A Fine Romance…
Posted Monday, 30 July 2007 at 09:45
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Many of my constituents know my PA, Pippa Rowen, well, although they will have never met her, Pippa is the kindly voice on the end of the phone, the one some constituents telephone four or five times a day during times of intense problems or stress.
On Saturday Pippa married Jonathan at Derby Cathedral and became Mrs Pippa Collett.
Pippa and Jonathan met during the 2005 general election when Jonathan was working as press officer to Michael Howard and working a 16 hour day – Pippa was working for central office as a volunteer, dressed up as a groundhog following Charles Kennedy around the country with placards. Not exactly the ideal setting for a romance to begin, but begin it did, demonstrating beyond doubt, that love will triumph all adversity!
It was probably the best wedding I have ever been to. Jonathan and Pippa are two of the happiest, nicest people you could wish to meet and that came through on Saturday with the huge amount of goodwill and affection shown towards them by family and friends.
Michael Joy and Tony, you did your children proud, it was a fabulous day. Drinking Pimms outside by the lake and fountain accompanied by a Jazz quartet was the perfect way to start the reception and it just got better from there on in.
The quote of the day has to have come from Baroness Peta Buscombe who said over the huge roast beef lunch, "God I love these Northern weddings, down South you get a glass of Champagne a couple of canapés and told to bugger off – this is fantastic”!
The best man read out a note of congratulations from David Cameron and then Michael Howard. David commented in his note that when he said he supported marriage he hadn’t expected everyone to rush off and get married! (A number of the staff in his office are doing the same thing this summer).
Everyone wishes Jonathan and Pippa all the happiness life can bring, but if you had seen them on Saturday, you would know, it’s theirs for the taking.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
This is my last blog until September. I am taking part of August off to invest some time in my girls. The office are going to post some of the more memorable photographs from the year which we haven't put up yet, starting with one from the wedding. That's just as soon as Tom can get his act into gear and find the lead for his camera!
I hope you all have a fabulous summer!
Posted Friday, 27 July 2007 at 14:39
I wish I hadn’t said I would blog today! I am preparing at the moment for any questions tonight, which goes out live to the nation on Radio 4 at 8pm.
Am I bothered? We are only nine points behind in the polls today and everyone seems to be out to get David Cameron, big time!
When I was asked to appear on this programme a few weeks ago we were ahead in the polls, which just goes to show how quickly fortunes can change.
The decision was made re unitary authorities on Wednesday. I am amazed at how many people are putting a spin on the anouncement, however, this is what the decision by the local Government Minister - John Healey MP - actually means.
Along with eight other proposals, Bedford Borough Council has been given the go ahead for unitary status. A proposal by Bedfordshire County Council to become a unitary Council was unsuccessful, meaning a new single tier Council will also be created for the Central Bedfordshire area. The Government intends that the new authorities in Bedfordshire will be fully up and running in 2009.
The priority now is to ensure that all local authorities in Bedfordshire work closely together to ensure that the creation of the new single tier councils takes place as smoothly as possible. Change can always be difficult, but we must make sure that everyone involved in this process is focussed on creating real and long term benefits for local people.
Having just a single tier of local government will lead to greater transparency and make it easier for local residents to know which authority is responsible for delivering services in their local area. After initial set up costs the savings will run into millions of pounds for local residents.
Westminster Hour, Any Questions and Equality
Posted Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 12:18
I have just completed an interview for BBC Radio 4's, 'The Westminster Hour', which will be broadcast a week on Sunday. I would have been nervous about this a week ago, however, the prospect of Jonathan Dimbleby and Any Questions, which is broadcast on Friday evening and Saturday morning, kind of makes the Westminster Hour feel like a walk in the park!
The interview was about women in Parliament - my view is unfortunately out of step and may be seen as unfashionable with some, however, I am totally convinced I am right and therefore I will not budge.
The broadcaster put to me that isn’t it the case that in Parliament we need an equal number of men and women; that we need true equality and that women MPs are needed to deal with women's issues whether or not they realise it.
Well what is equality?
Inflexible long working hours, and the anti-family culture in the form of having to live away from your home four nights a week and then working in your constituency a further two days, means that the number of women who aspire to become MPs is limited - it was ever thus and always will be.
Politics is a fierce working environment; it takes a long time - unpaid - to get here in the first place, oh and whilst your working at trying to get here there is no guarantee you will succeed.
Hide your head in the sand and ignore it, or accept that women are still mothers and homemakers and you will begin to understand the problem.
Women are the cohesive glue which binds family, communities and society together - and the majority of them like to sleep in the same house as their children and the same bed as their partners for most of the week, most weeks of the year, because that’s what normal people do.
I fully accept that the scenario is slightly different for those female MPs who have London based constituencies, or for those local Associations who don’t mind their MP living in London with their family - however I suspect that those type of Associations are few and far between.
This means that the profile of women who do aspire to become MPs can be limited.
I put this point to the interviewer; if you have half men and women MPs, and the majority of the women MPs are London based, single, City Lawyer types, are those female MPs any more able to deal with the problems faced by a mum on a Liverpool council estate who cannot get a special needs placement for her child, than an MP who is a man, with a special needs child?
I think not. So I ask again, what is equality? What is the point of setting arbitrary targets? Who benefits?
