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Westlake Legal Group > Manchester

Where CCHQ should move to

We reported last week that a senior source in Number Ten wants CCHQ out of Matthew Parker Street altogether and to move it to the North or the Midlands. And that it wanted ideas about where this new location should be.

It added that the new venue should be “somewhere reasonably close to a university with good maths/physics departments (we should get a data team up there), good train links, well placed in political terms”.

What Downing Street seems to us to be looking for are responses and suggestions that are shaped roughly as follows.

  • CCHQ should move to A because…
  • …it is near B number of marginal seats…
  • …C University in the area has a first-class maths department as graded by D…
  • …And it has the following transport links to E.

Some of the replies approached that level of detail.  See Raedwalda’s on Manchester, Toonjulz’s on Newcastle, Dargueam’s on Birmingham…and several contributors who highlighted the connection between Warwick University and Coventry.

At any rate, the votes cast in the thread, as it were, went roughly as follows.  We’ve allowed for a contributor to back two places in one post (but not more).

  • York – 18 votes (cast before it was reported that Downing Street wants to move to House of Lords there).
  • Birmingham eleven.
  • Manchester nine.
  • Leeds seven.
  • Newcastle seven.
  • Bradford two.
  • Durham five.
  • Stoke five.
  • Newcastle four.
  • Sheffield three.
  • Coventry three (with the University of Warwick referenced).
  • Chester two.
  • Darlington two.
  • Leicester two.
  • Three Birmingham spin-offs – Bromsgrove, Stourbridge and Walsall.
  • Three Manchester spin-offs – Bolton, Macclesfield and Salford (three votes).
  • Blackpool, Buxton, Carlisle, Chester, Crewe, Derby, Mansfield, Lincoln, Liverpool, Loughborough, Northampton, Nuneaton, Peterborough, Walsall, Worcester – one each.

Some contributors suggested venues in Scotland; or the South of England, or dismissed the whole idea as a gimmick.

They were right to ask some searching questions.  Why move CCHQ in the first place?  Some say that a move would make the institution less London-centric.  Others, that different bits could go in different places.

But if the press office (say) were to stay in the capital, wouldn’t it make sense for the Research Department too as well?  If so, one then asks what the point would be of splitting CCHQ into two.

Some readers wanted CCHQ to maintain its base in London but diversity its campaigning.  But would the Conservatives really need a mass of potentially expensive new out-of-capital locations to do that?

Finally, does any part of CCHQ have to be in the capital?  The Chairman’s office, presumably: he can scarcely be expected to dash to the lobbies to vote in ten minutes from north of Watford.

On this site, Robert Alden made the case for Birmingham, Anthony Mullen made one for Newcastle (from Sunderland)…and Eddie Hughes one for a town or small city such as Derby, Stoke or York.

All in all, we question whether CCHQ should really move at all.  But if a big symbolic move is in order, the Midlands makes sense as a location: after all, that’s where a mass of marginal seats are now centred.

Birmingham may thus be as good a place as anywhere but, if one is to place faith in the wisdom of crowds, the case made in the threads for Coventry and Warwick University made a lot of sense.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Eddie Hughes: Our values must drive CCHQ. That means moving it to a town or small city – not a big one.

Eddie Hughes is MP for Walsall North.

On Monday evening next week, we will have the introductory meeting of the Blue Collar Conservatism caucus. More than 120 Conservative MPs have signed up so far to be part of this great movement, and I’m hoping to have the opportunity to make the following pitch.

Don’t move from London to another metropolitan bubble.  Moving from London to, for example, Manchester, would be nearly pointless

The news that CCHQ is going to move out of London is excellent. The goal has to be to make it more representative of Conservative voters, and more in tune with ordinary people. However, the risk is that it moves from London to, say, Manchester, which is incredibly similar – a large metropolitan area which is very diverse, has lots of graduates, and is politically unlike its surrounding areas.

Indeed, in political terms, we would be moving from the single largest urban conurbation in the UK where we have roughly three-in-ten seats (21 out of 73 so 29 per cent) to the second largest conurbation where we have one-in-three seats (9 out of 2,  so 33 per cent).

Telling our new voters that we are changing, and so we are moving out of London to the city most like London in the whole of England risks being seen as patronising and illustrating a lack of understanding. Manchester is more like London than most of the Conservative seats in the country, including the new seats we gained in the last election.

If we are going to change the adviser network, we need the Conservative Research Department and comms team to move.

