In the UK, the annual budget statement is the Parliamentary event of the year for the British public.

This year, it took place on Wednesday, March 3:

In the old days, many people bought a newspaper the following day for the details on taxes.

Now everything is online and many more people are tuning in to one of the two Parliamentary channels to watch proceedings.

Why is this so important? As Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak says, this involves taxpayers’ money. It’s not the government’s, it’s ours:

This year, he held the first-ever press conference on the budget:

Here is a bit of history on the UK budget:

In modern times, the Chancellor displays his ministerial red box for an obligatory photo op before going to Parliament:

Despite what the Opposition said on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak put in a lot of work, including television interviews:

He held an online meeting with those most affected by the coronavirus lockdown and the loss of income:

No one could have imagined that when he gave his first budget, on March 11, 2020, one that was full of optimism and big plans, how things would change within one year:

By the way, the projected coronavirus spending for this year should fall dramatically compared with 2020:

On the day the Chancellor lays out the budget, the Chairman of the Ways and Means committee presides, rather than the Speaker of the House.

Since last year’s budget, Dame Eleanor Laing, also a Deputy Speaker of the House, was appointed to head this committee:

In the next video, the delightful Dame Eleanor explains what the budget is and how it is debated in Parliament after the Chancellor presents it:

Coronavirus has brought its own challenges. Normally, every MP packs into the Commons for the budget. This year, socially distancing was enforced. Most MPs participated in the initial debate virtually:

Here she is with her team. Masks are obligatory on the Parliamentary estate these days:

This is the video of the coverage as it happened. Click to watch it:

Below are the highlights.

Much of it concerns economic recovery from the pandemic:

Most taxes are frozen for now as well as personal tax thresholds:

There will also be a new taskforce to help prevent fraud in coronavirus claims:

These are designed to fit around Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap to exit the coronavirus crisis:

There will be help for small-to-medium businesses:

And help for technology businesses:

There is a new visa programme to attract the brightest and best talent:

I do hope that our education system is improved so that we do not need to keep looking abroad for talent. Only 30 years ago, Britain’s schools were among the best in the world. How times have changed.

You can get more detail about the budget from The Telegraph. One thing to note is that the inheritance tax threshold has not changed since 2009. It is still £325,000 per person.

Finally, in an exciting post-EU development, the Chancellor announced eight new Freeports, where favourable customs rules and tax reliefs will apply, furthering trade with other nations:

Teesside will also be the new ‘campus’ for the UK’s treasury, just up the road from the Chancellor:

The hospitality industry, which has been closed since December — and longer in some places with regional lockdowns — welcomed the budget measures:

The director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) was also satisfied:

I am cautiously optimistic, but I felt so much happier with the 2020 budget, when we were on top of the world.

For Labour and the SNP, the spending didn’t go far enough. However, as Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister and a Conservative, said in 1983:

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Rishi Sunak is attempting to navigate Britain’s worst financial crisis since the early 1700s.

Let’s hope his plan works.

The coronavirus lockdown has certainly contributed to the rising ratings for BBC Parliament and parliamentlive.tv.

More people are tuning in and the BBC have restyled the chyron on their screen to make it more user friendly. We now know what the debate topic is as soon as we tune in.

However, ratings for televised coverage of Parliament began climbing in 2015, when David Cameron was Prime Minister.

On February 12, 2016, Total Politics reported (emphases mine, apart from the italics):

BBC Parliament has reported a record high of an average of two million viewers a month for the first time ever in 2015.

This is an increase of 150,000 viewers each month on the 2014 figures – and it marks the first time the BBC’s dedicated parliamentary channel has broken the two million viewers per month threshold.

The channel has more live coverage than ever before and covers proceedings from Westminster, the European parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the Scottish Parliament.

BBC Parliament controller Peter Knowles told TP:

“Providing more live coverage of the key political debates and discussions has meant that during 2015, a dramatic year in politics, we’ve seen a surge in people using BBC Parliament to follow proceedings.

New camera positions are also giving our coverage a fresh feel as this parliamentary term is now in full flow.”

Apparently the new camera angles, brought in last year, represent the first such change since 1989. According to a BBC spokesman, the new camera angles “bring audiences closer to the key exchanges, debates and votes”.

So much for the public being turned off by politicians

In 2020, in a review of the 2017-2019 Parliament under Theresa May’s premiership and with John Bercow as egotistical Speaker of the House, The Institute for Government stated:

Members of the public can now view parliamentary proceedings on a variety of platforms. Run by the parliamentary Digital Service, parliamentlive.tv is the most comprehensive source of parliamentary video and audio, publishing recordings of all events – including meetings of select committees – taking place in public.[24] The site allows members of the public to watch events live, access video on demand and search archive footage going back to December 2007. It is also possible to download clips from parliamentlive.tv – with nearly one thousand clips downloaded on average each week between 5 March 2018 and 30 December 2019. These clips are often shared by MPs, interest groups and political parties on social media. BBC Parliament also carries live coverage of key parliamentary activity.

Parliamentary tensions over Brexit were a massive driver of viewers for Parliamentlive.tv

Average daily viewer numbers increased over 150% from 6,552 per day in 2017 to 16,607 per day in 2019. BBC Parliament also saw record viewing figures – the only BBC TV channel experiencing an increase in viewers. An average of one million adults tuned into the channel for at least three minutes each week during 2019, with viewing figures exceeding two million in several key weeks. One commentator described the channel as “the ratings hit that’s Big Brother meets 24 – with added Bercow”.[25]

Controversial and compelling Brexit debates continued when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

On Wednesday, September 4, 2019, the Radio Times reported:

BBC Parliament hit an all-time ratings high on Tuesday as Boris Johnson suffered his first defeat as Prime Minister, with MPs voting to take control of the House of Commons in order to force a vote on a bill that will prevent a no deal Brexit.

Some 1.5m viewers tuned in across the course of the day, marking the biggest 24 hours for the channel on record.

The drama in Westminster continues into Wednesday, as opposition parties and Tory rebels lead a debate on Labour politician Hilary Benn’s bill to block a no deal Brexit …

The channel is providing live coverage from the House of Commons throughout the ongoing Brexit crisis, and it is captivating the nation – even drawing viewers away from the beloved Great British Bake Off, which aired its latest episode on Channel 4.

The Radio Times article included two tweets, the first of which is from British television’s most famous money pundit, Martin Lewis:

Last year:

Even on less contentious days, the debates can be absorbing, such as a recent closing debate about the threat to driving tests in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, not far from London. I watched it while preparing dinner when it aired, and it was compelling. Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges, who is actress/former MP Glenda Jackson’s son, tweeted:

Once one starts watching Parliament in action, it is difficult to stop. We get to know the MPs and predict what they will say. With coronavirus, we have the added bonus of seeing what the interiors of their houses look like.

The day’s order papers are on the PARLY and House of Commons Twitter feeds:

The most recent development in broadcasting from the Houses of Parliament is a new fit-for-purpose gallery, which Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle visited on Tuesday, March 2, 2021:

In a further development, Chancellor for the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will be giving the first-ever press conference about the budget on national television following his statement in Parliament on March 3. Guido Fawkes has more:

After presenting his budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the Chancellor will scarper over to No. 10 to take questions on it from the public and journalists from 5pm. The televised event will be the first of its kind on Budget Day …

More on that and the budget tomorrow.

Those of us who read about former President Trump’s impeachment trial hope that his lawyer Michael van der Veen is having better days.

I’ll recap later in this post.

He did a great job for his client and had a gimlet eye on the facts.

He had to correct Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) for misquoting Trump:

His closing argument was excellent.

In one of these clips, he says that House impeachment managers sent him evidence on the first day of the trial, rather than before. Proceedings had already started by the time they sent van der Veen the email with the evidence.

Trump’s accusers did not make reference to any laws or the US Constitution:

Van der Veen spoke about the six months of civil unrest that preceded what took place at the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6. Last year’s unrest was actually encouraged by a number of Democrats:

He rightly condemned all the unrest, from last year to January 6, but asked how the United States could find itself in such a position:

He concluded that President Trump said nothing that could have incited a riot on January 6:

In fact, the mêlée had already started before Trump encouraged his rally goers to walk to the Capitol. With so many people in the nation’s capital that day, it would have taken about a half hour to walk to the Capitol building from the Ellipse, where Trump was speaking.

In any event, Trump was acquitted.

That was partly because someone on the impeachment managers’ team doctored the evidence. Two pieces of tampering that emerged in the news were 1) a tweet which was doctored so that 2020 read 2021 and 2) a blue tick mark added to a Twitter user’s account.

Van der Veen said there was more falsified evidence.

A CBS News interviewer, Lana Zak, was mystified that van der Veen would find falsified Twitter evidence egregious and unethical.

He was clearly displeased with her reaction and told her so (start at 2 minutes in):

Howie Carr made some excellent observations about this on Monday, February 15 (emphases mine):

What set van der Veen off was when this anchor cupcake by the name of Lana Zak (never heard of her before, how about you?) tried to pooh-pooh the falsification of evidence by the so-called House managers.

In case you missed it, and you probably did, they put blue check marks on Twitter accounts that didn’t have them (to somehow add credibility to meaningless, stupid comments). They also changed the dates on various postings, and they doctored video.

In other words, the Democrats falsified evidence, just as the FBI did on Carter Page in the application for search warrants in the secret FISA court.

And the Democrats (including of course See BS News) act like it’s no big deal, to try to frame somebody. I get it, it wasn’t a criminal trial so technically you don’t have to worry about niceties like due process, hearsay, Sixth Amendment rights to confront accusers etc. But still, is it proper to falsify evidence, and then, when you get busted red-handed, shrug it off because you were only doing it to a Republican?

Whatever happened to the American Civil Liberties Union?

Unfortunately, things were hotting up at the van der Veen residence that same day.

How horrible:

Fox News asked the lawyer about it during a post-acquittal interview that Saturday. He said that he didn’t want to talk about it. His office was also ‘under siege’, as he put it. The Gateway Pundit has more on the story, along with the video from Fox News.

I hope things have calmed down for him and his family.

What an appalling state of affairs.

The Left, including the media, should be ashamed of themselves. ‘Shame’, however, is a word and a concept unknown to them.

President Trump spoke at CPAC on Sunday, February 28, 2021, in Orlando.

Anyone missing his rallies will enjoy his closing address, which lasted about an hour. I watched RSBN’s coverage, which was excellent. The video covers the whole day, so go to the 8-hour mark to see the speech:

UPDATE ON THE VIDEO — March 4:

For now, it is available from the American Conservative Union and a well respected news site:

Liberty Nation has a good version of the transcript. I’ve made a few edits in the excerpts below. Emphases are mine.

President Trump began by thanking CPAC organisers Matt and Mercedes Schlapp. Mercedes Schlapp worked on Trump’s communications team during his presidency and also on his 2020 campaign. He also acknowledged Rush Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn:

Thank you very much and hello, CPAC. Do you miss me yet? A lot of things going on. To so many wonderful friends, conservatives, and fellow citizens in this room, and all across our country. I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together – we went through a journey like nobody else. There’s never been a journey like it, there’s never been a journey so successful. We began it together four years ago, and it is far from being over.

Our movement of proud, hard-working – and you know what this is? The hardest working people, hardworking American patriots – is just getting started. And in the end, we will win. We will win. We’ve been doing a lot of winning. As we gather this week, we’re in the middle of a historic struggle for America’s future, America’s culture, and America’s institutions, borders, and most cherished principles.

Our security, our prosperity, and our very identity as Americans is at stake – like, perhaps, at no other time. So, no matter how much the Washington establishment and the powerful special interests may want to silence us, let there be no doubt, we will be victorious, and America will be stronger and greater than ever before.

I want to thank my great friends, Matt and Mercedes Schlapp. Matt, thank you. Thank you, Mercedes. Thank you very much. And the American Conservative Union for hosting this extraordinary event. They’re talking about it all over the world. Matt, I know you don’t like that but that’s okay. All over the world. I also want to pay my love and respect to the great Rush Limbaugh, who is watching closely and smiling down on us. He’s watching and he’s loving it and he loves Kathryn. Kathryn, thank you for being here. So great. Thank you, Kathryn. He loved you, Kathryn, I will tell you that. Fantastic. Thank you, Kathryn, very much.

He put paid to rumours about a new political party. There will not be a new party. Trump aims to take over the Republican Party:

To each and every one of you here at CPAC, I am more grateful to you than you will ever know. We are gathered this afternoon to talk about the future of our movement, the future of our party, and the future of our beloved country for the next four years. The brave Republicans in this room will be at the heart of the effort to oppose the radical Democrats, the fake news media, and their toxic cancel culture – something new to our ears, cancel culture. And I want you to know that I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We will do what we’ve done right from the beginning, which is to win.

We’re not starting new parties. They kept saying, he’s going to start a brand-new party. We have the Republican Party. It’s going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. That was fake news, fake news. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s start a new party and let’s divide our vote so that you can never win – no, we’re not interested in that.

Mr. McLaughlin just gave me numbers that nobody’s ever heard of before, more popular than anybody – that’s all of us. Those are great numbers and I want to thank you very much. Those are incredible numbers. I came here and he was giving me 95%, 97%, 92%. I said they’re great, and I want to thank everybody in this room and everybody all throughout the country – throughout the world, if you want to really know the truth. Thank you.

We will be united and strong like never before. We will save and strengthen America and we will fight the onslaught of radicalism, socialism, and indeed it all leads to communism, once and for all. That’s what it leads to. You’ll be hearing more and more about that as we go along, but that’s what it leads to – you know that.

Not surprisingly, he spoke a lot about the disastrous Biden administration:

We all knew that the Biden administration was going to be bad, but none of us even imagined just how bad they would be and how far left they would go. He never talked about this. We would have those wonderful debates – he would never talk about this. We didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, actually.

His campaign was all lies. Talked about energy – I said, you know, this guy, actually he’s okay with energy. He wasn’t okay with energy. Wants to put you all out of business. He’s not okay with energy. He wants windmills – the windmills that don’t work when you need them.

Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history. Already, the Biden administration has proven that they are anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-borders, anti-energy, anti-women, and anti-science. In just one short month, we have gone from America First to America Last – you think about it, right? America last.

He spoke about the wall along the southern border, which requires closing the gaps in places:

We did such a good job; it all worked. Nobody’s ever seen anything like we did, and now he wants it all to go to hell. When I left office just six weeks ago, we had created the most secure border in U.S. history. We had built almost 500 miles of great border wall that helped us with these numbers, because once it’s up – you know they used to say a wall doesn’t it work well. You know what I’ve always said: walls and wheels, those are two things that will never change.

The wall has been amazing, it’s been incredible, and little sections of it to complete, they don’t want to complete it. They don’t want to complete little sections and certain little areas, they don’t want to complete, but it’s had an impact that nobody would have even believed. It’s amazing, considering that the Democrats’ number one priority was to make sure that the wall would never, ever get built – would never, ever happen. We’d never get financed – we got financed. We ended catch and release, ended asylum fraud, and brought illegal crossings to historic lows. When illegal aliens trespassed across our borders, they were promptly caught, detained, and sent back home. And these were some rough customers, I want to tell you – some rough customers were entering our country.

I had hoped he would have said ‘bad hombres’, as he did in 2016, but, perhaps wisely, he did not.

He continued:

It took the new administration only a few weeks to turn this unprecedented accomplishment into a self-inflicted humanitarian and national security disaster. By recklessly eliminating our border security measures, controls, all of the things that we put into place, Joe Biden has triggered a massive flood of illegal immigration into our country, the likes of which we have never seen before. They’re coming up by the tens of thousands. They’re all coming to take advantage of the things that he said, That’s luring everybody to come to America. And we’re one country, we can’t afford the problems of the world, as much as we’d love to – we’d love to help, but we can’t do that.

So they’re all coming because of promises and foolish words. Perhaps worst of all Joe Biden’s decision to cancel border security has single-handedly launched a youth migrant crisis that is enriching child smugglers, vicious criminal cartels, and some of the most evil people on the planet, you see it every day just turn on the news, you’ll see it every day.

Under my administration, we stopped the child smugglers. We dismantled the criminal cartels. We greatly limited drug and human trafficking to a level that nobody actually thought was possible and the wall helped us a lot. And we protected vulnerable people from the ravages of dangerous predators and that’s what they are dangerous, dangerous predators. But the Biden administration has put the vile coyotes back in business and is done so in a very, very big way.

Under the new administration, catch and release has been restored. Can you imagine? We worked so hard. Catch – you know what that is – you catch them, you take their name. They may be killers, they may be rapists, they may be drug smugglers. You take their name and you release them into our country. We did the opposite. We not only didn’t release them, we had them brought back to their country, illegal immigrants are now being apprehended and released along the entire southern border – just the opposite of what it was two months ago. They weren’t coming because they couldn’t get in. Once they think they can get in they’re coming, and they are coming at levels that you haven’t even seen yet – by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions, they’ll be coming.

The Biden administration is now actively expediting the admission of illegal migrants, enabling them to lodge frivolous asylum claims and admitting them by the thousands, and thousands and thousands a day; crowded together in unsanitary conditions despite the ongoing economic and public health crisis, COVID-19 – or, as I call it, the China virus.

He made a short announcement:

This alone should be reason enough for Democrats to suffer withering losses in the midterms and to lose the White House decisively four years from now. Actually, as you know, they just lost the White House, but it’s one of those things. But who knows, who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time, okay?

Trump said that his administration has already paid for the completion of the gaps in the wall. All that needs doing is the work itself:

Joe Biden defunded the border wall and stopped all future construction, even on small open sections that just needed to be finished up – routine little work. It’s already been bought. Wait ’til the contractors get to him and they say no, it costs us much more money not to finish this small section than if we finished it – that’s going to be nice. Wait ’til you see those bills start pouring in.

He talked about another amnesty, which is probable:

To top it all off, the Biden people are pushing a bill that would grant mass amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, while massively expanding chain migration – that’s where you come in and everybody comes in; your grandmother, your father, your mother, your brother, your cousins. They come in so easily. So crazy. It even requires that the U.S. government provide illegal border crossers with taxable funded lawyers. Anybody need a good lawyer? You can’t have one. They get the lawyers. They’re probably very good, too.

He then discussed coronavirus, beginning with schools that are still closed:

The Biden administration is actually bragging about the classroom education they are providing to migrant children on the border, while at the same time millions of American children are having their futures destroyed by Joe Biden’s anti-science, school closures. Think of it, we’re educating students on the border, but our own people, children of our citizens – citizens themselves – are not getting the education that they deserve.

There’s no reason whatsoever why the vast majority of young Americans should not be back in school, immediately. The only reason that most parents do not have that choice is because Joe Biden sold out America’s children to the teachers’ unions. His position is morally inexcusable – you know that. Joe Biden has shamefully betrayed America’s youth, and he is cruelly keeping our children locked in their homes. No reason for it whatsoever. They want to get out.

They’re cheating the next generation of Americans out of the future that they deserve – and they do deserve this future. They’re going to grow up, and they’re going to have a scar. It’s a scandal of the highest order and one of the most craven acts by any president in our lifetimes. It’s the teachers’ union – it’s the votes. And it shouldn’t happen and nobody has more respect for teachers than I do. And I’ll bet you a lot of the people within that union, they agree with everything I’m saying. Even The New York Times is calling out the Democrats.

The mental and physical health of these young people is reaching a breaking point. Tragically, suicide attempts have skyrocketed, and student depression is now commonplace and at levels that we’ve never seen before. The Democrats now say we have to pass their $1.9 trillion boondoggle to open schools, but a very small part of it has to do with that. You know where it’s going – it’s going to bail out badly run Democrat cities, so much of it. But billions of dollars for schools remain unspent from the COVID relief bills that were passed last year.

So on behalf of the moms, dads, and children of America, I call on Joe Biden to get the schools open and get them open now.

He talked about Operation Warp Speed’s success in obtaining coronavirus vaccines and treatment for the American people:

When I left office – and we’re very proud of this because this was something that they said could not be done; the FDA said it, everybody said it, and the article you read said it couldn’t be done, it would be years and years – I handed the new administration what everyone is now calling a modern-day medical miracle. Some say it’s the greatest thing to happen in hundreds of years. Two vaccines produced in record time with numerous others on the way, including the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that was approved just yesterday – and therapeutic relief also if you’re sick.

