Beds Is Bottom
Posted Thursday, 29 January 2009 at 16:49
I have just finished an interview on the Jeremy Vine show. I was defending Bedfordshire as today we came bottom in the Country Life league of counties.
There was an adjudicator in the studio and I was being given the chance to have Bedfordshire voted up by the programme.
I lost. Luton and our proximity to London being the reason.
Alistair Burt MP agrees with me, he is stood looking over my shoulder as I type this! He has beautiful villages in his patch - Odell, Sharnbrook and Ickwell, to name just a few.
He says "who are Country Life anyway"?
So not fair!
Call to Arms
Posted Thursday, 29 January 2009 at 12:02
This blog is for my constituents in Mid-Bedfordshire. I need your help.
Many of you will be aware of the proposed developments which the Government, and the un-elected East of England Development Agency, have for our constituency.
They would like as many as 120,000 new homes to be built on our green fields. To give you some perspective, we have 55,000 homes in the constituency at present.
Yesterday I held a debate with the DCLG Minister. Here is the transcript . (Make sure you click onto next section at bottom to see Ministers response)
Following the debate I sent this email out (see below) to as many people as I can think of, however, it’s to you also. It’s to anyone in Mid-Bedfordshire who agrees with the points I raised in the debate. I have many more but was only allowed fifteen minutes!
Iain Wright is a fair Minister; you will see he gave some advice in his response. The responsibility of everyone in Mid-Bedfordshire now is to act upon that advice.
I am now about to go onto the Jeremy Vine show to talk about how beautiful Mid-Bedfordshire is and why we want to remain a Market Garden constituency!
Subject: Email HIGH IMPORTANCE
Today I held a debate in Westminster Hall with Iain Wright the DCLG Minister regarding the proposed Eco Town and 120,000 homes targeted for Bedfordshire. Hansard transcript link here: http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmtoday/cmwhall/06.htm
Every one of you needs to do something as a result of reading this email:
A). You need to respond to the Government's online consultation at http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingsupply/ecotowns/
. Stating your strong views AGAINST the Eco Town.
B) you need to forward this email onto AS MANY people as possible
Why? Well, the Eco Town is an major piece in the Government's jigsaw puzzle. If granted it becomes easier to fill in the gaps and increase the urban sprawl from MK to the M1 surrounding Ampthill, Flitwick, Westoning and Harlington.
Even if the Eco Town doesn't necessarily impinge on you now, the development which may follow as a result will do. So please fill in the consultation and forward to as many people as you can.
If you read the Ministers response you will detect some encouraging noises and a few hints!
To Lidlington and Marston - food security is a big issue and one the Minister nodded his head furiously in agreement with. Its very much worth exploiting that angle, it could be one of our strongest.
Aspley Guise - you may notice he's looked up your web site!
Please everyone, I can't stop the bulldozers on my own, you have to help!
Very best wishes,
NadineNadine Dorries MP
Iraq - A Soldiers Tale
Posted Tuesday, 27 January 2009 at 16:13
Given the perceived bias in many parts of the media, it is very difficult as an MP to dig down, and be accurately informed, of the true situation in a controversial war-torn country many miles from home.
Yesterday afternoon, I spent time with the men from the Royal Anglian Regiment, ' Norfolk's men'.
I heard the soldiers' tale, from those who have returned from a second tour of duty just a few weeks ago.
The Royal Anglian's first tour of duty was in 2006, code named Op Telic 8. It was violent. Patrols attacked every day, men lost, huge amounts of ammunition expended.
In terms of winning hearts and minds, it took 300 soldiers to surround and keep safe a hospital whilst a few men painted the reception area.
A strike and search on a house would produce a small amount of stored ammunition, a handful of rockets and would take a huge deployment in manpower to do so.
The most recent tour, Op Telic 12, was very different. No ammunition fired.
In two years, the local Iraqi army and security forces had been trained and worked alongside our soldiers with cultural understanding.
A house strike now produces a stash of ammunition because it's executed using local intelligence by the local security forces.
Winning hearts and minds this time was about building a power station.
Two stories, and as the men said, the good one we never hear via the media, and so they came to Parliament to tell it for themselves.
