Today for the second time in a fortnight three Parliamentary by-elections are taking place. By any measure there do seem to have been a higher than usual number of by-elections recently. The Parliamentary Labour Party has for varying reasons suffered more than the other parties. Sadly several long serving Labour MP’s have died which accounts for two of today’s by-elections in Croydon North and in Middlesborough. Resignations resulting from Labour MP’s choosing to become Police and Crime Commissioners and because of the continuing fall-out of the expenses scandal which has caused the by-election in Rotherham being held today. Two weeks ago the by-election in the Corby constituency had resulted from the sitting Conservative MP who had recently married resigning to move to live with her husband in the USA. Two weeks ago all the three by-elections were won by Labour and it would not be too great a surprise if that outcome was repeated today but has the Bradford West by-election showed a few months ago strange results can sometimes occur in by-elections.
Two weeks ago whilst Labour were winning the three Parliamentary by-elections the Conservatives won two Bury Council by-elections caused by the resignation from the sitting Conservative Councillors. Congratulations to James Daly for winning North Manor Ward and to my wife Susan for winning Church Ward. Both by-elections were keenly contested and commiserations to the other candidates who put up valiant fights. Full results can be seen here
When the Government loses a vote in the House of Commons it is headline news. When the Government loses a vote in the House of lords it is hardly mentioned.
The reason for this may well lie in the fact that most news outlets realise a Lords defeat is usually overturned in the Commons and also because of the make up of the House of Lords not only do the Conservatives not have a majority but even the Coalition parties together do not have a majority.
As at 19th Novermber there were 761 Peers entitled to attend the House of Lords 28% of these are Conservatives and 12% Liberal Democrats. Despite what many people may think namely that the House of Lords is full of Conservatives Labour is the largest Party with 29% of Peers.
It is also not true that the Coalition have stuffed the Lords full of Conservatives since the last General Election. Since the 2010 election there have been 46 more Conservative Peers appointed, 39 Labour, 24 Liberal Democrats and 10 Crossbench (Independent) Peers.
So today after many years of debate the General Synod are voting on whether the Church of England should have women Bishops. Even though I am no doubt regarded as an arch traditionalist by many I believe the Church should have women bishops. I appreciate the argument that Jesus only chose men as disciples I take the view that he chose the best people for the job at the time and it just so happened that the best 12 were men. Just as today I have no concerns if the Board of Directors of a Company are all men or all women for that matter what matters is that the best people are chosen. I appreciate there are very strongly held on both sides of the debate and I only hope that whatever the result both sides accept the result with grace and equanimity.
With elections for the new Police and Crime Commissioners now out of the way it is pleasing to note that the latest bulletin from Greater Manchester Police shows that overall crime in Greater Manchester is down by 11 per cent for the 12 months to the end of October 2012.
Domestic burglary has been reduced by eight per cent and personal robbery by 11 per cent. At the same time vehicle crime is down by 11 per cent. Business robbery has been reduced by 15 per cent. Antisocial behaviour has been reduced by 14 per cent.
David with Instructor Fran Healey
I was pleased to be able to attend the Open day of the new Kumon education classes today. Run by Instructor Fran Healey the centre which will operate from The Hall behind Bury Parish Church will provide teaching in maths and English for pupils of all ages and capabilities.
Fran explained how the Kumon classes operate and how they will be able to benefit children in Bury. The classes will be open between 4pm and 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. For more details check out the Kumon website here
I am grateful to all at Channel 4 news who hosted my visit yesterday morning as part of my Industry and Parliament Trust Fellowship programme. I am particularly grateful to Simon Israel their Home Affairs correspondent who took me along to Azelle Rodney Inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice Family Division where a judicial investigation is being held into the shooting by the police of a young man in 2005.
I then had a tour of their offices and studios and met with Anna Doble who is Head of their Online Operations.
David with the impressive C4 news ‘trophy cabinet’
I am delighted to have been asked to join the Advisory Board of a new think tank called Blue Collar Conservatism.
Blue Collar Conservatism is a forum to explore policies and ideas to increase Conservative support amongst blue collar voters and to help secure an overall majority in 2015. It aims to transform this into long term support and attract additional blue collar and aspirational voters.
As someone who came from what was a typically Northern working class background I firmly believe that there are many misconceptions about the Conservative Party only been for the rich and well off. I believe that nothing could be further from the truth. The Conservative Party is at its best when it is setting out a clear vision how people can improve their position through hard work with the Government taking less of their hard earned money.
More information about Blue Collar Conservatism can be found at www.bluecollarconservatism.com