Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Right now and not later

So what do MPs do during recess? Well I can't speak for anyone else but here are some of the things I've got lined up:

  • finishing off things in Westminster, GOTV on the phones for Glasgow East, then Labour National Policy Forum in Warwick (that's this week taken care of);
  • touring the Severn Estuary with the Environment Agency to see the areas which environmentalists are concerned would be affected by the building of the Severn Barrage;
  • spending a day with an RSPCA inspector;
  • visiting Yarlswood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire to see the conditions in which people (especially children) facing deportation are held;
  • going out on patrol with the Vice Squad;
  • finalising this year's Parliamentary report, and no doubt hand-delivering rather a lot of them;
  • organising a survey of constituents on asylum/ immigration issues (tricky to get this right, but we're getting there) and responding to those who completed my recent survey on anti-social behaviour;
  • attending the Balloon fiesta, St Marks Road street party, Amnesty's garden party, the Harbour festival, open day at the Felix Rd Adventure Playground, the opening ceremony of the School Olympics, and no doubt other events that haven't appeared in the diary yet;
  • meeting the Soil Association in Bristol to discuss organic food and farming (they don't know this yet, but I hope they agree);
  • cycling to the office at least some of the time, and finally doing the Bristol-Bath cycle path trip (also hoping to do a 'Bikeability' cycling proficiency course - I think I need it!);
  • getting to grips with technology - sorting out wireless connection in office, getting PDA working again (it's only been six months), downloading videos and pics from camera and onto website; finding out what else my mobile phone can do, etc, etc;
  • trading my car in for a greener model (although I suppose you can't get much greener than the current one, seeing as it doesn't go anywhere at all at the moment);
  • generally harrassing constituency office staff who usually only have to put up with me for fleeting moments between engagements on a Friday - after a week or two they will start suggesting that I should 'take a day or two off to enjoy myself";
  • attending a Somali community event on knife crime;
  • doing another walkabout in Stockwood;
  • paying another visit to the Refugee Drop-In Centre;
  • attending a citizenship ceremony;
  • watching women play football at the Netham on a Sunday morning - I don't think I'm expected to join in;
  • visiting Remploy's new job centre in Bristol, which helps people with disabilities find work;
  • launching a local consultation on the Welfare Reform Green Paper (e.g. with drug treatment agencies, Job Centre Plus, disability organisations, the mental health trust);
  • organising ministerial visits: Tom Harris is coming in the autumn to talk trains, and we've got some others at the planning stage, including, I hope, the Immigration Minister;
  • doing the groundwork for debates in the autumn: report stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, Children and Young Persons Bill, Climate Change Bill; adjournment debate on children with parents in custody (long overdue); reading latest stuff on child poverty in prep for Queen's Speech debates and/ or Pre-Budget Report; and possibly a Defra debate on food production to mark World Vegan Day (only toying with this idea at the moment);
  • finishing off remaining sections on website - e.g. Local Heroes, online schools surgery - and maybe even blogging a bit;
  • holding some surgeries, sending out letters, and all the usual stuff;
  • taking two or three nephews to the Street Art exhibition at Tate Modern;
  • taking two nieces and one or two nephews (different ones - younger, equally adorable) to Kew Gardens to do the Treetop Walk;
  • trying to make sushi with the stuff I bought in December (the mat, the seaweed, the rice, the vinegar, everything - I'm almost definitely not going to be very good at it);
  • at least making a start on the West Wing set (series 1-7) which was purchased a year ago and is still in its cellophane;
  • Labour Conference in Manchester (five days in late September);
  • finally finishing the Ph.D. thesis I started in 1974 or thereabouts ...(who am I kidding?);
  • white-water rafting down the Zambezi and over Victoria Falls. Possibly.

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