A Northern Nana.
Posted Thursday, 29 April 2010 at 16:30
When you are living out of the boot of your car and you have forgotten what a home cooked meal tastes like, keeping up with the daily blog slips somewhere down the list of priorities. My apologies.
As it is, I have just got back from another full day out on the doorstep, just in time to catch up with emails and then get back out to another public meeting.
The public meeting last night in Elstow was great and well attended. I hadn't really seen the full coverage of 'bigotgate' at that point, but I was soon filled in on all the gory details.
In 2005, the question most often raised by people was inheritance tax. In 2010, without doubt, it is immigration.
Gordon Brown was wrong to refer to an outspoken 'northern nana' as a bigot and Nick Clegg is wrong to think we should give 900,000 illegal immigrants amnesty. Neither of those head in the sand attitudes wash with the general public. They want an answer which is clear, that they can trust - above all else, they want to be re-assured that there is a politician brave enough to tackle the problem in a way which stops the ever spiralling increase in numbers.
It took a 'northern nana' on her way to buy a loaf of bread that made it possible for me to write that. If I had written it a few days ago, the dogs of war would have been after my head.
The public meeting stereo types
Posted Monday, 26 April 2010 at 16:55
When you speak at lots of public meetings, you get to know the specific types who attend, which can range from the genuinely interested and concerned, to the saboteur.
Last week we had the noisy spy. The type who agitates the person sat in front by writing down everything you say, turning over pages, shuffling around and whispering, over loudly -‘what did she say?’ - whilst scribbling furiously, every thirty seconds or so. Spies really should at least be competent at shorthand and speaking in sotto voice.
The other night we had the crowd stirrer. This is the person who waits until someone in the audience asks a question and is not as happy as they would like to be with the answer, you as the past MP give. The crowd stirrer then noisily joins in, agreeing overly enthusiastically with the questioner. The crowd stirrer is very rarely the person to ask a question or to lead a discussion; they almost always piggy back someone else.
The difficult thing for me is to suppress the smile of recognition when you watch the spy/stirrer in action. There are a couple of other public meeting stereo types who haven’t surfaced yet, however, I am sure they will.
By and large, our meetings have been full of reasonable, intelligent, concerned people and have been a pleasure to hold.
Which is just as well, I have three more to attend this week.
With my heart or with my faith?
Posted Monday, 26 April 2010 at 10:06
During the 20 reasons for 20 weeks abortion campaign I spoke to many representatives from various faith organisations.
Without exception, every single one supported the campaign. Muslim and Jewish faiths all support strongly the reduction from 24 weeks.
David Cameron, is the only leader who has said he wishes to see a reduction in the upper limit. They are not words you will ever hear pass the lips of Nick Clegg.
With all faiths, home and family is paramount, as is community and society. As one Muslim leader said to me, ‘community and care for our neighbour is the pillow of Islam’.
Our families and our neighbours, our community and environment are the key elements of the ‘big society’ David Cameron wants to dictate how we live as opposed to the control of the ‘big state’ we live within today.
If you want to see marriage and the family supported and reinforced. If you agree that social abortion is performed at much too late a stage. If you are appalled at the over sexualisation of young people, if you want the principles of decency and propriety to return, if as a parent you want to send your children to faith schools and have control over the content of sex education taught to your children - it appears to me there is only one party and one man you can and should vote for.
Every Christian and person of faith has to ask themselves the very important question, does my faith play a part in how I cast my vote? If it does, then surely there is only one way anyone of any faith in this country can vote?
Posted Saturday, 24 April 2010 at 16:39
So, on Friday afternoon, I'm in Tescos, handing out leaflets and I get a call from a Sunday Newspaper asking to see my 2007 leaflet.
Yes, I kid you not, 2007. Bear in mind this is mid afternoon on a Friday which promises to be the first hot weekend of the year.
Knowing the person who produces my leaflets is about to slip away to a destination unnamed and that I have no idea who printed my 2007 leaflet and in addition to this I am barred from my Parliamentary office, not allowed access to the computers and everything from the last five years has been boxed up and archived, I was in a slight flummox.
The Sunday Newspaper in question, which is my favourite, hence my reluctance to cast a spell over it's entire reporting staff, were persistent. I had to find my signed off Westminster Report from 2007.
