Outside the Winter Garden that Thursday/Friday, in the dead of night, where all still and chill, I paced and paced and mentally rehearsed my defeat speech.
I thought back on all the amazing people I had met, the important campaigns I’d been part of and everything I’d hoped to take forward as the MP.
And then, seven long years and an even longer night later, the Mayor announced the results and the rest, they say, is history.
Over these last whirlwind days, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of emails, letters and messages of congratulations and expressions of support.
For some, I had won because of my work to date to improve transport links, vital to jobs and businesses. Others talked about my obvious passion for the NHS after my son’s life saving operation. Education, and being a teacher, was a win for parents like me, anxious to secure the best possible start in life for their children. My initiative ‘Made in Eastbourne’ to promote local makes and doers and build our brand, also came up for special mention!
Why do I think we won? Two things largely:
It was clear that the town – and the country - esteemed David Cameron as Prime Minister and recognised in him, strong leadership and a clear plan that would see us continue to emerge from recession. Likewise, it was clear that the Conservatives had the country’s confidence for the economy. They recognised that empowering business and creating jobs was the only way to fund the NHS and, that Conservatives had the interests of coastal communities like Eastbourne firmly in sight. Millions of pounds of investment is now beginning to take shape across the Town.
And secondly? I put it to the town that they didn’t have to choose between strong government and an excellent local MP: in me they could have both. It is humbling and empowering that I have been given the opportunity to be true to my word.
We are now swiftly establishing a local constituency office and staff to join me in my work locally and in parliament. ‘To secure a prosperous future, where no one is left behind’ - that is my great ambition.
I would like to thank with all my heart the incredible team of local people, councillors, candidates, supporters and my friends and family, who have campaigned in the snow and the rain to see this day come.
And finally, to pay tribute to Stephen, with whom I have worked well for many years, on the ‘Save the DGH’ campaign particularly. He has brought huge energy to his role and been tireless in his endeavours. He has been most gracious in saying he knows I will make an excellent MP and I congratulate him on the achievements of these five years, most especially in apprenticeships. I wish him the very best.