In the words of one: " Iraq is now a great country being rebuilt, without any fear, with democracy by local people, I genuinely feel we have done a lot of good".
I have such admiration for all our soldiers, but especially those from Bedfordshire and I think the words of the
Colonel of the Royal Anglian Regiment Sir John McCall sums up better than I could about what we expect from our boys and girls, men and women:
"The ability to provide humanitarian assistance, to converse with those of another culture and background with a view to giving their trust and respect, and to fight with controlled aggression and determination - all on the same day."
And I will add, all in 56'C !
Posted Monday, 26 January 2009 at 22:33
I have only just got around to watching the BBC two part Police thriller, Hunter.
I’ve had a number of emails and messages from people telling me that I was profiled, but not close enough to sue!
The programme is about three anti-abortionists, a doctor, a nurse and a charity worker, who blackmail the BBC into showing a filmed abortion. They do this by kidnapping and threatening to murder two little boys.
As Peter Hitchens said yesterday - Since the anti-abortion movement in this country is composed of kindly, non-violent people who seek to stop the slaughter of unborn babies, it is hard to see how they could resort to the murder of young children in pursuit of their cause.
Of course, the three main protagonists in the recent attempt to lower the abortion limit were an ex-nurse (moi, who also happens to be an MP), a doctor and a charity worker.
It could all be a complete coincidence, but I think it may go someway towards demonstrating how biased and infiltrated the BBC is. Except, it’s not just the BBC. It’s Parliament and universities at the highest level; and the BMA, the RCN, the RCOG and every organisation, which has an opinion which can influence policy. The pro-abortionists had their day and remained unchallenged for too long.
Zealots of any cause have a purpose, which is usually to exert influence over what is almost always a cause unpopular with the general public.In order to further their case, they move away from the democratic process and embrace one of manipulation and deceit.
I saw that first hand when sitting as a member of the Science and Technology Committee during the abortion inquiry.
I will say again, I’m not pro-life. However, I do work with pro-lifers, and nicer, kinder people I could never wish to meet. They have one cause, to save life.
A very different position from that of the pro-abortionists.
I scanned the credits to see if Dr Death had been an advisor. Maybe he used a pseudonym?!
And I just have to ask the question - if the pro-abortionist claim that an abortion is an minor operation just like any other and therefore should not need two Drs' signatures, why then don't we see a filmed abortion on TV, in the same way as we see other operations?
Posted Sunday, 25 January 2009 at 13:54
Lord Myners, Gordon Brown’s City Minister gave an interesting interview in the Times on Saturday and was quoted again in the Sunday Times.
“I have met more masters of the universe than I would like to, people who were grossly over-rewarded and did not recognise that. Some of that is pretty unpalatable”.
He slated the “over-rewarded banking industry”.
There’s one thing we can be sure of, Lord Myners must be a very humble man.
You wont find anyone pointing a finger at this man and citing any massive city bonuses he has taken either in shares or one off lump sum payments. No, this is something I truly believe because only a fool would say;
“I have met more masters of the universe than I would like to, people who were grossly over-rewarded and did not recognise that. Some of that is pretty unpalatable”.
If he had taken rewards or payments which were in any way similar in size to those of the banking bosses he has criticised. This must be the case, Surely?
Posted Friday, 23 January 2009 at 19:02
Lifted from Iain Dale's website. Powerful.
Posted Friday, 23 January 2009 at 18:43
A number of text messages all saying much the same thing - "don't you want the C4 award then?".
I've been shortlisted for a C4 Parliametarian of the year award. I hope one of the reasons I may have been shortlisted is because I am a straight 'say it as it is' politician!
So, now my friends say I have to say something nice. Film 4 is superb. It's what C4 does best, that and the 7pm news :)
Posted Friday, 23 January 2009 at 10:59
I wasn’t going to blog today; however, Jon Snow’s comments on Channel 4 have so incensed me I can’t help myself.
On Channel 4 he said of President Bush; "We can call it a nightmare without it in anyway being anything other than objective."
Well Jon, is that your opinion, or is it that the opinion of Channel 4?
If it is then surely there are some serious questions to be asked? Channel 4 are hitting choppy waters at the moment and are holding out another begging bowl to the tax payer. If that comment had been made by Paxman on Newsnight, you can bet your life there would be a furore the following day.
