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Richard Holden: Five ideas for the new Chancellor’s Budget

Richard Holden is MP for North West Durham.

Crinnions, Lanchester

The famous Omnishambles Budget was a result of one key flaw – not being open enough to float ideas with Parliamentary colleagues and test the water. The pasty tax. The caravan tax. The hairdresser tax – I could go on. The public will forgive you doing your best in an impossible situation, but they won’t forgive you cocking it up when it comes to public finances.

The replacement of the Sajid Javid with Rishi Sunak was undoubtedly the stand-out moment of last week’s reshuffle. I was in the meeting when Gavin Williamson and Rishi, then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, went through the Education budget in the last spending round, and it’s clear to me that Rishi will be a formidable intellect in Number 11 who, despite his age and relatively few years in Parliament, will have no trouble getting to grips with the top job at the Treasury.

There are doubtless major issues at stake about fiscal rules, the direction of the country and how we ‘level up’ spending across the country to help ensure that opportunity (and thereby productivity improvements) reach every corner of the UK.

But Chancellors also have many smaller levers at their disposal – which signal their personality, their understanding of the party in Parliament, and their intent. It’s vital that in these small measures the Chancellor ‘gets it right’ next month.

So I’ve got five small suggestions for the forthcoming Budget. None would cost the earth, but would knock some of those “barnacles off the boat”, and provide a small flurry of positive headlines:

Beer & Cider.

In 1894, Conservative Clubs were established, providing beer less expensively than public houses and in direct competition with clubs affiliated to the Labour Party.

The ability to get an inexpensive pint in convivial surroundings is seen internationally as one of the hallmarks of Britain. With the craft beer renaissance in recent years, a couple of small but significant moves in this area would be well received, especially by the huge memberships of CAMRA in the country and by the APPG on Beer in Parliament.

Britain faces some of the highest beer taxes in the world outside Scandinavia. A freeze would be welcome, but at a cost of about £85 million, a penny off a pint of beer and cider would go down a treat.

Furthermore, small beer producers currently pay half the duty rate if they produce under 60,000 hectolitres a year (about a million pints), but if they produce anything over that they pay full duty on the whole amount.

A staggered scheme that removed this cliff edge wouldn’t be impossible, and would be welcomed by craft breweries across the land. The current half-price duty scheme costs the Treasury around £60 million a year. It wouldn’t take much to provide a non-cliff edge that would also allow the expansion of small breweries and enhanced competition in the broader market.

For about £100 million, the new Chancellor would be the toast of the town.


Nothing grinds people’s gears more than charity chief executives preaching while pocketing massive pay cheques themselves.

All Government appointments that earn more than the Prime Minister must be approved by Number 10. Extending this principle to charities would be a helpful way of highlighting those with excessive executive pay, especially in the international aid sector. This small change would cost nothing, but throw in some much-needed transparency, and ensure that people aren’t taking the mickey out of donors.

For a change in the procurement rules, the Chancellor could be the champion of transparency.


Ok, this is particularly personal for me. North West Durham is one of the biggest motorhome producers in the UK and we also have some beautiful countryside where people drive them to park up for a week or two.

In September last year, Vehicle Excise Duty and road tax on new motorhomes went up a lot (as EU Regulation 2018/1832 was gold plated, treating them like cars in the British tax system) meaning that now, during the first five years of buying a new motorhome, you pay over £5,000 in tax rather than about £1,200. New motorhome (which start from around £42,000) sales are down 10 per cent as a result.

This is damaging domestic tourism, and the environment by pushing people on planes. Reversing this counterproductive measure would save jobs and, in the end, would probably be net positive for the Exchequer, although the initial cost would be around £25 million.

So for an initial hit, the Chancellor could avoid being the man who doubled down on the second ‘caravan tax’ – show he’s in touch with the aspirations of “Blue Wall” voters, and save jobs in both UK manufacturing and domestic tourism.

Pause programme

This was developed by left-wing social workers in Hackney – not the opening of a sentence you’d expect from me. However, this programme saves lives, helps end abuse, and it also saves taxpayers lots of cash.

It came about when social workers noticed women (often with a combination of the ‘toxic trio’ of domestic abuse, substance abuse and mental health problems) having child after child that was then being taken into care.

What Pause provides is an intervention after a woman has had her second child taken into care – helping her take control of her own fertility and helping her seek other services and a job, and building her back up from what I can only imagine is the most soul-destroying of situations.

Crucially, the programme is voluntary and part of it is offering women, usually for the first time, long-term contraception so they can break the cycle of pregnancy and then having a child removed.

