Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The Challenge of Population Growth

I wanted, belatedly, to write something about David Cameron’s speech yesterday on meeting the challenges of a growing population. I very much welcomed the speech – it is important that we don’t shy away from discussing these issues especially as grown up debate needs to occur on what our infrastructure needs should be to cope with population growth.

With Britain’s population set to rise to 71 million by 2031, David explained that increases in life expectancy, net immigration, and household formation were the principal drivers of demographic change. He laid out a strategy to ensure firstly, that our population grows at a rate that’s sustainable and secondly, that we’re prepared for this level of growth. To achieve a sustainable level of growth, David re-iterated Conservative policy of controlling net immigration with annual limits, reforming welfare to get people into work and reduce the demand for migrant labour, and tackling family breakdown. And he also explained how a Conservative Government would ensure the country is prepared to deal with population growth in the key areas of housing, public services and transport.

These are very important issues in Chatham & Aylesford and the speech is well worth reading in full. It can be found HERE.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Support the Poppy Appeal

This year’s Poppy Appeal has been described as one of the most political appeal’s ever. Good. For the past six months, the Royal British Legion has run an amazing campaign on the broken covenant between Government and those who go to war in a British military uniform.

Unlike the soldiers who went to war in the first and second world wars to defend the UK and its empire from conquest, today’s soldiers go into war zones arguably less sure what they are fighting for and certainly less well thought about when they return. Never mind the lack of parades, the bunting, the slap on the back for a job well done, our forces are fighting with inadequate equipment, they are offered sub-standard treatment if they return injured, and often their spouses are left to fight for compensation or pensions through the courts.

The Royal British Legion do a fantastic job supporting those who deserve more from our Government, and in memory of my grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather as well as those who do their bit in today’s wars I shall be giving generously to this year’s appeal.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Pretty in Pink

Tonight everyone had to wear pink to training as part of a fundraising event for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The male coaches, joined the girls of all ages, and got into the spirit and many were wearing pink tops, trousers, leggings and even wigs! Here’s Ricky with his daughter Lucy in matching wigs, and little Ellie with her best pink Chav look!

We were joined tonight by a touring team from Cyprus. The Paphos Cheetahs are the only girls team in the whole of Cyprus so can only play mixed opposition at best. They arrived yesterday and met the Under 14 Meridian girls for their first all-girl game at Bluebell Hill Cricket Club. The chairman asked me to help get some additional media for the girls and I managed to get Meridian to cover the game on last night’s news bulletins plus thanks to my friend Tony they also got some excellent coverage back home in Cyprus. Ironically I was unable to watch the game myself because I was in a meeting with the Sports Minister!
I think the boys that are on tour with them this evening were all a bit shocked at having to train in pink this evening but they all seemed to be enjoying themselves all the same!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

How the bookies make their money

Last week, a leading bookmaker was tugging on the nation’s patriotic heartstrings and offering odds of 10-1 that England would triumph at the football, rugby and motor racing. At work we were all pretty tempted but none of us got around to braving the chilly autumn wind and putting our money where our optimistic mouths were. As I sit down in front of the TV tonight with all today’s sports sections piled up on the coffee table, I wonder to myself what were the odds of England winning none – and who is the lucky fellow (no doubt a Scot or a Welshmen) who has cleaned up this weekend?

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Charity Quiz and Coney Banks

It is half time in the rugby world cup final so I thought I’d update my blog. Last night local Conservatives took a table at the KM charity quiz. Despite not winning, we all had a great evening. The sports round we did quite well on, and rather surprisingly also the entertainment round. We played our joker during the current affairs round but were somewhat surprised when the questions were “what did Charlotte Church name her baby?” and “what number did Bobby Charlton wear on his England shirt?” Since I gave an interview in my Blackpool hotel room for the main quiz sponsor KMFM, I was at least able to answer “where was this year’s Conservative Party Conference?”

Today, the team responded to a request from some of the returned surveys we sent out recently and went to Coney Banks to clear up litter from the around the woods, the footpaths and football pitches. In the space of an hour we’d filled 10 bin bags and cleaned off lots of graffiti from local signs. We met 3 dog walkers, one of whom spent 15 minutes telling me he was never going to vote Labour again because Gordon Brown had robbed him of £4000 from his pension. The sad truth is that it isn’t the first time I have heard people tell me this and I know it won’t be the last.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

David Davis comes to Chatham & Aylesford

Following a meeting with Kent County Councillors, the Shadow Home Secretary David Davis joined local Conservatives for our annual dinner at Wealden Hall in Larkfield. Over 70 people enjoyed a wonderful dinner followed by an excellent speech by David focusing on some key issues for us. It is quite clear from our own survey responses that crime, drugs and immigration are top concerns for local people and David outlined Labour’s failures and Conservative policy on these three issues specifically. It was good to have such a senior and well respected member of the Conservative Party join us for the evening and look forward to welcoming him back in the near future.

Monday, 15 October 2007

A new star in the sky tonight

This is quite possibly the most personal blog post I shall ever write but I feel I must all the same. At 1.45am my mum called me to tell me that my gran had died. She had collapsed at her home in Folkestone, was rushed to the William Harvey in Ashford before being transferred to the Kent & Canterbury for emergency heart surgery. It was in the operating theatre that she passed away.

