Been visiting hospitals in Montgomeryshire today - at Llanidloes and Welshpool. There was quite a crowd of us. Nick Bourne AM, Jonathon Morgan AM, Cardiff Councillor Craig Williams (Welshpool born) and me. The Mayor of Welshpool also joined us. It was a 'Nick and Jonathon tour', with Craig doing the driving - and I joined them for the Montgomeryshire leg. Downside for me of visiting our local hospitals is that I meet friends whom I didn't know were ill. We are visiting Newtown Hospital tomorrow.
While in Llanidloes, I had another conversation about whether I'm a 'proper' Tory. As usual, the person making this point meant to be complimentary. I suppose my electoral interest would be served by just agreeing, but I always protest. Despite all of David Cameron's efforts, there still lingers the image of a (proper Tory) being an 'English barrister, caring little for the poor and vulnerable' - and I'm none of these things. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with being English, or with being a barrister, but support for the poor and vulnerable must be at the heart of any 'Tory' philosophy. I'm never willing to quietly accept anything else.
This conversation turned somewhat naturally to Gordon Brown's leaked plans to give every family with children £150 to help them with the huge increases in the cost of fuel. Now, on the face of it, such a proposal might seem designed to help the poor and vulnerable. I argued that it would be no such thing. It would be no more than a proposal to make it look as if Gordon Brown wants to help. The most effective way of helping would be reduce the tax take on fuel bills in the first place. Instead of taking £250 from families via fuel duty, wasting £100 of it on administration and then returning £150 to families, how much better it would be to leave the original £250 with families in the first place. That's what a 'proper Tory' would do.