I went to Bosnia Herzegovina representing the Conservative Party to train potential female candidates for their General Election in 2018. I am interested in the political system in Bosnia Herzegovina as it is very different to the British electoral system. Theirs is a system of proportions with the candidates coming from a single list that is closed three months before the election. The rules surrounding the list means that 40% of the listed candidates will be women and a percentage will be youth. There are different challenges around women’s selection given that there are guarantees of a number getting on the list.
The candidates that I met on the workshop are highly educated women with very few being from a business background and some still students. The history of Bosnia Herzegovina impacts on the economy and industry of the country. One of the problems highlighted during my three day stay was that Bosnia is becoming a country of old people. One of the young candidates impressed me with her passion for the country and desire to be a candidate so that she could do something about the exodus of young people from her country.
Gio, David and I were very impressed by the female candidates when they pitched to us at the mock selection panel. Some things are the same in Bosnia as the UK, how can a woman stand out against fierce competition?
The workshop or training only worked because we had a fantastic translator Dragan. I was happy to give him a new word which he hadn’t heard before, hustings.
The session concluded with a visit from Senad Šepić MP who had flown in from London that morning. I hope to visit Bosnia Herzegovina again and see how the country develops and progresses.
I attended an interesting talk by Ziya Meral on Turkey hosted by the Conservative Christian Fellowship and with colleagues from Conservative Friends of Turkey.
Ziya bey gave fascinating insights into the political situation in Turkey with the most recent events of the failed coup and how Turkey has evolved historically. Ziya bey’s analogy of a failed betrothal representing Turkey’s relationship with the EU was amusing. The wedding isn’t going to take place but they don’t want to give up on the engagement.
Points that I took away from the talk:
- The AK Party has provided freedoms to Christians living in Turkey
- The government has the support of the electorate with 45% of the vote and an 87% turnout at the last election
- Turkey has a thriving economy and is not reliant on the EU
- Turkey has opened 29 embassies in Africa and good trade
- Turkey has the third biggest army in the world and the second biggest in NATO
- The war against ISIS is being won
- Turkey is providing refuge to millions and the demographics of the population is changing
- 3 million Syrians live in Turkey
- The situation in Libya will be the next concern in the middle East
The event closed with prayer and a final message of how we can think more positively about Turkey.
After what was described by a Friends of Parks representative as a “painful eight months” there was relief at Overview and Scrutiny Committee yesterday when it was announced that fourteen parks in Enfield would continue to be locked.
A decision to cease locking parks was taken by Cllr Chris Bond, Cabinet Member for Environment on 3rd October 2014 and called in to Overview and Scrutiny Committee by the Conservative Group. The decision whether to lock parks was deferred until now to enable consultation with the Friends of Parks groups. During the consultation period the council has seen a change in Cabinet Member for Environment to Cllr Daniel Anderson.
It was noted at the meeting that the council’s decision and the ensuing months had bruised the relationship between council and Friends of Parks groups. It was acknowledged that the volunteers who make up the Friends groups provide an invaluable service to the parks and community. In Volunteering Week this decision is a victory for democracy and for people power.
During the run up to the General Election I’ve campaigned across the 3 constituencies in Enfield.
There is no question in my mind that of the 3 constituencies Edmonton has by far the dirtiest streets in the borough and to be frank it’s an utter disgrace!
I’ve already started working with local Conservative councillors to address the situation and we’ve had success in getting the local authority to clear builders rubbish.
In Edmonton there are three stations which will join Transport for London (TFL) as part of the overground franchise awarded to TFL. The stations are Edmonton Green, Bush Hill Park and Silver Street.
To mark the stations joining the TFL network I joined Boris Johnson with Nick de Bois in Enfield North at Turkey Street Station as the station will also be joining TFL along with the Edmonton stations on May 31st.
Joining the TFL network will bring benefits for train users and the local area. Increasing the frequency of trains per hour and improving the service will benefit the local community leading to job creation, helping the high street, smaller businesses and the local economy.
I look forward to the improvement for the Edmonton economy and community.
In his inimitable fashion Boris arrived by train, badged out using his Oyster card before greeting his audience of activists and journalists.
