2022
WORTHING HERALD ARTICLES
A SELECTION OF MY RECENT WORTHING HERALD COLUMNS CAN BE FOUND HERE
 
Archived Articles
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Queen Elizabeth the Faithful

29th September 2022

Party conference coverage may give the impression that Punch and Judy have left the beach for the halls where delegates and representatives used to tell their leaders how to do better. Nowadays the media handlers make the gatherings appear different, at least to outside watchers and listeners, if not to those in the hall. A theme is chosen; some taglines are repeated; then awkwardly, radio or television interviewers ask the difficult question again and again. Most of us know that in government and in practice, each party aims for economic responsibility with social justice.

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Queen Elizabeth the Faithful

22nd September 2022

She would have seen herself as a constant amongst the fluctuations at home and around the world. Before it became Zimbabwe, at the unrecognised unilateral declaration of independence in 1965, Southern Rhodesia proclaimed allegiance to her as Queen of Rhodesia: she declined to accept the role or the title. Prime ministers provide the political leadership. Our forms of constitutional monarchy and flexible parliamentary democracy have evolved in ways which allow all kinds of things to happen although not anything.

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Royal Succession, a Democratic Choice

15th September 2022

One of the great local historians, Roger Davies authored the book Tarring – a Walk Through its History, giving a comprehensive guide to the village’s older building. Do see the Worthing Heritage Alliance website for fascinating information. The Old Palace and Castle Goring are listed as Worthing’s Grade 1 buildings. Local legend is that Saint Thomas a Becket stayed there. This over looks his martyrdom in 1170, 60 years before the oldest known part of the Palace. He suggested the stories were really about Chichester Bishop de Wych, another saintly man who found refuge from Henry III in the Archbishop’s personal manor at Tarring.

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Peoples Lives Matter in Public Service

08th September 2022

Members of Parliament returned from constituencies or holidays to hear who succeeds Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. When called to speak, I intend to tell Liz Truss that on all sides of the House of Commons we wish her success for the good of our shared nation. The new Cabinet is the most inclusive, the most diverse in terms of heritage and sex balance. Margaret Thatcher once included another female; she had many more colleagues whose parents had been refugees. It is pleasing that people from every background are mixed around the Cabinet table. Let us judge them by what they do and how they think rather than by their schooling, skin colour or chromosomes.

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Flowers and Dancing or
Guns and Bombs

01st September 2022

This Wednesday and last week, Lucy Winkett, Rector at St James’ church Piccadilly, has given the Thought for Today on BBC Radio Four. One theme was the change since 2021’s celebration with flowers and dancing for 30 years of independence for Ukraine. Another was pilgrimage. When at St Pauls Cathedral, she kindly agreed also to be chaplain to the Drapers’ Livery Company. Her theme of interdependence was helpful then and it matters now. It was the need for cooperation that led Mikhail Gorbachev to engage with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan. He reduced tension.

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Self Interest Without Thoughtlessness

25th August 2022

How can we be an enduring force for good? In every way, by participating with others, by individual action and by resisting the reasons to walk by on the other side. We cannot help unless we help ourselves when we can. We do not help others if we do not make the best of ourselves, limited by what is reasonable and what does not harm others. Some parliamentary colleagues in other counties seem able to give without notice a firm comment on every issue that the media decide is important. I duck the issue of how and why Cristiano Ronaldo is paid over £400,000 a week by his club, and possibly as much again in sponsorships.

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When New Homes Make Sense

18th August 2022

With the help of a diary or a journal, it is easy to check my unreliable memory that six months ago I received a very short-notice invitation to view proposals to cement over the green land to the Lansdown Nursery, between the A259 and the southern boundary of the South Downs National Park at Highdown. The nursery site proposal was for over 100 new homes with nearly 200 car spaces.  An exhibition at Ferring Village Hall did not win local support.  Under the subtitle Benefits and Opportunities, the accurate words were ‘A Distinctive Place’.

