Since I last wrote the Middle East has descended into the most appalling violence; politics at home has raged thick and fast; and I have published a book.
I strongly agree with the Prime Minister’s line on the terrible crimes committed in Israel last weekend. It was an attack of calculated scale and savagery, designed deliberately to derail the progress that Israel was making towards peace by normalising relations with Arab nations in the region. It is tragically now necessary for Israel to switch tactics and seek peace through war. I hope that the war is short, civilian casualties are minimised, and the suffering of the population of Gaza is relieved as soon as possible. But when a terrorist regime, as Hamas is, seeks the total destruction of your country and its people, there is nothing to do but fight it, and destroy it instead.
Politics before last week focused on the domestic. I supported the Government’s small U-turn (really a slight easing off the accelerator, while still heading toward Net Zero by 2050) on the sale of petrol cars, as I explained in this post.
At Conservative Party Conference the ‘New Conservative’ group of MPs which I co-chair - so-called because we were all elected since the Brexit referendum and stand for the realignment in our politics which that vote, and the 2019 election, represented - launched a series of policy proposals. You can read about them, and more about the New Cons group, here.
My book (“Covenant: the new politics of home, neighbourhood and nation”) is out now. It touches on some of these themes but it goes a lot deeper into what I think are the sources of our strength as a society, and the sources of our problems. Do buy it! It’s not very long, but I hope will give you an idea of what I really think about everything; and for Conservatives, I hope it will encourage you to remember our movement has the philosophy the times demand, even if we often fail on policy and personnel, me included. And if you’re REALLY interested in me I was interviewed by the Times (here) and the New Statesman (here).
Here in Wiltshire I’ve been busy trying to help the bargees and boatdwellers get the financial support promised to ‘every household’ to help with energy bills, but which passed this community by (more on this here and here). During Parliamentary recess for the Party Conferences I’ve met with farmers in the Pewsey Vale, brewers in Devizes, poverty campaigners in Pewsey, shopkeepers in Marlborough (pictures above), and councillors in Tidworth and Durrington (to talk about the fabled Stonehenge Tunnel, on which more here). And I attended the Pewsey Carnival Wheelbeero race - an English bacchanal, ancient and modern, both frivolous and dark. I thought about joining in with a ‘Vote Conservative’ barrow, but thought again. My pictures here.
Last month the lovely Sunflowers Nursery in East Grafton - a brilliant community initiative which took over the old empty school building and made it a hub for families - had its minibus stolen. It was found burnt out, minus its engine. They are appealing for help to improve their security measures. Do help, here!