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wind turbines

wind farms

My opposition to wind-turbines used to be merely theoretical. I understood that they were an inefficient way of generating energy and that companies pushed them into inappropriate places, against the wishes of communities, because of extravagant subsidies. But Britain desperately needed clean energy. I knew struggling farmers, for whom turbines could bring enough income to […]



  A very wise quote from Thomas Jefferson who would surely have approved of the Big Society… “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to […]


bringing superfast broadband to penrith and the border

Nothing that I have done in my short time in parliament has been as exciting or as fulfilling as broadband. My constituency of Penrith and the Border is the largest in England and consists of over 200 villages. Our greatest problems stem from distance and isolation. My neighbour with Parkinson’s has to drive to Newcastle Hospital […]


two campaigns: penrith cinema and newton rigg

On Thursday, I defended Cumbrian community action in the London School of Economics, where the rhetoric was as extreme as the setting was bland. My opponents compared parish council initiatives to Athenian slavery and the Bombing of Baghdad, in front of a quiet scholarly audience in a lecture theatre. On Saturday, I was amidst the […]

thoughts on the big society

I thought I’d share a couple of points I’ve been trying to make in correspondence with a constituent about the Big Society: thoughts welcome… Big Society projects are by their very nature local and varied. For that reason, they can only be fully assessed on the ground and in a particular place. A successful big […]


new year in cumbria

I spent Christmas with my family. My little sister, who has Down’s Syndrome, made Christmas for us. She spent much of the holiday in a pink, pointed woollen hat, with ear flaps – the kind I imagine a Peruvian wearing. She took my father swimming and me skating (I promptly fell over in the middle […]


save penrith cinema update

  Update on the Lease Situation at the Alhambra:   I spoke to Vince Hughes, one of the directors of Graves, on Friday. He explained in some detail the financial information and the offer he had received, but on a confidential basis. I encouraged him to talk to his Board about sharing information more widely. […]


save penrith cinema

  Please support our bid to save Penrith’s  Lonsdale Alhambra Cinema The hundreds of protesters, who I joined outside the Cinema on Saturday were amazing. There was real verve, energy and exuberance in the streets. I never thought I’d see so many people (still less end up standing between Darth Vader and Borat). I love […]

village hall led revolution

Article first published in The Observer on 2 January 2011. An internet revolution driven by tiny rural communities and their village halls in Cumbria is giving the telecoms giants a run for their money This winter, 130 activists gathered to discuss superfast broadband in a village hall in Cumbria. They had come from 100 villages, […]