If you’re sick, we have things now that are incredible – what has taken place over the last year under our administration would have taken any other president at least five years and we got it done in nine months. Everyone says five years …

I pushed the FDA like they have never been pushed before. They told me that loud and clear. They have never been pushed like I push them. I didn’t like them at all, but once we got it done I said, I now love you very much.

What the Trump administration has done with vaccines has, in many respects, perhaps saved large portions of the world – not only our country but large portions of the world. Not only did we push the FDA far beyond what the bureaucrats wanted to do, we also put up billions and billions of dollars – ten billion – to produce the vaccines before we knew they were going to work. It was called a calculated bet or a calculated risk. We took a risk. Because if we didn’t do that, you still wouldn’t have the vaccines, you wouldn’t have them for a long time so think of that; we took this bet. We made a bet, because we thought we were on a certain track, but you’d be starting to make them right now. It’d be a long time before you ever saw. It takes 60 to 100 days to manufacture and inspect new doses. And that means that 100% of the increased availability that we have now was initiated by our administration

Joe Biden is only implementing the plan that we put in place. And if we had an honest media, which we don’t, they would say it loud and clear. By the time I left that magnificent house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, almost 20 million Americans had already been vaccinated – 1.5 million doses were administered on my final day alone. Yet Biden said, just a few days ago, that when he got here – meaning the White House – there was no vaccine. He said there’s no vaccine. Oh, good, say it again, Joe. Now, I don’t think he said that, frankly, in a malicious way – I really don’t. I actually believe he said that because he didn’t really know what the hell was happening.

Never let them forget this was us, we did this, and the distribution is moving along according to our plan – and it’s moving along really well. We had the military, what they’ve done – our generals, and all of the peoplewhat they’ve done is incredible. But remember, you know, we took care of a lot of people, including, I guess, on December 21 we took care of Joe Biden, because he got his shot, he got his vaccine – he forgot. It shows you how unpainful that vaccine shot is, so everybody go get your shot.

He spoke about his policies of peace:

When I left office, we had virtually ended the endless wars, these endless wars they go on forever. They go on forever. I would go to Dover and I would see caskets, coffins coming in, I’d see the parents and wives and husbands I would see the kids, endless wars 19 years in Afghanistan, we have it down to almost nothing left and I hear they might want to go back in Iraq, remember I used to say don’t go in, but if you’re going to go and keep the oil well we went in and we didn’t keep the oil.

We had made historic peace deals in the Middle East, like nobody thought were even possiblenot a drop of blood. By the way that one American soldier has been killed in Afghanistan in over a year, think of that, not one those troops have largely come home at the same time, the new administration unilaterally withdrew our crippling sanctions on Iran foolishly giving away all of America’s leverage before negotiations have even begun. Leave the sanctions, negotiate.

Then he addressed the Biden administration’s fawning attitude towards the WHO and China:

And another horrendous surrender: he agreed to get back into the World Health Organization for approximately $500 million a year which is what we were paying. When I withdrew from the WHO and you know the whole story with that they called it badly. They really are puppets for China. They called and they wanted us to stay in. I said, ‘How much are we paying, approximately $500 million? How much is China paying … in terms of population country?’ ‘Sir, they’re paying $39 million.’ I said, ‘Why are we paying 500 million and they’re paying 39?’ I can tell you why. Because the people that made the deal is stupid. That’s why.

So, so, and I had no idea how popular was we I didn’t even know if I would be able to politically because people were so happy when I did get out. But I said so we went in, we could get it for 39 million, which is what China not 500 million, which is what we were stupidly paying and they said, We can make a deal we want you to go in, we can make a deal. Okay, and I did, I decided not to do it. We could have had it for 39, we could have had it for the same as China, and they decide now to go back into the World Health Organization and pay 500 million. What the hell is wrong with them?

He talked about the Paris Climate Accord:

Just like Iran and the World Health Organization Joe Biden put the United States back into the very unfair and very costly Paris Climate Accord without negotiating a better deal. They wanted us so badly back in. I’ll tell you they wanted us. I was getting called from all of the countries: ‘You must come back into the Paris Accord’. I said, ‘Tell me why. Give me one good reason.’ First of all, China doesn’t kick in for 10 years, Russia goes by an old standard which was not a clean standard and other countries, but we get hit right from the beginning when it cost us. Hundreds of 1000s and millions of jobs; it was a disaster.

But they go back in. I could have made an unbelievable deal and got back in but I didn’t want to do that, surrendering millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to all of these other countries, almost all of them that were in the deal, so they have favorable treatment. We don’t have favorable treatment and we just had we’re going back in to go back in, they wanted to so badly. You couldn’t negotiate if you wanted to go back in, which, frankly we have … the cleanest water and everything else that we’ve ever had.

He discussed Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the folly of wind power and the price of petrol over the past few weeks:

One of his first official acts, which was incredible, because, again, he talked about energy. He never said he was going to do this. He cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, destroying not the 8000 or the 9000 or the 11,000 jobs that you hear, but 42,000 great paying jobs on just about day one, right? He never talked about that during a debate, because he wouldn’t have gotten away with it …

We cannot let this stuff continue to go on, but one of my proudest accomplishments as president was to make America energy independent. The United States became the number one energy superpower, number one. Number one, bigger than Saudi Arabia, bigger than Russia by a lot. We left them all in the dust

How bad is wind power? So, I talked about it all the time …

The wind isn’t blowing. I don’t believe we’ll have any electricity … It’s such an important such an expensive form of energy. It’s so bad for the environment, it kills the birds, it destroys the landscapes. And remember, these are structural columns with fans on them, they wear out, and when they were out all over the country you see them, nobody takes them down, they’re rotting, they’re rusting. How this is environmentally good for our country?

And it costs, many, many times more than natural gas … [Natural gas] can fuel our great factories. Wind can’t do that and, and solar, I love solar but it doesn’t have the capacity to do what we have to do to make America great again. Sorry, it just doesn’t happen under the radical Democrat policies.

The price of gasoline has already surged 30% since the election, and we’ll go to $5 $6 $7 and even higher. So enjoy that when you go to the pump, because it’ll be about $200 to fill up your van … It’s a shame what’s happening, energy prices are going to go through the roof, and that includes your electric bills. That includes any bill having to do with energy our biggest costs.

We will now be relying on Russia and the Middle East for oil and they talk about Russia, Russia, Russia. What’s better than what this guy’s done for Russia?

He deplored what is happening to women’s sports:

Joe Biden and the Democrats are even pushing policies that would destroy women’s sports … Hate to say that, ladies, but a lot of new records are being shattered. … Now, young girls and women arebeing forced to compete against those who are biological males

Now I think it’s crazy. I think it’s just crazy what’s happening. We must protect the integrity of women’s sports, so important. Controversial. Somebody said, ‘Well, that’s gonna be very controversial’. I said, ‘That’s okay’.

He defined Trumpism, a word he says he did not coin. However, he defended this new movement and pointed to his administration’s record:

Many people have asked what is Trumpism, a new term being used more and more. I’m hearing that term more and more, I didn’t come up with it. But what it means is great deals, great trade deals, great ones

Did you see grain prices and grain sales are at an all time high? We are at an all time high … We did a lot of work with the tariffs and all these things that we had to do to get it and now the farmers are doing greatthey’re setting records.

It means low taxes and eliminating job killing regulations. Trumpism, it means strong borders, but people coming into our country based on a system of merit … It means no riots in the streets, it means law enforcement. It means very strong protection for the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms. It means support for the forgotten men and women who have been taken advantage of for so many years, and they were doing great.

They were doing great before that horrible thing from China came in and hit us, and now they’re starting to do really well againNo country comes even close to competing with our comebackA strong military and taking care of our vets but a strong military, which we have totally rebuilt. We have rebuilt it. And our military has never been stronger than it is today. It was tired, it was depleted, it was obsolete and now we have the best brand new equipment ever made. And it was all produced right here in the USA.

And we take care of our vets. You know, we had a poll recently just before leaving office, the vets had a 91% approval rating for the way we took care of them, that’s the highest number in the history of the polls. But on top of all of that. We have even created the Space Force the first new branch of the United States military in nearly 75 years …

The mission of our movement and of the Republican Party must be to create a future of good jobs, strong families, safe communities a vibrant culture, and a great nation, for all Americans, and that’s what we’re creatingThe culture of our country, our party is based on love for America, and the belief that this is an exceptional nation, blessed by God.

We take great pride in our country. We teach the truth about history. We celebrate our rich heritage and national traditions we honor, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln Thomas Jefferson and national heroes. And of course, we respect our great American flag.

He received a lot of applause with that and thanked the audience several times.

He continued:

We are committed to defending innocent life and to upholding the Judeo Christian values of our founders and of our founding. Free thought. We stand up to political correctness, and we reject the left wing lunacy, and, in particular, we reject cancel culture. We know that the rule of law is the ultimate safeguard. And we affirm that the Constitution means exactly what it says. As written, as read

That is the essence of Trumpism.

I’ve covered only half of President Trump’s speech. The other half can be found here.

Afterwards, he received a standing ovation from nearly everyone in the crowd.

President Trump’s speech closed the CPAC conference. It’s hard to imagine a better ending to it and a better beginning to 2021 for Republicans.

Bible openThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

1 Corinthians 7:36-40

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed,[a] if his[b] passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Last week’s entry discussed Paul’s advice on marriage and celibacy.

He had been answering questions from the Christians of Corinth on which state was better. Paul replied that both were good, although celibacy afforded the ability to devote oneself entirely to God. Marriage, on the other hand, detracts from that as one is always concerned about pleasing one’s spouse, never mind raising one’s children.

The English Standard Version of today’s verses are a bit vague and read better in the King James Version (emphases mine below):

36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

The social convention at the time was for young men and women to marry. Both Jewish and Gentile parents arranged marriages for their children.

Then, as now, to a certain extent, there was always a question mark over the person who chose to remain single.

Matthew Henry says:

It was in that age, and those parts of the world, and especially among the Jews, reckoned a disgrace for a woman to remain unmarried past a certain number of years: it gave a suspicion of somewhat that was not for her reputation.

John MacArthur thinks that verse 36 is addressed to fathers with virgin daughters: try to keep them single, but, if you find they must get married, then allow a wedding.

