Saturday, 4 October 2014

Musings on why the Conservative Party has rediscovered its soul

One of David Cameron’s finest qualities is his ability to bounce back from near oblivion, when the media, pollsters and membership have abandoned all hope. This was a point laboured by the newly installed Chief Whip Michael Gove in the warm-up speech, where he emphasised that leadership is about tough decisions, including telling your own party some uncomfortable home truths.
For the many thousands of delegates who arrived in Birmingham over the weekend, this will be remembered as the conference where problems were turned into solutions and gloom was transformed into optimism.
Across the halls in the ICC and the meeting rooms of the Hyatt Hotel, Cabinet Ministers were preaching to the membership that any defection was a betrayal not just to the party and our people, but to our country. Indeed, this was a conference that for so many obvious reasons seemed set to fail, yet the membership left with fire in their bellies and a clear reason to campaign for a full majority next year.
Up until now, many centre-right columnists had offered praise or support for the likes of Douglas Carswell, revering him as a maverick. Quite how betraying the very people who helped you get elected constitutes noble behaviour seems a mystery to true believers in the Conservative cause.
But then again UKIP is a magnet for political underachievers, who find themselves and their oddball personalities thrust in the limelight; perhaps compensation for their repeated failures in mainstream politics.

The defection of Mark Reckless changed the narrative. From the Prime Minister downwards, every senior Conservative sent a clear message to the membership – that ‘liars and traitors’ have taken them for granted and they should be punished heavily for it...
Read the full article at The Commentator 

Monday, 15 September 2014

If you love Great Britain then sign the Let's Stay Together letter

If you, like me, are a proud patriot, lover of Great Britain and agree that we are better together then please sign the Let's Stay Together letter here

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

This Sunday - Peace Rally against ISIL

If you're free on Sunday and want to see and end to the atrocities in Iraq then come and join thousands of Christians, Jews, Assyrians, Muslims and others calling for an end to this. 

Meeting point is Richmond Terrace, 2pm - 5pm. 

The rally has three specific aims:

(a) A rally for unity, tolerance and to preserve Iraq as a state and the presence of minorities within it. We hope for an united Iraq in which the rights of all its peoples are respected;

(b) A demand for humanitarian assistance and targeted intervention to ensure that the minorities of Northern Iraq are not expunged permanently from their land, and call for the creation of a safe haven in the north of Iraq to protect minorities, using the 1991 international intervention on behalf of the Kurds as a precedent;

(c) Continue to cast light on the atrocities committed by ISIS against minority groups in Iraq, as well as Syria. We believe that ISIS and its extremist ideology represents an immediate threat not only to the peoples in the region but also to the international community and here in the UK.


14:00 Arrival at venue
14:30 Zehra Zaidi, Stand Up and Mardean Isaac, A Demand for Action to introduce Rally
15:00 Speeches to begin. Speakers include:

o Charles Tannock MEP, Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Spokesperson for the UK Conservative Delegation, Chair of EP Friends of Kurdistan, Honorary EP Parliamentary Adviser to the Save the Assyrians Campaign;
o Richard Howitt MEP (Labour, S&D), Labour Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Vice Chair of the Human Rights Sub-Committee [TBC Tuesday];
o Emma Nicholson (cross bench peer);
o Conor Burns MP (Conservative);
o Stephen Pound MP (Labour);
o Mardean Isaac and Max Joseph (Assyrian Iraqis);
o Sajad jiyad, Al-Khoei Foundation (Shia Iraqi);
o David Taylor, Lecturer in Aramaic and Syriac, Oriental Institute, University of Oxford;
o Ben Rogers, Christian Solidarity Worldwide
o Canon Andrew White, Vicar of St George's Church, Baghdad (only Anglican church in Iraq) and Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in Middle East [TBC].

