Sunday, 30 December 2007
Monday, 24 December 2007
Thursday, 20 December 2007
It is quite clear that the Labour Health Secretary has not listened to people's concerns; obviously doesn't understand the local geography enough to appreciate that moving blue light trauma to Tunbridge Wells may well endanger lives rather than save them; and is clearly more intent on saving money and meeting targets rather than patient welfare.
Locals will feel desperately let down by the Health Secretary's decision, and their local MP who has supported this ridiculous re-organisation.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
The TPA have produced an excellent table which shows that if you were lucky enough to get hold of the much wanted Nintendo Wii, your efforts will result in a £27 contribution to the Treasury's black hole. The Apple iphone will result in a whopping £161 gift to the taxman, whereas the family tin of Quality Street (even minus the purple ones cunningly extracted by me) will see a charge of £1.40.
The full release can be read HERE.
Sunday, 16 December 2007
ps - the £51,000 Mr Braithwaite spent on taxis would probably cover the deficit for backdated police pay in the whole of Kent!
Friday, 14 December 2007
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Another story that has angered me is that pensioners who pick up their benefit through the Post Office on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday may not be able to pick up their pension before Christmas because the Government won't change the date to Friday 21st December. This means that pensioners will have only 3 hours on Christmas Eve to pick up their pension because of Post Office opening times over the Christmas week. Pensioner groups such as Help the Aged are deeply concerned that some will go without over Christmas because of this naive process driven approach. I hope common sense prevails.
Saturday, 1 December 2007
Annoyingly, this is one of my favourite quiz questions. I have even had the pleasure of supply the answer to Statto at a recent event! So I will send a bottle of champagne to the first person who can tell me the name of the six football clubs and their MPs. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
We have a winner and the competition is now closed. Well done Alan for identifying that the grounds were: Barnet, Bournemouth, Macclesfield, Southend, Brentford and the one that everyone always forgets Nottingham Forest, which is in Ken Clarke's Rushcliffe constituency!
Thursday, 29 November 2007
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Monday, 26 November 2007
Saturday, 24 November 2007
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
The Chairman of HMRC has rightly resigned but despite the Chancellor learning about this - the largest breach of data protection ever - 10 days ago, the public have only now been alerted to the problem and by all accounts as a result of the media finding out, rather than the Chancellor coming forward first.
This is a catastrophic failure but highlights why a database for ID cards, which will store an immense amount of information on each and everyone of us, cannot be trusted in the hands of Government.
Friday, 16 November 2007
Sunday, 11 November 2007
This morning I went to St Peter's and St Paul's Church in Aylesford and was treated to a congregation made up of many children in scouting uniforms. The vicar was wonderful and encouraged them to participate in the service, asking them questions etc - which had many of us giggling at their sweetly innocent answers. The sun was shining through the autumn leaves on the trees making the two minute silence both beautiful and moving. Then this afternoon I headed back to the British Legion Village for another service but this time alongside the many former service personnel dressed in uniform with the polished medals proudly adorning their breast pocket. I think one of the most touching sights this afternoon was watching the contrast of elderly gentlemen lay wreathes in memory of those colleagues who lost their lives, followed by two young army cadets marching in time, and with their whole lives before them, laying their own mark of respect. I felt honoured to be in the company of all those who served in our armed forces defending the country - may their time, and the sacrifice of those who did not return, never be forgotten.
Thursday, 8 November 2007
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
The School, built under the PFI, is a specialist Technology college and the ICT suites were incredible - long gone are the days where students crowded around a single giant computer with a flickering green screen to learn about QWERTY and RAM. This school is all wi-fied up and every student has their own specially configured laptop enabling e-learning at the highest level. But it is more than just the technology that impressed me.
The infrastructure is amazing and OK it is a new school and everything, but the architectural design and general maintenance of the building is enough to make any pupil want to come to school and stay and learn. Even though my school days are long behind me, just walking around this morning was enough to make me want to join a class - although I would have been hard pressed to decide which one to join!
