Posted Wednesday, 31 January 2007 at 10:32
3pm. Peter, my researcher, has just given me over three hundred letters to sign. He is walking around the office saying " has anyone seen my big bar of Galaxy"? He's making me a cup of tea to ease the letter signing.
It will help the chocolate go down too!!
I bobbed up and down and tried to catch the speaker’s eye to be called, but no luck today. Speaker Martin is usually very generous to me and I have no complaints, however, I really wanted to be called today.
My question was;
I am entirely happy and comfortable with gay adoption.
This government has been in power for ten years. Christianity has been here for over two thousand years and will remain with us long after the prime Minister and his government have gone.
Why is it that a Prime Minister of ten years standing cannot defend the position of the Catholic Church? Is it because he has lost his authority, or has he lost his faith?
My daughter has sent me a text message saying “really liked the interview you did on the internet”. She was talking about last night’s interview on 18 Doughty Street with Iain Dale. This text is unusual. My daughter hates everything I do on TV. She finds watching me a squirm inducing experience, and worse than her own discomfort, you never know, one of her friends may see it. How embarrassing would that be?
I have to say, I enjoyed the interview but haven’t yet seen it myself. It was relaxed and informal, and the interviewer Iain Dale is a very easy person to talk to, which is a dangerous ability in someone who interviews politicians!
View The Interview Here
18 Doughty Street
Posted Tuesday, 30 January 2007 at 09:31
If you haven’t yet discovered 18 Doughty Street then you could be missing out!
Visit 18 Doughty Street Here
18 Doughty street is a new internet based TV station which is billed as politics for adults.
Tim Montgomerie, Doughty Street Director believes there is little to chose between the three main political parties describing the menu as spam with greens, spam with lentils, or spam with peas - I couldn't possibly agree, however if you do, you may find a visit to Doughty Street very rewarding.
Today they launch their first Ad Factor campaign in conjunction with the Tax Payers Alliance. The campaign was decided by the viewers and the ideas which fashioned the video which launches at 11.00am today was also decided by the viewers.
It’s about empowering you, the viewer. Stations like Doughty Street have unseated presidential hopefuls and seriously damaged mainstream TV stations in the USA.
My worry, that when you have logged onto Doughty Street you may find it more satisfying that casting your vote at the General Election……
The Sunday Blogging Hours Law
Posted Monday, 29 January 2007 at 10:23
There should be a law against blogging on a Sunday. The Sunday blogging hour’s law. I am seriously worried for the future outcomes of some of the people I have come into contact with since I started this blogging stuff.
Especially those who email me on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
I received a number of emails yesterday giving me advice as to what I should now do with my web site to bring it up to professional blogging standards.
Advice on how to make my blogs shorter, longer, wittier, more serious. Words such as RSS feed, side bars and such are quoted at me in a way which assumes I know what they are talking about. All from very young men - I have cheese in my fridge older than some of these boys.
Chaps, shut down your computers, put on your coats, go outside the door and say “hello world”. This compulsive addiction to a machine is unhealthy. The only productive thing you are doing whilst staring at that screen is growing facial hair.
Sometimes, late at night, I look back at what I blogged earlier that day and think flip, I could have written that so much better. But the fact is I am lucky to get five minutes to sit down and type it at all!.
I do thank you for taking the time to email me and for trying to help, it is much appreciated. However, please let me return the compliment by also giving you some advice – go paddle in the sea, take someone’s dog for a walk, eat a whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough Ice cream, watch Liverpool live at Anfield, anything – but just…. Move…. Away…. from the screen!
Actually guys, I really am very, very grateful that you have taken the time to make the suggestions – they are above me and going right over my head, I have forwarded them onto Richard who is on to it!
Posted Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 10:31
The debate regarding Catholic adoption agencies, and the right of gay couples to adopt rages on.
This is hardly a tricky one. Of almost 4000 adoptions which took place last year, 85 were by gay couples. As one male gay friend who has been in a long term relationship for over ten years, and who had no desire to adopt told me, “I don’t have this body clock ticking away urge to be a parent”. He informed me that every lesbian couple he knew who wanted to be parents did so, or talked of being so, via donor sperm, not adoption.
If a gay couple wishes to adopt, they can do so, just not from a Catholic adoption agency. They can start at the same point the 85 which have taken place in the last year started at. The process begins with a phone call to the adoption services team within your local social services department.
To force a Catholic agency to provide babies for adoption to gay couples, denies that agency of the right to its own beliefs. It’s not about denying a presumed right to gay couples, it’s about upholding the rights of an established Christian religion.
Why is the state interfering? In a multi-cultural society which is now home to so many beliefs, religions and cultures, how can one modus operandi cast in stone possibly keep everyone happy? Is it not better to provide a framework within which flexibility and tolerance can flourish in harmony?
The government have successfully created divisions between the established churches and the gay community for no good reason. Worse than this, they have done so at a time when teaching tolerance of each others religions, beliefs and values should be paramount, in order that we can all live in a safer and less judgemental society.
What on earth is this row about? If the government gets its way the Catholic Church will be forced to close down its seven adoption agencies. Que Bene? Who benefits?
Posted Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 09:58
Spent the day out on the streets collecting more signatures for the petition to save our rural bus routes.
It was freezing cold. Finished up in Waitrose car park, late, in the dark, with Carol, Paul and Steve.
Wore the same jeans I wore last week, they are definitely tighter. Wore my flying jacket again too, (don’t know why though, it doesn’t work) which will mess up the photographs for the leaflets.
My girlfriends and I had arranged to have a typical girl’s night out on Friday - champagne cocktails, followed by a king prawn biryani!
They all text me during the week - I don’t know what it is about women, we just can’t write a two line text, they are never any less than ten.
