Sunday, February 27, 2005

Human Rights & New Labour

My colleague David Davies, the Conservative Candidate for Monmouth, has written a good piece on his Blog which I reproduce below...

"Labour are trying to suggest that anyone who opposes the idea that former Marxist Charles Clarke should be allowed to imprison people without trial, is willing to see British citizens being murdered by suicide bombers. In reality they themselves brought about the situation, whereby foreign terrorists can roam freely around the country, when they signed the Human Rights Act. As a result of this act the "human rights" of British subjects are about to severely curtailed. If Labour are really concerned about terrorism they could admit they made a mistake and renounce the act. This would then allow them to give foreign terrorist suspects the choice of remaining under lock and key in the UK or being put on the first plane back to wherever they came from."

If I could have put it better myself, I would have.

LibDems on Taxes

Just watching an excellent piece on the Politics Show about LibDem tax increases. As Peter Riddell said "If you scratch a LibDem Spokesman they will come out with lots of detyailed taxes". The reactions of normal teachers and doctors who found out what the LibDem Local Income Tax would cost them was very telling.

And they even want to introduce a Dog Tax. That was a new one on me, I admit.

And they want to introduce VAT on new housebuilding. That'll be part of their commitment to affordable housing then... These people are tax junkies but despite the 40 new taxes they want to introduce they still can't meet their spending commitments. My experience on the doorstep talking to people is that they are beginning to see though the LibDems' national promises. One or two recently have begun to equate them with the Old Labour spending plans under Neil Kinnock.

Oh, Vincent Cable says that they won't introduce a dog tax. Jeremy Vine said it was on their webiste. cable said that did not mean it was party policy. Bit like the Tourism Tax then. And these people want to run the country!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

A Day on the Doorstep

A fascinating day's canvassing today. We started at 9.30 with a quick whip round the Farmer's Market at Fakenham. We then spent the morning on the doorstep, periodically getting soaked. Exceptional response to the announcement on Council Tax this week. Every pensioner we met knew about it and liked the idea. I then went to visit a couple in East Barsham who had asked to see me - previous UKIP voters who will now return to us. Then on to see a small businesswoman in Kettlestone. She is starting up a french furniture restoration company. In the afternoon we did a couple of hours on the doorstep in Sheringham. Had quick chat with Peter Baldwin, the chairman of the local LibDems. Nice man. Am just about to beautify myself (might take some time) to go to dinner with some people in Gunthorpe.

It seems like May 5th is now a racing certainty (sorry, Robb - didn't mean to mention racing - I know how it gets you going!) I will be spending tomorrow with a wet towel over my head planning my campaign schedule day by day, hour by hour. I've done quite a bit of work on it already but it's one of those things which I have rather put off finishing. At least all the literature is now decided, if not fully written. The Electoral Commission announced last week what we're allowed to spend on our campaigns. It's around £12,500 for the whole campaign. It's not a lot when you consider you have to print several bits of literature for 81,000 people.

Posting Comments

I have been taking advice on the Posting of Comments on this Blog from fellow bloggers. In future, any comment from an Anonymous person which contains any level of personal abuse or criticism as opposed to political criticism will be automatically deleted. If people are going to hide behind the cloak of anonymity in order to hurl abuse, they can now think again. I am quite happy to continue to put my head above the parapet and enter a dialogue with people, whether or not they live in North Norfolk, and there are no other candidates out there doing this so far as I am aware, but there are limits. Please respect them.

Wind Power

A very good COMMENT piece in The Guardian today about wind power. I've made clear my view that wind power is not the way forward if we are serious about reducing CO2 emissions.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sewerage & "Sleaze"

Just got back from Holt where I was giving a talk on Integrity in Public Life. Slightly ironic as I have been the subject of an article on today's EDP about the fact my campaign has received a donation from Lord Ashcroft. It was a typical article of the "well he's done nothing wrong but we'll make out as if he has" genre. Seeing as the donation has been properly declared to the electoral commission, I have defended it robustly. I know the media think that political parties can run their campaigns on thin air, but the reality is that there is nothing at all wrong with an act of political philanthropy. And that's just what it is.

The talk itself went very well despite the presence of a heckler, who was turned on my many in the audience. I rather enjoy hecklers I have to say.

Earlier I went to see the sewerage problems in Walcott for myself. It really is a terrible situation for which Anglian Water are entirely to blame.

I also had a visit from someone wanting to know how to become a Tory candidate. Also had two people write to me asking how they can join the Party, so things are looking up!

Got home to fina a letter from Michael Howard asking if I would like a postal vote or would like to donate to the Party. Thanks Mike!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

As a Newt...

Is anyone watching the Daily Politics? Dianne Abbott is three sheets to the wind. Public service broadcasting at its best!


A mixed day really - two school governors meetings at Cromer High School, a visit to a farm in Felbrigg, proof reading some leaflets and then speaking at the constituency party AGM tonight at Pinewoods. I gave a presentation on the General Election and demonstrated the CD Rom.

We had a guest speaker, Richard Stephenson at the AGM. He's 30 and is the President of the voluntary side of the Conservative Party. Very nice guy and a real hit with the audience.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Walcott to talk to people about the lack of mains sewerage. There are parts of Walcott which are having terrible sewerage problems and Anglian Water is doing nothing about it.

Glad to see things being toned down a little on the postings over the last 24 hours. Long may it continue!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Posting Comments on This Blog - Warning

In the 15 months in which this Blog has existed I have never censored any postings, but I am becoming increasingly concerned at the level of personal vitriol being posted on this Blog. I have no problem at all with people like James and DM Andy, who post thoughtful and interesting posts. What I do have a problem with is people who think it is funny to post snide innuendo and insinuation - not just about me but other posters too. There is a simple answer to this and to withdraw the Comment facility. I have absolutely no wish to do this but won't hesitate to if the level of personal abuse descends further.

The St Benet's By-Election

We lost. For the record, we got 537 votes, LibDems were on 576 and Labour 36.

I shall not pretend that this was anything other than a bad result, because it was. And without any hesitation I congratulate Barbara McGoun on her victory. I have just emailed her to do just that.

However, some of the hysterical postings I have just read about translating this result into a General Election Result in North Norfolk are so extreme as to be laughable. Feel free to write me off and indulge in complacency! For the record, here are some thoughts which people should bear in mind...

1. We underestimated the popularity in Horning of Barbara McGoun herself. Our candidate lives in Neatishead and it was clear from the ballot boxes (so I am informed) that we won overwhelmingly in Neatishead and Barton Turf, but they made up only about than a third of the total vote I think.
2. The LibDems and Norman Lamb have done no campaigning at all in the rest of the constituency for a month and have poured everything into this. For the by-election this obviously worked, but I would question whether in the long term it was wise.
3. I had about a dozen people tell me personally yesterday that they would vote for Barbara but they were Conservatives and would vote for me in the General Election - indeed one of her tellers told me that! We encountered this quite a lot during canvassing in Horning during the campaign. We could have countered this by running a more negative campaign but we didn't.
4. Virtually all the LibDem tellers and knocker uppers yesterday were from outside North Norfolk. They cannot possibly hope to replicate this in a General Election over the whole constituency. If I were Norman Lamb this is something I would find deeply worrying.

For the record, here's a statement I have just issued to the press.

“I congratulate Barbara McGoun on a truly stunning personal victory. Barbara’s strong personal following in Horning, where the majority of voters in the ward live, outnumbered Chris How’s personal vote in the smaller villages of Neatishead and Barton Turf. A significant number of people told me yesterday that while they would vote for Barbara in a local election they would still be voting Conservative at the General Election. That doesn’t alter the fact that we lost a seat we should have retained. Chris How fought a totally straight campaign on the issues, while the LibDems indulged in their usual by-election dodgy graphs and spurious claims. This is a wake-up call to those of us planning the General Election campaign and I am reflecting on the lessons to be learned. My campaign will continue to concentrate on issues which matter to local people like hospital beds, better schools, higher pensions and lower council tax but we also need to make people aware of the Liberal Democrats’ damaging and irresponsible policies on crime and tax in a clearer and more focussed way. I intend to ensure we do just that.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Just a quick minute out of knocking up. Turnout is very high. At 4pm it was close to 50% already.

ITV News

Just been told that ITN had a bit on their news about our Council Tax policy being a real boost for candidates in target seats like North Norfolk where 36% of the population are pensioners. Actually it is 38%. This is one policy I will need to sell, sell, sell.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Council Tax Announcement

I wonder if on May 6th I will look back on today and identify it as the one which helped me win. Today's announcement on Council Tax relief for pensioners is a sure-fire winner. I have visions of a LibDem fox being shot. Not only will it be popular among a large proportion of the electorate, it is the right thing to do. Pensioners have been hit hard by the fact that Council Tax has doubled under Labour and this new policy will be of enormnous help to them. Labour are already suggesting we will abolish the £200 winter fuel payment. We won't. Michael Howard made that crystal clear on 5 Live this morning.

