What makes a good pub? How do you attract locals to a former unloved boozer? How do you appeal to a broad cross section of the local community thereby making the enterprise commercially viable? How do you survive in an era where pub usage competes with supermarket bought at home drinking, and justified but financially punitive drink driving and anti smoking laws?
I have no qualifications on this issue but based upon a lot of observations and chats to locals I think I can explain a bit.
I have been engaged on an assessment of local pubs both for work and pleasure since 2010, when I became the MP. I have visited pretty much every pub in my massive 1000+ square mile community from the most northerly pub, the First and Last just inside of the Scottish border in Redesdale, to the Lord Crewe in Blamchland and the Allenheads Inn on the southern Durham border. From the Ridley Arms in Stannington in the east, to the Holly Bush Pub and the Pheasant Inn on the edge of remote Kielder Forest.
It has been an exhaustive study, but great fun!
To be fair I am a big real ale man so any pub that supports this gets my vote. I have recently supported and helped reopen several local pubs - notably the Dyvels in Corbridge which is doing well, with good beer and nice people running it:

But it is clear that today's consumer wants something special from his pub. The old style spit and sawdust pub can survive, but it is difficult. You need an edge, a selling point, a trademark. 
The Dipton Mill Inn is very very good, but probably thebest ale pub of them all, for example, is the Boat House in Wylam which takes beer so seriously is has up to 18 ales at any one time: 

Different places want different things, so it is not for me to prescribe what works in Prudhoe (The Falcon is doing very well with its Carvery) or out in the sticks - but pubs like the Barrasford Arms, the Rat in Anick, and the Feathers in Hedley, are all doing very very well; and the Battlesteads in Wark is probably the most successful pub / small hotel in the county. All have found their model. Others are struggling and there are pubs closing all across the country, and in Northumberland. But there are clearly very successful local town pubs. For an example of this I would urge you to go to The Tannery inHexham, which I helped relaunch last Friday, with the owner and the support group from Punch. I have got to know Punch very well over the last few years, as they have rebuilt and renovated a number of key local pubs, and even hotels like the County Hotel. It is hard to argue against their commitment to our area, their financial investment, and their use of local tradesmen / builders where possible, and their general support. Without their investment many fine institutions would have withered and died - for example the County Hotel which was shut for years, and rebuilt at massive cost. I confess an interest, as they also have for two years helped sponsor the Hexham Jobs Fair which I have run to get more young (and older) people into work and apprenticeships.  
But go back to the Tannery. This pub was really struggling before Dave took it over. It is now packed, and it is easy to see why. 
Start with the beer - a great place to start! 6 proper ales on hand pump is rare, and the quality is excellent. I would go myself just for the ale, and it is better than most other pubs on beer.  Add in plenty of ciders and speciality gins and good wine and you have an offer that clearly appeals. But the renovation has added a great garden area and table tennis table out back, and the food is consistently very good. 
But it is the attention to detail and the quirkiness that impress about the Tannery. It is bright and open, with the best toilets for miles around as one discerning female punter described the newest addition! One male punter on Friday described how "the quirkiness makes the place feel like a much loved room in your home" - and Dave has great plans to add a train that will go all around the bar. This has got to be seen, as it is clearly no normal train! I wish the team behind the Tannery pub well. It is a big addition to Hexham. Their Twitter account is worth a follow on its own. Find it here: https://mobile.twitter.com/TanneryHexham?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

The run up to the referendum was characterised by some very sloppy investment research, often put out by large US corporations who wanted to side with Remain. Instead of wisely staying neutral and seeking to put out balanced well informed commentary some of them put out scare stories to buttress Project Fear. Few of them seemed to read the Consolidated Treaties, or bother to understand the intellectual and research underpinnings of the Leave campaign. Most of them put out forecasts that had plenty of bad cases for Leave but no good cases. Some of them have had to eat their forecasts already, as they anticipated a sharp fall in shares, output and much else immediately following a Leave vote.

