A strong experienced voice for North Wiltshire
I offer long-standing experience and a track record as a successful, hard-working and caring representative of North Wiltshire in Parliament.
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Thursday 30 November 2023 Weekly Column

I had very much enjoyed Lord Carrington’s Memorial Service in Westminster Abbey sitting next to a personable old gentleman, with whom I had a number of brief conversations. It was only when his assistant came over at the end of the service addressing him as “Mr Kissinger” that I became aware of my brush with true greatness! I was sorry to see Henry Kissinger’s death this week at the age of 100.

We need diplomatic greatness of his kind at a time like this- to find a peaceful solution in Gaza, perhaps by extending the very welcome current humanitarian ceasefire, and then working towards a ‘two-state’ solution. Kissinger, of course, was Jewish, having fled the Nazis at the age of 15, but he once memorably said that “were it not for my accident of birth, I might well have been anti-semitic”. (By which he meant I think that was no Zionist). It may be that it is greatness of that kind that we need now to rise above the atrocities of 7 October, and of the Holocaust of WW2 and try to find some kind of accommodation.

I am not sure that Binyamin Netanyahu has that mark of greatness- or is it just that he is stuck between the rock of politically having to demand harsh retribution for those events, and the hard humanitarian place and the overwhelming need to find some kind of long-term solution. Without being any kind of expert on Israeli internal politics, it seems to me at a glance that he is achieving neither thing very satisfactorily, and may well pay a heavy political price for it.

Here at home, the PM has taken the bold and unconventional step of asking David Cameron to be Foreign Secretary with a seat in the Lords. Cameron has the list of contacts, and the ‘grown-up’ approach which comes from many years in the corridors of International Power as PM. He has the gravitas to be a great Foreign Secretary and to help Britain punch above our weight in the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere. That confidence perhaps trumps some of my personal reservations about ‘Dave’ and some of the things he did as PM, not least the Brexit Referendum and its handling, and his ‘Remainer’ stance.

As a member of the House of Commons Procedure Committee, I have also expressed my very real reservations about the constitutional and political validity of having a Foreign Secretary who is not answerable to the Commons. It would mean, for example, that important statements on Foreign Affairs would routinely be made in the Lords, the Commons following along in their Lordships’ wake. That seems to me to undermine the proper primacy of the elected House, and I will be arguing for some kind of a change to our Standing Orders to allow (and require) him to appear at the Despatch Box in our House.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of my Chairmanship of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust, and the 20th anniversary of my Chairmanship of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Services; I am proud to be a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies, to be Patron of Operation Christmas Box and to have written several books on defence related matters.

Friday 24 November 2023 Weekly Column

“We honour those who serve” is the motto of Royal Wootton Bassett earned after the long series of Repatriation ceremonies when the town stood still for a few moments with heads bowed to pay tribute to those who had given their lives for their country. True altruistic public service; and it is right to honour it. I was glad to speak at the Cirencester Rotary Club last month and to welcome the Bassett Club to Parliament this week. Their motto “Service before self” says it

Friday 17 November 2023 Weekly Column

I ventured out of Parliament on Thursday evening into the milling crowds of Pro-Palestinian protestors mobbing the Old Palace Yard where only a week ago the Guards stood to attention and saluted as the King’s carriage rumbled by. Passionate and noisy they were but also very polite and courteous making way for a suit-clad and pretty obvious MP. I must have stood out like a sore thumb. One of them kindly gave me their poster. “...

Friday 10 November 2023 Weekly Column

The Autumn Equinox on 22 September always seems to me to be a period of turbulence- sad deaths, warfare, stock exchange collapses, high winds and storms, uncertainty and turmoil. Then last week we marked Hallowe'en, or the evening before All Saints Day. It has been disgracefully Americanised; but its meaning is ancient, (? partly pagan), and it is all to do with remembering the 'Saints' – our ancestors. In Scotland to this day they call it “Hunty Gowk” or “Hunt the ghosties.” Then we only

Thursday 2 November 2023 Latest News

“I was delighted to hear from the NHS that the threat to Sherston’s Tolsey Surgery has been averted, thanks at least in part to people power,” said James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire.

In a conversation with the MP, Sue Harriman, CEO of the Regional Integrated Care Board apologised for the scare which had been caused by one particular document, and undertook that the surgery would not close, nor be amalgamated with Malmesbury; but that instead


My latest book 'Wiltshire to Westminster' is now available here.

My latest book 'Full English Brexit' is now available online at jamesgray.org/full-english-brexit

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