16:30 Lords Prayer in Aramaic

16:45 A Demand for Action will present an Open Letter signed by activists, academics and MPs to Number 10 Downing Street 

17:00 End of Rally

*Coaches coming from churches, mosques and community groups need to get in touch re parking on the day.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Africa: The new battleground against Islamic extremism

The brutal and ruthless kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls last month shocked the world, leading to condemnation from global leaders including former Prime Minister Tony Blair. But the incident is the latest in a much wider problem of Islamic extremism that is engulfing many African countries.

The continent has long been plagued by challenges of poverty and war, with several countries sharply divided between Christianity and Islam, some moderate and some extreme. I have spent a great deal of time in both East and West Africa and witnessed first-hand varying degrees to which these two religions co-exist. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed worrying examples of the perversion of both religions.
These terrorist attacks have cast a grim shadow over some of Africa’s most forward-looking countries and created an environment of danger that not only threatens the African people, but is putting Britain’s national security at risk. This tragic scenario contrasts heavily with the huge strides made in the continent over the last few years, perfectly summarised by Nigerian novelist and poet Lola Shoneyin when she said, “Look one way and my country is booming. Look another and there's poverty and fear.”
In Kenya last September, 67 people died and over 175 were wounded during the siege in The Nairobi shopping centre. The perpetrators were Somalia-based Al-Shabaab, a group with a frighteningly expanding network of bloodthirsty supporters. This pattern of sporadic and brutal attacks continued in the tourist port town of Mombasa with bombings at a bus stop and The Reef Hotel, killing three people.
Such attacks, like the acid attack on Jewish volunteer teachers Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup near Stone Town, Zanzibar, do huge damage to the local tourist industry, a vital line of economic support for areas already beset with poverty. A few months later on the island a Catholic Priest was shot to death and his church was burned down.
At home, after British solider Lee Rigby was hacked to death in the middle of a Woolwich street by Islamic extremists, it emerged that one of the accused was seeking training with Al-Shabaab. Perpetrator Michael Adebolajo had previously been detained by Kenya’s anti-terrorism unit and was deported from the country.
These examples to name but a few illustrate a clear pattern of Islamic extremism that is creeping its way into several countries within Africa, poisoning the minds of some of the most vulnerable people in the world and perverting a religion which has in many cases existed in peace alongside other religions for decades.
The situation is so severe that Britain must act urgently, not simply to provide support and guidance, but also dedicated and extensive education to these counties, to help route out terrorist ideologies and develop counterterrorism strategies to fight this evil.
The issue is not simply one of increasing security, as advised after the first round of bombings in Nairobi. We in Britain know all too well the security alone cannot defeat extremism. These problems are much more deep-rooted and need to be tackled through better education and community outreach programmes. By identifying potential extremists and their preachers from the outset, this will help to eradicate Islamic extremism. 
We know from previous examples, such as Al-Qaeda’s rise in Afghanistan, that it is in environments of uncertainty and poverty that extremism thrives. Unfortunately the terrorists are equally aware of this.
The greatest tragedy of all is that, despite high levels of poverty and unemployment, African countries are still full of hope for the future, and Britain has a moral duty to ensure that this hope is not high-jacked and poisoned by extremists.
Britain has knowledge, skill and experience in regards to how to best tackle this growing threat. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with our African friends to stamp out Islamic extremism before it gains a further foothold.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

