October 2009

Fri, 30 Oct
I was up early to listen to the news that this wretched Lisbon Treaty has all but been ratified by all 27 EU states. What madness is this? And how we will regret this stupid, stupid move in the years to come. I do hope and call on our Party to announce that we will hold a referendum, despite ratification.
Labour promised one and lied to us. We’ve been betrayed, although that’s nothing new by this government. This Federalist move is utter madness and will lead to disunity in the end. You cannot stamp a centralist state on so many different sovereign countries. Those who’ve been brought to the table recently have all been bribed into signing. And who will pay the price? We will. A referendum, please. This is not only a request, it’s a demand.

Thu, 29 Oct
Another sad start to the day as hundreds of people packed into All Saints’ Church in Wyke Regis for Cllr Doug Hollings’ funeral. Two excellent eulogies by Cllr Mike Goodman MBE and Colonel Doug Swanson reminded us all what a special man Doug was. Devoted to his family and his public life, Doug will be a hard act to follow. And the fact so many people came to the service I think was a fitting tribute to such a well loved and respected man.
The family kindly hosted a wake afterwards at the Sports & Social Club in Dumbarton Road, which was a warm and cosy affair. Doug’s lovely wife, Diane, supported by her family, bore the morning with great courage and dignity. One thing’s for certain, Doug made his mark and he will be sorely missed.

Wed, 28 Oct
Very sadly, I learnt that another political colleague has died due to ill health. Constance Gainsborough was a very special lady and well known and respected in Swanage. She will be sorely missed.
When I was first selected as the parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, Constance was extremely kind and supportive. Her knowledge of the area was invaluable. My deepest sympathy goes to her family and friends. In the evening we held our fifth Drax Direct meeting at the hall in Winfrith. There were plenty of questions and active debate and of course the opportunity for the electorate to meet me, which is the aim of this round of meet the public engagements.

Tue, 27 Oct
The unmistakable sound of a Porsche heralded the arrival of educationalist Professor Stephen Heppell. Not far behind in her Smart car came Jane Fooks, who’s working with Dorset’s LEA on plans for a new Academy on Portland.
I listened to Stephen for an hour as he explained his ‘vision’for Portland. I hope I am paraphrasing him correctly, but he sees an Academy umbrella, if you like, being slipped over the island, underneath which children will be educated from 0-21. The ‘vision’ will need considerable sums of money, although he was a little vague on exactly how much. Having said that, a feasibility study is due to start at the end of this year, which will take into account this and other factors.
I welcome and support any plan which brings investment, especially in education, into South Dorset. However, not everyone quite sees the professor’s vision in the same light, and these people must be accommodated and listened to. I believe that it’s not new buildings which raise educational standards, but what’s taught inside them. Clearly, the aim and hope is to have a wonderful educational system and top class buildings, but the former is essential and we are way off track at the moment. 
On this point the professor agreed, profoundly.