Posted Tuesday, 30 September 2008 at 12:58
Conference has changed forever. It's not the absence of a sea front to wander along when in desperate need of silence, solace or just a break from the perpetual conference chatter that has made the difference; or even the familiarity of the hotel watering halls and venues, it's much more than that.
Birmingham is full of twenty something earnest young men in black suits with iphones growing out of their ears. Gone are the faithful association members with their happy smiles, warm wishes and plastic bags.
Last night I walked into the Conference hotel and amid the masses of power-ready people were an elderly couple, sitting on a bench looking slightly dazed. It looked like Derby and Joan had wandered onto the set of High School Musical and didn't know the lines.
I wanted to offer to help and as I wandered over they were rescued by their own MP.
With hotels at £120 per night and restaurant prices at the gastro pub end of the price range, the days of party members getting together and seeing the same faces year after year have gone.
Conference has gone corporate. This is the way of the new political age and the price of success. I acknowledge and accept that the shared generational experience of gentle seaside daytime bonhomie giving way to night time revelry has gone forever. But I acknowledge it with a tinge of regret, sadness and many fond memories.
Conservative Party Conference: George's Speech
Posted Monday, 29 September 2008 at 10:33
In Birmingham. The sun is shining; and the mood booming.
Off to do the Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC Five Live then Daily Politics with Andrew Neil.
George's speech today could be one of the most important in his career, given the financial turbulence. I think it could be a speech that would be particularly welcomed by struggling families.
Posted Sunday, 28 September 2008 at 16:55
Just about to leave for conference. I have to confess, I loathe conference. It’s the factor of the ‘unknown’, anything can happen and I don’t like that.
I had said that this year I was going to watch all the speeches, something I don’t get to do when I am there, from my sofa at home.
That was until I agreed to speak at fringes, judge talent competitions, give interviews etc.
I will blog where and what I am doing as I go along.
A tale Of NY Academia
Posted Friday, 26 September 2008 at 09:30
New York University Don’s decided to run an undergraduate course in feminism.
There were objections, based on the fact that the course was to be one of ‘expression’ rather than theory or academia.
After all, any woman could have a degree in expression and most of us are pretty good at it, especially when mad.
Regardless of the objections, the course began.
Three years later there was a proposal to establish a post grad course, again it passed.
A PHD course followed.
The feminist department decided they wanted to run their own faculty publication. It was called ‘Clitoral Hermeneutics’.
Following the publication of twelve peer reviewed papers by one particular author she became an associate professor.
Clitoral Hermeneutics? Strange name?
Maybe they called it that because they didn’t want the men to find it?
I am in the constituency today for meetings and surgeries and then off to London to speak at a dinner. My conference blogs will start tomorrow and I will be blogging over the weekend.
Sarah Vs Ruth.
Posted Thursday, 25 September 2008 at 14:36
Now here’s a strange one.
I have often said on my blog that there is nothing a sister on the left hates more than a sister on the right, especially one who is winning the arguments.
Not ever having been a ‘feminist’ myself, I do listen to the protestations of the sisterhood with a mixture of wry amusement and cynicism.
The cynicism is at its most evident these days when listening to comments aimed at Sarah Palin.
Among the comments thrown at Palin by the feminist elite, are that she should be at home looking after her children.
This is after they have spent years campaigning for more women at the top
Now, what exactly are they going to say to one of their own, on the left, who has decided to do just that?
Dr Herbert London.
Posted Wednesday, 24 September 2008 at 13:10
Yesterday - courtesy of the Henry Jackson Society - I welcomed Dr Herbert London, President of the Hudson Institute in Washington DC and New York to the House of Commons.
Dr London is an academic and listed in just about every American Whos Who. He is a prolific author, as well as a political and social commentator.
He is also Professor Emeritus of New York University, a Republican and likes Sarah Palin only marginally more than I do. He also has amazing recall.
His speech was focused on the forthcoming US elections; the global foreign policy challenges facing whoever becomes the next President; and his latest book ‘America’s Secular Challenge’ which I started to read last night.
