One of the most fantastic events that took place last week was the celebration of 75 years since the D Day departure and landing, an event that began the end of our last world war. This is why President Trump and a number of other International leaders visited our nation and Europe during the week. I was in London last Tuesday and one of my meetings took place at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in Savoy Place. When I arrived I noticed a small crowd including some broadcast cameras outside the Savoy Hotel which is the next building. I wandered over and the Australian Prime Minister was in Victoria Embankment Garden being interviewed, but what was so surprising was how few people were there who were his entourage and the relatively low profile nature of his presence which was in extremely sharp contrast to that of the American President. Given that our Government is intending to form new trade deals with both nations it was a surprise that Scott Morrison was not treated with a bit more attention, although of course his visit was not a state visit. The visit by Trump led to a lot of attention by contrast including a comment by Tim Loughton, one of our local MPs who seemed to be using the demonstrations as a way of criticising some of his work colleagues which seems rather unreasonable. He stated:
“Today in Portsmouth and tomorrow in Normandy, we honour the veterans and the 150,000 British, American, Canadian and other allied troops who led the charge to liberate Europe from the real Nazi scum. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, when a minority of hate-fuelled demonstrators yell ‘Nazi scum’ in the faces of American tourists and intimidate others who are legitimately welcoming the visit of the American President, however we may take issue with him—and when, regrettably, they are spurred on by certain hon. Members—they attack the greatest alliance of free nations, and demean the memory of those brave troops and veterans whose sacrifice secured the right of all of us to free speech and lawful protest?”
I am sure we would all agree with Tim that no one should be intimidated on any of our streets and that calling anyone a Nazi just because they hold right wing and offensive views about other groups of people is very damaging unless they do actually support such a much more extreme set of views. However it also seems concerning for an MP to state that other MPs have “spurred on” people to do this without meaningful evidence that whoever he was referring to had claimed Trump or his supporters were Nazi’s and asked the demonstrators to intimidate people. After all it is not hard to find examples of awful statements made by MPs in all parties that lead to people being offended, but this claim is harsh. Perhaps Tim could retract this or explain why he made such a statement?
Whilst Tim is considering this, there is another concerning matter which arose on the same day in the House of Commons. Nick Gibb who is also a Sussex based MP and Minister for Schools was asked a question by James Gray, the MP for North Wiltshire regarding a particular company which is not relevant to us. However part of his question included these words “To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department takes to ensure that private finance initiative providers holding contracts with his Department are held to account for their performance.” It would not be a surprise to anyone that Private Finance Initiatives which were started by the Labour Government became a major problem across the nation when the terms of them prevented Schools, Hospitals and Prisons from being able to use their buildings in a flexible manner. Indeed on the 5th December 2012, half way through the coalition tenure, the Government published a document that explained that “The government has announced that it will no longer use PF2, the current model of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for new government projects”
The surprise is that on 28th November 2018, six years later, this document was withdrawn and as Nick Gibb explained to James Gray “The only private finance contracts entered into by this Department are the five private finance 2 contracts procured under the recent Priority School Building Programme. The Department actively manages and enforces those contracts to hold the providers under those contracts to account for their performance.” Given that several schools in Sussex including Hove Park are part of the current PSB Programme, it seems reasonable to ask Nick what impact PF2 will have on our communities?