Bedfellows In The Last Chance Saloon.
Posted Monday, 31 March 2008 at 17:52
Just over a year ago, on February the 8th I wrote this blog:
If the Conservative party is ever to be in power again it needs to win with a comfortable majority….
In the event of a hung parliament, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party have one thing in common, a desire to keep Conservatives out of power.
The majority of Liberal Democrats are a long way left of New Labour, they would have a long political road to travel to get anywhere near to the Conservatives….
If we have a hung Parliament there will be another Lib Lab pact, and the price will be PR.
Last week Jean Eaglesham of the FT ran a story regarding the new language being used by the Labour party. The language consisted of words such as alternative voting, compulsory voting and PR.
The story was largely uncommented on. What we are about to witness are the first steps of Labour’s desperate efforts to keep the Conservatives out of power, and to cling onto government.
This will necessitate a working relationship between Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown. It won’t need any further cosying up between Lib Dem and Labour MPs. The biggest defender of government policy when Conservatives oppose comes from the Lib Dem benches; however, not with any thanks or appreciation from the Labour party back benchers, who hold Lib Dem MPs largely in contempt.
A resurgent Conservative party is a worry to the Lib Dems, as there are many Conservatives in close second place to their own MPs, they are looking at losing over half of their parliamentary seats.
The Labour party is staring at recession, falling polls, a Conservative London Mayor and defeat.
Bedfellows they will yet be.
Life as we know it..
Posted Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 21:37
Spent today with a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
He is an abortionist who will not abort over sixteen weeks because “it doesn’t matter what the reasons are, it’s life as we know it at that stage and changes from a procedure into something else slightly more sinister”.
There is not one NHS hospital in the UK which will carry out abortion over 16 weeks other than Kings in London and Newcastle, they will only operate in cases of extreme need, when the continuation of the pregnancy is a threat to the health of the mother.
This is why all abortions over sixteen weeks are carried out by abortion only private clinics. Some may describe that as an industry.
Posted Friday, 28 March 2008 at 14:11
I have just come back from visiting the Kings Arms project in Bedford. The project looks after the homeless and provides a depth of continued support over a number of years. It was one of the best run projects I have ever visited.
I will be spending further time with the project over the next few weeks, and will blog in more detail about the work they do, which includes sitting in the gutter in an attempt to persuade rough sleepers that they are worth a bed for the night.
According to a recent government, ‘rough sleepers’ count – Bedford has the highest number of rough sleepers outside of London. Really? More than Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds?
I am going to probe this one a bit deeper, but I am quite sure we will find government targets at the bottom of it somewhere.
Anyway, whilst having a cup of coffee with the amazing buzzing with energy Elle, the project director who is also daughter of the Bishop of Bedford, I asked who had started the project originally.
I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been when the answer came back, ‘this amazing woman Philippa Stroud who lived here about fifteen years ago.”
Philippa apparently had a real concern for people sleeping rough, and got it into her head that something more positive should be done; and against the odds, setting out on her own, she did it.
The project is now huge, and has helped many hundreds of people to battle alcoholism and drugs, and assisted them to make the transition from the street to community.
Philippa Stroud is the Conservative candidate for Sutton & Cheam, a truly amazing woman and will be a Conservative MP after the next general election. I can’t wait. She is also Director of the Centre for Social Justice.
Photo is of Elle and I, with wet bedraggled hair, in the night shelter kitchen, more on The Kings Arms project to follow.
Posted Friday, 28 March 2008 at 09:56
Last night, I went for a drink after work with the MP who gave me the nickname ‘Bridget’, which caught on just a little bit too quickly!
He said something which scared me.
He has just been to see Mamma Mia. “I thought it was about Abba” said he “but it’s not, and you’ll never guess what, you’re in it!”
“I’m in it?” said I, perplexed to say the least. Do I really have an alter ego? Am I sleep walking?
“Yes, only your name’s Donna.” Donna? “Yes, you look like her, sound like her, she even has your mannerisms, it’s you.”
Oh no, here we go again. I suppose I will have to go and see it now, just to see what he’s on about. I don’t mind that, but I hope he doesn’t start calling me Donna – I’m confused enough as it is.
Today's Daily Telegraph
Posted Thursday, 27 March 2008 at 16:34
Click here to read the following article - Hundreds born within abortion limit survive - in today's Daily Telegraph.
Beyond The Limit (3).
Posted Thursday, 27 March 2008 at 11:28
Jacqui Smith (Labour). Redditch. Majority: 2716.
Jacqui Smith has abstained during many abortion votes, however, she has taken funding from Emily's list on the basis that she supports pro-abortion values.
As I've said before, abstention is fine if she feels that by voting for her pro-abortion beliefs she would be mis-representing her constituents. One to watch.
If you know your MP’s voting intentions, please link to the Alive and Kicking campaign web site and let them know.
Posted Thursday, 27 March 2008 at 09:46
An MP told me yesterday about a plot which has been established in order to thwart a 20 week amendment.
When the vote takes place, it is very likely to be taken on the basis of a pendulum amendment.
This means that a pro-abortion MP could put down a 23 week amendment. At the moment, the upper limit is 24 weeks.
Pro-abortion MPs would then pile in to vote for the 23 week amendment, on the basis that they could then tell their electorate, that they voted to reduce the upper limit at which abortion takes place; but fail to mention the seven day margin of error.
Now my job is to make sure that every journalist understands the implications of this, and doesn't let them get away with it!
So, to all you journalists who keep cutting and pasting my blog into the diary pages... It's pay back time!
Posted Wednesday, 26 March 2008 at 17:01
The Daily Mail has a story today about how women are more irritable, irrational, and bad tempered than men.
It’s to do with sleep and how long it takes to get there - asleep that is.
