Congratulations to Aphra Brandreth of Ferring for winning selection to stand for parliament for the new constituency of South Chester & Eddisbury at the next general election. Her father Gyles, who had previously represented Chester and has since become a beloved television personality, is reported in Patrick Kidd’s Times Diary as saying she has all her mother’s qualities of integrity, intelligence, a cool head and a kind heart.
Like other political parties, the Conservative party has a lively debating group, the Conservative Policy Forum. Aphra kindly recently led a discussion at the Durrington Community Centre on opportunities for women to contribute at every level.
What she said overlapped with sensible declarations I gathered from women’s political groups this past weekend at a conference in London.
One is that women have the right to participate in single-sex sports, to ensure fairness and safety at all levels of competition. Another is that women have the right to discuss policies which affect them, without being abused, harassed or intimidated. No right mind would oppose either of these sensible ideas.
We can and we must hold hands across the spectrum, especially when peaceful discussion meetings are picketed by protesters wrongly claiming that any challenge to their stance of ‘no-debate’ is hate. I was glad when a West Sussex County councillor came to sit with me as we heard teachers discuss the challenges faced by pupils and students in schools and colleges.
When Ferring Village Hall gathered community groups to reinforce the fundraising to improve the appearance of the hall and the ability to use it for so many local groups, the councillors were present – and I was pleased to join them. As a bonus, I contributed to the Ferring Village Cricket Club of which I am now pleased to be Vice-President. During the friendly gathering, I updated residents on the concerted effort to protect the Goring-Ferring Gap at Chatsmore Farm, including the hard work of Ferring’s local Conservative Councillors Roger Elkins and Mark Turner MBE. Like many of our local Councillors and community champions, they display integrity, show intelligence, and have cool heads and kind hearts when it matters most.
Constituencies remain unchanged until the next general parliamentary elections across the country. I am honoured to be adopted for the revised Worthing West constituency, sadly losing Rustington to Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, while welcoming the ward of Angmering & Findon including Poling, Clapham and Patching. When walking as a visitor in Poling, I admired the church of St Nicholas. There is an interesting and fair description on the website for Sussex Parish Churches.
Nearly a thousand years after the foundation of that church, I was at the Royal Society to hear Rishi Sunak use the anniversary of becoming prime minister to talk about our shared future with artificial intelligence. AI has the potential for good and for evil. I was proud to be there, remembering conversations I had when a child with my great-great uncle who was elected Fellow of the Royal Society without ever attending university until he established geodesy and geophysics at Cambridge.
This Tuesday I will have been at a dinner at my old college in honour of the memory of my economics supervisor who was awarded the Nobel prize; he thought I was lucky to be awarded a degree. There will be other laureates there and I look forward to discussion with the Astronomer Royal who cooperated with Andrew Griffith MP to form the Dark Skies Group in the Houses of Parliament of which constituents will know I currently Chair.
Soon the BBC will broadcast the Reith Lectures by Professor Ben Ansell. The series has run since 75 years ago. The first this year was given at the BBC Radio Theatre. The first recordings for which I was in the audience were for Gert and Daisy, played by Elsie and Doris Waters. They were a great female double act in the days of variety shows. They lived in Steyning and died in Worthing. I also heard their brother Jack Warner who had the part of Dixon of Dock Green. They too had integrity, intelligence, cool heads and kind hearts.