We also spoke about all women shortlists, to which I am totally opposed. I could never hold my head up if I had entered this place by having been given an advantage in order to get here just because I was a woman – it would rob me of my dignity and pride.
I suppose that my main message to the interviewer was this, if you want to be an MP you have to accept that it is a tough and aggressive environment, it's not always nice, but despite that, it can be the best job in the world.
Come here because you want to serve your local community and your country; come here because you have a proven track record of achievement and can give back something of what you may have learnt or picked up along the way. Come here because you have an ability to relate to and understand the problems faced by your constituents on a day to day basis, but don’t come because you think the numbers need to be made up!
David Cameron has opened a door which was almost shut, and said to women come on in. The Conservative Party's Women to Win scheme has held the hand of women as they walked up the path which lead to the door, but women in the Conservative Party have walked through that door alone and unaided. They have crossed the threshold as a result of their own abilities and on their own merit - and long may that be the case.
Equality is a level playing field surely? To be given the same chance as anyone else - of whatever background or gender - to shine in an equitable environment. Since when has it been about fixing the numbers?
I would post a picture here that was taken the moment I was selected to become the MP for Mid Beds. It was taken by Ellee Seymour. Whereas Ellee may be an excellent blogger, she is a rubbish photographer and therefore I will save you the pain of posting that picture!
Tomorrow I will be blogging on what the new council structure will mean for Bedfordshire.
An Intern Leaves
Posted Tuesday, 24 July 2007 at 15:20
Sad day, an intern leaves. One of the ways an MP runs a fast pace office is to employ an army of keen and enthusiastic helpers. It’s always easier when the universities are on holidays, but there are times during the year when we get stuck - we never seem to have enough staff.
The problem with employing interns, is that you get used to them; they become part of the team. When the three or six month term is up you are sorry to see them go. Today is one of those days as Rowan answers his last telephone call.
Helen his replacement is already in place. I suppose one day I will get used to such a fast change over of peripheral staff. They all bring, and take, something very different from the experience.
We have watched some grow and become more confident before our very eyes, and others decide upon their future careers mid term. They have all been excellent. We will never forget Jason, accompanying me to attend a joint meeting of chief police constables to take notes.
It was a day we had an important vote and I was delayed in the Chamber. Jason, from Boston USA, overheard the Chief Police Constables discussing, whilst they were waiting, various statistics, which Jason knew were wrong. He told them so. They incorrectly assumed he was some form of special adviser and entered into a full scale debate with him before I returned.
A young man has never been as glad before, or since, to see me walk into the room!
And then there was Jenny, Salma, Tom and of course Skye. But I will leave anecdotes about them for a future blog!
We all wish Rowan good luck in the future, and so now, over to Helen – does she know where the chocolate lives?
Posted Monday, 23 July 2007 at 10:34
There are many children in the UK who take on a ‘caring role’. They may have parents who are ill, disabled or suffering from mental illness.
Just two people support and help seventy young carers in Bedfordshire and they do a fantastic job. Friends and relatives were drafted in to help look after the handful of young carers who came on the Safari day. Sadly, they couldn’t stay for the tea at the end because they had to get back home. Caring for someone who is ill is a seven day a week job, and it’s much harder when you are only eleven years old.
If there are seventy known young carers in Bedfordshire, what does that work out to country wide? I know this; these children are saving the tax payers and the state a fortune, and in some cases paying for it with their own childhood.
The young carers who joined us were great - full of beans and good fun. The members of staff from Woburn Safari Park knew just how to relate to them and gave them a fantastic day. One member of staff in particular went above and beyond what was required and I would like to say a special thank you to him.
And yes, I did see the boys escape from the monkey enclosure – but at least they closed the gate behind them!!
Posted Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 14:02
Whoops, I have just been told off for not updating my blog and letting people know what has happened to the kids!
Middle daughter had been stuck in Pershore, having diverted from the M5 and took the road out to Evesham, bad move.
I watched Sky News almost non stop and have given her updates, she has now been picked up from dry land and is on the M1 on her way here.
The youngest and her friend spent last night in a dry house in Stratford and are also now on the M1 on the way here. The friend will be living with me for a little while until the house dries out!
Sky News, as always, whenever there is a catastrophe, a trapped Whale or a Noah type flood, came into its own. It really has got the edge in terms of continuous minute by minute reporting – a great help to me over the last 24hrs. I knew more about what was happening via the Sky helicopter and reporters than my daughters who were trapped!
So, all is well, they will be home safe and dry in about an hour. I can’t get hold of many of my friends, phone lines are dead and I assume mobiles out of batteries. Worrying.
Time to start drafting commons questions. The government was obviously unprepared for this; I suspect the Environment Agency, who has issued warning after warning about the problems which will occur if we continue to build on flood plains, weren’t.
England Is Drowning..
Posted Saturday, 21 July 2007 at 10:26
And my children are in the thick of it, mud that is.
My middle daughter and her boyfriend abandoned his car last night and spent the night in a Civic Centre, recipients of the three S’s – sleeping bag, soup and sandwiches.
Fortunately for them, half an army battalion were also trapped and spent the night with them. The last phone call, from someone’s empty office in the Civic Centre, was to inform me that they, the army my daughter and the boyfriend, were off to explore how to get out of the town they are trapped in, and to try and find an open un-flooded road.
My youngest daughter and her friend were sent home from school early. They waded through knee deep water to her friend’s house, it took them hours, helped by firemen with ropes across the roads and various friendly locals in Range Rovers and tractors.
