Baby Jessica and the BBC
Posted Monday, 29 June 2009 at 12:12
My local paper carried a lovely story this Sunday about baby Jessica, who was born at 23 weeks gestation
As I said in the comment, just when you think you are about to give up, along comes a baby like Jessica who makes you realise it’s worth it.
Of course, Jessica was a poorly baby when she was delivered at 23 weeks. Babies aborted for social reasons are healthy babies and would stand an even better chance of survival than Jessica did.
I am much amused by the shock horror reaction regarding the publishing of the pay and expenses of BBC executives.
It’s about the same level of reaction we would expect if the salaries of the clerks and staff working in the House of Commons were published in one hit.
What everyone wants to see is the pay and expenses of all of the presenters. TV and Radio. I would imagine the reaction and the outcry from the public would then be similar as it was with MPs.
Posted Saturday, 27 June 2009 at 11:53
For a generation, both broadcast and written media have failed to produce or say almost anything positive regarding Michael Jackson.
For years he has been written about as a child abuser, a recluse, a whacko and just about any other unpleasant adjective any journalist could muster up.
Scrolling through recent archives, it’s almost impossible to find anything written about his creativity, his musical genius or the tough and unusual life he had when growing up as a little boy.
The hypocrisy on the Radio and TV is very difficult to watch and listen to over the last couple of days as one journalist after another scrambles around to find gushing words to describe an extinguished life, words which have been elusive for so long.
My Michael memory is of my friend Rita and me, walking to school with a transistor radio listening to this which had just become No1.
or losing myself on the dance floor to this
I wasn’t a Michael fan, but for years I have been uncomfortable with the way he was torn apart by the media.
Why would any young person want to aspire to be anyone or anything, if arriving means having your creativity overlooked, in favour of every aspect of your life which has nothing to do with your work, becoming journalist fodder?
Posted Thursday, 25 June 2009 at 16:06
The reason why my name does not appear in the list of re payments today is down to my angel, Pippa.
When Pippa came to work for me shortly after I became an MP the first thing she did was obtain a copy of the Green Book. I didn’t even know it existed.
The second thing she did was instruct me that I was to provide her with every receipt incurred as part of my job. She also decided we would not draw the £250 per month petty cash but order what we needed when we needed via the stationary order.
The Green book has lived on her desk ever since.
I never wanted to say this publicly before in case there was something wrong that I was un aware of and I didn’t want her to be exposed, however, the truth is that I have never submitted a single claim for for my expenses, I don’t even see them, Pippa has done the lot. There isn’t much Pippa doesn’t know about my office or personal finances so ‘on top’ of everything is she.
Pippa is hyper cautious. She does have one flaw though, biscuits.
When I told her yesterday that the tea towels she had bought for the office tea tray and the posh chocolate biscuits had been listed in the Daily Mail, she retorted “well, you don’t expect me to eat family circle under this kind of pressure do you”?
No, I don’t because she has been bang on in her judgment and the way she has handled our office accounts.
The scrutiny committee was very tough and very professional in the way it conducted its enquiry. We had to submit all accounts, receipts, invoices etc a good while ago in response to the questions they raised. These were obviously checked out or whatever because the next thing that happened was that out of the blue you received a phone call instructing you to go to the Chiefs office, and there you were grilled. You were given no notice that you were to be called.
They had all the invoices out in front of them which had obviously been checked out because there was a list of notes next to them.
Tough call, not the nicest experience but I’m glad David Cameron did it.
It’s a good feeling today because I think it is the first step to putting things right, repairing the system and moving upwards.
Killing me softly
Posted Thursday, 25 June 2009 at 12:19
My fawning admiration for Fraser Nelson is no secret. I just wish the man was a candidate and applying for one of our newly vacant seats!
However, as a journalist said when I made the same comment at a lunch recently, "what, and earn the money you earn, you must be joking!"
Fraser has written his own take here in the Spectator
on the Labour Party’s decision to hoist John Bercow into the Speaker’s chair.
It actually makes very depressing reading. However, it does highlight the vindictive nature of the out going Labour MPs.
The job of men like Fraser, is to ensure the public are fully aware of the cynicism and low regard in which Labour MPs hold the British people; and then, to let them know again.
On the night of the vote for Speaker, the majority of us crowded out onto the Terrace whilst the votes were being counted.
A Labour PPC came up to me and he was the happiest I have seen him in a very long time. Standing next to him was a female Labour Minister.
He explained that the reason that he was so happy was because it was the job of the Labour party to ‘stick it’ to the Tories; and that they were about to ‘stick it’ to us good and proper.
I told him it was a shame that he felt it was more about ‘sticking it’ to the Tories than getting it right for Parliament and the people. That surely in these desperate times it should be about more than party politics and above the usual game playing?
He laughed into his pint.
