There’s something eerie – spooky - unsettling about this time of the year between Halloween and Remembrance Sunday. Halloween of course is associated with witchcraft, ghosts and ghoulies; followed by All Saints Day and All Souls Day when we remember our dead. The clocks change and the days get shorter; leaves fall from the trees; the harvest is over (largely) and the nights are drawing in. I have always felt that the Equinox also heralds all kinds of momentous - or tragic - events. There are more unexpected deaths, Stock Exchange collapses, untoward events of every kind during these few weeks than at any other time of the year.
In Parliament we had the Budget (which by and large seems to have been welcomed by all but the most rigorous of Conservative thinkers who dub it a ‘Giveaway Budget’ more akin to our Socialist predecessors). We have had a tremendous fuss about an imagined vote to allow raw sewage to be discharged into the sea. In reality it has been greatly reduced since the privatisation of the water companies; and we are continuing to work on replacing the 180,000 miles of pipes which will be required to guarantee that not a drop of contaminated water will find its way into our rivers. I was not allowed to vote because I chaired the Bill Committee; but had the luxury of telling correspondents that I would have supported the Duke of Wellington’s amendment on the matter, (its Ducal origins disconcerting some of my more vocal lobbyists.) I welcome the Government’s U-Turn on the matter (or would U-bend be more appropriate?)
Through all of this we have the momentous events of the G20 in Rome followed by an airborne cavalcade of World leaders descending on Glasgow, using up hundreds of tons of carbon, for COP26. As a committed environmentalist, I wish it well. We really do have to find a way of constraining Global Warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which will involve dramatic cuts in carbon and methane emissions; an end to commercial deforestation, especially in the Amazon, and so much else. Whether all of that will necessarily be achieved by tens of thousands of people descending on Glasgow may well be another matter. I have a funny feeling that some of them are there to see and be seen rather than necessarily to do very much about it all - as Her Majesty so memorably commented under her breath. So instead, I asked the Prime Minister a question about COP26 with particular reference to the Arctic in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon.
I was asked to go to Glasgow on Friday; but partly through some scepticism as to whether or not my presence would actually add very much to the deliberations; and partly because I have my little grandson for the weekend for the second time in a year; I am in Wiltshire instead, saving a few Carbon miles into the bargain.
As we remember my colleagues David Amess and James Brokenshire, and as I attended a beautiful memorial service for a former colleague and environmentalist, Peter Ainsworth; as we mourn the death of our lovely old lurcher, Noko; as we look forward to Guy Fawkes night commemorating the burning of the plotters who tried to blow up the House of Lords; as the chilling autumn mists swirl around our darkening streets; let us focus on the good things in our lives – which for me will be my little grandson, Freddie.