Who will lead the 81?
Posted Monday, 31 October 2011 at 14:13
Before I expound on this any further, let me list the sequence of events which have led me to ask this question;
. Emails and letters thanking me for voting for the referendum are still flowing into my office, possibly as a result of the weekend media.
. The media constantly identify us as the amorphous ‘81’.
. Conservative Home has led this morning on a survey of Tory members, the results of which are staggering and if this hasn’t shaken No 10 to its very foundation it should do.
. This article by Nick Clegg in Sunday’s Observer in which he very clearly throws down the gauntlet to the ‘81’
. Today’s Sun newspaper which compares Cameron and the Euro to Neville Chamberlain’s ‘peace in our time’
. David Cameron’s subtle shift in tone on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday. Last week he made a very firm statement that he had made a request to Whitehall officials that they look to see which powers can be repatriated from Europe back to the UK. On Marr he said, when pushed, that we are in a coalition. He commented that the LibDems wanted to see some re balancing too. They do. It’s just in the opposite direction to the 81.
. George Osborne’s statement to the house last week which deployed the use of smoke and mirrors, something Oliver Letwin taught me to watch out for in a Chancellor and something Gordon Brown was particular good at. In his statement George announced his intention to increase our contribution to the IMF which we know will be used to bail out the basket cases of Europe as they fall, Greece first, then Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Given the above and much more, I believe we 81 need to be organised and led. We need to form a caucus to act as a lever against the influence of the Lib Dems who make up 7% of parliament and who are totally out of touch with the people of Britain. As I commented in the Observer, the fact that they are out of touch with the vast majority of British voters may give us a clue as to why the vast majority don’t vote Lib Dem in an election.
We have plenty of contenders amongst the ‘81’ to choose from: Davis, Fox, the two brave MPs who resigned their PPS positions in order to vote and some very bright individuals in the 2010 intake.
As Conservatives we have a duty to represent the British public in a responsible manner. Without us Cameron has no leverage against Clegg and, given how Clegg has behaved over the weekend, the PM needs and deserves our help.
Posted Sunday, 30 October 2011 at 10:39
The Eurozone, Britain and the elephant in the room
Posted Friday, 28 October 2011 at 13:50
I wonder if anyone trying to fathom the detail of the deal struck by the Eurozone countries and the impact it will have on ours is having as much trouble as I am this morning. Someone once asked me when I became overcome with tasks, ‘how do you eat an elephant?’ to which their answer was, ‘one slice at a time’.
I love elephants and am not terribly fond of that analogy, however, it is one I have applied this morning and the only conclusion I can arrive at is as follows;
Greece has an enormous debt which the Eurozone has reduced to a ‘mere’ 120% of their GDP. What good is that if they are still unable to pay it? The suspicion now is that in three months time the Eurozone leaders will be asking ‘what, you still can’t pay despite the write-off we gave you?’
Isn’t this going to happen with Greece? And doesn’t everyone know that, which is why this is what George Osborne said yesterday “Supporting countries that cannot support themselves is what the IMF exists to do, and there may well be a case for further increasing the resources of the IMF to keep pace with the size of the global economy.”
On the radio yesterday I heard a snippet of a financial commenter who said that France and Germany are already up to their necks (not quite but that’s what he meant), are concerned about the future of their Triple-A ratings and that the UK would therefore have to pay the bigger portion into the IMF than any other European country.
However, when George said that ‘We would not be prepared to see the IMF resources reserved for use only by the Eurozone’ he cannot guarantee that British pounds will not go to Greece or other Southern European basket cases. In three months time when the bailiffs knock on Greece’s door the IMF will come to the rescue carrying British pounds paid by British tax payers.
Does George Osborne think we won’t notice? I can guarantee that at least 81 of us will.
What the papers say
Posted Thursday, 27 October 2011 at 20:31
Covanta raised at PMQs (again)
Posted Wednesday, 26 October 2011 at 16:46
This afternoon Nadine used the weekly Prime Minister's Question Time to put a question to David Cameron about the disgraceful procedure by which the IPC has come to its decision to allow Covanta to build a waste incinerator in Mid-Bedfordshire.
