• Thank you

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    27 March 2015

    So, my final column prior to the General Election – I hope to be back afterwards (if this paper will have me) but electoral success is never something I have taken for granted. So could I thank all who have read my 200 plus columns over the last 5 years and especially thank the many who have written to me in response to them. Regardless of whether you are political friend or foe – I have learned from you all and there can surely be little more important to a healthy democracy than the frank exchange of views. I would also like to thank this newspaper. I have not always agreed with every comment contained within its pages and I confess that I have sometimes found myself frustrated with its choice of coverage but I recognise and admire its ability to capture and air many of the critical issues in our part of Devon. The MDA is a class act, a part of our local life and not only has it been generous of them to provide me with the space but it has been a privilege to have been permitted to contribute directly within its pages. So what are the final thoughts I would like to share with you before signing off for the 40 day dash for the electoral finishing tape? Perhaps for once to put the politics to one side and just acknowledge what an extraordinary privilege it has been to have served as your Member of Parliament. It has engendered within me a deep passion and I hope a deep understanding too of a strangely shaped 550 sq mile patch of some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Central Devon has no obvious centre or main administrative heart – but then perhaps that is a part of its genius. There is no one point that pulls harder than any another – yet it seems to me that its scattered towns, villages, hamlets and farmsteads still collectively speak powerfully of something touching and special - a kind of decency – something so often and sadly absent elsewhere. Being an MP has given me a special sense of local people – I have met many many thousands over the years and interacted with them in a variety of ways – from surgery appointments to public meetings to business and voluntary organisation visits to dropping in on our schools, hospitals, churches, GP surgeries, fetes, scout groups, pubs and much else. From welcoming constituents to Westminster to sitting around the kitchen table with our farmers I have gained a great insight into the people who make up this extraordinary constituency. I have tried to represent everyone equally – although I appreciate that I will of course have failed to satisfy all. That is always the way. But then, win or lose I will also know that I gave of my best and stayed true to what I thought was right for our country and this most special of places.