Back to the Back Benches

Exmouth Journal Even 24-hour news Channels are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of events, from the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, to the EU referendum, the resignation of David Cameron, the Tory leadership contest with its Shakespearian overtones and the appointment of Theresa May and her new team. Add into this heady mix a Labour Party in collapse and an attempted coup in Turkey. Yes, there’s news aplenty!  Just as a football manager gets to appoint their team so does the PM and I fully support her right to have who she knows and trusts around her. 

BLOG: Why I am Supporting Theresa May

Theresa May is known to work on her red boxes until 3am, she studies every secret surveillance warrant that crosses her desk by M15 and takes as long as she feels necessary over policy decisions. She is not driven by a 24-hour media cycle to come to her decisions. Nor in gimmicks, focus groups or conjuring policies out of a hat. Her assessments are well thought through and she does not shy away from confrontation in defending them.

BLOG: The Morning After

Many people are still trying to come to terms with the decision this country has taken to leave the EU. They are understandably worried that leaving a club of countries that buy nearly half of Britain’s exports will have far reaching consequences for all of us. These consequences might include a less vibrant economy, which means fewer jobs, lower tax receipts and probably extra austerity. The Scots, most of whom voted for Remain, they fear, will want to break away from the United Kingdom – although this will prove highly problematic for them with such low oil receipts and fears from other EU members facing powerful independence movements such as Catalonia in Spain. Meanwhile across the channel, other Eurosceptic nations are mobilising, further threatening the EU as an institution, an institution that has helped keep the peace in Europe for over half a century.

Child Protection

The murder of Ellie Butler by her father raises yet again the issue of child protection.  This vulnerable child should never have been allowed to be returned to her parents particularly when her social workers strongly opposed it.

BLOG: Politics and Public Respect

Recently the editor of the Express & Echo newspaper wrote a leader about my complaint that his paper was exhibiting a bias. In his piece he wrote: “Like most journalists I tend to think our relationship with politicians should be akin to that of dogs and lamp posts,” I remember reading it at the time and feeling somewhat depressed by the attitude expressed. What it demonstrated was a complete cynicism and lack of respect for the role an MP plays in our society.

Guide Dogs

Exmouth Journal A couple of weeks ago a large delegation of assistance dog owners from across the country came to meet MPs at Westminster. The idea was to raise awareness of the problems facing people who rely on guide dogs.  In the magnificent surrounds of Westminster Hall, which was unusually filled with tail wagging dogs I had a good chat with two constituents, one of whom was from Exmouth. I told him of the time when, organised by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, I was blindfolded and led around the town by a guide dog called Dolly and how difficult I had found it. I remembered that the greatest hazard I experienced were cars parked on the corners of junctions where a pedestrian would normally expect to cross.

BLOG: How Independent are the Independents?

The upcoming demise of party politics is on the horizon, or so our local ‘Independents’ would have us believe. Shifting political allegiances, class structures, the dominance of the floating voter and a disenchantment with the status quo will, in their view, make it happen. But I’m not so sure. I believe our less than perfect democracy depends on the party system, and it would be unrealistic and unworkable to change it.

Community Hospitals

Exmouth Journal 

I cannot see into the future, but for now our community hospitals are safe. I went along to a planned demo outside Ottery St Mary Hospital to try and assuage fears otherwise. I read out a letter from Chair of the CCG, Tim Burke, who has stated he does not intend to close our hospitals but the left leaning pack that follows Councillor Claire Wright were having none of it. As a group they not only loathe this Government but see a conspiracy in everything we do so I was never going to persuade them. For those who are genuinely concerned about our hospitals, and who are not pursuing a political agenda, I say this: I will fight tooth and nail to keep our community hospitals going. And it’s not as if I have been inactive on this front.  On the contrary, I have had many meetings over the years including recently with the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, Minister Ben Gummer, CCG representatives and many others besides.

BLOG: Are our community hospitals safe?

East Devon is blessed in that it has a community hospital in almost every town. Whenever change comes it causes distress because these units are community assets that local people have over the years donated money to sustain and improve. The recent changes to hospital ownership have been no exception.


I have found this media feeding frenzy around the personal tax affairs of the Prime Minister somewhat distasteful. What exactly is the accusation? Has our PM done anything illegal? No. Immoral? I don’t think so. He has benefited from his late father’s will. Is this not one of the most fundamental of human instincts, to help your children, whatever your income bracket? Was he even responsible for his father’s investments? Hardly. Yes, he did benefit from his father’s estate and yes it transpires that some of that money came from a perfectly legal overseas investment vehicle.