17 NOV 2017

Why the values of our nation matter so much

The job of the Member of Parliament is not about the Member of Parliament. It is about what you do, the team you build and what you achieve for the people you serve.

We have come a long way together over the past 10 years. We have achieved much and we should be proud of the change we have made together in our community.

Let's remember how things were back in 2010. Our port was about to be sold off. Dover's hospital had been decimated for a decade – services withdrawn and wards axed one by one. Deal's hospital was left teetering on the edge. Deal itself was called a "village" by the Government, unfit for the fast train. Unemployment had rocketed and things looked bleak.

Fast forward to today and there is a brand new hospital in Dover. Deal hospital has been safeguarded. We are now working tirelessly to get more services in both hospitals – to save people long and expensive journeys to hospitals far away. We stopped the port sell off and it is now not just forever England – it has been reformed to bring it closer to the community. The fast train now sweeps into Deal all day, every day and Deal is a town transformed. In Dover Burlington House is gone and a new shopping complex rises in the heart of the town. Unemployment has halved. Ours is a community on the up.

Just this week hundreds of letters have gone out to constituents. Whether it's fighting their corner on issues such as housing, health or getting a decent bus service – this work goes on, and will continue to do so. I am still holding surgeries, doing everything I can to help people. It's business as usual.

I write this because sometimes I need to remind myself as well as our team why we do it and why it's all worth it. And I want to thank the hundreds of well wishers from across Dover & Deal – indeed across the whole nation - who have got in touch in the past week.

So what then is my explanation for what has happened and what I am accused of? I cannot give one. Because, two weeks on, I still do not know.

But let me say some things about the way matters of this sort should be handled. First, there must be a fair due process for people who are the victims of crime – and fair due process for those facing allegations.

Moreover in the febrile atmosphere that grips our country from time to time, we must never rush to judgement. We must not confuse accusation with proof. We can never muddle courts of law with courts of social media and public opinion. Nor should we confuse prejudice with fact. The whole area of reporting misconduct and managing allegations of misconduct in public life is a mess. I have every sympathy with people who have been harassed or victimised and feel they have nowhere to turn. That is a denial of justice.

It is also a denial of justice when people who have had allegations made against them, lose their job or their party whip without knowing what those allegations are. The more so as political parties are quick to panic and throw people under the bus for the expediency of looking tough and strong. That is fundamentally wrong. Wrong because it's an injustice to those who stand accused – and in at least one case the humiliation has tragically proven too much to bear. But also wrong because it undermines our fundamental values as a country.

We believe in the rule of law – that everyone, be they so very high or so very low, should be equal before the law. We believe in the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. We believe in natural justice. These are cornerstones of our constitution.

It was not in keeping with these values that the media were told of allegations made against me last week before I was. It was not in keeping with these values that the presumption of innocence was undermined by the panicked action of my party. And it was not in keeping with these values to cause prejudice and harm the chances of my getting a fair hearing.

Whatever it turns out I stand accused of, I deny any criminal wrongdoing. I cannot deny that the pressure of these events has taken a heavy toll on me and my family. Yet I will stand fast to our values and do all I can to uphold them, whatever the price may be. I am not here for myself, but for the people of Dover & Deal – the people I serve.

I have always done my utmost to work hard for our community. And I am resolved to continue to do so. I have always put all my energy into fighting for the people of Dover and Deal – and I am resolved to continue to do so.

For me, the interests of the people of Dover & Deal will always come first.

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Charlie Elphicke

Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!

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