Posted Tuesday, 31 March 2009 at 00:25
Three journalists have had a ‘row’ which became aggressive in the House of Commons, in the corridor behind the Speakers Chair.
The Police had to use CS gas to calm the situation down. The three have been arrested.
They had been attending a reception hosted by Conservative Party Chairman, Eric Pickles.
They left the reception and then had the fight.
The media are reporting that this will be embarrassing for Eric Pickles? What did Eric do wrong?
Get real. How about embarrassing for journalists?
It’s a pity Eric didn’t get to them before the Police as they might have a little more than stingy eyes. Heads being knocked together might have had a more lasting effect and helped them to remeber just exactly where they were.
Posted Monday, 30 March 2009 at 15:06
According to Westminster gossip, it would appear that the information regarding Jacqui Smith's claim for film packages, that was released to the media, has come from within her own office.
Over the weekend, I took part in six radio interviews regarding MPs' expenses.
Radios 2, 4 and 5 Live. The last being a long interview on the Vanessa Feltz show a couple of hours ago.
Every time I listened to rather than spoke on the radio, I heard Douglas Carswell , Tom Harris , Tim Montgomerie or Iain Dale . All bloggers.
A couple of years ago, the commentators would have been members of the cabinet. So what are they doing now, whilst we bloggers provide the commentary? No wonder I'm exhausted. We bloggers are running the country :)
In all the interviews over the last 48 hours, almost every interviewer has wanted to know what I do with my private time.
I’m not saying. What I do in the little weekend and holiday time I have off is my business. It’s private and without my privacy, I would probably go insane.
However, I feel mean. So, here’s what I did this weekend. I sat in front of this:
And with the best of friends I listened to this …
Drank lots of red wine and slept with someone called Digger, who kept rubbing his nose in my tummy.
Good job I’m a bit dippy about Jack Russells and didn’t have the heart to chuck him out of bed!
Posted Monday, 30 March 2009 at 14:54
Apparently, I have an over keen spam filter and it's giving me jip with the comments.
Sorted soon I hope.
Powder and Paint
Posted Monday, 30 March 2009 at 00:14
I did the the Steve Nolan show on 5 Live from 10 - 10.30 defending MPs and I’m doing LBC at 7 in the morning.
This weekend a number of people have asked me the same question, not about MPs expenses, but about Conservative policies, as in where are they?
I used decorating the house as an analogy.
Imagine you want to wallpaper the dining room and put down a new carpet,
but your credit cards are maxed out. Your overdraft at the bank is at its limit, the account is on zero, the savings account is empty and you've already borrowed lots of money just to maintain your daily lifestyle.
Your priority shouldn't be spending or borrowing more money to re decorate the dining room because there just isn't any money. Your priority should be paying off the debts and saving.
We have policy. It is and will be about how we once again become solvent and steady. About how we pay off the credit cards and pay back the people we borrowed from.
I’m sure David Cameron won't announce gimmicks to paint and paper over the cracks, that would be foolish. I don’t want him to announce pretty policies we know we have no chance of delivering. That has been the way of New Labour and I really don’t want to go onto the doorstep talking about what we intend to do, knowing there isn’t a chance. I don’t want to lie. Policies are a luxury we cannot afford. I want David to be honest and tell people how bad it is. I want him to say there isn’t any money, no money, none, the country is in debt up to its eyes and before I can promise you anything I have to sort this out.
I want him to tell people that the role of a future Government is to concentrate on the essentials, keeping people well, educated and safe and that all else is under question until we have repaired the damaged done to this country by eleven years of Labour.
His approach to policy must be as a middle aged woman, sans make up in the morning sunlight. Not always attractive but starkly honest and true.
Posted Sunday, 29 March 2009 at 18:58
Flip, have I had my backside kicked!
OK, not all MPs are wet, obviously. The problem is of course that we operate within a politically adversarial system. All MPs of all parties are worried about speaking up to defend themselves in case it is used against them by their political opponents during an election.
My point is that by doing this we allow ourselves to be sitting ducks for the media. The political process is and does become damaged. It’s democracy itself which suffers.
I should also point out that during the abortion debate my expenses were trawled over by my adversaries in an attempt to undermine me, with a fine toothcomb, and that does give me an advantage over my peers in terms of my confidence to speak out.
There you go boys, I'm sorry, you arent really wet. (A bit damp maybe?)
Oh What A Pratt!
Posted Sunday, 29 March 2009 at 17:10
The text comments flying around between MPs regarding Jacquie Smith’s husband are not for the content of this blog, However, under the jokes lies an absolute disbelief that anyone could be so idiotic or brazen as to pay for adult movies, and then charge them to the expense account?
I have spent weeks defending Jacquie Smith. I really felt for her over the second homes allowance.
When I was selected for my seat I had a family home in the Cotswolds with a 12 year old daughter who was at school with children she had attended playgroup with. I inherited a wonderful job which meant I had to spend 80 hrs per week in London and a constituency in Bedfordshire I was expected to base myself in quickly. My family quickly broke up with children all over the place, literally.
I spent my first years like a demented homing pigeon trying to keep everyone happy and most of the time failing spectacularly.
This is why I felt for her. She may have had a local party who insisted her children attended local schools and a department in London who wanted her to spend 100 hrs in her department and a Westminster office which needed her also.
She divided her family to fit in with her job and I know only too well what that feels like and the consequences it can bring. And so, against the grain, I have been on national radio fighting the corner of the woman, the wife, the mother and the MP. And now this.
Oh what a Pratt! In case you’re in any doubt, I’m referring to her husband however, I suppose if the cap fits me!
I am defending second homes allowance tonight on 5 Live and in the morning on LBC. Someone has to. The majority of MPs are totally wet on this issue and allow the media to trample all over them. The public should know the facts, all of them, not simply the ones the journalists want them to know.
