"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik


Five Minute Wonder Chloe Smith an ‘Inspiration’…Or Not…

Great to see such an ‘influential’ MP get where she is today because Ian Gibson, barred from standing in the next general election by a disciplinary panel of the Labour Party after expenses irregularities, resigned forcing a by-election.

Just don’t tell Chloe nobody would have heard of her if Gibson had decided to stand as an ‘Independent’…

Politicians. Can’t live with em, can’t get rid of em…

We Couldn't Agree More Chloe!

Accolade for ‘influential’ Norwich MP Chloe Smith

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith has been named as one of the 20 most influential young women in the country by an upmarket magazine.

The list, complied by Red magazine, features women under 30 from fields including politics, business, charity, music, fashion and literature.

Miss Smith, 27, won the previously safe Labour seat of Norwich North for the Tories in July’s by-election, called following the resignation of Ian Gibson.

She is the youngest MP in Westminster – the so-called “baby of the House” – and is referred to in the piece as “the Tories’ secret weapon”.

The magazines quotes Theresa May, shadow work and pensions secretary and shadow minister for women, who paid tribute to Miss Smith in a BBC interview, praising her “different approach” to politics and calling her a “fresh face” who could be a huge benefit to the party.

Sam Baker, editor-in-chief of Red magazine, said: “Westminster is traditionally full of middle-aged men, so we’re delighted to see smart, passionate young women making a name for themselves in politics.

“Red magazine’s recent survey of ‘middle youth’ voters (30+ professional females) revealed that 97 per cent of women are not inspired by female MPs. If Chloe Smith and others like her are involved in politics, it will give women political figures they can be inspired by.”

Other women in the list include actress Sheridan Smith, best known for her roles in Gavin and Stacey, Two Pints of Lager and Love Soup; novelist Jennie Rooney and chef Gemma Tuley.

Miss Smith said: “I’m delighted and flattered to be in this list. I’m also very happy for a politician to be appearing after what has, without doubt, been a difficult year for Parliament.

“I was proud to be elected at a young age and I do hope to contribute to my country as part of a new generation of people interested in positive politics.

“Role models are incredibly important and I think Red is doing a great job in highlighting young people’s positive achievements.

“Personally, I have a number of people that I can look to for help and inspiration, and I strongly believe that role modelling, networking, mentoring and training are the kind of things that help young women get on. I’m honoured to be able to contribute something in turn by being in this list.”

Miss Smith appears in the April edition of Red, out on Wednesday.

Do you know a young person making a big impression in their community? Contact reporter Jon Welch on 01603 772476 or email jon.welch@archant.co.uk



Fuel Tax Increases.

More tax increases that will hit the poorest in the county to fill up the coffers of a bankrupt state purse.

Fuel prices in Norfolk could hit record highs this year, with a raft of tax increases set to send pump prices soaring.

Yesterday prices crept towards 116p a litre for both unleaded and diesel at some garages in the west of the county. Two days earlier, prices were averaging below 110p a litre.

Queues formed at forecourts in King’s Lynn and Fakenham, as drivers topped up for a final time before the VAT rate on petrol went back up to 17.5pc from 15pc.

But the Petrol Retailers Association warned there was worse to come, predicting prices could overtake the record of 120p a litre reached briefly in July 2008 by the end of this year with a further tax rise in April and some forecasters predicting higher and additional rates on taxation later in the year.

Sally Smith, Norfolk spokeswoman for the Country Land and Business Association, said: “It’s the old double whammy for anyone living in a rural area.

“It’s going to hit the whole rural economy, everything from taking beet to the sugar factory to school buses. It’s a pretty miserable start to the great new decade.”

Tim Bonner, from the Countryside Alliance, said: “You have to drive to access more and more services with the centralisation of things like healthcare, so we say to the government have you considered the impact this is going to have on rural communities.

“Since 1998 or 1999, we’ve had a government which said we’re going to have rural proofing and consider the affect of our policies on rural areas – here’s another classic example of their not doing that.

“There are other ways and means of raising tax income, it’s unfair that rural areas have to bear this additional burden.”

On the eve of the VAT increase, the 6000-strong PRA said Britain’s 33m drivers were “an easy target” for a government desperate for cash to plug a record deficit.

Fuel duty is set to rise by at least a 1p a litre in April, while tax subsidies for biofuel production will also end, pushing prices even higher.

In a report on industry trends, the PRA warned fuel taxes could increase by at least 10p a litre by the end of 2010. A widely-expected increase in the VAT rate to 20pc could push unleaded prices up to £1.23 a litre and diesel to £1.25 or even higher.

The RAC said the cost of filling the average 55-litre tank with unleaded had increased 22pc from £49 to £59.67 since December 2008, with diesel drivers facing a 9pc hike from £55.66 to £60.45.

