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Geoffrey Woollard
Cambridgeshire Fens
Former Conservative county and district councillor. Now independent parish councillor at Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire. Trustee of 'The Little Chapel in The Fen.' Likely independent parliamentary candidate 4 South East Cambs.
Interests: family history, politics, conservation, being independent, ensuring that the cambridgeshire lodes don't get 'ditched', opposing hunting and hare coursing, agriculture and food production, standing for parliament
Recent Activity
I think that some of you are cheering Cameron to keep up your spirits and your hopes. Brown didn't harp on about hereditary peers for nothing. I have been canvassing for myself - an independent in South East Cambridgeshire - this afternoon and that very point resonated with several people. The tories haven't changed (I was one of them until 1999) and the electors know it. Another drubbing awaits them, mark my words.
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"You've been listening to the CA far too long." Don't you understand, mhayworth, the Tories are so beholden to the Countryside Alliance that they dance to the C.A.'s tune? Sorry, not so much a tune, more an unpleasant and vote-losing squawk.
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"Kate Hoey could never explain 'cubbing'." Kate Hoey is all hooey!
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Well said, Mhayworth. They say, 'We have changed.' What a joke. I was an active Conservative and I know well what those people are like. I make a suggestion to Cameron, Hague, Herbert & Co. I will become convinced that you have changed when you and the majority of your parliamentary colleagues drop your plan to 'un-ban' fox hunting and hare coursing. How about it?
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The Hunting Act 2004 must not be repealed or otherwise undone. If anything, it needs strengthening so that we can be sure that chasing and killing wild animals for fun is clearly and for ever unlawful and regarded by all with well-deserved revulsion. If Cameron, Hague, Herbert, etc., think that repeal of the Act would be a vote winner in rural areas, they are very much mistaken. And as for the vile 'sport' of hare coursing, please sign my NoToHareCoursing E-Petition at - http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoToHareCoursing/
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Given the circumstances, I thought that the Chancellor did pretty well, making some announcements that had been well-trailed beforehand and some others from far up his sleeve. However, I have to say that, whilst I admire Mr Darling's confidence regarding the much-needed reduction in the deficit, there is something of a 'but' in my mind. I just hope that his forecasts bear some relation to the reality to come. As I had earlier commended the car scrappage scheme, I am equally enamoured of the new domestic boiler scrappage scheme: this should be another winner and will assist many people who would, like me, leave things be until the old boiler packs up. Eschewing a bank windfall tax was also wise, though the bankers' bonus tax will only be OK if no long-term damage is done to the City of London and those who work there - for us as well as for themselves. I found that Mr Darling was worryingly vague regarding his much-trailed three top priorities for future spending that are to be hospitals, schools and the police. There needs to be more clarification here or the voters will feel betrayed by Tory-type cuts. Upping National Insurance contributions represent an obvious and less-hurtful increase in the Government's income, but the 'take' must go to where most people think it should go - to the NHS. George Osborne followed the Chancellor and produced a spirited Oxford Union response including the memorable line: 'Never trust a Labour government with your money again,' which was very reminiscent of the arguments of the 1950s and 1960s, but which may not resonate as much with today's voters. The Tories have two real problems in their criticism of the government. First, there is always the danger of them being seen to talk Britain down and, second, because of their Oxford Union style and language, one can't help one's mind wandering back to the now-suppressed photographs of Cameron, Osborne and Johnson in their over-the-top finery at the Bullingdon Club. Am I being fair? Time will tell.
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"That's now going to be illegal after Gillman and Soame, the Oxford photographers who own the copyright of the [Bullingdon Club] photo, announced that no further permissions would be granted for publication. The photographers insist that they were not pressurised into making the decision but took the decision on commercial grounds. I guess someone paid them a lot of money to withdraw it from circulation." How can they get away with that? Mind you: I always thought that this was much more damaging to the Cameron/Osborne/Johnson image than the Eton association or, indeed, Hague's beer-drinking bouts.
