Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blair's nuclear dream

My picture above shows Hinkley Point B nuclear reactor, an aging power station near Bridgewater, Somerset that I used to call on when I worked for Coca-Cola (they had a huge staff restaurant in case your wondering why I called there!), picture courtesy of British Energy.

Well Blair never ceases to amaze me. He ordered his second review into nuclear power since he entered government but all the newsmedia organization are trailing a speech he is due to give tonight to the CBI where he endorses nuclear power thus pre-pre-empting the review. Meanwhile this makes people like Labour MP look absolutely ridiculous as he has been campaigning hard against the construction of new generation of power stations; below is a copy of a press release I sent The Echo, Southampton's local newspaper.

New Release from Southampton Test Conservative Association

Release; Immediate Tues 16 May, 18:15

Southampton MP Whitehead snubbed as Blair says ‘Nuclear is back on agenda’

Alan Whitehead MP views appeared to have been ignored as his long-standing campaign to stop the building of a new generation of nuclear power stations was de-railed by the Prime Minister.

In a speech due to be given tonight to the CBI, the text of which has been released by Downing Street, Blair will say that the issue is, “Back on the addenda with a vengeance’ seemingly pre-empting his second review of the nuclear industry.

In an apparent snub to long-standing Labour MPs opposed to nuclear power like Mr. Whitehead, a Downing Street spokesman is reported by the BBC to have said that there would be ‘despairing shrieks of outrage’ in response to Mr. Blair’s speech tonight.

A spokesman for Southampton Test Conservatives, Matthew Dean said, ‘It is outrageous that Mr. Blair is preempting the results of his review of nuclear power and shows how little regard he has for backbench MPs in his own party. As a Conservative, I can say what some Labour MPs can only think - Mr Blair should go and go now while in Southampton Mr. Whitehead should write to the PM and complain how he has been treated.

Notes to Editors
(1) Detail on the background to this story can be found at
(2) Alan Whitehead MP is a long-standing opponent of nuclear power and was a driving force behind the creation of a ‘nuclear free zone’ in Southampton when he was a Councillor in the city. A recent statement of his views can be found at www.alan-whitehead.org.uk/articles_2005/renewable.htm
(3) Matthew Dean is an Officer of Southampton Test Conservative Association and is available to discuss this release on

Published by Matthew Dean on behalf of Southampton Test Conservative Association.

The Civil Service Sports Ground

I see that one of the Community Groups dedicated to stopping the building of inappropriate housing developments on the former Civil Service Sports ground in Freemantle now has an on-line petition at
I actually know the site quite well- one of my staff worked at the Club that was situated at the site for some years before it closed.
The BBC also hosts some pages on the site at
and you can read what Alan Whitehead MP has to say at
http://www.alan-whitehead.org.uk/pr/pr2444.html with a few other bits and pieces about the ground dotted around his main site.


Well no more posts for the next 9 days as I (and about 30 of my customers from the pub) are off for 8 days holiday in Rhodes. For those of you that read this and use the Park Hotel, please don't worry it will be open as normal!!! The pub is in safe hands as it is being run by my friend Steve who also will be living there!

Terry Paine MBE

Terry Paine MBE
Following a couple of year's research, I see that award winning sports journalist Jeremy Wilson's new book, "Southampton's Cult hero's" is to be published in the autumn by Know the Score Books tracing the lives of SFC greatest players.
For me, the 67 year old Winchester born Terry Paine is Southampton's ultimate cult hero. He made over 713 football league appearances for Southampton (still a club record), scoring over 160 goals. Paine made an immense contribution helped them climb from Division Three in 1959 into the top-flight of English football by 1966 and then Europe for the first-time in the club's under the management of Ted Bates. He had 19 England caps.When he retired from playing professional football in 1977 he was awarded an MBE.
A one-time Conservative Councillor for Bargate in Southampton, he now presents Africa's biggest football show on M-Net Sports and is apparently a household name out there. According to a friend of mine who once lived in South Africa, the appetite for English football is insatiable which is surprising as I would have expected maybe cricket and rugby union to have more appeal.
Although Paine is based in South Africa, the network beams English top-flight football throughout the continent with his show being shown in a unbelievable 42 countries. He was also heavily involved in the team that successfully lobbied for the football world cup in 2010.
Truly an inspirational figure not least for his achievements off the pitch as much as on it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Caroline Dineage

