There’s only one place to start my first column for the Herald in the new Parliament and that is, of course, to sincerely thank each and every one of you who put your cross against my name on the ballot paper at the recent election.
Being given the opportunity five years ago to be the MP for Wansbeck was one of the humblest and proudest moments of my life. There can be few greater privileges than representing the place where you were born or have spent most of your life in the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’, and I am honoured to again have the opportunity of doing just that.
I may be on the opposition benches, but I pledge to redouble my efforts to make sure Wansbeck’s voice is heard and that it gets the support, funding and commitment from the Conservative Government that we need.
Over the past five years I have done my utmost to fairly represent everyone in my constituency, no matter what their political persuasions, and to have the highest regard for their concerns, issues and needs, and I will continue to do that.
I also thank everyone who took the trouble to vote, regardless of whether I was your choice of candidate or not. Our democracy works because people care, are prepared to listen to the arguments and pledges, and vote.
The result of the ballot in Wansbeck was satisfying for me in that 50 per cent of the people who voted placed their trust in me to be their Member of Parliament. That I took as a ringing endorsement of the work my team and I have done since first being elected.
MPs get the limelight and sometimes the brickbats, but they are only as good as their backroom teams and I am fortunate in having people working with me who are as totally committed to the constituency as I am. We are here for you whenever you need us.
As a member of the Labour Party the result of the General Election was crushingly disappointing. If we harboured hopes of returning to Government they were swept away and we have much work to do to regain the confidence of the electorate and demonstrate that we could again form a credible government. First, we have to elect a new leader — someone who can re-build the party, and I am sure we will find the right person to do that over the coming weeks.
I may be on the opposition benches, but I pledge to redouble my efforts to make sure Wansbeck’s voice is heard and that it gets the support, funding and commitment from the Conservative Government that we need to grow our economy, bring in sustainable jobs, improve living conditions, ensure older people are looked after and that young people get the best possible start in life through superb education.
It has been a privilege to work on behalf of the people of Wansbeck and I would say that especially applies to the Morpeth corner of this diverse constituency.
I have spent a great deal of time attending events in Morpeth, talking with local people, listening to what they have to say and helping them however I could. I believe Morpeth is a fantastic place to live, work and go to school. I have always been immensely proud to tell anyone that I represent Morpeth at Westminster, and long may that continue.
The next few years will be interesting, but also challenging. The area seems set to develop at a pace, with plenty of new housing planned. One of the challenges is to make sure that investment in infrastructure, services and amenities keeps pace with development.
Morpeth is a wonderfully historic market town, but it needs to move forward without losing its character. If more people are coming here to live we need new jobs for them. We need modern schools and we need adequate health care facilities.
So Morpeth will be at the very top of my agenda as I work as your constituency MP. I look forward to digesting the recommendations that will be coming forward shortly in the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan, and to working with bodies such as the Town Team.
Exciting times lie ahead for Morpeth. We all have to work together to ensure that whatever comes along is in the very best interests of the town and all the people who live and work in it.