Back to school

So Parliament returns today… OK we were back for a couple of weeks in September, but I was only there for three days of it, as I took advantage of a one line whip to return to Bristol early, and in the second week I was in Kenya. And this feels like the proper start of the new political season, now that we have a new leader, a new shadow cabinet with everyone except Peter Hain and Shaun Woodward in new portfolios, and lots of movement within the junior ranks too.And the Comprehensive Spending Review next week moves us firmly into *actual* political territory rather than just speculating at what the Condem cuts could mean. Ed M will be addressing his
first proper PLP as party leader at 6pm – or at least I assume he will, that would be normal for start of term.

My diary for this week will no doubt be completely thrown by new shadow role – of which more later – but for the moment it looks like this. 9am train to London (I’m on it). Meeting with AJ and other members of the new Treasury team, then I have to pop into a “City United” event in one of the dining rooms, to support the new world cup stadium in Bristol.

If I’ve time I’ll then catch the second half of a Robin Hood Tax campaign meeting, which will no doubt be packed with swooning
MPs as Bill Nighy is going to be there. Then it’s Andy Burnham’s first outing at Education questions, and then – unless the are any statements or urgent questions and I suspect that there will be – we’re onto the Second Reading of the Finance (No.2) Bill, so-called because we did No.1 before recess. I’ll be in the Chamber for much of that, though thankfully David Hanson has been given the task of winding up the debate for Labour and AJ or Angela Eagle will open, so my role will be to sit on the front-bench and look fascinated,
supportive, amused and appalled at the appropriate moments. I’ve also got a meeting with Dods, to talk about some climate change-related events they want to do in Parliament, and of course the weekly PLP meeting, plus somehow finding time to clear my desk in the whips office, and then back on the front bench for the closing stages of the Finance Bill and votes at 10pm. I’ve also just been alerted to a Westminster Skeptics event at the Monk Exchange, 7pm, on “Beyond the Digital Economy Act” with Tom Watson MP speaking, but I think my presence in the Chamber will be required.

As for the rest of the week, I’m having lunch with Feargal Sharkey on Tuesday to talk about UK Music stuff (update – we’re rescheduling this), and after that it’s the new team’s first outing at Treasury Questions, followed by committee stages on the floor of the House for the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill; expect a tour de force performance from Chris Bryant in his new role.

Wednesday starts with some porridge eating to mark UN World Food day… Likuni phalli porridge, which I assume is made with water, otherwise I’ll have to pass on it. Then I’m due to attend a briefing on housing benefit cuts, with Shelter and the NHF, then it’s DFID Qs and Ed’s first outing taking in Cameron at PMQs. Expect a packed Chamber jn support. Then there’s a reception in support of electrification of the Great Western Mainline, the Committee stages of the Superannuation Bill, and a trade union event in support of the Lawful Industrial Action Bill, and then I’d quite like to go to a Royal Geographical Society event in Kensington on plastic pollution in the oceans but suspect I’ll be less enthusiastic about making the trek across town when Wednesday evening comes round. Thursday is BIS questions and a one line whip for backbench committee business.

Postscript – just to name drop even more, there’s an MPs’ photocall with “pop mogul Pete Waterman” on Wednesday to promote CSV Make a Difference Day. In the days when I had a flat south of the river, I once bumped into him coming out of the railway anoraks bookshop along Lower Marsh on my way into work. He’s into steam engines. And he’s a good Labour man.

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  • Steve  On October 11, 2010 at 11:17 am

    -No comment on the BCFC plans, way too controversial.

    -When you meet Feargal Sharkey and he starts going on about how downloads are destroying the music business, can you draw his attention to the Ireland Mixtape amnesty site ( ) and have him accept my apology for never bothering to copy any of his music onto C60 tapes, hence for never having an urge to replace these tapes with CDs or even MP3 downloads later in life.

  • kerrymccarthy  On October 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Steve, I’ve publicly pledged my support for the stadium and did so again today in front of TV cameras and press photographers! I just don’t have time to blog about it.

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