The Future for Egypt
The news that the Egyptian revolution has come down to a choice between the old guard and hard-line Islamism is deeply dispiriting. Last week’s preliminary elections for President produced two winners; Ahmed Shafiq and Mohamed Mursi. Shafiq, a former air force commander, was Mubarak’s last Prime Minister and Mursi is a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, aka the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt until the uprising last spring. In exchange for participation in the democratic process, the Brotherhood undertook not to put any presidential candidates forward. That was swiftly forgotten as power came within their reach. They are now reported to be haggling over which aspects of Sharia law – such as women wearing veils – they can incorporate into the new Egyptian constitution and how many of their members they can force into the government. Shafiq, meanwhile, promises to include Coptic Christian and women ministers in any administration he might form. Everything depends upon which way the Supreme Army Council, which currently rules Egypt as a caretaker government, votes. But in either case, tragically, we can expect more violence.
Posted on 31 May 2012 by Richard Drax
The Labour party is now thinking of demanding a referendum on our EU membership because they are well aware what a divisive issue this is within the Coalition, with the Lib Dems pro Europe and the Tories much less so. So, the contribution from Conservative Justice Minister Ken Clarke on Radio 4 yesterday, saying that anyone calling for an EU referendum was a “frenzied Eurosceptic” was unhelpful, at best. He added: “I cannot think of anything sillier than to hold a referendum,” insisting that the idea was only of interest to “a few, extreme nationalist politicians.” He went on that a referendum would settle nothing and that eurosceptics would continue looking for “EU bogeys under the bed”. I could not disagree with Mr Clarke more. He appears to be blind to the chaos his increasingly federalist EU is causing, as unemployment spirals along with civil disorder. The tidal wave of regulations which swamp Parliament every year – remember, the Commons Library calculated that 50 per cent of legislation is EU inspired – must cease if we are to keep our heads above water and retain our national identity. The last referendum on European membership was held in 1975. We were told it was a trading agreement and we believed them. However, the current situation bears no resemblance to those days and anyone who cares for the future of our country should demand a referendum.
Posted on 29 May 2012 by Richard Drax
The Royal Family's popularity has never been higher, and rightly so. The Queen's sense of duty is exemplary and mirrored probably nowhere else in the world. What would we do without her. I shudder to imagine. The Queen's 60 years on the throne is marred by one great sadness: the Labour government's decision to pension off the Royal Yacht Britannia. I know a little about this subject because the Yacht's last Admiral is a great friend of mine. What a remarkable gift, and mark of gratitude, we could bestow on the Queen by returning the Yacht to her. In every sense, that magnificent vessel stood for all that is good about the UK. She also gave the Queen and Prince Philip a deep happiness, peace and contentment.
Posted on 27 May 2012 by Richard Drax
I find it staggering that the Government has placed this topic so high on its priority list when there are more urgent issues to deal with, not the least the economy and, linked directly to it, the EU. While I respect the views of the pro lobby, I am against gay marriage. I have been brought up to believe that 'marriage' is between a man and a woman and nothing will ever change my view on that. I have several gay friends and all of them feel they already have equality in both the eyes of the law and the community at large. And, if you believe in our Christian faith, stamping on its teaching will cause deep anxiety across the country. Both David Cameron and now Theresa May support gay marriage. Both are so-called modernisers, who wish to change the image our Party. What they both fail to recognise is that this is not a political issue and to use the weighty hand of legislation to change our perspectives will only cause anger and resentment. Many of our supporters are already turning their backs on us, while others question openly what on earth we are doing. My message to the Prime Minister, which I have repeatedly given him in corrrespondence, is to tackle the serious and long term problems this country faces and put the populist agenda to one side.
