Blogging for the Spectator
Posted Sunday, 30 September 2007 at 16:28
Fight or Flee?
Posted Friday, 28 September 2007 at 15:37
Please click on link below for Cornerstone blog where I am guest blogging this week, thanks.
Eye, Eye, What's going on Ear then?
Posted Thursday, 27 September 2007 at 16:47
Nadine is writing the Cornerstone Blog this week - please click Here:
Bring it on Gordon
Posted Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 11:29
Nadine is writing the Cornerstone Blog this week - please click Here:
And then he went and spoilt it all
Posted Tuesday, 25 September 2007 at 13:31
Nadine is writing the Cornerstone Blog this week - please click Here:
Posted Monday, 24 September 2007 at 16:35
Nadine is writing the Cornerstone Blog this week - please click Here:
Posted Friday, 21 September 2007 at 13:53
Every year Iain Dale writes a guide to political blogging.
Iain Dale's Blog
During my summer holiday Iain asked me to write a chapter for the book.
It is as follows. I think it’s the worst chapter in the book, so you will have to buy the book to read the good ones!
To blog or not to blog in my capacity as an MP, was a huge decision.
After all, there is many a slip betwixt cup and lip, or in the
case of blogging, betwixt keyboard, and the entire planet.
Every MP guards carefully – especially in the era of 24/7 news
coverage - every public word we utter, in a manner that could
almost be described as paranoid. This is because we have all
watched, in open mouthed horror, the pain endured by colleagues
after a careless whisper flitted from lips to international newswires
in a space of nano seconds.
Surely, only an MP wishing to commit professional suicide
would put spontaneous thoughts or ideas into the public arena -
on a blog?
Blogging is a medium, which by its very ease of unforgiving
transmission, does not provide the opportunity for second
One can easily visualise the dramatic downfall scenario,
brought about via an unguarded sentence blogged and posted late
at night; it would manifest in the form of an off the cuff remark
or a throw away comment, intended to humanise a paragraph.
Such a comment would be a mere sideline to the main content of
the message I would be attempting to deliver in my two finger typing
non Pitman way.
Think; type; save; - done. A ‘ten years taken to get here’ career
taken out by a blog Exocet in just three easy moves.
What would be my excuse when the journalist gleefully nabbed
me? After all, journalists hate bloggers – it is this which makes
blogging such a dangerous pastime for MPs.
Blogging waters are infested with shorthand enabled career
munching journalist piranha, equipped with notepad, pencil and
a scalp hungry editor.
What would be my defence?
Well M’lud, (or a very scary Chief Whip, as has so often been
the case). It was late, there was wine; I was in a particularly happy
carefree frame of mind; Unfortunately, I would, very sadly, be talking
to myself; no doubt addressing my remarks to the wooden
studded panels of the Chief Whip’s door, recently slammed in my
face, with the words “you‘re finished” ringing in my ears.
As we know, all political careers end in failure; however, blogging
provides new MPs, such as myself, with a unique opportunity
to reverse this trend, why not begin in failure?
Whether or not to begin each day playing Russian roulette with
words as bullets, did indeed take some thought.
To be fair, it wasn’t just the danger that blogging can present to
an MP which made me think twice - it was the other bloggers. Did
I want to become a member of this group - could I cut the mustard
with the rest of them?
You can divide political bloggers into two categories:
Those who write egotistical rubbish - the most common form
of political blogger. They use the internet as a means of extending
their already overly large personalities and opinions.
To opine? Is that what blogging is all about? The transference of
the opinion of one otherwise insignificant individual to the indifferent
There are limits, as to what technology can achieve. Blogging
can take the horse to water, but it can’t make it read. The egotist
is largely unaware of this, having dumped his thoughts into cyber
space, he or she will naturally assume that the world’s computer
owning population will have both read, digested, and allowed
their words to influence the daily lives of others.
You can spot them a mile off – they are usually the ones talking
to me at the death by canapé drinks parties.
And then, in complete contrast, unassuming excellence - I
mean that in the most literal way; unlike the egotists, these bloggers
are wordsmiths with serious political attitude.
Whether it’s an incredible brain with political sensitivity, or a
penchant for bright ties delivering sharp clever astute running
commentary, they have no political master.
Uninhibited intellectual thought runs riot across the keyboard
and what is produced is as good as, if not better than, anything
written by any mainstream political editor or commentator. Brain
to screen to reader in seconds. Cue the reason why political journalists
hate political bloggers.
Where are the Emperor’s clothes anyway?
Some journalists, the clever ones, regard blogging as simply
another welcome stage upon which to strut their stuff.
Fraser Nelson, arguably one of the most politically astute journalists
of the day writes the Spectator ‘Coffee House’ blog. A daily
Nick Robinson writes his excellent blog on the run. You won’t
hear anything Nick writes in his blog, spoken on the News.
Both men embraced blogging with open arms in a laudable ‘if
you can’t beat em’ attitude’.
The journalists who hate bloggers are schizophrenic . Whilst
fervently scouring MPs blogs in the gleeful hope of destroying us,
they madly cut, paste, and, print much of what we say.
Every single week my words look back at me from the pages of
The Daily Mail is open before me today, with the words I wrote
three months ago looking back at me from the pages of the society
gossip column. Add lazy to schizophrenic.
Obviously, I eventually succumbed, I found my blog niche;
after all, what is the point in doing something that everyone else
is already doing?
My niche is the de-mystification of Westminster. I like to think
that in some small way I take Westminster with all its strange
quirky ways, into the homes of ordinary people like myself,
through the prism of an MP’s ever so unremarkable way of life.
And here I am, at it again - sat with my laptop on the balcony
of my rented holiday villa in Spain. Far away from the cautious
Westminster atmosphere; nothing to anchor me to the usual second
thoughts, which I do occasionally have whilst tripping
through the corridors of power, pondering on what metaphor I
can deploy to illustrate an observation I have witnessed - which
will now never leave my brain until exorcised by a blog.
No danger of sighting an eminent role model to make me think
“one day I want to be like you - so I had better re-phrase that comment”.
No Whip to shout down the corridor after me! “Great blog
yesterday” to make me think “you are happy with me today”,
which makes life so much easier - so what exactly was I going to
write, which could spoil today?”
No telephone calls from my Association Chairman; no political
emails to deal with.
I am in a very serious blogging danger zone.
If I were to slip up, it would more than likely happen on a night
When the hot sun has gone to bed and the underwater lights in
the aquamarine pool twinkle and beckon; the jug of Sangria on
the table next to me screams, “more ice”; the heady scent of
Bougainvillaea fills the air; and Jose Gonzales plays seductively in
the background, wooing me, egging me on.
There is a beautiful Batik print on the balcony wall of the
Madonna and child, it’s looking down on me; the warm sea breeze
is blowing the candles on the table making them flicker, playing
tricks with my eyes.
Every time I look up, the Madonna frowns and shakes her head
Unfortunately, I don’t think even the Holy Mother can help me
once I have blogged on. It’s between me, the circling shoal of ‘out
to get me’ piranhas; a loaded gun; an Exocet missile; a suicide
wish; the Chief Whip; and the save button.
I wonder why more MPs don’t blog?
Will I be refused?
Posted Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 15:27
Lancashire police have just rang me. Bear in mind I have been an MP for the last two years, an MP of the party holding the conference.
They would like me to fax through to them a utility bill, in order to verify who I am, they seemed to have a problem with who I am.
They have my photograph and every personal detail you can imagine.
I have been a party member for 12 years. Stood for council and fought the 2001 general election. I worked for Oliver Letwin for three years, I am now an MP. Why didn't he just check my website?
Wouldn't it be great if this level of scrutiny were applied to the 500,000+ illegal immigrants walking around the streets.This doesn't bode well!!!
The Spectator and Blogging
Posted Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 11:17
During conference I will be blogging for The Spectator, twice a day. These are the links:
The Coffee House - The Spectator Blog
I enjoy guest blogging more than I enjoy writing my own blog. I feel as though I have just a little bit more freedom to say what I really want.
I would love to see my Whip’s face as he reads this.
Of course, I suppose it depends on whether it’s a conference or a rally.
Labour ‘sources’ (as in mates who happen to also be MPs) reckon the announcement will be made next Thursday.
That figures, if the Fed drop interest rates and the UK looks very strongly set to follow, and GB maintains a good poll lead, I am certain he will go. Wouldn’t you?
What interests me in all this is why journalists Nick Robinson and Ben Brogan are so sure he won’t. I asked a Labour MP did he think they knew more than he did. This was his reply, or what I can print of it anyway. “They had better ******* not do those ******* days are ******* over I can ******* tell you.
Think I touched a nerve there!
I had a really good afternoon with the students from Samuel Whitbread College yesterday. Once again, a bright articulate, well mannered, and well behaved bunch. There was the usual edgy one who likes to take you on, but always good fun.
I am an MP who is immensely proud of all the young people in my constituency and all of my schools, they are just the best.
No trees please, we are Conservatives!
Posted Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 16:38
The usual conference fiasco is about to begin. Will we ever learn?
The following photograph of my researcher, Peter, has been returned, refused by the conference organisers.
Why? Because there is a tree in the background. What is the party logo? He has decided not to bother going now because it’s too much hassle.
Cheers Symposium, nice one.
So, just what exactly is wrong with being right?
Posted Wednesday, 19 September 2007 at 12:26
The left/right discussions bemuse me, in themselves they cloud the real meaning of politics and the role of government, which is surely to keep the people safe, well and educated. Controlling our borders I place under the heading ‘safe’.
If you are a free marketer and someone who passionately believes in localism - as I do - then local people should be empowered to take control of their own environment and the rest should take care of itself.
The ‘is global warming a man-made or a natural phenomenon’ argument is irrelevant. If measures are put in place, and it is man made, then we have helped to make the planet cleaner. If it is a natural phenomenon, and we put measures in place, we have helped to make the planet cleaner – it’s a win win situation.
What local authorities need, is enabling legislation which may, dare I say it, allow them to raise taxes from businesses, if they do not conform to a clean agenda. Before everyone shrieks in horror, no local authority is going to penalise any businesses that can’t afford it, because local authorities want local jobs in order for local people to be able to pay their council tax.
In today’s Guardian, Jonathan Freedland argues that David Cameron has tilted so far to the ‘left’ by talking about issues such as the environment, he has earned the right to er, tilt right.
Since when was the environment left?
Remove the environment from the discussion entirely.
I know what I want to hear David Cameron say at our conference, and it would be described as ‘hard right’. I want him to say what the majority of people say to me on a daily basis.
They want our borders closed, indefinitely, and the missing 500,000 illegal immigrants who have become ‘lost’ in the system to be rounded up and sent back to their countries of origin.
If that country of origin is one in which, should they return, their life will be endangered, then they would become genuine asylum seekers and have a right to reside; if that is the case, we should give generous and open hospitality with tolerance, as has always been our way.