His speech was peppered with anecdotes which gave balance to the very serious talk he delivered. Dr London’s message is that belief matters. How can you work or fight to retain what you believe in, if you don’t believe in anything?
He is well aware that his own beliefs do not enjoy much credence amongst the Liberal elite, many of whom mistrust religious belief of any kind. Yet he questions whether radical secularism offers a sufficiently robust alternative to religion – robust enough, that is, to nurture the core values of western civilisation at a time when those values are under siege not only from external threats of radical Islam, but also from the internal threats of moral anaemia and fecklessness.
In the UK we see, pay for and deal with, the problems of a broken society everyday, brought about by what Dr London would describe as fecklessness and the moral anaemia of drugs and prostitution.
In the UK it's too late for religious belief to answer the problems we face today and for that I lay the blame solely at the feet of the established Church.
However, his argument is based upon an even bigger problem which dwarfs that of the broken society, terrorism and radical Islam. If we are facing the clash of two civilisations, how on earth can a Western civilisation succeed without the focus and strength of core fundamental beliefs?
I had lunch after the talk with Dr Alan Mendoza, Director of the Henry Jackson Society, Herb and his wife Vicky who is a wealth of knowledge. They were such lovely people.
I have just opened a copy of the book Herb gave me and he has written on the inside, “To my favourite MP.”
As of today he is my favourite academic and if meeting him showed me anything, it was that there should be a much stronger working relationship between British and American politicians.
We face similar problems both within our own society and on a global level. There is strength in unity and there are many ways to work the ‘special relationship’ other than between two men at the top.
Amsterdam Eco Town
Posted Tuesday, 23 September 2008 at 12:28
Local councillor Mike Gibson has been to Amsterdam to take a look at an eco town.
This is what he has to say:
I came back from Amsterdam convinced that the only time that we can properly challenge is now. We must redouble our efforts to convince those that have the power to make the decision, that under any criteria they could apply, Marston Vale is not the place for a new “eco” town.”
“I am absolutely horrified; what is currently being proposed is a trick of smoke and mirrors, and I urge all residents to make their voices heard against the so-called eco-town.”
“My fact-finding trip to Amsterdam only confirmed and strengthened my initial worries that what constitutes a real eco-town bears no resemblance to what is being proposed in the Marston Vale.”
“To build on a beautiful greenfield area and to cite it as sustainable, ecological and a benefit to the local residents is a nonsense, and I will do everything in my power to stop it from happening.”
Dr Herbert London.
Posted Monday, 22 September 2008 at 17:13
Tomorrow I am welcoming Dr Herbert London - President of the Hudson Institute in Washington DC - to the House of Commons. I shall also chair a meeting at which he will be speaking in the Thatcher Room.
Click here for more details of the event, on the Henry Jackson Society website.
I am looking forward to meeting him and listening to his talk, which promises to be nothing less than fascinating.
Posted Monday, 22 September 2008 at 16:06
On Saturday 700 of us held up traffic on the A421 as we marched in protest against the proposed new eco town in the Martson Vale.
The Marston Moretaine Eco Town Action Group (MMETAG) and the Bedfordshire On Sunday, have both carried details of the march on their websites. It was a fantastic day and we couldn't have asked for better weather. I will add no more, except I will say that the next march will be a torch lit procession on the 9th October!
Labour isn't Working
Posted Monday, 22 September 2008 at 09:55
I think it's time that we Conservatives started to remind people how bad it can get under Labour.
I spent my weekend doing exactly what I did last weekend: finding out how hard the looming recession was hitting business in my constituency.
A company providing equipment to the leisure industry told me they had announced the day before that the advertising budget was being withdrawn and to expect redundancies. “The phone just isn’t ringing”, said my constituent, “no orders coming in – we are drying up”.
As Conservatives prepare to work the country back up out of the mess Labour has once again dropped us into, we need to remind people every single day of the inevitability of a sustained period of Labour government: tax, tax, tax, spend, spend,spend, recession.
I Don't Believe It!
Posted Monday, 22 September 2008 at 07:57
Twenty four hours after I made my package for the ‘Daily Politics Show’, Sarah Palin gave a speech which carried exactly the same message!
My package isn't screened until next Monday. What am I to do?