The exchange is repeated here for those unlucky enough to have missed the lunchtime broadcast of the session:
Nadine: "The Infrastructure Planning Commission has made one decision—to grant planning permission for the giant American waste company Covanta to build a 600,000 tonne incinerator in Mid Bedfordshire. Thousands of people in Bedfordshire responded to the consultation saying that they do not want this. The small print of the decision says that the decision is subject to special parliamentary procedure. Will the Prime Minister please let the people of Bedfordshire know that this Government are not like the previous Government, that we listen to local concerns and that we will ensure that this monstrous, rubbish-guzzling atmosphere-polluting incinerator will not be imposed upon the people of Bedfordshire?"
The Prime Minister replied: "My hon. Friend makes an important point. There are difficult planning decisions that have to be made, but what the Government have done is made sure that the planning system is more democratic and reports to Parliament, and that Ministers have to take decisions and be accountable. I cannot speak for how those Ministers have to make those decisions. They have to make them in their own way, but we have ended the idea of the vast quango with absolutely no accountability, as my hon. Friend rightly says."
(Posted by Nadine's Parliamentary Researcher)
The Man of the Match
Posted Tuesday, 25 October 2011 at 18:06
The standard of debate in the chamber yesterday was excellent. It was driven by passion and belief and so no surprise there.
There were speeches of resignation, laden with bitter disappointment and speeches of anger and despair. But the best speech of all came from the most distinguished character in Parliament, Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Jacob may dress and sound like a throw back to the 1920's. You could mistake him for an extra from Wooster and Jeeve's, but you could not mistake his powerful reasoning, intellect or love of his country.
It has just occurred to me what a good leader he would make. He is such a character that maybe that's just what the British people may one day want, a character to delight in.
Posted Tuesday, 25 October 2011 at 15:18
We have had a number of emails regarding my comment on my blog earlier this week regarding the attitude of humanists towards infanticide.
Some have forwaded snapshot Tweets from people such as a lawyer announcing that he was proud to be a humanist and asking me to prove that humanists would advocate killing babies.
Well, here you go. Here is the proof in the words of the Australian humanist Peter Singer who was awarded 'humanist of the year' by the Australian humanist society in 2004.
This, in my opinion, evil humanist states that infanticide is ok and that the life of a baby is of less value than a pig.
In 1979 he wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”
In 1993 he stated that no newborn should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot.
I think they call this 'Eugenics'.
Instead of upgrading the fetus to the status of a person, however, Peter Singer downgrades the newborn to the status of nonperson because newborns, like fetuses, are incapable “of seeing themselves as distinct entities, existing over time." They are not rational, self-conscious beings with a desire to live.
Since, in Singer’s criteria, personhood hinges on these factors killing a newborn (or fetus) is not the same as killing a person. In fact, some acts of infanticide are less problematic than killing a happy cat. If, for example, parents kill one disabled infant to make way for another baby that will be happier than the first, the total amount of happiness increases for all interested parties. Singer’s logic can be summed up this way: Until a baby is capable of self-awareness there is no controlling reason not to kill it to serve the preferences of the parents.
There is a lot more about him on this blog.
So, the Australian humanist society makes their man of the year one who advocates infanticide. Nice.
I feel slightly disgusted that such an extreme group of people even print my name in their glossy (we are ever so innocent really) magazine. Oh yes, and that reminds me, which former LibDem MP has a role to play in the British Humanist Society? Maybe that's why Evan Harris' nickname in Parliament is Dr Death...
Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993),
Jeffrey Reiman, Critical Moral Liberalism (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997
Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 1st ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979)
Michael Tooley, “Abortion and Infanticide,” in Rights and Wrongs of Abortion, ed. Marshall Cohen, Thomas Nagel, and Thomas Scanlon (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974)
Posted Tuesday, 25 October 2011 at 10:41
Some of the scare tactics used yesterday to make MPs buckle down and vote against the wishes of their associations and constituents were pretty appalling.
