With polling day looming, after numerous hustings, public meetings, dawn raids on railway stations, and meeting thousands of residents, I know that both voters and candidates are pretty exhausted with the general election campaign. So, to sum up, as we enter the last 48 hours before voting, I have written a column for Conservative Home
, on why we need a Conservative government nationally to continue building an opportunity society. Here, in Esher & Walton, there are three reasons I would ask people to consider re-electing me as their MP – whatever their political views.
First, at a time of apathy if not cynicism about politics, I have behaved with the basic professional integrity people expect. I live and commute from Thames Ditton, so I am immersed in local community life. I had one of the lowest expenses bills in the House of Commons (in the bottom 10%). Tonight will mark the 45th local public meeting I have held since the 2010 election, to ensure that I am constantly accessible and accountable to you. I have also made clear I would not accept the proposed MP’s pay rise as long as the rest of the public sector face a freeze or 1% pay cap.
Second, I have championed our local community. Let me give just a few illustrations. I have taken up the cases and causes of local businesses – from reforming the local parking regime to promote footfall, to securing the extension of the small business discount under the business rates regime. Crucially, I helped secure a doubling of the capital funding for local schools, and over £200 extra per child per year in the ‘per pupil’ funding – to fund the school building and extension program underway in Elmbridge. I delivered additional investment in flood defences, and campaigned successfully in Parliament for the continuing availability – through government-industry agreement – of affordable home insurance for those in high flood risk areas like ours. I am working with local clinicians to deliver more health care services – from blood tests to dementia screening – in GP practices and our community hospitals. I have supported local civic groups, from Walton Cadets to Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust. And some of my local cases have led to successful national campaigns. To take just one, my campaign based on the murder of a local waiter from Esher led to a change in the law to make it easier to deport foreign criminals.
Third, I have stood up for what I believe in – above all free enterprise, personal liberty and meritocracy.
I have consistently made the case as your national representative for the free enterprise that has delivered 2 million new jobs since 2010, through lower taxes and less intrusive regulation – for example through reports like Ease the Squeeze – Tax Cutting Priorities in an Age of Austerity
. As a result, we have cut income tax for 26 million, reformed stamp duty, and – if the Conservatives win – we’ll raise the threshold for the 40p tax rate. I have stood up for more meritocracy in our society to boost social mobility, and give youngsters more ladders of opportunity regardless of their background. As a result of Conservative reforms, 1 million more children attend schools deemed outstanding or good by Ofsted compared to in 2010. You can also read my Meritocrat’s Manifesto here
. And I have made the case for personal liberty, campaigning successfully to scrap ID cards, halve pre-charge detention, de-criminalise mere ‘insults’, protect trial by jury, and block the so-called Snooper’s Charter, because I believe we need to cherish the principle of freedom under the law – which underpins our way of life.
Getting put through my paces by Walton Cadets