You try finding a three year old leaflet as a hot weekend beckons and no one is answering their phone. However, I have managed it. I now have sitting on my phone a photograph of said leaflet which I am having extreme trouble loading onto this blog. So, if you want to re-visit my passion for reducing the upper limit at which abortion takes place then log on in a while when I have located my blog man out of his rugby match and got him to help me load this picture.
Altenaltively, if any of my friendly bloggres out there can load it for me, could you call me?
Thanks Dizzy! Not so much fire up the Quattro as fire up the 3 yr old 10 min rule Bill! http://tinyurl.com/2vw6w5k
Posted Friday, 23 April 2010 at 12:05
Nick Wood has written sage, knowledgable, chilling words which should send shivers down the spine of anyone who thinks a hung Parliament in the form of a Lab/Lib alliance would not be a bad thing. Article posted on ConservativeHome.
'The pound will be under pressure. Interest rates will rise. Stock markets and house prices will fall. The fragile recovery will be jeopardised. Firms will go bust and jobs will be lost. Living standards will fall. The deficit will loom over us like a permanent cloud of volcanic ash. Public spending will continue to race out of control. Welfare will remain unreformed. Taxes will rise, especially on the hard-working middle classes and the wealth creators. The City will take another hit. Europe will flex its muscles afresh. Troops fighting in the Afghan deserts will lack for leadership and support at home. Our international status as a nuclear power will be called into question. The trumpet will give out an uncertain note as Britain indeed becomes a second class power.'
The Daily Mail
Posted Friday, 23 April 2010 at 10:07
I love the way James Chapman at the Daily Mail cuts through the political nonsense sometimes uttered by politicians.
Yesterday he saw straight through the foot stomping of Peter Mandleson, who complained bitterly about the negative press coverage given to Nick Clegg and referred to it as ‘Tory smears’.
As I was quoted, Peter Mandleson saw in Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats an opportunity to keep Gordon Brown in number 10 and Labour in power for another five years.
Yesterday, Mandleson saw that opportunity slipping from his grasp and what ensued was a petulant rage.
A politician at any level fully understands that there is no way you can tell a newspaper what to print or not to print, especially the Daily Mail. I love and hate that newspaper in equal measure!
The photo of David Kelly is a poignant reminder of the sheer inhumanity of this Government and how much it got wrong.
The Last Box
Posted Thursday, 22 April 2010 at 18:32
There were more than a few cheers today when the last box of leaflets was opened and sorted!
Lib Dem Porkies and Clangers
Posted Thursday, 22 April 2010 at 15:28
In 2005 I polled 23,345 votes. The Liberal Democrats 11,990 and the Labour party 11,351.
This is the leaflet the Liberal Democrats are delivering on the doorstep. It has the usual Lib Dem lie ‘they can’t win here’ however, just look at the graph and then look at the figures above.
As well as telling porkies in my patch, they appear to be coupling mis truths with plain stupidity.
Above is a copy of a letter delivered to one of our villages.
The signature in unintelligible, it’s written on blue paper. No one really gets to the bottom on a political letter and therefore, everyone thinks it’s from me. I tend to ask people to judge me on my past record of achievement, not what I guess may crop up in the future, however, whatever! Thanks for the leaflet LibDems.
Top political journalists, Peter Oborne, writing in the Mail today, has singled out the Mid Beds Liberal Democrat campaign as one of the nastier ones, highlighting a web site which is full of personal innuendo, nasty personal attack and sheer fantasy. http://tinyurl.com/2cj99kp
Not so saintly Vince
Posted Wednesday, 21 April 2010 at 21:42
The Liberal Democrats are beginning to realise what it's like to be taken seriously. If they had know their manifesto was actually going to be scrutinised, they may have done things slightly differently.
Here is Vince Cable being taken to task by Andrew Neil and Stephanie Flanders.The halo hits the ground with a thump.
Just love the Andrew Neil quote today which was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. "Isn't your reputation the biggest myth of this election so far?"
At a local level, tomorrow happily sees the last of 40,000 leaflets being delivered!
Making Your Mind Up
Posted Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 23:04
This video was great fun to take part in, however, I thought it was Gordon Brown who threw the phones, not Alistair Campbell! It is rather flattering to be in the same video as Anne Diamond and Anne Widdecombe.
It is apparently one of the most viewed videos in the news section of Youtube.
The TotalPolitics team had a great idea, put massive effort into it and made it work, well done Iain, Amber and everyone.
