The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
New Blog Arriving...Tomorrow
Posted Thursday, 31 May 2007 at 12:07

Nadine is unable to blog today due to a very busy day of constituency commitments.

However, she has written a 900 word article that appeared in Today's Independent Newspaper. (Copy Below)

This item has also been featured on the Conservative Home Website

Nadine's blog, titled 'First Born' has also been featured on Conservative Home too!

Nadine will be blogging again tomorrow!

The Office of Nadine Dorries MP.


I am upset by our grammar school debate

31 May 2007 The Independent - (c) 2007 Independent & Media PLC

EDITORIAL & OPINION

The words "no selection by academic ability" have been chucked around the Conservative Party in the last few weeks as though the statement had no future consequences for the children it concerned. It has left me feeling frustrated and upset.

It would appear I wasn’t the only one. Graham Brady MP, a past shadow minister for schools, has broken ranks with the Conservative front bench on the issue of grammar schools. He is a brave and principled man. To do such a thing with the dead hand of the Whip on your shoulder is no easy thing. He had evidence, which he gave to a national newspaper, which proves that the existence of a grammar school within an area raises the standard of education in all schools in that area.

The top players in any high-earning sector in this country have been through the independent or grammar school sector. Just take yourself into any city bank, stockbrokers, top law firm or medical school, and you’ll find the majority have been privately educated.

What selective education does is provide academic children from all backgrounds with the means to compete, in the future labour market, with children who have been through the independent and public school system. Fact.

Just for the record, can I state that I do not want to see a return to grammar schools as we knew them. I, like most people who have thought about education, know that the flip side to the grammar system was the secondary mod-ern school – such as the one I and the other kids from my Liverpool council estate attended.

My secondary modern became a comprehensive overnight. I watched the workmen change the board as I daydreamed out the classroom window. Out came the secondary modern sign and in went the shiny large placard pronouncing us as the first comprehensive in Liverpool.

A bright new sign, but the same dull future – for most of us. The comprehensive system was a huge experiment in social engineering, and it failed. Basing future education policy on another untried and untested system, the city academies, will mean putting an entire generation of children through another social experiment. Is this wise? Academies are highly selective. They have no legal obligation to take children with special needs, which means such children attend the nearest comprehensive. In one comprehensive school in London, 59 per cent of its children have special needs, whereas the city academy, close by, has none. A two-tier system – sound familiar? Academies also select by aptitude. I am waiting for just one person to explain why it’s OK to select a child by skill or aptitude, or, as has been suggested this week, skin colour or race. If that aptitude is maths, it’s a dirty word and out of the equation. What is wrong with saying that if we are going to have specialist academies, we have ones that also specialise in academia? Academic academies, now there’s a thought.

The decision not to select by academic ability reinforces the difference between independent schools and the state system, and in itself holds a magnifying glass over the chasm of difference between the two systems. If you are fortunate enough to be able to send your child to an independent school you will have no chance of success if he or she is not able at maths, English, science and the classics. As many parents on the front benches will tell you.

So where does that leave the future for all? Who will be the bankers, the stockbrokers, the surgeons, scientists, and, the decision makers of tomorrow? Well, given that the overwhelming numbers of children who are studying science at university are from the independent sector, regrettably, I think we know the answer. Independent schools have got it right. Common entrance at 13, streaming, a strong ethos, school identity, and, discipline. Why can’t we replicate this in the state system? It is incumbent upon us politicians to do so.

It’s about inspirational teachers and aspirational pupils. It’s about holding the hands of those who wouldn’t otherwise make it – because of the street in which they were born – to guide them into a university or career path that will lead them out of poverty and into hope.

Independent schools have been getting it right for generations, with those who leave such schools going on to the best universities, enter government, and then do everything within their power to ensure that only those who can afford a good education get one. If we are to continue the process of no academic selection for the brightest kids from the poorest backgrounds, the future remains very firmly in their hands.

No dark sarcasm in the classroom? No, not in the classroom, but in Parliament; education policy has just become another brick in the wall.

The writer is Conservative MP for Mid-Bedfordshire and a member of the Public Policy Commission.

I really am upset by our grammar school debate.

 
 
First born....
Posted Wednesday, 30 May 2007 at 17:27

Newcastle was cold, wet, and, windy, no surprises there then.

 

I headed towards the monument in the town centre where I had arranged to meet my daughter. She was late, as always.

 

Has the casualness of youth and the perpetuity of time ever had a synchronized relationship?

 

The rain got the better of me and I dived into the doorway of Prêt a Manger to claim shelter. I gazed at the honey coloured monument, silhouetted against the grey bleak sky for what seemed like forever.

 

Suddenly a young woman, leapt up onto  the monument in one spring. Her khaki green designer Parka flapping behind, a cream coloured beret perched on her head losing the battle to contain her long blonde hair which was billowing about and play fighting with the wind.

 

She danced on the spot on the tips toes of her Ugg boots to keep out the cold as she took the ubiquitous mobile phone out of her pocket and put it to her ear.

 

Everyone who passed by turned looked at her and smiled as they scurried on their way.

 

They have been doing that since the moment she was born.

 

I remembered being so entranched with my firstborn that I couldn’t sleep for days. I couldn’t take my eyes of her, let sleep settle her uncraddled, or let the wind blow on her. She was too precious and special for me to trust such ordinary things.

 

I used to whisper the poem I had chosen for her when she was born into her ear:

 

“Tightly folded bud, I have wished you something none of the others would.”

 

22 years later, whilst waiting for her to appear, I wondered were the political, socially aware, right on friends, who thought I was nothing less than irresponsible for bringing a child into this unpredictable, war torn, volatile, unsustainable world, right. Had I been irresponsible?

 

My Blackberry vibrated in my hand, the red light flashed, she was calling me. My heart flipped a somersault as she caught my eye, waved, laughed and  tripped down the steps of the monument and ran towards me..

 

Two days away from her final exam at university this beautiful young woman has the world in her palm of her hands, the future is her stage, the love of her family and friends her secure backdrop.

 

I may have lost my battle with the wind. It may rage and beat about her and tie her hair in knots in defiance of me. She may sleep contented and well out of my arms, and, I may not need to stare at her quite so much in disbelief that I could have created such a kind and loving person; however, today I realised this: my tightly folded bud is now in full bloom. 

 

That all of my life she will make my heart skip a beat when I first see her. That she will laugh out loud with pleasure when she sees me. That I will stand and wait for her for as long as she takes and not complain, and that she will always run towards me eager to tell me her news, good or bad.

 

My ‘right on’ political friends may have had a point, but they never considered the depth of maternal love or the blueprint of our DNA. Some of them stood by their principles and have remained childless, still bemoaning the waste of the world’s resources and our selfish abuse of the planet.

 

But as I listen to my daughter and her friends it strikes me that we may have complained and bemoaned the world’s fate, these young people are determined to do something about it. A generation saddled with student debt appear to me to be far more aware and socially responsible than we ever were.

 

As I walked into Prêt with her hand in mine she told me of her friends, some I have known since nappy days, who are off to Uganda and Malawi to work with African children and teach Aids awareness programmes. Some are about to spend six months roughing it in Sri Lanka on the replacement home building project. She wonders and is agonising about what she should and could do to contribute.

 

We never did that. That wasn’t us. This generation are a generation to be proud of in a way I’m not sure mine ever was.

