Rory’s speech on the UK armed forces in Afghanistan

Transcript I find this a very powerful, very troubling and very worrying motion. It states: “That this House supports the continued deployment of UK armed forces in Afghanistan.” If one were to remove the word “continued”, there is nobody in this House who would oppose the motion. Every Member, day by day, feels more admiration […]

penrith and the border broadband conference

THE PENRITH AND THE BORDER BROADBAND CONFERENCE  ‘CONNECTING CUMBRIAN COMMUNITIES’ THE PARISH PUMP PROJECT    Penrith and the Border communities are determined to get high-speed Next Generation broadband Access(NGA) for most people and a reliable 2mb connection for everyone by the end of 2012. This is vital for a constituency with a higher proportion of self-employed people than anywhere […]

eden river trust walk

I have spent the last two days walking along the Eden. I thought I would experience and remember it as a single flowing stream. But instead it seems many rivers. At Mallerstang below the falls the valley is narrow, with folds and rivulets and short limestone distances that conceal castles. The dark rearing crest of […]

supporting our rural transport systems

A decade of the PlusBus is coming to an end, which is very sad news indeed; it is essential that we recognise the work of the PlusBus committee, who have put so much effort into this service over the past ten years. They have done a fabulous job of keeping this running and have successfully […]

with my father in vietnam

A week ago, Cumbria; next week, Cumbria again, walking along the Eden River from Mallerstang. But today I am in a provincial Vietnamese town with my 88-year old father. We have just been for a walk at 5.30 in the morning. The mist drifts slowly around the foot-hills and above the narrow fishing boats. Teenagers […]

the young farmers of cumbria

I first met the Cumbrian Young Farmers on a charity bike ride, last Spring. Steve Pattinson of Kinkry Hill and I were moving between pubs on a hot afternoon and I was puffing up the hill on a tiny bike without gears. We came round the corner to the Black Lion at Hethersgill and found […]

The Irresistible Illusion

Article first published in the London Review of Books in July 2009. We are accustomed to seeing Afghans through bars, or smeared windows, or the sight of a rifle: turbaned men carrying rockets, praying in unison, or lying in pools of blood; boys squabbling in an empty swimming-pool; women in burn wards, or begging in […]

river eden trust ‘source to sea’ charity walk

On 1st September Simon Johnson, Director of Eden Rivers Trust, and I will commence a fund-raising walk along the entire length of the River Eden. The 80+ mile walk, lasting four days will raise funds for Eden Rivers Trust’s conservation and education projects. A dawn start sees in day one on the 1st September at […]

the big society and local democracy

The Prime Minister has now said repeatedly that Big Society is his passion and that he wants it to be his most lasting positive legacy. Where a Prime-minster leads, an industry emerges: think-tanks ponder it; civil servants wish to legislate on it, columnists debate it, new Ministers are created to propagate it.  But what is […]