Yesterday prices in Norwich varied between 106.9 and 110.9 for unleaded and 108.9 and 111.9 for diesel. But increases tend to take effect more slowly in cities and larger towns, where competition between supermarkets drives down prices.

“Rural areas do pay higher than the average,” said Paul Watters from the AA. “You have less hypermarkets, you have less choice, that leads to an increase in price.”

Staff at some service stations said prices would be going up over the next couple of days as fresh stocks of fuel arrived from wholesalers.


Charles Clarke Urges Jumping Ship…But It’s Already Sunk!

You’ve got to hand it to Norwich South MP Charles Clarke, he can smell the whiff of the decaying Labour corpse alright, but sadly he’s not able to admit that no matter how hard he scrubs, the stench is still all over his own hands.

Nobody has forgotten his part in the New Labour experiment that has seen public freedoms slowly eradicated and it’s Bush supporting full on ‘crusade’ to war.

His current attacks against Gordon Brown and urging for his replacement in order to win the next election are nothing short of a political desperation to save his own skin.

The Labour movement is dead and the Tories are still the Tories, the upper class swine who will continue aggressive Thatcherism as soon as they are elected to power next May.

There is no longer any representation of working-class people in Britain today (if indeed there ever was), and pretending otherwise is just politically motivated lip-service.

You may be oblivious to the truth of British politics Charlie boy, the rest of us aren’t.

And as for Labour needing to adopt the “killer instinct”….we’ve had enough of that thanks.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and our own children being brought home in body bags.

At least have the decency and courage to go down with the Labour wreck quietly….

Meanwhile the rest of us will start to build a new political movement, one that puts real working-class politics in the hands of real working-class people….and Parliament can go to hell!

If ever people who are supposedly ‘represented’ by Mr.Clarke feel like sharing their opinions with him, which ofcourse we are entitled to do, he can be contacted by

1) Writing to Charles Clarke MP for Norwich South, Norwich Labour Party, St Marks Church Hall, Hall Road, Norwich, NR1 3HL or Charles Clarke MP, Constituency Mail, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA

2) Phone the constituency office on 01603 219902

3) Fax the constituency office on 01603 764475

4) E-mail clarkec@parliament.uk

Clarke Whines About Repaying Cash.

Norwich South MP and former home secretary Charles Clarke is challenging an official request to repay almost £750 of ‘second home’ parliamentary expenses.

Mr Clarke “strongly disputes” the decision made by watchdog Sir Thomas Legg and has lodged an appeal with former Appeal Court judge Sir Paul Kennedy.

He is one of about 80 MPs who have refused to accept the verdict of Sir Thomas, a former top civil servant in Whitehall, that they made wrong or excessive ‘additional cost allowance’ claims for second homes in the past five years.

They are among approximately 200 MPs who have been asked to repay a total sum running into hundreds of thousands of pounds. And these include Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson, who has agreed to pay back about £350 for a telephone bill mistakenly claimed twice.

The repayment request made to Mr Clarke is for £743.64 and covers mortgage interest claims for two separate periods – in 2004-05 and 2008-09. He has denounced the ruling as “arbitrary and without justification”, but in going to appeal has stressed that he will abide by Sir Paul’s verdict on it.

After asking the Norwich South MP in October for more information about mortgage interest statements, Sir Thomas wrote to him again this month recommending that he repay ‘over-claims’ of £400.34 for 2004-05 and £343.30 for 2008-09.

The EDP understands that this stems from a practice by Mr Clarke of claiming mortgage interest ‘in arrears’ on the basis of the previous year’s statement of mortgage interest from his mortgage lender – and that this procedure was fully agreed with the Commons fees office, and was not criticised in any way by a statement from Sir Thomas on his review’s approach to the second home rules.

Though this led to the ‘over-claims’ in 2004-5 and 2008-9, it is believed that – according to Sir Thomas’s own figures – it also resulted in significant ‘under-claims’, totalling £2,539.42, in the three years 2005-08.

The EDP has also been informed that Mr Clarke wrote to Sir Thomas on December 15 requesting that his final judgement either reduced the requested repayment to zero, or formally noted that he had ‘under-claimed’ to the level indicated in those figures, and stating that in the latter case he would request a repayment.

On learning that Sir Thomas was not prepared to revise his final judgement, even though his office did confirm that “in three out of five years of the review period” he had received “a substantial underpayment for mortgage interest”, Mr Clarke decided to make a formal appeal to Sir Paul.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, SW Norfolk’s Christopher Fraser and North Norfolk’s Norman Lamb have been told by Sir Thomas Legg that they do not need to make any repayments.

The EDP has been unable to get comments from Tony Wright (Yarmouth), Bob Blizzard (Waveney) and Henry Bellingham (NW Norfolk) about their situations concerning the Legg review.

The period covered preceded Chloe Smith’s election in Norwich North.