According to the article, women, who take more than half an hour, show signs of hostility, aggression, depression and psychological distress; they are grumpy, irrational and bad tempered. Men it appears get off scott free. It doesn’t matter how long it takes them to fall asleep, they don’t show the same problems.
The article makes no mention of a woman’s ability to think about, and do, a dozen things at once. Or how busy we are, usually looking after a number of people at any one time. It draws no conclusions from the fact that the majority of men have no-one, and nothing, to worry about, other than themselves.
I can’t remember the last time I had an undisturbed night. I take at least an hour to fall asleep, often very much longer. But I can remember the last time I was irrational, hostile, and aggressive.
So, if this article is true, and I fear it may be, just how amazing are women? With all the things we have to do and put up with, we can carry on through the depression and psychological distress, and still keep on getting up in the morning. I can only conclude that even though Margaret Thatcher only had four hours sleep a night, she must have dropped off in seconds!
Beyond The Limit (2)
Posted Wednesday, 26 March 2008 at 12:07
Barbara Follett MP. Labour. Stevenage. Majority: 3139.
Barbara Follett is the founder of Emily's list, which provides financial help and assistance to women wishing to become Labour MPs. In order to receive funding they have to support Labour party values, and be pro-abortion.
This means that any potential candidate of faith, ie, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Muslim or Hindu would not qualify, which makes the list discriminatory .
Barbara Follett MP has voted against reducing the upper limit and against a bill introduced to provide counselling and support.
72% of her constituents want the upper limit reduced to 20 weeks.
Will she represent their views at the next vote, or her own?
If you know your MP’s voting intentions, please link to the Alive and Kicking campaign web site and let them know.
Beyond the limit.
Posted Tuesday, 25 March 2008 at 11:45
Laura Moffatt. Labour MP, Crawley. Majority 37.
As a result of a number of polls, we know that the majority of the public, as many as 72 per cent, wish to see the upper limit at which abortion takes place, reduced from 24 to 20 weeks.
Many MPs, however, choose to use Parliament as a place to pander to their own preference, or ideology, rather than to represent the will of the people.
Each day, I am going to highlight MPs who may need to think very seriously when voting on the issue of reducing the upper limit to 20 weeks, because if they don’t, they may see their majorities wiped out at the next election.
Laura Moffat voted AGAINST counselling before the termination of pregnancy in 2007; and abstained during a vote to reduce the upper limit to 21 weeks.
I have no problem with abstention on an ethical conscience issue, if an MP truly does not want to compromise their own principles, and ensure that they do not misrepresent the majority of their constituents’ views.
However, trotting through the noe lobby on a 20 week amendment will be something entirely different.
If you know your MP’s voting intentions, please link to the Alive and Kicking campaign web site and let them know.
My style of politics
Posted Tuesday, 25 March 2008 at 10:11
Nothing I have ever done in politics has impressed my children one little bit.
That changed yesterday afternoon.
In order to have a squabble free journey home (yes that’s right, it doesn’t get any better as they get older, even though the eldest is 22), I bought an array of ‘girly’ magazines at the petrol station.
I almost crashed my car when the youngest one screamed from the back seat "Omigod you’re in Elle!! Stop the car, stop the car, it’s the fashion edition!!"
As we were on the motorway, I didn’t. Obviously. I’m an MP, I am trained not to respond to ridiculous demands.
It was an interview I gave months ago when Hillary Clinton moved up a gear on her campaign: an MP’s perspective on a woman in the Whitehouse. An interview I had completely forgotten about.
I’m not even sure if my girls read the interview. As far as they are concerned, who cares? It’s the April new season fashion edition, and my picture is in the same magazine as Alexa Chung.
And on the seventh day..
Posted Sunday, 23 March 2008 at 21:50
I have only had access to a Mac computer all weekend and it was having none of my bogging!
I have blogged on the Spectator Coffee House; however, as Mr Brakes is on holiday, I can’t do the hyperlink!
I also had a bit to say in the Telegraph today, but I can’t link you to that either!
Hopeless aren’t I!!
I am delighted to see the strong presence of the Christian Church on TV and the Radio over the weekend.
Sat in a converted railway carriage/coffee shop by the seaside this morning with my mothers “eight and a quarter because my birthdays in December and its March now” year old Goddaughter, I looked out of the window, bewitched by the sea, and thought about what words of religious wisdom I could muster for a blog today.
Chloe was prattling on about school, the teddy I had just bought for her, and the world in general.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked, making me feel mortified with guilt, which was actually nothing to the looks bestowed upon me by my three girls, who were just returning to the table, having only left us alone whilst they got the drinks!
“Something nice to write about God because it’s Easter Sunday” I told her.
She stared into her J2O, sucked noisily on the straw, looked at me and said “Nadine, (in a very strong Lancashire accent!) Why don’t you write about how God gives us six days and just asks us for one"?
What could I say?
Happy Easter everyone.
Preparing for Government
Posted Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 17:17
We are seriously preparing for Government.
The whips' office have just sent out an Easter break reading list, compiled by Keith Simpson MP.
It recommends twenty one books and includes Johnathan Powells, Great Hatred, Little Room and David Owen's In Sickness and In Power.
Not that I mind, but we are back on Tuesday! How on earth am I going to fit all that in?
Hand Of Truth
Posted Thursday, 20 March 2008 at 12:42
I’ve had an amazing response to the ‘Hand of Hope’ blog posted yesterday.
Of course, the pro-abortionist lobby have attempted to rubbish it and say it is a hoax, which it most definitely is not. Some of the pro-abortionists, who know that they can’t get away with calling it a hoax, are saying that the surgeon was operating on the hand, which didn’t reach out; and, that in fact the baby was anesthetised so reaching out would not have been possible.
Two points from me: first is that if the experienced paediatrician operating on the 21 week old baby had anesthetised, then that fact endorses the Professor Anand position that a foetus can feel pain; otherwise why would this doctor, who operates on unborn babies all the time, bother?
