Theresa May’s penultimate PMQs this week before she stands down as Prime Minister was a rather bleak affair.
Her and Jeremy Corbyn endlessly repeating that the opposite party was more racist than theirs. Anti-semitism on the Labour side and Islamaphobia in the Tory party, hurled backwards and forwards across the despatch box. Edifying it wasn’t.
Jeremy Corbyn is in trouble though and we all know it in Westminster. When you have sixty of your Peers taking out a full page advertisement in a daily newspaper accusing you of ignoring institutional anti-semitism in your own Party, then it’s clear the wheels are coming off the bus. The question up here is why do it now when there’s also been recent whispers of the new PM - one Mr B Johnson - for it will be he, going for a snap election? Possibly the Labour peers believe Corbyn will lead the party to extinction unless stopped, and as members of the Lords they don’t have to face the wrath of local members? Something which is, allegedly, keeping many a Labour MP in line as they’re afraid they’ll be deselected. Mind you if I had to put money on it I suspect it’s unlikely the new PM will go for a quick election, as the Conservatives are almost as split as Labour. We’ll find out soon enough.
Away from all the turbulence of the two main parties we’ve also had a leadership battle as Sir Vince Cable is standing down at the end of this month. It’s between Jo Swinson MP and Ed Davey MP. I know both well and in fact served for a time as Ed’s PPS when he was Secretary of State for Energy during the coalition. Either of them will do a fine job and it’s been rather nice their month of debates around the country, have been held in such a collegiate spirit. It makes a change for leading figures within a political party to conduct debates with mutual respect. Perhaps that’s because most Lib Dems tend to actually like each other which certainly isn’t the case within the Conservatives and Labour at the minute. The mutual loathing in Westminster between some MPs in the same party is extraordinary to see. All we need now is interest from Quentin Tarantino and we’d have a movie deal in an instant!
And of course by the time you read next Friday’s column, according to all the polls, Mr Johnson will be our PM. I have a hunch how that’s going to turn out but, of course, I could be wrong and he instead metamorphoses into the very spit of the man he’s desperate for others to compare him; the Titan that was Sir Winston Churchill.
Or then again, he may not.
As you know I have been pressing my campaign in Parliament to secure government support for British citizens affected by terrorist atrocities, and this week had a meeting with the relevant minister. It actually went rather well and he grasped the validity of my case. He was also aware I’ve approached the issue from a cross-party perspective. In my experience that’s the most effective way of actually getting things done in Westminster. It may not be happening much in other areas but I am making sure it is happening on this issue.
JPK Palm Court Tea Rooms in Old Town: I had a lovely lunch with my office manager, Kathy Bond, and the founder of JPK Projects Jill Parker a couple of days ago at their Tea Room/cafe in Old Town.
Jill brought me up to speed with how things are going with the charity - JPK Projects is all about supporting people with Learning Disabilities into leading safe, supported and independent lives. The main reason for this visit though was to try out the food as so many people have told me it was both tasty and, of course, all for a good cause. And they’re right on both.
People with Learning Disabilities attend JPK for skills training as well as growing their social skills. All part and parcel of Jill’s long term vision to support disabled people locally into an independent and happy life. The Tea Room provides an ideal opportunity to train them and it also helps fund the programme, so do drop by and support if you can. It’s at 39/41 Church Street, BN21 1HP and open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm.
Hat tip to JPK, Jill Parker and her team. I’ve been a supporter for a long time so know just how far they’ve come in achieving their dreams. Well done all. We change the world for the better, one small step at a time.
That’s it folks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you around town.