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Gale's View

November 8th 2017

Suzy and I are blessed with three children. The eldest, our daughter, surrendered a great career as a self- made ( no help from Father) television producer and director to raise our premature grandson. Our eldest son is an excellent and highly committed veterinary surgeon and father of two girls and our youngest son has worked in HR, is about to take a leap of faith and set up his own consultancy and has provided us with another grand daughter and grandson. They are all caring, compassionate and morally courageous people and each and every one of them would make an excellent elected representative of the people.


Sadly, I have found it necessary advise them, and some other young friends of the same generation, to avoid parliament and to find other ways of making their own contributions to society. Fortunately some of them, especially those who have not had the experience of being born into and brought up in a political family, may well ignore my advice. Their determination  will overcome my misanthropic view and will drive them onwards and upwards to seek election to the House of Commons. Many other bright, honest, decent , talented and successful young people may, though, be dissuaded from considering a career in public service by a repute of Parliament that is in a downward spiral.


What is also of concern is a Member's relationship with his or her young constituents.  


I have, over getting on for thirty- five years, welcomed the ability to offer brief  ' work experience' to young men and women, often at the request of the educational establishments that they attend.I have enjoyed and benefitted myself from contact with bright young minds and challenging opinions and I would like to think that they in turn have gained something from brief exposure to the Palace of Westminster, a constituency office and an advice surgery.  It looks as though, with huge regret, that facility is going to have to now be much harder if not impossible to offer. I am not able to provide chaperones in the House of Commons and even with what I believe to be an unimpeachable record I am not prepared to expose myself and those that I hold dear to the possibility of unfounded accusations of misconduct that are, in the present foetid climate generated by the media, now immediately regarded as fact.


When I appeared on the Today programme last Saturday morning to speak in defence of the overwhelming majority of decent and hard working Men and Women on both sides of the House of Commons who were heading off to advice surgeries knowing that their trust had been undermined I anticipated a storm of abuse.  In fact I have been gratified to have received very many messages of support for the traditional view that a person is innocent until proven guilty and that just because a person makes an allegation of unwanted sexual advances does not make those allegations true.  I understand that my comments provoked a storm of protest on a twittersphere to which I do not subscribe but I hold to the view that historic and unsubstantiated accusations should not be allowed to bring down able people who have in many cases given up a very great deal to serve their Country well.


This is not a defence of impropriety. Rape, particularly, is a vile crime and sexual assault and the abuse of power are unacceptable also. Properly reported alleged offences warrant full investigation and if proven should result in the ultimate sanction against those found wanting in whatever walk of life. 


 I do not, though, buy into the view that Members of Parliament should be treated, in this regard, differently from Teachers or Police Officers, or Lawyers or Doctors or Nurses or those in our Armed Forces or in Business or Industry or in any other responsible position. We are human, we are flawed, we make mistakes and on occasions we take actions that we subsequently regret .As I have said before if you want MPs to behave like monks and nuns then elect monks and nuns. Otherwise, please accept the fact that we are not perfect and subject us to the same laws and judge us by the same yardstick as you would wish to have applied to yourself. 


I shall continue to endeavour to see the tasks that I have undertaken through to completion, which is why I have sought and been granted re- selection to fight the next General Election. I of course have to hope for the sake of this United Kingdom that others will follow confidently in my footsteps and those of my colleagues . I fear, though, for the future of parliamentary democracy if the witch hunt is allowed to continue.

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