Monday, 27 July 2009

Conservative Social Action sets the tone of things to come!

I'm off to Srebrenica in a few hours to join Baroness Warsi and William Hague in delivering real benefits to a town that has seen so much hurt.

Myles is now just 12 days old and I already know I will miss him and Mum immensely. But opportunities to make a difference don't come along often and it is with Elaine's support that I join Project Maja to deliver real benefits to a community dealing with so much distress.

Some will say the Conservative Party has never really changed and this is a publicity stunt to pretend you have changed, but the truth is Conservatives have always believed in giving people the opportunity to help themselves. That is exactly what we will be doing in Bosnia. We are helping school children, a family and a community to rebuild their lives.

The Conservative Party is also actively involved in Rawanda where Conservatives are helping to train nurses and teachers and in Sierra Leone where we are trying to improve the justice system, human rights and the role of women in society.

Giving people the opportunity to help themselves has always been at the core of Conservative beliefs.

Perhaps what we haven’t been so good at in the past is projecting that image but this is not about a publicity stunt.

Conservatives supported Nato’s intervention in the Balkans in the mid- nineties and we have always supported the rebuilding programme. What we will be doing is a small attempt to help but it is also about not forgetting what happened in Bosnia.

In Srebrenica it is just over a decade since 8,000 innocent civilians, many of them children, were brutally murdered by paramilitary units commanded by alleged war criminal General Ratko Mladic. And yet it seems a lot longer. Iraq and Afghanistan are at the forefront of people’s minds at the moment but we must never forget what happened here.

I could go on and on about why we need to remember the past so as to not make the same mistakes again and to talk about Conservatives Social Action at home in the UK - and I probably will soon. The fact is that Project Maja will make a difference to those it touches and everyone involved will be richer for their time in Srebrenica.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Baby Joy puts everything into perspective

Elaine delivered a beautiful baby boy this morning at 9.37am. Weighing in at a massive 9lb 10.5oz we have a very big boy on our hands with big lungs and a ferocious appetite.

Despite the rumours, Myles Andrew Cook was not born by caesarean section because Elaine is "too posh to push", he was actually facing the wrong way - clearly having inherited his mothers sense of direction - and what Elaine calls a "sunroof job" was the safest way to ensure both mother and child remained healthy.

The staff at the Queen Mother's Hospital have been quite simply fantastic all day, helping us to get used to one another and sorting out Big MAC's low blood sugar level. If anyone ever questions the capabilities of our NHS they need only speak to anyone who has experienced the dedication and professionalism of midwifes up and down the country as a testimony to all that is best in our health service.

It will be a few days before I get mother and baby home and I can't wait to introduce him to the dozens and dozens of people who have been so eager to meet little Cookie. Elaine is insistent on a "no canvassing with the baby" clause until he is a little older but I think I might manage to cart him around for leaflet delivery when the weather suits.

Today's events put everything I do into perspective and fill me with a sense that it has never been more important to campaign for a new government in order that Myles and his generation grow up with hope for the future. If my generation fail generations to come we will leave them paying off the massive national debt being incurred today to pay off current generations greed and stupidity. Holding your own baby just a minute or so after his birth really is a bewildering experience that it is difficult to put into words. So here's to Myles and Elaine with all my love and adoration - I just never thought I would blog on such a miraculous event and thank God I am able to do so today.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Labour lunatics are running the asylum!

I like to think that my style is far more about proposing solutions to problems rather than simply pointing to problems and criticising people or organisations. Tonight, I fear, I will break with tradition!

We have all heard the phrase "the lunatics are running the asylum" or a variation of it, but very rarely do you get tangible examples of it to report. So, if your target is to find examples of lunatics running something you should thank your lucky stars for East Renfrewshire Council.

Only East Renfrewshire Council believe the Land Reform Act, and Right to Roam legislation in particular, should take precedence over action to tackle anti-social behaviour. Now if this was simply an error in interpretation it might be forgivable but in this instance the Scottish Parliament has written to the Council of several occasions telling them to support local residents blighted by youth disorder and not to use "right to roam" as an excuse for doing nothing and yet East Renfrewshire Council continue to stick to their own flawed interpretation of a law they did not create.

And then there is East Renfrewshire Council's prioritisation of spending that does not mirror the priorities of the Council Tax payer. I am inundated by people complaining about the new landscaping and hanging baskets at Eastwood Toll when the money would be better spent on improving local roads or putting more police onto local streets when we need them most. Worse still they wasted a huge amount of money on some cobbles outside shops through Giffnock when local shopkeepers believe they could have spent it better and in a way that increased the number of people actually shopping locally. Possibly the best example of money wasting came recently when during a downpour Council workers were out watering plants in hanging baskets in front of shopkeepers who looked on incredulous to the very public waste of money none of their businesses would dare sustain.

I have numerous other examples of how lunatics are running the East Renfrewshire asylum at Eastwood Park and know people out there have many, many more examples to share. Thankfully, I believe there is a group of people capable of running the asylum sensibly, prudently and with a vision as to how East Renfrewshire Council could better serve local people. That is why I will be doing everything I can to support Councillor Jim Swift and his Conservative Group as they seek to build on their numbers and take control of East Renfrewshire's administration.

When any government body forgets who it serves there is surely cause for concern, but when the same body forgets time and time again it is surely time for, top down, route and branch reform.

Empower local people and they will get on with things and deliver fantastic results for their family, their neighbours and their local communities. Treat them with a lack of respect and they will do nothing for you. It is time for us all to stand up and be counted in the battle for common sense in the running of East Renfrewshire. I have great confidence in the ability of local people to win this fight and deliver a brighter future for us all.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Love Fifteen

Roger Federer's win at Wimbledon makes him the most successful tennis player of all time and confirms his status as a global sporting icon. Not only is he a tremendous tennis talent he also comes across as an all round nice guy and very humble despite his wealth and success.

I can't help feeling very sorry for Andy Roddick who actually possibly played the better tennis through much of the match. His rocket of a serve did not hit the 75%+ success record it did in dismissing Andy Murray on Friday but it proved impossible for Roger to break this lethal weapon until 15-14 in the fifth and final set, demonstrating just how hard he is to overcome on grass.

But today belongs to Roger Federer and his incredible achievement of 15 Grand Slam titles in a little over 6 years. At the age of just 27, Roger has a long time left in the game if he remains fit and motivated he must surely now be gunning for Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major Grand Slam titles.

Only time will tell but until then the Nike advert commemorating today's victory is fitting praise to a sporting hero. The advert includes John McEnroe, Serena Williams and Tiger Woods praising his talent and achievement and fittingly ends with the tennis analogy of his achievement as - "Love Fifteen".

Well done Roger. You have earned and deserve all your success!