While Helen was busy posing for photos with campaigners trying to save Graveney marshes, she scored a resounding zero in a survey of MPs’ environmental voting.
Our MP consistently put party before the climate despite Parliament declaring a climate emergency in May.
The Guardian newspaper based MPs’ climate scores on their voting records on 16 climate bills between 2008 and 2018 on issues including Heathrow expansion, climate change, decarbonisation and renewable energy subsidies.
Helen was present for six votes but voted positively in none, placing her in the bottom 10 percent of Parliament’s 650 MPs.
Like many of her fellow Conservative MPs, Helen – who opposes the proposed solar power station at Cleve Hill – has links with the fossil fuel industry. She received donations with a value of £7,500 from Abdul-Majid Jafar, chief executive of Crescent Petroleum and has enjoyed several luxurious freebie ‘fact-finding’ trips to wealthy Middle-East petro-states including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
“Tackling climate change and helping our wildlife are vitally important, but they need to happen together,” Helen posted on her website last month. “If we trash our landscapes and drive away wildlife in our efforts to tackle climate change, then what good have we really achieved?”
Announcing her recent promotion to Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Helen embraced the opportunity to name-check both our town and her beloved Leeds Castle.
“I know from my constituency - which includes the stunning Leeds Castle and market town of Faversham - how important tourism is to the economy!” she told reporters, shamelessly plugging ‘the loveliest castle in the world’.
As regular Eye readers may remember, Helen bloomin’ loves Leeds Castle. Back in 2017 she opposed the building of a business park nearby in case it spoiled the approach to what she described as “one of our greatest assets” and has remained smitten with the place ever since.
And Leeds Castle loves her right back. The Leeds Castle Foundation, the charity which looks after the castle and its estate ‘for the benefit of the public’, not only waived the £295 charge for Helen and hubby Marcus’ overnight stay earlier this year but also treated the lucky couple to a delightful evening of fine dining at the Castle View Restaurant. They must have enjoyed the menu as much as much as Helen adores the castle itself because, despite main courses costing around £20, the ravenous couple ran up a bill of £258.
It seems the ‘loveliest castle in the world’ is rarely out of Helen’s thoughts. On World Mental Health Day earlier this month, she took to Twitter to congratulate Leeds Castle on having so many staff trained in mental health awareness. How reassuring it is to know that the castle’s employees are now equipped to recognise the signs of serious issues such as bulimia or alcohol abuse should they ever see them.
A LIBRARY GUSH
When she’s not extolling the wonders of Leeds Castle, Helen’s gushing about libraries too. She’s mad keen since her recent ministerial appointment made her responsible for them
“If you think of a library as a dusty place where you’re told to shush, think again…,” she tweeted recently. “Read all about the great stuff libraries are doing in my libraries week blog here and go and visit your local!”
Unfortunately anyone taking Helen’s advice might well find their local library shut – thanks to her own party.
Faversham Library’s opening hours were slashed by 30 percent this year by Conservative-controlled Kent County Council as part of £1 million county-wide cuts. The second busiest library in Swale, it is now open 16 fewer hours a week, despite a £247,000 refurb last year.
Since the introduction of Conservative austerity policies in 2010, 478 libraries have closed in Scotland, England and Wales, the number of books held has dropped by 14 million and librarian numbers have been cut by 8,000.
While Helen’s newfound passion for libraries is welcome, it’s a shame she has stayed silent until now.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BORIS
The one thing you can say about Helen Whately is she is dog whistle loyal.
When David Cameron wanted to remain, she was an ardent Remainer. When Cameron shuffled off and the party went Brexit, she became a Brexiteer.
After Theresa May’s conference speech in 2018 – the one where she came on stage twitching like a puppet to Abba’s Dancing Queen – she immediately described it as “brilliant” though it was nothing more than the final death rattle of a prime minister long past her sell by date.
Once the Tories knifed Theresa May in the front, Helen immediately flipped to grovelling to Boris Johnson. On the Sunday Times online politics newsletter Red Box, she described him as “a declared feminist,” which is one way of describing a serial adulterer and notorious groper who has cheated on most of the women in his life and was described by his own daughter as “a selfish bastard.”
She also wrote, “On the new PM’s desk is a list of things I would like him to do for women.” She does not say whether this includes helping grease £126,000 of public money to Jennifer Accuri, an American pole dancing former model turned tech entrepreneur. Most of this came from the tax payer, but £10,000 was from a trust he set up as London mayor. Her publicly funded services, included private “technology lessons” which Johnson received in numerous visits to her East London flat over a three year period.
Helen Whately also described him as “a man on a mission.” By this, she did not include the overseas trade missions which Johnson insisted Jennifer Accuri go on, where the couple shared the stage, banging the drum for Britain’s exports.
Words by: Richard Fleury