Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hospital Petition

This was presented to the Primary Care Trust by Desmond Swayne and I (Julian Lewis was in the USA and couldn't make it) and we were delighted, when everything was totted up, to find that there were over 40,000 signatures.

Final day for comments is tomorrow and it seems that a decision will be made before the end of October. My gut reaction is to prepare for the long haul.

Blackpool reflections

It was probably a good job that I couldn't blog from Blackpool as my first impressions were far from favourable. Leave aside for one moment the fact that the town is badly signed, conference venues are miles from each other, the IT provision in the WInter Gardens is antiquated and bits of the town look like a war zone. The whole place is run down and was not the family venue I had anticipated. It is quite sleazy.
However, after a week the place did seem to have some redeeming features. The people were friendly and conference goers were not ripped off nearly as much as on the south coast.

The conference itself was very positive and the vast majority of delegates appeared to be enjoying themselves.

The bizarre thing was the debate about the party leadership which almost seemed to have been generated by those close to the leader himself. It's a non story because there is no great discontent among the party so we can only assume that as the press had to talk about something then they just mirrored the debate that is going on in the other two parties.
Hardly original.

She's back

Glad to see people have been amusing themselves whilst I have been absent from blogging. Have a new resolve not to comment on the third party postings even if they wildly misrepresent Lib Dem policy - as many do.

Had fully intended to blog from conference but a combination of trying to overcome IT problems and limited time meant that everything conspired against me. Hopefully normal service will now be resumed.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tory leadership

Could I be the only person in the world who is getting really bored with this subject? The media time and inches devoted to this subject are out of all proportion to its relevance or importance.

Having said that, something in me wants to read everything there is on the subject and I found the article in today's Times of particular interest. Read it for yourself by following the link but I really can't disagree with anything Alistair Campbell wrote - although I must say that he used a lot of words to basically come to the conclusion that the Tories are all a load of shallow ******s who need to come up with something radically different before they have a chance of power.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Spent most of the day in London. For once, during recess, a number of London engagements had coincided so it was a worthwhile day.

Latter part of the day was spent doing TV interviews in Victoria Gardens, opposite the Millbank studios. Latter interview was constantly interrupted by mini convoys of police minibuses, sirens blaring heading off down the embankment.

That's the sort of thing that makes you feel twitchy in London these days - and you breathe a sigh of relief that the cop vans are actually heading away from you.

Save our community Hospitals Rally

Went well.
The planned march from the Fenwick Hospital to Boltons Bench had to be limited in numbe to 200. This was because of the constraints of the historic town of Lyndhurst - narrow streets and a fiendish one way system to boot.

Romsey League of Friends had pulled out of officially taking part in the march. This was because of the plan to carry five coffins - representing the death of the five local community hospitals. There is local history behind the reason for this decision. Some years ago there was a plan to build a supermarket on the edge of the town. There was a mass rally and some local people carried coffins. I was not there but the memory of this event is still fresh in the minds of many local people.

So, yesterday, we had five banners representing the local hospitals and four named coffins. There was a fifth coffin but the name "Romsey" had been omitted out of respect. There were pall bearers dressed in black and there were numerous people wearing t shirts with slogans.

Then there were the pipers who accompanied the march!

Local TV reporter was v worried about this as she was concerned that no one would be able to hear what she was saying if the pipers started playing at the wrong time.

Julian Lewis (MP for New Forest E) and I headed the procession carrying a placard saying "Bury the PCT Not the local hospitals". We were in very close proximity to the bagpipes and I have to say that I had not quite appreciated just how much noise they make!

We arrived at Boltons Bench slightly early to join the other protesters (all in all we reckon about 2000) and decided to go straight into the speeches. First up (to quote Davina McCall and a many other people younger than I) was Lawrie McMenemy - local folk hero from his time as manager of Saints (those were the days).

A procession of (mostly) short speeches followed and Desmond Swayne (MP for New Forest West) acted as Master of Ceremonies. There was quite a funny moment when he was introducing Julian Lewis and I but unfortunately he got all the constituencies muddled up. NO offence was taken and it was a chance to repeat the message that this is not a party political issue.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Back to reality

And this is not a bad thing at all.

Tomorrow is the date for the "Save our Community Hospitals" rally at Lyndhurst. Hopefully there will be a good turn out of people from all the localities who are affected by the proposed closures.

The closure threat is dressed up under a "consultation" on the future of services for older people but we still have not been given a clear picture of what proposed future services look like. Add this to the fact that in the early stages the local Primary Care Trusts appeared to be trying to set one community against another then it is little wonder that MPs who are usually on opposite sides of the political divide are actually working together on this one.

Since my return have also learned that Lawrie McMenemy (I am sure I have spelt that wrong so will apologise now) is supporting the cause.

Tallest building in the world

This is now Taipei 101. An ambitious project by what I can only regard as an ambitious country. The lift was state of the art - from ground to viewing floor in 36 (or was it 37) seconds. So we have the technology but we also have Feng Shui principles influencing the overall design ina fascinating mix of the traditional and the modern.

So where has she been?

Well, for the last week I have been part of the first all-female parliamentary delegation to Taiwan. The other members of the delgation were all baronesses and we attracted a fair bit of interest.

I was completely bowled over by the country. The people were great and nothing was too much trouble - for the cynics amongst you I will say that this was even amongst those who had no idea we were MPs.

The capital was much cleaner than London and this is a real achievement when you consider that it was not so many years ago that rubbish was just dumped in certain parts of the city. There is now a system whereby residents wait for the weekly collection wagon and then go in to the street to place thier rubbish in the van. Don't know whether this is true but someone told me that the universal music used by the collection vans is Fur elise !

The trouble was that when I arrived back at the filthy, sweaty unpleasant experience that is Terminal 3 at Heath Row I really realised that we could not rest on our laurels as a country.

Back in business

Haven't posted for the lastcouple of weeks. Returned to find a high number of completely unconstructive comments and am considering banning comments completely.

Lighten up boys --- and yes it is all boys!