"You do know the media will murder you for this don’t you?" said I. "One hint that this was about MPs, Westminster and game playing with no regard for the nation, democracy, restoring faith, honour and honesty within Parliament – which belongs to the people, NOT us - and they will come after you."
"What does she mean?" said the Labour Minister looking up to him with furrowed brows.
I groaned inside. Over to you Fraser.
Lidlington and Iraq
Posted Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 16:22
This message is only of interest to the village of Lidlington.
We have a new water feed into the back of the village!
Should the water main be damaged again by the contractors, all will be well.
New permanent water mains switched on next Tuesday/Wednesday and, most importantly, will not be under the main Rd
Anglia Water are going to contribute something to the village and are in discussions with the Parish Council.
Alls well that ends well. No more 7am messages on my answerphone from residents unable to have a shower, phew!
Back into the chamber now for the Iraq debate. Iain Duncan Smith has just given a tub thumper of a speech.
Posted Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 13:29
On the Today programme this morning, Nick Robinson said I was wrong about Bercow only having three votes, he reckons he may know of a fourth.
I bet we will never know who it was J
I just hoped that for once Westminster could have stopped playing party politics and thought about what was best for the people who had elected us.
We will all have to get on and hope that Labour was right. That this is the best thing for Parliament, reform and democracy. That Labour and the Liberal Democrats knew best.
Mail on Sunday
Posted Sunday, 21 June 2009 at 11:41
I have an article in The Mail On Sunday outlining the reasons why I do not believe that John Bercow should be Speaker.
When I was asked to write this, I consulted colleagues within the party, from the top to the bottom.
Some who have sadly decided to walk away and others who are charging to push reform from the front. I deliberately sought opinion from those held in the highest regard, even today.
Every single colleague, without exception both urged and encouraged me to meet the request, indeed, even gave me more information than I could incorporate into an article.
Today, Ben Rogers on ConservativeHome, http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2009/06/john-bercow-the-man-another-side-of-the-story.html#more
has put across an alternative view, however, I am aftraid that it in no way answers the question as to why John should be Speaker.
I assume that Ben’s article, posted today, had more to do with making the case for John to be Speaker than simply to be rude about me?
As well as outlining the number of trips to Burma John has undertaken, maybe Ben could have explained why he thought it would be right to have a Speaker that only half of the House can support at a time of such need for Parliament to be united? A Speaker with absolutely no Conservative support.
If John Bercow is elected Speaker tomorrow, then Parliament is lost.
The fact that such a travesty could take place in the face of such public anger will in itself demonstrate that MPs have learnt absolutely nothing and still feel that tribal politics is more important than democracy.
I have supported Anne Widdecombe; however, it is of no concern to me which party the Speaker comes from. The Speaker must be above party politics, be strong, principled and brave. Have the ability to command respect, display authority and drive through reform.
That person is not Bercow, who if elected will breed resentment, deepen division and polarise the chamber.
Tomorrow is a big day in terms of whether or not we can begin to restore our reputation.
If Labour vote in Bercow, then all that will be lost as the media will once again tear both Parliament and most especially Labour MPs apart.
We simply cannot allow this to happen.
Posted Friday, 19 June 2009 at 17:27
I'm only typing this because I feel I have to rebut the lies. A local newspaper has apparently written that I have claimed for a vest top and a pair of shorts with six bottles of wine from Tesco.
No I have not, and even if I had tried, it would have been sent back from the fees office. I may have claimed for something that was on the same receipt, but not those items, because they are personal and nothing to do with my job. And anyway, don't you think that the Telegraph may have noticed that?
The Black Stuff
Posted Friday, 19 June 2009 at 10:14
The information contained within the black stuff on my expenses is I believe, the following;
My bank account details and credit card numbers.
My telephone numbers
The addresses of suppliers who have retained the right to their own privacy and do not want to be identified as suppliers.
On Wednesday night I arrived back in the constituency to find the furniture on my patio broken to bits. I then received a blog comment which I didn’t post but which read ‘nice patio Nadine, or was’.
I have never claimed for furniture or gardening or petty cash or anything other than expenses incurred as part of my role as an MP. In fact, to date, I have spent almost £2000 of my own money this year entertaining constituents in the House of Commons. As a single mum with a number of dependents and responsibilities, that is money I have struggled to afford.
I didn’t claim for my patio furniture either. It was a present from my mum.
I have requested my un-redacted expenses from the fees office and will make them available to my local press to do with as they wish when they get to me.
Thank goodness my daughter stayed at a friends that night and when I got into the back door, both of the dogs were huddled shivering wrecks. Fat use they are!
The media know that 99.9% of the information contained in the black boxes is information every human being has a right to keep private.
I have requested my un-redacted expenses from the fees office and will make them available to my local press to scrutinise when they get to me.
