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3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Ryan Stephenson: Have ... · 0 replies · +1 points

A further point which will need to be grasped by DfE is about what is to happen in September. The public perception is that everything ought to be back to normal by then. Hopefully it will be. But it is quite possible that it won't. There is a significant difference between the (often) heroic efforts of schools to keep going at short notice in response to the emergency and wholescale re-engineering of the way in which, in particular, large schools, will need to operate if distancing measures are needed more long term. It is already obvious that NEU's stance will be to oppose any "normal" reopening in September unless it is demonstrated well beyond reasonable doubt that doing so would not expose its members to risk. Being charitable, that precautionary principle approach is understandable given the seriousness of the emergency and it having been agreed to be so by government, but the operational impact of that is that unless the public mood is heavily in favour of agreeing that the risk has diminished to an acceptably low level by September, it won't be possible to reopen schools by mere fiat. I hope that DfE and the Secretary of State are alive to this now rather than just putting it off as a decision to steamroller through alongside a battle with NEU. That might be fun politics but we are talking about the education of 93% of children in the country.

3 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Ryan Stephenson: Have ... · 0 replies · +1 points

As a governor of a Leeds secondary school I can endorse Ryan's assessment. The City Council and schools have had the difficult job of trying to appease the unions while working to reopen schools. The logistical challenges involved would even without union action have been quite astonishing - we're currently reviewing the incredibly detailed risk assessment and reopening plan which the Head Teacher and SLT have worked hard on for several weeks. The two major challenges beyond the practical which we faced were first that the Government Guidance took longer to come out than was helpful (the announcement of reopening for Y10 and Y12 came a fortnight before the Guidance on what had to be considered, which meant that the work done at the time was at risk of being wasted if the Guidance was more onerous than expected). The Secretary of State needs to learn from this.

Second, and I think much less forgivably, is the stance of NEU. It was not helpful for GMB and NEU up front to start bombarding Head Teachers with detailed questionnaires and ultimatums before any planning could have been undertaken. But much worse was the NEU combination of setting out 5 rather vague tests for supporting reopening and then having their in school reps notify members that they should not provide Head Teachers with feedback on the factual and practical issues when they were consulting on the risk assessment and organisational changes needed to put together a plan to address both their tests and the Guidance from DfE. In practice this meant that the SLT spent days persuading NEU members that co-operating with the planning process was something they should do when they could instead have been devoting more time to the huge task of implementing reopening, not to mention keeping on with remote provision and managing pastoral care to the most vulnerable children.

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Our survey. Almost hal... · 2 replies · +1 points

Regardless of where the climate is going, what causes it and whether it is a good thing or not, moving away from being reliant on limited resources makes sense. I'm not sure how you go from that to accusing me of killing people.

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Our survey. Almost hal... · 4 replies · +1 points

Even if you don't think human activity is driving climate change it doesn't mean you have to think that climate change is worth ignoring or that human activity could either mitigate or intensify its ill-effects. Perhaps the debate should switch away from blame to working out whether there are things we can do which are in themselves of merit for maintaining the planet as a good place for us. Reducing waste and moving to renewable energy makes sense as a long term efficiency in use of resources, which ought to be rather compatible with the basic concepts of Conservatism. Not hair shirts for the sake of it but making the most out of the least so as to enable longer term, sustainable growth and improvement in the living standards of all.

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Suella Braverman: Peop... · 3 replies · +1 points

"Traditionally, Parliament made the law and judges applied it. But today, our courts exercise a form of political power. Questions that fell hitherto exclusively within the prerogative of elected Ministers have yielded to judicial activism: foreign policy, conduct of our armed forces abroad, application of international treaties and, of course, the decision to prorogue Parliament."

Traditionally, the law applied by judges was largely judge made. That is the Common Law (and Equity) which traditionalists often praise so highly and which is the foundation of our system. The proliferation of legislation is a modern phenomenon of the last 150 years.

The examples given in the article are examples of areas where Parliament has been silent rather than areas where the Courts have illegitimately stepped in to usurp its powers. There may be an argument for weakening the effect of the Human Rights Act, but it has to be remembered that it isn't judicial activism which provides this role for the Courts but legislation.

It is not clear why there should not be judicial control over the way in which administrative decisions are made in the absence of legislation setting out how such powers are to be exercised. It would be possible to replace Wednesbury etc with legislation. It would be possible to replace prerogative powers with legislative ones (as eg the Fixed Terms Parliament Act did). But would this really be a good thing? The encroachment of legislation like the FTPA into prerogative powers and common law is precisely what provides the Courts with the ability to make what seem like political decisions - Parliament has decided that things which once were considered unjustitiable or only to be interfered with by judges in extremis, are now commonplaces for legal challenges.

I fear that, rousing though it may be to think that government and Parliament can now reverse the tide that culminated with Miller II, the reality is that every further effort in this direction gives the Courts more power and legitimacy in reviewing political acts. And if the reaction to this is to give the executive absolute discretions which it never had, the unintended consequence of this will be providing a carte blanche to PM Long-Bailey in 2025 to unleash horrors.

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Neil O'Brien: There ar... · 0 replies · +1 points

Perhaps our biggest hurdle is overcoming years of Conservative supporters voting tactically for the LDs to keep Labour out. We can win here if everyone who did that voted for us as the party they actually support. Even Alex Sobel, who won for Labour here in 2017 has said to me that there are probably at least 5k LD voters who would prefer to vote Tory.

I you can help out in any way at all, please drop me an email at

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Neil O'Brien: There ar... · 4 replies · +1 points

As chair of Leeds NW, which Lab won from the LDs in 2017 and which voted 65% Remain, I endorse the impression in this article. I had a very similar experience to the one described last week when someone shouted from across the street "Did you put this through my letterbox?". I was expecting a tirade.

Instead, he crossed over and told me how he'd traditionally voted Labour, had voted for the previous LD MP because he was a good bloke but had always thought of us as the toffs' party. He was going to vote Conservative for the first time in December and was telling all his colleagues, friends and family to do so because we needed to get Brexit done and we absolutely cannot have Corbyn as PM. I don't think I could have scripted him better if I'd tried and this was all volunteered on a very chilly and drizzly night while he was in shirtsleeves and could have been having a nice cup of tea in front of the telly after a day at work.

I was sceptical about the polling early in the 2017 election. It just didn't align with what I was hearing on the doorstep, even accounting for the fact that we were in third place in the seat. Now, if anything, I'm thinking the polling is understating where we could get. We're starting 11k behind Labour and 7k behind the LDs. Our canvassing in areas we haven't even had the numbers to do a full delivery round to since 2010 let alone canvass, is in the mid 30s strong C, and over 50% including weaker Cs.

I'm not saying we're going to win here, but if a non-target third place, Remain majority northern seat is leaving our growing group of activists ending each session with a spring in their step, I think we have a good chance of sweeping all the closer targets and converting our own marginals to solid majorities.

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Meet the candidates ho... · 8 replies · +1 points

You've missed Anthony Browne in Cambrigeshre South - hopefully a hold now that Heidi Allen has said she won't after all contest it for the LDs.

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Burt, Simpson, Greenin... · 0 replies · +1 points

It's almost as if attempting to mould the Parliamentary Party from CCHQ is rather harder than it might seem.

4 years ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Burt, Simpson, Greenin... · 0 replies · +1 points

Every cloud has a silver lining.