Saturday, 3 November 2007
Medway Magna's plans to build 9,200 houses in Capstone Valley. Throughout October people have been returning ballot papers, delivered and paid for by Chatham & Aylesford Conservatives, and today the "Count" on the Referendum took place at Lordswood Leisure Centre.
We had an excellent response to the campaign which has significantly raised the profile of the threat to Capstone Valley. A number of people have contacted me direct, stopped me in the streets or spoken to local councillors to voice their concern and offer their support for our campaign. It is quite clear that whilst people understand that there is housing stress in the area, building on one of the last remaining green spaces in Medway is a dreadful idea which will see a real impact on local services, and increase in traffic and a major blow to the environment.
We had 3238 ballot papers returned to various drop off points around Chatham and the results were as follows:
Friday, 2 November 2007
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
With Britain's population set to rise to 71 million by 2031, David explained that increases in life expectancy, net immigration, and household formation were the principal drivers of demographic change. He laid out a strategy to ensure firstly, that our population grows at a rate that's sustainable and secondly, that we're prepared for this level of growth. To achieve a sustainable level of growth, David re-iterated Conservative policy of controlling net immigration with annual limits, reforming welfare to get people into work and reduce the demand for migrant labour, and tackling family breakdown. And he also explained how a Conservative Government would ensure the country is prepared to deal with population growth in the key areas of housing, public services and transport.
These are very important issues in Chatham & Aylesford and the speech is well worth reading in full. It can be found HERE.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
Unlike the soldiers who went to war in the first and second world wars to defend the UK and its empire from conquest, today's soldiers go into war zones arguably less sure what they are fighting for and certainly less well thought about when they return. Never mind the lack of parades, the bunting, the slap on the back for a job well done, our forces are fighting with inadequate equipment, they are offered sub-standard treatment if they return injured, and often their spouses are left to fight for compensation or pensions through the courts.
The Royal British Legion do a fantastic job supporting those who deserve more from our Government, and in memory of my grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather as well as those who do their bit in today's wars I shall be giving generously to this year's appeal.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Monday, 15 October 2007
My gran, a true silver surfer, was a regular reader of my blog. She was very proud of my achievements and had always encouraged me in my ambition to go into politics. After my partner, she was the second person I called when I was selected for Chatham & Aylesford and she cried with joy "I am soooo pleased for you lambie".
Nana had lived by herself for over 40 years and was fiercely independent as a result. Despite having a career in social services looking after the elderly, she herself was not dependent on social care. Her caring streak has passed its way through the family. There are many reasons why I want to be a politician but the absolute ultimate reason is the so called "social work" element of the job. Making a difference to people's lives, whether it is individually or as a community, is what drives me on every day. And that is what my gran did with the elderly people she looked after.
Having spent a long time tonight talking to my sister we have some very fond memories of my gran to keep with us forever. Tomorrow she has the unpleasant task of informing her children about their "nanny". She will tell them that she is a new star in the sky. I don't care how old I am, tonight that is how I shall think of one of my greatest supporters too.
Saturday, 13 October 2007
Meanwhile locally, the Conservative campaign on Capstone Valley continues with many people coming up to me this week thanking me for holding a consultative referendum and expressing disgust at proposals to build 9,200 houses in the Valley. There has been distressing news from the Maidstone & Tunbridge Well NHS Trust with the news that the police are launching an investigation into 90 deaths from hospital infections. It is desperately important that this is dealt with quickly - people who are unfortunate enough to require hospital treatment need to know that they are going to be properly looked after in excellent conditions and that the only target that staff are trying to meet is to return the patient back to health as quickly as possible.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Instead all I have been thinking about is the under 10 girls football team I help coach, who lost this morning to a physically much bigger side. I know I am a girl but I can't help it! I keep opening the various broadsheets but my mind keeps turning back to the game.
The girls started brilliantly against a team who have been playing for a season already. So at one nil down at half time we were really chuffed and given our striker kept going on some amazing swerving runs into their penalty box we were all convinced that we had goals coming in the second half. Sadly that wasn't the case and the physical difference between an eight year old and a nearly ten year old became all too clear after a couple of our girls, including the keeper, went off injured after having the ball booted at them. They all played very well and by all accounts very bravely but if anyone knows of any coaching tips that helps young ones understand the concept of space please leave it in the comments.