My second point is look at the tear in the uterus. See how jiggered it is just above the hand; and yet the rest of the surgically incised openings are controlled and neat.
This is, in all likelihood, because the hand unexpectedly thrust out. It would be a poor surgeon who allowed the uterine tear to be so messy, and this is no ‘poor’ surgeon.
He is a surgeon, however, who is reported as saying the movement of the hand was ‘controlled’, that he was operating on the hand and the baby was anesthetised.
Why would he say that? The pro-choice and pro-life lobbies in America are far more vociferous, and unfortunately violent, than they are in the UK; and one can only guess his reasons.
He also knows that there is other compelling evidence. We have the slide show which states the facts from the photographer present in the theatre, Michael Clancy.
And we have the pictures of, now a big boy, baby Samuel, who gave evidence to Senator Sam Brownback during the partial birth abortion debate in America.
Finally, don’t listen to me, don’t listen to the pro-abortionists. Trust your own eyes, believe what you see.
The Hand Of Hope
Posted Wednesday, 19 March 2008 at 15:48
This picture show a pregnant uterus laying on the exterior of the mother's abdomen, having been lifted out of her abdominal cavity, via a c-section incision made in the abdominal wall.
Dr Joseph Bruner performed this procedure in order to operate on the baby whilst still in utero before it was born. The baby had spina bifida and would not have survived if removed from his mother's womb.
When the operation was over, baby Samuel, at 21 weeks gestation, put his hand through the incision in the uterus and grabbed hold of the surgeon’s finger, a gesture which was apparently met with a huge amount of emotion in the operating theatre.
Dr Bruner said that it was the most emotional moment of his life and that for a moment he was just frozen, totally immobile.
In the UK we are aborting babies just like this and older every single day.
There are union funded organisations such as ‘Voice for Choice’ that campaign and fight to maintain the right to abort babies like Samuel.
There are organisations such as the BMA who vote and endorse the right to continue to do this.
There are organisations which are paid for by the government, such as BPAS, who argue the right to keep aborting babies Samuel's age and older.
Little Samuel made his case from within the womb in a way which none of the shrill late abortionists will ever manage.
There are two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)
Posted Wednesday, 19 March 2008 at 14:25
You may remember I wrote a blog commenting on the LUCA Ball and then this article appeared by Richard Kay in the gossip pages of the Daily Mail.
It appears table thumper is labouring under the delusion that I may need a photograph. My PA needed a sit down and a cup of tea after finding this in the morning's post.
Now, tell me, what kind of young man wears a short silk dressing gown in the garden whilst smoking a cigar - in February?
One who attends Oxford university, which for all I know may be full of scantily clad young men reclining on balaustrades.
Elizabeth and Leicester
Posted Tuesday, 18 March 2008 at 12:36
In the few minutes before sleeping each night, I am reading Elizabeth and Leicester by Sarah Gristwood.
A colleague who moves in far more academic circles than I, informed me last week that new letters have been discovered from Elizabeth to Robert Dudley, which shed a revealing light on their relationship.
This frustrated me, because now I don’t know whether or not to continue reading the Sarah Gristwood book; however, it also reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago.
I met this particular friend in the City Inn for a drink early one evening. He had just finished lunch with one of the more distinguished and notable Peers of the realm.
I remember commenting that it must have been a long lunch, when he recounted the most enthralling story.
The name of the Peer he had lunched with is synonymous with the reign of Elizabeth I. In fact, this Peer’s direct descendant was one of the key, and more familiar, players in Elizabeth’s court.
Anyway, I was amazed as my friend told me how he had been taken into the cellars after lunch, and shown box upon box of documents, all dating back to Elizabeth's reign; and, had been handed down through the generations, perfect and intact.
I had forgotten this conversation, until last week. I have no idea if this is where the new letters have originated from, if not, there are more to be discovered!
You can imagine how exciting the news of new letters is, for those of us who are fascinated by a woman, who was supposedly no man’s Elizabeth.
Having arrived home late on Saturday night, I flicked through Sky movies on the bedroom TV and caught Elizabeth halfway through, just as Dudley pleaded with an emotionally shut down Elizabeth, through distraught tears, “ is nothing of our love to endure?”
Well, it appears that after all this time something may.
Secrets held in ink on parchment are to be revealed, and the life of a woman so contained and private is to be known to us.
Rather than being locked within the dark shadows of a cellar, the knowledge of their true feelings will cascade down through further generations, and see the light of day.
The work of a quill, the outpourings of emotion and a desire to hold onto, and re-read intimate words, means that even though so much time has passed, Dudley can dry his tears; something of their love may have indeed endured.
And as a result, we may know a little more not only of the woman and her heart, but of what motivated, the apparently driven, and single minded Queen who governed England so well and for so long.
YouGov and abortion
Posted Monday, 17 March 2008 at 10:02
According to a YouGov poll in yesterday's Sunday Times 48 per cent of people support the upper limit for abortion being reduced to 20 weeks. This figure rises to 59 per cent amongst women. Eight per cent want to see abortion banned completely.
This means that those wishing to keep the current 24 week limit are in the minority.
I am sure that many of the people surveyed possibly have no idea how a termination post 19 weeks of pregnancy takes place and the procedures deployed.
Many will have no idea regarding sentience, foetal development, viability or foetal pain. The developing science, regarding neo-nates, is only really known to those who specialise in this field of medicine, or benefit first hand from its practice.
If they did, the YouGov poll impressive as it is, would have, I am quite sure, been overwhelming in its conclusions.
According to the Sunday Times, Dawn Primarolo MP, the Health Minister, will this week attempt to persuade MPs to retain the 24 week limit.
Now, why would a government Minister want to persuade MPs to vote against the will of the people?