As an MP, you meet a lot of advisers. Some of them are great and genuinely helpful and conservative in every sense, and unfairly get a lot of flack. Others seem less conservative and more about networking in the London social scene than applying conservative principles and policy expertise to get the right results. The Conservative Research Department (CRD) and comms teams have to move when CCHQ moves. There is no need for a policy or comms presence in London outside Number 10 and the existing special adviser network.

Moreover, we need to ensure that those coming up as advisers are people that are not trapped in a metropolitan bubble, but are focused on the issues our voters, who tend to be in small cities, towns and rural areas – whether in the South, Midlands or North – are focused on.

So the new CCHQ seat needs to be in a town or small city.

The heart of the Labour core vote is the large metropolitan areas – Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Birmingham, London. These areas tend to have higher number of graduates, smaller numbers of SME businesses, and more ethnic diversity, all key drivers of the Labour vote. As noted above, simply moving from a large metropolitan base to another is likely to keep CCHQ stuck in a metropolitan mindset.

With this in mind and writing as an MP from one of our recently-acquired Blue Collar seats, the new CCHQ office has to be somewhere that is not a large metropolitan area. Suggestions I will put to the Blue-Collar Conservatism caucus are as follows:

  • Stoke-on-Trent. All three MPs are now Conservative (up from none in 2010). With 2 trains an hour less than 90 mins to London, it fulfils the criteria. It is an hour from Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Warwick universities and has Keele university nearby.
  • Derby. While only one of two MPs from Derby are now Conservative, 9 out of 11 in surrounding Derbyshire are Conservative. It also has two trains an hour from London and gets there in 90 minutes. It is close to Nottingham university and not too far from some others (e.g. Sheffield is an hour away, ditto Warwick and Birmingham).
  • York. While York itself is Labour, North Yorkshire has 12 MPs and only 2 are Labour and 3 are 2017 or 2019 gains. It is just over 2 hours from London but several hundred miles away. This would be close to York and just a half hour train from Leeds and hour from Newcastle.

The point of this list is to not be exhaustive. It is to point out that simply moving from one large metropolitan region in the South to another one in the North is not what is necessary. If we are trying to ensure that CCHQ in future is more representative of the typical voter, and if we are trying to send a signal, we need to make sure we choose a small city or town to base ourselves in, not just move from London to another large metropolitan area.

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Iain Dale: The time has come to dig up Cameron’s green tree

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

After the election, I was chatting to a friend and said one of the ways that the Conservatives could show their commitment to people in the north was to open some regional branches of CCHQ.

Maybe in Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Birmingham (OK, I know Birmingham is not in the north, but you get the point). But not for one minute did I think they’d be seriously thinking about moving the whole of CCHQ somewhere else.

And nor should they. Moving the entire organisation out of London is a preposterous idea. London is and will remain the centre of our politics and our government, so it makes eminent sense for the HQs of all political parties to have their central offices there.

To locate them anywhere else would be seen as virtue signalling and gratuitous. To open regional offices with half or dozen or so employees would surely be the more sensible option. This is the equivalent of the BBC deciding to locate Radio 5 Live and BBC Breakfast in Salford – for no other reason that it shut people up who alleged they had a southern bias.

5 Live has become a shadow of its former self since it moved to Salford and BBC Breakfast finds it difficult to attract live guests to Salford – and even if it does, it costs an arm and a leg to get them there by train and then provide a hotel for them.

I hope the Conservative Party consigns this proposal to the dustbin it belongs in, and instead comes up with a revised proposal, which would enable regional offices to manage constituency agents and campaign managers and also have a research facility which can feed regional policy ideas into the centre. It doesn’t really need to be more complicated than that.

– – – – – – – – – –

Carrying on the theme of a new era for the Conservative Party and the country, it is surely time for the party to revamp the tree logo.

Well, when I say revamp, I mean replace. I don’t think it’s a logo the party has ever taken to its heart, unlike its Torch predecessor.

The tree has always been seen as a sop to David Cameron’s green agenda, although of late it’s taken on a Union Flag tinge. Maybe ConHome should challenge its readers to come up with a new design?

– – – – – – – – – –

I have written before in this column about the iniquitous Loan Charge scheme, in which HMRC chase independent contractors for 20 years’ back tax.

Jesse Norman has announced measures to combat some of the worst effects of the scheme, but they don’t go nearly far enough. A Parliamentary campaign is continuing to put pressure on him to go further, and I hope that it is successful.

But there’s another problem of a similar nature on the horizon. In April, the Government is introducing changes to the IR35 legislation, forcing self-employed people to be taxed in exactly the same way as employed people.