They arrived at the house, which they thought would be dry, to discover the water beginning to rise rapidly in the kitchen – so two exhausted girls had me, from a BBC studio, being viewed by the staff of the Today programme, barking instructions to take water, food and any photos or expensive items upstairs quickly.
The friend’s mother was trying, wading in now waist high water, to get to them. She had so far taken two hours to walk 500 yds, with the assistance of firemen telling her to go back. She wouldn’t, she wanted to get to the girls.
I phoned the girls back to say that not me, but the other mum, the one who wasn’t 100 miles away in dry safe London, the one who was being swept down a high street, now up to her armpits in water with a couple of firemen and the RAF chasing her trying to stop her, would be with them any minute!
Just before the mobile phone went dead my youngest said “mum, can we still get the Harry Potter book tonight?"!
I have just had a text from two close friends, Carol and Les to say that they are wading around their bungalow knee high in water. Their home is also their business as they run a B+B.
Toby another friend is trapped upstairs in his house. Tobe’s, I know the phone sockets are flooded and your land line is down, however, I know the computer is upstairs, so if by any wild chance you read this – help is on it’s way my love!
And I sit here, in dry safe Woburn – knowing that many of the people I know are trapped in the school, which has no electricity now and no phones working either. How awful can it be?
I think I may have a few more house guests than I reckoned on staying here this summer!
On The Record
Posted Friday, 20 July 2007 at 16:28
I had to come into London today to film a discussion with Diane Abbott MP for ‘On The Record’, which goes out at various times on BBC Parliament tonight and over the weekend.
The discussion was about the statement made by Harriet Harman in the Chamber earlier this week.
Diane, as is her customary trademark, was dressed all in Black, I wore cream. I immediately thought of the box of chocolates, ‘Contrast’, as I sat down.
Melissa, the presenter, introduced us as "two of the most formidable women in Parliament." I looked behind me, was someone else in the studio? Was she talking about me? I am definitely a soft centre compared to Diane.
However, I think I did OK!
I am slightly concerned about ‘Any Questions’ next Friday though. Give me Diane Abbott fifty times over to Charles Moore, Peter Tatchell, Jonathan Dimbleby and heaven knows who the rest of the panel are going to be!
On Monday I am going to blog about young carers, with a fantastic photo of the group who came with us to Woburn Safari Park.
Reasons to be cheerful, 1..2..3…
Posted Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 14:49
Last night I went to an awards dinner and was seated on the same table as the BBC’s Political Editor, Nick Robinson. The conversation veered towards, will he/won’t he go for an October election. In Nick’s words, my assertion that the PM will almost definitely go for an autumn election is ‘tosh’.
I tried to convince myself on the way home that Nick is right and I am wrong. Didn’t work – every bone in my body yells September/October, and here, in a bit more detail than last time, is why.
The economic future for voters is dodgy. Personal indebtedness is higher than we have ever known it before. Some of those who are fortunate enough to own their own homes, have little equity left in their property. Borrowing against home equity is OK, as long as the property market remains buoyant. We have just seen another interest rate rise, another is on the way, and there may be more - people are really beginning to feel the squeeze.
Giving authority to the Bank of England to set interest rates may appear to Gordon Brown to have been a good idea ten years ago, I can’t help wondering whether or not the PM thinks he may have shot himself in the foot; a political lever, pulled by many a Chancellor over the years for political advantage, has gone. The measure so astutely put in place to remove him from any blame in the past, may end up frustrating him hugely in the future.
Many are predicting a property market crash in the New Year. This has been on the cards, as it always is in an overheated market, for some time, however, supply outstripping demand has forestalled this catastrophe, until now.
The main argument at the table last night, which included other eminent journalists, Peers, oh, and I almost forgot, the political commentator, Iain Dale (joke Iain, thanks by the way) was that Gordon Brown has wanted this so badly and waited for so long that he isn’t going to take the chance. I would argue that he isn’t going to take the risk of only being the PM for two years. He is very well aware that if he waits two years, the likelihood of him being re-elected with a workable majority will erode, month by month as people begin to tire of his dourness and seriousness.
In a political world that is more image conscious than ever before, Gordon Brown just doesn’t cut the ice when it comes to charisma, personality or charm.
Going for an Autumn General Election will not be taking a risk; it is in fact the safer option.
A head of steam is beginning to build, driven largely by the vote in the House of Representatives in the US, to withdraw troops from Iraq. A catastrophic move which would have devastating consequences, however, as with most things, the idea is beginning to catch on over here.
The American elections are just over a year away (as in term times). A Democrat victory is likely; they already have control of Congress and are pushing for troop withdrawal. American opinion wants the boys – and girls – home - both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are plugged right into that opinion. Hillary has said “It is time for us to move our troops out of harms way in the middle of the Iraqi civil war”. (Hillary voted for the war by the way.)
Now, Gordon Brown has one big vote winner, one policy announcement likely to push him through the 40% poll barrier, which is to announce the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. If he waits and makes such an announcement after the next American Presidential elections - whoever that may be – wouldn’t that make him look like a poodle?
Knowing Gordon Brown, don’t you think that if Tony was seen to follow Bush, he may wish to be seen as the one to lead Clinton/ Obama? Whereas Tony could be portrayed as a man who took us into a war with less than honour or truth, Brown could be portrayed as the man who saved our troops and took us out.
