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The Heather Brooke influence

I wonder what the feisty Heather Brooke would do in my shoes. I still haven’t had a response to a Freedom of Information request I submitted on 1st November last year. I’m getting fed up with this unexplained delay after being told I would hear by the 31st November. It involves a very high profile woman whose life ended tragically and, on the face of it, I can think of no reason for secrecy –...
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Wisbech’s migrant workers

I come from Wisbech where agriculture plays a key role in the local economy. It is famed for its black fertile soil – and its thousands of migrant workers who have been accused of taking jobs once held by locals. I really like the idea of this programme on BBC 1 this evening with Evan Davis. Since 2004 this once prosperous market town has received up to 9,000 immigrants seeking work – the...
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MPs’ expenses and family life

I’ll be watching the dramatisation tonight on BBC 4, On Expenses. I’m glad this story is being told as I felt journalist Heather Brooke, who spent five years trying to get information about MPs’ expenses, lost her moment of glory when the Daily Telegraph published the damning revelations unearthed by her relentless pursuit. It resulted in the biggest political scandal in living memory because of...
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Who is Gordon Brown?

Working for a bully is a terrifying experience and totally demoralising. It makes going to work each day a nerve wracking ordeal and such allegations should fully investigated. These allegations today point a finger at our Prime Minister. BBC’s Nick Robinson gives a well reasoned response on his blog about whether Gordon Brown is a bully or not, and is worth a read. There have now been further...
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The joys of Shakespeare

One of my greatest pleasures in life is to see Shakespeare at The Globe Theatre where I imagine myself back in those daring theatrical days of Elizabethan England. I sit there totally enthralled by the whole experience. My son David used to be my Shakespeare buddy – he enjoyed the unique setting too – but his life has many other distractions now, so I shall be joined this year by my dear author...
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Potholes, potholes and more potholes

It seems that every road I drive on at the moment has potholes, potholes and more potholes.  There were literally dozens of them around every corner I turned today, some quite enormous ones. I spent a couple of hours swerving all over the road to avoid sinking into them and damaging my car on my weekly drive to visit my mother out in the Fens. Am I alone in thinking that driving on a road...
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My doorstep twitchers in pursuit of the waxwing

The Cambridgeshire street I live in has become a mecca for excited twitchers who have spotted a couple of waxwings making a rare appearance to the UK this winter. The enthusiasts were virtually on my doorstep early this morning with their long lenses aimed at a rowan tree across the snow covered street. The sub-zero temperature did not deter them, and my offer of a warming drink was declined as...
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Modern Thatcherism

Congratulations to Therese Coffey who was given “a prolonged standing ovation” after becoming the Conservative parliamentary candidate in Suffolk Coastal to replace John Gummer. Her victory was outstanding. Jonathan Isaby, co-editor of ConservativeHome who chaired the selection meeting, said it was unheard of for a candidate on a six-person shortlist to win on the first ballot, and  praised her...
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My latest walk

Meldreth circular walk Map your trip with EveryTrail Many thanks to Geoff Jones for sending me this fabulous EveryTrail link for a walk we did yesterday with Sally and the Cambridge Rambling Club. I did try to make my excuses the day before – too many jobs to catch up on in the house, etc – but Geoff was having  none of it and called me to say he expected to see me there. So I demured....
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My Headway update

We have recruited four excellent new trustees at Headway Cambridgeshire and I look forward to working with them to strengthen the board and take forward our exciting new plans  in the pipeline, including opening centres in Peterborough and Fenland. I am strongly urging them to attend an excellent training course for new trustees to fully understand their roles and responsibilities, and four...
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Eric Pickles and the Contaminated Blood Bill

I was standing yesterday in the central lobby of Westminster under its magnificent gold chandelier, flanked by a statue of former prime minister William Gladstone, and with the heroic St George looking down on me, one of the stunning paintings which grace this unique place in history. It was really hectic and there were lots of visitors and staff milling around. The busy reception staff, dressed...
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Another day in Westminster

I’m back in Westminster today researching a project I am working on, and look forward to meeting the inspirational Lesley Abdela who I first met at a Conservative Women’s conference a couple of years ago. Last year Lesley won the UK Woman Political Journalist of the Year Award. She is a highly regarded international women’s rights campaigner and has worked for more than 25...
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Dinner with three gorgeous Tory PPCs

I hosted a dinner party for three Conservative PPCs last night, North West Durham candidate Michelle Tempest, Liz Truss who is standing in nearby South West Norfolk, and author Louise Bagshawe, who is hoping to turn Corby blue. I bet you would have liked to have been a fly on the wall, but Chatham House rules prevailed. Suffice it to say that there was only one topic of conversation all evening...
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