Posted on 27 May 2012 by Richard Drax
Peril of the sea
Today, Weymouth and Portland are coming to terms with one of the worst fishing accidents of recent times. It's feared that three fishermen on board the Purbeck Isle drowned on Thursday after their boat foundered for reasons no one knows yet. The body of the skipper, Dave McFarlane, has been found. His two young crewmen, Robert Prowse and Jack Craig, have yet to be recovered. The vessel now lies in about 150 feet of water ten miles south of Portland Bill. I cannot speak highly enough about those who searched for two days for the men. The crews of the Weymouth lifeboat, the Portland SAR helicopter, a Type 42 destroyer, along with other vessels who responded to the mayday, and the staff at the MCA's co-ordination centre in Weymouth are to be commended for once again working valiantly to save life. Regrettably, and for reasons we don't yet know, it seems the vessel went down almost immediately, giving the crew no time to launch the life raft. This terrible accident only reminds us all of the risk our fishermen take to put food on our tables. It also reinforces the importance of having local people co-ordinating a search and rescue operation and the significance of our own helicopter which searched a vast area for hours in the hope of finding the men alive. My deepest sympathies extend to their families and friends during these dark hours.
Posted on 20 May 2012 by Richard Drax
I agreed with every word of Fraser Nelson's excellent column in today's Daily Telegraph. Entitled, "Turn off your iPad, Mr Cameron, and start dealing with our debt", looks at the government's disappointing record on borrowing and points out, rather alarmingly, that it is "... borrowing more over five years than Labour did over 13". With our deficit growing, we need radical Conservatism (common sense) like never before. And by radicalism, I mean slashing state expenditure and tax much, much further. Recently, I made a comment during a radio interview along the lines of: "Austerity. What austerity?" An aggrieved constituent wrote to the local paper, accusing me of "living behind my stag," or words to that effect, as if I did not understand what effect the dire state of our economy was having on people. Can I say that I do understand, and all too well. In addition to running a business myself, I have spent most of life out and about and, now, as an MP, much of my time is spent in the constituency seeing things very much at first hand. I do see the difficulties and sympathise with the plight of many of my constituents. However, all I can say is that we have been heading to the abyss for years, living beyond our means, both publicly and privately, and hoping we'd never be called to account. The chickens have come to roost, regrettably simultaneously. I hope we learn from these harsh lessons being imposed on us, that you cannot spend more than your earn, and you certainly can't borrow your way out of trouble. You must cut your cloth accordingly and I can only suggest we start 'slashing' pretty quickly.
Posted on 18 May 2012 by Richard Drax
New president Francois Hollande is sworn in, promising to spend his way out of this EU shambles. Then, he flies straight to Germany, no doubt to impress his new credentials on Chancellor Angela Merkel. No one can see Mrs Merkel agreeing to more spending. The Germans have propped up the euro for too long and I suspect Hollande will receive a polite, but firm, "Nein". Meanwhile, the farce continues in Greece, which cannot form a government, so back to the polls they will go. For all those who genuinely, but mistakenly, believed that a federalist Europe would see the end of war and conflict in Europe these revelations must come as quite a shock. Civil unrest is becoming more common as people become more desperate. We can end this ridiculous experiment if we all accept that it's over. I can only suggest that EU heads convene a meeting at the earliest opportunity and for once be honest with us all. The first politician to stand up and call time will, I feel, be treated with great respect in future history books.
Posted on 15 May 2012 by Richard Drax
Queen's Speech Two and Three
I am one of those who have signed up to the Alternative Queen's Speech, which I note is partly published in today's Daily Mail and is due in full on the Conservative-Home website. The situation is too dire for the country to continue ducking and diving with the Lib Dems. They represent a tiny minority of the Coalition Government and are, frankly, lucky to have so many MPs in the Executive. I've also read Simon Heffer's proposed Queen's Speech and I agree with every word. I particularly like the idea of repealing the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, which I, and many of my colleagues, mistakenly supported. I would not do so now, but then you live and learn. Persuaded this Act was best for a country on her knees, I was seduced into agreeing to it. However, the cynics would argue that it's nothing more than a fig leaf for a power grab by the Executive to enjoy five years in power, come what may. And this, quite clearly, is not in the country's best interests. If I am re-elected next time round, I will do all I can to ensure a Bill like this never sees the light of day again.
