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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

Is Minister for Portsmouth a job for life?

There were a few raised eyebrows when Michael Fallon was appointed the first Minister for Portsmouth back in January.

The usual reaction was: What will he do? Followed by: Why can't WE have a minister?

But it worked wonders for Mr Fallon's career - proving a stepping stone to Secretary of State for Defence.

matt hancock
New Minister for Portsmouth Matt Hancock down by the water

So this week we got the second ever Minister For Portsmouth on a visit to our fine city.

Matt Hancock was if anything even keener than Michael Fallon, conducting a round of interviews and tours and dismissing talk that the job might not last beyond the General Election next May.

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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.

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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

30 April 2014
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

23 April 2014

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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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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