No more pylons
News of proposals to erect another 400 miles of electricity pylons across some of the wildest and most beautiful countryside in Britain has caused a furore. Adding insult to injury, they are intended to carry electricity away from wind farms to the national grid, despite the feeble overall output of the turbines so far. Defence secretary Liam Fox, this time defending his constituency, has written to Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, demanding a rethink. In addition to objecting upon aesthetic grounds, campaigners point out that cancer clusters have been recorded in the vicinity of high power lines, although no definite correlation has been proven. The countryside is already scarred by these ugly structures - surely our small and overcrowded island should be spared any more.
Posted on 30 August 2011 by Richard Drax
While the debate rages over who has won what in Libya, we have lost the advantage we gained over many, many painstaking years of diplomatic and military investment. For 35 years, the USA refused to have any dealings with Libya, maintaining only a part time consular service while our Foreign Office stuck it out – despite severe provocation at times - promoting British business, education and scientific cooperation. We educated more of Libya’s young people at our universities and colleges than any other Western nation and eventually, shared credit for persuading Gaddafi to dump his weapons of mass destruction. Only in 2009, did an US Ambassador return to Tripoli. The reason was clear. The prodigious profits to be made – witness BP’s 6.6bn deal with Libya – were irresistible. Now France, Germany, Italy, Russia and China have also moved in on the lucrative reconstruction projects, holding talks with the National Transition Council (NTC). Our Department for Trade and Industry says only that the NTC has promised to honour contracts existing before Gaddafi’s regime was overthrown. Let’s hope so.
Posted on 23 August 2011 by Richard Drax
Saif al Islam al Gaddafi - still free
The West went to sleep last night believing that Tripoli had fallen to Libya’s ‘rebels’ and that it was only a matter of time until Gaddafi was ousted. We were told his son Saif was in custody, bound for the International Criminal Court at the Hague and Barack Obama stopped just short of a self congratulatory ‘job done’ statement. This morning, things look rather different. Far from being captured, Saif has been touring the news networks promising a fightback and Gaddafi is nowhere to be found. The Allies are once again arguing over whether we need ‘boots on the ground’ to hold any gains made and Tripoli is a war zone. Saif’s ‘escape’ is intriguing; a current movie - 'The Devil's Double' - about the loathsome Uday Hussein, son of Saddam, who used a double to shroud his movements, suggests a possible explanation.
Posted on 23 August 2011 by Richard Drax
Flt Lt Jon Egging
The sad death of Red Arrow pilot Jon Egging at Saturday’s Bournemouth Air Festival only serves to underline how brave these men and women are. His Hawk T1, capable of 800mph, was so low when it suffered what is thought to be a catastrophic engine failure, that there was no time for him to eject while steering away from the nearby village of Throop. He had already flown Harriers in Afghanistan and as a fast jet instructor was thought of as the best of the best. The Royal Air Force will miss their ‘Red 4’; to lose such an outstanding member of our armed services is a tragedy for us all.
Posted on 21 August 2011 by Richard Drax
No, no, no
The ever-probing tentacles of the EU have once again reached out towards the UK as France and Germany seek ways of propping up the euro. To achieve this, according to Sarkozy and Merkel, a new tax is needed which would see the UK contributing £13 billion a year. In the famous lady's last few words in the Commons as Prime Minister: "No, no,no!"
Posted on 19 August 2011 by Richard Drax
Sanctity of home
Every time mention is made of reducing the top rate of income tax, the Liberal Democrats insist that any reduction should be countered with the introduction of a tax on your home. The Party's irresistible urge to use tax as a weapon to punish the better off is lamentable. And even more so because it's a tax on someone's home. This is not only unjust, it's the old stuff of envy politics and of course a morsel thrown from the table to appease Lib Dem supporters. Everyone should pay their taxes and contribute to our country, but those on higher incomes are already paying substantially more tax and to talk about targeting homes really is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Posted on 18 August 2011 by Richard Drax
As our television screens continue to be filled with shocking pictures of riots and looting, I cannot help but think the problem is now so bad in this country that some kind of national service must be introduced. I am not talking about military service necessarily, it could be 'serving' in a raft of areas from the local community to the emergency services. The break down in law and order and the complete lack of respect for people and property are the result of many factors, as I have mentioned in an earlier blog. Many families do not have a role model to look up to and the children with little or no guidance become looters and rioters for no other reason other than they know no better. This has to stop. And if the family unit cannot achieve it, then Government must before we lose control of our streets more regularly. I am instinctively against state involvement because, as a Conservative, I believe in the strength, courage and determination of the individual. However, if that individual has none of these qualities, the state will have to interject and instil them instead.