Posted Saturday, 28 March 2009 at 14:17
My phone went through a chorus of warbles after the Clive Anderson show with messages from friends.
I rushed to answer, not that I’m vain or anything, and got such a shock!
Instead of the well done’s I got “get you with the posh voice, wot wot” and similar.
I didn’t sound posh?
My line that America had a future but had Obama now, went down really well with the audience but was edited. Now that wasn’t a shock!
Posted Friday, 27 March 2009 at 18:08
Today, Tara Hamillton-Miller, writer for the New Statesman, Spectator, a variety of newspapers and magazines, married John, a celebrated photographer from Liverpool.
The wedding took place at Chelsea registry office and was a very smart affair.
Tara is the goddaughter of Bruce Anderson, who gave her away, heralded by a piper, and an atmosphere of happiness.
I'll just post a section of the reading, read beautifully by Pixie from Andrew Lansley's office.
A good marriage must be created
Is remembering to say I love you at least once a day
It is never going to sleep angry
It is a mutual sense of common objectives and values
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family
It is having the capacity
to forgive and forget
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful
Wilfred A. Peterson
I left the wedding to head off to my AGM. I have to say though, I have never seen Tara looking more beautiful or dazzling.
And when the registrar told Tara and John they could now kiss as man and wife.... Well.........!!! Thank goodness they are married!
Damian Green, who looked very conspicuous as he walked into the wedding - with seconds to go!!!
Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London and his Canadian wife Juliana.
Bruce Anderson, columnist from the Spectator, Telegraph and the bride's Godfather making an after wedding speech.
Maria, who runs members' services in the HOC, and Nick Wood of Media Intelligence Partners.
Jon Craig from Sky News and Katie, Press Officer to Boris.
The reception was held at the Cheyne Row Brasserie, photo taken through the window!
The Clive Anderson Chat Room
Posted Friday, 27 March 2009 at 09:58
The Clive Anderson chat room was possibly the most enjoyable media I've ever done.
Although the programme will only be 30 minutes long, the recording actually takes 90minutes; and I did love the whole live audience thing.
The recording took place in a lovely intimate theatre within RADA.
It's fair to say that one of the other guests, American comedian, Scott Cuppora and I sparked off each other a little.
One of our exchanges went a bit like this...
Nadine - made the case for reintroducing History into the school curriculum.
Scott - said British history was all made up anyway.
Nadine - said are you jealous because your country has no history?
Scott - replied, well at least we have a future (accompanied by very rude hand signals)
Nadine - you did have, you've got Obama now.
Quentin Letts was really nice but just plain wrong in terms of his assessment of MPs; and frankly, he should know most MPs well enough to know better.
Couldn't help liking him though. Very kind to me before we went on air, although he did question why I was putting on make-up for radio?
I think he was a bit surprised to discover it was a live audience.
Picture is of Quentin swotting up in the dressing room after just being told there was an audience!
The other picture is of Clive buying me a drink at the bar after the show.
He is a top man; and despite having a great writer, Ian, working for him, he is naturally very, very funny.
The programme airs on Radio 2, 28 March at 1pm.
Blue Blog Update
Posted Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 23:30
Posted Thursday, 26 March 2009 at 16:33
One of those media days when it doesn't stop. No time to blog although I have done something for the Blue Blog.
Will link to it when it's up.
About to do interview for BBC news at 5pm and then off to do the Clive Anderson Chat Show. Why do I think this may be a big mistake?
Coming to a screen near you...
Posted Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 23:07
The proposal for abortion clinics to be able to advertise on TV is just plain sick.
We have the highest number of teenage pregnancies and the highest number of abortions in Europe.
The objective should be to reduce this statistic not spend money in a manner which minimises the seriousness of such a procedure.
I am quite sure that any adverts will depict smiling pretty nurses, gleaming reception areas and leafy car parks. They will not in any way show the fear, anguish, isolation, or subsequent depression.
They will not highlight the conveyor belt, the general anaesthetic or the risk
And there is absolutely no way the advert will let the viewer know that even the those most committed to having an abortion feel a desperate sense of emptiness when they surface from the anaesthetic and cry the inevitable lonely tears.
Abortion is a danger to women’s health, it carries risk and consequence.
The darkest secret is the fact that an abortion industry has hi-jacked a mis guided ill informed feminist agenda and then used it as a vehicle upon which to exploit vulnerable young women in order to increase profits.
TV advertising is the next level up in this process.
Who is behind this? Who thought advertising a procedure which ends life in a clinical, surgical manner made good sense and for what reason?
Posted Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 13:43
Today, I opened the new Go Ape attraction at Woburn Safari Park . I have to confess that until I got there, I thought it was an ape enclosure. I left with the words of a Whip ringing in my ears: “be careful, apes can be very unpredictable.”
The attraction is more to do with human beings mimicking apes than the other way round. Strapped into a safety harness you can climb up and navigate your way across some very high wires in a woody terrain. Just as though you were an ape. Teenage boys and young men will love it.
I love the way the Safari Park ups its game every year. I make no secret of the importance of tourism to Mid Bedfordshire, as a way of ensuring we meet our economic growth targets, and fight off inappropriate development.
So, if you are aged between 18 – 80, I suggest you give Go Ape a go. Life is for living isn’t it?
I will navigate the course myself after the Hawk jet flight, which is getting closer every day!
So what does it all mean?
Posted Wednesday, 25 March 2009 at 11:02
If you ever doubted the power of the internet, or the pace of technology, watch this video presented by Sony at their executive conference, earlier this year.
Hat-tip to Jonathan. (But ladies don't wear that kind of hat?)
Posted Tuesday, 24 March 2009 at 11:52
"Sit down", trilled my GP as I walked into his surgery. "You must be tired. I earn twice what you earn, work half the hours and I'm knackered."
