It seems as though this week we have heard or read a series of statements made by Tory politicians that seem to suggest they are either trying to be offensive in a coy manner or else they are so incompetent they need to be properly educated. The offensive phrase used by Amber Rudd on Radio 2 when she was in theory arguing for defence of people from a Black and Minority background who are also women was one of those but that has been well publicised. Another came on Thursday in the House of Commons when the debate that took place was under the heading “Business of the House” which is a regular request for the House of Commons to have its agenda shaped by Parliament, rather than the Government. I genuinely wonder what the point of this session is based on my rather limited knowledge as it seems to allow a series of MPs to ask Andrea Leadsom to add matters to the agenda and she simply refuses to do so. Almost as if in a school, students asked the teacher to change the lesson for the day as a way of using up a bit of time for no real gain.
The MP for South Holland and the Deepings in Lincolnshire, Sir John Hayes who is the person who asked Andrea the question is the representative of the second safest Conservative seat in the UK. He was knighted at the end of last year and also given a CBE previously so in theory at least he is a credible member of the great and good, he gets elected by around 30,000 people at most elections, some 20,000 more than any of his opponents and in his time since his election in 1997 he has held five Ministerial and six Shadow roles. In the context of this particular blog he was shadow minister for the environment, food and rural affairs from June 2002-03 and Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change from 2012-13.
JH: For years I have waited, with a degree of patience that verges on indulgence, for any glimmer of insight or glint of inspiration from Caroline Lucas. Finally, listening to the wireless this week, the eureka moment came, when she persuasively backed a campaign for all children to be taught something of natural history—our native trees, birds, flora and fauna. One might describe it as “the wind in the willows”. Will the Leader of the House bring an Education Minister to this Chamber to say how schoolchildren will learn about those things, not because they are useful but just because they are lovely?
AL: I completely agree with my right hon. Friend that learning about natural history—and, indeed, the history of our country and of the world—is absolutely vital for the education of young people. In particular, in the context of the extraordinary peace that has broken out between him and Caroline Lucas, I am sure that there is a campaign there somewhere. If they perhaps wanted to seek a Westminster Hall debate, I am sure that that would be widely welcomed across the House.
It is understandable that in the years from 1997-1999 when John was first an MP in South Lincolnshire that he may not have known who Caroline was, let alone be inspired or have had insight from her, given she was a Councillor in Oxford from 1993-1997 and then out of the public political space. However in 1999 she was elected as MEP for the South East so when he became shadow minister for the environment from 2002-03 surely he would have been aware of the positive contributions from the Green Party in the European Parliament when it came to environmental and rural issues. Then in 2010 Caroline stepped down as an MEP because she had been elected as MP for Brighton Pavilion and she remains in that role today. I know that since then she has made a substantial number of very positive speeches in the House of Common that most observant MPs would be aware of, and particularly between 2012 and 2013 when John was Minister for climate change, he should have found her views very inspiring. Perhaps in the light of his rather strange comments he needs to come to Brighton and meet some of her constituents and find out how credible she is on matters relating to the work he was accountable for a few years ago and indeed how credible she is as a constituency MP. After all John Hayes has been well paid by the British Taxpayer for nearly 22 years, he has a very well resourced pension to look forward to and because he is in such as safe seat, his level of challenge from his constituents will be almost zero. Indeed he may benefit from meeting Caroline who has respect from constituents who are members of all political parties and those of us who are not members of any political party. Indeed perhaps we could have a chance to question him on what his ignorance is based upon!