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New Year's Honours List 2013

It is with a sense of pride and of history that I received the news that the Prime Minister has recommended to Her Majesty the Queen that I should be appointed an Officer of the most excellent Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List. The appointment is made for Political Service over a period of more than twenty years.

I feel particular pride to be in such exalted company this year as so many Olympians and Paralympians who made us all so very proud during London 2012 this past summer.

For the past fifteen years few honours have been made to volunteers in the world of British politics, with only a handful of elected councillors and parliamentarians being recognised. No volunteers in the Conservative Party have received an honour for "political service", although it was entirely right that Jeremy Middleton received a CBE earlier this year for "political and charitable services" recognising his fundraising for charities in addition to his political service. The reality of fifteen years of denial of recognition and thanks for political volunteers through the Blair and Brown governments causes me to have an even greater sense of responsibility in accepting this appointment. I do so on behalf of those scores of people from across the political spectrum who have given their time and commitment to serving the Nation in the political field, and to whom no-one has said thank you. Politics is held in poor repute by all too many people in our society, but the delivery of politics is critical for our Nation in the global sphere in almost every aspect of the business of our society.

I greatly enjoyed my twenty year engagement in politics, possibly most so at a very local level here in Edgbaston. Serving the members of the Conservative Party who elected me to represent them on the Board of the Party between 2007 and 2011 was an incomparable experience and a huge honour. My greatest pride will always be, as President of the National Conservative Convention, making the decision to bring the Party conference to Birmingham, and opening the conference in my home city in October 2010. That was a decision that brought more than £15 million into the economy of this city in each of the three years that the conference came here. It is one of my deepest hopes that the Party conference will continue to come to Birmingham bringing with it decision makers and opinion formers in politics and business and the world’s media.

Volunteering is an honourable estate that is all too infrequently recognised. Over the past fifteen years there have been hundreds of volunteers in the Conservative Party who in previous years would have been recognised, thanked and rewarded by the appointment of knighthoods, CBEs, OBEs and MBEs. In accepting this award I do so mindful of all those volunteers who gave thousands of hours, delivered hundreds of thousands of leaflets, raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to support local campaigns, and who did so honestly and whose families invested great commitment to their serving Britain, but who were overlooked in different political times. To them all, and to my family who put up with my focus on politics for so many years, thank you, this is for you as much as for me.

Standing for election to the Conservative Party Board

cb_portrait.jpgIsn't it good to be a Conservative again! After too many years when the political climate was against us, David Cameron is proving that we can change and that we are ready to win. But for David to make it to 10 Downing Street the Party in the country needs to be fit, healthy and ready to deliver the victory that Britain so badly needs.

That's why I'm standing for election to the Party Board as a vice-president of the National Convention.

I've served the Party in every capacity from polling district captain to constituency chairman in a West Midlands target seat. I've been an area and regional officer guiding associations throughout the Heart of England, and continue to mentor and advise new candidates. For nearly 20 years I've delivered leaflets, canvassed for votes, and raised the funds to run our campaign. In fact I've done just about everything that you do. So, in standing for the Board I will represent you, the key members of this Party.


I also have Board level experience which means that I understand the major issues that are critical to managing a voluntary organisation like the Conservative Party. As a Board member of both The English-Speaking Union and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra I have played an influential part in recognising challenges and delivering success.

I'm keen to know what you think are the key issues for the Conservative Party now. Those will be the themes that you need me to focus on as your Board member.

You can find out more about me on this website, and I would be delighted to hear from you. You can send me a message on my contacts page.

I promise to be a strong and determined advocate for us, the members of the Conservative Party, if you elect me to the Board. You really can have a say in the management of our Party by voting in the National Convention elections. So please do use your vote now.
A night sleeping out on the streets of Digbeth to help the homeless

A night sleeping out on the streets of DigbethBirmingham used to have a real problem with homelessness. A walk along New Street at night would find groups of people, young and old alike, huddling in make-shift homes of cardboard boxes, the occasional second-hand sleeping bag, and the obligatory stray dog.

These were people forgotten by society, unloved by their family, and left without hope.

But that has now changed in large part due to social enterprises like St Basils in Birmingham.

Each year the corporate community in Birmingham, along with other friends, raises funds for St Basils by volunteering to spend a night out on the streets of Digbeth with just a cardboard box and a plastic bag as a home for the night.

So on 24th November I spent one of the wettest and windiest nights of the autumn out of the street to raise awareness and funds for St Basils. Sutton Coldfield MP and Shadow Minister for Birmingham Andrew Mitchell also joined the event to welcome sleepers and support St Basils.

Since 1973 St Basils has worked with young people who are threatened with homelessness and hopelessness. St Basils provides a home to about 1000 young people each year, and runs courses that build confidence and skills, giving participants a hand up rather than a hand out.

A measure of the success of St Basils is that in the November’s annual count of homelessness in Birmingham, just five people were found living on the streets. That is a reduction of 82% over the past five years.

I spent my windswept night on the street lying in an ever larger puddle of rainwater. Other “sleepers” boxes were drowned out a blown away, including an impressive den built by schoolchildren from Oundle School. My home for the night was a rather more sturdy construction, which I built from a cardboard box that was held together with masking tape. Whilst rainwater seeped in underneath it just about survived until morning.

One cold night on the streets of Birmingham may have been uncomfortable for me, but I am delighted to have helped St Basils continue to do its truly valuable work with young people who society had overlooked.

In total I raised £2,880. That included £750 from Barclays through the employee community support matched funding scheme.

I'm a fortune bank teller... - Birmingham Mail Article

Its time to scrap Death Tax

The Daily Express steps up its long-standing campaign to abolish Inheritance Tax.

Death Tax is a pernicious tax that primarily hits people who have recently suffered trauma and loss. Due to the meteoric rise in the value of property in the UK over the past ten years, IHT now hits a majority in middle England. It is double taxation of the worst order that strikes at vulnerable people who have lost a loved parent or child. Death Tax hits people who have paid taxes, managed businesses, created employment, bought their own homes, and seek little more than to ensure that their families are independent from the State. Death Tax is wrong.

With good (and costly) financial advice IHT can be addressed. The super-rich tend to hold their assets off-shore in formats that will not be subject to IHT. But, you can't hold your family home in an off-shore tax shelter. So, those who really suffer are the families of people who die owning little more than a home in a desirable location.

Around the world attitudes to Death Tax is changing. In some US states including Florida, and in Portugal it has been abolished. Its time for it to go in the UK too, a case that I argued publicly at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2006.

My speech, in which I also spoke in favour of of David Cameron's Disraelian principles of "sharing the proceeds of growth" and "promoting General Well-Being" was reported in a leader article in the Express last October.

Cheers for death tax vow -The Daily Express

Conservative Party Conference Bournemouth October 2006

Speaking at Bournemouth ConferenceExerpts from my speech at the party conference.
"No one in this party could disagree with the principle of sharing the proceeds of growth"

"And no one in the Party could disagree with the ideal of promoting General Well Being"

"But the best way of raising our General Well Being is to raise less taxes. And that is also a Conservative principle"

"Inheritance Tax is plainly and simply wrong"