Posted Wednesday, 30 April 2008 at 16:52
I kept bobbing up and down today in PMQs hoping to catch the Speaker's eye.
I had a burning question to ask the PM.
Lord David Steel - former leader of the Liberals - has released a statement in which he states that he thinks the abortion limit should stay at 24 weeks.
In July 04, he felt it should be cut to 12 weeks.
He once, when leader of the Liberals, told his party to "go home and prepare for government."
They returned a few weeks later with just 20 MPs.
I wanted to ask the PM whether or not he agreed with me that it would be a wise move for anyone to take absolutely no notice of anything David Steel said.
Mutiny in the tea room
Posted Tuesday, 29 April 2008 at 17:46
Stood at the till paying for my toasted tea cake and tea just as the lovely members' tea room staff were handed their pay slips.
Pay slip time is always a collegiate thing when money matters.
The first member of staff to open hers said "hang on, there's something wrong here, I'm down."
One after another they checked and chunntered...
"Could it be because you were on the 10p tax band?" said I "and it's been abolished this month, maybe it's just kicked in."
They all turned and looked at me in unison as the penny dropped with a huge kerching, just behind the eyes.
It's Tuesday thought I. All across the country low earners are going to the polls a day or two after they get a payslip - from Gordon with love.
You couldn't make it up.
The tea room staff were mad, very mad. Don't think we will be seeing Gordon in there for a while!
Meanwhile staff who do a fantastic job, working long hours for low pay, take home less money to feed the kids and pay the bills, in the month school dinners go up too, because of soaring food costs.
Just not on is it?
Politics Show update
Posted Tuesday, 29 April 2008 at 12:29
Dumped me. Kate Hoey is to be sports advisor to Boris, which will dominate the airwaves today.
Fantastic news !!
Daily Politics Show and David Steel
Posted Tuesday, 29 April 2008 at 09:23
David Steel will be giving a press conference this morning - I have been told what he is going to say, but frankly, can't quite believe it. I am going to need to hear it from the horses' mouth before I comment, which I will be doing on the Daily Politics Show on BBC 2 at 12ish.
Until I blog after the Politics show, I have a household tip!
Not something you will often hear from me being the undomesticated type.
Febreeze, the spray for curtains, carpets and soft furnishings, forget all that, just spray it straight onto the dog! Works a treat!!
Posted Monday, 28 April 2008 at 13:03
If you were Ken and had just seen the YouGov polls which put Boris 11% ahead, (screams into hand whilst dancing on the spot) wouldn’t you be just a teeny weeny bit tempted to write a letter to Tony asking him to bail in and help out?
Grand statements, announcements in the press, exclusive interviews with key reporters, join him on a walk about, that sort of thing.
I bet the thought has crossed Ken’s mind. If Tony were ‘full on’ the Ken campaign over the next few day’s it would undoubtedly have an impact and be so newsworthy it would be a bit of a headline grabber.
People only remember the good times and Tony would carry enough nostalgia around with him to drift over the floaters.
You never know when you are going to need friends in this game do you?
Mary from the mission, at Sky TV.
Posted Saturday, 26 April 2008 at 13:58
When on TV, It’s ok to argue your point as hard as you wish, and to use evidence and statistics to back that point up.
It’s not ok to lie.
I arrived at the Millbank studio doors with three minutes to go before we were on air, and the studio was up three flights of stairs,
No time for hair or make up, and did it show. In Liverpool there would have been an aunt to have exclaimed that I’d looked like ‘Mary from the mission’.
There is no NHS hospital which will carry out abortions over 16 weeks, unless the mothers life really is in serious danger and in those cases the hospitals are in Newcastle and London, North and South.
All abortions over sixteen weeks are carried out in private clinics, cross charged to the government.
We have a government policy which says it’s ok to abort to 24 weeks, and an NHS which doesn’t want to put that policy into practice.
And so an abortion industry has built up around government policy.
The lady from the pro-abortion lobby whose organisation is paid for by the unions, announced with gusto, “that’s not true,” when I made the point that no NHS hospital will carry out abortions over 16 weeks.
Well this is the fault of sound bite interview, because I would have liked to have asked her to name one.
A Parliamentary question which will be walked to the departments office on Monday morning will be to ask the minister to name all NHS hospitals in the UK which have carried out abortions over 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, weeks and the grounds upon which those terminations took place.
I will also ask the same question again, but change the words NHS to private clinic.
Information is king.
When I walked out of the studio, my daughter who had been sat outside said, “that lady was very pretty, but she was very wrong”.
“How did I look?” said I, anxiously, vain to the last. “Your hair was a complete mess,” said she, “but you were so right it really didn’t matter.” I could have kissed her into oblivion and almost did, all the way down the stairs!!
Posted Friday, 25 April 2008 at 22:56
I am not that sure what it’s for, however, I know that Sky are sending a car for me at 8.45am.
I know its to take part in a discussion and it’s pegged on the 40th anniversary of the abortion act.
That as much as I have got as I was too busy to take part in the usual pre discussion chat with the researcher today, so once again I will be winging it!
I think the debate will be on air at about 10, or 11 or 12ish even?
I have unofficially heard from both sides that the Bill is expected back to the House week commencing 12th May.
Hopefully, I will be able to announce some news of my own with regard to the 20 week amendment over the next few days.
Breakfast With Maggots.
Posted Friday, 25 April 2008 at 11:45
With Larry Heyman of First Capital Connect at Flitwick Station.
Who says my job's not glamorous? My morning started with a meeting on the platform at Flitwick Station at 7.15am.
The next few years are going to be tough for commuters like me who travel back late at night.
Some train services to my constituency are about to cease after 10.30 pm in order for new stations and platforms to be built.
With new air conditioned rolling stock in the pipeline as the end result, it will hopefully be worth the pain.
Last night was an interview with The Independent on Sunday and a quick 'what does this mean?' chat with colleagues about the fact that we are now 18% ahead in the opinion polls!
En route now to meet with tissue viability nurses - I'm looking forward to this as it will present me with an opportunity to talk about my love of maggots as an infected wound treatment.
You may sneer, however, infected wounds and leg ulcers are no sneering matter if you are the one whose life is debilitated by such things; and those little puss munchers can save the NHS a fortune, and give people their independence back which in itself is priceless!
I've just been interrupted by the BBC who want to come to the constituency and interview me - a comedian called Marcus Brigstocke says politicians "aren't normal" and they want me to prove they are, and put up the counter argument.
Do I smell a rat? If I did it would be drowned out by the aroma coming from a bucketful of maggots!
After this it's a surgery, meeting with councillors and leafleting.
Tomorrow morning it's off to Sky TV for an interview and then back just in time to open a nursing home.
I hope they've got a spare bed because after the week I've had I just may collapse onto it!
Posted Thursday, 24 April 2008 at 10:38
A little while ago I blogged that a fellow MP mentioned he had seen Mamma Mia, told me I was in it (Donna) and I mentioned that I must now see it myself (especially as I'm supposedly in it).
This was enough for Iain Dale an Abba fan, who has obviously secretly been looking for any excuse, to book four tickets.
You know how Iain has a bit of a thing about lists, top ten political journos, that sort of thing, well I couldn't believe it when the first number struck up, Iain leaned over and whispered in my ear, “that's my second favourite!” His no. 1 is Winner Takes It All, which happens to be mine too.
It was the best show. By the end we were up singing and dancing and Iain’s partner took a photo of Iain and I dancing on my blackberry.
No, I wasn't dancing ON the blackberry, the picture is in it, and I'm not showing it to anyone.
Sorry if I sound secretive, however, to fellow MP who I know is watching out for blog report - OK, I give in, I did recognise myself!
If you haven't seen the show you must, great entertainment.
Thanks Iain, a lovely thing to do. Thank you for the music!
Ducking & Diving
Posted Tuesday, 22 April 2008 at 12:39
It's a strange world here in Westminster.
As my earlier blog shows, on 12th March Stewart Jackson and I speculated that Bob Spink would defect to UKIP.
However, as you can see from the email below that Spink sent to me on 20th March, he states quite clearly that talk about him joining UKIP is "nonsense." he also states that "the people of Castle Point value honesty". Mmmm, interesting.
I suppose that 4 weeks is a long time in politics!
And then there's today's Leader column in the Daily Express by Patrick O'Flynn, the Chief political commentator, entitled, 'Brown is down and pretty soon he could be out'. The article refers to the increasing importance of the House of Commons tea room for plotting and subterfuge.
The article states:
The Conservative MP Nadine Dorries mischievously noted the habit of former Education Secretary Charles Clarke, another long-time Brown detractor, of taking tea with numerous colleagues in rapid succession.
Last week she speculated that: "It may not be long before we discover just what it is that Charles Clarke is up to while keeping the share price of Darjeeling so buoyant."
CALL it women's intuition if you will, but well done Ms Dorries! For Mr Clarke yesterday broke cover with a sensational attack on Mr Brown's closest colleague, current schools supremo Ed Balls. Clarke delivered a devastating onslaught, accusing him of attacking colleagues anonymously, being a "false prophet", bungling while chief economic adviser to the Treasury and under-performing at his Whitehall department.
Well I'm just glad I wasn't around 400 years ago, otherwise I could well have been ducked!
Posted Tuesday, 22 April 2008 at 11:05
Walking along the dark shadow cabinet corridor last night, Quentin Davies MP ran behind me and said "So Nadine, when am I going to appear? On your illustrious blog?"
I didn't have the heart to tell him.
I suppose he was busy at the time.
And now Bob Spink MP has gone and done something Stewart Jackson MP and I thought he would do, the day after he lost the whip: joined UKIP.
We Ain't Got No...
Posted Monday, 21 April 2008 at 12:43
They aren’t the first. I was educated under Labour and they failed my generation too.
I have spent this entire recess between work and cracking the whip over my daughter's revision.
Yesterday was history. Her course outline is the American West, medicine and public health through time, history around us and South Africa.
I was educated in a secondary modern which became a comprehensive whilst I was in situ.
We knew this because workmen knocked in a bright new sign at the bottom of the school drive.
They also put a sign outside the Headmaster's office which read, ‘CSE - the key to the future’.
I stared at this sign. I thought about how I would like a future and how I obviously needed this key.
I was actively discouraged from taking O’levels in the subjects I loved, English and history and encouraged to take a CSE which would guarantee my success. I refused and stuck to my O’level guns.
Looking back I realise that what was happening was a process to reduce us all to the lowest common denominator.
And it’s still happening. Labour ideology turns its face away from academic inspiration or achievement; and embraces mediocrity.
As a girl, I sat in the school library and secretly poured over history books.
Here I am going to make a few suggestions as to the subjects I think I should have been helping my daughter to revise yesterday in preparation for her history GCSE.
All of which are either about or had a major impact on British history.
I would of course be assuming that at primary school she would have already covered the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.
The below would commence at Year seven and then work up to GCSE.
Ancient Britons, Roman Occupation/ Constantine/ Religion.
Dark Ages/ Anglo Saxon settlement.
Establishment of the Celtic and Latin Church.
Viking Invasion/ Dane law.
Establishment of the English Nation.
Alfred the Great/ Norman Invasion.
Middle Ages/ lineage of kingship.
Wars with France ( Or re-name military victories)
Development of Parliamentary democracy/Magna Carta.
Simon De Montfort.
Age of Enlightenment.
Establishment of the Church of England.
Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Reformation/ split with Rome.
Establishment of maritime supremacy.
Empire/ America/ Stuarts/ Civil War/Cromwell.
Rise of Parliament.
Loss of America.
War of Austrian succession.
Defeat of Louis XIV.
The Napoleonic Wars.
Gain of India/ Republicanism.
Industrial Revolution/Agrarian Revolution.
Colonisation of Africa the World and everything
Wilberforce - Slavery abolished.
The Crimean War.
American Civil war – starvation is Lancashire (no cotton for t’ mills)
The Treaty of Versailles.
The Great Depression.
The Second World War.
The NHS & the welfare state.
But no, not a bit of it. Not one moment of GCSE history revision will be spent revelling in the amazing history of our great country. Today will be spent on the American Wild West.
The standard of history taught in our schools has greater consequences than just letting a generation of children down. It is an opportunity missed in helping those who are settling into our country to understand the culture they wish to be part of, and we wish them to be loyal to.
And if anyone is thinking that the above list is too comprehensive for children in five years, I would reply that is the defeatist attitude which got us into yesterday's Observer headline.
If solid history were taught in schools, we wouldn’t need citizenship lessons!
Whilst this particular secondary modern product has been typing this, she has been listening to Debussy’s Claire de Lune - something else they aren’t taught in schools today.
Maybe I should simply be grateful that the holiday and revision is almost over.
I spent yesterday as all mothers do, trying to get their children to revise.
I requested, asked, insisted, begged, got cross and then began screaming like a hysterical madwoman, threatening to feed the hamster to the dog if she didn’t sit down and revise.
With the hamster tucked safely in her fleece pocket, my daughter had finally had enough “Will you get off my back for goodness sake?” she said, "You are like a stuck ipod.”
"Stuck iPod?" Where did that come from? What happened to broken record?
Liverpool Daily Post and Echo
Posted Sunday, 20 April 2008 at 13:38
Iraq in the Pub Part II
Posted Saturday, 19 April 2008 at 13:48
I apologise for the number of pictures of me appearing on my blog.
Mr Brakes is insistent that every blog should carry a picture.
As with all men in all things, I won't argue, however, I will have to subject you to my ugly mug for about a week, let him think he's won, and then stop.
I can't show you a picture of the person I was with last night because if I did, it would really compromise his safety.
He's an American who works most of the time in and out of Iraq in one of the most high profile intelligence jobs there is.
As soon as the abortion debate is over I want to get out to Iraq and see for myself what is going on on the ground.
I have two bases in my constituency, I feel strongly it is something I should do.
I learnt more about Iraq last night on one dinner date, from someone who has the most dangerous and fascinating job I have ever heard of, than I have in three years as an MP.
He could tell me most of what he does, but not how he does it. His perspective on the surge and the time Iraq is going to take to heal was interesting. As I said a few days ago, Rome wasn't built in a day, and nor will be Iraq.
But somewhere in the future, the price of this war has to be a free and stable Iraq.
He told me that the statement by Hilary Clinton, to withdraw US troops a battalion at a time is not a good one..
The fewer troops on the ground, the more insecure it becomes for those who are left.
No-one would want to be in the last battalion to leave.
In his opinion, the worst thing that could happen to Iraq and the worst scenario for the Iraqi people, would be for the American people to elect a Democrat to the Whitehouse.
I told him I would like to visit Iraq.
He spent most of last night convincing me this is something I really don't want to do.
As I post this he is already over the Atlantic, having called from the airport to say goodbye and seeking re-assurance that I had given up on the idea of visiting Iraq.
I re-deployed the Mr Brakes technique.
Besides, how would he know?
Posted Friday, 18 April 2008 at 13:55
Behind the Chamber there is a room with a big oak door which says 'Lady Members' on a brass plaque.
Behind the door is a tiny room with a sofa and a yellow chair.
The chair is known as Gwyneth's chair and no one dared sit in it.
From that chair Gwyneth dispensed advice and kindness to other Lady Members. To those who were pregnant and those who were just plain fed up.
She was above party politics and treated us all the same.
When I arrived I was scared stiff of her. When I was told by another member 'not to sit in that seat' I was even more so.
On the first day I walked into the room and she was sitting in the chair I wanted to reverse, but I couldn't, it would have been too obvious. I proceeded and sat down, head up.
