Saturday, 4 May 2019

The Grantham Lass Who Did Rather Well


While we're nursing our sore feet from all that canvassing, bruised hands from all that leafleting only to see results that were *coughs* not encouraging, just remember this is the day 40 years ago when Margaret Thatcher took the keys to Downing Street and completely transformed our country for the better.
  • She brought the economy back from oblivionShe tamed the militant union barons
  • She turned taxpayers from nationalised industry subsidisers into private industry shareholder
  • She took on Europe and got our money returned (which Labour gave back to the EU)
  • She gave millions the opportunity to become property owners
  • She defended our overseas British family from foreign invaders
And what is more ....


Monday, 25 March 2019

The Revolution Starts Here

The vote today to allow Parliament to effectively take control of the Brexit process away from the Government is nothing short of revolutionary and here’s why.

The unwritten UK constitution is based on trust between three state institutions; The Executive (Government), Legislature (Parliament) and the Judiciary. The independence of the three institutions is as important as their interaction between each other. Government cannot and must not interfere with the decisions of the Judiciary. Judges must only rule on laws passed by Parliament and not make up new laws to suit their own agenda. And Parliament cannot and must not take over the role of Government, but today they have done.

I’m very uncomfortable with this as it sets a precedent that one institution can take over the role of another. This precedent could equally apply where Parliament decides it is unhappy with the way judges are handing down sentences so vote to sentence convicted criminals. The precedent can just as equally apply where Judges decide the law they are ruling on is inadequate so apply a law of their own making. Today this sounds far fetched, but the precedent has been set.

This country doesn’t do revolutions but today Parliament may have started one.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Sikh Channel Politics Show

Richard Short in conversation with Aran Dhillon, Broadcast 9.30pm (GMT), 9/02/2019
A great honour to be invited onto the Sikh Channel Politics Show (Sky Channel 748 Probing questions on all subjects by the very professional journalist, Aran Dhillon. Covering subjects as diverse as Brexit, Homelessness, local government finances, and NHS.

This was a great opportunity to tell an international audience in the UK, Canada, Australia and India about the positive measures being taken by this Government that are reducing rough sleeping, putting more resources than ever before into the National Health Service and how we are the part of the ladder of opportunity.

My gracious thanks to Aran Dhillon for inviting me to speak and to the Sikh Channel who were fair and welcoming.

Watch the whole programme here.  Link - Politics Show with Aran Dhillon

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Giving Grantham A+E Night Closures the Finger

It’ll soon be 1000 days since Grantham and District Hospital lost its 24 hour A+E.  

Throughout this time this essential emergency service has only been open from 8am to 6.30pm. Apparently, according to the United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, people in Grantham only fall ill and have accidents during socialable hours. There are many who would disagree, namely almost the entire population of Grantham,
especially the Fighting-4-Grantham Hospital Campaign Group (Fighting4GranthamHospital) and in particular, my bent middle finger.

Back in 1976, as a six-year-old living in a flat above a shop in Grantham and I slammed my hand in a door. It was during an evening 42 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. You could probably hear my scream in Lincoln. I was gathered up and whisked off to Grantham A+E only for my mum to find it was shut! I remember my mum speaking to someone and a man in a white coat eventually turned up with a set of keys. This was so long after we first arrived, I’d stopped sobbing and just let the doctors and nurses do their work, applying a splint to the middle finger which was now bent out of shape …. and has been so ever since.

Years later I now know my finger had a green-stick fracture. An open A+E with prompt attention and my middle finger may have been able to be straightened. I get the occasional spontaneous bolt of pain in the joint and I need to grip a pen in a particular way, so it doesn’t hurt so much. Not exactly life changing but the delay in treatment is indicative. If I had turned up to A+E with a life-threatening injury and a mum desperate for someone to help, this would have been a far more difficult story to tell.

The next nearest A+E departments are in Lincoln, Nottingham and Boston, all almost an hour's drive away and as if to rub salt in the wound even during the day, users will once again have to pay for parking. Closing Grantham A+E may well have been assessed as a risk worth taking by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. My day job is all about risk and even on the most anecdotal of evidence it is not an acceptable risk to ask critically ill and injured patients to travel an hour in each direction when there are facilities so close by.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust – OPEN GRANTHAM HOSPITAL 24 HOUR A+E NOW!

Monday, 17 December 2018

Breaking the Backstop Deadlock

To be clear from the start I oppose any notion of a second referendum on membership of the European Union. The vote has already taken place and the decision was clear but it is worth exploring the referendum tool as a means of breaking the deadlock over the backstop.

Even the most ardent loyalist will admit that the Brexit process has not gone as planned and the Prime Minister confirmed in her statement to the house that the immovable glacial erratic that has blocked progress is the Irish backstop. After pulling the meaningful vote, the impromptu dash to Europe only to be told by the EU “Plan A has failed, revert to Plan A” and ever increasingly calls for a second referendum it’s time to be radical and unblock the impasse.

Whichever way you look at it, the withdrawal agreement protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (the ‘backstop’) requires the whole UK to be bound, in varying degrees, by a customs union until a permanent solution can be found. After two years of looking for a solution, any solution, the prospects of the backstop becoming a reality are as high as ever. Given their deeply held convictions it is easy to see why the DUP oppose the withdrawal agreement and why all attempts to persuade them otherwise will be doomed to failure. But the DUP is not Northern Ireland. After the 2017 General Election we on the Conservative side were very keen to point out that the £1 billion to secure the DUP support was for the whole of Northern Ireland and not for the DUP to spend on itself. This same principle needs to be applied now. 

Whichever way the DUP would like it otherwise, Northern Ireland, albeit part of the United Kingdom, is constitutionally different from other countries in the Union. After all, it is the only part of the country where there is a legal and constitutional right to consider yourself as a citizen of another. I wholly and absolutely disagree that there should be any distinction between Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK. I am a Unionist and would never want to see a break up of the United Kingdom but believe even more in self-determination.
With the core of the DUP objection being that Northern Ireland will be in deeper a post-backstop customs union than the rest of the UK then this needs to be tackled at Northern Ireland level and not just with the DUP. Fundamentally the challenge faced on the Northern Irish border is whether the backstop means they opt for frictionless trade with the Republic of Ireland, as the current withdrawal agreement requires, or frictionless trade with the UK, which we can propose to the EU if and when the withdrawal agreement is rejected by Parliament. 

With the Parliamentary impasse, Brexit has now a project to do the undo-able so the Prime Minster needs to think the unthinkable and propose to the EU that choice over with whom to have frictionless trade should be decided in a Northern Ireland referendum. If the EU agreed this to be a viable option we can put this question to the Northern Irish. Their decision will decide, not on leave or remain but how deep into the customs union they want to be. Any such referendum must be carefully drafted with iron clad and legally solid assurances that NI remains in the UK. The electors of Northern Ireland may well decide to put the customs border down the Irish Sea. I would hate this but it will be their decision and is absolutely consistent with the principles and spirit of the Good Friday Agreement. 

Yes it could lead to a variance between GB and NI but, as this will have been decided by the Northern Irish themselves, this is exactly the justification Arlene Foster gives of other variances between GB and NI.