Monday, 31 May 2010

Northumberland County Show

Brilliant day at the Northumberland County Show... including backing the NFU campaign to get British Wool into the Olypmics -

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bank Holiday weekend

Have been catching up on various things - not least the mass of letters; still do not have an office which makes life tricky, but we are getting there. Went for a long run on the Saturday evening - trying to get fit for Kielder marathon [that was a bad idea!] -which I am secretly looking forward to.
Today on sunday went to the Haydon Point to Point at Hexham racecourse - a great day but chilly. Off to the County Show tomorrow

Friday, 28 May 2010

Surgery days

A packed day with over 10 people seen in surgeries in and out of the office. Much notoriety in the local paper as my plan to have Tesco surgeries starting next Saturday were trailed by the paper:

Thursday, 27 May 2010

National Beef Fair in Hexham

Home on the very early train and straight down to the Mart in Hexham where there was an incredible display both in and outside the Mart of all matters "beef". The orgainsers deserve great credit; we had entrants from as far afield as Devon.
A great set of trade stands were set up both inside and out. My host was Edward Heslop, who knows beef cattle inside out.

A good day was had by one and all
Good piece in the local paper about my meeting with the head of the NFU in London last week

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

New visitors

Had the pleasure of welcoming Graham Usher from Hexham Abbey to the House today and we talked for 2 hours in the House. We discussed a variety of matters, not just on the issue of faith.
Am off to Hexham very early tomorrow morning for the Beef Fair
Also sat in the chamber for part of the Foreign and Defence debate; good maiden speech by Colonel Bob Stewart - who is a welcome addition to the house; he will speak his mind and do it with vigour

Downing Street and the Queens Speech

What a day: morning saw us doing constituency correspondence and then down to the House of Commons and Lords for the Queens Speech; the Queen was amazing.

Back in to the chamber for the debate and then more correspondence / meetings followed by drinks with the shadow cabinet and David Cameron in the gardens of 10 Downing Street. At this meet and greet got a good chance to chat to Liam Fox, and mentioned to George Osborne several constituents concerns about CGT rises. Also chatted at length to Dominic Grieve and Mark Francois.
The garden of 10 Downing Street is L shaped and high walled. Downing Street itself is small and number 10 not that big: the White House it is not!
Then back to the House for more work on correspondence: Sarah my secretary says she has never known it this busy in all her many years working in the House. Left the House at 9.30pm

Monday, 24 May 2010

Week 3 update

No office yet - am still camping in the office of Robert Syms and Geoffrey Clifton Brown [thank you gents], occupying the end of a desk and trying not to get in their way.
We are beginning to get on top of the correspondence but bear with us if replies are delayed.

Had multiple meetings today on all manner of topics from Data Protection to FOI, chats with Gerry Foley of Tyne Tees, the BBC and paper journalists, and my campaign manager from the election, Chrus Galley, who will head up the Farming task force we are in the process of setting up

Tomorrow is the Queens Speech: for details of what is in it go to the telegraphs scoop =

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Haydon Bridge School

Was lucky enough to be asked again to Haydon Bridge School by John and the team; am trying to go round all the schools in the summer, as a first step; met many of the students who had grilled me before the election [particularly the ever questioning Charlie] walked in to the French class and had to then conduct a conversation in French; did ok until they switched to Russian!

Had a good chat with John as to the fate of High Schools and plans for the way ahead; it is a great school.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Thank you party

An amazing thank you party took place on Saturday at Eachwick, just outside Ponteland, where Charles and Rachel May kindly lent us their house and gardens; we had 200+ people come - who had all helped to stuff envelopes, put up signs, deliver leaflets, canvass or tell on election day.
Every volunteer was given drinks and a hog roast - paid for by me [and not on expenses I should add]. The hog roast was produced by Anguis Nelson and Richard Dodd and was delicious. Quite an achievement to feed 200. As Richard commented there was not a vegetarian option.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Paper Write ups

Much journalism from the date of the election to now and only just beginning to compile them all:
Read this for the write up in the Journal after the election

Monday, 17 May 2010

Week 2

We have a packed programme this week:
- Tuesday: election of the speaker.
- Wednesday: swearing in of new MPs / oath of allegiance
- To follow: election of the Select Committees Chairmen and the Committee representatives

Still have no office, but case work flooding in - bear with us if it takes a little while to get up to speed

Sunday, 16 May 2010

End of week one

Have now written at least 200 thank you letters and cards for next Saturdays party.
My beaten up £180 election car has survived MOT and lives to fight again for another year: it died on the day of the election but the Barrasford garage has down a great job getting it back on the road.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The loss of a friend

Everyone who reads this blog will know that I love and adore Sushi, the horse I have raced for Tim Reed for the last few seasons in point to points: sadly on Saturday he had a training accident, broke his front leg badly and had to be put down. We are all devastated. It was noone's fault - it was just an accident.
Aside from the fact that we raced together at Cheltenham, Kempton, Hexham and beyond I owe him a huge debt of gratitude as he and I won the local point to point together last year in tough circumstances.
Sushi was a gentleman and a wonderful character. We will all miss him a lot

Friday, 14 May 2010

Coalition agreement text and objectives

The BBC has done a uselful link that sets out the agreement and the key objectives:
As a conservative I see at least 80% of the manifesto in there

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Home to Hexham - and a reaction

Came home this morning and the reaction to the new government is great: but the economic pain will be severe: read
for details. This is going to be a long journey ahead.

