It has been the most extraordinary last couple of months and clearly the result on June 8th was not the one that the Prime Minister had hoped for when she called a snap election at the beginning of May which seems an eternity ago now. The lack of a majority for the Conservative government has obviously made things a lot more difficult going forward not least in the way we approach the crucial Brexit negotiations.
As I write a deal has just been done whereby the DUP MPs will vote with Conservative MPs on a ‘confidence and supply’ basis to make sure we have a working government and to restore some stability which is crucial. A number of people have written to me expressing concerns about the nature of some of the DUP’s policy and I have a lot of sympathy with that but as I have written here this is not a coalition agreement as we had with the Lib Dems in 2010 and I would certainly not be supporting anything that meant rowing back on any part of our equality agenda for example. The most important thing is that we have a working government that can get on with the important national and international matters in hand.
As regards the election campaign I have had many conversations with many constituents subsequently and there is no point trying to gloss over the fact that nationally the Conservative campaign was pretty shambolic and probably the worst one I have been involved in since I started electioneering back in the 1970’s. The launch of our manifesto and particularly the measures on social care which came out of the blue were badly handled if well intentioned. Not surprisingly this alarmed many of our older citizens locally on the doorstep. I am pleased that many of these measures have been dropped and we need to have a much more transparent and grown up debate about sustainable funding of good quality adult social care for example, something that is particularly important in Worthing and Adur.
I have included a run down on the 27 Bills that were included in the delayed Queen’s Speech here and a link to a short contribution I made in the subsequent Queen’s Speech debate here, where I focussed on fair funding for schools which undoubtedly and unsurprisingly was a major issue in the general election. I have given a separate update on the state of the school funding proposals below following on from the extensive work that I have already been involved in over the last years with Parliamentary colleagues and local heads, teachers, governors and parents.
As regards the result in East Worthing & Shoreham I am delighted to have been re-elected as your local MP and I am grateful for everyone who voted for me. As always however I am here to represent all the residents of East Worthing & Shoreham whoever you voted for, whether you are old enough to vote or not and whether you actually did. Whilst the Conservative vote increased and was the highest ever since the new constituency was formed in 1997 my majority was significantly reduced on account of a strong rise in the Labour vote and a squeeze on the minority parties, all of whom lost their deposits. The full result was as follows:
Leslie Groves Williams
National Health Action
Turnout: 51,673 (70.7%)
I congratulate the Labour candidate on her success and thank all the candidates for the respectful and generally good humoured way the campaign was carried out. Obviously it as a very difficult campaign punctuated by the terrible terrorist attacks in Manchester and London after which campaigning was suspended quite rightly. These terrible events were followed shortly after the election by the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, I have published my thoughts on what happened here and below.
Unfortunately, due to the terrorist attacks, several of the hustings planned for candidates were cancelled and we were not able to cover nearly as much ground knocking on doors as I always like to do. In addition there was a certain level of ‘election fatigue’ as locally we had been knocking on doors since March campaigning for the County Council elections where I am pleased to say that the Conservative candidates won all 8 of the seats across the constituency. The details of your new county councillors are as follows:
Sompting & North Lancing
Subsequently we will be organising a series of neighbourhood meetings where constituents can come drop in and see local councillors and me in their locality over coming months. In addition I will be restarting the ‘Talk to Tim’ public meetings which I held around the constituency in the run up to the EU referendum and which were very well supported. With so much going on around Brexit, parliamentary majorities, public services, school funding, the A27 etc this is an opportunity for people to come along and hear my take on national and local issues and ask any questions informally. They are not intended to be political ‘slanging matches’ and I hope that people will come along and engage in them in the positive spirit in which they are intended. These will be in addition to the regular street surgeries and confidential fortnightly constituency surgeries which will continue most weeks as they have for many years now. All details will be on my website, Facebook page and Twitter.
I mentioned that the election campaign against the other candidates was held in good humour. However one very unwelcome feature of this campaign was the unprecedented level of gratuitous abuse on social media both nationally and locally. This went well beyond acceptable political discourse and healthy debate on policy. All those who put themselves up for public office are rightly subject to scrutiny and should be challenged but it is never necessary to use the level of vitriol that many of us were subject to just on account of the fact that we stood as Conservative Party candidates. I may disagree with many of my colleagues in Parliament on policy but I never question their right to express their views or their dedication and hard work to do the best thing by their constituents. Alas a few people think they have a God given right to be offensive to an MP. We would not tolerate such treatment of any other public servant so why should politicians be any different?
I use Twitter and Facebook platforms largely to put out information on what is going on in Westminster or in the constituency and what positions I have taken. When I have time I respond mostly on Facebook but only to those who are constituents and who genuinely want to engage rather than just post abusive remarks and display their own prejudices, and where it is constructive to get a debate going. I do not use Twitter for policy statements which it would be impossible to fit into 140 characters and would always encourage constituents to email me always including their home addresses as I have my time cut out dealing with 91,000 constituents let alone everyone else’s!
As always please do let me know if there are things not covered here that you would like me to include in future newsletters or indeed on social media. I was grateful to the many people who commented on my newsletter whilst knocking on doors during the election and I am aware that this is a major source of information for a great many of my constituents now.