A hero, who will emulate serious decency and conviction, and no ghost of Kelly to haunt him in the night, will shine like a beacon on the world stage.
Once the troops are home, how loud and insistent would the cries for an Inquiry into the Iraq war be then?
Would he make such an announcement at conference? Well, having spoken to one of the most popular past leaders of the Conservative party, a lot can go wrong at conference.
Remember Walter Wolfgang and the security men at a past Labour conference? He was the elderly man being detained under terrorism law, because he heckled during a speech by the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.
Remember Neil Kinnock falling over on the beach? No, he won’t risk a conference, and he won’t let the Lib-Dems have theirs either. Conferences can be good or bad, you never know the Lib-Dems may break the habit of a lifetime and have a good one.
Which brings me on to another point: what if the Lib Dems replace Ming - which is highly likely - and Nick Clegg or some other youthful, good looking, energetic, Cameronesque leader takes over the Lib-Dems? All those voters who voted Lib-Dem because they didn’t like Tony and may have gone back to Labour may decide not to change after all. Even worse, serial Lib Dem voters may vote Labour to show solidarity and support for a man who talks their talk, and walks their no war walk.
And of course there are boundary changes which will put Labour at a disadvantage in some areas next time.
I could go on and on listing the various reasons why I think he will go - but it will become a very long blog and my lunch time is over – I’m back to the Committee - more tomorrow….
Posted Thursday, 19 July 2007 at 09:29
If I had to choose one moment of the safari day that was just a little bit special, or one that I will remember for a long time to come, it would be this one.
Billy No Mates
Posted Wednesday, 18 July 2007 at 11:56
How I would love to repeat the tea room gossip on my blog, however, if I did, I would become ‘Billy no mates’ over night. We all understand that tea room rules apply.
Yesterday was a particualy juicy day. More to do with the fact that it was also the Queen's garden party and lots of MPs attend. They all rolled into the tea room (I wasn’t invited this year!) some still in their coats and tails looking for all the world like the Queen's chauffeur, all in good spirits full of palace tit bits and many a faux pas. I am not the only one who is accident prone it would appear!
The day got worse however as one of my nightmare scenarios unfolded.
I was supposed to be presenting awards at Robert Bloomfield School in Shefford last night. News of Lords' amendments to a Bill began to filter through and I realised my timing to get back to the constituency was getting tighter and tighter.
I telephoned the Whip in charge of such matters, and explained my situation and where I was supposed to be, at length, hoping he would say that I could be slipped from the vote and get the train back to Bedfordshire. His reply was, “ Nadine, you will be at the vote tonight, not being there is not an option, your parliamentary duties must come first.”
I responded with a “so that’s a no then?” and realised I was talking to a dialling tone.
Still completely stressed out, I kept running in and out of the Chamber trying to work out how many more people were going to speak, were the government going to be difficult and spin the section of business out for the full three hours, would I just be able to make it?
Of course, I didn’t and had to depend on the Head Teacher, Adrian, giving my apologies and explaining why I couldn’t attend and had to let everyone down.
He apparently gave a lovely little chat about my tractor incident, thanks Adrian! Can’t wait to see you again!
As with all stories, every cloud has a silver lining and the late vote meant that I could attend the 2005 in-take thank you dinner for Michael Howard which began at 9pm.
Daniel Kawczynski and Stephen Crabb are two of the nicest MPs in our in-take. The thank you dinner for Michael Howard was their idea, they organised it all, because that’s the kind of decent chaps they are.
I was very lucky to be sat next to Michael and gave the vote of thanks, following a thoughtful and funny speech by Daniel and then the presentation of a framed photograph of the 2005 in-take on our first day by Stephen.
Michael Gove MP then stood up and gave me a very funny impromptu vote of thanks, for my vote of thanks. Remember what I said recently about whenever I am with the 2005 in-take how they tease me, I rest my case!
Posted Tuesday, 17 July 2007 at 10:27
To anyone reading this who is a parent with school aged children, you will know exactly what I mean when I say how hellish the mornings can sometimes be!
Fights over breakfast, lunch boxes and last minute attempts at homework. Squeals and strops halfway to school at the realisation of a forgotten sports kit or project - and that’s on a good day, when everything is going well.
Imagine what it must be like to have to start at 6am, to begin the routine of washing, toileting and feeding – every day, seven days a week.
I spent time talking to Lianne, her father and her very able active little sister on Thursday during our special day at Woburn Safari Park.
When Lianne meets you, she takes a few minutes to register your face; she locks on to you with her eyes, and if she likes what she sees, treats you to a dazzling smile. She took immense pleasure from seeing the animals and I think she was stimulated by the excitement which was generated by being in the company of lots of other people, and the overall buzz of the day. What was also fantastic was that her little sister had a treat and really enjoyed it also.
Lianne’s father knocked me out with his obvious love and devotion for his daughter.
If Lianne likes you, she dazzles you with her smile, but it’s nothing like the smile she has for her dad. When he leans over and tells her that he’s hers forever and she is the one he loves, the look she gives him puts a lump in your throat.
When my daughter complained about having to work all day on Sunday on her textiles project and had a major strop about having to work and not going for a swim, I wanted to shout at her and tell her how lucky she was. But what was I going to shout about? That I was being put through an afternoon of teenage nonsense and moodiness? That she should count herself lucky? Would she understand what I was talking about?
