Meeting With Health Secretary
Posted Thursday, 30 November 2006 at 10:10
I forgot to mention yesterday - we walked into Patricia Hewitt's office before she had arrived. The office isn’t huge, a desk, a few chairs a coffee table and a sofa. On the sofa was a pillow and a Marks and Spencers duvet, all made up as a bed looking as though someone had just got up. The PPS quickly lifted it and shoved it down the side of the sofa.
Now I could be really disingenuous and accuse the Secretary of State of sleeping on the job, but I wont. As she came into the room she brought a packet of sandwiches which she tried to eat as she talked, without success.
I think the truth of the matter is that she has got her priorities wrong. If you have such a responsible job you need to be able to sleep properly in order to make well thought out clear decisions, and you need a proper diet to remain healthy. She obviously isn't doing any of these things which is all rather ironic given her job title.
I found out last night that in November I had 41,628 hits to my website! This is amazing as in May it was 532. Over 2000 were from the States and six from Australia, hello auntie Norma and uncle Dave, it must be you! I miss you!x
Prescott's in charge. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Posted Wednesday, 29 November 2006 at 14:20
PMQ’s today. I am sorry: I was one of the people who criticised the ‘laddish’ behaviour of MP’s in the chamber before I arrived and now I am as bad as the rest.
There is something about the atmosphere. The chamber, despite looking huge on TV, is in fact only very small. We are all squashed together, it’s usually hot and MP’s are very fired up and ready to have a go at whoever they think is the creator of all problems. It is the one chance in the week when you can hold the Prime Minister directly accountable, only this week it was Two Jags and it was a riot.
William Hague was superb as always asking questions which were both important and relevant. He ran rings around the deputy Prime Minister; I actually felt sorry for JP – he looked confused at the questions, leaned back and asked the ministers around him what to do. Although this was all great sport and very, very funny this is the man who is in charge of the country today – not so funny.
After PMQ’s Alistair (MP NE Beds) and I had a meeting with Patricia Hewitt about Bedford Hospital. With consummate political skill she took all the credit on behalf of the Government for the investment that has gone into the NHS - and blamed Bedford hospital managers for the problems and redundancies faced by the Hospital. And we wonder why people are disenchanted with politicians? Given that the people living in Patricia Hewitt’s constituency receive a great deal more in funding for their NHS than people in Bedfordshire do for ours - after that meeting I’m one of them.
Relaxation Of Abortion Laws
Posted Tuesday, 28 November 2006 at 16:12
B-PAS, the British pregnancy Advisory service have called for abortions to be available on demand. Of course, they are available on demand, you can hear the braying from the stable in terms of the effectiveness of abortion law and it should be reformed.
It is of course no surprise that the organisation to which the NHS contracts over 50,000 abortions per year should want to see the law relaxed. We perform over six hundred abortions a day in the UK and that figure is rising. Abortion is a growth industry.
The law does need to be reformed but not in a Cavalier way which enables a distressing surgical procedure which has been proved to have lasting damaging psychological and mental health effects to be used as a form of contraception. That is a retrograde step.
I would have far more respect for B-PAS if they were calling for the morning after pill to be free in Pharmacists in the same way as it is at a GP’s practice and not at a cost of £25. For many girls and young women a doctor’s appointment takes days, by which time it is too late. The Pharmacist on the High Street is open all hours and easily accessible. Many girls don’t pay the £25 so cross their fingers and hope for the best, we know the rest.
So, I hope B-PAS excuse my cynicism and forgive me for thinking that there are far more effective ways at preventing young girls from becoming pregnant in the first place and that admission into a B-PAS government funded hospital is not the answer to the problem of having the highest teenage pregnancy and abortion rate in Europe.
