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James Gray MP

James Gray MP with representatives from Google and The Countryside Alliance Foundation

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James Gray MP

James at The Springfields Academy

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James Gray MP

James visiting RAF Brize Norton and inspecting the A400M.

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James Gray MP

James with the Prime Minister visiting the UK Aid Disaster Response Centre at Kemble Airport

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Who takes Britain to War?

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james-gray-1“Civilised debate.” What does that really mean? The Pope is of the view that no-one should be allowed to insult someone else’s religion, or else fear for the consequences. That is certainly true. We abhor cartoons, slogans, or writing attacking Christianity; the same applies to Islam. It is wrong, and it should not be allowed. But it does not justify the kind of violence we have seen in recent weeks. No civilised person - Christian or Muslim - would say that it does.

Indeed all that it has led to is a perfectly justified outcry at an apparent attempt to prevent freedom of speech, which after all is a basic prerequisite of civilised debate and conversation. That has led of course to blatant repeats of the original insult in order to defy the critics and censors. “You were offended by what we said. You tried to stop us saying it. That means that we will say it again and again to prove that you cannot do so,” is roughly the line of argument. And it achieves nothing at all, except a furtherance of the original uncivilised behaviour. “If you punch me, I’ll punch you back – and harder” is the old playground taunt. It is fair, but it does not de-escalate the punch-up.

The ancient Greeks knew the value of civilised debate conducted under strict rules. The peripatetics marched up and down either side of a high wall offering thesis and antithesis in the hope of creating synthesis. St Thomas Aquinas perfected the model in mediaeval times; it is still practised today in dramatic format with shouts and mystical hand-gestures in Buddhist monasteries.

Parliamentary debate may not be as fine as it once was. 24 hour rolling media, Twitter and the end of good classical education has dealt it various blows; but the principles of civilised debate are nonetheless epitomised in our procedures. We listen patiently to the other view no matter how absurd it may be; we respect the courtesies of the House as we offer our counter-view; and it all ends up in a vote conducted in the most orderly of ways at the end of the day’s debate. Thoroughly civilised, and the envy of Parliaments around the world.

The Leaders’ Debates in the last General Election were quite different. They glorified the personality of the leaders at the expense of reasoned debate. They bore little resemblance to true civilised debate, having more in common with the bear-pit or gladiatorial contests in the Coliseum. The same applies to Prime Minister’s Question Time, which is a bit of theatrical fun once a week, but which has lost any real meaning or purpose it ever had. I would prefer to see both abolished in favour of true reasoned debate, and wholly support David Cameron’s argument that they most only go ahead if all of the parties are represented at them. The Greens are polling ahead of the Lib Dems at the moment, so why should they be excluded?

I personally very much look forward to local ‘Hustings’ meetings during the General Election campaign locally, the first of which is already being planned in Malmesbury. They are a traditional and important part of all elections in North Wiltshire, and in my experience over 20 years are conducted with the greatest degree of civilisation possible. Their aim is to add to the sum total of human happiness, knowledge and understanding; not just to knock spots off the other candidates!

2015-01-20-hetThis week North Wiltshire MP James Gray signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.

After signing the Book of Commitment, Mr Gray commented:

“Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – and is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and make sure they are not forgotten. I encourage all constituents to mark the day and to join members of my community in the fight against prejudice and intolerance.”

Tuesday 27th January will mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

In the weeks leading up to and after Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“We are proud that James is supporting Holocaust Memorial Day. As we mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust and the liberation of the concentration camps in 2015, it is vitally important that we both continue to remember and learn from the appalling events of the Holocaust – as well as ensuring that we continue to challenge anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry.

Latest from the Chamber

Energy and Climate Change: Energy Efficiency - 27/02/2014
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): One of the groups most deserving of benefit, from the warm home scheme in particular, are those who live in park homes, of which we have many in North W...
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Food Adulteration - 07/03/2013
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): Cross-contamination by horsemeat in every part of the United Kingdom could be stopped if we prevented the killing of horses in multi-species abattoirs. ...
Statement: Army Basing Plan - 05/03/2013
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): I very much welcome the extra stability that the announcement will make in the lives of service personnel and their families. The people of Wiltshire wi...

More news

15 January 2015, 07.10
Je Suis Charlie
The world stands in stark horror at the appalling events in France over the last few days. The sheer barbarity of the murders of innocent people; the terrorising of a nation and beyond; the despicable attempt to silence the press and thinkers - all of these are beyond words despicable. We are right to be heartbroken, outraged and concerned about the future in equal measure. But what should we now be thinking and doing in its aftermath? Let’s sta...
08 January 2015, 13.27
James Gray raises wild boar problem with Natural England
“I am becoming increasingly uneasy about the number of wild boar sighted in and around North Wiltshire, and was so saddened to learn this week of the death of my constituent Raymond Green who was killed in a collision with a wild boar which had somehow strayed onto the M4,” said North Wiltshire MP James Gray this morning. “These animals can wreak havoc on our countryside by digging up graveyards, gardens and grass verges, and we have learne...
08 January 2015, 11.52
James Gray welcomes Tesco announcement
“I am very pleased that Tesco have now announced that they will not be proceeding with their proposed out-of-town store in Royal Wootton Bassett, which I presume also means that the housing which was to go with it at the Marsh Farm site will not go ahead either,” said North Wiltshire MP James Gray, speaking from Westminster this morning. “I have always argued that the focus of the town must be the High Street, and an out-of-town Tesco would...
08 January 2015, 09.29
Old Clothes and Porridge
So it’s back to “old clothes and porridge” as my father used to describe the New Year. Or perhaps not quite for we politicians, with a General Election in the offing. A Liberal Democrat document, misleadingly pretending to be an independent publication entitled “Wiltshire Life” comes thumping on to our doormats. Its very anonymity (which may well be at the outer edges of legality) demonstrates their embarrassment at their Party’s colla...

Constituency Surgeries

Meet your local MP in person at one of his local surgeries. No appointment is necessary - just turn up.

Saturday
17
th January
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
Saturday
7
th February
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
Saturday
21
st February
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
Saturday
14
th March
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
Saturday
21
st March
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ

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