Well it has been a strange week in Westminster following on from the week of the funeral of Baroness Thatcher it was a week of what is invariably called in the media Parliamentary Ping Pong. What it actually involves is both Houses of Parliament coming to an agreement as to the precise contents of any outstanding Bills. Usually a compromise is reached between the Commons and their Lordships or sometimes if the elected Commons keep insisting the Lords backdown. Unless a Carry Over motion has been passed any Bill which has not been agreed upon by both Houses so the impending close of the current Parliamentary session tends to concentrate minds as any Government is always loathe to lose legislation after hours of Parliamentary have already been spent on it.
Once all Bills have been agreed upon by both Houses Parliament was prorogued on Thursday and will stand prorogued until the new session of Parliament begins with the State Opening of Parliament which will this year take place on Wednesday 8th May. The Queen’s Speech will set out the new legislative programmes for the next session of Parliament – the 2013 – 2014 session. Once upon a time the contents of the next legislative programme would be almost entirely unknown. Nowadays with the trend to publishing more Bills in draft to allow for more pre-legislative scrutiny and the use of Carry Over motions a good chunk of Parliamentary Business is already on the runway.
Since I returned from Westminster I had various meetings on Friday including with the Acting Chief Executive of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust when we discussed the various challenges they face. I also dealt with my usual surgery cases. Then time for a bit of relaxation. I joined Bury Curry Club on their visit to OneOneSeven for an Indian on Friday. evening and yesterday I took in my first Cricket of the new season as Tottington St. John’s had been drawn at home against no less than the reigning Lancashire League Champions Lowerhouse. Although the result was really never in doubt st. John’s acquitted themselves extremely creditably against such illustrious opposition and it was a great experience for all the St.John’s players.
Today I it was the Annual Meeting of the Church at St. Anne’s and I was re-elected as one of the Churchwardens for another year and in doing so became the Senior Warden as the current Senior Warden retired after completing her seven year term. Then it was on to the Annual Beavers, Cubs and Scouts St. George’s Day Parade and Service at the Parish Church.
Usually at this time of year I am heavily involved in election activity as we approach the Annual Council elections normally held on the first Thursday in May however this year as the Council is elected in thirds for a four year term is the fallow year. It would have been the year when elections were held to the Greater Manchester County Council which was abolished some years ago. There are however elections in many other Counties and Unitary Authorities across England which will no doubt attract some attention including mine as I have offered to help out with the campaign in Lancashire.
Twice this evening I have heard people say that Mrs Thatcher encouraged selfishness. Not true. Indeed as the following quotation taken from the actual Woman’s Own interview ( given in Sept 1987 ) which gave rise to this myth shows Mrs Thatcher stressed it is the duty of individuals to look after their neighbour. I don’t expect this will stop people misrepresenting her view but it is worth reminding those who are interested in the actual quote.
‘I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand “I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!” or “I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!” “I am homeless, the Government must house me!” and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation and it is, I think, one of the tragedies in which many of the benefits we give, which were meant to reassure people that if they were sick or ill there was a safety net and there was help, that many of the benefits which were meant to help people who were unfortunate—“It is all right. We joined together and we have these insurance schemes to look after it”. That was the objective, but somehow there are some people who have been manipulating the system and so some of those help and benefits that were meant to say to people: “All right, if you cannot get a job, you shall have a basic standard of living!” but when people come and say: “But what is the point of working? I can get as much on the dole!” You say: “Look” It is not from the dole. It is your neighbour who is supplying it and if you can earn your own living then really you have a duty to do it and you will feel very much better!”
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lady Thatcher.
I was studying my ‘A’level in politics when Margret Thatcher came to power at the 1979 General Election. Little did I know when I was putting together my report of that General Election that the politician who had just become Britain’s first woman Prime Minister would go on to win two more General Elections, In doing so she became the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century. The whole decade of the 1980’s belonged to Thatcherism. It was a decade when I was taking my first steps in politics and regularly losing local election contests in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire. The Country was transformed and I believe it was transformed for the better.
Her political legacy will continue to be debated for generations to come. My view is that she was a great Party Leader and a great Prime Minister. I was privileged to have been able to meet her on several occasions and indeed Lady Thatcher visited the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency when I was contesting it at the 2001 General Election.