Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lord Carlile denounces Nick Clegg over new Data Bill

Lord (Alex) Carlile is a powerful debater - forensic and ferocious. Luckily I'm usually on the same side as him, despite us being members of different political parties. But we have both represented Montgomeryshire in the House of Commons and are both board members of 'Living and Dying Well', a reseach body which opposes legalisation of assisted suicide, so perhaps its no great surprise. Today, in the Mail on Sunday he has turned his fire on my Coalition colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

The instigation  for Lord Carlile's ire is the obstuctions being put in the way of a new Data Communications Act by the Liberal Democrat leader. Alex Carlile was for ten years independent reviewer of terrorism legislation for the Gov't. He knows a bit about the threats. Since the shocking murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, several other noted politicians have said much the same. The UK needs a new Data Communications Act. This morning, former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson told us he considered it so important that Theresa May should resign if she cannot persuade the Gov't to introduce it before the next General Election.

Lord Carlile is clearly incensed that the draft legislatiuon has become dismissed as a 'Snooper's Charter'  ("casually and incautiously labelled"). I've received hundreds of emails condemning this 'Snoopers Charter'. I could never really understand why. Alex is also clearly incensed that his own party leader, Nick Clegg vetoed a bill out of this month's Queen's Speech. He judges it to be a 'political' decision, and not one based on eveidence, or the advice of people whose advice should be taken. A few days ago (before Drummer Rigby's murder) Lord Carlile wrote to Nick Clegg warning him that his veto will come back to haunt him. Strong stuff.

At present, we do not know the full story behind the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby - or whether greater access to data communications would have been a help in preventing it happening. We do not know whether it was a 'Lone Wolf' terrorist, or part of wider group, who may have been communicating - there have been several arrests. But what we do know is that knowledge of who has been talking to whom and when and for how long they have been communicating has saved many lives, and caught many criminals in the past. Lord Carlile vehemently insists that unless our security forces have access to this information using modern means of communication, people will die, paedophiles will escape capture, planners of terrorism will be more likely to succeed.

Initially, I was sceptical about the need for a new Data Communications Act myself. My libertarian antennae were twitching. I do not approve of giving power to Gov't unless absolutely necessary. Some months back, I did discuss it over coffee with Lord Carlile as part of my consideration. I did blog on this issue soon after our meeting. In the end, and on balance, I accepted a new act was needed. Not because its played a part in the murder of Drummer Rigby (it may not have done) but because its right, sensible and proportionate. The first duty of Gov't is to protect its citizens. A new Date Communications Act is needed to do just that.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Lions team for 1st Test in Brisbane

Only a week until the British and Irish Lions kick off this summer's tour down under. Now that we know pretty much who's going we can consider the team we expect to be in line to play the first test on June 22nd. Only change we expect to be made to the Lions party is that Rory Best will now come in for a banned Dylan Hartley (unless he can persuade the disciplinary panel that he was abusing his own team-mate rather than the ref today).  Here's the team I expect to see stepping out at Brisbane.

Full Back - Leigh Halfpenny. .....Kearney is good, and could be Halfpenny will be picked on the wing but not for me. Halfpenny is a dead cert.

Wings - George North and Alex Cuthbert......Though I do think a match fit Tommy Bowe will replace Cuthbert by 3rd test in Sydney.

Centres - Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Roberts... though wouldn't argue with Jonathon Davies and Manu Tuilagi. Big question mark about whether the great Irishman's body will hold out.

Stand off - Johnny Sexton.......Just don't think Owen Farrell is up to it yet. If Sexton's injured, we will see Johnny Wilkinson in the team. Aussies will be licking their lips at the thought of nailing our ten.

Scrum Half - Mike Phillips. Hope the big man's on form.

Front Row - Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones - but will need three front rowers on the bench as replacements.

Second Row - Paul O'Connell and Alun Wyn Jones.....Stand out.

Back Row - Sam Warburton, Jamie Heaslip and Tom Croft..... lots of options here. Dan Lydiate could be back for 2nd test. Gatling likes him (rightly). Can't rule out Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau and Sean O'Brien either.

OK its 10 Welshmen. Promise I tried not to be partisan. And I think the Lions will win 3-0. Won't be easy, and Will Genia will have to be watched like a hawk, which is why I think Lydiate might make it. Only reason there are doubts is because of weakness at stand off.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hope for Onshore Wind Sanity.

