Constituency News Round Up

Boris’s occasional column in The Henley Standard


As I never tire of saying, the trouble with regulation…

I felt very lucky the other day to host an event for Sue Ryder Care in the House of Commons

Nirvana Natural shampoo …is the victim of what I believe is an injustice

A woman came to see me about a year ago in quite a state, because she had been defrauded of £60,000

Let us all hope, as we look ahead to an election year that Britain will be blessed by intelligent argument that is genuinely dedicated to the improvement of the country


ONE thing that being an MP has taught me is the importance of guerilla-like resistance in the face of the unreasonable behaviour of public service bureaucrats, and on the subject of the Henley-Twyford railway line I propose to be a militant.

It is outrageous that the line should face reclassification to a ‘community railway’, especially if this means reduced services, and especially when we in the south east receive so much less in subsidy, per passenger mile, than lines in the (ahem, largely Labour-held) north of the country. Are they picking on us?


As I never tire of saying, the trouble with regulation is not just the expense to your business, or to you and me as householders. Take the case of the Watlington Bowls clubhouse, presided over by bowls captain Peter Wilcock. In order to construct a new clubhouse he must conform with the May 04 Disability Discrimination Act, which means that he has to provide unisex wheelchair accessible toilet facilities and ambulant access (and bear in mind that this well-intentioned but swingeing piece of regulation was cited in the recent Henley post office closures). He must also comply with the April 04 regulations on the conservation of fuel and power in buildings (part L2), which require him to provide and insulated floor, double glazing, the works even though the building will be occupied for only 20 per cent of the year, generally at the height of summer, when doors and windows will be wide open! Peter Wilcock reckons the cost of the building has been pushed up by 30 to 50 per cent. But that still does not reflect the true cost of the regulation because someone, paid for by you and me, will be required to inspect that club house and determine that it is indeed as splendidly equipped and insulated as the state demands.

And it’s no use blaming the council, by the way: these are central government regulations.


I felt very lucky the other day to host an event for Sue Ryder Care in the House of Commons, and to listen to the amazing tales of the relatives of those who have benefited from the charity. We are all likely to live longer than our parents, and we are all likely to use ever more expensive therapies and palliatives as we approach the ends of our lives. We cannot expect the taxpayer to meet every penny of the cost of our care, and that is why our society depends so much on wonderful organisations like Sue Ryder. At the end of the meeting, I was talking to a Sue Ryder boss with the husband of one of the patients, who had a terminal neurological condition. “Why is Sue Ryder so special?” he asked. “What makes it treat people in this marvelously sensitive way?” She said she didn’t know; she had never met Sue Ryder.

Does any reader know?


Infuriating case no 93: It is beneath the value threshold for the register of interests, so I might as well declare here in the Henley Standard that I recently received a lovely present of a bottle of shampoo. It is called Nirvana Natural shampoo, and it is the victim of what I believe is an injustice. It is made by a very nice and enterprising couple, who live in South Oxfordshire, and who are selling more and more of it quite by coincidence, it turns out already to be the favoured brand of my secretary Melissa. The trouble is that the name Nirvana has been swiped by someone else. They are producing very similar bottles, full of cream and other lotions, and selling them to supermarkets. So you have Nirvana shampoo next to Nirvana hand lotion on the shelf, and the punter will assume, quite wrongly, that they are made by the same firm. It is infamous: I have appealed to the bureaucrats in the Office of Fair Trading but where are the bureaucrats when you really need them?

**Hurrah to Nirvana Natural! Best in the land, keep going strong-mcw**


Infuriating case number 94: A woman came to see me about a year ago in quite a state, because she had been defrauded of £60,000. The more I listened to her, the more convinced I was that she was telling the truth, and that justice was not being done. The trouble was that the Crown Prosecution Service could not continue with the case, because the alleged miscreant was so ill that it would be dangerous to try him. That struck me as absurd. The man was still around, still alive: why not try him? I thought of that nonagenarian Nazi war criminal they put on trial in Italy the other day. Admittedly, the defendant contrived to croak as soon as he arrived in the witness box but at least the prosecuting authorities made an effort. So I went back to the CPS, and I tried and I tried, and still the answer was the same.