For people in this group who are not on Pause, conception rates are high, roughly a third (with a large number of the conceptions being terminated). When on Pause, it drops by 90 per cent plus. Thus allowing women, often in the most difficult of circumstances, the ability to start to regain control of their lives, get a job and start to become independent.

To roll this programme out nationally would cost £20 million. Initial studies of the programme have shown that payback in terms of saved court time, costs of putting children in care, etc is about 18 months – a rate of return usually only “delivered” by Ponzi schemes. And the Government would know it’s working within a year were it rolled out nationally.

For the Chancellor to show he’ll take good ideas from anywhere and empower the most vulnerable women, often for the first time in their lives, this is a tiny cost with a massive payback in every way.

Toilet Tax

This one’s simple and can get easy headlines. Local authorities are slashing public toilets across the country. One of the biggest reasons is that local councils pay business rates on them. That’s right. They’re not currently exempt. It is madness.

I declare an interest as the Co-Chair of the Local Democracy APPG (the voice for town and parish councils). For our high streets, tourism areas and our ageing population, the ability to have a loo nearby is important and we don’t want to see more lost.

Relieving councils of business rates on loos would require primary legislation.  The move was proposed before but got lost in the wash up last year. At a cost of £8 million a year, which goes directly to local government in most cases, this is a small cost/big win for the Chancellor.

So for under £150 million, the Chancellor could please:

Every beer & cider drinker; social worker; charity donor; town and parish councillor; motorhome manufacturer, retailer and owner; caravan site owner, and public toilet user in Britain. In my humble opinion, if there is a bit of slack to play with, the new Chancellor could do worse pick up some of these ideas.

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

5 ways to celebrate 100 years of the 19th Amendment

Westlake Legal Group rendering-suggragette-city-image 5 ways to celebrate 100 years of the 19th Amendment women's suffrage Women's Rights Women Things to Do Features Things to Do museum exhibit monuments memorials History exhibition Education Celebration anniversary 19th Amendment 100 years
Rendering courtesy Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial in Occoquan late last year kicked off NoVA’s centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment for 2020. The memorial is slated to open on Aug. 20, but—while you wait for the unveiling—these local attractions also focus on women winning the right to vote.

Lucy Burns Museum

Lucy Burns, a powerful speaker during the women’s suffrage movement, was one of 72 suffragists arrested for picketing at the White House. Charged with “obstructing traffic,” Burns and the others were jailed at the Lorton Reformatory and endured deplorable conditions and abuse. In protest, some went on a hunger strike. Their incarceration helped sway support for the movement and, two years later, Congress passed the 19th Amendment.  The prison closed in 2001 and was repurposed as the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center in 2008. The complex recently opened the Lucy Burns Museum where visitors can go behind the bars to see where the women were jailed. // 9518 Workhouse Road, Lorton; free

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument

When leaders of the National Women’s Party (NWP) purchased the Sewall-Belmont House in DC, they set up the suffrage movement’s headquarters and employed bold tactics to pass the 19th Amendment. Located steps from the U.S. Capitol, the NWP renamed it the Alva Belmont House, a benefactor for the suffrage movement. The 200-year-old house, now called the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument  (named after Alva Belmont and suffrage leader Alice Paul) was designated a National Historic Monument in 2016. National Park Service ranger-led tours include the first Feminist Library and data used to sway members of Congress. // 144 Constitution Ave. NE, Washington, DC; free

American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith

A recently opened exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, takes a look at the ongoing American experiment and includes a number of artifacts from the suffrage and civil rights movements. Look for Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s desk where she penned the Declaration of Sentiments and a circa-1870s “suffrage  wagon” used by trailblazing suffragists. // 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC; free

Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage

Opening next month, also at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum is, Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage. The exhibit will look at icons of the movement—both those who still loom large and those who’ve flown under the radar—and how that impacts the feminist movement today. The centerpiece of the yearlong exhibit will be a 6-foot tall portrait of Susan B. Anthony painted in 1900, along with artifacts from the 2017 Women’s March and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s gavel. // Opens March 6; 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC; free

Shall Not Be Denied

In a movement predating the Civil War, women fought for the right to vote. The effort required writing countless petitions, lobbying and picketing. Despite ruthless tactics employed by their opponents, the women persisted (sound familiar?). The Library of Congress debuted an exhibit in June 2019 that showcases that history: Shall Not Be Denied. Highlights include Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Bible, Ida B. Well’s “Negro Martyr” button, a book by Sojourner Truth and an account of the trial of Susan B. Anthony charged with illegally voting in 1872.  // through September; 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC, Jefferson Building, Southwest Gallery; free

This post originally appeared in our February 2020 print issue. For similar content straight sent to your inbox, subscribe to one of our newsletters.