Regular visitors to this blog will know that I am implacably opposed to the Mid Wales Connection Project. Despite a wish to stop 'banging on' about the same issue, I keep stumbling on interesting things to report. At least it stops me 'banging on' about Europe I suppose!!
Anyway there are two dev'ts worth reporting on. Firstly some encouraging news. In a letter to my close colleague, Chris Heaton Harris MP. the Rt Hon Eric Pickles, Sec. of State with reposibility for planning wrote;

"I note your concerns about the impact of wind turbines. The National Planning Policy Framework, published last year makes clear that the adverse impact of renewable energy developments, including cumulative landscape and visual impact should be addressed satisfactorily. Applications for wind farms should only be approved if they are, or can be made acceptable".

New planning guidelines are expected by the summer. I knew they were coming and had hoped they would be published already. What I'm expecting, and desperately hoping, for is 'guidance' that stops well argued local objection being 'trumped' by national policy - completely dismissing the local voice. We need it now. But perhaps there is hope after all.

The second item it very disturbing - shocking even. Earlier this week, I tweeted that bailiffs acting for National Grid in Montgomeryshire had delivered a notice of forced access, and when challenged for ID, had told my constituent to "Fu** Off" - upsetting his wife in the process. Now another constituent has emailed me to tell me of other similar incidents, including seriously upsetting his 86yr old female neighbour. She has now been advised to cooperate for her own welfare by my constituent. And there have been other examples of similar activity as well. I have advised him to go public tomorrow on this. His name is Digby Davies, and he lives in Llansanffraid. I believe he will. This shameful behaviour, done on behalf of National Grid, and within arrangements approved by Gov't is scarcely believable. But when it comes to forcing onshore wind onto reluctant communities its been a case of anything goes. Its important that people know what is being done on their behalf.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Assisted Suicide is wrong - my Speech

I am opposed to changing the law to legalise Assisted Suicide. Because I realise that many people do not agree with me, I am posting the speech I made last year in a debate on the subject. I don't expect everyone to support my view, but a great majority of MPs did. If the debate were to come before the House of Commons again next year (which it might) I would make the same speech again - though expanding on several points if the Speaker allowed me more time.

Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire) (Con): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for calling me to speak in this very important debate. It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Alun Michael). We do not always agree, but I agreed with every word that he said on this occasion. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Richard Ottaway) on the tone that he adopted: I thought it just right for the introduction of such an important debate.

I should declare an interest. I am a member of the board of Living and Dying Well, an organisation that commissions evidence-based research into end-of-life care. I have regular conversations with Lord Carlile, who chairs it, and with Baroness Finlay, who has already been mentioned today. I too have received several letters from members of Dignity in Dying. I write back disagreeing, but I always do so with a great deal of respect, because—like other Members who have spoken—I think that opinions on both sides of the debate are motivated by compassion, and I do not think it right to be critical of those who take a different view if compassion is what motivates them.

But I am concerned about some of the media coverage that appeared before today’s debate, which seemed to suggest that we were contemplating, and perhaps moving towards, a change in the law. That is not the case. All that we are discussing today is a reaffirmation of the current position in law, which is why I am happy to support the motion.

I am probably unusual here in having had an interest in assisted suicide for as long as it has been an offence. I was 17 in 1961, and an active member of my young farmers club. As young farmers clubs do, we discussed the issues of the day in debating competitions, and I supported the decriminalisation of suicide. A key point, however, is that that simply would not have happened without the inclusion in the Suicide Act 1961 of section 2, which introduced the offence of assisting a suicide and was seen as an absolute protection allowing the offence of suicide itself to be abolished.

My view remains exactly the same today. Over the last few days I have received many representations and briefings, as have many other Members, and over the months during which I have been a member of Living and Dying Well, we have commissioned several research papers. There so much information that it is almost impossible to engage one’s mind clearly with all of it, and because the time limit on speeches today is so tight, I shall make just one fundamental point. In 1961, I just knew that assisted suicide was wrong. I thought that it was extremely dangerous, and I still think so. If the DPP’s guidance were to become statutory we would, in effect, be legalising assisted suicide, and I believe that that would have a very negative impact on the frail elderly, the terminally ill, the incapacitated and the seriously depressed.

I have never believed that the malicious assister is the biggest problem, although that is an issue that concerns many. What has always concerned me is the likelihood that the normalisation of assisted suicide would lead to uncertainty about their own worth among the groups whom I have listed. It would cause them to ask questions about their own value. They would see themselves as becoming a burden on society. When we talk to elderly people who are nearing the end of their lives, we often find that they are concerned about not being able to leave assets to their grandchildren, and I believe that that concern would be expanded greatly if assisted suicide were legalised and normalised. My view is that it was and is wrong, and that only in very special circumstances should it not be prosecuted.