 

Inspiring.

 
 
Kids play
Posted Monday, 28 May 2007 at 22:22

For those of you who haven’t seen the BoS this week or read my homepage, I need your help.

 

A few weeks ago I took part in a tour and debate to promote tourism in Mid Bedfordshire.

 

During the tour I got to meet the Duke. I had met him once for about three minutes during the general election campaign, and spoken to him once on the telephone, but hadn’t actually met him to exchange anything other than a “hello, so how long have you lived in this huge house then?” small talk kind of chat during my three minute courtesy visit.

 

Before we met on the tourism day, I had an idea to ask him to donate the park for a day or an evening to needy children, who will never be able to visit if it weren’t given to them.

 

Unfortunately, I became a bit tongue tied, yes me!! Can you believe it? Each time I went to ask him, the words stuck. I suppose I was worried that I would embarrass him. That for some reason it would be impossible, or difficult and he would have to say no, and I would feel stupid for having put him in that position.

 

Just before I said goodbye, in the last moments, I thought “to hell with it, it’s now or never” and blurted it out.

 

He thought, for a whole three or so seconds, and then said, “Yes, why not, that’s a good idea”

 

YIPEEEEE!!!

 

So, here’s where I need your help. I am about to secure the date, which hopefully will be towards the end off July.

 

The evening will be for all disabled children, those with acute special needs, and vulnerable children in Mid Beds. If we have room for more I will open it out to Bedfordshire.

 

Do you know of any children who will qualify? If so, would you contact my office dorriesn@parliament.uk.

 

Do you think you would be able to help on the day? Same email address.

 

Thanks to this Labour government we will have to jump through hoops in terms of risk assessments etc, thanks Tone, however, I am determined to make it one exciting magical event for the children who attend.

 

I don’t think for one moment that there is anyone out there unpleasant or cynical enough to think this has anything to do with Center Parcs. I can assure you that is a discussion I have NEVER had with the Duke.

 

But if Centre Parcs should come off, they won’t be getting off lightly, they will be next on my list to ask!

 

In the meantime, I am both grateful and proud, that our Duke is both kind and generous. I also live in fear that one day, someone may tell him about this blog!

 

I am off to Newcastle in the morning, which is why there are two blogs in one day, because I wont be blogging now until Wednesday. I am being taken out on the town by a group of beautiful 22 year olds and shown why Newcastle is the party city. I have just been told to take my 'gladdest rags'. Oh lord, why is my heart sinking?

It's going to be a super safari!

 
 
The Northern chemist.
Posted Monday, 28 May 2007 at 12:16

Graham Brady MP, a past shadow minister for schools, has broken ranks with the Conservative front bench today on the issue of grammar schools. He has evidence which proves that the existence of a grammar school within an area raises the standards of education in all schools in that area. Here are the facts;

 

In areas with no selection 42.6% of children attain GCSE at A* to C in subjects including English and Maths.

 

In partially selective areas that figure rises to 46%.

 

In wholly selective areas, those where children still sit the 11+, that figure rises to 49.8%.

 

We have comprehensive schools all over the country who stream, i.e., siphoning off the top 15% who are good at English and Maths and putting them into ‘top sets’. It works to a degree, but not well enough, as the results demonstrate.

 

Selection provides academic children from all backgrounds with the education they need in order to equip them to compete in the future labour market, with children who have been through the independent and public school system. Fact - Like it or hate it, loathe it or love it, it’s a fact.

 

The top players in any high earning sector in this country have been through through the independent or private sector. This is a situation which according to many has become worse since the demise of the grammar school, that is also a shocking fact.

 

The majority of kids whose parents are on the Conservative front bench, or indeed in the Labour government, have sat the common entrance exam at age 13. They will have been coached and schooled and put through a selective education system from their first day at school, to ensure that they are well equipped to continue this process.

 

Streaming in comprehensives is not the answer, partly as a result of the modern playground culture. Every school now has its ‘popular kids’. Every child wants to be the ‘popular kid’, or at least be in the friendship group which attaches itself to the ‘popular kid’.

 

A couple of episodes of 'Skins' and a viewing of the film ‘Mean Girls’ will explain this a whole lot better than I.

 

It’s not cool to be clever, especially not if you are a boy. ‘Popular girl’ is thin, pretty, and has all the latest clothes and accessories. She is confident, funny and gets on well and easily with all the boys in the school. She may actually be in some top streams; she isn’t quite as culturally or academically dumb as ‘popular boy’.

 

‘Popular boy’ is very sporty and will have had sex by the age of 15. He is confident, funny, smokes weed, drinks large quantities of alcohol, generally misbehaves, shouts a lot, is generally very loud, especially when walking down the street in the company of his acolytes, and always seems to have money.

 

You will never find popular boy in top sets’. You will however find him taunting the boys who are.

 

Do you remember the Northern chemist? He could be found in any path lab across the country. He was always from a rough council estate and always had a strong accent. He had been through a grammar school and was just so clever it was almost a curse. He was generally clumsy and always looking for his glasses, which were invariably on the top of his head. He was a known stereo type.

 

He is no more. There aren’t enough grammars to find him on the council estates any more.

 

The majority of students studying science in any university across the UK are overwhelmingly from the independent school sector.

 

I make my case again. I don’t necessarily want to see the return of grammars, however, if we are to embrace the untried and untested academy model, let’s have one for academics too – the academic academy.

 

One where children can mix with, and be comfortable with, other like minded children.

 

Let’s model our education system on the independent sector and introduce an exam at age 13, based on the common entrance exam. That way, we can begin to put our children from disadvantaged and just plain ordinary backgrounds, onto the same footing as those from more privileged backgrounds. Is there anything wrong with this aspiration?

 

My computer will be overheating today due to the excertions of my daughter attempting to complete her GCSE English coursework. She is good at English. She loves her English teachers, she is lucky. Mrs King and Mr Higgs, both absolute gems to be found in the comprehensive school system. Lucky school

 

Luck however, is a non-transferable commodity. In the Independent sector they don't leave anything to chance, neither should we. Basing our future education policy on untried and untested city academies is doing just that.

 

Streamlined Academies...?

 
 
Thank you John
Posted Sunday, 27 May 2007 at 13:54

I wasn'g going to blog today. I  have re-posted my blog on grammar schools from last week however, the reason being this. People asked me why I had used the song 'Another brick in the wall' and what it meant,and I replied that it was symbolic. It was about politicians errecting a wall between themselves and the electorate and how this policy was simply adding another brick to the wall. Absolutley no-one got it. Not one person understood what I was talking about, until this morning. I was thrilled when a blogger sent in this;

John said:

I hope you don't mind my commenting on this past blog but I have been away and just playing catch up.Referring to Pink Floyd, I watched the BBC's 7 ages of rock last night which featured them.As part of their stage performance they would gradually build up a wall between themselves and the audience (hence the 'another brick in the wall' song).And now you mention them in this blog.It struck me that politicians have done much the same over many years, insulating themselves from the public, never understanding what truly happens in the real world.That was until a certain lady from Liverpool honoured us by being our MP, and brick by brick is taking down that barrier by means such as this blog and simple things as a few kind words and deeds.Thankyou Liverpool Lady;

Thank you John, at least one person understands me!

'Another Brick in the Wall'

How many kids have sat on the school wall and sang that, as their teachers drove into the car park, without knowing what they were singing?