I thought of Lianne’s father and his devotion and patience, and felt very selfish indeed.
I packed the bag and we went for a swim - life’s too short for projects and shouting.
Posted Monday, 16 July 2007 at 21:18
I messed up and left the disk with all the photographs on at home so couldn't do what I wanted to do today. However, I am going back to the constituency tonight, and will have the disk back in London first thing in the morning.
Appologies everyone. If John the photographer is reading this....er.....what can I say?... you all told me so?
New Blog Arriving Soon - Honest!
Posted Monday, 16 July 2007 at 12:14
I will be blogging later today - too busy at the moment!
Posted Friday, 13 July 2007 at 12:14
I first met Kim eighteen months ago, when I presented her with an award at Wootton Upper School; the award was for all she had achieved through toil and determination, as a child with special needs in a mainstream school.
Kim joined us on our special day yesterday. There was nothing political about yesterday. In fact, one parent asked me, which party I belong to, and I said “I’m not telling you, I’m everyone’s MP, until an election is called”. I didn’t want to talk about politics or anything which would distract from the focus of the day, which was to give the children a wonderful time – and my goodness – the staff at the Safari Park certainly made sure that happened.
I am going to blog about the day over the weekend, mainly because I can’t do it justice in one blog, or show you enough photos!
Back to Kim – Kim’s dream is to attend a performing arts college, but she is coming up against a brick wall. She is working at the moment in a residential home, she was enjoying this; she likes helping people; she is a very bright and caring girl. However, this changed last week following a risk assessment – now Kim ‘helps’ the elderly watch TV.
Enter residential Star College in Cheltenham. Star College is exactly the place Kim needs to be. It is equipped and staffed and able to meet Kim's needs, but more importantly, help her to realise her dreams.
Kim has been told by the authorities that her needs can be met by the local day Bedford College, a mainstream College, whose intake of special needs children such as Kimberley is miniscule.
Kim coped at Wootton School. This was down to a combination of the staff, the personalities and mix of the children and the overall atmosphere in the school (which I believe is down to the fact that Wootton has performing arts status.)
The thought of Bedford College terrifies her. She won’t go; she can’t go; to even try would make her ill. The crowds, the noise, the confusion, the constantly changing tutors, the expectation of her to be self motivated and work alone for much of the time, the travelling, it is all more than she could cope with.
When Kim is scared she retreats into herself and her own world - which is ironic when you consider that her dream is to perform and therefore enter and embrace the lives and worlds of others. It's all about the environment she is in and the care given by others around her.
The Learning & Skills Council seem determined, that regardless of her needs, that the funding attached to Kim will stay in Bedfordshire and will not go out of the County to Gloucestershire – a county which it has to be said is outstanding in it’s commitment to special needs children.
Needles to say my letters as the MP are on the way to the Director of Children Services and the Learning & Skills council. I want to know why it was decided Kimberley should attend Bedford College before her assessment had been undertaken. On what grounds the assessment was made and why? How much consideration has been given to Kim's future happiness? And why a college like Star College in Cheltenham has not been considered as the best place for Kim to attend?
If you are born without special needs and you are a young adolescent, life can be very tough indeed. It’s a fast moving competitive, busy and aggressive world. Young people need concerned adults to fight their corner for them every day. Imagine how much harder life is if you are Kim. If you have the same aims and ambitions as every other young person, but rather than working for you, society and the system are working against you.
Unfortunately this is the position many thousands of young people find themselves in every day across the UK.
Kim had a great day, as did everyone else - more tomorrow.
I'm a Prime Minister, Get me out of here
Posted Thursday, 12 July 2007 at 11:51
As I watched Kay Burley interview Gordon Brown on a train this Sunday, a thought occurred to me – this man has spent the last ten years being interviewed on one subject alone, the economy, and it shows.
He er’d his way through the interview. Each time Kay asked a new question there was almost a visible backwards movement, you could see him mentally recoil from the question – he did not enjoy the interview one little bit.
His mental agility and confidence, present when questioned on all matters relating to the economy, was nowhere to be seen.
His body language speaks volumes. Today in the chamber, the expression on his face screamed, “I’m a Prime Minister, get me out of here”. This is a man who is no longer comfortable in his own skin.
I cannot imagine he will want to go on for very long with the prospect of the next general election, and his possible time as PM, being only a couple of years away.
Many commentators say he has wanted this job for so long, that he will hold on and go at the last minute. They compare him to a child with a new toy. I think not. I suspect he may feel like Alice in Wonderland. As though he has been dropped into the middle of a surreal nightmareish fairy tale where everyone is asking him strange questions and giving him incomprehensible answers.
Poor Gordon, I bet he wakes up in the middle of the night alone, crying, longing for the gentle touch of Prudence. But she is sleeping next door, with another.
He needs to talk to her about the fact that everyone is predicting a housing market crash in the New Year; that nasty committee at the Bank of England have put up interest rates and are going to do it again; and those beastly Conservatives are bullying his best friend Ed in the playground.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
What can Gordon do everyone?
Well, let’s see what’s in the box shall we?
Imagine the polls remain stubborn with Conservatives and Labour nudging each other up and down the high 30s.
I think Gordon may turn petulant. I think he may go to his party conference in the autumn and decide to do something really, really dramatic, like announce the phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq, with almost immediate effect. That will take him through the 40 barrier.
