“Disruptive” is the new word of our age. It’s used to describe new technologies that rewrite how we make things, heal people, communicate, produce food and save our planet. In politics the new disruptors are…the electorate. A year ago they decided that the cosy consensus (of which I was part) was wrong and Britain should leave the EU. In the United States a person with no political experience but sackloads of swagger, astounded predictions. In France the left/right political landscape has been swept aside for a new party and a new, relatively untested President.
And here. An election that at first seemed a gentle progression towards a convincing win by the Prime Minister became a, well, I’m not sure what it became. “Uncertain” is the only word I can find. By contrast, in West Berkshire we had some welcome certainty. I was delighted to increase my vote share to a record General Election result. With around 62% of the vote as well as convincing wins in Council by-elections in Thatcham, it was at least in West Berkshire, a Conservative night of celebration.
As the Government sought to put together arrangements which allow us to govern, I was doing what all MPs do after elections: reacquainting myself with my family, writing thank-you letters and restarting the warp and weft of politics by holding surgeries and dealing with constituents’ problems. At that point I had a call from my Chief Whip to inform me that the Prime Minister wished me to “move the Loyal Address”. This is a tradition where an “established”, for want of a better word, MP on the Government benches moves the speech and a thrusting relative newcomer seconds it. Making such a speech is a task that concentrates the mind somewhat, as it is made to a packed House and is delivered before the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. The tradition is that it is laced with humour and looks at the Queen’s Speech through the prism of the mover’s constituency. With the mood in Parliament and the country being sombre in the aftermath of Grenfell Tower and terrorist outrages, I sought to balance it with a serious and consensual tone. I don’t know if I succeeded but it was a great honour to have been asked to fulfil one of Parliament’s quirky traditions. See it at www.richardbenyon.com and judge for yourself.