My attitude to Channel 4 and the BBC is sink or swim. Compete or sit back and ask for handouts. You may be involved in public broadcasting but maybe it’s about time that the market was re-evaluated?
The majority of people I speak to are beginning to question how much licence fee they pay, particularly in light of the whopping salaries they now know many presenters receive when they themselves are struggling to pay a mortgage.
You may think your comments on the Bush presidency are learned and informative Jon, however, I can assure you they are anything but objective. You may think the majority of the public may want to pay to hear your comments; I can assure you they do not.
People will form their own opinions on the Bush/Blair/Brown/Cameron leaderships and they will do so as a result of assimilating and absorbing the facts and reaching their own conclusions without biased influence from overpaid presenters.
Of course, if Channel 4 were not looking for tax payer funding and were totally self-financing then I will have no problem at all with what Jon Snow says as it will be my choice to listen, or not. In the meantime….
A brief encounter...
Posted Thursday, 22 January 2009 at 10:42
I had a PMQ yesterday. I was number 11 on the order paper which meant my chance of being called was slim; however, no one knows how the Speaker is going to proceed, so one has to be prepared.
Running short of time, I was beginning to panic slightly as I had an 11am meeting with someone at the top of the food chain and didn't want to be late.
At 10.59, just as I was about to put my hand on the door to my meeting room, a flustered young man shouted my name.
"Help", said he, obviously relieved to have found a friendly face.
"I don't have a pass, where is the ministerial conference room I need to be there for 11, I have no idea where it is".
Not being a Minister, neither did I.
I looked through the window of my meeting room, saw my stern host tapping on the table, and then turned and looked at the happy man in front of me.
All boyish with his tousled hair, smiling face and pleading eyes - I looked back at my meeting room. It was no competition, the sunny yet endearing plea won.
"Come on then Boris" said I, "I've got my pass, let's find it." A five minute chatter with the irrepressible Boris, as we ran along, definitely won out.
Elephant in the Oval Office
Posted Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 10:24
Ok, I apologise in advance for what may appear to be pouring cold water on the new and exciting American administration; however...
Writing this from a purely female perspective, and after all 52% of us are, so why shouldn't I? What is going to be on Hillary Clinton's mind when she attends her first meeting as Secretary of State in the Oval Office? When she's sitting across the desk from the man who's filled her husband's shoes; and at her first meeting in that room as a woman of substance within the new administration. Any woman with an ounce of emotion would think - was it here? Or over there?
I think it’s fair to say that if Hillary Clinton is all woman, the memory of a certain Ms Lewinsky will be right by her side when she attends her first Oval Office meeting. However 'oh no!' distasteful this may read to any serious politically minded male Democrat (Simon!), I can assure you that every woman knows exactly what I'm talking about. It just goes to show the strength of Hillary Clinton because I really don’t think I could do it.
So, the elephant in the Oval Office, designed by Roosevelt and defiled by Clinton, will have a name: she’s called Monica.
On the eve of St Agnes
Posted Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 17:14
Yesterday was the second reading of the Police and Crime Bill. The 66th such Bill to be brought forward by this Government during its tenure.
Although difficult to disagree with the Bill’s intentions, it would be equally difficult to find a piece of legislation so badly drafted, which will stand absolutely no chance whatsoever of achieving any of its stated objectives.
I will be sitting on the Bill committee and will blog more regarding the contents and woeful missed opportunities during the committee’s sitting stage. This was my contribution at the 2nd reading yesterday
Tonight all young well educated literary virgins across the land will be going to bed without their supper.
If you love Keats you will know what I'm talking about:
’They told her how, upon St Agnes' Eve
Young virgins might have visions of delight,
And soft adorings from their loves receive
Upon the honeyed middle of the night,
If ceremonies due they did aright;
As, supperless to bed they must retire,
And couch supine their beauties lily white;
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.’
Tonight is the night young virgins, if they go to bed hungry, will dream of their future love!!
This morning on the eve of St Agnes, my youngest said from somewhere within her Coco Pops, head stuck in Keats, just as her mother's used to be, "no supper for me tonight mum"
Posted Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 13:50
This place is bonkers. Having run to the Chamber for a division, my Blackberry informs me it’s cancelled just as I pile in through the doors.