100 things this Conservative-led government have done

1.      Helped businesses to create 1.7 million new jobs – so more people have the stability and security of a regular pay packet.
2.      Created 1.6 million apprenticeships – so young people have the skills they need to succeed.
3.      Worked to make the UK’s tax system the most competitive in the world, according to KPMG – so the British economy attracts investment and creates jobs.
4.      Helped entrepreneurs to create 400,000 more businesses over the last three years – so our economy is stronger and more people benefit from the security of a job.
5.      Cut the deficit by more than a third.
6.      Cut income tax for over 25 million people.
7.      Kept mortgage rates low by not increasing borrowing.
8.      Funded Councils to help them freeze council tax, to keep your bills down.
9.      Given people the democratic right to veto excessive hikes in council tax.
10.  Cut fuel duty, saving the typical motorist who fills up once a week £360 on petrol.
11.  Cut Corporation Tax, helping to support businesses that invest in Britain.
12.  Taken almost £400 off childcare bills by increasing free education and care for 3- and 4-year olds.
13.  Forced energy companies to put customers on the lowest tariff.
14.  Delivered the biggest ever cash rise in the Basic State Pension.
15.  Scrapped red tape to save businesses £850 million year – helping free businesses to grow and create jobs.
16.  Scrapped Labour’s ruinous plan for a new jobs tax.
17.  Helped 360,000 small firms pay no business rates at all, because of our doubling of rate relief.
18.  Cut the jobs tax of businesses by up to £2,000 from 2014. This means 450,000 small businesses – that’s one third of all employers – will pay no jobs tax at all.
19.  Supported growth across the country through 24 Enterprise Zone, so it is easier to set up a business.
20.  Committed £18 billion for new school buildings so that children can learn in the best environment possible.
21.  Granted new freedoms to teachers in over 3,600 schools, allowing them to help each child to reach their full potential.
22.  Given the green light to 300 free schools being set-up by communities, so they can respond to local need.
23.  Brought in the rigorous new “EBacc”, meaning 60 per cent more pupils are taking the key subjects that they need to get a good job or go to university.
24.  Supported 89 new business and industry linked vocational schools, to prepare young people for work.
25.  Funded the biggest investment in transport infrastructure since World War II (over £70 billion over the next parliament), to support families who need to travel to work.
26.  Started resurfacing 80 per cent of our national roads. This means adding 221 lane miles of extra capacity to our busiest motorways and starting 52 major road projects by 2021.
27.  Started the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorians – so families and businesses get faster and more reliable trains.
28.  Capped the amount an out of work household can get in benefits.
29.  Capped benefit rises to stop them rising faster than wages.
30.  Helped people back to work with our Work Programme. We have set up the largest programme to get people into work since the 1930s.
31.  Introduced Help to Buy, so more families can get on the housing ladder even if they don’t have a large deposit from the “Bank of Mum and Dad”.
32.  Made it easier for people to buy their council house, by reinvigorating Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme.
33.  Started building the first garden city since the 1920s.
34.  Stopped councils wasting taxpayers’ money on producing official newspapers which contain political propaganda.
35.  Capped social care costs, making sure people don’t have to sell their home to pay for social care. From April 2016 the Government will pay for peoples care once the cost to them hits £72,000.
36.  Committed to a new North-South railway – so we connect up our great northern cities.
37.  Balanced the defence budget – so that our Armed Forces can enjoy greater stability and certainty (crucially, we have eliminated Labour’s £38 billion black hole).
38.  Delivered the latest military equipment – to make sure our Armed Forces are the best in the world. Over the next 10 years, around £164 billion will be spent on new military equipment, including the new Aircraft Carriers, the Type-26 frigates, seven new Astute class submarines and the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
39.  Strengthened the Armed Forces Covenant – so we properly support our Service personnel.
40.  We remain determined to hold an in-out EU referendum before the end of 2017 after a full renegotiation.
41.  Got us out of EU bailouts to protect British taxpayers’ money.
42.  Vetoed a new EU fiscal treaty that didn’t guarantee a level playing field for British businesses
43.  Cut the EU budget, saving British taxpayers over £8 billion.
44.  Protected the British rebate from the EU. We have not and will not accept any changes to the British rebate.
45.  Kept Britain out of the Euro. We have not, and will not, join the Euro.
46.  Introduced a ‘referendum lock’ to ensure that any proposed change to the EU treaties that moves powers from the UK to the EU will have to get the consent of the British people.
47.  Used the Government’s balance sheet to back new nuclear at Hinckley Point C.