I need to get the sad faces of the little girls out of my head but the one thing I know for sure is that unlike Gordon Brown, I wouldn't prepare the girls for the cup final, sort out the team and the tactics, get the kit all sparkly clean and advertise the game only to then call it off. In the words of an eight year old girl, it would make the team look like a bunch of scaredy cats!
Saturday, 6 October 2007
What an incredible day! Firstly we managed to get the final lot of ballot papers out in our referendum on the future of Capstone Valley. All households across Chatham should now have a ballot paper and if returned will be counted on 3rd November. I delivered a batch around White Road and was touched by a young man with several gold pieces of jewellery, a cigarette and a scary looking dog telling me I was better looking in real life than in my picture which just goes to show that chivalry is well and truly alive in Chatham!
Next I met for a quick coffee with a local journalist before heading to Larkfield to examine a specific traffic problem that has been raised with me following the survey.
Then after a quick stop at Toys R Us for a present for my soon-to-be 5 year old nephew, I heard on the car radio the news that after marching everyone up the election hill, Gordon Brown has delayed the General Election until at least 2009. I am not surprised but I am severely disappointed. My own surveys have shown an increase in Conservative support across Chatham & Aylesford and as I have posted on this site before many people have told me they want to get rid of this Labour Government as soon as possible. And who can blame them when violent crime is rising, the NHS is in chaos, police are fed up with working to targets and immigration is out of control. Gordon Brown has said that he wants to show people his "vision for change" - the people of Chatham & Aylesford don't want to see a "vision", they want to see a change in Government.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
Saturday, 29 September 2007
Friday, 28 September 2007
It is time to give the people of Chatham a real say in the future of Capstone Valley. Let’s find out whether people prefer concrete or countryside.
A letter will be delivered to over 20,000 households across Chatham in the next few days inviting people to take part in a consultative referendum on plans for 9000 new houses in one of Medway’s last remaining green spaces. A ballot, to be supervised by independent scrutineers, will take place on Saturday 3 November.
Twelve local shops throughout Chatham have agreed to hold ballot boxes for residents to return their ballot papers. Papers can also be returned to any local Conservative councillor and by post to me at 200 Canterbury Street, Gillingham, Kent.
Thursday, 27 September 2007
Organisers of the event said that the Arrows' military background might be "offensive" to other countries taking part in the Games. The display team have performed at more than 4000 events worldwide, but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have deemed the display team "too militaristically British".
Unsurprisingly, Red Arrows pilots are "outraged", as they had hoped to put on a truly world class display for the Games, something which had never been seen before. Being axed from a British-based event for being "too British" is an insult - the Arrows are a symbol of Britain and the Red Arrows have been excellent ambassadors for British overseas trade, as they display their British-built Hawk aircraft all over the world.
I first saw the Red Arrows when I was about 4 or 5 years old whilst out with my parents in Folkestone. Ever since then I have been mesmerised by their skills and have been to many airshows to watch them. Their flypast at the Games would no doubt have been truly spectacular. I hope that common sense prevails.
Saturday, 22 September 2007
The cross party campaign group "I want a Referendum" explains the case for a referendum quite clearly:
"The original EU Constitution was drawn up in 2003. It proposed a significant shift of power from Britain to Brussels. As a result in 2004 the Government decided it was so important that voters should be given a say on it in a national referendum.
In 2005 French and Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the Constitution in their own
referendums. But despite this EU leaders have decided to bring it back again, in the form
of a new treaty.
Now Gordon Brown argues that a referendum is now unnecessary because, he claims, the
revised treaty is substantially different to the original Constitution. But other EU leaders
are more honest:
• The author of the Constitution, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, says: “All the earlier proposals
will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.”
• The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero admits: “We have not let a single substantial
point of the Constitutional Treaty go… It is, without a doubt, much more than a treaty.
This is a project of foundational character, a treaty for a new Europe.”
• The German Chancellor Angela Merkel says simply: “The substance of the Constitution
is preserved. That is a fact.”
