Firstly, thank you. To the thousands, indeed tens of thousands, of people who voted for me; to the thousands that wished me luck; the hundreds that helped on the campaign and to the brilliant team that I had around me both in the office and out on the streets.
It has been an amazing five years with so many highlights. The visit of the Olympic torch stands out as an event but amongst so many others.
Every Saturday street stall brought new people and interesting conversation. All of the visitors to Parliament – from schoolchildren to those who left school a while ago – took away a feeling of how special Westminster can be. The arrival of a direct train to London from Mirfield helped those visitors to travel.
I hope that the Emley Awards will continue. They discovered some really special people. But most special of all is the feeling that we can now discuss things openly and that issues such as immigration and race no longer have to be raised in hushed voices.
Discussing race doesn’t make someone a racist any more than discussing alcohol makes someone an alcoholic, but not that long ago political correctness had too strong a grip.
Politics in this area had an unpleasant feel in 2010 and that had almost completely disappeared by 2015. This time around the first area to host hustings was Savile Town. The evening saw frank exchanges about terrorism and foreign policy. Discussion that just didn’t happen in 2010.
From the start I condemned extremism in any form. The ‘visit’ of the EDL to Dewsbury demonstrated that white men in jeans and t-shirts are just as capable of mindless violence as anybody else. I condemned them because they were wrong. Later I condemned a group of Islamic scholars over their then attitude to counter-terrorism legislation. I am glad that they listened. The EDL did not but are now a spent force, not least because of the greater openness that exists in places like Dewsbury.
I enjoyed the General Election campaign. I was sorry that people who had plenty to say on leaflets wouldn’t discuss their claims with me in public. I have always believed that if you have something to say about someone you should be prepared to say it to his or her face but I suppose different people have different standards.
Time will, of course tell as far as Dewsbury and District Hospital is concerned. All of the plans are in the process of being implemented, as all the candidates knew, and in some cases had previously supported. When this concludes successfully and results in better outcomes might people then stop playing the politics of fear with the issue – or is that to much to hope for?
The saddest part of the campaign was a letter from a lady who had dislocated her shoulder and been made to worry if she did it again the hospital might not be there for her. No one has the right to cause that sort of worry no matter what they are trying to win.
The constituency of Dewsbury is now a marginal seat. Who knows what will happen in 2020. By then the fight to stop Kirklees building on greenbelt will have been won or lost. Scotland may be effectively independent. We may have left the EU.
Whatever the future holds, and however you voted last week, Louise and I wish you all the very best for the future and thank you for the last five years.