On Thursday 9th June I had the immense honour to be elected by the people of Ipswich to represent them in the United Kingdom Parliament. On Friday, Saturday Sunday and Monday I spent most of my time speaking to the local media – the BBC, Anglia Television, Town 102 FM, and of course, very much not least, your Ipswich Star (for EADT read East Anglian Daily Times). I think it was right to start there – I am meant to be representing you, I can’t do that unless I know what you want and believe, and the local media are the best means we have for talking to each other. Some of you will have good reasons to have a one-to-one conversation with me, but most of you will be able to rely on the local media to broadcast the concerns that people have and to reflect your views, and I will certainly respect that.
Obviously I will continue to get individual messages and hope to hear from you all not just when you have problems but also when you have ideas about how we could make our town better. And I will run regular surgeries so residents can speak to me face to face. I will hold my first surgery tomorrow (Saturday) in the Central Library in Northgate Street from 10.30am to 12 noon and I look forward to seeing as many people as possible. I will soon get my office up and running in Silent Street and then I will be able to make appointments to see people in a more organised way.
Many of the new MPs came down to Westminster on Monday in order to spend a day settling in. I was determined that I should start in Ipswich the way I intend to continue, listening to Ipswich people, discussing the issues, and then taking them to Westminster to seek to achieve positive results. So I spent Monday in Ipswich meeting with some of the key figures here in our town, and I will continue to organise meetings with them over the coming weeks. We need our MPs, our Borough Council, our County Council, our business-people and other decision makers to work together for the good of the town. I have taken the opportunity here in Westminster to speak to most of the other MPs in Suffolk too, and especially Dan Poulter. We have agreed to meet regularly to discuss Ipswich, and major issues which need the support of both of us. We all intend to join together to celebrate Suffolk Day on June 21st although I’m not yet clear what exactly we will be doing.
One of the most difficult things for a new MP is working out what is going on and how to respond to people. I will not be able to respond to everyone until I have staff to help me. If I miss important communications, or take more than a week to get back to you, please forgive me – I can promise that this will not continue. Once I have my Ipswich office set up and staff employed we will do everything we can to respond to everyone within a few days – or immediately if possible. And it’s proving difficult to arrange meetings as well. The fact that it was only Thursday morning that I heard that the Queen’s Speech was fixed definitely for Wednesday rather than Monday doesn’t help. I will be much better organised by next week, and intend to take as full a part in the life of Ipswich as I possibly can.
It may be difficult to have an effective office running immediately, but it is absolutely impossible for me to know everything immediately – if I tried to make out that I did, I would just make myself look foolish.
We’ve had the General Election, we’ve had the result, and I am going to work with people to achieve the best for Ipswich, not try to re-run the election campaign. I’ll talk to anyone who wants to talk to me – if there are some decision-makers who disagree with my views, let’s have a conversation about that, and not carry on sniping at each other from party-political positions.