Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Darzi review

Lord Darzi has been a busy man. In three months he apparently visited and spoke to 1500 NHS staff in 17 organisations (it is not clear whether they had to listen or got to talk to him). Among other achievements he apparently met with 250 stakeholder groups.

I decided to table a parliamentary question to ask which groups he met. The answer was fascinating. Unsurprisingly the number of groups listed doesn't quitte add up to 250 and there appears to be some double and triple counting. For example - the Royal College of Midwives are a luckly lot as they apparently have met him three times.

Many organisations were relatively obscure disease specific bodies which I had never heard of. Worthy stuff but my imagination was captured by the fact that he had met the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering.

But I also wondered, at another level, whether somebody at the Department was having a little joke because apparently the noble lord also met the Adult Dyselxia Organisation (sic).

Rail link bus - Romsey to WInchester

Gremlins are trying to prevent me from advertising the meeting to discuss the axing of this bus. Apologies if this info appears twice.

There is a meeting on Thursday 1st November at the Abbey United Reformed Church Hall - starting at 8 30pm.

The campaign has taken on an interesting turn as a regular user of this bus service is Matt O'Connor (of Fathers for Justice fame) when he visits his partner Nadine.

Look at the website for more info.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Royal Wee

Romsey made the news today!

I am still struggling to understand why the Queen has to have a new toilet wherever she goes but even more mind boggling (no pun intended) is the cost of the refurb!

I only hope that the Town Council demanded some money for the story in order to restock the town coffers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sexing up Tory Health policy

An oasis of calm in the middle of the day; hosted the reception for Pharmaceutucal wholesalers. In the absence of a Minister I was asked to say a few words and I thought it was a good idea if we balanced things out and asked Mark Simmonds (newly appointed to the Conservative Health Team) to say a few words.
We all occasionally stumble over our words (it makes us endearingly human) and I was amused when Mark referred to "mating health policy". Suddenly, Conservative health policy looks interesting. Andrew Lansley - watch out!!

So, who next?

I supported Chris Huhne last time and hope that he will stand again. It has been an interesting 24 hours though. I still have to return Steve Webb's pager message and get back to Ed Davey (are they thinking about standing or are they a front for someone else?). John Hemming has e mailed his colleagues and some people have heard from Susan Kramer.
Hmmmm. I am left to wonder why I haven't heard from Nick Clegg. He seems to be a bit slow off the blocks and I hope that this is not a sign of indecision or lack of organisation. Time will tell but it is going to be fascinating

But the day job goes on

Weightwatchers showed that I have lost two pounds! I am sure all this was worked off today in the constant dashing to and fro between Millbank, Westminster and the Green.

The leadership was one cause but two other issues have been high on my agenda. The first is that a number of post offices have been fingered for closure by the media and this is a real concern to communities such as Chilworth, Leckford, Lockerley and West Tytherley. I am encouraging everyone to make their feelings known.

The other issue that is a real concern is the axeing of the Rail link bus between Romsey and Winchester. South West Trains claim that this is not profitable but I am in the process of checking whether they are able to ax this link or whether it is an integral part of the franchise agreement. Watch this space!

Thoughts prompted by Ming

Shock doesn't begin to describe it. The first inkling we all had was at 6:15 yesterday when a pager message told me that there would be a speech by the party president. I'm usually quick to see connections but on this occasion I was not very quick on the uptake and pondered aloud on what this could mean.
The penny soon dropped but we could still hardly believe it. The initial reaction was that Ming had done a very honourable thing. It is never easy to give up power of any kind (even being Leader of the Lib Dems has some attractions) and it is a measure of Ming's character that he put the interests of the party first (or what he saw as such).

Sure there had been a few mutterings and mumblings but what leader is not discussed by his or her party at some stage? There had certainly been no concerted plot or campaign and although it is looking as if some people had spoken to Ming over the past week or so it is not clear who or what. I am pretty damn certain that there was nothing co-ordinated.

My personal hope was that Ming would come out fighting, ride the storm and fulfil his conference pledge to make age an issue - because with age comes experience. The polls are volatile at the moment and I thought that with a concerted effort we could recover.

So, I was furious when I finally caught up with some of the headlines and read that this was all apparently a plot. There were no "men in grey sandals" - there was no cabal .
What this was really about was the media not wishing to take any of the blame for what had happened.

The reality is that ever since Ming was elected there has been a media obsession with his age. This reached such a pitch that the messages were starting to be played back on the doorstep. I for one wish that Ming had stayed so that, as a party, we could have fought age discrimination in all its many and ugly forms.

Ot strikes me that some of the journalists who were so keen to make a story about age just might be feeling a little guilty tonight.

But we are where we are. Ming's quick, clean decision means that we choose a new leader. That leader owes a huge debt of thanks to Ming because under his leadership the party now has a much stronger financial and campaigning base. All in all an ideal springboard for Ming's successor.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Jack's Place

A reception in the Terrace Marquee - the parliamentary launch of an add on to Naomi House. The Children's Hospice is ten years old and many of their patients are now approaching adulthood. There is a need for a custom built facility for the older children. Excellent idea. I wish them well.
George Hollingberry was there - I hadn't realised that he was one of the "finalists" in the Romsey Tory selection in 2000. He is now standing for Meon Valley. Seems a pleasant enough chap but there is a chance that our Liz Leffman could beat him.

Election? What election?

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster.

I am one of those who never thought that there would be an election but when all around are losing their heads (or - as some would put it - taking sensible steps should Gordo name the day) it is hard to stay calm and focussed. So, for the last few weeks I have had 2 lists of diary options, 2 campaign plans and have been considering how to produce a second me. Having a constituency chair who gets mistaken for me is a help!

It takes supreme self confidence to play russian roulette with your job when relatively new in post. Either that or stupidity or arrogance. Surely he would want to prove to the electorate that he was capable of being a good Prime Minister and would do things differently?

All is now academic. We will have to wait and see and revert to Plan A. Bring on fixed term parliaments - it would force the media to find real news stories to report on