Since the vote there have been huge short positions taken out against the pound sterling, as certain market participants have decided that looked like the easiest bet to place that would allow a negative view of the UK’s future. Whichever institutions have done it they remain short and are desperate to try and talk the pound down further. They soon gave up on shorting bonds, as bond prices shot up contrary to some of the original expectations. Nor could they long sustain their bear positions on UK equities. With the Bank of England they gave up on talking the FTSE100 down, but tried for a bit longer to resist the upwards momentum of the FTSE 250. Anyone who followed the investment views of Remain would have missed out on a sharp rally in UK asset prices since June 24th’s mark down. Now we hear from unnamed sources that the damage is delayed, that a “hard” Brexit would be bad news, that maybe some businesses will leave the UK. Doubtless some of these briefers were briefing something similar in the run up the Euro, when we were told London would lose out badly if we did not join.

One US bank after the vote put out a piece of badly researched commentary attacking what they said were my views. They clearly had not read much of what I have written and published on Brexit, and did not bother to ring me to check their allegations. They claimed I did not want the UK to send an Article 50 letter, failing to observe that I did and had published a draft letter to send! They also thought I would be happy to lose passport access to the single market, ignoring the extensive comments I have made on how and why I think we can keep the present passports or the equivalent.

I have written to them asking them to correct their material as I thought they would wish to observe professional standards and would wish to reflect properly the views of anyone they were commenting on. Their failure to do so so far leads me to write this piece. I think it is bizarre that a well resourced investment bank cannot be bothered to check the facts at best,but thinks its clients and the wider public need an incorrect appraisal of my views.

Deutsche Bank's shares hit record lows yesterday. Its market cap has fallen by 75% since the start of 2014. Is this Lehman Brothers all over again? There's no doubt the rest of the Too-Big-to-Fail banks are still dominoes waiting to fall.

It's no surprise that Deutsche is in so much trouble – at least not to UKIP in Parliament.

Our study on Europe's financial sector, published late last year, found Deutsche to be the least capitalised of any major European bank, with the lowest leverage ratio, and the worst performance under a hypothetical stress test.

But Europe's other big banks – including the UK's – are scarcely any better capitalised, or less vulnerable. So if Deutsche goes down, it's taking the rest of the financial sector with it. As the IMF – in a rare moment of lucidity – warned three months ago.

The question is: why is this happening at all?

After the financial crisis, billions of pounds have been pumped into the world's biggest banks to keep them afloat. New regulations – from Dodd-Frank to Basel III – are supposed to have made sure they couldn't collapse again. The global financial sector is meant to be fixed.

But it's all a sham.

Public subsidies for banks – whether QE, low interest rates, deposit insurance, or direct state bailouts – have only encouraged them to take more risks, in the sure knowledge taxpayers will pick up the tab.

New capitalisation rules haven't raised banks' leverage ratios (core capital vs. liabilities) any higher than they were before. The margin of error is still far too thin. In fact, the biggest banks are the most exposed to risk.

Official stress tests, meanwhile, invariably overstate the big banks' strength. But then why wouldn't they? They're carried out by the same central bankers who are supposed to have reformed the system. Regulators can't admit there's a problem without confessing their own negligence.

The left tends to blame financial instability on corporate greed. Unfortunately, it's much worse than that. The real problem is systemic: fractional reserve banking.

Banks that lend against deposits dozens of times over are inevitably unstable. They're bound to be vulnerable to shocks and bank runs because they never had the capital to cover all their liabilities in the first place.

In a free market, bad banks would fail. Fractional reserve banking would be unsustainable in the long term. Why? Because the only thing sustaining it now is state subsidy.

Overleveraged banks like Deutsche are too big to survive. Fixing them requires tackling the excesses of fractional reserve banking. How? I proposed one way to do it in After Osbrown.


I'm delighted to be here with you all again this year.

It's been a year of political change in the last year.

We're out of the EU so we've got to campaign to make  the government commit to keeping and keeping up with the rights for women, on maternity and equal pay, that our EU membership has secured for women in this country.

We've got a new Tory Prime Minister - and she's a woman.

But like Margaret Thatcher before her, Theresa May's is no supporter of women.

When we were pushing forward in government on rights for women - she was a drag anchor - calling it a burden on business and voting against our Equality Act.