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

Add these 9 health-focused products to your collection of active gear

From top-rated accessories to the latest trends in activewear, these items will make it easy to stick to your fitness regimen all year long. Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

An in-depth look at finding and keeping love in Northern Virginia

Westlake Legal Group edom-seifu-in-yellow-blazer An in-depth look at finding and keeping love in Northern Virginia Women tips single Romantic romance Politics political party political parties men love issue Love January cover discussion dating scene dating dates date Culture Features Culture cultural reads cover story Couples
Edom Seifu, 28, has experience in the dating scene of the DC region. (Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper)

Looking for Love

Fun fact: The DC region has the highest population of single people in the entire country. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find a great date.

It’s not your imagination. There are more single people living in the DC metro area than anywhere else in the country. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 70% of the adult population is single—that’s 20% higher than any other region in the country. The DC metro area also has the highest percentage of adults under the age of 40—76.6% of men and 76% of women—who have never been married, according to the U.S. Census.

So, why is it so hard to find a date in the DC metro area?

Two reasons, says Amber Artis, vice president of matchmaking at LUMA Luxury Matchmaking: It’s a transient city and a highly educated city where people are laser-focused on their careers.

It’s also a small city where it’s easy to bump into the same people. “People come to me and express that DC is a small city, so they know everyone here and keep running into the same type of person over and over again,” says Callie Harris, senior matchmaker and client experience manager at Three Day Rule, a matchmaking company.

Edom Seifu, 28, is familiar with these frustrations. After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2014, she moved back to Alexandria, where she grew up, and then ended a long-term relationship. For the past five years, she has been trying to date in DC, with mixed results.

Seifu finds dating apps like Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel slightly off-putting. “My first couple of encounters was some random compliment that seems meaningless and that is a huge turnoff,” says Seifu, who works at a management consulting firm. “It’s hard to make witty banter with someone you’ve never met. I’d rather meet in person for coffee or drinks.” But, that might never happen if you’re using a dating app because, according to Pew Research Center, one-third of the people who use online dating apps have never actually gone on a date with someone they met on those sites.

Seifu is open to meeting someone through friends but worries that “mixing friendship with dating gets messy.” She also tried speed dating but found there were more women than men at the event and she had to sit out for three of 20, four-minute speed-dating rounds. She also didn’t meet anyone she wanted to date.

There is a common belief—fueled by a 2015 article in The Atlantic’s CityLab—that there are more single women than men in the DC metro area. According to that article, there are 65,000 more single women than men in DC.

Michael Karlan, president of Professionals in the City, the company that runs the speed-dating event that Seifu attended, disagrees with this blanket assessment and says it depends on the age group. For instance, he says, events for men in their 20s often attract more single men than women. “If you’re a 21- to 23-year-old woman, you have a wide range of guys you can date,” Karlan says. “But guys in that age range are pretty limited because older women don’t want to date you and women your age are being pursued by older men.” Professionals in the City has 200,000 members in the DC area, Karlan says, and it’s fairly evenly split across gender.

One of the advantages to dating in DC is few people are actually from this area. When you move to other cities, like New York City and Los Angeles, you will meet people who are surrounded by friends they’ve had since high school, Karlan says. “That’s not the case in DC,” he says. “Everyone is looking to meet new people.”

Crossing Party Lines

Political affiliation has always been on the dating radar in this town. But in the age of Trump—and extreme partisan politics—it’s become a dating deal breaker.

It’s not uncommon for DC singles to spend their 20s and 30s focused on their careers or pursuing an advanced degree, and then suddenly realize, as they’re about to turn 40, that they haven’t given much thought to their personal lives, says Amber Artis, vice president of matchmaking at LUMA Luxury Matchmaking.

It’s also not uncommon for people to leave the DC area after five or 10 years, so Artis sometimes matches DC residents with someone living in New York City or Philadelphia, especially if they aren’t planning on making DC their home.

And, in fact, some DC residents—particularly men—will actually ask to be matched with someone who lives in New York City because they don’t want to marry, as one client said, “a buttoned-up career woman who is politically inclined,” says Lisa Clampitt, founder of Lisa Clampitt Matchmaking.

Think pantsuit-wearing Hillary Clinton versus former fashion model Melania Trump.
“They want to date someone who isn’t as political, business-savvy and conservative,” Clampitt says. “They think looking to New York City will give them more international, fashionable and sexy choices.” Most of these men, Clampitt says, are over 40 and want to date younger women.

