I note with interest that my political opponents, both locally and nationally, have started ascribing views and positions to me which are not mine, and then criticising me for allegedly having them!
In last week’s paper, for example, there are two letters suggesting my reason for resigning my ministerial post is related to the potential outcome of the General Election contest here next May. This is despite your paper printing a full article from me the previous week setting out my reasons which did not include this.
There is an underlying assumption in these letters that resigning my ministerial post will somehow aid my re-election. Frankly, I am not sure that this is the case. To be clear, I resigned because I thought it was the right and honourable thing to do, given the circumstances I described. It is as simple as that.
As regards this constituency, I have always treated it as a Lib Dem/Tory marginal and will continue to do so. It would be arrogant to do otherwise, particularly when Tory central office has embarked on a massive spending spree to try to buy the seat and get rid of me.
Another incorrect view ascribed to me in your letters page is that I have advocated legalising cannabis. I have not. I have advocated making it more easily available for people with medical conditions who find it helpful, and more generally moving towards a Portugese model which still classifies drugs as illegal but treats users as having a health issue to be addressed rather than as criminals to be locked up.
Then I am told I do not get ministers down to see important matters locally. Last week the Energy secretary Ed Davey visited Lewes and Newhaven and shortly before that the Health Minister Norman Lamb visited Seaford and Polegate. I have also had the Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin down to support my campaign to reopen the Lewes-Uckfield railway line, something I have been pushing for for years.
I see your correspondent Michael Richards supports this policy, which is good, but I have to tell him that this is not actually the policy of the Tory candidate as he seems to think. Rather she has backed BML2, a scheme which would go straight from Uckfield to Brighton, bypassing Lewes (we will get a spur if we are lucky) but requiring a massive tunnel under the town with all the disruption that would cause.
Then the Labour candidate criticises me for allegedly not supporting extra council powers to regulate buses. He perhaps does not know that when his party was in government, I tabled amendments to achieve this but they were voted down by, you guessed it, Labour. And when I became a transport minister, I successfully argued, against Tory wishes, that the powers that do exist should be left on the statute book rather than repealed as the Tories wanted.
Is it too much to ask that my opponents either present a positive case of what they want to do, or, if they want to attack me, to do so on the basis of fact rather than fiction?
Lib Dem MP for Lewes