The age-old Lib-Dem tragedy is that they do ‘oh so well’ at by-elections by means of piling the entire resources of their Party, thousands of activists and great bags of money into them as a result of which they win by a comfortable majority. They then claim that ‘if that result were to be replicated in a General Election we would be the largest party’. (David Steel in 1981: ‘Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government.’) Somerton and Frome, Chesham and Amersham, North Shropshire- all will return to the Conservative fold at the General Election when people are deciding who will run the country rather than just ‘giving the Tories a good kicking.’
Something similar happened in Selby and Ainsty where Labour won thanks to the Tories staying at home – our vote collapsing from 34,000 to 12,000. Uxbridge shows that there really is no love affair with Labour amongst the electorate of the kind which was so palpable in the run up to Blair’s victory in 1997. So Thursday’s results probably predict some kind of hung Parliament, with the Tories very possibly being the largest party.
It is all there to play for, and Rishi’s 5 pledges are central to it. The record fall in inflation, may well presage the economic growth and reduced National debt which were 3 of them. We also this week finally passed the Bill which will stop small migrant boats crossing the Channel. That leaves only the fifth pledge - to shorten NHS waiting lists – to be achieved. And we have 12/18 months to do it. My own view is that the quietly successful managerial style which Rishi demonstrates so amply is both right for the country, but also what the people really want- as the lack of enthusiasm for Labour in the by-elections may well prove.
I had a good ‘end of term’ with a lovely victory in the battle I have been fighting for a couple of years to gain justice for homosexual soldiers sailors and aviators who were court marshalled, imprisoned, had their rights, their dignity and their pensions removed for no reason other than their sexuality as recently as 2001. Homosexuality was generally legalised in 1967; but it remained an offence in the Armed Forces until then, and an even greater scandal is that many of those injustices were still not addressed in the interim 22 years. The PM’s heartfelt apology on Wednesday and the 47 recommendations in the long-awaited Etherton report at last did so. It is good to spot an injustice of this kind, then do what one can to fight to correct it and then see such a complete and worthwhile victory. However, I am not sure that I truly deserve the accolade awarded to me by my friend the Labour MP for Plymouth Luke Pollard of being a ’gay icon.’ That may be going just a little too far.
After that announcement on Wednesday I high tailed it to Westminster Hall to speak in a debate about Solar installations and the fine agricultural land which they are gobbling up across England. Wiltshire is the second largest county for these ghastly carbuncles in our landscape- we surely have done enough in our contribution to Net Zero, and I hope that the solar caravan will now move on elsewhere.
Tempers will calm over the Summer Recess- and a reshuffle which is so necessary not only to replace Ben Wallace who has done such a brilliant job as Secretary of State for Defence will help. I have a week in Cornwall and a week in Italy but will mainly be right here doing a spread of engagements across the South Cotswolds as my seat will shortly become.