Caroline Dineage pictured centre with Penny Mordaunt, PPC for Portsmouth North at the last general election and Nick Soames MP, state of the art destroyer in background)

I see from Conservativehome.com that they believe that Caroline Dineage, candidate for Portsmouth South at the last election, has made it to the Conservative Party's 'A-list'. I haven't spoken to Caroline but thats quite an achievement when one considers the quality of the applicants and who didn't get on.
I know that Penny Mordaunt wants to stand again in Portsmouth North and given the closeness of the results last time, I imagine that Caroline will want to stand again in Portsmouth South. It is interesting to see how many of the 'A-list' have stood before and heartening that in many areas, we have learnt that old Lib-Dem trick, latterly copied by Labour, of having candidates stand again for the same seat if they don't win first time. It remains to be seen however if the local Association choose to select her...
(To see their unofficial 'A-list, go to http://conservativehome.blogs.com/goldlist/2006/05/as_promised_thi.html ).
Caroline is of course the daughter of Newscaster and iconic presenter of children's show 'How' Fred Dineage. I was too young to remember the original version but recall it being revived in the 1990s; the first few episodes were co-presented by Carol Volderman. She was replaced by Gail Porter, who was herself sacked (I think) after posing nude for numerous magazines. There was a huge outcry when a naked image of her was beamed onto the side of The Houses of Parliament with the slogan 'Vote Porter' (don't tell dame Shirley...)
I thought the best quote came from the the then Speaker, Betty Boothroyd who said,"As to the poll, my vote would go to the woman who stopped the projection!". Ms Porter went on to present Top of the Pops.
Aparently Gail told The Sun that following her marriage to Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave, she would be leaving her clothes on. For details of the PR stunt, go to;

Southampton Council at its very worst

Sometimes I despair at the way our city is run and often its not down to political control but rather the actions (or even inaction) of Council Officers. (Worryingly if I was an elected City Councillor, by my reading of the Local Government Code of Conduct, I would not be allowed to say that!)
The biggest mistakes often come along when a number of different Council Departments are involved, all running to their own priorities and adgendas; yet residents and local businesses seem to be forgotten. One of the best examples of this maybe found in what is often called the French Quarter in the Bargate area of Southampton.
One of the oldest areas of the city, the area has been a settlement since medieval times. The 'French Quarter' as it became known was heavily bombed during the war and rebuilt piecemeal from the 1950's upto the late 1970s. Located in an area at the bottom of the High Street the area is extreme mixed in terms of housing with some Victorian and even Georgian Terraces, social housing comprising of maisonates and some fairly up market 1960s tower blocks and some nice 1980's to current modern blocks of flats. The population is similarly diverse with over seven languages being spoken at St John's,
(school website http://www.st-johns.southampton.sch.uk/school/)
the local infant school. Resident's incomes range from what could only be described as almost subsistence to pretty comfortable. The school incidentally is outstanding; a good example of what can be achieved with an excellent Headteacher, a strong governing body and some able teachers (for details of the schools last ofsted report go to http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports/116/116103.pdf)
However times are changing; a huge triangular plot of land that used to include a Habitat store fronting the main high street, a set of offices for one-time defense giant Marconi and a huge fruit and veg wholesaler have been cleared to make way for a huge development of flats by Linden Homes, the site occupying about 0.5ha. The footing have started to be dug. And the problems have started to begin... To see some photos of the excavations of the site go to;
It is clear that parking for the new development will be woefully inadequate. The main road through the site has been partially to allow access for the contractors.
Inexplicably a number of on-road parking bays have already been removed by the council. And now Linden Homes have approached the Council to remove further spaces in French Street itself. This is a real issue not least as the infant school and nursery requires children to be dropped off by a responsible adult and many have to drive in order to get there. The nearest off-road parking available in any quantity will actually be by the old pier/red funnel ferry terminal; the other side of a busy dual carriageway! This site itself is also planned for development over the next 18 months. To make a bad situation worse, the council have also extended parking meters to the whole area, of the new solar powered variety and have raised the charges to 70p for 30 minutes.
Without properly consulting local businesses and local residents, the Council have also been working up a scheme to change the road layout in the area, apparently according to one Official I spoke to to replicate the original pre-1800 road plan as closely as possible!
When one business complained about the removal of parking bays in the vicinity of his shop, he was told that he didn't have any right to be consulted! Other traders have complained about the proposed road layout and indeed the current road closures but sadly as yet to no avail.
Meanwhile in French Street itself the retaining wall and the road are both in quite a dangerous state of repair and have been reported but no work has been done.
All in all a classic case of drift and incompetence.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Winchester Lib-Dems