I didn’t have time to read line text messages so I saved them until later, the later came in Waitrose car park. I read them at a moment when I realised I was about to be picked up, and should, at the very least, have been checking the lights were off!
Made my apologies and ran.
I Went out in the same clothes I had been wearing all day, no make up, and hair all over the place. I looked liked something the cat had dragged in.
My friends looked like extras from Stepford wives, beautiful, groomed and immaculate.
Just received a text message from family friend and GP, who is ski-ing somewhere in Switzerland, It reads:
“I am ski-ing like a god, I am invincible, I am eating black runs for breakfast”.
Yeah right - Who said MPs were full of themselves? I think they got the letters mixed up!
Off The Record
Posted Friday, 26 January 2007 at 12:05
An 'off the record' occurrence took place in Parliament yesterday, with regard to my position on abortion, and I can’t say what it was.
I can say this though.
It’s no secret what my aims and objectives are with regard to abortion.
I want to see the upper limit for abortion to take place to be reduced from 24 weeks to 20.
I want to see a period of informed consent introduced.
I want to see the morning after pill available free over the counter at chemists, in the way it is at a GP's surgery.
I want to see the number of abortions which take place at any date reduced by half.
I am a pragmatist. I accept that there are women who will always want an abortion. My concerns are equally as much for the foetus as the mother.
Therefore, if a woman has decided that an abortion is her final choice and her decision is irrevocable, for her own sake, and that of the foetus, it should be carried out within an expedient time frame.
Many women in the UK, due to NHS deficits, are being made to wait an unacceptable amount of time once they have made the decision to abort. I have been told by someone within one PCT that from next month onwards they will be ‘traffic jamming’ abortions to tip into the next financial year.
One woman contacted me and said that she had been told she would have to wait seven weeks for an NHS abortion. She borrowed the money and paid privately. She is on benefits.
Abortion is becoming an industry within which people have vested interests.
If you know someone who has made the absolute decision to abort, and has been given what you believe to be an inhumane amount of time to wait before that abortion takes place, then please contact me. In complete confidence, I may be able to help.
It fills me with horror to think that women at ten weeks gestation may be given a six week wait.
Of course, the result of my practical position, as always, is that I will now be bombarded with a few more sack loads of hate mail from both those on the pro life side of the argument and those on the pro abortion side.
I just wish those on the pro life side would think a little more about the woman, and those on the pro abortion side a little more about the foetus, that way, we may make a little progress.
Bragging, boastful and pompous.
Posted Thursday, 25 January 2007 at 14:06
Sorry I am late.
I am about to sound just like an MP. “Bragging and boastful and pompous” I hear you say, yep, that’s right.
On Tuesday I intervened on the Secretary of State for Health. It wasn’t a planned intervention, it was completely spontaneous. She was providing the House with a list of the measures that a hospital she had visited was putting in place to tackle MRSA.
I asked her if whilst she was visiting this hospital had she looked out of the window at the staff car park, and seen the nursing staff arriving for work in their uniform, having maybe just dropped off a toddler at a nursery, and getting back into the car they use to transport the family dog around.
I didn’t know until someone told me that it was on the radio programme ‘Today in Parliament’, and the ‘Today Programme’ on Radio 4 the following morning, intervention quoted in full!
My first ‘Today’!
The reason why I was so inspired to jump up and intervene on the Secretary of State for Health was because we were discussing the alarming rise in the rate of community MRSA.
Well excuse me for stating the obvious, but, if you have nurses who leave a hospital environment which contains MRSA in their uniform and go out into the community, it is only a matter of time before the MRSA they have transported into the community starts walking back into the hospital on the clothes of visitors.
If all nurses changed in and out of their uniforms whilst in their hospital environment, and if those uniforms were laundered on site at the right temperature with the right chemicals, and better still, if showering facilities were available, we would crack MRSA at a rapid rate.
It’s simply common sense – why is it in such short supply in this place? Because everyone is too busy bragging and being boastful and pompous!
You watch this space though. The realisation that this is the right approach will dawn, eventually!
The Big Black Hat
Posted Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 11:13
Every now and then, someone will deliver a speech which has me on the edge of my bench. Jeremy Hunt MP did it yesterday. He spoke about the life chances for disabled children. He spoke with passion and knowledge and he electrified the chamber. When he had finished I wanted to clap and cheer. The Hansard link is here. If you read this I guarantee that the next time an opportunity comes your way to help a disabled person, you will jump at it.
Visit Link To Hansard Here
There is something wrong with the Liberal Democrat MPs. I don’t know what it is, but they are really miserable. Those who smile aren’t and those who are miserable are worse than usual.
The Liberal Democrats aren’t ordinarily a friendly bunch.
Although Conservative and Labour MPs are sworn enemies, we do respect, by and large, each others ideological position, and there is much laughter and banter between the two camps.
Not so with the Lib Dems. They don’t talk to anyone but tend to hover and snuffle around the peripheries of conversations in the style of Gollum hoping to pick up precious bits of information to use against selected Conservative or Labour candidates. Maybe it’s the siege mentality of the minority.
When walking to work this morning a Grenadier guard walked past me. He must have been at least six feet tall and his big black bear skin hat took him up to about eight.
As he strode past me with his long grey coat swishing behind I wanted to run up to him and plunge my fingers into his black fur hat and say “do you know I signed an EDM to stop black Canadian bears being killed for their skins to make that hat – why don’t you fake it?”
He turned right down the Mall and I crossed the road and through the gates of St James. Mad thought for the day over.
Posted Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 09:12
I have had a number of parents with disabled children come to see me in my surgery. Almost all have come to complain about the difficulty they encounter in trying to claim the benefits that they and their children are entitled to.
Many of these parents look after their children into adulthood and some of the disabilities are severe. When I meet many of these parents and children, I am moved by how they triumph in the face of adversity. I always know when they leave that they are better parents than me.
