As 2015 draws to a close I have spent some time reflecting on the events of the past 12 months.
Of course, this time last year I was preparing for what is probably one of the most difficult and drawn out job interviews – the General Election campaign. It was an interesting and challenging campaign, where opinion polls did not reflect the feeling of people I met around the constituency.
Most of the hustings were very well attended, although the one at the university had a disappointing turn out. There was clearly a keen interest in the election, as evidenced by the high turn out on Election Day. We traditionally turn out well in this constituency and I was not surprised by the number of people I saw on the streets of the constituency walking toward polling stations with polling cards in hand. It is always very encouraging to see so many people getting involved in this important democratic process regardless of who they vote for.
As we know, the year has been marred with great tragedy, with worldwide terrorist atrocities claiming hundreds of lives. While many disagreed with the action to extend air operations in to the terrorists’ homeland in Syria, I believe the coalition of nations involved are taking the correct action to try to protect us all from this terrible death cult.
There have been a number of controversial votes in Parliament this year, many of which have elicited vast numbers of emails and letters from constituents. I always take note of the opinions of constituents before walking through the lobbies in Parliament and I appreciate the effort so many go to in order to let me know their views.
Whatever 2016 may bring I will continue to do my best to represent the people of Romsey and Southampton North. I would very much like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year and look forward to seeing many of you in 2016.
December 23rd 2015
With Parliament now in recess until the New Year it is a great opportunity to celebrate all that Romsey has to offer in the Christmas period.
I have said it before, and I will undoubtedly say it again, but Christmas in Romsey is a very special time. The faith communities here have the most wonderful Christmas services and I have been celebrating in the Abbey and the United Reform Church over the last few weeks.
The candlelit service last Sunday was absolutely beautiful, and it was a privilege to be asked to take part and do a reading. I very much enjoyed the carols in the Market Place organised by the Rotary Club. Midnight Mass in the Abbey is always a special start to Christmas Day itself so I look forward to that tonight.
This week I have been to the delivery office in Romsey to say thank you to all the Postmen and women who do such a great job for us all throughout the year. The last minute parcels and cards were all being despatched with enthusiasm and there is real dedication to the task of getting everything out as efficiently as possible.
There have been some poignant moments, with the memorial service for Nigel and Helen Charlton in the Abbey on Tuesday. The Romsey Male Voice choir paid their own musical tribute to Nigel and Helen, who will be very sorely missed by the community.
I have also been to some of the pubs in the constituency to show my support for Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver campaign – raising the important issue of the dangers of drink driving at Christmas. It is of course an issue all year round, but awareness heightens at Christmas, so please do remember to arrange who is driving before you set off for this year’s festivities.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas
December 4th 2015
One of the most solemn responsibilities of a Member of Parliament in modern times is to make a decision on whether to support the Government on a motion to send our military in to harm’s way. For a second time, MPs were asked to vote on a motion which would send British armed forces on operations above Syria. The ongoing operation in Iraq against Daesh has seen a 30% reduction in territory held by the death cult; this motion would see the operation extended across a border which Daesh itself does not recognise.
As has been reported earlier in the week, I have heard from a great many constituents sharing a range of views. I have listened to constituents and balanced those views with the briefings offered by Government experts to come to the conclusion that expanding the current operation into Syrian territory is in the best interests of the UK.
I have not taken this decision lightly, as an MP with a large number of military personnel in my constituency I fully understand the grave risks faced by members of the armed forces. However, I must also consider the risk to constituents from terrorists who may return from Syria and carry out atrocities such as those in Paris, Tunisia and Egypt. We already know seven planned attacks have been foiled by the security services in the last twelve months and I believe the UK Government has a responsibility to do what it can to prevent such barbaric acts being carried out here, this includes extending air strikes against Daesh targets in Syria.
Returning to the constituency after a very busy schedule in Westminster this week, I will be holding my last drop-in surgery of the year at the Rockingham Arms in West Wellow on Saturday morning between 9:30 and 11:00 and will then visit local businesses in Romsey to support Small Business Saturday.