We should place a limit on the time that Eastern Europeans who are already in the country have to stay, say a two year limit, unless they can bring proven skills which we need and become taxpayers from the time of entry.
This would free up the burden on the collapsing NHS; this would allow us to provide an NHS free at the point of use which can represent, once again as part of its values, genuine compassionate care. Compassion is something which many believe is no longer a part of the NHS ethos, as the demand for beds, and the ever increasing through-put of patients, requires nurses and doctors to treat wards as conveyor belts.
I would love to hear David Cameron announce that every hospital will launder uniforms on site and that it will become an instantly dismissible offence for hospital staff to be seen outside of a hospital in uniform. This would state that we would almost wipe out MRSA overnight and stop the endless deaths and disablements caused by bacteria which have thrived in an NHS where everyone is under pressure.
I want him to talk about discipline in schools and ensuring that the brightest children within society, from all walks of life, are encouraged and given the leg-up they need in order to enable them to progress to be the wealth creators of tomorrow. We will not just stop the closure of special schools, but go on to re-open many of those closed, in order to provide a safe environment for children with learning disabilities who need specialist help, which will aslo provide the centres of excellence and training in order that we can once again have the teachers with essential specialist skills.
I want to hear him denounce all evil within the world and hear him say that we are British, a Christian nation with a history of tolerance and compassion, and one which will not stand by and allow Islamic fundamentalists to produce, and proliferate, a message of hate throughout our society.
I have to stop, coffee break over. I have to see the children from Samuel Whitbread Community College who are visiting Parliament, I can’t wait to meet them!
That’s the problem with blogging, squeezed in between other things, never enough time!
Zimbabwe and Digger and Tosca… Again
Posted Tuesday, 18 September 2007 at 10:35
A while ago I blogged from my friend's beautiful garden and wrote about how difficult blogging can be whilst balancing a lap top on your knee and playing Jack Russell Jenga at the same time.
I have been asked more questions about my friend's dogs than I have about any other blog I have written – much to the disgust of my own dogs I might add.
Last night I found myself once again paralysed by Digger and Tosca and as they appear to have a fan club all of their own, I thought I would post a photograph. What you can’t see in the picture is the huge log fire to my left and the glass of red to my right, hence the glowing cheeks!
Watching the news reports last night from Zimbabwe was depressing.
When I worked and lived in central Africa, I went shopping in Zimbabwe - I popped down the continent to buy supplies for the school I ran; flour, you could only buy mealie meal (ground maize) in the rest of Africa, material and baby clothes.
You could buy cosmetics, shampoo and toiletries that you couldn’t buy anywhere else without going down as far as South Africa.
I used to think Zimbabwe was known as the 'bread basket of Africa' because at that time it was the only country in which you could buy flour to make bread.
It was a farming paradise - a country ran in a well ordered and structured way. The bread basket of Africa overflowed, but even then, the number of soldiers hanging around carrying AK47’s was slightly alarming.
The people in Zimbabwe always seemed happy and were overly helpful.
I will never forget the kindness of Mr Chitembie, who ran a meat packing company in Zimbabwe - one very hot day, on an expedition into Zimbabwe, the fan belt went on my Fiat.
I carried on going, keeping the revs at a consistent rate, until I reached some kind of civilisation. I stopped at a small roadside town - Mr Chitembe, who had also stopped for fuel, found a fan belt in the boot of his own Fiat - a rare thing to own a car, never mind carry useful spares - and fitted it onto my car for me. This allowed me to drive the last 300 miles across the bush safely - I really don’t know what would have happened to me if he hadn’t been there.
You meet angels in all sorts of places.
I hope that if such a kind man is experiencing difficulties, he will meet an angel on the road as I did. Neither he, not the rest of the people in Zimbabwe, deserve to go through any more with Mugabe, and I can’t help wondering would there have been the same level of public disapproval if we had declared war on Mugabe, in the same way as we did on Saddam?
You only have to look at how well fed and uniformed Mugabe's henchmen - members of the ruling Zanu-PF Party - in the guise of a police force/army are, and compare this to how thin and undernourished the rest of the people are to understand the level of corruption that is taking place.
Posted Monday, 17 September 2007 at 15:17
Listening this morning to Alistair Darling on the Today programme was very interesting - he talked through at length the reasons why Northern Rock are in their current position.
As I said on Saturday, the banks have no idea who has been exposed to what degree, in terms of bad debt, creating an environment of mistrust between banks, thereby forcing up interest rates.
What Alistair Darling failed to mention however, was what impact this will have on the UK housing market, not a word - now why would that be?
I am fed up with people complaining about my photos on my web site. Today I sat through a nightmareish two and a half hour photo session. I would rather crash the site than have to go through that again! So beware!!
Is it just me, or does anyone else feel as though they are being shouted at, sternly, when they read Melanie Phillips? It's like being assaulted by a tabloid. Less than a paragraph in I tend to shriek, jump back and drop the paper; I feel my pulse subside as I turn the page - that woman really has serious atittude!
Conservative Home have launched a new web site today: thewrongman.org
If the BBC won't expose the truth about Gordon Brown, they will!
Can he even wait until conference?
Posted Saturday, 15 September 2007 at 11:12
The sight of people queing up yesterday to withdraw their funds from Northern Rock was not an edifying one. Northern Rock has become a casualty of the inter- bank mistrust which pervades the financial markets.
Why has this happened and what are the political ramifications?
It all began in America with the collapse of the sub prime lending market.
Sub prime lenders are companies who loan money to people who have a higher risk rating. Unfortunately, in America, this market is not very well regulated and there are stories of money being loaned to people as mortgages without even basic property valuations having been undertaken.