I am switching off my comment feed until Monday.
The Devil Is In The Detail
Posted Wednesday, 17 June 2009 at 14:56
I went into the chamber to say goodbye to the Speaker and to catch the last few tributes. Some were very moving indeed.
John Bercow rose to speak however, the speaker left him until almost the last. Bercow spoke about the prejudice the snobbish media had shown towards the Speaker since he had been elected.
I thought about some very strong words I had with Bercow in the dining room not that long ago.
I accused him of being elitist and told him that the way he corrected people’s grammar, from under his breath, whilst they were on their feet and talking in the chamber was appallingly snobbish and incredibly off putting. A number of us had noted it. He mainly does it to Conservative MPs from his sedentary position. When Labour MPs stand, he nods his head furiously and heaps muttered praise upon them.
Greasing the wheels I think it’s called.
Once when I wrote about this on my blog, he went into the whips office to complain about me. I was told to modify my blog.
I sat behind his left shoulder today. I may be there for some time.
Would I Lie To You?
Posted Wednesday, 17 June 2009 at 13:45
During PMQs Lee Scott asked the Prime Minister if the Government had received any informal briefings from Damian McBride – the Prime Minister answered, very specifically “I have not received any briefings”.
That’s right, that’s not what he was asked. So, that'll be a yes then.
Bercow as Speaker - a Forgone Conclusion?
Posted Tuesday, 16 June 2009 at 13:17
Today, Jonathan Isaby of ConservativeHome has made the case for John Bercow to become Speaker. Quite how John thinks that will be possible with only three Conservative supporters so far and one of those wavering I am not sure; however, yesterday ConHome also quoted a Conservative MP as stating that if Bercow became Speaker, he would be the third Labour Speaker in a row.
The irony is of course, that he probably almost really would be the third Labour Speaker in a row!
It was ConservativeHome, which artfully 'outed' what was believed to be Bercow’s intention to cross the floor of the House, and to join the Labour party at a similar time to Quentin Davies.
With regard to the 'outing' by ConservativeHome, knowing ConHome as we all do, the source would have been sound. From what I remember at the time, ConHome possibly posted a retraction later on, in response to Bercow's protestations to the contrary. I believe that crossing over had been his full intention; however, two events challenged his political courage, found it wanting, and I believe he bottled it.
The second event came, in my humble opinion, the day Bercow faced the reality of crossing the floor, by proxy.
It was the day that Quentin Davies took his seat behind Gordon Brown and sat on the Labour benches for the first time for PMQs.
When PMQs ended and the Conservative benches rose, the comments which passed from one bench to another regarding the opinion of Conservative MPs towards Quentin Davies, were caustic, vitriolic and unforgiving - very unforgiving.
I studied Bercow, I was right behind him.
His head swivelled at almost 360 degrees as he tried to take in every comment simultaneously. Someone spoke to him, but he didn't even notice, so intent was he on catching every insult and angry remark. There was almost a look of suppressed shock on his face and I thought to myself: "you are wondering if this is what they will say about you when you move over".
It may be the case that Bercow will become Speaker. I for one will be studying the procedure, to call a Speaker re-election following a general election, very carefully; and will have that procedure engrained on my heart ready to go when the Conservative party take power.
I shall be doing this for a number of reasons. The first being that the Speaker’s wife, should he have one, plays a very important role. We have all seen how often Speaker Martin’s wife has been named in the press over the years. John Bercow’s wife is reported to be a socialist. Does this matter? I think it does, a great deal. The position has been held by socialists twice already.
I also have grave concerns regarding his neutrality on certain issues.
See below the exchange between himself and Chris McCafferty MP, the pro-abortionist, in July of last year, when discussing the attempt to reduce the upper limit at which abortion takes place from 24 to 20 weeks.
Bercow I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way and I entirely agree with her. It is a pity that the Bill is being used for that purpose although, to be fair, it is in parliamentary order. Does she agree that if people who want to reduce the upper time limit are determined to go ahead with their amendments, as they are perfectly privileged to do in parliamentary terms, those of us who favour a different modernisation and improvement of the law will take our opportunity, too? We can obtain a genuinely progressive reform, rather than the antediluvian reform that some favour.
Chris McCafferty (Calder Valley, Labour) The hon. Gentleman makes a valuable contribution to the debate. I sincerely hope that we get our opportunity to improve the legislation on behalf of women.
John Bercow described the 190 of us, who voted in favour of reducing the upper limit, as ‘antediluvian’, which means 'before The Flood' i.e. prehistoric.
And yet, as was widely reported in both the media and reflected in various polls, the majority of doctors and the general public were right behind us.
Why is his view on this issue important? Well, part of the Speaker’s role is to select the amendments laid down by MPs to be called and voted on in the House.
