Candidate for Windsor
Working Hard For You
Time to Consider the Future

The Coalition government came together in the national interest armed with the primary purpose of fixing the economic mess left by the previous administration.  The Conservative-led government has been working hard in the face of strong economic headwinds, within the constraints of coalition.  It has not been easy, but significant progress has been made on its priority of reducing Labour’s deficit and stabilising the public finances for the future.

It has been a bumpy ride and in the third year of Coalition government there is understandable concern about what happens next, especially when the Coalition partners appear to be pulling in different directions.

The Institute for Government’s recent report on the mid-term renewal of a coalition government’s legislative programme is informative.  Historically in Britain and across the world, mid-term renewals are common, especially during periods of coalition.  And the practical reasons for an immediate review and renewal the Coalition agreement are compelling.

 

As we enter the third year of coalition, new issues are emerging which require legislation.  Issues like banking reform, adult social care, party political funding and many more were not dealt with in the 2010 agreement. To address these issues, a prioritisation of Coalition policies needs to take place now.

From a Conservative party perspective, the choices we are facing would be made easier following review:  Do we move to minority government or call an election as newly emerging Lib Dem demands seemingly undermine good governance?  How is a Eurozone implosion to be handled?  If a referendum is triggered by an EU treaty change, do we offer a wider question on our relationship with the EU?  Should the government bring forward policies which were not part of the coalition agreement, such as those surrounding marriage, Lords Reform and aspects of NHS restructuring?

A renewal of the agreement would also take seriously the concerns of the voluntary and parliamentary Conservative party and boost the morale of Associations throughout the country.  As a grass roots Conservative activist since the 1980s, I know how loyal, hard-working and effective the Party can be.  Nowadays, when I visit Conservative Associations, I pick up a sense of frustration with coalition and a concern that party members are distanced from influencing decision-making at the top.  When there is a danger that the Conservative Party is viewed as a problem to be managed from the top down as a tool of coalition, rather than a supportive family valued by its representatives, it is vital that party members’ views are heard and embraced.

To rebuild connections with the parliamentary and voluntary party, I believe the time is right to calmly consider what we want for the future.  Loyalty runs deep in the Conservative Party, but it does not extend to the idea of permanent coalition.  While some people may enjoy the concept of perpetual coalition, the Conservative Party must have a distinct identity and seek to prevent future coalitions.  Coalition is ultimately the unwanted side effect of the Party’s failure to win an outright majority.  But a vibrant and motivated Conservative Party is a formidable foundation for winning elections.

Mid-term polls rarely make enjoyable reading for governing parties, but we cannot afford to hide from the negative approval ratings which point to a Labour/Lib Dem coalition if something is not done.  Fear of tackling the underlying discontent among supporters and voters must not allow us to sleep-walk into losing the 30-40 marginal seats that were so hard won in 2010, needlessly squandering the high-calibre and energetic new MPs of the future.

With many MPs feeling they have nothing to lose and a lot to offer in the current climate, we must also harness their energy and expertise to forge a new manifesto and election-winning strategy for what remains of this Parliament.

It is reassuring that many Conservative MPs are working hard to define the policies and manifesto required for a Conservative majority at the next election.  2020 Conservatives, newly elected MPs and the 1922 sub-committees are working on policy ideas for the manifesto, because we are determined to see a wholly Conservative government.  There is great experience among Conservative Peers and Associations which must also be brought to bear.

Right now the country and the party need a greater sense of mission and direction.  We must make and win the arguments for a more prosperous Britain with a caring and determined majority Conservative government.  By reviewing and refreshing the terms of the Coalition agreement, we will have the chance to rally round and reaffirm our confidence in the direction of travel and increase the chances of making economic growth a reality.

It is in this context that Conservative MPs are keen to reflect on the future of both the next manifesto and the Coalition agreement.  Consideration of what the country needs from the remainder of the Coalition period must be part of the process of renewal.

