Changes to Constituency boundaries always mean disquiet and discomfort. None of us likes change; and if the new proposals from the Parliamentary Boundary Commission published this week eventually become law, then I will be very sad to lose places like Royal Wootton Bassett and Lyneham and Calne as well as a host of villages. I have represented their interests for 25 years and have so many friends across the patch. So it would be with a heavy heart that I would say ‘farewell’ to that part of my constituency. Under the proposals I would keep the northern half of it, including Malmesbury, Cricklade and Purton, to which would be added places like Tetbury, Cirencester, Fairford, Northleach and a great swathe of Gloucestershire countryside.
It’s only fair that all Parliamentary constituencies should be the same size - between 70 and 77,000 electors - but nonetheless achieving that every 10 years or so causes unwelcome disturbance in our democratic lives. It will all be much discussed over the next couple of years before final decisions are made, so watch this space….
I continue to hope that Britain will open up on 21 June, although the runes are looking a little sticky. It may be that the final Freedom Day will be delayed by a couple of weeks to allow vaccinations to catch up with infections; but I am hopeful that weddings in particular will be ‘full steam ahead’ from 21 June. We should hear on Monday, when the PM makes an announcement hot foot from Cornwall and the G7. (Have you noticed how much extra military air traffic there has been over Wiltshire for the last few days?)
The Indian Variant seems to be spreading like wildfire, especially amongst the young. I myself experienced it on Thursday. I was at the Oxford Union to speak in a debate about Veganism (against Heather McCartney- Mills!!) in support of livestock producers across Wiltshire as well as my own carnivorous instincts. But some student was given a positive Covid reading when she was actually in the audience and the whole event had to be scrapped. Another first-class speech went home in my pocket! All the speakers were kept clear of any possible infection; but it does go to show how much this variant is spreading among the young. The good news is that crucially there are relatively few hospitalisations and no deaths as a result. So let’s get young people vaccinated against it and we will finally be able to relax a little more.
In Parliament I chaired a debate on retail workers’ rights and the prevention of abuse and worse during the pandemic (hybrid- virtual and physical); and then I spoke in a debate about saving Burlington House, the ancient home of the Learned Societies (Physical). And on Friday I chaired a Ministerial meeting for Wiltshire exporters (entirely virtual). What experts we are all becoming on Zoom and Teams. And what lovely new phrases are entering our vocabulary (‘You’re on mute, Kevin.’)
In an action-packed week, I am delighted and proud that Philippa has been appointed to be a Governor both of Sir William Romney’s School in Tetbury and of Wiltshire College (with special responsibility for Lackham College of Agriculture and land-based skills.)
So, life moves on - Boundary Changes, Covid developments, new appointments.
North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, stood up to HM Government yesterday in the debate over the future of Burlington House, home of the Society of Antiquaries, Geological Society, Linnean Society and the Royal Astronomical Society.
Burlington House was built for the Societies, providing the foundation for success as a world-leading bodies. The central and easily accessible area, close to business and government, has been essential for the facilitation of expert debate and joint-working...
There are, of course, very powerful arguments in favour of maximising the amount of money which we donate to deserving causes of all kinds around the world. We are vastly rich by comparison with most places; a billion of us in the prosperous North go to bed obese while another billion elsewhere go to bed starving; we have inherited moral obligations not least from our Imperial past; and there are strong strategic reasons for supporting free liberal democracies round the world to...
Historians pore over the great events of history for decades, centuries, after they have occurred and often come to different conclusions about what went wrong. Why did the Saxons lose the Battle of Hastings? (Because they did not have stirrups enabling them to fight from horseback). Was Richard Coeur de Lion the greatest king ever, or a bit of a French ruffian? And is Richard II not half as bad as Shakespeare made him out to be? Every battle is capable of close re-analysis. Every shot...
James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire, was delighted to attend the Wedding Open House at Grittleton House last weekend. Mr Gray stated:
“It was wonderful to be able to visit the impressive Grittleton House in preparation for its planned re-opening. It is the most beautiful setting and a fitting reminder that we are on course for the lifting of restrictions on 21st June.
Venues such as Grittleton House have been badly hit by the Coronavirus pandemic...
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