I’d first like to thank the voters of South Thanet for my re-election as their Member of Parliament. The national tide was clearly with the Conservatives mainly because of our unambiguous message on Brexit and the clear unpopularity, verging towards fear expressed by many, of any potential Jeremy Corbyn led government.
The South Thanet result saw a swing of more than 5% to me, and a majority of 10,587 and 22%, the type of results not seen since the days of landslide majorities enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher at her peak. We’ve long got used to elections being in the spring or summer; this was the first December general election since 1923. Whereas candidates and their team can usually be spotted for their sun-tanned face and hands, this time it was chapped lips, ruddied faces and sniffles.
The first few days back in Parliament shows it to be a very different place. Lots of new colleagues in good spirits looking forward to the work ahead as we convert, collectively, manifesto commitments into reality. These must include the obvious of getting Brexit done and moving rapidly to new negotiations with the EU on the shape of a new mutually beneficial free trade agreement, but also domestically on delivering an improved NHS which can match the demands of our ageing population and rapid advances, at huge cost, in available medical procedures and pharmaceutical wonder drugs, none of which could have been dreamed of just a generation ago.
We need to have a serious, and I hope cross-party, debate on how the NHS and long term social care can be paid for and what it can best be, and whether just more of the same, simply adding money to the pot is really the best way forwards. I look forward to seeing more police available to us all as the recruitment process gathers pace in Kent and I hope to be part of the process in Budget setting and tax policy. Simpler, flatter and lower are my watchwords.
We have an opportunity with such a healthy majority of resetting the UK to match the new and evolving global marketplace. To me that also means less intrusive government, less bureaucracy, less red tape across many aspects of our lives, leaving us free to make more of our own decisions and choices.
Much to do locally. As the economy grows further, and I believe there will be a major short term boost we will see the fruits of that here feeding into public and private regeneration, more jobs and improving wages. We need a visionary plan for Ramsgate Port away from the sloth hand of local government. Debate will move rapidly in January towards the Manston site as we await the decision by the Secretary of State on its future.
In the meantime I wish all readers a very happy, restful Christmas and a happy New Year.