Why I've joined a new group of MPs trying to fix Britain's futile adversarial politics
It would be wrong to hide from the fact that Brexit feels like it is stretching the existing party political system beyond its limits. Parliament is deadlocked, and not only are the main parties at loggerheads and unable to work together, but they are internally divided too.
The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems have all seen MPs resign the whip. It is not difficult to see why public trust in politicians is quickly eroding as we fail to find a solution to the major issue of the day and take our country forward.
However, there is one thing that unites every single MP. Each one us cares deeply about the future of our country, and wants to do what we think is right for our constituents.
When you’re in Westminster it can be easy to get sucked into the bubble and forget why you entered politics. Having lived through a bitterly divisive independence referendum from which Scotland has still not recovered, for me it certainly wasn’t to get bogged down in more constitutional turmoil in the shape of Brexit.
A few weeks ago I was asked if I would be interested in joining the More United Network. One call with its leadership team and I was sold. The idea is simple really, a new platform for MPs who are willing, where possible, to work cross-party in the national interest, regardless of which party is in power.
I know it’s a cliche, but becoming a dad completely changed how I viewed the world. My outlook was different, less selfish and short termist. I began thinking more about the sort of country I wanted my kids to grow up in. And I could either be the guy who sits round the dinner table or down the pub putting the world to rights, or I could get out there and fight for the things I believe in. So that’s what I did, and two years later I was elected to parliament.
Most MPs enter politics for reasons like this, having been inspired by something or someone in their lives to make a positive difference. And going to work surrounded by a group of people with an immense breadth and depth of knowledge and experience means there’s always something to learn, and areas where common cause can be found.
What many people don’t know is that some of the best work in parliament happens in the All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs), where MPs with a shared interest join forces to push for change. Sadly, this sort of positive cross-party cooperation doesn’t often make the headlines.
On the whole, MPs tend to agree on the destination we want to arrive at. We all want to make sure our NHS is at its best, that we’re giving our kids the best start in life and an excellent education so they can fulfil their potential, that people can achieve the dream of home ownership, that our high streets thrive, our environment is protected, and that we have the right transport and digital infrastructure in place.
What is true is that we don’t always agree on the path to get there. That is no bad thing either, we need a battle of ideas, and no side has a monopoly on good ones.
This is what the More United MP Network hopes to achieve; bringing people together in a space that allows consensual politics to flourish so we can find solutions. Seeking out differences and grievances just for the sake of it doesn’t help anyone.
Outside the Westminster circus, real life and real issues are affecting my constituents. Too many feel the deck is stacked against them. It is that pervasive sense of unfairness that threatens social cohesion, and has seen people lurching to populists on the left and right in search of scapegoats and easy answers.
It’s the job of serious MPs to tell it straight – that there is no silver bullet or magical solution to all the issues facing us as a nation. That whilst of course at times our political differences will be too big to bridge, where we can work together to make your lives better, we should.
And when it comes to those of us in the More United Network, we will.