Posted Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 09:22
This morning I am speaking at the Law Society and this afternoon giving a speech in the chamber regarding prisons, prison reform and legal aid.
Last night we were voting until 2 am-ish but before that I chaired a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society at which Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Managment, spoke about the harrowing death of the young lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian jail. Truly harrowing and I will be blogging that in much more detail later in the week.
I also had a discussion with Andrew Lansley somewhere in the wee hours, more on that later too.
Press Statement from the DOH
Posted Tuesday, 28 June 2011 at 17:44
The Department of Health have issued a press release tonight stating that the DOH wants women who are thinking about having an abortion to be able to have independent counselling. However,they do not believe primary legislation is necessary to achieve this objective.
This statement is in direct response to our amendment laid down to the Health and Social Care Bill.
My response is;
“I welcome the statement today from the Department of Health which states the intention to separate the provision of abortion counselling away from that of the abortion provider.
Legislation is required to prevent abortion providers establishing subsidiary counselling organisations in order to circumnavigate the new requirement.
This move is in direct response to the amendment laid down to the Health and Social Care Bill by myself and Frank Field MP and supported by a large number of MPs.
The statement sets out the objective to remove the financial vested interests of the abortion provider and the provision of counselling.
The statement also states that primary legislation is not necessary to achieve this outcome. If this is the case, why hasn’t this happened before now?
My intention is for vulnerable women to have access to the best possible care as quickly as possible. For counselling to be optional, independent and to present no delay whatsoever to the abortion process.
Since March, the Department of Health have denied any need for the amendment, what we now need to know is how is this objective to be achieved?
I believe that for the purpose of clarity and in order that any change cannot be easily reversed in the future, that the provision requires primary legislation. I have sought a meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss how we can best meet our joint objectives in the full knowledge that this amendment has huge public support”.
Meppershall Village Fete
Posted Tuesday, 28 June 2011 at 08:03
The weather couldn't have been better for the village fete in Meppershall on Saturday.
The Fete committee have done a great job over the last few years in turning the fete into something which is done on quite a grand scale. It is also good to see how the money raised is being spent on improving the village hall.
I opened the fete to the theme music of Jaws and the spoken introduction... just when you thought it was safe to go out... hysterically funny!
Thank you to Elise who presented me with a beautiful posy of flowers, once we had all stopped laughing! Elise won a competition to design the fete leaflet which was beautiful.
It was also great to meet up with Jean Holden, Tony Rogers and his family and all the residents of Meppershall, many of whom I have met before. A perfect English afternoon.
Behind the scenes at the BMA part II
Posted Monday, 27 June 2011 at 12:11
Tomorrow, a motion has been put before the BMA conference by the Worcester division of the BMA to reduce the upper limit at which abortion takes place (excluding foetal abnormalities).
I believe the motion is second on the order paper which means it will definitely be voted on.
Maybe the BMA will show that it is more responsive to expert opinion and the will of the general public than Parliament was when I put the same motion to the House in May 2008 and vote for the reduction?
Dr Peter Saunders has blogged on it here
and has said everything I could.
The abortion issue is one which highlights how desperately out of touch Labour are with the general public. Diane Abbott, who I like, has been talking the language of the 1980's socialist, right on, university educated elite without even realising she has been talking to herself . There may be a few thousand activists who operate mainly on the internet or in the Guardian newsroom who agree with her however, of the 65 million people who live and work in this country, you would be hard pushed to finds those who don't think that aborting babies at 24 weeks is just plain wrong.
The response I have from people everywhere I go is overwhelmingly positive. From the left wing BBC presenters to the school gate to the pollsters.
This is because people know that hospitals will be trying to save the life of a baby born at 23 weeks in one hospital room and aborting one at 24 weeks in the next.
They know babies feel pain and respond to stimuli at 24 weeks and they know that if a healthy baby of 24 weeks were aborted alive it would stand a good chance of life. Remember, prem babies are born early because something was wrong.
Lets hope the BMA will vote the right way tomorrow. The way the public would want them to. Or are they just another left wing political organisation motivated by an out of touch dated ideology?
