This is my last Westminster Life column of this Parliament and I’m not going to drone on as to why I’m a great guy whom you should re-elect to the House of Commons… that’s for the election campaign proper!
Nevertheless, may I thank my loyal readers and the staff at the Peterborough Telegraph who have allowed me the courtesy of a soapbox for quite a few years.
I know I’ve made a few folk chunter into their teacups over the years but what did you expect? Politics is a noble calling and involves ideas, visions, dreams and sometimes speaking truth to power.
I know occasionally that makes people hate you – but if I wanted to be popular at any cost, I’d have gone into light entertainment. My columns have been who I am. Not always political, sometimes controversial…hopefully rarely too dull and worthy. And they never paid me a penny!
Looking back over the last 10 years, I can say with hand on heart that the city of Peterborough – my family home and workplace – is an unquestionably better place than in 2005.
Yes, we have some problems like uncontrolled immigration and infrastructure pressures, dirty streets and some poor housing and lots more to do to drive up standards in schools but the glass is most certainly half full. The city council has made some missteps too but most councillors are hardworking, caring and decent and are certainly not on the make.
Where do I start? More new jobs and businesses, plummeting unemployment, a massively improved cultural offering including a museum, theatres and the finest Bronze Age site in Europe, new niche shopping, a football club, award winning parks and gardens, a stunning Cathedral Square, a new railway station, a brilliant local hospital, some excellent schools, the River Nene, Central Park and Ferry Meadows, incredibly clever driven entrepreneurs and dedicated and compassionate doctors and nurses and carers, a strong and independent media and a first class city newspaper, inspirational teachers and other school staff, selfless charity and faith communities and a community spirit that means we generally bump along together and avoid the pitfalls of fractiousness and conflict afflicting other British cities.
Finally – people demonstrated, were imprisoned, tortured and died for the right for you to vote in an (imperfect) democracy, so honour their memory and sacrifice and remember, there are millions who’ve never had the power you will have with your pencil in the voting booth on May 7th.
In the meantime, goodbye and good luck.