I swear she knew how I felt because she lifted her head up, didn't say a word and gave me a knowing smile.
She was lovely from that moment in.
The room smells of her perfume.
That chair will have to be replaced, no one will sit in it again.
CAST & CASH Meeting
Posted Friday, 18 April 2008 at 10:28
I promised to post some photos of the CAST and CASH meeting.
Unfortunately they didn’t turn out too well, however, here are two of the best.
Over six hundred local residents attended, split between two halls. I addressed one audience, and then ran into the hall next door to address the next audience, even though they were hooked up on a video link and had seen what had been said.
I still felt that even though everyone couldn’t fit into the main hall, people should at least have the opportunity to ask their own questions.
I hope a pod cast of the meeting will be available shortly.
Pod-Cast and Photos From CAST/CASH Public Meeting. 4th April 2008.
CASH campaign website.
CAST campaign website.
Posted Friday, 18 April 2008 at 10:11
Parliament has been on recess for two weeks.
I appear to be one of the mugs who hasn’t been, as I have worked, despite my best intentions to take a few days off, every day.
I was a little worried when Redborne School came during the week that I wouldn’t have anything to talk about with no high profile business passing through the House.
As it was, these kids can talk for England, especially the girls!
We had a really interesting discussion which went on for over an hour. I am so impressed with the girls from Redborne. They are full of confidence and opinion. Quite often with schools it’s the boys who tend to dominate the Q and A session. Not with Redborne.
Redborne Upper School & Community College.
Posted Thursday, 17 April 2008 at 18:27
There are many places where MPs meet guests in the House of Commons. Some are private, some not so.
Over the last few months I have noticed Charles Clarke hosting numerous cups of tea and coffee with numerous Labour MPs and Peers.
Charles Clarke is no fool, he is known as a very shrewd Parliamentary operator.
The first day I noticed his prolific tea drinking it was as though MPs were playing musical chairs .The seat next to him had hardly gone cold before another one arrived. I remember thinking in my Wind in the Willows way, “mmm, what’s occurring”? He was so obviously networking with a sense of urgency.
Gordon Brown had only just been elected leader, he hadn’t yet had a chance to warm his seat up.
As I said, the man is no fool; he could probably see the writing on the wall a long time before anyone else.
Question is, is he a stalking horse for someone else, or is his eye on the main game?
Imagine if Labour are wiped out in the local elections and Boris wins London.
What would be the method of Gordon Brown’s departure?
I reckon into hospital for tests with much media coverage followed by an announcement of retirement due to ‘a health problem’ or similar shortly after.
It will happen as a result of pressure brought to bear by a collection of Labour ministers and the party great and good paying the Prime Minister a visit. The conversation will be finessed around, jump or be pushed.
Gordon Brown is walking wounded. He has transformed himself from a powerful Chancellor, to a dysfunctional PM.
He has also become a figure of fun. That Orange blob on his head? Fake tan gone wrong. Believe me, I'm an expert.
It may not belong before we discover just what it is that Charles Clarke is up to whilst keeping the share price of Darjeeling so buoyant.
Posted Tuesday, 15 April 2008 at 16:51
This is a totally self indulgent blog.
As a result of my blog, the closest and deepest of friends from my childhood have contacted me.
Friends so close, I honestly feel for them in the same way as I do family.
There is no division of emotion. They were with me always from toddler to teenager.
Eileen rang me yesterday, out of the blue, for the first time in 30 years.
I think the last time I saw her, we were sat on a wall on the corner of a street on our estate, singing Tamla Motown harmonies.
I was as shocked as anyone could be when she called.
“I'm in court in London tomorrow,” said she, “Can we meet?”
Eileen and I were the cheeky ones on our estate. If anyone mentioned our names to a neighbour, eyes would roll heavenwards. I don't think anyone didn't know who we were, and I think we definitely knew everyone.
We were good, just high spirited and cheeky.
When she said she was in court, reverting to Liverpool stereo type, I thought oh no what has she done.
We could hardly talk on the phone we were laughing so much.
“I'm not 'up' in court” said she, “I'm a defence lawyer!!”
Today she came to Westminster and we had lunch. We talked about all the people who influenced the most formative part of my life; and who I carry around with me in my heart every day.
Peter whose mum, Aunty Olive, taught me to knit, Susan, Rita, Nikki and Tina, the Devers and all the Liverpool families I grew up with.
Mr and Mrs Mesham, who used to come back from the Labour club on a Friday night ,and wake up us girls who would all be asleep in one bed, and sing Elvis songs to us! And Nin, who couldn't say my name and called me Anadin! And Aunty Vee who made sure the Mesham girls were the best dressed.
The last few years haven't always been the best of times, but there was something about re-connecting with someone I thought so much of today, that made me feel as though I have just turned a corner. Even though that corner led straight back to my childhood and to some of the happiest and best times of my life.
The picture is of Eileen and I at lunch today. The best thing ever to have come out of my blog and worth every word to have got to this!
Feed The World
Posted Monday, 14 April 2008 at 12:38
When I became an MP three years ago, oil stood at $60 a barrel, today it is $110.
There were food riots in Haiti at the weekend and there is only nine days supply of wheat left in the world, which is waiting for the American harvest, which in itself is in decline.
