On Changing Britain

raftTeacher: “What does your father do, little Billy?” “He plays the piano in an opium den”. Teacher calls home. Father: “I lied: but how can you tell an eight year old boy that his father is a politician?”

In polls, more than eighty per cent of the public feel ‘politics is broken’. When strangers discover I’m a politician they often look at me as though they are unsure whether I am a snake or a monkey. And all the questions they ask – put as politely as they can – imply they are astonished by our ignorance, our shoddiness, and our incompetence. Which leaves democracy in a strange position. Our democracy has been developing for four hundred years, the British people have never been so educated or confident, but the gap between public and politicians has never felt larger: citizens are deeply disappointed in their politicians. The same is true in almost every ‘democratic’ country.

Show more
HousesofParliament

constitutional reform

Good policies start from what is here, now; from what people are demanding; and from what we can do. Bad policies start from what ought to be present, what people ought to want, and what we ought to achieve. Thus a good decision, on how many sheep to keep on a fell, draws on an […]

rory_scoutsjune2013

royal wedding

The centre of London on the day of the wedding was cut by police barriers; the underground stations were closed; it felt hot; and there was someone on every paving-stone between Millbank and Leicester Square. It took me an hour and a half to find a route though the crowd back to my aunt’s flat, and I just had […]

Penrith Castle

on history

In Wigton last Tuesday I learnt that it is about to celebrate its 750th anniversary as a market town. I am really looking forward to it but I have to confess I find Wigton in 1262 a place foreign in almost every conceivable way. In 1262 most of the people spoke a dialect heavily influenced […]

rory_penrithstation1

‘events, dear boy, events’

Last Monday demonstrated Macmillan’s theory that politics is all about ‘Events, dear boy, events.’ My priorities were to finally get the senior agriculture Ministers to travel up to Cumbria to focus on the uplands and to press the Chancellor to reduce fuel duty. I felt I was making progress. The day’s parliamentary debates were on […]

thoughts on the big society

I thought I’d share a couple of points I’ve been trying to make in correspondence with a constituent about the Big Society: thoughts welcome… Big Society projects are by their very nature local and varied. For that reason, they can only be fully assessed on the ground and in a particular place. A successful big […]

methode-sundaytimes-prod-web-bin-04b67e6a-8cab-11e6-8a5c-a2c1ff741a67

HOW CUMBRIA’S VILLAGE HALLS ARE PIONEERING A HI-TECH REVOLUTION

Article first published in The Guardian on 2 January 2011. This winter, 130 activists gathered to discuss superfast broadband in a village hall in Cumbria. They had come from 100 villages, by 100 paths. Ali had presumably travelled north along the shore of Ullswater, rounded Loadpot Hill and turned south down the Lowther valley, until […]

rory_edenvalleyhospice

if i were to edit the today programme for a day

The Independent newspaper asked me what I would include if I were able to edit the Today Programme for a day. Here is what I chose…   The historian Jonathan Spence would describe how a seventeenth century Jesuit, built a ‘memory palace’ in his mind, which allowed him to learn thousand Chinese characters in a […]

Gaudium

big society

Big Society vanguard put Whitehall on the spot to remove bureaucratic barriers   The community coalition in the Eden Valley Big Society ‘vanguard’ want to break down barriers and remove stifling regulation to change their local area – and have put civil servants on the spot in the process. At an event in Eden Valley […]

remembrance sunday, 2010

“That at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities … so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance […]

Gaudium

ON THE ROLE OF AN MP

On Friday morning I discussed the role of an MP with a roomful of eleven and twelve year olds. A girl from Patterdale suggested I was there to improve rural services. A boy from Skelton focused on the cost of fuel. They explained the difficulty of making a profit in a village shop. And they […]