Newsletter Edition 52

WHAT PRICE LOYALTY?

A General Election may be in the offing and the spotlight is on the leadership of our Party. The slippage in popularity over the last few weeks has been self-inflicted and wholly unnecessary. Conservatives who have criticised publicly or set themselves up as minor iconoclasts should consider their words and personal positions very carefully. We are faced with the dreadful prospect of further years of Government under a ruthless, centralising, taxing, statist Prime Minister and we could lose as badly as in previous recent elections just because one section wants “this” and another section wants “that” - and to hell with the consequences for party unity. The public believes that Labour is more united than we are and the question that I hear most around the region is “Do the Conservatives really want to win?“ - because sometimes it does not look like it.

I do want to win. I do want to get rid of Brown and all his works. If I do have some occasional disagreements with Party policy, I discuss them privately. I do not hawk my views around the media and the blogsites at the expense of my Party. I do not publicly attack the Party Leader and I do not offer assistance and encouragement to his opponents, within or without the Party.

It is a simple stark message. Either we all rally openly and enthusiastically behind David Cameron from now until Polling Day or we fail again as on the last three occasions. If that should happen, truly I fear for the future of the Conservative Party. And that is Gordon Brown’s objective. Why give it to him on a plate?

AIRPORT OPERATIONS

During the Recess, I paid another visit to Manchester Airport, exactly a year since I was last there, to inspect security procedures. The threat is still obvious and the procedures still in place, better executed at Manchester than anywhere else, but still open to question as to their effectiveness. Indeed some senior staff expressed such concerns to me and I undertook, again, to raise them with Ministers, this time Ruth Kelly. Yet again a brush off, the letter oozing self-satisfied complacency and smugness as to the rightness of present policy. I despair of sensible improvement.

I saw also behind the scenes in baggage collection and delivery and was impressed by the apparent efficiency of Manchester’s complicated computer-controlled process. Management pointed the finger of blame for any problems firmly at the airlines - well, they would, wouldn’t they? - but with some justification since the airport only controls the machinery not the check in or delivery process.

MUGABE

A minor scandal has erupted over the continuing decision of the Portuguese Presidency to invite Mugabe to an EU Conference towards the end of the year. Despite pressure from Parliament and some Member State Governments, the Portuguese are unrelenting. Brown will have to boycott the event, if Britain is to retain any credibility over Zimbabwe and its heinous dictator.

RURAL AFFAIRS

Foot & Mouth - Blue Tongue - Delayed Farm Payments - what next for our beleaguered farmers? The first was diagnosed just as the Garstang Show was happening and its second scare nearly ruined the Westmorland Show but, nevertheless, both events went on and the rural communities put on a brave face. All credit to them - but that is little consolation when such problems abound.We simply cannot afford for the countryside to be shut down. Banks must be understanding of farmers’ difficulties, the Government should consider interest-free loans to farmers with serious cash-flow problems and the EU must speed up the development of effective vaccine, especially for blue-tongue disease. In other words, more help in real terms. Without farmers, the countryside as we know it would not exist. They deserve our support.

ROSSENDALE & DARWEN

I went to help in the Rossendale Council By-Elections earlier this month, sadly, without success. But a strong fight was put up and the organisation that I saw was very good. All grist to the mill in this marginal seat at the General Election.

SCHOOLS RUGBY

I was fortunate to be able to be present at the annual Lancashire Schools Vs Ulster Schools rugby match this year, as I am usually involved in Parliamentary business midweek. I presented the trophy for this fixture when a Northern Ireland Minister and the teams go back and forth in alternate years. Sadly, the trophy stays in the Province as Lancashire have only won it once in fifteen years or so. But it is great fun and the boys enjoy it immensely. Thanks to Fylde RUFC for their kind hospitality.

THAT “TREATY”!

Will Brown stick to Labour’s commitment to hold a referendum on the EU “treaty”, which is really the failed constitution under another name? Only time will tell, and, of course, the pressure of public opinion. Contribute to that pressure by signing the Petition. Every little helps!

LIVERPOOL

I went to a splendid meeting last weekend which was to reconstitute the Conservative cause in Liverpool. Instead of spreading limited resources over five separate Constituencies, a new City of Liverpool Conservative Association has been formed with young officers and a keenness and enthusiasm that I have not seen for years in that great city. Much thanks must go Mike Haworth who acted as convening Chairman, pulling it all together, and every good wish to the new Chairman, Tony Caldeira, who, together with his team, intend to make the Tories in Liverpool a force to be reckoned with again.

LANCASHIRE CRICKET

Sadly, Lancashire CCC were pipped at the post again for the County Championship -this time by only 24 runs on the final day of the cricket season. It is 73 years since the County were outright Champions and the title is long overdue at Old Trafford. Perhaps next year…

Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins Signature
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