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Clever, Creative, Committed and Compassionate

11th August 2022

In private business, in the public services and in the utilities, sensible people want to work for leaders and supervisors who get joint tasks done properly in ways that are sustainable. The clever boss wants to hear when things are going wrong, whether on purpose or by mistake. I wish we could believe all the water companies encouraged everyone within the organisation to raise within the organisation questions about investment to reduce leakages and to report excessive regular discharges into rivers and coastal waters. 

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We All Win Together When We Win

04th August 2022

I was delighted to watch the England Women’s EURO final on Sunday, along with 17million others. The players are a credit to themselves, their clubs and their nation. I send my congratulations to all in England’s squad, including supports, team coaches and everyone who has helped the team to be so successful. We would have been proud whatever the result. My particular congratulations on the spirit with which they have played together throughout the competition. Football at Worthing: a pupil at Our Lady of Sion told me about the lack of changing rooms for girls and women at some local football pitches.

 
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Building Trust from the Ground Up

28th July 2022

When unauthorised caravans and cars occupy communal, private or public land, I try to see the situation for myself.  Residents and I know the series of incursions that have been made from Goring-by-Sea across Ferring and towards Kingston, East Preston and Rustington, and up to Angmering. I have reported the situation to the Home Secretary, asking her to meet police, council and resident representatives. Groups travelling east and west along the coast seem to be crossing or stopping in our part of West Sussex. Late last week, I met residents and the Police Community Support Officers.

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Safe Spaces and Green Spaces

21st July 2022

Green spaces need our protection. Many residents will share in concern at recent illegal encampments of travellers, locally. Last week the police and council worked effectively together to move on those who had illegally occupied Goring Greensward. Over the weekend, more travellers illegally broke into and occupied Langmeads in East Preston. In both cases, my team and I were immediately in touch with both the police and the local councils. There needs to be a review to rebalance effective action to avoid quiet communities having their public and community lands occupied by up to 100 unauthorised caravans and cars.

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What Matters to Most People

14th July 2022

Parties’ leadership contests are fascinating and hard work for political journalists. They can be congratulated for knowing everything in advance and for explaining afterwards why it did or did not quite happen.  During the past 100 years, there have been few occasions when the expected person succeeded a leader who has died, been deposed or chose voluntary retirement. When I have made a first choice, my candidate either would not stand or would not make it into the final stage. I have said who I would choose; I do not predict the outcome and I do expect to work harmoniously with the winner.

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Lives Can Be Changed For Good

07th July 2022

During a past Covid year, I was in Worthing with representatives from various denominations and free churches for the National Prayer Breakfast. This Tuesday, in the Great Hall of Westminster, nearly 700 came together to consider the topic ‘Serving the Common Good’. Revd Les Isaac OBE was the keynote speaker. Coming to the UK from Antigua, he experienced gangs and street violence in his teens. After time as a Rastafarian in his search for hope, his life changing experience of becoming Christian inspired him to engage with the hard-to-reach communities he had known.

 
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How To Deal With Passport Chaos

30th June 2022

Staff at the Passport processing offices have issued over three million in three months. Good but not good enough. Consider the 45,000 applicants waiting over ten weeks. The scandalous experience is illustrated by one family in the constituency. A group had booked to travel with their children together. Everyone received their passport except one child in one family. When travel was within two weeks, they paid for quick processing. No result. My constituency team is among the most effective at Westminster. They had not got the Passport Office to process, produce and deliver the necessary passport by Saturday morning.

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Armed Forces Flag Raising Days

23rd June 2022

Sunday’s Service at the Worthing War Memorial marked the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands and the islanders. I watched as Mayor Councillor Henna Chowdhury led the wreath-laying. Remembrance was also held in Staffordshire at the National Memorial Arboretum. Speaker Lindsay Hoyle had been in the Falklands where the government appreciated that anniversaries of traumatic times can trigger feelings of anxiety, sadness and difficult thoughts. The brave sacrifices of those who restored freedom allowed the islanders to regain control of their own
destiny, shaping their recent successes...

