We are less than a month into the new parliament and already it's clear this government is a lame duck. It has few ideas and no authority, so weak that we have almost no new business to discuss in the House of Commons.
Backbenchers have been filling up the time instead. On Wednesday, we piled into a debate about the unfair treatment of the so-called WASPI women, who were born in the 1950s, but are having to wait longer for their state pension. Many are struggling financially, but the government refuses to help them.
So many of us wanted to participate in the debate that we couldn't all get a seat. Which caused problems for one of my (standing) colleagues when he wanted to ask a question. The rule is that you stand up to do so. But the chair of the debate, Sir Edward Leigh, introduced an unexpected refinement. 'You can't stand up if you're not already sitting,' he told us.
Consternation among those of us standing against the walls! Luckily, as the debate proceeded, some of those who were sitting down moved out to give others a chance to do so, so we were able to raise concerns on behalf of our constituents. You can read a transcript of the debate here.
It was my second debate of the day. Earlier, I secured a slot to commemorate the anniversary of the terrible Srebrenica genocide which took place in July 1995, and in which more than 8000 Muslim men and boys were massacred by the Serb army. I visited Bosnia with UK charity Remembering Srebrenica last year to learn about this terrible atrocity. Everyone who does so is asked to pledge to do something to ensure the events are never forgotten, and that lessons are learned from them.
Back home in Manchester, it was a great pleasure to watch children from Moss Park Junior school developing their debating skills as they participated in a mock trial organised by the Magistrates' Association. I also made a great visit to Stretford High to meet their City Year volunteers. These young people give up a year to support students with learning, development and behaviour, and it's clear they're very popular, and valued by staff and pupils.
I also enjoyed opening the summer festival at Flixton Juniors, and attending Trafford Pride (in Altrincham, so not strictly in my constituency, but local MP Graham Brady assured me I was welcome. I certainly felt it). And I'm very pleased to be working with local campaigners who are worried about proposals to build a distribution centre on our Meadows, and to close George Carnall leisure centre respectively. More information, online petitions, and a survey about leisure centre use are on my Facebook page and website here, so please go online and complete them.