Posted Monday, 19 April 2010 at 20:54
Shuttleworth Old Warden Park
Posted Monday, 19 April 2010 at 18:08
I told Alistair Burt I would never forgive him as during the boundary review, Henlow left Mid Beds and became part of North East Bedfordshire.
However, I have spent the last few days meeting people in the new villages we inherited into Mid Beds, and what beautiful villages they are too.
One of my visits this morning took me to Old Warden Park.
What a fantastic place. I wanted to stay and stare at the old planes forever. The restaurant and children’s play area must make this place heaven for a little (and the big I suppose!) boys day out.
A great addition to Mid Beds and as massive boost in our endeavour to promote the constituency as a destination for growth via tourism, rather than industry.
Posted Saturday, 17 April 2010 at 19:06
Who lives in a house like this?
Posted Friday, 16 April 2010 at 14:15
It wasn’t until Nigel Huddleston (our PPC in Luton South) and I were walking up the drive when Carol, our caller, shouted 'Moran', that we realised whose house we were canvassing. I had just said to Nigel, 'doesn't look like anyone is in'.
The house did look neglected and rather forlorn but has apparently, just been sold.
Posted Friday, 16 April 2010 at 12:09
I just can’t quite get myself worked up to the extent others are with regard to last night’s debate and Clegg’s performance.
There are a number of reasons for this.
It was the first debate and the new boy on the grown up block was only ever going to command full attention.
After all, people are very used to hearing Brown and Cameron. They receive top billing on the R4 Today prog 8.10 spot and whatever they pronounce is repeated on the news. The images of both are frequently beamed into every sitting room, a number of times a day.
The public know David Cameron and Gordon Brown well; they have lived with them through their pain of loss, have passed comment on everything their wives wear and get to hear every time one has his bike nicked or chucks a mobile phone.
Last night, as the cameras started rolling, the public were presented with a new star in the Westminster leaders cast. A man they knew very little about, other than he has slept with about 30 women.
That fact alone makes him interesting to watch in a ‘how did he manage that?’ kind of way.
Nick Clegg utilised a tactic that won’t wear twice. The plague on all your houses and I am the motherhood and apple pie alternative wont wear during he second debate, the public will by this point expect much more in terms of depth.
He was also fairly duplicitous. His pronunciations regarding MPs who have bought homes and made a profit was a dodgy move. I am sure that there will be some wily journalist who will today check how many Liberal Democrat MPs have bought homes using a Parliamentary allowance and who have sold and made a profit, including the more well known former MPs such as Ashdown and Kennedy. Clegg didn't contain his comment to flipping, he used the words gain and profit.
His response to every question was opportunistic. He can of course say anything he likes because he will never have to deliver and will therefore never be challenged and neither Cameron nor Brown can highlight this fact without appearing arrogant.
I believe Cameron was holding back. If I was his tactician, I wouldn’t want him to resoundingly win the first debate. We saw the best Clegg has to offer last night. From here on in it will be much tougher for him.
The media have now raised the expectation of the public and for next weeks debate they will expect an all singling all dancing Clegg to skip out onto the stage and steal the show.
When and if that doesn’t happen, the disappointment and sense of failure will be all the greater. We all know the tactics of the British media, they put you on the pedestal and then they let you..
Romeo and Juliet
Posted Wednesday, 14 April 2010 at 14:29
Four years ago I organised a day out at Woburn Safari Park for the children in my constituency who are disabled and have complex special needs. It was a great day and since then I have taken an active interest in the problems parents with disabled children have to face on a daily basis.
On Saturday, I was invited by a living saint, Jane Howard-White, to see a production of Romeo and Juliet performed by 26 children from across Bedfordshire who have conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, Downs and other complications.
The children were accompanied by 26 carers and assisted by the Bedford Full House Theatre Group, who I have to say were totally amazing both in the professional manner they produced the play and in the compassion, understanding, patience and care they displayed towards the children.
One of the main players from Full House carried one of the children in his arms all the way through the play only transferring her back to her wheelchair occasionally- he did this whilst acting, prompting the other children with their lines and keeping around 60 people co-ordinated.
At one point there was hardly a dry eye in the place. These children know no malice, unlike many involved in the world of politics. They are all, without exception, innocent and willing beyond belief to make you happy.
The pleasure with which they lapped up the applause and the sheer joy on their faces was what brought out the tissues for me.
I was thrilled to award them all with a prize at the end of the performance and the photographs are of Juliete and Romeo, Oscar winning performances for both.
Posted Wednesday, 14 April 2010 at 11:00
A great, if windy day campaigning in theLuton town center today with Nigel Huddleston. We disposed of our two massivebunches of helium balloons in about 30 seconds flat!
Nick Clegg was also in Luton however, this was not a problem - no one knew who he was!
Eastern region BBC Politics programme
Posted Sunday, 11 April 2010 at 13:16
This morning I appeared on a peoples’ panel for the Eastern region BBC Politics programme.
This meant an incredibly early start in order to get over to Cambridgeshire for a 9.30am recording time.
I realised this morning that I have become so submerged in my constituency issues that the national points to discuss slip onto the back burner.
It was an interesting programme and the panel were a lively bunch.
Posted Friday, 9 April 2010 at 16:21
One of the problems with living in a rural community is that, for many who have grown up in the area, the cost of remaining, in terms of housing, is often too high.
On Wednesday we officially opened the Flitton and Greenfield housing initiative and with us was a family who have just moved into one of the shared ownership houses.
A criterion for living in one of the properties is that you have to have a close link with the village. This guarantees that local homes remain available for local occupancy.
A great afternoon and fantastic to see local people being able to live and work close to the community they wish to live in and not being forced to move to larger urban areas, if they don't want to.
Does my head look big in this?
Posted Friday, 9 April 2010 at 16:04
Do you ever wonder what happens to the bottles you post through the bottle bank, or all the newspapers you put in the re-cycling bin?
Well wonder no more as I am here to tell you, chapter and verse.
Today I visited Lafarge Ashphalt in my constituency. Lafarge receive huge quantities of mineral and recycled products at their depot.
They then mix the products together, according to a contractor’s requirement (recipe), and then load up the trucks in a huge loading bay and send them on their way to deposit to whatever road or house building project they are delivering to.
It was interesting to see mountains of crushed wine bottles and mountains of pulped paper, all of which are being used to surface the new A421 in Bedfordshire.
What I found really fascinating today was that the noise-absorbent product, used to re-surface the motorway, has holes punctured across it's surface. This absorbs not only noise, but water as well. Therefore, if you are driving on a low noise resurfaced section of the motorway, you don’t have much water spray to contend with.
Now that is fascinating.
Barton Convenience Store grand opening
Posted Thursday, 8 April 2010 at 12:42
This morning I had the great honour of opening the Barton Convenience Store in my constituency. I was delighted to say the least, when I arrived for the 11am opening to find a crowd waiting.
Norman Patel, his wife, son and nephew had been working until 5am to make sure everything was ready for the grand and much awaited opening.
It was really touching to watch the locals pour in through the doors after I had cut the enormous ribbon and to witness the affection they have for their local shop and the Patel family - there were even a few watery eyes!
I hate to say this but I am afraid there was also another slap up buffet! I am very definitely going to have to watch the waistline during this election as there was no way I was allowed to leave until I had eaten.
I loved this morning. A whole community came out and demonstrated its support for a local family, who go the extra mile on a regular basis for the people they live and work amongst.
Ten Minute Rule Bill
Posted Tuesday, 6 April 2010 at 17:17
Here is my Ten Minute Rule Bill speech that I made in the House today about the Covanta Energy from Waste proposals:
'Mr Speaker, I beg that leave be given, to bring before the House, a Bill to require planning authorities to conduct a local referendum before considering planning permission for new large-scale waste recovery or disposal facilities which involve the recovery or disposal of waste from more than one county area; to insure that planning authorities and the Secretary of State must not grant planning permission, if the result of such a referendum indicates that local people do not wish a facility to be developed and for connected purposes.
Mr Speaker, in the last ten years society has dramatically altered.
Twenty-four hour access to rolling news and media, widespread and easily available access to the internet, means that today’s individual is far more enlightened in terms of information than ever before. People are very aware of what is happening within their own communities and where their money is being spent.
If a community requires more homes, a school or hospital, traditionally developers would have worked with local councils and provided the solution.
One could argue that, via the process of democracy, local people have their views and concerns more or less met within the provision of the planning decision making process.
