Friday, 14 May 2010

First Week - High Stakes and Hum Drum

And I was anticipating a quiet first week.

After a roller-coaster election, we had the drama of the coalition negotiations, culminating in a (pretty much) unprecedented Con-Lib pact. The deal is far from perfect - but, then again, we didn't win a working majority. David Cameron went for a five year deal, and has made substantial concessions in an effort to tie down the Lib Dems. There are downsides for sure. But, the key advantage I can see in a 5 year deal is that - if it sticks - it gives the government a reasonable timeframe within which both to dispense the economic medicine, and then start to see the upside in job creation and, I hope, a more competitive British economy. There are also opportunities to focus on the common ground we share with the Lib Dems - including strengthening personal freedom (I was pleased to see a 'Great Repeal Bill' listed in the coalition agreement) and local democracy.

So much for the high stakes. Much of the rest of my week has been spent on hum drum, like training courses and sorting out IT - the new intake of MPs will have to wait a fortnight longer to be allocated offices! I have also made some headway in recruiting my team.

Locally, I started the week by opening The Dittons Fair with Erika (below), getting to grips with some initial casework and looking at the national level reform we need here in Elmbridge.


Steve said...

An interesting week in politics for sure! Two questions: how can local democracy be strengthened, and what are these national reforms needed in Elmbridge you speak of?

Dom Raab said...

The two are often linked. For example, plans for locally elected police commissioners, greater local democracy in NHS services (eg foundation trust status for Kingston hospital) and our policy of freeing up parents/ faith groups/ community organisations to set up new schools in the state sector.

Steve said...

Only four junior schools in the whole of Elmbridge have places, according to the Surrey Herald's front page this week. This is only 13 spaces in the whole borough. Quite a worrying statistic if correct. More schools, or at the very least, increased capacity at existing schools is needed, but I'm sceptical that parents or groups setting up schools is the solution. While I agree that empowerment is a good thing, I wonder whether parents/groups have the necessary expertise to set-up and run a school? I imagine there's a lot more to it than simply finding a location, forming a board of governors and hiring teachers. Without the expertise the venture could fail and good (tax payer) money could go to bad, surely? Given the high stakes maybe it would be better to give money direct to the education authority (SCC in this case) and stipulate that it be spent on increasing capacity? Elected police commissioners sounds good in theory but Surrey Police has been complaining about being underfunded for years. Without extra money can an elected commissioner really improve things that much? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Dom Raab said...

Im my view, both are important - a fairer deal for local funding, and national reform so public services are accountable to local communities (not Whitwehall).

Rupert Snape said...

Congratulations Dom, I know you will do a good job

Richard Tebboth said...

Fixed term Parliaments and the 5 year deal.

A problem with a May election is that any Budget measures would have been put into effect only 5 weeks before it.
It would surely make more sense for all future Budget proposals from this government and its successors to be made in mid November. This would allow the proposals 2014 Budget to form part of the election campaign whilst leaving 6 months to plan the implementation of any changes.

Another benefit of fixed term parliaments would be the avoidance of the Machiavellian wash-up deals we have just seen.

Steve said...

A fixed term parliament would be beneficial in the present circumstances where a stable government is essential to reassure the markets and pay down the debt. But a five year term feels too long to me, four would be better like they have in America. Lengthy tenures can make governments stale and it takes ages to remove them, the last government being a prime example.

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