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Tom Greeves says hello

Big_ben_from_within_parliamentTom Greeves was a researcher at Conservative Central Office between 1999 and 2003, later joining the office of Peter Ainsworth MP. He was a researcher for Peter Oborne on the books The Rise of Political Lying and The Triumph of the Political Class. Tom is now a freelance writer and researcher, and worked as Boris Johnson’s speechwriter and adviser on crime and the Olympics during the successful campaign for Mayor of London.


I am delighted to be joining the ConservativeHome family at a particularly exciting time for the Conservative Party. These are also, as the famous Chinese curse has it, interesting times for the Government and (which is less welcome) for the country.

We find ourselves gripped by a global financial crisis, and engaged in two major conflicts. When any of the above will end is a mystery. Crime and anti-social behaviour are not only rife in our cities but much in evidence in our market towns and even villages. Many of us are wondering about the security of our jobs, how we’re ever going to buy a home, and whether we’ll see anything much in the way of a state pension when we retire.

What’s all this got to do with the price of eggs? (Well, in the case of the global financial crisis, quite a lot.) The reason I raise all this miserable stuff is to make two points. Firstly, as we grope around in the dark for answers, the best blogs and websites can be a source of light. And so, for all its faults, can Parliament.

William Hague is teased for having been an avid reader of Hansard as a schoolboy. But I bet that it gave him a superlative grounding in a wide range of political issues. Not every contribution to a Parliamentary debate is of the yah boo sucks variety.

MPs and Lords are well-briefed by their staff, civil servants and a vast range of interest groups. As a professional researcher, Hansard is often my first port of call if I’m trying to dig out a statistic or other nugget of information. The best speeches provide an excellent overview of a subject, in addition to challenging us to take a particular position.

So it’s informative and instructive to keep an eye on Parliament. But this isn’t just about being a nerd. By keeping an eye on Parliament, we can keep an eye on Parliamentarians. That matters immensely for the health of both our democracy and the Conservative Party. I want this page to highlight the activities of Conservative MPs and peers, to praise good work and spot talent, and also, where appropriate, to dissent from the Party line. We’re candid friends at ConservativeHome, after all.

I’m still struggling to live down the fact that as an impressionable teenager I rather identified with Tony Benn. I’ve long since distanced myself from his world-view (and how!), but I retain a strong admiration for his insistence that Parliament matters. It might be naïve to hope that ministers will stop announcing things to the media before they get up to speak at the dispatch box, and New Labour have done their utmost to destroy Parliament.

But Conservatives believe in the institutions that have made this country great, and so we should interest ourselves in Parliament. I never lost a sense of reverence for the place when I worked there, as cynical as I became about many other aspects of the British polity. Perhaps we can make this page a place where Conservative supporters (and anyone and everyone else is welcome too) can get an insight into what’s going on inside those hallowed walls. I also want us to better understand how Parliament works, so expect the occasional geeky post about select committees, third readings and early day motions once  I’ve done some revision.

Your help would be much appreciated. (I can be emailed via the link on the right hand side of this page.) I am eager to hear from MPs, Lords, their staff and you about anything of interest happening in Parliament. I won’t promise to publish everything, obviously, but Tim and I aim to make this page the go-to place for anyone looking for greater insight into the Mother of all Parliaments."


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