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If and when I am elected to represent South East Cambridgeshire in the House of Commons one of the first things that I will do (either alone or in support of other like-minded Members) is to seek leave to bring in a Bill to rid us of the need to 'change the clocks' in the Spring and the Autumn. Last night, we put the clocks back and we were told that we would have 'an extra hour' in bed this morning. In the Spring, when we put the clocks forward for 'British Summer Time,' we were told that we would have 'an extra hour' of daylight. This is complete and utter nonsense for there are no extra hours of anything to be had in either the Spring or the Autumn. There are twenty-four hours in every day and there are more daylight hours in the Summer and less in the Winter. This was so before anyone proposed such idiocies as 'British Summer Time' or 'Daylight Saving.' (Incidentally, I read in yesterday Times that one of my historical heroes, Benjamin Franklin, thought up the whole idea of changing the clocks in 1784: I have read on Wikipedia today, with great relief, that Mr Franklin was not 'guilty' and was only responsible for the advice that I have tried to follow throughout my life, "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise"). What I find personally is that the effect on sleep patterns and on one's general feeling of well-being or otherwise is that 'changing the clocks,' either back or forward, is much akin to jet lag: it takes me several days to adjust and I just wish that neither I nor others had thus to suffer. I do not care if we have 'European' time, or continuous 'British Summer Time' or 'English Time' or 'Scottish Time' or, indeed, the old royal 'Sandringham Time' (the clocks were set at Sandringham House a half hour ahead of everywhere else because, it is said, King Edward VII and King George V hated to be late). All I want is continuous and unchanged time throughout the year. So I shall try to alter the present rule.
Toggle Commented Oct 25, 2009 on Monday 22nd January 2007 at ConservativeHome
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I made up my mind long ago that I would never vote for the British National Party as I believed that it was anti-Semitic, homophobic and socialist. My reasons for being thus concerned were and are that I admire the Jewish people who have suffered so much and I am basically pro-Israel; that, having had a relative jailed for practising homosexuality (in the hypocritical times when Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears were known by the establishment to be doing the same thing) and having other relatives who are extremely derogatory towards anyone thought to be homosexual, I disapprove of homophobes; and that I have always been opposed to old-style Socialism. Nick Griffin, therefore, had to pass three tests for me: first, that he and the BNP are no longer anti-Semitic. He described his support for Israel in its battles against Hamas in Gaza and he satisfies me on that score. Next, he said that what people get up to in the privacy of their homes is their business, but that he deplored men kissing in the street - as do I - and that he thought that neither 'homosexuality' nor 'sex' should be 'taught' in Primary Schools. I think that Primary School-age children need to be given the basics of sex for their own safety and future well-being, so Nick Griffin only partially passes that test for me. Finally, he was not asked about anything other than race and race-related issues, so I still don't know if he and his party are socialist-minded in the sense that Hitler's National Socialist (Nazi) party was. Nick Griffin scored last evening by emphasising the change in British society that has taken place in the last 60 years, though he might have added to his advantage that successive governments, Labour and Conservative, have never given us, the indigenous people of these islands, a vote on that change. Where Jack Straw failed abysmally was in not addressing the immigration issue adequately. Baroness Warsi scored well against both Griffin and Straw. Chris Huhne made some telling points, though I never take the Liberal Democrats very seriously, and Bonnie Greer chipped in with some amusing one-liners. The most disturbing aspect of the programme was that it appeared to be a BBC lynching party, four of the panel members and David Dimbleby himself all egging one another on to get Griffin, and the audience, obviously selected by the BBC as representative of the respective panel members' supporters and, therefore, four to one against Griffin, applauding and booing as appropriate. Altogether, it was pretty unpleasant. Mr Griffin is not a particularly attractive person (though he can't help having but one eye) and, though I am still sure that I shall never vote for his party, I do feel that what he and they have to say must be taken seriously. I remain independent.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2009 on Griffin on Question Time at CentreRight
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Despite what Iain Dale has said on today's BBC TV's local news, I have some sympathy for Cllr. Mrs Nicky Attenborough in Bedford, where the Conservatives lost the recent mayoral election. Mrs Attenborough, who herself wanted to be Mayor and is leader of the Conservative group on Bedford Borough Council, is reported to have complained about the eventually selection as the Conservative candidate of Mr Parvez Akhtar, who went on to be defeated in the election by the Liberal Democrat, in that she is said to have described the Conservative candidate selection meeting - an open meeting, where non-Conservatives had a vote - as a disgrace. She is reported as having said, 'It was very obvious that the meeting had been hijacked ... I could see the Liberal Democrats on the front row, Labour on the back row and a sea of faces who couldn't even understand what the candidates were saying.' The film footage shown today by the BBC illustrated a sea of foreign faces at the meeting. I, too, wonder if they were all Conservative faces. I also wonder whether all of the major parties have taken the supposed need for inclusiveness and diversity a bit far. I further wonder if the time will come when one of the major parties chooses, say, a traveller candidate in the interests of 'inclusiveness and diversity.' Of course, I only wonder, for saying such things out loud is asking for trouble. The BBC now says, 'The leader of the Conservative group [Mrs Attenborough] on Bedford Borough Council has been suspended from the party for two years.' A cousin of mine, Dr. George Witt (1804 - 1869), was Mayor of Bedford in 1834. I guess that there weren't many foreign faces in Bedford then.
