10 May 2017
We have four Tories standing for re-election in Bucks – David Lidington, Dominic Grieve, Steve Baker and Cheryl Gillan. They have all been MPs since at least 2010.
Let’s find out what they believe and what they have achieved over these 7 years, starting with David Lidington, my constituency MP in Aylesbury for 25 years.
I’ve never meet David Lidington but have written to him twice – once as a constituent about the hate preaching in the Wycombe mosques (see blogs under “Community”) and once about the crisis in the NHS (see blog below). He didn’t respond.
Nor is his official website informative.
It does say that David Lidington took part in a campaign, fighting “hard within government to present the case against HS2” and for mitigation of the impact of HS2. But then, it would have been astonishing if he had lobbied for HS2 and against mitigation.
The only other campaign listed was “David welcomes investment from the Local Enterprise Partnership”. Hardly a campaign.
There was a note on the website to say readers could use the search engine for more information. So I keyed in NHS. Up came a reference to dental services in Stokenchurch and Radnage. With all due respect to Stokenchurch and Radnage, this didn’t get me any further in understanding David Lidington’s views on the NHS.
I thought I would find more from the section “What David has done previously in Westminster” but all this provides is a link to Hansard. If you want to know about the business of the Commons or Parliamentary points of order, great. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Here’s the oddity. David Lidington’s official website doesn’t tell you what his political beliefs are nor his political achievements. I can find out what he did at Cambridge (a doctorate in Elizabethan history and a win at University Challenge) but nothing about his views on, for example, the NHS, housing, education, the economy, taxes, the environment, or Brexit.
So I turned to Mr. Lidington’s voting record. Here’s some of the things he voted for:
- A reduction in benefits to the disabled and other vulnerable people
- A reduction in Government funding to local government
- The Iraqi war
- The bedroom tax
- More restrictions on trade union activity
- Selling England’s state owned forests
- Badger culling
- Triggering exit from the EU, without any qualifications or restrictions on the Government.
And here’s what he voted against:
- Taxing bankers’ bonuses
- Encouraging occupational pensions
- Equal gay rights
- The fox hunting ban
- Equality and human rights
- The right to remain for EU citizens living in the UK
- Spending public money guaranteeing jobs for young people who have been unemployed for a long time.
Mr. Lidington has never voted on HS2 (and he didn’t mention that on his website).
Then I turned to the press to see what Mr Lidington has been doing.
Before the referendum, when Mr Lidington was the Europe Minister, he said a British exit from the EU would be a massive risk. He added “everything we take for granted about access to the single market would be in question” and “it could take Britain up to ten years to negotiate new trade deals with Europe after an exit”.
By December 2016, Mr. Lidington was calling any MP who voted against triggering Brexit “profoundly undemocratic”. And presumably, as a member of the Government, he not only agrees we should leave the EU but should go for a hard Brexit, losing access to the single market.
He changed his views there then – but no mention on his website.
Finally I looked in the Bucks Herald. In March this year, Mr. Lidington recounted his experience of the terror attack on Parliament. Oh and in 2013 he welcomed the new royal baby. Not much to go on there about his political views.
In December last year, when the PM was in Bahrain and Mr. Lidington took Prime Minister’s Questions, the Express, Sky News and the Mirror all asked the same question “Who is David Lidington?” Despite his long Ministerial experience and 25 years as an MP, he was still a virtual unknown.
The Mirror also volunteered the information that Mr Lidington had claimed £1,300 on expenses for dry cleaning in May 2009. Mr. Lidington also claimed for toothpaste, shower gel, body spray and vitamin supplements on his second home allowance. He repaid the claims for the toiletries, saying: “I accept that many people would see them as over-generous."
So we all want to know who David Lidington is. We all want to know where he stands on the issues facing the electorate. We should know this already – he has after all been our MP for 25 years. But no, he’s just not telling.
Perhaps the easiest way of finding out what David Lidington believes, is to ask the Prime Minister of the day. Whatever he or she thinks seems to be OK with Mr. Lidington. Mrs. May obviously doesn’t like anyone disagreeing with her. So Mr. Lidington should do well if he and the Government are re-elected.