He will follow this the next day by announcing something very sexy, like hike up the upper limit for inheritance tax, incrementally phased over five years of course, but he won’t let the detail get in the way of the headline spin.
And then, on the last day of his conference, he will announce something very big and brave, that the next general election will happen in three weeks.
That would mess things up big time for us Conservatives who may already be on the train on the way to our own conference in Blackpool. That would be a very mean thing to do.
But of course, this is all fairy tale stuff, however, if I were him, it’s what I would do, wouldn’t you?
A new five year tenure will give him the time he needs to get on top of the brief, and more importantly, being voted in by the people, the confidence he needs in order to become as arrogant and controlling a Prime Minister as he was chancellor.
It’s my disabled and acute special needs children’s day today at Woburn Safari Park. We have 150 children coming!
I hope everyone understands what I mean when I say I will be glad when it’s over!
I have to shoot into London first though as I am second on the order paper for questions to the new man in Prudence’s life, and then hop straight back onto the train to get into the constituency for our special day.
Photos and blog over the weekend will be dedicated to the day.
Posted Wednesday, 11 July 2007 at 16:38
Just back from Ealing Southall, I was person 101 to walk through Ealing Campaign HQ doors today.
Unfortunately, Tony Lit and I couldn't get to meet because he was so busy and pulled from pillar to post across the constituency. As I got to one place, he was like the Scarlet Pimpernel and was dragged off elsewhere. I know how he feels. It's a tough life being a candidate; you work 24/7, 7 days a week throughout an entire campaign. You grab sleep, food and drink when you can, never see your family, and go through amazing peaks and troughs throughout.You are convinced one day you will win and the next you will lose.
I have only got one message for Tony - you are going to win. The organisation and effort being put into this campaign is second to none, but Tony needs more help, your help. If you want to see a Conservative victory in Ealing Southall, then get yourself down there now. Tony is waiting for you and needs you. Your country needs you!
Ok maybe that's a bit over the top, however, the more people on the ground, the more certainty of a victory.
Phone 020 8574 8706 to get involved in Tony's campaign.
Posted Monday, 9 July 2007 at 21:32
If you want to know what happened with the tractors, go to Iain Dale's Blog for more details. I am too embarrassed to say! The cameraman is OK though, really.
I should have taken out the cheeky girls, that way I could have combined a disaster with a public service – every cloud….
Lit Up Your Life! and Tractors
Posted Monday, 9 July 2007 at 10:49
Something very exciting is happening in the Ealing Southall by election – the Conservative candidate, Tony Lit, is taking the town by storm. (Click here for more details).
The well know Radio Sunshine owner and presenter has been a massive hit with the media, locals, retailers, and even Lib Dem bloggers - which shows the Lib Dems have accepted that they are obviously going to be lucky, even to scrape in a poor third.
Tony has that elusive wow factor, the charisma money can’t buy. A natural energy, enthusiasm, intellect and sense of humour. Everyone likes him, a Lit !
I am going to be in Ealing on Wednesday and Thursday this week, pounding the streets, and will blog from the campaign HQ.
Now all we need is for Boris to declare as candidate for Mayor of London, Tony to win Ealing Southall and we will all be in a very good mood indeed!
I'm over to Covent Garden this afternoon for a tractor race against other MPs. Why Covent Garden? Why Tractors? I don’t know, ask the NFU. I have never driven a tractor in my life, I am not a boy, I did not play with tractors when I was a little girl – so I think I may be somewhat at a disadvantage here and will possibly come last! Must remember to take my jeans and Stetsun to Westminster – like I do!
Meeting first though in 20 minutes at Bedford Hospital -
My Summer Party
Posted Saturday, 7 July 2007 at 00:23
Amendment following phone call from friend’s son! Hold mouse over link, click on play in the box, go to top right corner of the box, click and then drag the box over the calendar window on the blog – listen whilst reading the blog. Very good Tobes !!
Was tonight. So many people said they wanted to read about it on the blog in the morning that I have to break my no weekend blogging vow, two weeks on the trot!
Thanks to horrendous conditions on the M1, I arrived back from Chesham just in time to change and dash out to my own party. Planned and organised by the amazing Pippa, with help from Nikki and all the crew who turn out, event after event, with smiling faces, platters laden with delicious food, and tea towels.
I am always amazed at how many people turn up for these events. At my AGM, there were so many cars in the car park; I thought I was at the wrong village hall. When I went inside, I thought something else must be happening in the hall on the same night.
A similar thing happened tonight. I chatted in the palatial garden to the few dozen people standing around, and then, as an aside, asked Nikki what was the marquee for - thinking it was where the hog roast was taking place.
Nikki grinned, looked at me and said, “Nadine, your guests are in there”. I went to the door of the marquee and there they were, seated down at tables, oh I don’t know, dozens more people.
We had a hog roast, lots of champers and a choir who sang beautifully - the kind of schmoltzy songs that put you in a melancholy frame of mind. We all stood around and listened. They were the kind of ballads people have memories attached to. All the couples started holding hands – it was too much!!! Mike and Carol, I’m talking about you sloppy pair – how many years have you been married?
And then I went and spoilt it all ..... by jumping on a chair and giving a political speech - they made me - I have to talk for my supper!!