The PM, Botox And The Sunday Times Style Magazine
Posted Sunday, 21 September 2008 at 09:50
It’s Sunday 9.30am and I have had more shocks than any reasonable morning after a friends birthday party the night before girl should have to take - before her second cup of tea anyway!
The first began with the news that the Beds on Sunday have done yesterdays march proud in terms of coverage. Full blog post and links tomorrow.
The second was that there is a full page photograph of me wearing a £4000 suit (not mine!) in the Sunday Times Style magazine. The shoes are to die for!!
The third is the biggest. I am sat in front of the Television discussing the merits of Paracetamol v Alka Seltzer with my friend who is a Doctor. We are also watching Gordon Brown on Andy Marr.
My friend has just completed a course in cosmetic enhancements. Actually, he is now my best friend.
Suddenly he announces, “Wow, Gordon Brown has had fillers and Botox”.
At first I thought he meant dental fillings, but no, he assures me that Gordon Brown has had a chemical filler injected into the two craggy gaps lines which did run from the side of his nose; and he has had Botox injections in his face to relax and smooth his appearance.
He is absolutely 100 percent convinced.
I am not sure looking less scary is going to stop frightening the voters away Gordon.
I'm looking closer - I think he's right!
The Daily Politics Show And Marching!
Posted Saturday, 20 September 2008 at 09:00
Yesterday was spent preparing for and then filming a package for ‘The Daily Politics Show’.
The package was based on a comment I made in the House of Commons during treasury questions months ago. It’s nice to know someone notices!
I was allowed to write my own script, edited by the producer of course. The package is going out on the Monday of our conference and then I am being interviewed by Andrew Neil straight after.
Today I am leading a march of 500 people against the proposed EcoTowns down the A421. Motorists are going to love me!! However, it has to be done. We are not having 15,000 homes dumped onto our villages.
More on Monday with lots of photographs.
Tea and Jerusalem
Posted Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 11:00
In September my diary is packed full of constituency appointments.
I work on the basis that my constituents will be so sick of me by the end of the month, that they will happily let me concentrate more on my Parliamentary work, once October arrives.
Last night I spoke to another group of the WI.
It really is all tea, home made cakes and bring and buy. I love it.
As I pulled up outside the village hall just after eight, it was dark and damp and for the first time the air smelt of autumn. The warm lights inside welcomed me in and guided me down the dark path to the wooden front door.
I thought about the door I enter through when I arrive at the House of Commons each morning. I have to pinch myself. I still can't believe I am there and that I hold such an honour and privilege. As I look up at the arch over St Stephens, the same feeling overwhelms me every time.
As I left my car the noise of the central locking cut through the air. The village wildlife had obviously settled down following the arrival of the ladies - I must have been a bit of a surprise as an owl hooted and flew from its resting place on the Church roof.
It was a full moon and I could make out its silhouette as it went in search of somewhere less noisy. I had probably just startled its supper.
I lifted the latch and walked into the hall and was met by a scene straight out of Calendar Girls. Woolly cardis were sitting on wooden chairs. Everyone commenting on how hot it was in there, despite the fact it was freezing! Lots of giggles as ladies chided and teased each other in the same way they have been doing for years.
I gave a talk, answered lots of questions and judged a photo competition. Then tucked into the home made cakes, sausage rolls and tea, as compulsive feeders in the guise of mothers made me!
I left the ladies organising who was going to make what for the Harvest supper. Content, happy, at peace with their lives.
As I left the hall and closed the wooden latched door behind me with the sound of their thanks and warm wishes ringing in my ears, I felt that feeling of pride again.
I do realise that I am a very lucky lady to constantly be in the company of and to be able to meet such lovely people. - I have the nicest constituency.
Have I ever mentioned this before?
The Big Issues Of Our Time (And Wasting Parliamentary Time).
Posted Wednesday, 17 September 2008 at 11:41
Today I have received a letter from John Lyon CB - the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards - in response to a complaint made about my blog by a Liberal Democrat.
The complainant clearly has a lot of spare time on his hands, so much so that he felt it necessary to submit a 21 page dossier to the House of Commons authorities, about my 'conduct' with regards to my blog.