I grimaced before smiling faintly. "Mind you", said he, back-pedalling pretty quickly, whilst realising I didn't really find his comment very funny, "I did train for seven years for my job."
"Really", said I. "I did 25."
Posted Monday, 23 March 2009 at 23:47
I’m trying to understand my blog stats, but I give up.
I have no idea what the relevance of the band width is all about?
Or the pages info as my blog only has one page?
However, I can understand this;
In January I had 67, 604 hits
In February 101,455
So far in March 72,443.
Looking back on last year during May I had 674,726 hits and the months either side were more or less the same. The abortion debate obviously had a wide audience!
Posted Monday, 23 March 2009 at 14:12
Sorry, slight techy problem in getting them onto the site. Resolved soon I hope!
Posted Monday, 23 March 2009 at 13:19
I've just agreed to appear on Clive Anderson’s Chat Room on R2. It’s going out between Any Questions and the The News Quiz, which I love.
Now which one is Clive Anderson? Is he the Australian writer or the British lawyer?
Posted Monday, 23 March 2009 at 10:56
According to a colleague who sent me a cheeky text this morning, my photo on P4 of the Daily Mail made him choke on his Cheerios!
Posted Monday, 23 March 2009 at 09:22
In April I move over to a new blog.
I have put comments back on in preparation.
I will happily post any comment which entirely disagrees with my point of view.
I will not post comments which are offensive to either myself or readers.
It will take a while for comments to appear on the blog as they will be moderated.
Posted Sunday, 22 March 2009 at 19:24
2 softly boiled eggs with soldiers in bed. ( the jokes have all been done)
3 wonderful daughters taking me out for supper.
5 goals at Anfield.
Does it get any better? :)
Driving in my car...
Posted Sunday, 22 March 2009 at 00:18
I am waiting for midnight for my local Sunday paper to come online. It’s not happening yet. Sometimes it doesn’t. My ex researcher reckons this is because the editor knows we do this and would much prefer us to have a good nights sleep.
I drove home from the theatre tonight through the back lanes and the Deer Park. The lanes were deserted. I had one of those rare opportunities to open up the car and let her go.
Every few seconds or so the headlights captured and surprised a Deer or a Badger and dozens of Rabbits. The occasional Owl or Bat flew overhead and on the CD player, at almost full volume, I listened to Ludovico Einaudi playing Divenire and Giorni Dispari.
When I pulled up outside the house I realised I had just relaxed. It took my car at full throttle and Einaudi at full volume. Bliss.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2K7D-uMH2g&feature=related Giorni Dispari
Whose line is it anyway?
Posted Saturday, 21 March 2009 at 18:41
Interesting to see Patricia Hewitt quoted in just about every paper today with regard to the amendment she is laying down to the Justice and Coroners Bill on Monday. The amendment is to remove those who assist in elective suicide from the threat of prosecution.
Only it would appear it’s not her amendment.
Today I received a leaked email which dropped onto my computer from the office of Evan Harris MP.
Now, at much the same time as the email arrived so did a phone call. The caller believed that some Liberal Democrats are possibly not too happy with the ‘Dr Death’ title given by some in the media to Dr Harris, due to his enthusiasm for abortion and euthanasia. Apparently, I am led to believe, they would prefer any high profile ‘death’ stuff to be done in the name of another MP as it tarnishes the image of the Liberal Democrats, that being the one of the ‘nice’ party, which everyone knows they aren’t.
In addition to this, as hardly any MP from any party would support a Liberal Democrat, due to their unfair and unpleasant campaign techniques; it would need to be carried by a Labour or Conservative MP in order to receive any support at all.
The email written by the researcher of Evan Harris is the exact wording of the amendment and I have been led to believe, the handwritten list of names supporting the amendment is in the hand of Evan Harris himself.
So, just whose line is this anyway?
That of Dr Harris the MP who is at least genuine in his pursuit of ending of life issues. Or Patricia Hewitt, who developed an interest in this when exactly?
Here Come the Boys
Posted Friday, 20 March 2009 at 14:50
I've been from Lincoln City to Luton in the space of five days, after-dinner speaking and helping to raise funds, for some of the great candidates we have coming on board.
Pictured with me are the two Luton candidates, my neighbours: Nigel (right) and Jeremy (left).
Having worked their socks off, they are beginning to see fantastic results, in terms of the reaction on the doorstep.
People underestimate the doorstep. You can poll all you like; but nothing gives you a better indication of the mood of the people than spending three hours on the knocker, and talking to people face to face.
There's no greater buzz than when, door after door, people wish you well and ask you to 'get that lot out'.
So, if you're wondering why Nigel and Jeremy are wearing such big grins, it's all down to the people of Luton and their hard work.
The Lib Dems and Rudery
Posted Thursday, 19 March 2009 at 17:36
Is there such a word as rudery? If there isn’t one, there should be, as I and others witnessed a spectacular display this afternoon.
Bedfordshire University journalism students came to Parliament today. They spent time in the public gallery and I had thirty minutes with them in a room in Portcullis House.
They were a great lot. All smiles, chatty, intelligent. And asked very incisive questions.
The lecturer had arranged for Phil Willis, the Lib Dem Chair of the Innovations and Skills Select Committee, to follow me and talk to the students, as the Committee is conducting an enquiry into universities.
Phil walked into the room looking like thunder. I ended my session with the students quickly and the lecturer suggested a photo. I asked if we could have one for the local press and it was agreed the students would write the press release.
At this point Phil Willis, who hadn’t even responded to the lecturers as they said hello when he walked into the room, announced he had better things to do than hang around there all day, and stormed out.
To which the students, some of whom were Liberal Democrats, shrieked, “that’s our story”.
It is a fact that apart from a handful of Lib Dem MPs, the majority are thoroughly nasty. Disliked by both Conservative and Labour MPs, they have managed to pedal this unbelievable lie of being the nice woolly people.
