Embracing 2024 with optimism: Simon Hoare MP shares his vision for the coming year and pledges his service for North Dorset’s future
Can I begin this first article of 2024 by wishing you, your families and those you love a very Happy New Year. I hope it brings everything that you wish for it.
By the time you are reading this I am sure that many solemn promises, pledges and resolutions have either been amended, broken or abandoned.
Is it not ever thus?
When I was first elected as your Member of Parliament, I made a very clear resolution to serve you all with energy and enthusiasm. To do so with integrity. To represent in parliament the very best of North Dorset. Moreover, I vowed to be moderate and to work with individuals and organisations across the constituency, irrespective of party affiliation or voting history, if we shared the common interest of the residents of North Dorset. I also pledged that I would demonstrate independence of thought; not to be a creature of the Whips’ Office but rather to vote in parliament with the best of intentions and how I believed the majority of my constituents would wish me to do.
I am not claiming that I have got everything right. Far from it. I am, after all, human and subject to all of the weaknesses and foibles that are the hallmark of our human DNA.
I also said that I would retire as your Member of Parliament when the tangible honour and thrill of being your MP weakened or disappeared. That honour remains as fresh today as it did in May 2015, so, to that end, I want to confirm that I will be the Conservative party candidate at the next General Election (whenever it may be held).
A new year signals the resurrection of hope. Spring is (apparently!) within view, with all of the promises of new growth and birth that holds.
I also think it is a time for optimism. The battle with inflation is being won. Over the coming months we should all start to feel the benefit of that in the supermarket, shop or at the petrol pump. The reduction in National Insurance contributions will make a real difference to many pay packets across North Dorset. The reduction in inflation clearly removes pressures for further interest increases. Recent announcements by mortgage lenders that they are cutting their rates are to be welcomed. The department where I serve as a Minister is responsible for planning policy – as long as housing is in the right place, of the right design and with the relevant contributions to local services provision, then it should be supported. It allows the next generation of North Dorset residents to continue living in the area in which they were born, educated and have family and friends. It is then a real community bonus in my judgment.
We will have a Budget in March and I hope we will be in a position to do even more to encourage home ownership, entrepreneurialism and some tax changes. For those not in work, the recent increases in pensions and other benefits are to be welcomed, providing, as intended, the social safety net below which no one can fall. Reforms to some benefits entitlement criteria – placing further impetus on the importance of work – should also be applauded as common sense, reinforcing the fact that work is good for the individual, their families and their communities. Welfare, for those out of work but who are able to work, should always be there as the aforementioned safety net – it can never be a realistic alternative to work or have the potential to become a ‘way of life’.
We must also hope that the tragic and futile loss of life and communities in Ukraine and the Middle East comes to an end soon. I am as upset and angry as so many of you tell me you are. Let us work for peace and sustainable reconciliation.
So, a New Year has dawned – a year in which we will have a General Election. While I know I will be seeking re-election I have no idea as to the outcome, or whether I shall be writing a New Year piece in 2025 as your Member of Parliament. I hope so.
I shall continue to work to retain your trust, but, in the end, it will be up to you. All I can pledge is my service to you now, and hopefully, in the future.
If you would like an appointment at one of the Advice Surgeries I hold throughout the year across the constituency, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes for 2024, Simon