This is utterly ridiculous, given that self-employed people don’t get the same benefits as employed people – such as holiday pay, entitlement, sick pay, maternity pay etc.

There are legions of examples of people who will be forced out of business by this ridiculous change, which is driven by people who have no understanding of the enterprise economy.

For a Conservative government to impose these measures really is the last straw for many people. It’s supposed to understand the needs and aspirations of the self-employed and those who run small businesses. I do hope that Sajid Javid will think again, and in his March Budget announce a rollback of these measures.

– – – – – – – – – –

Watching the Labour Party leadership contest is a bit like having a premonition of an imminent car crash but being powerless to stop it.

I shall be careful what I say, gsince I hope to be interviewing all the contenders on my radio show over the next few weeks, but so far can anyone really say that any of them have shown any real comprehension of why the Labour Party has landed up in the situation it finds itself in?

It’s as if they are playing the role of an ostrich in a Christmas pantomime. Some of them think it was all about Brexit – yet they have failed to articulate any policy that is different to the one Labour fought the last election on.

There is no understanding of why so many former Labour voters switched to the Tories. Four of the five are almost certain to want to change the party’s policy to one of Remain, but they don’t understand that this ship has now sailed.

Once we’ve left in just two weeks’ time, that’s it. There’s no going back – not for a generation at least. If they really want to fight the next election on a Rejoin platform, well, I wish them the best of luck, because boy will they need it.

– – – – – – – – – –

So where will you be and what will you be doing to mark our departure from the European Union at 11pm on Friday 31 January?

I fail to give a monkey’s wotsit about whether Big Ben will be donging or bonging at 11pm, but I quite agree that those who voted Leave are perfectly entitled to a celebration. For many, it’s the culmination of a lifetime’s work.

As you know, I voted Leave and am just pleased and relieved that the people’s choice in the referendum will now finally be carried out.

Will I be celebrating? It will be a bit difficult, given that I will be driving up the M5, where I will have been compering an evening with Jonathan Dimbleby at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter. If you live in the South West and would like to join us, you can book tickets here.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Suspect arrested on suspicion of terrorism in Manchester stabbing spree

Westlake Legal Group Manchester-attack Suspect arrested on suspicion of terrorism in Manchester stabbing spree United Kingdom The Blog Terrorism Manchester

There was an apparently random stabbing spree inside a mall in Manchester, England earlier today. Video showed the suspect being arrested just outside the mall by two police officers. As you can see, one of the officers had fired a taser at the suspect:

The BBC describes the scene inside the mall:

One witness said they saw a man “running around with a knife lunging at multiple people”, while another described people “screaming and running”.

The centre was put on lockdown as officers confronted the attacker, with some shoppers taking refuge in stores.

A shop worker, who only gave his name as Jordan, 23, said: “A man was running around with a knife lunging at multiple people, one of which came into my store visibly shaken with a small graze…

Freddie Holder, 22, from Market Drayton, Shropshire, said he heard “a load of screams just outside” the shop he was in.

He said a woman then came into the shop and told others “a guy just ran past the shop and tried to stab me”.

He added: “I’m still kind of in shock from it, I’m shaking a little bit… all shops had been locked down just for safety.

Three people were transported to the hospital with serious injuries and are expected to live. Police gave an update in which they said that almost immediately after the attack began the man was confronted by two unarmed officers. The suspect began chasing them and they radioed for help. Other officers arrived and the suspect was arrested. Police are still saying they don’t know the motive for the attack but the suspect was arrested on suspicion of terrorism:

Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson told a press conference that while the suspect was initially arrested for serious assault, he has now been arrested on “suspicion of the preparation, commission and instigation of an act of terrorism.”

There was a similar knife attack in Paris last week when a long-time employee of the police department killed four of his colleagues inside police headquarters. In that case the suspect was killed. Police were initially downplaying terror as a motive, but after a search of the suspects computer and phone they announced that terrorism investigators were taking over the case. A short while later, we learned the suspect had recently adopted more conservative Islamic views and had “expressed his support for the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks.”

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out what motivated the Manchester suspect. In most cases, people carrying out these attacks are not trying to go unnoticed. On the contrary, they usually announce the motive in some way. Since he’s still alive, maybe he’s also talking. Here’s a video of the police press conference.