Posted on 10 August 2011 by Richard Drax
Pause for thought
Horrifed by the pictures of rioters and looters tearing our capital city apart, I could only watch with admiration the immense courage of the men and women of our emergency services. I have written a separate blog on this point, as their dedication in the face of appalling adversity was humbling. I would also like to praise the many ordinary residents who we are told behaved with equal courage as they tried to stand up to these mindless yobs to protect their homes and businesses. I hope that the criminals who have shamed our nation do stand trial and are given long sentences, and I can only urge the law abiding majority to aid the police in every way they can. As commentators are pointing out, London hosts the Olympic Games next year, an event which heralds such hope and aspiration, quite apart from sporting excellence, while today's blackened streets and burnt out stores and homes are nothing more than a message of despair. What a tragedy.
Posted on 9 August 2011 by Richard Drax
I am sure like you my shock at the pictures of our capital city on fire has struck at the very core. I totally condemn the actions of a significant minority, who saw the opportunity to loot at will and took it. However, as the lawlessness spread to other cities across the UK, evidence of a far deeper malaise shone through. I believe our once great country has been sleep-walking into this disgraceful nightmare for many, many years. A combination of many factors, not least poor education, no respect for law and order, an increasing reliance on the welfare state, a break down in family values and uncontrolled immigration have all led to this growing underclass, which is now significant and more prepared to use violence. As always, we have come to the table too late and, as the world economy slumps and the financial markets descend into chaos, we are facing unprecedented times. There is a solution to our country's long term ills, but it will have to be radical. The nation has been sick for too long and we have chosen to ignore the patient, but can do so no longer.
Posted on 9 August 2011 by Richard Drax
A regiment – which shall remain nameless - due shortly to leave for Afghanistan has been asked to take 12 Territorial Army (TA) soldiers ‘for political reasons.’ This, of course, refers to the Defence Secretary’s proposals that the TA should replace some of our front line troops over time. The problem is that of the 12 TA soldiers selected, seven have failed their fitness tests and one cannot be discharged as he is ‘of no fixed abode’. The other four have struggled through, but the regiment has lost 12 professional fighting men from their strength in order to prove a political point. While I have great respect for the TA, I believe we should use them as well as – not instead of – those who have spent their entire lives preparing for war.
Posted on 8 August 2011 by Richard Drax
Mubarak's court appearance
When Egypt’s former President Mubarak was wheeled into court in his hospital bed on Friday, I believe the death knell was sounded for any so-called ‘Arab Spring’. This was not the birth of a new democracy; this was vengeance being wreaked on an old man who had given up power, albeit reluctantly, because his people demanded it. Now the Muslim brotherhood – hand in glove with the new military Government in Egypt – is demanding the removal of his right hand as punishment for his appropriation of Egyptian state funds. This medieval punishment for robbers is demanded by Sharia law, which they would like to see instituted in the ‘new’ Egypt. It is disgusting and even more barbaric than the treatment currently being meted out to Mr Mubarak, who was once one of the greatest hopes for peace in the Middle East.
Posted on 7 August 2011 by Richard Drax
Defence of the realm
This is an area that I have written and spoken about frequently. I warned our Government, both verbally and in correspondence, about the dangers of including our armed forces in the emergency budget review, and now we have a devastating report by the defence select committee saying we've cut far too far, placing the defence of the realm in jeopardy. I could weep with frustration, as thousands of men and women are made redundant, ships scrapped and nine new Nimrods destroyed, thereby putting at risk our submarine fleet. Defence cuts should not be an accounting exercise and this is what's happened. The defence of our country and her responsibilities abroad should not be viewed like other services. A wise person would scrutinise the threat before making a strategic, rather than a financial, decision. The scrapping of the Navy's aircraft carriers and Harrier jump jets rather highlights the futility of the defence spending review when only weeks after they'd been sent to the knacker's yard we needed them to launch air strikes over Libya. You cannot play fast and loose with the defence of our country, nor, dare I say, with the brave men and women who make up our armed forces. I can only urge our government to re-think its whole defence policy before some irreversible and disastrous decisions are implemented.
Posted on 5 August 2011 by Richard Drax