The Times reported yesterday, that the parent of a disabled child has to fill 273 pages of forms and answer 1,118 questions when claiming benefits.
Entitlements to parents of disabled children need to be simplified.
If doing this means that there may be a margin of error, and if safeguards are built in to ensure that the margin comes down on the side of the claimant - then I am sure that the cost of cutting such a complex and bureaucratic method of paying benefits will more than offset that margin. The government will be quids in, and parents and disabled children will be happier people.
I’m sure I’m right.
So, why aren’t we doing it then?
What possible reason could the government have to employ thousands of people pushing pens and shuffling forms?
To make the employment figures look good?
Well, we know, employment figures aren’t all they seem.
Now don’t scream at me if I get this slightly out, because I am typing this in bed at 1am on my lap top, and I will check the figures with the members' library when I get a chance in the morning and amend it. However, if you add the figures for those claiming incapacity and unemployment benefit in 1997 together as one figure, and compare that with those claiming incapacity and unemployment benefit combined as one figure today, the figure is virtually the same.
But, and it’s a big but, the government have created over half a million additional civil service positions in order that a worsening unemployment situation doesn’t look so bad. And these half a million people need jobs to do – so complicating benefits, child tax credits, and pensions creates the work required to keep half a million extra people busy. That makes sense doesn’t it?
Remember what I said yesterday, about each political decision and vote affecting a life? Well, the life affected in an adverse way, is more often than not, that of a vulnerable person who needs help the most.
Scroll back to top of the page…………..
If you don't feel, you can't heal
Posted Monday, 22 January 2007 at 09:40
When I was out campaigning on Saturday a lady asked me if classical music was my passion. She had read my blog. I suppose I have mentioned a couple of classical tracks; However, I do love all music.
I really love classical crossover. For example Cantamus Girls Choir singing Coldplay's ‘I will fix you’, or William Orbit's ‘Adagio for strings’, which is a kind of trance version of a classical great. A true purist, reading this, will be squirming.
True classical music does, however, have the ability to reach down into your very soul and open up your mind.
It helps you to feel.
To feel, is something as a politician, you really need to do.
We have all sat in a traffic jam on the M25 and know the frustration that brings. We may have been on an NHS waiting list, or not been able to get the right school place for our child, or have personal experience of someone who has suffered with MRSA. We have all spent hours waiting for a train that never comes – there are certain political problems which we don’t have to work very hard at to connect with.
But how do we know what it feels like to suffer excruciating debt, or to look a baliff in the eye? How many MPs spend every morning trying to persuade a terrified Autistic child to go through the mainstream school gates where political dogma dictates he goes?
How do we know what it’s like to be a child growing up in Baghdad?
Not so easy.
If a politician doesn’t know how it feels, how can they hope to make the right decisions? Because at the end of every decision we make as MPs, with every vote cast, no matter how small, the life of a person is affected in some way. Sadly, I think that fact is forgotten, most of the time.
Listen to Cantumus Girls Choir today singing ‘I will fix you’, it’s on EMI records. It will mellow you out and set you up for the day!
Posted Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 17:26
We have been ‘doorstepped’ today by the Daily Mail.
We spent Sunday in our house in the Cotswolds. The girls had already left to watch a local football match. They’re all female my girls!
When the doorbell went I thought that one of them had bottled out due to the weather, but no, it’s was a very polite young reporter who had drawn the short straw and been sent to spend a cold day hanging around until she had got something, anything, to give the Daily Mail on my divorce.
I am glad the girls weren’t here. When they got home I told them how fortuitous it had been that they were out. They were fine, except for the youngest, who was upset, really upset. The thought of a national newspaper sending people to stand outside her house freaked her out. The thought that the Mail are in control of private information and may dictate what she tells her friends made her really angry. They spoilt her day, and if they print anything tomorrow, the rest of her week.
The Daily Mail, the family newspaper?
Blog of the Week.
Posted Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 12:20
This Blog Is Blog Of The Week On Conservative Home.com!
Visit Conservative Home Here
Thank you gentlemen!!
And just before you think, big deal it’s a Conservative party web site – no it’s not.
It is the unofficial voice of the party membership, and an exreme annoyance to the Conservative leadership most of the time.
If David Cameron had two wishes, one would be to win the next general election – and the second would very definitely have something to do with ConservativeHome!
On the Buses.
Posted Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 16:46
There has never been a day in Parliament to equal, either in terms of satisfaction or enjoyment, a day in the constituency.
I have spent today on the streets of Flitwick asking people to sign a petition to save our rural buses. The look on peoples faces as I bound up to them in my jeans, Ugg boots and a flying scarf, and then the smile which spreads across their face when they realise who I am, is a picture!
You can draw a dividing line between MPs - those who enjoy Parliament and all the resultant debating and legislation creating which goes with it, or those who enjoy their constituencies and the interaction with constituents. We need both.
Of course, all MPs enjoy Parliament and their constiuencies, you couldn't do the job given the hours it takes if you didn't, but we all lean a little heavier to one side or the other.
For myself, to represent Mid Beds in Parliament is an honour - to work on behalf of my constituents within Mid Beds is a blessing.
Today, it was a laugh!
Posted Friday, 19 January 2007 at 12:00
One of the nicest men in the House of Commons is David MacLean. The day I became an MP he was the Chief Whip.
I remember most things that people said to me on that day.
David said (in his very Dr Findlay accent) “this place is full of clever buggers and a few nice people; when you get the two together you know you are on to a winner”.
Cheryl Gillan, MP and shadow minister for Wales, is one of those people.
In the tea room this morning she was watching my back and warned me to be careful writing my blog. “Don’t write about anything which will come back to haunt you” she said.
Mmmm……. Cheryl Gillan haunting me. ...is it worth it?