Isn’t that why we, as MPs, are in Westminster, as representatives of the people? Isn’t that what democracy is about, accountability to the people?
If I were a government MP with a small majority, and the Tories leading in the polls, I would think very carefully about making sure I voted the way the majority of my constituents wanted. Maybe, on the day of the vote, I might just leave my arrogance at the entrance of the yes lobby; and cast a vote for decency and humanity, and not union funded political ideology.
Posted Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 22:39
If you only buy one Sunday newspaper, make sure it's the Sunday Times and make sure you read page 3.
More in the morning!
Posted Friday, 14 March 2008 at 17:20
Someone has just sent me my star sign analysis.
She sent a message with it which was "stop gossiping and get some work done".
Excuse me? How about "Stop being so busy and take a rest".
We only see what we want to in this life don't we!!!
GEMINI - The Chatterbox ~ ( May 21 - June 20 )
Smart and witty. Outgoing, very chatty. Lively, energetic. Adaptable but needs to express themselves. Argumentative and outspoken. Likes change. Versatile. Busy, sometimes nervous and tense. Gossips. May seem superficial or inconsistent. Beautiful physically and mentally.
And then the phone rang......
Posted Friday, 14 March 2008 at 15:10
What an incredibly romantic place Wrest Park is.
For those who don't know, Wrest Park is located in my constituency, and thanks to English Heritage, the magnificent eighteenth-century landscaped gardens have been beautifully restored.
I have a press release of the visit on my homepage.
As we walked through the gardens we talked about the movements of Capability Brown - it is somewhat ironic, that by containing his over enthusiastic approach to turning estate gardens into parklands - thereby saving the nobility maintenance costs in order that they could pay off their gambling debts - the beauty of the Wrest Park French landscape has prevailed for us all to enjoy today.
As we walked and talked through the grounds taking in all of the architectural detail, just for one little moment, I was wearing a long dress, and carrying a parasol, I sighed. There was a table laid out ahead of me with maids and silver tea pots and sunshine glistening on the water beyond the croquet lawn .........
And then my phone rang…...
Photo above shows Neil Cole of English Heritage, myself and the project curator Gareth Hughes.
Now you see them....
Posted Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 18:56
About to go out for dinner and thought I would just check my emails before I left when I spied this from Gallery News - a press release from Nick Clegg - it read; 'Nick Clegg wants to cut the number of MPs'.
He's only got 60 as it is? Don't get me wrong I am all for fewer Lib Dem MPs but I wouldn't have thought that was a good move for a leader who already has so few!!
Posted Thursday, 13 March 2008 at 14:03
Gaby Hinsliffe wrote this article, in this week’s Observer:
‘Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries will table an amendment aiming to reduce the cut-off point for legal abortion from 24 week's gestation to 20: David Cameron is among its backers.
‘At first Dorries thought she stood no chance of changing the law but she is growing more confident: 'I only have to walk through the House of Commons and MPs say: "I am with you on 20 weeks, I don't want to go any lower, don't want to ban abortion, but I'm with you."' She believes babies above this age may be sentient - capable of feeling pain - and too often capable of survival outside the womb.
‘Faced with such emotive arguments, the Department of Health is putting its faith in crisp science. Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health Minister, will argue that the government's best medical advice suggests the so-called point of viability at which a foetus is capable of independent life has not actually shifted from 24 weeks, and therefore the time limit should not change.
‘The care of premature babies is clearly improving but it hasn't improved to the point where you can move the point of viability,' she told The Observer . 'There just is a certain time limit when things like lungs are formed. Clearly if the science changes we would have to make that clear to Parliament, but it hasn't.’
I do think the Minister may have made herself look a little silly, lacking in basic medical knowledge, and maybe a tad naive when she said:
'There just is a certain time limit when things like lungs are formed. Clearly if the science changes we would have to make that clear to Parliament, but it hasn't.’
I am also disappointed in the way Gaby, known as one of the more trustworthy journalists, reported the story. She implied that my reason to lower to 20 weeks was based on emotion, and the Minister’s desire to remain at 24 weeks was based on science. So let’s just correct that shall we.
I have said this many times before, so I do apologise to those of you who have to read it again.
The ability for a baby to live when born before 24 weeks depends very much upon where it is born.
If the baby enters the world in a good hospital, which has a neo natal unit, and a team of trained dedicated staff, then the baby’s chances of survival are absolutely excellent.
You only have to look at the figures for UCH to understand that.
Immature lung development can, to some degree, be compensated for with drugs etc.
If a baby is born in a hospital with no specialist staff or unit, then the baby’s chances are slim.
The government are basing their assumption on averaging out the figures nationally, including every baby born into every situation, and taking an average.
That has nothing to do with a baby’s ability, given the technology we have today, to survive outside of the womb between 20 to 24 weeks; and nothing to do with the method which is used to end a baby’s life from 19 weeks onwards, or the issue of foetal pain.
I wrote this article for the Daily Telegraph,,laying out the argument in more detail.
The Minister is not dealing in ‘crisp science’. If she were, she would be advocating a reduction to 20 weeks. The Minister is dealing in pro-abortion propaganda, which is a shame, because we are talking about 3,000 babies lives per year.
Shock Shock, Horror Horror!
Posted Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 16:45
A moment of shock in the chamber as Bob Spink MP resigns the Conservative whip, as a point of order, on live TV.
Stewart Jackson MP and I chewed over the meaning of this in about 30 seconds. Spink will, we think, given his strong anti Euro views and Essex seat, join UKIP - bad move!
It's a shame, I got on well with him.
Whilst we were having this conversation, the tax man called to tell me he's popping a cheque in the post. Simon Burns MP sent a text from New York, (he is there with the UN) which read 'Go Hillary Go' just as Hilary Armstrong MP let a door which weighs about five tonnes close in my face, knocking my bag out of my arms all over the floor - which was rather ironic really - go Hilary go! Please!!
