A great friend of mine, who is a very senior minister and is flattering enough to admit to being a regular reader of these Columns, upbraids me for overstating my love for being a backbencher and constituency MP as opposed to having any kind of Ministerial ambition. Perhaps I never did, or possibly at some stage I came to realise that any such misplaced ambition was likely to be thwarted. And anyhow, of the 650 MPs, only a tiny handful become senior ministers like you, John. Most of we common folk are proud to have achieved our great ambition of simply being elected to Parliament and having the great responsibility and privilege of representing our people, and doing what we can to help them and the area in every possible way.

Perhaps for that reason I am also not terribly ‘political’. Some of my friends- on both sides of the House chant ritualistic ‘Tories good, Labour bad’ (or vice versa) rather like the pigs in Animal Farm “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Some of my very political new constituents in the South Cotswolds (and I was glad to attend the very enthusiastic AGM on Friday) may well be shocked to hear that some of my best friends are Labour. I’ve even been giving a little informal advice to one person who is trying to find a seat to fight as a Labour candidate.

The reality is that some of the stuff we Tories have done has been very good; some of it mediocre, some downright rubbish; and the same would apply to any possible Labour Government. Both lots believe that we are doing (or at least try our best to do) the right thing for the people in our areas. But of course, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” And the reality is that some people will always be ill or sadly die, some will be wicked, some will be stupid; the human condition cannot be gainsaid, nor overturned by politicians of whatever political hue.

So good people and true of any party coming together in Westminster to chew over the great issues of the day – long term care, the NHS, Law and order, immigration, education, Ukraine- and seeking to come to some kind of a consensus about what to do about these great and intractable problems seems to me to be a pretty good way to set about trying to solve them and generally run Britain.

So, John, I am not ashamed of the fact that I am an (adopted) Cotswold person; that I live and work and love North Wiltshire and the South Cotswolds. I take the Tory whip in Parliament, will be standing as the Tory Candidate for the South Cotswolds in the forthcoming General Election and subscribe to most Tory views and policies. But that does not stop me rebelling when my personal views or conscience, or when the Constituency interest trumps Central Office dogma. I am far too controversial and clear thinking to be a good politician (I can’t stand brown nosing, which seems to be a prerequisite of political success these days); but I would hope that my world view and interest might make me some kind of junior statesman, or perhaps at very least a shrewd observer of the great statesmanship around me.

It may be a failing in a politician, but I have clear views about things, I say what I think, I am beholden to no-one and seek no favours in public or in private live. I may not be great nor successful politician, but I sleep easy in my bed of a night.