Gale`s View – 11th Jan 2012
Normal service will resume in the immediate future. Forgive me, though, if I use this first column of 2012 to both thank those very many kind and generous people who have been in touch with Suzy and myself since the publication of the New Year`s Honours list and also to set out a modest personal stall.
I have been correctly quoted as saying that the knighthood belongs to very many people. First, to my wife, Suzy, who has worked alongside me and supported me not only in parliament but for many years before. I am blessed with a great team in our office, very many friends and, most particularly, I have enjoyed the support of literally thousands of people who have placed their electoral faith in me at every general election since 1983. These are the people to whom the credit for whatever we have achieved together belongs.
It has been gratifying, also, to have received kind messages from many people who do not share my politics and from Labour and Liberal opponents in the Houses of Parliament. I have always believed that from the moment of election the candidate is The Member of Parliament”, with a duty to try to represent the views of those with whom he or she does not always agree as well as the views of supporters. That is why I have not followed the path taken by some colleagues on both sides of the House who describe themselves on headed notepaper as "The Conservative.... or "The Labour…. or The Liberal……Member for…….”
The passage of time makes it easier, I think, to be a little less partisan and although I will continue to robustly play party-politics with those who wish to engage in political blood sports I suppose that fifteen years with the Speaker`s Panel of Chairmen has led to a slightly broader view. It is frequently, if not always, more productive to work behind the scenes that to make fiery speeches or table a welter of costly parliamentary questions.
There is much that I still wish to address in East Kent. I want to see the creation of the genuinely fast, efficient and affordable rail service that will benefit not only the relative small number of people who commute to London daily but that will help to attract the job creating investment that we need to provide for our future.
In Margate I want to see the re-development of the Dreamland site, the creation of a Heritage Amusement Park and the re-vitalisation of the waterfront through to completion. The Turner Contemporary has been, to date, a huge success but it is only the cornerstone of a much larger project that will need to embrace a new lifeboat centre, a new hotel, a refurbished Winter Gardens and a re-developed Lido site.
In Herne Bay there is the whole issue of the re-development of the Town Centre to be addressed alongside the need to create more and appropriate housing and schools located in the right place and on the right scale. It can be no longer acceptable for the Town`s schoolchildren to have to travel miles to attend grammar or college education
If the proposed boundary changes are approved and if my constituency moves west” in 2015 then there will be new issues and other concerns, currently dealt with by Julian Brazier, that will need my attention and over-riding all of this is the demand to see the nation`s economy restored to good health, our relationship with mainland Europe set on a sensible footing and the Great put back into Britain.
I have said, and mean, that if I find myself suffering from what is known in the trade as compassion fatigue”, if the lot of my fellow men locally, nationally and in the developing world, no longer moves me, then I shall stop. Until then, or until the Men in Grey (or white!) coats tell me that I am no longer effective and come to take me away then it seems to me that there is a great deal to occupy me and those around me for some time to come.