Posted on 7 May 2012 by Richard Drax
I wasn't a devoted fan of Sarkozy, but his defeat at the hands of Socialist Hollande spells disaster for Europe and the EU. Typically, he is already calling for higher borrowing, rather than cutting state expenditure, and I predict chaos ahead. Both France and Greece are rejecting austerity measures to bring their economies back into line, instead plumping for increased spending, that old Socialist con trick. I do understand that the electorate tends to be fickle when pensions, jobs and hopes are dashed, but there is a way forward. The problem is it would take a leader of great courage and foresight to take the radical steps needed after generations have been bought with unsustainable government handouts of one kind or another. We need another Churchill as the storm clouds of economic meltdown bubble up on the horizon and I don't see one.
Posted on 7 May 2012 by Richard Drax
I watched the Chancellor this morning on the Andrew Marr show. I have to say that he clearly does not understand what has and is going wrong. I suppose the word I would use is 'integrity' and I keep returning to this word, because it is still lacking in politics. Believing in a cause such as Conservatism is not difficult, nor is explaining what it is about. Mr Osborne stumbled his way through the interview as he was grilled on irrelevant sideshows like gay marriage and Lords' reform. I say irrelevant because the economy and jobs are top of the agenda and although Mr Osborne said that, he expressed no clear direction on how we should tackle them, except more of the same. There is no doubt in my mind that we should slash taxes and public expenditure much further and tackle the huge cost of bureaucracy and red tape once and for all, most of which comes from the EU. We can talk about these things until the cows come home but, until we face these mountainous tasks head on, we might as well bury our heads in the sand. I fear our current leadership will continue to prevaricate (Oxford dictionary definition: make evasive or misleading statements) in the hope it can buy us off. Unfortunately for them, we have seen through the hall of mirrors and can see the path ahead very clearly indeed. If it's not followed, to the letter, I see trouble ahead, not only for David Cameron and George Osborne but, more importantly, for our country. And, frankly, I am only interested in the latter.
Posted on 6 May 2012 by Richard Drax
Not a good result for us, although the damage is not as bad as it could have been. What we, and the people of this country, need is more Conservatism with a capital C. We need to tackle head on the big dabates of the day such as the economy, low taxes, immigration and the EU. Tinkering around the edges with gay marriage and Lords' reforms is not what we were elected to sort out. The people of this country want one thing and politicians appear to want another. I have said from day one that the Coalition was a bad idea and I stand by what I said. Both Parties are losing their identities, leaving the gate wide open for Labour. It's time to lead, so let's get on with it.
Posted on 4 May 2012 by Richard Drax
The Phone Hacking Committee
The Parliamentary Select Committee on Cuture, Media and Sport reported back yesterday. Instead of producing a concensus report, fuelled by universal disgust at the phone hacking of Millie Dowler’s parents among others, committee members divided the verdict by voting politically. Most notably, Gordon Brown’s henchman, Tom Watson, forced through an amendment denouncing Rupert Murdoch as ‘not a fit person’ to run an international company. He was supported by all the Labour and Lib Dem members of the committee. As Louise Mensch MP put it, the amendment was ‘wildly outside the remit of our committee,’ and left the Conservatives unable to back it, thereby undermining the report’s conclusions. Incidentally, Tom Watson has published a book this week. Entitled ‘Dial M for Murdoch’, it supposedly exposes the media baron and all his works, which may explain Watson’s insistence on ramming his agenda to the front of the queue. Finally, despite what is still bad news for Murdoch because Ofcom has yet to decide whether he is ‘fit and proper’ person to run BskyB, News Corp’s share prises ROSE in the USA.
Posted on 2 May 2012 by Richard Drax
Gothic warnings in the press today about how terrorists are having explosives surgically implanted inside their bodies. The explosives are undetectable by the most sophisticated airport scanners and security services are concerned about the possibility of a spate of bombings to commemorate the demise of Osama Bin Laden a year ago this week. Transatlantic flights are reportedly packed with undercover air marshalls. Coinciding, as it does, with the week’s news about ridiculously long queues at Heathrow – partly due to increased security checks – air travel is beginning to look like the least attractive option around.
Posted on 2 May 2012 by Richard Drax