You don't have to be mad to work here, but ......
Razzle Dazzle Em!
Posted Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 12:07
I was made aware of this article in last week's New Statesman which I wasn't going to mention as I come out of it rather well; however, my local newspaper editor did in the Bedfordshire On Sunday. Well he would, given that he is as left as they come, and regards The New Statesman in the same way the rest of us do the Bible.
Anyway, following on from that and the article in the Daily Mail, I seem to be having a bit of a media week.
Richard Kay, in today's Daily Mail society gossip diary, is especially interesting. What he doesn't have room to mention is the fact that the offending student started banging the table at the end of my first sentence, which was to welcome everyone.
My second sentence was to say I was sure there was at least one person on every table who had ambitions to become an MP; but let's hope it's not you, looking at Mr table thumper, which, judging by the reaction in the room, was a particularly sweet moment for me.
However, no hard feelings thumper, if you ever want a stint in an MP's office in the House of Commons, come and work for me. You need to learn how the other half live young man, in order to maximise the brilliant future I am sure lays ahead of you!
The Western Daily Press
And before anyone even begins to think 'is this press stuff going to her head?' No one is more aware than me that they can shoot you down as quick as they lift you up. Especially the Beds on Sunday.
Finally, there was this piece in The Sun on 10th March 2008 also:
A WACKO fan keeps sending mysterious presents to the sparky Tory MP Nadine Dorries . She reveals on her blog that her personal assistant rang her "to say we've just received another box of condoms in the post at the House of Commons. That's three dozen this week!" A mere trifle to some politicians.
Minarets and dreamy spires
Posted Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 10:09
There must be half a dozen or so journalists who could be described as 'leading' in their field. Last night I had supper with one who is a household name and TV personality and would be the first name on many peoples lips when asked to name an writer whose views they respected on the issue of Islamist fundamentalism.
had no idea that England was far more important to the Islamists than America - following on from 9/11, I thought it would be the other way round.
I suppose it stands to reason that here is the home, the mother country of the English language, of world finance, of law and innovation, and some of the most famous universities in the world.
Symbolism is everything to the Islamist in the midst of a Jihad, the holy war we are silently engaged in.
Apparently, the minaret of a mosque, which will be built in Oxford, will stand taller than the dreamy spires.
Standing taller is all that matters, it’s the most important thing. Symbolic.
To the Islamist, America is a Johnny come lately, it's England that matters.
Whereas anyone walking by may not even notice the towering height, casting a shadow over a dreamy spire, to the Islamist it represents a triumphant call to arms.
And the passer-by will think it’s just another innocent call to prayer.
Posted Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 00:37
Please make sure you sign the on line petition on the same website also - v important!
Alive and Kicking
Posted Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 17:39
Alive and kicking have launched a 'Name and Shame' website, which could potentially be very dangerous for MPs with small majorities.
The site has collected over 1098 signatures in the last few days and urges voters to contribute information regarding an MP's voting intentions with regard to abortion.
We know as a result of polling, that 72% of the public want to see a reduction in the upper limit from 24 weeks to 20 and that Labour MPs are largely against this move.
I would not like to be a Labour MP who votes against a twenty week amendment, and be sat on a majority of less than 5000 because Alive and Kicking are going to make sure the electorate know exactly which way every MP votes.
In addition to this, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the National press piggy back on to the Alive and Kicking idea and start running their own name and shame campaigns.
I will be launching my own 20 week web site very shortly, more news here soon.
Sprat or Mackerel?
Posted Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 13:14
I have so many things to blog on today that I am going to have to post a few times when I find gaps.
The first post has to be about the sheer blatant hypocrisy of the soon to be ex CEO of Bedfordshire County Council, Andrea Hill, who has just secured a new position with Suffolk County Council for £220,000 per year.
Bedfordshire County Council is about to be abolished as Bedfordshire prepares, following a government announcement this week, to establish two new unitary authorities.
Andrea Hill - despite her council having spent between £600,000 - £700,000 of tax payers money fighting to become a single unitary authority - has been rumoured for at least the last six months to have been looking for another job.
The first interview was with Cambridgeshire, which I believe she didn't get.
Weeks ago she stood outside County Hall in Bedford waving placards stating how much she loved Bedfordshire.
The words rat and sinking ship spring to mind.
My point isn't really about her as an individual, good luck to anyone who can find someone to pay them that kind of money
It's more about where the money she earns comes from - it's the same place the money to pay MPs comes from.
The salary Suffolk County Council is about to pay Andrea Hill would pay for four MPs, and as someone commented this morning, at least MPs do something useful.
Whilst the media gorge on a feeding frenzy of sprats in the form of MP's pay, it would appear that the big fat Mackerels swim free.
The Interview With God
Posted Monday, 10 March 2008 at 20:35
Teenagers and death
Posted Monday, 10 March 2008 at 12:33
We were driving into Tescos in Flitwick on Saturday morning. As I reversed into a parking space the news reader on the radio announced that six people had died in a road accident, a head on collision on the A429 in the Cotswolds.
As I switched off the ignition and pulled up the handbrake my youngest said "oh my god, do you think it might be someone we know?"
Not an unusual question really. She still lives and attends school in the Cotswolds during the week. We spent fifteen years of our lives there as a family, and being the person I am, there was hardly a committee, church or otherwise, that I wasn't involved in.
We know a huge number of people.
Two hours later her worst fears were confirmed…
The young girl who died was in my daughter’s drama group at her school. She was fifteen.
The rest of my weekend I spent observing a teenager’s reaction to a sudden death.
It was traumatic.
At one point I asked my daughter to share the text messages she received with me.
By Sunday morning I was editing her responses.
MySpace, Face Book, Beebo, and the usual teenager networking sites, all kicked in.