 

My maiden speech in Parliament

As an ardent campaigner for decision making to remain in this House, I am delighted to address the House today. I must thank the retiring Member for Windsor for his continuous hard work over many years. It is thanks to him that the doors of the Edward VII hospital remain open; it is thanks to him that the doors of the Helena Day ward remain open. I must also thank him for his good work with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and its continued work in Belarus and Tibet.

I must also thank the members of the Windsor Conservative association, who selected and supported me more than 19 months ago. It really means something to me that they have stuck with me the whole way through the hard work of getting elected. Of course, I must thank the residents of Windsor for the warm welcome that I received on 35,000 doorsteps. I recognise that many of them will have broken with former allegiances to deliver the result that delivers me here today.

I would like to tell you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, about the wonderful constituency that I represent. It has leafy hills and dales; it has great parks and lakes. It is beautiful and attractive, as are the people. I recall one particular doorstep on which I was campaigning early one morning. I knocked on the door and a beautiful young lady answered. She seemed stunned to see me, and I was certainly stunned, but also delighted, to see her—thinking that I was her boyfriend, she had come to the door completely naked. I have lost my train of thought now.

We have some wonderful schools in the constituency. One near Slough, with which many Members will be familiar, is particularly notable. We also have wonderful historic buildings. With the award given to the Fat Duck a few weeks ago it is now accepted the world over that we have the finest dining in the entire world. We benefit from internationally renowned race courses, and we have a strong military presence, with the Household Cavalry and the Blues and Royals. We have one of the finest, grandest and most popular tourist attractions in the whole world—a symbol of our national historic heritage. I refer of course to Legoland. We also have one or two notable residents, of whom I am sure we are all aware.

We face some challenges, too. The character of our area, our community and our neighbourhoods is being ruined by insensitive high-density development. That is placing pressure on our roads, creating queues at our GPs’ surgeries and causing stress to parents who cannot find a place for their children in the local schools. We have also had the blight of flooding in recent years. In areas such as Horton, Wraysbury, Old Windsor and Datchet, the risks caused by the inadequate measures on the Jubilee river still exist. In other parts of the constituency, the challenge and threat of increasing aircraft noise remain. We have a noisy neighbour in Heathrow, which not only provides employment but brings stresses and strains with the continued noise and pollution that is created. We have some challenges, and we must rise to meet them.

Like many Members, I come from a fairly ordinary background. When one comes from an ordinary background, one is determined to make something of oneself. I worked hard at school, I made it to grammar school and then on to university. I have worked hard in business for many years. I am delighted that today, the organisations that I helped to start provide incomes and livelihoods for about 300 people and their families. I will continue to work hard here in Parliament, to take action on the issues that matter to us all.

When I was being lovingly dragged up in south-east London, a thought struck me. My friends, my family and the people with whom I have worked over the years all seem to be happier when they are making decisions for themselves—when they have control of their own lives. One of the biggest causes of stress in Britain today is a feeling that one’s own life is out of one’s control. With my hon. Friends, I am determined that people should regain a sense of control over their lives. We have had a lot of talk today about civil liberties, and I am determined that we shall continue that push towards civil liberties, towards a country free from unnecessary interference from state and government.

Despite the sleep deprivation during the campaign and for the first couple of weeks here in Parliament, I am thrilled, delighted, excited and elated to be here, but I am also conscious of the onerous responsibility that we bear as Members. The House has my commitment that I will take action; I will not only campaign for the residents of Windsor but take action on the things that matter to us all. In the years to come, I want all of us to feel a sense of control over our lives, a sense of self-confidence in who we are and, as far as is possible in a civilised society, a sense of freedom to enjoy our lives in the way that we choose. Above all, I want all British citizens to rediscover a sense of pride in being British. I say without hesitation or hindrance that I am proud to be British. I am proud to play a small role in this debate, and I am proud that under your watchful eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will play a small role in the future of our great nation.