The things that matter more than politics ever can

John Hayes at the Spalding Guardian hustings event
John Hayes at the Spalding Guardian hustings event

HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes

During the recent election campaign, visiting every part of my constituency – from West Deeping to Gedney Drove End; Donington to Wingland – meeting thousands of local people, I thought often of the words of Winston Churchill who concluded that ‘no part of the education of a politician is more indispensable than the fighting of elections’.

I was struck by the eternal truth that things, like beauty, communal endeavour, fellowship and faith, matter more than politics ever can

General elections are, by their nature, divisive, with political differences emphasised more than similarities. Perhaps that’s how it should be – because it is the duty of politicians and commentators to inform the public about the important choices between honestly held, contrasting opinions debated fairly and freely.

During the recent campaign I took part in several lively discussions where frank exchanges of views provided the opportunity to explore different visions of Britain’s present and future. In particular, this newspaper did a great public service in hosting the election’s biggest hustings.

Though encouraged by some to do so, I chose not to focus on the personal circumstances or deficiencies of my opponents during the campaign, because I believe politics is at its best when characterised by timely ideas and timeless ideals, not by petty squabbles.

While I fought the election as the Conservative Party candidate, proudly donning a blue rosette, I was constantly reminded of the effects of my local work as the constituency MP for the last 18 years. As I delivered leaflets and met people in every town and village, I was struck by how many faces I recognised, how many people I know and how many I’ve been able to help over those past years.

Constituency representation is a vital part of our parliamentary democracy and – for all the important jobs I’ve had in Opposition and Government – it’s what matters most to me. Having always held surgeries throughout our area, dealing with over 500 pieces of correspondence each week, and being around and about all the while means that, over my time as MP, I have been able to provide support and assistance to at least 25,000 people. Once elected, Members of Parliament must do their best to represent all those they serve, regardless of party preference.

This year, as every year, I attended all of the glorious Spring church flower festivals that bring such vibrancy to South Holland.

Visiting our sublime Fenland churches to admire the creative and colourful displays, which seem to become lovelier every year, and chatting to countless people that I have now known for the best part of 20 years, I was struck by the eternal truth that things, like beauty, communal endeavour, fellowship and faith, matter more than politics ever can.