Thanks Andy, for your fleece (I’ll pop it round over the w/e) and your very, very, big shoulder,
Thanks Anne, for being such amazing support to me, and part time aunt to Millie and Angus.
Thanks Pippa and Iain and Tom and all your wonderful family for being my new friends,
Thanks Nikki, we are all going to miss you when you go to Canada so much….
Thanks Helen and your friend for being the two best looking twenty year olds in the room and for the impromptu speech you gave bigging up David Cameron during the Q&A’s
Thanks Bob and Angela for your ‘it’s a wrap party’ and your kindness
Bugde, I don’t want to thank you, it’s like living behind the mafia living in the same street as you – thank goodness I gave you the slip tonight!!!!!
(Joke, I love you really, Angela phoned your mob you weren’t picking up!)
Thanks a million to the crew – I’m not going to name you all individually because I may miss someone out – it’s too risky!!
Rebecca – keep plugging away, you will get to where you want to be one day, it will happen.
Thanks Richard and Pat, Pat, you know all the best places to eat – the pool house outside the toilet door – brilliant!
Thank you Charles for giving us your wonderful home for the evening and making it all possible.
Steve, Jean, Tony, Ken, Alan, Kathy, Fiona, Roger… OK I have to stop; it’s becoming a very tedious blog!
Thank you all, a million times.
In keeping with the musical mood of the evening, I have been listening to this whilst I have been typing the blog.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bouzMizFfo or this version of the same song, live at Glastonbury
Time for bed. I am so tired I am not even going to spell check…….
PS Thanks to the choir who donated their fee to Keech House Hospice, actions speak louder than songs!
PPS If you want to come to any of our parties, you have to join the Conservative Association, 01462 811992!
With Cheryl Gillan MP
Posted Friday, 6 July 2007 at 17:09
Just returned from a speaking engagement in Chesham for Cheryl Gillan.
Cheryl went first, after the main course; you can tell she has been a politician for fifteen years. She was polished, articulate, concise, and got all the main points over – my points, she was supposed to be introducing me!!
Jack - Cheryl's lovely former Sir Humphrey husband - (they met when he was head of some department or other and she was a junior minister) whispered in my ear, "once she starts, she can’t stop you know." he gave her one of those looks, which was so sweet, because Cheryl went all gooey-eyed and girly and said “my husband is telling me I have to sit down now.” He hadn’t. They obviously just have a secret ‘shut up now Cheryl’ look, one you could only give if you were really close to someone, and get away with it.
Then it was my turn. We were outside in a garden sat under a collection of gazebos. Under each gazebo four people were situated at four strategic corners in order that when a gust, a big gust, of wind came someone shouted “grab the legs” which they all did, before the gazebos took off like oversized kites.
Only fundraising die hard Conservatives would sit in a garden in force 10, freezing cold, eat salad and summer pudding, and listen to two politicians speaking, one after the other whilst mounting a ‘save the gazebo operation’ at the same time. Bless em, they were all fantastic.
Mayor Boris MP
Posted Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 13:14
I sincerely hope that Boris throws his hat officially into the mayoral ring very soon indeed.
I suspect that what is happening now is a protracted period of both whipping up support and testing the water with regard to media and public reaction.
Boris Johnson will make an excellent London Mayor and remain an equally excellent MP for Henley on Thames.
If any mere mortal President of the United States can take on America, Boris can manage London and Henley at the same time. In fact, as many of his constituents will be daily commuters into London, it could be argued that he would be looking after his constituents’ interests from both ends, in and out, at home and at work.
They love him in Henley, he had the biggest percentage vote swing of any sitting Conservative MP at the last election. I have heard a number of MPs attempt to take that crown for themselves. It’s one of those testosterone fuelled claims that a number make, often, to whoever will listen; however, Boris did it, and I have never heard him mention it once.
I see a lot of Boris, his office is just up a few doors from mine; we often walk down to vote together. He makes me laugh, sometimes on bad days, and for that I love him.
I know he isn’t perfect, he would be the first to call himself a sinner, I would be the second, and there would be hoards after me, but who in this life is perfect?
We are strengthened and fortified by our life experiences; they shape and mould us into fuller, rounder, more compassionate, understanding human beings. He is a man of great intellect who knows and understands what is important in this life, he’s a great father.
I know he has been in more trouble than most, we all remember his comments about Liverpool. I also remember his hair shirt tour of the city to apologise. That was big of him, and appreciated. Sorry is a big word and there are not many who can really manage to say it and mean it in the way Boris did, to all of Liverpool, his apology was accepted, he has no enemies there.
London deserves a good Mayor. The best city in the world deserves the best care and attention. Boris is a no nonsense Conservative, a plain speaker who has little time for political correctness or procrastination. He would get things done, at last.
He is a rare thing in politics, a human being, with warts and all. His messy hair is his trademark, who doesn’t know Boris? If name face recognition is the name of the game in an election, he is almost all the way there.
I said Boris made me laugh, and for that I loved him.
Ken Livingstone, with his newty voice and puny ways does not make me laugh, he makes me weep.
Boris v Ken - who would you put money on?
The streets may not be paved with gold, but the sun may shine over London yet!
Quentin - Appendix - Davies
Posted Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 09:40
I never knew my training as a nurse would prove so valuable to my political career - Tory Turncoat Quentin Davies reminded me of something, it's been bugging me for days, and now I know; it’s the appendix! Don't believe me? Well, here’s my top 4 reasons.