Last night reminded me of the story from history when the Bishops were locked in the cupboard during the Reign of Elizabeth I. It really wasn’t far off that as the atmosphere became pretty tense. Nothing much has changed in 400 years. It also reminded me of the time I saw a Labour MP try and hide in a big green bottle bin on the terrace when the Labour Chief Whip came looking for him during a tuition fees vote.
The tactics used by the Prime Minister's staff were un-statesmanlike and now questions are being asked about the ‘worthiness’ of the No10 inner circle.
Whoever the person close to Cameron is who said to an MP “what’s that behind you? Oh dear, it’s your career” should be sacked. Today.
Readers of my column in my local newspaper, the Beds Times and Citizen, will understand why I voted the way I did last night which was for the motion in support of an EU referendum.
We send £29 million per day to Europe. That is around £870 million per month and, over the next four years, the figure is predicted to be £41 BILLION.
We are implementing severe cuts to pay down the deficit whilst we give cash lump sums to countries like Greece.
One point I made last night was that people don’t just want the repatriation of powers; they want the repatriation of the money. We want to keep our money and sort out our problems here and stop spending it abroad. The touch paper was lit last night. We 81 will now look for ways we can agitate further towards a commitment for a referendum.
Maybe it’s time we started using a few tactics of our own.
Posted Monday, 24 October 2011 at 14:03
I have arrived at my office to face a huge morning mail bag (we have three deliveries per day). Almost 400 constituency letters asking me to vote yes for the referendum motion, one asking me to vote against.
Even with that level of support from my constituents, this wont be an easy thing to do. I believe in party loyalty and I will be doing this with a very heavy heart comforted only by the fact that it's the right thing to do and that I am taking my constituents through the lobby with me.
Die with my boots on
Posted Monday, 24 October 2011 at 00:05
Today is the day that some of us get to vote on whether or not we believe the British people should have a say regarding our future relationship with Europe. There has never been a better time to have that vote.
I am not a rebel, in fact, according to ConHome I am one of the most loyal MPs my party has. However, I cannot possibly vote any other way than 'yes' tomorrow. This day is one of the reasons I came into politics, it is one of the reasons I worked so hard to become an MP and the same applies for many of my colleagues.
Apparently if I vote yes tomorrow, as one of the MPs whose seat has disappeared in the boundary review, I am going to find it impossible to find a new seat. This is because the whips office will be having words with associations to make sure that those of us who defy the whip tomorrow will be used as an example to other MPs in the future. You know how it goes, ‘Nadine Dorries, or whoever MP rebelled on the EU vote and look what happened to them’ type of example.
It has made me think, will this be worth the trouble? I can only come to one conclusion, if I don’t vote yes I will never be happy in my job again and so it wouldn’t be worth having anyway. If I am going to die, I may as well do it with my boots on.
Posted Sunday, 23 October 2011 at 11:11
The Observer has run a story today by Ian Birrell
who accompanied us on our trip to Equatorial Guinea. Our own report was filed with the press association on Friday and I hope we can have it online next week.
It was a surreal experience. For most of it I felt as though I was trapped between an episode of Groundhog Day and the Truman Show.
Ian's article is accurate and fair. In a telephone conversation he told me that he had described me as fiesty (in standing up to the intense pressure to write a glowing report) and that it was edited out and he was told it was sexist: Really? is that true? If it is true, that is one up-tight editor at the Observer!
Traitors to the left of me...not traitors to the right
Posted Saturday, 22 October 2011 at 12:32
If I or any other Conservative MP had hoped for a quiet weekend it’s not going to happen.
It could have happened. Monday’s vote on a referendum could have been a damp squib. It could have been one of those necessary vehicles backbenchers need to jump on every now and then to yell across the street to No. 10 “Oi, we're still here, don’t forget about how our voters feel when you're gadding about first class on the Eurostar, eating Sarkozy’s legs and sucking Merkel's face’ (I’ve borrowed the Merkel’s face bit from another MP on the phone this morning).
If Cameron had just ignored the motion and left the issue as a free vote, possibly fifty or so of us would have trundled through the lobby, kicking sleeping journalists on the way out so that they wake up and notice. It’s not what we want mind you. We want a referendum and we want it now, but we backbenchers are smart enough to know that we need a Prime Minister who isn’t shackled by the pro Euro Lib Dems, who wants it to happen too for any chance of success.