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Festivals and Fairs After Jubilee

16th June 2022

On Saturday, at the East Preston Festival procession I was delighted to be driven by Jules Chatterton in his impressive gull-winged car. Many of the crowd knew him. Janine Nicholson chairs the organising committee. We remembered the late legendary Doug Medhurst, one of her predecessors. His words live today. ‘We want people to have a good time and to enjoy each other’s company. The festival brings people together. Holding on to the fragile fabric of a village community is something to cherish.’ On Sussex Day I joined Tim Loughton and others to replicate the historic Commons Terrace photograph of Sussex MPs more than 100 years ago.

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Meetings to Improve Lives

09th June 2022

Some meetings are informal: on a late London bus from Westminster, I talked briefly to a minister of housing. I need to see officials and ministers about planning issues and about fire safety in blocks of flats. The latest concern is the threatened development of green land around Kingston, the hamlet protected by farms between Ferring and East Preston. I will work with residents and the parish councils to assist Arun District Council resist an irreversible change to the historic setting of quiet communities. Lucky people were in the Mall for the Jubilee parade. Millions including my family enjoyed the Sunday entertainments on television.

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Happy and Glorious for 70 Years

02nd June 2022

This year’s Platinum Jubilee is our shared recognition of The Queen’s enduring reign. She has been the national and local focus of civil, military and voluntary service. My hope is that she enjoys it as much as we do in communities throughout her United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Children at East Preston Junior School started my week. Their jubilee plates and their impressive knowledge of her life cheered me. On Tuesday at the Heene Community Centre’s Chat Room, I reminisced with the range of people enjoying the informal gathering.

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Good Words and Good Causes

26th May 2022

Ian Ross and his enthusiastic team welcomed the DWP minister Mims Davies MP to the new Whitehead Ross RESTART service where the Beale’s department store once traded in Worthing. Gemma bewitched us all by her enthusiasm for help to get into her caring profession, transferring her volunteer skills to her new career. Many more are getting their own new start. Ian volunteered to replace me as MP twelve years ago. He would be a fine MP; perhaps one day he will be at Westminster, preferably as a colleague.

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Hearts and Heads in Politics Today

19th May 2022

On Friday I will join the Romero school community in Goring, across the rail tracks from Chatsmore Farm, near Goring-by-Sea station. Their students made reasoned and impassioned appeals for the Goring Gap to be kept as open green space, separating Arun District Council and Ferring from the Castle ward of Worthing. My plea to Michael Gove is to withdraw the opposition by his Department of Levelling Up to the successful application by Worthing Borough Council for judicial review of the premature and perverse conclusion by one of his planning inspectors that over 400 new homes should be constructed on prime agricultural land.

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Times

12th May 2022

HM The Queen was sadly unable to be present for the State Opening of Parliament this week. Prince Charles carried out the duties admirably to open the new parliamentary session. I was pleased to follow party leaders, as Father of the House, with Harriet Harman, the unofficial Mother of the House, as we were summoned by Black Rod to hear the Gracious Speech in the House of Lords. The ceremony is an important reminder of the separation of powers, which has helped maintain our steady and longstanding parliamentary democracy. 

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Quiet Undramatic Provision of Services

05th May 2022

Sir Keir Starmer has visited Worthing at least twice since his party preferred him to Jeremy Corbyn. On Monday Meridian TV needed balance. Former Mayor Hazel Thorpe and I agreed to be interviewed. None of us could promote individual candidates. I did not raise unpleasant treatment of candidates I know. Welcome volunteers willing to stand for election in each of the main parties. If not successful, many go on to worthwhile careers of value to the public. Walking from Christ Church in Portland Road down to the pier for the interview, I passed the former Beales site in South Street where Whitehead Ross are now established. 

 
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How Green is your Theology

28th April 2022

‘If the Earth were only a few feet in diameter ... ‘ is a child’s book, a growing poem that describes the marvel of our planet. It builds page by page to be a message to all humankind, described as joyful as a song and as thoughtful as a prayer. These thoughts resonate and they mattered to Sir Crispin Tickell. He lived for over 90 years, best known to the public for encouraging Margaret Thatcher’s early interest in the science of climate change. His memorial service this week in St Martin in the Fields including a poem by James Fenton with the lines: ‘I’ll stay as near, as true to you as heart could pray.

