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Do we need a new House of Commons Chamber?

There are 649 MPs , yet only room for 427  MPs to sit in the House of Commons Chamber.  On television we often see them standing during popular sessions, like the Budget and PMQs.  It’s not an ideal working arrangement, and I wonder what can be done to accommodate all our honourable ladies and gentlemen. Could any changes could be made to the present historic chamber which would enable all...
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How solar savvy are you?

I was planning to write this post before the devastation of Japan’s nuclear power plant which has now focused people’s minds on the value of renewable energy. My question is, how solar savvy are you? I’ve learnt quite a bit about solar power recently following a meeting with a potential client.  He is an eco builder who has invested considerably in solar panels in the hope of...
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Len Gibbs’ countdown to Welsh referendum

With only 10 days to the Welsh referendum which will decide on the Assembly’s law making powers, I asked maverick activist Len Gibbs how his “March 3 is Vote NO! Day” campaign was fairing, and this is his update: Winning is everything. And we are in to win! Ridiculous really, just a handful of ordinary people taking on 100% of the MPs and AMs and the might of the political...
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Len Gibbs registers with Electoral Commission for Welsh referendum

This larger than life pink helium pig took to the streets of Wales today as the official mascot for the True Wales group which is opposed to the Welsh Assembly having extra legislative powers – a decision which will be voted on in a referendum on 3 March. I recently met their maverick spokesman Len Gibbs who told me: “The pig came out at Newport and was filmed for the Politics Show...
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The Electoral Commission and Welsh political activists

The Electoral Commission may want to consider revising its regulations following the refusal of political activists to register as a lead opposition party for the Welsh Assembly referendum on devolution on 3 March. Apparently, this is permitted within the present rules. Yesterday I met key campaigner Len Gibbs from the True Wales group responsible for this and which is fiercely opposed to the...
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How Cameron should reach out to grassroots

While speculation continues about who Andy Coulson’s successor will be, a couple of reports  caught my attention today. The first was the front page story in PR Week which states that Andy Coulson helped push through “a radical restructure of the Downing Street comms operation” just days before his resignation as comms director. The new structure will see the merger of Number...
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Why Public School Boys Run Britain

I’ll be watching Andrew Neil’s BBC 2 programme this evening, Posh and Posher: Why Public School Boys Run Britain. The focus will naturally be on David Cameron and Nick Clegg who both had a privileged education. Let’s separate the words “public school” and “boys” and examine these two issues separately. The education these two political leaders had...
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An evening with John Gummer and climate change

I was curious to discover what John Gummer had been doing since stepping down as a Conservative MP at the last general election to champion climate change. So I was only too happy to accept an invitation to hear him speak to Cambridge university students and city supporters last night, and join them afterwards for a fine fish supper at Loch Fynes. Now Lord Deben, I found him a passionate,...
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A brief encounter with Michael Crick

My pulse rate increased when I spotted Newsnight’s terrier Michael Crick sitting a few inches from me in a Westminster coffee bar. I was passing time there as I was early for an event in the House of Lords to promote Abbeyfield’s future care home strategy in the UK, and I wondered if I should seize the moment and invite Michael along. Michael had his head down and was flickering with...
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David Ruffley’s neighbourhood coalition

We all know you can choose your friends, but not your neighbours. It means that suddenly the Lib Dem and Conservative coalition has a whole new meaning as Tory MP David Ruffley has inadvertently moved next door to his former Lib Dem parliamentary rival David Chappell in a village near Bury St Edmunds. It could prove a little bit awkward, especially if they both contest the next general election....
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Will Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi be freed today?

This is terrific news. There are reports that military authorities have signed an order authorising the release of Burma’s jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman whose dignity in adversity and oppression has won her worldwide admiration. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has spent more than 15 years in detention, most of it under house arrest at her home, for her political beliefs...
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Conservative child benefit cuts

What a wonderful picture of David and Samantha Cameron with their new baby daughter. And families, of course, was the hot topic at this week’s Conservative Party Conference. I am also confused at government plans that from 2013, will remove child benefit from families with at least one parent earning more than about £44,000 a year, but it will not affect families where two parents earn...
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Harriet Harman: the guilt of working mothers

Harriet Harman should be congratulated for keeping together a tight-knit Labour Party for almost 5 months. She hands over her reigns this evening when the new Labour leader is announced. In an interview in today’s Times, she is credited with forcing through equalities law to improve maternity leave and childcare provision. Yet Harman feels that women’s equality is slipping backwards,...
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Should we have part-time MPs?

Should we have part-time MPs to encourage more women parliamentarians? It is not the first time I have heard this suggestion, and it was one of the ideas given in evidence at the latest Speaker’s Conference which considered how to modernise and attract more diverse members.Green MP Caroline Lucas has now made the suggestion at her party’s autumn conference saying it would enable MPs...
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Why are we reducing reuse of recyclables?

In my garden I have a little table I bought for 50p from my local recycling centre in Grunty Fen (yes, really!). My son bought a few discarded golf clubs there for 50p which he sold on in true entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve often seen people searching out bargains at the site for a few pence. The last time I went to the Grunty Fen centre, it had a shed full of discarded items which it was...
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