A Busy Week Begins
Posted Monday, 17 October 2016 at 09:24
Another busy week in Westminster is beginning. Starting today I’m chairing proceedings of the Small Charitable Donations Bill for its Committee Stage.
Later other Beds MPs, as well as our brilliant Police and Crime Commissioner, are meeting the Police Minister to lobby for reform to the funding formula. Currently Beds Police are funded as a small rural force despite the challenges of modern urban areas and an international airport to look after.
After the police meeting I will be having another quick chat with my colleagues from Luton to mention the incredible support in Mid-Beds for the Luton Town FC Power Courts development. I’ve been copied into hundreds of emails sent to the planning authorities about this and I’m happy to offer what support I can.
At the other end of the week, when I’m finished in Westminster, I hope to be back in Mid-Beds on Thursday evening in time for my round of constituency engagements. This is what I always look forward to on Mondays, if you’re a constituent I hope to see you either this week or sometime soon.
Delay Repay Improvements for Thameslink Line
Posted Thursday, 13 October 2016 at 12:00
The Department for Transport has announced that our Thameslink line will be the first in the country to get the new enhanced delay repay scheme that kicks in after 15 minutes, rather than the current 30.
This is something my constituents have long been asking for, with many of them suffering delays just under the previous 30 minute limit on several days a week, making them late for work but ineligible to claim any money back.
While I’m incredibly pleased at this move, which I think demonstrates the DfT is finally recognising the plight of those of us who use Thameslink regularly, the fight doesn’t stop here.
Compensation for delays is all well and good but we need to improve the service on the line so there are fewer delays and we can all get to work and home again on time. Figures show that about 40% of the delays are the fault of Govia, the operating company, and most of the rest are due to problems with Network Rail’s infrastructure.
Investment and better management in both companies need to cut the delays experienced by my constituents and all the other people using the Thameslink line. I will keep lobbying Ministers and managers until that is what we get.
How Not To Dodge A Hard Question...
Posted Tuesday, 13 September 2016 at 16:28
While I have fought against the Labour Party my entire political life, I have also respected the party, many of its politicians and some of its principles. I believe that our system of parliamentary democracy requires a strong opposition to bring about good government.
It was therefore tragic and quite embarrassing to witness the Shadow Foreign Secretary appear on Sky News over the weekend. Unable to name either the French Foreign Minister or the South Korean President, Emily Thornberry was shown to have a poor grasp of her brief.
What did she do? Accept she had been caught out and take it graciously? No, for Thornberry is a Corbynista and they never seem to accept any blame for any failings. She accused the presenter of being ‘sexist’ for daring to ask her basic questions about her brief.
Before any keyboard warriors on Twitter get their undergarments in a twist I’ll admit I probably couldn’t have named the two people mentioned off the top of my head on a Sunday morning. But I’m not the Shadow Foreign Secretary aiming to present myself as member of a government in waiting.
What’s worse is that there is still a huge amount of sexism about in Westminster and much of the rest of the country. It needs to be called out wherever we find it. But to just use a knee-jerk accusation of sexism as a disguise for basic ignorance of your brief is to de-value the term.
The Labour Party was once the party of Barbara Castle, fighting very real injustice for women and I, as a Tory, am still thankful for their work. How a once-great party could fall so quickly from Barbara Castle to Emily ‘White Van’ Thornberry is astonishing and deeply sad.
On a different note, my office is still getting requests from constituents for the tours of ‘Big Ben’ offered by the parliamentary authorities. Unfortunately these are now fully booked until December, when the Elizabeth Tower closes for lengthy renovation. While I can’t for the time being arrange tours of the tower, I will very happily arrange tours for constituents of the rest of the Palace.
My Times Red Box Article on Brexit
Posted Tuesday, 6 September 2016 at 15:58
In Parliament yesterday, David Davis took to the dispatch box for the first time since 1996 to explain what Brexit means to those who felt that the phrase, ‘Brexit means Brexit,’ had run its course.
