Winds of change that are driving events

THE DRIEST spring for more than 20 years is causing the leaves to fall early and the recent gales remind me of Shelley’s impassioned Ode to the West Wind invoked as the spirit of revolution, sweeping away the ‘old palaces and towers’ of the ancien régimes which in his day were falling like ninepins before the advance of Napoleon.

Autumn often brings a financial chill to the poorest 20 per cent of households who on average spend 9.4 per cent of their incomes on household fuel, while the richest 20 per cent spend only 4.4 per cent.

Britain’s dependence on fossil fuels means families face higher energy bills when global prices rocket. That’s why our priority over the long term is to wean Britain off this dependence by using low carbon energy sources so that families are not left at the mercy of international oil and gas markets.

In the short term, the Government is already taking action to ensure help is available this winter for those that need it through the Warm Home Discount, and we’ve also told energy companies to ramp up their efforts to make more homes energy efficient. Lagging lofts and filling cavity walls can save households over £100 in fuel bills every year.

The winds of change in Libya have, it seems, blown Colonel Gaddafi to where ‘the lone and level sands stretch far away’ in an eerie echo of Ozymandias, the Warnham poet’s ‘king of kings’, a title coincidentally bestowed on the ousted Colonel in 2008.

Britain can be proud of the fact we played a significant role although many people said that after a couple of months this had gone on too long.

But there was a moral imperative to intervene in Libya and to stop a slaughter in Benghazi. There was also the capability to do it, because we were able to get the backing of the UN and of the Arab League. Success in Libya means the Arab Spring can continue and that’s good for democracy and good for the world.

Tribute is due to our armed forces, particularly to our pilots who have flown mission after mission with great bravery.

Let’s also raise a cheer for the official registration by the Flag Institute of the County of Sussex’s ancient emblem – six gold martlets on a blue field – thanks to the efforts of an enthusiastic campaigner who wants us all to put out more flags, until the symbol becomes as iconic as St Pirhan’s Flag is for Cornwall.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham