James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Let’s return to policies rather than personalities (From This Is Wiltshire)
James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Let’s return to policies rather than personalities
12:00pm Thursday 28th February 2013 in Latest News
British politics has always sought to be about policies rather than personalities.
The Prime Minister was ‘first amongst equals’; Clement Attlee famously used to catch the bus down Whitehall to attend PMQs.
Our Parliamentary style of debate decries ‘ad hominem’ attacks – attacks on the person rather than what he is saying. People of all parties were men and women of honour.
I am concerned that current events may be undermining that long and decent tradition of British politics.
The personality of the Prime Minister and a few others is becoming more important at the expense of ordinary MPs.
Mr Cameron – like Mr Blair before him – looks positively presidential, overlooking the fact that the head of state is in fact the Queen, whose servant he should be. And – perhaps especially at a time of a crucial by-election – politics has become personalised and unpleasant. I decry it.
The half-term recess has allowed us meetings and visits in our constituencies. I especially enjoyed saying farewell to Tony Barron who is standing down as the chairman of NHS Wiltshire after many years.
He and I have had our disagreements on policy matters – occasionally passionate ones. But I have no hesitation in saying that his sole ambition was the better delivery of health services to the people of Wiltshire. I respect him greatly, despite the fact that he stood as a Liberal candidate in Winchester and is trained as a Liberal campaign manager.
After that I was off for a very productive meeting with Michael White, the new chairman of the Wiltshire Police Federation – the coppers’ trade union, if you like. A very fine man with his members’ interests his only concern. He and his federation have some fundamental disagreements with the coalition government, over police pensions, for example. He and I had a constructive discussion despite the fact that his father had been a Labour Party candidate locally, and there was no mistaking his own political inclinations.
On Thursday last, I was delighted that the Chippenham Conservative Association have chosen an outstanding candidate to fight the Chippenham seat at the next election in 2015.
Michelle Donelan already has a general election candidacy under her belt, is enthusiastic, hardworking, charming, clever and competent. North Wiltshire Conservatives and myself will be doing all we can to try to help return her to Parliament.