I'm in Wales for the Easter weekend, looking at the storms over the Irish Sea, thinking about the storms in Parliament.
I have lunch with a friend and we talk about the future of the BBC after the election. If there's a Tory government, I have great concerns about how they handle public sector broadcasting. In the afternoon I spend some time writing my book about Parliament. My publishing deadline is in July; one wrestles with material, trying to get a sense of urgency.
I drive back to London for my final time at Parliament before retiring. I spend the morning preparing for my last parliamentary speech on Thursday on the subject of Gaza and Palestine, which is one of my foremost preoccupations. The election is officially called and we hear about the dissolution of Parliament. I hear the PM was in my constituency but I have no idea. I think about how quick New Labour is both with the parachute and the airbrush: you can be airbrushed out just as quickly as you can be parachuted in. I thought it might have been revenge from the last election when I positively forbade the then PM to come on to my patch during the election. We start on the so-called wash-up. It becomes apparent just how badly we have handled Stoke. Here we had my old friend Mark Fisher having to stand down, creating the perfect opportunity to elect a strong local candidate to take on the BNP and we parachute in a decent academic and predictably the local people are outraged.
I do an interview with Jim Doherty in Parliament. He's doing a reflective piece on people leaving. We talk about my career and debates and he induces a sense of tristesse in me for the first time. I go to Prime Minister's Questions where I have a final question about criminal justice legislation which I thought might amuse, but I fail to catch the Speaker's eye. We have the Digital Economy Bill, which is the important matter that's left. Outrageous, this attempt to run this controversial Bill through a second reading after the election has been announced. I go to the constituency in the afternoon in order to deal with the overhang before I leave. In the evening I return to Parliament specifically to vote against the Government on the amendments on the Bill.
I go to my constituency to make sure that my constituents are not left in a complete state of limbo and spend the day clearing things up there.
I spend the morning on my book and in the afternoon I go to the West Country where I am attending a wedding tomorrow. I have been feeling pretty relieved about leaving Parliament until I spoke to Jim on Wednesday; he can be very elegiac when he wants. Sadly, I think we have not handled this dissolution well but my parliamentary career has been a very special time. It's the greatest Parliament in the world and it's been an enormous privilege to be part of it.Reuse content