Issues Of The Day
Posted Monday, 27 November 2006 at 11:48
The son of a senior political figure in Scotland attended a course in the south of England last week and as it was too far for him to drive to Edinburgh on the Friday night came to stay with us. My daughter who knows him well decided to come home from university in Newcastle, and her boyfriend who is at Oxford was not going to leave his girlfriend in the company of another good looking male so he came home too, although he completely denies this motive of course. My youngest daughter unaware of any of this invited three of her friends to a sleepover on the same night. Despite having been at work all week I realized that the hardest work was about to begin. I abandoned any hope of cooking a meal and booked us all into the local pub.
How facinating it is to listen to six young adults discussing the issues of the day and how amazed was I to hear my 21 year old thoroughly modern daughter say “I blame the breakdown of society on the fact that the role of women has become confused. When I get married I am going to stay at home and look after my husband and children and be a homemaker” This from a young woman deciding which post grad course she should take next year? Having finished the meal I left them and went and joined my own friends - only to have them come up and keep asking me to go back and sit with them.
What is up with youth today? They want to become home makers and sit and talk with adults? It’s not supposed to be like this – have teenagers forgotten how to be obnoxious? Or are we at the beginning of a generational change in social attitudes and values?
Posted Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 15:20
There is a lobby today in the House of Commons with regard to MRSA. This is a subject which is close to my heart and one I have spoken about in both the chamber and in committee. Today I have spoken to a room full of people who are sufferers of MRSA. They have lost limbs and life as they know it. I only had to walk from my office to address the meeting, they travelled many miles. And yet still the government refuses to aknowledge the severity of the problem or to put in place the most basic measures to stop MRSA in it's tracks.
On Saturday I saw a shopper in Waitrose wearing a nurse’s uniform, leaning over the fruit with a toddler in her arms. Was she on her way to or from work? If she was on her way in, what bacteria was she taking into the hospital environment where people, as a consequence of being ill, are bound to be vulnerable and immuneosuppresed.
Why did we stop using antibacterials and wet mops to clean floors? Isn’t it obvious that dry mopping just transfers the germs around?
When a patient left a hospital bed it used to be cleaned down with Chlorahexidine solution as were the bed side table and cabinet and the bed was allowed to cool down. A nurse at Bedford hospital recently told me about ‘hotbedding’ and how in an effort to meet government targets beds weren’t given the chance to cool down before the next patient went in, usually for minor op’s to make the lists appear shorter quicker.
Tackling MRSA is a matter of common sense. Less reliance on anti-biotics. Cleaner hospitals, all hospital staff uniforms laundered on site, just like they used to be, and proper matrons who monitor and control ward cleanliness.
Why oh why can’t this be the case? In committee recently the minister had a word with me outside. She began by saying “Look Nadine, we just can’t launder uniforms on site so there is no point in asking the same question over and over again” Why can’t we? We have poured billions into the NHS. £36 Billion into a computer system which no one wants and which doesn’t even work. Why can’t we? She couldn’t answer, the people I spoke to today deserve an answer.
Lunch With The American Ambassador
Posted Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 14:59
A small group of us have just returned from lunch with the American Ambassador. As you would expect the subject of Iraq was high on the discussion agenda.
I was the only female MP and put forward my solution to the war in Iraq as a ‘girl thing’ because it is so different from everyone else’s and I seem to be the only person with this point of view!
When I had finished (see blog entry for 10th November 2006) one of the Ambassadors staff said “Nadine, that’s not just a girl thing, Henry Kissinger said exactly the same thing over the weekend”
I’m touched and humbled; Kissinger is obviously reading my blog!
European Court Of Human Rights
Posted Monday, 20 November 2006 at 10:40
Seventeen Judges in the European Court of Human Rights will decide on Tuesday whether a young woman will be allowed to have her fertilized embryos implanted.
Five years ago she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to make the immediate decision to have her eggs frozen as that would be her only chance of having children in the future. Her partner agreed to the procedure, the eggs were fertilized and have been frozen ever since.
The partner has now left the young woman and withdrawn his permission for the embryos to be used. English courts have ruled that the embryos can only be implanted with the partners consent.
