Thursday, 30 April 2009

Women in the Conservative Party

The Times printed an article this week which stated that the Conservative Party had made no improvement in getting more women into Parliament. It was complete nonsense.

The facts are:

a) 80 women have been selected, most selected in winnable constituencies. If the Conservatives are elected with an overall majority of just one seat they will have 55 Conservative female MPs. More than a threefold increase over the current number of 17 female MPs.

b) There are 7 women in the Shadow Cabinet. Given there are only 17 female MPs women, this means that more than 40% of our female MPs are in the Shadow Cabinet. This is a sign of how committed to women’s advancement David Cameron is.

I have fought long and hard to get more women into roles in public life and Parliament. No-one though should be given a role just because of their gender or race. It should be because they are the best person for the job with the right skills and experience. We want the best men and women in the Shadow Cabinet so that they can deliver much needed change for our country.

There is naturally more to be done of course to increase female representation at all levels of public life and we need to encourage more women to come forward to stand for election – both locally and nationally.

Photo: Theresa May MP, Mary Macleod and some of the female candidates who are standing at the next election

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Shadow Justice Minister visits Isleworth

David Burrowes MP, Shadow Justice Minister, visited the Hounslow Youth Offending Team last week in Isleworth at The Redless Centre in Redlees Park.

We got an excellent briefing on the Hounslow YOS and met a few young offenders who have been supported by the team.

This is such an important issue - making sure we give young people who have made a mistake, another chance in life. It is at this point that we can intervene and stop them creating a life of crime.

David was impressed with the work that was being done by the YOT, "I was very pleased to visit the Youth Offending Team with Mary and hear first hand from the team and also young offenders about how best to tackle youth crime. I was particularly impressed by the dedication and commitment of the YOT. It is important as we develop our policies that we learn from the good practice taking place in Hounslow . We need to ensure that we provide more opportunity for the local Council to have more responsibility for local young people who are in the criminal justice system, particularly when they end up in youth custody."

Photo: Mary with David Burrowes MP, Cllr Paul Lynch and Cllr Lin Davies (Cllr Barbara Reid is the photographer)

Friday, 17 April 2009

Class game shows to help learning

The Government's latest proposal is to use TV quizes and game shows in the classroom to improve discipline and behaviour in schools.

As a school governor, I know how important it is to make classes as interesting as possible so that children learn. If children understand what is being taught and feel they are learning and achieving results... their behaviour improves. That does not mean however, that teachers have to resort to game shows. Let us leave teachers to define the instructional strategy they use as they are the experts. What is important that children are learning and getting the best education possible in whatever school they attend.

Discipline in the classroom is an issue and teachers do need more power to deal with it. If we can sort out bad behaviour at this early stage, then it will save us years of issues in the criminal courts.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Labour's Political Smears

This last week has been an awful example of what people hate so much about politics. The games that politicians play to try and get one over their opponent.

The 'e-mail smears' scandal raises serious concerns about what is going on in 10 Downing Street. Although the Prime Minister is trying to distance himself from what is going on, the facts remain that it is all part of the Labour Party machine. Damian McBride was personally appointed by the Prime Minister and directly responsible to him. He worked alongside the Minister for the Civil Service, Tom Watson, at the heart of the Prime Minister's office.

The Prime Minister needs to tell us if he was aware of the proposed smears? Was he aware of the 'Red Rag' website to which they were to be sent? Was he aware that his advisers were involved with it? And did his Minister for the Civil Service have any knowledge of or involvement in it?

In my view, if this government can only make up lies to fight the Conservative Party... then they are not fit to govern.

We must once and for all, get rid of all political lies and smears that are just made up to take down an innocent person and get political advantage. We must clean up politics and bring respect and honesty back into politics. Lets fight on policy.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Fighting Crime Locally

Chris Grayling MP, Shadow Home Secretary, visited the Borough on Wednesday 25th March to look at crime locally in Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth, Osterley and Hounslow.

Chris began his visit by being part of a panel in Chiswick Town Hall at a public meeting that was open to all residents to look at ways of reducing crime in the local community. Superintendent Phipps from the Metropolitan Police, Cllr John Todd and Margaret Bourne from Victim Support also joined us on the panel.

Superintendent Phipps gave an excellent overview of crime locally and described the complexities of policing in the Hounslow Borough with 140 languages, between 212-260,000 people living in the area and with half of those arrested for petty crimes, testing positive for drugs. Progress had been made though with surveillance on gateways into high-risk burglary areas, following suspect vehicles and removing Class A drug dealers from the area.

Cllr John Todd highlighted the initiatives that the Council have undertaken in relation to reducing crime, including increasing CCTV cameras in underpasses, organising a leadership course for young people who have been in trouble and creating drink free zones.

Chris highlighted four areas which he saw as a priority:

1. zero tolerance on low level criminality such as broken wing mirrors, anti-social behavior and graffiti before it leads to more serious crimes
2. ending the caution culture that has developed to save police paperwork and achieve targets
3. reviewing the licensing laws
4. reducing the amount of paperwork that the police have to deal with.

Chris and I then went on a tour of the Borough with the Drugs Squad to see the impact of drugs locally and to hear what the police were doing to identify those involved in selling drugs and the challenges they had to deal with to ensure a conviction.

We really need to deal with burglaries, vehicle crime and drug-related crime to make sure we all are safe at home, at work, on the street and in the community. Drugs are having a detrimental impact on the lives of local residents and this issue needs to be dealt with.

Photo: Mary with Chris Grayling MP and Superintendent Phipps

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Battle of the Giants

The 2009 Boat Race was as exciting as ever at the weekend.

It was the battle of the giants! When they weighed in at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham, the Oxford crew was the heaviest in the 180 year history of the event and Cambridge was the heaviest ever Light Blue crew.

Oxford got it right on the day this year with a win... although Cambridge are still ahead with 79 wins over 75.

Everyone at the Race seemed to really it - the atmosphere, the anticipation and the ice-cream! It is such a good example of a great community event.

Photo: Mary with her godson Mal