View From the Commons – The New Generation

Parliament closed for three weeks during the party conference season, but returning there this week  it felt like a lifetime.

Following the relative orderly calm of the Lib Dem conference, the Labour leadership contest dominated the airwaves. Reactions and counter reactions were sought by commentators desperate for some good old fashioned in-fighting. The new leader ‘worked’ the conference tirelessly meeting with delegates from across the country and the wider movement, and was quick to assert his desire to unite the party rather than repeat the divisive mistakes of the past.

The leader’s speech is always a Conference highlight but this year, more than normally, the pressure was on. Ed’s speech had something for everyone, from his background introduction to his parents past, fleeing death at the hands of the Nazis, to setting out his pride in Labour’s successes, his contrition over past failures and finally his optimistic vision for Britain on behalf of the new generation of Labour politicians.

The week of Tory Conference was spent back home in Chesterfield. The chaotic and ill thought out announcement of the cuts to child benefit was hotly followed by the plans for huge rises to tuition fees that the Lib Dem party seem willing to support – having opposed all tuition fees only a few months ago.

On Saturday, I attended the protest march against the Dunston incinerator where hundreds of men, women and children joined politicians of every hue and business owners to express their opposition to the plans for the incineration plant. The final decision will be taken on the 19th October at 1pm at County Hall in Matlock, the public are invited to attend.

Whilst marching with objectors a phone call came through: “Would I be available to take a phone call from Ed Miliband at 130pm?”

 I must admit my thoughts immediately turned to the shadow ministerial team that Ed would be putting together, but it seemed so unlikely that I might be involved just a few months into my parliamentary career. The call when it came was brief. Within five minutes I had been appointed to and accepted a place in the Shadow Education Team.

Two days later at 236pm I stood at the despatch box for the first time. The first member of the 2010 intake to speak from the despatch box. My question was solid if unspectacular – about the importance of recognising the strength of a school’s intake as well as its outputs- but for a guy from Chesterfield, who had left school at 17 and been married in a little two up two down in Birdholme, being able to deliver it on behalf of our schoolchildren, my constituents and all the people who have helped to get me there meant the world to me.

I went to bed on Monday night proud, humble and determined- it’s been quite a few weeks!

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

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