Henry also reads it that way but allows for another interpretation, one which ties in with last week’s verses. His commentary says that Paul could equally be speaking to young adults themselves. ‘His virgin’ could refer to a celibate man’s own virginity:

But I think the apostle is here continuing his former discourse, and advising unmarried persons, who are at their own disposal, what to do, the man’s virgin being meant of his virginity.

Henry points out that confirmed bachelors were not looked upon all that kindly:

… it was a common matter of reproach among Jews and civilized heathens, for a man to continue single beyond such a term of years …

Verse 37 appears to lend itself more to fathers with regard to their daughters. If a father finds that his daughter has no desire for marriage, then he does well to keep her celibate.

Ultimately, the father who marries off a daughter who desires a husband and a family does well, but the man who has a daughter wishing to maintain her virginity does better because she can devote her life to the Lord (verse 38).

As MacArthur has pointed out before, celibacy is a gift. Most people have the desire for a sexual relationship with someone else. If a parent does not allow that young person to marry, sexual desire will out in one way or another:

The Spirit of God didn’t give her that gift, and that’s a gift the Spirit of God gives. If she doesn’t have the gift, the father’s saying, “Man, it’s obvious she doesn’t have the gift, all she talks about is this guy. And apparently there’s a guy there, or it wouldn’t say, “Let them marry.” There’s a them. Somebody’s hanging around. And, you see, he is behaving unfairly toward his daughter, because if he doesn’t let her get married, he’s going to tempt her to immorality – physically to immorality in her mind and to seduction.

And so, he realizes, “I can’t do this to my lovely little daughter. As much as I’d want to devote her to the Lord, there’s a guy here, and she’s saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ and I’m saying, ‘No, no, no,’ and it’s not right.

So, dads, hey, it’s a super idea if you want to devote your daughter to being single, or your son, but if they get to the age of sexual consciousness, and they require marriage, let them marry. It’s no sin. You don’t have to keep some vow. We’re not in the vow age anymore.

In the concluding verses, Paul turns his thoughts towards widowhood.

Unfortunately, MacArthur skips these verses entirely.

Paul says that it is entirely appropriate for a widow to remarry, provided she has given careful reflection and prayer to that decision (verse 39).

Henry says:

In our choice of relations, and change of conditions, we should always have an eye to God. Note, Marriages are likely to have God’s blessing only when they are made in the Lord, when persons are guided by the fear of God, and the laws of God, and act in dependence on the providence of God, in the change and choice of a mate – when they can look up to God, and sincerely seek his direction, and humbly hope for his blessing upon their conduct.

Paul concludes that a widow is better off not remarrying (verse 40). As with the celibates, she can better serve the Lord with no husband, who would divide her interests.

Paul ends by saying that he, too, has the Spirit of God (verse 40). That remark is addressed towards his detractors. Recall the the Corinthians had allied themselves with different pastoral leaders, some of whom were false teachers.

Henry offers this interpretation:

Whatever your false apostles may think of me, I think, and have reason to know, that I have the Spirit of God.

Ultimately:

Note, Change of condition in marriage is so important a matter that it ought not to be made but upon due deliberation, after careful consideration of circumstances, and upon very probable grounds, at least, that it will be a change to advantage in our spiritual concerns.

Agreed.

We should take our time in evaluating a prospective spouse. There is no rush. As the nuns used to say, ‘Act in haste. Repent at leisure’.

1 Corinthians 8, which concerns food offered to idols, was read in 2021 as the Epistle on the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B).

1 Corinthians 9 is about personal freedom in daily activities.

Next time — 1 Corinthians 9:1-7

In 2021, the Second Sunday in Lent is February 28.

The readings for Year B in the three-year Lectionary are below:

Readings for the Second Sunday in Lent — Year B

There are two choices for the Gospel reading. I have chosen the first, where Jesus tells His disciples that He must die (emphases mine below):

Mark 8:31-38

8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

8:32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

8:33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

8:34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

8:35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

8:36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?

8:37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

8:38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Commentary for today’s exegesis comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Sometimes, the older versions of the above verses are so well known that it is good to refer to them. Here is the King James Version:

31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Just before Jesus spoke those words, He asked His disciples two questions:

27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

Why those verses could not have been added to today’s reading in order to provide context is perplexing. As I have often said, that is why the Lectionary can be irritating. No wonder people don’t read the Bible more often.

On one level, the disciples know that Jesus is the Messiah. On the other hand, people are confused because they expect a temporal Messiah, one with the appearance of a king.

John MacArthur explains:

… through the years, they struggle with that. They don’t struggle because there’s no evidence of divine power. They just struggle because He doesn’t conform to their preconceived patterns. It’s like he that is convinced against his will is unconvinced still. It’s just a really hard hurdle to get over. They struggle with doubts because, as the people concluded, He can’t be the Messiah, so He has to be somebody short of the Messiah – John the Baptist, the forerunner to the Messiah; Elijah, who will come back before the Messiah; Jeremiah, who will come back before the Messiah. But nobody’s saying He’s the Messiah. He doesn’t fit the preconceived theological package. He’s maybe, obviously, a prophet of God; we’ll grant Him that, but He just hasn’t done what the Messiah will do. Where’s the conquest? Where’s national independence? National freedom? Power? Blessing? Where’s the overthrow of Rome? And He’s so meek, and lowly, and humble, and submissive, and pays taxes to Rome, and He’s hated by the leaders of Israel.

In fact, it was so bewildering, compared to their messianic view, that even John the Baptist got confused. John the Baptist, the one who was His forerunner, the one who was related to Him, the one whose mothers were related, who talked about all these issues. John the Baptist must have heard from His own family all the story about how the angel came and announced to His mom and dad that He would be born, and that He would be the forerunner of the Messiah. And they must have told Him about how Mary came and bore the child who was the Messiah, and Jesus was His relative, and he knew who He was, and it was all angelic, divine revelation. And he heard perhaps again and again the incredible stories of the annunciation and the birth of the Messiah. And yet, he gets confused. Why? Well, he’s in prison. This doesn’t look like the right plan here.

Jesus tells the disciples about what ‘must’ happen to Him: rejection, suffering, death and resurrection (verse 31).

Peter was profoundly affected by that announcement and took Jesus to one side to ‘rebuke’ Him (verse 32). One wonders whether ‘rebuke’ in this verse is the same as it usually is, one of reprimand and condemnation. Peter loved Jesus and wanted to protect Him.

MacArthur says:

Matthew says it this way, “God forbid, Lord; this shall never happen to You.” He’s not asking questions; He’s making statements. And idiomatically, an interesting phrase in Matthew, “May God grant You better than that.” Whoa. “This isn’t going to happen, and we’re not going to allow this.”

Matthew Henry says:

He took himproslabomenos auton. He took hold of him, as it were to stop and hinder him, took him in his arms, and embraced him (so some understand it) he fell on his neck, as impatient to hear that his dear Master should suffer such hard things or he took him aside privately, and began to rebuke him. This was not the language of the least authority, but of the greatest affection, of that jealousy for the welfare of those we love, which is strong as death. Our Lord Jesus allowed his disciples to be free with him, but Peter here took too great a liberty.

That explanation reminds me of an illustration I used to see in my youth of Peter embracing Jesus, his head on His shoulder, weeping. It might have been in our family Bible. However, it was a powerful depiction of this particular moment.

Jesus immediately rebukes Peter — in the traditional sense of the word — correcting him with harsh words in front of the other disciples (verse 33).

MacArthur tells us:

First of all, Matthew said He said, “You’re a stumbling block”you’re in the way; you’re a hindrance. Then the real blow, “Get out of My sight, Satan.” That’s literally what it says. “Get out of My sight, Satan.” It’s a bad idea for followers to play God. When you put yourself in the place of God, you end up putting yourself in the place of Satan. He says to him, “You’re not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” That’s an indictment of Peter. Peter didn’t want a cross. These guys were looking for glory. Do we remember that James and John had come with their mother to ask if they could sit on the right and the left hand in the kingdom? I mean it was all about elevation, glory, power, prosperity. Jesus says, “You are an offense to Me,” according to Matthew. “You’re a skandalon.” Skandalon means you’re a trap. “You’re a baited trap; you’re a Satan trap; you’re a Satan stumbling block. If you’re trying to dissuade Me from the cross, you’re on Satan’s side. Get out of My sight.”

Far from speaking about glory, Jesus then says that His followers will have to suffer in His name by denying themselves and taking up their own cross (verse 34).

Henry explains the verse this way:

Those that will be Christ’s patients must attend on him, converse with him, receive instruction and reproof from him, as those did that followed him, and must resolve they will never forsake him.

Jesus continues by indicating the way to salvation: caring more about eternal life than temporal life (verse 35).

MacArthur lists other difficult verses on the same theme:

Jesus said the very same thing in Matthew repeatedly, Matthew 10, Matthew 16, and alluded to it elsewhere. He said it in Luke – Luke chapter 9, verses 23 to 27 is a direct repeat of what we read in Mark. And then at the end of Luke 9, verses 57 to 62, Jesus basically says, “If you say you want to follow Me, but you have any other agenda that is more important immediately than Me, then you can’t be My disciple.”

Remember a man said, “Oh, I want to follow you, but I need to go home and get my inheritance. Oh, I want to follow you, but I’ve got to go bury my father. I want to follow you, but I’ve got to go negotiate some things of my family so I make sure I have some money while I’m following You.”

Jesus said, “Don’t do that. Don’t start to follow and turn back or you’re not worthy.” He’s always talking about the price of following Him. In the twelfth chapter of Luke – and Luke is particularly strong in emphasizing these teaching passages of our Lord with regard to invitations. He says in verse 51 of 12, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on Earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; from now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.” Two become a believer and the other three don’t; three become believers, and the other two don’t. “They’ll be divided, father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Again it is this emphasis that you pay a price relationally when you come to Christ

And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” This is not easy. Why? You have to say no to self. You have to say no to family. You have to say no to the things of the world, no to the love of sin. People want the kingdom. It’s attractive. They want forgiveness, they want eternal life, but the price is everything. That’s why later in chapter 14, another time, he said, “If anyone comes to Me and doesn’t hate His own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he can’t be my disciple.” He doesn’t mean hatred in the sense that you despise the people that you love. He simply means that you treat them as if they aren’t nearly as significant as coming to Christ. So, you’re willing to say, “I’ll go to Christ; I’ll follow Christ, even if it costs me my family.”