Dr Daniel Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) (Con): I think that there is a clear distinction between allowing discretion for a prosecution that says “It is wrong to assist someone in committing suicide,” and potentially widening the number of people who may be put under pressure by codifying assisted suicide in any form in law.

Glyn Davies: I firmly believe that assisting in suicide is wrong and should be a criminal offence, but, as with all criminal offences, the DPP or the prosecution service must always have the discretion to apply a degree of common sense and make judgments about what motivated the person concerned to commit that criminal offence. Since the guidelines were issued two years ago, the DPP has made a sensible judgment in every case. Where he has been satisfied that the crime was motivated by compassion, no prosecution has taken place. The system is working well. It is delivering exactly what we want in law; it supports what this Parliament has judged we should have in law. If we were to put things on a statutory basis, we would damage the current law, which is working so well, and it would result in pressure being put on some of the most vulnerable people in society, which would be plain wrong.

Finally, I want to say something about palliative care. For decades, all Governments have spent a huge amount of money on extending life and curing disease. We have not spent nearly enough time ensuring that that extended life is a life of quality.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The right to be killed.

Rather glad I'm not the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge this week. Along with Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Elias he is considering the legal arguments around the cases being brought forward by Mr Paul Lamb, a terminally ill man in constant pain, a 'locked -in-syndrome' patient known as Martin and the widow of Tony Nicklinson, another 'locked-in-syndrome' sufferer who died recently. They want the law changed to allow for people in these awful situations who want to be killed to be allowed to arrange with a doctor to carry out the euthanasia.

Along with everyone else, I can have nothing but the greatest personal sympathy for people who find themselves in such a terrible place. But I am implacably opposed to euthanasia - and to the legalisation of 'assisted suicide', which is soon to be debated in the House of Lords. To allow such legislation is unacceptably dangerous, and devaluing of the frail elderly, the mentally ill, the pysically ill and the terminally ill. I was pleased to read that the Lord Chief Justice has today said that he will decide the cases on basic principles of law and will not be swayed by "personal sympathy. He is absolutely right. To my mind the case is straight forward. But I'm still mighty glad I'm not the person that has to make this judgement.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Voting In or Voting Out.

Been talking 'EU matters' with two of Wales sharpest journalistic brains today. Firstly, Vaughan Roderick on Sunday Supplement and secondly, David Williamson of the Western Mail. It was mostly the same issue dominating my QandA session with North Shropshire Tories yesterday. Suppose I'd already put my cards on the table. In Sat. edition of Western Mail, I was reported as saying the Prime Minister has got his EU policy "spot on". Really am scratching my head to 'get' what the current furore is all about. Looks a bit like trying to find a way to create a row. Can only conclude there's a few other agendas running alongside the EU issue. I tend to respond to logic and facts, so lets look at a few - in no particular order;

a) - there's probably a majority of UK voters dissatisfied with the way the EU currently functions.
b) - there's probably a majority of UK voters who want a referendum on whether we should remain in the EU.
c) - such major changes may be needed to the EU constitution before May 2015 that a new EU treaty will be required, with a referendum needed to ratify it. This is now part of the UK constitutional arrangements
d) - the UK Gov't is a Coalition where one partner, the Lib Dems will not sign up to a genuine comprehensive renegotiation or an In/Out referendum before 2015.
e) - a genuine radical renegotiation cannot take place until May 2015 - and only then if the Conservatives win enough seats to govern without Lib Dems (unless an EU treaty referendum is called).
f) - any vote this coming week, or before May 2015 to legislate for a referendum is likely to be lost - though this is not totally certain because could be some Labour MPs ignoring party line.
g) - earlier this year, the Prime Minister announced that the next Conservative manifesto would commit to renegotiation before putting the result before the British people in a referendum in 2017.
h) - last Wed, Her Majesty delivered the 'Gracious Speech', written for her by her Gov't. Throughout history, Conservatives have always supported their own Queen's Speeches.
i) - Some Conservative MPs have tabled an amendment to the 'Gracious Speech' expressing regret that it did not have an EU Referendum Bill. Media reports suggest that the Chief Whip will allow a 'free vote' for all backbenchers (including PPSs) while Gov't Ministers will be allowed to (expected to) abstain.
j) - polling evidence informs us that the EU is not an issue that has a high significance on the general public's agenda. Even amongst those who voted for UKIP earlier this month do not have it in top three 'issues that matter'.