One of the most closely fought parliamentary seats in Hants is neighbouring Winchester. Although they don't fight as dirty as in Eastleigh, the Lib-Dems in Winchester don't pull their punches. However with Mark Oaten's antics and the advent of David Cameron, maybe the Conservatives have turned the corner. Certainly our candidate last time, George Hollingbury was a great guy- I am sure he will make it to the Commons eventually. Here is a leaked letter from the ex-Lib-Dem leader of the council- she can't stand me after I said she didn't share any of the defector Emma Nicolson's views as they shared the same platform about 10 years ago!!!
"Dear colleague
With regret, following the May 4th elections I can take no further part in the affairs of SEERA or SEEDA. Such are the decisions made by the electorate and based on nothing of significance to the City Council but rather on the behaviour of our MP! So in resigning can I wish you all an interesting select committee and better fortune than I have enjoyed here in Winchester?
Sheila Campbell, Leader of Winchester City Council"

Bit of a moaner isn't she?

Labour activist brands Freemantle a dreadful place!

'the names Bond...James Bond'

Well well well...
The Labour supporting ' Bloggers4Labour' site have branded Freemantle a dreadful place; here is their full post on my friend Jeremy Moulton;

Hello, Cllr Moulton
Shocked - and woken from my 6-day-a-week blogging slumber - to discover that a former schoolchum of mine (well, it has been about 14 years) is a Councillor in my old stamping ground of Southampton, where Labour currently stand as the smallest of the three main parties in a City we ran from (if I recall) 1988-2000.I won't tell you yet which party he represents - you have to guess:You guessed it. Yes, Cllr Jeremy Moulton is one of three Conservative members for Freemantle ward. He even has a blog. What's more, he's up for re-election in two days.I thought I might have a tough time persuading people to vote Labour on Thursday, but I never imagined how easy it would be!I will post again before the big day.
posted by Bloggers4Labour @ 4:29:00 PM

He adds
"One to watch? Well, I haven't said anything unpleasant and won't now, but if Freemantle's the bit of town I think it is, he's probably fairly secure there. Dreadful place."

Needless to say, he didn't post again before the big day and Jeremy won in what used to be a safe Labour ward...
The full web address is


for those who are interested!!!

Robert's guts and Denham's helmet...

Well the people I know all got onto the 'a-list' (for an unofficial list see www.conservativehome.com) - I better not say who they are as I don't want to cause any trouble for them and the Party are not publishing the names, at least initially. The exception in terms of not getting on being Iain Dale. Iain was on Newsnight last night talking about it although I didn't see it- no doubt his contribution is on-line somewhere. I hope Iain realizes his dream to become an MP- I think he would be rather good but the heavy defeat he suffered in his last seat must be heavily be weighing against his chances of being selected next time