I have felt both frustrated and upset over the last few days as I heard the words ‘no selection by academic ability’ banded around the House of Commons as a throw away line - as though such a statement had no future consequences.

Just for the record, can I state that I do not want to see a return to grammar schools as we knew them. I, like most people who have thought about education, know that the flip side to the grammar system was the secondary modern school, such as the one I went to. In that year the Labour party closed down grammars and local education authorities ceased to pay travel costs for pupils to attend schools out of the area.

My secondary modern became a comprehensive overnight. I watched the workmen change the board as I daydreamed from the ROSLA block window. Out came the secondary modern sign and in went the shiny large placard pronouncing us as the first comprehensive in Liverpool.

A bright new sign, the same dull future - for most of us.

A secondary modern would always struggle, it was by definition, the school where the non-academics went, they had all gone to the grammar and there was absolutley no provision for those who had skills of any kind and had not made it onto the academic s spring board out of poverty . When the system changed, those who would have gone to the grammar school found themselves drowning in mixed ability un-taught, confused groups. Does it mean, because of past Labour party errors and stigma, we throw the academic baby out with the bathwater?

The future reliance on the untried, untested, highly selective, academies worries me. Academies have no legal obligation to take children with special needs which means such children attend the nearest comprehensive.

In one comprehensive school in London, almost 60% of its children have special needs, whereas the city academy, just a few hundred yards away, has none; a two tier system - sound familiar?

Academies do however select by aptitude. I am waiting for just one person to explain why it’s OK to select a child by skill or aptitude, for e.g. art , but if that aptitude is one for maths, it’s suddenly a dirty word and out of the equation.

What is wrong with saying that if we are going to have specialist academies, we have ones which specialise in academia also? Academic academies, now there’s a thought.

It is wrong to make the statement ‘no selection by academic ability’ just plain damn wrong. We should revere and encourage all qualities in our children, all should have equal status. There should be no snobbery attached to any skill or ability.

The decision not to select by academic ability also re-enforces the difference between independent schools and the state system, and in itself holds a magnifying glass over the chasm of difference between the two systems.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to send your child to an independent school you will have no chance of success if he or she is not able at maths, English, science, Latin, and, the classics.

So where does that leave the future for all? Who will be the bankers, the stockbrokers, the surgeons, scientists, and, the decision makers of tomorrow?

Well, given that the overwhelming number of children who are studying science at university are from the independent sector, regrettably, I think we know the answer.

If we are to continue the process of no academic selection for the brightest kids from the poorest backgrounds, the future remains very firmly in the hands of those who are born to rule, or at least think they are.

No dark sarcasm in the classroom?

No, not in the classroom, you will find that here in Parliament; education policy has just become ‘another brick in the wall.' Click Here For The Lyrics

 
 
Life or death
Posted Friday, 25 May 2007 at 13:30

I have no idea how many births and deaths I have been present at.

I suppose it’s around a dozen births. I, along with everyone else, cried unstoppable tears of joy at the moment new eyes blinked in the bright light.

Birth is a moment of hope and happiness regardless of the circumstances.
 
The mother may be a drug user with no partner, or she may be the wife of a successful company director, it makes little difference.

The joy that is felt at a delivery, at the moment of birth, is as equal and genuine, and as full of joy and hope for the future at one, as it is at the other.

Pain, need, birth, and death are for a short period of time great social equalisers.

I have lost count of the number of deaths at which I have been present. I remember with clarity each one that I regret. The two occasions when patients have begged me to stay and sit with them but I didn’t. I couldn’t, other patients had needs.

Both died alone within a short time of asking me to sit with them. They knew what was about to happen, I didn’t. My judgment was wrong, they were right. How did they know?

I was shocked yesterday when I read about the paramedics who had been sacked for joking at the moment of a man’s death.

Not shocked at their sacking, but shocked at how much professional behaviour in such circumstances has altered. The case of the paramedics invoking ‘dark humour’ at the moment of the patient’s death is not the first case I have heard of.

Hearing is the last sense to leave us when in a coma, under sedation, or dying. If you have ever had a ‘general anaesthetic’ you will remember that you could hear what was going on in the room before you could open your eyes.

I have had the misfortune of having been seriously ill and dangerously close to death. I know well that my ability to articulate was the first thing to go, then I was unable to move a single muscle, then everything went black. For what seemed like ages after that, I could hear the panic around me as I was bundled into an operating theatre.

All I could hear was genuine concern and professional conduct. I knew there was a chance that they may have been my last moments, not least because I knew what was happening to me, and,  because I heard one doctor say “if that F******g theatre isn’t ready by the time we get out of this f*****g lift she is a f*****g goner”.

There are moments when bad language can be excused!

Having experienced nothing other than professionalism, up until the moment I completely lost consciousness, is something I have never thought about until today.

Imagine if at a time when I was close to death all I could hear were the people, who were supposed to be helping me, joking about my potential demise?

If I sit and really think about it, it makes my stomach turn. At such a moment you are completely vulnerable - your life is in the hands of others, you have no more control over what is happening to you than you had at the moment of your birth.

Such unprofessional behaviour is fundamentally unnatural at such a moment.

The Victorians revered death. A visit to Highgate cemetery will clearly illustrate how far down our list of emotional priorities death has slipped. But it hasn’t in other European Catholic countries and also in countries which are less developed than us.

Why do we have less respect for life and death now than we used to?

Is it anything to do with the way we have developed as a society? Is it because of 24/7 media, computers, 24/7 shopping, Sky TV, computer games, and, the busy, busy, way we now live our lives?

Has the computer replaced the Mantilla?

Was the way the paramedics invoked black humour at the point of the man’s death a symptom of how respect for the individual is now no longer an aspect of medical training, or is it still?

I remember the deaths at which I personally failed. However, I don’t remember in detail the deaths at which I sat and held someone’s hand and stroked their arm, whispered comforting words, and, a shy prayer. I don’t remember because they were often and I was doing my job.

The two patients who died alone, who knew better than me, they knew what was about to happen. I asked ‘how did they know?’

I think that because they knew, and we didn’t, demonstrates that there is something present at both birth and death about and within which man has no control.

Something greater and superior to us that when present within the delivery room inspires a sixteen year old girl of no abode, a complicated history of abuse, and drug use, to cry tears of hope and joy and aspiration; and for every grown up in the room to cry with her.

And when present at death, when all the emotional aspiration which arrives with birth has been spent in a lifetime, deserves at the very least, a respectful thanks from someone who may be fortunate enough just to be there.

Death becomes her

 
 
The blogscars
Posted Thursday, 24 May 2007 at 12:28

ConservativeHome.com awards were last night. I should have been there at 6.30 to read out the awards at 7. There was a three line whip at 7 with two votes.

 

How I got in through the doors of The Old Star pub, wearing heels, at 7.15, I will never know!

 

Tim Montgomerie, obviously of ConHome fame, has never looked so pleased to see me! He demonstrated this by throwing me onto a chair whilst thrusting a list into my hand. Not before I had managed to grab a glass of Red on the way up though!

 

The chair, fortunately, was placed not too far from the TV screen.  Where, whilst reading out the list of winners, I could keep one eye on the screen and watch my sporting heroes as they ran out onto the pitch.

