Weekly Column

Over the Horizon

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Storm Henk has brought huge disruption and misery across our area. I was particularly saddened by the tragic death from a falling tree in Kemble. Flooding has brought misery to hundreds of houses, especially in and around Christian Malford, on whose behalf I am pressing both Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency. Roads everywhere have been blocked (my own house has been flooded in, although saved by being on a small rise.) The Government have just announced extra funding for businesses, homeowners and farmers who have been impacted by flooding.

Just looking over the horizon, it is clear that the increase in frequency and severity of weather extremes is attributable to Climate Change. Since 1990 the UK economy has grown 75 per cent while cutting emissions by nearly 48 per cent. We must do better if we are to achieve net zero by 2050. Yet despite that the Parliamentary vote on new extraction licences in the North Sea are perfectly justifiable. It is not production that we should curtail so much as consumption. And I would rather achieve energy self sustainability than buying it all from the distant Arabian Gulf. That will help us cut bills, cut emissions, and cut our dependence on foreign imports. Look beyond the horizon to avoid knee jerk and incorrect conclusions. I simply do not understand Chris Skidmore’s odd decision to resign his seat over it and cause a needless by-election. He has already announced his retirement from politics at the General Election.

We have all been struck this week by the outstanding ITV documentary drama series about the egregious and unforgiveable miscarriage of justice to sub-postmasters that is the Horizon scandal. I am glad the Government is considering legislation to exonerate the thousands affected; and I support the Prime Minister's call for consideration of Paula Vennell’s CBE awarded for 'Services to the Post Office'. I also welcome the £132 million compensation so far paid to more than 2,700 claimants. Now we need to look beyond the Horizon and make sure that nothing similar can never happen again.

The horizon must be the General Election, which the PM has hinted will be next Autumn. That’s why I am busy gearing up for it to be in the Spring, and to ask my voters in the new South Cotswolds constituency to peep over the horizon and just imagine what a Labour Government would be like. Be very careful what you wish for

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James Gray
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Published Date
January 5, 2024