There is just a little too much going on in terms of animated chatter amongst MPs; and so I escape to the solitude and quiet of the members' library.
Wrong move. The Sergeant at Arms strides in, sword in hand, I kid you not, and escorts Labour MP John McDonnell out. Minutes before, he had picked up the Mace in the Chamber in anger and thrown it onto Dennis Skinner’s chair (vacant obviously!). This is after he shouted "you are a disgrace" in the face of Geoff Hoon.
My first thought was "Can John fence?" Why the sword? Mulling this strange sight over, I sit down at the rather lovely oak table under the green lamp and start to write a letter to the Speaker. Only I’m distracted by the police who march in and parade through and around the library.
An excessive response? I think so. Apparently John is being escorted off the premises. I suppose the reaction of the House authorities is to ensure that those of us who may feel inclined to step over the line of propriety within the Chamber think twice.
A good democracy ensures that the voice of opposition or dissent is given good time to air and debate issues, which may not always suit the Government of the day. Maybe the House authorities would like to reflect on giving members a fair hearing. They could do it whilst they polish their swords? Or the Mace even?
Go Hilary! Or Jackie?
Posted Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 17:36
I was impressed with Hilary Clinton yesterday. Anyone who reads my blog will know that on a number of issues we are politically poles apart, however, I was impressed.
Her statement that you cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence was clear and defined.
I like the ‘smart power’ strategy to go beyond the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and address the bigger issue as identified in yesterdays blog – Iran’s nuclear programme and her commitment to take on the irresponsible behaviour of Syria was bold.
We will all wait with baited breath to see what this “new perhaps different approach” to prevent the “unacceptable” prospect of Iran becoming a fully fledged nuclear power means in action as opposed to words.
When three or more MPs are gathered together in a corridor, it is officially known as a plot.
Last night, as a group of us stood around waiting for a vote that never materialised, we discussed the attempted resignation of Willie Whitelaw.
It happened when a burglar broke into Buckingham Palace and Willie, then Home Secretary, felt such an occurrence warranted his resignation as he had failed in his duty as Home Secretary to protect the Queen.
Could you imagine Jackie Smith doing the same thing?
No, neither could we!
Posted Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 16:33
I have just left the chamber following the Foreign Affairs Questions having asked a question regarding Iran.
I asked the Minister what assessment he had made of Iran’s nuclear programme and then followed with this supplementary:
"Iran fund, train and arm Hamas in the Gaza and Hezbollah in the Lebanon – it is reported that by the end of this year Iran will be nuclear ready. The Minister has just stated that Hamas is committed to the abolition of Israel. What steps are being taken to ensure that Iran doesn’t make available its nuclear capability to its favoured terrorist groups?"
(That’s what I intended to and think I said but unfortunately adrenaline removes the ability to remember word perfect once you have sat down!)
The Minister left no doubt as to the Government's awareness of the seriousness of the situation regarding Iran and made clear the refusal of Iran to comply with a variety of UN requests, causing widespread concern.
The Minister confirmed the Hamas position to obliterate Israel and that this position until renounced will make any uni-lateral ceasefire impossible.
So what do you do if you’re Israel? If the terrorist group firing rockets into your country repeatedly asserts its intention to wipe you of the face of the earth and if the country which backs that terrorist group both with finance and ideology is nearing nuclear capability?
It is almost impossible to underestimate how serious the situation is.
If Israel believes that Iran presents a real threat or if Hamas took an upper hand or if Iran decided of its own volition to step into the ring we may witness any prospect of a peace process disappear and an increase in both the scale and casualties of this war.
With or without support, would Israel attack Iran in order to neutralise its nuclear threat? Following the death of six million of its ancestors, friends and relatives at the hands of an evil force, how far would Israel go to ensure its people don’t meet a similar fate at the hands of another aggressor?
The question has to be asked: why has Iran spent decades, two in secrecy, developing nuclear capability? Why does Iran fund, train and support Hamas and Hezbolah? The answer is surely, something of the night.
Twins and Prince Harry
Posted Monday, 12 January 2009 at 11:43
Today’s Sun newspaper carries a front page exclusive regarding the newly diagnosed dicephalus twins. Due in August, the twins will be born with two heads and one body.
