Off bright and early to Parliament for a ‘Green Ministers’ breakfast briefing on the proposed Marine Bill – still in its infancy. I am the ‘Green Minister’ for our Home Office team. Our manifesto commitment was to interweave green issues into the heart of all issues – so each Lib Dem team has its own Green Minister.
Today’s subject is really interesting – although not directly related to my constituency (being landlocked). It is helpful to be briefed by the experts in the field of marine life to understand the issues. What strikes me is the point they make about us having land planning laws and regs until they are coming out of our ears – but virtually nothing for our seas. Rare species and environments are disappearing, virtually nothing is protected and there seem to be no rules about priorities in terms of planning at sea. So someone can create a port – anywhere – with no regard to damage by placement and no requirement to even consider it. At least the Government is prepared to bring forward the legislation – but not all the departments seem fully engaged and you need the ODPM and the DTI fully on board!
Home Affairs team meeting is followed by Prime Ministers’ Questions. Of course, it’s David Cameron’s debut! He did really well on his first bite of the cherry, nicely telling off Hilary Armstrong for sitting there shouting childish comments at him. She does this all the time and it is unedifying and a public telling off saw her blush nicely. However, he didn’t make much impact on his environment question – I guess the Tories and environment caring, sharing are still not believable even with that nice David Cameron saying he agreed with Tony Blair on this and education.
Tony B pointed out to the Notting Hill Prince that if he agreed with it all – he had better vote for it and the budget to fund it. They were both well-behaved – which personally I found quite refreshing. However, I suspect that the Tories agreeing with Tony Blair and the Government line is a one trick pony. Tony Cameron can’t say that every time he speaks – it just won’t ring true or (I suspect) be deliverable. Still an adequate start. Style 8 – content 3!
Now Charles Kennedy, on the other hand, asked a stonkingly good question on Extraordinary Rendition (that’s the American policy of picking up suspects around the world, and flying them off on secret flights to secret locations with no trial, no legal representation and no accountability). Charles put Tony B on the back foot for not knowing what he was talking about and not telling Jack Straw – anything! And this is what question time should be about – serious stuff.
Dash back to my office to do an interview with the Westminster Hour to go out Sunday night on Cameron and what it means for the LibDems. Pontificate – but the truth is – who knows fopr sure … yet!
Last port of the day is attendance at St Andrews Church in Alexandra ward to see the local amateur dramatic society perform three plays. This is their last outing after 81 years – as the Church is renovating (lottery money) and is taking away their storage room and the stage which will make it impossible to go on. Such a shame. I don’t quite understand as when I visited the Church recently to look at the plans for the renovation I thought they had built in storage for the theatre company and I didn’t remember the Vicar saying that they would have to go. Must write and ask if any chance of them staying – somehow.
The production was very professional. I used to do a fair amount of am / dram myself from the age of about 9 until about 22! It took me back to those days. And as I have been told that ‘politics is showbiz for ugly people’ I obviously found an alternative outlet for my thespian aspirations.