www.wpradio.co.uk Reviews the political year

Women’s Parliamentary Radio

For immediate release
December 14th 2010
http://www.wpradio.co.uk reviews the political year with Conservative MP Helen Grant, Times Sketch writer Ann Treneman, and Cambridge students at a protest sit-in.

Our http://www.wpradio.co.uk reporter Linda Fairbrother spoke to Helen Grant the new Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, the former seat of “Strictly” star Ann Widdecombe. But from her first “biggest, best” day as an MP, through to her Maiden Speech, Helen says it’s “issues” she’s concerned with and there will be no dancing for her:

• “I wish I had a penny for everybody who has asked me about Ann but Ann is Ann . There is only one Ann I will have to be their Helen and through hard work, integrity and service I will win their respect. On the couple of occasions during the campaign when I did need her she was there. “

• “The Chamber takes some getting used to, even though I am a Solicitor and had been to Court, there’s nothing quite like the Chamber, there’s tradition, there’s procedure, you have to notify the Speaker before you make your Maiden Speech, it’s not a moment to mess up, there’s pressure. I waited for five hours that day, but it was a lovely opportunity to listen to others, I spoke about social mobility, aspiration, family and enterprise, which have been key to getting me here.”

• “I don’t talk about being the first female black MP, but if it breaks down those ceilings it’s a good thing. I’m just Helen and all I wanted to do was become the next MP for Maidstone and the Weald and thankfully I am here. I now want to work hard and you have to prove yourself to be useful, reliable and loyal.”

• “I became a Member of the Justice Select Committee, and we are currently looking at the work of the Family Courts and the Probation Service. I feel I can draw on the experience of 23 years and hopefully it will be listened to and be of good use.”

• “I’m enjoying it enormously – no one day is the same, one day I’m walking and talking with giants like Margaret Thatcher or David Cameron, and the next day I am walking with our dog Charlie, who recently won the Westminster Dog of the year, there’s never a dull moment.”

• “I’m a very busy hard working MP and have no time for “Strictly Come Dancing”.

Linda Fairbrother asks the Times columnist Ann Treneman to review the political year. Her book “Annus Horribilis” – The Worst Year in British Politics – is available on Amazon.co.uk – Here she tells us how she rates the women politicians in the Chamber in 2010 and she’s got a soft spot for Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary.

• “At one time I banned myself from writing about her shoes, because it was just too easy, but I am back now because I actually think – unlike some other Home Secretaries – she has a grip at what she is good and bad at. Jacqui Smith had no clue how she was seen by the outside World. Theresa is acutely aware of how she and the Tory Party is seen – she is the one who made the “nasty party” speech. She has been refreshingly good, quite tart with the opposition, quite focused, doesn’t get in out of her depth, knows when to stop. She is a woman who knows her limits, she has been quite a surprise so far, but that job has a way of gobbling you up so we will see what happens, but I think she has had a good year.”

• “Harriet is my woman of the year without question, I am giving her huge points, she’s has a great year! Not only has she managed to lead Labour out of the wilderness – although some would say they are still in it – she led them during this quite difficult time and Harriet has learnt to make jokes! When she made that ginger rodent jibe – not many years ago a joke was a foreign country for Harriet. I don’t think anyone was offended. I think even Danny A thought it was quite funny really. I think there’s logic there, but I am a sketch writer. I think Harriet has done a brilliant job, she’s become a pro at PMQs, she really handled it and you have got to give her points for that. ”

• “The Lib Dem women are between a rock and a hard place, like the Lib Dems are. Sarah Teather and Lynne Featherstone are the only women to break through, sometimes I think am I missing people with the Lib Dems! Lynne Featherstone has all the right instincts but she is completely stifled by a role in a Tory government, she is having to defend policies she does not believe in. I think Sarah Teather has a better role because she really does believe in the pupil premium, but you feel she has become invisible and that they have lost their way.”

• “I think we have some very good new women MPs, they are a breath of fresh air, Luciana Berger on the Labour side, Rachel Reeves from Labour. On the Tories side I have been interested in Charlotte Leslie, Penny Mourdant, Elizabeth Truss, Priti Patel. There is a whole host of new women on the benches and hope springs eternal I think they will make a difference.”

http://www.wpradio.co.uk also caught up with two student protestors in the sit-in at Cambridge Old School’s Combination Room, and asked 25-year-old Phd student “Polly” ( a pseudonym) and 22-year-old history student Rachel to review the past year in politics and to look forward to 2011. They both said they felt “betrayed” by politics and the “Big Society” and their new Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, however the Conservative students in Cambridge are supporting him and the doubling in fees to to £6,000 a year or more. Boni Sones spoke to them both.

Polly said: “Fees is a bigger betrayal than expenses. The fact is I felt the expensive scandal was systematic and evidence of corruption in Westminster but this vote shows that our government is putting in jeopardy the futures of those they are supposed to be representing and it is unacceptable.”

Rachel said: “Expenses was a distraction from some of the real problems we are facing. It was symptomatic of wider lack of accountability by politicians and the fact the papers focused on this issue for so long was a major betrayal. They are not looking at the education cuts, tuition fee rises, and wider cuts, and it shows the way the media is framing the cuts at the moment. I don’t trust the media to portray the cuts either. “

Our supporters in the Lords:
Congratulations to Anne Jenkin wife of Tory North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin who was made a peer because of her charitable and political work for the Conservative Party. Labour politician Oona King and the Liberal Democrat politician Sal Brinton are both in the Lords too. All three peers are interviewed under our 2008 content page: Do listen:www.wpradio.co.uk/index3.html

1. Wpradio.co.uk is a web based broadcaster supported by all parties. Latest web stats show that in May 2010 we had our highest audience ever with 3,913 visitors, there were over 1,000 more visitors in June and July too compared to last year and even August increased. We don’t share our content with others in order to inflate our stats, you have to visit our website to listen to our content.

2. Our web stats show that our visitors are loyal, they return, tune in for some time and to more than one item. We have doubled our audience in a year. In July we published our Top Ten podcasts for that month. The top 8 all had over 100 downloads per podcast. Shirley Williams is hugely popular with 777 listeners to one podcast! The Oona King diaries are proving popular too.

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