Articles

Ian Smith

Next Monday morning, I will be joining hundreds of others at St Wulfram's to say goodbye to a truly wonderful man, Ian Smith, who died last week aged 96. Ian was one of life's enthusiasts. He loved a party.

Planning and Development

Like most MPs, of all parties, I went into politics to try and change things - not just in my constituency but in the country as a whole. So I was delighted when at the beginning of September the Prime Minister asked me to join the government as a very junior minister and take over responsibility for planning and development.

A proud week in Parliament

The House of Commons is often pompous, self-regarding and dull. But last week, on two separate occasions, it was at its best. At the start of the week, the Prime Minister announced the result of the Bishop of Liverpool's review of the evidence relating to the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people died. He delivered a sombre and heartfelt apology to the friends and families of the victims for what he called 'a double injustice.'

Olympics

"The best thing I have ever seen in my life." So said Sam, a friend of mine from Grantham, about the Opening Ceremony. And Sam was right. For years, politicians have made fools of themselves trying to define what it means to be British.

Two types of MPs

There are two types of MP. The first keeps his head down, goes with the flow and never says anything awkward or surprising. There are plenty of these in all parties. They often have long careers - and sometimes are very successful. But few of them are remembered afterwards. The other type of MP thinks hard about the problems the country faces, often out loud.

Community Payback

Let me tell you a story of our times. Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has acted to toughen up the community sentences that some people get when they are convicted for minor offences and the courts don't believe they deserve a prison sentence.

Science

Did you know that, if you hold a bicycle wheel up in front of you and spin it clockwise, while sitting on a swivel chair, you will spin anti-clockwise? Did you know that the reason that an ice skater spins faster when she straightens her legs and bring her arms in close to her body is because of the principle of conservation of angular momentum? Boys and girls revising for this summer's physics exams will probably groan with weary familiarity at these hoary old chestnuts. But they came as a complete revelation to me when I attended this week's launch of the programme for the Gravity Fields festival which will take place in and around Grantham from 21-28 September.

Diamond Jubilee

As Lincolnshire's Red Arrows brought the celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to a close, their red, white and blue plumes merged into the slate grey cloud over Buckingham Palace and gave us all an abiding image of Britishness - equal parts patriotism and rain. The abiding image from Sunday's pageant of boats was similar: half a dozen singers, soaked to the skin, standing on top of a boat and singing Land of Hope and Glory and the National Anthem as if their lives depended on it.

NFU Grantham

Of all the constituency meetings that I have as the local MP, there is none that I look forward to more than my regular meeting with the Grantham branch of the National Farmers Union. And it's not just because of the home-made cakes – though they are a powerful incentive. In our focus on getting the British economy growing again and making sure that future growth is broadly based and not all dependent on financial services, it is easy to overlook the contribution that farmers and growers make to our prosperity.

Future of Grantham Hospital

There is nothing more important to the people of Grantham and the surrounding area than the future of Grantham Hospital. Given the way that past decisions about the hospital have been handled, I fully understand why local people become nervous whenever there is any rumour of units closing or services being withdrawn. And I applaud the Grantham Journal for keeping a beady eye on everything that happens in the Hospital and for holding the trust that controls it to account for every decision that they make.