Regardless of age, politics has become the No. 1 deal breaker for romance in DC—even more of a turnoff than smoking, Artis says. Ten years ago, politics wasn’t a core dating value like career, religion and finances, but since 2016, politics has become a value matchmakers screen for, Clampitt says.

And it’s not just Democrats avoiding Trump supporters. Even Republican women are telling Artis that they can’t date a Trump supporter. That could be another reason DC men want to date women from New York City. “In DC, it’s hard to find people who don’t care about politics,” Clampitt says. “In New York City, you can find people who don’t care.”

In fact, Michael Karlan, president of Professionals in the City, says singles’ events specifically geared to Republicans typically have a stronger turnout than those for Democrats. Republicans are harder to find in a city like DC, which tends to be more progressive and liberal, he says. “You can find a Democrat anywhere in the city.”

Even if you find someone who does share your love of politics, Clampitt recommends avoiding the topic, especially on a first date. “There is nothing less romantic,” she says.

Westlake Legal Group couple-cheersing-at-dinner An in-depth look at finding and keeping love in Northern Virginia Women tips single Romantic romance Politics political party political parties men love issue Love January cover discussion dating scene dating dates date Culture Features Culture cultural reads cover story Couples
© Fxquadro / stock.adobe.com

8 Tips for a Great Date

“I always tell people you can be your own matchmaker, you just have to keep your eyes open,” says Amber Artis, vice president of matchmaking at LUMA Luxury Matchmaking. Here, Artis and other dating experts share their best advice for dating success.

1. Dress like you’re going on a date
Leave your work persona at work when you’re meeting someone for a date and wear something festive, says Lisa Clampitt, founder of Lisa Clampitt Matchmaking. Leave the pantsuit at home.

2. Talk about feelings, not facts
Don’t treat a date like a job interview. Instead of asking your date about their career or where they live, ask them more engaging questions, such as, “What was the craziest vacation you ever went on?” or “Tell me about a life-changing moment,” Clampitt suggests. If someone starts telling you about their career, ask them if they like what they do and why, says Michael Karlan, president of Professionals in the City.

3. Know your story
No one likes awkward silences on the first date, so Karlan recommends having a few anecdotal tales about yourself that you can share if the conversation slows down. Keep in mind, if you bring up a topic and the discussion gets boring or runs its course, don’t be afraid to change the topic, he says.

4. Don’t just talk, engage in an activity
Sitting down for lunch or coffee feels too much like another meeting. Instead, go somewhere and do something together—ax throwing, an art opening, a walk through a neighborhood. When you participate in an activity together, you engage on a different level and that activity can make you feel more flirtatious and curious, Clampitt says.

“Coffee dates are something we do with our co-workers and friends when we’re catching up,” says Callie Harris, senior matchmaker and client experience manager at matchmaking company Three Day Rule. “They aren’t romantic.”

5. Say yes more often
Just being more open to opportunities will help you meet more people. Make eye contact and smile more, Artis says. “Say yes more than you say no,” Harris says. Agree to go to events, let your friends introduce you to their friends, go on a blind date.

6. Meet people face-to-face
While apps and online dating are a great way to meet new people, it’s important to meet people in real life. “A lot of people get comfortable being behind a cell phone but aren’t as comfortable face to face,” Karlan says. Don’t try to flirt by text message with a woman you just met because your intentions might be misconstrued, Artis says.

7. Find your tribe
Find someone you want to date through activities you enjoy, Artis says. “If you’re not a party person, don’t go to a bar,” she says. “Think about the type of person you see yourself with and where you might find that person.”

8. January is ripe for dating
The busiest time for singles’ events at Professionals in the City is between New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, Karlan says. “People make New Year’s resolutions to meet someone, and people don’t want to be single on Valentine’s Day.”

This post originally appeared in the cover story of our January 2020 print issue. For more content surrounding life in Northern Virginia, subscribe to our newsletters.

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Matt Hancock: With this One Nation Conservative Government in place, we can greet this New Year with excitement and optimism

Matt Hancock is Secretary of State for Health, and is MP for West Suffolk.

With the new decade beginning, we stand at the cusp of exciting developments which can change our country for the better. It’s our job now to make them happen and make Britain soar in the 2020s.

The end of 2019 saw the public vote for a strong majority Conservative Government, and gave us a mandate to get on to not only deliver Brexit but the people’s priorities. We have a duty to deliver on our commitments and use this opportunity with vigour.

For all the noise and political paralysis of the past few years, under the surface in many ways Britain has been doing well. For all the sneering, on any objective measure this last was the best decade to be alive. Life expectancy has increased. Your chance of beating cancer has risen faster than almost anywhere in Europe. The number of people in work is at its highest point, and there are more women in work than ever before. Thanks to radical reforms a decade ago, England rose up the international education rankings.