The post Suspect arrested on suspicion of terrorism in Manchester stabbing spree appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group Manchester-attack-300x159 Suspect arrested on suspicion of terrorism in Manchester stabbing spree United Kingdom The Blog Terrorism Manchester   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Strangely subdued

  • Two Conservative Party conferences have happened in Manchester this week.  The first has been the one you will have read about, preoccupied by claims about whether Boris Johnson bent the rules for an alleged lover when he was Mayor of London, and groped a journalist when he was Editor of the Spectator (which he denies).  The other is the one that has actually taken place.
  • Party members present aren’t much concerned with the attacks on the Prime Minister’s private life – which they recognise are part of the campaign to delegitimise him, force an extension and stop Brexit.
  • In our judgement, they are more concerned about how to reconcile a) the terms of the Benn Act and b) leaving the EU on time.  On the one hand, they are enthusiastic about Johnson, and applaud his sense of direction after the dither and delay of the May years.  On the other, those Commons defeats and that Supreme Court reversal over prorogation have left many of them apprehensive.
  • The Conference has also been hit by the Commons sitting during it.  This isn’t because Labour or anyone else has staged a Parliamentary ambush; but, rather, because MPs have been told by the whips to be either in the Commons or in Manchester.  The difficulty instrinsic to tracking which they are in at any one time has had the obvious result: some have bunked off home.
  • Johnson’s premiership might have been expected to bring an influx of fervent Brexiteers to the Conference.  There is no shortage of them, and the Prime Minister himself has been fangirled – as they say – when speaking at receptions.  But the temperature of the conference has been cool.  David Gauke, speaking at a ConservativeHome event yesterday, wasn’t heckled even once.
  • Talk of girls leads us to make a point.  The conference is much younger than it was – there was a time when the staple Conservative representative was an older woman – but seems to us to be disproportionately male.  There is a mass of young men in suits.
  • Most Cabinet Ministers were denied a set-piece platform speech.  Of those that got one, Sajid Javid had the biggest announcement of the week – the minimum wage hike – which further confirmed the Prime Minister’s strategic push towards the lower wage Midlands and North.  Jacob Rees-Mogg was a rococo Conference darling.  And Nick Gibb the only non-Cabinet member to get a real show of his own from the stage.
  • But today is Johnson’s big day.  He will be preceded by a show of Conservative women, in an attempt to redress a Party polling weakness: no Geoffrey Cox this year.  We wait to see how much his speech makes of his EU negotiating position as it unfolds.  The Government seems to be proposing a Northern Ireland halfway house – with the UK fully out of the Customs Union.  We will find out soon enough whether it will fly.

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Clifton-Brown: “This was a minor verbal misunderstanding…I am mortified”

In a statement given to ConservativeHome this afternoon about today’s incident, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown told us:

“This was a minor verbal misunderstanding. The police have not contacted me at all. I am mortified that something so minor seems to have been blown out of all proportion and if anyone has been offended, I apologise unreservedly. I will co-operate with the Party in any investigation.”

It’s not yet known if any formal action or inquiry from the Conservative Party will follow.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Priti Patel: I will give the police the powers they need to defeat crime. Full text of her conference speech

“Today, here in Manchester, the Conservative Party takes its rightful place as the Party of Law and Order in Britain once again.

We stand with the brave men and women of our police and security services.

And we stand against the criminals.

The gang leaders, drug barons, thugs and terrorists who seek to do us harm.

We say that proudly and without apology.

As the Party that has always backed the forces of law and order, and we always will.

We ask them to do the most difficult of jobs.

To run toward danger, to ensure that we are not in danger.

Being here in Manchester it is impossible to forget that.

Just over two years ago, this city was victim to one of the most sickening terror attacks our country has ever witnessed.

Manchester truly experienced the worst of humanity that night.  But, also the best.

That spineless coward met with the heroism of our emergency workers and Britain’s finest intelligence agencies.

And as they face up to such danger, they need to know they are not alone.

They need to know they have a Prime Minister, a Home Secretary, and a Government that stands beside them.

I am that Home Secretary.

Boris Johnson is that Prime Minister.

The Conservative Party is that Government.

One of my first acts as Home Secretary was to start recruiting 20,000 new police officers.

Giving them the strength in numbers they need.

Giving them new and immediate funding.

And supporting and equipping them with the powers they need to keep us safe.

Including lifting restrictions on emergency stop-and-search powers for all forces across England and Wales.

Giving police officers the confidence they need to clamp down on violent crime.

These are the powers police chiefs tell me they need.

I have heard their voice.

I am answering their call.

And I want to tell you why.

