James Gray MP with representatives from Google and The Countryside Alliance Foundation
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
James at The Springfields Academy
Hamlet’s great ‘To be or Not to be’ speech with his mental anguish over “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” sprang to mind as I watched the reshuffle unfold last week. Too controversial to be chosen as a minister, I was able to watch with some dispassion both the anguish of the 28 government ministers sacked, and of the dozens of highly able and talented Conservatives for whom there is still no room in the Administration.
I was particularly sorry to see some – nay most - of my ‘intake’ (1997) dropped from the Government. Some of them were hugely competent and experts in their fields – Tim Loughton on Childcare, Nick Gibb at Education, Jim Paice as Farms Minister, and so many more.
At the same time, I rejoice with some of my colleagues who have been promoted. Owen Paterson will do a good job as Caroline Spellman’s replacement at Defra. Locally it is great to see Andrew Murrison take up his well-deserved place as Defence Minister. And Duncan Hames who becomes Nick Clegg’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, to replace his wife who now runs the Post Office, will no doubt have his mailbag full.
Politics is a true game of snakes and ladders. It’s an emotional roller-coaster. One minute you are riding high on national acclaim (remember Mr Clegg’s first TV debate?) The next you are a discarded liability. “All political careers end in failure,” opined Enoch Powell. The exception, I would venture, may be people like myself who love what they are doing, recognise that their outspoken-ness and commitment to the true Conservative cause may well preclude them from the Coalition, and set about working for and in the constituency, and indeed simply enjoying the job and one’s life. Not for us Icarus and his Sun-flying antics. But then no need to crash back to earth either!
Prince Harry meanwhile rose above the slings and arrows directed at him by the Sun (why should a young man not cavort a little off-duty without the self-righteous, yet page three promoting gutter press taking a prurient interest in it?), and is off to serve his country on the front line in Afghanistan. Well done him. He goes with our best wishes for “God speed and a safe return.”
And as we come to the end of the magnificent Olympics and Paralympics, who would begrudge Team GB its superb victory parade through London on Monday? Some soared to new heights, made world records, and go home laden with medals. Others did their best for their sport and their country and just generally enjoyed the experience.
“By a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To sleep, perchance to dream...”
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