But whilst laudable, these achievements do not signify job done. In the campaign, some commentators feigned confusion that we can be both proud of our record and determined to do more – and sometimes do things differently. But this approach underpins the Conservative approach – to learn from the past, and build a better future.

The election showed that there is a yearning for this kind of One Nation Government to move this country forward, and crucially to do so across the whole country: in infrastructure, in connectivity, in creating the high pay high reward jobs of the future. Patriotic and proud of our country yet open and outward looking to the world.

In my own area of health and social care the next decade holds great challenges, and incredible promise.

Ultimately, our task is to ensure the NHS gets the support it needs to support people to stay healthy for longer, to give people more control over their own health through a smarter, more preventative focused approach. We must invest more – and we will. But it’s not just about the money, but also improving the way the health service is run and harnessing exciting new technology.

Take genome sequencing, as one of the technologies with the greatest potential. When we screen new-born children, we can identify health conditions they may have or be at risk of developing in childhood and later life. We can help them prevent those conditions, or in the case of many rare diseases we can save a harrowing, costly odyssey to find what is wrong. Why shouldn’t this sort of screening be available to all children, just like the heel-prick test is today?

Similarly at the other end of life, I’m inspired by the memory of my own grandmother to deliver our manifesto commitment to a national effort to gather the finest scientists and doctors in the world to find a cure for dementia.

And at the same time, let’s make good on growing research which shows we can treat early signs of dementia, not with more drugs, but through social prescribing – making use of non-medical services to help people manage their physical and mental health.

Not only is this approach better for our health, but it will help ease the pressures on our increasingly burdened NHS staff and hospitals. Just through the use of social prescribing, patients with long-term conditions attended 47 per cent fewer hospital appointments and made 38 per cent fewer visits to A&E. It’s an approach rooted in helping people take more responsibility for their own health – not just relying on the NHS to fix things when they go wrong.

I also know from my conversations with patients and staff that they are desperate for the improvements in technology. Better tech means better health and social care: it helps the elderly to live independently for longer; GPs able to see more patients; smarter e-rostering to help the NHS avoid inflated agency fees. Let’s use the amazing new technology all around us to help doctors do their jobs and help patients have more control. Combine all this with the exciting march of new technology in the NHS and the prospect of a Government giving the NHS, life sciences, and new technology their full backing, and the opportunities for breakthroughs in the way we discover and treat illnesses, are huge.

And of course, none of this is possible without the amazing people who work in the NHS. With the investment this Government will make in our workforce – including 50,000 more nurses, and 6,000 more GPs – we must grasp the opportunities to the create a more integrated NHS with a culture that maximises the potential of every single member of its staff. This change in working culture is vital and you’ll be hearing much more of it over the coming months.

We must build workplaces that our wonderful NHS staff can feel proud of. That’s about how well led our hospitals are, and it’s about the buildings themselves. The Prime Minister has famously committed to build 40 new hospitals over the next decade. But it’s not just about the new-builds. Our hospitals will be upgraded too through the Health Infrastructure Plan, with wards that are designed to speed up recovery and have the right equipment and technology, ensuring patients receive the right treatment at the right time.

There is so much to do. We have the mandate and the majority. Let’s make 2020 the year of progress and work now to set up a decade we can all be proud of.

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“Get out of London.” Now watch Johnson and Cummings turn the world upside down. Or try to.

“You guys should get outside London and go to talk to people who are not rich Remainers’.” (Dominic Cummings, September 2019.)

– – –

Britain’s political and economic model from Margaret Thatcher through Tony Blair to David Cameron had roughly the following in common.

A dominant capital city, London, with its south-eastern hinterland.  A flourishing City of London.  An economy based on services rather than manufacturing.  A high level of immigration, at least recently, to service its needs – both internally and externally.  Pressure in this wider South East on schools, hospitals, roads, rail, cohesion, and especially the price of housing.

An Ascendancy class of civil servants, lawyers, journalists, academics, and media workers doing well out of this system, whichever of the main parties governed.  Government focus on message and spin to feed the London-based newspapers and media.  A recent Ministerial and Whitehall preoccupation with Parliament, reflecting the unwillingness of voters to elect a government with a strong majority since 2005 – and the increasing rebelliousness of backbenchers.  A currency that some believe to have been overvalued (further reinforcing this system).

Outside this greater South East, a provincial Britain in relative or sometimes absolute recession.  A growing gulf between its view of this system’s success and London’s.  A sense that it has done less well out of the growth of the capital city, the universities, the media, services, the law – and infrastructure spending.  A less favourable view of immigration.  Less expensive housing but also lower wages.  Skills and employment gaps.

