There’ll not be a general election until 2024 – but that doesn’t mean the fight for practical, pragmatic politics ends, argues Simon Hoare MP
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes tells us: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” As the hand of autumn firmly settles over our landscape, we are more than aware of the ending of one season and a passing to the next.
And so, perhaps, we might be seeing this on our political landscape too. I fought my first Parliamentary election in 1997. Not a great year for the Tory party and an election that heralded 13 years of Labour Government. Slowly the Tory Party, in the words of the song, got itself up, dusted itself off and started all over again. We should expect a General Election in 2024; I know that many want that to be earlier. I can understand their argument but I do not share it. With all of the recent turmoil and sadness, COVID, Ukraine, the death of The Queen, interest rates and inflation, I really do not believe that it would be in the interests of the UK to take six weeks for a General Election campaign.
Side with commonsense
I am firmly of the view that most people want the Government to focus – and focus on solving today’s problems in a practical and pragmatic way. I will work tirelessly, as I have done since first elected, to ensure that the interests of North Dorset are taken into account when policy evolves. I want to make sure that Government is doing all it can to help and support people locally. In so doing, I appreciate that sometimes puts me out of step with Government – but I have usually found that the commonsense side of the argument, that I am inclined to be on, usually wins through in the end. Let me give you some recent examples.
I have made clear, both publicly and privately, that I will not support a resurrection of fracking. I will continue with this campaign and hope that Government listens. Fracking is bad news for Dorset’s environment. I hope Government listens to the public mood.
Likewise, I could not fathom any economic, social or political merit in removing the 45p income tax band. The Government listened to many voices making the same point and has changed direction. I welcome that.
I have also made clear that I believe that benefits across the board should rise with the rate of inflation this year. You cannot build a successful economy by making the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society more difficult.
It is the dragon of inflation that must be slayed, not our pledge to protect the vulnerable of our country.
During the summer I made clear that helping households with fuel bills was not a ‘handout’ but a vital measure of support due to unforeseen and arguably unforeseeable events. I therefore welcome the package of measures that the Government has announced for both domestic and business customers. I continue to advocate for a Windfall Tax (as, incidentally, does Shell).
As a Conservative I of course welcome competitive and realistic levels of tax (both personal and corporate). Reducing the tax burden is important and is a noble enterprise, but it should only be delivered when it is affordable. I remain distinctly uncomfortable with the strategy of borrowing to fund tax cuts, and wait to see what the Office for Budget Responsibility has to say on that matter before the Treasury proceeds. I remain implacably opposed to delivering tax cuts funded by reducing investment in vital public services that the vast vast majority of our fellow citizens use, be it local government, health or education.
High quality public services produce results which play a key role in levelling up. Being poorly educated, feeling unsafe or being unhealthy does not economy contributors make.
So, whatever the season, I shall continue, to the best of my abilities, to advocate for North Dorset in the ‘corridors of power’.
To try to secure the best deal I can for you.
I share Churchill’s old view (not one shared by any party’s Whips’ Office) that it’s constituency, country then party that should dictate and shape an MP’s action.
Simon Hoare MP