 

This however distracted me and I completely forgot to tell everyone the importance of ConservativeHome. It has become the online Conservative newspaper, read by about half a million readers a month. It started out as the grass roots’ means of communication but has zoomed past that post now.

 

It is the forum we all rush to when something happens within the Conservative party. Sometimes, it gives us MPs more information than we can find out from CCHQ. I don’t know what we would do without ConservativeHome or how MPs managed before.

 

Iain Dale, king of the online diary, won best Conservative blog, as you would expect. He collected his award with great aplomb, Iain always reminds me of Liberace. When I think of Iain I see him sat behind a piano playing Rhapsody in Blue, maybe it’s the ties, anyway….

 

The other winners were….. This will have to await the return of my researcher who knows how to do the links, as I don’t. He won’t show me.

 

He, known as Mr Brakes, won’t let me blog until he has read it first. Sometimes I have to resort to desperate measures like locking him out of the office. That can sometimes make it very difficult for me as I find it impossible to concentrate whilst he is banging on the door, and, screaming at me from the other side.

 

I won best Parliamentary blog. I was up against John Redwood, one of my intellectual heroes, and, Dan Hannan of the Telegraph, and as I have only been blogging for six months, this quite amazed me.

 

One thing occurred to me last night – we need more women in the world of blogging. The room was dominated by men. The room was hot, very hot. More women would definitely make a difference to the whiff factor!

 

The Nachos were good, the wine was free, and, everyone had a very good time. Except me. We lost.

 
 
‘We Don’t Need No Education’ (Pink Floyd).
Posted Wednesday, 23 May 2007 at 12:37

How many kids have sat on the school wall and sang that, as their teachers drove into the car park, without knowing what they were singing?

I have felt both frustrated and upset over the last few days as I heard the words ‘no selection by academic ability’ banded around the House of Commons as a throw away line - as though such a statement had no future consequences.

Just for the record, can I state that I do not want to see a return to grammar schools as we knew them. I, like most people who have thought about education, know that the flip side to the grammar system was the secondary modern school, such as the one I went to. In that year the Labour party closed down grammars and local education authorities ceased to pay travel costs for pupils to attend schools out of the area.

My secondary modern became a comprehensive overnight. I watched the workmen change the board as I daydreamed from the ROSLA block window. Out came the secondary modern sign and in went the shiny large placard pronouncing us as the first comprehensive in Liverpool.

A bright new sign, the same dull future - for most of us.

A secondary modern would always struggle, it was by definition, the school where the non-academics went, they had all gone to the grammar and there was absolutley no provision for those who had skills of any kind and had not made it onto the academic s spring board out of poverty . When the system changed, those who would have gone to the grammar school found themselves drowning in mixed ability un-taught, confused groups. Does it mean, because of past Labour party errors and stigma, we throw the academic baby out with the bathwater?

The future reliance on the untried, untested, highly selective, academies worries me. Academies have no legal obligation to take children with special needs which means such children attend the nearest comprehensive.

In one comprehensive school in London, almost 60% of its children have special needs, whereas the city academy, just a few hundred yards away, has none; a two tier system - sound familiar?

Academies do however select by aptitude. I am waiting for just one person to explain why it’s OK to select a child by skill or aptitude, for e.g. art , but if that aptitude is one for maths, it’s suddenly a dirty word and out of the equation.

What is wrong with saying that if we are going to have specialist academies, we have ones which specialise in academia also? Academic academies, now there’s a thought.

It is wrong to make the statement ‘no selection by academic ability’ just plain damn wrong. We should revere and encourage all qualities in our children, all should have equal status. There should be no snobbery attached to any skill or ability.

The decision not to select by academic ability also re-enforces the difference between independent schools and the state system, and in itself holds a magnifying glass over the chasm of difference between the two systems.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to send your child to an independent school you will have no chance of success if he or she is not able at maths, English, science, Latin, and, the classics.

So where does that leave the future for all? Who will be the bankers, the stockbrokers, the surgeons, scientists, and, the decision makers of tomorrow?

Well, given that the overwhelming number of children who are studying science at university are from the independent sector, regrettably, I think we know the answer.

If we are to continue the process of no academic selection for the brightest kids from the poorest backgrounds, the future remains very firmly in the hands of those who are born to rule, or at least think they are.

No dark sarcasm in the classroom?

No, not in the classroom, you will find that here in Parliament; education policy has just become ‘another brick in the wall.' Click Here For The Lyrics

We dont need no thought control

 
 
FOI
Posted Tuesday, 22 May 2007 at 16:49

 

A hypothetical case in point.

 

A group of businessmen have put forward proposals to build a massive new development in my constituency. There are many question marks hanging over this development, not least the way public funds have been used so far.

 

I may or may not have engaged in an extensive dialogue with the local Councils; and without prejudice, they may have extensively replied.

 

I may have felt as the MP that it was incumbent upon me to explore, without hindrance, on behalf of my constituents, where their hard earned money was being spent, and, by whom.

 

The group of businessmen may or may not have been a bit worried about this.

 

A local newspaper may have been aware of what I may have been doing and decide to use the FOI act to obtain copies of all my correspondence – including emails - via the County Council, because of course, at the moment, my office is exempt.

 

Imagine what my shock would have been like if I had been bombarded by letters from a top city law firm threatening me with legal action? How awful would that be?

 

 It would mean that I could no longer execute the duties incumbent upon my office in a democratic manner, because those businessmen, who may have had far more money than me, could prevent me from asking the questions that needed to be asked.

 

Gosh, maybe there is another side to this FOI bill?

 
 
Sunday Telegraph
Posted Sunday, 20 May 2007 at 10:38

The Sunday Telegraph has printed a quote I gave to them on the front page today, amazingly, in full. It’s about the on-going grammar school debate, and the announcement by David Willetts, that there will be no more new grammar schools. What I said to the Telegraph was:

 One member of the group, Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, said: "What was the point of establishing the commission, which has worked hard and intensively for over a year, with some of the best brains in the country who have given their time and expertise, if we are going to simply ignore their findings?

"There was no need for this to happen. Nobody was asking what our policy on education was.

"It is a fact that standards need to be raised in thousands of comprehensive schools, but that cannot be achieved with a blanket policy of no selection. The juries are out on city academies.

"We are the party of localism: that means letting local education authorities decide for themselves whether or not they want grammar schools. We should be bold enough to say that there is nothing wrong with allowing our brightest kids to aspire to attend a grammar school. We don't make the weak strong by making the strong weaker."

The public policy commission, of which I am a member, has an education sub group, which has dedicated itself to nothing other than an in depth analysis of the state of education in our schools today.

As a result of that analysis, the group will be about to report to the front bench with their findings. What I, and many of my colleagues cannot understand, is why David Willetts made the announcement he did, before the reports were published.

Was it because he knew what was in the report and wanted to pre-empt the findings?

I have not seen the report; however, I had hoped that the education sub group would be looking at the way the independent system operates.

I have never been able to understand why we cannot deliver the same quality of education in the state system as is delivered in the independent sector. I write this as a mother whose child attends a state comprehensive school.

Nice buildings and beautiful grounds do not make a child pass exams.

In the independent sector children sit the common entrance exam at age thirteen, and that’s when the serious work begins. We should look at that. We should look at the way education is delivered within the existing grammar schools which all perform outstandingly well, and the way it is delivered within the best independent schools and ask, how can the state deliver this in all schools?