My gran, a true silver surfer, was a regular reader of my blog. She was very proud of my achievements and had always encouraged me in my ambition to go into politics. After my partner, she was the second person I called when I was selected for Chatham & Aylesford and she cried with joy “I am soooo pleased for you lambie“.

Nana had lived by herself for over 40 years and was fiercely independent as a result. Despite having a career in social services looking after the elderly, she herself was not dependent on social care. Her caring streak has passed its way through the family. There are many reasons why I want to be a politician but the absolute ultimate reason is the so called “social work” element of the job. Making a difference to people’s lives, whether it is individually or as a community, is what drives me on every day. And that is what my gran did with the elderly people she looked after.

Having spent a long time tonight talking to my sister we have some very fond memories of my gran to keep with us forever. Tomorrow she has the unpleasant task of informing her children about their “nanny”. She will tell them that she is a new star in the sky. I don’t care how old I am, tonight that is how I shall think of one of my greatest supporters too.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

An afternoon of amazing sport

I turned on the TV at 3pm and have watched some amazing sport ever since. It started with a workman-like performance from England’s football team, which I flicked between that game and the incredible win by Scotland over Ukraine; followed by a mighty victory by the brilliant Leeds Rhinos over St Helens to win the Challenge Cup final, a game which had me jumping around my living room with every Leeds try; and finished by England’s excellent victory over France in the Rugby World Cup semi-final. I am emotionally exhausted!

Looking back at a long week in politics

It has been an extraordinary week in British politics – both nationally and locally. Looking back it wouldn’t surprise me if Gordon Brown regrets his decision last weekend to call off the General Election. He has probably had one of his toughest weeks in politics since he was elected to Parliament. His much hyped statement in Iraq ended up being met with scepticism because of the fiddled figures announced the week before; the Pre-Budget Report was universally written up in the media as a “magpie budget” and has already started to unravel; then on Wednesday the Prime Minister was mauled by a re-invigorated David Cameron leaving many on the Labour benches ashen faced and visibly angry that their good position in the opinion polls had been conceded.

Meanwhile locally, the Conservative campaign on Capstone Valley continues with many people coming up to me this week thanking me for holding a consultative referendum and expressing disgust at proposals to build 9,200 houses in the Valley. There has been distressing news from the Maidstone & Tunbridge Well NHS Trust with the news that the police are launching an investigation into 90 deaths from hospital infections. It is desperately important that this is dealt with quickly – people who are unfortunate enough to require hospital treatment need to know that they are going to be properly looked after in excellent conditions and that the only target that staff are trying to meet is to return the patient back to health as quickly as possible.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Brown v Under 10 girls football

This morning when I woke up all I kept thinking about was how the election had been called off because Gordon Brown had realised he was going to lose seats like Chatham & Aylesford and he didn’t want to take the risk. I bought all the papers and was ready to spend my afternoon enveloped in political commentary and psephological analysis.

Instead all I have been thinking about is the under 10 girls football team I help coach, who lost this morning to a physically much bigger side. I know I am a girl but I can’t help it! I keep opening the various broadsheets but my mind keeps turning back to the game.

The girls started brilliantly against a team who have been playing for a season already. So at one nil down at half time we were really chuffed and given our striker kept going on some amazing swerving runs into their penalty box we were all convinced that we had goals coming in the second half. Sadly that wasn’t the case and the physical difference between an eight year old and a nearly ten year old became all too clear after a couple of our girls, including the keeper, went off injured after having the ball booted at them. They all played very well and by all accounts very bravely but if anyone knows of any coaching tips that helps young ones understand the concept of space please leave it in the comments.

I need to get the sad faces of the little girls out of my head but the one thing I know for sure is that unlike Gordon Brown, I wouldn’t prepare the girls for the cup final, sort out the team and the tactics, get the kit all sparkly clean and advertise the game only to then call it off. In the words of an eight year old girl, it would make the team look like a bunch of scaredy cats!

Saturday, 6 October 2007

What an Amazing day!

What an incredible day! Firstly we managed to get the final lot of ballot papers out in our referendum on the future of Capstone Valley. All households across Chatham should now have a ballot paper and if returned will be counted on 3rd November. I delivered a batch around White Road and was touched by a young man with several gold pieces of jewellery, a cigarette and a scary looking dog telling me I was better looking in real life than in my picture which just goes to show that chivalry is well and truly alive in Chatham!

Next I met for a quick coffee with a local journalist before heading to Larkfield to examine a specific traffic problem that has been raised with me following the survey.

Then after a quick stop at Toys R Us for a present for my soon-to-be 5 year old nephew, I heard on the car radio the news that after marching everyone up the election hill, Gordon Brown has delayed the General Election until at least 2009. I am not surprised but I am severely disappointed. My own surveys have shown an increase in Conservative support across Chatham & Aylesford and as I have posted on this site before many people have told me they want to get rid of this Labour Government as soon as possible. And who can blame them when violent crime is rising, the NHS is in chaos, police are fed up with working to targets and immigration is out of control. Gordon Brown has said that he wants to show people his “vision for change” – the people of Chatham & Aylesford don’t want to see a “vision”, they want to see a change in Government.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

The Countryside Code

This morning I have been browsing videos on the recently launched Kent TV and came across this excellent video clip from the Creature Comfort creators Aardman. Since my campaign on Capstone Valley has gained so much interest and support I thought it would be more than appropriate to post the video on my blog!