John Penrose MP...

PUBLISHED: 11:28 21 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:44 24 May 2010

John Penrose

John Penrose

THE last two months have been stark political contrasts. In July, parliament was quiet because all the interesting debates were taking place in private inside the Labour Party, rather than in a public arena like parliament

THE last two months have been stark political contrasts. In July, parliament was quiet because all the interesting debates were taking place in private inside the Labour Party, rather than in a public arena like parliament. That's because Blair desperately wants to leave a strong and lasting legacy when he finally hands over power. At the same time, the rest of the Labour Party is wondering whether anyone will challenge Gordon Brown for the leadership, and trying to work out which potential leader would give them the best chance of winning the next election.That means Labour doesn't want too much controversial legislation to be debated in parliament at the moment. Understandably, they want an orderly transfer of power when Blair steps down. No-one wants to rock the boat.That doesn't mean nothing's happening, of course. There are fundamental changes to pensions and sickness benefits coming up soon, for example. It's just that, more than ever, any new ideas have to be agreed privately inside the Labour Party before they get anywhere near parliament or the country as a whole.But events have a way of disrupting the best laid plans. Just when Labour wants a quiet life, August has brought war in Lebanon and terrorist threats at home. Suddenly there are vital questions to answer, whether it suits any political party's timetable or not. I don't know whether parliament will be recalled to debate terrorism, or conflicts in Lebanon, Afghanistan or Iraq, but the contrast between July and August couldn't be stronger. In July Westminster was, frankly, a bit sleepy. But August is turning out to be the opposite. There are important issues to be debated and decisions to be made, whether Parliament is sitting or not. The political weather has changed: July may have been cool, but I'm afraid August will be a scorcher.


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