Only 10 out of 250 proposals in the “new” treaty are different from the proposals in
the original EU Constitution. In other words, 96% of the text is the same as the rejected
So it is clear that what we have now is practically what we had before. Back then a referendum would have been allowed - now it is not. Well I want a referendum so I have signed the petition for one - you can join me HERE.
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Friday, 14 September 2007
Saturday, 8 September 2007
In the 2005 General Election the Government promised to hold a referendum on the proposed EU Constitution. Later that year, French and Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the Constitution in their own referendums.
But EU leaders refused to listen. They are now trying to reintroduce the rejected Constitution in the form of a new treaty. Although they have changed the name, the contents are almost exactly the same. This is a deeply dishonest process.
The author of the Constitution, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, says: “All the earlier proposals will be in the new text, but will be hidden and disguised in some way.”
The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero admits: “We have not let a single substantial point of the Constitutional Treaty go… It is, without a doubt, much more than a treaty. This is a project of foundational character, a treaty for a new Europe.”
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel says simply: “The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact.”
Only 10 out of 250 proposals in the “new” treaty are different from the proposals in the original EU Constitution. In other words, 96% of the text is the same as the rejected Constitution.
A new cross party campaign entitled "I Want a Referendum" has been launched and like me you can sign support their campaign HERE.
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
The Government's response
Although the Department of Health provides strategic leadership to the NHS and social care organisations in England, it is for local NHS organisations to plan, develop and improve services
for local people. These bodies are therefore best placed to respond to patients' concerns and needs. However, the Government has made it clear to the NHS that any changes to the configuration of local services should not compromise patient care and should show how the quality of care will continue to improve further in the future. Local services must continue to meet patient safety requirements and the standards set in National Service Frameworks and should demonstrate how they will use improvements in medical technology and techniques in future.
The Government is halfway through a ten-year plan to provide a modern NHS, responsive to patient needs and focusing equally on promotion of health and well-being, as well as the treatment of ill health. So far, the NHS has been leading the change, focusing on increasing capacity with more staff and more facilities. As a result, hospital waiting lists are now the lowest since records began, early deaths from cancer and coronary heart disease continue to fall and
patients have more choice and involvement in their own care. The White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say: a new direction for community services focuses on a strategic shift that locates more services in local communities and closer to people's homes.
Similarly, the Department of Health's clinical reports, such as Mending Hearts and Brains and Emergency Access - Clinical Case for Change outline the opportunities to change acute hospital care in order to deliver the best possible services in future. These proposals build on the improvements that have already been made to health and social care and will reinforce the
Government's existing programme of reform.
Plans for the future configuration of acute services provided across the south east have not been determined at a national level. Any proposals for change that may be put forward by local NHS
organisations will be subject to extensive consultation with local people. This discussion phase will inform the proposals, and any significant service changes proposed will be subject to the full public consultation which is expected to take place in the autumn. The decision for the future service pattern will then rest with the Primary Care Trust (PCT), which will analyse the responses and decide which course of action to take.
Should formal public consultation be required, the PCT's final decision will be subject to scrutiny from the local authority overview and scrutiny committee (OSC), which is made up of elected
local councillors. If the OSC determines that the consultation has been inadequate or that the proposal itself is flawed, it can refer the decision to the Secretary of State who has committed to asking for an independent expert clinical opinion form the Government's Independent Review Panel for any cases referred to him.
Saturday, 1 September 2007
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Putting this specific case aside, I believe the way our veterans are treated is poor, especially in comparison to other countries. Young men and women put their lives on the line for our country and yet when they return we let them down so badly. Soldiers are not particularly well paid so the very least they should expect from Government is a duty of care. It is hardly a surprise that army personnel and veterans feel completely disillusioned. The British Legion have launched a campaign called Broken Covenant which will focus on the need to boost medical care, strengthen the system of coroners' inquests to ensure swift closure for bereaved families, and provide more compensation. You can show your support for the campaign HERE.
Sunday, 26 August 2007
The online petition is still available to sign online HERE.
