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David Johnston MP - Newsletter, November 2020

on Fri, 06/11/2020 - 7:33pm

I hope you, your friends and your family continue to be safe and well.

I am sorry to be writing to you when we have just begun another lockdown. I did not want to see another lockdown and was supportive of the Government’s Tiers. Similarly, I did not want to see the county of Oxfordshire placed into Tier 2 restrictions, as local council leaders had requested, given the relatively low number of cases/hospitalisations in much of the county and the likely impact on mental health, other health conditions and local businesses of further restrictions.

Nonetheless, the data that the Government has been given suggests that the country as a whole could face a significant rise in hospitalisations and deaths if we do not have a time-limited lockdown now and so I reluctantly supported it this week. You can find the latest guidance for your family or business here.

This newsletter covers my activities in October and so is largely not Covid-related.

You can now see some of my activities on Instagram as well as Facebook.

As ever, I can be contacted via [email protected] 

Best wishes, 

David 


In the House of Commons

I was finally drawn for my first question at Prime Minister’s questions; this is done by electronic ballot and really is the luck of the draw – one of my colleagues who was also elected in December has so far had 10 questions at PMQs, where some others have still not had any! Given my past career, I raised the need for a renewed focus on social mobility given only 12% of our journalists and chief executives come from a working-class background and just 6% of our doctors and barristers do.

I spoke in favour of a bill to ban botox and fillers being given to under-18s, during which I talked about the importance of improving the mental health of children and young people, whilst mentioning several local beauty salons. I spoke in favour of a bill to improve the drug testing regime in prisons and in favour of a bill that will increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to 5 years from its current 6 months, name-checking several local animal charities along the way. Having heard from a number of constituents about the problems they’ve been having if they don’t have a mobile phone or good enough internet signal, I also raised this with the Leader of the House.


In the constituency

I undertook a range of constituency visits across the month of October, including to UTC Oxfordshire, the Vale of White Horse Medical Practice and Wallingford Library (with a serendipitous drop-in to Wallingford Museum just as the door was being locked!). I was pleased to meet with local businesses from Broadway Butchers to Clink Diagnostics and the Bright Horizons nursery in Didcot.

I dropped by the Barrington Arms after going to meet and congratulate Sarah and the team at Shrivenham Post Office, which was a finalist in the Better for Customers category at the Post Office regional awards.

I visited the King’s Centre in Wantage and the Frilford Heath Golf Club, not that I can claim to be a golf expert – I’ve only played once in my life at a charity event and the main outcome was being featured in the bloopers video…twice.

Another highlight was spending time with the inspirational Lydia Otter, who runs Pennyhooks Farm, a great place designed for children on the autistic spectrum. As national mentoring day fell within October, I spent time with several young people (including Anais, Eve and Kulthum) across the last week of October to talk about their aspirations and take their questions about my life and career.


In Parliament

On the Education Committee, I took part in hearings with the Children’s Commissioner as she approaches the end of her 6 year term, a group of education experts about ‘left behind’ white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, and an accountability hearing with the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, where we covered a range of topics including exams, keeping schools open in the coming months and school budgets.

In a session about Britain's foreign policy with the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, I raised the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on behalf of constituents who have contacted me about it. I was pleased to co-sign a letter to Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for BEIS, encouraging him to put in place the plans and resources required to ensure we host a successful COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, next year.


In the media

I wrote a piece for UnHerd on the trouble with the current debate about diversity, which Times Radio then interviewed me about.

My fortnightly columns for the Herald can also be read <here>.