48.  Granted tax breaks for Shale gas exploration.
49.  Made energy costs clearer and simpler for consumers.
50.  Rolled back green levies. By cutting green taxes we have saved people an average £50 on their energy bills.
51.  Introduced ‘Sarah’s Law’, a child protection disclosure scheme.
52.  Limited the use of ‘slap on the wrist’ simple cautions so criminals are properly punished.  Simple cautions will be banned for serious crimes and carrying a knife.
53.  Made sure prisoners now have to earn privileges – rather than just avoid bad behaviour.
54.  Worked to make sure there are enough prison places – so criminals do serve their time.  There will be more adult, male prison places in 2015 than when we came into power.
55.  Cut police red tape and given them just one target: cut crime.
56.  Put local communities – and voters – in charge of local policing, so police can do what is right for their area.
57.  Created a new National Crime Agency to protect us from organised crime gangs, child abusers, drug smugglers, slave drivers and cyber criminals.
58.  Changed how police are hired and paid – so we can attract the best people to join  the police and protect our communities.
59.  Given police new powers to stop anti-social behaviour so people are safer in their communities.
60.  Opened up Government to transparency, with over 9,000 new pieces of data released.
61.  Made sure parking rules do not discourage visitors to our high streets.
62.  Helped new businesses to open in empty shops.
63.  Insisted immigrants speak better English so they can build relationships with their neighbours and contribute to our communities.
64.  Cut abuse of student visas, and closed bogus Colleges, whilst still welcoming the brightest students so our universities continue to be the best in the world.
65.  Given people more freedoms to build extensions, helping those who want to stay in their home.
66.  Taken action to stop illegal traveller encampments, so that areas are not blighted.
67.  Simplified the planning system, so everyone can understand it. (Our National Planning Policy Framework simplified planning policy down from 1,500 pages to fewer than 50 pages.)
68.  Given local councils new powers to boost local infrastructure.
69.  Protected the NHS budget, meaning that in 2015 we will be spending more on the NHS than when we took over from Labour.
70.  Brought in a £1 billion Cancer Drugs Fund to help patients get the NHS treatments they need.
71.  Hired more NHS nurses than ever under Labour – meaning patients get the care they deserve.
72.  Hired thousands more NHS doctors and midwives to look after patients.  There are now around 7,000 more doctors and around 1,800 more midwives working in the NHS than when we took over.
73.  Halved the number of hospital infections.
74.  Respected patients’ dignity by nearly eradicating mixed sex wards.
75.  Brought back named GPs for the vulnerable elderly.
76.  Ended aid to China and Russia, but kept our promise to the world’s poorest.
77.  Introduced a new payment by results approach to aid, where money is only handed over if results have been achieved on the ground.
78.  Made aid more transparent.
79.  Given same sex couples the right to get married in England and Wales.
80.  Launched a Sports Charter to stamp out homophobia in sport.
81.  Increased spending on disability support, in particular the Access to Work scheme.
82.  Reformed disability benefits so those who need it most get more.
83.  Given young people with special educational needs the right to say which college they want to go to and giving parents of children with severe, profound or multiple health and learning difficulties personal budgets, so they can choose the expert support that is right for their child.
84.  Banned more foreign hate preachers, closed down more extremist websites and helped more people turn away from violence. (For example, we have removed over 18,000 pieces of illegal terrorist material from the internet.)
85.  Rejected Labour’s policy of taxing tourists.
86.  Widened the definition of domestic violence to cover 16 and 17 year olds.
87.  Made forced marriage a criminal offence.
88.  Rolled out superfast broadband across the UK.
89.  Spent £150 million between 2013 and 2015 to improve mobile coverage in rural areas where it is poor or non-existent.
90.  Stopped fish caught from being thrown back into the sea to fulfil EU quotas. (We have negotiated with our EU partners that from 1 January 2015 ‘pelagic’ or sea level fish discards will be banned.)
91.  Invested £2.4 billion in flood defences by 2015.
92.  Doubling dementia research funding.
93.  Invested £2.4 million to create 1 million dementia friends who can support elderly people with dementia.
94.  Increased lottery funding for the Arts.
95.  Maintained free entry for national museums.
96.  Raised the income at which fees have to start being paid back – so graduates only have to pay back when they can afford to.
97.  Abolished the default retirement age.
98.  Introduced a £135 discount on electricity bills for the most vulnerable.
99.  Simplified the state pension so people can be certain of what they will get.
100. Boosted competition in the banking sector to make it work better for customers.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Why you should vote Conservative tomorrow

Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Croydonians will get the chance to have their say on who should run Croydon Council for the next four years.

If I was a floating voter I would look at the record of each political party when they were in power as it provides a good indication of how they will run Croydon Council for the next four years. 

From 1994 to 2006 Labour ran Croydon and during this time they:
  • Increased council tax by 108% (real term increase)
  • Had almost the worst recycling record in the country
  • Croydon was nick-named the 'pothole capital' of the South-East
  • Over 60% of GCSE pupils did not gain 5 good GCES's, including English & Maths
  • Sold all the multi-storey car parks to NCP
Since gaining the Council in 2006, the Conservatives have:
  • Cut council tax bills and recently gave a £25 rebate to every household
  • Invested heavily in leisure facilities including Waddon leisure centre
  • Trebled recycling targets across the borough
  • Resurfaced whole stretches of roads
  • Maintained  free parking areas in district centres
  • Have improved Croydon's schools and increased standards
  • Gained and extra 117 police officers by successful lobbying
  • Reversed Croydon's decline by bringing Westfield & Hammerson to the town
These facts can only mean one thing VOTE CONSERVATIVE tomorrow so that Labour don't ruin our town again.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Africa: The New Battleground Against Extremism

Today, The Commentator published my article on why I believe Africa is the new battleground against Islamic extremism. 

Terror attacks have increased significantly over the past few years and the situation is so severe that Britain must act urgently, not simply to provide support and guidance, but also dedicated and extensive education to these counties, to help route out terrorist ideologies and develop counterterrorism strategies to fight this evil.

The issue is not simply one of increasing security, as advised after the first round of bombings in Nairobi. We in Britain know all too well that security alone cannot defeat extremism. These problems are much more deep-rooted and need to be tackled through better education and community outreach programmes. By identifying potential extremists and their preachers from the outset, this will help to eradicate Islamic extremism. 
Over the coming month, the Parliament Street committee will be looking to engage with key African leaders and help to raise awareness of this growing problem through a series of debates on how to tackle these serious issues.
We know from previous examples, such as Al-Qaeda’s rise in Afghanistan, that it is in environments of uncertainty and poverty that extremism thrives. Unfortunately the terrorists are equally aware of this.
The greatest tragedy of all is that, despite high levels of poverty and unemployment, African countries are still full of hope for the future, and Britain has a moral duty to ensure that this hope is not high-jacked and poisoned by extremists.
Britain has knowledge, skill and experience in regards to how to best tackle this growing threat. We should stand shoulder to shoulder with our African friends to stamp out Islamic extremism before it gains a further foothold.
I hope to see you at one of our events soon. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Goodbye Waddon, it's been a privilege

Paralympian David Weir opening Waddon Leisure Centre
As a true Croydonian one of the proudest moments of my life was when I became elected as a Councillor for Waddon ward in 2009.

As an ex-pupil of Regina Coeli Primary School it has been a real privilege to represent an area that I grew up in. Many of my school friends and their families still live in Waddon, so it has been an honour to serve these people alongside other Waddon residents, with my colleagues Simon Hoar and Tony Harris.

Waddon is lucky to have a vibrant community and I have many happy memories to take away with me including baking cakes for the Jubilee Party; welcoming the Olympic Torch to St Andrew’s Schoolhelping elderly people clean up their gardens alongside their young neighbours; dancing at the cultural festival as a governor at Aerodrome Primary School; welcoming Boris Johnson and David Weir to the leisure centre and singing along to Gracie Fields with residents at Whitgift House at the Wandle Park open day. 

When I joined the Conservative Party sixteen years ago I never thought that I would become a member of Croydon Council at 25 years old. Over the past five years I have thrown myself into being a Councillor and am proud to have helped hundreds of residents solve their council-related issues. I am even prouder to have served during a Conservative administration that delivered a new leisure centre on the Purley Way and also invested in Waddon’s open spaces such as Wandle Park, Duppas Playing Fields and Waddon Ponds.