Can we trust a Speaker who has such strident zealot views on such an issue to be fair, if he regards those in favour of reducing the number of abortions as prehistoric?
I think not.
Therefore, it is for this reason, more than any other, that I shall make my commitment to guarantee, by any means at my disposal, that should John Bercow become Speaker, I will do my best to make sure that it is one of the shortest served appointments in the grand, and glorious, history of that coveted chair.
Candidates for lunch.
Posted Monday, 15 June 2009 at 09:20
Two blogs today. Sunday first.
I had three of our hardest working candidates around for a BBQ lunch yesterday. Nigel, the candidate for Luton South, has been working the seat for years. He also has a family and a full time job.
Due to the fact that Margaret Moran has taken extended sick leave, Nigel is weighed down with case work, some of which is very serious indeed and he’s not even the MP yet! Hopefully, we have got that problem sorted now.
Jeremy, who is fighting Luton North, came with his girlfriend Louisa. Stewart Jackson MP and Sarah came with a little princess and Sam, Lua, John, two of my girls, two of their friends, Robert Halfon, who is fighting Harlow with his girlfriend Vanda, my PA Pippa and her husband Jonathan all came too. It was all go.
Schooling arrangements for the little princess sparked a heated and fascinating debate about education. John works for a Christian schools network and views on the appropriate form of education were varied.
The conversation concluded that the most important thing had to be that the princess didn’t turn into a brat. This made me smile. I had just left her with a hand on one hip stamping her foot up and down demanding to watch Scooby Doo!
About to write speech for adjournment debate tonight on the vehicle scrappage scheme.
Stewart and Sarah
Lua and Sam, with a snack
John and Nigel
Jeremy and Louisa
Robert and Vanda
Cassie, Sereana and Amy
The princess and I
Jonathan, Pippa and baby
Posted Saturday, 13 June 2009 at 11:36
My Saturday blogs are always going to be local.
We had a party last night. In Westoning. I gave a speech at lunch time (more later) whizzed across country and arrived back in time for the start.
We have this party each and every year.
I hate parties and weddings.
I think most single people do. It's that sinking 'here I go again' feeling as you walk in through the door, knowing that the evening is to be spent circulating and mingling amongst tables of happy couples, almost all asking the same question "anyone special in your life, Nadine?
I'm thinking of getting a big badge made which says, No! There isn't - just to save them the bother of asking!
Last night, the anticipation was doubly difficult, for obvious reasons. There are usually 70 at the
’Jazz in the garden and pig roast’, last night there were 125.
I was given 125 hugs and kisses and a few thousand warm and caring words of encouragement, affection and support.
How many times have I blogged what a wonderful association I have?
The food was amazing, the wine flowed and everyone was in a very, very happy mood.
Tributes to Pippa, Andrea, Sue and Anne and of course Andy and Anne who gave over their home and garden. You all worked worked very hard indeed.
Sat on my patio typing this there has just been a tap at the door.
On the other side was a 'giddy school boyish' (his words not mine) man stood with the most beautiful bunch of white roses and purple flowers tied with string. He claims he was just passing the door and had these flowers in his car and did I have any water?
I have to admit, that is funny! And a nice start to the day :)
Now I have to prepare for another party. This one is in honour of three hard working Parliamentary candidates. Here I go again! Where’s the badge making kit?
Pictures below :) N x
Cameron and a Mint Baileys
Posted Friday, 12 June 2009 at 12:21
On Wednesday night, I had supper with David Cameron and a few others. It was a very small private supper, and so I'm not going to blog who was there, or what was said, because it was more like a 'mates' night out than anything else.
I would be lying if I blogged that I've always liked David. It isn't that I have ever disliked him; however, when you are a product of a Liverpool council estate the last person you trust is someone who you perceive to be privileged.
It comes from hundreds of years of suppression of the working classes, by those born to rule and all that stuff, which is in your DNA and totally impossible to remove. That, and the fact that in Liverpool, most babies can say, 'up the workers' before mama. I was no different.
There was one occasion in David's early leadership when I thought 'Ha! There you go, it's coming out now, that whole suppression thing'; but, I couldn't possibly have been more wrong.
Wednesday night was the very first time I have relaxed in his company, which is amazing , given that the location of the restaurant changed three times during the course of the day. I was beginning to wonder who I was having supper with, Coppola or Cameron? I was also telephoned as I arrived at the restaurant early, to check that the table was discreet. Good call. The table was right by the front door.
I knew the night class I had slipped in at Pickfords, during a particularly quiet point in my life, would come in useful one day.
The conversation and laughter flowed and I think we were all there much longer than we had anticipated. Throughout the evening, I just couldn't stop myself making comparisons.