People very positive about the new government: everyone asks will it work. Yesterday I did Sky TV News, 3 newspapers, and 3 radio interviews and said roughly the same thing: it has to work.
A). This is what people voted for
B). We are broke and need to find a way to work through this and turn this country around

The new cabinet / government is announced

The full list of Cabinet appointments has now been published:

  • Prime Minister - David Cameron
  • Deputy Prime Minister - Nick Clegg
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer - George Osborne
  • Foreign Secretary - William Hague
  • Secretary of State for Education - Michael Gove
  • Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - Iain Duncan Smith
  • Secretary of State for Health - Andrew Lansley
  • Secretary of State for Scotland - Danny Alexander
  • Secretary of State for Defence - Liam Fox
  • Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change - Chris Huhne
  • Secretary of State for Home Affairs and minister for Women and Equality - Theresa May
  • Secretary of State of Justice and Lord Chancellor - Kenneth Clarke
  • Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills - Vince Cable
  • Chief Whip - Patrick McLoughlin (attending Cabinet)
  • Chief Secretary to the Treasury - David Laws
  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government - Eric Pickles
  • Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Caroline Spelman
  • Secretary of State for Transport - Philip Hammond
  • Secretary of State for International Development - Andrew Mitchell
  • Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport - Jeremy Hunt
  • Secretary of State for Northern Ireland - Owen Paterson
  • Secretary of State for Wales - Cheryl Gillan
  • Leader of the House of Lords, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - Lord Strathclyde
  • Leader of the House of Commons, Lord Privy Seal - Sir George Young (attending Cabinet)
  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Paymaster General - Francis Maude (attending Cabinet)
  • Minister of State, Cabinet Office - Oliver Letwin (attending Cabinet)
  • Minister of State (Universities and Science) - Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills - David Willetts (attending Cabinet)
  • Minister without portfolio - Baroness Warsi (also Conservative Party chairman*)
  • Attorney General - Dominic Grieve (invited to attend when required)

The Shadow Cabinet ministers who missed out on a full Cabinet job are Greg Clark, Theresa Villiers, Nick Herbert, Grant Shapps, Baroness Neville-Jones, Chris Grayling and Mark Francois (and David Mundell). They have all served the party well in Opposition

Some I know well and were recently in Hexham: I very much hope that they will be rewarded with middle-ranking ministerial posts tomorrow.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cameron is the new PM

What a day: first the Labour relations break down, then Gordon Brown resigns; then we are in a proper coalition government with the Liberals.
Extraordinary times...extraordinary measures required
There is much about this deal about which all true Conservatives will be very happy with - deficit reform, banking reform, no jobs tax, agreement on Europe, immigration, green economy, freedom bill against ID Cards, welfare reforms; some things I would not prefer but that is a coalition.
This is truly a government for the national interest, working in the national interest...

We are all going to have to conduct ourselves in a very different way

Westminster - day 1

Quite an interesting first day:
- Gordon Brown resigns
- Cameron / Hague and Osborne address all Conservative MP's in Comittee Room 14 [which is vast + like a huge hall]
- Crunch time for the Liberals
- Trying to get a desk sorted - problem is until we know who is in government noone can tell you where you are working. Am working in a tiny hotdesking room, and the HOC library

Should find out by close of business tonight who the government is
Looking forward to day 2

Monday, 10 May 2010

First day of the New Parliament

Drove down from Hexham this weekend and am off to the House of Commons today to sign in and start the job. Need to find a desk etc. Slept for 12+ hours on Saturday night.
Still not sure if we are in government or opposition. Meeting David Cameron at 6pm tonight

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Acceptance Speech

"It is a great honour to be asked to represent the Hexham Constituency.
Yesterday I visited all 77 polling stations, and I saw for myself that this was an exceptionallywell run election.
I pay tribute to all the election staff, the police and the returning officer.
I could not have won this seat without a huge amount of help from so many volunteers.
My chairman, councillors, family, friends and loved ones, my agent and the office teamhave been a rock of support.
I simply would not be here without you
We ran a local and very positive campaign, which talked about what the Conservatives have done localy and nationally, and what we will do in the future.
Whatever the government I will always be a voice for our area, first and foremost.
But the government also needs to listen to rural communities like ours.
I believe an MP should represent all sections of the community - regardless of creed or cause. I will strive to do this. It has been my dream to try and play a small part in making this country and this county a better place.
I thank you for all your support.
The real job starts now."

