Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Getting things done

I held my first surgery in Camborne last Saturday morning to meet some of the people who have written to me to ask for help. One of the things that persuaded me to stand for election this year was seeing the work that MPs do in their constituencies to help people deal with specific problems in their daily lives. You can’t always solve the problem, but you can always try, give advice and lend a helping hand. When you do succeed, it makes the job worthwhile.

I think that one of the problems in society today is the relentless growth of bureaucracy in recent decades. It sometimes seems so hard to get apparently simple things done. People find themselves passed from one agency to another; “held in a queue” on the phone; being told they have the wrong form, are in the wrong place or need to call a different number and being told different things by different people. There seems no shortage of ways to lodge a complaint but actually getting things changed is harder. We have all experienced it in our daily lives and it gets very frustrating.

I have heard it argued that such complexity is a fact of modern life and can’t be changed. But why is it? The way people live their lives today is not that different to the way it was in the past. Perhaps we just need to change our mindset and make a conscious effort to reverse the trend because government doesn’t have all the answers.

This was the aim behind many of the announcements in this week’s Queen’s Speech. If we want people to take more responsibility for their lives, their families and their communities then they need to feel that making an effort will make a difference. If people feel that the decisions that affect them have already been taken somewhere else anyway then they won’t bother.

So we need to rebuild local institutions and replace bureaucracy with accountability. For instance by giving parents and local voluntary groups the ability to set up new schools; giving people the ability to elect a Police Commissioner to set priorities for their police force; giving local people the right to take over local facilities like post offices and community centres and getting voluntary groups to step in where government has failed to deal with difficult problems like welfare dependency.

These are potentially bold plans, but they need active people to play their part too. It is likely to be an evolution rather than an overnight revolution because it will take time for people to realise that they can make a difference and get back into the habit of doing their bit. But in the meantime, I will be holding a surgery most weeks to try to help people wade through the treacle of government bureaucracy. So do get in touch!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Making the coalition work for Cornwall

My first job in politics was working for the cross party ‘no’ campaign against the euro. It was a diverse coalition of business leaders, trade unionists, greens and MPs from all parties. Keeping everyone happy was a challenge at times, but it was also refreshing to get people from so many different backgrounds working together for a common cause. It might prove good training for the sort of politics we are now in.

Making a coalition government work is undoubtedly more difficult than running a government of one party with a clear majority. The compromises made to form this new Liberal Conservative coalition have understandably caused some unease among both Conservative and Lib Dem supporters. But there are strengths in coalitions too. They force a change in the culture of our politics and encourage people to set aside differences and work together in the national interest.

Here in Cornwall, a new coalition government offers the prospect that, at long last, we can move on from talking about the problems our county faces to actually implementing the policies that will solve them.

There are some areas where the Lib Dems and Conservatives have long agreed. We need to tackle the unfairness of water charges in the South West. The proposal that I favour to deal with this problem is to charge a small tariff to water companies in other parts of the UK to help cover the cost of maintaining our coastline so that there could be significant reduction in water bills here in Cornwall. All MPs in the South West must now work together to try to make such a policy a reality.

Then there is the problem of the NHS funding formula. Despite the squeeze on public funding, we need a new formula that recognises the fact that we have an older population in Cornwall and therefore a greater need for medical care. Again, I want to work with all MPs of both parties in our county to make a reality of such a change in the NHS funding formula.

Here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, I have always maintained that economic regeneration is the single most important task facing us all. There are some important decisions to be made about the plans to regenerate Hayle Harbour, the Heartlands project at Pool is at a crucial stage and we need to make sure that we are able to sustain the progress made at the Wave Hub project in Hayle and actually convert a good idea into a world leading position in marine energy.

Delivering all of this will need not only a coalition at the top but a spirit of cooperation among MPs in the South West and a willingness among all the MPs in Cornwall to take a stand in the interests of our county.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Thank you...and now to work

It was a tense night at the count. We all knew it was close and spent the final day reminding people that the Conservatives and Lib Dems were "neck and neck" in this seat. But I don't think any of us expected it to be quite so close. In the end just 66 votes between us. We won fairly comfortably on the ballot boxes from polling day but the Lib Dems had done surprisingly well at getting together postal votes.

Camborne, Redruth and Hayle certainly lived up to its reputation for being a marginal seat.

With the election over, I want to pay tribute to the other candidates who took part in this election. It is sometimes easy to forget that our democracy depends on unpaid volunteers who are willing to give up their time to deliver leaflets and campaign for the party they believe in.

But most of all I want to thank everyone who put their faith in me and especially those who helped me. I will do my utmost to ensure that this part of Cornwall gets its voice heard and I will also represent everyone, regardless of whether they voted for me or not.

I will be holding regular surgeries so, if you need any help, then please get in touch. You can contact me by email at: george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or by post at: The House of Commons, LONDON, SW1A 0AA.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Vote for change

The last but one door I knocked on tonight was answered by a woman who said she was still undecided, "it's between Julia Goldsworthy and you" she said, "but you are the only person to turn up at my door." As I shook hands to leave, she wished me luck. If it comes down to one vote then deciding to do that last road in Gweek will be what counted.

I have attempted to cover each and every part of the constituency in a gruelling canvassing programme since January. It has been a really enjoyable campaign. You meet so many people that you learn a lot and you can sense changes in the public mood. Early on in the year, there was disillusion with all politics and all politicians. As the campaign has progressed, the mood among voters has become far more positive and during the last couple of weeks people have started to make their minds up and I have been getting more and more support.

Cornwwall has failed to get its voice heard in recent years and I want to put that right. From NHS funding to water bills, Cornwall has been taken for granted. I think we need to move on from talking about problems to implementing solutions. If we had a Conservative government and Conservative MPs in Cornwall, at last we would be able to get things done rather than just talk about problems.

But tomorrow is also a big chance to change our country and we probably won't get another opportunity for five years. Unless the Conservatives win seats like Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, Gordon Brown will cling to power and no one will be able to stop him. That is why the way people vote tomorrow is so important.

We have a saying in Cornwall, "one and all". Let's see that spirit of unity on polling today to give Cornwall and Britain the change that is so desperately needed.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The home straight...

So, we are in to the final few days of campaigning. In the days ahead our many volunteers have a lot of letters and leaflets to deliver and I will be making one last tour of the constituency to knock on as many doors as possible before polling day.

I have noticed a change in mood over the last week or so. People are starting to make their minds up. Even Andrew George, the dithering former Lib Dem MP for St Ives, has apparently decided that he will vote Lib Dem after all. This has been bizarrely flagged up by local Lib Dems in their literature as some sort of coup for their campaign.

Leaving aside Andrew George's surpise decision to vote for his own party, the reception on the doorstep is very good. Many former Lib Dem voters are switching to the Conservatives this time. They want change. The negative Lib Dem campaign and the vandalism of posters has also offended many. Julia Goldsworthy boasts that she is going to win and that anyone who votes for another party is wasting their vote. But I think she is wrong to take people for granted.

Cornwall has failed to get its voice heard in recent years. From water bills to NHS funding, under the Lib Dems' watch, Cornwall has lost out. I want to put that right. It is not enough to talk about problems, we need to implement solutions. If we can get a Conservative government and Conservative MPs in Cornwall, we can get Cornwall's voice heard at last. So let't make it happen...