Posted Monday, 27 June 2011 at 11:05
My weekend began at Keech Children's Hospice and on Thursday I will post a blog dedicated to something very special to do with the Hospice and Elton John. By complete coincidence, Brogborough lake were holding a fund raising weekend for the Hospice.
By invitation of John and Fran Andel, I was due to windsurf on the lake as part of the fundraiser. I think the fact that I could be seen half drowning was a bit of an attraction; however, with winds at circa 25mph it was decided that I may enjoy a light speedboat trip at around that speed across the lake accompanied by Beau the dog, in his own lifejacket.
As we set of John turned to me and said, 'this is going to be the ride of your life baby'. Not something constituents normally say to me I have to admit; however, he was right and my enjoyment was only surpassed by that of Beau, who obviously enjoyed it. That dog is a speed merchant.
Thanks for a great afternoon guys. I totally loved it.
Posted Sunday, 26 June 2011 at 16:35
I will blog the weekend on Monday, it has been so full on I need to mentally unpack it first.
A quick thank you to everyone from Meppershall - - Fran, John and everyone from Brogborough sailing club and the fundraising team at Keech Children's Hospice, all photos will be up tomorrow.
Posted Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 15:24
I now have four full on days in the constituency, right through to Sunday afternoon when I will become a Godmother to the beautiful baby girl of one of our lovely councillors. There will be some rather wet and windy things happening on Saturday which involve a) being forced into a wet suit and b) me having been a complete idiot to say yes in the first place!
Humiliating photos may follow over the weekend - thank goodness the Beds on Sunday will have gone to press before hand.
Will blog on a more serious note later.
Stondon Lower School
Posted Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 11:55
Last Saturday was the 150th anniversary of Stondon Lower School in my constituency. The celebrations lasted all weekend, not least because there was so much to see. The school had uncovered a huge amount of old documentation and information and the celebrations were opened by an 82 year old lady, who had attended the school seventy-seven years ago.
By putting the word out in the village and via letters and email over the course of last year, information has been pouring in.
Looking around the displays I recognised various constituents, such as David Simpkins, who won a scholarship when at the school many moons ago. David was the second in four generations to attend the school. Much of the information gathered will now form part of an important archive to be added to in the future.
I have to say that the most fascinating display for me were the school log books from 100 + years ago. A daily diary kept by the headmistress recording the events of the day which recorded the life of the school, complete with beautiful bindings and locks.
I am pictured with the head teacher: Mrs Jill Davies, thank you to whoever took the picture and to Jill (I have your umbrella in my car which will be returned on Friday).
Royal British Legion 90th Anniversary Concert (updated)
Posted Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 10:39
A couple of Saturdays ago I attended the 90th anniversary celebrations of the Royal British Legion at a very special concert in Flitwick village hall, which comes complete with a stage and room to seat a couple of hundred people. And the hall was packed to the rafters.
The concert was in the style of a war time music hall with local people who did the odd 'turn' putting together a show. There were singing solos, some better than others. Various musicians, a man dressed in a 1940’s army uniform playing the accordion to which we all sang ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ and other old time favourites… and we had Father Dennis.
Father Dennis was the stand up comedian and one of the funniest men I have ever heard.
I cannot say how much I enjoyed myself. The atmosphere in the village hall was fantastic, people of all ages had a great sing along and a good laugh whilst we remembered a very important time in our history.
Well done to all, the British legion and Fr Dennis. To everyone who came and supported, you put on a great evening, we all had a fantastic time and I can’t wait for the next one.
Finally, a big thank you to the non-supportive man who emailed with very helpful advice on how to extract pictures from the camera, even without a cable!
Jeremy Vine Show
Posted Tuesday, 21 June 2011 at 15:50
A split in the sisterhood?
Posted Monday, 20 June 2011 at 16:14
An interesting moment occurred today during questions to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and as a result I have a new found admiration for Caroline Flint, the Shadow Secretary of State.