Friday, 7 May 2010

The Result / Count

The hexham Courant has a video of the count and my speech below:

After a long night watching the results we all trooped in to the count run by Richard Robson and his team. It went very well and the result was wonderful.
A majority of over 5000 and an increased share of the vote was more than I could have hoped for.

Afterwards we went back to Bev's house for a celebration with all the team - sandwiches having been provided by the Chollerford Cafe. Dinner that night was at the Battlesteads Pub in Wark.
All my family and friends were present and all the councillors who had helped make the result work

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election day

There are 77 polling stations in the Hexham constituency; today I visited all of them; I had 3 drivers - Angus from 7am to 12, my brother Peter from 12.30-5 and Jamie Williams from 5-9.55
We started in Humshaugh and then headed down the Tyne valley to Gilsland, then down the South Tyne to Slaggyford, before heading up and over the Allen valley to Hexham. After a late breakfast we went north to Kielder and over the Forest Drive, then down to Ponteland. Jamie took over for the dash through Prudhoe, the Durham road to Shotley Bridge and Blanchland and then back to finish in Barrasford.
We canvassed as we went. Another team were in Tynemouth.
We had knocking up in Hexham, Ponteland, Wark, Corbridge and Prudhoe and selected villages in between.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Final day

What a day - Chris picked me up and we canvassed West Woodburn, Rochester, Byrness, then took the Forest Drive to Kielder before driving south to Ponteland. Then over to help in Tynemouth before back to Stannington and finishing with a marathon canvass of Castlefields.
Got told that we had made the Racing Post at about 6pm and we all rushed out to buy a copy of the paper.
Tried to have a quiet dinner in Ponteland at Rialtos but everyone kept chatting to us. Ended up canvassing the bar staff at 10.20pm!
Very tired but up early to canvass first thing

The pics are of Chris and I at his rugby club in Kielder, Jamie and I hunting for voters on Forest Drive, and the end of the canvassing in Castlefields

Wednesday May 5th - action plan

We will be starting in Byrness and then going by the forest road to Kielder; then down the North Tyne valley taking in the Woodburns. Then over to Tynemouth to give a hand en masse before coming back via Stannington and Prudhoe.
Separate teams will be out helping in other places, both locally and in Carlisle and Tynemouth

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Tuesday May 4th - day 27 of the campaign

Whilst Chris took a team to Prudhoe / West Wylam and then Hexham, Bev took a team to Haydon Bridge - I spent the morning on the phones or writing to people who have written in; apologies if we have missed anyone off the list of responses - there have been literally hundreds.
Then jumped in a car and drove down to the far west and canvassed Halton Lea Gate, Featherstone and surrounding villages. Ended up in the Wallace Arms in Featherstone for a pint - it is a great pub. A good day

Monday, 3 May 2010

Bank Holiday Monday

A crazy day saw us:
- bumping into the Labour candidate [who is actually all right and actually believes in something, which is good] when both of us were canvassing in the morning in Priestlands in Hexham. We both agreed that there was no sign of the liberals
- doing a great trip to allendale which was having its scarecrow festival. We also bought a saw as the wood has run out
- making a stategic pit stop at the Golden Lion in Allendale and then the mighty Tea and Tipple cafe in Corbridge for too much cake. A 3 hour Corbridge canvass then followed finishing up in the Angel pub. Our Corbridge canvass has been huge and very effective.
- good crowd including Adrian, Jamie W [back on the trail for more], my folks, Christine, Bev, and Chris

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Hexham campaigning - last Saturday

A packed day as friends and family came in to help on the campaign trail; we got wet on a repeated basis. An intersting morning started in Wylam and then we powered up the Tyne to Ovington, pausing to meet the BBC there to do an interview with Look North; a full afternoon followed in Hexham as we tackled the shoppers at Tescos and then canvassed up in Wydon / Beaumont Park. As always Peter and Christine are being amazing.
Separate teams were out in Wall and the Woodburns, and the local councillors went to Tynemouth.
Dinner at my local pub the Barrasford Arms was great. Very tired.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Last SATURDAY of the Campaign

Off to Wylam first thing and then working our way up the Tyne valley to Hexham
Have to do a BBC interview on the way for Look North
May try and go to the Hexham races this evening - my inside man says Buckstrother will win the Heart race at Hexham

Highfield School, Prudhoe and Bardon Mill

Went yesterday to Highfield School and met over 100 students - as invited by Dianne who had done a great job of organisation. Asked 18 questions and really enjoyed the schools approach. Prudhoe is where this election is lost or won in my opinion so how their mums and dads vote will matter
What was great was that they were really interested in politics and how the country will be changed in the future

Then spent 3 hours in Bardon Mill - where we visited almost every house; then on to Henshaw and Melkridge. Finished the evening in Bellingham