May 19th 2010
May the sixth seems like two hundred political light years in the past but it is, in fact, only a fortnight ago and this is the first chance that I have had to thank the more than fifty per cent of those voting in North Thanet for the confidence that they have placed in me for a seventh time.
Re-election is not something that any Member of Parliament should ever take for granted however "safe" his or her seat may appear to be.. Success at the ballot box has to be based upon team effort and hard work not only during the election but for all of the months and years in between elections and even then the ebb and flow of the political tide can leave a candidate high and dry. Those voting may judge in part upon record but they also look to the future and they want to know that the men and women that they send to Westminster will put their Country's interests and the interests of those that they are elected to represent above all else.
That has possibly never, since the dark days of the Second World War, been more important than it is today and will be for the term of this parliament that lies ahead.
I would, naturally, have liked to have seen my own party given a clear mandate to form a majority government in order to enable us to get on with the huge task of sorting out our Nation's finances and setting the UK on the road to recovery and renewed prosperity. I believe that the circumstances that we are now faced with will make that task harder but not impossible and it is clearly up to each and every one of us serving within the coalition to strive our utmost to make it work in the national interest.
There are, of course, considerable political and philosophical differences between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats but if we allow ourselves the luxury of devoting much of our time to those differences rather than to the areas of agreement and opportunity with which we are confronted then the venture will fail and those responsible will rightly be held responsible for that failure.
I do not propose to sacrifice the principles by which I have lived my political life and I will not sell short the aspirations of those who placed their trust in me at the beginning of this month. I have, though, always believed that from the moment that the election result is announced the winner is, and must remain, simply the Member of Parliament with the duty to try to advance the cause of all of those living in his or her constituency rather than just those who may have given their electoral support. In thanking those many, Conservative and of other political parties who nevertheless voted for me I once again undertake to serve them to the best of my ability. That does not mean unquestioning or unqualified backing of the disparate personalities that go to make up the coalition but it does, I think, mean giving it a fair wind. I hope that is what will be expected of me.