James Gray MP with representatives from Google and The Countryside Alliance Foundation
James at The Springfields Academy
James with representatives of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards during a Welcome Home Event for 20th Armoured Brigade
James Gray MP welcoming representatives of 20th Armoured Brigade to Parliament
Here I stand; I can do none other.
You don’t get a more committed Conservative than me; but as a backbencher I have complete freedom to speak up for the people of North Wiltshire and to act and vote and speak as I believe to be right. I’ve just been allocated a new whip. He’s a very nice man and may have his work cut out over the next few months!
I was one of the 100 backbenchers who wrote to the PM this week demanding a firm commitment to a referendum over Europe. As the Euro spirals towards a complete collapse, with the great Euro-vision in terminal disarray, it is certain that whatever the EU looks like in the future, it will be very different to that of the past – very probably a much closer political, economic, fiscal and banking union dominated by Germany. It seems to me clear that the people of Britain – some of whom were given a referendum over Scottish and Welsh devolution; and over elected mayors for our cities deserve a say over what our relationship (if any) should be any such Europe. I have a pretty clear idea of what the outcome of such a referendum would be. I am encouraged – but not totally convinced – by the PM’s comments over the weekend.
Second, at a time like this, I cannot imagine why the nice Lib-Dems should imagine that reform of the House of Lords – who seem to me to do a pretty good job overall – should be any kind of a priority. It may need some tinkering, but whole scale abolition and replacement by a muddled 15-year term elected house seems to me to be a Constitutional excrescence. And the plan to guillotine discussion of it with a ‘programme motion’ and to refuse to give the people any say over such a huge constitutional change is outrageous. I will vote against any Programme Motion or other attempt to curtail discussion, and I will vote against every stage of the bill and do whatever I can to make sure it never becomes law.
Third, the bankers are a disgrace in more ways that I have space to describe it, and need a fundamental sort-out. I will be backing whatever proposals come forward to curb their excesses and get them back to being decent providers of funds for people and businesses of all sorts. I used to be one of them, and know of their knavish ways. They need to be shackled.
And fourth, while I absolutely accept the need to balance the nation’s books and reduce the appalling deficit left to us by the Labour Government, I simply cannot accept that that should be done at the expense of our primary duty – the defence of the Realm. As the world spirals out of control, the thought of reducing the army to 82,000 people seems to me wholly wrong. And the morale and fighting effectiveness of our army depends on the centuries –old regimental system. Abolition of proud regiments like the Queen’s Dragoon Guards is wrong, and if given the chance I will speak and vote against it.
Wasn’t it Luther who nailed his manifesto to the Church door saying “Here I stand; I can do none other.” Well it may not do my promotion prospects much good, but on these issues I feel just like him. I’m a tough old war-horse and will do what I believe to be right no matter what my nice new whip may say!
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