Wednesday, 29 April 2009
You can read the BBC report on the vote HERE and the views of the actress Joanna Lumley on the outcome HERE.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
- National Insurance will be increased for workers and for firms which will discourage businesses from hiring staff, cut people’s pay packets, and mean anyone earning £20,000 a year or more will be worse off
- National debt will double to £1.4 trillion – this is equivalent to £22,500 of debt for every man, woman and child and to make matters worse, taxes are to rise by £1,000 for every family over the next two years
- Fuel duty is up 2 pence per litre, and will continue to rise by more than inflation for the next four years, increasing the cost of travelling to work, taking children to school and going shopping
- Alcohol duty, which was hiked up in December, will rise again as part of the Government’s plans to increase the cost of beer, cider, spirits and wine by more than inflation every year. This punishes responsible drinkers and is putting small local pubs out of business, and
- Business rates are rising by £1 billion in the middle of a recession. Business rates are the biggest cost for firms after rent and staff costs. Bills have soared for local firms since the beginning of April, and further large hikes are expected next year too.
In these tough economic times, families and local firms across Chatham & Aylesford are going to pay the price for Gordon Brown’s failings. These aren’t taxes for the few; they are taxes for the many. At a time when people are losing their jobs or facing pay freezes, hard-working families now face smaller pay packets and a higher cost of living thanks to Labour. As with the end of every Labour Government it will be up to the Conservatives to repair our broken public finances and help lead the country out of recession. It is clearly time for a change!
Friday, 24 April 2009
One thing the survey clearly shows is that the personal impact of the credit crisis, regardless of age, family status or profession, is significant and that many people are cutting back on spending or are deeply worried about the immediate future. I got the impression on the phone last night that people were not fooled by the Budget and if anything resent politicians trying to pull the wool over their eyes about how much the ordinary taxpayer is going to have to pay to get the country out of this mess. It has hardly gone unnoticed that petrol prices are creeping up again and even the cheaper stations don't feel that cheap anymore!
Of course, if the Conservatives had given this Budget, we would have got a grip on government spending and used the savings to introduce real help now for families and pensioners such as
- Freezing council tax for two years, worth over £200 for the typical family.
- Abolishing income tax on savings for all basic rate taxpayers, worth up to £7,200 a year and,
- Raising the income tax threshold for pensioners, worth up to £400 a year.
I think most people are realising that yet again, as with every previous Labour Government, the Conservatives will tackle Labour's debt crisis and deliver economic change for Britain.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
After being subjected to a really cheeky, albeit unrepeatable on a family blog, chat up line from a group of teenage boys on the swings, we called it a day and I headed off to the Snodland Branch meeting to catch up with activists and to hear Cllr Sarah Hohler's update from Kent County Council. It appears to be good news that KCC can recoup up to 80% of its losses from its £18.5m investment in Iceland's Heritable Bank.
If this glorious Spring weather continues then I expect to be out a lot more in the evenings - although I might avoid the swings next time!
Saturday, 18 April 2009
I am sure more people than usual will be taking an interest in next week's Budget. I got the impression that people won't be fooled by "giveaway gimmicks" but are holding out genuine hope for real measures to be introduced that will help ease the burden of the rising cost of living. I think we all are.
I think it's been a pretty defining week in the history of this Government.
It started with all that nonsense over Easter when it emerged that while people up and down the country were worried about their jobs, homes and futures, one of the Prime Minister's main advisers was busy cooking up lies to spread about me, my colleagues and our families. After five days, the Prime Minister finally took full responsibility and said sorry. But, in many ways, that's the easy part. The hard part is what comes next - addressing the culture of spin and smear in Downing Street. As anyone who works in an office knows, it's the boss who sets the culture - so Gordon Brown's got to ask himself some serious questions.
And it ended with the Director of Public Prosecutions chucking out the charges against Damian Green. Let's be clear what happened here. An Opposition MP was arrested, and he and his family put through hell, for simply doing his job. It was wrong. He's been vindicated. And the Home Secretary's got to ask herself some serious questions.
Taken together, these episodes demonstrate clearly the need for change. Not, as Gordon Brown would have it, change in some advisers' code or a review into police operations. But a change in leadership at the very top. This lot have been in power far too long - they're out of touch, forgotten who they're serving, what they're in power for and how they're meant to behave. To bring some integrity back to Downing Street, the only answer is an election and a change of government.
But this week hasn't been all about politics. I visited Stafford Hospital on Tuesday - that's the place which had really unacceptable standards of care. It was incredibly moving to meet victims and their friends and family. And though it was little consolation to them, I outlined how the Conservatives would help stop another Stafford from happening again by having an information revolution so hospital failings are exposed quicker.
I'm sure there'll be as much to write about next week - it's the Budget.
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I personally think it has been a bad week for politics. The Damian McBride affair simply turns people off and the main impact of his dreadful activities will be to make people even more apathetic than they already are. Our electoral turnouts are embarrassingly low - events like those over Easter will probably make it even more difficult to get people out to vote at the next General Election. Shame.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Saturday, 4 April 2009
Friday, 3 April 2009
After a bacon sandwich for lunch I put my jeans on and visited the Kent Labrador Rescue Centre - a charity which has been hit by the economic downturn in two different ways. With cash being short people are not donating as much to charity as they used but secondly as people are being made redundant or money becomes tight, their dog becomes unaffordable and needs re-homing. It is very sad and Carol, the manager, was telling me that it is rather tough at the moment and their future, at this stage, is not looking as bright as they hope.