As Eric Pickles answered a question he commented to Caroline, who has huge difficulty hiding her disappointment at being in opposition, that it was no wonder the left wing Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee was disappointed in her. "I’ll wear that as a badge of honour" retorted Caroline, throwing a raw steak up to the press gallery.
Well I never. So it’s not only us on the right who find Ms Toynbee’s unique brand of the politics of envy distasteful then?
My day in court..
Posted Sunday, 19 June 2011 at 12:31
I am very disappointed with the judge’s finding following the three day trial http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9092204.Plumber_cleared_of_harassing_Billingshurst_millionaire/
of a case brought to court for on line harassment.
I myself am in the position, as noted by Guido, http://order-order.com/ of being subjected to a particularly nasty form of online harassment. Mainly due to the fact that I campaign against late term abortion and for a more responsible society which allows our children to enjoy a childhood free from the influence of an over sexualised culture and for a more responsible approach to sex and relationship counselling. As an MP, I am entitled to hold those views and voice them, just as is an MP who considers that abortion should be available up to birth and neither should face the harassment I am subjected to.
My especially ‘poorly compulsive obsessive’ online stalker recently alarmed the Police enough for them to issue a verbal warning on tape at the completion of a five hour interview under caution. Following the warning, his tweets and blogs have remained monitored, as are those of people he communicates with on a regular basis. Everything is compiled to be discussed with the Police at regular intervals. There is a very substantive reason for this periodic review.
Frankly, I remain blissfully unaffected. I don’t ever read his ranting and never come into contact with anyone else in the constituency who does. I believe that to read his unrelenting utterances, allows a sliver of nastiness into my day that I just don’t need. But it does affect my staff, children, family and friends and the activists and helpers who work with me and I just can’t get my silver surfer Mum, who sits on her computer a great deal and who gets very upset,to understand that he is in fact a Mr Nobody. She thinks anyone with their own web site must be important.....except me of course.
This particular man also harasses anyone he comes across who has any contact with me by bombarding them with emails, freedom of information requests and repetitive telephone calls. He even travelled across the country, by train, laden down with cameras, computers and lights, into my constituency to a local meeting, pretending to be a local in order to film me and lied to the meeting organisers and the audience about what he was doing, until a Labour supporter ‘outed’him. The fact that he lied to the organisers about why he was there, who he was and what he was doing was recently confirmed to the Police. Also confirmed at the beginning of a You Tube video in which the chairwoman introduces him as a local man filming for the benefit of the local organisation.
He lies on the internet and repeats the same lies over and over in order to undermine my campaigns and my credibility. He fails miserably, unless of course he happens across a lazy journalist who repeats his lies. Occasionally, he gathers traction, notably with the storm he kicked up regarding my own blog. He wrote, and used Twitter to amplify the statement that my blog is 70% fiction 30% true. What he didn’t have was the whole statement or the context of that remark and indeed, he used it to pretend that my blog was instrumental in my having been cleared by the Standards Commissioner with regard to my expenses enquiry.
The blog had nothing to do with the enquiry. I was totally exonerated and cleared following a malicious complaint (no prizes for guessing who that was) on the basis of a forensic analysis of my travel and expense receipts and via a deluge of witness statements.
He also lies that I claimed a foetus ‘punched’ its way out of the womb. I did not. He repeats this lie on a very regular basis and is the main focus of his obsessive interest in me.
If I mention on my blog where I am going or who I have been with, people can be inundated with emails or telephone calls from him which means I cannot be honest on my blog with regard to names, events and people because I have to protect the innocent from his harassment. I was advised by the Met Police to obfuscate my blog because of this man, which then brought about the 70/30 blog statement problem which he exacerbated.
The majority of his followers on Twitter either aren’t very bright, or they are as disturbed as he is and I often wonder if they realise that what he states on his blog and Twitter is only part of the story. I have never been informed that he has written ‘I phoned someone Nadine Dorries mentioned on her blog 30 times today’, or, I have sent a string of aggressive emails to X after being mentioned on Dorries blog’.
