Robert Halfon MP

28 Mar 2013 13:26:36

Mixed reaction from Conservative MPs to Cameron's micro-shuffle

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By Paul Goodman
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  • Further to Tim Montgomerie's report earlier this morning, Conservative MPs and others are asking whether the main driver of the move was the Liberal Democrats' desire to get Hayes out of DECC - though they will find Michael Fallon no pushover: the very opposite - or David Cameron's wish to get him into Downing Street.
  • If the latter is the case, a further question arises - namely, does the Prime Minister now feel that his position with part of his own party is so troubled as to justify a small reshuffle?  If so, is the move a sign of strength or weakness?
  • As one of the founding members of Cornerstone, the gregarious Hayes is not in a bad position to make overtures to the centre-right of the party.  But he isn't on easy terms with all of it, let alone other parts of the Parliamentary Party.
  • And as the tweets above indicate, there is irritation among some MPs with an interest in energy policy at Hayes being moved out of DECC.  After all, he was moved to that department in order to "deliver our people a win on wind farms" - as Cameron is reported to have told him.

8 Mar 2013 13:23:15

Robert Halfon MP attacks Labour’s “welfare tax”

By Peter Hoskin
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The MP who brought you campaigns on fuel duty and the 10p tax is now speaking out on another issue, although it is related to those other two. Using figures provided by the Treasury, Robert Halfon today points out that a fifth of income tax receipts go towards funding benefits – and he goes on from there to attack Labour for wanting to impose a “welfare tax”. Here’s how he explains it in the Daily Mail:

“These figures from the government show the astonishing amount of tax low earners are paying for welfare benefits.

The Labour party want to impose a further welfare tax on low earners by spending billions more on benefits and oppose every measure the government takes to try to cut low earners’ tax bills.

These figures are why we need to continue to reform welfare urgently.”

This idea of a “welfare tax” is striking for two particular reasons. First, it clarifies what could be one of the most important dividing-lines of the next election – between tax cuts and in-work benefits. Remember when, in PMQs a few months ago, David Cameron said, “I think that the right thing to do is to cut the taxes of people who are in work, rather than taking more in taxes and then redistributing it through tax credits”? Mr Halfon’s point certainly overlaps with that.

And, second, it’s an example of the “compacted doctrines” that Paul Abbott – who works for Mr Halfon – wrote about in his piece on Conservatism and comic books earlier. I won’t spoil Paul’s argument here; suffice to recommend that you read it.

7 Mar 2013 17:31:00

What Tory parliamentarians want to see in the Budget

By Peter Hoskin
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With the Budget less than a couple of weeks away, I thought it would be a good time to collect some of the recommendations being put to George Osborne by Tory parliamentarians. Of course, the parliamentarians listed below may want other measures too – and there may be other parliamentarians who want what they want – but I’ve tried to go with the most prominent examples from the past few weeks. If you think I’ve missed anyone off, please do shout out in the comments section, or email me on pete @ (without the spaces).

Robert Halfon MP: The reinstatement of the 10p tax rate

RHRobert explained how and why he wants the 10p rate of income tax reinstated in a recent article for ConservativeHome. Here’s a snippet:

“When Labour brought in the 50p income tax-rate, it cost HMRC something like £7 billion pounds overnight, as people changed their behaviour to avoid the new tax. This year, the Coalition will cut that 50p income tax-rate down to 45p, because this is expected to raise more money from the rich, not less. The message of the campaign at — or, alternatively — is that we should use every extra penny raised from this to restore the 10p basic rate of income tax, to help lower earners. Added to the Universal Credit, this will help stop disincentives to employment, and to ensure that work always pays.”

He also discussed the policy on the Daily Politics today.

Continue reading "What Tory parliamentarians want to see in the Budget" »

10 Jan 2013 15:22:29

Jeremy Heywood considered the possibility of a Plebgate conspiracy, but left it at that

By Peter Hoskin
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On the whole, Tory MPs don’t have much love for Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary. For many of them, he is someone who wields too much power and who uses it to influence the direction of government. Increasingly, they apply the same lexicon of insults to him as they do to Nick Clegg. Some of it isn’t family friendly.