“And it might even cost you your life,” He said. And in the twelfth chapter of John, He said the same thing in verse 25, “You better be willing to hate your own life.” So, coming to Jesus was not easy. Coming to Jesus was not something that you could simply do because you wanted the pluses that Jesus offered. It demanded much more than that. Jesus’ invitation was not easy. It was even severe because He threatened those who rejected it. It was hard because the cost was so high. So high.

Jesus then asks two questions.

What good is it having everything possible in this world only to lose one’s soul in the next and be condemned to eternal death (verse 36)? What price has a man’s soul (verse 37)?

MacArthur explains:

Remember the man about whom Jesus spoke, the man who kept building bigger barns and bigger barns and bigger barns because he had more stuff and more stuff? And he said, “Okay, soul, take your ease. Eat, drink, and” – what? – “be merry.” And boom comes the divine voice, “Tonight you die.” And then what? What are you going to profit if you gain the whole world? That’s hyperbole. Nobody could gain the whole world. Nobody. But even if you could gain the whole thing, actually, who would want it? But even if you could gain the whole thing, what would it matter if you lost your eternal soul? It is the common belief of man that he is the happiest when he has the most stuff – the most that the world has to offer. And what a delusion that is if he forfeits his soul.

“Because” – verse 37 – “what are you going to give in exchange for your soul?” How are you going to buy back your soul? You think you can – if you owned the whole world, could you pay that price for your soul? If you had the whole world – all the money in the world, all the resources in the world, all the power in the world – with it could you buy your soul? What are you going to give in exchange for your soul? What is of equivalent value to your soul?

You want to look at this the other way? Your soul is worth more than everything in this world because this world will burn up. You will live forever. You say, “I don’t – I even rent my house; I don’t own any of it. I lease my car; I don’t own anything.” You, my dear friend, are more valuable than everything material in this world. There is no price for your soul except the provision of Jesus Christ on the cross. He paid an infinite price because of an infinite value attached to you. That’s the gift of salvation.

Jesus ends His discourse by saying that those who are ashamed of Him in this life will not inherit eternal life in the world to come, because our Lord will be ashamed of them (verse 38).

MacArthur puts it equally plainly:

This is a severe invitation because judgment is attached to it. This is a hard invitation because it requires total abandonment, self-denial, cross bearing, loyal obedience, giving up your life to save it. And if you choose not to do it because you want to hang onto your own life, and you’re ashamed of Christ and ashamed to identify with His words, His teaching, and you want to fully embrace your place in the middle of this adulterous and sinful generation – if that’s where you want to be, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when He comes at His coming in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. And you take your place with the perishing world, with the doomed rejecters to whom the gospel is a shameful thing, to whom Christ is a shameful person; you will face divine judgment. When Christ comes, He comes to judge the world. That’s what it says.

This is a powerful verse

It certainly is a powerful verse, giving us much to contemplate in the week ahead.

May everyone reading this have a blessed Sunday.

President Trump appears relaxed at home in Palm Beach, Florida.

At Mar-a-Lago, someone spotted him doing what he does brilliantly — handing out tips to his staff.

Here he is, flanked by his Secret Service detail, early in February 2021:

On Friday, February 12, the day before his second impeachment acquittal, radio talk show host Howie Carr took his wife — ‘the mailroom manager’ — and a guest, Joe Piantedosi from the Piantedosi Baking Co. in Malden, Massachusetts, to the resort for dinner. Howie is a member of the club, which is conveniently located, as he now lives in Palm Beach, having moved from Massachusetts a few months ago.

On Presidents Day, February 15, Howie wrote and talked about his dinner. His article includes a photo.

In ‘Monday Musings: President Trump’s getting back to his old self’, he says:

I spoke with President Trump Friday night at Mar-a-Lago. He seemed like he’s in a better mood, and this was even before the ridiculous impeachment “trial” ended Saturday with his acquittal, and his lawyer demolishing the media in a liveshot with See BS News (more below).

After my radio show Friday night, Joe Piantedosi and I drove back to Palm Beach from Boca and met the mailroom manager at Mar-a-Lago. Our table for dinner was right next to POTUS’, and he came down at about 8 with Corey Lewandowski, Dave Bossie and Pam Bondi, the former AG of Florida who also worked as one of his lawyers.

Dave Bossie was Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016. Corey Lewandowski was his campaign manager in early 2016, then made way for Paul Manafort so that the latter could mastermind the delegate debacle and win the Republican nomination for Trump.

Howie continues:

As POTUS entered, the dining room, Joe, the mailroom manager and I all stood up and said hello. I extended my hand to shake and POTUS said, “No, we’ll get in trouble!” So I shook Corey’s hand.

Anyway, an hour or so later, we had finished dinner and were leaving.

How can anyone go out to eat and finish dinner in an hour? It’s evident that Howie’s stomach op for weight control is still working.

The Trumps’ table is always cordoned off:

Usually, I look over his way and wave goodbye, and if he wants to talk, he calls me over. He was looking away, so we just walked on. I don’t want to impose myself on him (or anybody else).

So we were walking out through the lobby when I heard a voice behind me: “Mr. Carr, Mr. Trump would to speak with you.”

Trump, understandably, was still preoccupied by the election:

The mailroom manager was ahead of us, so Joe Piantedosi and I walked back into the dining room. One of the waiters moved the rope so we could walk into the private area. The president looked up and said, “Do you think I won New Hampshire, Howie?”

“Absolutely!” I said.

He thinks a lot about New Hampshire, about what happened both in 2016 and last year. In 2016, he blamed the “buses from Massachusetts,” but I think it was more the same-day registrations in the college towns. If you subtract the impossibly high turnouts in Durham, Hanover, Keene, Plymouth, etc., instead of losing by 3700 or so votes he wins the state, and so does Sen. Kelly Ayotte, for sure.

The reason POTUS asks me about this is that he associates me with New Hampshire. He was on my show, I was at his rallies. I was the host of the town hall in Sandown which was his dress rehearsal for the one in St. Louis where he cleaned Hillary’s clock.

To POTUS, I’m not so much the guy from Boston, or the guy who was born in Portland. I’m the guy who’s on seven radio stations in New Hampshire.

So I told him, how could you have lost when the NH GOP took over the legislature in Concord in absolute landslides – 67 House seats, 4 Senate seats. He knows this, I’m sure, so I asked him, did you hear what just happened in Windham?

“What happened in Windham?” he asked. I really had his attention now.

I told him – the town just did a hand recount, after all this time, of the legislative races in Rockingham House District 7. The four Republican candidates were each undercounted on the machines – in the hand recounts each GOP candidate picked up, respectively, 297, 299, 303 and 298 votes.

Isn’t that peculiar, how each Republican was undercounted by almost the exact same number?

“Has this been reported anywhere?” Trump asked, looking over at Corey Lewandowski, who lives in Windham.

“Not in the Union Leader,” I said. “At least I haven’t seen it.”

Corey looked at him. “I’ll get you the numbers,” he said.

The Union Leader reported on the story by the time Howie’s show aired on Presidents Day. One of the Republican candidates was sure she received more votes — and she had. The discrepancy, however, did not affect the final outcome. The Gateway Pundit and The Daily Fodder have more on the story.

Talk turned briefly to Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate:

The president briefly mentioned the trial – “I thought it was a good day,” he said, and no one said much of anything in response, because, let’s face it, it was such a ridiculous kangaroo-court farce that who wanted to waste time watching and getting pissed off about it, even if you’re headed to Mar-a-Lago for dinner.

Finally, Trump asked how dinner was:

and that was like the old days, before he was even running, when during dinner he’d move from table to table like a super maître d’.

“I had the lobster risotto,” I told him. “It was great.”

Howie concludes:

It was great to see him in such a positive mood, and I can only imagine how pleased he must have been the next day when the travesty came to its pitiful end, and then his lawyer Michael van der Veen demolished some bimbo on See BS News.

I will have more on that and the impeachment trial next week.

Although Trump’s acquittal is well known, a few rather interesting events and analyses did not make mainstream news.

The other day, I posted a profile of Kemi Badenoch, an Englishwoman of Nigerian heritage, who is the UK’s Equalities Minister.

In that entry, I posted a link to an hour long interview she did in October 2020 with the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson, on the politics of cultural grievance.

Having watched it, the interview deserves a post of its own, and I would commend it to all who have young people at home.

Regrettably, The Spectator did not have its own YouTube channel at the time, but the link plays perfectly well and the video is in full screen format.

Kemi Badenoch explains that black history in the United States is much different to that of black history in Britain. Most blacks in Britain are here because either they or their antecedents believed that Britain is a land of opportunity. As such, one cannot import black American history to the UK under a guise of universal historical experience.

Having lived in Nigeria during her youth, she says that most blacks are socially conservative and are not empathetic to grievances based on skin colour. Having travelled widely in other nations in Africa, she says that most blacks living there are concerned about what their governments are doing to them today.

As a mother of three, she tells Fraser Nelson that it is an uphill battle for her to reverse what her mixed-race children learn about grievance politics. She thinks that British schools should develop a black history curriculum that includes positive contributions by blacks throughout history, particularly during the 21st century with the Windrush generation that helped to rebuild the nation after the Second World War.

She says that she objects to the politics of skin colour, which she believes is an unpleasant and damaging development. Furthermore, she thinks it is unhealthy for a person to go through life imagining microaggressions where none exist. In other words, sometimes people are just rude to others regardless of skin colour — and everyone needs to learn to live with that.

She says that imagining that everyone not like them is automatically against them is not the right way to go through life and makes things in this world even more difficult.

Badenoch made similar comments in the House of Commons around the same time she did The Spectator interview.

On October 25, 2020, Patrick O’Flynn of The Express reported:

Like a batsman hitting every delivery straight off the middle, Ms Badenoch reduced the opposition rabble to rubble.

“We should not apologise for the fact that British children primarily study the history of these islands,” she said. “To make race the defining principle of what is studied is not just misguided but actively opposed to the fundamental purpose of education.”

Taking direct issue with [then-Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn over a pro-BLM speech he had just made, she added: “We are against the teaching of contested political ideas as if they are accepted fact.” She singled out for criticism the new fad among white Leftists such as Corbyn for socalled critical race theory. This ideology, she said, “sees my blackness as victimhood and their whiteness as oppression”.

