This weekend marks the end of the National Trust’s first annual Blossom Watch, and I have been struck how beautiful some of the trees around the town have looked over the last month. Saturday marks the national #Blossomwatch day and the Trust is encouraging people to take a moment to enjoy the blossom. It is amazing how nature can lift the spirits, and very little does it better than Spring blossom.
Parliament this week has, however, not been so uplifting. I participated in the debate on Tuesday about the abuse and harassment of female parliamentarians. In fact, abuse happens at every level of elected office, is not confined to women (although we are abused much more than male colleagues), and can act to deter people from standing in elections. So on that note I want to thank and congratulate all those who have put their heads above the parapet for the forthcoming local elections, it takes guts to stand, but it keeps our democracy thriving.
I was pleased to be asked to speak at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sikhs about the work the Women and Equalities Select Committee has been doing over the last year. That was on the same day as the Minister for Equalities made a statement about the work of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. My Committee has invited the Chair of the Commission to come and give evidence to us about their recently published report, and I very much hope he is going to do so. There are important questions which the report has raised and I think it would be enlightening to have the Chair come and answer them directly, rather than through managed media clips.
This weekend I am looking forward to World Malaria Day, and the fact we are globally really on the cusp of eliminating malaria. I can recall as a pretty newly elected MP meeting with constituents who worked for Malaria No More, and hearing about the massive contribution UK Aid has made in the fight against it. I have had cause to reflect this week that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has driven much of the work to combat malaria, but the UK has been the second largest international donor. I think that is something we can be proud of, our aid has saved lives, and helped to reduce mortality by 60%.