I cannot understand why, when the jury is so comprehensively out on city academies, we have decided to support the academy concept. Academies are the most selective form of education we have in the UK. Academies are exempt from taking children with special needs. Big issue.

We are now competing with countries like China and India on the global economic stage. I can guarantee you this; they will have no doubts, no prissy ideas about what kind of education to offer their brightest brains from whatever background.

 

I walked into a surprise birthday party last night. As my friends had told me one by one why they couldn’t be with me this weekend, I was beginning to feel very un-loved.

It was a classic, I was so shocked, I am such a lucky person. I have the best daughters and friends in the world – and they are too good at keeping secrets!

 

UPDATE: Having to do this blog and walk the dogs and feed hung over left overs this morning, I didn't have a chance to read the Telegraph article in full, I have now. Having read the article, it was indeed the case that the ed sub group had reported to endorse selection at thirteen in the interim report. As this report has been written by educational experts, shouldn't we be listening to what they have to say? Or is it a case that because we have been elected as MP's, we know better?

 

 
 
Iain Dale
Posted Friday, 18 May 2007 at 10:03

Click on Iain Dale to go straight to his site, he has  done my blog for today! 

However, before you read his interview with me, I am aware and indeed grateful for the work our paramedics do - as any paramedic weill tell you, the shorter the length of time they have a paient in their ambulance, the better.

Also... some of my regulars are a bit upset about some of the comments being made on Iain Dales comment thread - don't be. Iain Dales blog is one of the best read, and is therefore, from what I can see, constantly under attack from the left. All credit to Iain that he publishes all the comments.

 

There are many further points that I could make, however I do not have time, as I have a busy day today with constituency surgeries.

Click Here to see me play Either...Or With Iain Dale On 18 Doughty Street 

 
 
It's all about trust, baby!
Posted Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 15:19

It's all about trust, baby! It's all about you, and me. That appears to be the sum total of the message from Gordon Brown in the speech he has just made at Bloombergs now that he has become Prime Minister in waiting

 

Apparently he is going to use the next six weeks to prepare for government. Has he forgotten about the last ten years?

 

Every initiative and reform has been funded, or not, by Brown. The hand of Brown is all over the last decade. Blair’s biggest failing was not to have sacked him so that he could get his reforms through.

 

Jon Craig from Sky made the point regarding the G8 summit and the EU summit and asked the Prime Minister in waiting ‘shouldn’t he attend?’  Gordon thinks not, that there is an appropriate procedure for these things.

 

Shouldn’t the proper procedure be that the man who is about to run the country attend two of the most important meetings to take place this year?

 

No mention of New Labour until a good 15 minutes into the speech. Why’s that then?

 

Interesting point that people he has had a disagreement with in the past have gone up to him and said “let’s get over it”. Ahhh, that’s nice, not after a job by any chance?

 

Great point from Ben Brogan about the Labour party being behind the Conservatives in the polls. Ben asked is a Bill on constitutional reform the way to address this?

 

At the beginning of the speech he talked about listening to people, by the end, the true Gordon came through as he talked about his visits around the country.

 

Listening to people suddenly became, “I will be talking to doctors, talking to nurses, talking to teachers.” What happened to listening?

 

Summary: obviously out to bore us all into submission.

 
 
Death By A Thousand Words
Posted Thursday, 17 May 2007 at 09:34

There is a process which surrounds shadow minister speechwriting. I remember a particular speech Oliver delivered when I was working for him,

 

We knew months before hand when and where it was going to be given. Oliver, Robert Halfon, then Oliver’s Chief of staff, and I wrote a few hundred words each and put the speech together. Oliver then took it to Dorset for the weekend and completely re wrote it.

 

That didn’t matter. The fact was that when delivered, everyone could understand what Oliver was saying.

 

Before speech day, it was sent to Michael Howard's office for approval. Michael made a few ammendments and the final draft of the speech was then approved, delivered, and greeted with much acclaim from the press.

 

I think about two sentences of what I had written survived.

 

If Oliver had tried to deliver the speech he gave last week, I would have locked him in a dark room and hidden the key until the urge to deliver an incomprehensible speech had passed him by. You don’t use words like 'paradigm' and 'socio-centric' if you want any more that a handful of people to listen, and understand what you have to say.

 

The speech Oliver gave last week would have gone to the top to be approved just as it did before.

 

David Willetts caused uproar within the party yesterday as a result of his speech on grammar schools. I still cannot understand why he said what he did. I haven’t seen MPs this angry since I arrived.

 

To describe grammar schools as the preserve of social advantage is ludicrous. Private school and public schools are the preserve of social advantage. As Mark Field MP pointed out, if that is to be our reasoning for not having any more grammar schools, do we say there can’t be anymore private schools too?

 

David's speech would have been approved and amended from the top.

 

Now, if you think about a Conservative government in the future, what does it look like? Well there won't be anyone who was within a whiff of government in1997 and associated with our worst ever failure anywhere near the front bench.

 

There has been talk surrounding  the future role for Oliver and David. A conundrum? What to do with two previous high profile shadow ministers. One who supported David Davis all the way through the leadership contest (Willetts) and one who is gaffe prone (Oliver). How do you completely break form the past?

 

I think they were both hung out to dry with the speeches they have delivered over the last two weeks.

 

Death by a thousand words.

 

So maybe a re-shuffle is on the way. But no body will be wondering what happened to Willetts or Letwin, everyone will know, it was because of those awful speeches they gave.

 

Click Here To See This Issue On Iain Dales Blog

 

Education, education, education.

 
 
Sorry
Posted Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 18:15
No time to blog, have to prepare for Doughty St. Why did I agree to do this?
 
 
Blog Update
Posted Wednesday, 16 May 2007 at 14:08

Dear Bloggers,

Nadine will be blogging later this evening on the issue of Grammar Schools and the Government's U-turn over the Junior Doctors' Job Computer System.

Nadine will also be appearing on 18 Doughty Street later this evening, from 10.00pm - 12.00am.

Peter Hand
Researcher to Nadine Dorries MP

 
 
Refresh
Posted Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 18:35

Message to bloggers,

After you have posted a comment you will need to re-fresh your browser to see the comment published, after the comment has been accepted. It doesn't work like email.

Katie, all your comments were posted, only you couldn't see them because you weren't refreshing. Also, there may be some delay between comments being posted and published. Nadine likes to check all comments herself on her BlackBerry first. As an MP working 80ish hours a week with 77,000 constituent to look after, it doesn't always happen right away - but she tries her best to make it happen as quickly as possible.

Yours,

Anon researcher

Patience is a virtue

 
 
Madeline.... and Ecce Cor Meum
Posted Tuesday, 15 May 2007 at 11:32

For those of us who are parents, and parents of daughters, it is impossible to bring yourself to contemplate the unimaginable, your worst nightmare – you just can’t go there.

 

This little helpless innocent child, who probably believes in Father Christmas, and, has most certainly only ever been with adults who want the best for her in life, is somewhere, with whom, and for what reason?

 

As I pulled into Northampton services on Sunday to fill up with petrol, all the pumps had A4 posters with her picture declaring the fact that she had been taken from her bed, as though there is a person left in the land who doesn’t know she’s gone or doesn’t want her back safely in her parents’ arms; but those posters are vital in helping to find her.

