Monday, 30 June 2008

Happy 60th birthday to the NHS

The NHS and medical science has certainly changed over the years ... since my mother was a sister in the Royal Infirmary and since I volunteered in my local hospital on Saturday mornings when I was in school (and that was some time ago!).

What does remain the same though is the skill of caring for patients and the commitment and dedication of nursing staff. Their aim as ever is to give the best care possible no matter who you are or where you come from.

Wishing the NHS a very happy 60th birthday and a big thank you to all those who work there!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Nelson Mandela speaks out on his 90th birthday

I was greatly encouraged this week to hear Nelson Mandela beak his silence and condem the "tragic failure of leadership in Zimbabwe". Jacob Zuma, the south african ANC president, last week also spoke of “compelling evidence of violence, intimidation and outright terror” by Mugabe.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, pulled out of the presidential election race due to the violence and intimidation that was being shown to opposition supporters, who have been beaten and killed.

What can be done so that we do not witness another genocide in Africa?

The African leaders are instrumental in putting pressure on Mugabe, although only 23 of the 53 states in the African Union have democratic governments. Mandela’s successor in South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki, has said nothing as he is Mugabe’s chief supporter. Mbeki has told other African leaders that Anglo-American imperialism was attempting to overthrow Mugabe and has insisted to the world that he was involved in “quiet diplomacy” to solve the crisis. He insists that that only Africans can solve African problems.

But does this mean that we therefore sit back and do nothing? Absolutely not!

The British and the US motion at the UN security council has said that the 29th March first round of the presidential election (in which Morgan Tsvangirai won the most votes) was “the only legitimate basis” for a Zimbabwean government. Thereafter, the G8 and EU have insisted that they cannot accept Mugabe’s government as legitimate.

Tougher sanctions though are required NOW before Mugabe's henchmen brutalise, maim, rape and kill more people. What is happening in Zimbabwe right in front of our eyes is alarming and disturbing. Mugabe is destroying his own country and his own people.

- we need to apply every economic measure and political measure to isolate Mugabe completely
- we need to encourage every other nation to isolate Mugabe too
- British companies need to stop trading in Zimbabwe
- there should be global sanctions against Mugabe and his illigitimate and dangerous regime
- we should be showing real leadership, speaking out daily against the attrocities that are taking place

This is needed now ... today ...not next week.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

1st birthday present for Gordon Brown

A fantastic result yesterday at the Henley by-election!

The Conservative candidate, John Howell, won with 19,796 votes, with a 10,116 majority - a 3.5% swing to us.

A win here was expected ...but what wasn't, was Labour losing their deposit! On Gordon Brown's first anniversary in Downing Street, Labour come in a disastrous fifth, behind the British National Party and the Greens.

70% of the British public are now dissatisfied with Gordon Brown's performance, according to polls. David Cameron commented "All sorts of people are looking at the Conservatives and saying 'yes, this is an alternative to the government that we can believe in. There will be no complacancy, no triumphalism. We could argue forever about the disasters and incompetencies of the last year of government but what's important is that at a time when British families are facing high prices at the fuel pump or everytime they do a family shop the government isn't helping. I think the most important thing about the Prime Minister is that he was in charge of the econonmy for ten years- he didn't put money aside so now during the bad times the cupboard is bare."

How long can the Prime Minister last?

Monday, 23 June 2008

Raising money for cancer

Cllrs Barbara Reid, Lin Davies, Paul Lynch and I attended a great event last week in memory of Premila Bhanderi. She was a former Hounslow councillor, who lost her battle with multiple myloma three years ago.

Her two daughters, Aarti and Jyoti, organised the Summer Sensation charity event at the Indian Gymkana Club in Thornbury Avenue in Osterley.

It was a fabulous evening, raising lots of money and enjoyed by everyone. Premila's daughters are great role models for what can be done in the local community - bringing people together to make a difference. She would be really proud of them!

Photo: Aarti Bhanderi, Mary, Jyoti Bhanderi, Cllr Barbara Reid and Cllr Lin Davies

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Yet more violence in Zimbabwe

The extent of Robert Mugabe's determination to stay as president of Zimbabwe is seen in his latest comment - "the MDC will never be allowed to rule this country - never ever...only God who appointed me will remove me, not the MDC, not the British."

On Saturday there was a story in the newspaper about a poor woman who was raped by ten soldiers, beaton, kicked and threatened with her life. She still refused to tell them anything about the MDC. Incredible courage!

I do hope that Morgan Tsvangirai has the strength to continue to fight Mugabe. The Zimbabwean's need him to do to it as they desperately need democracy.

How lucky we are that we have freedom and democracy. We take it so much for granted.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

We want to say no too!

A few days ago Ireland gave a resounding 'no' to the Lisbon Treaty (or the Constitution). Already Brussels has said that Ireland must vote again. Why can't the EU understand that no means no.