We have a new adviser in No. 10, Julian Glover, formerly of the Guardian. Given that the Guardian is George Osborne and No11's favourite newspaper to leak and brief to (he thinks no one is clever enough to notice) one has to wonder who is pulling the strings of that particular adviser. Cameron also has Danny Finklestein (for whom I have the greatest respect) and Andrew Cooper, both visitors to the SDP graveyard advising him. I shan’t say any more about the SDP, there is a reason they are in the graveyard.
And then there’s Nick Clegg. Mad again, as usual. Stropping his stuff around No. 10, looking for ways to be noticed and refusing to support even a compromise amendment from the Prime Minister's former aide turned MP, George Eustace.
You have to feel sorry for the Prime Minister. Traitors to the left of him, or the court of King George as I think Nicholas Watt of the Guardian describes it, and traitors to the far left in the form of Nick Clegg and the arch Europhile Liberal Democrats.
Prime Minister, there are only two people whose advice you can trust when dealing with the Parliamentary Party: the Chief Whip and Ed Llewellyn.
One watches your back, the other the chamber. Tell the Chief to drop the whipping on Monday to a one line vote because if you don’t it will haunt you forever. You only need to pick up the phone to the man who loved peas to confirm that one.
You also need to listen to your backbenchers in a way which involves a bit more from you than just drinks in the garden, a dazzling smile and basking in the warmth of those who heap praise upon you waiting for a phone call and a job. Your backbenchers represent the core of your party; ignore both at your peril.
Posted Friday, 21 October 2011 at 22:59
The Humanist magazine are running an online 'bad faith' poll
and I am apparently in the lead.
I am not sure why anyone would admit to being a humanist and part of an organisation which has such extreme views. A humanist recently commented that, not only did he believe that abortion was acceptable right up to the moment of birth, but that termination of a child's life was acceptable up until the point where the child had the ability to reason, understand and justify life.
The worrying thing is that almost 400 people have voted in this poll, presumably mostly drummed up via Twitter. However, it's scary to think how many people out there hold such extreme views dressed up as acceptable in an online glossy magazine.
Posted Friday, 21 October 2011 at 18:18
Report finaly done and released via press release to the PA, however, no easy way to post the Pdf onto my blog.
We are scratching our heads over this one!
Posted Friday, 21 October 2011 at 14:35
I have to admit to being utterly horrified and sickened by the coverage given to Gaddafi's last minutes.
We need to know he is dead and rightly so, but as a civilised nation are we really the kind of people who wish to gorge on the repeated, ghoulish, violent photographs and film footage? Is this a male/female thing? Is it men posting the pictures and writing the bulletins?
In a room full of women this morning with Sky on in the background, one woman commented, 'can we turn this off? It’s making me feel sick'. Me too! We complain about the BBC showing an assisted suicide but display this violence on every news channel all day.
I am no apologist for Gadaffi and I regret his death only because I believe he should have stood trial and been punished accordingly, even if that meant death by Libyan law. But what is happening on British TV is breaking new boundaries and when all the testosterone has ebbed down, I hope someone will ask questions.
Posted Friday, 21 October 2011 at 13:44
Today has been spent discussing Covanta with residents and finalising a report in relation to a delegation I led to EG during recess.
I hope to have the report submitted to the House of Commons library by the close of play today. A copy will also be submitted to Amnesty International and a link placed on my blog when available. It was an extraordinary visit.
When in Rome
Posted Thursday, 20 October 2011 at 12:27
Last night I attended a private party and met Matthew Sturgis, author of the book 'When in Rome - 2000 years of Roman Sightseeing'.
When I got home I read the preface and I just know I'm going to love every single page. I'm learning Italian (I can now ask to go to the bathroom fluently) and this book is going to be my guilty secret.
The book wanders through Rome and the ages explaining how it has appeared to the traveller and altered over time.
Matthew said the book will take me to exquisite delights of the city where no other tourist visits.
To my staff: when you can't find me, don't send out a search party, I may be in Rome.