Proceedings could not go ahead, on grounds of ill health. So a probable swindler is still at large and unpunished, and the poor lady has had no redress. If, like Ernest Saunders, he stages a miraculous recovery, I hope the CPS will know what to do because otherwise I will remind them.


Now is not the time or the place for my meditations on the fate of David Blunkett or the role of the Spectator’s publisher in his fall, not least since I suspect most people must be as heartily sick as I am of the whole business. Let us all hope, as we look ahead to an election year that Britain will be blessed by intelligent argument that is genuinely dedicated to the improvement of the country. Douglas Hurd said the other day that as a country we suffer from strong journalists and weak politicians. It would be nice to see a change in the balance of that relationship, and fewer capitulations, by politicians, to the media.

17 thoughts on “Constituency News Round Up”

  1. Invade Sydney Nick (today is nice 33 degree; tomorrow 36 Degree Celsium), however the heat does create different kinds of edges especially if you happen to be on a railway platform:

    An irate CityRail guard had to be restrained by workmates when he tried to punch an elderly passenger in Sydney’s Mortdale Iasked what was the defect and he wanted to know whether I was thick and told me to ‘use my f—ing brain During the melee, a CityRail staffer was also seen trying to prevent a passenger from recording the incident using a mobile phone camera …

  2. Jozef – Sydney certainly does have an embattled rail network!

    Nick – your sense of humour is latent and about to bubble up to the surface any moment now

    Barry – how about you go for a face to face with Boris then post a comment – here – on the result? as a constituent you can fix a surgery time via the local office (tel 01491 612 852)

    Keep sunny side up – and keep asking and challenging us – do please

  3. I realise Melissa that this is a blog aimed at a constituency peppered with conservative families…

    In order to keep the sunny side up, it is my duty to suggest to one and all European male tourists (I gather UK is still OK about being part of Europe) to take a leaf out of this Swiss lesson. (4K and he got off lightly, just do it … be on the right side of the Australian law and leave your salamis at home)

    Man Fined for Hiding his Salami,4057,11767965%255E13762,00.html


  4. Jozef: Despite Henley’s none-more-middle-class reputation, a sizeable part of the population is what one would call “working class” before we evolved into Tony’s Classless society.

    9,300 voted Labour in Henley in 2001, and over 12,000 couldn’t bear to use their votes and went Lib Dem.

    It’s the mix of people from all backgrounds which made Henley one of the better places I’ve lived in.

  5. Dear Melissa

    I thought Boris might like to know that I have just heard a Conservative Councillor for Barnet (Brian Coleman) on the Jeremy Vine show singing the praises of a rubbish recycling scheme they are piloting whereby failure to comply may render an offender to a £1000 fine and a criminal record. Regardless of the merits of the scheme it beggars belief that a Tory Councillor is going on the radio to promote more illiberal intefering schemes when they are far too many coming from labour.

    It’s bad enough that Michael Howard will not oppose ID cards and that only a few brave Tories stood up to him (not including I am afraid to say your own Boris).

    Has the Tory Party got a collective death wish?

  6. Dear (go with all strength.. etc) gwelaf,

    We will analyse your points – on the face of it they seem to make a lot of sense: we do stand for freedom from interfering schemes.

    Let’s just hope that the death threat doesn’t materialise and that the Party will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.

  7. It’s not possible for MPs to abstian from a vote in the commons.

    There are many reasons why they might not vote.
    I think it would be good if they were allowed to abstain or at least make it known they chose not to vote. It could be done in tandem with a system for recording which MPs were in the house during which debates (which would need a technological solution to implement) then we could have a list of those “present but not voting” – effectivly abstaining on the record.

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