But this isn’t always the case. Despite extensive consultation, often the wider community opinion may not necessarily reflect the opinion of those citizens whose lives and environment will be directly affected and impacted upon, by a decision which has been taken elsewhere and, ultimately, local people feel powerless to control their quality of life.
When we live within what is widely recognised as a broken society, it is important that this process is reversed and that local people are empowered.
Local empowerment is vital when the objective of a Government is to roll back the boundaries of the state – to reverse what we have today – which is a big state centralising power and local people who feel helpless.
We need citizens to become more involved in how their own communities function and are shaped, to become community shareholders by taking ownership for the residents of today and future families of tomorrow.
My party has already articulated the desire to establish local housing trusts, which will enable local people to get together and form a trust and dictate themselves how local housing needs will be met. Local people will drive the local housing growth agenda - they will be empowered and in control. We have exciting new policies in education which will enable local parents to establish and run local schools.
However, my Bill proposes a further approach when the need for larger infrastructural facilities is required within a local community.
An area of Mid Bedfordshire, which incorporates the communities of Stewartby, Marston Moretaine, Brogborough and Lidlington, has for some time been targeted by this Government for development and growth.
Not surprisingly, the people who live within this targeted area would like some say in how it grows. A proposed inappropriate Eco-Town has already been successfully fought off by engaged and active local residents.
As a result of European legislation and the need to cease using landfill and to create energy from waste facilities, Rookery Pit, within this growth area, has been designated as the preferred site for energy from waste plant.
This has raised a number of issues.
A large American company – Covanta - has maximised this opportunity to enter a sham process of local consultation and PR to convince local people that it has in some way advanced as a preferred developer / operator and has even indicated to me that the company is talking to local planners: which is not the case.
The fact is that many organisations may tender - and probably will do - to build the energy from waste plant at this location.
Bedfordshire has an excellent re-cycling record and already recycles’ 44% of its waste.
I am sure that the majority of people in Bedfordshire understand the need to cease landfill and to burn what rubbish isn’t re-cycled and thereby create clean energy in the process; what they don’t understand is why Bedfordshire should process the waste for Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire or anywhere else - counties which are quite capable of providing a facility to cater for their own demand now and taking into account future re-cycling targets.
It is time for the people who will be directly affected by such a proposal to be not only consulted, but to be given a vote - the power to decide how and in what way their community and environment will alter.
There is strong local opposition to the Covanta proposal which in no real way benefits the local economy but aesthetically damages the local environment.
From many of the beauty spots in Mid Bedfordshire, the Millennium Park, Ampthill Park and Houghton House, the Covanta proposal would blight the landscape with its Wembley stadium size proportions and chimneys.
The hope of Mid Bedfordshire’s economic growth targets being attained via tourism would be dashed in one planning approval.
The already congested M1 and A421 would become blocked with the congestion and fumes from Lorries carrying waste from other counties. They would be using the same motorway junction as the traffic for the proposed Centre Parcs which has yet to be built.
The size and scale of the proposed Covanta site makes landscaping and disguise almost impossibility even after five years of established growth. The building itself is half the height of Big Ben which stands at around 80meteres high with the chimneys standing at 145 meters, Mid Bedfordshire cannot boast many hills and so I hope the comparison with Big Ben and our flattish landscape provides some perspective as to the visual impact such a facility will have.
Therefore Mr Speaker, given the enormous negative impact a waste facility catering for more than the requirements of Bedfordshire would have on people living in and around the designated area; those people should be given a greater say in what happens and this Bill proposes that a local referendum be held – the results of which the Secretary of State would honour - which seeks to genuinely harness local opinion and to make a yes or no decision with regard to the size and capacity of such a facility.
Facilities of Covanta proportions can be disguised within the wonderful large scale USA. England is an island which is becoming over populated for its already fairly small size. We have no capacity for a facility the size of Covanta, we have no spare air in Bedfordshire for the errors of toxic fumes, we have no vista or horizon large enough to accommodate a facility the size of the Covanta proposal and the local people are running out of patience.
Potential air pollution, not only from the site itself, but from the constant stream of backed up slow moving lorries would be accompanied by light pollution, with the area becoming one of perpetual daytime.
This intended site has nothing good to offer to the people of Mid Bedfordshire.
It does however, take much away, we realise this, we are fully aware and we will oppose the intention to impose a gigantic furnace within our midst with the same vigour and determination we successfully fought of the Eco Town.'