I mention this because Mr Heywood’s appearance before the Public Administration Committee — chaired by Bernard Jenkin, and with the Conservative MPs Alun Cairns, Charlie Elphicke, Robert Halfon and Priti Patel among its members — will have done nothing to reverse this collective opinion. The Cabinet Secretary was there to talk about his investigation into elements of the Andrew Mitchell affair, but he managed little more than to raise further questions about it all.

The headline point from Mr Heywood’s testimony was probably his admission that he considered the possibility of a conspiracy against Mr Mitchell, but that he let it rest there:

“We accepted that there were unanswered questions, including the possibility of a gigantic conspiracy, or a small conspiracy. Those were unanswered questions, but we decided, on balance, to let matters rest as they were.”

Why so passive? My Heywood claimed that he simply couldn’t do any more. David Cameron had tasked him with investigating that infamous “eyewitness” email which appeared to corroborate the police log, and which we now know was written by an off-duty police officer — and that he did. Mr Heywood explained that, after checking the email against CCTV footage of the incident, he concluded that it was “unreliable,” and that he advised the Prime Minister against heeding its contents. “I think I did the job competently and came to the right conclusion,” he said.

The Cabinet Secretary didn’t then start to question the police log. He didn’t look into whether Mr Mitchell used the word “pleb,” or not. He didn’t discover that the author of the email was linked to the police, although he was “mildly suspicious” about him. He didn’t, he didn’t, he didn’t. Although, according to Mr Heywood, he also shouldn’t have:

“It’s not the role of a civil servant or the Cabinet Secretary to start investigating the police. That’s not my job. I don’t have the powers. I don’t have the expertise. It wouldn’t be right for the Cabinet Secretary to be involved in that sort of thing.”

And he added:

“It clearly wouldn't have been appropriate to ask the cabinet secretary to start investigating the veracity of the police logs. That is a matter for the IPCC not the cabinet secretary.”

Which clearly shocked several of the MPs on the committee. Even if it wasn’t appropriate for the Cabinet Secretary to start wading through police logs, wasn’t that part of the problem? As Bernard Jenkin put it:

You weren’t asked to get to the bottom of it, you didn’t think it was your obligation to get to the bottom of it, and because of your failure to get to the bottom of it, the government lost its Chief Whip.”

Which, appropriately enough for this tangle of a story, leaves us back at the beginning of the post. Jeremy Heywood will have enraged plenty of Tory MPs today, some of who have already been expressing their anger to the Mail’s Tim Shipman. One said to me this afternoon: “Now we know this wasn’t an actual investigation, just another civil service box-ticking exercise.”

9 Jan 2013 09:34:08

The main arguments made by Tory MPs in defence of the benefits squeeze

By Tim Montgomerie
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Here is a selection of the arguments that Tory MPs made during yesterday's debate on limiting the increase in benefits to 1% for each of the next three years.

The Government's overall policies help those on low incomes: "The Opposition have argued that this uprating of 1% will impact on working people and not just those on benefits. Given that the previous Government made 90% of workers eligible as welfare recipients, that is inevitable. Unfortunately, Labour Members make the mistake of taking these measures in isolation. If we take the Government’s measures as a whole, including tax allowances, energy tariff changes and cutting petrol duty, low-income working households will be better off." - Aidan Burley MP

And the biggest burden of deficit reduction is being met by the better off: "I want to remind the Opposition of what they have done. They have opposed £83 billion-worth of savings this Parliament. That is equivalent to adding another £5,000 of debt for every working family in the country. We hear much about taxing the rich, yet, in this Parliament, the richest will pay more in tax than in any single year of the previous Government—more tax on capital gains, more stamp duty—they will be less able to avoid and evade tax and they will pay more when they take out their pension policies." - Iain Duncan Smith MP

Stop taxing people only to return that money via the benefit systems: "Is not the philosophical underpinning of this debate our wish to create a hand-back society, not a hand-out society? Is not cutting taxes on lower earners the best way to help those on low earnings, rather than recycling their hard-earned money through the benefits system?" - Robert Halfon MP

Fairness between those in work and those out-of-work:

