Regardless of the result today, hand on heart, it has made me immensely proud to serve for the past five years as your MP.
A lot has changed for me over the last 5 years, not least surviving a brain tumour in Spring 2011. There was a time that I really thought I would have to give up being your local MP. The NHS surgeon who saved my life warned me that the potential risks included paralysis down my right side and an inability to talk. On the day of the operation, May 5, 2011, I had been your MP for just one year.
Thankfully the operation was a success, I am 100% recovered and I certainly haven’t lost the power to speak up for our area! The debt I owe to our NHS though will remain with me forever. And, having come so close to being forced to give up being your local MP has only strengthened my commitment to fight for our community.
There are people who say MPs shouldn’t get involved in local issues, that they should just stick to Westminster matters, and toe the party line. I couldn’t disagree more. In Parliament, I have been independent minded and I have tried my hardest to get stuck into local issues - fighting for fairer funding for our local schools, lobbying for more jobs and campaigning to preserve our Greenbelt.
Turning to the wider stage, I think that, after 13 years of Labour boom and bust, the present Conservative-led Government has provided this country with the strong and stable government we needed so badly. Last year we were the fastest-growing major economy in the developed world. More than 1.8 million extra people are in work. The deficit has been cut in half. These big changes didn’t just happen by accident. Since we came into government 1000 new jobs have been created every single day. In fact, we’ve created more jobs than the rest of the EU put together.
For years our pensioners were treated poorly. The people who fought the Second World War and re-built our country were fobbed off by Labour with a pitiful 75p increase in their pensions. It was a disgrace – and we’ve turned the situation around. The State Pension now is up by £950 a year under the Conservatives. We’ve also protected the NHS. It is one of the best things about being British: whoever you are, and regardless of your means, you can get help if you are sick. That’s why we have protected the NHS budget, employed 9,500 more doctors, 7,500 more nurses, started a Cancer Drugs Fund and, amongst so many other things, boosted dementia care and research. In the next Parliament we would make sure that under the Conservatives, once again healthcare spending is protected.
It is now time for local people to judge my record. It will be my name on the ballot paper today. If you think I haven’t been a good local MP, I do not expect or deserve your vote. If however, you do think I have been a good local MP - I hope I can count on your support. The polls close at 10pm.