Make of all this what you will. But what is this Eurosceptic Tory MP to do. I have what I want - a commitment to a genuine renegotiation and a referendum on whether the UK remains part of the EU. I consider David Cameron's commitment to this as hugely significant - and something that has never happened before - or at least since Harold Wilson did something similar in 1974. Its what the UKIP party have long asked for - which is why UKIP welcomed the Prime Minister's statement at the time. I also feel an instinctive desire to support a Queen's Speech delivered only last week. It seems bizarre and rather un-Conservative to treat the 'Gracious Speech' with such casual dismissal - for what is no more than an indicative vote.

Big question of the day seems to be how politicians would vote if there was a referendum today. Totally hypothetical. There is not going to be a vote today. Rather less hypothetical (though not much) is how politicians would vote in 2017 if there were no changes in the relationship. It seems that senior Conservatives are queuing up to say they would vote for withdrawal. I, too would probably vote to leave the EU in such circumstances. But there will be some change - though maybe not enough. Anyway, after about 10 seconds thought, I decided that I will be voting against any amendment to the Queeen's Speech on Tues/Wed - assuming the Speaker allows it.

UPDATE - so much for my position. Tonight the Conservative Party has announced that a draft bill is to be published pronto, and all ways are to looked at for bringing it forwards in this Parliament. This changes the game somewhat - but only from a tactical standpoint in my opinion. The core policy remains that after 2015, a Conservative Gov't will seek a renegotiation, followed by an In/Out referendum in 2017. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Electoral Rules for National Assembly for Wales

Wednesday's 'Gracious Address' informed us that the Coalition Gov't has plans to change the electoral arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales. My understanding (and its no more than that) is that we are considering three changes. At this early stage, I am very much in favour of one, am very much against a second, and am marginally against a third. Let's run through them.

Firstly the possible change that I strongly support - reversal of the ban on 'dual candidacy'. Political parties should be free to choose whoever they want as candidates. Parties should be free to choose the same individual to contest a constituency seat, and be placed in a favourable position on the party's list for an 'additional member' place. The ban was brought in by a Labour Gov't as a blatantly partisan measure. Labour thought it would discomfort the Conservatives. It was shameful 'gerrymandering' - which rather backfired. I suspect there will be support for this change across all parties.

Secondly the possible change I don't support - a ban on individuals serving as an MP and an AM at the same time. Now, this is not to say I approve of such an arrangement. I don't. And I would discourage parties from so arranging. But I just do not think it right that we should be passing laws that unnecessarily restrict the freedom of political parties. If a political party wants to introduce such a rule - that's fine. But if a political party wants to put forward an AM to contest a Westminster seat, or put forward an MP to contest an Assembly seat, we should not be legislating to stop it. In general, I believe the governance of Wales would benefit from representatives moving between institutions and we should not be legislating to make it more difficult.

And thirdly, the change I'm marginally against, but not too fussed - legislating for a 5-year fixed term Assembly. In principle I do not believe we should electing 'parliaments' which cannot be dissolved if circumstances dictate. Westminster (in its wisdom) has legislated for a fixed term Parliament, but there is a mechanism for dissolution - albeit rather complex. And anyway 5 years is a very long time between elections. The 4 year Assembly term seems about right. I suspect international practice points to 4 year rather than 5 year parliaments. And why should there not be an Assembly Election and a General Election on the same date. Its to avoid this situation that such legislation is being considered. So happens, having both elections on the same day would probably help the Conservatives - not that this should influence my thinking. But it does give us an added benefit on top of saving a bit of money.

Now its very early days on all this. There could well be some changes before definite proposals are made. And this post is only me thinking aloud. Considered reflection (assisted by the Chief Whip's armlock!) might have some influence on my opinion. Only joking of course. I'll probably say all this in the next Welsh Grand Committee. Interesting to find out what my colleagues think.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Referendum on EU withdrawal

The dominant and immediate challenge facing the Coalition Gov't is putting the UK's public finances back in order. It is why the Coalition exists. But the most important issue (and most contentious) facing the House of Commons is the UK's relationship with the EU. Because it is such a 'toxic' issue, party leaders would prefer not to face up to it. Understandable. And I think its true that the public are not that exercised about it. It may still be that the next election is decided on "The Economy Stupid", but I do think the Europe issue will be up there as well.

