In My View - 21st September 2017

The House of Commons is in recess now for the party conference season and as usual I am enjoying being in Somerset and seeing more of my family. I have been critical of the timetable before and don’t wish to labour the point but I still think it needs to change. It is not just the debates and sessions like Prime Minister’s Questions that stop but also a huge amount of less well publicised work. As an example, I am pushing for the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee I sit on to begin a review of civil service capacity to lead and manage the change necessary to ensure our borders are ready when we leave the European Union. This vital work has been on hold this week so the Liberal Democrats can get together in Bournemouth.

A common theme in political party conferences is to look at what can be done to occupy the ‘centre ground’ of politics. In the spirit of being helpful to all constituents, I would gently suggest that it is not represented by an extreme pro-EU stance. I read an unconfirmed report from Bournemouth that Europe was being referred to as ‘the mainland’. What is important though is that the ‘centre ground’ by which I mean moderate, pragmatic voices are not drowned out by the rather tribal nature of our modern politics.

Boris Johnson is currently in the headlines a lot and he won’t mind that I am sure. I would say two things about this latest ‘division over Brexit’ newscycle. Firstly the press are still concentrating on the personalities and not the issues and the Cabinet is not a series of The Apprentice; and secondly that I actually find it quite encouraging that what is essentially an essay can grab headlines for a week. Boris writes very well, indeed it is his career outside of politics, and you do not need to agree with every word to see how infectious it can be to have some positivity and optimism in our public discourse. It comes at the same time as HSBC and Investec upgrading their economic forecasts too which is good news.

The terrorist attack last week in West London could have been an awful lot worse although it must have been very frightening for those on the train. I can understand people’s frustration that very often the terrorists are in some way known to the authorities. The Police response, both on the day and in making a swift arrest, was excellent though. The cowardice of attacking Parsons Green, a quiet residential area, is shocking and we must never allow these acts to become an accepted part of our lives.

As always, if you would like to get in touch about an issue, or if you would like to book an appointment at one of my advice surgeries, please do email or call my office on 01935314321.