Well – so much going on in the aftermath of the verdict on Baby P’s death, and so tragic the case, that it’s dominated my blog in the last few days. However, I don’t want to leave out completely the local events and groups that I have been visiting in middle of all this – for the bread and butter day-to-day work continues – so here’s a sample of the rest of the week.
At the start of the week I took part in the Liberal Democrat Opposition Day debate on the economy – see my intervention to make banks publicise any bonuses they pay.
Alexandra Park School came up to Parliament for a visit and I joined them for a half hour of questions. On Wednesday, I had a question to the Prime Minister –
I took part in the debate on an SI (Statutory Instrument – i.e. delegated legislation) changing bits around what information can be presented to the Youth Justice Board. I voted against the Government as they couldn’t – or rather didn’t – answer my questions.
I went to the Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards where Vince Cable won Parliamentarian of the Year (who else?). There was a lovely moment when Peter Mandelson won an award and George Osborne presented it … !
I inspected 16F Squadron of the Air Training Corps (ATC) in Hornsey at the Territorial Army base in the High Street. I was so impressed with the young people I met there – all with shining enthusiasm and fantastic posture.
They meet on Thursday and Monday nights and learn drill and take lessons. Being the Air Training Corps – the lesson I looked in on was a small group learning plane recognition. Very mixed in terms of ethnicity and gender – it seemed an absolutely great way to have a good time, make friends, learn self-confidence and self-control.
Yes – they wear a uniform – but they adore it. And no – it’s not just a recruiting ground for the forces.
Being a liberal and not a natural follower of uniforms and drill – I have to say that this group gives the young people a real purpose, they learn a lot and have loads of fun. Within a few months of joining they go flying and yes – they are allowed to fly the plane/glider. At 16 they can even get their solo wings! (Scary!)
I was truly impressed and have come full circle on this one – now thinking it is a very beneficial way to give young people a structured and constructive pathway to adulthood.
I held my usual advice surgery (where constituents come and raise issues face-to-face with myself), a quick lunch with the team from one of my local newspapers – the Ham & High – and visited Nightingale School to see the boxes for Africa that they have filled and to have a photo with them and the boxes. They are so sweet…
I judged the winner of my Christmas Card competition – results will be out in due course, so watch this space!
I attended the Liberal Democrat London Regional Conference, where there were many questions about Baby P and what I was doing in Parliament about it (see numerous other blog posts).
And I went to support the Jewish community and Muswell Hill Synagogue, which was having an action day where you could do a Mitzfah (a good deed). I joined them on two stalls – one outside Sainsbury’s and the other outside M & S where they were asking shoppers to donate one item of food or clothing from their shopping to the cause – which would then be given to a range of charitable causes. The children were all dressed in Mitzfah T-shirts and so cute that shoppers were all apparently beguiled into extreme generosity judging by the mountains of stuff donated. Hugely successful. They were also going to do baking at an old peoples’ home and were clearing rubbish at Durnsford Road Rec Centre.
Congratulations to all of them – a lovely and highly successful day. And it’s just great to do a Mitzfah – it’s the feel good factor!
And I watched Strictly and the X-Factor!
To round off the weekend – about to head off to do Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour.