Posted Tuesday, 29 April 2014 at 13:57
The good economic news keeps on coming. Today we learnt that the economy grew another 0.8% in the past three months but everyone I speak to in Westminster knows that there is more to be done securing the recovery for everybody, but most especially our young people.
That’s why it was so heartening to read the latest figures showing workplaces employing apprentices in Mid-Bedfordshire. These show consistent growth since 2010, from 220, to 260 in 2011/2012 and now to 370 in 2012/2013.
Such access to workplace training is key to a rewarding and substantive career for many youngsters and the increase has been made possible by government reforms incentivising businesses to see the rewards they can reap by investing in a young person’s future.
So much of politics is about preserving what is good about society for the future generations and protecting them from the selfishness of our own. This is what drives government efforts to bring down our deficit and debt, why I call for more home building so our grandchildren will be able to afford somewhere to live and why more apprenticeships are so important in providing good jobs into the future.
Cranfield Residents: Object Now!
Posted Wednesday, 16 April 2014 at 13:18
The plan to install six wind turbines near the villages of Cranfield, Marston, Brogborough and Lidlington has now been filed and it is vital that residents object, here, now.
I’m convinced that in fifty years time our grandchildren will look at these turbines and laugh at our foolishness in allowing such monsters of inefficiency to blight their landscape.
My objections to the forcing of wind turbines on communities I represent are legion, but it comes down to the principle that the benefits gained are dwarfed by the distress caused. These things cause serious disturbances in their local areas.
Many kinds of background noise are filtered out by the brain but that is not the case with turbines. The non-repetitive nature of the noise, due to changes in the strength of the wind, means that people can’t ‘zone out’ the noise in the same way. It is constantly present.
Studies are ongoing into the potential dangers this causes to the health of people living nearby, but having a horror film soundtrack playing in the background of your life is hardly conducive to relaxation and wellbeing!
The location of the turbines has been determined not by finding the most efficient place for them to catch prevailing winds but entirely for the convenience of the landowners. They are being placed around the edge of a former landfill site so that the company can maximise revenue from land that they cannot otherwise use.
What is so frustrating about this case is that local people thought they had reclaimed the landscape after the closure of the landfill site. It is fantastic to see dog walkers and cyclists and parents with young children out enjoying such a great area, especially now that Spring has arrived.
If communities want to host a wind farm nearby then of course they should be allowed to do so. But given the lack of such willing victims I believe the government should be focused on investing in new nuclear technology, complemented by some renewables such as solar and off-shore wind.
At a recent public meeting I was pleased to attend it was clear that the community in Cranfield and the surrounding villages is almost unanimous in saying that they do not want these turbines near their homes. I support this entirely, having stood at the last election on a manifesto committed to the localism agenda.
Everyone who objects to this planning proposal for six turbines needs to lodge their objections before the end of the consultation. After that point it will be too late. Visit this website as soon as you can to register your objections to this ludicrous plan.
Posted Monday, 14 April 2014 at 16:10
If you want to download something to read over Easter, The Four Streets is on offer via Kindle for under a pound for a limited time...
What a Week
Posted Sunday, 13 April 2014 at 15:10
Last week I launched my first book, The Four Streets. What a week that was. I loved this review by Mark Hennesy of the Irish Times who described the book as ‘Angela’s Ashes in a scouse accent’.
Ann Trenneman of the Times got inside my head with this interview. She is so good at her job as a journalist, it's scary. I have thrown journalists out of my home. Literally. I have disinvited a book and theatre critic to my book launch without a flinch and if you had ever told me a journalist would make me cry, I would have laughed in your face. She made me cry and I swear, I didn’t even see her try.
She began the article with the fact that she had found herself reading The Four Streets in a cold bath at 11.30 at night and that isn’t something she does for work.
And I also loved the way Iain Dale, LBC broadcaster and blogger extraordinaire, in a manner both fair and accurate, summed up the appalling behavior of the Daily Telegraph journalists who wrote six negative articles in seven days. Iain provided evidence that the Telegraph rejected the original review they had commissioned by Cristina Odone. Based on her lovely Twitter comments, it looked very promising. They chose instead to hurriedly commission a review from an elderly, bearded (yes, it was a man) ex Opus Dei member who is rumored to be Latin scholar. As one of the characters in the book is a child-abusing priest, you can guess what his review was like and only wonder why.
Here is what Iain had to say;
It’s a pity that the Telegraph has seemingly renewed its vendetta against Nadine Dorries. It had commissioned columnist Cristina Odone to interview Nadine Dorries about her debut novel THE FOUR STREETS. Odone duly read the book and could hardly contain her enthusiasm for it, tweeting at 6.09pm on Monday: “Just read The Four Streets – Fab first novel by Nadine Dorries. Catholic Liverpool, irish immigrants & black secrets behind net curtains.”