I must admit that before the complaint had been brought to my attention, I had never heard of the complainant!
For the record, John Lyon's letter to the complainant states the following:
"The position is that no Parliamentary resources have been used to fund Mrs Dorries' weblog. Questions about whether its content is consistent with the rules in relation to Parliamentary funding do not therefore arise."
He goes on to state, "No further action on any point is required, and therefore consider your complaint now closed."
I wonder how much time, resources and money has been used by the parliamentary authorities to look into the matter of my 'conduct'?
This whole matter has been a personal wake-up call for me.
There's the threat of international terrorism; a rudderless government in decline; huge economic uncertainty; the war in Afghanistan; a global energy crisis; the re-emergence of Russian aggression; and the spread of HIV in Africa.
But what about the complainant? Does the content of my blog really warrant such attention?
I think this has been a most revealing episode as to his type of politics - it's certainly not mine.
Posted Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 14:15
Last month food prices increased by 13 per cent and fuel by 16 per cent. House prices are tumbling, world banks falling and redundancies looming. Some say, and I include the Chancellor in this that we are entering a depression worse than that experienced in the 1930s.
I for one really hope this won’t happen; however, it has to be said, that there are those who have been predicting this scenario for some considerable time.
I have noticed a complete change in the type of problems my constituents have been bringing into my surgeries.
We are overwhelmed by debt.
I put the blame for this squarely at the door of Gordon Brown and the overwhelming number of direct and stealth tax increases he has imposed on British families during his tenure. At the last count it was well over 100.
Every mum and dad wants to dress their baby in the best clothes. All parents want to do the best for their children and all families know how hard it can be to make ends meet.
A local village shopkeeper in Mid Beds told me today of how he felt the kick for the first time this weekend.
Every Saturday he has 130-140 customers and takes around £2000. This Saturday he had more customers, 180, and took only £1,800. People were being much more careful.
When money disappears from the pay packet, families turn to credit cards or borrowing against the available equity in their homes. The fact that the UK has a record high level of personal indebtedness bears this out.
All the time Gordon Brown talked about fiscal prudence he meant fiscal promiscuity as he played fast and loose with our money.
The story is he is toast, and so he should be. But not because Labour MPs see their seats disappearing before their eyes, but because he is the architect of what may become the greatest financial disaster of this century.
Posted Monday, 15 September 2008 at 14:35
Interesting to see Fiona Mactaggart on the news yesterday evening - the latest Labour MP to call for Brown to go.
The last time I saw Fiona, she was sitting in Portcullis House, engaged in deep conversation over a cuppa with a one Mr Charles Clarke.
Read into those tea leaves what you will!
All Above Board
Posted Friday, 12 September 2008 at 10:55
I can’t remember ever agreeing with anything Lord Adonis has said.
I take huge exception to anyone who has not been elected by the people, having ministerial responsibility and making policy decisions, which affects the lives of people who exercise their democratic right and vote.
I do, however, agree with him this morning with regard to the expansion of state funded boarding schools.
Barry Sheerman - Labour MP and Chairman of the Children, Schools & Families Select Committee - has made a comment this morning which demonstrates just how out of touch, along with other Labour MPs, his party is.
If reports on the radio are to be believed, Barry opposes the proposal and wants to launch a Commons' inquiry into ‘the harm caused by boarding schools’.
Apparently his argument is that state run boarding schools, which are being proposed to benefit some of the most needy in society, will in fact harm the most vulnerable children.
I have a suggestion for Mr Sheerman. Go and spend some time in a City based children's charity, such as Kids Company in South London.
There he will meet children who drift into the charity HQ in the morning for meals and help, but who leave at night, often to sleep on the streets.
I met an eight year old little girl who did have a home, but not as we would know it. She had a mother who was an addict. The boiler for hot water and radiators had long since been sold to pay for drugs; as had the bedding and furniture.
The girl slept on rags on the floor. The mother was sometimes present, she did not physically harm the child and she was being fed by the charity, so social services did not feel she warranted being taken into care - and anyway, there were no care places to put her into, as there were children in a worse position than her.