  • "My constituents in Erewash often say to me that fairness works both ways. One gentleman said to me that he is working around the clock and his wife has two part-time cleaning jobs, and that they are trying their best to keep things going. Like me, he wants to support people in this society who, for whatever reason, will never be able to stand on their own two feet and get work, but that was not his point. His point was about the standard of living of other people in the area on full benefits. He did not think it right that they should have a higher percentage increase than his family’s budget." - Jessica Lee MP
  • "I was approached by a member of Manchester constabulary in my advice surgery recently. He said, “How can you justify putting out-of-work benefits up by 5.2% last year, when I have had a pay freeze and I risk my life every day?” Is that not the nub of the argument? People who are in work have to be treated fairly." - Jake Berry MP

Continue reading "The main arguments made by Tory MPs in defence of the benefits squeeze" »

19 Dec 2012 16:44:24

45 Tory MPs write to the Telegraph in protest at the Charity Commission’s “unjust” treatment of a church hall in Devon

By Peter Hoskin
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By way of an addendum to Peter Bone’s post earlier, it’s worth pointing out that Robert Halfon has organised a letter to the Daily Telegraph today calling for an investigation into the Charity Commission’s treatment of a church group in Devon. It has been signed by 53 MPs, including 45 Conservatives. I’ve pasted the text, as well as the list of Tory signatories, below.

Continue reading "45 Tory MPs write to the Telegraph in protest at the Charity Commission’s “unjust” treatment of a church hall in Devon" »

6 Dec 2012 07:04:00

How Robert Halfon MP froze fuel duty and won a victory for "white van conservatism"

By Matthew Barrett
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C-home Fairness for motorists

The Chancellor's Autumn Statement yesterday contained a big boost for motorists: another cancellation of a planned rise in fuel tax. This is the third time the Chancellor has postponed one of Labour's tax rises: to persuade a Chancellor not to collect a tax that, in his mind, would be worth £1billion a year for the Treasury, is something - to do it thrice is very special indeed. And it seems likely that fuel duty will be frozen for the rest of this parliament. James Forsyth notes that to freeze it would only cost £1bn, which an election-minded Osborne is likely to see as a price well worth paying to keep thousands of strivers on board.

Continue reading "How Robert Halfon MP froze fuel duty and won a victory for "white van conservatism"" »

5 Dec 2012 11:09:15

70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act

By Matthew Barrett
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BACON RICHARDYesterday in Parliament, Richard Bacon, a Conservative backbencher, tried to introduce a Bill which would repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. One of Mr Bacon's lines of argument was that the legal requirement for Ministers to amend legislation - without a vote in Parliament - in order to comply with European human rights legislation - is "fundamentally undemocratic":

"Under section 10, a Minister of the Crown may make such amendments to primary legislation as are considered necessary to enable the incompatibility to be removed by the simple expedient of making an order. In effect, because the accepted practice is that the United Kingdom observes its international obligations, a supranational court can impose its will against ours. In my view this is fundamentally undemocratic."

Mr Bacon also compellingly argued that the controversial social issues that judges often like to get involved in should be decided by "elected representatives and not by unelected judges":

"[T]here is no point in belonging to a club if one is not prepared to obey its rules. The solution is therefore not to defy judgments of the Court, but rather to remove the power of the Court over us. ... Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us which enables them to discern what our people need better than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives. There is no set of values that are so universally agreed that we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific. Questions of major social policy, whether on abortion, capital punishment, the right to bear firearms or workers rights, should ultimately be decided by elected representatives and not by unelected judges."

Continue reading "70 Tory MPs vote to repeal the Human Rights Act" »

24 Nov 2012 08:54:59

The 118 Tory MPs the Daily Mail lists as being opposed to gay marriage

By Matthew Barrett
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The Daily Mail this morning reports on the 118 Conservative MPs who have written to constituents indicating their opposition to gay marriage proposals. The Mail says "Their opposition has been expressed in letters and emails sent to constituents who have contacted them with their own concerns", and points out that if these MPs voted against proposals, it would constitute the biggest Tory rebellion in modern times. However, Equalities Minister (and Secretary of State for Culture) Maria Miller pointed out on Twitter that since any vote on the issue would be a free vote, it would not technically be counted as a rebellion.

I have listed the MPs from the Mail's story below.

