Whilst we have all been subjected to hours of coverage and millions of words of post-election analysis, under any usual measure, my Party obtaining 42.4% of the national vote and a 5.5% increase in its share with 13.7 million votes would have been considered a highly successful result.
The rise of Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal as the election progressed and the return to two party politics caught us by surprise. Our manifesto lacked excitement and offered a very functionary view of the obvious problems facing the country with little more than further hard work and tight finances to resolve them. It was an honest manifesto but couldn’t compare on appeal with the simplistic and unrealistic ‘lots of free stuff’ offering from the opposition.
It appears that we need to make the case once more that balanced finances are a virtue, that you cannot tax your way to prosperity and that capitalism whatever its flaws has done more to lift billions of people across the world out of poverty and provided us, as UK residents with the highest standards of living ever. And also we need to state very clearly that ‘the magic money tree’ does not exist in Whitehall and never did.
Here in South Thanet, my 25,262 votes, and 50.8% represents the highest number of votes cast for a Conservative Parliamentary candidate since the creation of the seat in 1983. My thanks go to all of you who put your trust in me once more to return me, by a significant margin, as your MP.
It’s now back to normal in Westminster. The hung Parliament result means that the Queen’s speech (the government’s agenda for the two years ahead) is slimmed down. This is no bad thing; I have long felt that governments of all flavours have been guilty of over-legislating when existing legislation and accepted Ministerial powers could solve the perceived problem that new legislation is trying to overcome. I am pleased that we will be concentrating on Brexit related legislation. We will, for the first time in 43 years, be able to enact legislation for UK fishing, farming, customs, borders and international free trade. That is refreshing.
We remain in shock about the Grenfell Tower disaster and it is right that a thorough public inquiry takes place. This will not be an immediate report – the issues are too complex, but answers will be found and improvements made. It is far too early to jump to simple conclusions and I am appalled that so many have tried to make political capital out of this human tragedy. The government has committed to help local authorities through this, and that is the right approach.
My ambitions for our constituency now restart, with regeneration at its heart. I have already held a couple of constituency surgeries, met with residents’ groups, attended key civic events and re-commenced my regular national and local media contributions. Great to be back.