David's humanity is stark in comparison to Gordon's robotic-ness. David is also humble to a point that surprises you, and it keeps surprising you, because you don't expect it; and then you realise that the man with the arrogance is Brown, and it has always been the case.
Arrogance is what we have become used to from the role of senior politician. If anyone is expecting that in the future from David, they may be disappointed.
How much he cares about individuals and situations also surprised me, and the fact that it's for real surprised me even more.
I then realised that he is the bearer of the new political age. The age, where in a politician's office, people matter as much as policy. Who you are and where you came from is nothing compared to what you can bring and will achieve. If as a child you played in a backyard in Liverpool, as I did, or on a country estate in the Shires, (that'll be him), it really doesn't matter.
It's what you do today that counts and the values you espouse here and now.
I also noticed how much David listened and asked our opinion; and more importantly, how much he took it on board.
Can you imagine Brown doing that? Asking the opinion of anyone other than himself? Can you imagine him questioning his own, and evaluating other points of view? It is a lack of arrogance which makes that quality possible. It's a quality essential in someone who needs and wants to take people with him.
And yet, there is a ruthlessness also. Apparent in the way he can evaluate every thread of information, come to a point of view and have the strength to carry through his decision, if he knows it's what needs to be done. I would never make the mistake of underestimating him.
The supper was good fun and we did laugh a lot and attracted a little bit of attention. I noticed how people leaving the restaurant smiled and nodded at David; and the friendly manner in which he acknowledged them and smiled back, even though he had never seen them before in his life. It was obvious that people liked seeing him laughing and enjoying himself.
Can you imagine people feeling like that about Brown?
The sheer energy and vibrancy David has to offer, coupled with his innate ability to connect and understand instinctively how people feel and think, and know what needs to be done, and have the courage to act decisively, will be like a tornado sweeping across the landscape of Parliamentary and constitutional reform. Amen to that.
Something changed for me on Wednesday night. The kid from the backyard in Liverpool (picture on top bar) had crossed the divide created over generations of suspicion, to the place where she trusts the kid from the country estate. That's a big deal where I come from and takes some doing.
The night ended as it began, with laughter.
Can you imagine Brown even knowing what I was talking about, if I were sitting next to him and I said 'just when you thought life couldn't get any better, along comes a Mint Baileys.' ?
Exactly. And it was good to see him laugh because we all know that there must be times during his day, when David the man, trapped within the pages of his frantic diary, cries somewhere inside.
Licence to hide?
Posted Thursday, 11 June 2009 at 13:21
I had always assumed it was the case that the BBC was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. I had no idea why it should be given that it receives its income directly from the licence fee and taxation.
It wasn’t until I appeared on Radio 5 live and witnessed Victoria Derbyshire, I believe possibly disingenuously, attempt to mislead the public that I decided to look further into it.
I had mentioned during the interview that the BBC was exempt from the FOIA. At the end, when my mic had been switched off, Victoria hurriedly read out a statement which said something along the lines of the BBC not being exempt and that the ‘salaries of BBC executives’ were made available. She didn’t add ‘but not the salaries or expenses of presenters.’
An article in the Daily Mail this week revealed just how much of our money is being used to keep that information secret.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as an advocate of the free market, I have absolutely nothing against anyone realising their true capital value and maximising their earnings in whatever way they can. The benchmark being of course, that everyone in society has the same educational opportunities to realise their own talents and maximise their personal earning capabilities.
However, I digress.
My parliamentary questions have just been submitted to probe a little further into why the BBC has been able to keep so much information, regarding how public money is spent, so secret.
It’s not just the salaries of the top presenters which is an issue, it's the extras too. When they are eventually revealed, as they will be, along with records of expenses, it will be the job of the public to determined whether or not they think presenters are worth it in the same way the public has passed judgment on MPs. And so they should. It’s their money after all.
The story in the Daily Mail does have a ring of familiarity about it. Someone somewhere in an office in the BBC is desperately, via the use of expensive lawyers, attempting to keep the facts hidden from public view.
I would like to make a suggestion to that person. Take a look at what happened in the Commons to the Speaker and learn. There is no point fighting it.
If public money is to be spent then the days of the BBC gravy train, secret expense accounts, massive salaries, chauffer driven cars and luxury hotels are coming to a dramatic end. I also suspect it may make the MPs fiasco look a little like chicken feed.
Why am I so sure? Well yesterday I sat with a large group of MPs and I mentioned a documentary the BBC wanted to produce regarding the fall out of expense-gate and the impact it had on MPs, especially those who had been wrongly targeted.
It is quite obvious now, that of 650 MPs, around a dozen or so were seriously guilty of wrong doing. The rest were all whipped in, the facts conflated to make it look worse than it was and most were presented entirely out of context.
In some cases, such as mine and many others, the allegations were entirely wrong.