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Nick Herbert (whom I used to know when he was a junior at Conservative Central Office) is very much mistaken in conflating rural post offices, village schools, district hospital services and local police stations with his persistent public passion and only-too-real pet subject - that of 'un-banning' hunting and hare coursing. He is also terribly out-of-tune with enlightened rural electors and, in pursuing his prey, he is wrong electorally and wrong politically. He is also wrong morally and the people can see this. He and his closest closet should be shoved to the outer margins of a party that pretends it is fit for purpose in government. If he and the others in his closest closet are not soon shoved out, the Tories will for ever be electorally, politically and morally condemned as the nasty party.
Toggle Commented Oct 19, 2009 on David Cameron went hunting. So what? at CentreRight
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"Good riddance to the MPs who want to employ family." So, if I am elected as an independent in South East Cambridgeshire, I cannot make use of my wife's experience and knowledge of the constituency and I cannot employ another younger relative who also knows a vast amount about the constituency? I don't want some unknown or some cast-off from a former Member, nor do I want some talentless twit who only knows London and who might betray my Cambridgeshire confidences. Come on, be sensible, Martin, in the interests of the electors.
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There is seemingly endless speculation in the media as to the likely long-term effect of Sir Thomas Legg's investigation into MPs' allowances and Sir Christopher Kelly's soon-to-be-published recommendations as to the future. Sir Christopher Kelly is said to be considering whether Members should be prevented from employing relatives to assist them. As I am a likely independent candidate in South East Cambridgeshire, I have expressed some views and, if elected as the constituency's MP, I would want to have sensible and useful assistance and secretarial arrangements in order to serve the electorate. The most obvious person to assist me is my wife, Sue, who is already well-known in her own right, and the most obvious person to be a secretary is another younger relative. Both would have the huge advantage from day one of having my full confidence and a full knowledge of the constituency. In my case at least, it is, therefore, most unhelpful and not necessarily in the public interest for Sir Christopher Kelly to recommend that relatives should not be employed by MPs.
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I am trying my hardest to understand the present woes of MPs but their collective performance today beggars belief. During the semi-pantomime of Prime Minister's Questions, the House of Commons was packed. During the following Statement by the Prime Minister on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the House was less than half full. Is this a measure of how much these people are interested and do half of them not care about what is happening to our men and women presently serving in the hell-hole of Helmand?
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The Daily Telegraph again has a go at MPs and concludes: "MPs need to reflect long and hard about the damage their self-serving acts of defiance are inflicting on our democracy." I have left a 'comment' on-line as follows: Not only MPs. The once-respected Daily Telegraph - perhaps for reasons still hidden - is leading us hysterically and scarily close to the perils of mob rule. Sir Thomas Legg's 'revised version' of the old and now-discredited rules appears to be a response to the supposed demands of the mob. And your paper, it appears, is on the side of the mob.