  1. Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)
  2. Peter Aldous (Waveney)
  3. Tony Baldry (Banbury)
  4. Guto Bebb (Aberconwy)
  5. Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)
  6. Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley)
  7. Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen)
  8. Andrew Bingham (High Peak)
  9. Brian Binley (Northampton South)
  10. Bob Blackman (Harrow East)
  11. Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon)
  12. Peter Bone (Wellingborough)
  13. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale West)
  14. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)
  15. Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire)
  16. Steve Brine (Winchester)
  17. Fiona Bruce (Congleton)
  18. Robert Buckland (South Swindon)
  19. Conor Burns (Bournemouth West)*
  20. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)
  21. David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate)
  22. Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan)
  23. Douglas Carswell (Clacton)
  24. William Cash (Stone)
  25. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham)
  26. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)
  27. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds)
  28. Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal)
  29. Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon)
  30. Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire)
  31. David Davies (Monmouth)
  32. Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire)
  33. Philip Davies (Shipley)
  34. David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden)
  35. Nick de Bois (Enfield North)
  36. Caroline Dinenage (Gosport)
  37. Richard Drax (South Dorset)
  38. Charlie Elphicke (Dover)
  39. Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North)
  40. David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)
  41. George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)
  42. Richard Fuller (Bedford)
  43. Roger Gale (North Thanet)
  44. Edward Garnier (Harborough)
  45. John Glen (Salisbury)
  46. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
  47. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby)
  48. Robert Halfon (Harlow)
  49. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge)
  50. John Hayes (South Holland and The Deepings)
  51. Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey)
  52. George Hollingbery (Meon Valley)
  53. Philip Hollobone (Kettering)
  54. Adam Holloway (Gravesham)
  55. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)
  56. Stewart Jackson (Peterborough)
  57. Gareth Johnson (Dartford)
  58. David Jones (Clwyd West)
  59. Marcus Jones (Nuneaton)
  60. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest)
  61. Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire)
  62. Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire)
  63. Philip Lee (Bracknell)
  64. Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford)
  65. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
  66. Julian Lewis (New Forest East)
  67. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset)
  68. Peter Lilley (Hitchen and Harpenden)
  69. Jonathan Lord (Woking)
  70. Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)
  71. Anne Main (St Albans)
  72. Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys)
  73. Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)
  74. Karl McCartney (Lincoln)
  75. Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton)
  76. Stephen McPartland (Stevenage)
  77. Esther McVey (Wirral West)
  78. Steve Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)
  79. Nicky Morgan (Loughborough)
  80. David Nuttall (Bury North)
  81. Matthew Offord (Hendon)
  82. Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)
  83. Priti Patel (Witham)
  84. Owen Paterson (North Shropshire)
  85. Mark Pawsey (Rugby)
  86. Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead)
  87. Christopher Pincher (Tamworth)
  88. Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
  89. John Redwood (Wokingham)
  90. Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset)
  91. Simon Reevell (Dewsbury)
  92. Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire)
  93. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury)
  94. Andrew Rosindell (Romford)
  95. David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
  96. David Rutley (Macclesfield)
  97. Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire)
  98. Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)
  99. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)
  100. Henry Smith (Crawley)
  101. John Stevenson (Carlisle)
  102. Bob Stewart (Beckenham)
  103. Gary Streeter (South West Devon)
  104. Mel Stride (Central Devon)
  105. Robert Syms (Poole)
  106. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)
  107. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight)
  108. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester)
  109. Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West)
  110. Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes)
  111. Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North)
  112. Robert Walter (North Dorset)
  113. James Wharton (Stockton South)
  114. Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley)
  115. John Whittingdale (Maldon)
  116. Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)
  117. Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire)
  118. Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam)
* Conor Burns has stated that he will not be voting against gay marriage but may abstain.

7 Nov 2012 11:33:34

Conservative MPs (including David Cameron) respond to Barack Obama's election victory

By Peter Hoskin
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Here's David Cameron's statement:

“I would like to congratulate Barack Obama on his re-election.

I have really enjoyed working with him over the last few years and I look forward to working with him again over the next four years.

There are so many things that we need to do: we need to kick start the world economy and I want to see an EU-US trade deal.

Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories about what has happened inside Syria so one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis.

Above all, congratulations to Barack. I’ve enjoyed working with him, I think he’s a very successful US president and I look forward to working with him in the future.

