Polling day has come and gone. A new chapter begins in Peterborough and across the UK, with the first majority Conservative Government elected in 23 years.
The dust has settled on my fifth General Election and I won again, for the third time. Applying for one’s own job every 5 years with 72,000 interviewers is a nerve wracking and also humbling experience and yet very uplifting too. Each of the hundreds of conversations I had on the doorstep were important and useful and a very British way of keeping our legislators grounded in reality.
Despite the yobbish behaviour exhibited by a small minority of Labour supporters at the election count, the campaign itself was actually an exercise in civility and decorum. Hustings were well attended and the electorate seemed engaged and well-informed. All the other candidates were dedicated and sincere in their beliefs and no doubt wanted the best for our area. I know what it’s like to invest so much time and physical and emotional energy in a losing campaign (I’ve done it twice!)
As I write, the Labour Party is conducting a post mortem on its defeat – possibly the worst in 40 years. A relentlessly negative campaign focusing on a core vote went against the grain of a country (and indeed a city) which is beginning to feel the benefits of economic recovery. Attacking the motives of your opponents as wicked and uniquely bad and stringing together a slew of policies without a coherent and positive overall “story”, was never likely to work out well for the party. And so it proved to be.
All elections are a battle between hope and fear. Fear seldom wins.
David Cameron was seen by voters as being more able to articulate a more uplifting vision of our country’s future and they will hold him to those promises, no doubt.
As the city MP, I can now refocus on what we need to do to make Peterborough better: Good quality jobs and training and a Living Wage, improving our schools and building more homes for working people who need them, getting the hospital’s finances on a firmer footing, fairer funding from central government, investment for infrastructure, a new University Technical College and cleaner streets – these are what spring to mind.
The next five years will be challenging and unpredictable here in Peterborough and across our country - but that is the nature of politics.