This article is from the May issue of Total Politics
Stewart Jackson, the Conservative MP for Peterborough who resigned as a PPS to Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson over the EU referendum vote. He’s now a member of the public accounts committee.
Quilon - Michelin-starred Quilon offers the finest south-west coastal Indian cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood and fish. Reopened after a major refurbishment.
Starter Kothu lamb, chargrilled scallops and lotus stem, and colocasia chop.
Main course Baked black cod, prawn masala, chicken roast, crispy okra, lemon rice, Malabar paratha.
We drank Rosé des Tourelles, 2001, Bordeaux Rosé.
The health bill It was a headache – it was probably a mistake to allow the pause, and the ministerial team was fighting its own shadow over that – but you’ve got to hand it to Andrew Lansley. I’m loyal to him because he’s a local Cambridgeshire MP and a decent man. It was a difficult job. We thought we would put the health policy issue in a box on the shelf at the general election, and just say that we were going to spend more. Then they took the box down – and it was a Pandora’s box full of risk registers and opposition from professional bodies. We found ourselves in a trench war we weren’t expecting.
The Speaker He’s making progress, building bridges with the Conservative Party after a rocky start. To regress into a Stevie Wonder-Paul McCartney ‘ebony and ivory’ kaleidoscope nation hasn’t done a lot. Cameron was looking daggers [at the Queen’s Jubilee event in Parliament]. I’ve never seen a face like that.
Resigning as a PPS over Europe I couldn’t support the government line in opposing the notion. I looked Cameron in the eye – he went to the last PPS meeting I ever attended (he regularly cancelled them, but, funnily enough, managed to find time to have one that day). I asked him, “Why have you put me in this position? Why are we imposing a three-line whip on a non-binding informative motion?” And he replied, “Because it’s got the word ‘referendum’ in it” (he seemed to have an allergy to ‘referendum’). It was a serious error of judgment – he lost 81 colleagues, some of whom are going to be off the reservation permanently now.
Party promotion Like many, I regret this drift towards tokenism. The government is saying, “We’ve got to have more ethnic minorities/more women/more gay people”. It’s not about that. It’s about having the right policies and authentic, credible people as spokesmen. More northerners. There are some really talented women in the Conservative Party… but they don’t believe in tokenism.
Gay marriage [UKIP could be a threat to the Party] if we start proposing barmy policies like gay marriage. It’s a needless provocation. I’m not anti-gay, I’m pro-faith community. People were told in 2003 that civil partnership was the definitive line – fairness and equity. My fear is that the first Anglican church, synagogue or mosque that says, “It offends our principles and the basic tenets of our religion’s faith”, will be countered by the zealots of Stonewall moving in, saying, “We’re going to sue under the Equalities Act and the Human Rights Act”. Cameron said at the election that there would be a full consultation on the efficacy of the policy, but this is a consultation on how we can carry the policy out, which is completely different. It’s not plausible. No one gives a monkey’s about it. Some senior party people have told him that he’ll have civil disobedience and an estrangement of faith communities. Is so-called ‘equal civil marriage’ a priority? I’d say not.
A Westminster lunch or dinner that transports you outside of the bubble. A good one for foodies.
Not suitable for
Those who dislike fish or seafood. The scallops, prawns and cod are definite highlights.
Main courses start at £12. A set lunch is available.
To book a table at Quilon, visit www.quilon.co.uk or call 020 7821 1899