Continue reading "Conservative MPs (including David Cameron) respond to Barack Obama's election victory" »

26 Oct 2012 06:22:26

Who are Conservative Friends of Israel? A profile of the Conservative Party's most populous grouping

By Matthew Barrett
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Conservative Friends of IsraelConservative Friends of Israel is an influential affiliate group of the Conservative Party which contains perhaps the largest number of Conservative MPs of any group in Parliament. It exists to promote understanding of and support for the State of Israel in the Conservative Party, and its membership reaches the highest echelons of power, including the Foreign Secretary, William Hague. In this profile, I examine its origins, membership, role, and activities.

Origins of the group

Conservative Friends of Israel (CFoI) is the oldest group of Conservative MPs I have profiled so far: it was founded by Michael Fidler, who was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bury and Radcliffe between 1970 and the October 1974 election. After losing his seat, he decided to focus on building a pro-Israel group within the Conservative Party - there had been a Labour Friends of Israel group since 1957 - so Fidler launched CFoI in 1974, and served as its National Director. 

Sir Hugh Fraser served as the first Chairman of CFoI, from 1974. Sir Hugh was a Conservative MP of the old school: after a distinguished military intelligence career in the Second World War, he entered Parliament in 1945, and he missed out on being Father of the House to James Callaghan in 1983 by only a few days. Sir Hugh had an interest in oil and the Middle East and served a number of positions in the War and Colonial Offices, before entering Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Air in 1962. He might be best known to some readers as the outsider candidate who came third in the 1975 party leadership contest, behind Mrs Thatcher and Edward Heath, gaining only 16 votes.

Continue reading "Who are Conservative Friends of Israel? A profile of the Conservative Party's most populous grouping" »

13 Sep 2012 17:20:45

"Significant victory" for Robert Halfon MP as new Energy Minister John Hayes promises to investigate oil market practices

By Matthew Barrett
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Robert Halfon held a debate on the oil industry in the House today, focusing on the harmful consequences of high petrol prices for many Britons, and especially those in rural areas. Mr Halfon summarised his argument for ConHome this morning, so there's not much need to re-state the case for an investigation into the oil market, but it is worth noting the response of the newly appointed Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, John Hayes. Mr Hayes agreed to look into the complaints raised by Mr Halfon and the Petrol Promise campaign. 

HAYES JOHNMr Hayes said:

"When the review into LIBOR is looked at, it will of course include this market [the oil market], and will aim to publish conclusions by the end of September... as a result of this debate, and the arguments from my Hon. Friend [Robert Halfon], I will also write to the FSA about concerns raised today... It is absolutely right that we enhance transparency in the oil and commodity markets... It is clear from the data that there is a considerable time-lag involved [between oil prices and petrol prices]. My Department's analysis shows that falls in the oil prices are passed on, but nevertheless, I am going to ask my officials to look at this matter again, to revisit their analysis, as a direct result of this debate and my Hon. Friend's [Robert Halfon's] contribution today... The Government would be happy to take action again if the evidence legitimises it. As a result of the arguments that Robert Halfon has put today, I will instruct my officials to do a detailed study, with analysis of how far people have to travel to reach their nearest petrol station and how this can change over time. He can count that as a significant victory."

Continue reading ""Significant victory" for Robert Halfon MP as new Energy Minister John Hayes promises to investigate oil market practices" »

28 Jul 2012 09:03:51

All Tory MPs pour praise on opening ceremony (well nearly all)

By Tim Montgomerie
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Aidan Burley MP has got himself into trouble (again). This time for some sour tweets about the Olympics' Opening Ceremony:

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There's a report in The Telegraph. Number 10 quickly distanced himself from Mr Burley's Tweets.  "We do not agree with him," said a Downing Street source. Fellow Tory MP Gavin Barwell tweeted his own rebuttal. There's nothing left-wing about embracing diversity, said the member for Croydon Central.

Robert Halfon MP was positive throughout the evening (writing a blog entitled "Olymptastic") but he did object to Shami Chakrabati's casting as Olympic flag carrier "given her senior role in LSE: the Uni that sucked up to Gadaffi". I agree with Rob, why not an Afghan war vetaran instead?