On the same train was a photographer from a Turkish newspaper there to photograph Boris in Enfield North and who refused to believe that Boris is of Turkish descent. I think he believes it now after hearing it from the man himself. Boris’ great grandfather was Ali Kemal, a journalist and also a minister the Ottoman Empire .
I was invited to attend a speech given by the Prime Minister outlining the Conservative Education policy for the next government.
I am passionate about a good education for all no matter what your background and I am convinced that the Conservative commitment to education will give every child the best start in life.
My twins, Harry and Poppy, will start primary school this September and I know that the policies proposed under a Conservative Government will give my young children the best education possible. I agree with David Cameron when he said “like every other parent in the land I don’t want to settle for second best”.
I have been a governor at a state secondary school for the last ten years because I care about our children’s education. I am now Chair of Governors and my role is to challenge the school. It is a role that I take seriously as no child should be left behind. All Head teachers, teachers, staff, governors, students and parents want the same thing, a good education for the children.
I believe a Conservative Government can provide the best start for every child regardless of where they are from.
Yesterday I had to take my young son to Barnet A&E after he ran into a table at my mum’s house. It was horrible with a cut just above his eye. There was a lot of blood, but he was a brave boy. My son was treated very well and came home with some paper stitches.
Where at home I would have gone to North Middlesex Hospital, the events of yesterday underlined how much we need a good health service across the whole borough.
Right now we have had the best news in years with the announcement of a brand new hospital at Chase Farm, true we have not got the A&E back, but with a huge state of the art facility, it is possible for the future.
What upsets me is the deliberate cynical opposition of the Labour Party, who choose to forget their role in closing the A&E at Chase Farm Hospital and is matched only by their apparent political desire to run down the new hospital.
It seems that Labour do not want a plan that includes the possibility of restoring A&E services, unless they can claim the credit for it. The Labour Council voted against the proposals at a recent meeting. They should be supporting this fantastic new hospital as it is in the best interests of the community.
We need to see Chase Farm facilities improved, we want a hospital that can reduce waiting times and increase the number of operations being performed. In this day and age it is unacceptable for patients to continue to be wheeled out between buildings for operations.
Friends of Parks are to be commended on their voluntary work that helps support the green spaces for the wider community to enjoy. Friends dedicate their time to doing the work of monitoring and maintaining parks that in the past would have been paid employment from the Local Authority.
It is therefore disappointing to learn that Friends of Bury Lodge Park, who had offered to work with the Council to maintain and improve a natural piece of land for the benefit of the community had their offer rudely rejected.
The Local Authority have supported Thames 21 into turning an oasis for wildlife and habitat into a wasteland. The new proposals for the land are hoping to recreate something that nature had already established.
The Council rely on these groups to maintain parks and recreational areas and should be working in partnership with them and not be ignoring their views and contributions. The Council claim to consult residents but they should review their methods as residents at a recent ward forum made it clear that they had not been consulted about changes to Council land.
My first party conference was a great experience. I came away feeling very motivated and determined that I would work hard for the Conservatives so that we win the General Election.
It wasn’t all about listening to great speakers although there were some great moments. For example I am not convinced that Michael Gove has a Bichon Frisée puppy dog called Snowy but it was a very funny moment and it left an image of Michael Gove stroking the dog in not too dissimilar a fashion to a 007 baddie. Don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of Michael Gove! What the Chief Whip said was that he would trust his Bichon Frisée puppy dog Snowy over Ed Miliband to face down Putin, very funny.
Other memorable moments were when David Cameron imitated William Hague and then went on to move the audience near to tears by his personal experiences of the NHS. The Mayor of London was, as expected, hilarious even if the audience were slightly concerned that they might get hit by a brick.
I managed to do some practical work whilst at conference and attended the Road Trip 2015 to deliver leaflets and I manned the phone for Kris Hopkins MP with my friend Tanya Graham, the PPC for Bradford South.
I got involved in debate over childcare and wanted to get involved in education policy debate but it was so popular that it became impossible.
I attended other talks that I didn’t have enough experience to debate such as CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. You probably think it was a man who persuaded me to go, but it wasn’t it was a Yorkshire lass! Very interesting and I’m sure it’s popularity was helped by the bottled ale being served.
A few pics from a memorable conference.