I have to say that speaking as someone who was badly hurt, made worse by the fact that it was wrongly so, even I was shocked at the anger and vitriol immediately expressed by my colleagues towards the BBC. The hypocrisy of its reporting and the position many of the presenters took in feeding inaccurate and imbalanced information to the public has touched a collective raw nerve amongst MPs of all parties whose families and children were badly affected.
My children were affected. One daughter so much so, that whilst I remain an MP she no longer wants to live in the UK. She is just a lovely, sensitive, very kind young lady who has taken to heart every snide and unkind remark which has been made to her. On Monday she bought her ticket to Australia and has broken my heart by deciding to live in another country. Stories range from children at university having their residence and belongings damaged, to verbal bullying.
MPs also feel strongly that those who did commit fraud have had their crimes minimised and downgraded by the fact that so much nonsense was thrown into the mix - the errors, fiction and mistakes made to appear far worse than they are as a result.
A staggering amount of young, good MPs from all parties are contemplating leaving, looking for other jobs. The result of expenses-gate will be the evolution of a professional, sterile Parliament, full of career 'yes' men and women politicians. It will be interesting to see when the day of reckoning arrives for the BBC how it will be affected.
The presenters at the BBC are entirely innocent.They are being paid the going rate for whatever they do. However, when those salaries and expenses are exposed to the public I am afraid that they may not take that view. I just hope and pray that their children and families are not affected in the same way ours were.
The BBC sang the Telegraphs tune. That tune was not always right. The BBC did not fact check.
I doubt it will ever be forgiven by the innocent MPs and the public, have yet to have their say.
Posted Tuesday, 9 June 2009 at 00:00
Before an election there is often a bit of 'crossing the floor' takes place. If I had to put money on who from Labour would come over to us, I would put it on Purnell.
Not so flash Gordon
Posted Monday, 8 June 2009 at 20:49
Greg Hands MP and I found a cupboard to hide in during the PLP meeting tonight. Problem was, it was full of Finance Bill files.
We would have gone for it, however, when we went to check the PLP room they had sent someone up to guard the room. Thwarted!
As it was, we didn't need to do a Harry Potter, there were enough Labour MPs willing to denounce their colleagues as unmentionables following the meeting.
Bets on for October, if the majority of Labour MPs have remembered where it was they left their *alls by then!
Posted Monday, 8 June 2009 at 16:24
Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, is complaining that testing for swine flu is non-existent as Hospitals are failing to test patients admitted with respiratory problems.
Well, I never. Remember when I blogged this?
It was one of those blogs which left me thinking that maybe I should give up blogging as I found myself being attacked by the MP described by some in the media as Dr Death, the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris and Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson, on the floor of the Chamber.
I think he described me as irresponsible for saying it was nonsense to close down schools for a virus which presented as its worst symptom, a sore throat. I made the case that maybe it would be a far better idea for us all to catch it in its milder form and build up the anti-bodies, before the virus mutated and became something much stronger by the winter.
I know a number of people who have all had a 'summer cold' over the last few weeks. All had sore joints, mild temperature, sore throat and headache. All better after a few days and not one tested for Swine flu.
Professor Ferguson is a product of the health and safety culture which has cultivated under New Labour. He probably condoned the advice to mail every household, at an unimaginable cost, with a leaflet telling people how to handle a sneeze.
Maybe he wants every hospital to test every patient because some people, who recommended the spending of millions of pounds on masks and leaflets, may be feeling slightly vulnerable now.
We experience 3-4000 deaths (WHO statistic) per non-epidemic year in this country from bog standard school yard flu.
It seems to me as though Swine Flu has been a doddle in comparison.
I will stick to my original point - don't test, don't spend a fortune preventing people catching this. In the long run, building up immunities now may save lives later.
CCF conference in Liverpool
Posted Monday, 8 June 2009 at 10:32
Wrote this on Sunday. Will blog re-elections this afternoon. Really enjoyed the CCF conference on Saturday.
I missed the first few talks and walked in just as my surrogate son broke my heart. He was standing on the stage telling the audience, callously, from behind his microphone, that he had two surrogate mothers, me and Debi Jones??!! Where did she come from?
Actually I know, she is a Liverpool candidate and it’s very spooky how similar Debi and I are. I think we could almost finish each other's sentences!
Debi and I both had our noses pushed out as not only did we discover that our son plays fast and lose with our maternal son-less affections, but he had also brought his real mum and dad (Pam and Dave) along to hear him speak.
Surrogacy only works when the real mum isn’t around!
Our boy spoke about the difficult early days experienced within the Conservative party in attempting to unite Christian belief and politics. He told the audience how Tim Montgomerie, founder of CCF, along with David Burrowes MP, had found it hard to convince Christian churches to take the leap of faith into the world of politics. And yet now, it was almost a given, that politics is a lesser entity without the support and influence of belief.