User names on MySpace started to change to names reflecting the tragedy; bulletin boards were posted and an entire cohort descended into a pit of peer supported misery.
The Sunday papers carried photographs of the young girl in her school uniform; and in the Sunday Telegraph there was a picture of my daughter’s friend, the kindest hearted boy with the sunniest disposition, laying flowers at the scene of the crash. Bless him, a lovely boy who waves like mad from the window of his dad’s car, on the one morning a week I drop off at school.
My own name was printed two inches below the picture, as a comment on an entirely unrelated article. The Sunday Telegraph has a distribution of millions and yet that one page connected to both my daughter and I.
I was close to my friends at school. There were five of us, Rita, Nicki, Tina, Suzy and I.
We were close; but not as teenagers are today, who as a result of far greater technology than was at our disposal, talk to each other constantly.
I have read reports of schools banning teenage girls and boys from hugging each other, in an attempt to calm down the amount of tactile contact.
My friends and I never ever hugged each other.
Every telephone conversation my daughter has with her friends ends with four or five "love you’s". We never did that.
When a boy in my year died we hardly mentioned it.
Six boys went to the funeral as pall bearers; and returned silently, with minimal fuss, halfway through a lesson when the funeral was over.
We all looked round as they walked silently back into the lesson, sat down and opened their books.
No one uttered a word, but silent tears were shed.
I have thought about that boy many, many, times over the years.
How he chased me in the tennis courts, and I pulled his army rucksack off his back, and ran away with it.
I can see his face now laughing in front of me, pleading with me to give him his bag back, as though it was only yesterday.
But I never waved to him as though my life depended on it, or said half a dozen love you’s at the end of a telephone conversation. I never hugged him.
Will my daughter and her peers remember their friend in years to come, or does this new way of grieving get it all out there, over and done with in one hit?
I observed over the weekend an outpouring of grief, which hovered on the edge of becoming something that could have become a cause for concern.
The news of the young girl’s death spread like wildfire via the medium of the internet and mobile phones.
Each teenager’s thoughts were transferred into instant messages via the web, read, judged and responded to within seconds.
Those who didn’t even know the young girl that well and weren’t in her friendship group, as my daughter wasn’t, comforted each other.
Surely, this instant appraisal and response to spontaneous thought, works to create an artificial environment of communication.
Would the teenage thoughts communicated via the internet not be deeper, more considered and rationalised from within with greater self healing effect, if those thoughts were held onto for a little while longer, before they were ‘put out there’.
My daughter did not have the time over the weekend to 'come to terms' with what had happened in her own way. I don’t know if the phenomenon of constant and instant communication helped her or not.
The school will provide counsellors for the children today; and there will be many, many, hugs and tears shed for the loss of a beautiful, happy, shy, much loved girl who had already had to cope with a great deal.
I am far happier with an adult counsellor, than I am with the teenage networking sites on the internet, as I am sure other parents are too.
Daily Mail and a Surprise Package!
Posted Friday, 7 March 2008 at 12:09
The Daily Mail article is out today. Daily Mail.
I was made aware of this by constituents tapping on my car window, as I drove to my first surgery this morning!
At this point, I had no idea what the article would say, how it would pan out, or how hideous the photograph would look.
At the same time as taps on my window in the constituency, my PA telephoned to say that we had just received another box of condoms in the post at the House of Commons.
That's 3 dozen this week!
The Daily Mail article is good, in as much as it conveys, to some degree, the passion and determination I have to reduce the number of abortions which take place each day; and my concern about how the overly liberal sex education in schools is harming our teenagers.
The photograph is not that bad either considering it's of me!
Posted Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 10:22
Playing the man not the ball
I've had a call from the Evening Standard.
The Lib Dem Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, Phil Willis, has accused me of supporting a reduction from 24 to 20 weeks for abortion - for reasons of 'notoriety'.
As a woman and an ex nurse I thought carefully about my reply.
I have delivered live babies and assisted with successful, live and botched abortions. I'm a mother of daughters and I have been pregnant three times.
I have made abortion an issue since I first arrived at the House of Commons and became an MP, as the readers of my blog will know.
I'm sorry to see that the Chairman has abandoned the argument and decided 'to play the man and not the ball'.
Maybe it’s because he's lost the argument and there isn't an MP in the House of Commons who thinks the committee's report on abortion is worth the paper it's written on - supported by the fact that a survey of MPs shows support for 20 weeks, therefore disregarding the reports conclusions.
Maybe if the report had been fair and balanced and not so overwhelmingly and obviously loaded, he wouldn't have had to reduce himself to the position of attacking individuals, rather than sticking to the substance of the issue.
Whatever, not the kind of behaviour one expects from a committee Chairman.
A post which carries both renumeration and an obligation to be a cut above the party political fray.
When a committee chairman starts to personally attack a committee member for not agreeing with his or her particular point of view, it is time to complain.
Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 15:25
I was wrong - there are three of us who saw the Jam live in concert - Whitto, who I sat next to at a dinner last night and who said only special people could call him Whitto (of which I am one!) Ed Vaizey, who is making me type this correction, and me.
That Boy Needs Therapy!
Posted Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 13:59
Yesterday I got an email from Nick Clegg.
The Liberal Democrats have finally lost the plot.
It all started with a melodramatic protest in the Chamber, that wasn't.
They laid down an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty to call for an ‘in or out’ vote on membership of the European Union.
The Speaker selects amendments and decides which ones are called.
Of course, they knew the amendment would never be selected, because the Lisbon Treaty is not addressing the question of membership.
An in-out vote would have to be made to the constitution treaty, which, unlike the Lisbon treaty, contains the treaty of Rome, the treaty of Maastricht, the Single European Act, the treaty of Nice and the treaty of Amsterdam.
A vote on that document would be a vote on all the rules, the whole EU constitution, and such an amendment would be possible.