‘It means leaving the European Union,’ he explained to the most zealous of europhile MPs still attempting to mount an attack.
It is worth noting that since June 23rd, we have seen an increase in car sales, a record increase in manufacturing industry growth and countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Speaker of the US Congress all pressing for free trade deals. Maybe they understand our desire to take control of our own borders, keep our streets safe, make our own laws and our elected government decide how British tax payers money is spent? A bit like they do.
The process of establishing the framework within which we trigger article 50 and repeal the European Communities Act will take a little time. Not a lot. Polls are telling us that the public would rather we got it right, than rushed and got it wrong.
If some still cannot believe in Britain and our ability to innovate and achieve, they should listen to the Japanese Ambassador who said that he had not met a single company that did not think Britain was the best place in Europe to do business. Not one.
The fact is that Britain had become damaged, subsumed by the priorities, interests and demands of the twenty seven member states of the European Union.
Our goal should now be to look outwards and trade with the rest of the world. We must negotiate access to the single market as other countries have done, not membership. Trade agreements are based on mutual benefits to both countries, not just on one side. No European country is committed to self harm. They want to do business with us as much as we do with them, but without the ties, which presently bind us and prevent us from doing deals elsewhere.
There must be areas where policy will exist in harmony, develop and amend, such as environmental policy, security and foreign affairs. Brexit doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It is about securing the very best deal for Britain.
This summer, our best athletes travelled to Brazil to show the world just how great Britain is by beating every other EU country on the leader board and proudly flew home wearing a stash of medals. Those amateur athletes knew exactly what they could achieve.
No MP should demand the right to a vote on the final Brexit agreement and dilute the outcome. MPs who assume to do so, believe themselves to be the professional politicians who know better. Seventeen and a half million Brits voted for Brexit. They didn’t need David Davis to explain to them what Brexit means. They know what we can achieve. We are merely the people’s representatives. We had our own vote on June 23rd and the people have told us, get on with it.
Why I'm Voting for Andrea Leadsom to be Prime Minister
Posted Tuesday, 5 July 2016 at 17:27
Andrea has a searing intellect and was a board member when she was just 32 and was 7 months pregnant.
Her drive and ambition for our country is phenomenal.
She’s held two ministerial positions and has a better understanding of finance than anyone else in Government.
She is committed to delivering Brexit.
She is also totally committed to protecting those from abroad already living here as well as British citizens living in Europe.
On that point she absolutely will not waiver. It will be the number one priority.
Andrea knows she can turn this country into a far wealthier place where every vulnerable person and poor community can benefit and dodgy bankers fail.
Andrea is warm, compassionate and truly caring.
She is not part of the establishment.
She shuns the words ‘you can’t’ and replaces them with ‘I can and I will’.
She is the kind of person you can invite into your home for lunch – feel as if you had known her all your life – and she would eat it with your children clambering in her lap.
Boris backs her and, I believe, the country will back her too.
Mail on Sunday article
Posted Sunday, 26 June 2016 at 08:00
to read my article in today's Mail on Sunday
, 'Why I am convinced we must put Boris in to bat now'.
Posted Monday, 18 April 2016 at 15:09
I was about to write a blog about the statement made by George Osborne that Britain will be poorer outside of the EU. Setting aside his blatant opportunism, dishonesty and what is possibly his last salvo to resurrect his reputation and bid to be the next Prime Minister, let's look at the figures.
This is the easy bit as someone else has just done it.
Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator is a 'Remainer' and yet even he is incensed by George Osborne's statement.
Maybe that's because Osborne audaciously supposes that the British Public are a bunch of thick plebs who won't understand what he's saying anyway. That's what's done it for me.
Take it away Fraser...
Posted Friday, 8 April 2016 at 12:31
We all know the Government isn't neutral in the EU referendum debate. They are actively campaigning for us to Remain. But it is only just becoming clear how aggressively they are running that campaign and they are doing it with taxpayers' money.
