Life in the new - safe majority, 5 years ahead of us, Brexit decided and therefore calmer - Parliament has nonetheless set off at a gallop. Here’s a flavour of my multifarious week:-
Sunday 12th. BBC Politics Show at 10AM. Can’t believe anyone watches, but am glad to have old friends round for lunch who have indeed seen it.
Monday 13th. Sad news of death of Brinkworth son, Sir Roger Scruton. A hugely distinguished philosopher, pianist, barrister, countryman, and the world is a poorer place without him. Wish Harry and Meghan would take a lesson from his modesty and kindness. Ask a question about Iran and do a long Channel 4 News interview about the disgraceful hounding of old soldiers by the Police. Chair a dinner for a General (as Chairman of All-Party Group for Armed Forces, NATO Parliamentary Assembly and a cluster of other military related posts.)
Tuesday 14th. Ask a question about brutal Ellie Gould murder case and Attorney General’s refusal to allow parents to appeal against lenient sentence. BBC Points West carry the story. Am taking parents to see Lord Chancellor and Swindon MP, Rob Buckland about it all next week. Various meetings setting up All-Party Group for Polar Regions which I chair. Dinner with group campaigning against plastics, whose passion rather watered down by presence of food manufacturers, supermarkets etc. Having seen albatrosses stuffed with plastic, I try to stiffen their resolve.
Wednesday 15th. Am not at all sure that I support the idea of Big Ben bonging out at 11 PM on 31 January to mark Brexit, especially not at a cost of £500k. What role does Brexit triumphalism have in bringing the Nation back together? Say so at the ERG, which meets disdain from the ‘Spartans’. Do a Daily Mail Podcast (check @jgray on Twitter-see how up to date I am) about old soldiers. Dinner with main Hong Kong leaders (Taipan? Hongs?). The problems in Hong Kong are even more intractable than Brexit was here; but we found a way through it.
Thursday 16th. Votes on Queens Speech debate which has been going on all week. Lots of Maiden speeches- 109 hyper-talented new intake all rushing around with sharp elbows expecting promotion within days. They may be disappointed. Select Committee elections come first. They have organised a new intake ‘slate’ to get each other elected. Will skew the Committees away from the old and bold, who actually know what they are talking about. And anyhow, promoting your own fellow intakers must have tactical career downsides, you’d have thought?
Friday 17th. Stimulating meeting with friends of Ellie Gould, who have some great ideas for combatting knife crime. I promise to follow it through in Parliament.
Saturday 18th. Surgeries in Cricklade and Malmesbury (Calne and Royal Wootton Bassett last week) will get me back into the od constituency routine. I can feel a bit of sleep coming on for the rest of the weekend.