If the Speaker, in his wildest dreams, had wanted to select the amendment to the Lisbon Treaty, as laid down by the Liberal Democrats, he wouldn't have been able to; and of course, they knew this.
When the Speaker refused to select the amendment, the Liberal Democrats orchestrated a performance which resulted in their front bench spokesman being ejected from the Chamber.
Due to his poor acting skills, he had to try very very hard to make this happen.
Eventually he got there; however, after all that effort, the Lib Dem publicity seeking stunt backfired.
Sitting opposite the Lib Dems are old Labour. Now they really do know how to get themselves thrown out of the Chamber.
We, in this place, are used to seeing MPs driven by conviction pushing to the limit, a political ideology.
They make their protests with passion and style: Iain Paisley, Dennis Skinner, Tony Benn, George Galloway, Kelvin Hopkins to name but a few.
The Lib Dem protest made with zero political conviction and authenticity, looked and sounded hollow; especially when made within the context of a debate framed by the oratory skills of William Hague.
Today is the referendum vote on the Lisbon Treaty, the only amendment which can be called for.
The Lib Dems are apparently on a three line whip to constructively abstain, which means they will vote through the aye lobby, and then vote through the noe lobby to cancel out the vote.
A three line whip on abstention is unheard of.
So, they will abstain on a referendum vote, whilst trying to hoodwink the general public, into believing that they really want an in-out vote on the whole question of membership to the EU, knowing it isn't possible.
It gets worse.
They are now dividing. Lib Dem MPs, such as David Heath, who know their seat at the next general election is hanging by a thread, are desperate to make sure their electorate believe that they are Euro-sceptic, but they aren't. The Lib Dems are a pro-European party.
As Nick Clegg said in his email yesterday
"I believe strongly that Britain should be a full, active member of the EU".
Today will be a fascinating day. We know that there are going to be about 30 Labour rebels genuinely fighting the Euro-sceptic corner, and that will be exciting enough. It’s always good to welcome them into the lobby with us.
However, what will make it really exciting will be watching the Lib Dems tie themselves up into knots, and wondering what their next 'save our seats' publicity stunt will be.
And as for Nick Clegg, no post leadership election bounce and every day reaching a new party management low!
Amateur dramatics really shouldn't be top of his leadership strategy. His MPs can't cope. They are confused, disunited and in disarray.
Everyone in Westminster knows the Lib Dems are nuts; but that Nick Clegg? Crazy like a coconut!!
Posted Tuesday, 4 March 2008 at 11:41
The fact that 39,000 girls under the age of 18 fall pregnant each year has to light up a neon question mark above the government's attitude towards sex education, and how it has been taught within our schools over the last ten years.
A survey in the Times Educational Supplement last week, revealed that two thirds of teachers think sex education should be compulsory for children as young as seven.
Since when were seven year olds sexually active?
Which seven year olds are more interested in sex than colouring and dressing up?
I spoke to a group of mixed fifteen year olds last week who had just finished a Personal Social Education (PSE) lesson. I asked them what they felt they had learnt in the lesson.
The answers were revealing.
“We were told why men need sex all the time", "what is the best position to have sex in?" - that was the teacher's ice breaker apparently! – “how to apply a condom”, and “shown a few pictures of STIs”.
I regard the way sex education is taught within schools today almost as a form of child abuse.
Every child psychologist insists that from the moment of awareness, young children are happier within boundaries.
The naughty toddler who knows he can push the boundaries or is unaware of where they are is an insecure and vulnerable one.
The position of needing to know what is right and wrong, how far you can go or not, is one which also provides teenagers with security and stability.
A world which knows no limits, in which the important choices and decisions are expected to be made by the teenager alone, is a scary one.
Children should be taught that it is wrong to have sex outside of a loving and committed relationship, and that it is wrong to have sex before you are mature, or able enough, to deal with the unintended consequences.
Sex education should provide teenagers with the tools they need to protect themselves.
Knowledge regarding STIs and pregnancy is essential; but so is empowering young people with a values based ethos which once again becomes the norm in terms of accepted behaviour.
I'm not saying that if the emphasis were changed from ‘this is how you go about having sex’ to ‘this is the difference between right and wrong’ that we would see a change of attitude towards casual sex amongst teenagers happening overnight, or that the results would be instantaneous.
However, if teachers, youth leaders, churches, teen magazine editors and anyone who, as a result of their work influenced the behaviour of teenagers, took up the same message – ‘wait until you are in a long term committed relationship before you have sex, because that is the most sensible and morally right thing to do’ - then every teenage girl who, rather than feeling she HAS to have sex because that is the accepted pattern of behaviour, will have a moral and ethical code to wrap around and protect herself with.
All the fifteen year olds I talked to were suddenly aware at that tender young age - 'why men need sex all the time' - none of them thought it was knowledge they really needed to know at fifteen.
And of their year group, the children I spoke to estimated that at least 60% had already had sex in that year.
If the liberal attitudes towards sex education which prevail today are cascaded down to seven year olds, then I have no doubt that we will see children experimenting with sex at an even younger age, and an increase in the number of teenage abortions.
I'm going to ask the question I often ask at the end of a blog.
Que beno? Who benefits?
Final Thoughts From Auschwitz
Posted Monday, 3 March 2008 at 12:17
(Inside a gas chamber).
I thought I would wait a few days before blogging final reflections of my visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau, the ‘death camp’.
It is very difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t made the visit how deep the impact can be.
I rehearsed this blog over Mother’s Day lunch with my daughters - for days they have been asking me “how was your visit?” and for days I had been answering, “read the blog!”
Over lunch there was no escape; a light hearted occasion quickly moved into an in-depth discussion focused on death and destruction: the legacy of Hitler and Nazism.