It’s been a fairly stressful week this week, sometimes Woburn feels a long way away when you have done 80 hours down here! Roll on the weekend.
Posted Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 16:43
I went home last night to make sure I caught Big Brother. No…. the fact that Desperate Housewives was on straight afterwards had nothing to do with my mad dash for the train - as someone who has a natural passion for observing how society operates and as a politician finding myself in the position of having to answer questions on Big Brother, this was purely research.
I didn’t know there was a fellow Liverpudlian in it, Danielle Lloyd, disgraced former Miss Great Britain. She was in the diary room last night.
Liverpudlians have distinctive qualities. A strong sense of humour, loyal, very loving, caring and forgiving, a bit like human Labradors. Yes, I have heard the entire repertoire of tyres off the car jokes, but I am talking qualities here, not faults!
As Danielle went into the diary room I knew I could write the script.
She was charged with having said that Shilpa should go back to her own country – that wasn’t racism, it was ignorance and stupidity and other things I can’t put on this blog because I am an MP, but not racism.
Danielle’s face when what she had said was repeated back to her was predictable – she crumpled. The dawning realisation of what she had said was there for all to see as it slowly, and I repeat very slowly, sank in.
Tell a scally off ( a naughty scouser) and they immediately fall into a state of acute remorse. That's because most are from catholic origin and guilt is never very far from the surface.
Jade Goody, however, now that’s a different story. I applaud Carphone Warehouse for pulling their sponsorship and whichever shop it is that sells Jade Goody’s perfume for withdrawing the perfume.
A little while ago I wrote a blog about how the moral markers between right and wrong in terms of behaviour and what is acceptable in society have all but disappeared. Jade Goody, whether we like it or not, is a UK role model. How sad is that?
As the beautiful, sophisticated, educated, talented, best body in Bollywood Shilpa said last night “I am here representing India, if this is the face of the UK today it’s scary”.
That just about says it all doesn’t it.
As I finished typing this I offered to make a cup of tea for the office. I reached up to take the mugs down from the top of the filing cabinet, (it’s taller than I) As I scooped up the mugs, I realised too late that they were full from the last round as the tea poured down my hair and my shirt. This was just as Pippa announced that my train had been cancelled, the hotels are full and my daughter is trapped in Winchester… great.
Posted Wednesday, 17 January 2007 at 15:08
I can barely type this, the shame! My researcher has just told me that the Simon Mayo interview was the worst I have ever done. He is furious because I didn’t prepare and was running all over the place this morning. I went into the interview thinking this isn’t going to be good.
I fell into a classic interviewer’s trap and Simon Mayo got me, big time. Not only did he get me, but Kitty Usher (Labour MP for Burnley) piled in like a dog with a rag. Actually, Kitty is very good and very well liked; she will make a great Minister one day.
Simon Mayo asked me if I had voted for control orders – this is how my brain works on live radio; the sensible side is saying, “yes you did, of course you did because that’s the right thing to do” – the suspicious side of my brain is thinking, “why has he asked only me that question? Is he deliberately trying to trip me up? Does he know something I don’t”?!
I answered stupidly, and slowly, that I didn’t know, at which point the sensible side of my brain was screaming at me “of course you do you stupid woman”, so I replied hesitantly something like, “yes I would have done”.
Kitty didn’t stop, she went on and on! Actually it was quite amusing and we did have a laugh about it when we got outside the studio, after I had hit her over the head, playfully I might add, with the order paper.
The most irritating aspect of this complete failure on my part is that seconds were wasted discussing how due to a lack of finance and resources a suspected criminal who is known the have had jihad training in Afghanistan is on the loose.
But thanks Kitty, because I learnt a very important lesson today and made a mistake I will never, ever make again!
However, although I say that, we vote so often on so many small amendments that it is impossible to know or remember how you vote on every issue when only presented with the headline, so maybe I should never say never!
Posted Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 17:36
Apparently, Richard Spring MP has just told me, that last night on Doughty St TV they were discussing my Desperate Housewife blog. I have tried to have a look, however, I don’t seem to be able to log on. Others must have though, because we have had a little flurry of emails asking do I have any other ‘Ribena’ stories.
I do, hundreds. I might post the temporary mortuary in Warrington Infirmary car park story next week!
I am doing the Simon Mayo show on 5live after PMQ's tomorrow, hope he doesn’t want to talk Ribena!!!
Posted Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 14:03
Warning - the following is not thought through. It is simply the outpouring of my rambling thoughts as I walked through St James Park on the way to work early this morning - aware that I had written ‘more tomorrow’ on yesterday’s blog when discussing the relationship between policy and society.
If a policy wonk or an academic had been walking behind and caught the ether of my thoughts, they would have put me right, so thank goodness they weren’t.
As well as being on David Cameron’s public policy commission I also sit on the health sub group. We have had some very detailed discussion regarding health policy, however, I can’t help wondering this – are we developing policy to meet the changing needs of the society within which we live, or are we developing policy which is attempting to right the wrongs brought about by previous policy? If we are, what is the point of policy?
Did previous policy bring about the demise of the extended family, the lack of neighbourly communities, obesity, drugs, binge drinking, welfare dependency, alcoholism and the highest rate of teenage pregnancies and abortions in Europe?
I think it did. I think with all the ills of society today you can point the finger at a policy somewhere, sometime, dreamt up by someone - who is that someone? Who actually makes policy? Is it us, the elected politicians?
I really don’t know the answer to that question, and I suspect that I wont, truly, until I have been here for a great deal longer.
Enough! Lunch over…..
Posted Monday, 15 January 2007 at 16:27
Flip! I didn’t realise that being mentioned on Iain Dale’s blog last Friday would create so much work
The e-mails have poured in over the weekend and today.