Fourteen minutes later she reinforced the point, tweeting: “Well done @NadineDorriesMP on your debut novel The Four Streets – a funny and sometimes shocking saga set in Catholic Liverpool.” How very strange then that the following morning instead of publishing Odone’s no doubt very positive interview, they published a damning review by their Head of Stuffiness, Christopher Howse. You just need to look at his photo to know the kind of review he would write of a novel by a female politician. And then you need to take into account Howse used to be a member of Opus Dei. I doubt he took kindly to the storyline of the Catholic Priest abusing a young girl. True to form he gave it a one star review and called it the worst novel he’d read in ten years. Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
Clearly he’d been given a brief, and the reason? I’m told it was because Nadine had the temerity to give two interviews – on GMTV and my LBC show on Tuesday morning – in which she uttered views on MPs’ expenses which weren’t to the Telegraph’s liking. Readers may remember her criticism of the Telegraph, and the Barclay Brothers, over the original MPs’ expenses scandal. Nadine then upped the ante and withdrew an invitation to the Telegraph’s ‘Head of Bitchery’, Tim Walker (who writes their Mandrake diary column, as well as being an excellent theatre critic), to her booklaunch that evening. He responded in kind with a series of tweets which sought to denigrate both Nadine and her beleaguered publicist.
Yesterday morning he went even further in a vitriolic attack on her. To be honest he showed himself up. Nadine wasn’t taking any of it and accused him of lying. When he was caught out denying Cristina Odone had ever been commissioned to write any piece for the Telegraph Nadine posted a tweet from Odone confirming she had indeed been asked to do just that. “Telegraph asked to interview Nadine – I read the book, couldn’t put it down and told her so.” At that point Walker retired in a huff, tweeting: “Speaking purely for myself, I am bored to tears of this particular honourable member.” I am sure the feeling was mutual.
On Tuesday evening I trotted off to the InterContinental Hotel which seems to have become THE place to hold book launches in Westminster, where Nadine was hosting the launch of her book. Well, she was supposed to be. I’ve never been at a booklaunch where the author didn’t turn up until nearly an hour after it started and then made a speech which can’t have been more than about 14 words long. The shortest in recent political memory, I’d have thought. But then again, Nadine does like to do things differently. And that’s why many of us love her.
I was asked the old chestnut, ‘where do you find the time’, over and over. No male MP who writes a book is ever asked that question and the answer is very simple, my girls left home. I replaced the time I would have spent cooking, cleaning, shopping and ironing, with writing and I know which I enjoy the most. My constituency has and always will come first. My writing is a hobby. A hobby which makes me happy and I think I am a much better MP for it.
Despite how vicious many journalists have been, the 'normal' people over at Lovereading.co.uk and Goodreads.com have left lovely reviews. I am delighted to see that the book, despite having only been officially launched for five days (pre orders delivered the week before) is now at No 6 in the Kindle fiction saga listing.
I now understand why Goodreads and Lovereading exist. The genuine unbiased reader now has a platform, which is more convincing and informed than that of a journalist. This is the age of the Internet and power to the people!
The Need for Expenses Reform
Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 09:41
The events of the past week have brought parliamentary expenses back into the public spotlight, reigniting immense public anger and sparking many calls that ‘they still just don’t get it’. This is a hangover from the justified public revulsion left from the first expenses scandal back in 2009.
What should be done as soon as possible now, and what should have been done five years ago, is to abolish all MPs’ expenses. Simple grants can be made for travel and accommodation (if needed). Otherwise, all staff should be paid via a central fund and all office costs should be provided by the House of Commons stationary fund. Neither of which should be described as expenses.
There would be no meals, no furniture, no subsidised bars and in fact no extras at all. The system would be open, transparent and free from abuse.
But that should only be one part of the reform. Parallel to expenses reform, we should instigate a proper right of recall so that MPs believed to have done wrong will have to face their electors immediately, not after the passage of time when a general election rolls around.
Manifesto commitments on both these points would, I’m sure, resonate with the public in May 2015, and the new parliament formed after that election would have the new rules implemented from the beginning.
This would go a long way to proving to a cynical public that MPs do now ‘get it’, that we understand the legitimate public anger and have reformed the system to protect taxpayers’ money.
Here is a clip of me discussing expenses reform on ITV News this week.
BBC Daily Politics
Posted Thursday, 10 April 2014 at 14:41
BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show
Posted Wednesday, 9 April 2014 at 18:11
Talking about my debut novel, The Four Streets
Posted Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 12:06
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