I spotted on ConHome that James Cleverly has been elected leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly.

Well done to James who regularly blogs here.

I met James last year in the General Election, when he pitched up on a saturday morning to help get Rob Halfon elected in Harlow. Despite arriving as both phones were ringing, the printing machine and folding machine clattering away he was not phased and was happy to be loaded down with leaflets and a map and hit the streets quickly – for that alone he had my thanks and respect, but having read his blog and followed him on twitter since he seems a

Burns night is, I believe, the 25th of January, but I was observing it early last night with Saffron Walden Conservatives, at the Saffron Walden Golf Club.

Saffron Walden Conservatives helped out in Harlow a lot during the General Election, working to get Rob Halfon elected as Harlow’s MP. It was nice to visit them in return, help with their fundraising efforts and see many of the people who came to help out.

The evening was a wonderful one, with a superb Bagpiper and an interesting speech on the meaning of Auld Lang Syne. The food, starting with Haggis Neeps and Tatties was also very tasty.

I admire how much the Scots, where ever they are in the world keep toasting their national poet and keep their Scottishness alive; it made me wonder why we don’t do the same in England… We have arguably the most famous national bard in Shakespeare so perhaps it is time that we started having Shakespeare Nights….

News reaches me this morning that Cllr Manny Doku has joined the Labour party.

Six months ago, Manny was campaigning in the General Election to cut the deficit, now he has joined the party that caused the deficit both nationally and here in Harlow! You couldn’t make it up!

Manny of course, is the Councillor that has upset me more than any other in my life in politics, when in April 2009 I outed his little scheme to fleece the taxpayer of cash for taxi fares (or as he called is – his Perks) to avoid paying for parking at the town centre, he outrageously suggested that my motives were racially motivated!

In his emails at the time he showed scant regard for Harlow Taxpayers.

With attitudes like that, I almost feel sorry for Harlow Labour Party……. almost

One of the things I discussed last night, over a glass at the Churchillian Dinner, with Harlow’s MP is would there ever be a British Tea Party.

I like the Tea Party – anything that gets more people engaged with the political process is worth a look, but it really appeals to my natural conservative instincts. As a conservative (note the small c)  I support small and smaller government, low taxation and freedom of individuals to choose for themselves rather than the State choosing for them. I also like the libertarian streak that the Tea Party is bringing back to the Republican Party.

But can I ever see the Tea party or it’s equivilent here in Britain?

Dan Hannan tried to launch a Tea party earlier this year, and despite being well attended there was hardly the mass movement feel that the Americans have seen in their loosely collective movement.

I wonder if the key reason the British are not flocking to a TEA (taxed enough already) banner, is that key to the formation of the American Tea party was the feeling that Washington was not listening to the public with those who have been inside the beltway for years staying the same, whereas in Britain the recent General Election saw many of the long standing London insiders leaving Westminster and a whole swathe of new MPs in Parliament. Also the fact that a Coalition Government is in power in Britain representing the views of the Majority of the voters overall means that Westminster is now listening to more of the population than the previous Government did.

So I don’t think that a British Tea party will happen. However England is another issue….

For too long the English, despite being a majority in these islands have been at the mercy of the other countries. Highlighted more particularly recently when Scotland has kept free prescriptions and university education whilst those of us in England see more charges imposed. That kind of inequality will make people upset, and has certainly done so where I work. Will those people coalesce into a movement? Or like the spring of 1848 will the bad weather just make us all stay at home an watch the royal wedding on TV?

Sadly I think the latter, but if our politicians are not wary of the mood of the country and the English dissapointment at their unequal treatment sparks protests we could have trouble. Anyone for an English Parliament?

Cllr Sue Livings the Chairman of Harlow Council held her Civic Service today.

It’s an annual event and an important one in the civic life of the town. We have Mayors and Chairmen from accross Essex come to the town to see and hear about the very best of HArlow.

This year the children of Downs School Choir were particularly good.

I was given the honour of being asked to give the first address.

Here is what I said:

  • It’s quite fashionable these days to be thankful. Actors, on winning an Oscar or a BAFTA thank their managers, their fans, their families and their loved ones. An MP winning a seat at a General Election thanks his agents and campaign team, the police, the people who counted and supervised the vote and, most importantly for us politicians who must never forget them, the new MP thanks the people who voted for him to get him in power in the first place. If someone buys you a present, you thank them (or at least, you should thank them, even if it’s your Aunt who’s bought you yet *another* horrendous jumper for Christmas).

    Here in Harlow who should we be thankful to? There are the obvious people – the men and women who look after Harlow and its people day after day. The street cleaners and refuse workers who work long into the night after we’ve gone to sleep to make the town tidy for us when we go to work. The bus drivers who get us to and fro where we’re going every day. The civil servants in the civic centre and elsewhere who make Harlow run on a day to day basis. The Armed Forces who put their lives on the line to protect our. Health professionals who keep us well or look after us when we’re not. Fire and Rescue people who help us in emergencies (and I think the residents of Berecroft are particularly thankful for their help these past twelve months) or the Police who try to keep the streets safe. Perhaps you’re thankful to your neighbours and friends, the ordinary men and women of Harlow who so often go out of their way to help an elderly person who needs their shopping doing or just provide companionship to those in need.

    Or maybe when we think of Harlow we should think of those like the architect Sir Frederick Gibberd who did so much work in the late 40s and early 50s helping to plan and design the wonderful town that we live in today. Over half a century later we are still the beneficiaries of his design to have a town where everybody could get to a park within walking distance of their front door, and where today we have one of the most extensive cycle networks in the country.

    Yes perhaps it is right to thank those who made the town in which we live. But if that’s so, then there’s someone far more important today to thank for Harlow. As I prepared this speech I was reminded of a joke I was told a while back which I think makes my point for me.

    Some scientists went to God and said, “God, we’re so capable now we don’t think we need you anymore. We think we can do all the things you can do. We can make humans in test tubes. We can recreate the Big Bang in a laboratory. We can see to the end of the Universe. We just don’t need you anymore”.
    “Alright then”, said God. “I tell you what. Let’s have a creation contest. If you can make a man like I did, out of the dust of the Earth, then I’ll agree that you no longer need me and I’ll go away and leave you to it”. The scientists had a quick discussion, worked out a way to make a human from some dust and quickly agreed to the contest.
    The next day God and the scientists met and in full view of the gathered TV cameras and newspaper reporters the contest began. The referee counted down, “Three, two, one” and blew his whistle.
    At that sound, the chief scientist crouched down to the ground and was about to scoop some of the dust off the floor into a test tube when God coughed loudly. The chief scientist looked up and God said, “Hang on a minute. You get your own dust”.

  • This afternoon, while I’m thankful to the men and women and children of Harlow who make this such a great town to work and live in, and while I’m thankful to those who lived in the years after the Second World War and planned and built this amazing place, I also want to give thanks to someone else. While we humans build with bricks and mortar, God builds with atoms and souls.

    Before the beginning of time God knew that we would be gathered here today and as the leader of Harlow Council I want to acknowledge and give thanks today for his love and care for us. While sometimes I don’t understand some of the things that go on in God’s world and why he lets evil things happen, I know that I’m thankful that he loves us and that he loves all the people. I’m thankful that through Jesus all things were created, all things in heaven and on earth, things invisible and invisible, all things powerful and things weak; our homes, our families, our friends – everything was created by him and for him. And I’m not ashamed to say that I’m thankful that through Jesus’ death and resurrection I can know him and that I can be with him forever.
    Thank you God for all that you have done, are doing and have still yet to do in Harlow and in the lives of the people of Harlow. Amen.