What an honour and a privilege it is to have been asked for the fifth consecutive time to serve the people of North Wiltshire in Parliament. At the Count in the Malmesbury Leisure Center, I pledged to work as hard as I always have for people of all political persuasions and of none.
But may I also be permitted a little immodesty in being proud of my much increased majority? I won the seat in 1997 with a worryingly slim majority of 3500. In 2001 it grew a little – to 3900. By 2005 it was 5300, and by 2010 it had grown to 7500. I did therefore find it humbling to see the vast pile of votes on my table at the Count- 29,000 of them amounting to 57.2% of the votes cast, and giving me a majority of 21046. That is the largest majority of all the seats in Wiltshire at this election, I think the largest ever secured in any election in Wiltshire and rivals the safest seats in England.
Yet I am reminded of one boastful MP who told Margaret Thatcher that he had “got 25136 votes in the election.“ “No, dear,” she replied, “you got 136, I got the 25,000 for you.” She was right. The people of North Wiltshire and across the West and South West wanted a Conservative Government led by David Cameron to continue the good work we have done for the last five years. They voted in droves for me not because of any personal merit (save for a few dear friends and supporters) but because they wanted that result.
I will not forget that, and will always put the country first in whatever I say and do over the next five years. I will seek to support the Conservative Government on every occasion. Yet my only real interest is the people of North Wiltshire, and I will always be ready to fight for their interests in whatever way may be required of me. That may mean from time to time speaking up boldly from the backbenches without fear or favour. That has always been my way and always will be.
So from the bottom of my heart, I thank the people of North Wiltshire for renewing their faith in me in this very convincing way. I have served you now for eighteen years, which will shortly make me the longest standing MP ever for any seat in Wiltshire, a milestone, coming as it does approximately half way through my career!
I thank the people of North Wiltshire for their renewed confidence in me, and pledge to honour that trust by working on their behalf as hard as ever I have.