When we were pushing for more Labour women MPs she chased me round TV and radio studios decrying us, joining the men in her party and some in ours who called it "political correctness gone mad".

And while she's been in government she's voted every time for the cuts to the vital programmes that we brought in when we were in government, like sure start centres, and for tax credits for childcare.

Theresa May is woman - but she's no sister.

The fact of the matter is that it has always been Labour that has been the party of and for women and for equality. 

We have 100 Labour women MPs, more than all the other parties put together. That puts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of our chair of the women's PLP - Jess Philips.  We must be united in holding the government, and our own party, to account and demanding change and progress for women.  And we can do that, together, as women. In the 1980s despite the turmoil in the party  with the party split from top to bottom and with predictions we would never govern again, we women across all of the party worked together and made massive progress. 

We worked together as women in the cause of women despite our differences over the leadership at that time. And so we must and will now.

And let's face it there's not one of us here who isn't smarting that while the Tories, SNP, the Greens and even, god help us, UKIP have a woman leader, when it comes to Labour "it's raining men"

That makes the work of the woman I'm about to introduce to you even more important. She’s speaking for all the women in this country who are suffering under this government and who need Labour.  She's absolutely grounded in the real world and a voice of clarity and principle. She's our Minister for Women and Equality. Let's give our full backing and a huge welcome to Angela Rayner.

Frank Field said: “The aim is to form a network and collective voice that rivals the Amazonian rainforest in size, and makes a permanent contribution to fight against climate change. The existence of
IPSO To date, there have been 7 inquiries into the British press in the last 70 years. And each time, the press has utterly failed to clean up its act. Leveson, the author of the latest report into press standards and ethics, has called it a “pattern of cosmetic reform”: a scandal breaks; reforms are recommended; and the press announces a new regulator, which is different to its predecessor only

Last week, I had the pleasure of formally opening Hayle’s first Harbour Festival. Hayle Harbour and Foundry Day is a celebration of local business, local talent, Hayle heritage and our community. The organisers deserve huge credit. There was great entertainment throughout the day, and it showed that Hayle really is on the up.

There has been an event in Foundry for several years, but this was the first year it has been broadened to cover the harbour. The day aimed to bring Hayle Harbour back to the forefront of the community, and to bring different businesses, charities and clubs together to show off what Hayle has to offer.

When I became an MP I said I wanted to see Hayle Harbour regenerated. It had been left derelict for too long and plans had been talked about all my life time. It was time for action.  While a lot of work needed to go into planning something that local people could get behind, and we needed government grants to put infrastructure in place, like the new bridge into North quay, great progress has been made.  As well as the new harbour walls, we now have a marine energy park on North Quay.

The next stage is to complete sensitive development at the end of South Quay, put in place the footbridge to link the quay to Penpol Terrace and get things moving on North Quay.  There are now two new developers who have bought the harbour from the Dutch bank, ING, and I will be working with them to ensure we get the rest of the development right.

Hayle is going from strength to strength and there is a new confidence in the town but we have to see through what has been started.
On a less optimistic note, this week saw a reminder of the threat of flash floods in Cornwall. Homes, businesses and schools have been affected. We can't legislate for the weather but we can prepare. In the last parliament, the Government spent over £1.5 billion on investment in flood defences. During the current parliament we plan to invest an additional £2.3 billion, supporting around 1500 schemes that will help protect some 300,000 homes.  
I am currently highlighting the question as to whether the psychological damage caused to children who have been taken into care at a young age is caused by the care system or by their treatment prior to entering care. The research that is relevant to this is summarised here and basically says that reactive attachment disorder can be avoided if a stable attachment is achieved from between 4 and

This article will be published in the House (of Commons) Magazine during Labour Conference Week

It happens with political parties.

Electoral defeat breeds depression and creates a blame culture which turns inwards. 2016 was Labour’s gap year when we had a holiday from reality. Measured in terms of election results, Labour had a brilliant year. Challenging these were opinions polls that presaged doom under Jeremy Corbyn in 2020. Party members chose to believe the soothsayers rather than the hard evidence of real votes by real people in real elections. Fear and pessimism triumphed and many MPs surrendered to unreason and sought ways to get rid of Corbyn by hook and sometimes by crook.