Many may have seen the American Hensel dicephalus twins in a recent TV programme and the life they live as two very happy modern teenagers, who have just passed their driving test.
I have never argued for the abortion limit to be cut for serious disability, always making the case that such a decision should be made by the parents and doctors, and no one else. I have argued however, to create exclusions from the definition of serious disability for club foot, hare lip and cleft palette.
The decision of Lisa and Mike to continue with the pregnancy having been offered the option of abortion at this early stage is a brave one, and one which should be given everyone’s support.
It is their baby, their conception and their life. Anyone who feels like offering an opinion which is anything other than totally supportive should think twice before doing so. This pregnancy is no different from any other in as much as two people feel they have been blessed; and are happy and prepared to love and care for their baby. We should all wish them well.
I hope everyone gets off Prince Harry’s back today. The media response and that of over excited MPs jumping on the media bandwagon has been totally OTT.
Having spoken to lots of people over the weekend I have yet to meet a single member of the public who begins to feel even remotely excited.
The military environment is an entirely different context to civilian life.
Yes he shouldn’t have said it and yes he was right to apologise; but the first person who would have pointed that out to him would surely have been his friend!
I don’t want Prince Harry or any soldier having to think about a banal level of political correctness. I expect him to go out into a war zone and lay his life on the line, in order to protect the free world and our safety here at home.
Now, what’s PC about that?
Posted Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 10:01
Danny's words deserve to be read by the widest audience possible:
Full article here, sorry, can't do hyper links today! http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/daniel_finkelstein/article5461544.ece
If you can't read the full article then just read this as highlighted by Ian Dale today;
The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.
Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again - again and again - the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don't want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews
Posted Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 13:21
Just about everything that needs to be said regarding the situation in Gaza has been said.
It is an undeniable fact however, that peace and stability will struggle to exist whilst Gaza is under the control of an extremist organisation which believes in the legitimate use of suicide bombers and makes declarations such as this;
“….This assembly holds special significance, since it takes place after Gaza was liberated against the will of the Zionist aggressors. Who knows when we will celebrate the liberation of Gaza, Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa and the rest of Palestine. Hamas, together with the Palestinian people, will implement its policy using a new language, without feeling any urge to meet with the enemy or negotiate with it.” Khaled Mashal, Leader of Hamas
Hamas talk in rockets. Over 8000 fired into Israel over the last eight years, 5000 since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. This desperate and serious situation of the Gaza once again becoming a war zone was provoked by Hamas, despite the impression presented by the media.
Israel, it’s inhabitants and the Palestinian people need to co-exist in harmony. The people of Gaza and Israel just want peaceful lives, to have access to the services the rest of the developed world enjoys and to live in a secure and economically viable environment.
In my opinion that situation will never occur whilst Hamas remain at the helm. It’s worth reminding ourselves that Hamas is financed by Iran and the recent statement made by Ahmadinejad
“ Anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury.”
Today, the democratic right of Israel to defend itself and its people against rocket attack is being heard. However, when taking on Hamas and its supporters Israel is fighting to protect us all against the extremist and radical views which would threaten all of any faith other than extreme Islamist.
“….We are part of Allah’s promise that Islam will enter Palestine and every home in the world, with a revelation of the power of Allah the Omnipotent, and a revelation of the inferiority of the infidels. Hamas is leading this plan in Gaza, the West Bank and the 1948 territories, and the Muslim brotherhood is leading it everywhere else. This is part of Allah’s predestination….” Dr Mahmoud al-Zahar Leader of Hamas
Posted Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 00:09
Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a great Bedfordshire man, David Woodward.
David dedicated his life to the service of his local community and the Conservative party.
A local Farmer and Market Gardner, he held just about every local office possible and carried MP after MP on his shoulders, win after win.
I last saw David at a Mid Beds dinner which will live in my memory.
As Theresa Villiers came to the end of her post dinner speech, the guest who was sat to my right slumped over the table and turned a ghastly shade of grey.
At the same moment, a guest on another table did exactly the same thing.
How many times have I told Theresa she needs to work on her delivery?
I and a couple of very handy wonderful doctors looked after my dinner patient and David and Pippa took care of the casualty on his - someone else dialled 999.
It’s the only dinner I've ever attended where the Para Medics got a louder round of applause than the speaker.
I wish I'd spoken to David more. His eulogy spoke of an era of politics which was once the order of the day - one of fun, trust, hard work and selfless dedication.
Rest in Peace David.
She Was Born In The Wagon
Posted Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 13:47
The Mail On Sunday have a story today regarding proposed traveller sites in my constituency http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1104506/How-views-3-100-middle-England-residents-gipsy-camps-rejected--deemed-racist.html
I posted this blog sometime ago and was branded a racist on the internet and local radio - for re telling a true story and voicing an opinion.
As this issue is heating up again in Mid Beds, I re state my position which I believe may be in tune with about 3,100 others.
She was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
|Posted Friday, 13 April 2007 at 09:36|
I sang the well know song by Cher all the way home from a meeting tonight. I know all the words, I bet you do too.
I spent the night in Flitton Village Hall in the company of over 500 residents.
I was a bit taken aback by the number of people present. I drove up at 8pm, and if I hadn't known where the hall was, I would have spotted it easily by the droves of people walking towards it.
As I got to the main gate, I was met by a lady who passed me through the crowd to another, and then another, until they got me into the hall where I went straight up onto the stage. There was no room anywhere else for me to stand, people were sitting all over the floor and the chairs had been full for some time. People were standing in the car park listening through the open windows.
I commented as I passed through the crowd how surprised I was that there were so many people there. Some joked and said, we've all come to see you Nadine – but I know that wasn't the case, the meeting was about Gypsies and travellers.
As a little girl I spent idyllic Irish holidays on my Uncle Tom and aunty Mollie's farm in Bangor Erris, Co Mayo. My Uncle Eammon and Aunty Bridget owned the local village shop, they still do, My cousin Moira and I often used to serve in the shop.
When the tinkers called with their big horse drawn wagons, Aunty Bridget used to fly behind the counter and shoo us into the back room. The fear was that because I had Blonde hair, a rare thing in Eire, the tinkers might steal me.
One brave day when Aunty Bridget was feeding the baby, I served the tinkers, and lived to tell the tale.
The tinker was a statuesque woman, dressed in black and brown, accessorised with eyes and teeth the same colour. Her hair was long, wild and wind blown and had obviously never seen a comb or been washed in weeks. She probably had been born in the wagon of a travellin' show.
She sat on the board at the front of the wagon and didn't move. Moira wouldn't come out of the shop and I couldn't tell what the woman sat high up on the wagon was asking for. Moira translated from behind the door, and then threw the tobacco and barley twists out to me.
The tinker threw the money down to me for the goods, and then I threw them up. Moira wouldn't let me give them to her unless I got the money first.
Moira was hissing at me from behind the door in her scared ‘Holy Mary mother of God will ye get ye'sel back in here now, Jesus ye are too close,. She'll have ye before ye know it "
The tinker smiled at me, which I remember shocked me, and I think I jumped a bit, she then cracked the whip on the two big horses, shouted something in Gaelic, spat her chewed tobacco at my feet, and rode off
I picnicked out on that for months.
When I got back inside, Aunty Bridget made me wash the money, and scrub my hands under the brown, peaty, icy water of the outside tap. The water pumped straight from the Owen More river which ran by less than 50 yds away.
I remember Moira and I laughing so much around the tap, I think we were relieved to have survived the scary ordeal!
In 1994 the then Conservative government removed from Local Authorities the obligation to provide Gypsy sites.
The Labour Government have just re instated this obligation and my constituency has to provide 40 pitches by 2021, 20 immediately. All are to be designated in local rural villages. Feeling are running high.
The councils have no option, they have to do it. When I saw Richard and Tricia, local councillors, putting forward their position to the audience I realised what a tough job it can be, being a local councillor. It is a vocation, it does take long hours, and you get very little thanks. Appologies to all those standing in local elections for the first time!
My position on this subject is very hard line. If you want to live in Flitton village, get yourself an education, a good job, save up and buy yourself a house. Big round of applause. Not deserved though, because my hard line position is not an answer to what the residents of Flitton are facing.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the only option available to us is hope. Hope that feelings will run equally high everywhere and the government, as they do on so many things, will back down.
