WEEKEND WEB: Celebrating 20 years as MP for South Holland and the Deepings

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At a special dinner in Spalding arranged to mark my 20th anniversary as MP for South Holland and the Deepings, I reflected on what has changed over the last two decades, both welcome and less so — from the profound and continuing effects of Islamic extremism, to the revolutionary consequences of new digital and communication technologies.

Even in tumultuous times, the things that matter most never change. Human characteristics are age old; the deadly sins remain, alongside timeless virtues. Kindness, generosity, humility and loyalty matter as much as they ever have, just as the principles on which I stood in 1997 guide me now. I have believed throughout that politics is about changing lives by changing life chances and by so doing building stronger communities in a stronger nation. For society to function, what we all have in common must be more significant than any divisions, with our shared sense of belonging – framed by the places in which we live – cultivated and enhanced by what we for others, particularly the least fortunate.

To some, this may sound idealistic, but I make no apology for rejecting the dull mediocrity of uninspiring, managerial politics, preferring the pursuit of hope built upon the timeless values of duty and decency. At last week’s dinner as my achievements were listed, I made clear that success for all of us is as much the product of good fortune as it of talent and endeavour. It has always been my greatest joy to serve as a constituency MP, representing and championing the area in which my family and I live.

Although privileged to serve as a Minister shaping policy in six Government Departments, still more than this it is the tens of thousands of individual cases and problems I have helped to resolve for constituents that inspires me most. It has been an honour to speak for South Holland and the Deepings in Parliament for 20 years. Fulfilling my childhood ambition to leave the world better than I found it means that my ferocious defence of the interests of those with the greatest need — for there the greatest impact can be made — will continue. To be fierce in defence of the gentle is my abiding mission.


‘Faith in politics’ meeting gave me time to reflect

Those of us who cherish liberty must be vigilant against these despots