My role in this tragedy was a minor one. I have been a serial loyalist to Labour Party leaders since Attlee. Although I had a few wobbles about Tony Blair on Iraq and Afghanistan, since the 1945 election that I worked in as a 10 year old I have been loyal to the Labour Party through thick and thin. In the election for the previous Labour leader I supported David Miliband and inadvertently emphasized my pessimism about his brother Ed by being the only MP to place him in the 5th bottom place in the vote. As a good democrat I never once uttered a syllable of criticism of him during his doomed years as Prime Minister in waiting.

In the 2015 leadership election I publicly supported Liz Kendall who amassed 4.5% of the vote. This was a sobering lesson. Now and henceforth I will remain silent on my voting intentions. This time I followed the example of the Welsh Labour Leader Carwyn Jones and remained neutral.

Although their intentions were honourable the methods used by the anti-Corbynistas have failed and gravely damaged the future prospects of the Labour Party. A whole Chinese army of hostages to fortune were supplied in vehement red-on-red attacks.  First came the refuseniks who bad-mouthed Jeremy with tweets minutes after his victory was declared. Then came a drip-feed of resignations some inflicting maximum damage by being made on live television with banshee wails on the alleged desperate state of the party. The Brexit vote was unfairly blamed on Corbyn who persuaded 63% of his supporters to vote Labour’s way while Cameron got only 42% of his followers to vote his way. The anti-Corbynistas struck. Cascading resignations designed for 24-hour television coverage pre-occupied the media on a Sunday when the destruction of Prime Minister Cameron’s career should have occupied the media’s attention. The result was a shortage of Shadow Cabinet members.  The voices of opposition have been weakened but a wealth of new talent has been discovered among new backbenchers that will serve us well in the future.

Corbyn felt safe in his support from the burgeoning growth in party membership. A vote of no confidence by the majority of MPs left him unmoved.  By September Labour had grown into the biggest political party in Europe with a massive 600,000 members and supporters.  There was hope that an internal election undertaken in an atmosphere of mutual respect would provide a platform of Labour alternative policies to challenge government failures.  Instead the hustings swiftly plummeted into self-lacerating attacks in which brotherly and sisterly love were absent. The wild hyperbole of contempt, the shrieks of hopelessness created a Hallelujah Chorus of division. The party fell into cannibalising itself.  Not surprisingly, the unrelenting message from Labour MPs that the leader (and by extension the party) was rubbish was believed by the voters and the prophecies of doom and gloom fulfilled themselves in electoral failure.

The myth of hopelessness took hold in spite of the cliff of evidence that Labour under Corbyn was harvesting majority votes. Winning 1326 Council seats, hailed as triumph under Blair, were mocked as a failure under Corbyn.  Four magnificent mayoral victories were consigned to a dungeon of the unconscious mind where the equally stunning by-election triumphs dwelt.

In Wales the canard that UKIP has experienced a boom in Wales was endlessly repeated and became part of an accepted lexicon of lies. The New Statesman gullibly re-echoed the myth of a UKIP Welsh surge based on the election 18 months ago under Miliband, wilfully ignoring the election four months ago in which UKIP lost support.   The New Statesman’s article misses the point that if the Westminster election had been decided on the Welsh PR system, a factor now mentioned in the journal, UKIP would have had 83 seats in the Commons now instead of the one the FPTP system delivered.  Had the Welsh Assembly election been decided under Westminster rules, UKIP would have won no seats. Therefore, the true news story in Wales is of a UKIP droop and Labour gains. Labour won three parliamentary seats under Carwyn Jones and Jeremy Corbyn in May 2016 that were lost under Miliband in 2015. Instead of 25 General Election victories Labour had 29 Assembly wins and formed the Welsh Labour Government. A brilliant success.

Distinguished Welsh academic Richard Wyn Jones hailed, “The Labour Party in Wales’ remarkable record as the UK’s most successful electoral machine.’ He said that the Welsh Labour brand now make the SNP look like ‘gauche arrivistes’.  The gold truth of election victories was alchemised into dross in a desperate battle to create a fable of failure.