 

People are beginning to question the role of the celebrity when an event such as this occurs. We all know the important role the media will play in carrying this story day after day to keep the image of Madeline in the papers for as long as possible.

 

One way of doing that is for David Beckham to do what he did. David Beckham coming out for Maddie is a story in itself and will at least get a few front pages across the national media; my only fear is that he may have done it too soon.  

 

Maybe he should have waited a bit longer for the press to drop the Madeline stories from the front page and then declared his support at a key moment. This would then push Madeline back up the news agenda and onto the front pages again.

 

The image of this little girl needs to be ingrained in everyone’s mind. We all need to look twice at every bemused three year old little girl we see, especially at an airport or terminal.

 

If she has been abducted, her hair may have been dyed - look at the pictures and remember her eyes. She has very distinctive eyes with a black flash across one iris.

 

Madeline will be found via thorough police work, aided by the general public. In a case like this, every aware citizen becomes an unofficial member of the Police Force; let’s hope we hear good news soon.

 

 

Do you remember my blog about Vida Cor Meum months ago? About how, more than any other piece of music in the world, it lifts my soul and transports me to another place. It makes me cry it moves me so much.

 

Those of you who know me will know I am from Liverpool, support the lads (can't wait for the 23rd!) and Paul McCartney.

 

On Sunday night, I could not believe it. I was watching the Classical Brit Awards, classical crossover being the music that rocks my boat, and, the album of the year was won by Paul McCartney for… wait for it….. Ecce Cor Meum. Go Paul, total respect! I am off to buy that album right now!

 

You Can Listen To Vide Cor Meum By Clicking On This Link Here. 

 
 
Jim McGovern
Posted Monday, 14 May 2007 at 10:45

Jim McGovern is a Congressman in the House of Representatives. He brought forward a Bill on Thursday to redeploy American troops in Iraq. You can listen to the video and his reasoning on his website. 

 

This morning he spoke on the Today programme and gave further insight into his position.

 

We all knew that once Nancy Pelosi was in place and the Democrats had control of the House of Representatives that Iraq was going to become an even bigger political football in America than it had been so far.

 

It’s the Democrats trump card. It’s their guarantee of electoral success at the next presidential elections. Whatever the belief or conviction behind the reasoning for McGoverns Bill, it will be used as a vehicle to continuously highlight the difference between the two parties and will become a Bill of political ideology.

 

On the Today programme this morning, McGovern stated that Republican Congressmen were behind his Bill, and that in secret, it’s what they want also, however they are “under tremendous pressure from the leadership in the HoR” - I assume that’s the equivalent to our whip - and from the American leadership in the senate.

 

McGovern claims that his Bill reflects the will of the American people. Apparently, Republicans and Democrats go home to their districts each week and the people tell them that they are sick and tired of seeing American lives being wasted and they want their troops home.

 

What informs the political opinion of the average American? Would you say the  American citizen is as knowledgeable regarding foreign affairs as a British citizen? I read an interesting fact once somewhere regarding how many Americans actually leave America and travel abroad. It was a staggeringly small number.

 

I am not drawing any conclusions of my own here, I am just curious as to how a nation which suffered 9/11 and cheered their president onto war so enthusiastically such a short time ago, can change it’s mind so dramatically quickly, if indeed they have.

 

God forbid that there should be another 9/11 tomorrow, however, if there were, would the American people change their mind back again? Would the Congressmen then go back to their districts and pick up an entirely different message?

 

I can understand the sentiment with regard to the seemingly wasted lives of American soldiers, however, I would imagine the images of bodies being brought home draped in the American flag fills the newsreel and that highly emotional visual image is possibly just about the only information the average American citizen is fed via the media. So, is it any wonder public opinion has changed?

 

Islamic terrorists want to wipe the western world out of existence. They hate us with a passion, it is at best difficult for us to comprehend

 

Joe Lieberman, a self proclaimed, 'Independent Democrat' recently gave a very thoughtful speech.  He talked about the fundamental threat of terrorism and what it meant to freedom.

 

As Lieberman said, they don’t want to sit at the table and talk with us, they want to blow the table up.

 

General Petraeus describes Iraq as the central front of Al Qaeda’s global campaign against the western World. If this is true, we also know that Pakistan, Syria and other neighbouring countries house fairly sophisticated satellite Al Qaeda outposts.

 

So, given that there was no warning of 9/11 or 7/7, given that either of those attacks could happen today, shouldn’t the Bill before Congress be one to toughen up on what can only be described so far as a failed campaign.

 

Now, before you all pile in on me, my position on Iraq is one of partition and I have blogged on this before, so I am just throwing things into the pot here, however, wouldn’t a way of ensuring that fewer young American men and women, come home draped in Stars and stripes be to send out more troops?, Give them greater protection? Do the job properly? Or even occupy fully?

 

McGoverns Bill surprises me. I would like to think it were something other than political opportunism. That it had nothing to do with the presidential elections moving off the blocks. I may have been an MP for a whole two years now, but I am still a realist. I can see no useful purpose in McGoverns Bill. It is a Bill which will guarantee the complete submergence of Iraq into civil war and the loss of an even greater number of civillian lives. If you were opposed to the war in Iraq, original opposition could not be a reason to leave a country to sink into chaos and lawlesness.

 

We started, so we must finish. There cannot be any bailing out and leaving the job half done. We cannot exit Iraq until we can leave the country in a position where the lives of civilians are safe and free from persecution.

 

In my opinion that will take partition and a permanent border control/peace keeping force – but we are a long way from that position yet.

 

To my critics, let them eat cake.

 
 
I said I wasn't going to do this....
Posted Saturday, 12 May 2007 at 09:43

 

 But you nagged me half to death! Just a quick bit of goss.

 

If a journalist wants my opinion on something I will email him or her a quote. That way there is no ambiguity. I can’t then say they have printed something I didn’t say. They have all the correct facts in writing.

 

The Beds on Sunday asked me for a quote last week, and as usual, I emailed one through.

 

What normally happens, is the editor will email or call back and say something like, "fine, but what about", or whatever.

 

Friday, 4.30pm, I realised that I had not had a comment back regarding a quote I had sent earlier in the week. Unusual, thought I, and telephoned the editor on his mobile, who answered with more than a mild hint of concern and stress in his voice.

 

He then proceeded to tell me that two of his newspaper offices had been raided by the Police, armed with warrants.

 

Now I happen to know that the Chief Constable from Bedfordshire Police visited his office the previous day. What on earth did she see?

 

Poor man though, and I wouldn’t say that about the BoS editor lightly. He sounded like he was up against it. Wonder if we will get the paper this week?

 

'Going down with Gordon Brown'  Definitely my video of the week. Makes you realise how we jumping from the frying pan to the fire!

 

Are weekends really for blogging?

 
 
Shades of Evita……… and, going down?
Posted Friday, 11 May 2007 at 15:04

It hit me in a flash as I saw the photograph on the front page of this morning’s Times. As I gazed at the newspaper, my subconscious replaced the image of Tony Blair with a black and white, somewhere from the distant past, image of Evita.

 

I must have seen an old newsreel at sometime. I brought to the surface of my memory a moving image of Evita waving from a balcony to crowds below, and throwing them a kiss, just like Tony did to the British people yesterday.

 

It makes me ill to think that he may have been attempting to emulate this scene, no, surely not?