They aren’t. They are downright unpleasant. I didn’t need to mention that to the students today, not that I would anyway. The Lib Dems managed to do it all by themselves.
The students' lecturer was an ex-lobby journalist. Once a journalist always a journalist. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has that in a diary by the weekend.
Posted Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 17:58
I am slightly irritated that a Conservative MP live blogged on his or her phone from our private meeting with David Cameron yesterday, as reported on the Spectator Coffee House blog.
It’s a sad, sad situation. Sad because it shows a distinct lack of solidarity with the rest of the team. Sad because whoever it was is obviously far more concerned with raising his or her profile than holding this impotent, useless Government to account.
It reflects badly on the rest of us who blog with integrity. This person must be a real Billy no mates if he or she needs so desperately to curry favour with journalists and would betray the trust of their colleagues.
Stupid thing to do becuase the Chief will most likely track him down and kill him. Probably with his bare hands.
Maybe he should say sorry. As Elton John would say, always the hardest word.
The Changing World
Posted Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 16:27
Today I had a very thought provoking lunch with Google. Invite courtesy of Ed Vaizey (thanks Ed).
Before I write about thoughts provoked, I had already began to ponder over the last little while: the rate of change that technology brings about and how quickly we adapt.
For example, all the young people who put CDs on their Christmas lists didn’t this year. It was the first Christmas I didn’t buy any CDs. The girls download all their music.
At a school assembly last week, I watched as the Headmistress logged onto Google Earth on the White board. This was because it was the first day in the school for a Canadian little girl whose parents are in the area for two years.
She was able to show us the aerial view of her farm and school. It was quite amazing.
Today I saw a development of this, Google Street. Really a step up from Google Map, you can click onto the road and see a picture of the road in detail at any point. Faces and number plates are blurred and if you don’t like the idea of your home being seen, you can ask to have it taken out of the shot. It really was quite amazing. You can see a view of any street, or will be able to soon when it’s launched.
I was amazed at some of the statistics. 15 hours of video uploaded onto You Tube every hour. One in three people in the online community post a comment each day. 60% of people surf the net whilst watching TV.
Our discussion focused around security and content. Interesting to hear that Google’s perception of the future more or less spells a vastly diminished role for newspapers, and a rise in the status of the celebrity journalist and blogger.
Individual writing and style will become king in the world of the written word.
I love Google, I don’t go a day without using it, However, I have to admit, I did get a kind of ‘taking over the world’ feeling during the lunch.
The ability for anyone to post anything, true or not, and for Google to list sites in descending order thereby ultimately influencing opinion and thought, surely must one day have an implication for Government?
In this rapidly changing world it’s just a matter of time.
Posted Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 11:21
It’s a special young mans birthday today. He's working away on his MSC at Birmingham Uni and he might think we've forgotten.
I know he checks the blog and so I'd love to see his face when he sees this -
Happy Birthday Adam!
Every picture tells a story...
Posted Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 18:26
We have a bit of a problem here in Westminster, the business is sterile and that makes for lots of bored MPs.
It’s sterile because the Government, or rather the PM, is avoiding issues which may put the spotlight over even more Government incompetence or create divisions between the various fractious Labour camps.
No way to run the country I can hear you say and you would be right.
However, it’s saying something when Conservative MPs are bored. We have a free reign to take pot shots at the Government and to expose the inefficiencies they like to keep quiet. If you are a Labour MP it must be mind numbing. Labour back benchers can’t expose or attack their own Government so you can bet your bottom dollar if Conservative MPs are complaining that there isn’t enough Parliamentary work to do, Labour MPs will be chewing on their fists.
Experience shows that bored Labour MPs are like naughty little schoolboys. They become irritable and naughty. Irritable, naughty little boys tend to look around for stones to throw, things to break and new friends to play with.
The PM is playing a dangerous game of control. He should be very careful. His party are prowling around like caged Lions which he only just has by the tail.
With a Labour MP just now walking towards the library. He was looking for a copy of the Evening Standard as there was something he wanted to see.
A Lib Dem MP approached carrying a couple of papers under his arm. “Is that an Evening Standard under your arm” said my companion.
“No”, said the Lib Dem MP “I’ve got the Sun and the Star”.
“B********” said my companion “I didn’t know he could read”.
Yep, went straight over my head too.
Posted Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 16:11
Nothing causes me greater distress in my surgery than when elderly couples attend and I don’t have an immediate answer up my sleeve, or a magic wand to sort the problem quickly.
I was delighted when Warm Front saw the blog I posted following the select committee meeting with Ed Milliband, and came into see me today.
Delighted because now I have a name, the contact details and a face to deal with.
The young man told me today that Warm Front try and respond to all queries within 28 days. I told him I would be on to him within 28 minutes. He laughed. He thinks I’m joking, I’m not.
In a civilised society it is entirely unacceptable that the elderly cannot afford to heat their homes or even be subjected to the distress and confusion trying to navigate their way through the Warm Front grant system. It’s not complicated and I am absolutely convinced that Warm Front tries its very best, but in some cases we are talking about very elderly people.
If Ed Milliband lives up to his heavily hinted at almost a promise, and being one of the nice guys I cant see why he wont, we may see an increase in the Warm Front grant allocation of £2,700.
If this is the case, the poor chap who came to see me today may not have my voice in his ear quite as often as may have been the case if things stay as they are.
Posted Monday, 16 March 2009 at 14:38
I have just arrived at the home office of my PO. As I walked in, a 4x4 has just stopped and asked me for directions.
It was Tony Robinson AKA, Baldrick.
I told him to take the 1st left, left again, and then left at the junction.
Very easy directions for him I would imagine. No wonder he's lost!
John McCain, the idle parent?
