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Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England

Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

This is where you can find my thoughts on politics in the south of England - from parish councils in Sussex to European politics in Oxford

I sat in the seat of the F35 fighter jet

The F-35 is the world's most expensive weapons project

A major disappointment for the crowds flocking to Hampshire for the Farnborough Airshow was the non-appearance of the new American-built F35 fighter plane.

At £233bn the new stealth fighter is the most expensive weapons order ever placed, due to fly with the RAF and on the new British Navy carriers.

British test pilots have already been putting it through its paces, but the hotly awaited first appearance in UK skies was cancelled after an engine fire grounded the whole fleet.

A life size model is on display - and people queued around the block to gaze into the cockpit.

So imagine my amazement when at the back of one of the trade halls I found the stand of the Martin-Baker company - and the seat of an F35, which they were happy for visitors to try out for size.

ejector seat
Ok ... the rest of the F35 is missing!

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Reading MP Rob Wilson turns down minister's job

It has been an anxious week for many backbenchers hoping to climb the greasy pole.

Conservatives were waiting by their phones on Monday and Tuesday hoping to hear the Number 10 switchboard: "Just putting you through to the prime minister."

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PM's reshuffle 'secrets' overheard on a train

Sometimes the most useful information surfaces in a surprising way.

Amidst the swirl of reshuffle speculation, a conversation overheard on the 16:43 from Chichester to London Victoria has provided something more concrete.

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The new old science of the inter-web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web

Michael Gove is changing the way England's schools teach IT.

His answer is coding. It's rigorous. Testable. Difficult.

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The art of the apology - why prompt is not always profound

David Cameron
David Cameron admitted he had made a bad decision in hiring Andy Coulson

Maybe by making a swift apology the Prime Minister thinks he can take the heat out of the Andy Coulson affair.

The jury's verdicts were not complete, so maybe he had to skip some detail. But he could have waited. After all, three years has passed since he said this in the House of Commons.

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Peter added analysis to:

UKIP gains seats and share in South East EU vote

The ripples from the UKIP earthquake seem to grow larger away from London. The biggest surge in the South was on the Isle of Wight, where Nigel Farage's party took 41% of the vote compared with 22% at the last election.

Further along the coast in the Sussex towns of Littlehampton and Bognor, 42% of votes went to UKIP. These are areas that have seen some European migrant workers looking for low-paid work. They have also suffered through the recession.

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How do you vote for a protest party?

Houses of Parliament
The fixed parliamentary term means there's less incentive to vote to bring the government down

It used to be a favourite at the ballot box - a protest vote. Stuff the lot of them!

And the protest vote was often popular mid-term, when a government was losing its shine, starting to miss policy targets, with the sticky mud of sleaze slowing progress. It was a chance to leave loyalty aside and send a message to those in charge.

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It's not just Farage who is afraid

nigel farage

The welcome that UKIP's Nigel Farage got in Portsmouth was close to presidential. Seven or eight TV crews came from across Europe, along with dozens of photographers and correspondents.

It must have left him thinking he could walk on water.

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UKIP angry over 'confusing' Euro election name

First we had the candidate for the "Literal Democrats". A name so similar to the Liberal Democrats that just enough voters made a mistake and changed the result.

Now UKIP is complaining to the Electoral Commission about the registration of a party for May's European elections in the South West of England with the name "An Independence from Europe".

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Three MPs in two-bed 'shocker'

Looking through some of the online records of MPs' expenses I come across a startling disclosure.

3 mps
Caroline Dinenage, Mark Lancaster & Caroline Nokes

The MP for Romsey and Southampton North Caroline Nokes is very open about her affairs. Every penny is listed, with a chart comparing her spending to others in Hampshire.

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About Peter

Peter Henley has been a reporter in the South of England for more than 20 years, covering five elections and interviewing all the party leaders since Edward Heath.

Favourite assignments include flying to Antigua at three hours' notice to report on a volcano erupting and mysteriously being unable to come straight home.

Peter enjoys old cars, new gadgets and playing cricket. He lives in the New Forest with his three sons and wife Sam, who's a counsellor.

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