Scottish Referendum

Western Morning NewsIf recent polls are to be believed Scotland is within touching distance of independence. Alec Salmond’s campaign to leave the United Kingdom only needs three more points to claim victory on September 18. After months of stagnation support for separation – mostly from the so call ‘undecided’ – suggests the momentum is edging towards the nationalists. This is undoubtedly ringing alarm bells at Westminster where cross party the consensus is that we are Better Together.


Express & EchoThe parliamentary recess has been dominated by foreign affairs, alarmingly so. Many people have seen the tragedies of recent conflicts unfolding on their screens and have felt conflicted by what our response as a nation should be.


Exmouth JournalAs we headed into recess strong jobs numbers were announced, a clear sign that more people have the security of work than ever before, in fact the number of people looking for a job is down this year by the biggest amount since 1995, and the number of young people relying on benefits has had its biggest annual fall since 1997.  We also saw that crime is down by more than 10 per cent.  Families are safer and more secure – and communities can enjoy a better, brighter future.

Commonwealth Games

Express & EchoTo the Commonwealth Games for its 2014 opening ceremony. And it didn’t disappoint: tartan-clad performers, spinning oversized Tunnock's tea cakes and a giant kilt were among the highlights. As the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth it seems a good time to reflect on the great network that these Games celebrate – a network whose membership now stands at 53 countries, representing a third of the world’s population.

Care Homes

Change is always difficult, change when it involves elderly and vulnerable people even more so. And enforced change when it involves loved ones the most difficult of all. So the news that Devon County Council is to close all but two of its care homes has understandably alarmed many people.

Youth Unemployment

Express & EchoEd Milliband has been playing catch up by setting out his plans for cuts to the Welfare budget ending out-of-work benefits for roughly 100,000 18-to-21-year-olds and replacing them with a less costly means-tested payment dependent on training. Miliband's move reflects recognition of anger among some voters that some people are getting "something for nothing" out of the welfare system.

Iraq and Iran

Exmouth JournalThis month the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the National Security Council - which I attended - focusing on the grave situation in Iraq and the impact of the conflict on domestic security here in Britain.

Extremism in Schools

Exmouth JournalThe findings of Ofsted's three-month inquiry into Birmingham's schools made shocking reading. At Oldknow Academy, a primary school, trips to churches, Sikh gurdwaras, and synagogues were all phased, out, while the school's Christmas celebrations were cancelled.

Election Results

Exmouth JournalThe recent local and euro elections caused something of a stir in political circles but now that the dust has settled it seems an opportune moment to look at the implications for each of the main parties.