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, […]

happy new year

As I write, the sun is setting on 2010: a year of two severe winters. Many Cumbrians have struggled with the soaring costs of heating oil, with the roads and with the cold. Now, it is warmer outside my cottage than in: the sheep are no longer burrowing in snow, the last of the ice […]

if i were to edit the today programme for a day

The Independent newspaper asked me what I would include if I were able to edit the Today Programme for a day. Here is what I chose…   The historian Jonathan Spence would describe how a seventeenth century Jesuit, built a ‘memory palace’ in his mind, which allowed him to learn thousand Chinese characters in a […]

christmas in penrith and the border

It has been a tough winter already and it is difficult not to think we are entering many years of harsh winters. Government must radically improve its response to everything from fuel poverty to the condition of our roads. The snows cancelled some of the fairs, which I was looking forward to seeing, from Bampton […]

rory’s round-up

  A number of broadband related blogs I have enjoyed reading recently:   To read Barry Forde on  the unforseen consequences of Broadband, click here   Click here to learn about the importance of Rural Broadband from Charles Paxton   To scroll through John Popham’s account of the Great Asby Big Society and Broadband days, click here    […]


Christmas Card

Christmas Card from Plumpton School I am delighted to announce a Plumpton School pupil as the winning designer of my first constituency Christmas card, to be sent all over Cumbria and the UK. Six-year-old Ellie Morton was chosen as the winner of a local competition, and will enjoy a trip to London to visit the Houses […]


broadband presentation

This is a slideshow that I use when giving power point presentations about Broadband and the Big Society. There are some fun images that I thought I would share. Broadband and Big Society



Discovering Eden Sir John Mandeville, the great medieval traveller, claimed to have visited almost every place in the world except the Garden of Eden: he describes China; he describes a country of “eternal darkness” which appears to be Afghanistan. “But of Paradise,” he writes, “I cannot speak, for I was not there … which I […]

rural communities deserve fast broadband

Article first published in Farmers Weekly on 15th October 2010 Modern communities that are key to the prosperity of our countryside I am often asked about my focus in Parliament and when I say ‘broadband’, people’s faces fall. The reactions I get imply that they had expected a conversation about high politics but are getting […]


innovia and wigton

When I ran last week from parliamentary meetings about the Cumbrian sewage system; to the Olympics; the Forestry Commission; army reforms; and rural planning guidelines, I found myself struggling to keep up with it all. Learning about new policy areas can be bewildering and dispiriting. Officials scatter jargon: yesterday, SME didn’t mean Small and Medium […]