There are three reasons:

Firstly, because backing the forces of law and order is central to our DNA as Conservatives.

Giving people the security they need to live their lives as they choose is an essential part of our freedom.

We recognise that freedom and security are not opposites, but equals. And that ensuring people can live their lives free from fear is the essential foundation for a life of liberty.

Because the people posing the threats are ever more callous and the job we ask the police to do is ever more difficult and dangerous.

These are the facts that I never forget.

Almost every day, I pass the gates of the Houses of Parliament.

There stands the memorial to PC Palmer killed in the line of duty on 22nd March 2017, during a terror attack at the heart of our democracy. His sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Around the corner from my office stands the National Police Memorial, and a book containing the names of 4,000 men and women killed as they went about their work.

Tragically, we must now add a new name to that proud roll of honour. PC Harper, a 28-year-old newlywed, senselessly and brutally killed in the line of duty on 15th August this year. He too will always be remembered.

I will always remember visiting Thames Valley police the day after he was killed. The shock and sorrow was palpable.

But the determination to come together, to carry on and continue the relentless pursuit of justice was inspiring.

Their safety, their dedication and their loyalty are what I think of every single day.

The second reason we must back the police is to remove the grip gangs and organised criminals have on our communities. They just don’t care who they hurt or abuse.

The kingpins of these criminal gangs are exploiting children.

Forcing them to carry crack cocaine and heroin across rural and coastal communities.

Threatening them into carrying guns and knives as “protection”.

Manipulating them into killing innocent people.

Faced with this new and growing danger, our police will know that I will back them to get this under control.

If there has been any doubt about that commitment in the past.

Let that end here today.

Recruiting 20,000 police officers is just the start.

I am equipping Police Officers with the kit and tools they need to protect themselves and others from harm.

I have created a new fund to give police chiefs the ability to train and equip police officers with tasers.

It is the job of Chief Constables to make that operational decision.

It is the job of the Home Secretary to empower them to do so. I am giving them that power.

And today I am announcing a £20 million package to roll up county lines drugs gangs.

To stop them terrorising our towns and villages and exploiting our children.

And a new £25 million Safer Streets fund for new security measures for Britain’s worst crime spots.

And as well as giving the police the kit and powers they need, we must do more to recognise their commitment, their bravery, and their professionalism.  

I have been humbled by the officers I have met and the experiences they have shared with me. This is why I have personally accelerated work to establish the Police Covenant.

This is a pledge to do more as a nation to help those who serve our country.

To recognise the bravery, the commitment and the sacrifices of serving and former officers.

And we will enshrine this into law.

We will also ensure that anyone who assaults a police officer receives a sentence that truly fits the crime, to make the thugs who would attack an officer, think twice.

That’s what I mean by backing the police.

And there’s a third reason we must back our police. It is because this is what the people want and what they expect us to do.

This is a Government driven by the people’s priorities.

Hardworking, honest, law-abiding people whose needs are humble, whose expectations are modest and whose demands of their government are simple.

They want us to listen.

They ask us to respond.

And they expect us to do what we say.

From crime, to immigration, to leaving the European Union, we are ready to listen and to do what they want.

It’s called democracy.

That shouldn’t really be a controversial statement.

They are the masters and we are their servants.

Our job is to deliver on their priorities.

But too many people are losing faith in politics and politicians. And they are questioning the health of our democracy. Because over three years ago, the British public turned out to vote in their millions.

They knew what they were voting for. They were told that the final result would be delivered.

But their euphoria and optimism of that referendum day has given way to frustration and anger.

As a group of politicians led by Jeremy Corbyn think they know better.

And have done everything possible to stand in the way of democracy, ignoring the will of the people.

I was proud to be part of the referendum campaign. A campaign that was electrified by one man. Who encouraged us to believe in a brighter Britain.

And I am proud to serve in his government as we work as a team and focus on getting Brexit done.

And as Home Secretary at this defining moment in our country’s history, I have a particular responsibility when it comes to taking back control.

It is to end the free movement of people once and for all.

Instead we will introduce an Australian style points-based immigration system.

One that works in the best interests of Britain.

One that attracts and welcomes the brightest and the best.

One that supports brilliant scientists, the finest academics and leading people in their fields.

And one that is under the control of the British Government.

Because, let me tell you something. This daughter of immigrants, needs no lectures from the North London metropolitan liberal elite.

That’s what you get with a government that is driven by the people’s priorities.

Of course, there will be only two dissenting voices.

Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn.

