Friday, 26 June 2009

Setting up office etc

A few people have asked what I have been doing since the election and why no blogs .... just so you know over the next few weeks I will be looking at launching a new website that will allow readers to peruse Vicky's new role.

Officially I start the job as MEP on 14th July when we are sworn into the parliament. This doesn't mean I, or the other MEPs elect have been sitting in the sun.

I know that if I am to do a good job I need research and admin support. I am in the process of setting up offices both locally and in Brussels and interviewing some of the many many people who have contacted me wanting to join the team. In the UK I asked a local headhunter and an experienced agent to take part in a final interview for the person who will be an office manager/ pa here.. So hopefully the UK end will be live pretty soon after 14 July.

For the Brussels office I have drawn up a short list for a research assistant based on interviews and sent them each a hideous piece of practice research to prepare overnight last night. So again decisions will be made soon. I had a good couple of days in Brussels this week. Mostly admin but also meeting members of our new group. Some very impressive people. Also catching up with the East of England office in Brussels.

I have been trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible with some of the legislation that will hit the new parliament. The financial services legislation in particular must be got right - we must learn from the lessons of the credit crunch and make sure new regulation is good regulation not just rushed into. This has involved various days of meetings in London.

I have been following some of the more local issues that we campaigned on. This week the 3 Tory MEPs (Robert Sturdy, Geoffry Van Orden and me) all signed a joint letter supporting the bid to get some EU funds for our project to help get freight onto the railways across East Anglia and beyond. I will be at a meeting about this on Monday.

I've attended a sub regional conference on "growth", have been campaigning with Chloe Smith in Norwich and am setting up some meetings with some of our council leaders and business leaders over the next fortnight. Tonight I am hosting drinks for some of the local candidates and campaigners who worked in our constituency and nearby (I hope the weather is nice!). This is all before the job is meant to start.

OK and I have also had two very nice Sundays watching cricket, seen the kids school play and cheered on a few races for sports day.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

First Thoughts on being elected

I can't tell you how good it felt to stand on the stage in front of the TV cameras and hear that over half a million people have put a cross on the ballot paper by the Conservative Party.

The past 6 weeks has been a wonderful experience. I have met thousands of people, seen many different issues and tried to keep people up to date via the blog.

The success today by the Conservatives in our region has been about team work. We had an exceptional team of MEP candidates who all campaigned hard - but more importantly an amazing team of local volunteer activists and county council candidates from Watford to Cromer, Peterborough to Southend and everywhere in between. They have all worked their socks off. Thank you so much to everyone, I promise to work my own socks off for our area for the next 5 years.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Heffer in a Huff

This morning I met Simon Heffer. Boris may have encouraged him to stand for parliament but I was not impressed.

I left home at 5.30am and joined local Conservative Council candidates at Chelmsford station by 7am to hand out leaflets at one of the main commuter stations into London. We were there one evening last week meeting people on their way home.

This morning's campaigning was well received - over half the people we approached took our leaflet, I had to pop back to the car to reload. I was even told more than once that as we were the only party they had seen they would vote for us.

By around 8.30am the mass of hard working commuters had gone on their and the team went for a coffee and bacon sarnie. NO Expenses.

So it was well outside normal commuting hours when a 4x4 rolled up and Mr Heffer huffed out of the passenger seat.

I have a friend (just one, admittedly) who hangs onto every word Heffer writes. I wanted to say hello. I bounced up to the car, with a smile and held out my hand - "Mr Heffer, I am Vicky Ford, one of the Conservative Candidates in Thursday's election. I live near Saffron Walden" (that's the seat he thinks he wants to win from the Tories in the next general election). I offered him our LOCAL election leaflet. Mr Heffer stared at me in dismay - or was it disgust? He pushed aside the leaflet, announced he would be voting elsewhere and marched off.

He could certainly improve his people skills! Dare I say it, he could learn a lot from Tony Juniper of the Green Party (and sometime adviser to the Conservatives), with whom I shared a Platform at the Cambridge Hustings last night.

Politics is team work - from the very local to the national and international level This evening at Shenfield Station as well as questions on EU "In or OUT" - I was asked questions about how to deal with harassment on Brentwood High Street, local planning issues and the head of the local swimming club wanted to discuss the issues with "free swimming" policy. One local councillor discussed what he is doing with the police on the harassment issue (they left happy), the swimmer had an in depth chat with a board member from the pool (ditto happy) and we all had a heated debate about the planning issue. OK sometimes our team is not perfect, but when it works it is a million times better than a huffy independent.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Question Time in the East

I was extremely impressed by the group of students from all across Norfolk who came to take part in the Politics Show question time debate. You can see it here. (Scroll in 29 minutes to avoid having to listen to Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson).

Their questions were on
1. expenses (we need transparency);
2. the un-audited EU accounts (which the Conservatives have continually refused to vote through)
3. the money Britain pays into the EU (I think the EU budget is too big - and often not well spent here at home ... wish I'd reminded the Labour MEP that his westminster colleagues are giving away our rebate too!);
4. Do we need a referendum - YES;
5. Immigration (the bottom of the recession is not a time to be isolationist, for decades we have relied on migrant workers, for example in farming, but it is also a real issue especially in some areas which is why we need a grown up debate and proper controls).

As someone who is not elected it is of course rather daunting to take on veteran MEPs in front of the TV cameras for the first time - but I enjoyed it!