He spoke about the difficult balance between power and principle, of Wilberforce and his principled, successful battle to abolish slavery.
Debi was up next and spoke of the journey from her 'normal' life to becoming a Parliamentary candidate and the sacrifices and the work she had to put in. Not excluding the personal financial sacrifice made by her and her family; she spoke with passion about how her faith kept her going and knowing she was there for all the right reasons. Debi’s mum, Ruth, who is 84, was also there.
And then it was my turn.
I spoke of how putting Christian values into practice, i.e. speaking the truth and fighting for principle, often meant putting my head above the parapet and quite often getting it shot off.
I wasn't short of examples to cite.
I provided a synopsis of the abortion battle, Smeargate and the latest expenses fiasco.
It was un-canny how our three non-rehearsed talks linked and flowed on from each other.
If there was anyone in the audience who fancied being an MP, they probably didn't by the end!
As I talked, I realised that possibly the hardest thing about being an MP and a Christian, is the battle between power and truth, over and above power and principle. Truth and principle are two very different things.
When I finished I was hugged almost to the point of Cyanosis by Ruth, who is the most incredible 84yr old I have ever come across, and completely adorable.
I had ordered a cab. My cab driver was Barry and on my arrival we had chatted all the way from Lime St to Oakfield Rd. I told him how I had been born only a few hundred yards away and spend my first few years in my Nana’s house, 12 Breck Rd. She had lived there up until I was 20 and I had spent many happy days with my wonderful Nana. The picture on the top of this blog of me holding the teddy and bottle was taken in her back yard.
After Barry dropped me off I arranged for him to come back and collect me.
After the conference, when I got into the cab, he told me he had a surprise for me and that’s why he had asked me to come out ten minutes before I had wanted.
He took me to 12 Breck, which had been knocked down to make way for Georgeson’s Garage. But I could still look at the familiar view and the bus stop across the green triangle of grass, which I used to stare at from my bedroom window. And even though when I looked back it was now a forecourt with cars parked on it, I could still see a yard and a wooden swing.
When we got to the station Barry only charged me the £6.50 that he had on the way there.
When I questioned that surely it must be more he replied “no Queen (L’pool expression), the trip down memory lane was on me”.
Letter To Friends
Posted Sunday, 7 June 2009 at 13:13
Posted Saturday, 6 June 2009 at 12:52
Looks completely amazing in the photos for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail - Totally beautiful in that black widow ' I'll eat you' kind of way.
The last time my photo was on the front of the DT I was holding Brown's letter of non-apology and looked like a dinner lady being held captive by Al Qaeda (or so a commenter thought!)
How darn lucky for her she had that big photo shoot just weeks before she walked and just days after her, Hazel Blears and Siobhan McDonough - the first of the female knife wielders - had their cosy supper.
What an absolute fluke, otherwise they would have had to use those other dull photos we usually see in the paper.
The Red dress, shoes, stylist, hairdresser and makeup artists along with the professional photographers and lighting technician made sure the media had something eye catching
for the front pages this weekend. Phew, thank goodness for that little co-incidence!!
I wonder why Hazel didn't have a professional photo shoot done? Well, I'm not being unkind when I say it would have been hard for her to compete in terms of the glamour stakes so she went for the big 'rocking the boat' gimmick for her impact.
If anyone tries to tell you that the Blears/Flint double act wasn't planned, staged and executed in a way only women know how, then laugh out loud.
They did what women do best and they did it with style.
Posted Friday, 5 June 2009 at 23:29
The BBC has taken my breath away. Whilst David Cameron was being interviewed earlier, I wondered to myself how it was he was managing to keep a straight face, and then he lost it, and started to laugh.
The interviewer had asked him how he felt about securing only 38% of the vote, and suggested we weren’t doing very well. We had won Lancashire, Devon, Somerset and Derbyshire, a council we haven’t held for three decades and for the first time in Labour’s history, we took Nottinghamshire. We have all but wiped Labour out.
After the interview, the BBC cut from David Cameron to Nick Clegg in Bristol. It’s a good job the Lib Dems won one council otherwise they may have had to resort to sending him to one of the councils he had lost for a photo opportunity.
The BBC web page featured the photo of Nick Clegg, in his one won council, and barely mentioned the catastrophic night the Lib Dm’s had suffered elsewhere. Not a mention of Devon and Cornwall slipping through Lib Dem fingers, like the quick silver sand from a Cornish beach.
If it was wipe out for Labour it was meltdown for the Lib Dems. And do the BBC report this? Not a bit of it. In fact it was entertaining to flick from Sky to the BBC; you would have thought you were watching the results come in from two different elections.
The BBC needs reform as badly as Parliament. This outright, overt bias cannot continue. The public purse pays for the BBC. The public voted Conservative. Who did the interviewer who questioned David Cameron think he was speaking on behalf of today?
I’m off to Liverpool in the morning to speak at a conference on behalf of Conservative Christian Fellowship http://www.ccfwebsite.com/
My problem now is logistics. I need to get from the constituency to Liverpool, back to the constituency, pick up my car and then be at a friend’s house in the Cotswolds for supper on Saturday night. I don’t think I’m speaking at the conference until three.
I’m not sure how I am going to manage this, but I willJ
Posted Friday, 5 June 2009 at 15:08
Two hours sleep and then off to face a busy, jam packed surgery. A morning full of lovely people bravely trying to cope with the day to day battle of facing down burdensome legislation introduced by this law crazy government, just in order to live a normal life.
Finished just before 1 and then off for a round table discussion on renewable energy.
Bedford Borough results almost finished counting and not looking good for us.
Mid Bedfordshire still on a high, we are going to have one excellent celebration party next week! Almost every person who came into my surgery this morning gave me a hug and was genuinely pleased for the whole team.
Oh happy days.
Time for bed..
Posted Friday, 5 June 2009 at 04:25
Great night so far for Bedfordshire. A key Lib Dem out and two Con gains at the count I have just left - with good reports coming in from all over the county. Time for bed zzzzzzz
Three into Two: Part Two
Posted Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 17:18
I am dictating this as I am still en-route to various polling stations; however, just stopped off to meet the campaigners who wish to retain the middle schools in my patch.
I have told them my position is clear:
I want to see a full and informative debate between parents, local authorities, Government, teachers and governors; that the facts and statistics used to inform the debate should be fair and factual; and that the consultation should involve detailed presentations to parents, at each and every school, from a variety of sources.
Once all the information is out in the open and free discussion and debate has taken place, the decision should be put to the vote.
A fair vote for both parents and teachers. A referendum on the education provided in Bedfordshire. After all, it’s their children and jobs, so they should decide.
Posted Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 14:13
visited two thirds of our polling stations and committee rooms and not yet encountered a single Labour or Lib Dem teller.
In one ward 20% of our core vote had turned out by 11.40am.
Turn out overall is certainly not low as predicted.
Local Election Day
Posted Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 11:49
Doing the rounds of polling stations and committee rooms. Talking to tellers and candidates. Everyone up-beat. Early indications suggest that Conservative turn out is excellent! The sun is shining, perfect election weather.
There goes a saying....
Posted Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 13:41
There is a saying in Parliament and it goes like this: 'If two or more MPs are gathered together, it's a plot.'
I thought it was a joke when I first heard it, oh how I laughed; but sadly, it's no joke, it's true.
A couple of weeks ago, whilst working in the library (my office), Caroline Flint, Siobhan McDonagh and Hazel Blears tripped in and sat down together. After comparing shoes and handbags they huddled together. The saying really needs revising to:
'If two or more MPs are gathered together, and they are female, it is a vicious plot and it will come to pass.'
Posted Tuesday, 2 June 2009 at 15:15
Talk has been very much around - will the Prime Minister announce a re shuffle on Friday in order to deflect from disastrous Euro election results to be announced on Sunday, or will the cabinet resign en masse?
If they resign the plotters will win and there will follow the indignity of Gordon Brown’s removal and another leadership election.
Looks like Jacqui Smith may have given us a clue today which may mean that Gordon Brown has only days left as Prime Minister.
It will be down to Harman or Johnson. Whichever, the public won’t be in the mood for another non elected Prime Minister so a General Election could be on the cards as early as July.
Posted Tuesday, 2 June 2009 at 13:10
I’m in Westminster. The ghosts of road kill fill the passages, whilst the remaining MPs stalk the corridors looking like extras from ‘The Village Of The Damned’.
I have just committed the mortal sin of laughing in the Members' Library. No one around here has done that for a while; and it took the librarian a second or two to realise what I was doing, before she cottoned on and frowned at me.
It was today's Independent that did it. The political correspondent, Michael Savage, writes about how disgraced MPs will be able to hold on to some of their perks. Not having yet discovered any perks, I read on.
All MPs leaving Parliament at the next election will be given the option of keeping hold of a Common's pass, allowing them to mix freely with MPs and use Westminster's publicly subsidised facilities.
That did it for me, I cracked up. As an MP, mixing freely with other MPs is unfortunately often a big drawback of the job. To think that this is something I would wish to do willingly? And why would I spend £30 on a train ticket to trip into Westminster to buy a subsidised tuna sandwich?
Michael, if this is what you describe as ‘perks’ then you really need to think about a career change, your employer cannot be treating you well!
Over the last few weeks, I have kept every email, text and written down every telephone conversation. I find writing very cathartic.
One day, sometime in the future, I will write something reflective, and it won't make pretty reading for some.