Opening Wandle Park
As one of the Waddon ward members, the Leader of the Council let me take a lead on organising the opening of Wandle Park last year. I wanted local residents to put their mark on this day and invited schools, community groups and local residents to form an organising committee. After six months of planning we managed to organise one of the most successful opening days in Croydon ever, attracting over 7,000 people!

However, even though delivering on your pledges is fun the most rewarding part of being a Councillor is being part of the community and helping out residents to the best of your ability. During the past five years I have helped hundreds of residents from all different backgrounds and walks of life as people look to you to improve their lives and make a difference where possible.
Celebrating the Queen's Jubilee with Waddon residents

I have made many friends along the way – including a local Green Party activist and will miss helping and solving local residents' problems. It has made me realise how important it is to have a strong community as being a member of one can make such a substantial difference to a person’s life.

Croydon has a bright and prosperous future ahead, with Council tax frozen and a £25 rebate for residents. Every day, from developments such as the Waddon Leisure centre to Westfield, our town is getting stronger.

I wish my successor the best of luck in the forthcoming elections and it is crucial that Croydon remains Conservative as we simply cannot afford Labour to mess up our borough again.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Croydon Labour votes not to give residents an effective 2% council tax cut

Croydon Conservatives were extremely disappointed that Croydon Labour voted against the proposed council budget for 2014/15, but were not exactly surprised given their track record on increasing council tax when they were in power. 

Over the 12 year period when they ran the council, Labour increased council tax by 107% in real terms - and of course by much more when you add the inflation back in. Compare this with the Conservatives record where council tax has fallen in real terms by 4.5%


                             + 107% under Labour        V        - 4.5% under the Conservatives

Monday, 17 February 2014

Conservative Future Women AGM

Two years ago, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP and myself launched CF Women at St Stephens ClubSince then we have held over twenty events in parliament, at various embassies and CCHQ. We have helped and supported many of our members with their campaigns and careers and have assisted them where necessary. I am very proud of what CF Women has achieved in such a short space of time and would like to thank my dedicated and hard-working team who has made all of this possible.

After an exciting two years at the helm I have decided to stand down as Chairman and as such would like to invite you as a member to attend our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 18th March at 7pm. It will be held in parliament and we will be joined by Charlotte Leslie MP. To attend please register here

Nominations for Chairman are open to all CFW members. 

To nominate yourself explaining why, please email me and Celia at: & 

The nomination period will open on Monday 17th February and close on Friday 28th February.

All candidates will receive instructions on the election process and AGM in due course.

I look forward to seeing you at our AGM on 18th March.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Council Tax freeze & £25 back for every Croydon Taxpayer

Cllr Fisher, Mead & O'Connell announcing the good news

Today, the Leader of Croydon Council, Cllr Mike Fisher announced his intention to give every council taxpayer a rebate of £25 and also freeze its part of the council tax for the third time in four years.

These proposals are part of the 2014/15 budget that are due to be presented for approval at Council on 24 February.

Cllr Fisher said: "“We’ve been working hard to protect things that matter most to local residents in very difficult financial circumstances. This responsible management of our budget means we have, for the third time in four years, been able to ensure council tax bills will not rise.

“But we know how tough times are for many families and that is why we are going a step further this year and offering all council taxpayers a discount on their bills.

“As well as easing the pressure on household spending, this injection of cash should also benefit local businesses and help accelerate Croydon’s recovery.”

The 2014/15 budget also includes an ambitious multi-million pound programme of investment for the borough, focusing on building more schools and delivering more school places, regenerating the borough, improving highways and building new homes over the next three years.

Key points:

• £90m on primary and secondary school expansions, including five new schools
• £10m on special educational needs to provide extra places
• £24m on highways improvements
• £26m in improving public areas across the borough
• £17m on regenerating New Addington, including a new leisure centre
• £6m on building new social housing
• £26m makeover for Fairfield Halls to help secure its future and its place as a major centre for arts and entertainment