– – –

All this is about to change – at least, if a new post-Brexit Conservative Government based broadly on Thursday’s results, serving at least two terms and with Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings in place, has its way.

Perhaps wrongly, I read the briefing in much of Sunday’s papers about the new Government’s intentions as Classic Dom.  In the short to medium term, expect to see the following:

  • Less of a focus on Parliament and the media.  Johnson has a majority of the best part of a hundred.  He won the election despite, even arguably because of, intense media scrutiny, opposition and pressure.  I suspect that the Prime Minister won’t care much what Labour, which is likely to vanish into chaotic opposition for the best part of a year, or the Liberal Democrats, who have just lost their leader, do or say in the Commons, at least for the moment. Furthermore, Philip Hammond, Rory Stewart, David Gauke, Amber Rudd, Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve* and his most persistent critics are no longer there.  And Cummings won’t be remotely flustered by what’s said on a Today programme or a Newsnight or by an Andrew Neil that, in his view, only the Westminster Village bubble is bothered about.
  • A Government restructuring to concentrate on delivery.  Johnson and Cummings thus won’t worry too much if Ministers flounder in the Commons or TV studios – at least in the early part of this Parliament.  They will want delivery, delivery, delivery for the new blue seats in the Midlands and North.  That will mean tearing up the Government reshaping undertaken by Nick Timothy for Theresa May and starting all over again.  Briefing that Business and Trade will be amalgamated; that the Environment and Climate Change, a Johnson and Carrie Symonds preoccupation, will again have its own department, and that the Foreign Office will absorb much of DfId sounds about right.  A post-January post-Brexit reshuffle will reveal all.
  • Ministers appointed to govern rather than perform.  Monday’s reshuffle will see gaps filled at Culture – which will have an important role with regard to digital and the media – and Wales.  I expect the bigger January shuffle to see Cabinet Ministers appointed who Number Ten expects to work with outsiders to transform Whitehall.  There will be a big emphasis on NHS spending, police numbers, border control, northern infrastructure, skills and, maybe especially, Cummings’ spoor: the words “Invest in Science”.The sort of names to look out for include Matt Hancock, Rishi Sunak, Oliver Dowden, Robert Jenrick, Jesse Norman, maybe Chris Skidmore and the rehabilitated Michael Gove.
  • Expect the unexpected.  All those are men.  Johnson will want to appoint a lot of women – an intention made all the more intriguing by the fact that many of the Ministers currently being tipped for the sack are female.  The most senior women outside Cabinet itself are Esther McVey, Caroline Dinenage and Lucy Frazer, who could easily slot into one of the Law Officer posts.  But there is no way of knowing what Johnson, Cummings, Downing Street and the Whips will come up with. And other names in the mix include Victoria Atkins, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and a revitalised Penny Mordaunt.  Cummings’ instinct will be to bring in good outsiders as Ministers and promote quickly from the massive new intake of Tory MPs if necessary – over the head of convention and perhaps advice.

There are some oddities about bits of the briefing, or at least parts of what’s being written.  For example, if a new department for Borders and Security is to be set up, what becomes of the Home Office – which under the Theresa May/Timothy reforms became a department for security and borders?  Is it to be amalgamated once again with the Justice Department?  Might Johnson want to mull reviving an updated Lord Chancellor’s department?

And if the SNP is to campaign for a second independence referendum, with Northern Ireland undergoing huge post-Brexit change, wouldn’t it make sense to have a Secretary of State and department for the Union – perhaps headed by the ubiquitious Gove?  What becomed of the traditional power of the Treasury?

Finally, Johnson could do all the restructuring and appointing available to him with his near three-figure majority…and find that the economic and political model he inherited is too entrenched to be shifted.  Because the commanding heights of our culture have so big a stake in it that they won’t willingly let it go.  Buy your ringside seat now for the clash between the Ascendancy’s instincts and Cummings’ Nietzschean plans. With Johnson refereeing.

– – –

* Mr Grieve…we’ll see what he is right about.” (Cummings, August 2019.)

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

A sign of the times. The remarkable quiet that follows Labour’s commitment to decriminalise abortion up until birth

The Labour Party was clearly disturbed by the Catholic Herald‘s recent account of its election abortion policy.  It wants to stress that “abortion procedures and those performing them must be properly regulated” and that there would be  “wide public consultation on the detail of new laws and regulations”.

And the party’s manifesto does not say in terms what the Herald reports – that “the Labour Party would decriminalise abortion in Britain, making it legal to have an abortion for any reason up to the birth of a child”.