Because the choice isn’t just who the people want to be our next Prime Minister.

It’s also about who the people want to be their next Home Secretary.

Do we really want a Labour Home Secretary who would leave our communities and our country less safe?

A Labour Party who won’t even attempt to take back control of our borders.

Because they want to surrender our border control and extend free movement.

And on policing The Labour Party would stop the police from doing their job.

And when it comes to our brilliant intelligence agencies, well – what can I say?

The Labour Party trust our foes more than our friends.

To all of this, I say, no, no no.

Only the Conservative Party is driven by the people’s priorities and that means backing our police, our communities and our great country.

That pragmatic approach, grounded in the good sense of the British people, keeps us focused on what truly matters today.

That’s the lesson I took from the person who inspired me to join our Party.

A Conservative Prime Minister first elected forty years ago, this year.

Margaret Thatcher knew that if you made the British people your compass.  If you took time to understand their lives and their priorities, then your direction would always be true.

“My policies”, she said, “are based not on some economics theory, but on things I and millions like me were brought up with: an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay; live within your means; pay your bills on time; and support the police”

That advice is as sound today as it was forty years ago.

Support the police we will.

This Party, our Conservative Party, is backing those who put their lives on the line for our national security.

So as we renew our place as the Party of Law and Order in Britain, let the message go out from this hall today:

To the British people – we hear you.

To the police service – we back you.

And to the criminals, I simply say this:

We are coming after you.

We stand for the forces of right, and against the forces of evil.

We stand for the law-abiding majority, not the criminal minority.

We stand by those who seek to do right by themselves, their families and their communities.

And we stand by Britain, ready to give the leadership our great country deserves.

So as Conservatives, we must remind the public what we stand for.

And as the Party of the United Kingdom, we will get Brexit done and deliver on the people’s priorities.

Thank you.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Lord Ashcroft’s Conference Diary: Could Tory MPs be whipped to vote that they don’t have confidence…in their own Government?

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For more information about his work, visit www.lordashcroft.com and www.lordashcroftpolls.com.

In most spheres of life, whether in politics or business or anything else, when trying to predict what will happen in an uncertain situation you usually have some kind of solid foundation from which to project.

But what makes it so hard to forecast where it will all go with Parliament and Brexit is that there are no firm assumptions from which to build. The combination of Boris Johnson’s determination to hold an election, Labour’s refusal to do so until No Deal is off the table, and the SNP’s newfound resolve to topple the Prime Minister, potentially takes this uncertainty to new heights, or depths.

So could we see Conservative MPs whipped to vote that they do not have confidence in their own Government, while the official Opposition are whipped to vote that they do?

– – – – – – – – – –

Correspondents are supposed to opine on “the mood of the conference” – so, for what it’s worth, the atmosphere seems to me to be pretty cheerful, even though it hasn’t stopped raining in Manchester since we all arrived.

That was certainly how activists seemed at the annual meeting of the National Conservative Convention, where activists gathered on Sunday morning to grill the powers that be, including the Prime Minister.

“I think we’re in a pretty good mood,” he observed, and not just because we were “full of beans after our lavish hotel breakfasts.” The real reason was that this was “one of those times in history when the Conservative Party really knows what it’s all about.”

Getting Brexit done was not the only thing on the government’s agenda – he would be talking about spreading opportunity, which in turn meant the rollout of gigabit broadband: “It will be sprouting through like vermicelli, or something. I don’t know how it works or what it looks like, but it’s going to be fantastic.”

– – – – – – – –

Not everyone is so ebullient, however. Penny Mordaunt warned a Centre for Policy Studies fringe meeting dedicated to the subject of “Britain After Brexit” that things could still get worse. “MPs are about to move out of their building and spend billions refurbishing it, while not every tower block has been re-clad after Grenfell. If you think things are bad now, we haven’t seen anything yet.”

But ultimately, we should be optimistic and take the long view: “Only history is neat and tidy. Living through it is messy.”

– – – – – – – – – –

“It would be fun,” chortled Ken Clarke when asked by Nick Robinson if he fancies being Prime Minister of a “Government of national unity.”

I doubt it would be as much fun as he thinks. But be that as it may, as 1922 Committee Chairman Sir Graham Brady puts it, “all the people suggested as members of such a Government seem to represent the minority view of the country. Which is a very odd idea of national unity.” Indeed.

– – – – – – – – – –

Kate Hoey received a heroine’s welcome when she spoke at a Policy Exchange meeting on the Irish backstop. It was her first time at the annual Conservative gathering: “I must say it’s a much better dressed party conference than I’m used to.”