A few points –
1. I will have comments soon. I am very nervous of being in the position whereby people can deposit comments on a site which bears my name. We all know what happened to Boris a few months ago – so I have to find a way around that conundrum, but it will happen, soon
2. I can’t do any more than I do. I am an MP, not a professional blogger. Finding the time is difficult as it is. However, I decided that if I was going to do a blog I would do it properly, and so I will, whenever I can, blog every day; but it won’t always happen.
3. I don’t have time to think about it. I just sit down and write the first thing that comes into my head. Being severely dyslexic means that I always have to have someone else read it for me before I post. If I could type in numbers it would be fine! There’s honesty then!!
4. NO thank you very much I am not looking for anyone to escort me anywhere! But thank you very much for the kind, well intentioned (I am sure) offers!!
Posted Monday, 15 January 2007 at 09:40
Last week was a horrible week. I have put a piece of music on my iPod today to help carry me through this week.
It‘s Vide Cor Meum sung by Katherine Jenkins and Salvatore Licitra - extremely powerful; and spiritual. How does someone start from a blank piece of paper and end up with this?
Last night I listened to it in a dark room, in front of a roaring log fire. If you listen to it I suggest you do the same - or at least put headphones in and close your eyes. It’s not a piece of music which grows on you – it hits you full on the very first time - I guarantee that whatever you are doing, wherever you are, it will transport you to a nicer place.
I will know I’m feeling happier when I flick onto the next track - Prince and Raspberry Beret - I can’t get there quick enough.
I do wonder sometimes whether or not I should be less concerned with society and more interested in policy.
Of course, the two are enmeshed, but it seems to be that the policy wonks are always just a little bit out of touch with what is happening on the street and in people’s lives.
Also, whatever area of policy you look at has a history. Isn’t Gordon Browns ‘Prudence’ just a re-hash of Fox's ‘balancing the books’ from the 1700’s?
Sitting on David Cameron’s public policy commission is a fascinating experience. Whichever debate takes place I always find my thoughts at the people end of the spectrum, trying to imagine the impact. I hold on to the thought that although we are in the depths of detail people want to be kept well, safe and educated. How complicated can that be? Actualy….with every passing day, in our constantly changing stressful society, it gets more and more complicated. To be continued tomorrow…..
With My Association
Posted Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 10:09
Today's Bedfordshire On Sunday
MPs Marriage Breaks Down
To my association - standing in front of you all was one of the most difficult and upsetting things I have ever had to do – but I absolutely wanted to tell you face to face rather than in a letter.
The collective groan, from so many of you, emanated an empathy which surpassed all words. You blew me away with you kindness, support, loyalty, affection and offers of help and support.
You made me feel very proud to be a Conservative, and you did it so naturally. It is probably the first and last time you will ever see me lost for words, it was all those hugs and kisses that did it - you just squeezed the words right out of me – thank you so much.
Think before you speak Hilary.
Posted Friday, 12 January 2007 at 11:25
600 children are mugged in school every day, the majority of which go unreported. These figures are not represented in the government’s statistics as crimes committed by those under 16 are not included in the national stats.
We know the reason why these muggings happen. Drugs are a part of every day life for many young people in many schools. Mobile phones and iPods, the must have accessories for any teenager, are easy prey.
Finding the answer to the problem is difficult one, because it is about more than the easy availability of drugs.
The school muggings are simply another manifestation of ‘Breakdown Britain’ as identified by Iain Duncan Smith in his recent report.
Under the superficial surface of everyday national life, British society is disintegrating as strands of moral fibre snap, one by one.
When giving my speech yesterday I mentioned Ian’s report. The recently sacked Labour Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong cackled and squawked from her seat “where is he then?” over and over again, because IDS was not in his seat in the chamber.
It gave me the hugest pleasure to inform her, that whilst we were sitting in the chamber talking about the problems of social exclusion and deprivation, IDS was in Balsall Heath in Birmingham with his sleeves rolled up, working on two community projects with voluntary workers - looking for, and talking to people who really knew the answers. That woman will never learn to shut up.
Is it only Thursday evening?
Posted Thursday, 11 January 2007 at 17:39
Just made a speech in the chamber. The subject was social deprivation and Special Education Needs. When I recently visited a Youth Offending Institute, every single inmate has SEN and came from socially deprived backgrounds.
I think that tells us something. Education is the only secure pathway out of poverty, and it’s the only way to address SEN.
We have the infrastructure and the expertise within our education system to address many of the problems facing society today. Education is the key, education, education, education – now where have I heard that before and wasn’t it about ten years ago?
Posted Wednesday, 10 January 2007 at 11:44
Please note: today's blog will appear later. Nadine's whizzing around Parliament and there is no way of getting her into a chair for more than a minute.
Researcher to Nadine Dorries
Rebel with a Cause.
Posted Tuesday, 9 January 2007 at 13:25
Media… it’s the engine that drives political agendas, unfortunately.
You can’t win though. In yesterday’s Independent I was described as a ‘true professional’ and a ‘rebel’. Today on the daily Politics Show I was described as a loyal Cameron MP!
On PM tonight I am commenting on the fact that PCTs (Primary Care Trusts) are making women wait to have terminations. Apparently PCTs have quotas for such things and if this month’s quota has been used up and someone is waiting for a termination they will have to wait until the next month.
Any woman who becomes pregnant and decides to terminate that pregnancy has rights
A right to help, counselling, and advice --- and a period of time to reflect upon her decision, a period of informed consent.
However, the NHS has an obligation that once a thoughtful decision has been made to terminate then the termination should be carried out as quickly and as humanely as possible.
It is completely unacceptable for PCTs to set a quota on the number of terminations to be carried out each month without clinical consideration.
Bureaucrats are not medically qualified.