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"Labour has become the nasty party" Oh, come on! I am re-reading the diaries of the late Labour cabinet minister, Mr Richard Crossman (1907 - 1974). The diaries are in three thick volumes and, though I have had (and read) the first two from when they were first published, it wasn't until recently that I acquired the third which covers the period when Crossman was Social Services Secretary in the Harold Wilson government that lost office in June, 1970. I was greatly surprised - because I didn't know it before - to discover (on page 865 of volume three) that Mr Wilson was insistent (in March, 1970) on including a Bill to abolish hare coursing in his government's forward agenda. Presumably the 1970 intention fell foul of Conservative Party opposition upon Wilson's losing office. (It appears that Mr Wilson tried again in 1975, he having become Prime Minister again in 1974, but he was stopped again by the then Conservative-dominated House of Lords). Having read this I reflected upon my farming life from 1970 onwards. It was a life plagued by hare coursing, carried on by the most awful thugs one would ever wish not to meet, but they were 'encouraged' in their so-called 'sport' by so-called 'legal' (with the landowners' permission) hare coursers such as those involved with the old Isle of Ely Coursing Club. The Secretary of the latter would telephone me every year to seek permission to course hares on my land. I consistently refused but the 'legal' coursers were invariably to be seen a week or so afterwards on some of my then neighbours' land. I watched their activities through field glasses and was as sure as I could be that some of the participants would be seen again in the near future coursing 'illegally' (without the landowners' permission) on my land and that of others of my neighbours who had never given their permission. And so it came to pass - on hundreds of occasions. This was one of the reasons why I retired from large-scale farming in 1995. I virtually gave up fighting these vile people. But it's different now - as I have already reported - in that, following the banning of hare coursing in 2004 and the initiation of 'Operation Dornier' by the Cambridgeshire police against illegal hare coursers, the incidence of this so-called 'sport' has greatly diminished. Police Inspector Andy Bartlett has confirmed that this is so and it is a cause for great rejoicing. Everyone knows now that this so-called 'sport' is illegal: there is no longer any confusion nor misunderstanding of what was 'legal' and what was 'illegal.' It is all banned, by law. I rejoice greatly, but I will continue the fight against anyone who wants to 'un-ban' the 2004 ban. Hare coursing is nasty. Take note, you Tories!
Toggle Commented Oct 13, 2009 on Labour has become the nasty party at thetorydiary
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"In the end, if people are asked to pay back money and they don't pay it back, in my view they can't... stand as Conservative MPs." That's a bit rough, innit? It's alright for 'loadsamoney' Cameron to lay down the new Tory law, but what about the less well-off Conservative MPs who have followed the rules that the parties' bigwigs agreed for many years and now find themselves on the wrong side of Sir Thomas Legg's 'revised version'? At least some of them have my sympathy. But my advice is still 'Vote independent!'
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Something was absent from the pre-election Tory Conference at Manchester. I know these people and they expected that young Nick Herbert was going to give the Tory hunting pledge to provide Government time for a vote to un-ban the 'sports' of hunting and hare coursing. And, when he didn't, presumably because he was frit, they must have been pretty wild, for these people - Nick Herbert himself and the rest of them - are perverts. They derive perverted pleasure from the chase and the kill. They sicken me. I will work here in South East Cambridgeshire to outvote them and to prevent them ever practising their perversions again. We British led the way in banning the slave trade and in banning slavery in the Empire, we led the way in banning bear baiting and cock fighting, and we led the way in banning hunting and hare coursing. We must continue to make progress and not let our civilisation take a backward step.
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There was a service in St. Paul's Cathedral today to commemorate the 179 British lives sacrificed in the Iraq war. Film shown tonight on Channel 4 News included a shot of former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at the service and, just behind him, General Sir Richard Dannatt. General Dannatt is soon to be appointed a member of the House of Lords and is to advise the Conservative defence team on, presumably, military matters. Reports have suggested that, whilst in office as Chief of the General Staff (commonly called 'the head of the army'), General Dannatt this year asked the present Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for 2,000 more troops for the Afghanistan war. Gordon Brown is said to have refused to send these troops. Given the enthusiasm for the Afghanistan war in the Conservative Party, are we to assume that General Lord Dannatt will advise the likely next Prime Minister, David Cameron, to send more troops and are we to assume that David Cameron will follow General Lord Dannatt's advice? I hope that wiser counsels will prevail. N.B. General Sir Richard Dannatt has often been 'in the news' and is regarded as having been a controversial Chief of the General Staff. See his Wikipedia entry at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dannatt
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"Wasn’t Michael’s point, if badly delivered ..." It's hard to tell what his point was, given the silly statement that he made, but whatever his point was, it should not have been 'badly delivered.' He is the shadow schools secretary after all. But I do agree with you, Ross, regarding the importance of Latin.
