Lunch with... Rob Flello
Rob Flello is Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South and former shadow justice minister, a role in which victims and youth justice formed part of his brief. He served in that position for three years, and is now concentrating on pitching some new justice proposals.
The Vincent Rooms
A big, bright dining hall run by students of Westminster Kingsway College, who are trained by professional chefs and maître d’s. The food is delicious and the menu changes on a daily basis, making this somewhat of a hidden treasure of Westminster.
Cream of cauliflower soup, curry oil.
Main Smoked venison chorizo, nutmeg spinach, carrot and foie gras purée, berny potatoes, juniper jus.
Restorative justice A [justice policy proposal] I’m currently looking at is the issue of restorative justice. The consensus quite rightly is that it is a good idea. My angle is that, because it’s such a good idea, there is a danger of trying to use it in all circumstances, even ones where actually it’s not appropriate. So for example, there have been some pretty horrendous statistics around rape and serious sexual violence, where the restorative justice approach used by police, in terms of police cautions, was completely inappropriate. My concern is that restorative justice is seen as the panacea: no it isn’t. It’s got to be used very carefully… It’s certainly not cheap, it’s certainly not the panacea. What the Labour Party should be saying is restorative justice is an extremely valuable tool, but much as you wouldn’t use a hammer to put a screw into the wall, actually it’s about using the right tool in the right circumstances.
Puppies I’m doing a lot of work with dog charities around puppy farming – it sounds all sweet and lovely but actually the reality is horrific. It’s a kind of commercial exploitation of dogs for huge financial gain. You’ve got these farms with 300 breeding dogs producing litter after litter after litter, quite often in atrocious welfare conditions…There’s a massive problem. I was never particularly an animal person, until we adopted a rescue German Shepherd from a local sanctuary. Absolutely beautiful dog.
Colombia I’ve got a real passion to work against Colombia’s appalling human rights conditions, where the government will just publically declare that the opposition leaders or trade unionists must be terrorists… literally thousands of people – human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, university lecturers, peasant farmers, anybody who speaks out about the regime – find themselves assassinated. What’s strange is we speak out quite rightly on the appalling situation in Syria and other areas, but nobody seems to mention Colombia. I’m determined to raise this but I don’t always get success on my own side. On the free-trade agreement vote, our side decided to abstain, which was the wrong decision in my view. It sends a message to the Colombian authorities that we’re prepared to turn a blind eye.
Being a Catholic MP I don’t think it’s difficult at all [to reconcile politics with religion] because it’s one thing that underpins social justice, the sense that there is no real charity without justice, that our only proper place in the world is to help others. Where it becomes difficult is that there are a lot of people in politics who don’t think you should mention your, or have, religious views. And there is a very aggressive secular agenda. But also it’s very easy to dismiss somebody’s views simply by saying ‘they’re a religious lunatic and therefore we can ignore them’ and not to engage in a debate. It’s a pathetic shortcut really.
Perfect for A cheap, delicious lunch.
Not suitable for Those wanting an intimate space.
The cost Mains from £9-£12 each.
To book a table at Vincent Rooms, call 020 7802 8391