Keep Windlesham in Surrey Heath Parliamentary constituency

The Boundary Commission for England has issued a report on the Revised proposals for new constituency boundaries in the South East.

The recommendation is that the electoral ward of Windlesham should be moved from Surrey Heath parliamentary constituency to a Windsor constituency. See page 4 of the proposals.

Monday 11th December is the closing date for submissions on this proposal. If you consider this change illogical and unreasonable, then please visit  https://www.bce2018.org.uk/, enter your postcode, click on ‘Make a Comment’ and tell the Boundary Commission why Windlesham should stay in Surrey Heath.

I’ll be submitting my comments today. My arguments will be,

  • Fracturing the longstanding cultural and democratic links between Windlesham and it’s nearest neighbours in Surrey Heath will, over time, drive Windlesham residents to focus on the Windsor constituency and its parliamentary activities.
  • By way of example, here a some of the many cultural and logistical things that Windlesham shares with Lightwater, its nearest Surrey Heath neighbour,
    • church diocesan links and heritage
    • annual remembrance day services, where MP’s, would be misaligned to services
    • Lightwater’s large shopping parade
    • Lightwater’s GP practice serves Windlesham, and it’s a member of Surrey Heath Clinical Commissioning Group
    • Small shared cultural organisations, such as Windlesham Country Market who meet in Lightwater, who might want their MP it officiate at significant dates, may be confused as to which MP to invite.
  • The proposed change will create political representational confusion, where,
    • At Parish council level, Windlesham shares a Parish Council with Lightwater and Bagshot.
    • At Borough Council level, Windlesham ward is in Surrey Heath Borough Council
    • The Surrey County Council ward is Bagshot, Windlesham, and Chobham
    • The Parliamentary constituency is proposed to be Windsor – containing, Windsor & Maidenhead, a large unitary authority in Berkshire.
  • Local government services would continue to be provided by Surrey Heath. Therefore, Surrey Heath’s MP might not unreasonably be expected to be engaged in Windlesham affairs, as the Windsor MP would have for borough/unitary councils engage with, and Windlesham would be the smallest of the constituency wards.
  • Difficulty in travel from Windlesham to a Windsor MP’s constituency office.

Al things considered, moving Windlesham ward into Windsor is illogical, as it involves moving a Surrey County ward into a different county, that of Berkshire.

There’s little cultural or democratic synergy between the Windlesham and Windsor, while Surrey Heath is far closer culturally and democratically to Woking and Rushmoor boroughs. Time to rethink the proposal.

One suggestion might be to join all the military lands together by moving Brookwood, from Woking, into Surrey Heath, where there’s a natural barrier in the route of the Basingstoke Canal. Perhaps, with one of the Ash wards in Surrey Heath moving into into Guildford.

Being a naughty boy in Parliament yesterday

With a party of colleagues, I toured the Houses of Parliament yesterday.

It was informative, instructive, and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s an amazing place, being able to enter the Commons and Lords chambers while Parliament is sitting is special. To see the parliamentary staff prepare the Commons chamber, and being able to speak to them while they’re do so, is a privilege.

Now, to my being a naughty boy. Photography in most of the parliamentary estate is discouraged. It’s allowed in the Central Lobby, well, I think it is. It’s from where the TV reports and interviews occur. I took a photo of the ceiling and chandelier, and then was a bad boy and took a photo in the Members Lobby, strictly against the rules. It was of the statue of the Mrs Thatcher – aka the ‘Blessed Margaret’.

I just about got away with it, and was hoping to take a photo of the statue of Winston Churchill, but frosty looks, and a few people shouting, Tim! Thoughts of dungeons and the Tower crossed my mind.

Do watch Steve Richards’ Leadership Reflections talks on TV

The older readers among you will remember the TV lectures on history, diplomacy and warfare by A J P Taylor. With a map as the background, Taylor stood in front of the camera and expounded his views. These lectures were riveting in their erudition and scope. Other TV lecturers in the same period, Prof Sir Mortimer Wheeler on archaeology, and Lt Gen Sir Brian Horrocks on battles, were as captivating just talking to camera.

This type of TV lecture seems to have gone out of fashion, until now with journalist and columnist Steve Richards’ Leadership Reflections – a series of unscripted talks on the theme of leadership focusing on six prime ministers.

We’ve watched five of the six programmes, only Tony Blair remaining, and have enjoyed Steve Richards talks enormously. Having lived through the era of all six prime ministers his reflections resonated with me.

The, difficult to find, lectures are on the BBC Parliament Channel, and now on they’re on iPlayer, there’s no excuse to not watch them.

Predicted Parliamentary constituency election results at ward level

My dear wife found the Seat Explorer in the Electoral Calculus website, which gives ward by ward predictions for every parliamentary constituency. It’s a well-presented and easy to use resource, and is well worth time, for political nerds, having a wander around.

Below is their ward predictions for the Surrey Heath constituency. I ‘ll compare their predication to the result, and show them both here. [Click on the image to go directly to the website]

Respect to those who lost their lives, were injured, and who gave assistance

As the information about the terrorist incident in Westminster became clearer, it was obviously serious with 5 deaths and 40 injured.

My intended posts seem a little banal in comparison to the death of the unarmed policeman, the display of courage by the police and the MP Tobias Elwood.

Think Prime Minister’s words about the incident appropriate to repeat here,

“Once again today, these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger, even as they encouraged others to move the other way.”

“These streets of Westminster, home to the world’s oldest parliament, are ingrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe.”

I recommend Harry Cole’s witness report in The Sun for it’s brutal reality of horror and heroism.

The Houses of Parliament restoration and renewal programme

There’s been much comment about the restoration project for the Houses of Parliament. Now Parliament has published – through its Restoration and Renewal website – where the restoration is needed, including the various reports of the need for renewal. Click on the image below to link to the website.

houses-of-parliament-restoration-website

Alternative legal opinions on the High Court judgement on Parliament’s Brexit vote

I’ve read the whole High Court judgment on the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. You can read it HERE.

The point of law was whether the Government had the power to sign Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. The judges said no it had not, and in consequence Parliament must have a vote prior to its signing.

In our constitution Parliament sits above the law – not though the rule of law. Inasmuch that the Government is answerable to Parliament. I suppose you could say that Parliament is superior to Government. Government governs – such a simple concept. Parliament oversees and holds the Government to account – again a simple concept. No need for the Judges to interpret this process – when it’s blindingly obvious what the nation expects the government and parliament to do – and that is to sign Article 50 to leave the EU.

judicial-power-projectIf you’d like to read some learned legal views on the High Court judgement, then you can at the Judicial Power Project. Pleasingly they’ve got five short legal critiques, and other brief legal views of what happens next, and the bigger picture.

Here’s the final part of one of the five views, worth reading all five. This one by Richard Ekins [click to read], who is Associate Professor of Law in the University of Oxford and Head of the Judicial Power Project.

The Government’s intention to trigger art. 50 by way of the royal prerogative, challenged in Miller, is entirely consistent with this rule. It is consistent also with responsible government and parliamentary democracy, for the Government is and always has been accountable to Parliament for its exercise of the prerogative.

Parliamentary sovereignty is rightly fundamental to our constitution. But the Miller judgment was not necessary to protect it and, welcome rhetoric notwithstanding, does nothing to uphold it.