This market boomed following the Federal Reserve having dropped its interest rates to 1% in order to head of a recession. Money was cheap, people borrowed and house prices boomed. But it didn’t work. The American recession still came.
People lost jobs, homes became re-possessed, house prices dropped, and those who had borrowed equity against assets, their family homes, became bankrupt.
According to last weeks FT, as many as two and a half million re-possessions will take place in America over the next year. In Phoenix house prices have dropped by as much as 40%.
The property market in America is in its boots.
Why is this having such an impact over here?
Many of the American sub prime lenders sold off their debt to European banks in what are complicated financial bundles. Those banks, including British ones, are therefore exposed to the vagaries of the American housing market collapse.
Some British banks may not even be aware to what extent they are exposed.
Given that some banks are not sure of the full liability themselves, they certainly aren’t going to tell other banks what they think their exposure may be.
Why not? Because banks borrow from each other, both in the short and long term all the time via the money markets. If you were a bank with high exposure other banks would stop borrowing from you and that would be bad for business.
The glaringly obvious, right smack in your face, we don’t trust each other any more attitude is manifest for all to see in something known as the pips rate.
Just a very short while ago the rate at which banks borrowed from each other was 2pips, today, it is 22.
This means money is now expensive between banks and will therefore become very expensive for mere mortals like us at the bottom of the food chain.
Money being expensive means interest rates will go even higher. Homes will be repossessed, bankruptcies will increase and house prices will drop.
There is a silver lining to all this. Those who have never been able to get a foot on the property ladder will be able to and those wealth creators who have been lounging back on their big fat assets may find themselves in the position of having get out into the real world and re-create more wealth.
However, taking all of this into account, imagine if you were the Prime Minister and Christmas were around the corner.
Imagine if you were well aware that the rate of re-possessions and declared bankruptcies in the UK has shot up in the last quarter and was about to do so again in the next quarter, If you couldn’t be absolutely sure of how exposed or not the British banking institutions were to overseas debt.
Imagine if you were the Prime Minister of a country where the banks no longer trust each other. What would you do?
Would you want to see many more images on the tea time news of people wanting their money back from a British building society? Would you be happy to sit back and wait as it all unravels as it is so obviously about to?
Would you even wait until the Labour party conference, or would you call an election now? Or would that act in itself draw unwanted attention to what is happening?
We may be about to witness just how long a week in politics can be.
Revenge is a dish best served cold...
Posted Friday, 14 September 2007 at 12:11
Does anyone really think Maggie was duped into visiting 10 Downing Street?
Was the fuchsia pink dress not carefully chosen? How often have we seen the great lady wearing almost red?
At the risk of repeating myself, Gollum will roll out one sneaky trick after another leading up to the day he calls an election.
He may have invited Lady Thatcher to Downing Street, but the ability to say no was hers.
He may have made political hay being photographed with her on the steps of Downing Street but she could have declined, if she had wanted to.
Of course, the intention was to turn the New Labour big tent into a marquee, it was an act of symbolism. GB was hoping everyone would interpret his actions as those of a man who has claimed all of the wasteland between left and far right.
I would imagine that the symbolism was lost on the majority of people as the impact of seeing Lady Thatcher back at No 10, stood against the familiar backdrop where she made and celebrated so many historic moments, was in itself, so high it surpassed the subtle political message.
The footage of Mrs T walking to a black car distraught, tearful, deposed has been replaced with one which depicts a different lady – smiling looking happy and holding flowers.
An entirely new exit from No 10 following a visit where she has been given a tour, taken tea, and been hailed as a conviction politician and treated with the greatest of respect and kindness.
Most of the country saw what happened yesterday and said, isn’t that nice.
Isn’t he kind doing that, what a lovely touch to give her flowers as she leaves (did we give her flowers on the tearful day she left?) how happy she looks.
Was the car parked in the same place?
GB gave a master class yesterday in political manipulation. If the day had not been quite so steeped in irony it may have backfired, he may have looked duplicitous and scheming, using the great lady for his own political needs.
As it is, it was just another grandstand gesture in the few weeks left before he jumps into a car himself and heads for Buckingham Palace.
Wendy and Rocky
Posted Thursday, 13 September 2007 at 11:21
Wendy lives in a one room accommodation - everything was stable and happy until she fell in love and invited homeless Rocky - a complete no hoper - into her life.
Rocky was violent and a pattern of Wendy’s parents throwing Rocky out late at night emerged, but Rocky always came back, frequently sleeping on the floor outside Wendy’s door forcing her to take him back in.
Wendy became pregnant; the violence became worse, Rocky left.
Social services were called in and remedial measures to protect Wendy and her baby put in place, should Rocky return.
Pete arrived in the one room accommodation next door. Wendy, jaded from the experience with Rocky and the exhaustion of being a young mum, wasn’t interested.
Pete kicked in the partition wall, he was insistent. Two single units became one, with a hole in the wall.
Wendy became pregnant again; Pete became violent. When it came time for Pete to leave, Wendy abandoned her children and went with him, this was after having systematically beaten each of her children.
Life on a British council estate? No it’s the goings on in my daughter's rabbit hutch, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was!
Posted Wednesday, 12 September 2007 at 11:05
Amanda Platell wrote an excellent article in yesterday’s Daily Mail. Amanda, a very feminine feminist of the marching bra burning breed, believes that the abortion law has been abused.
This October will see the 40th anniversary of the ’67 act and will be a month full of activity, both in the House of Commons and beyond.
