The announcement of the deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party wasn’t a big surprise.
I think they had broadly agreed to co-operate as early as June 9th: the devil, as always, was in the detail. We learned the cost of these on June 26th: £1 billion.
I drive a lot. I live in Paston, my mother resides some distance away, and I have a lot of errands to run. In a little car, the bumps and potholes and dips in the roads are impossible to ignore: I haven’t noticed much improvement over time. Furthermore, they seem to be getting worse in some places.
When I open up the Peterborough Telegraph website, there’s often a terrible traffic accident chronicled on the front page. Then there was the recent catastrophic bungling by the Highways Agency that caused traffic to grind to a halt. We definitely need better planning and infrastructure. We also need more for the health service; while it’s true that the government is spending incrementally more on the NHS, the devil, again, is in the detail. Generally, we are living longer; this is a good thing. However, our health system needs the resources to keep up with this and other demographic changes. Since it’s not getting what it requires to cope, NHS funds are, in effect, being pared back. Then of course, there’s the funding we need for social and affordable housing, education, and social care. I will keep fighting to rectify these problems. But, if I drive in Northern Ireland in the near future, I expect to be gliding over freshly laid tarmac past new hospitals and schools. On one level, I’m pleased that they will have their extra £1 billion; good infrastructure, along with a stable legal system, are fundamental elements for a prosperous, modern country. Northern Ireland has had far more than its fair share of heartache, blood, and tears: a bit of good fortune certainly won’t go amiss. What I question are the means by which Northern Ireland will receive these improvements. I can’t say to the people of Peterborough that their taxes are being spent in a manner that is fair, open, and transparent. Honestly, if the government didn’t need the DUP’s votes, it’s unlikely this extra money would be available. This shouldn’t sit easily with any MP or elected representative regardless of political allegiance. One of my team told me a slogan used in an American political campaign from ages past: “public office is a public trust”. It encapsulates what we should be all about. You, the public, trusted me and your other representatives to work for you. That trust demands a commitment to transparency, fair dealing, and good government. It does not imply that we use taxpayers’ money to hold onto public office. My colleagues and I will continue to remind the government of this whenever possible.