They don’t know the effect that pushing a woman into the third trimester for a termination would have on the woman or the foetus
Very few women take the decision to terminate lightly. They do feel acute anxiety and distress, and that anxiety and distress is with them every minute of every day until the termination takes place
PCT bureaucrats are exacerbating that distress - they are making the whole process of termination that much more inhumane.
Research very clearly shows us that many women suffer with mental health problems later in life as a result of termination. This was documented in detail in the Fergusson Report.
I would rather that far fewer women went through the process of termination. But I am a realist and know that to achieve this will take time, patience and hard work.
What the government are trying to achieve by condoning the process of making pregnant women who know they are going to terminate wait in the wings without support or help simply defeats me.
Posted Monday, 8 January 2007 at 17:55
Amazingly, the Labour party’s chief whip, Jacquie (please like me) Smith has just been on Sky news defending Ruth Kelly. Chief whips never do media; they are always quiet, in the background.
That says one thing…… we’re getting desperate, it’s time to get this off the air waves because it’s indefensible.
Right now the Labour spin machine will be frantically trying to re-hash or re-launch some initative or other to announce and knock this story out of the news.
Somehow I think this one may come back to haunt them over and over again.
Posted Monday, 8 January 2007 at 17:35
Ruth Kelly has every right to send her child to whichever school she believes will provide an appropriate education commensurate with her child’s needs.
However, Ruth Kelly was the architect of the ideologically driven programme of inclusion which has closed down vast numbers of special schools and denied a whole generation of children an education which would meet and address their special needs.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford £15,000 per year from taxed income to solve the problem a failing state system presents them with.
27% of Autistic children are expelled from school every day. Teachers receive one hour special needs training throughout their training. A million children are failing in state schools every year and special schools which have the expertise and can prove that they work via tremendous results, are being closed down weekly.
Ruth Kelly, unfortunately, after all she has said in the House of Commons to support the programme of inclusion, is a hypocrite.
Too posh to push.........and excuse me, the problem is?
Posted Sunday, 7 January 2007 at 10:34
Dr Tim Crayford, president of the Association of Director of Public Health said in yesterday’s newspapers that women who request elective Caesareans on the NHS should pay for them, and that the money being spent on Caesareans should be spent on Herceptin, the breast cancer drug.
Actually, one cannot have an elective Caesarean on the NHS, that’s a little fact which could spoil his press release – but why let the truth get in the way of his day of fame?
A Caesarean means a relatively painless childbirth. Super models, film stars, anyone with money often have one. That’s why they look as though they have been to a health farm the day after the birth rather than the local Hammer House of Horrors, which is what a local Labour ward equates to.
I am sorry if all you natural childbirthers are squealing in protest, its how I feel, and I am entitled to my opinion.
I say we should have both, Herceptin and Caesareans.
How about this, Dr ‘all heart’ Crayford, a group of scientists devise a way of assessing the level of pain experienced during childbirth, and the average duration of that pain. Judging by my own experience, and that of friends and colleagues, I would say that’s about twelve or so hours.
We put you on a bed, attach sensors to your abdomen and nether regions and you lie there and experience the exact same pain for twelve hours, you know, right from the very first contraction when your brain screams ‘oh no, how much longer, I can’t stand anymore’.
We will then ask you to deliver a rugby ball (not the way you might think) via an unusual orifice, and give you a nice episiotomy with a few (dozen) stitches. This is because your perineum will have ripped passing the rugby ball, either that or a midwife will have cut it with an instrument resembling the garden shears – with half the junior doctors from the medical school looking on of course, how else can they learn?
After that we can simulate a post partum haemorrhage, give you six units of blood, piles and a bad headache.
You can then get up and start looking after a new baby, ( we will borrow one) because there aren’t any nurses left in the NHS to do it!
Of course, you won’t have had any sleep for about 24 hours, but hey, the fun is just about to begin - even though you can’t walk, wee, sleep or sit down.
When you have done all that, THEN issue a press release saying that women shouldn’t have a choice whether childbirth is painless or not and that it’s a privilege which should be for the rich and/or famous only.
I am not advocating a preference for Caesarean over natural; I am advocating choice and equality of opportunity for all mothers to be, the brave and the cowards, rich or poor.
In the meantime, whilst you consider the childbirth simulator, why don’t you concentrate on discussing something more relevant - such as why has the government spent £35 billion on a computer system which doesn’t work and no one wants – you can buy eonough Herceptin for five continents with that amount of money?
Posted Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 10:56
The Guardian has run a story today which is entirely due to the efforts of a Mid Beds constituent, Colour Sergeant Nick Cowan.
Every Wednesday morning when we sit in the chamber for Prime Ministers questions the PM begins by sending his commiserations to the families of the servicemen and women who have lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan. It happens every week without fail.
I wonder why our service personnel serve us so loyally? Insurance companies won’t insure them now, they are deemed as being too risky, so they can’t get a mortgage.
The married accommodation they live in on bases across the country is in poor condition. They cannot be housed when they leave service in the area they have been based without first becoming homeless, even if they have children in school. In fact, when applying for local housing they are treated with the utmost indignity.
Nick, a Colour Sergeant at Chicksands who has given 22 years service is facing medical discharge in March. He cannot be re housed; the Housing Associations will not consider his application until two weeks before discharge, which is obviously far too late, the Housing Associations have long waiting lists.
He cannot apply for a mortgage as he is now effectively disabled.
His children are at local schools and settled, and yet the future is looking very bleak for Nick and his family who still do not know where they will be living in March.
Another serving officer has recently been transferred to Henlow Air Base. His wife had been on a hospital waiting list for nine months – just as she received her appointment for her operation, they were transferred. She has now gone onto the Bedfordshire waiting list and will wait for another nine months.
Recently, in Parliament, I laid down an early day motion to highlight the plight faced by many serving and former members of the armed forces. It calls for greater action to support their housing needs, once they have returned to civilian life. So far 72 cross-party MPs have supported the motion.