My job now is to become a flea in the ear of the ministers and those who are trying to impose this on Flitton, and I will apply for a Westminster Hall debate on the subject first thing on Monday.
For all the bleeding hearts that are about to blog me and tell me that gypsies and travellers are now classed as an ethnic group because of their culture and beliefs I say this - I have no problem with that. You can believe and follow whatever culture you like – but if you want to live in England you do it living in a house, send your children to school and conform to the societal framework that the rest of us have to, because that's how it is in Britain. That's how we live; it's a British culture thing.
If you want to show me traveller sites where there is harmony within the community, I will point out to you that on those sites the children probably attend the local school, and the families largely conform and are law abiding.
I will then take you to see some of my farmers fields, three acres in Brogbrough is where we will start, where travellers have created mayhem.
There should be no such thing as a right to reside unless that residence is to take place within an appropriate home subect toall the usual planning laws and constraints the rest of us who pay tax and council tax have to abide by.
As one lady in the audience, sat on a hard floor, pointed out last night - if the new laws are about equality then surley that is equality for all. Travellers and Gypsies should have to live by the laws which make us all equal. Exactly.
My solution to the traveller problem is this; In Britain the culture is to live in a static home, work, pay taxes and save for the things you want in life. Live here by all means, have your own culture, as many do, however, you have to live in within the framework of the values this society operates within.
‘Every night all the men would gather round...'
Not in Flitton they won't Cher!
Happy New Year
Posted Thursday, 1 January 2009 at 08:43
In thirty minutes it will be midnight and I excuse myself from the table of my host for a pre arranged appointment with his computer to write my New Year blog. The words “hurry, you only have ten minutes” fly at my back. No pressure then.
He follows me into his study with a bottle of the best Champagne I have ever tasted and re fills my glass. I sit in front of his computer which has a screen bigger than the TV in my lounge. This is a serious computer. It is very used to serious input and I wonder how it will react to temporary ownership by a blogging back bench opposition MP.
The technology contained on this desk makes me feel insignificant. As I begin to type I can imagine the monitor mouthing in disgust “Oh for goodness sake!” I press very firmly before it attempts to cross its keyboard arms in protest and repel me. There is a green light at the top in the middle of the screen. I would not list paranoia as my main fault, however, this computer is either watching me or I have had too much Champagne..
I distract myself by moving my thoughts to things more political.
As I left Westminster before Christmas the only conversation was speculative general election chatter. Having died away during the holiday it will re ignite upon our return, if for no other reason than it can only be eighteen months away at most.
In recent weeks I haven’t met anyone of any political persuasion who believes that Labour can win another term, despite the ominous arrival of Mandy - frequently spotted looking down over the debating chamber in the weeks leading up to recess.
My impression of Mandy is that he is both a pragmatist and a strategist. A founder and architect of New Labour, one has to assume his loyalty will be wedded to the cause above the individual.
If your overriding concern was for the New Labour project to remain in power in the long term, what would your advice to the PM be?
Would it be based on damage limitation? Is his job to persuade the PM to go sooner, maybe in June at the same time as the Euro and local elections, rather than wait and see how bad it will be in 2010 risking even bigger defeat?
As the Christmas holiday period ends jobs are going to fall out of the sky like snowflakes. The economic picture remains gloomy and predicted job losses high and rising. If un-employment tips past the three million mark we may begin to witness civil un-rest as the poor become poorer and the poverty gap widens.
Issues such as NHS reform and Education simply don’t resonate with families totally absorbed with making ends meet on a day to day basis. When you lose your job, can’t pay the mortgage and your main worry is do you have enough money to buy food to feed your children before the next benefit payment, I would imagine that political nuances fly straight over your head. All you would be interested in is putting someone in power who can deliver change and throw the economy a life raft.
As the black cash in hand market exploited by the poorest is also hit by recession, my prediction is that 2009 will be a bleak year with no relief in sight for 2010.
Mandelson’s job over the next few months may well be to advise the PM to go sooner rather than later. The advice of MPs will be to wait as they cling onto their seats. Whether or not the election will take place in 2009 is anyone’s call.
Happy New Year everyone.