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To be both 'modern' and convincing, the Conservatives need to study their stuff a bit better. Michael Gove, the Conservative shadow schools secretary, said at Manchester yesterday that 'hundreds of schools' don't have students who are entered for A Level examinations in a whole range of named subjects. He described this as 'unacceptable.' http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00mzvnm Well, my children and my grand-children went to Bottisham Village College, an 11-16 Cambridgeshire comprehensive secondary school and, so far as I am aware, no students at Bottisham Village College have ever been entered for A Level examinations. Bottisham Village College is one of the best schools in Cambridgeshire and the reason that students are not entered for A Level examinations is because potential A Level candidates go on to 16-plus establishments, most notable Hills Road Sixth Form College and Long Road Sixth Form College, both in Cambridge. I was at a meeting of East Cambridgeshire District Council's Planning Committee yesterday afternoon and one of the committee members is Mr Mike Rouse, of Ely. Mr Rouse was for many years a teacher at Soham Village College, another of Cambridgeshire's excellent 11-16 comprehensive secondary schools. I asked Mr Rouse how many students at Soham Village College had ever been entered for A Level examinations. He said, 'None.' I then told him why I had asked him this question and told him what Mr Gove had said. Mr Rouse, a Conservative District Councillor, said, 'Well, he's a prat.' Just about sums it up, doesn't it?
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I was Chairman of the Finance Committee of Cambridgeshire County Council in the late 1970s and I tried to get the Council to sell its smallholdings to the sitting tenants. The Council's smallholdings (now called 'County Farms') amounted then to some 1,500 with tenants renting farm land totalling around 47,000 acres (more than any other county in the country). I and the late County Councillor Robert James, the Conservative leader, came to the conclusion that county councils, faced with a multiplicity of problems in the provision of the statutory services, need not necessarily be in the land-owning business. I recall Cllr. James and another senior colleague, Cllr. David Huckle, comparing Cambridgeshire County Council's ownership of so much land and its provision of a small number of tenancies in a given year with the implausibility of its owning and sponsoring, say, corner shops. Of course, the situation was only too clear to some of us and my preference was to give all of the tenants a 'right to buy' their holdings at an appropriate discount, along the lines of Margaret Thatcher's 'right to buy' for those renting council houses. This would have created hundreds of new owner-occupiers and would have benefited the council's coffers by many millions of pounds. We ran into resistance from the more 'paternalist' Conservative councillors and from Labour and other councillors who actually believed in public ownership of agricultural land, but the opposition of those listed above combined with extreme conservatism on the part of the then leaders of the N.F.U. stymied our ideas. So we lost the crucial vote in 1980. What has happened since has not been to our liking, for hundreds of the holdings have been amalgamated into larger ones (which is fine for those getting the larger holdings, but not so good for those aspiring to a step on the farming ladder), and some farm houses and land have been sold off to incomers or to larger neighbours. There was even an under-cover sale of one farm, Hurdle Hall at Reach, hitherto farmed by two excellent tenants, to the National Trust, the purchase price being £300,000 for about 103 acres and including the site of a farm house and a semi-derelict barn. Those 103 acres are destined to be a small part of a large jungle, along with the rest of the Trust's land that is to comprise the so-called 'Wicken Vision.' Thousands of acres of the finest food-producing land in England are to become a waterlogged jungle of brambles, elder bushes, ragwort, stinging nettles and thistles and it's already happening within a mile or so of my home. Go to - http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/SaveOurFens/
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I have been watching the Conservative Party Conference on TV again. Andrew Lansley struggled with the discussion on the National Health Service. He had on his platform, amongst other worthies, a gentleman from the Stroke Association, a lady Professor of Psychiatry and a gentleman from Cancer Research UK. They were all impressive. However, I looked at the TV view of the conference hall: hardly anybody was there and some were even asleep. It almost seemed that there were more people on the platform than in the audience. Poor Andrew Lansley. Poor NHS. Poor us. Sad to relate, even that great old trouper, Ken Clarke, failed today to make much of an impression. Is he past it or is his pro-Europe past inhibiting him. I hazard a guess that it's the latter. George Osborne spoke well, however. We also saw Nick Herbert, the shadow DEFRA Secretary, and the conference hall was only about half full again for a further discussion of green issues and farming. I recall well the times when Conservative conferences always had special debates on food and farming. Indeed, I took part in them on a number of occasions, but James Paice, M.P., the 'shadow minister of agriculture for the last 100 years' (Nick Herbert's words, not mine), barely got a look in. My goodness me, the Conservative Party ain't what it was: it's worse!
