LETTER: Re-writing history

I read with interest Maria Caulfield’s recent article defending her record and attacking that of her predecessor, Norman Baker.

As readers will be aware, Norman served the people of Lewes, Newhaven, Seaford, Polegate and all the villages in between from 1997 until 2015 as their Member of Parliament.

In 1997, he beat the incumbent Conservative, Tim Rathbone – a politician so inactive that within weeks Norman had asked more questions in parliament than Tim had in 25 years.

In 2001, Norman was named parliamentarian of the year by a national newspaper and in 2002 Channel 4 named him as their MP of the year, for his tireless work in the house of commons.

In 2005 it was Norman’s persistent campaigning and pressure that led to the publication of MPs’ expenses and exposed the scandalous greed and dishonesty of our representatives – some of whom have now faced criminal charges – and the subsequent cleaning up of British politics.

On top of his incredible work in parliament, he was incredibly active locally, too. His negotiation brought the medical centre in Seaford when Conservative cuts closed it, the University Technical College in Newhaven when the Conservatives wanted to abandon it, and worked tirelessly to ensure our train service worked, a baton Maria has so miserably failed to carry on – I find it hard to believe that it is just a coincidence that the demise of our train service, which was good for so many years, began shortly after Maria was elected.

Norman also, as Transport Minister, spent time speaking with residents that live along the A27 and worked with them to draft proposals to improve the road in a way that met everyone’s needs, and was successful in securing the funds to implement it. I notice that, now work on the improvements is soon to start, Maria has started to claim credit for it – but sadly for her, it is a matter of public record that the scheme was announced in 2014 – the year before her election.

Norman was well-known for taking the time to respond personally to letters from residents. He would diligently work to resolve any issues they raised with him – including securing NHS funding for a successful experimental operation for a constituent who had lost his vision. Maria, by contrast, currently ranks amongst the worst performing MPs for responding to constituents – the people she is supposed to represent and work for; according to the website Theyworkforyou.com, less than half get so much as an automated reply, much fewer anything meaningful and fewer still have their problem resolved.

Perhaps, if Maria lived in the constituency she might be able to spend more time getting to know the people she is supposed to represent and perhaps if she focused on her own job, rather than attempting to re-write history, she might then achieve something noteworthy.

Darren Grover

Court Farm Road, Newhaven