1. The appendix is a part of the bowel that does not have any known use to humans.
2. When sufferring from appendicitis the appendix becomes nasty and inflamed for reasons that are not fully understood.
3. An operation to remove the appendix before it bursts is usually necessary.
4. Once the appendix has been removed, the welfare of the patient improves dramatically over a very short period of time.
Today, Conservative Home have posted the answers I have given to questions posed by visitors to the site. Click here for more details.
Blog Update: The latest news is that Boris Johnson MP may be running as Conservative Candidate for Mayor of London - maybe that explains the 'glamorous blonde' who the journalist referred to yesterday, who they understood was interested in running... What is a routemaster anyway?
Last Chance Saloon - Again! and London
Posted Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 12:01
Two newspapers have rang me in the last hour to ask whether or not I am considering standing as Mayor of London.
My only thoughts on the London mayoral election are ones of disapointment that Nick Boles has withdrawn his name due to illness; I wish him a speedy recovery.
For the avoidance of doubt, Mid Bedfordshire is my number one priority - I wish the so called 'Senior Conservative' who has commented to journalists, would brief me first!!
OK, I do hate saying I told you so, however, read the blog below which I posted on the 8th of February of this year - and then read this article from today's Daily Express.
Last Chance Saloon
Posted Thursday, 8 February 2007 at 15:57
If the Conservative Party is ever to be in power again, it absolutely has to win the next general election with a comfortable majority.
If we go to the country on 38% or 39% it will not be enough, and we will be forever in opposition, no matter what percentage of the vote we pull at any future election – we will never be in government again.
In the event of a hung Parliament, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party have one thing in common, a desire to keep the Conservatives out of power.
Remember, the majority of Liberal Democrats are left of New Labour; they would have a long political journey to even get close to the left of the Conservative Party.
This is very obvious during long debates in the chamber. If a Conservative MP makes a good point or speech, a Liberal Democrat will intervene with a line totally in sympathy with the government’s position.
Sometimes I find this breathtaking. When I recently attacked the government and the Public Health Minister over sexual health and the out of control rise in STIs amongst teenagers, Sandra Gidley, the Liberal Democrat, intervened and attacked me, with much encouragement from the government front bench!
If you sit in the chamber for hours and absorb the minutia of the debate you can see very clearly what is happening. The Liberal Democrats have no natural synergy with the Conservative Party. Too many of their seats have a Conservative as a close second. They like to bash the government, but they relish attacking the Conservatives.
Ming and Gordon are friends. If we have a hung Parliament there will be another Lib-Lab pact and the price will be PR, which is being used in the Scottish local elections this time round. PR is already knocking on the border.
Gordon will be pragmatic enough to realise the New Labour salad days are over.
A Lib-Lab pact will be the lesser of the evils. PR will be the price, but Gordon will have had his time as PM, and the upside of course is that never again would Labour be forced into opposition for eighteen cold years as it was last time.
PR won’t seem too big a price to pay to ensure that the Conservative party never takes power again.
Posted Monday, 2 July 2007 at 16:29
I don’t have time to blog properly right now, as I am researching and writing a speech for tomorrow; however, news today:
I am being interviewed on the PM programme today at 5.15pm - apparently our re-shuffle is being announced at 5pm. It looks like I have missed out on the Party Chairman's job then – how surprised am I!?
Jonathan Dimbleby has asked me to appear on BBC Radio 4's ‘Any Questions’ in a couple of weeks; I said yes of course, but I do have one question myself, why me?
In the car this morning playing U2 track, loud, ‘Still haven’t found what I’m looking for’. My youngest daughter pipes up from the back seat, "I’m going to have that as my wedding song". Excuse me? Whatever happened to romance?
I forgot my pass to enter Parliament and put on my sorry face as I went to the security desk. "Oh you don’t have to worry" said the security man, "I know who you are, you are always in the papers." No I’m not. Maybe he lives in Bedfordshire, I hope so!
Gay Pride, Fetes, and a Christening
Posted Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 12:22
I am blogging today as it is the first day of the month.
This is because if you go onto my blog site and there is no entry at the begining of the month, it looks as though the site is broken!
This has been one of those mad constituency weekends, which I love as it happens.
Friday started with surgeries and meetings and then in the evening over to the Leonard Cheshire home in Ampthill for the appeal fundraiser.
Saturday morning was a meet your MP morning in the Queens Head in Ampthill, which was a really good session. Debate that is!
Over to Houghton Conquest to open the fete and present a number of boquets ( see press releases Monday) and then a mad dash into London to attend the christening of Isabel Ruby Jackson, the daughter of Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson and his wife Sarah.
Isabel was absolutely beautiful, looks nothing like her father, and is now two years old. I remember well when I took her for a days shopping in her pram to give Stewart and Sarah some time on their own. I feel it’s never too young to teach baby girls the important things in life.
We did Monsoon, Baby Gap and Baby Next, she loved it. Even though she was only four months old I could tell she would develop a taste for the finer things in life.
Left the christening in London to have supper with a friend in Burford, but had to negotiate gay pride march on the way which took hours.
Arrived back in constituency at 2.30am so that I could be here in time for church on Sunday, and now off to open the ‘Shillington Under Fives Gala Ceremony’ then back to clear paperwork for a good start on Monday.
If one single person moans about how much time I have off during recess…….