Posted Monday, 16 March 2009 at 10:59
Jessica Brinton had two un-related articles in yesterday's Sunday Times Style Magazine which jumped out at me.
One in which Meghan McCain (John McCain's daughter) stated, "My biggest aphrodisiac is an apathetic attitude to Politics".
I get that.
I then read another comment out to the Dorries girls around the breakfast table: "I have become something I used to despise, someone who lets politics dictate her attraction to someone"; to which they all replied loudly and in unison (as is their way) "eh?"
I then read the feature on Tom Hodgkinson's book, The Idle Parent.
In that pathological narcissistic way all writers have (and I include bloggers and twitterers like myself in there, so hold the indignant gasp), it would be fair to assume that one could replace idle with perfect, given that a narcissist is writing about his own parenting skills.
Maybe he is someone with whom John McCain should have had a coffee, twenty or so years ago?
Tom stated that when he worked at the BBC he was the only person who sent his kids to state school.
Really? He surely couldn't have mixed with people like Marr, Crick, Paxman and Wark then could he?
Posted Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 13:51
The Daily Mail have a detailed feature on Mr Choudhary. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html
Makes fascinating reading.
Newsnight placed as the opposing voice to Mr Choudhary a very senior, in years as well as rank, Gulf war veteran from ’91.
I can’t get the details of his name or rank right now as the Newsnight web site is less than helpful on a Saturday as they obviously all go home on Friday night.
He was no match for Mr Choudhary, however, I imagine Newsnight knew that.
Why didn’t they put Sayeeda Varsi up against him? She would have challenged and exposed his true beliefs from a position of knowledge and expertise.
How much longer are the majority of viewers expected to tolerate having to pay for politicaly biased reporting? Do we really all want to see Islamist extremists sat on Newsnight without the viewing public being made fully aware of who they are and what they stand for? Does Kirsty really think people are sat in their armchairs thinking "that's right Kirsty, dont be too hard on him". And furthermore, how much longer are we expected to pay for Kirsty, who makes no pretence of her political views on the back of our cheques?
Posted Friday, 13 March 2009 at 23:09
Anjem Choudhary has just appeareed on Newsnight.
According to Wikipedia;
(born in 1967) is a British Muslim lawyer who receives benefits . He is also radical Islamist and follower of Omar Bakri Mohammed. He has founded two Islamist organizations which were later designated and banned as terrorist by the British government. Choudary has urged Muslims to not cooperate with the police in fighting terrorism, and has recently called for the assassination of the Pope.He was a solicitor (he was removed from the Roll in 2002) and chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers.
He is also the 'Judge of the Shari’ah Court of the UK' and 'Principal Lecturer at the London School of Shari’ah'
His name on Newsnight was followed by – London School of Shariah. That’s all. He is the same man who said that the Shariah flag should fly above No10.
He stated that all homecoming parades will be targeted.
Hello. Hello? Anyone in Government? Did you hear him?
Posted Friday, 13 March 2009 at 18:11
It was Dimbleby on Question Time, about 28 mins in. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00j4cjh/Question_Time_12_03_2009/
I’m impressed. I only tabled the EDM late yesterday afternoon. QT must have some pretty smart researchers!
I wrote my blog last night when I got in because today I had to travel to Lincoln to make a speech. Having not got to bed until nearly 2, I really didn’t expect the phone to start ringing at 6.30am as a result of an EDM upon which the ink hadn’t yet dried!
I loved the pre-record for the overseas forces radio. I haven’t done that before.
I have been asked a number of times today why I tabled the EDM and am I scared that I may come to harm as a result?
For goodness sake!
Is that why we have a Government which operates in a vacuum because it’s too scared to take a position on an issue which sits at the core of the Government's first and most responsible duty to it’s people, to keep them safe? Where is the courage and leadership?
I tabled the EDM because we need the debate. What do we tolerate? Can anyone say anything on a placard or in a cartoon? Where do the boundaries of free speech begin and end and is the playing field equal for all of any faith or principle?
When do the Police move in and what is the appropriate time to say ‘enough’. That’s why I tabled the EDM because no where in Government can I hear anyone asking those vital questions and this incident took place four days ago.
Posted Friday, 13 March 2009 at 08:56
Despite being exhausted and arriving in a business suit straight from work, when everyone else looked like the belle of the ball, last night was really good fun.
Amanda was on top form. She's not really used to public speaking and would much rather speak to 3 million people via a camera than 30 people in a room.
Regardless. You can't be that pretty, knowledgeable and nice without being a huge hit.
And judging by the number of autograph hunters in the Carlton Club, everyone was just a little star struck.
I hope our resident photographer Iain, emails me the pictures over the weekend; but for now, here's one someone took on Robert's phone of Vanda, Rob's girlfriend who had just arrived home from Brazil, Rob and I.
When giving the vote of thanks Robert mentioned how we first met. When I, as a young nurse walked into his hospital room where he was about to undergo an operation. He was just twelve years old and now he's going to be Harlow's next MP!!
Just opened emails to read I was quoted by Dimbleby on QT. And then another to say it was Andrew Neil on This Week ? What do I know? I was partying!
If Iain gets the pics to me, I'll post later.
Fabulous job Pippa, as always!
Posted Thursday, 12 March 2009 at 18:47
A special dinner tonight.
3 mins ago Robert (Halfon) text to say he’s bought a new shirt and tie :)
2 mins - Amanda (Platell) text to say she’s on her way.
1 min - Robert, again to say his girlfriend is really looking forward to coming.
30 seconds - a gentle time alert reminder from Pippa..
Seems like I’m the only one who had forgotten and didn’t know what the time was. !!!!
EDM and update
Posted Thursday, 12 March 2009 at 17:52
I don’t often do EDM’s. I think this is in fact my second in four years.
I have sent the following email out to MPs of all parties. Andrew Mackinlay, the Labour MP for Thurrock has co-signed with me.
