role of preventing hi-jacks.

But the Russian Bear flexing its muscles again unwittingly helps provide excellent training sorties to keep aircrews well practised in their skills...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Brave words of veteran airman killed in Afghanistan...

A part-time airman based at RAF Wittering near Stamford has become the oldest British serviceman to be killed in war-torn Afghanistan or Iraq.

Before his deployment in February, Senior Aircraftman Gary Thompson, 51, told the Stamford Mercury:
I have five daughters, three of whom are at university. I want women in Afghanistan to be given the same opportunity that my daughters have had.

It means I can come back and say I have played my part in trying to make that happen.
His quote was picked up by tonight's News at Ten (who didn't bother crediting the Mercury) - and the BBC's national site (who did).

His daughters Laurie, 24, Aimee, 22, Jordan, 20, Jade, 17 and Kelly, 16, spoke of their unending love for a man they said was "more than our hero."

Their Dad left his job as a managing director in Nottingham to fight the Taliban. He was killed along with Senior Aircraftman Graham Livingstone - a young Scot also based at Wittering - when their patrol vehicle was blown up on a road close to Kandahar Airfield on Sunday.

Gary Thompson, a member of the RAF Regiment Auxiliary is the fifth TA or reservist personnel to be killed in Afghanistan since the deployment of British forces in 2001.

The Stamford Mercury has invited tributes to the two brave airmen.

Blog-ads make more strange bedfellows...

Had to chuckle at this extract from today's Diary in The Guardian:

Much embarrassment at the Green Arrow Forum, the bloggers' website that supports the BNP. At the top of the site is an advertisement for, the UK's leading Muslim marriage service. This has caused much consternation to the perplexed BNP bloggers.

It transpires that the ads are placed by Google, whose computerised brain must have noted that the Green Arrow constantly refers to Islam and thus thought this would be an appropriate site for lonely Muslim hearts. Some BNP bloggers have also twigged this and suggested that in future, Islam be referred to only as "the threat to the west" to avoid confusion.
Even more enjoyable than the recent ad promoting Ken Livingstone which appeared on Tory Iain Dale's Diary...

Caught by the bug...

Sorry no posts for a few days due to being struck down by a dreadful stomach bug. You really don't want to know the details, suffice it to say I've not been able to eat and barely been out of bed since Friday, but hopefully now on the mend...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

Chief Constable defends extra cash for policing...

Lincoln residents turned up at a public meeting to hear Chief Constable Tony Lake defend the controversial 78.9% hike in the amount they pay in council tax for policing...and were told the numbers of extra officers they will get for their extra £2 a week.

Scarlet Fever in DSJ...?

Letters sent out to parents by the Head Teacher at Linchfield Community Primary school after a suspected case of the rare disease scarlet fever.

Lincs MP calls for Government cap on police budget...

Tory MP Edward Leigh is the latest to call for the Government to use its capping powers to stop the 78.9 per cent increase in precept set by Lincolnshire Police Authority, the biggest increase in the country by a country mile. Full story in theGainsborough Standard.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Four stories that tell you all you need to know about today's Tory Party...

Four stories from today's trawl of the net reveal more than I need to know about the state of the Conservative Party under David Cameron's leadership:

First, two black Conservative Party members with a shocking tale of how they were treated like animals when they turned up for an annual meeting.

Next, Boris Johnson forced to apologise over a racist article published in The Spectator when he was editor.

The Tory choice to be Mayor the most diverse city in the world was quite rightly taken to task by a leading black lawyer.

One of the truly offensive Spectator articles claimed black people have smaller brains and are less intelligent. It claimed:

Orientals ... have larger brains and higher IQ scores. Blacks are at the other pole.
In another Spectator article, black American basketball players were described as having

arms hanging below their knees and tongues sticking out.
You may recall that earlier in the campaign, the Tory choice to run the most diverse city in the world, was forced to apologise for articles he personally wrote in which he described Africans as piccaninnies with watermelon smiles.

Third story (which may of course not be entirely unrelated to the second): The BNP calls on their supporters to vote for Boris Johnson as their second preference in the election for London Mayor.

Two telling points to note on this one:

1. The BNP did not endorse the Conservative candidate in previous Mayoral elections but are willing to tell their supporters to vote Boris Johnson in this one.

2. Last week, Labour's Ken Livingstone won the support of a very different minority party who advised its supporters to vote Ken as second preference.

For good measure, here's the fourth story:

A Conservative councillor on Tyneside has today been forced to resign after suggesting euthanasia as a way to cut the cost of caring for vulnerable children!

The common thread in all four stories...the Tories are still the same old nasty party.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fair Deal for Deepings finally delivered today with free off-peak bus travel...

Discrimination by our local council against over-59s in The Deepings officially ends today - thanks to Gordon Brown!

For years, Grantham-based South Kesteven District Council has insisted on one of the meanest travel concession schemes in the country - which hit those in Deepings the hardest.

Deepings pensioners and disabled people have had to pay more to get to Queensgate shops or local hospital appointments because SKDC refused to join other councils in Lincolnshire and allow concessionary travel to destinations outside SKDC borders.

It was the local campaign I started some seven years ago for improvements that led to me becoming known as Fair Deal Phil.

So today really is very special to me - and to the 11 million people who will benefit from the new nation-wide travel concessions brought in by the Labour Government.

But from today, disabled people and those aged 60 or over will benefit from free off-peak travel on the buses.

Details here.

Lincs-based Typhoons in RAF Birthday fly-past...

The RAF's new Typhoon Eurofighter today officially takes over responsibility for patrolling the whole of the south of England from its base at RAF Coningsby here in Lincolnshire.

Today, the Royal Air Force celebrates its 90th birthday. I'll be working in London later and looking out for the lunchtime flypast down the Thames by Typhoons, who will be making the journey from Lincolnshire rather quicker than my train...!

Air anoraks will know that the superfast Typhoon is capable of Mach 2.

Train anoraks will know that the train isn't...!