Today has been spent in the Cromer office and I now have to get down to writing my speech for Friday. It's on Restoring Integrity in Public Life: Do we get the Politicians we Deserve? We also have our Association AGM on Thursday so I also have to do a speech for that. And with the by-election tomorrow and Wednesday at work I'm not exactly overburdened with time to write two speeches!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Figure Juggling

A day in the Cromer office designing literature and trying to juggle the election budget. During the election campaign itself we are allowed to spend a maximum of £12,500. We have to legally account for every penny we spend, so the budgeting process is pretty crucial. If you think that one election address costs little short of £2,000 you can see that it's not easy to do all you want during the campaign. This is why there is so much acitivity in advance of the campaign itself.

As the St Benet's by-election enters its final stages we'll be putting out our final literature tomorrow. I wonder what effect the cold weather will have on the turnout. At Happisburgh it was 50% and I would expect something similar on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Spend a very bracing morning in Horning & Barton Turf. Never seen weather like it. We're in the final stages of the St Benet Ward by-election. Had a quick chat with the LibDem candidate Barbara McGoun (who is Norman Lamb's secretary) who was in her very nifty SmartCar. We've had the usual LibDem by-election tactics, dodgy graphs etc but I suspect Barbara rather disapproves of this. Anyway, polling day is on Tuesday so we'll see what happens. Our candidate has been superb, I have to say, and everyone has put in a lot of effort. I'm quietly confident!

Just off to a do in Cromer...

Straws in the Wind

Glad to see that yesterday my esteemed colleagues at Norfolk County Council gave the bum's rush to the ridicuous plans for a wind turbine development at Guestwick. Sadly theirs is not the final decision. It goes to Broadland District Council Planners on March 23rd. But even then that's not the end of the story. It is a deeply worrying development that if a local council turns down an application it is then invariably overturned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. We all know how much his Toni-ness loves wind power. He loves it so much he got a wind development in his own constituency turned down. All in the interests of reducing CO2 emissions of course...

County Councillor Derke Baxter hit the nail on the head yesterday when he said that he would be totally in favour of wind turbines if they actually produced realistic power. Instead, they will lead to expensive electricity to the deteriment of those who live vear them. The people of Hindloveston will have been cheering.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Tipping a Winner

Just got back from a marathon debate in Cromer. Richard Lawson, the chairman, made the mistake of believing the time of the clock on the wall. We didn't actually finish until gone 9.30. Astonishingly most of the audience stayed until the bitter end.

Spent all day at the Countryside Alliance Day at Fakenham Races. I was asked to judge the best groomed horse in the 3.50. I picked Hoh Nelson, which amazingly then went on to win the race. Shame I hadn't put a bet on it. Also made a short speech over the PA system where I explained the timetable for overturning the hunting ban.

Tomorrow I am out in Horning in the morning and Stalham in the afternoon. Frighteningly, tomorrow is the last Saturday evening I will have off before the election.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Apologies for the fact that I haven't posted anything since Monday. I have even had emails from people worried about where I have been!

This morning I went to see a hotel owner in Cromer to learn a bit about his business and then went to Holt to speak to a man who wishes to relieve the town's car parking problems by building a car park. Needless to say he is being thwarted by red tape at the moment. Tomorrow I am off to Fakenham races for the Countryside Alliance Day. I'll be taking my newly customised Toyota Previa and a gaggle of people to hand out some of my literature and I am making a little speech. I'm sure the race-goers can hardly wait.

Have you been to the the Vote-2005 website yet? Go to the North Norfolk page. I haven't had such a laugh in years.

Top Billing

Did someone say there was an election due soon? My billboard poster went up today. It's in a brilliant location just as you come into Cromer. There are only 5 billboards in the whole of North Norfolk and they are all on this one location in Cromer. No doubt the Libs will slag me off for it but there's nothing to stop them having one too - it's certainly not expensive as many people might think. Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Day Off

Today I spent the day with my parents travelling round North Norfolk. They came up for the Gillian Shephard dinner last night. We went to the Muckleburgh Collection at Weybourne in the morning. My Dad loves anything to do with World War II and collects old military vehicles so he was like a pig in the proverbial. We then drive along the coast towards Wells and had lunch in Walsingham. We then went to Stibbard, where my mother grew up and her mother is buried. I then took them home to Saffron Walden. Aren't I a nice son?! Excuse the fleece in the picture... Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Durex Bunny & Mrs S

A very windy morning spent canvassing in Holt followed by a quieter afternoon in North Walsham. Again, an excellent response with quite a few switchers. Hilarious end to the day when I called on a lady who had had a large LibDem poster at the last election on a prime poster site. Apparently they just put it up without asking and she said she didn't like to cause trouble! She also asked us while we were there if we would mind changing the battery in her clock. I said I'd be delighted to. She then told me to fetch the durex battery from the sideboard!!!

