The Chief Whip (very unfairly in my view) muttered ‘disloyalty’ to me when I rebelled against the Government in a vote this week. Commonwealth and overseas soldiers in the British Army who have served for less than twelve years can only apply for a visa to remain in the UK in return for £2500 or so per head charge. As one Fijian locally complained to me “I have four children, so the bill would be £15,000 which is more than a post-tax year’s wage for me.” So I supported an amendment to make Indefinite Leave to Remain free for all such soldiers, which was important from a constituency, as well as a conviction standpoint. The allegation of ‘disloyalty’ may have been a little harsh.

For I have always felt that the 500-year-old Chippenham motto “Unity and Loyalty” has much to recommend it. That alone means that I will not be making any further comment on the allegations of parties in No 10, nor the other slings and arrows which are being fired at the Prime Minister. The Cabinet Secretary (and separately Lord Geidt over the PM’s flat’s décor) will look into it all; and I will await their verdicts. Innocent until (and unless) proven Guilty. But I am glad to say that I was not invited to any gatherings of any sort in Downing Street this time last year, and I have no inside information on any of them.

I do also feel that (leaving aside Allegra Stratton’s levity at a time when so many people were suffering so badly, which was unforgivable), there are so many huge issues on which we should be focussing rather than some of these minutiae. Will President Putin who has amassed this troops on the Ukrainian Border threatening war; or the very nasty Omicron variant threatening both our health and our freedoms; or the satisfactory but fragile economic recovery post-Covid; will any of them really wait to see what the Cabinet Secretary concludes about the wine and cheese and the existence (or not) of Secret Santa? These are real and huge threats to our way of life, rather than the Dominic Cummings inspired conspiracy theories emerging from Downing Street.

Not only that, but if you are output-driven in your judgements, then surely uniting the Party, winning a General Election with a record majority; getting Brexit done; successfully fighting the Global pandemic; hosting that vitally important Cop26 conference in Glasgow; and against all expectations delivering a fast-growing economy; surely all of these things are worthy of a good degree of credit?

We knew that we were electing a maverick when we chose Boris; we paid our fares for the Rollercoaster; but we also elected a winner. Delivering these governmental successes must surely be what really matters in the big picture rather than the wallpaper in Downing Street.

So for now I will say nothing about parties, I will accept that the scientists and doctors know more than I (as a specialist in Twelfth Century history) do about epidemiology; and by and large will try to make the Chief Whip regret his very unfair ‘disloyalty’ jibe. If ‘Unity ad Loyalty’ has worked for Chippenham for 500 years, it will do for me as well.

At least for now.