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Tribute to a Great Newspaper Man

21st April 2022

Why become involved in public service as a member of parliament? You can do good; you can have fun; you can fail when attempting an important challenge; you can have some success to show an injustice that can be a lifeline to one or many. There are other occupations with a similar mix of results. Newspapers, perhaps? For decades I have admired Sir Ray Tindle, described as the ever-optimistic newspaper proprietor who ran a debt-free business, kept overheads low and who believed all news is local.

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Working in the Recess

14th April 2022

It is pleasure, not work, to congratulate Worthing Football Club. The Mackerels are now confirmed champions of the Isthmian League, securing promotion to the National League South. This deserved success for the club is overdue; it has been three years in the making. Two years ago, I supported the club in contesting the decision to suspend the league because of the coronavirus pandemic. Last year the same disappointing decision was made. Worthing Rebels had been at the top and should have been promoted. Well done Worthing FC.

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Let Us Agree What Matters Most

07th April 2022

Ukraine has had contested elections. Politics is not always comfortable to observe. By good fortune, their current president and the mayor of Kyiv have been the right people for this critical time. One has been an actor; one has been a champion boxer. At the 1945 general election, the first for ten years, the electorate preferred Clement Attlee and the Labour party to Winston Churchill and the Conservatives. The two had worked together for most of the war. Five and six years later, parliamentary arithmetic changed. 

 
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A Duty to Protect

31st March 2022

It is possible to look each day at progress or to worry about what has not yet been achieved. When I first stood for election as an MP, Greece, Spain and Portugal were dictatorships. Elected a year later, one of my first campaigns was for a group of women representing a young Jewish man denied permission to leave Soviet Russia. In 1988 at a technical road conference in West Berlin, it was not sensible to predict that within eighteen months the Wall would come down. Within five years the Budapest Memorandum was agreed, withdrawing nuclear weapons from Ukraine with the USA, the UK and Russia agreeing to be guarantors.

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Trust Inclusion and Fairness

24th March 2022

On Wednesday, listening to BBC Radio 4, I gained insight into what the people of Ukraine want to preserve and what they resist. One speaker said that for twenty years in Russia, a state of lies and suppression has grown. Now it is a one-man dictatorship where the President meets senior advisers separated by an absurd distance. How can a leader know the truth if it cannot be spoken and if it is, the sound and effect will have dissipated? A different leader’s name was adopted by our local Catholic high school. The students at Saint Oscar Romero will this Friday assemble for Ukraine and Russia on the beach at the southern Goring Gap.

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The Cost to Protect Democracy

17th March 2022

Images of lives in ruin, destruction and mayhem abound as our neighbours in Ukraine battle on to protect their democracy. On Tuesday in the debate in the House of Commons on Ukraine, I asked the Government to respond to the passionate pleas from the general public who want to help.  At the time of writing more than 100,000 UK citizens have registered to house a UK refugee. There have been many examples of charity within our communities over the past weeks. Tens of thousands of pounds have been raised by local communities here in Worthing and Arun including the local Rotary Club and by supporters of Worthing FC.

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Every Day is Women's Day

10th March 2022

Each party can claim political firsts. Sinn Fein had the first woman elected: Constance Markievicz declined to take her seat. Labour provided the first woman Speaker and Foreign Secretary; the first two women Prime Ministers have been Conservatives. Viscountess Nancy Astor, a Conservative, was the first woman to take a seat in parliament. The Liberal Democrats have nine female MPs, balancing four males. There are 225 female MPs in the UK parliament — a figure falling well short of gender parity but a great improvement since 1984 when there were 23 before my wife was first elected.

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Education in Worldviews

03rd March 2022

A dangerous man is president of Russia. Do not blame or hate ordinary Russians. We can expect he would lose the next free and fair election there. This is more than "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing". The consequences can be far-reaching. Ukraine is not far away. It is part of the European continent. It is a neighbour; it is a friend. Like most of the rest of Europe, Ukraine is a democracy. Most of its people do not want their country to become part of Russia.

