WHO YOU would vote for if there was an election tomorrow?
All the polls indicate a substantial Conservative majority but we have a two-party system and we need an alternative government. Sadly, the Labour party is a long way from providing a serious alternative and in fact are not even capable of providing effective opposition.
Has anything you have seen or heard from the Party Conferences that changed your mind, strengthened or weakened your support for any of the parties?
Understandably it's the leader's speech that receives the most coverage and we now have a much more comprehensive picture of Theresa May's style of Conservatism. My assessment of the mood of the Party is that it is delighted and relieved that it now has more of a feel of the traditional Conservative Party, David Cameron can be credited with making the Tories electable in the political era dominated by Tony Blair. Every period demands our politicians to redefine their party based on the dominate theme and public concerns of the time.
What Theresa May made clear was that she recognises the mood of the country and has adapted the Government's policies to address that mood. The challenge as always is converting these aspirations into actions. There will be events completely beyond our Government's control that come along and knock them off course but knowing Mrs May's determination and looking at the quality of those around her I'm confident that a lot will be achieved.
Speaking of those around the Prime Minister one thing that is helpful at party conferences is that, since you are spending three or four days more or less locked away with other politicians, supporters and those mysterious people the 'spads.' That's the jargon for special advisor something that all ministers have and rightly so. The most senior of these is the man dubbed by the media as the man behind the throne. It is Nick Timothy who is the PM's Chief of Staff. I had a brief chat with him on Sunday evening. He's clearly going to have considerable influence so it was worthwhile flagging up with him the issues facing our area. Apart from getting to know more of these influential people I also took part in a number of fringe meetings; one about the Northern Powerhouse, another about the importance of transport connections and one about devolution of power from central government. The devolution debate is of particular relevance to Lincolnshire as we are currently involved in a process that will, hopefully, bring about a Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority and an elected mayor to pull together the differing priorities from around the county.
The meeting was dominated by councillors – no surprise there – but it highlighted how some of our elected representatives are looking inward rather than outward to the communities they represent. There was too much talk of structures. The fact is that the public are not concerned whether it's the District Council or the County Council who empty the bins, make sure the street lights come on or fill the potholes. What matters is that these things get done. Thankfully in North and North East Lincolnshire we have unitary councils rather than the two-tier structure.
It's the fringe meetings that are far more interesting than what takes place in the main auditorium which is just a series of speeches from leading figures and important though that is when you are the governing power it is on the fringe that the more lively debate takes place.
Back in the constituency after the trip to Birmingham it was encouraging on Thursday to visit two new businesses.
The local economy is still expanding and despite the inevitable setbacks more jobs are being created and opportunities for our young people though there remains a gap in that we still aren't producing enough young people with the skills that they require for many of our industries.
Yes, there have been improvements but as employees repeatedly remind me there is more to be done and I will be discussing the issue with the Skills Minister and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership who are specifically charged with addressing skills.