Mayoral Vote Registration

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The Telephone Number for people wishing to register to vote in the primary goes live later today at 3.00 pm. It will be automated today and will have live operators from tomorrow when it will be manned:

Mon-Fri 8am to 9 pm

Sat 9am to 5pm

Sun 10am to 4pm

The number is 0906 555 5050

Calls cost £1.00p per minute from a BT Landline, other operators & networks may vary. iTouch (UK) Ltd. EC2A 4PF

Please note that all members of the Conservative Party are automatically registered to vote in the ballot

The ballot is open to anyone registered as an elector in Greater London as at 1 July 2007

Working from Home and the Transport System

We go to work, despite the jams

But why do we still do it? Why do we put ourselves through the agony of commuting? It is one of the great mysteries of the modern world, and a rebuke to the futurologists. Do you remember all those people – about five or 10 years ago – who said we were going to be working from home?

They had every reason to be confident of their predictions. We have the gizmos to make it so simple, if we choose. We have computers and broadband and high-speed access to Skype and all the technology a man could need if he chose to stick at home with his wifi.

They said that, in a few years’ time, we would all be tele-cottaging and distance-working and generally interfacing from afar, and what utter tripe they talked.

Almost every day we see an increase in the tide of humanity that washes over the landscape. Last year alone, the numbers of passengers travelling by train grew by 6.7 per cent – double the rate predicted by Government.

The number of Tube journeys is set to rise from one billion to 1.5 billion a year. The number of car passenger journeys rises inexorably, we endure longer and longer traffic jams, and in an effort to escape the congestion, more and more of us enjoy the Palio of cycling in London – and all for what?

Continue reading Working from Home and the Transport System

Ed Balls and Nursery provision

From elf and safety to blithering Balls

So now he tells us. Now he tries to repent. Well, thanks for nothing, chum. After 10 years of suffocating legislation, the Labour Secretary for Children and Schools, Mr Edward Balls, appears to have woken up to what his government has done.

After 10 years of elf and safety lunacy, Balls has plaintively called for children to be allowed to take a few risks: play conkers, have a snowball fight, climb a tree, get a few scabs back on their knees. Bring back the joys of childhood, says the blithering Balls, as if Labour had nothing to do with the creation of our grossly over-regulated society and compensation culture.

“Children should not be wrapped in cotton wool,” said Balls yesterday, as if he hadn’t a clue about the innumerable prohibitions his Government has placed on nursery schools alone. Cotton wool? My dear Balls, if a nursery teacher tried to wrap a child in cotton wool, she would almost certainly be disciplined for engaging in inappropriate physical contact.

I’m quite serious. Nursery school teachers are not allowed to apply plasters, in case the child is allergic to plasters. Calpol is verboten. As for suncream! You need written permission to smear suncream, because any adult seen doing so is assumed to have some pervy purpose. It is technically forbidden to ask a child to stand on a chair (he or she might fall off), and as for disciplining children – you have no idea of the Pol Pot terror that can be visited on an adult caught in the act of trying to exercise authority.

Take the case of poor Olive Rack, 56, who has 20 years experience as a nursery teacher, and who last year saw one of her charges – a two-year-old – whacking a baby over the head with a large wooden brick. The toddler was about to have a second crack when Olive intervened and took her by the hand to the naughty chair.

Continue reading Ed Balls and Nursery provision

Marriage

The real turn-off is a lack of marriageable men

The other day, I was giving a lift to a group of 14-year-old girls and, as we waited at the traffic lights, I became dimly aware of something remarkable about their conversation. They were all bright sparks, in the process of being coached up by their schools to become captains of industry, Members of Parliament and all the rest of it.

But as I inclined my ear, I realised that they weren’t discussing their dotcoms; they weren’t preparing for the time when they would be joining each other on the pages of Fortune magazine or Business Week.

No, they were discussing marriage. They were planning their wedding days, down to the last sugared almond and the exact cut of their dresses. Not only were they consulting a magazine called Brides, these 14-year-olds, but they had a special supplement of Brides, featuring a hunk in morning dress.

The name of the supplement was Groom, and as I looked at Groom magazine, I noticed a key but symbolic detail: it was considerably thinner than Brides. Brides was massive – about 250 glossy pages, dripping with advertisements and panting with advice – whereas Groom was a thoroughly laconic affair about 10 pages long; and, as I listened to their chatter, I suddenly became all sentimental, and thought how touching it was that young girls should care so deeply about their distant nuptials; and I tried to remember whether I, as a 14-year-old, had given the slightest thought to marriage, or what kind of pearl tie-pin I would use on the great day, and of course the answer is no.

Continue reading Marriage

Nicolas Sarkozy

the very act of le jogging – or le running as it is now more fashionable to call it – is a cultural humiliation

the Sarkozy jog is in conformity with the principles of the French Revolution, and the equality and brotherhood of man.

Bravo, Sarkozy – from one jogger to another

There are some people I know who are not so keen on Nicolas Sarkozy, the new President of France. Some prudes have been dismayed by the way he turned up at a press conference in a state of apparent alcoholic intoxication. Some think it a bit off that he tried to grab the steering wheel at the recent European summit, and change the fundamental principles of the EU Treaty.

Some people find him altogether too Tiggerish and bumptious. I have, I confess, been so far in a state of glorious detachment on the Sarkozy issue – until yesterday morning, when I read that he was once again under attack from the French intellectuals, and I found my sword leaping from its scabbard in his defence.

In the caf├ęs of the Left Bank, they have fastened on what they regard as the single most objectionable and Right-wing aspect of the Sarkozy agenda – and what do you think it is? Do they object to his views on immigration? Are they worried about his plans to make French universities more competitive?

Continue reading Nicolas Sarkozy