However, the Herald‘s reading of the manifesto is undoubtedly correct.  It says that “we will uphold women’s reproductive rights and decriminalise abortions”.  Some will find it deeply disturbing to see it proposed that state healthcare provision could thus simultaneously provide for the delivery of some babies and the abortion of others up to birth under the same roof as a matter of usual course – this site included.

But what is striking is the lack of comment and debate about Labour’s proposed policy, whatever one’s view of it.  After all, it is not only pro-lifers who might jib at the United Kingdom acquiring one of the most permissive abortion laws in the world.  (The most common time limit among EU member states is twelve weeks.) Some of those who back the current legal settlement would do so.

One might expect the Catholic Church to object vociferously.  But this is not the way of the bishops of England and Wales who tend for a series of reasons to keep their heads down.  An election statement released yesterday by the church in effect asks election candidates to commit themselves to “the innate dignity of every human being; defending both the child in the womb, the good of the mother and an understanding of the immeasurable good of a child not yet born”.

This is the first of nine such requirements, and the church is unlikely either to prioritise it above the others or to single out Labour’s policy.  The Archbishop of Westminster did not join the Archbishop of Canterbury in displaying public solidarity earlier this week with the Chief Rabbi over anti-semitism.  The Church of England does not take quite the same view of abortion as the Catholic Church, but it is likely to be unhappy about Labour’s policy.

So too will be members of other faiths and of none. It will be said that Labour isn’t going to win the election, so why bother getting worked up about this policy?  But the same principle applies to, say, the party’s tax approach – and many of us spend a lot of time poring over that.  It’s worth noting that the one like the other would presumably be whipped.  And there would be a big push within Labour to legislate for the abortion policy.

This site is not repeat not advising the Conservaties to weigh in.  The party has traditionally taken the view that abortion is a conscience issue and therefore should not be whipped.  But it should get across the details of abortion policy – including the polling on it which, when this site last looked, found that women have a more restrictive attitude to it than men.

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An idea for McDonnell. Pledge £1 million to every voter in Britain.

Last week, John McDonnell said that Labour had fully costed its manifesto.  As Mark Wallace pointed out on this site, these weren’t the full costs, the only costs…or the last costs.

And so it has proved.  The Institute of Fiscal Studies points out that its scheme to pay older women adversely affected by the equalising of the state pension age would lead to “another £12 billion of borrowing every year for the next five years”, on top of what Labour has already promised to spend”.

The Institute Paul Johnson concludes that the move “drives a coach and horses immediately through the manifesto pledge to get to current budget surplus to remain at current budget balance.”  Not so much horses and a coach as a brand new T-14 Armata tank.

In short, Labour first said that it had fully cost its manifesto, and now casually chucks another £58 billion into the mix.  If the party really is so desperate as to tear up on Sunday what it promised on Friday, so be it.  And where it has started it might as well continue (which it will).

McDonnell might as well pledge £1 million to all comers.  Might as well make it £1 billion while he’s at it. It would be no more or less credible than all his other plans.

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Meghan Gallacher: All-women shortlists. Whatever happened to the Best Person for the Job?

Meghan Gallacher is the Conservative Group Leader on North Lanarkshire Council.

When I joined the Conservative Party in 2013, I had no idea what an “all women shortlist” was. My Association at that time was chaired by a woman, and we have selected a female Regional MSP since 2003. I always assumed that all political parties and their local Associations chose the right person for the job, regardless of their gender. But I guess that was a naïve perspective – from someone who had just entered the world of politics.

It was only when I stood as the candidate for Motherwell and Wishaw in the 2015 general election that I soon learned that other political parties, such as Labour and the SNP, force equality on their memberships, in favour of the unfair “all women shortlist policy”.

Labour introduced these shortlists in 1997, and the Scottish National Party voted for them overwhelmingly at their Party conference in 2015. But what problems does this bring? Is forced equality the best way of securing a 50:50 gendered Parliament?

The simple answer in no. The Conservative Party has had two female Prime Ministers – selected naturally – whereas Labour is yet to elect its first female Party Leader. It would appear that Labour is content with implementing superficial women to men ratios, with their male MP’s dominating their front benches, whilst talented women sit quietly at the back.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that Westminster is still male-dominated, but all-women candidate shortlists are not the answer. It would be wrong to see a woman gifted a ‘safe’ seat in a winnable constituency just because there is a lack of female MPs.

I would also argue that it would be a disservice to the current women in Parliament, who have worked hard to secure their candidacy. Standing to be a Member of Parliament is something that should be taken seriously, and the selection process should be natural and fair throughout all party constitutions. After all, women shortlists discriminate against our male counterparts and all political parties should be aiming to achieve a 50:50 Parliament naturally, instead of creating a false playing field.