As far as I am concerned he already gave his consent, when the eggs were fertilized. The young woman quite rightly looks upon the embryos as potential children. She is bravely fighting their silent corner. She is their voice. Once the process of fertilization has begun, the equivalent of a planned pregnancy, there is surely a moral obligation to continue. It’s a bit late for the ex-partner to say no. I very much hope the ECHR finds in her favour.
I would imagine that the English court were interpreting the 1990 Embryology and Human Fertilization Act and could make no decision other than the one which was made and had nowhere to go. However, the judge’s decision in the ECHR will not be restricted by English law. Maybe there is a point to this court after all?
The case is shown on Tuesday night in ‘A Child Against All Odds’ on BBC1, when I assume the judges decision will be known. If the decision is no, the embryos will be destroyed along with the chance of her ever having a child of her own – harsh and wrong if you believe as she does, that the embryos are the beginning of human life, the beginning of her baby’s life.
Posted Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 12:21
I have begun to receive CV’s from very hunky personal bodyguards offering to protect me. I wish….. if only…oh well!
The Queen's Speech
Posted Wednesday, 15 November 2006 at 13:43
Just arrived back in my office after watching the Queen's speech from the chamber .Black Rod did the customary three knock’s on the door of the chamber after it was slammed in his face. He then marched up to the mace and announced that the Queen requested the presence of MPs in the house of peers, turned on his heel and marched back towards the door – at which point Dennis Skinner MP shouted out “Is Helen Mirren over there as back up”. Dennis, whose views on Royalty are well known, does not do as Her Majesty requests!
Posted Tuesday, 14 November 2006 at 15:30
Received a very interesting analysis of the vote on my bill to reduce the legal date for abortion from 24 to 21 weeks from Philip Cowley a lecturer at the University of Nottingham. Philip is the person journalists turn to whenever there is a Commons revolt and is now the recognised academic on MPs voting behaviour.
His paper depressingly states that ‘The abortion vote did yet again confirm the overall importance of party, even when the whip is off’
Apparently, it is also ‘the first legislative attempt by a woman MP to reduce the availability of abortion’. I didn’t know that!
What a fantastic day yesterday was.
Posted Monday, 13 November 2006 at 10:31
It started at 7am at All Saints Church in Houghton Conquest with a run through and mini rehearsal for the live remembrance service which was going to be broadcast on Radio 4 at 8.10am The service ran without a hitch. In no small part due to the Miss Trunchbullesque efficiency of the producer Julie!
The Rev Sharon Gresham-Toze spoke beautifully. She has a voice for radio and is obviously a fantastic communicator; however, it is Sharon’s husband who is actually the Rector of Houghton Conquest and Wilstead.
Sharon used to have her own parish in Milton Keynes, but now that she is married she can only have a parish if she and her husband live separately. According to the Diocese, she has to live in the Parish even if it’s only a few yards down the road.
So, the Anglican church has moved on to the degree that it ordains gay clergy – which I certainly don’t have a problem with - but if a female vicar is married to a male vicar she can only have a parish if she lives away from her family. My letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams is in the post!
After the broadcast service I went over to Ampthill for the Baptist service. I love Ampthill. I often meet constituents in the coffee shop at the bakers, and I always have packed surgeries in the Library, which is where I met Reverend Steve Plummer from ABC. The ladies who work in the Library are the friendliest, and, if I am talking for hours, keep me supplied with lots of cups of tea. On occasion, as sometimes happens, if someone gets very upset they are extremely diplomatic and very generous with their tea and sympathy!
The remembrance service was typically Baptist, warm, worshipful, fun and alive. I felt uplifted and strengthened, thanks to Steve, Ken, and everyone who made it such a very special morning. I left two hours after I arrived, but it felt like I had been there for only minutes. Julie had to ease me away or I would have been there all day - I felt so at home – especially with the kitchen crew. I just wish I’d gone in earlier, sorry all!!
The Beds on Sunday have too much power. Poor Steve was told there was a phone call for him last week from the BoS. With heavy heart and shaking hand he went to the phone – the voice said – “Just doing a spot check and ringing to see if your paper was delivered ok this week.” Relief washed over him - I’m sorry BoS, but that’s just not on! You can terrorise politicians all you like, but vicars?