Posted Thursday, 20 October 2011 at 10:27
is a list of the MPs who have so far signed the motion for a EU referendum.
During one short foray into the library yesterday, I learnt of at least another five who will be voting but who haven't signed 'up front'.
Readers may notice that there isn't a single LibDem signature on that list. I suppose we shouldn't expect one, given the Liberal Democrats are the party of further EU integration and advocated Britain joining the single currency.
Yes Mr Clegg, Hughes, Cable, Campbell, Hune et al, I'm talking about you.
And of course, one isn't likely to see a LibDem name on that list because the LibDems have very few activists. Those they have retained are probably the EU fanatics who would be horrified to see one of their own MPs calling for a referendum.
This list separates the men from the boys and the British people will find the Lib Dems wanting, yet again.
Posted Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 17:56
I have just had a conversation with the Comet editorial team regarding this article.
As an MP, I do accept that being misquoted comes with the turf. However, I do not like to be quoted out of context in order to fabricate an interesting headline to the benefit of the paper. I hope the paper will be printing the correction very shortly but just in case, the points I raised were as follows;
I did not comment on the Stotfold Children's Centre as it is not in my constituency. I did point out that, rather than being closed down, Children's Centres in my constituency are actually being opened. I posted on my blog recently photographs of my attendance at such an occasion.
I did comment that in the early days of Sure Start there were problems. Some of the centres I visited when working for Oliver Letwin (10 years ago) were little more than a room with leaflets in. However, I am very proud that the centres in Bedfordshire are providing a much needed service for families and children.
On Friday, I attended a meeting with portfolio holders and the leader of CBC at which I raised the issue and asked what plans the council had and voiced my concerns with regard to the future of the children’s centres in Mid Beds.
It's unusual for the Comet to misquote. I hope this is a one off.
News in brief
Posted Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 13:52
Posted Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 09:18
I blogged some time ago that any decision regarding a withdrawal from Europe, either in full or part, should be taken by the British people. I am therefore delighted to have added my name to this motion
to be debated next Thursday.
OP VISION DAY
Posted Monday, 17 October 2011 at 15:50
Last Thursday, Bedfordshire Police held an Op Vision day in Wootton.
As the picture shows, this involved moving a mobile Police Station into the village.
The area was flooded with officers knocking on doors and asking people to provide email addresses if they wanted to be kept informed if anything happened in the area which they needed to be aware of, such as a spate of burglaries or similar.
The mobile station also handed out invisible markers for TVs and other high cost goods.
And, believe it or not, I even spied the Chief Constable out and about on the streets. Now that’s something I’ve never seen before!
The Sunday Express
Posted Sunday, 16 October 2011 at 09:38
Have made an article
from my article on ConHome.
I wasnt 'hitting back' , just making a point!
What women want
Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 21:26
OP VISON DAY
Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 13:01
Bedfordshire Police ran an Op Vision day at Wooton yesterday. It was tremendously successful.I am having trouble loading photographs and will have to wait until Monday, when I will blog in more detail, hopefully, with the pictures too!
Tory Totty Online
Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 12:44
Thank you for a lovely evening. I have already posted a blog however, when I uploaded your logo, it deleted!!
This lady is a great blogger and much better with IT than I am.
Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 12:10
So independent is the IPC, the Secretary of State only found out about the Covanta decision not long before I did.
Following advice, This morning I have asked Central Beds Council to request that their legal advisors examine the IPC process with a fine toothcomb for a possible non adherence to the process, in order that they can instigate a judicial review.
Residents can help with this. if you feel that the IPC were obstructive during the time you lodged your objection, or that you feel the process failed in some way, please email the details to - firstname.lastname@example.org
There are many hurdles to be jumped yet.. environmental impact, the fact that Covanta don't have any customers. There is still a long way to go.
Labour's little present
Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 18:12
The IPC, an unelected quango, was established by Labour in order to take large infrastructure planning decisions and to keep politicians safe.
The decision to grant planning permission to Covanta, is the first decision it has taken and will probably be the last, as we are about to abolish it via the Localism Bill.
So, if we can't find a legal chink in the IPC process in order to call a judicial review, Covanta will be the Labour party's little (or not so little) present to Bedfordshire.
