Readers of this blog will know my views about the funding cap imposed upon Surrey Police by the previous Government. Sooner or later it was obvious that the cuts would be felt in front-line policing and here in north Surrey the effect has been that fewer cars are available for our local officers.
During the past couple of weeks you may have noticed clusters of police cyclists in high visibility vests out on the local roads. They were doing the equivalent of the old Cycling Proficiency test, for police cyclists. The plan is to issue bikes to local officers rather than cars.
However, there is not even a sufficient budget to provide bikes for all of our local officers and they have asked local communities for help. We need 2 bikes to cover Cobham, Hatchford, Downside and Stoke d’Abernon. They cost £600 each and so far only £250 has been raised. Can any reader help? The Cobham & Downside Residents’ Association are donating £200 and if you have any spare cash, please send it to the Chairman, Sue Kilpatick at 38 Freelands Road, Cobham. Cheques can be made out to “CDRA” and please enclose a covering letter stating that your donation is for the police cycle fund.
Today I sat and watched the joint presser between Nick Clegg and David Cameron in open-mouthed, slack-jawed amazement.
Here were two party leaders who only days ago were accusing each other of all the evils under the sun, who described each other as a danger to the future of the country. And here they were, joshing like old mates who’d met up at a party after many years. It was rather heart-warming. I never thought I’d say it but I am truly pleased at what has happened and I hope that our new Government works out.
I’m pleased that Iain Duncan Smith is going to get the chance to put his ideas about social cohesion into action. There is something appropriate in that Vince Cable, one of the few politicians who saw the financial meltdown coming is going to be sorting out the mess he foresaw, and I am delighted that Michael Gove has landed the job of sorting out our schools.
The only downside is that my old friend Theresa Villiers has missed out on a Cabinet role. She did a fantastic job as shadow Transport spokesman and was unlucky to be one of the shadow cabinet members who have made way for our coalition partners. I hope tomorrow brings her a good job at Minister of State level. I’d also like to see Greg Hands getting a job, preferably in the Treasury or Business departments.
First the good news: the Conservative Party remains in control of Elmbridge Borough Council, we have increased our majority to 6 by taking a seat in St George’s Hill and the voting public have decisively rejected the tactics of the local residents’ associations, as discussed in previous posts. We can now get on with delivering first class public services at a reasonable cost once again.
Now the bad news: I didn’t get either of my wishes: no Conservative majority, and Grimsby Town were relegated to the Blue Square Premier league on Saturday. Still, there’s a reasonable chance of a Conservative / Liberal coalition government. I only hope that Cameron does not give up the Free Schools policy as the price of agreement. I’d rather have PR, if I were forced to choose, than to lose the education policy. And kind though it was of Michael Gove to offer up his potential Cabinet seat, I hope DC isn’t so daft as to take him up on his offer.
As for the footy – nothing but grim despair, I’m afraid.
It’s probably inadvisable to blog after zero hours’ sleep.
Any government which does not include the party that won both the most seats and the most votes would be wholly without legitimacy and would amount to a fraud upon the electorate. Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown would do well to think about that. Further, if Brown did the right thing and tendered his resignation, Clegg would be ill advised to vote down a minority Conservative government as he and his party would be wiped out both electorally and financially by the following election.
However for the time being, congratulations to my old pals Nicky Morgan, Michael Ellis and Mark Reckless who have made it to Parliament, to Dominic Raab for securing a 9% swing from the Liberal here in Esher & Walton and commiserations to Shaun Bailey, Hannah Foster and Paul Bristow who all put up a great fight but did not quite make it.
Off to Sandown now for the local election count. Hope they have some coffee there!
Here it is at last, after all the arguments, leaflets, promises and denials, the day when we politicians have to take a back seat an hope that our message has got through. Today it’s over the you, the voting public. It’s your country and your choice.
If you are one of the millions who have not yet made up your mind, and you live in Surrey, think about this. We live in a wealthy part of the country. Crime is relatively low, the quality of life is very high. However, in this demi-paradise, there is one major flaw. There are no grammar schools in this county. If you compare the results in our best schools, they simply cannot compete with schools in Kent and Buckinghamshire. Our children start life at a disadvantage. Only the Conservatives have a real solution to the problem.
We will allow any group of parents, or businesses, or exisiting schools, to set up a new school free of local authority control. So here in Elmbridge, where there are not enough places at schools for local children, concerned parents could set up a new school, a school free of the tired educational ideology that has been prevalent in this county from the Sixties onwards. A school that would allow the brightest children, from all backgrounds, to reach their full potential.
Today, we have a chance to make a difference. Tomorrow, we could wake up in a country with a new government, ready to deal with our county’s many challenges. 13 wasted years of spin and excuses could be over – if you go and put your cross next to the name of your Conservative candidate.
I am going to Guildford today to help Anne Milton, the hard-working local MP who was described as “squeaky-clean” over the expenses row.
Remarkably, the Conservatives held Guildford in the landslide year of 1997, Nick St Aubyn holding off the surging yellow tide by 4,791 votes. Four years later the Liberals made Guildford one of their few successes in that election, taking the seat by 538. In 2005, Anne Milton secured a majoity of 347 votes in recapturing the seat for the Conservatives.
This time around, boundary changes have made the seat even more vulnerable, and if Nick Clegg is to make any inroads into Conservative territory, it will have to happen here. Recent polls suggest that the LibDem poll surge is fading – as I suggested it would on this blog a couple of weeks ago. Clegg’s dangerous policies on defence and immigration have received the kind of exposure which would not have happened but for the debates.
I’m going to do my little bit to help ensure Mr Clegg has a very disappointing evening tomorrow.
No, not another political one. Just in case anyone out there thought that I’m thinking of nothing but politics just now, I’d like to draw their attention to the relegation battle at the foot of what used to be known as Division 4.
Just 4 weeks ago Grimsby Town looked dead and buried, but since then we have won 3 games out of 4 including a 2-0 beating of our nearest rivals, Barnet. On Saturday, if we win at Burton and Barnet do not beat Rochdale, we stay up and they go down.
Someone asked me the other day whether I’d prefer Grimsby to survive or David Cameron to win the general election. I had to think long and hard about that one….