A busy day

I went to the Save Community Hospitals’ lobby in Westminster Hall yesterday. In Haringey we are not so much trying to save a hospital and get a new one on the site of the old one – which wasn’t saved!

I also had Question 4 on the order paper in Foreign Affairs Questions.

Lynne Featherstone (Hornsey & Wood Green, Liberal Democrat)
What recent assessment she has made of developments in the situation in Darfur; and if she will make a statement.

Margaret Beckett (Secretary of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
President Bashir has now accepted UN support for AMIS—the African Union Mission in Sudan—and has allowed the first UN military personnel into Darfur. That is important, but it is only the first step. We urge the Government of Sudan, the UN and the African Union to work for full implementation of the joint support package and an urgent resumption of the political process. All sides need to observe the ceasefire, too, particularly the Government of Sudan, who have been bombing the rebels, as that is vital for progress on the humanitarian front.

Lynne Featherstone (Hornsey & Wood Green, Liberal Democrat)
I thank the Secretary of State for her reply, but has a timeline been developed for the United Nations and the African Union to be on the ground? At what point will that protection start to be provided for people in Darfur?

Margaret Beckett (Secretary of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
There are three stages to the deployment: first, light support, in which 180 personnel, 34 of whom have already arrived, are expected to be involved; secondly, heavy support; and, finally, the establishment of a full hybrid African Union and United Nations force. There is no specific timescale, but everyone who wishes the position in Darfur to improve is anxious that as many of those people as possible should be deployed as soon as possible, and that is something for which we are all working.

Ironically, had had to move my meeting with Secretary of State for International Development from 3pm because of the question. It’s like a ballot – so until a couple of days before you have no idea that the question you have tabled has been selected. Anyway – Hilary Benn’s office were very accommodating and moved the meeting which had been initiated by Hilary as a meet and greet me in my new role.

I went to DFID unarmed. Having heard tell that Hilary Benn doesn’t have an enemy in the world, I judged it safe. Which meant I found myself not just with Hilary as I had expected – but with four of his key aides. Five to one! The first thing you notice is that it is nothing like the Home Office – they are nice and civilised. I think in the year and a half I was on the front bench for Home Affairs – Tony McNulty (Labour’s equivalent) only said hello about twice!

Anyway – we had a chat about the Department and the work they carry out. I look forward to working with him – as we say.

Then it was straight on to Haringey Civic Centre for the presentation by the four bidders for the new school to be built in my constituency. This is one of those insane Government forced bids to bring in an Academy. Boroughs of all political persuasions have seen these privately sponsored new schools take over. I suppose the original idea was enabling the Government to intervene where schools were failing and the LEA was appalling (understandable).

However, this is about businesses really getting hold of Government funding. Listening to the four bids – from a variety of sponsors – it was clear that there was very little to guide one as to which one would deliver exactly what. The crying shame – and actually complete travesty – was the lack of real people at the meeting. There were the bidders, the councillors, some heads, the press – but only six (other) members of the community.

So one has to wonder about Haringey’s efforts to publicise the event (not much). Gail Engert (Lib Dem Education Spokesperson) asked that they consider a better-advertised second meeting. The consultation period needs to be longer and there is a problem with the timing of the decision – which is going to be in the Easter holidays. That is not good – as people can come and present to the decision making meeting – but at that time lots of people are away.

And of course – home to watch Big Brother. This has turned political as a Labour member has tabled an EDM. I am not sure that is the way forward in this case. If there is anything that has broken our laws – then it is really a police matter. However, I am not sure whether it is that clear that it would result in a successful prosecution. It is more the bullying by a gang of girls on one who is different. I can only assume they were jealous of her and because she is posh and classy (as well as non-white) they focused their nastiness on her difference.

I wonder if their punishment won’t be ending up pariahs when they come out. If only the world was that fair!!!

0 thoughts on “A busy day

  1. Mmmmm. Are you sure those businesses are going to get to own the schools? Isn’t that “not quite true”?And as for the Big Brother bit: Have you actually read Keith Vaz’s EDM? And isn’t it more important and well directed and well drafted than quite a number to which you have added your name?

  2. Dear “not a fibber”: I’m not a member of any political party, so I guess I don’t get the terribly funny joke in your name. Sorry, but I think it makes you look like the silliest, grumpiest and worst kind of point-scoring politician. Score one against Labour in this household.