Howard's Way 23 March 2006

Contributed by editor on Mar 23, 2006 - 12:06 AM


HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

March 2006<IMG height=195 hspace=10 src="images/michaelhoward3.jpg" width=130 align=right vspace=10 border=0>

Last Friday evening I told the Annual General Meeting of the Folkestone and Hythe Conservative Association that I do not intend to stand again at the next General Election.

This was not a decision I came to lightly. It has been an immense privilege to serve you all. No Member of Parliament could have a more wonderful constituency. I feel I have a special relationship with you all and, when the next election arrives it will be a great wrench to hand over to someone else.

But all good things must come to an end and I feel the time will be right, at the end of this Parliament, to make way for someone younger. I would rather hand over while I can still give you all the vigorous and energetic representation you deserve. That is exactly what I intend to do for however many years remain in this Parliament.

One Monday came much sadder news. Smith Medical is to close much of its operations at Hythe and many people will lose their jobs.

This is a devastating blow to them and it will undoubtedly have wider implications for the whole of our local community.

I have been in touch with Smith Medical and the leader of the Trade Union concerned to ensure that the maximum amount of help is given to those who lose their jobs. They may need retraining. They will certainly want the benefit of help and advice. I am determined to do all I can to make sure they get it.

There are, inevitably, wider lessons to be learned. We live in a global economy. No-one owes us a living. We have to earn our way in the face of fierce world-wide competition. So we have, as a nation, to focus on the things we can do best.

None of this will be any consolation to those who lose their jobs. But if our government does all it can to ensure that the country as a whole remains competitive, more jobs will be created. Unfortunately, since 1997, we have slipped from 4th to 11th in the competitiveness league table. That is something which must be addressed.