Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Farming and Fishing - events in the House of Commons

February 2000

On Friday 4th I journey to Much Marcle in Herefordshire to meet representatives of the ‘Commercial Farmers Group’. The experience is disappointing and somewhat depressing. My point to them is that unless they are prepared to think ’outside the box’ (of the CAP) there is really nothing that I can do to help them. Henry Fell won’t even address his mind to that possibility, Robin Malin says there’s no point – we’re in and we’ve got to make the best of it – Eric Drummond says nothing and only Anthony Colburn is brave enough to suggest that maybe we should be thinking in terms of getting out. I am at a slight disadvantage as a result of not having yet had the opportunity to read this morning’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ in which the group is featured.
As a still loyal member of the Conservative Party my wife and I pay good money to attend the Party’s Winter Ball. This is held on Monday 7th February and our table has been organised by Malcom Moss. I am not sure that he is being serious when he tells me that in the forthcoming debate on the Fishing Industry I should talk about ‘renegotiation’. Is he telling me this to wind me up or has there been a change of policy and a reneging on the commitment to bring Fisheries back under national control?
I get my final bite of the cherry with Eleanor Laing on Tuesday 8th.
She is now doing a survey of Members views and attitudes which suits me fine. Afterwards I entertain my wife, Patricia, to tea in the Pugin Room where she suggests that I am being too frank in baring my soul to Eleanor. It would be an exaggeration to say that I am past caring but on the other hand I am in no mood to equivocate. As far as I am concerned, back home in Shropshire, I am an archetypal Conservative but within the Parliamentary Party I can’t help feeling quite untypical. The Party, I tell her, needs to use language that the proverbial ‘man in the street’ can understand – our problem is too many professional politicians and too little common sense!
Being called to speak third in the debate on the Fishing Industry initiated by Tim Loughton (East Worthing & Shoreham) in Westminster Hall on 9th February I make a ‘no holds barred’ speech in the vain hope that this will precipitate some reaction within the Party but sadly I am almost inevitably going to be disappointed.
In the afternoon I bob up and down throughout yet another Prime Minister’s Question Time but by now the Speaker is well aware that I only stand when I’ve got an awkward question to ask. The chances of ‘catching her eye’ are therefore not good. Later in the week I will be furious at not being called at Agriculture Questions when it proves necessary for me to stand at Business Questions, which follows, to make my point there.

from "Cracking the Whip", the fast-paced memoirs of Christopher Gill MP for Ludlow

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Book Description

12 Oct 2012
Fast-paced political memoir by a former Conservative MP charting the infiltration of the Conservative Party by non-conservative elements and the subversion of a once-great political party. On 1st May 1997 the Conservative Party suffered a most humiliating defeat at the hands of the British electorate and found itself in Opposition for the first time since Margaret Thatcher swept to power in 1979. In this book Christopher Gill follows the path taken by the Conservative Party after that defeat. Many Conservatives, both in Parliament and outside it, hoped that the spell in opposition would be spent analysing the reasons for defeat, replacing those responsible and rejuvenating the party machine for the battle to come. Instead those responsible for failure secured their grip on power and moved ruthlessly to dominate the Party, pushing aside those who objected and destroying all opposition. The author traces the way this was achieved out of sight of the media - all too enraptured with reporting the doings of the shiny new Labour government. He explains how the decisions made then led inexorably to the failure of the Conservative Party to achieve victory in 2010 and to the dithering responses of a hamstrung coalition goverment. At what point in time the Conservative Party ceased to be a truly 'conservative' Party is a matter which might engage the attention of future historians but the author clearly points the finger at those to blame and explains how they achieved a spectacularly successful coup for the 'collectivist' infiltration which has left the Tory Party paralysed.

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