We now know that £9 million has been spent on a leaflet praising the EU and describing why we should all be terrified of leaving it. That leaflet is being posted to every household in the country and you are footing the bill.
David Cameron describes this £9 million as 'money well spent'. According to my inbox very many of my constituents disagree. And they are right to be angry because the Government's spending breaches their own preferred watchdog's rules.
The European Commission for Democracy Through Law, similar to our own Electoral Commission, states that governments 'must not abuse their position...In any event, the use of public funds for campaigning purposes must be prohibited'. My emphasis, although the words couldn't really be any clearer.
I thought the ridiculously named 'BSE' campaign group for IN were well funded enough to send out leaflets making their case without relying on taxpayers. As the argument turns against them maybe they aren't drawing in the mega-bucks donations any more.
Posted Saturday, 26 March 2016 at 11:04
It would be impossible to match the excellence and eloquence of Stephen Fry when he deactivated his twitter account and described the platform as…
‘A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous, who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and to be offended… It is a stagnant pool. Frothy with scum, clogged with weeds and littered with broken glass, sharp rocks and slimy rubbish.’
He was understating the case.
Twitter is a place where people lose their jobs, their dignity, their self-respect and, occasionally, their life.
After almost ten years on Twitter (so long I can’t remember) and with 28,000 followers, I have made my own modest exit.
I haven’t de activated my account and slammed the door, like Stephen Fry, I’ve tried that before. I once described Twitter as a sewer and was amazed to discover, it led the news on Sky TV.
This time I have left the door open, and a note on the mantelpiece with my forwarding address. For those interested in my views on politics, please pop next door to http://blog.dorries.org
If you are a friend or a reader of my books, I’m in the countryside, setting up a totally politics free Facebook account, which will be fully up and running over the Easter holidays.
Having been voted the best MP on twitter on a number of occasions, I have always taken pride in condensing my forthright views and announcing them to the world. After all, twitter was made for gobby scousers like me. But that was back then. When twitter was new and exciting. Before the self-righteous twitter mob arrived and squatted on the platform. Like-minded groups of people who only feel worthy or good if they can bully, deride or reduce others. And then, there are the sociopaths. There are a lot of those on Twitter.
My disenchantment first began when I received a tweet sent to me, which read, ‘I want to see you trapped in a burning car and watch as the flesh melts from your face.’
The author was a student at Oxford University. I decided not to prosecute. Surely, that had to be a one off? Sadly, it was just the beginning.
Twitter has become a place were stalkers mark their prey. They no longer push hand written notes through letterboxes or skulk under lampposts or in telephone boxes. Social media provides the bridge that enables the wavering stalker to cross into the very dark world, he may once have thought twice about before entering.
Two such people, of a different political leaning to me, used Twitter to cold contact pupils at my daughter’s school and asked them to secretly gather nuggets of personal information about her movements.
They wanted to post the information on Twitter to confuse and scare me. To make me mistrust my daughter’s friends and teachers. To make me fear for her safety.
I am an author as well as an MP. As a female politician, the misogynistic twitterati think it is offensive for me to write books in my spare time. It’s ok for the excellent and successful author and Labour MP, Alan Johnson, but not for me.
Apparently, for this crime, my dogs should die in a manner of ways.
Late one Thursday evening, as I left a Question Time studio in a northern location and headed to my hotel, the more deranged Twitter users were wondering how easy it would be to gain access to my room.
People take to Twitter to voice their outrage that as an MP paid for by the taxpayer, I should dare to write books in my free time. That I should be a full time MP.
I am full time MP. In the same way a taxpayer funded doctor, social worker, teacher or nurse is a full time employee. But that doesn’t stop any of us having a life outside of the job.
I can no longer interact on Twitter with my constituents or my readers. Anyone who tweets the mildest support for me finds that they themselves become targets of unprecedented abuse. This is a standard tactic of the Twitter mob, to bully and isolate.