September should put the lid on self-destruction. The party has grown with a great force of the politically inspired idealistic young. Traditional party members are angered by the avoidable internal battles. There is a new spirit of compromise. Clive Betts presented his bid to change voting rules in a spirit of unity-seeking moderation. The Shadow Cabinet responded in a cooperative spirit. It would a relief to get some of the best talents in PLP back on the front benches. The PLP was firmly and loudly supportive of Corbyn defenestration of May in the most recent PMQs.

A year ago I wrote that party members had fallen in love with a principled, authentic partisan of Classic Labour. I hoped the country would follow. Unconventional politicians who break all the rules are succeeding across the world.

The gap year is over. Whoever becomes the leader, the way ahead for the PLP and members is ONE Leader (no quibbling or back-biting), ONE Party (no splits), and ONE Enemy (this awful Government).

I appreciate how important broadband is to residents and businesses in Wycombe. Fast, reliable broadband is now seen as the norm in an advanced economy, not a luxury. It underpins economic growth and allows us to function in a digital age. Over 90 per cent of UK premises are now able to connect to superfast broadband, and we are on track to reach 95 per cent by the end of next year. This means that the UK has the highest superfast broadband […]
The Wales Boundary Commission has published its 'interim' report for the review of Parliamentary constituencies in Wales. This is the last stage in the reform of constituencies which began over five years ago. The Boundary Commission will now consult on today's proposals and publish a 'final report' by September 2018, when there will be a vote in the House of Commons to approve the constituency boundaries for the 2020 General Election.

Let us consider the context in which these proposals have been prepared.  It began with the election of the Coalition Government  in 2010. During the previous Parliament there had been an almighty row about MP's expenses. No punishment was deemed too harsh for MPs. Amongst the various actions was an agreement to reduce the cost of democracy by cutting the number of MPs from 650 to 600. Actually, the manifesto commitment was a reduction to 585 - but let's not split hairs. A bill was taken through Parliament to enact this, and entirely logically it included equalisation of constituency size, which had not been reviewed for too long. The Act included a provision that meant all constituencies should have the same number of electors - around 75,000. Crucially, it included the stipulation that only a 5% tolerance be allowed in variation of size of constituencies. This Act passed into law, and it was assumed the new constituencies would be adopted for the 2015 General Election. But the Liberal Democrats undermined their own Act in the House of Lords by joining with Labour and others to delay final approval of the actual boundaries for 5 yrs. Though this suited me very well, it was a constitutional outrage in my opinion. This 5yr delay will be up in Sept 2018.

It's no point MPs shouting at the boundary commissioners. Not their fault. It was MPs who stitched up the restrictive rules, ensuring that consideration of geography, cultural and historic considerations counted for nothing. Especially in Wales, where I can only concede there has been 'over representation' for decades. And that's not making allowance for powers being transferred to the Welsh Parliament. The Wales Commissioners were required to reduce 40 constituencies to just 29. They had very little freedom of movement. Today, we have seen the results of their handiwork. And for me, it's devastating.

Let's consider the position in my constituency of Montgomeryshire. The electoral wards of Glantwymen, Banw, Llanrhaedr, Llansilin, Llanbrynmair, Llanfair, Llanfihangel, Llanwddyn, Meifod, Llandrinio, Guilsfield, Welshpool, Trewern, Llanfyllin, Llansantffraid, Machynlleth, Llandysilio go into a Clwyd South and North Montgomeryshire seat.

The electoral wards of Berriew, Caersws, Churchstoke, Dolforwyn, Forden, Kerry, Llandinam, Montgomery, Newtown and Tregynon go into the Brecon, Radnor and Montgomery seat.

The electoral wards of Blaen Hafren and Llanidloes go into Ceredigion and North Pembrokeshire.