She said she had been sceptical about the burst of expertise and concern that had emanated from fellow Labour members since the border became an issue: “It’s been interesting to hear so many of my colleagues expanding on Irish affairs when they previously hadn’t a clue where Belfast was.”

And she furiously rejected the argument that the wrong border arrangements could promote terrorism: “It makes me so angry that we could shape our policy on the economy and everything else on a few criminal thug dissidents.” The Chief Constable “should be saying we’re going to get these people and put them away.”

– – – – – – – – – –

Arlene Foster was asked at the same meeting if she trusted the Prime Minister. “It’s funny, I’m often asked ‘do I trust Boris Johnson?’ but I was never asked ‘do I trust Theresa May?’ and frankly I should have been.”

People often made the same mistake with her party, she said: “The thing about the DUP is that when we set out our position, that’s our position.”

But if it came to a vote of confidence, “putting Jeremy Corbyn into government is not something the DUP will ever be accused of.” For Corbyn to be “talking about the rule of law when we supported a party who were quite happy to see judges killed in Northern Ireland is really quite something.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Lord Ashcroft’s Conference Diary: Could Tory MPs be whipped to vote that they don’t have confidence…in their own Government?

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, philanthropist, author and pollster. For more information about his work, visit www.lordashcroft.com and www.lordashcroftpolls.com.

In most spheres of life, whether in politics or business or anything else, when trying to predict what will happen in an uncertain situation you usually have some kind of solid foundation from which to project.

But what makes it so hard to forecast where it will all go with Parliament and Brexit is that there are no firm assumptions from which to build. The combination of Boris Johnson’s determination to hold an election, Labour’s refusal to do so until No Deal is off the table, and the SNP’s newfound resolve to topple the Prime Minister, potentially takes this uncertainty to new heights, or depths.

So could we see Conservative MPs whipped to vote that they do not have confidence in their own Government, while the official Opposition are whipped to vote that they do?

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Correspondents are supposed to opine on “the mood of the conference” – so, for what it’s worth, the atmosphere seems to me to be pretty cheerful, even though it hasn’t stopped raining in Manchester since we all arrived.

That was certainly how activists seemed at the annual meeting of the National Conservative Convention, where activists gathered on Sunday morning to grill the powers that be, including the Prime Minister.

“I think we’re in a pretty good mood,” he observed, and not just because we were “full of beans after our lavish hotel breakfasts.” The real reason was that this was “one of those times in history when the Conservative Party really knows what it’s all about.”

Getting Brexit done was not the only thing on the government’s agenda – he would be talking about spreading opportunity, which in turn meant the rollout of gigabit broadband: “It will be sprouting through like vermicelli, or something. I don’t know how it works or what it looks like, but it’s going to be fantastic.”

– – – – – – – –

Not everyone is so ebullient, however. Penny Mordaunt warned a Centre for Policy Studies fringe meeting dedicated to the subject of “Britain After Brexit” that things could still get worse. “MPs are about to move out of their building and spend billions refurbishing it, while not every tower block has been re-clad after Grenfell. If you think things are bad now, we haven’t seen anything yet.”

But ultimately, we should be optimistic and take the long view: “Only history is neat and tidy. Living through it is messy.”

– – – – – – – – – –

“It would be fun,” chortled Ken Clarke when asked by Nick Robinson if he fancies being Prime Minister of a “Government of national unity.”

I doubt it would be as much fun as he thinks. But be that as it may, as 1922 Committee Chairman Sir Graham Brady puts it, “all the people suggested as members of such a Government seem to represent the minority view of the country. Which is a very odd idea of national unity.” Indeed.

– – – – – – – – – –

Kate Hoey received a heroine’s welcome when she spoke at a Policy Exchange meeting on the Irish backstop. It was her first time at the annual Conservative gathering: “I must say it’s a much better dressed party conference than I’m used to.”

She said she had been sceptical about the burst of expertise and concern that had emanated from fellow Labour members since the border became an issue: “It’s been interesting to hear so many of my colleagues expanding on Irish affairs when they previously hadn’t a clue where Belfast was.”

And she furiously rejected the argument that the wrong border arrangements could promote terrorism: “It makes me so angry that we could shape our policy on the economy and everything else on a few criminal thug dissidents.” The Chief Constable “should be saying we’re going to get these people and put them away.”