Lets consider where we are now - or at least where I am. Always been a eurosceptic. Voted for 'Out' in 1975. But I've not been prepared to back a referendum on withdrawal until I believed we had a Prime Minister who would immediately open withdrawal negotiations if the people so voted. That's why I did not join the 'rebellion of 81' last year. Must admit I thought it was a pointless stunt. But things move on and its become clear that the public will have its say. Which is why I've been happy to support what I see as the game-changing commitment by David Cameron to hold a referendum on EU withdrawal in 2017. This was a mighty decision, which sensible Eurosceptics should support. I just cannot understand my colleagues who want a 'mandate' vote of some sort before the next election. What will that prove? What we need is to settle on a definite date, and then talk up the definite commitment.

The purpose of delay until 2017 (just 4 yrs) is that a 'renegotiation' of our relationship should take place. That 'renegotiation' cannot take place unless there is a majority in the House of Commons to act on it. At present there isn't. I hear grumbles about the Prime Minister's strategy from colleagues who lauded it when it was announced - but now want more. Many say the 'renegotiation' will not deliver anything significant - so what's the point. If it doesn't deliver something meaningful, I think the British people may well vote to withdraw. If significant change is agreed, we may vote to remain a member of the EU. Its going to be one hell of a debate after 2015, which will start before the election. In fact its started already.

Even though I voted for 'Out' in 1975, once we were fully signed up, I wanted it to work in the interests of all of our countries. But the integrationists were not content to simply let it work. They wanted to create a 'country called Europe'. And then along came the Euro, which many of us thought to end in disaster. At the time of the Euro's creation, I spoke on panels espousing my view that the Euro would destroy the EU, and may lead to bloodshed in some member countries. I was called an 'extremist'. Doesn't seem so extreme now. That's the trouble with politics. It doesn't stand still. There will alway be a drive to integration which will have to be resisted.

MPs will soon start declaring their hand - though in most cases its unlikely to be definitive until the 'renegotiations' are complete. That's certainly how I feel. What is the price of withdrawal going to be. Will Britain's trading status be undermined? Will Britain have to leave the 'big players ring'? Being the Eurosceptic that I am, my inclination is bound to be to vote for withdrawal from the EU - but I'm pragmatic as well. Four years will pass like the blink of an eye. Time to start thinking about it. And I have not mentioned UKIP at all.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Don't Panic, Don't Panic. Over Ukip.

I suppose I might lose my seat in the House of Commons at the next general election if Ukip make even a reasonable surge in Montgomeryshire. Only got a 1200 majority. So I suppose I should be jumping up and down looking for an antidote to the Ukip surge. But strangely I feel very calm about things. The way for my party to counteract Ukip's popularity is to do what we should be doing anyway - listening to them. I'm just thinking of some of the difficult issues for me that Ukip have latched onto.

The first is onshore wind - a massive and divisive issue in mid Wales. While I was not hugely opposed to wind farms before the Welsh Gov't published new planning guidance (Tan8) in 2005, I have been implacably opposed to the Mid Wales Connection Project ever since. The scale of it is breath-takingly horrific. This project has raised public interest in energy policy in Montgomeryshire. Many more people (in my experience) have become pro-nuclear, less anti-fossil fuels (esp shale gas) and more sceptical towards renewable energy in general. This is bang in line with Ukip policy - while I remain in favour of renewables where they are economically sensible and will make a worthwhile difference. So despite my support for protesters against the Mid Wales Connection Project, I could well be 'outflanked' by Ukip. And so could several other Conservative MPs. Desperately hope we can defeat this terrible proposal.

Another issue is 'gay marriage'. Now I didn't want to be drawn into a debate on this issue, and was upset when it was brought before Parliament. I am not in favour of redefining the meaning of marriage, but knew I would be accused of a homophobic attitude simply by voting according to my conscience. I hated the position I was put in - but had the consolation of sensing it was how the majority of my constituents felt. I don't want to make a big song and dance about it. But Ukip will again be quite happy to 'outflank' me with strong rhetoric. Could cost me some votes.

There's a few other issues as well. And then there's Europe. I've always been by nature Eurosceptic. I voted for 'Out' in 1975. I support our policy of renegotiating the terms of our membership of the EU and holding a referendum in 2017 to seek the support of the British people. And if the people vote 'No' I would want the UK to begin the process of withdrawal.  But now we find many wanting a referendum sooner than 2017 - as a response to Thursday's election results. I'm deeply uncomfortable with this - for two reasons. Firstly, I think our policy is correct, and secondly, I don't think Ukip should be writing our policies.  Ukip just want to withdraw, without regard to consequences. I'm expecting this to become a bit of an issue over the next few months.

