What a prom
A happy evening but one that will surely stick in the memory forever of all the young musicians involved.
|Was describing my concerns re the Westminster kiosk at lunch to be assured by the Chief Whip that I shouldn't be too concerned as Portcullis House could withstand most things - probably including a 747 knocking into it. I don't advise any one to road test this theory.|
He then casually mentioned that there were more bombs so we have all decamped to a nearby tv monitor. This latest event appears to be on a different scale to those of the 7th July and we all have our fingers crossed that there will be no casualties.
Strong whiff here of stable doors being closed as we are now being challenged to show our passes!
|A little bemused to be on the mailing list for this worthy publication (not all MPs are - I checked) but was even more surprised to find our beloved leader gracing its pages. His picture stood out but I hasten to add that that was because he was one of the few people in it who was fully clothed...|
The debate after the "End of Life Care" debate was initiated by Evan Harris on time scales for abortion.
This is another difficult issue and I ended up staying to listen and make a few interventions. Complex issue and there was universal support for Evan's suggestion of a Committee of both Houses to look at the problem - apart from the Minister that is. I think that she is wrong. Subjects like this are almost the most difficult - partly because we have to make up our own minds and justify our points of view - balancing personal opinions with the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is that the rest of the world are discussing these issues so it seems odd if we do not review the situation.
I had been asked to sum up on behalf of the Liberal Democrats on a debate called "End of Life Care" initiated by Frank Field. It was a difficult debate to prepare for as I was not sure whether it would deal with palliative care or some of the thornier issues around physician assisted death.
It was actually deeper and more philosophical than that and I was interested to note that Frank Field had actually wanted a debate on "dying" but it had been renamed. Evan Harris suggested that this was because the debate had to reflect some area of Government responsibility and dying was something that the Government could not be held responsible for! No one confirmed or denied this but it is certainly the case that death is the last taboo and I will be rereading the debate tomorrow to try and reflect more deeply on some of the issues raised.
I will try to update a link when Hansard is printed.
|On Sunday afternoon there was a special church service to celebrate 150 years of the school. The school choir were the star turn but it always makes me feel slightly old when I don't know the hymns because they were written after I was born. Event was followed by a "Victorian Tea" on the school playing field but it was really a chance to chat to people and soak up some of the sunshine.|
This is a big issue in Mottisfont - where a large number of properties are owned by the National Trust. Tenants have received shock demands for increases ranging from 20-65%. I will admit that it has been a couple of years since the last rent rise but the most peculiar aspect of all this is that some people have improved the properties at their own expense and these people have been faced with the largest increases. There is a phrase to describe this sort of behaviour but it is not very ladylike.
Most villagers accepted that there were limits to what I can do but I had a bit of a job persuading one that I could not singlehandedly change the 1907 Housing Act singlehandedly and overnight (even then that might not have been the complete answer to the problem) - so sometimes attending meetings such as this is more about managing expectations than promising the earth.
|Learnt a new word this evening. I was a last minute substitute to speak at a Hansard society meeting on blogging. The main focus was on the impact of blogs, such as Jamies Blog, on the political process.|
Some of the discussion ranged around comments and I had asked whether Jamies Blog attracted very many negative comments and mentioned that political blogs attracted comment from the main opposition party.
There was a strongly expressed view (supported by much vigorous nodding of heads round the room) that comments were often an irritant and most people logged on to a particular blog to engage with what the author had to say - not the commentators.
Apparently, people who persist in commenting in negative vein are called "blogroaches". Food for thought.............
|Have often said that politics is my "roller coaster ride" but those who know me will know that the "Big Max" is not my thing. Unfortunately, I feel as though I have been throught the parliamentary equivalent of the Big Max.|
Last Wednesday life seemed good. There was a real buzz about the place when the news spread of London's success in the bid to host the Olympics in 2012. No sooner was I out of the Whips office than the announcement was being made in Central Lobby.
Fast forward to Thursday morning. I travelled in on the bus and was aware of a lot of "siren noise". It registered as being something more than the background noise. During the walk between bus stop and Portcullis house I saw three minibuses full of police, sirens blaring. Struck me as odd and I mentally registered that I didn't want to be where they were going. Confirmed when I saw the bright red mobile command unit with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Somewhat bizarrely I then went to my office and started work.
e-mail from Gallery news mentioned "power surges" on the tube. Registered disbelief but carried on with in tray. Only realised that something "was up" when received pager messages from daughter and husband in rapid succession (son, Nick later told me that he had been allowed time to try and contact me by mobile).
It all seemed somewhat distant. There were TV pictures , there was a ministerial statement but there was also an air of unreality and some things (business questions) carying on as normal. Jumped at the chance of a lift home.
So, the message seemed to be that we are British and we deal with these things. This is fine when they don't impinge on the every day but I can tell you that I my heart was pounding as I boarded the bus this morning. But to everyone else I would have appeared cool, calm and collected.
Fast forward to this evening. I had accepted an invitation to the IPPF reception on the terrace at the House of Lords.
The crowd was thin and we soon realised that many attendees had been prevented from entering because of a "threat to the building". Blitz spirit prevailed and the speeches had started but by this time I had noticed that the river was eerily silent. Minister's (substitutes) speech was interrupted by an armed police officer telling everyone to move off the terrace and into the Cholmondely room. Five minutes later we were moved further indoors. The Minister (substitute) carried on where she left off.
Eventually I made my way back to the office as staff were being allowed out of the building. We had no idea what the threat was and no one communicated what we should be doing. I feel vulnerable in a way I have not felt before and can't help feeling that we should somehow be better informed than this. On an individual level staff were clearly doing their job but I can't help wishing that we had been treated as grown ups.