Forgive a party-political newsletter for once. Parliament ‘rose’ last week for the summer recess. It was a bad week politically for the Tories, with two formerly safe seats lost in by-elections (in Somerset and Yorkshire) and a very near miss in Uxbridge, west London.
Last week John Glen, MP for Salisbury, and I spent a day at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down. Dstl sits on a vast campus comprising hundreds of buildings, some dating back to World War I and the first experiments with gas for the battlefield.
The Government has invested very considerably in defence in this Parliament. All three of the Prime Ministers we’ve had since 2019 have increased spending on the Armed Forces and we continue to lead NATO in our commitment as a percentage of GDP. And yet the headcount of the Army is shrinking.
They won’t be photos I use on campaign literature next time round, but Matt Hancock and I stood in a muddy field in November 2019 pointing to where the new Devizes Urgent Care Centre would - if we were elected on 12 December - in due course arise. We were elected, and at last it has arisen.
The crocuses are out and we’ve had some days of gorgeous spring weather, but we know how March and April are, and we’re not through the worst of it yet. The same goes for the economy. There are some welcome signs that the recession - if we even have one - won’t be as bad as feared.
A victory for the Morgan’s Hill River Group, which I set up in honour of the hydrological landmark near Devizes whence rainwater flows into the three seas to the east, south and west of England… a victory for us, and for all the other campaigners who have been calling for the fines that water com