This evening we had a very good dinner at the Priory Maize at Beeston Regis. Gillian Shephard was in fine form. I really wish she wasn't standing down as I was really looking forward to being a colleague of hers on the green benches. Great to see her husband Tom again.

Still think Blair might announce the election tomorrow.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Says It All Really

by Garland Posted by Hello

Another Fuller Than Full Day

This morning I went to a special service at Norwich Cathedral to mark the 450th anniversary of Gresham's School. Quite moving really. Sat five rows behind the Duke of Edinburgh. The Bishop of Norwich was in good form, reminding us that today was the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's accession to the leadership of the Tory Party. Well done Bish.

Then had a few photos taken at North Walsham Railway Station, went to see a chap in Sheringham who can't get ax X Ray for three months, then onto Blakeney to speak at a Conservative AGM and then to Overstrand for another coastal defences meeting. The church was full - at least 300 people there. Tomorrow I'm out on the streets of Holt & North Walsham. Then in the evening my parents are coming up to be at a dinner we are holding with Gillian Shephard in Sheringham. My Dad's a bit of a fan of Mrs S so God knows what will happen. Parents, eh?!

He Wouldn't, Would He?

I have this awful feeling Tony Blair will announce the General Election tomorrow. Prove me wrong, Tony...

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's election as leader of the Conservative Party. I was twelve at the time but remember it well. I remember running upstairs to tell my Grandmother who was ill in bed. She burst into tears. She couldn't believe that it was ossible for a woman to lead a political party. My Grandmother was a bit of feminist at heart, but a deep rooted Tory. She sparked my interest in politics. She would have been 109 today!

Two Busy Days

Yesterday was a manic one. Tried to be in two places at once. Firstly at the Primary Care Trust Board meeting at Bodham where I asked a question about the Trust's commitment to the Wells Hospital. Then onto North Walsham Community Centre for a meeting about Rebecca House. This was not at all satisfactory. I handed in a 2,000 name petition, which at first they wouldn't accpt, although they did in the end. I then spent an hour going round the stands at the Norfolk Old People's Day at the Centre, before going on to Fakenham and visiting Lloyds Bank and the Sports Centre. In the evening I spoke at Fakenham Conservatives AGM. Quite a day, so apologies for not posting anything when I got home!

In a moment I am off to Norwich Cathedral to attend a service for the 450th anniversary of Gresham's School. Later on I'm seeing someone in Sheringham about a hospital issue and then going to Blakeney Conservatives AGM and then onto another coastal defences meeting at Overstrand. Never stops, does it?

Naming the Day

So, Prince Charles and CPB are getting married. My first thought was obvious. What does this mean for the date of the General Election?! And I still can't decide. Any advice?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Elect the Lords

It may come as a shock to some but I am in favour of an elected House of Lords. I've just "come out" on the Elect the Lords Website. It's a pity William Hague couldn't have adopted that stance in 1998.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Thirteen Senses

Having worn out by Keane CD I have now discovered a new band who have made one of the best albums I have heard in months. Thirteen Senses's first album is calledVERTIGO. Apparently they're from Cornwall. You can see more details HERE.

Two Places at Once

Spent much of the day in the office catching up on correspondence and writing a bit more election literature. This evening it was another coastal defences meeting with the North Walsham Area Partnership in Bacton. Very worthwhile attending. I'm currently drafting a Conservative coastal defences policy and met someone at the meeting who had some very useful information for me.

A potential nightmare of a day tomorrow as I am supposed to be in two places at once! The Norfolk & Waveney Mental Health Trust has a consultative meeting on the closure of Rebecca House at which I am presenting a 2,000 name petition which I have collated over the last few months. But at the same time the Primary Care Trust has its Board meeting which will be considering Dr Ding's surgery closure and the future of Wells Hospital. Later I am meeting with PCT Chief Executive Diana Clarke for what may well become a "robust" exchange of views. It's then on to Fakenham to meet some local bank staff, have a meeting at the sports centre and then speak at a meeting in the evening.

Vote for UKIP? I Think Not...

At our debate in Stalham the UKIP Candidate Stuart Agnew put his foot in it somewhat. Here's the full quote. "As an MP for a small independent Party, there's nothing much you can do to influence things." I rest my case...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Shoreline 'Mis'management Plan

Just come back from a meeting in Happisburgh about the Shoreline Management Plan. About 120 people in the church. The whole community is united in its opposition. I said a few words. This is going to be a big election issue. I don't think any of the parties have got their heads round a national policy on sea defences so guess who's about to try to devise one? I'm a good one for thankless tasks!