By the time I have finished, there wont be anyone in Mid Beds who doesn't know that.
Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 16:58
The American waste giant, Covanta, has just been granted permission by the IPC to build a Wembley sized incinerator in my constituency.
Outrage is not an adequate word to describe the feelings of my constituents. The IPC was established by Labour to remove all political responsibility from infrastructure planning decisions and is about to be abolished by this government, but too late for Mid Beds.
If the IPC think we are just going to roll over, whilst Covanta build an incinerator to burn London's rubbish in Bedfordshire, and shower us with it's toxic fly ash, they can think again.
We will not stand by and let this happen.
Shocking standards of nursing care...
Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 09:03
I have just read those words in an article in the Times by Camilla Cavendish in relation to the HSC Bill.
As I read 'shocking standards of nursing care' my heart fluttered with a sharp intake of breath and then I thought its ok, she's a journalist, she can say those things, its only politicians who dare not.
Liam Fox and HIGNFY
Posted Monday, 10 October 2011 at 09:30
Having just finished a radio interview with BBC West Midlands, it's time to head back to parliament.
Whilst I was waiting I read an article about about how much the BBC pay MPs for appearances. A couple of weeks ago I turned down HIGNFY for the fourth time; however, I did notice a line which read 'a fee is paid of £1,500' - It would have to be £15,000 for me to agree to that!
Dr Liam Fox has had a torrid weekend. I, along with the MPs who know him to be a good and decent man, will be in the chamber to lend him our support. Politics is the nastiest business in which people can make up any amount of nonsense and baseless lies they wish and the press report it.
It is difficult to identify the substance behind the accusations against Dr Fox. During these situations the chamber resembles a bear pit as the opposition smell blood and the prize of a scalp. This afternoon Liam will fight for his political life. We will - metaphorically speaking - put our arms around his shoulders, but it's up to him.
The House of Commons is no place for the squeamish.
The green freeze
Posted Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 11:20
Some may have noticed, I’ve not been George Osborne’s biggest fan lately but if this(£) is true, he’s bang on the money and one can only hope he's dragging his feet because of the effect on domestic fuel prices.
For those who don’t have any direct contact with pensioners, here’s how many of my older constituents manage their winter months; they go to the Co-op/ Nisa/Londis each week with a plastic card and have put onto the card how much they can afford to spend on heating their house that week.
At home, next to the meter, they have a piece of paper onto which they write down the meter numbers and then they put the card into the meter.
One gentleman I visited recently worked out he could afford enough gas to heat his home for one and a half hours each evening. Before he goes to bed, he writes down the meter numbers again. When the weather is really bad he will go to the library, just to keep warm and wander around the shops but he can’t afford to buy tea or coffee because it’s over two pounds a cup.
An estimated five million people live in fuel poverty.
Further investment in renewable green energy is only something which can be afforded when we know our pensioners aren’t going to become hypothermic in the process.
Maybe No10 would like to switch off the heating on the coldest day of the year, just so that they can feel what it’s like to be a pensioner living in Britain, and then let’s see if they are quite as enthusiastic about further investment in renewable energy. In fact, I think we should all insist that they do it for a week, so that they can really understand.
It would appear that the yellow hand of the Liberal Democrats is resting on David Cameron’s shoulder once again.
On another note re today’s press, it would appear that Quentin Letts is right. Boris and I really are the only two Conservatives who don’t need a surname.
Posted Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 15:14
Give the Kids a Chance
Posted Thursday, 6 October 2011 at 10:23
David Cameron yesterday made a short reference to the fact that not enough employers are offering young people places on apprenticeship schemes.
We have young people in Bedfordshire who have been offered a place on an apprenticeship scheme via a college, however they cannot start the scheme or course until an employer has committed to take them on for two days per week at a cost of about £90.
This is because the young people involved need to be in employment in order to practice the skills they will learn at college.
One young man came to see me recently. His course starts in four weeks and we are now working to try and find a company to take him on and commit to the two days, but time is running out.
This situation will be the same around the country as young people face losing their college place if an employer won’t take them on.
So, to all employers, please give the kids a chance and commit.