Weekly Column

Political Ego-trips

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Being a Member of Parliament is of itself an honourable, fulfilling and important profession. Serving the people who elected you as well as those who did not; and doing your best for your local constituency is why you were elected, and why you are paid a salary. I sometimes despair of my friends and colleagues who forget that most basic of all principles of Parliamentary democracy in favour of an egotistic desperate scrabble up the slippery pole of preferment. Why does anyone really want to become the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Under Secretary for Paperclips – a temptation I have always managed to resist. Relentless self-promotion and ambition are deeply unattractive, and nearly always result in disaster anyhow.

Hamsa Yousuf has been defenestrated in that most vicious of all political parties, the SNP. He thought he was on track to greatness- the First Minster of Scotland no less; but now all he will be remembered for is the way he was chopped out, and his contribution to the catastrophic collapse of his Party. Too big for his own boots.

I also hate disloyalty. Dr Dan Poulter was elected as a Conservative MP; he owes his entire career to the Tories; and his former friends and colleagues have been let down by his disloyalty. By dint of being a junior psychiatric doctor, Poulter thinks he knows more about the NHS than the rest of us put together. What miserable self-regard. I hope he is happy with whatever slimy deal the Labour Party have offered him for his disloyalty. Lee Anderson’s another- he thought that he was bigger than the people. He will pay the price of his arrogance with his job come the Election. They should both have remembered Margaret Thatcher’s comment to some new MP “So how many votes did you get then?” “25327”. “No- you got the 327; I got the 25,000.” The ‘strong personal following’ which most of us hope we may enjoy comes second by a long way to the will of the people to have either a Labour or a Conservative Government. And we should never forget it.

60% of those who voted in North Wiltshire in 2019 wanted a Conservative government and Conservative policies, and it is my sworn duty to seek to deliver on our promises, (leaving aside conscience and constituency matters on which I have a perfect right to a free vote.) I have always believed that my job is to represent the people of the area in Westminster, to try to sort out bureaucratic muddles in Whitehall on their behalf, and to wield some influence in all sorts of other public and private arenas simply by shouting loudly for them. I seek no promotion, no honours, no fame far less notoriety. Parliament and the Government are bigger than me- I am a mere pawn in the great chess game of running Britain. But I sleep well at night knowing that I do what I can for the people who elected me.

Something of the same applies to the Police and Crime Commissioners for whom we will vote tomorrow. They should be upstanding people with a deep concern for the safety and law-abidingness of the people of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. But they must also have the backing of a political party if they are to have any hope of influencing National policy and the Home Office. (The Lib-Dem candidate in Gloucestershire previously stood as a bogus ‘independent’) I know that Philip Wilkinson in Wiltshire and Chris Nelson in Gloucestershire have both demonstrated by their period in office that they are fine, upstanding supporters of the police and law and order, and I hope that they will be re-elected tomorrow.

Politics and good governance is a team game. Mavericks are amusing and great media fodder. But they risk forgetting why it is that they are in office.

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James Gray
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Published Date
May 1, 2024