But perhaps the reason I do not think my party should panic about Ukip's success is that the voters are not daft. When it comes to voting for a Gov't they will look beyond the rhetoric. At the 2015 election, it will be the Coalition parties which can point to a record of taking difficult decisions to restore our public finances, tackling welfare and bringing immigration levels down. And voters will understand that only the Conservative Party will be offering energy policies that protect them from high bills and export of jobs overseas. I try to listen to what the people I want to represent tell me. Its all my party has to do - ensure that the people of Britain believe we are listening to them. That shouldn't be too difficult - and its easier if there's no sense of panic.

Friday, May 03, 2013

My take on yesterday's elections

Now that was a really interesting election day. Not your usual nudge one way or another, or the media trying desperately to build something entirely predictable into a news story. It was a genuine story. And top line by some distance was the dramatic surge in support for Ukip. The South Shields result had been seen before. But to win around 25% of the vote in local elections across England was some result. This blog is never knowingly churlish so first up must be congratulations to Nigel Farage on the success of his party. Certainly there's probably an element of 'plague on all your houses' in this 25%, but that was some plague. And it may be that this will (to some extent at least) become a continuing feature of British politics. I hear the sound of rethinking across the British political firmament.  Luckily, I've always adopted a policy of being friendly and generous to Ukip. In Montgomeryshire, Ukip stalwart, the late David Rowlands was a very good friend.

It was not a good night for the three mainstream parties - though the Conservatives certainly did no worse than expected. The seats being contested yesterday were last fought in 2009, when Gordon Brown and Labour were deeply unpopular. And its also usual that governing parties taking through unpopular policies (no matter how necessary) take a mid-term hit in popularity.  But we still lost well over 300 council seats and came a poor third in the South Shields By-Election. No good pretending it was a great result.

Nor was it a good night for Labour. Despite its desperate performance in the 2009 election it made only modest gains - certainly less than commentators expected. Historical precedent tells us that yesterday's performance was not remotely good enough to anticipate victory in 2015. I suspect there will be more head scratching in Labour HQ tonight than in Tory HQ.

So too the Lib Dems. It lost over 12% of its vote compared to 2009, which was not good at all. And its performance in the South Shields By-Election was stunningly awful. Lib Dems are like ink stains where they are settled into constituencies. They take some shifting. But it was a very inconsistent result. On balance, I think this was the poorest performance of the day.

There is going to have to be some serious thinking about why there was such support for Ukip - and how to win our voters back. I was interested to hear Nigel Farage cite onshore wind farms as his first comment on Radio 4 after the 5.00 News. That would count big-time in mid Wales. I am a countryman, and no-one would ever describe me as part of any metropolitan elite - and I can see that Nigel Farage is aiming his appeal in my direction. As a general comment, I think my party should try to be attractive to me and my kind - a natural Conservative constituency.  

National Grid sending in the 'heavies'

Received an email today from a very upset constituent, who owns land under or over which National Grid wishes to construct its 400 kV power line between mid Wales and North Shropshire. This is the scar on our countryside which will be 50 kilometres long and facilitate the building of 500/600 extra wind turbines in mid Wales. It gives an insight into just what an out-of-control 'beast' National Grid has become. Sure they have nice friendly people putting on a sweet-faced front at public meetings. But the reality is oh so different.  When NG doesn't get its own way, things turn ugly.

Recently solicitors representing a company called Bruton Knowles just appeared in my constituents yard with a handful of legal 'notices'. His employees wondered what he had done. They thought "the bailiffs were looking for repossessions". These solicitors handed over 6 copies of 14 day notices for 'Taking Access' of his land. They also stapled another 7 notices to gateposts on the roadsides of his fields.  All of these 'Taking Access' notices displayed full names and addresses for everyone to see. Main reason my constituent was upset was it gave impression to passing public that some crime had been committed. The wording made it look as if the property was being repossessed.

This Stalinist style behaviour shows a total disregard for personal privacy. Since then Bruton Knowles have confirmed that they are 'coming in' later this week. Over the last two weeks my constituent tells me he has received 26 letters from Bruton Knowles. What sort of animals are we dealing with here.

This is the world that is being created by National Grid (these nice-on-the-surface people). This is happening in the gentle countryside of Montgomeryshire. Its scarsely believable. Bruton Knowles may be the heavy boots that trample over our rights, (and I know people who will never deal with this company again - including me)  but they are being directed by National Grid. I feel hatred rising up in my soul.