“Black lives matter, of course they do,” added Ms Badenoch, “but we know the Black Lives Matter movement is political? we do not want to see teachers teaching their white pupils about inherited racial guilt. Any school that teaches partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering balanced treatment of opposing views is breaking the law.”

There was more, too. For the formidable Ms Badenoch also nailed the lie that America’s troubled history of slavery and shoot-from-the-hip policing had any echo in Britain, “Our history is our own, it is not America’s. Too often people who campaign against racial inequality import wholesale a narrative and assumptions that have nothing to do with this country’s history …

Then she gave Labour MPs a lesson about the slave trade in Africa, telling them about “the history of black slave traders who existed before and after the transatlantic slave trade”.

Ms Badenoch concluded by saying: “Black people from all over the world have found this to be a great and welcoming country.”

Perhaps the first thing we can learn in all of this is that American history is not British history.

This is the final instalment in my series about minority MPs from today’s modern Conservative Party.

Previous posts can be found here: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

This post looks at the new intake of MPs in the December 12, 2019 election during Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Saqib Bhatti (Meriden)

Saqib Bhatti represents Meriden in the West Midlands.

The ancient town of Meriden — known as Alspath in the Domesday Book — was historically considered to be the ‘centre of England’, until the 20th century, when an Ordnance Survey proved that claim to be incorrect.

Before he entered Parliament, Bhatti was well known in the West Midlands for being president of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, a position he resigned upon becoming an MP. His philosophy is that business is a force for good. For his efforts, he received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2020 New Year Honours.

Bhatti was born in the West Midlands town of Walsall to Pakistani parents. His father founded a firm of chartered accountants, Younis Bhatti & Co. Saqib Bhatti serves on its board of directors.

Bhatti read Law at the London School of Economics, graduating with an LLB (Hons). He began working for Deloitte in 2007 as a chartered accountant and financial auditor. In 2010, he left to work for his father’s firm.

He is married and lives in the affluent village of Dorridge in the West Midlands.

Bhatti says that his father is his greatest inspiration (emphases mine below):

The biggest influence on me is my father who moved to the UK in the 60s in pursuit of the ‘Great British Dream’, he taught me the values of hard work, integrity and determination which have driven my life so far. [6]

Bhatti’s predecessor in Parliament was the redoubtable Dame Caroline Spelman, who had been Meriden’s MP since 1997.

He paid tribute to her in his maiden speech, delivered on Wednesday, February 26, 2020:

He said:

My predecessor, Dame Caroline Spelman, was a mightily impressive colleague and friend to many in the House. During her 22-year career, she held a number of important positions, such as party chairperson, several shadow Cabinet positions, Second Church Estates Commissioner and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She did all of these with distinction, while demonstrating an unrelenting dedication to her constituents—a dedication that I hope to emulate. I am sure the whole House will join me in congratulating her son David, who last month rowed across the Atlantic with a friend as part of the Talisker challenge and broke the world record.

He spoke of Meriden, which he still considers to be the centre of England:

My constituency takes its name from the village of Meriden, known as Alspath in the Domesday Book. It originally made up part of Lady Godiva’s estate and, as many Members of this House will know, Lady Godiva rode through the streets of Coventry naked in protest against her husband’s tax rises. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have a lot in common with Lady Godiva—[Laughter.] I do not know why they are all laughing: I love horses and, like Lady Godiva, I am a big advocate of low taxation. However, I am going to wait for the Budget this time, before I decide to what degree and how I protest any new taxes.

In the Domesday Book, Meriden was known as the true centre of England. That was until the early 2000s, when an over-zealous team at the Ordnance Survey decided that the centre of England was in fact in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Dr Evans), but since I am not a bitter man and I do not hold a grudge, Mr Deputy Speaker, let me tell you why Meriden is still the beating heart of this country

Meriden is unique and picturesque. It has more than 300 listed buildings and is steeped in history. It contains idyllic villages such as Hampton in Arden, Knowle, Dorridge, Catherine-de-Barnes, and Balsall Common, to name just a few. They capture the true character of the great British countryside like nowhere else, despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Dr Spencer) earlier tried to tell the House. Meriden is home to Birmingham airport and the National Exhibition Centre. It has rail links to every part of the country, and will soon be home to a certain high-speed rail link and interchange station. It has a Jaguar Land Rover plant, the prestigious Blythe Valley business park, and Birmingham business park, which houses names such as Oracle, Arup, and Rolls-Royce, as well as new market disrupters such as Gymshark.

Saqib Bhatti ended his speech with a call for unity as MPs debated leaving Europe for the last time that year:

There is no “leave” or “remain”, Mr Deputy Speaker; there is only our great global Britainthe Britain that says it does not matter where somebody was born, where they come from, what they believe, who they love, or what anyone else says they are capable of achieving. Instead, as long as they share our values of respect, hard work, and they stand up for what is right, they can achieve anything. We live and serve in the best country in the world. Unwavering in our commitment to our values, we have remained faithful to our vision for a better world, and we have always stood tall and firm in the face of adversity.

We must now hold that vision more closely and dearly than ever before. As we embark on the final leg of our journey to new-found independence, it is now that we must remember our old friends and seek out new ones. It is now that we must speak up and act for those facing persecution and oppression across the world, and we must take seriously the threats to our environment and society. We must remember everything that we have in common, and everything that unites us. We must dare to believe.

Claire Coutinho (East Surrey)

Claire Coutinho was born and bred in London.

She represents East Surrey, a constituency just south of the capital.

Her parents are Christians who emigrated from Goa in the late 1970s. Her father Winston is a retired anaesthetist. Her mother Maria is a GP.

Coutinho attended the oldest independent school for girls in Greater London, James Allen’s Girls’ School, in Dulwich.

Afterwards, she read mathematics and philosophy at Exeter College, Oxford.

Upon graduation, she worked for four years at Merrill Lynch in the emerging markets equity team.

She took a two-year break in 2012 to devote herself to food. She started a literary-themed supper club, the Novel Diner, then appeared on the British version of The Taste in 2014. Nigella Lawson chose Coutinho for her team; unfortunately, the future MP was the second to be eliminated.

Coutinho worked for a conservative think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, and an industry group, the Housing and Finance Institute. She then returned to the corporate world, taking a position as Corporate Responsibility Manager with KPMG.

By then, the prospect of a Brexit referendum beckoned. David Cameron promised one in 2015, and it took place on June 23, 2016. Coutinho, passionate about leaving the EU, took a position as a special adviser to the Government so that she could help to deliver Brexit ‘from the inside’. She worked first for Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Julian Smith and then for Rishi Sunak when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

East Surrey has been a safe Conservative seat since 1918. Coutinho’s predecessor was Sam Gyimah, who was a strong Remainer. He had the Conservative whip removed for his anti-Brexit votes in 2019 and subsequently became a Liberal Democrat. (Gyimah is now working once again at Goldman Sachs, his first employer.) Coutinho was selected to be the Conservative candidate on November 11, 2019, one month before the election. She won with a comfortable majority of 24,040 (40.3%).

Coutinho gave her maiden speech in Parliament on Wednesday, January 15, 2020:

She paid tribute to her predecessor, as is customary:

I am proud to be here representing the beautiful constituency of East Surrey. I begin by paying tribute to my predecessor, Sam Gyimah. We have more in common than representing East Surrey: we are both the children of immigrant doctors, and I, too, am 5 feet 4½ inches. Although we may have slightly different views on Brexit, I know he is passionate about the prosperity of this country, which both our families now call home. I am sure the House will agree that he made many important contributions in this place as Childcare Minister, as Prisons Minister and as Universities Minister.

She spoke about her constituency, which is mandatory:

East Surrey is known for its local beauty. There are four local nature reserves, eight sites of special scientific interest and over a third of the constituency is in an area of outstanding natural beauty or of great landscape value. Those who walk through the North Downs or the High Weald are met with chalk downs, rolling hillsides, lowland meadows and woodlands

She talked about her time working for Rishi Sunak, who, at the time, was just a few weeks away from becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer:

I had the considerable pleasure of working with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Rishi Sunak), on the 2019 spending review, which saw record investment in schools, in the police and in the NHS. Now I am on the other side of the table, I wholeheartedly and unreservedly welcome the increased funding, particularly where those funds might land in East Surrey. I will be working hard to make sure that the initial groundwork of that national announcement makes a meaningful difference to classrooms, GP surgeries and police officers on the ground.

Coutinho closed with a tribute to her grandmother, who was her role model and inspiration:

I would like to mention my grandmother, who may be the single greatest emblem of Conservative values I know. She was a teacher in India who, in my memory, took her fashion lead firmly from the Queen. She raised seven children with little in terms of resources, but with a strong sense that you can achieve the impossible with hard work and determination. Her children were doctors, teachers and grade 8 musicians who are now scattered all across the globe. If she could see me here today, in “the noblest government in the world,” I am sure she would tell me to work hard, to be determined and to achieve the impossible.

Hear, hear!

Darren Henry (Broxtowe)

Darren Henry is the MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire.

Born in Bedford, he is the first Conservative MP of West Indian origin. His father Harry is from Jamaica and his mother Gloria is from Trinidad.

He and his wife are the parents of twins.

His predecessor for Broxtowe was Anna Soubry, who like the aforementioned Sam Gyimah, had the Conservative whip removed for not supporting Brexit in 2019. It is unclear what she is doing at the moment.

Henry had a long career in the Royal Air Force, which he discussed in his maiden speech of Thursday, June 25, 2020. I saw it on the day. It was excellent:

He gave his speech during not only Armed Forces Week but also Windrush Week, marking the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the ship, the Empire Windrush.

Excerpts follow:

I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor as the Member for Broxtowe, Anna Soubry. I may not have agreed with all that she said in this place, but I wish to set on record my acknowledgement of the good work she did for Broxtowe and for her constituents. I wish to thank her for her efforts on improving access at Beeston railway station. I admire her strong will and her determination to do what she felt was best for Broxtowe and for this country, and I wish her the best of British.

This week is the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush. The people of the Windrush generation came to Britain to help rebuild our great country, and my parents were among them. Dad, Harry, is from Jamaica, and Mum, Gloria, from Trinidad. Like many of that too long ignored generation, they worked hard to make a good life here. Dad worked double shifts, and Mum worked all day in a factory. They saved; they bought a house. They were ambitious, and they prospered. We were a traditional British working-class family: hard working, loyal, fiercely patriotic—and Conservative.