The government has to review the current system for allocating housing for serving veterans. It has to review how veterans are provided with NHS medical care following discharge. Should someone injured in the line of duty, prevented from working or in pain because they served their country have to go to the back of the queue? At a time of high activity, It has to review the impact transferring personnel across the UK has on families. It has to review the decision to provide dental and health care on base to personnel, but not their families - many of whom cannot find a local dentist due to the UK shortage.
The governments failure to reciprocate the bravery and commitment of our armed forces personnel – both during and after they have served – is a sign of shameful neglect.
One of the measures of a decent society should be how we treat our veterans. If we are to hold our heads up high then we need to raise our game - as soon as possible, so that men like Nick, and the other 450 families in the UK in exactly the same housing position can stop worrying about what is going to happen to their families after they have given so much, so willingly.
Posted Friday, 5 January 2007 at 09:03
Oh what utter bliss, Desperate Housewives is back!
Unfortunately Susan makes me cringe – I love her character and I think Terri Hatcher is fab – however, they have given Susan a character trait which has been the bain of my life forever. It’s the reason I couldn’t really watch the Bridget Jones films without feeling uncomfortable. I am clumsy in the absolute extreme, and things, unfortunately just – well, they just happen.
An incident in Desperate Housewives involving Susan (I had to record it so I am a day behind) actually made me squeal out in shock because exactly the same thing happened to me once.
I am almost loath to put this on a blog, but as it happened sometime ago I’m sure it won’t matter.
Years ago, as a nurse, I admitted a patient who was 35 years old and had unfortunately contracted full body shingles, including her eyes. She was desperately ill and heavily sedated. I was ‘special nursing’ her in a side ward which meant she was my only patient.
As one dose of sedatives wore off and before I administered the next I tried to encourage her to drink fluids to supplement her IV and to provide some nutrition.
Her Shingles were treated with a purple solution called Gentian Violet, to prevent secondary infection, which I dabbed onto the shingles painstakingly gently.
On her first day, as a dose of sedatives began to wear off, I noticed that a relative had left a bottle of Ribena. I took a nursing cup to prepare a drink before I administered the next dose of drugs, picked up the bottle of Ribena and shook it - unfortunately, the helpful relative had removed the cap.
The full sugar Ribena flew out of the bottle hit the ceiling and cascaded all over the patient and myself. My white linen cap drooped and dripped, my white uniform was, well, you can imagine. My patient was a darker shade of Gentian Violet, as where her sheets. It was all over her face, chest and arms – I had dispensed half of the contents of the bottle into the air.
She could only move her poorly eyes, which locked onto mine, and as she looked at me a tear ran out of the corner of her eye and tracked its purple way down her cheek. I was desperately sorry- but at the same time, in the midst of the gravity of the entire situation, I wanted to laugh. Her name was Mary.
I felt so bad. I spent the next five days nursing her with pure love and remorse. I didn’t want to go home at night. If she had died (as a result of the severe shingles not the Ribena!), and it was on the cards, I think I would have died too.
When she could talk she told me the tear was one of suppressed laughter, that the most painful thing had been not being able to move her mouth to laugh out loud.
The day she went home she gave me a huge box of Terry’s All Gold chocolates-- and a bottle of Ribena! I have never been able to drink the stuff since without thinking of that day.
I suppose if there is any moral to this story it’s probably the one which Andrew Mitchell MP quoted at me every time I passed him every day of the Conservative leadership campaign – nothing is ever as bad as it seems!
And yes, sadly, this story is really, really true.
Rural Bus Services
Posted Thursday, 4 January 2007 at 11:27
I can’t wait for recess to end and sittings to re-commence for two reasons; being trapped in the office is tedious and there are occasions when things happen in the constituency which just make your blood boil and need you to take action. I have had a number of those type of issues recently. For example, I would very much like to ask the Chancellor why he thinks that rural constituencies such as Mid Beds deserve less funding for local bus services than urban ones.
It is true that transport payments have kept in line with inflation, but rural areas started off on the back foot and have never caught up - so just where is the extra revenue raised via fuel duty and VAT going?
Rural areas need good public transport; it’s more difficult to get around and essential services such as shops, post offices and GP’s are more sparcely spread out. If you don’t have good local bus services, people are cut off or have their quality of life restricted.
One day, those people who take a blasé attitude to local buses will become elderly, or if for some reason they can no longer drive, they will know and appreciate the value of a good local bus service and how difficult life can be for those who can’t jump into a car or just walk to a local shop.
Maybe when the government made it compulsory to pay the state pension directly into a bank account – whether pensioners wanted it or not, thereby cutting both an economic life line to Post Offices and a social lifeline to many of the elderly - they should have said, by the way the reason we are doing this is because it won’t be possible to get to the Post Office soon because there won’t be any buses.
In the meantime, my constituents face difficulties as the local bus company announces reduced services – meanwhile I am restricted to letter writing until next week, when I will be able to kick up a fuss. Where’s my handbag?!!
Posted Wednesday, 3 January 2007 at 17:05
I have just read the Telegraph and noticed something awful! Simon Heffer has written an article proposing that Gordon Brown should go for an early election!
I don't normaly agree with any of what Simon Heffer says - what on earth am I going to do? I hope this doesn't become a habit!
How Will Gordon Spend His Honeymoon?
Posted Wednesday, 3 January 2007 at 13:08
It is expected that Tony Blair will stand down soon. It won’t be before the local elections in May and his tenth year anniversary. The local elections will be a disaster for the Labour party, (that’s their prediction not mine), and by May Iraq will probably be in the midst of full on civil war. What a note to leave on?