This is a total demolition of the historic county of Montgomeryshire. Montgomeryshire is being torn into three pieces to 'top up' other constituencies. Parliamentary democracy in the old County of Montgomeryshire will be much diminished. MPs will become as little known in future as MEPs are little known now. This boundaries review may well be 'fair' in a statistical sense. But it's heart breaking for me. The only consolation is that the Welsh Parliament constituency will remain Montgomeryshire. This will be confusing at first, but less so as familiarity with MPs decreases. These new constituencies will resonate with very few in Montgomeryshire. And at its root, the cause of all this was the abuse of expenses by MPs several years ago - nothing whatsoever to do with most of today's MPs.

I'm typing this at 3.30am because I'm so upset about it that I can't sleep. I've always lived in Montgomeryshire. Always will. I don't have a single ancestor who was born anywhere else. For 40 yrs I've represented Montgomeryshire in one way or another - well as representing Montgomeryshire in stock judging, public speaking, squash, won bardic chairs at Montgomeryshire eisteddfodau, and a whole lot more. Three of our children with their five children have moved back to be near us at Berriew No way could I ever think about representing a different seat. If these proposals are approved in 2018, that will have to be it for me. But I won't be leaving politics. Politics will be leaving me.

Karen Lumley, MP for Redditch County, welcomes Boundary Commission proposals for constituency changes set for implementation in 2020, as she supports the idea of reducing the number of Parliamentary seats from 650 to 600.

The Boundary Commission for England produced its initial recommendations for all English parliamentary constituencies today (Tuesday). Substantial changes to the boundaries of seats in Worcestershire and across the West Midlands are suggested, with the West Midlands as a whole allocated 53 constituencies – a reduction of six from the current number - although the number for Worcestershire would remain at six.

As far as the Redditch constituency is concerned, several wards currently in the Bromsgrove constituency would now be included. These are Alvechurch South, Alvechurch Village, Barnt Green Hopwood, Drakes Cross, Hollywood, Tardebigge, Wythall East and Wythall West. Inkberrow and Hanbury, currently within Redditch, would be moved to other re-vamped Worcestershire constituencies.

Karen said: "It was a Conservative manifesto commitment to cut the cost of politics by reducing the number of MPs and to make the average size of constituencies more equal, thus giving everyone's vote an equal weight, and I support this move.

"Redditch is currently one of the smallest Parliamentary constituencies in the West Midlands, and if these changes are implemented, each will have around 75,000 voters.

"Whilst being MP for Redditch I have developed strong relationships and made good friends in every part of the constituency, however as I support the idea of fairer and more equal sized constituencies across the country I accept there are likely to be some changes locally. Whatever the final proposals, I will continue to serve all my constituents equally right up to the next general election in May 2020."

The Boundary Commission is consulting on its initial proposals for a 12-week period, from 13 September to 5 December 2016. For information on how to respond go to www.bce2018.org.uk.

I have been told by South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group that the current contract holders at Studley Health Centre have given their 6 month notice to terminate their contract. SWCCG are now considering two options, either the GP services will continue with a new provider, or patients will be asked to register with another local practice. All patients at Studely Health Centre should have been contacted for their opinion, you can do this online by completing this survey. Alternatively you can contact them by email at contactus@southwarwickshireccg.nhs.uk or by post at the following address:  NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Market Street, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 4DE There will also be a drop in session at Studley Village Hall, High Street, Studley, Warwickshire, B80 7HJ on Thursday 11th August between 4pm and 6pm The deadline for all comments is 5pm on Monday 22nd August 2016. Please take these opportunities to let SWCCG know your thoughts on what the future of this GP practice should be.  ...

Sir Tony Baldry is to receive a new Award from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Langton Award for Community Service.

The Award is named after Archbishop Stephen Langton, who was Archbishop at the time of the signing of Magna Carta.

The Award made from Fairtrade silver will be conferred on Sir Tony Baldry by the Archbishop of Canterbury during a ceremony at Lambeth Palace on 31st March.

For further information click here.

This morning, first thing, I dropped by the Esher and Molesey Royal Mail delivery office. It's an opportunity to see first hand just how busy our local postmen and women get at this time of year.

Mark Peters, the office manager, showed me round, how the systems work, and the kinds of challenges they have to grapple with - from rotweilers to bad handwriting on envelopes. I met a few of his team in the process. Good luck to all our postmen and women at this festive but hectic time!