Therefore, I cannot mention on my blog where I am going, only where I have been and am very careful about photographing who I have seen or tagging or naming people on photographs. I don’t mention what people have said or who they work for. I am careful about mentioning the names of anyone I am in contact with, where they live or where I am or what I am doing on any particular day, until the day is done. I hardly mention anything, because I don’t want other people to be subjected to what Ed West, of the Daily Telegraph, describes as ‘deranged’ behaviour. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100090868/nadine-dorries-is-right-about-child-sexualisation-why-does-this-make-people-so-angry/
This online obsessive certainly appears deranged as the other people he harasses in a less public way than me will testify. My local newspaper editors and journalists are well aware of him and describe him as a ‘menace’ and much, much worse. We need extra staff in my office to deal with the string of complaints lodged with the Information Commissioner and a host of other public bodies, all of which cost the tax payer money to investigate..this man obviously doesn’t work.
For the sake of the people who work for me (he has already forced one member of staff to resign) I am going to sit back as this man continues to hang himself and others that he encourages along with him, and wait for the day when I walk into my office and am greeted with a message that contains three little words... we have enough. Then, along with all the other people he has upset, disturbed, harassed, emailed and telephoned, I may just have my own day in court.
Posted Friday, 17 June 2011 at 17:01
Lemon drops and chimmney tops..
Posted Friday, 17 June 2011 at 16:19
Blondes have more fun..
Posted Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 13:44
Guido has just written an interesting blog post about a court case which may establish an interesting precedent and deliver me a day of joy.
He has just sent me a text to say the reason why he referred to me as colourful is because I have blonde hair. Hmmm....
Casual sexism is fine (if it's in the Guardian)
Posted Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 11:02
Last week the Guardian reported that Margaret Thatcher would not be meeting Sarah Palin when she visits the UK later this year. The Guardian reporter wrote that ‘an ally’ had told him ‘Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts’.
The comment was quickly exposed to be a lie by Nile Gardner of the Thatcher Foundation, via the Daily Telegraph and today by the National Review.
The irony is that the story probably only had legs due to the fact that a sexist man had written that another (implied male) had said a woman was nuts, even though that woman has achieved far more in American politics than any other woman bar Hilary Clinton. Whenever a man states a woman is nuts, mad or barking, it is believable and obviously must be true as the superior of the species has deemed it so and therefore, hail, a Guardian story is born, albeit a fictitious one.
The fact is that Margaret is 85 and frail. Her time as Prime Minister and her relentless working hours have obviously taken their toll. She missed her own birthday party at No10 earlier in the year and we had to celebrate without her. I would imagine that a decision regarding whether or not to meet with an American Presidential Candidate (as Palin may shortly be) would need to be taken on the morning of the intended day. That’s all, nothing more complicated than that.
In the meantime, the story has been run across the pond in an attempt to damage Palin, which in itelf demonstrates that there is a great deal of fear and worry around her possible bid for the nomination. This woman has a proven track record of success which every potential candidate should be afraid of.
Well done Guido
Posted Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 15:52
Guido got straight to the heart of Ed Miliband's protestations re Macmillan's position on welfare reforms. What a set up! Not only was Hobday a Labour candidate in the last election, as the photograph shows, he is also a former Labour party staffer. This raises serious questions regarding Macmillan and it's neutrality. Is Macmillan a political organisation or one focused on patient care? Whatever the situation, Macmillan has been damaged by today and it's opinion will never be treated with any level of credibility in the future.
Posted Monday, 13 June 2011 at 16:28
A bizarre letter I recieved today, with my bemused response!
Britain’s best kept secret..
Posted Monday, 13 June 2011 at 10:41
Having already flown in a simulator and a Hawk jet, I thought the experience of landing an Air Bus via a simulator would be a doddle... Wrong.
The new, enhanced simulator graphics and the strange disorientation you experience once the engines start up meant the perspiration had soaked the back of my neck and hair and the palms of my hands within seconds.
Predictably, the first time I took off ok, but it was very definitely a crash landing as I battled between the slow reaction of the heavy plane and the command controls which even though they tell you which way to move (hence being known as command), your brain tells you the opposite.
After my second, much more successful attempt, (ok, the flight engineer helped!) I chatted to some highly qualified students who are working on a project for British Aerospace at Cranfield University.
And that's the secret. Everyone in the UK thinks of Cranfield as a Business Management MBA University - and it is - one of the best; however, over the years the college has diversified, particularly into areas of air and space research and technology, and that is the secret which more people need to know about. Cranfield is growing and has earned its place on the world stage.
It is a delight to meet some of the most enthusiastic and able students and to see departments at work developing some of the most amazing technology.
Did you ever think the day would come when we would have moving runways and planes would no longer need landing gear? Neither did I but at Cranfield, out of the box blue sky thinking is the norm, as the quest to bring down the cost of air travel occupies the minds of the brightest in the world.
Posted Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 23:56
I would like to write that the Archbishop of Canterbury had been at his most controversial this week when he launched an undisguised left wing attack upon the Prime Minister, and the coalition government, however, that’s not possible when only weeks ago he proclaimed how uncomfortable he had been with the shooting of the mass murderer and most wanted man in the world, Osama Bin Laden. In 2008 we had Sharia Gate. A speech given by the Archbishop which must have deeply offended every practicing Christian in the UK.
His attack, written in The New Statesman, a socialist magazine read almost exclusively by the university educated Liberal elite, was a derogation of his responsibility to lead and unite his flock and the most transparent expose yet of the fact that at the top, the Church of England is almost wholly infiltrated and run by people who would regard The New Statesman as their own particular gospel.
There are areas of policy where politics and the church overlap, where debate should be robust and where the church and its Archbishops could speak with authority and have real influence and effect. When this occurs, Rowan Williams, has ample opportunity to speak out and influence policy, however, strangely, when such opportunities present, he is deafening in his silence as he hides away with his fingers in his ears.
MPs and congregations want to know, what does Rowan Williams think of our over sexualised society, or the teaching of abstinence in schools? What words does he have for his congregations on abortion or assisted suicide? What does he have to say about the screening of the documentary to be shown which next week which will shows us a man’s dying moments at a Dignistas clinic in Switzerland? What does he think of embryology research? Silence. Nothing, nada, not a word.
As these opportunities arise, as Parliament debates the thorny issues rooted in moral Christian belief, the priest says nothing. As MPs look to the church to speak to its congregations they face a press release black out from Lambeth Palace.
And yet, the Archbishop feels it is his duty and place to launch an attack on the amazing policies put forward by Iain Duncan Smith to lift a million people out of poverty, on the coalition education policies which would allow the creation of a greater number of free, faith schools and an attack on the NHS reforms which aim to transfer funding from the temple, as in Whitehall, into the hands of GP’s who are closer to the patient. To be fair, he attacked the war on Iraq, but so did most of the Labour party and so that thinly veiled attempt to cover up his personal bleeding heart socialist beliefs just didn’t work. He described the ‘Big Society’ initiative as stale and yet failed to acknowledge that the retreat of the church from our communities into its own ivory alters, is what has left a void within communities. A void the Big Society initiative is trying desperately to fill. The coalition, Archbishop, is trying to do the job in which your church has failed and is that maybe what has irked? That the Big Society policy has shone a light over the lazy failings of a rather wealthy established church?
He writes that the country is ‘gripped by fear’ in the face of the coalition policies. No Archbishop, your congregation, the ordinary people of this country, those who don’t read the elitist magazine in which you chose to write your words of poor wisdom, they are fearful that their children will inherit a debt that the previous Labours administration has left. They were fearful of a failing NHS and the inability to get their children into a decent school. The polls indicate quite clearly that they are not gripped by fear of the coalition policies and your sensationalist headline not only has no evidence to back it up, but is in fact a blatant attempt to whip up a discontented fear, where none at present exists.
Rowan Williams defenders argue that the Anglican Church is broad with very divergent opinions. This may be the case, however, church goers across the country scream out for guidance. A church to lead and one they can follow. They want and need continuity and conformity, basic tenants upon which the church is based. That’s why they attend church because otherwise, they may as well stay at home and pray in isolation. They want their church leader to reflect the teaching of Jesus and to spread his word into the wider community. To influence policy in the way Jesus would do if he were here today. What people don’t want is an Archbishop hijacking their church as a platform for his own Sharia friendly, socialist, personal political views.
In his article he wrote that no one voted for the coalition or its policies. In 2010 the Conservative party alone took a greater proportion of the vote share than Labour did in 2005. The coalition with the Liberal Democrats, represents a far greater proportion of the electorate and is introducing a truly broad church of policies.
The buzz word around Westminster is ‘Who will rid us of this troublesome priest’. The answer is ultimately his flock, as they stay at home week after week. The Archbishop is feeling the effect of true democracy as they let him know what they think of his ridiculous uttering’s, with their feet.
A day of joy and tears
Posted Friday, 10 June 2011 at 11:55
We have been fighting a hard battle in Clophill in my constituency (see previous blog) and this morning I heard we had won.
However, I heard in a rather unusual way. Sat in Flitwick Library in the middle of my surgery, a lady suddenly jumped up from the computers, ran over to me and, holding on with both hands, started kissing my face and thanking me - It took me off guard for a few seconds until I realised that she was one of the residents who would have been the most affected by an adverse planning decision which would have, in effect, destroyed the environment in which she lived. She was overjoyed and brought me news regarding the reaction of other villagers - I'm overjoyed too.
Within minutes, the phone rang and we heard another piece of good news. For months now we have been trying to secure the funding for Daniella, pictured above, in order that she can continue her education in an environment best suited to her needs.
It's been a hard battle with a few disappointments and obstacles along the way. The final appeal hurdle came on Tuesday morning and its been a nail biting few days since.
The phone call was from Danniela's Mum to say we had won and that she will be taking up her new place in September. That really is joyous news and so within minutes we've gone from kisses to tears. It's a great job some days.
Posted Friday, 10 June 2011 at 11:20
Last night's Newsnight
is now on iplayer in which Nadine debates with Ben Bradshaw the role of religion in public life and the remarks of the Archibishop of Canterbury.
. Nadine is on from 38 minutes in.
Tower Block of Commons Update
Posted Thursday, 9 June 2011 at 14:28
I thought I might post an update on Jonathan, the young man I lived with for a while on the South Acton Estate and who moved so many during the Tower Block of Commons TV series.
We have kept in touch since the series was filmed – the only anxious times having been when Jonathan has lost his phone!
He is an extraordinary young man who has an extremely challenging and enquiring mind. He has spurned all political parties and all religion, believing that political parties operate like gangs and that, in fact, the biggest party is made up of the majority of those people holding heart, home and soul together. People worried about paying the rent or feeding the kids.
I told him about my comment on yesterday’s blog and about Diane Abbott’s comments belonging only to the socialist, university educated, feminist elite and that the vast majority of people, especially women, don’t agree with her views.
Jonathan brought me a nice message of support from his sister who now has a baby daughter and is concerned about the type of over-sexualised society her daughter is to be raised in.
I am delighted to report he is in full time work, living at home with his parents whilst he gets back on his feet, planning his future and looking forward to attending his first ever festival this summer.
A very Illiberal conspiracy
Posted Wednesday, 8 June 2011 at 12:26
On Monday night, Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy, called a secret meeting at a secret location (actually, not as secret as he thinks!) to discuss a strategy to ‘stop’ me.
Apparently, the problem is that I am too successful in nudging public opinion. The New Statesman reader’s poll which stated that 53% of its readers agreed that abstinence should be taught in schools has been found to be particularly irksome to the extreme left wing feminist, groups.
In the words of the song, ‘they ain’t seen nothing yet’.
In the meantime, Diane Abbott described the inclusion of the non-denominational charity ‘Life’ on the government's sexual health forum as a "dangerous’ move”.
Why would that be? Life is a charity which - amongst many other things - runs homes around the UK in which they look after women who are pregnant, but don’t want an abortion and who have nowhere to go and no one to support them. The charity does the most amazing work and a quick look at its web site will confirm the extent to which their knowledge and experience means they absolutely should be at the table.