George Bush & Iraq
Posted Friday, 10 November 2006 at 13:21
George Bush has asked does anyone have any ideas? Strange that the leader of the greatest nation in the world should make such a statement, also very honest. However, here's one from me George!
How about the seed being planted in the mind of the Iraqi government that Iraq may not be governable because it is not a country as such, but merely an amalgam of various ethnic groupings brought together for the convenience of the British and French mandates following the collapse of Ottoman control in 1918.
Following on from this, how about an Iraqi government sponsored debate and then election on an Iraqi proposal to disseminate power to local autonomous regions based on the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish groupings, leading to full independence and national status at a later date once all the institutions of nationhood had been put in place.
It is without doubt, in my opinion that this is going to happen in any event. It is the inevitable consequence of invasion. This way we will achieve the end game with a minimum of bloodshed and come out of this debacle of mismanagement with some sort of credibility.
Four years ago I attended a drinks party and I put this theory to one of the senior members of the shadow cabinet. He told me, in a way which really put my back up, that it was far too simple an idea.
It will happen. If peace really is desirable, it is the only way it will ever be achieved in Iraq as we know it today.
So nervous about doing the reading for Radio 4 remembrance service on Sunday morning. Its one thing fluffing your lines in front of a congregation, quite another when there are millions listening. Dreamt last night that my mobile phone went off in the middle of the poem! Oh no…Please let Sunday lunchtime come quickly……!
Posted Thursday, 9 November 2006 at 10:36
My local pub held a charity quiz night last night. Friends kept me a place in the hope that I would make it back in time. I did, but quickly wished I hadn’t.
How embarrassed was I when the question “who was the first female MP” came up, planted I’m sure, and the entire pub turned around and looked at me expectantly! Guess what, I didn’t know!
I answered Eleanor Rathbone. Rathbone Rd baths in Liverpool was where I learnt to swim and I knew, as did everyone in Liverpool, that she was the woman to be thanked for child benefit (family allowance).
Both women were in Parliament at the same time. Eleanor Rathbone was held in high esteem by all Liverpudlians, especially women, and especially poor women. She campaigned for family allowance and then campaigned again to ensure that it was paid to women and not to men to prevent it being drunk before conversion into food. She saw this happen the year before she died.
I wonder if I had been born into a more privileged family and raised in a less politically aware city would I have got the answer right? And would I even have known or remembered who Eleanor Rathbone was?
The answer by the way was Nancy Astor. I’ll be ready next time!
Posted Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 13:04
I am not quite sure how Private eye gets away with printing such awful rubbish! Maybe people realise that it’s all tosh which is why their readership is so low.
I understand from an esteemed journalist, when they are sued they don’t pay up. I reckon they print nonsense in the hope that they will be sued to give them the publicity they need to keep up their readership. If they didn’t print such rubbish and weren’t sued where would they be?
What Private Eye don’t realise is that in Bedfordshire we have a pernicious, cruel, up to the wire, rotweiller of a Sunday Newspaper called the Bedfordshire on Sunday who, in a way because of its fericiousness, ensures that I never slip below my own level of probity.
The BoS demonstrated just what they can do to an MP who falls short of acceptable standards – I don’t ever want to be there.
The Mayor of Bedford needs to realise that you don’t have friends in politics. Not a week goes by without my office receiving a telephone call informing us of some comment or other he has made. He really does need to be very careful!
American Mid Term Elections
Posted Wednesday, 8 November 2006 at 12:02
I thought the result would be closer, but it appears that the Democrats have swept in with convincing style. Stayed up until 1.30am to watch the first precincts come in, hanging on for Virginia which would have been a good indicator as to what was happening elsewhere – but fell fast asleep.
Prorogation has begun – I didn’t know what it was either.
Prorogation – noun - to discontinue the meeting of Parliament without it being dissolved.