Opposition Members claim Windrush as their own, as if it is obvious that immigrants are somehow obliged morally and practically to be Labour supporters. Well, my family were not, and I am not. I stand here as evidence of what immigrants and their children can achieve in what my parents called the land of opportunity. I am proud to be the first Conservative MP of West Indian heritage—black, British with all my heart, immensely proud of my West Indian heritage and Conservative to my fingertips.

Before coming to this place, I spent 26 years in the Royal Air Force. Like others here, I knew that service to my country was the right and dutiful career for me. On my first day in the RAF, I had a splendid Afro hairstyle, and now, because of weeks of lockdown, I am delighted —my Afro is coming back!

The armed forces are known for getting things done, and that is what I will do for the people of Broxtowe. At Chilwell station, also known as Chetwynd barracks, we have seen service personnel assisting efforts to tackle the covid-19 pandemic as part of Op Rescript. As it is Armed Forces Week and Veterans Day today, I hope that this message is heard loud and clear by my fellow veterans: “If you are driven by public service, as I am, stand up and serve your community again.”

His special personal interests are the NHS and mental health:

During my election campaign, I pledged to support investment in our local hospitals as part of my six-point plan for Broxtowe. This is a cause that is close to my heart. My wife Caroline spent 25 weeks out of her 34-week pregnancy in hospital. It is to Caroline and the NHS staff at Nottingham City Hospital that I say thank you for the blessing that is my twin children

Parents do their best for their children. As the father of two children with autism, I recognise that those in Broxtowe who are on the autistic spectrum or suffer with mental health conditions have found it particularly difficult being cooped up during lockdown. In normal times, getting mental health support is a struggle. I am convinced that it does not have to be this way. The Government’s planned reform of the Mental Health Act 1983 must ensure that people subject to the Act receive better care and have a much greater say in that care. I will continue to fight to secure the needs of vulnerable people in Broxtowe. They will not be forgotten.

He also praised the various corporations in his constituency, such as Boots the Chemists and Fred Hallam, the grocers.

He ended by saying:

… Broxtowe will have a thriving future.

I will work to make that vision a reality for the people of Broxtowe—my constituency; my people. To paraphrase D. H. Lawrence, a local lad made good, I will be still when I have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves me, I will say, and say it hot.

Outstanding.

Imran Ahmad Khan (Wakefield)

Imran Ahmad Khan represents the constituency of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, which includes his home town, the Cathedral city of Wakefield.

He was born there in Pinderfields Hospital, where both his parents worked. His father, who emigrated from modern-day Pakistan, was a consultant dermatologist. His mother, who is English, was a State Registered Nurse and midwife. Her mother worked at the hospital as a staff sister. Her husband was a miner.

Khan attended the independent Silcoates School. Afterwards, he studied the Russian language at the Pushkin Institute in Moscow before earning a bachelor’s degree in war studies from King’s College London.

He worked for the United Nations as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu and became a counter-terrorism expert. His brother, Karim Ahmad Khan QC, is an assistant secretary-general of the United Nations.

His other brother, Khalid Ahmad Khan, is a lawyer based in Oman, won the Middle East General Counsel of the Year Award in 2017 and was named one of the most influential lawyers in the Middle East in Legal 500’s GC Powerlist 2019.[27][28][29]

Imran Ahmad Khan gave his maiden speech on Monday, January 13, 2020:

Excerpts follow.

Khan’s predecessor was the well known Labour MP Mary Creagh. He won in 2019 largely because of his strong pro-Brexit stance:

As an Ahmadi Muslim belonging to a peace-loving minority community that suffers vicious persecution, discrimination and oppression in many parts of the world, I see perhaps more clearly than most the deep and enduring importance of core British values such as compassion, tolerance and fairness, especially at a time when those values are perceived as under threat in many parts of our world. We must continue to be a beacon of thoughtful, respected and innovative thinking born of years of accumulated learning and practice.

Before I launch into the rich history of Wakefield, one with which my own family story is intertwined, I want to pay tribute to my predecessor. In 2005 Mary Creagh became the first woman elected to represent Wakefield, a tenure that was to last for 14 years. I am not sure if the House is aware, but before Mary and I first met, she propelled me to new heights—approximately 13,000 feet. On a bright November morning last year, after reading Mary’s comments in The Yorkshire Post about her incoming Tory opponent being parachuted in, I put the protestations of my friends and family aside and performed a parachute jump. This had not been on any bucket list of mine, but it definitely got the adrenalin flowing, so thank you, Mary.

Later that day, with my feet firmly on the ground, I met Mary for the first time. We were both appearing on a BBC Radio Leeds drivetime debate, and I turned up still resplendent in my true blue jumpsuit. Mary accepted it with good grace, and during this first encounter set out her stall as a calm, concise and experienced advocate.

That first meeting was in one of Wakefield’s many good schools: Queen Elizabeth Grammar School. It was QEGS where my eldest brother went to school, and it is the arch rival of my own alma mater, Silcoates. QEGS is an independent school that has actively championed and supported its local state sector rivals, including the outstanding Pontefract College, and was a willing participant in the assisted places scheme. As the radio programme came to an end, the pupils in the audience immediately gravitated towards Mary. This was an example of the interest and affection that many constituents in Wakefield have for her.

I, like Mary, contend with a hearing impairment, something she referenced in her own maiden speech. Wakefield has within its dynamic business community a company that is currently accessing research funding to investigate tinnitus, a hearing condition for which there are more than a million GP referrals each year. This project has multiple international partners, including industry, government and academia.

I would also like to pay special tribute to Mary’s time and contribution while working on overseas aid and development. This resonates with me a lot owing to my previous work at the United Nations and elsewhere abroad. Our overseas aid and development is testament to British compassion, and it can be leveraged as a powerful agent for, and a real measure of, Britain’s reach and influence around the world. Mary was a public servant, and I hope she is able to continue her work in other places. Wakefield is fortunate to have had such a worthy Member of Parliament.

He discussed Wakefield’s ancient history:

Edward the Confessor had an estate in Wakefield, hundreds of years after it was first settled by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. In J. S. Fletcher’s “Nooks & Corners of Yorkshire”—a very good read—he describes Wakefield as the principal town along the banks of the Calder, and it has figured in history to no small extent. Indeed, it is just over 560 years ago to the day, on 30 December 1460, that Richard Neville, Duke of York, and his son Thomas met their deaths at the battle of Wakefield. The Lancastrians, led by Lord Clifford, defeated the Yorkists, only to suffer a major reverse months later in Britain’s bloodiest battle, at Towton, a site just down the road. Wakefield became yet another battlefield almost 200 years later, during the English civil war, when the parliamentarian forces fought an engagement with the royalists. Although I now find myself a parliamentarian, Madam Deputy Speaker, I confess to you to always having sympathised, in the round, with Cavaliers.

According to an old English ballad, Wakefield can claim fame as the location for some of Robin Hood’s shenanigans. It was at Stanley, later part of Wakefield’s deep historical roots in the coalmining industry, that Robin and his band of freebooters had their infamous encounter with the pinder of Wakefield. The pinder was a nominated townsman of Wakefield who went toe to toe with Robin and his merry men after they goaded him by trespassing with stray animals on Wakefield land. Robin was so impressed by the pinder’s nerve and prowess that he invited him to join his outlaw band. This may be a legend, Madam Deputy Speaker, but it aptly captures some of the characteristics of the proud, honest and plain-speaking constituents of Wakefield, and their continued willingness to fight for their rights. I humbly submit that when you come to visit our city, Madam Deputy Speaker, you keep your flock of geese under control—or perhaps even consider leaving them at home.

He praised the innovative companies in Wakefield, paying tribute to the aforementioned one investigating tinnitus:

… my constituency and the wider business community has within it other companies involved heavily in fields that may surprise some Members. There is a company working on supercomputer-generated models for predicting adverse weather patternsThere are also companies that are pioneering and improving new methods of high-tech manufacturing and recycling harmful plastics. I want to see these companies thrive, not only with their spirit of innovation but by employing skilled young people born and educated in the local area. Throughout my campaign, I heard the voices of hard-working parents who want the best for the most important thing in their lives: their children. I want to help to carry the torch, already lit by the individuals and organisations in my constituency, to foster confidence, aspiration and achievement.

He concluded:

Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank you and Members present for listening to this maiden speech of mine. I owe my sincere thanks to the people of Wakefield, whom I am proud to serve. I seek a purposeful and confident future for our United Kingdom wherein people’s hopes and aspirations are realised and great achievements recorded—a future as brilliant as our past is glorious.

I last heard Imran Ahmad Khan speak earlier this week. He is always worth listening to, not only for his eloquence but also for his instructive speeches.

Gagan Mohindra (South West Hertfordshire)

Gagan Mohindra is the MP for the affluent constituency of South West Hertfordshire, within an easy commuting distance to London.

Mohindra’s predecessor was David Gauke, who, like Anna Soubry and Sam Gyimah, had the Conservative whip removed for voting against Brexit in 2019. Gauke ran as an Independent against Mohindra. He has returned to working at Macfarlanes, a large law firm, where he is their head of policy.

Mohindra was born in England in 1978 to parents who emigrated from Punjab, India. He was raised as a Hindu.

He read mathematics at King’s College London and worked in finance upon graduation. He later founded the Chromex Group, where he worked until 2015.

He then entered local and county politics in Essex and is the president of the Essex Conservatives.

In Parliament, he is a member of the Public Accounts Committee.

His wife is a privacy lawyer.

Unfortunately, I could not find a video of Mohindra’s maiden speech on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Excerpts follow:

I would like to start by paying tribute to my predecessor, the right hon. David Gauke. During his 14 and a half years of public service, David was a dedicated Member of Parliament, and he was highly respected by his constituents and colleagues alike. He was fiercely intelligent and famously cool under pressure. However, during the 2019 general election, the public got to know another side of David: his wicked sense of humour, which was already well known to his friends in this House. As I fought the election, I found I had to overcome the appeal of not one Gauke, but two, as Gauke senior, Jim, went viral in David’s videos. David ran one of the most engaging campaigns to be found during the general election, and I commend his enthusiasm and passion. Despite the difficult circumstances of his fighting against his former party, it was a civilised battle and I thank him for that.