Some countries in the world have banned the export of rice and others are exporting limited amounts only. The price of rice has doubled in the last seven weeks and corn, soya, sugar are all at record high prices.
This is all to do with a changing planet.
Countries like China are becoming wealthier and its populations are consuming more, especially food. But it’s not just China, the Asia economies are all expanding, every country is consuming more food.
We have all turned into grazers and munchies. Bio diversity is not helping. A drive towards bio-fuel is shooting our own food security in the foot.
Just thinking aloud here, however, how much land do we have to grow food on in this country?
Why aren’t we growing more of our own crops? How many people in the UK could be sustained by our own food production?
I think food security is going to be a massive issue in the future. If I was the minister responsible for DEFRA, I would be looking for ways to make farming sexy again. I would be thinking along the lines of how many more people can actually live and be supported by our own efforts - if that was needed - and is the UK in fact full.
Would it be wise to concrete over any more agricultural land and build houses to fill with more inward immigration, creating yet more mouths to feed?
Wouldn’t it be nice to see our fields full of wheat and corn again and wouldn’t that be the most sensible way to cut down on food miles and price?.
It's not so much feed the world as feed the country? The government may stop dithering soon and realise that to be dependent on others for energy, oil and food in today's global security climate may not be the wisest thing.
However, we have a government which has no interest in rural communities. It actively dislikes the countryside. Much of which is in Tory electoral hands and therefore in terms of government priorities, guarantees that rural communities are right at the bottom of the policy food chain.
Time for change, we need to eat.
Food for thought.
Posted Saturday, 12 April 2008 at 22:44
New figures will be officially released next week which will claim that there is no need to reduce the upper limit at which abortion takes place from 24 to 20 weeks.
I believe the research is paid for by the Department of Health. The Minister in charge of this area of health is Dawn Primarolo. Dawn is a pro-abortionist and is completely opposed to restricting the number of abortions which take place in any way and is very committed to making access to abortion much easier.
The figures average out every birth form across the UK, regardless where that birth took place.
It could have been in a field, or at the door of the best neo-natal unit, no account of circumstances is allowed for in the report.
Of course, to use the outcome of the birth of a poorly premature baby when arguing the case not to reduce the upper limit is nonsense, as 98% of babies aborted are perfectly healthy, not poorly. If they weren’t aborted they would go to term and be born perfectly normal and healthy.
I’m looking forward to shooting the figures down next week.
Three of the four reporters I have spoken to today have decided not to run the story. As one said, “my own paper has run dozens of stories of premature babies surviving and going home, these figures seem very strange”.
I suppose that’s one way of putting it.
Posted Saturday, 12 April 2008 at 12:18
If anyone were to ask me what the perks of my job are, I would be hard pushed to answer, however, today that would be easy.
My neighbour is John Shayler and he is unique.
John sometimes comes out of his front door to greet me, often after mid-night when I have worked a fifteen hour day and am trying to reverse my car into five and a half feet..
The next five minutes go like this;
John..”What the **** are you trying to*******do you *******stupid woman, get out of that ******* car. I can drive ******* better than you with my *******eyes closed, for ***** sake.
Me.. “Who on earth do you think you are talking to?”
John ..” Someone who can’t ******* drive, give me the ******* keys and **** ***”.
I throw the keys at him and storm into the house to bed too enraged to engage with him any further.
The keys are always on my door mat the next morning, car perfectly lined up in an impossibly small place.
Last night John opened a new restaurant in Ampthill, Shaylers Lounge.
He invited me to the opening night and sent a stretch Limo to collect me. So very John, so very generous.
I have to say, it is a fabulous restaurant and it was a fabulous night.
I am used to John heaping verbiage on my head and I have to say, I did enter the restaurant with a certain amount of trepidation.
I thought at the very least he would be telling the chef to take the rest of the evening off.
The seats are bucket leather seats which instantly make you feel relaxed and as though you were about to settle down to an evening of un-rushed good food.
John glided around his new restaurant like a very proud man in control of every aspect of the evening. A solo singer guitarist went well with the seats and you could see the chef prepare your food at the end of the lounge.
The music set the mood and the guitarist sang everything from Elvis to Take That.
There were a few stars on the menu which stood out. The Seafood Salad was the best I have ever tasted in any country. Those who had the Meatballs and Tomatoes raved and the absolute star of the sweet menu has to be the Strawberry Jelly infused with Tarragon and Basil.
I now know where I am going to be spending many a weekend night.
If I haven’t smashed something over the owners head in a fit of road rage that is!
Katrina, John’s wife, will be there tonight. She has worked incredibly hard, as they both have, over the last few months. You both deserve to be absolute winners.
As the guitarist sang last night,
All the stars are coming out tonight,
They’re lighting up the sky tonight,
The very best of luck to both of you.
No fleas on the BBC.... or are there?
Posted Friday, 11 April 2008 at 15:49
I have just finished an interview at home for the BBC six o’clock news.
I was in the vets with my Labrador when they rang and had to dash back home.
Being of neither the pro-abortion or pro-life lobby, one thing I have noticed over the last year is that the BBC is very pro-abortion. No surprise there then.
Pro- abortion to the point that they commissioned their own research into the public attitude regarding the upper limit at which abortion takes place, and then not liking the results, buried it.
My Labrador made a huge fuss of the BBC crew when they arrived.
The nasty rash on her back is as a result of new spring fleas picked up in the fields.
As they fussed and stroked her I went to stop them, and as the words reached the tip of my tongue, stopped.
Millie was having such a nice time!
Iraq In The Pub
Posted Thursday, 10 April 2008 at 12:28
In my local last night with friends, The Black Horse in Woburn, it didn’t take long for the conversation to get around to Iraq.
Not least because one of the people present was Jonathan Collett.
Jonathan was Michael Howard’s press secretary. He worked for Iain Duncan Smith and William Hague prior to this and as you might imagine, he knows his politics.
As part of his remit, whilst working for Michael Jonathan sat through every day and every minute of the Hutton Inquiry.
Jonathan then wrote a summary of the inquiry well before the Hutton report was released.
The conversation sparked up as a result of the statement which General Petraeus gave to Congress on Monday.
Jonathan believes that Blair lied to Parliament, to justify a legal case for the war. He argues that during the Hutton inquiry, Hutton stated that the intelligence upon which the justification to go war was based was "sporadic, patchy and limited."
Blair told Parliament it was "extensive, detailed and authoritative".
I think it is time to move on from the should we or should we not arguments and look at the Iraq we have today, and how it may improve in the future.
More importantly I think we need to set goals for an Iraq twenty years from now, and imagine what that Iraq would have been like under Saddam, and son of Saddam and son of Saddam.
Is it really conceivable now that we could have allowed such a brutal regime to have continued? Could we have sat back and watched as Iraq became a target for the fundamentalists?
A vacuum of controlled brutality, is the perfect environment from within which the fundamentalists could have operated either with the support of Saddam, or by imposing their own brand of regime change.
Iraq is an ancient country steeped in ancient history. In the grand scale of a few thousand years the twenty years or so that it will probably take to restore harmony and order will appear as a corrective necessity in the history books of the future.
A necessity which took many American, British and Iraqi lives to achieve.
The true value of the lives lost is enormous.
Without their sacrifice where would we in the Western world be in twenty years?
We look towards a positive future for Iraq, however if Islamists had colonised Iraq and controlled the largest portion of world oil, second only to Russia, where would that have left us?
Almost certainly at the mercy of people who hate us with such intensity it’s almost impossible to comprehend.
As Senator Joe Lieberman said, "They don’t want to come to the table with us, they want to blow the table up".
And for anyone reading this thinking "but the Islamists weren’t in Iraq or had any intention of moving into Iraq". Do we know this to be true? Do we not just have to open our eyes and look around the world to see what the Islamist fundamentalist’s intentions are? Do we not need to just listen to their words and teachings to understand?
By focusing our arguments on whether or not the war was legal, I think we do a disservice to the people of Iraq, who, if they were in the pub with us, would want to talk about how we make their country economically viable and secure.
They would want us to be doing all we can to make their country free and fully in the control of the people, with free elections and an accountable democracy.
Iraq belongs to its people. Not the Islamist or the West, or Saddam, but its people.
The solutions to stability, the lessons which need to be learnt, as Petraeus demonstrated with such conviction on Monday are being learnt today.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor will be the new Iraq. But in twenty years from now, even the most defiant anti-war protesters may concede that maybe, just maybe, when Iraq’s children are running around in the street with full tummies and free from the fear of brutality, when our children can sleep safe in their beds still free British citizens, that a good job was done by brave men and women.
Some who were world leaders, some who were squaddie’s. Some have paid with their political careers or parties and some with their lives, but all, whatever your opinion of should we or shouldn’t we, very very brave men.
Hysteria - ectomy
Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2008 at 12:42
I met a man today who called a woman mad.
She wasn’t mad at all. She had, however; seriously out-manoeuvred him during a negotiation.
Frankly, the way he spoke about her made me mad, but, I held my tongue. It was easy to see where his venom was springing from.
She was pretty, successful and obviously clever. Younger than him, smarter than him and try as he may, he couldn’t dispute her argument.
So, when she left the room, he called her ‘mad’.
It amazes me how often men refer to women as being ‘mad’, usually pre-fixed with 'that woman’, often when they feel threatened and can’t think of anything more intelligent to say.
What also amazes me is how of a type all of these men usually are.
They are invariably overweight, unattractive, inadequate, insecure egotists who, given their generally unhealthy disposition are probably also impotent, or have a reputation for being bad lovers.
Without exception they are men who are either professionally frustrated or have never achieved quite the dizzy heights, either in terms of profile or reward, they believe they should have.
The removal of a diseased uterus from a woman is known as a hysterectomy. Which gender do you think thought that name up?
It would appear that given the length of time that female only operation has been known as a hysterectomy, men may have been doing this for some time.
Keith Joseph was a brilliant man, with a brilliant mind, of course his contemporaries didn't refer to him as mad, but as an eccentric. Eccentric, such an endearing quality.
Thank goodness there are plenty of secure confident nice men around too!
Princess, movie star or plain old MP, you can’t win. Out fox a man, shine a little brighter and he moves straight to the inadequate male default position, you’re mad.
Posted Tuesday, 8 April 2008 at 11:46
Michael Gove had a very successful day yesterday, launching with David Cameron the Party's proposals to help restore discipline in our schools.
He also produced a very funny guide to whether your partner is too Tory, or just Tory enough.