An exceptional case you may think? No.
There are thousands of children in London and across cities in the UK who live in disorganised, chaotic, deprived and fatherless lives - mainly as a result of the drug culture into which they were born and we need to fix.
I would like Barry to go and tell those children that he does not approve of warm comfy rooms, regular meals, care, affection, routine, companionship, education and the only chance they may ever have in their entire lives to grasp a hand, to pull them out of the poverty trap they are stuck in.
I would like him to walk around the streets of London in November and tell every young person who has just slept on those same streets, that he is trying to prevent them from having a chance in life they could only dream of.
There is nothing in politics which is quite so unpleasant and narrow minded as the beliefs of the champagne socialist steeped in envy, fighting the class battles and perceptions of yesteryear, from a privileged ivory tower.
Write Your Own!
Posted Thursday, 11 September 2008 at 09:17
A journalist has just asked me not to post the blog I was going to post today, as he would like to write it as an exclusive.
This is the second day on the trot this has happened. I’m not going to answer the phone to another journalist until I have re-written and posted my new blog for today.
She's In Fashion?
Posted Monday, 8 September 2008 at 14:56
Being an MP isn’t always predictable. Today I was interviewed and photographed for a fashion feature in the Sunday Times, Style Magazine, out on the 28th September.
It took almost two hours to have my hair and make up done - it takes me five minutes, and they call themselves professionals!
The interview was very much about being a woman in politics. When journalists begin to ask questions about whether or not being an MP has affected my children, it makes my heart very heavy.
I am always reminded of the Labour MP, elected in ‘97, who was totally distraught and made herself ill at not seeing her children for six days and nights per week.
Thursday night is supposed to be the early night; however, you still don’t leave here until after 7. Constituency days on Friday start early and finish late, very late, and Saturdays can be just the same.
There is only one way for an MP who is a mum to ever see her children and that is to have them living in London, in close proximity to the House of Commons so that you can get home occasionally. The same rule applies to male MPs who are dads.
It’s the reason why some MPs pretend to live in their constituencies, but really live in London.
They live a pretence, which makes their every day existence one of walking on eggshells, always looking over their shoulders, waiting to be caught out by the local association or the press.
It’s a cross party dilemma. It’s a family killer and is probably responsible for more broken homes, divorces and unhappy children that anything else in Westminster.
I am fortunate; Bedfordshire is a train journey away. I was asked what advice I would give to any new female MP – it is this – you will have to work very long hours in London during term time, so keep your husband and children close.
McCain and Jamie Oliver's Twist
Posted Friday, 5 September 2008 at 13:03
I have just watched McCain's speech – I liked it. I appear to be alone.
I wasn’t blown away in the way I was yesterday by the stardust of my new political hero, Sarah Palin, but I didn’t expect to be.
I was looking for a difference between McCain and Obama and I got it.
I tend not to over analyse every word of a speech in the way most political pundits do. I like to judge a speech on how it made me feel.
Did I believe it? Did it move me? Do I trust him? Will he deliver? Joe public tends to operate in the same way. For me the answer to all the above was 'yes.'
America has to be ‘imaged out’ following the Obama convention speech from the fake Parthenon - they must surely be ready for substance?
If they are, McCain needs to work up and develop his themes and policies into a punch ready delivery for the campaign debates. Palin will wipe the floor with Biden. Can McCain with Obama?
I have just been sent an email which is apparently Jamie Oliver's new cook book, which hasn’t yet been released.
I’m not sure I believe it, however, apparently an employee at the publishing house sent it via a word document ahead of the release to a friend. It’s now doing the email rounds.
What a moral dilemma I am in? Do I just send the email back or do I cook Oliver's twist with spaghetti and wild mushrooms?
If I were Jamie Oliver, I think I would be in a little bit more than a twist!
Posted Thursday, 4 September 2008 at 16:05
I am filled with admiration: watching Sarah Palin reminded me what it is I love about politics.
She delivered her speech without a flinch. She hit back at her attackers, and did it with style.
She must be under enormous pressure: a son about to leave for Iraq, a young daughter pregnant and a four-month-old baby with Downs. Most women would buckle under half of that – and she's got the world's media watching her!
