Dr Phillip Lee has been a Conservative MP for almost 2 years - as have I. He's written an interesting article for today's Mail on Sunday. The gist of it is that as a GP he feels that he takes important decisions at his workplace, but does not feel he does so at Westminster, and is discouraged from being proactive in his work as an MP. After my first year as an MP, I might have agreed with Phillip, but I don't agree now. Its not possible as an MP to directly save lives as a GP does, or say deliver calves and lambs as I used to do as a livestock farmer, but I've learned that MPs can make a real difference - not so much as an individual but as part of a team.
I can think of several areas where through working with others I think I'm making a difference. Not necessarily going to always win, but could well limit serious damage to the nation. First up is what I consider the madness of onshore wind farms. I feel part of a growing outrage amongst MPs over the damage this policy is inflicting - on fuel poverty, business competitiveness and rural landscapes. Already we are seeing more under grounding of grid lines, and I still hope we can defeat the utterly outrageous Mid Wales Connection Project. I know I'm out of line with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change about this - but the whips have never raised this issue with me. I really feel that I am defending the UK for future generations. On its own, this war makes my job as an MP worthwhile.
And there are an increasing number of other issues where I can play a leading role. There's the need to prevent the adoption of 'presumed consent' in respect of organ donation. The assumption and assertion that this will increase availability of organs for donation is unproven. And I can play a positive role in promoting changes which will bring about a real increase in organ donation levels - which is what will actually help those on the waiting list.
And then there is the developing campaign to legalise 'assisted suicide'. We are just about to be faced with the appalling prospect of an orchestrated campaign to change the law - a sensitive and complex issue. But legalisation is a terrible threat to vulnerable people and must be resisted. As Parliamentarians, we are charged with basing legislative change on evidence rather than intuitive responses. I find these battles every bit as challenging as anything else I've ever done. Will have to have a word with Phillip. There is a massive job facing him as an MP.