Tonight we discover that Jalal Ahmed, one of the protestors works on an ad hoc basis as a baggage handler at Luton Airport. That the group is believed to be an off shoot of Al Muhajiroun, the banned organisation founded by Omar Bakri Muhammad.
My email and EDM;
I would be grateful if you could consider adding your signature to the following EDM, number 1080.
Royal Anglian Regiment Home-Coming Parade Demonstration in Luton
That this House;
Condemns the actions of Islamist extremeists at the home coming of the Royal Anglian regiment in Luton. Believes that it would have been appropriate for the antagonists and the offensive placards to have been removed from the scene of the parade, on the basis that the intention was to incite public disorder, before the parade began.
Hopes the Luton Police Commander shares his experience of the event with Commanders at Watford, Bolton and other towns about to host similar parades. Acknowledges the dismay of the wider peaceful law-abiding Muslim community towards the extremists.
Lessons From Luton Could Prevent Chaos In Bolton
Posted Thursday, 12 March 2009 at 15:31
Today I am laying down an EDM.
I have been slightly astounded at the Government’s reaction with regard to the demonstrations, which took place in Luton during the home-coming parade of the Royal Anglians.
The Prime Minister expressed disappointment, as did Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House. However, I’m afraid they have totally missed the point and failed to grasp the wider ramifications. I requested an urgent debate to take place in the Chamber from the Leader of the House this morning. It’s fair to say the request was met with little appetite.
Other home-coming parades are about to take place in Watford and Bolton, amongst others.
What took place this week was entirely preventable had the police taken appropriate action.
The Police have sent CCTV footage to the CPS to ask the question whether or not the group were guilty of intending to incite public disorder; they clearly did, the word incite is no longer relevant.
The group should have immediately been removed from the area by the Police. But apparently the group knew they would be left alone. It is unlikely that placards with the words ‘child murderers’ and ‘butchers’ were meant to express sentiments of gratitude. The Police should have made the sensible decision to move them away from the families and supporters of the soldiers before the parade began.
This week may simply have been a dress rehearsal on behalf of Muslim extremists before Bolton. It is certain that not all the people at the demonstration were from Luton.
No one wants to talk about it here. It’s an issue everyone wants to bury, or avoid. And the extremists are counting on that.
This attitude has got to stop.
We do have extremists, they are out to incite public disorder and they are a threat to peace. No on wants this stopped more than the greater Muslim communities.
So, take note Watford, Bolton and anywhere else about to hold a home-coming parade. Nip extremist behaviour in the bud. Don’t wait until after the event because then it will be too late.
Be aware of BNP infiltrators using the events to create disorder.
I will post the wording of the EDM later.
A Soldier's Sorry Tale
Posted Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 11:45
I needed to check a few facts with the Bedfordshire Chief Constable first before I blogged on yesterday’s disgraceful demonstration by Muslim extremists in Luton.
Two arrests were made and my information is that they were neither extremists, nor the supporters of the soldiers. The question as to whether they belonged to an extreme political party hangs in the air.
The CCTV footage has now gone to the CPS to decide whether or not the messages written on the placards were in fact a public disorder offence.
Bedfordshire Police made an error yesterday in allowing the Muslim extremists to welcome the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment, better known locally as ‘The Poachers’, on the streets of Luton with their abusive and hateful placards.
The decision as to whether or not the placards would incite public disorder needs to be made by the police before the event, not the CPS afterwards.
I met with the Royal Anglians recently; it is difficult to be anything other than incredibly proud and grateful to those who, at such a young age, risk life and limb in defence of our freedom.
We should also be very proud of all those who went onto the streets of Luton to show their gratitude and to provide a moral boosting welcome home.
I am pictured with a Royal Anglian Sergeant who told me a number of stories about life in Iraq, and about how he was recently treated on duty in America. Sitting in uniform with half a dozen or so other soldiers, they were in a typical American diner enjoying a soldier’s snack of doughnuts, pancakes and coffee.
As the Sergeant went to pay the bill he was told it had already been picked up for him, by a truck driver who was just leaving the car park. The Sergeant looked up and out of the diner window as the truck driver raised his hand in salute as he pulled away.
A truck driver. Not a banker or a high earning professional, a truck driver.
The same Regiment came home to what took place on the streets in Luton yesterday.
The Muslim spokesperson on the Today programme this morning, Abdul Malik said that it was good for the extremists to come out and express their feelings and we should welcome their viewpoint.
A constituent, a mother of a Poacher based in my constituency, has emailed me this morning stating what she would like to write on a placard, and that she would like to stand outside the extremist's house holding up the placard. She asked me, would he welcome her expressing her view point?
What she wants to write on the placard is totally offensive to every peaceful law abiding Muslim in the land, and I was horrified at her suggestion. However, she demonstrates very simply the extent of damage the few hateful extremists have inflicted upon a group of people who have happily integrated, co-exist and contribute to our society.
It is important that we don’t allow yesterday's extremists to breed a new wave of racial hatred.
It is also important that police forces up and down the country learn the lessons from what happened yesterday. I hope the Commander from Luton will share his experience with other Commanders in order that a protocol may be established as a standard method of operation in similar circumstances.
Our soldiers deserve only the best. The best welcome home, the best protection and total respect. They have risked their lives in the name of freedom, our freedom. None of us should ever forget that.
I would like to end this post with the words of the Colonel of the Royal Anglian Regiment, Sir John McCall, when describing what it is that is that we ask of the Royal Anglian Regiment when in Iraq:
"The ability to provide humanitarian assistance, to converse with those of another culture and background with a view to giving their trust and respect, and to fight with controlled aggression and determination - all on the same day."
All in 56'C and carrying almost their own bodyweight in a back pack.
Where I work every single person knows and understands the full extent and value of a soldier's contribution towards maintaining a free and fair society.