Labour has faced criticism over its handling of all-women shortlists in recent years. This was due to it including transgender women to stand in seats in which there were all-women shortlists. Labour women – who were upset by this decision – wrote a letter declaring that the policy ‘reeks of male authority and male supremacy’.  This raises more questions: Where does equal representation end? Are all women shortlists the beginning of several different shortlists to ensure optimum equality within Westminster?

But this isn’t the end of the problems Labour face by introducing all women shortlists. They have become increasingly desperate due to the current state of their party, and senior figures are openly discussing Jeremy Corbyn’s successor.

This is hardly surprising, since no Labour Leader has survived two consecutive election defeats and, judging by recent polls, Corbyn will need a miracle to enter the doors of Number Ten. But instead of talking about credible candidates of differing genders, race and religion, the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has called for the next Leader to be female. He has said that “if Jeremy is hit by the No 57 bus, or whatever it is, there’s the next generation coming through. And the reality is the next Leader should be a woman. It’s high time to have a woman”.

Whatever happened to the best person for the job? Labour is engrossed by quotas and has been enveloped by the far-left doctrine of forcing equality instead of nurturing it.

I must question the political parties which need all women shortlists: is it because they don’t think their women members are as good as their male colleagues, so they need to gerrymander the selection process? It is bizarre that Parties such as Labour and the SNP feel the need to point local Associations in the right direction of selecting women candidates, as if they cannot be trusted to do so on their own.

As a Conservative woman, I am relieved that our Party has chosen not to endorse this unfair and discriminatory policy. We have adopted the right approach by encouraging more women to become involved within the Party and to put their name forward as a potential candidate

For example, we have groups such as Women2Win and Conservative Women to ensure women are supported and succeed within the Party. The purpose of these groups is to train and help women overcome the challenges that may prevent them from standing, such as childcare, culture and confidence. At the same time, the Conservative Party does not discriminate against hard -working, talented men, who deserve to be selected by their Local Association to represent our Party. If we continue this pattern, I am sure that we will achieve a natural balance.

It should always be the right person for the job. Achieving equality within Parliament is important – but all-women shortlists are not the answer.

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Bizarre Feminist “MENstruation” Commercial Shows Men and Boys Getting Their Periods

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-2-620x358 Bizarre Feminist “MENstruation” Commercial Shows Men and Boys Getting Their Periods Women Spanx periods men Masculinity Front Page Stories Feminism Featured Story Business & Economy Allow Media Exception


It’s apparently a concept that the brand “Thinx” came up with as an ad for their line of period panties. Only it’s not telling you how well they work, if they’re comfortable, or what benefits buying their brand over other brands will give you.

No, they’re going to sell panties by wagging their fingers at men for the crime of being men who don’t get periods.

The commercial, released earlier this month, starts with a boy telling his father that he’s gotten his period, and proceeds to put men in the place of women in various situations when their period starts, including a man rolling over while he’s sleeping and leaving a small bloodstain where he once was.

Other instances include a student having his pads fall out of his locker when he opens it, having to ask for one from a co-worker, and two lovers informing each other that they’re on their period before they start doing whatever it is they were going to start doing.

The commercial ends with a swipe at men’s “discomfort” with periods.

“If we all had them, maybe we’d be more comfortable with them,” reads some text on the screen.

At the time of this writing, the ad has not been taken well. On YouTube, it currently has 6.4k dislikes to its 1.9k likes. Also, the comments have been disabled for the video, signaling that reactions from viewers have been less than kind.

As well they should be.

The narrative that men are somehow bothered by periods is a feminist myth. Being around females all our lives, periods aren’t exactly anything new, and while some people may be grossed out by blood, it’s not exactly something the entire male population loses its mind over. Both men and women can hate the sight of blood, no matter where it comes from.

Regardless, it’s a tired narrative being pushed here, not to mention a divisive one. Using anti-male sentiment to push products is old hat, and usually doesn’t go over well with the population at large. You can ask Gillette about that.

(READ: Gillette’s “Woke” Ad That Insulted Men Cost P&G Billions)

The bottom line is that men understand periods. We know why women have them. Just because we don’t have them ourselves doesn’t mean we can’t sympathize with women. In fact, men spend a bit of their time in resources attempting to comfort women while they have them. Anyone who is or has been in a romantic relationship with a woman can attest to it.

As far as I’m concerned, Spanx is just another company with some really bad values.

The post Bizarre Feminist “MENstruation” Commercial Shows Men and Boys Getting Their Periods appeared first on RedState.

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