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There was a pretty scary story in the Sunday Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/6258137/New-al-Qaeda-body-bombs-that-can-beat-airport-security-are-alarming-terror-experts.html I was reminded of it by hearing Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5, stating on the radio this morning that her worst nightmare was not 9/11, nor 7/7, but 21/7, the day when terrorists failed in London and the security services seem to have succeeded. Dame Eliza wondered aloud as to how we and she and London would have coped had there been regular rounds of suicide bombing attempts at, say, fortnightly intervals and often 'successful.' Now, apparently and according to the Sunday Telegraph, Al-Qaeda's people have found a devilish method for suicide bombers to do their awful deeds with explosive devices hidden in their intestines. A frightening episode was reported by Richard Barrett, head of the United Nations' Al-Qaeda monitoring group, and is said to have happened on August the 28th last when Abdullah al-Asiri, one of Saudi Arabia's most wanted men, offered to give himself up to Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the head of Saudi Arabia's counter terrorism operations. Prince Nayef is responsible for overseeing Saudi Arabia's much trumpeted terrorist rehabilitation programme, and some two dozen senior Al-Qaeda terrorists have already surrendered to him in person. This time the would-be assassin, the ostensibly repentant Asiri, gave himself up and took two flights, one aboard the Prince's private jet, and spent thirty hours closely guarded by the Prince's personal security detail. It was during the month of Ramadan, a time of repentance for Muslims, and Asiri was granted an audience with the prince at his private palace in Jeddah by declaring that he would persuade other militants to surrender. Asiri briefly called other militants on his cellular 'phone to tell them that he was standing alongside Prince Nayef. It was all recorded by Al-Qaeda which has turned the episode into an animated movie boasting of their exploits. Asiri then said that more Al-Qaeda figures wanted to surrender and asked the prince to take the cellular 'phone. During the conversation a bleep was heard and the keypad sound may have activated a short fuse on the bomb, according to security experts. Some 14 seconds later the bomb went off. The explosion blew Asiri to pieces and left his left arm embedded in the ceiling. Good, one might think: serve him right. But he didn't care a bit. This has made me think carefully about whether I want to board an airliner along with anyone who looks in the slightest bit suspicious. And, would I now continue with equanimity to use, say, tube trains or ordinary trains or buses? Well, I'm becoming more doubtful again. And what about walking along a crowded street in, say, Leeds or Luton or London, where there might also be suspicious-looking people about? Remember, we are not talking about a bloke with a belt of bombs round his middle nor a burqa-clad woman with something nasty in her underclothes. These can be detected by frisking or by X-ray. No, this new and potentially awful weapon of mass-destruction could be in the gut of the guy next to you on the 'plane or the train or the bus or in our British streets. All I can say is that, at present, I regard myself and my wife as being ultra-fortunate and ultra-safe from such fanatical criminality as we can be in rural South East Cambridgeshire. But for how much longer?
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Cameron and Hague spoke competently but, being 95% retired and having given myself much of the day off to watch the conference on TV, I have to confess that I nodded off on a couple of occasions and found the first day, by and large, boring, boring, boring. Wake up, you lot up there in Manchester, or you'll bore us all to sleep or death!
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