The Lisbon Treaty was created following the rejection of France and Holland to the EU Constitution in 2005. Labour promised us a referendum on the constitution and have reneged on this. British people need to have their say and once and for all stop this consistent loss of control to Europe. Because Labour have already ratified this in the House of Lords this week, 50 veteos could be lost for our country.

I want us to get a chance to say 'no' too.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Strand on the Green raising money

Last weekend I was at the Strand on the Green school fete.

There was a fabulous crowd of people there as usual. I bumped into Cllr Peter Thompson and his family amongst the crowd - everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves in the sunshine. It was different to last year when the heavens opened mid afternoon.

The food was excellent... I arrived just in time for lunch! Cllr Sam Hearn was helping at the burger stall but I headed for the excellent Thai food with Cllr Paul Lynch and his wife.

Well done to Mark Newton and the school staff, as well as the parents and locals who make this event a great success every year. Hopefully lots of money was raised for the school!

Photo: Mark Newton (Head of Infant School) with Mary and Cllr Paul Lynch at Strand on the Green school in Chiswick

Monday, 16 June 2008

Good ideas can come from young people

I am in Russia this week and today met with the Youth Government of Moscow.

The Youth Government is a group of bright young students/ graduates from the Universities of Moscow who have been selected to shadow the official Moscow government. They shadow the mayoral ministerial team, are consulted on all key policy areas and present their views weekly at the main city government sittings.

When the Mayor and his ministers have their three week holiday in the summer, the Youth Government take over!

Fascinating way of getting young people more interested in the political process and showing that good ideas can come from anyone, no matter what their age, background or experience. These young people are the best ones to ask about youth issues and solving youth crime!

Photo: Mary (centre) with fellow Leaders Quest colleagues and members of the Moscow Youth Government

Friday, 13 June 2008

Visiting the Chiswick Sea Cadets and the RNLI

Dr Liam Fox MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Cllr Paul Lynch, Cllr Sam Hearn and I visited the Chiswick Sea Cadets and the RNLI this week.

The Chiswick Sea Cadets were established in 1997 (not a good year for me politically or for several members of the then Conservative government!). At T S Stork we met some of the young cadets. They are aged between 11 and 18 and learn about boatwork, seamanship, canoeing, marine engineering, swimming, first aid, parade training, leadership and safety awareness. This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn some great skills that they can use in years ahead.

Also at Chiswick Pier is the RNLI. Chiswick is one of four lifeboat stations on the Thames and gives a 24hr response service on the Thames. Wayne Bellamy and his team do a fantastic job covering the stretch between Richmond half tide lock and Battersea. Not many people could say that since 2002, they had saved the lives of 640 people. They are real local heros.

Photo 1 - Chiswick Sea Cadets (PPO Pearce OiC and PO Flann) with Dr Liam Fox MP and Mary
Photo 2 - RNLI Lifeguards with Dr Liam Fox MP and Mary

Monday, 9 June 2008

A Community Weekend

There was a party atmosphere in Chiswick this weekend with lots of community events, including:

- Bedford Park Festival
- Sutton Court Residents Open Gardens
- St Michael's fundraiser on Elmwood Road
- the Chiswick House Kitchen Garden Open Day.

The sun was shining and there was a great atmposphere at all the events. Lots of work by local people had gone into making them a huge success.

What made these events special, was that they were all community initiatives. Individuals had taken the initiative on a voluntary basis and had made a real commitment to make a difference locally. This was community spirit in action ... and greatly enjoyed by all who participated.

Well done to everyone involved. We need more people like you!

Photo: Mary with Cllr John Todd and Cllr Gerald McGregor at the Bedford Park Festival in Chiswick - Cllr Paul Lynch was there too but lost him in the midst of all the stands! Thanks to Margaret Chadderton for taking the photo.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Another bad day for the PM

Yesterday, the Prime Minister had another bad day!

It was PMQs in the Chamber and Gordon Brown had thirty minutes of misery as he tried to rebuff questions and argue his point without much success. Cameron attacked him on his home territory - taxes - but Brown did not seem to know the answer. It was a perceived strength being neutralised.

Why is it that some politicians are arrogant enough to believe they can lead when they obviously cannot? A leader is someone who not only has the intellect and experience to lead, but also has presence, passion, vision and an ability to inspire. Gordon Brown has none of these qualities.

The real question for Labour MPs is ....should he stay or should he go?

Monday, 2 June 2008

Do we care? I do...

It seems incredible that so far in 2008 14 London teenagers have been killed, 11 of them through knife stabbings. During 2007, 26 teenagers were murdered in the city.

We see these stories so often in the press now that I think people just get used to hearing them and are no longer shocked by them. Does anyone care?

Well... I do.

There is something definitely wrong with our society when children feel the need to carry knives. Why is this happening? This needs to be addressed.

We also need to make sure that existing laws are properly enforced as effectively as possible. Police may, in addition, need to be given greater discretion over using stop-and-search powers.

Lets stamp these knife crimes out now before it gets completely out of control.