Published: 13:54, 20 August 2021
| Updated: 16:40, 20 August 2021
More than a talking shop? MPs debated Afghanistan at length and one council leader made his feelings crystal clear when offering to take in refugees fleeing the Taliban.
KM Political Editor Paul Francis gives his take on the week in politics.
After an eight-hour debate, MPs who spent the day this week asking questions about Afghanistan faced a key question themselves: Had they made a difference and would anything change?
It is always hard to calibrate when a debate is one in which emotions, from anger to feelings of shame to grief, are close to the surface, as was clearly the case here.
Some have quibbled over the fact that MPs were not asked to vote or debate on particular motions, making the marathon session in the Commons somehow less relevant.
They have a point but would you rather your elected representatives were mute or would you like them to say what they think – without the reprisals that Afghan politicians might face for speaking out against the Taliban?
He was listened to in silence as he spoke about his feelings of rage and anger that the country was being abandoned by the west and by America.
If anyone was in any doubt about the consequences and reprisals for those who opposed the Taliban, the MP, who served for several years in the country, was brutally candid.
Despite the plaudits, the irony is that it was a speech the MP would not have wanted to make. But his personal testimony made an already under-siege Prime Minister look even further out of his depth, floundering in the choppy political waters of a crisis that he seemed only to have a limited grasp of.
Tugendhat wound up with a devastating pay-off: “This may not be defeat but it damn well feels like it.”
Despite the pessimistic tone, it drew a ripple of applause from MPs on all sides and that is rare. How Boris Johnson must have wished, for once, that he could have swapped places.
There was another fine example of a politician going out on a limb this week.
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, the Conservative leader of Ashford council, made public that he was prepared to help refugees fleeing the Taliban regime.
Not one to mince his words, he laid out his support for the idea in uncompromising terms.
His willingness to put Ashford at the front of the queue for taking in refugees from Afghanistan is, on one level, risky.
Why? The recent months have been dominated by images of would-be asylum seekers in ever increasing numbers arriving on beaches in Kent.
The notion that we should take on the responsibility for refugees from Afghanistan on top of the economic migrants might seem a sign of someone whose political radar has been spinning in the wrong direction.
But Ashford can claim to have the evidence that accepting refugees has, over time, dividends.
Its involvement in a resettlement programme for Syrian refugees has won plaudits and the families taken in have largely found jobs and become contributors to the local economy, rather than a drain on it.
As to any concerns he might have about the plan not going down well with some voters, well, this is what he said: “People may condemn it and gripe about it but frankly I don't give a damn about that because I think the vast majority of people who are intelligent, reasonable and sensible will realise that what we're doing is really the right thing to do.”
Channelling the character Rhett Butler played by Clark Cable in “Gone With The Wind", perhaps?
We don’t normally get excited about press releases from County Hall.
But one caught our eye this week about road chiefs adopting new approaches to fixing the repair backlog.
The council explained how a new approach involved bolstering road repairs using wood chippings. Yes, wood chippings.
It sounded interesting and conjured up images of medieval carriages plodding along freshly laid stretches of road.
Unfortunately, it proved too good to be true: it wasn’t wood chippings but granite chippings, a follow-up press release corrected the error.
Every year, councils publish their annual statement of accounts, usually during the summer.
These documents commonly run to more than 100 pages and are required by law to be put in the public domain.
They may not be the easiest of publications to digest but they can be of interest to anyone intrigued to find out how their money has been spent.
One Kent council has yet to meet this statutory requirement: Dover.
Its website carries a notice saying that the impact of Covid has delayed publication but is working with its auditors to resolve the impasse.