As Amanda points out, 76 per cent of women believe that the upper limit at which abortions can take place should be cut from 24 to 13 weeks.
As we know, this opinion has been influenced and educated by advances in medical technology; 3D scanning; and the sheer number of babies being born at a very premature age, who are leaving hospital healthy and happy, going on to live normal lives, free from medical complications.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that over six million abortions have taken place since the Act was introduced, with no regard to the thousands of babies being aborted who, if not subjected to in utero foeticide, would be born alive, a large number of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs wish to see abortion made easier to obtain and for the 24 week upper limit to remain.
As Amanda points out, this is totally against the tide of public opinion.
Evan Harris the Liberal Democrat MP is possibly the strongest advocate for the current upper limit and also sits on the BMA Medical Ethics Committee. The BMA indulged in some very dubious behind the scenes manipulation at a recent conference - the upshot being that only motions to relax the abortion law made it through to the final conference vote. The motions to tighten abortion law - of which there were many - slipped into ‘no mans no time left land’ and were never voted on - despite being submitted and drafted by BMA doctors, they never saw the light of day.
No doubt Evan Harris will deploy the perceived credibility of the BMA, and the outcome of the vote to influence debate in the House of Commons in an attempt to amend the Human Tissue and Embryology (HTE) Bill which comes before the House this Autumn.
In addition to the debate which will be generated by the HTE Bill, the Science and Technology Select Committee - on which I sit - will also be embarking on a four week investigation into the scientific evidence to reduce the upper limit from 24 weeks.
This evidence, which will not be subjected to the smoke and mirror tactics of the BMA, will be available for all to assess and hopefully, once the antics of the BMA have been fully disclosed both in the Chamber and in other places, will play a greater part in influencing the voting decision of Members.
Posted Tuesday, 11 September 2007 at 12:47
BBC Three Counties Radio called at 8.15am asking for an interview, prime time. Did I agree with the idea, put forward in the Quality of Life report, to charge shoppers for using supermarket car parks? The interviewer was banging on about how it was a “no brainer” a “vote loser”. It was awful. I felt sick.
Who on earth put that forward as a reasonable policy idea?
I could only answer truthfully and said that was an idea I simply could not defend or support. It is, however, the case that we do need to address the fact that the local high street is in decline.
The substantive issue is that the high street and local facilities are an integral part of any community, and that if an aim and objective is to re build neighbourly communities, then we need to ensure that each and every community has the infrastructure it requires in order to function. Local communities need schools, dentists, doctors, local pubs, a church and shops in order to provide a heart and a focus. I cited Ampthill in my constituency as a case in point - a great community with a heart, a soul and a High Street.
The emphasis needs to move away from large, flat and free car parking at out of town superstores. However, they have a role to play here as they do in every country. The responsibility is with town planners to manage the local community and environment, and to achieve the right balance. I said at least the Conservative party is addressing the issue and attempting to find solutions.
After the interview was over, I stayed on the line for a minute to hear the conversation between Roberto Peroni and Catherine, the breakfast show presenters. Catherine said “That was Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire. She wasn’t going to defend the idea was she? How refreshing is that, an honest politician, I wonder if politicians realise how much respect they get when they are truthful with us and the public."
It was 8.25 ish by this point, school run time - I felt sick no more.
Iain Dale and I had a conversation late last night about the importance of him having a complete rest on his holiday. Given the invasiveness of blogging, I told him, in a very sisterly way, that he must not blog and take a complete rest. He promised me he would.
3am this morning I am woken by my Blackberry, which I forgotten to switch off. It was an email from Iain sending me the transcript of his interview with Boris earlier that day.
Was I talking to a brick wall or what?
Visit Iain Dale's Blog Here
Well I never!
Posted Monday, 10 September 2007 at 10:56
I have spent the last year fiercely debating with a certain group of people in my constituency. They live in Woburn, as do I, and they berate me every time they see me about the Centre Parcs planning application, which was approved last week by the Secretary of State.
I could be buying the paper, walking the dogs,getting into my car or onto the train, it doesn’t matter, they have never missed an opportunity to ‘have a go’ at me.
It comes with the turf.
Meeting friends and family at the Black Horse for lunch over the weekend, I noticed two of my main antagonists at the bar and my heart sank, especially as they came over to the group.
I don’t mind having to deal with people in public, but I hate it when people take a pot at the kids. They aren’t the MP, that’s my job so it’s just not necessary for anyone to make the comment ‘why does or doesn’t your mother? Etc’. However, again, it comes with the turf and the girls knew the score when I chose to live right bang in the middle of a local community.
I was pleasantly shocked when the gentleman who has given me the most grief came up to me and apologised! These were his words:
“I know we have given you a rough ride but I have to give it to you, you stuck to your guns and I think you may have been right”.
I wasn’t sure if I had heard him correctly, but there was more.
“I’ve come round to your way of thinking, we all have, can I buy you a drink”?
Could he buy me a drink?
This is the man who, when I saw him stroking Teddy the Post Office dog , in order to avoid him, I dived into the old town hall until he had gone!
“Do you know” he said, “who my lad could write to for a job? He will finish university next summer and doesn’t fancy the commute into London each day; he would like to live at home, so Centre Parcs would be ideal.”
Yes said I, sardonically, you can buy me a drink.
“A glass of champagne please”.
As revenge goes it wasn’t up to much, but the smile and the hug he gave me when I left after the lunch was worth waiting for! And they say you can't win them all!
You were had lads, society, and Cruella.. again.
Posted Friday, 7 September 2007 at 14:50
I like doing Westminster Hour. You get the feeling that even though it is the BBC and even though you know it is going to be dramatically edited, you will be given a balanced airing. The same applies for The Week in Westminster.
The interview was yesterday. Today, apparently, the Labour party is so desperately lacking in talent it needs the services of our deputy treasurer who has now also moved over to become a Gollum advisor.
The interview was regarding the consensual government of all talents, which GB is attempting to portray as his new style of leadership.
Yeah, right, of course he is.
That’s why he waited until David Cameron was right in the middle of announcing new policies and initiatives to tackle social decline, to announce that two Conservative MPs were becoming his much needed special advisors.
They have, unfortunately, all been played like a well tuned fiddle, brought on board by Gollum at a time which was calculated to cause as much damage as possible to David Cameron- prior to the party conferences and as part of the well orchestrated build up to a general election being called, which if Labour were to win, will have been aided and assisted by the said Conservative MPs.
I would fight to the death to defend core Conservative principles. I almost did with grammar schools. I believe passionately in what was known as the elevation of the people, which to me, having been brought up on a council estate and having fought for an education, means enabling every single person to realise their full potential regardless of the situation into which they were born.
It means providing the wealth creators with an environment within which to encourage enterprise; and it means governments doing all that they can through the development and implementation of policy to throw down the ladder and put out a hand to help every single person climb, and, achieve social mobility.
These things will never happen under a Labour government. The gap between the rich and poor has become a chasm. ‘Uncrossable’ by most, and as a result we see society sinking ever further into despair and decline.
And three MPs, two Conservative and one Liberal Democrat, and the Conservative deputy treasurer, have decided that the government which has presided over the disintegration of the decent society we once knew, the government which fails to recognise the importance of the family, is in desperate need of their words of wisdom.
I think their actions are misguided. We are a democracy and there is no democratic mandate for remaining an MP of one party, whilst working on behalf of another.
The people of this country are entitled to a strong opposition, and, they are entitled to be given, when an election is called, an unequivocal no nonsense choice when deciding which party they want to vote for.
There are already processes within Parliament which enable strong and fierce debate, and when required, consensus.
You can read in Hansard, occasions when over and over again, in many debates when ministers will concede a point and consensus will be reached between the two parties, not two individuals, and for the better good of the nation as a whole, not the electoral chances of one party.
I have on a number of occasions met ministers at the back of the chair (Speaker’s chair in the chamber) and reached agreement on how to handle the particular problems of a constituent. I have spent a great deal of time building up a relationship of trust with some ministers in order that I can provide a better service to my constituents.
There is a huge difference in resolving the problems of a constituent, and deciding the policy of the nation.
I would never in any capacity whatsoever become an aide to this government, because the people voted Labour in, and Conservative to oppose, that is the will of the nation and how it’s done.
You only have to look at countries that use PR to see the lack of transparency and the amount of horse trading which goes on behind the scenes. Not good.
If Gordon Brown had been serious about consensual working, he would have started with David Cameron, not with back benchers.
You were had lads.
If GB does so desperately need our talent, and can’t find it on his own benches, well that is, in itself, an admission that it’s time for the country to have a government which doesn’t need to beg and borrow from other parties but which is overflowing with decency, common sense, and knows how to put right a society which has completely broken down: a government which has invested time and effort into understanding the problems society is facing today.
You only have to read the report written by IDS, ‘Break Down Britain’ to see how far we have slipped.
My thoughts were with the mother of Rhys Jones yesterday when the majority of schools went back.
The streets on housing estates all across the country would have been full of excited year seven children with new trainers and shoes, wearing stiff shirts and new uniforms. New pencil cases and lunch boxes rattling around in largely, for now, empty oversized new school bags.
She may have watched this scene from her window. Not for her the joy and excitement of having had her son wake her up early in fear of being late for his first day. Not for her the anticipation of waiting all day nervously to find out was he ok? What were the teachers like? Did he get lost? Did he make any new friends? How much homework does he have? On which days does he have sports? Not for her the pleasure of making him his favourite tea to celebrate his first day at big school.
The parents of Rhys Jones have had their world blown apart by our broken society.
How to fix it really is the big issue. It’s society, it’s the family, stupid.
My blog has made it into two national newspapers this week.
Apparently the Sun’s whip described it as ‘rarely less than amusing’. Is that a compliment?
The Sun went on to extensively quote from my Gollum Brown blog, however, it also made an interesting observation - according to close parliamentary friends of the Sun at Westminster, it was along the lines of ‘does Nadine not know that the Shadow Cabinet refer to David Davies as Gollum?’
No they don’t. What a ridiculous thing to say. The shadow cabinet would never waste such a good nickname and call David Davis Gollum Davis when Gordon Brown, the Gordon being so easily morphed into Gollum, was sat opposite them gagging for No 10 now would they? Would they?
Yesterday the blog made the Daily Mail, being quoted in the comment section with regard to my comments about Cruella de Ville moving in with one of Cameron’s top advisors. Apparently, they have moved to the Cotswolds.
Puppies, Bambis, Bunnies and all other cute furry animals who could be transformed into an attractive coat in a flash of the vivisectionist knife can be seen stampeding as I type, down the A40 heading towards Oxford and safety. Poor things.
Apparently, Samantha Cameron has barred Cruella from the house. If I believed that I would rest my case!
Burlesque striptease and Edward Heathcoat-Amory
Posted Thursday, 6 September 2007 at 13:13
Center parcs got the go ahead today to build its newest leisure park in my constituency. A decision I welcome.