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Researchers found that the risk of death increased by 1% for every six miles travelled. Those with breathing problems were most at risk compared to those with other conditions. Their chances of dying were 13% if the distance to hospital was between six and 12 miles, and 20% if this was 12 miles or more. From Aylesford to Pembury is at least 18 miles and in traffic can easily take 40 minutes to get to by car.
This research clearly undermines the Government's claims that closures are based on clinical needs and the campaign against the closure of Maidstone A&E has always been focused around concerns about the distance to the new unit at Pembury. I hope that the Health Secretary will now consider this study in his deliberations on the future of Maidstone A&E, alongside the strength of local opposition against these proposals, and rule in favour of keeping this essential service open.
Monday, 20 August 2007
Open Europe, a European reform think tank, has published an excellent document comparing what UK Ministers are saying on the new Treaty and what the rest of the EU's politicians are saying. It makes interesting reading and can be found HERE.
Given what we know now why are we still being denied the opportunity to have a referendum on the new Treaty? We the British public are being conned about what is in this document. It is a constitution in all but name so I believe a referendum is required. I have signed the Telegraph's petition for a vote on the new Treaty - you too can add your signature HERE.
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Saturday, 18 August 2007
Friday, 17 August 2007
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Monday, 13 August 2007
I took 7 books away with me but only read 5: Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca (wonderful); Francis Elliott's biography of David Cameron (very interesting); The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency (excellent, poetic and easy to read); Claire Tomalin's biography of Thomas Hardy (my holiday favourite - nearly 800 pages of a brilliantly written insight into quite possibly one of the UK's best writer of fiction and, often forgotten, poetry); and finally Alastair Campbell's diaries (it pains me to have paid money into his pension pot but it was quite an interesting, albeit sometimes read with total scepticism, account of his time with Blair).
And whilst I was away -
- the Maidstone A&E petition closed with nearly 6000 signatures but as far as I am aware no decision has been taken by the Secretary of State yet
- Kent Cricket Club won its first trophy in ages with a win in the 20/20 cup, and
- Tottenham lost their opening match of the season conceding a last minute goal - plus ca change?
Friday, 27 July 2007
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
PAC Press Release, 24th July
TACKLING ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
Publication of 44th Report of Session 2006-07
Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
“After dark our city and town centres are fast becoming no-go areas, with behaviour there ranging from drunken skylarking and intimidation to out and out criminal activity. No civilised country should have to put up with what can seem like an occupying army loose in the streets. The cost of responding to it is currently running at some £3.4 billion a year.
“A barrage of different anti-social behaviour measures was introduced ten years ago but the Home Office has not done any work nationwide to find out which ones work best. The National Audit Office found evidence that, for many tearaways, a simple and cheap warning letter was enough to deter further bad behaviour. But the government has not collected any information on the effectiveness of different measures on different groups of offenders.
“A hard-core of persistent offenders clearly regards ASBOs as part and parcel of its way of life and to be shrugged off accordingly. Enforcement action against these people must be absolutely rigorous and, where they persist in their breaches of Orders, there should be no hesitation in bringing prosecutions, Cases should also be considered for referral to the Crown Court which can impose custodial sentences. And we need to try to head off a new generation of persistent offenders, by directing appropriate support at families whose youngsters are at risk of falling into anti-social behaviour.
“The Home Office is notorious for a number of recent episodes where it provided duff information. The fact that it supplied the National Audit Office with incorrect data on perceptions around the country of anti-social behaviour does nothing to improve its reputation. The department should pull itself together.”
Mr Leigh was speaking as the Committee published its 44th Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Home Office and the Respect Task Force, examined evidence emerging from the sample of 893 cases of individuals receiving anti-social behaviour interventions reviewed by the National Audit Office.
The Committee had also questioned the Home Office about its recent disclosure that a backlog of 27,500 notifications of convictions of British citizens abroad had been passed to the Association of Chief Police Officers for checking and entering on the Police National Computer in March 2006 after being allowed to build up over several years.
Anti-social behaviour by a small proportion of individuals and families brings misery and despair to local communities. Responding to reports of anti-social behaviour in England and Wales costs government agencies around £3.4 billion a year. There are also significant indirect costs to local communities and businesses, as well as emotional costs to victims and witnesses. In 2003 the Home Office formed the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit with an annual budget of £25 million to design and implement the Government’s policy on anti-social behaviour. In September 2005 the Government announced the creation of the cross government Respect Task Force to take forward the anti-social behaviour agenda and in January 2006 the Government published the Respect Action Plan.
