Monthly Archives: June 2014


Local MP, Rory Stewart, has welcomed the announcement that the AD122 bus will return as a seven day service over the Summer, after having assisted the local community in their efforts to see the route reinstated. The Penrith and the Border MP pressed Cumbria County Council to offer greater support to the community, who had struggled to find alternative means to run the bus service. The successful campaign has meant bus operator Go North East will now run the service from June 1st onward.

The AD122 travels from Hexham to Carlisle, serving many small communities along the Hadrian’s Wall route, including Haltwhistle, Birdoswald, Gilsland and Brampton. The service was one of 70 routes the council announced it would no longer subsidise earlier this year, in an effort to make budget savings. Rory Stewart has repeatedly raised concerns with the County Council about the impact of these cuts on some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and has extended his support and assistance to communities concerned about the loss of bus routes in their area.

Speaking on the AD122, Rory Stewart said:

“It is fantastic to hear the AD122 will again serve rural communities along Hadrian’s Wall this Summer. Having met community representatives and offered my support, it is clear just how important this route is to local residents.This is one of the most rural and isolated areas in Britain. Without a bus service, many residents have no means to travel into town for their shopping, doctor’s appointments or simply to socialise. Without a bus, we further limit the number of tourists visiting the area, and supporting many of our small, rural businesses.

Many communities continue to rightly worry about how a loss of bus services will affect them. I remain very willing to offer any support I can to anyone concerned about this, and would encourage communities to get in touch.”

Britain in NATO

The UK and the US has promised to fight to defend Latvia or Estonia. That is exactly what it means to be part of NATO. It is an alliance in which ‘an attack on one is an attack on all.’ American and British soldiers could be sent to fight and die to defend a country one thousand – or even three thousand – miles from their borders. But last week one of my colleagues said: “I don’t think I can sell that to my constituents. They can understand that we need a military to protect them against a terrorist bomb in the streets of Birmingham. But I can’t convince people to risk their lives to defend Eastern Europe against Russia.” This is an increasingly common position. And you can see where it comes from. For a decade or more, politicians have argued that the greatest security threat we face is Islamist terrorism. They made this the central justification for the over one trillion US dollars spent by the US and its allies in Afghanistan (and to a lesser extent, Iraq). In the words of Gordon Brown “There is a chain of terrorism that goes from Afghanistan to the streets of Britain.”

But NATO was not created to protect our homelands against terrorism. It was created to protect allies in Europe. In both the First and Second World Wars Britain and the United States overcame the temptation to remain isolated from continental Europe, and instead sacrificed on an extraordinary scale, fighting for and in Europe. After the Second World War leaders such as Ernie Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary who proposed NATO, or George Kennan, the American architect of containment,  took it almost for granted that it was worth fighting far from their own shores to protect the freedom and civilisation of other European countries, and particularly democracies. It was because of this world view that the United States spent billions through the Marshall Plan rebuilding the European economies in 1947. When Europe itself proved unwilling to pay the price for its own Defence, the United States decided to subsidise it. It spent trillions on weapons and aid and deployed hundreds of thousands, and built tens of thousands of nuclear warheads to protect Western Europe from invasion. Our astonishingly expensive kit – submarines, destroyers, tanks, and above all nuclear weapons – was not intended to fight terrorists, or conduct humanitarian interventions. (A submarine is not much use against a terrorist).

But by the 1990s the world and our values had changed. The Soviet Union had collapsed. Russia seemed very weak, and it was assumed that ultimately Russia and China too would ‘evolve’ into liberal democracies without using military force on their neighbours. Central and Eastern Europe had become democratic. Peace in Western Europe seemed assured. Trouble was expected now to come, if not from terrorists, then from weaker, poorer and wilder states. These were a source of instability and concern, but no remote conventional threat to the survival of Western states. And when Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia applied to join NATO because they felt their only hope of developing democratic institutions was to be given an absolute guarantee against aggression from the East, we promised them that protection. It was easy to promise protection when no-one ever expected to have to honour that promise. We still kept submarines, and nuclear missiles, and NATO, but we did not think we might use such things.

Today, Russia and China are spending hundreds of billions upgrading their militaries, and investing particularly heavily in their nuclear capability. Crimea has been annexed; the Baltic states and Poland are nervous. The United States has committed an immediate billion dollars to reinforcing defences in Eastern Europe. It looks like a return to the Cold War. But our values and assumptions have changed. My 92-year-old father, who landed on the D-Day beaches and spent most of his career caught up in the Cold War, still believes that we kept peace by preparing for war; that we never had to fight a European conflict, because our enemies believed that if they invaded we would take the immense risk of firing our nuclear missiles in defence of our allies.

But how would we convince the next generation to do the same? We are more cynical now than the architects of NATO about concepts like ‘democracy’ ‘liberty’ or ‘European civilisation’. And the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan make us more so. The use of war, and even nuclear war, seemed plausible options to an earlier generation in a way that it is not to us today. How do we justify the world order, or defend it? My colleague suggests that the American and British public can now only understand defence against ‘bombs in the streets of Birmingham’, and no longer believes in larger alliances, and international commitments. If this is true – and it may be – our relationship to Russia, to China, to our allies, and the whole idea of ‘policing’ a world order, has been utterly changed. And we have not begun to imagine the consequences for our defence and security.

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Please note that local MP for Penrith and the Border Rory Stewart will
be holding open surgeries at the following locations in June 2014:

Friday 6th June 2014 – 4-5:30pm – Booths Cafe, Penrith
Friday 13th June 2014 – 4:30-5:30pm – Conservative Club, Brampton
Friday 13th June – 6:00-7:00pm – 31 Chiswick Street, Carlisle
Friday 27th June – 2:00-3:00pm – Local Links, Kirkby Stephen
Friday 27th June – 5:30-6:30pm – Booths Cafe, Penrith
No appointment is necessary, and all constituents are welcome. More
information can be found at

For more information please call 01768 484 114.