She was sassy, articulate, feminine, warm, funny and as cool as a cucumber. She spoke about how families have their ups and downs – and in doing so – spoke to every family in the world.
She was so good, the anger of the Left will hit her full-on from now on in. She will face smears, rumours and lies. But there's no doubt she's used to that by now: when you take any position on reducing abortions it feels as though the hounds of hell are chasing you and that is, of course, until you realise that they are!
Obama and Biden will be a pushover in comparison. Every Republican activist, uplifted and inspired, will be out delivering leaflets and turning out votes. McCain-Palin: the new Dream Team.
And most of us had never heard of her until a few days ago. But as they say: a week is a long time in politics…
Posted Wednesday, 3 September 2008 at 14:54
I am not obsessed with Sarah Palin...
Actually, that statement could be debatable as I am not going to blog until after she has made her acceptance speech!
Sarah Palin - An Unintended Consequence.
Posted Tuesday, 2 September 2008 at 09:34
Sarah Palin’s daughter is seventeen and pregnant. My initial reaction was a "so what?" Im already immune.
After hearing the BBC announce that Sarah Palin was under investigation because her sister was divorcing a State trooper – an announcement that made me laugh out loud. If ever the BBC was desperate in its bias that comment was it.
The "so what?" is this.
Every woman in America who ever had an unplanned pregnancy will harbour a secret admiration for the supportive mom, Sarah Palin appears to be.
Every young girl who became pregnant and wished she had someone like Sarah Palin behind her, will be filled with a quiet admiration; every sister, mother, daughter, friend, teacher, counsellor, nurse or doctor who deals day in and day out with teenage pregnancies will be able to relate.
Every grandmother who was there at some stage in her life, and every person who was connected with a teenage pregnancy any time over the last fifty years will know how tough, hard and demanding such a situation is, of all the emotional reserves a mother has in store for such situations.
This is the reason why Obama said yesterday that the subject should be off topic. He knows. It’s not a negative; it’s not something to make Americans turn against Sarah Palin, quite the contrary.
It is a human, normal situation families have to cope and deal with day in and out across the nation. It’s a situation which which will make voters think she’s one of them. She has felt and lived their pain.
The "so what?" is this – more American women will consider voting for her than did the day before the news broke. Possibly a target group the pollsters hadn’t even thought of!
That’s a big "so what?".
Just Another Hockey Mom
Posted Monday, 1 September 2008 at 15:28
I’m back, with a packed September constituency diary. However, as is always the case after a good break, I’m raring to go.
I know I am late to this story; however, I have to make my first blog of the term one of support for the VP candidate announced by John McCain, Sarah Palin.
I haven’t checked a British blog in a month, but I guess the response has been pure misogynistic bile poring into sites all over the web.
She’s anti-abortion, loves being married and a mother. All things the sisterhood on the left hate.
She’s a female, ambitious and successful, attributes that men on the far right cannot cope with.
She will harness a good number of the 18 million female votes for Hillary, which were drifting dejectedly back to Obama, and pull them right over to the McCain/Palin ticket.
The sisterhood on the left may be political, mobilised and vociferous, but they are a minority. And oh how they loathe a sister on the right.
The bigoted men of yesterday on the right may be vicious in their attack, but they are diminishing and dated.
The left wing political machine may scream and shout all it wants. It can churn out lies and blow up smoke screens, but all they can really do is watch Hillary’s votes shift destination.
The majority of women, and men, in a Western civilised culture know and respect the value of the family. They see as they look around the damage caused by left wing political ideology and dogma. They hanker for the societal boundaries within which our children once grew and understood to return in an attempt to create a more orderly, peaceful and caring society. They want to live in neighbourly communities. They have seen our soldiers killed in action and are relearning the value of human life.
Many people believe that abortion has gone way, way too far.
I believe that Sarah Palin answers a multitude of yearning needs, and John McCain executed a move which left his opponents bewildered, and on the back foot.
She is a reformer, a campaigner, a winner, experienced and just another hockey mom.
Aren’t we all just another hockey mom? There of course, lies the answer.