Welcome home boys.
Posted Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 21:20
Being one of the lads (that’s what they call me to my face anyway) means I have to eat where and when they want to. Being the only female voice I get drowned out. I’m not sure why “let’s find a nice salad bar” is met with such derision, but it is.
Tonight, it was Nando’s. Chips and Chicken and stuff. Grant and Stewart are actually members of two Nando’s Face Book groups called ‘we could eat Nando’s for lunch every day of the year - forever’ and the other one ‘why isn’t Nando’s open 24 hrs a day’ It’s the forever that gets me!
Is there a Face Book group for nice salads?
About to go in for adjournment debate. The sinking in the stomach never goes, or maybe it's just the chips!!
One Of These Days…..
Posted Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 15:56
These boots… belong to none other than the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Nicholas Soames, as do the feet.
Normally a purveyor of refined, sartorial elegance, Nicholas decided to go a little wild today and wow us all with his new boots.
Needless to say he created something of a kerfuffle in the Members' tea room.
Everyone, but everyone, had an opinion, particularly as Nicholas was about to walk into the chamber! "Leave him alone", said I. "It's 2009, anything goes."
At which point Sir Nicholas Winterton almost choked on his coffee as he spluttered "anything goes, anything goes, that’s what's bloody wrong with this country!" At this point I almost fell off my chair laughing.
I love this place. You couldn’t make up the scene in the tea room at lunchtime; and it's people like both the Sir Nicholas’s that make it such a fascinating and amazing place. Where else would you get to work with such unique, clever, knowledgeable, wise, bombastic colourful characters?
I left Nicholas about to sashay through the chamber doors. I saw him grin, and I swear I heard him whisper with both feeling and a flourish, to no one in particular, "are you ready boots? Start walkin’!"
I’ve been singing like Nancy since...
(blogged with the kind permission of both Sir Nick’s)
Posted Monday, 9 March 2009 at 20:59
Apologies for late blogging. It’s been a trifle mad. Not least because I have successfully secured an end of business adjournment debate in the chamber tomorrow.
I put in for these things all of the time and I am very rarely lucky, however, I’ve hit the jackpot this week.
The thrust of my debate will be regarding the regulation of solicitors. I feel very strongly that if complaints are made against solicitors then the complaint and the outcome should be published.
In midst of this economic downturn more and more people are turning to solicitors for help and not all are receiving the service they should. Many end up with large bills which further compound the situation they needed help with in the first place. I will blog more about the debate tomorrow after I've written the speech.
Anyway, I don’t know what’s up with me, however, all day long whilst reading through legal stats Inspector Clouseau, keeps popping into my head! Particularly the ‘de lur’ out-take, (Peter Sellers describing himself as ‘the law’) and I keep giggling to myself. I have had a quick scan through You Tube to see if I can find it but to no avail. Just as well, I’d probably make myself worse! I’m really worried Clouseau will pop into my mind during the debate tomorrow and I will lose it!!!!
A Little Lent Lunch
Posted Saturday, 7 March 2009 at 15:45
I have just returned from the combined churches of Shefford Lent lunch.
Before I left I thought I was a dab hand at making home made soup. Now I know for sure I’m rubbish!
It was a very happy lunch. Thank you all for making me feel so very welcome. I'm amazed so many of you even read the blog!! Thank you.
F1 and a 747
Posted Friday, 6 March 2009 at 16:50
This has to be the best job in the world. The photo is of me landing a Boeing 747 this morning. Oh yes I did!
Well, I'll own up - it is the 747 simulator at Cranfield University; and this morning I have spent time with the Vice Chancellor, and Deputy Vice Chancellor, getting to know more about what happens at the University, which tops world league tables for so many things.
In addition to the flight simulator, I visited the workshops where F1 cars are driven at high speed into concrete walls. From Aerospace to soil, Cranfield is leading edge not only in how technology is developed, but in how it is applied in everyday life. It is the home of UK F1 testing.
The fact that so many F1 drivers walk out of horrific crashes is as a direct result of research undertaken in Cranfield.
I watched an amazing video of the Boeing X48 test flight which took place recently at Dryden air base in the US. A futuristic looking plane which combines wing and body in one unit with engines on top and wing sails. Looks like something from a science fiction movie. It gives you a buzz to know it was developed here, in Cranfield, in conjunction with NASA and the US Air Force.
Cranfield is a major employer in my constituency. Excluding the overseas students, the University is responsible for around 2,000 jobs. Given that it also hosts the world famous management school, I would think they are jobs that are going to remain fairly secure for some time.
Posted Thursday, 5 March 2009 at 18:23
I have just witnessed the worst, most appalling, least professional wind up speech I have ever heard delivered in the House of Commons.
The debate is International Women’s Day; the wind up speech was delivered by Vera Baird, Labour MP for Redcar. If it were up on Hansard yet I would post a link, however, it was just so bad I couldn’t wait to blog it.
She was bitter, downright nasty and partisan, not really acceptable on a day like today. Maybe it’s because Labour know they are possibly looking at defeat, however, that isn’t the way most are behaving. Some of the Labour MPs I have spoken to have accepted that they probably aren’t going to win another term and are already putting feelers out for jobs in the private sector. Most seem to be resigned; and if anything, it’s making them nicer!
Not Ms pass the lemons for a quick suck Baird! She refused to sit down when the Speaker shouted order, refused to take interventions from the dispatch box – highly unusual - insulted members and then refused to take interventions to allow them to defend themselves.
It was outrageously bad, discourteous behaviour.
International Women’s Day? A complete farce as Ms Baird demonstrated.
This Government has done nothing, absolutely nothing to make better the lot of women, either those who stay at home or those who work on unequal pay and until it does it should keep quiet on women’s issues because as Ms Baird demonstrated today, when your in a corner and you have nothing to say, all you can do is attack.
