‘Biscuit-gate’ galvanised EFRA Select Committee members into consternation post-Christmas. Half the committee members received a £100 hamper loaded with biscuits and other goodies. The source was the head of a company whose conduct is being probed by the Committee.
Should the favoured recipients be flattered or insulted? Can their integrity be corrupted with hampers? We self-righteous members congratulated ourselves that we were denied our biscuits because we had done our duty and sharply probed the donor. We were judged incorruptible and hamper deprived. There was scramble from the hamper recipients to explain how they had not nibbled a single biscuit but passed them on to foodbanks or the homeless. Of course. The Select Committee is sending a stern rebuke to the donor. Biscuits will never buy us.
It was two fingers twice up from Government.
Two very late Government responses to Public Administration Select Committee (PACAC) reports arrived on the 21st December. No-one noticed that the Government had rejected Chilcot and the call to jam the revolving door. The press hacks, obsessed with anticipation of Christmas mince pies and wine, could not be provoked into noticing.
For three parliaments PACAC has hammered the corruption of former politicians, civil servants and military heads prostituting their insider knowledge to the highest bidder to provide rich pickings in retirement jobs.
Taking a new job with the Chinese interests by David Cameron exposes parliamentarians to accusations of promoting our own financial interests in office in order to benefit later. PM David Cameron resisted all pleas to reform the abuses of revolving door. Chaucer foretold, ‘If gold rusts, what will iron do?
Rose Gentle, the mother of Gordon Gentle, the first soldier killed in the 2003 Iraq War, is angry. The Government rejected the modest PACAC proposals to avoid a further war in which Parliament could be again misled. The war decisions was not just one man’s. Most MPs of the major parties and three major Select Committees were gung-ho to join Bush’s War. Parliament will fail if we allow Chilcot conclusions to be suffocated with a blanket of self-serving spin.
No wonder there is a crisis in recruiting if parliament does not reform procedures that lead us into avoidable war. The loved ones of the 179 brave soldiers who were killed in Iraq deserved a hearing. They suffer wounds of grief that will never heal.
It sounds odd but I am both for and against drug use. As chair of the APPG group on opioid use, I want UK patients to avoid the plague of opioid over-use, addictions and deaths that have cut life expectancy in the USA, with deaths currently standing at 42,000 a year – and predicted to rise to 72,000 by 2025. The increase has been for non-life threatening problems of pain and depression. We are following the trend.
But we should follow the example of the 29 US states who have re-legalised medicinal cannabis. Each of these states has benefited from a drop in drug crime- up to 41%. Also as a direct consequence the states where medicinal cannabis is available have avoided the increase in opioid deaths.
It’s a no-brainer that we should follow these examples. Public opinion is prepared for reforms. Our chance will come on February 23rd when seriously ill people will ask parliament to allow them to legally use their medicine of choice.
Newport County soccer team have rocketed from screaming nightmare to paradise. A year ago they were firmly bottom the league nine points adrift. A new manager arrived and the club escaped relegation with a goal in the last minute of the last game of the season. Last week we beat Leeds in the FA cup.
There is collateral benefit to one of the local MPs. The new manager is gloriously named Michael Flynn. The Flynn tribe always deliver for Newport.