You can access it from here on ConservativeHome
I met Michael's wife yesterday.
In conversation Michael always refers to his wife as 'Mrs G', or 'Mrs Gove.'
This has always conjured up for me an image of 'Mrs G' being small, demure and timid; a woman with a grey chignon and fluttering apologetic hands with pinz nez glasses perched on the end of her nose.
Wrong. She is gorgeous, vibrant and obviously very dynamic.
What a lucky man you are Michael! The Mrs Doubtfire image of 'Mrs G' has gone as if in a puff of smoke!
Posted Monday, 7 April 2008 at 11:23
A new website has launched today which is nothing short of pure genius.
Politics Home I am still trying to navigate around it myself, however it has all news and emerging thought from all spheres of politics on the minute.
There is a great media chart which monitors on a graph which stories are playing up or down in terms of coverage in the media.
For someone like me it is nothing short of the most amazing resource. I only hope I can get it on my Blackberry!
Posted Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 14:41
If you saw Nick Clegg on Andy Marr this morning, if you have ever been banished from the comfort and warmth of a cosy shared bed, you will have recognised that lonely, dejected, haunted, miserable look. Poor Nick.
His demeanour spoke of two things. That he knew he had hurt people he loved, and that this isn’t the end of it. His stupidity will follow his leadership and his marriage around forevermore.
Can you imagine the conversation around the Clegg breakfast table?
“Mummy, why is Daddy on the sofa/spare bed... again”?
Take your pick from the answers below;
a) Because he told me it was only five
b) Because I knew it was 30 but was not aware your father was going to share this information with the world
c) Because your father only hopes he will not be un-faithful, which kind of makes me think he may have been already… or is planning to…
d) Because I wish I had married Chris Huhne
e) Because your father is a Pratt and needs to be taught a lesson
Every woman in the country probably believes that Nick Clegg hasn’t so much as had a sniff of his marital bedroom since GQ hit the newsagents. His stupidity will have caused both he and his family, who I imagine are all decent people, damage.
Thank goodness schools have broken up for the holidays.
Having to face teachers and other mothers at the school gate could only be humiliating for his wife.
You would know that every other woman, friend or foe, will be whispering behind her hand “I would expect my husband to answer yes absolutely, without a second’s hesitation”. And of course, they would be right.
If you really do love someone and you really are committed to a marriage, the prospect of being un-faithful is one which automatically provokes a strong reaction of denial.
Unless of course, being un-faithful has maybe crossed your mind and remaining faithful is something you are battling with.
David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair - Piers Morgan wouldn’t have caught any of them out on that question.
Which in itself demonstrates, politics is for men, not immature conquest proud, bragging boys
Posted Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 09:59
Two nice things happened last night. I went straight from a surgery to speak at a meeting of 500 people in Harlington, which is just by junction 12.
The meeting was a result of the combined efforts of CASH and CAST and Mike, John, Kimberley and everyone who is putting such a huge effort into this. People Power in action.
We had a clicker, we knew the exact number. The not so nice thing was that we had to turn car after car away because there was no room in the car park and the insurance didn’t cover more than 500 people at the school.
The meeting was in protest at the proposed re-location of Luton FC with accompanying stadium and warehouses, slap bang on junction 12 right next door to Harlington and Toddington. More with lots of pictures on Monday.
The second nice thing was that my PA Pippa and her lovely husband Jonathan moved into their first new home in Harlington.
When the meeting ended, I drove round to make my first visit and to catch Pippa's mum and dad before they left. There was lots of champagne, tinned soup, black bin bags, packing cases, and laughter.
They are so madly in love those two; they will live happily ever after. Hopefully in Harlington.
Proud of their new first home, the last thing they want is a stadium as a neighbour. Needless to say, the words Stadium, Junction 12 and dead body are often spoken in the same sentence in my office!
Nothing like a nice bit of vested interest!!!!
In one of my surgeries yesterday a student from Oxford told me that in his opinion (wait for it!) MPs were a homogenous lot.
Really, I do try hard to like these guys - what is with them?!!
I told him that in my humble opinion, so were students from Oxford, but that I wouldn’t hold it against him.
Give me strength!
Get John Humphries…..Why?
Posted Thursday, 3 April 2008 at 13:36
My phone rarely goes for longer than 30 seconds without warbling. The sound I am most looking forward to hearing once the abortion vote is over, is that of my little Blackberry's sigh as it snuggles down into its pouch for a well deserved nap.
The constant emails and calls mean that my staple diet has become that of soup in a take away container in the members' tea room, this means that at least if I have to go out of the room to take a call, I can take one of my three meals of the day with me!
Yesterday I grabbed my usual and with a silent phone, joined a table of MPs.
If ever more than two MPs are in any one place, at any one time, you can guarantee they are plotting. Plotting is the favourite pastime of all MPs. It's an indigenous fault and yesterday was no exception.
As I sat down and scalded my mouth on the boiling hot soup, a plotter said “Nadine will do it”. It was a second before I realised they were all looking at me. “What?” said I, heart sinking as I knew I didn’t really want to know the answer.
“Put in a freedom of Information request to find out how much John Humphries spends on cars, entertaining, wine, accommodation, anything, it’s the BBC, it's public money, in fact do it on all of them, Marr, Paxman, the lot.”