As to David’s political career, he was a heavyweight of the Conservative Government over the last decade. He held many senior roles, including Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and, finally, Secretary of State for Justice. As I have said before, in different times we may well have been colleagues, and I would have been proud to work alongside him. I thank David for his commitment to the residents of South West Hertfordshire, and wish him, Rachel and the rest of his family well in their future endeavours …

He spoke of his constituency and his constituents:

My constituency offers an embarrassment of riches, from its historical market towns, such as Tring, to the Chiltern hills, which are rightly classed as areas of outstanding natural beauty. Further south lies the Colne Valley Regional Park, which is known as the first taste of countryside west of London and comprises some 60 lakes, among woodland, canals and farmland. You can pass many a peaceful afternoon walking here, or visiting the famous aquadrome, where you can water-ski, canoe or sail to your heart’s content.

Behind the thriving Berkhamsted High Street are found the ruins of Berkhamsted castle. It was in Berkhamsted that William the Conqueror received the surrender of the Crown of England in 1066. The castle was then built to assert control over the key supply route through the Chiltern hills from London to the Midlands. It is a constituency heaped with history, some of which cannot be retold, like the activities of Northwood HQ. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our armed services for continuing to keep us safe.

The visual beauty of my constituency is only outdone by the warmth and good nature of my constituents. Nowhere in the country better represents the open-minded, tolerant, progressive nature of the United Kingdom than South West Hertfordshire, and I am so grateful that I have been so warmly welcomed. Of course, there are also a number of local concerns and issues to which I will devote my energies. For our commuters, the issues of unreliable rail and underground transport are a repeated source of frustration. There is a lack of access to affordable housing, a concern that has to be balanced against the desire to protect the green belt and character of the area. There are pockets of poverty in a mostly affluent area, resulting in associated social issues, including crime. Of course, we also have many excellent schools in my constituency, including Merchant Taylors’ School and Berkhamsted School, but we need to ensure that good education is accessible for all, not only the affluent.

He fully supports the Government’s manifesto policy of ‘levelling up’:

I am dyslexic, so I understand the frustrations posed by learning difficulties, but I must acknowledge that I have also had the benefit of many advantages. I understand that, like many of us in this place, I have been blessed with the good fortune to have self-belief and ambition nurtured in me, both in the home and in the wider environment, from my earliest days. Many in our society are not afforded this most essential of luxuries, and the impact, compounded of course, by other inequalities, is far-reaching. I am passionate about our commitments, as a Government, to do our part to ensure that aspiration and self-belief are not luxury items. That, to me, is the true meaning of levelling up. I look forward to seeing more and more faces in this House who represent our great country in all its guises.

Conclusion

It is always a delight — and an education — to hear the perspectives from our new Conservative MPs on BBC Parliament.

Long may they prosper in serving their constituents — and the United Kingdom.

End of series.

My series on minority MPs in the Conservative Party continues.

In case you’ve missed the earlier posts in this series, here they are: parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Today’s post covers the two minority MPs who were elected during Theresa May’s snap general election of June 2017.

Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden)

Bim Afolami represents the leafy Hertfordshire constituency of Hitchin and Harpenden, far enough from London to be in the countryside yet a close enough for a daily commute to and from the capital.

I always enjoy hearing what Afolami has to say in Parliament. He speeches are eloquent, considered and, above all, sensible.

Afolami was born in the Home County of Berkshire to a Nigerian father, employed as a consultant physician for the NHS. His mother works as a pharmacist.

Afolami attended Eton College and University College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. While at Oxford, he worked as a librarian for the Oxford Union Society and played football for the university team.

He worked as a lawyer prior to entering politics. His employers included the prestigious law firm Freshfields and the banking corporation HSBC.

In 2017, Hitchin and Harpenden’s MP Peter Lilley stood down. Afolami was selected as the Conservative candidate.

Afolami was a Remainer, however, during his time in Parliament, he voted the Brexit line most of the time.

He has been a member of several parliamentary committees.

He has also had positions as Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of Transport, International Development, International Trade and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Currently, he chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Credit Unions and is a Commissioner for the Financial Inclusion Commission.

Afolami is married with three children.

He describes Winston Churchill as his ‘biggest hero’.

Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden)

Kemi Badenoch also reveres Winston Churchill, along with Margaret Thatcher.

She, too, has Nigerian roots and spent her formative years there before returning to England.

She represents the constituency of Saffron Walden in Essex, which, not surprisingly, includes the ancient town of the same name. The town of Saffron Walden was known not only for its wool production but also for its cultivation of saffron in the 16th and 17th centuries. That happy combination of industry enabled the town to develop dyes as well as provide the condiment for use in food.

Olukemi Olufunto Adegoke was born in Wimbledon, London. Her father is a GP and her mother a professor of physiology. As her mother obtained teaching positions overseas, Kemi lived in both the United States and Nigeria. She returned to England at the age of 16 to complete her A levels and attend university.

She has worked in computing for most of her career. She obtained a law degree in 2009 and went on to work as an associate director of private bank and wealth manager Coutts and was a director for The Spectator.

Kemi joined the Conservative Party in 2005.

In 2012, she married Hamish Badenoch and took his surname.

In 2015, she served on the London Assembly after Suella Fernandes Braverman had to give up her seat, since she had just been elected to Parliament.

In 2017, Kemi Badenoch succeeded Sir Alan Haslehurst as MP for Saffron Walden with a healthy majority.

In her maiden speech, she explained how she became a conservative: failing nationalised electricity and water provision during her years in Nigeria. Wow.

She also said that Brexit was the ‘greatest vote ever’.

If you want to feel uplifted about Britain and conservatism, this video is definitely worth five-and-a-half minutes of your time:

She currently holds two positions, to which Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed her in 2020: Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) in the Department for International Trade.

The latter position has seen her come up against stiff opposition from the Opposition benches last year when it emerged that minorities were more affected by coronavirus. The protests in June exacerbated the issue.

On June 4, an SNP MP, Alison Thewliss, had the gall to intimate that Badenoch had little understanding of the black community.

Badenoch politely responded that she objected to Thewliss’s ‘confected outrage’.

As former Labour MP — now Baroness Hoey in the House of Lords — put it:

Guido Fawkes posted a video of the exchange and commented (emphasis in the original):

Today’s BAME Urgent Question was never going to be one Parliament’s more tranquil sessions given the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. Kemi Badenoch gave a feisty performance, scolding left-wing white MPs for telling her how to feel as a black person. Her slap down of SNP MP Alison Thewliss, who conflated all black Britons with recent immigrants, is worth a watch…

The BBC also attacked her response.

On June 6, Badenoch wrote an article for the Daily Mail, which said, in part (emphases mine):

The disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on black and minority ethnic people has been one of the most troubling aspects of the pandemic – and the Government was right to seek the expert guidance of Professor Kevin Fenton, an eminent black physician at Public Health England, to examine the issue

So when, as Equalities Minister, I stood up in the Commons to discuss his review and its conclusions, I expected tough questions

This, after all, has been a week of heightened emotion about racial divisions. Unfortunately, clumsy attempts at scrutiny by some MPs and commentators unintentionally risk inflaming racial tensions

Updating Parliament on the review, Labour MPs repeated racially charged claims such as: ‘Being black is a death sentence.’ 

One SNP MP conflated all black people with recent immigrants. This language does nothing to calm tensions at a time when politicians need to set an example

Far more irresponsible though, was the BBC’s coverage of the debate – with the headline: ‘Minister rejects systemic racism claims’. I did no such thing

In fact, the phrase ‘systemic racism’ was not used once in the debate. The BBC report was shared on social media thousands of times and believed because it was from a trusted source. This is incredibly harmful

By implying that a black Minister has, out of hand, rejected racism as a factor, the hard work done by many ethnic minorities in Government, the NHS and Public Health England is discredited, trust is lost and race relations become worse

Yes, there are gaps in PHE’s review. By its nature, it highlights what we don’t know and must investigate further

We will build on this work, engaging with individuals and organisations within communities, to protect lives in this pandemic … 

We need to be more circumspect; we need real journalism, not campaigning

We must address prejudice but this is impossible if our national broadcaster, politicians and commentators play a social media game to achieve outrage rather than enlightenment

We must combat the real inequities in society, but we do everyone a disservice if we give in to culture warriors whose relevance depends on inflaming tensions

By hijacking the Government’s work to improve the lives of BAME people, those spoiling for a fight are sacrificing the hope of so many young people for little more than clicks, likes and retweets

In October, Badenoch volunteered to take part in a vaccine trial:

Moving to the present day — February 2021 — issues have arisen with minorities reluctant to get vaccinated when the time comes. Personally, I do not blame them. There is a lot we do not know about their long-term effects, particularly the mRNA vaccines. So that minorities would feel more reassured, the Government appointed Nadhim Zahawi MP to oversee vaccine rollout in the UK. His brief includes visiting minority communities to encourage uptake:

In January, minority MPs from both sides of the aisle took part in a video to promote the vaccine programme.

Badenoch was criticised for not having taken part. She said it was because she was participating in the aforementioned vaccine trial:

Let’s return to last year.

In October 2020, Badenoch spoke in Parliament about Black History Month in the UK. She said that she was taken aback by something her daughter said:

That month, she participated in a Spectator discussion debunking various socio-political left-wing theories and promoting conservatism.

This triggered a severe reaction from the Left in November.

Several radical left-wing academics took issue with what she said:

Guido Fawkes provided the exhaustive list along with the radical positions of each academic, explaining the background (red emphases in the original, those in purple mine):

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch sent Twitter’s wokesters and academia’s race baiters into meltdown a fortnight ago when her savaging of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) went viral, with 2.4 million views. Guido’s since picked up on an open letter doing the rounds in nutty left-wing academic circles, who – unable to take on the substance of what Badenoch argues – have chosen instead to misrepresent her words. Aside from their attacks on the substance of Kemi’s words – incorrectly claiming she wants “the banning of certain ideas or schools of thought” and that she misunderstands history and CRT – the mostly former-polytechnic-based academics now claim CRT has “scientific principles” behind their ideology. Eugenicists, phrenologists and Marxists have argued the same for decades...

Looks like Kemi’s on pretty sound ideological ground…

I wish Kemi Badenoch all the very best in holding her ground so consistently.

Tomorrow’s post concludes this series.

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