So excited by the Royal Wedding!

I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of tomorrow’s Royal Wedding!

Prince William and Kate Middleton at RAF Cranwell

Prince William and Kate Middleton are a beautiful couple, and obviously very much in love.

Kate has a certain air of strength about her that I think will stand her in good stead for the amazing media attention to which her and Prince William will be subjected once they are married.

There is a lot of excitement here, but our American cousins seem even more excited, and I’ve been fascinated by CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric’s coverage which reflects some Americans’ near obsession with everything royal.

I have always rated Prince William highly, and I’m impressed by Kate’s (Princess Kate’s?) confidence and intelligence.

Good luck to them both for the day of their marriage, and for their lives ahead!

Royal Engagement Portrait. Mario Testino/Clarence House Press Office via Getty Images

Official Royal Engagement Portrait by Mario Testino - copyright Clarence House Press Office via Getty Images

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Happy Easter everyone!

I am very much looking forward to a super-relaxing weekend and this picture is my inspiration…

Picture of a fat white cat with beer and a remote control.

Fat cat chillaxes at home after a hard day out on the tiles!

Happy Easter, everyone!

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Merlin Series 4 confirmed for 2011!

Picture of the cast of BBC's Merlin

Picture of the cast of BBC's Merlin - fourth series filming from March 2011!

I’m delighted to hear that the BBC have confirmed that Merlin will be coming back for a fourth series – great news!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11618109

This is by far my favourite TV programme of recent times and I can’t wait for its return.

Filming started a few weeks ago, based at locations in Wales and France apparently, and here is a picture of Bradley James, who plays Prince Arthur, with a copy of the script. It must be good because he looks delighted!

Picture of Bradley James - aka Prince Arthur from Merlin

Picture of Bradley James - aka Prince Arthur from Merlin

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What are my politics? It’s simple…

During this last week, several people have asked me how I could possibly be a Conservative whilst having such a strong social conscience. The very question itself helps to highlight one of the great difficulties that party politics presents, with people identifying politicians based on strict party lines and stereotypes:

“Marcus, how can you be a Conservative, but be involved in so much charity work and stuff? What do you stand for?” they ask.

The answer is simple:

I am an economic conservative believing in small government, minimal state intervention in economic affairs and the need for individual responsibility; at the same time, I am a social liberal who believes in individual freedom and minimal state interference into people’s private lives.

Contradiction? I don’t think so – politics is more sophisticated than ever, and I’d summarise my position as follows:

“I believe that people should be free to enjoy their private lives as they see fit, as long as other people do not have to pay for it – financially, or at the expense of their own freedoms.”

I hope that clears things up for those who are confused!

Clegg, Cameron and Brown during the General Election Debates in April 2010

Nick Clegg MP, David Cameron MP and Gordon Brown MP during the General Election debates in April 2010

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Computer Weekly Interview with Bryan Glick

After Red Nose Day there was a great deal of interest in the technology that my team built to support it.

Computer Weekly, the UK’s leading technology magazine, invited me to present at their CW500 Club – an event for technology leaders from a range of different organisations across the UK.

This event took place at the British Computer Society (BCS) and was a lot of fun!

Many thanks to Computer Weekly for sharing this.

http://www.vimeo.com/22469597

(Copyright Computer Weekly 2011)

Posted in Business, Charity, Technology Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Labour’s plan to close libraries in Enfield is dangerous and disgraceful

As I predicted, the Labour administration in Enfield has chosen to close three libraries, targeting some of the poorest parts of the borough.

Enfield Advertiser Front Page - Wednesday 13 April 2011

Enfield Advertiser Front Page - Wednesday 13 April 2011 - Labour closing local libraries

Libraries are an absolutely essential service, but we knew that there were likely to be problems when Cllr Stafford, (Cabinet Member for Finance) announced at an Area Forum that he believed that there were too many libraries in Enfield.

Many families, especially those on lower incomes, rely on the services in libraries to provide essential access to books and to the Internet for their children to help them with their studies and general education. Closing these libraries will hit those families hard, forcing them to purchase books or – even worse – be forced to neglect their children’s education.

Under the previous Labour Government, educational standards declined rapidly in this country, and this Labour Council’s decision to close the Bullsmoor, Enfield Highway and Ordnance Road libraries reflects the utter contempt that they have for maintaining educational standards.

Libraries are a very important part of a young person’s development; I would never have made it to Cambridge University and built successful career without the access to books that enabled me to learn effectively and without great expense to my parents – I feel passionately that these libraries must stay open, and I will fight these closures through every possible avenue.

The people of Enfield Lock really need to ask themselves why their local councillors, like Cllr Ozzie Uzoanya, promised to deliver them improved services and investment in the east of the borough, but are clearly lacking when it comes to real action.

Will he and his fellow local Labour councillors stand with the people of Enfield Lock in fighting  these ill-judged cuts, or will he tow the Labour party line and remain silent yet again?

The people of Enfield Lock must be regretting their decision to vote Labour; I’m sure that they will not make the same mistake at the next election.

Posted in Politics, Society Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

More cute cats!

These are the very lovely Bobby and Benjy – my mother’s two very, very naughty, but cute cats!