 

What he was obviously trying to do was highlight the difference between his parting and that of Margaret Thatcher. Doesn't work Tony. You only survived the September coup because you agreed that the October Conference would be your last. The whole world knows it would have been messy and unpleasant for you otherwise. At least Mrs Thatcher went without having begged for a compromise in order to stay just for one more year.

 

ConservativeHome.com has featured a great video on their site today 'Going down with Gordon Brown'  ConservativeHome.com is the grass roots web site which quite often does a better job of campaigning against the Labour party than the official party machine does!

 

You could be forgiven, due to the name, for thinking that ConservativeHome.com has something to do with the Conservative party – it doesn’t. In fact, it can be a thorn in the party’s side much of the time. Tim, Sam, and, Andrew are answerable to no-one. They have obviously kicked around the idea of this video, got on, and made it.

 

Now, how long would that video have taken the established party to produce and how much would it have cost? Would it ever have got off the drawing board or would paralysis have been induced via analysis?

 

A great example of how so much more creative and cost effective something can be when not controlled from the centre.

 

I spent this morning having breakfast in Beds with a number of journalists. It’s tough sometimes my job. This morning’s gruelling work included tucking into a huge locally produced Bedfordshire breakfast at Marston Vale Community Forest. I wish every Friday were this difficult!

 

Don’t cry for me Great Britain – I’m off to earn millions.

 
 
The Long Goodbye
Posted Thursday, 10 May 2007 at 17:30

And isn’t it just. A whole Amazonian rain forest is being chopped down as I type this in preparation for the reams and reams of ‘the Life and Times of Blair’ supplements which will be inserted into every newspaper over the next week.

 

This is a non event. It is hard to write anything even vaguely interesting, never mind profound! We all knew it was coming and we all knew he was hanging on until the tenth year. We all know it’s going to be Gordon Brown and we all know exactly what has happened during the Blair years because we have all lived through them. They included a few wars, terrorist attacks, the destruction of the NHS, the death of a princess, and, an expert witness.

 

The big story has to be: how is Gordon Brown going to shake off all of that and sweep in with a new broom? What is he going to do with the New Labour project that will wipe off the Blair fingerprints and make it his own?

 

It’s going to be a very interesting few weeks.

 

Yesterday afternoon, I saw David Milliband sitting with Trevor Kavanagh for a couple of hours in the Pugin Room. It would have been too late for Kavanagh to get the copy into the Sun for today. Bet it’s in tomorrow so that’s the first paper I am going to buy in the morning!

 

Kavanagh is the best political journalist around. He can say in 20 words what another journalist says in 200. He has to. He writes for the Sun, it has to be read in a tea break!

 

It will be the first Sun I have bought since Hillsborough.

 
 
Skins and sick thin....
Posted Wednesday, 9 May 2007 at 14:46

The papers are full today of the high street teenage clothes battle which is about to begin.

 

The battle is between model Kate Moss and the range which she designed for Top Shop; and, the singer Lily Allen with the  range she has designed for New Look, which launches today.

 

I am all for readily available, inexpensive and disposable fashion, available in easily accessible high street stores for fashion conscious young girls with cost conscious mothers. There is, however, a far more sinister theme running under the surface.

 

We hear much of the quest for size 0. If you take a close look at the hottest item in the Kate Moss range, a pair of stunning hot pants, you can understand why and how the pursuit of this unhealthy goal has become an all absorbing pre-occupation for many thousands of young girls. A size 8 would feel self conscious in the Kate Moss Hot Pants. Not so long ago a size 8 was on the worrying side of thin.

 

Anorexia and bulimia have become the new age illness of our teenage girls. 4 people out of every 100 have anorexia, and what is more worrying is they often deny it.

 

Grazia magazine commissioned a poll last year of 5,000 readers and discovered that only 1 in 50 women are happy with the way they look.

 

It’s no surprise that skinny Kate Moss, who looks like she could do with a good pan of stew to stick to her ribs, has become the role model for a whole generation of Kate Moss wannabes.

 

The makers of Skins, the cult teenage TV series on E4, knew just what they were doing when they created the endearing 'so totaly' character Cassie. I am not sure if the scene which depicted Cassie demonstrating how she could look as though she was eating, without actually doing so, whilst deploying distraction techniques, was a good or bad thing. Did teenage girls watching it think ‘that’s bad’ or ‘that’s how I can do it and look like Kate Moss?’ The reason why the character was created though was because the programme makers knew that almost every teenage girl watching would either be, or know, a Cassie.

 

At the risk of being very unpopular it isn’t just the models who are to blame for designing the ‘cool way to look’. The advertising industry has to shoulder some of the blame too.

 

The advertising industry worries me to death. The influence it has over our youngsters and teenagers is frightening. The over-sexualisation of young girls and the constant search on behalf of the industry for size 0 models induces and endorses the belief amongst teenagers that sick thin is attractive and the ultimate right on body image.

 

The advertising industry needs to take a look at what it is responsible for through ‘moral’ eyes.

 

One can ask, is it right for a major clothes retailer to produce posters of a six year old in thong leopard print knickers wearing lipstick, as one retailer did – but one would really hope that there would be someone, just one senior individual within the advertising industry who would say, "you know, this just isn’t right, what are we doing here?"

 

Maybe when that happens, the advertisers, the retailers, and the models can get together and decide to do some good. Sell clothes, sure, but use their massive industry and influence to hold out a helping hand to all those girls doing just what the fictional Cassie in Skins does every day.

 

They could shine a light into the dark and lonely bedroom of the teenage girl who vomits at night into tissues, or sits and cries because she feels unworthy of love or affection because she is a size 10.

 

The average British woman worries about her body every 15 minutes. There are better and dare I say it, bigger things to worry about.

 

David Davis MP has got grey hair.

 
 
Grace and Circumstance
Posted Tuesday, 8 May 2007 at 11:05

A good weekend. The Conservative party stormed forwards in the local elections, and Conservative Sarkozy won the French presidency.

Those of you who watched the TV coverage as the French polls closed will have witnessed Segolene Royal deliver her speech, as the French version of the ‘exit poll’ declared Sarkozy the victor with 53%.

Segolene is the personification of a typical French woman, a natural combination of effortless style and consummate grace.

She looked stunning in her very simple understated way, and, although she must have felt heartbroken, delivered her speech as she smiled like an angel. The smile reached her eyes, which made it all the more real.

And then came Sarkozy, the winner.

I met Sarkozy four years ago. Well, when I say met, I am exaggerating ever so slightly.

It was during the time I was working for Oliver Letwin, Sarkozy was the French Interior Minister at the time.

Oliver was delivering a speech at a conference centre in Manchester. He got the train, from wherever it was he had been the day before, to Manchester, and I drove from London. Bad move. Not for me, I got there in plenty of time, Oliver's train however, had been delayed and cancelled, and then if I remember rightly, broke down.

This caused a great deal of stress, until we realised that Gordon Brown, the speaker following Oliver, was also on the same train.

The speaker before Oliver was Sarkozy.

When we arrived at the conference centre we were ushered into the wings off stage as Oliver was going on straight after, the then unknown to me or many others in this country, Sarkozy who had just started his speech.

I was supposed to be helping Oliver. Speech pages in right order, shiny face make up on, running order for media interviews as he came off stage, water in place, final run through, all that kind of stuff, but I did nothing. I was listening to Sarkozy completely transfixed.