Quietly and surreptitiously Osborne is marking out his pitch for the leadership,   The trouble is, it’s thoroughly bad pitch.   By denigrating opponents of privatisation he has set his face against the 70% of the population who earnestly want rail re-nationalised, a proportion so large that it must include nearly half who’re Tories.   … Continue reading Osborne stirs up more shit in which to bury himself in

Rory Stewart MP met with local producers in Penrith last week to discuss the upcoming ‘Cumbria Day’ in London, which he is organising along with fellow Cumbrian MP’s; John Stevenson, Sue Heyman, Jamie Reed and Tim Farron. It would be the second event of its kind, celebrating Cumbrian business, and in particular, it’s speciality food […]

The post RORY STEWART MP CHAMPIONS CUMBRIAN PRODUCERS appeared first on Rory Stewart.

With regards to today’s news from the High Court, my solicitors, Clifford Chance, have prepared this statement on my behalf: "This petition was part of Mr Ireland's continued campaign of harassment against our client. Our client believes that the p...
Between 2010 and 2015 I was the Minister of State for Pensions and continue to take an interest in pensions issues.  I tweet regularly (@stevewebb1) but occasionally 140 characters doesn't quite do justice to the wonderful world of pensions.   I have therefore relaunched this blog site as an occasional location for pensions thoughts.

Hello. If you are reading this it might be because you want to sign up for my campaign to be deputy leader of the Labour Party. There is a separate site for this which can be found at this Tom for Deputy link.

The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!

“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.

“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.

“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.

“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.

“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.

“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.

“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.

“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.

“Finally, I would like you to vote for me because there is still more that needs to be done – for all the reasons I got into politics. We need stronger public services. We need to continue to promote fairness and equality. We need to fight for a community where we take care of those less able than ourselves. I’d like to be a part of that work for the next five years.”
Am I the only one who has found that the rise and rise of twitter (and to an extent) facebook has eaten their blog? Despite the best of my intentions, I have ended up posting minute by minute stuff on Facebook and Twitter. Does this say something about our ever diminishing attention-spans as a society? Or just about me not being very good at managing the blogger app on my iphone...?   Who knows.  But be warned - this blog may not be updated as much as it should be. A big blue bird came and ate it up.

Make sure you stay up to date with all of James’s news by liking his Facebook page!


So, avid readers will notice that I've been a little absent in the blogging world over the past few months.  I've been busy, which isn't an excuse as we are all busy, I know, but writing a blog can't be top on the list of my priorities so posts on here have fallen by the wayside a little bit, sorry.

Summer recess, however, is a great opportunity to catch up, take stock, and get on top of things as best as possible, so here I am again with a new (Parliamentary) year resolution to get back to blogging.

I hope I still have at least one reader left!
Shadow Fisheries Minister Tom Harris has welcomed a campaign by representatives of the smaller fishing industry to win a fairer share of UK fishing quotas.

Speaking on the day that Greenpeace and NUTFA (the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association) launched their Manifesto For Fair Fisheries, Tom called on the government to take the lead in supporting small fishing communities. He said the case had now been made for a “radical overhaul” of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK.

Smaller “inland” fishing vessels make up three quarters of the UK’s fishing fleet and employ nearly two thirds of all full-time workers. But they are restricted from catching more than four per cent of the UK fishing quota, with 96 per cent being allocated to the larger industrial fleet.
Tom added: “Labour wants reform that tackles vested interests and rewards those who fish more sustainably and selectively, with less impact on the environment. It is unacceptable that fleets representing the smaller, sustainable end of the industry, and which employ nearly two thirds of full-time workers, should have to survive on just four per cent of the UK fishing quota.
“The Government should be taking a lead in supporting our small fishing communities that are the lifeblood of many coastal areas.