 
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Ukraine Matters to Us All

24th February 2022

A dangerous man is president of Russia. Do not blame or hate ordinary Russians. We can expect he would lose the next free and fair election there. This is more than "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing". The consequences can be far-reaching. Ukraine is not far away. It is part of the European continent. It is a neighbour; it is a friend. Like most of the rest of Europe, Ukraine is a democracy. Most of its people do not want their country to become part of Russia.

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Good Health Through Life

17th February 2022

I, like many admire Novak Djokovic’s tennis skills; I do not like his thinking and I regret his words on vaccinations, just as I could not understand a British prime minster and spouse declining to say if their infant had received protection from previously potentially devastating conditions. The impressive results of applied science, medicine and politics have led to impressive levels of childhood immunisation through the NHS in the UK. Why politics? I thank three MPs in different parties for their contributions to our National Health Service...

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Persevering in Good Works

10th February 2022

Her Majesty The Queen’s signature followed the words ‘your servant’ when she wrote at the weekend about the 70th anniversary of the death of her father George VI that made her Queen Elizabeth. The Accession Collect includes the hope that under her this nation may be wisely governed and that she might be persevering in good works all her life. We give thanks that she has. Her ministers have not been as wise at all times. Another collect mentions us being in the midst of many and great dangers, recognises the frailty of our nature, our inability always to stand upright...

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What Would You Say to the PM?

03rd February 2022

Saw Churchill, heard Macmillan, spoke with Douglas-Home, constituency neighbour to Heath, polite with Wilson and Callaghan, campaigned with Thatcher, friend of Major, polite with Blair and Brown, supported May and now talking to Johnson: between saying hullo and in time goodbye, I have not made public or private comment on any. John Bercow was at times controversial as Speaker. I withheld comment, disappointing many who wrote declaring it was my duty to evict him from the chair.

 
 
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Starting Campaigns Can Be Lonely

27th January 2022

The Leaseholder Ground Rents Bill passed the House of Commons on Monday. During the final debate, just one MP spoke for professional landlords and their ground rents. We had built near unanimity. It was different during the past twenty years. We mistakenly thought in 2002 that parliament had reformed the working of the ancient laws on leasehold. Wrong: the new law did not work. A succession of housing ministers were not more action was needed urgently. A few of us went into battle. Not much of a battle, you might think, because no one came to the fight: we were ignored.

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Parliament is Important in Many Ways

20th January 2022

A constituent wrote to suggest a national day of prayer as a way to find the way forward on the dangers of climate change. I responded on the day the House of Lords rejected a number of proposals intended to strike a fair balance between the rights of protest and the legitimate expectation of everyone else to be able to go about their lives without disproportionate disruption or unbearable disturbance. Do look, if interested, at the history national-days-of-prayer-research-document.pdf (wordpress.com) or search UK National Days of Prayer 1897-1957. It starts with modern history.

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Leasehold: What They Knew,
When They Knew It

13th January 2022

These reflections are about safety and wellbeing for home occupiers, not the concerns about gatherings in Westminster two years back. Two residents helped develop my interest and activity trying to protect leaseholders; another alerted me to risks faced by park home residents, locally and nationally. John Fenwick at Oaklands Court was the first hero. Around normal retirement age, he was perhaps the youngest resident. On behalf of older more vulnerable neighbours, he rightly questioned significant charges. Their landlord and freeholder were not bad but they were wrong.

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Security, Prosperity and Respect

6th January 2022

Sir Kier Starmer, Labour leader, has identified the themes of security, prosperity and respect in the approach he prefers. I welcome this because it makes sense for major parties to share agreement on desired outcomes. As parliament returns, there will be disagreements. That is the nature of debate: find the awkward things because it might be boring for anyone to listen to a stream of MPs echoing previous speakers. Between New Year and the restart of the Commons, I called on the former MP Jim Fitzpatrick and his wife Sheila, retired public health doctor.