It wasn’t so much what he was saying, as the way he said it.

Using the lectern as a prop to hold him up, he was having a one sided conversation with the audience, as opposed to delivering a speech.

In his thick molten French accent, interpreter onstage, he leaned, almost slumped, forward over the lectern and spoke without notes for over an hour in a ‘let me tell you the story of France’ manner. It was one of those skin prickly speeches and you sort of knew you were in the presence of greatness. I was six feet away from him during the entire delivery. I have no idea where Oliver was!

As he came off stage to tumultuous applause, I clapped like a demented seal, and as he walked past me , he winked. Does that count as having met someone? I suppose not, however, the closest I will ever get I suppose!

 
 
New Blog Arriving Soon
Posted Sunday, 6 May 2007 at 12:03
 
 
The morning after...
Posted Saturday, 5 May 2007 at 11:21

I have decided not to blog at weekends, however, today is different.

If you are outside of my constituency you may want to stop now as this is going to be a local blog.

 

It was a long night in Luton ‘doing media’, and then a long day at Chicksands. I began to shake with tiredness, and then realised the dogs hadn’t been fed for 24hrs so left the count at three - ish.

 

It was nice to chat to Mark who stood against me at the last General Election. Having spent many years trying to be an MP myself I can feel his impatience. If he keeps on he will get there one day, just not in Mid Beds Mark!!

 

The results were;

 

Before   37 Conservatives, 12 Liberal Democrats,  4 independent.

 

Now,…  38 Conservative,  11 Liberal Democrats,  3 Independent,  1 green.

 

I will personally send my very best wishes to all newly elected candidates.

 

I am very much of the opinion that an election is war, however, once over, everyone should be working together to improve both the environment and the community within which we live and you can only really do that effectively by working together as a team and leaving party politics behind.

 

All candidates fought a fantastic campaign, and I don’t mean just the Conservative ones. I spent a great deal of time on the doorstep. The issues were, in descending order – rubbish collection – rubbish collection – rubbish collection – rubbish collection – immigration – pensions – inheritance tax.

 

One person mentioned NIRAH, and by the way, the Chairman Peter May resigned yesterday. Not a single person mentioned Centre Parks or any new proposed housing development.

 

Congratulations to all the candidates of whatever colour, I hope you give it your all. There is one thing I have learnt since becoming an MP, hard work brings results and duty in service  brings its own unquantifiable rewards.

 

So, back to work for everyone, fun and games over. I am off to Waitrose because there’s no food in the fridge and I am starving.

 
 
A tired and holding blog
Posted Saturday, 5 May 2007 at 03:07

I know it's 3.06, and not having slept for much of the last 36 hrs, you would think I would be out like a light, however, the buzz and excitement of yesterday has yet to subside and sleep is proving elusive!

During the BBC interviews, even I was amazed that our national election machine was working so well, we were half an hour ahead of the BBC - the reporter was asking me for the updates!

The worst thing he could throw at me was that Labour had no losses in Stevenage. I doubt  Gordon Brown will take much comfort from that when he has just lost, as reported by ITV, middle England. Gordon Brown, where is he by the way? Anyone seen him?

 

More later.....

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Poll day and the Daily Mail
Posted Thursday, 3 May 2007 at 18:29

It has been a very hectic day. Usual round of all the polling stations. My most exciting moment? A Lib Dem teller telling me that he voted for me, is really a Conservative, but that the Lib Dems put so much pressure on him that he can't tell them he is really a Conservative!!

Of to knock up now, and then off to the Politics Show until 2am. Should get to bed about 3 and then off to the Mid Beds count for 9. I hope it's going to be a good night for us.

Love or hate the Daily Mail I am thrilled to see the headline this morning reporting that Drs are more and more unhappy about abortion rates. More on that later....

Re whoever said they didn't believe the bott in the pot - it's true alright, as the bruise confirms!!

 
 
Patricia, again.
Posted Wednesday, 2 May 2007 at 07:15

Patricia Hewitt made a statement yesterday regarding the security breaches which resulted in junior doctors, from across the country, being able to access one anothers personal details using the MATS computer system.

 

In the statement, which I didn’t see delivered due to being in the constituency but have since read, she said: “However, there is no evidence that members of the public, apart from ITN/Channel 4 News have in fact accessed personal information on MATS."

 

Apart from ITN/Channel 4 News?  Phew - talk about close; thank goodness no members of the public had access then.

 

Er, hello, the world calling Patricia?

 

It is an unedifying sight is it not? A Minister, in the midst of an imploding government, is completely losing touch with reality.

 

I am beginning to feel sorry for the Secretary of State for Health. On Thursday evening, Panorama will be screening an undercover programme regarding the crisis unfolding in our maternity wards due to understaffing.

 

If I am not mistaken, childbirth is still the highest cause of mortality in young women under the age of 35. This is an incredibly serious issue and just one more example of an NHS which is failing and letting down people.

 

If you are a first time mum, the prospect of giving birth is a very scary one. It’s a journey into the unknown. The high pain factor has something to do with it.

 

If you are about to enter a situation which you know is going to cause you the most incredibly excrutiating pain, you need to know there are going to be midwives on the ward to sort you out.

 

A midwife with a mallet would have done for me.

 

Not enough midwives on the ward to deliver care, and babies, may mean unnecessarily long labours.

 

This in turn means prolonged pain and suffering which could lead to complications such as tearing, poor bonding and post natal depression. Not to mention an increase in forceps deliveries and the prospect of a higher incidence of PPH (serious bleeding, as in life threatening).

 

Not enough midwives is bad news for women, babies, and NHS budgets. A good well managed birth means fewer complications and therefore less cost.

 

Now why is the BBC putting this programme out on the night of the local elections after almost everyone will have been to the polls? Why didn’t they screen last week? I wonder?

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, Liverpool won last night. It was a long game which went into penalties. I had arranged to meet a friend, neighbour, and, new councillor (due to being unopposed) in the pub afterwards. He is not a football fan. As soon as the match was over I pinged him and we met at the end of the road. He strode towards me, hands thrust deep into his pockets. “Why has a football match taken so ****** long then?” he demanded to know. What could I say, because we needed the time to win!

 

Because I was rushing, I closed the door behind me and forgot the key.

 

When it was time to go home I remembered that the back door was open, so my neighbour walked me around to the back of the house where I proceeded to shimmy up and over the fence, in a flash, and landed on my backside in a pot on the other side.

 

I heard my neighbour utter,,, “you can take the girl out of Liverpool...” as he walked away. Cheek. I was impressive though!!

 
 
 
 
 

 
My Recent Posts
Posted Monday, 12 June 2017 at 11:52
 
Posted Tuesday, 23 May 2017 at 09:34
 
Posted Thursday, 20 April 2017 at 10:49
 
Posted Thursday, 16 March 2017 at 05:48
 
Posted Friday, 3 March 2017 at 13:03
 
Posted Wednesday, 18 January 2017 at 11:21
 
Posted Tuesday, 6 December 2016 at 13:10
 
Posted Monday, 21 November 2016 at 12:23
 
Blog Roll
Conservative Home

Dizzy Thinks

Guido Fawkes

Cranmer

Iain Dale

Spectator Coffee House

Political Betting

Politics Home

John Redwood

Dan Hannan

Douglas Carswell

 

Blog Archive