“No point" said I. "It may be taxpayer's money, but the request will be thrown out.”
“Ah yes, but then you appeal directly to the Commissioner, all the flack being heaped on MPs would work in your favour, accountability with regard to the spending of public money can't stop at MPs.”
I suppose he is right, accountability is a transferable commodity.
However, I won’t do it. When my twenty week campaign launches in earnest, I’m kind of hoping that nice Mr Humphries may regard it as one of the more important topics of the day and want to talk about it.
Do I want to be blacklisted by the BBC? No I don’t - I can’t. I'm trying to work on a campaign which will ensure that the collective will of the people is recognised within Westminster and effect a change to an aspect of law which does all the things I talk about every day on this site.
I need the BBC. If I rouse the dragon, I may have to spend the rest of my days in Parliament looking over my shoulders and down the corridors of power wondering when he’s going to come and get me.
So I suppose accountability is not as transferable a commodity as I thought it was. Thank goodness my soup was, as another warble necessitated another lunch stood in a corridor on the phone.
Beyond The School Gates
Posted Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 17:29
This morning I chaired a session at the Westminster Health Forum Keynote Seminar: Sexual Health & Young People.
The session was entitled Beyond the School Gates: Providing Support and Communicating With Young People.
The delegates were from a variety of backgrounds, including media, GPs, policy and decision makers, the voluntary sector and civil servants.
Throughout the session it struck me that the discussion focused on dealing with the consequences of teenage sex, in the form of STIs and pregnancy; whereas the fundamental problem, the fact that sex is now regarded as a recreational pastime, no relationship required, is largely ignored.
It is a fact that first date sex is now the norm, as is sex before the age of sixteen. I hate to bore you but if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that we have the highest rate of abortions in Europe, along with the highest rate of STI’s.
So, why is the message focussed on access to sexual health advice, GUM clinics, pee in a pot drop in centres, guaranteeing treatment for an STI within 48hrs - and not on addressing why it is that in the UK we have an STI epidemic amongst our under 21s?
Why is there no focus on what is happening to the fabric of our society?
I am not saying that we should re evaluate priorities, we need speedy access to treatment when faced with rampant Chlamydia and Syphilis being diagnosed for the first time in 20 years.
Restricted access means the same infection will spread quickly within any one community rapidly if left un-treated for weeks.
But we do need a more holistic approach. Trouble is, the thorny issues of how we got here and why - the moral and ethical dilemmas - do not fit neatly into the political profile of any party; therefore questions regarding the rights and wrongs of teenage behaviour, and social attitudes towards sex, are brushed under the carpet. Much easier to focus on how quickly we can get treatment to an infected sixteen year old, than how we get the same sixteen year old to think twice before having sex again, until at least within the confines of a stable relationship.
I was surprised to see the Department of Health focusing on a campaign targeting the use of condoms. Why?
Well it took a vast amount of money, and frankly, as these posters show designed by university students for a Durex competition, Durex did it so much better. The money that the Department of Health spent on their campaign could have been used on developing a national standard for sex education within schools, which taught the principles of self respect and at least began to address the issue of values, morals and ethics within education and wider society.
The former editor of Australian Cosmopolitan told us that magazine editors take their jobs incredibly seriously.
I am sure they do. I am also sure that one of the few lines of communication into the teenager’s world is through the pages of teen magazines.
And yet, despite the title of the seminar – Beyond the School Gates: Providing Support and Communicating with Young People - outside of education, the valuable role of teenage media was hardly discussed.
I learnt a great deal this morning about the good practice happening, and the commitment of people working within this field.
It would be good, however, to see the government taking a braver role, involving the private sector, and adopting a more imaginative ethical approach.
The problem is about more than gimmicky initiatives. In some cases it’s about life or death. Each one of us, either in government or opposition, are failing our teenagers if we sit back and allow the modern day fascination with objectives, spin and targets to prevail.
Beyond The Limit (4)
Posted Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 10:21
Margaret Moran (Labour) Luton South. Majority: 5650.
Margaret Moran MP has abstained during many abortion votes, however, she has taken funding from Emily's list on the basis that she supports pro-abortion values.
As I've said before, abstention is fine if she feels that by voting for her pro-abortion beliefs she would be mis-representing her constituents. One to watch.
If you know your MP’s voting intentions, please link to the Alive and Kicking campaign web site and let them know.
Westminster Health Forum Keynote Seminar
Posted Tuesday, 1 April 2008 at 14:46
Tomorrow, I am chairing a session at the Westminster Health Forum Keynote Seminar ‘Sexual Health and Young People’. Westminster Health Forum.
Good job they didn’t ask Nick Clegg.
As an MP I am very sure, absolutely sure, what my answer would have been if Piers Morgan had asked me the same question.
Not because of my pedantic ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ Kirstin Scott Thomas type recollection of all past liaisons; but because it is absolutely none of anyone’s business whatsoever, and not information that should be in the public domain.
A smarter party leader would have known that.
By far the dodgiest answer he gave was that his wife was very happy and content. Really? Bet she’s not today.
The saddest fact is how desperate he was to ingratiate himself with the media, and be seen as ‘one of the lads’.
Didn’t work, I can’t repeat how the Westminster Village describes him today; however, I suppose it is a view which could be described as appropriate given the circumstances.