It’s a bit strange, finding myself as a candidate for the Hampshire County Council elections on May 4th, to get a call from the Liberal Democrats, asking me to stand as a Parliamentary for New Forest East constituency on June 8th.

This is not how I wanted things to be. Like everyone else, I was anticipating a General Election in 2020, but the Prime Minister has decided to have a snap election, giving people like me little time to think about it, or organise.
Presumably, at least part of her calculation is that Labour are in such a complete mess as an opposition, now is the time to take advantage.

I have said “yes” this time. I still, very badly, want to get elected as the County Councillor for this area, but I have been asked many times by lots of different people if I would stand for Parliament and so I have committed myself to see if I can meet both challenges.

I am not assessed as having much chance in the General Election by all the experts. The bookies have it that the chances of the Liberal Democrats winning the seat are 33-1.

The Tories have won it, time and time again. Historically , the New Forest is about a blue an area as you will find anywhere.

However, that’s history. Maybe a change would be good. If I was elected as an MP, I would do things rather differently from the current member for this area.

An obvious difference is that I would have no problem being contacted by e-mail. I would happily continue using other forms of social media (such as Facebook) too.

I wouldn’t have an office and hold surgeries in Cadnam. I think an MP needs to be easy to access, so I would hold surgeries in all the urban areas, including Totton, Hythe and Holbury and perhaps other places to, (depending on demand).

I am not sure it would be wise, or possible, to keep my seats on the local Councils and National Park Authority, but I will definitely retain my links. I like the idea of an MP working much more closely with all levels of local government and I have a good understanding of these.

I hope to relate better to most people than public school educated MP’s that have never done a “proper” job and generally fixated on one issue, (defence).

Having lived here all my life, worked in a variety of jobs, including a long career as a Chartered Insurer and for the NHS, brought up a family, been deeply involved with all sorts of organisations, including schools, I feel I have a very rounded background that gives me more insight and empathy for people who have to work hard and sometimes struggle to makes ends meet.

Is it possible I could confound the experts and prove them wrong? I think so. None of them predicted Jeremy Corbyn would lead the Labour party, Donald Trump would become President of the USA or that the two main parties would be eliminated from the first round of the French Presidential race.

You, the voters, have the ability to confound the experts every time. If you think, like our local MP, that crashing out of the European Union will be the greatest move ever, then of course, stick with the Tory who will support a hard Brexit.

If however, you want a government that sees real benefit in trying to negotiate terms that include access to the single market, some freedom of movement (both ways) and keeping a lot of the benefits that we had as a member, then I might well be the man you should vote for.


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