Anti-social behaviour measures were first introduced in the mid 1990s, and since this time more powers and measures have been added to give local authorities, the police and others a toolkit of measures with which to tackle incidents of anti-social behaviour. People’s perception of the level of anti-social behaviour varies by gender, area and age, with people most likely to perceive high levels in areas of greatest social deprivation. Comparable local areas use different approaches to dealing with anti social behaviour and there has been no comparative evaluation of the success of these approaches. Nor has there has been a comprehensive evaluation of the use and success of the different measures and powers, making it difficult for the Home Office, the Respect Task Force and those dealing with anti-social behaviour to assess what works best.
Of the sample of 893 cases of individuals receiving anti-social behaviour interventions, around 46% related to people aged under 18 and 54% were over 18. In the absence of central data and national evaluations, the National Audit Office had used the sample to determine the apparent impact of the intervention applied in each case, in terms of whether there was evidence of further anti-social behaviour within the period covered by the case file review, and if so, after how long and what further intervention then occurred. Some 65% of the people in the sample received only one intervention. The National Audit Office review also found, however, that a small core of people engaged repeatedly in anti-social behaviour with around 20% of their sample cases receiving over half of all interventions issued.
Sunday, 22 July 2007
In Medway, violent crime rose by 4% last year with the total number of incidents recorded standing at 5,536. Tonbridge & Malling saw a 2% increase in violent crime but a massive 24% increase in sexual offences. Kent as a whole saw a 3% increase in violent crime, much of which is related to the relaxation of licensing laws increasing the likelihood of violent behaviour in our town centres late at night.
These new figures continue to highlight the Government's failure to tackle crime and protect the public. They refused to listen to opposition on the changes to licensing laws, including Conservative calls to pilot the scheme and assess the consequences before implementing blanket changes.
What is most frustrating about these latest figures is that our police are working incredibly hard to combat crime but are constrained by red tape imposed upon them from Whitehall tying them to their desks rather than out on the streets. Furthermore, even when the police do catch them our prisons are so full that many offenders are not being either punished or rehabilitated properly thus seeing them back on the streets ready, and willing, to commit more crimes.
It is time for some proper action on crime. We need more prison places; more, and better, rehabilitation; a better anti-drugs strategy aided by a border police force; and a police force able to get on with doing their jobs rather than sat behind their desks filling out forms. I am under absolutely no doubt that this is what a Conservative Government would deliver.
Saturday, 21 July 2007
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
In 2004, the Labour Government pandered to the liberal establishment and downgraded cannabis from Class B to C despite severe opposition from the police and anti-drugs campaigners.
Unfortunately the drugs section in last week's launch of Iain Duncan Smith's report on "Breakthrough Britain" was largely overlooked. This is a shame because in my view for society to really change then get rid of drugs from our streets should be one of our top priorities. In the report IDS calls for the reclassification of cannabis to Class B - not as you will note for consultation - as part of a national action plan to discourage cannabis use. It is quite clear, as the report puts it, that our most widely used illegal drug should not be in the category which conveys the impression to parents or children that we need to be less concerned with it than the other drugs classified. Modern day cannabis is a dangerous drug - especially when used regularly by youngsters - but current Government policy sends out mixed messages to children. I hope the Government sees sense and reverses their lunatic policy on cannabis, and if they don't then it will be one of the first things I propose to do when elected to Parliament.
Saturday, 14 July 2007
Hold on a second.
Tony Blair's Government, of which Gordon Brown was Chancellor and therefore controlled spending of every Department in Whitehall, scrapped grants and introduced tuition fees. And now he wants to increase the number of grants available to people, so they can pay the tuition fees, that he introduced, in order to go to University. Announcing on the one hand that he is giving money whilst surreptitiously taking it away with the other hand is Brown trade mark. Thankfully, the public have more sense and are not fooled by this imaginative use of smoke and mirrors.