Before I went to Auschwitz, I had attended a dinner at which the guest speaker was Laurence Rees, the academic producer/director of the BBC TV series, Auschwitz.
He was the after dinner speaker and I had the good fortune to be sat next to him throughout the dinner.
In making the series Auschwitz, Laurence had undertaken extensive research and had become absorbed in his subject over a number of years.
His stories, that growing Holocaust denial was becoming ever more accepted at a high academic level across the world, were alarming.
It was with his words in my ears that I took the photograph below from an SS watchtower, and understood for the first time how such a theory could, in reality, take root.
(View from a watch tower).
When looking out at the stark plain wooden barracks, with absolutely no other infrastructure around, it is very hard indeed to understand how so many people were processed, through such a cold unwelcoming place.
Birkenau is vast, and is comprised of a small number of wooden barracks, open flat spaces, a railway track, gas chambers and the crematoria.
It was a processing plant, a slaughter house, for the mass destruction of human beings, who were treated worse than animals, and denied any shred of dignity.
This is hard, very hard to absorb; and when standing in Birkenau, your mind, which only understands basic human needs, screams out in protest against what your eyes see, and what are so obviously the facts laid before you.
It is natural in this situation to think, how would I feel if this were me? If I were a mother getting off the train with my children.
Your mind doesn’t want to go there. You force yourself, stood alone in the biting wind, wearing a ski jacket and Canadian Pajar boots having just eaten lunch on a warm coach; and you force your mind, force it to imagine, and still it won’t.
For a second you can see and hear thousands of sepia ghosts, people half dressed and half starved milling around you. You can imagine the moaning and the praying.
You can hear the dogs barking, SS officers shouting, and smell the flesh burning in the ovens. You can see train doors opening as people fall out; and watch the children and women being herded one way, men the other.
You see a baby being ripped out of a mother’s arms, one of the milder things which happened and try to imagine that mother’s thoughts, to feel her pain. It is completely impossible.
For just a few seconds the ether of dead despair, which hangs around Auschwitz like a rolling fog, begins to drift towards you. Your mind blocks it out before it reaches you.
Why was it so hard?
Having spent twenty minutes or so in deep discussion with my girls yesterday, the youngest began to trip out and had obviously had enough.
Suddenly, at a very inappropriate juncture she announced “How do you make chocolate mousse?”
Thinking she had seen this on the menu, and slightly shocked and bemused at the change of mood in the conversation, from the destruction of human life to chocolate mousse, we all chorused - we don’t know.
Truth be known, I was slightly irritated. But not for long, only hours before she had brought me breakfast in bed, two hard boiled eggs with funny faces painted on the shells and flowers cut from the bulbs I have been growing for months in a tub.
Take a bowl and put chocolate in it, said she. Bring it up to room temperature and slowly whisk as the chocolate begins to melt.
Stir and stir until the chocolate comes away from the side of the bowl, you may need to add a bit of butter to make this happen.
Then add a Moose!
As everyone began to laugh, the reason why I had found it so hard at Birkenau, dawned on me.
I live in a world of laughing daughters and chocolate Moose!
Of mobile phones and computers. Of highly intelligent media and constant communication. Of restaurants and Mother’s Days, nice cars and holidays. Of accountability and democracy, and revolt over MPs’ expenses. Of ski jackets and Pajar boots.
I have a passport, a nation, and an identity which is built upon the security afforded following two world wars. I have smiley faces painted on egg shells.
As society develops and becomes ever more sophisticated, the stark realism of what happened at Birkenau will become ever more removed from 21st century daily life, and almost impossible to comprehend.
I realised at Birkenau that being told the facts in a classroom is in no way the same as seeing and really truly believing the reality, in such a way that you would be motivated or moved to go the extra mile, in order to ensure that such atrocities never occur again.
In Berlin, there is a commemoration to the Jewish book burning events, and inscribed in the ground is a quote by Heinrich Heine – a man Hitler hated.
‘Dort wo man Bucher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.’
‘Those that begin by burning books will end by burning men.’
It was written almost a hundred years before the Holocaust.
If the Holocaust could be predicted by a scholar a hundred years before it occurred, we owe it, for the sake of all mankind, to remember it well 60 years after it took place.
(Photo of candles on the train tracks from ceremony at the end of the visit).
Jam and Portillo
Posted Saturday, 1 March 2008 at 14:32
How dare Michael Portillo speak on my behalf.
Last night on This Week, he said that over half of Conservative MPs would not vote to bring back hanging.
I don't believe Michael Portillo KNOWS any Conservative MPs!
My 2005 intake makes up over a quarter of the parliamentary party and I doubt if any of us has even met him!
Andrew Neil went on to ask Portillo "Does bullying go on in politics?" and Portillo answered with an observation from the Thatcher years!
Hello, its 2008!!!
At least Diane Abbott is an MP, talks to and works with MPs and has some idea what's going on!!
So Michael, here's the message, don't pontificate on our behalf thank you very much, not when you are so obviously out of touch with the thinking of the vast majority of the Conservative party and don't have a clue as to what makes today's Conservative MPs tick.
The Daily Mail have said following the interview with me on Wednesday, they are running the feature Saturday or Monday.
If anyone wants to know why I haven't signed the letter in the Daily Telegraph, its because I was in Auschwitz and I didn't see it until it was too late for me to be included.
I am in Wirral West this evening speaking at Esther McVey's association - it's one of those seats we are going to win back next time with a comfortable majority.
John Whittingdale MP - affectionately known as Whitto - is quoted in the New Statesman - John and I sat next to each other at lunch the other day, when we discovered that we had both been to Jam concerts, mine was at Ali Pali, and he's talking about just that to Tara Hamilton Miller.
I bet Whitto and I are the only two Tory MPs top have seen the Jam live!
Julian Brazier has an excellent Bill going through the house today with regard to Film classification - check it out on the Cornerstone Blog.