Mercury Column – February 2018

“All politics is local” is a well-used phrase in the United States, normally associated with a famous Congressman Tip O’Neill. He used it to remind himself that he should never forget that local people elected him. It also means that you should always think about the local dimension when considering new laws or changing policies. How will this affect residents in the constituency? What will they think about it?

It’s a mantra I recall when in Westminster representing the interests of residents in Great Yarmouth. My first contributions in the House of Commons were about issues important to Great Yarmouth. I called debates on improved end-of-life care provision in East Norfolk and about the British tourism industry, highlighting its importance for the Great Yarmouth economy. However, it’s not all about making speeches in Parliament. MP’s can have a greater impact by campaigning on issues that affect their constituents, writing articles and lobbying Government ministers and senior civil servants. I’ve campaigned on numerous issues that affect the Great Yarmouth communities – highlighting the need for infrastructure investment, the creation of local jobs in an Enterprise Zone and convincing the Government to freeze fuel duty.

Reminding myself that “All politics is local” is even more useful as a government minister. Dealing with national, and even international issues, affecting millions across our country, it would be very easy to forget the local angle. Instead, I consider “What are residents in Hemsby or Hopton telling me when I knock on their door” and “How did the lady in Gorleston put it in her letter?” Local opinion helped my focus before Christmas when I made key announcements on reintroducing the traditional blue-style British passport and a crack-down on foreign criminals so they are returned to their home country. I knew that both were important to constituents in Great Yarmouth and they would consider them common-sense actions.

In the latest government reshuffle, the Prime Minister promoted me to a senior role in her Cabinet. “All politics is local” remains central to my approach, it’s the only way we’ve secured improvements to the A47, funding for a Third River Crossing and wider broadband connectivity across the constituency. And I will continue to use every opportunity to promote the needs of Great Yarmouth.