A position that only abortion providers should sit around the table, is a truly dangerous point of view and one which is extremely harmful to women.
I like Diane very much indeed, but she really does need to move with the times. We are no longer chanting the ‘right on’ mantra of the elitist university graduates of the 1980’s. Real women, those who are not motivated by political ideology, want real choice and the last thirteen years just haven’t given them that.
All that is about to change.
Things you never thought you would hear me say.....
Posted Monday, 6 June 2011 at 23:42
For never was a story of more woe...
Posted Monday, 6 June 2011 at 10:58
My morning began with radio interviews regarding the re-make of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by the great Julian Fellowes, starring 14 year old Hailee Steinfeld.
I will admit to being a Shakespeare purist, I love Shakespeare. I like to see Macbeth set in the middle of a mock wood, not on a minimalist black and white habitat-esque stage. I want to see it as Shakespeare meant it to be seen and there is no doubt that Shakespeare saw Juliet as being fourteen years old. A story of an all consuming teenage love wildly beyond all reason, two star crossed lovers, which ends in death.
The problem is, Julian Fellowes has scripted a graphic nude love scene using a fourteen year old actress with a nineteen year old male lead and I am afraid that is just wrong on a number of levels. It would be much more appropriate to use an older actress who looks younger. Am I arguing against myself? I don’t think so. The artistic situation created by the Bard is unique and should be seen within its own context of a sixteenth century play when there were no laws regarding underage sex and no welfare state.
The scene and the age of the actress will become the focus of the film. The talk will be all be of the underage actress and the message will be one that will romanticise to all young girls what is, in fact, under age sex. In a world of AIDS, Chlamydia and single parenthood, where we already have the highest number of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe and the highest numbers of abortions, that is not a responsible message to put out.
In light of the report published today which sends a serious message to all those involved in the over sexualisation of society and the effect it is having on our young people, I hope Julian Fellowes takes heed.
One also has to question, given that the Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet must still be the greatest, the most artistic and pure, is Fellowes looking for his own platform on which to challenge Zeffirelli for that crown and just going one step too far?
Update... The 'haters' as they are now known in my office, are attempting to state that the actress in the Zefirelli film was fifteen and therefore what is the difference between Fellowes and Zeffirelli? My response is this... read the script notes as appeared in the Sunday Times. In the Zeffirelli film, there is no fourteen year old being undressed until naked and no simulating sexual intercourse. There is a huge difference between the sensitive way Zefirelli portrayed a delicate scene and the graphic way Fellowes has chosen.
The Today Programme and Any Questions
Posted Saturday, 4 June 2011 at 22:09
Any Questions and Flowers
Posted Friday, 3 June 2011 at 10:39
Whilst my colleagues enjoy a relaxing weekend before returning to the fray of Westminster, I am off to Newport in Gwent for Any Questions. However, first I have to say a public thank you to the lovely gentleman who sent me flowers following The One Show.
I shant embarrass him by mentioning his name, but the flowers are beautiful and have truly brightened up my office.
You see, it’s not all public humiliation, false accusation and attack in this job, it has its nice moments too!
Champagne and Strawberries
Posted Wednesday, 1 June 2011 at 16:32
The New Statesman is a publication of strong opinion. The socialist-Spectator, sans Pol Roger, it sometimes has very strong opinions about me.
Not that I'm complaining mind (yes, I know, Eyore is a favourite). However, being savagely torn apart, disemboweled, humiliated and publicly mocked comes entirely complimentary with the MP turf and I am more used to it than most.
But when a publication which is politically opposed to you produces a poll which supports your position, its a bit like sinking your teeth into a sweet fat juicy strawberry which has first been dipped in melted Belgian chocolate. It's SO good.
Prior to Newsnight last week a friend tipped me off that a New Statesman poll had found that 53% of its readers agreed that abstinence should be taught in school.
That's not 53% of parents, Catholics, nuns, or chastity belt wearers - but 53% of the Socially liberal left readers of the New Statesman.
What can I say to top that? Pass me the Pol Roger to wash down that strawberry!
Link to the poll