– – – – – – – – – –

Arlene Foster was asked at the same meeting if she trusted the Prime Minister. “It’s funny, I’m often asked ‘do I trust Boris Johnson?’ but I was never asked ‘do I trust Theresa May?’ and frankly I should have been.”

People often made the same mistake with her party, she said: “The thing about the DUP is that when we set out our position, that’s our position.”

But if it came to a vote of confidence, “putting Jeremy Corbyn into government is not something the DUP will ever be accused of.” For Corbyn to be “talking about the rule of law when we supported a party who were quite happy to see judges killed in Northern Ireland is really quite something.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

John Myers: We do not need to give up on places that have fallen behind

John Myers is co-founder of YIMBY Alliance and London YIMBY, campaigns to end the housing crisis with the support of local people.

Stacking supermarket shelves is about as close as Anthony normally gets to new construction. A hard-working 25-year-old in a former industrial town, he has moved twice to London to work for an internet company. Each time, endless months in an expensive, overcrowded and mouldy shared flat pushed him home again, to lower pay.

That is not Anthony’s fault. For decade after decade we have built too few homes in places with abundant well-paid jobs like London – or Leeds, or Cambridge, or Bristol – for those who want to live there. That means someone will always be priced out, and the steep downward slope of prices from central London out across the country tells you many people have been.

Ryan Bourne’s recent article for Conservative Home tells us we must help people, not places, but I think we can help both.

Wages in London are higher than in Blackburn because rents are higher in London and people cannot move freely between the two. With plentiful housing in London, competition for workers would raise Blackburn wages for the same skills until they nearly matched London’s – or even exceeded them, because some people will accept slightly lower wages to enjoy more theatres and restaurants.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Town and Country Planning Association do not seem to have realized that banning more homes in high-wage places just pushes down wages in already-struggling places with more workers than jobs.

After the Black Death of 1348-9 killed some two-fifths of England’s population, the shortage of workers increased their bargaining power. The outraged aristocracy persuaded King Edward III to pass the Statute of Labourers, forbidding workers from moving around the country or to different jobs. It was deliberately designed to keep pay down.

We have our own 21st-century Statute of Labourers, but we have done it more cleverly, through a needless shortage of housing near high-wage opportunities.

Building enough homes within reach of the best jobs – while making those places better, through better design and with the support of local communities – could boost growth and wages by one or two percent a year for a decade. It will increase competition for workers and so raise the wages of workers across the country, while boosting growth and generating more tax revenues to invest in local infrastructure in places that need it most.

There is no reason to fear letting people move if they want to, so long as wages are rising everywhere, as they would. Places with rising incomes are good to live in, no matter whether the population may be static or even declining, like the centre of Paris.

Local councils can then spend more on making the place better and a smaller share of their revenues on dealing with problems. The residents can live in bigger houses. Around the world, various communities have become magnets for artists or other creative types, because the cost of living was low. The artists then attract the tech people and others. That is how you truly regenerate a place. Not through forcing people to live there.

The Cotswolds are so pretty and popular now because for centuries the population was not growing and so their glorious heritage was preserved. That is nothing to be feared; quite the reverse.

Bourne is right that preventing workers from moving around has led to much lower average wages. Our failure to build enough homes and other things in the right places is one of the main reasons for Britain’s low productivity.

The same goes for factories and offices. One study found that commercial space in Bristol – not even London – was more expensive than in Amsterdam, Paris, and Singapore. And then we wonder why we have lost manufacturing industry.

The original intent of the planners was to ‘rebalance’ the country by pushing jobs away from London. Sadly, in a complex and interconnected world, preventing a job being created in Cambridge does not move it to Sheffield. That job is far more likely to go to Singapore, or Paris, or not be created at all.

In the 1960s, Birmingham was booming and planners clamped down on new offices and factories in an attempt to push jobs further north. That backfired horribly. Network and what economists call ‘agglomeration’ effects are real costs and benefits. Otherwise every tech company would locate in Preston or Blackpool, where rents and wages are far lower than London or Cambridge.

For too long we have underinvested in commuting infrastructure in regions like the North-West that could form much better jobs clusters if commuting were easier. If we are serious about rebalancing, we could also move the capital from London to Manchester. It would not be the first time it has moved. Strangely, few of the organisations trumpeting rebalancing seem to want that. Perhaps rebalancing is just their excuse not to build homes?

Anthony’s wages are not lower in his home town because we have built too many homes in Cambridge and London. He, and his fellow residents, are poorly paid because we have built far too few homes within reach of higher wages, and he has no better choices.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com