We will of course all be driven insane by the endless conjecture as to exactly when he will go and what GB will do when he takes over in May, will he or wont he call a honeymoon election? Or will he wait the three years?
My guess, GB will call an election almost immediately (watch me be horribly wrong!). I am only basing this opinion on what I know of him and how I would react if I were in his shoes because, let’s face it, that is as about as scientific as it gets!
He is a proud man. I cannot believe he will want to be PM with another PM’s Mandate. He will not be able to govern comfortably and with confidence without his own personal endorsement from the people based on his campaign, record, reputation and merit.
I would imagine that when you are making huge decisions clarity of thought is essential – would he feel that TB was sat on his shoulder throughout every decision he made? And would it not be the case that the media will constantly hark back to the far more image / camera friendly TB to ask his opinion on every decision he makes?
I personally can’t abide the thought of all-women short lists for candidates – I would never be able to hold my head up if I had been selected on anything other than my own merit - it’s the same logic.
We saw the amount of publicity David Cameron received after he became leader. It gave him a honeymoon bounce in the polls, GB will have the same honeymoon and the same bounce. He will also inherit an NHS in a state of collapse and a million children failing in our schools. The list of chaos and failures goes on and on, the total mismanagement of the war in Iraq being just one.
Tough call, huge odds, big risk, but I think he will take it: before the popularity surge ebbs away, before the media stop focusing on the new leader and get back to Iraq and the record of failure and before he has to raise taxes (again)….. But that’s a different story.
In the Arms of Angels
Posted Tuesday, 2 January 2007 at 12:09
I couldn’t sleep last night and came downstairs at , made a cup of tea and watched the Classic FM music channel on Sky.
‘In the Arms of Angels’ was playing as I switched on the TV. It reminds you of the New York fire-fighters and especially 9.11.
I was shopping in the World trade Centre on 9.6. I can remember every conversation I had and especially the face of one young assistant – I will always wonder if she got out.
If only politicians were as brave as fire-fighters, especially MPs. Problem is that when an MP faces a challenging situation, even if he or she charges in, they run smack into a greasy pole.
What happens to brave MPs who attempt to circumnavigate the pole? Churchill was ostracised in the 30’s for his views on the dangers posed by Hitler’s fascism, Heseltine resigned over Westland - and IDS, who never held office when we were in government because of his role in the Maastricht Treaty - and still suffered when leader of the Conservative party at the hands of those who don’t let go.
I switched off the TV and went back to bed.
It’s difficult when looking around at my intake of MPs across all parties to know who will be the brave men and women of the future. Who will actually make a difference? Will we be brave when it’s called upon us to be? I suppose only time will tell. I know this though.... thinking about my fellow MPs sent me straight to sleep!
Happy New Year
Posted Monday, 1 January 2007 at 00:11
Ten bird roast - roaring succsess - but everyone has had so much Champagne a kebab would have had the same response! Happy New Year everyone..
New Years Message
Whether we like it or not, what will affect us all in 2007 will be determined by how the situation develops in the Middle East.
Without doubt, Iraq is on the brink of full civil war. The coalition forces have been reduced to mere by-standers observing an internal conflict between long standing feuding factions within the Islamic population. I say Islamic, because tensions between Sunnis and Shias are not limited to Iraq and are a pan Islamic problem which casts its shadow over all countries in the region.
I have already said earlier in the year that the division of Iraq into three independent states is the only way to bring peace within Iraq, but what effect would that have on the region?
Partition of Iraq would, for the first time, create a shared border between Sunni Saudi and Shia Iran.
If partition did take place, the southern state centred around Basra would be Shia and heavily influenced by the revolutionary neighbouring Shia Iran.
This would have a destabilising effect on other countries in the region including Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Saudi is already vulnerable. An oil producing state with a disenchanted Sunni population; it has a weak ruling family and is the home to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Would the oil producing, western friendly Saudi Royal family become a terrorist target? As callous as this sounds, if they were, the effect such an attack would have oil prices would probably send us into a world wide recession.
So maybe partition isn’t seriously on the table because of the trouble we can’t clearly see that it would bring. Which takes us back to civil war in Iraq. Does this mean that the present situation, i.e. hundreds of deaths per day, is the lesser of obvious evils? It is in fact an absolutely desperate situation. Is this as good as it is going to get? That the daily loss of British and American lives is the price we have to pay for, amongst other things, world economic stability?
The death of Saddam may have brought joy to the Shias but the Kurds feel cheated. They have been robbed of their opportunity to let the world know of the atrocities they suffered at the hands of Saddam. Who will be interested now Saddam is dead? The Sunnis will be galvanised and united in their hatred. They will see the death of Saddam as further American interference into the affairs of Iraq.
Commentators now question whether more people may have died in Iraq since the invasion than died under the rule of Saddam. What victory is this? Are things better for the Israelis? Is the world a safer, better place? Let’s hope 2007 can bring some answers and maybe this time next year things will be calmer and more peaceful for us all.
I have agonised since I started this blog site as to what it should be used for. I don’t yet welcome comments. This is because I am an MP not a blogger, I simply don’t have time to moderate the comments.
I have, however, decided that from the New Year, as soon as Richard can make it work for me, you will be able to comment on the site, and my staff and I will somehow manage it between us. To those of you who have commented directly, many thanks. Some of you have said that you want to see the site focused on Mid Beds, some that you want me, as your representative in Parliament to focus on national issues, and some have commented that you feel you know who your MP is now, more than you have ever known an MP before – which is the best news! So, with a little bit of fine tuning I am going to carry on in the same eclectic vein. A little bit of local and national and a bit of what your MP is about and who she is, all thrown in.
I will continue to pray throughout 2007 for God to send his angels to watch over Mid Bedfordshire. That we will know peace happiness and prosperity and that 2007 will be a year filled with joy for us all and those we love and care for.
God bless, Nadine.