Most Tory MPs were completely uncritical, however. Here's a selection:

  • Stuart Andrew: As you can see Mr Romney, we are ready! Well done all!
  • Harriett Baldwin: Loved it all, but being a Worcestershire dog owner my best bits were Elgar and the corgis
  • Steve Baker: Wonderful to see two great British engineers celebrated tonight: Brunel and Berners-Lee
  • Dan Byles: Has Danny Boyle just secured his knighthood, with this incredible ceremony?
  • Damian Collins: Absolutely stunning start to the London 2012 Olympics. Danny Boyle's opening ceremony really was the best of British.
  • Alun Cairns: Fantastic opening ceremony and S&P confirm Britain's AAA rating. Looking good even without winning a medal so far
  • Charlie Elphicke: An amazing #london2012 opening ceremony. Brilliant @DannyBoyleFilm celebration of our nation. Tonight we are #OneBritain
  • Margot James: Jerusalem, Chelsea Pensioners, forging, James Bond and the Queen, nurses, great music, quirky history of our Isles loved
  • David Jones: Over a billion people watching this. Watching our country. Very proud.
  • Louise Mensch: Beyond awesome. We rule. #GodSaveTheQueen
  • Nicky Morgan: Oh wow! The Olympics are here. Only city to host for a third time.
  • Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: Well that was fantastic. The world was watching London and London delivered. Well done to all who made it happen.
  • Rob Wilson: Oh Danny Boyle, English eyes are smiling! Sing it everyone.

6 Jul 2012 13:17:19

41 Tory MPs join call by Robert Halfon MP for OFT to investigate high petrol prices

By Matthew Barrett
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C-home Fairness for motorists

Robert Halfon, the Member of Parliament for Harlow, and one of the most successful campaigning MPs in Parliament, has organised a motion, backed by 60 MPs from all parties, and including 41 Tories, calling for the Office of Fair Trading to investigate allegations of price-fixing by British oil companies. The full motion is worded as follows:

"That this House urges the OFT to investigate oil firms active in the UK; calls on the Government to consider the emergency actions being taken in other G20 nations to cut fuel prices, for example President Obama strengthening Federal supervision of the U.S. oil market, and increasing penalties for “market manipulation”, and Germany and Austria setting up a new oil regulator, with orders to help stabilise the price of petrol in the country; finally urges the Office of Fair Trading to note that the Federal Cartel Office in Germany is now investigating oil firms active in the UK, after allegations of price-fixing."

Continue reading "41 Tory MPs join call by Robert Halfon MP for OFT to investigate high petrol prices" »

27 Jun 2012 08:45:29

Is Robert Halfon MP David Cameron's passport to Essex Man? (II)

By Tim Montgomerie
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C-home Fairness for motorists

In paying tribute to Robert Halfon MP I should first declare an interest. He's been a very good friend for more than twenty years. He was the very first person I met at Exeter University when we were both undergraduates there. Two other members of the 'Exeter mafia' were David Burrowes and Sajid Javid - both good friends and both also now Tory MPs.

Paul Goodman and many others have referred to Rob's role in campaigning for the decision that George Osborne took yesterday - to stop the rise in petrol duty. Rob has been on this campaign for some time and has worked with The Sun and Petrol Promise to stop other fuel duty prices that were planned by the last Labour government. Some of Rob's campaigning has been public (including via ConHome) but it has also been patient, strategic and much of it behind-the-scenes. He did, for example, take a large lobby of about 25 Tory MPs to see the Chancellor. He also organised rounds of questions in the Commons and a special Westminster Hall debate.

In my own opinion Rob is a political genius and he puts that genius to good work. He fought the Essex new town seat of Harlow twice before he won it at the last election. Through that campaigning he understands and serves what the tabloids call Essex man. Few Tories understand blue collar/ working class Britain better than him. In many ways he's a traditional Tory with orthodox views on tax, crime and Europe for example. But he also understands that that isn't enough. Rob is committed to the NHS, better schools and a cleaner local environment.

He constantly challenges some in the Conservative Party to leave their comfort zone. He wants us to put more resources into ground war campaigns and make better use of the internet. He wants the party to build better relations with moderate trade unionists. He warned against cutting the 50p tax rate. He also happens to be a very decent guy, liked by colleagues and opponents. I've said all of this before but some things deserve repetition and Rob deserves a big role in the future of our party.