POST ELECTION MESSAGE - JULY 2017
An election in which the people have spoken: now all of us in Parliament need to listen. And act.
On Election Night, the British people gave the political parties an inconvenient, but nonetheless important, and clear message. As I said in my acceptance speech in Dereham, whilst it is a huge honour and privilege to have been returned with 59% of the vote, I have heard the grievances aired in this election, and I am absolutely determined as your MP to act on them.
First, that means recognising that although no party got a majority, that doesn't mean dismissing the result. Quite the opposite. It means understanding what the electorate are trying to tell us. And showing that we, as your elected MPs, have heard and will act on it. As I have done in the last three weeks.
What were these key messages?
I believe they were:
- that the country doesn't think any party deserved a majority on the basis of their campaigns, and is suspicious of a partisan approach to the big challenges we face, whether Brexit, Social Care, Mental Health, school teaching or the NHS.
- widespread concern amongst those who cherish, work in and rely on our great public services that we have reached 'breaking point' with the model of public sector pay and spending restraint following the Great Crash (2010-2017) which is now too blunt, demoralising and too often results in cuts to frontline services.
- widespread concern at the rising cost of living, which combined with low interest rates and below inflation pay rises mean many pensioners and those in work are getting worse off.
- deep resentment from the generation under 40 who are now incurring £30,000 debts to pay for their University education, and then can't afford to get onto the housing ladder, which has become the principle way to build up savings in our economy.
- real concern at the state of elderly care and the growing pressure on NHS hospital beds arising from a lack of community beds and facilities due to the fragmentation of NHS and Social Care, and disproportionate funding cuts to local government social care.
Good politics means listening, as well as promising, and – as I have always tried to do – putting Country before Party.
That’s why I have decided since the Election to say what I know the majority of my constituents want and to speak out in Parliament and in Government for fresh thinking and policies in these key areas to reassure people that I, as your Conservative MP, and Government ministers, are listening and committed to tackling these grievances.
In the last four weeks I have, in a series of speeches and media appearances, called for this new Conservative Government to changes it approach in a number of key areas:
My article in the Daily Telegraph on the lessons of the Election calling for an end to public sector austerity and a new approach to public services, Brexit and housing
My speech in the House of Commons following the Queen’s Speech calling for a less partisan, ideological and divisive approach to Brexit
My interview on Radio 4’s ‘World at One’ on the impact of the rising cost of living on those on low incomes
My speech to the Tory Reform Group on the need for a new deal for a new post-Brexit Britain
Over the last 7 years as your MP (and previously in my 10-year career working with NHS clinicians) I have got to know many fine people in the public sector, and it’s clear to me that whilst there was initial support in 2010 for the vital belt tightening in the wake of the Great Crash, we now need a different approach. This is not to say we should abandon austerity, but we need to think more innovatively and creatively when it comes to our economy. As I set out to my article in The Times recently I believe we need a new way based on incentives and research rather than blanket ‘caps and cuts’.
As you may have seen, these calls have been widely reported:
Over the summer I am organising a group of MPs who feel the same way, and setting up a new non-party political 'Constituency Cabinet' of local public service leaders to help advise me on the local complexities of public spending and service reform.
As I promised when first elected, and when re-elected, for me good politics is about 'People and Place Before Party', and I believe this election is a clear signal that the Conservative Party needs to take a similar approach in Government.
As ever, I can only represent you if I hear your views and those of other constituents so do please get in touch to share with me your views.
By listening, working together, and reaching across party lines to find common ground, here in Norfolk and in Parliament, I believe we can solve some of the very real challenges we face.