Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Visiting Cobham Girl Guides

Last Wednesday, I dropped into meet 1st Cobham Girl Guides, run by their brilliant Leader, Helen Goddard. The Guides had originally contacted me about UK support for educational programs in some of the poorest countries around the world.
On Wednesday, I saw the Guides designing invites for their next fund-raising initiative, and then they grilled me with questions for half an hour or so. The Guides is a fabulous organisation, nurturing a sense of civic spirit, self-confidence and team skills. I always enjoy meeting up with local groups. It is a good opportunity to hear a different perspective on politics, what's going on in the world, and how they view their community. The 1st Cobham Guides were a particularly sparky bunch. I was really impressed with their attitude and curiosity. They have a great sense of humour too, so it was a lot of fun meeting them.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The European Arrest Warrant - a problem that's not going away

Last Monday, Paliamemt's long-awaited debate and vote on the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) descended into a navel-gazing farce. This week, there will be a second chance in the House of Commons.

Today, the Mail on Sunday features an interview with the latest victim, Keith Hainsworth, a Greek tutor from Hampton, caught up in an absurd Greek EAW, which turned his life upside down and cost him around £40k in legal fees. You can read the account here.

I have written a column to accompany the interview with the Hanisworths, which you can read here.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Remembering the Fallen

On Sunday, I joined Reverend Philip Plyming at Holy Trinity Church in Claygate for Remembrance Sunday. This year, I feel it has been particularly poignant - perhaps it's the fact we're remembering the end of the Great War 100 years after the day on which it began.

The local comemorations have been very powerful too. At Claygate, before a moving service, we laid wreaths at the war memorial in the company of some of the relatives of the (from recollection) 44 Claygate residents who gave their lives in World War 1, and a similar number in World War 2. The names of the fallen were read out and remembered one by one. It was very touching, and a fabulous local turnout from the village.

Then, yesterday, I joined Mark Beach (headteacher), Graham West (Chair of Governors), Jan Fuller (Deputy Mayor) at Parkside School in Stoke D'Abernon. They put on a football match with one side in current match kit and the others wearing that of the school's 1905 team - all of whom served in World War 1. 

From that team, two won Victoria Crosses, four Military Crosses, and the rest all lost their lives. It is a truly remarkable historic record, both tragic and inspiring. The names of all the boys from the 1905 team were stitched onto the shirts of the boys playing yesterday. Again, some of their relatives were present. It was a really wonderful occasion, and a fitting tribute to an amazing group of young men who served their country with such bravery and distinction. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Vote on the EAW

Yesterday, the House of Commons debate on the European Arrest Warrant descended into procedural shambles - which meant no debate on the substance of the various EU measures, and no vote on 24 out of 35.

I have written a column for The Times on the lessons we need to learn. You can access it here.

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