The holiday village will bring a whole range of new job opportunities to Mid Bedfordshire which will include HR professionals, accountancy, admin, secretarial, managerial, beauty therapists, hairdressers, gardeners, conservationists, the list goes on.
Many of my constituents, around 1,100 will now be able to both live and work in Bedfordshire.
The Park is supported by Friends of the Earth and although built in green belt will enhance and protect the natural flora and forna.
I would never welcome a single application to build another new home in green belt, my preference is to re-generate urban areas , but this application I welcomed from the start.
Last night’s Evening Standard carried a very interesting diary piece on Gollum Brown and commented on by Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Hammersmith & Fulham.
Gollum reckons he was popular in school from the age of 10.
I can believe that. Humble people are indeed often very popular.
My fascination with politics has always been to do with how, once developed, policy impacts upon the lives of us ordinary people. What you hear being discussed in the Black Horse is not what you will hear being discussed in the members’ tea room in the House of Commons by MPs.
I make a point of making sure I keep well grounded by keeping all my non political friends very close. It’s amazing how many MPs I meet whose entire social life revolves around politics.
Last night I visited friends in the Cotswolds and spent the night in the Kings in Bleddington.
I am one of those people who will talk to anyone, and frequently do, but last night I got more than I bargained for.
Letting myself into my friends house I ran straight into her dining room (it’s between the front door and the loo!) and came across the most beautiful elegant woman sat on one of her dining chairs. She had porcelain white skin and long black hair. Her legs were crossed in an Audrey Hepburn kind of way, hands in her lap just so, and I immediately thought I was looking at an image from a 1940s film.
Kevin and Dominic arrived, and quickly introduced her as Madeline, a friend of theirs who was up from London for the night.
There was something about Madeline.
It wasn’t just her profound almost oriental beauty, there was this calm self aware confidence she exuded which I would die for.
She made me feel fat, ugly and clumsy, but I still wanted to sit next to her, she fascinated me and I wanted to know more.
Madeline, it transpired, helps run The Flash Monkey night club at the Café De Paris in London and she is a Burlesque Striptease Artist, alias Bunny Warren.
I am sure you can imagine my jaw drop reaction when she told me this, however, I made a decent job of remaining cool and worldly wise.
During the evening I learnt about Madeline's life, and Burlesque. She talked, I listened, remembering every now and then to lift my lower jaw and to close my mouth
We were frequently interrupted by people in the pub coming up to our table to ask where Madeline got her dress from. It was a charity shop, yes it really was and it was stunning in a 1940s very sexy Marylin Monroe kind of way.
At the end of the evening Madeline told me she would put me on the clubs VIP list. I gracefully declined.
I came home last night knowing a great deal more than I did before I went out. And the realisation that not all of our voters are Mr and Mrs average with 2.2 children and a Labrador, and even though they aren’t they still want tighter controls on immigration, lower taxes, decent health services and a good education for everyone else’s kids.
If you are ever strolling along the South bank on a Sunday afternoon and you come across a stunning woman dressed in 1940s clothes wearing a hat and gloves and carrying a parasol, it will probably be Madeline.
Edward Heathcoat- Amory has written an article for September Vogue. In it he says that no man on the planet has ever found a woman in Ugg boots sexy. I wear mine every day. Is this where I am going wrong?
He also writes that he loves it when his wife, Alice Thomson columnist on the Telegraph, buys a new dress from Prada or Chloe because it means he can fall in love with her all over again. Is this man for real? He knows exactly the right thing to say – this is obviously the reason why Alice Thomson always has a smug grin on her face. I hope she knows how lucky she is!
I wonder if he has got a brother at home?
Posted Wednesday, 5 September 2007 at 11:52
A cheque popped through the door in the post today. It was for £221 and it was from the BBC. I got paid for being on Any Questions. It was such a pleasure to do, and an honour to meet people like Peter Tatchell (who sent me the loveliest email afterwards) and Charles Moore, for that I would have paid the BBC to let me go on!
Anyway, I would like to put the money to good use, so, if you know of a playgroup in Mid Bedfordshire which is struggling for funds, then please let me know and I will hand the cheque over, being photographed whilst doing so of course. Come on! I’m a politician, what did you expect?
Tonight I am meeting a group of friends in a great pub in Bleddington in the Cotswolds. The nice thing about Parliament being in recess is that I get to socialise and go out at night, like normal people do!
I apologise for the fact that we haven’t been able to post any of the comments over the last couple of days. Normal service will be resumed today!
Gollum Brown and Cruella De Ville
Posted Tuesday, 4 September 2007 at 13:56
It’s not just in the look. There is something very sneaky and ‘Gollumesque’ about Gordon Brown, who will now forever more, be referred to by myself as Gollum Brown.
I can imagine him twitching at the net curtains when he was in No. 11, eyes bulging and spittle dribbling, as he cast covert glances towards No. 10, rubbing his hands together and whispering, ‘my precious’.
No wonder Cherie Blair used to fly up the steps urging the children to hurry.
Now he has his precious, and we are beginning to see the sneaky side, along with his new OCD, quoting from lists.
I refuse to believe that there is one single person out there, apart from Bercow, Mercer and Taylor, who believes that the reason he has taken them as advisers, is to assist ministers and to inform and enhance government policy.
Before I get carried away, I like John Bercow. I sat for nine hours over two days waiting to deliver my maiden speech and he sat through every one of those hours with me, encouraging helping and calming me, all the way through.
When he speaks in the House of Commons there are often noises off from other Conservative politicians who mutter, sometimes quite loudly, “that man is not a Conservative” and when I first experienced this, whilst sat on the benches with John, I was deeply embarrassed for him and shocked.