My heart crunched when one of my severely disabled constituents, a young man I visited at his home, told me he cries when he reads some of the abusive comments that regularly pop up on my twitter feed. I told him not to look, but he does and I can’t stop him. But, I can stop tweeting.
He asked me, ‘why are people so unkind?’ They aren’t. It’s just that those who take pleasure in being unkind find easy gratification on Twitter.
There are men who have spent almost ten years of their life obsessed with what I say on Twitter. I say men but, if they don’t have a blue tick against their name we have no idea who they really are.
I imagine they’re sat in a bedroom in their mother’s house, hunched over a computer, tweeting their daily-misinformed comments and abuse. Encouraging others to tweet their own abuse and trying hard to whip up a Twitter storm against me.
The time has flown but the startling fact remains, they are doing today exactly what they were trying to do ten years ago. They are sinister. They are fixated, and that is truly frightening.
Twitter has become a room in which the seriously unwell meet, create an echo chamber, set their own rules and plan attacks. They distort and manipulate and their objective is to destroy people. Not just those in the public eye, but innocent bystanders too. And sometimes they destroy themselves.
Barbara Leyland was by day a perfectly respectable woman. By night, a Twitter troll sending vile messages to the parents of Madeline McCann. Confronted by Sky News reporters, she said she was entitled to behave in such a manner, just before she took her own life.
I’ve been accused on Twitter of buying fake followers, as if I even knew how and then I was informed they had been set up by one of my stalking, Twitter obsessives, in order to create a negative news story and therefore damage my reputation. And it worked.
Last weekend I woke and the sun was shining. The daffodils had burst into bloom in the garden and life felt good. The dogs jumped on the bed, my loved one brought me tea and as I sat up, I reached out my hand for my phone and checked my Twitter account.
Suddenly, the room was filled with the noise of a thousand people screaming their faux outrage and vitriolic abuse at me. I am scum. A thief, cheat and a disguising excuse for a human being. I’m corrupt, ugly and I should resign, from everything.
It was as if one person after another filed past the bedroom door and hurled in their 140 characters of scorn as they went. ‘Don’t look,’ friends comment. But, if you don’t look, what is the point of Twitter?
And that was when I decided to drag the suitcase down from the top of the wardrobe and to leave.
It may be one day that something fires me up so much; I may want to return, but on the basis that I won’t interact, engage or look.
I wonder whom the obsessives who Tweet about me constantly will turn on next? They have had ten years of me. Enough.
Mail on Sunday article
Posted Sunday, 6 March 2016 at 06:00
to read my column in today's Mail on Sunday
Britain Should Leave the EU
Posted Monday, 22 February 2016 at 14:53
I will be campaigning for Britain to leave the EU. I will be doing so because I believe in Britain. I think Britain is better than squalid backroom deals and the bland compromise of consensus between 28 countries squabbling for their share of a communal pot. I believe our potential is being held back, we are not cooperating with our European partners but being shackled to the consequences of their poor economic decisions. We went through a renegotiation of our terms of membership because the status quo wasn’t working. We got almost nothing and the status quo still isn’t working. Outside the EU, Great Britain will continue to trade with Europe, we will be free to trade more with other parts of the world, we will control our own borders, make our own laws and we will be stronger as a result.
Dismissal of the Election Petition
Posted Thursday, 30 July 2015 at 15:58
With regards to today’s news from the High Court, my solicitors, Clifford Chance, have prepared this statement on my behalf:
"This petition was part of Mr Ireland's continued campaign of harassment against our client. Our client believes that the petition was maliciously brought and had no merit. We are pleased that the right outcome, namely dismissal of the petition, was achieved. Our client was elected with a very clear majority and, with this petition now dismissed (and with the petitioner not having sought to appeal) she can continue with her job of representing the people of Mid-Bedfordshire."