News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Holiday in Folkestone

I was amazed to read in the Folkestone Herald today that Kensington & Chelsea Council paid £15,000 for 40 elderly residents to spend 3 nights in Folkestone during the Notting Hill Carnival. That's an amazing £375 each. To put that in context, Saga offers the over 50s a week's all inclusive stay in a 4 star hotel in Majorca for only £344 each, with no single supplement to pay.

Next time an eco-fascist tells me that we should ban flights and all holiday in England, I'll remember why it is that we don't!

I suspect that it's also an indication of how much better the private sector is than the public sector when it comes to providing these kinds of services. I'm quite sure that our railways could be run just as cheaply as the low-cost airlines if only there was less state interference.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Canterbury Lib Dems propose apartheid

Apartheid. [uh-pahrt-heyt, -hayt]: any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.
Source: Dictionary.com Unabridged (v1.1). Retrieved August 29,2007 from Dictionary.com

Lib Dem Cllr Jo Calvert-Mindell (Canterbury St Stevens and member of the Housing Appeals and Benefits Committee) has proposed that no more than 20% of houses in any road should be occupied by students. She argues that families are becoming "excluded from their communities" by the growing number of students in Canterbury. I certainly hope that her ludicrous plans are scuppered when it comes to a vote.

I do wonder whether Cllr Calvert-Mindell's plans extend only to students, or whether others may be affected. Would she be support a similar motion to prevent more than 20% of houses being occupied by muslims? Perhaps no more than 20% of homes in any road should be occupied by "working class people" or retired people, to ensure that the middle classes or young people don't feel excluded or isolated? I'm sure that there are countless groups that people could complain about taking over their road, but we're a crowded island and need to learn to get along together with a little more tolerance of others.

I've never met Cllr Calvert-Mindell, but I'm reasonably sure that she wouldn't support such proposals. If a white family came to her complaining that all their neighbours were black, I would imagine that she would send them packing. So why is it OK for her to vilify students? It's the usual careless and ill-considered proposal that we've come to expect from the Lib Dems, who seem to be particularly out of touch in East Kent.

Of course, the area where most students live is, unsurprisingly, the part of the town nearest to the universities they attend. If they are to be displaced to other parts of the city, will that mean that they will have to commute, which might mean more driving, adding to Canterbury's congestion. I wouldn't advise anyone to cycle around Canterbury's congested and dangerous ring road during rush hour! I would suggest that Muddle-headed-Mindell needs to think this through a bit better and withdraw her proposal altogether.

Worst of all, Canterbury Lib Dems actively promoted themselves as the students' friends, standing up for them on the council where other parties would, allegedly, let them down. Not only is she refusing to back up her words with actions - she is cowardly enough to make her proposal during the summer when most students aren't present to defend their own corner. At the time when Canterbury's students need their representatives most, the Lib Dems have let them down.

I thought that this comment by Cllr Calvert-Mindell was particularly reminiscent of something you might expect to read in a BNP leaflet: "We are trying to reclaim our communities." I suspect that she's just jumping on the latest bandwagon to roll past in the usual Lib Dem way, but she shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. Let her know what you think. Email jo.calvertmindell@canterbury.gov.uk

Monday, August 13, 2007

Conservatives publish EU Treaty in Plain English

While I've been in Canada, the EU Constitution Treaty Constitution has been summarised in plain English by the Conservatives. The move is most welcome, as the new treaty has been deliberately worded to mislead. Key examples of that are renaming the EU Foreign Minister proposed in the original document as "High Representative", who "will conduct the EU's common foreign and security policy". Not to mention renaming the Constitution as a Treaty!

I've read the full document and the Conservative plain English guide, and I think it does a pretty good job of presenting the truth in simple terms. It's hard to understand the EU Treaty without a thorough understanding of the various treaties that have gone before it. The Conservative plain English version does not require such an understanding. Incedentally, the BBC's guide to the treaty actually makes many of the same points, but not as clearly as the Conservative version.

It's undoubtedly time for a referendum, as pledged in the last Labour manifesto. Our elected representatives need to recognise that they are elected to rule on our behalf, rather than to rule over us regardless of our views. The Soviet Union's leaders found that out the hard way - I hope that Brown's Brotherhood makes life easier for us all and lets the people decide.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Conservative Leader in the European Parliament has also released his own alternate revising treaty. I haven't read that yet, so won't comment on it. One thing is clear - the EU cannot continue in its current form. It is unweildy and increasingly archaic. Even the most ardent Eurosceptic, like myself, recognises the reality that we need to have relations with out European neighbours, even if we withdraw from the EU. Kirkhope tends to be more Europhile than me, but I totally agree with all of the sections I have read so far.

As for Labour, they are trying to paint a picture of a Conservative party obsessed by Europe. That's far from the truth - the party has hardly mentioned Europe for months and it would be shocking if the Official Opposition didn't adopt a position on a document that will fundamentally the country we live in. The Labour position is merely a smoke screen, a poor attempt to cover their failure to uphold their pledge for a referendum. They claim that it's now only a revising document, so does not require a referendum, conveniently forgetting that they said that the Constitution was a revising document and only agreeing to hold a referendum after intense Conservative pressure.

Is there any wonder that the public does not trust politicians? Brown's new era contains so much spin that even he gets confused. In a freudian slip last month, he accidentally called the treaty as the Constitution. Probably the first honest statement to pass through the new PM's lips.

Related Links from Conservatives.com:
William Hague on the Constitution/Treaty (video on Conservatives.tv)
William Hague on the Constitution/Treaty (text)
The Constitution/Treaty in plain English
The Case for a Referendum (speech by William Hague)
European Parliament Chief admits the EC Constitution is Back
Brown admits Treaty is Constitution

Other links:
The Constitution/Treaty in full
BBC guide to the Treaty
Timothy Kirkhope's Conservative alternate revising treaty

Rating transatlantic airlines

I'm back in Sunny(ish) Folkestone and recovering from my jet lag. I was really quite lucky with my return flight - I was next to an empty seat and my luggage was so quick off the plane that it was actually waiting for me on the carousel! I spotted it coming around before I got to the pickup, so I didn't even have to stop before picking it up and heading for Customs.

I've now flown on four of the six airlines which serve Calgary direct from London (BA, Air Canada, Air Transat and Thomas Cook (now merged with MyTravel), leaving only Zoom and Monarch to try out), so I'm weighing up the relevant pros and cons of each airline. The scheduled operators are certainly better than the charter airlines, but that's hardly surprising. You get what you pay for. I'm planning to write reviews of the airlines in the near future.