I had to laugh at a couple of pieces that I have seen in The Daily Mail's 'Ephraim Hardcastle' Column today. The first concerns Andrew Roberts, the right-wing journalist and historian and all round great guy. To quote The Mail, "TO the undoubted consternation of London hostesses, soiree-mad historian Andrew Roberts has returned from a Nile cruise with a virulent form of 'gippy tummy'. Roberts has not taken a drink for three weeks, which friends say is a record. 'The doctors claim I am a parasite- I mean that I have a parasite,' he tells me. Fortunately, the 43-year-old is being attended to by his luscious girlfriend Susan Gilchrist, a senior partner in PR firm Brunswick, who is happy to take on malodorous nursing duties."
Andrew is a great guy and an absolute brick. I remember when he came down to speak at a supposedly joint dinner between Itchen and Test Conservative Associations. The evening went off really well and Andrew was great, speaking about the Leadership Secrets of Hitler and Churchill after a recent BBC2 TV series on the same topic. Afterward we retired to the pub and Andrew and I sunk about 8 pints each of real ale. Unfortunately those that were left were so made at being left to do the washing-up that is was a trigger to have me deselected in that year's local elections ha ha !
John Denham had a piece in there today too. I must say I was surprised, "Labour grandee (????-Ed.) John Denham MP allowed Newsnight into his Commons office on Tuesday for an interview. Visible behind Denham, on his desk, was a policeman's helmet. A trophy of the former minister's days as a Left-Wing radical? Nicking rozzers' helmets used to be a mark of every good socialist." Well I'm not sure about that but his own personal media profile has never been higher. No doubt a last ditch attempt to gain ministerial power under GB before old age and maybe even a change of government put paid to his prospects...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Interesting Times

Well there is certainly plenty going on at the moment politically in Southampton. In no particular order;
Firstly, the Conservative Party have today contacted the first 100 applicants that have been successful in applying for the so called 'A-list' and also told the rest of the candidates who have gone through the selection process 'not yet' or apparently even 'not ever'. A number of my friends and acquaintances have applied- it will be interesting to see how they get on but I do hope we embrace people from all political wings of the party and recognize individuals local contributions too- the Party is certainly guilty of not having done so in the past but I think I type this more in hope than expectation...

Secondly, the fall out from the local elections continues. The new composition of Southampton City Council is 16-16-16 between the three parties. If convention is followed the outgoing sheriff John Slade will become Mayor and he may yet have a role to play if one of the parties abstain as he has the casting vote. One thing is for sure and I have spoken to Councillors from every political party- no one party is united internally with probably Labour being the most split in coming to terms with the reality that they would have to work out some accommodation with one of the other two parties if they wish to govern or be part of a governing coalition. However it would be fair to say there is a range of views in all three groups...Decision day Wed before full council...Talking of Slade, I was surprised to see one of his daughters, Mel, is reported as going out with young England super-hopeful Theo Walcot. She is pictured in The Times today going into Slade's house. My own memory when I stood in the ward where he lives is what a mess his garden was- I wonder with the paparazzi descending if he will find time to cut the grass?
Thirdly, John Denham has been making some fairly outspoken comments over the last 24 hours. On last night's Newsnight programme he claimed Blair was losing his touch and called on Blair and Brown to sort out the handover of power. Further he said ne would have liked to have seen an early change in leadership and that there had been real problems with the leadership over the last year or so.
Much less reported were his attacks on Ruth Kelly the new Communities and Local Government Minister who also looks after equality issues. She is under pressure as she is a member of the Opus Dei sect that apparently considers homosexuality a sin. Denham was reported by The Times as saying that 'the introduction of civil partnerships was one of the most significant things this government has done' and 'that it is essential that any minister with responsibility for these issues feels comfortable'. Its probably open season for Labour MPs to talk about the leadership issue but the Whips might drag him in for a friendly fireside chat over attacking his Ministerial collegues...There certainly seems to be some repositioning ready for the coronation of Gordon...

My First Post!

Well for over 2 years now I've been reading blogs from people like Jeremy Moulton and the award winning Iain Dale so here it is- my very own blog on the world wide web.
It will be interesting to see (a) how often I find time to post on it and (b) who else actually reads it!
Still it will be useful to record some of my own views on-line as I have never kept a diary and hopefully be of interest to others, especially perhaps those who take an interest in current affairs in Southampton, Hampshire.