Enjoy…

Picture of two cats - Bobby and Benjy relaxing in Southgate - February 2009

Bobby and Benjy relaxing in Southgate - February 2009

And this is them outside in the garden…

Picture of Bobby and Benjy relaxing in the garden Southgate - Spring 2009

Bobby and Benjy relaxing in the garden Southgate - Spring 2009

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Should we really be involved in the conflict in Libya?

Picture of a Tomahawk missile launch on Libyan Military Installations

Tomahawk missile launch on Libyan Military Installations

Let me preface this by saying that I am incredibly proud of our Armed Forces, and came very close to joining the Army myself after university. I think that to serve in the military is one of the noblest professions, and I think that there is no greater act of love than to put one’s life at risk to protect others.

The difficulty I have with the conflict in Libya is not based on some principle about warfare, because I’m far from being a pacifist, but it is based on my political and moral concerns about using military intervention in a situation that should not be our primary concern.

Picture of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, ruler of Libya

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya in tribal dress pictured in the late 1990s.

Whatever the flaws and disadvantages of Colonel Gaddafi and his regime, Libya is a sovereign state. The people of Libya have the right to self-determination, just in the same way that the people of the various European countries did during the turmoil of the Middle Ages.

Britain, France and Germany all suffered from internal fractures and divisions that led to many wars and battles, but which ultimately led to the creation of strong, independent, successful nations.

In Libya, the international community have decided that the Gaddafi’s regime is ‘bad’ and that any opposition to it must be good; this is a dangerous decision.

There is no doubt that he has been responsible for many serious criminal and unforgiveable acts (not least of which is his involvement in the Lockerbie atrocity), but that doesn’t automatically give us the right to remove him.

There are a series of other factors that must be considered when deciding the merits of our involvement:

Cost
The reality is, Britain cannot afford to be involved in yet another war. The Government is announcing cuts to the Armed Forces at the same time as engaging in another unnecessary war that will have few benefits for the British people.

We are not credibly protecting our interests, but we are potentially creating more enemies of this state which will increase our burden of security and protection here and overseas.

There are many much more pressing matters that our Government should be focusing our resources on.

Legality & Effectiveness
The UN resolution 1973 (2011) specifically states that UN Security Council Member States may enforce a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilians, but excludes the possibility of an occupation force.

My interpretation of this is that the Allies may prevent the Libyan Air Force from flying and using missiles, but not that we can take out tanks, columns of soldiers or otherwise intervene.

It is clear that already we have gone beyond the provisions of this resolution. Why?

Moving away from the legality of our actions, there is a need to question the effectiveness; what good is the enforcement of a No-Fly Zone when a civil war is taking place below?

The UN resolutions needs to be amended, or it should be considered ineffective in this situation.

Long Term Implications
Yet again, our Government believes that it will be possible to have a ‘short war’ in which we deliver some ordinance, achieve the military objectives and secure our political objectives. That isn’t going to happen.

The danger here is that we will be drawn into a long conflict that will descend into civil war, and out of which there is no easy exit for us.

There is no alternative leader waiting in the wings, there is no credible alternative force, so what exactly do we think will happen when Gaddafi finally goes?

Who are we letting in?
There is no doubt that Gaddafi reigns over one of the world’s most repressive regimes, and that he has fostered terrorism – some of which has been borne out on the streets of London.

However, can we be certain that his opposition will be any better if we help them to seize power?

We have no real knowledge of who they are, what their politics will be and whether or not they will have the ability to manage the country effectively and prevent it from becoming a harbour for terrorists once more.

This is a significant risk; we may be trading the stable rule of an evil dictator for the unstable in-fighting that could see Al Qaeda getting a foothold in a strategically-important country with huge natural resources.

All of this leads to one question; do we really know what we are getting into, and are we making the right decision?

My fear is that we are not; my head tells me that we shouldn’t be in Libya, even if my heart wants to see Gaddafi gone.

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Colonel Bob Stewart MP speaking in Enfield!

One of my favourite public speakers – Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP – is coming to Enfield to speak at the annual Chase Ward dinner on April 12 and the excitement is building!

Picture of Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP

Colonel Bob Stewart DSO MP during his time in Bosnia

Col. Bob is now the MP for Beckenham, but is best known for his role in Bosnia as the first British Commander of Nato forces, earning him the name ‘Bosnia Bob’.

It was my great pleasure to have completed my Parliamentary Assessment Board alongside Col. Bob and he was great entertainment, but also impressed with his knowledge, strength of character and great sense of humour.

As Chairman of Chase Ward Conservatives, I cannot wait to welcome him to Enfield for our annual dinner on April 12 – if you’d like to come along, email us at office@enfieldnorth.org for a ticket – there are just a few left!

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Dune: still one of my favourite films!

In my opinion, Frank Herbert’s Dune is the finest science fiction story ever written, and certainly the most important.

Although the film never quite captures the magic of the original book, the beauty of the sets (and the cast), the brooding performance by Kyle Maclachlan and the sheer scale of David Lynch’s vision make this one of my all-time favourites.

If you’re a science fiction buff and you haven’t seen this, watch it now!

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