Monday, February 07, 2005

I Think I Need a Holiday!

Terrible terrible start to the day. I had to review the papers on SKY NEWS this morning and for the first time in my life I completely dried up live on television! I was talking about Charles Clarke's new announcement on immigration and my mind suddenly went blank. When I had finished the rest of the papers I apologised to the presenters but one of them said she did the same thing a few dyas ago when she was interviewing Jack Straw and couldn't think of a question. I blame it on the fact that I had to get uyp at 4.30am!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Lazy Day? Not Likely

Shamefully, I didn't get up until 11am today. And that doesn't happen very often. However, I have made up for it since! I went into the Cromer office and wrote five (yes five!) newsletters, signed about 1,000 letters and this evening I have been drafting some mailshot letters on various issues.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Something Very Odd...

Tonight we had a social bash to raise campaign funds at Raynham Hall near Fakenham. And among the 150 people who paid £10 a ticket, a prominent local Liberal Democrat! I'm not going to reveal who it was (at the moment) but I was told by the aforementioned person that I would be getting their vote at the General Election. Well knock me down with a feather.

Wells Hospital Latest

The EDP that the Primary Care Trust has secret plans to close Wells Hospital and turn it into a hospice. They are intending to give us only 24 hours before the next PCT Board meeting on Thursday to study the proposal. Apparently their Communications Manager hasn't the time to copy it ebore then. Quite astonishing. I have a meeting with PCT Chief Executive Diana Clarke on Thursday, where I will be discussing this and other issues with her.

Campaign Day

A very busy day today. In fact the most exhilarating day so far. We had teams out on the streets in Fakenham, Holt, Sheringham, Cromer, North Walsham, Horning, Barton Turf and Wells. We were campaigning about crime. I spent the morning in Fakenham and the afternoon in Wells. We picked up quite a few new members, all quite young too. Two highlights were a teacher who had voted Labour in 97' and 2001 is coming back to us and a lady leaned out of a window in Wells and told me she thought I would be Prime Minister within ten years (!).

Rethink on Euro Question

I understand that Tony Blair has had a rethink on the European Constitution question. He now thinks the referendum question should be: "Do you not not approve so far as much in the case of genuinely agreeing with or in fact showing a high level of disagreement with and therefore accepting without restraint before consultations and objections are finalised for the proposed constitution for the European Union." Glad that's clear then... (question courtesy of

Stalham Debate

Just got in after the debate in Stalham. The UKIP Candidate came out with a classic. "An MP from a small independent Party has little or no influence." I couldn't have put it better myself. About 70 people tonight. Very good questions. And a 23 year old guy came up to me at the end and wants to join the campaign team. Hurrah! We're actually getting rather a lot of younger recruits at the moment. Two fourteen year olds signed up yesterday too.

Tomorrow (oops, it's today) I shall be in Fakenham Market Square between 915am and 1030am and then canvassing. In the afternoon I'm in Wells and in the evening at a findraiser at Raynham Hall, courtesy of the Earl & Countess Townshend. A very nice way to round the week off.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


One of those days which you want to get over with. Still, got a couple of good mentions in the EDP this morning over the TETRA mast and the Canada Road surgery. Tomorrow's main event is the debate at Stalham Town Hall in the evening.

Drugs Rehab

Spent the morning at the Princess Diana Drugs Rehabilitation Centre in Mundesley yesterday. I took IDS there in December but thought I would go back on my own to learn a bit more about what they do. Met several of the patients, all of whom were fearful of the elevel of support theyw ould get in the commmunity when they had finished their treatment. This was exemplified by a guy I had met in December who had been there for 8 months and had become completely free of drugs. he is now in a hostel in King's Lynn sharing a room with a man who openly takes drugs. This is terrible. I've taken it upon myself to try to find him alternative accommodation but I can't say I'm hopeful. It seems from what I have found out about the area of drugs rehab that the whole system is a shambles. Mundlesley has room for 70 people yet it has fewer than 40 because of local authority and social services bureaucracy. If we actually managed our rehab policy properly the crime rate would plummet.

In the evening I drove down to London to a dinner of the 1922 Committee at the Savoy. Michael Howard gave a truly inspiring speech.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Visited the Canada Road surgery in Cromer this morning. This afternoon went to North Norfolk Radio for a meeting, then onto Swanton Abbott Parish Council and a visit to the CATS campaign meeting in North Walsham about the Tetra Mast. Only just got there as it ended unfortunately. Tomorrow I am visiting the Princess Diana Drug Rehabiliation Centre in Mundesley again. I went there with Iain Duncan Smith in December but I want to go back on my own to learn a bit more about what they do.