“The case has now been made for a radical overhaul of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK. The Government needs to issue a definitive list of who exactly owns the rights to UK quota, and begin urgent talks on significantly increasing the percentage quota allocated to the Under Ten fleet.”
I recently organised a meeting with a number of local residents about the upkeep and maintenance of Kew Bridge Railway Station. I met with representatives from Strand on the Green Association, St George's, Kew Green, The Kew Bridge Society, Express Tavern, West Thames River Group, a disability interest group, Friends of Stile Hall Gardens, Brentford Community Council and Network Rail.
Prior to the meeting, I had already been in touch with Network Rail, to strongly urge them to deal with some of the key issues around the station. Network Rail confirmed at the meeting that, as a result of my request, they had immediate plans in place now to paint the station, address the rodent problem, board up unused windows and clear graffiti They had also requested additional litter bins from Hounslow Council. At the meeting, St George's highlighted the work they had been doing too to clear up graffiti in the local area.
I am very pleased that Network Rail responded so well and are giving Kew Bridge Station a 'facelift,' which will help local residents. It will make the station seem cleaner and safer and I welcome their efforts to improve it for passengers. As a group, we are also in discussion regarding the future of the station building at Kew Bridge. As it is a Listed Building, it is obviously of architectural importance. It would be excellent if it could be restored to its former glory and put to good use.
The group is going to meet again within the next month to review progress and discuss next steps.
Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, has welcomed the Localism Bill published by the Government on 13 December. The Bill will give individuals, groups, and their local councils a much greater say in decisions affecting their local communities.


Maria said: “This new legislation will make a real difference to how local matters are decided. The Community Rights measures, for example, will give new rights to local community and voluntary groups to protect, improve and even run important frontline services that might otherwise close down, such as local shops, pubs and libraries,.”


Maria added: “This Bill offers great opportunities for Basingstoke. Among other things, it will radically reform the planning system so that local people have a greater say and influence over what Basingstoke looks like in the future. Giving local people the opportunity to shape the development of the communities in which they live is something that I have long campaigned for, and I am delighted to see it being enshrined in law.


“The Borough Council’s current consultation on the number of new homes needed in Basingstoke is part of this process of taking local people’s views into consideration in developing a vision for the future. I would urge all residents to let the Council have their views on this before the end of the consultation on 14 January.”


Starting with a Bang

The long parliamentary recess has started - weeks without time being spent in the weekly grindingly boring train ride to London and back. Mind you its a hectic pace back at Southport but you can control your agenda better.

Yesterday I found a little time for light exercise the odd game of table tennis and a workout with heavy weights.
I've done the latter all my adult life and it has a slight addictive quality. If you don't do it for a while you actually feel muscle cramps only relieved by putting the old system under pressure.
Constraints of time often mean I forego all the warm ups and warm downs etc. So there I was on Tuesday doing a few front squats in excess of 300lb. I finished, replacing the barbell on the shoulder-high squat stand or so I thought. The stand was not aligned right .It tilted sideways as I released the weight and as the weight crashed to the floor the stand was pulled rapidly down by it pausing on its way to hit the stooping me on the head and catching me on the hand.
If you wanted to dramatise it , it might be compared to being hit on the head by a 20 stone man with an iron bar from a short distance. I thought I'd better take a break. We've had enough by- elections recently
When the family saw me with a lump as though a tennis ball had been buried in my scalp I was advised to pop into A&E. So clutching a plastic bag filled with ice cubes to my temple and bleeding from my finger I was run there and tested by some very nice jolly staff who established so far as we could tell that there was no skull or brain damage.At any rate I could still recall who the Prime Minister and reigning monarch was. I left a wiser man with a determination to avoid photo opportunities for a few days.
Desperate to prove they are doing something about the rising toll of deaths from guns and knives the government have resorted to the old idea of an "amnesty." This will enable a few aging war veterans who collected a "souvenir" and some farmers who forgot to renew their shotgun licenses to hand over guns that would never have been used for any kind of crime. Some of the younger "wannabe" gansters may also find that their weapons, usually replicas, are handed in by angry mothers.

This will be enough for the amnesty to achieve its real objective - photos of a smiling Minister in front of an impressive looking array of guns claiming that the government have "taken action".

But make no mistake the serious criminals will continue to roam the streets without any fear of being stopped and searched, (human rights) and knowing that even if by some chance they are found in poossession of a gun or knife the sentence will be minimal.

The toll of death will continue to rise.