Constituency activity on Friday reminded me of William Temple’s discussion on building solidarity in his 1942 book Christianity and Social Order. He wanted the state to safeguard the liberty that fosters communities.
We must include faith groups, neighbourhood associations, trades union branches, political parties and, I would add, public houses and social clubs.
I try to be guided too by Temple’s advice on conversation: he recommended the first ingredient should be truth, followed by good sense, then good humour and wit.
My first call was with the Worthing and District Jewish Community, led by Rabbi Shaya Gourarie, his family and Gerry Crest who has contributed leadership and service over the decades. I look to the day when there is a local synagogue. We also need a purpose-built mosque here in West Sussex’s largest town.
Tim Loughton MP and I had to postpone our planned discussion with the Islamic Society because of a funeral. With the town hall, we want to help their search for a new site. One of the many impressive acts of the coronation was the meeting and greeting by faith leaders of King Charles at the great door of Westminster abbey, below statues of ten modern martyrs.
I went on to Stoke Abbott road to visit the Barclays Eagle Labs at Jon Trigg’s Freedom Works Creative & Digital Hub. Claire Johnson introduced the bank’s Ecosystem team. Over the years, it has become easier for entrepreneurs and people building a small business to find supported space for office activity without the need to take a multi-year inflexible lease. They can also access banking support, together with the informal benefits of mixing with others with similar experience in business.
There are now nearly 40 Eagle Labs in the national network of tech-focussed start-up incubators. In eight years 9,600 businesses have been helped, including assistance in raising over £2 billion in external funding.
My combined physical and virtual constituency advice systems continue. I make home calls when needed and my team and I can be in contact by telephone without delay, often saving time in giving or getting advice. We wish it could be possible to resolve every difficulty. We do try to help carry the burden of injustice or to put the case of ordinary people caught up in a system when the computer appears to say no, unreasonably
Tim and I met again mid-afternoon at the Thieves Kitchen for the meeting of the non-profit organisation Pubwatch, chaired in a kind and firm way by Vino Vijayakumar, with the dedicated support of the police sergeant and of the Worthing Town Centre Initiative manager, Sharon Clarke. We thank her for her 20 years of service. I know many of the experiences and the challenges from my active membership of CAMRA and because my team and I have been customers at many of our local pubs and restaurants.
Later, I joined supporters in East Preston to discuss current events and our contributions to local interests. I am proud of cooperation across political boundaries when that can help people in need and build the common good. There are times for political competition; there are more times when combining is better. Overcoming apathy or ignorance should be more important than triumphing in political arm-wrestling with people in other parties or in one’s own?
Meeting together with others can be productive. I found that when I served on the Executive of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It is true now when I attend the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, associating with Irish representatives across the spectrum from Sinn Fein to Unionist. It has been a journey in time from being a potential target for the IRA to working together on common interest in the transition to renewable carbon-free energy use.
Most of us want to do good; let us do it together when we can – and be civilised when we cannot do so yet.