Apparently it didn’t happen last year because of the general election and I have apparently just ended my first official sitting of parliament. The next one begins with the Queen’s speech.
No one told me. I have continued to book meetings and have made no contingency whatsoever for the fact that we now have a parliamentary ‘half term’. I won’t make that mistake again!
Posted Monday, 6 November 2006 at 09:41
It appears that the number of people logging onto my blogs are increasing each day. This is disturbing news – I write my blogs for the digestion of Mid Beds – there is a strong possibility that people from outside my constituency who blog on wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about!
However, having said that, the announcement of the verdict on Saddam yesterday I predict is the catalyst for the split of Iraq as we know it. The line in the sand has been drawn. The Sunnis, Shias and Kurds will never co-habit in one country in peace. Saddams death will galvanize Sunni opinion against the coalition forces and they will see the decision of the court as nothing less than an extension of American interference in Iraqi affairs. The decision will be seen as an act of aggression against their vision of a Sunni Iraq.
The country will split within six months. The verdict will rip Iraq apart and destabalise the Middle East like we could never have imagined. I think this is inevitable but in no way reflects my views as to whether Saddam should be sentenced or not. It is simply an inevitable consequence of this verdict.
Did I support the war? No. I could never support any act of war that would result in the destruction of innocent lives. Do I think we were right to go to war if only as an outward demonstration of our strength and to prove to aggressors that we are no easy target to be bombed and terrorized? Yes, a conundrum.
The problem of course lies between the political will and ambition and the military execution of political aims and objectives, oh and of course, the failure to secure a second UN resolution.
So, who said women were contrary!
In the constituency
Posted Friday, 3 November 2006 at 13:59
Friday - constituency day so really don't have time to do this!!
Spent last night in Toddington, only just made it as had to beg the whips to let me go. I do say to people if you want to arrange a meeting it has to be on a Friday or a weekend because my job is representing the constituency in Parliament which is unfortunately in London!!
This first thing someone said to me when I arrived was "It was a great pity you couldn't have found time in your busy schedule to have attended a public meeting on Monday evening" The last vote is at 10.30 pm! I would have arrived gone midnight! I give up!!
Off to a meeting re Milton Keynes expansion with Mark Lancaster MP ... and then meetings in Shefford and Woburn....
Posted Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 13:04
Even with all I have seen and heard over the last few months, I was still shocked by the picture of the 24 week gestation baby in the Spanish newspaper which reported on my debate (http://www.dorries.org.uk/images/press/aborto.pdf).
He is on the verge of opening his eyes. In this country he could be terminated on social grounds - and I do make the distinction between social and health or foetal abnormalities.
One life - suspended in an warm, dark, nurturing supposedly safe environment. In this country that life could be terminated by a large steel cannular (needle) being inserted through the mothers abdomen into the baby's heart, administering a lethal injection. It happens 3000 times a year in this country alone and the reason could be no stronger than because someone changes job or partner.
Prime Minister's Question Time
Posted Wednesday, 1 November 2006 at 16:07
Prime Ministers Questions today and I don’t think I have ever heard the Speaker actually speak for so long!
He seemed to have got himself into a bit of a muddle. The exchanges became very heated and the clerks switched off David Cameron’s microphone. The only thing David wanted was for Tony Blair to endorse his chancellor as the next leader.
Had lunch in the member’s tea room afterwards and sat between to Nicholas Soames and William Hague. Nicholas is not a natural ally – however, he does make one laugh!
We chatted over the speaker's intervention to which Nicholas, deeply buried in sausage and mash lifted his head and said “problem was, like a Pheasant, got himself committed”. Soames is probably the only person left in the Conservative party who would say that! And yet, rarely do you meet an MP so committed to the natural Conservative philosophy of elevation of the people. Maybe it’s because he is related to Churchill, however, he is a man of many sides.
I asked him did he think going to boarding school at the age of seven had damaged him, to which he replied, “Not at all – it would have ******* damaged me if I had stayed at home”.
Priceless. Thank god for personalities.