MP for Windsor
Working Hard For You
Victory in Newark thanks to the conservative family

Last night’s Conservative victory in Newark is a fantastic result for the party.

While campaigning in Newark, I was overwhelmed by the number of young Conservative members knocking on doors and handing out leaflets alongside MPs, grassroot supporters and local activists. It shows that the conservative family is truly in good health. So I’ve written an article for the Huffington Post celebrating the hard work of the many campaigners who travelled to Newark over the last few weeks.

I’m certain that Robert Jenrick will do a superb job standing up for his constituents in Parliament, and I look forward to seeing him on Monday!

Read the article on the Huffington Post

 

A lesson from South Shields – why we need to legislate for an EU referendum

Yesterday I went to South Shields to support Karen Allen, our candidate in the by-election prompted by the resignation of David Miliband.  We couldn’t have a better candidate. She was born and brought up in the area, and I even had the chance to meet her parents who were active on the campaign trail. Above, all she’s a dedicated candidate who is passionate about her area and the Conservative cause.

There was a wonderful spirit amongst the volunteers on the day, including Emma Pidding and Charles Heslop, President of the National Conservative Convention. It was great to have the opportunity to listen to the voters – they are not hostile, it’s just that they need to see us, hear more from us and find out what we’re all about once again.

Voters in South Shields want the same things as everyone else – they want jobs, a top-class educational system and more opportunities to better their lives. I spoke to a taxi driver about the issue of uncontrolled immigration. He wasn’t negative, but he did feel things were out of control and that politicians weren’t doing enough to help the situation. I spoke to stall holders in the market who just wanted the economy to pick up so they could make ends meet for themselves.

Even if we don’t win seats like this now, or in 2015, our party must ensure the Conservative message resonates all over the country, not just in the affluent parts of the South of England. It’s in areas like South Shields that we should be making headway.

I don’t believe in no-go areas for the Conservative party. If we treat some areas of the country as a lost cause; if we make assumptions based on prejudice, we don’t deserve to win the next election. We must be unafraid to speak to and welcome voters of all persuasions, wherever they live.

It is the old-style politics of ‘your area, my area’ that’s our enemy; the old way of dividing the country into left and right. We must certainly never criticise voters for their decision to support others in the past – we must be strong enough to accept that perhaps it’s our fault that we failed to engage and convince them. I’m optimistic we can win over constituencies like South Shields in time, but only if we have the message and the confidence to engage.

Having spoken to one or two UKIP campaigners in South Shields, it seems to me that the only way forward is if we acknowledge the way people really feel about immigration and Europe, and gain enough credibility that they trust us to deliver the referendum after robust negotiations. If we’re serious, we must bring the legislation that enables a referendum before parliament sooner rather than later. Even if Labour and Lib Dem MPs vote against it, the British people will know we’re serious. Otherwise constituencies like South Shields will never take us seriously.

I want the party to start loving business more, helping small and big business to prosper, hire staff and deliver the economic growth we need; particularly in the North given the previous levels of state dependency. I’m pushing for more help – in the form of lower taxes and fewer regulations – to boost businesses and industry in every area of the country. What we need is for new and established businesses to start taking on more staff – that way there’s a bright future not just for individuals but for the whole country.

 

What we can learn from Eastleigh

As a grassroots activist for 25 years, the Conservative Party is my home. I know the hard work activists and volunteers do behind the scenes because, like so many MPs, I’ve done it myself. I’ve enjoyed many days stuffing envelopes, canvassing, fundraising and chairing branch events – all those jobs behind the scenes that keep our Party running smoothly. The voluntary party really is ‘The’ Conservative Party. The legitimacy and power of Conservative MPs come directly from you.

So I know what a rollercoaster the last three weeks have been for everyone. Maria was an excellent candidate and it must be a very tough day for her. We’ve all worked incredibly hard to try to win the Eastleigh seat. And we’ve shared the load. I worked with a team of 10 councillors and activists from my Windsor constituency alongside hundreds of other Conservative activists on the doorsteps in Eastleigh. I was there on Election Day door-knocking with hundreds more. The camaraderie among MPs and activists was infectious. It is reassuring that we can still pull together as a Party in tough circumstances to get the message across that the country would be better with a wholly Conservative Government. I saw first-hand how hard we can work. So I’m obviously very disappointed by the result.

In Eastleigh I met and talked to voters on the streets and at their homes. We listened very carefully to what people had to say. I’ve always believed that you need to be an active listener. Only then can you devise policies that address people’s concerns effectively. What I learned in Eastleigh is that people want us to focus on implementing clear policies that address the things that really matter to them. They want us to redouble our efforts to get growth back into the economy and take positive steps in the Budget to create more jobs through thriving British businesses. They want to see action right now. They want to feel confident about the future. And they want to know that we are on their side and will protect our interests in Europe.

By-elections are always unpredictable and this result is a wake-up call for all of us. It’s quite clear that we must refocus our efforts so that the Eastleigh result isn’t repeated across the country in 2015. We need to face up to the reasons why we lost and take action to make changes as quickly as possible. We must relentlessly cut Labour’s deficit. But we also need to encourage businesses, SMEs and sole traders. We need to help them export to new markets and make Britain the first-choice place to invest. We need to help British businesses regain their confidence; help them feel like they can invest, take on staff and grow.

As a Party, what we need to do now is to learn from this result. We need to take this result very seriously. I am optimistic about the future and we have time to turn things around. I want the Party to concentrate on policies that can deliver economic growth for the country sooner rather than later.

Sometimes failure is needed to refocus the effort to succeed. I think this result gives us a valuable opportunity to reflect on the decisions we’ve taken so far. It gives us the chance to move forward with policies that will help us win in 2015.

I know that there will be questions in the media about the threat posed by UKIP. It would be easy to start throwing our weight around and slinging mud in every direction. But that’s not the sensible way of going about things. We need to reflect calmly. We need to think carefully about what people are saying to us. Now is not the time to get side-tracked from the central issues facing the Country. David Cameron is doing a good job in difficult
circumstances and we must all work together and make every effort to help him and our Party get it right.