This is a man's world
Posted Wednesday, 4 March 2009 at 15:50
The most telling paragraph in the Commissioner's report regarding the Spelman inquiry was paragraph 27. It reads:
”In accordance with good employment practice, parliamentary staff—both those employed by the House and those employed by Members—have access to a child care voucher scheme and to advice on where they may obtain child care, whether in Westminster or elsewhere. Members of Parliament have no such access and must make their own arrangements. We consider this to be inequitable, and disproportionately so for women Members, who are more likely to have primary responsibility for child care. We understand that the House of Commons Administration Committee is presently considering the question of Members' child care requirements. We look forward to that Committee's conclusions.”
What the paragraph doesn't mention is that many of the government departments have workplace nurseries for departmental employees; but members are not allowed to use them.
Caroline has come out of this debacle intact, but personally wounded. In the private sector, a tribunal must be heard within six months with regard to the level of stress it imposes upon the employee. Caroline's took nine, and it shows. She looks ill and exhausted. In the real world an inquiry can only go back for seven years: Caroline's went back twelve.
Jacqui Smith, and no, I'm not a member of her fan club, will go through an equally torrid time. Why? Because as a mother she's tried to maintain a stable and constant home life for her children, in the place her local party probably insist they are educated; whilst she works 100hrs per week in London.
As the increasingly likely party of Government, the Conservative party will witness an explosion in the number of young female MPs coming into Parliament. There will be no escape from the working week of Monday through until late Thursday night, and then off to the constituency for the 'day job'.
Many local parties now insist MPs live and educate their children in the constituency. How are women supposed to hold family and home together?
Following the Blair Babe explosion in ' 97, almost all Labour women MPs live in London and have their families and children with them. However, times have changed. Local parties demand more in the way of local visibility; and whereas for someone like myself who can troll back to Bedfordshire, even though it's midnight before I arrive and I'm gone somedays by six, if my constituency was in Birmingham, I couldn't.
It's time that honest MPs, and that is the very vast majority, started to stand up for themselves and stop being so spineless in the face of the media.
It's not the one or two rotten MPs who have given politicians a bad name, it's the other 650 plus who cower away like little boys scared of matron, refusing to stand up to the media bullies. Allowing anyone to print or say anything without challenge.
And who will be the casualties of the future? The women, because as MPs cower away, no one will dare suggest that maybe something should be done to both acknowledge, facilitate and support the army of young mums about to enter this place.
I hope the Administration Committee produces some worthwhile recommendations; however it can only do so if it accepts that a woman's role as a mother is unique, and all mother's in emplyment need all the support they can get.
If they don't we will see a lot more casualties; however, it would be nice if for once, just once, a journalist tried to see the problem from the other side of the coin. To see how the options are limited and exhausting, for a female MP who tries to be a half decent mother, as you slowly realise you can't please all of the people all of the time. Least of all yourself.
As I walk down the street.....
Posted Tuesday, 3 March 2009 at 17:57
Last night I voted in favour of enabling the home address of a candidate during the general election to be kept confidential.
It’s not the fact that at one point during the abortion debate both my home and those of my staff were ‘flagged’ by the Police following the usual barrage of threats from the pro abortion zealots.
Or the fact that one Sunday morning I woke up to abuse painted all over my front room windows. Its not even because of the nice man who knocked at my door at 5am en route to the passport office in Peterborough (he wanted to be first in the queue) to ask me to sign his passport form because the Dr hadn’t started work yet; and it’s not even because of the parcel post shoe box full of broken glass with ripped photographs of me inside, it’s none of those things.
I was influenced to support this amendment during a cross party meeting held by Julian Lewis MP, which was attended by MPs from all parties who all had their own stories to tell.
One Labour MP was in tears. An inner city MP who has worked extensively with abused women through a refuge has gone to great lengths already to ensure that the threats she has received over the years could not be carried out. Other MPs followed suit with their own particular stories and I realised mine were small change in comparison to what some had had to endure.
Not so long ago I attended a surgery in a village hall. My last appointment, a man, sat in front of me and said “I am so glad to see you are on your own and don’t have any security”. I do now.
For all of those who voted for the amendment last night it wasn’t about us, it was about our families and those who didn’t choose this job and to whom we owe a duty of care.
The really disgraceful thing about last nights vote was the behaviour of the Liberal Democrats. They strongly opposed the amendment with their usual childish antics.
Those of us who have stood against a Lib Dem in an election will understand why. In 2001 they printed literature of the village in which I lived and then posted it around the council estates in Hazel Grove where I was standing with the heading ‘She lives here’.
Last nights vote deprived the Liberal Democrats of one of their dirty tricks and they were not happy at all.
The Birds and the Bees
Posted Monday, 2 March 2009 at 17:33
Alistair Burt, MP for NE Beds and I had a great time on Saturday at the Bedfordshire Beekeepers' annual buzz together (sorry!).
Alistair even bought me a jar of honey!
It’s a huge pleasure to know that the numbers of people keeping bees is growing hugely; and Wally Thrale, pictured with Alistair and I, told me the number of people waiting to join the Bedfordshire training course has increased from 15 last year to 90 this year.
Being a mother of three stunning daughters, I am no stranger to opening the front door to nervous, blushing, tongue- tied young men.
Friday night was one such occasion.
As I answered the knock on my door a young man enquired as to the whereabouts of my youngest daughter. As he did so, my little dog, the one that bites when you try to pick it up, ran out to sniff and greet the young man.
I informed him that my daughter was at the cinema with friends but could I say who had called?
He hesitated, raised one eyebrow and then answered very sardonically, "let's just go with ‘rancid’ shall we."
I watched him as he bent down to pick up the dog, the thought did cross my mind but flip! It all happened too quickly.
"I’ll tell her", said I. Rancid as in what happens to a bite when left untreated?