But I was new and naive.
I have never heard John Bercow deliver a bad speech. One day I sat next to him when he spoke about Darfur. He had no notes and he shook with passion and conviction. He moved me to tears and he was so good he literally took my breath away and left me, sat next to him, thinking I will never be that good.
On the day Tony Blair made his final speech in the chamber, I walked down the steps at the finish behind John. The newly defected Quentin Davies was sat on the Labour benches. There were many noises off that day. I noticed that John stood on the steps and he nervously, rapidly glanced around him - trying to take in what everyone was saying, I instantly thought, is he wondering “is this what they will say about me when I am gone to the other side?”
I have no idea how this will play out when Parliament re-sits, or what the reaction of his own association is today, whatever, you have to hand it to Gollum Brown, he knows how to play ‘em.
Cruella De Ville has set up home with one of David Cameron’s top advisers.
Every Dalmatian in Westminster ( er, sorry, Notting Hill) must be shaking in its basket.
Lock up your dogs.
Is it just me, or did the banner on the top of today’s Times newspaper make anyone else feel uncomfortable?
Harry and Gordon Brown
Posted Monday, 3 September 2007 at 14:11
It’s so good to be back.
My little Blackberry was as hot as toast in my hand on Friday night. Lots of will he/won’t he text messages from colleagues all wondering whether or not GB will call a general election.
Given the level of interest, and the state of affairs in Iraq, I thought I could do no better today than re-post a blog from just before I went on holiday. Every word still stands as true today as it did then.
It also has the added bonus of reminding Nick Robinson that he said I was talking tosh. Oh please let GB call the election and enable me to get one over Nick!
I had the great pleasure whilst I was on holiday of telephoning one of the young men in my constituency who was on his way to serve his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Harry, better known as H, is now ‘un-contactable’ via his mobile to friends and family.
He was more than mildly surprised, and delighted, to hear it was me on the end of his phone. The conversation descended into laughter on a number of occasions as I kept referring to the Royal Anglians , as the Royal Anglicans. Well, it’s all God’s army I suppose!!
I am making it a policy to speak to as many serving soldiers from my constituency as I can, as they embark upon a tour of duty, and inviting them down to the House of Commons for lunch when they return. I want to hear a birds eye account of what’s happening on the ground and I also want to show my appreciation for what they are doing.
They are very brave, each and every one of them. Harry is 20 years old and about to work in one of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world. God speed his safe return.
My previous blog:
Reasons to be cheerful, 1..2..3…
Posted Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 14:49
Last night I went to an awards dinner and was seated on the same table as the BBC’s Political Editor, Nick Robinson. The conversation veered towards, will he/won’t he go for an October election. In Nick’s words, my assertion that the PM will almost definitely go for an autumn election is ‘tosh’.
I tried to convince myself on the way home that Nick is right and I am wrong. Didn’t work – every bone in my body yells September/October, and here, in a bit more detail than last time, is why.
The economic future for voters is dodgy. Personal indebtedness is higher than we have ever known it before. Some of those who are fortunate enough to own their own homes, have little equity left in their property. Borrowing against home equity is OK, as long as the property market remains buoyant. We have just seen another interest rate rise, another is on the way, and there may be more - people are really beginning to feel the squeeze.
Giving authority to the Bank of England to set interest rates may appear to Gordon Brown to have been a good idea ten years ago, I can’t help wondering whether or not the PM thinks he may have shot himself in the foot; a political lever, pulled by many a Chancellor over the years for political advantage, has gone. The measure so astutely put in place to remove him from any blame in the past, may end up frustrating him hugely in the future.
Many are predicting a property market crash in the New Year. This has been on the cards, as it always is in an overheated market, for some time, however, supply outstripping demand has forestalled this catastrophe, until now.
The main argument at the table last night, which included other eminent journalists, Peers, oh, and I almost forgot, the political commentator, Iain Dale (joke Iain, thanks by the way) was that Gordon Brown has wanted this so badly and waited for so long that he isn’t going to take the chance. I would argue that he isn’t going to take the risk of only being the PM for two years. He is very well aware that if he waits two years, the likelihood of him being re-elected with a workable majority will erode, month by month as people begin to tire of his dourness and seriousness.
In a political world that is more image conscious than ever before, Gordon Brown just doesn’t cut the ice when it comes to charisma, personality or charm.
Going for an Autumn General Election will not be taking a risk; it is in fact the safer option.
A head of steam is beginning to build, driven largely by the vote in the House of Representatives in the US, to withdraw troops from Iraq. A catastrophic move which would have devastating consequences, however, as with most things, the idea is beginning to catch on over here.
The American elections are just over a year away (as in term times). A Democrat victory is likely; they already have control of Congress and are pushing for troop withdrawal. American opinion wants the boys – and girls – home - both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are plugged right into that opinion. Hillary has said “It is time for us to move our troops out of harms way in the middle of the Iraqi civil war”. (Hillary voted for the war by the way.)
Now, Gordon Brown has one big vote winner, one policy announcement likely to push him through the 40% poll barrier, which is to announce the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. If he waits and makes such an announcement after the next American Presidential elections - whoever that may be – wouldn’t that make him look like a poodle?
Knowing Gordon Brown, don’t you think that if Tony was seen to follow Bush, he may wish to be seen as the one to lead Clinton/ Obama? Whereas Tony could be portrayed as a man who took us into a war with less than honour or truth, Brown could be portrayed as the man who saved our troops and took us out.