I would like to thank all the voters of the Wokingham constituency for their interest in the election, to thank all those who voted for me for their support, and pay a special tribute to all those who joined my campaign team. I am delighted to have the honour to represent everyone, and fascinated to be part of such a different Parliament. It is full of hope, at a time of danger for our country.
I would also like to thank all the other candidates and their teams for making their contribution to democracy by offering choice and debating some of the issues. I will dedicate myself to represent Wokingham well in Westminster, and to contribute to a better, stronger and more purposeful Parliament than last time.
So much has changed since I last wrote in this paper. A new Coalition government has formed. Let me reassure you. It does not mean I have woken up in a new age and have ditched all my principles and beliefs. I have not suddenly become a convert to more European government or to higher taxes. No more have Lib Dem MPs suddenly become converts to all my ideas. I think the Coalition represents the best chance we have for stable and sensible government, given the outcome of the Election, and I wish it well. I will be its friend and supporter, but may sometimes have to disagree or criticise it.
I have always thought some of the political divisions in the UK second order at best or artificial at worst. At the highest level most sensible Conservatives and Lib Dems – and indeed Labour supporters as well – want peace and greater prosperity. We want an expanding economy, jobs for all of working age, freedom to speak and act as we wish subject to protection of the rights of others. Recent political rows over when and how much to cut public spending to tackle borrowing are tactical rather than fundamental rows over direction. Arguments over which tax to cut is less important than whether you cut taxes on saving, enterprise and effort or not.
Iam pleased to say the Coalition government is moving swiftly to fulfil two of the promises I made during the election. The government will scrap the top down housing targets and regional plans that forced Wokingham Borough Council to propose development sites that local opinion does not favour. Under the new regime Councillors will be able to choose their own housing targets. I advise them to revisit their Core Strategy and follow local wishes on the need to protect more of our greenfields. This is something that will be entirely in the power of Councillors. My job was to get the national government out of the way. Now it is the Councillors’ job to come to a wide conclusion.
The government has also said it will make an early announcement about compensation for the victims of Equitable Life, which will be welcomed by the savers concerned.
I am currently mobilising opinion behind my suggestions on how to reform Capital Gains Tax in a way which reconciles Lib Dem and Conservative view points without damaging revenues, long term savers and investors. If the government raised the rate to 40% from 18%, only allowing narrow exemptions for entrepreneurial small firms, it could end up with less revenue and many unhappy people who have been prudent and saved for their future