Holding Local MP to Account: Greg Hands

Disproving the thesis that there is no principled Member of Parliament left, Zac Goldsmith resigned from the Conservative Party over, well, a point of principle: his conviction on Heathrow. With that, Zac stands in laudable contrast to every other Tory MP who campaigned for Remain and then, faster than a leaf turns into the wind, switched allegiance to implement Brexit, while kissing the ground Theresa ‘vilify-those-global-citizens’ May walks on.

“I voted Remain” sanctimoniously declares Jeremy Hunt to Andrew Marr. Let’s pause at that. Here is a man who on the information available before 23rd June thought Brexit was a bad idea. Since June, every available fact on the implications of Brexit proves that it is an even worse idea: bad for universities and science, bad for the economy, bad for the government’s budget and debt levels, to name but a few. Never mind that Brexit is bad for the institution that Jeremy is responsible for: the NHS. Jeremy ‘mathematically-challenged’ Hunt cannot add up that 1,500 extra British doctors a year do not even come close to filling, let alone replacing, the medical skills gap that exists in the NHS, now and into the future made up for by, gasp, those ‘nasty immigrants’. To add insult to injury, Jeremy cannot even make good on the central tenant of Boris ‘Kenyan-Obama-is-anti-British’ Johnson’s slogan to put £350 million a week into the Health Service. The irony and contradictions clearly escape Jeremy and that, ladies and gentlemen, I suggest is hypocrisy of the highest order.

In that same camp of men-for-turning is Greg Hands, MP for Chelsea and Fulham. Greg is authentically a nice man and has a flashy newsletter. It lists how he opened a school, met local residents at his surgery, stayed abreast of local planning, was on the BBC, drew attention to fly-tipping crisis. Since June, as newly appointed Minister for Trade & Investment, there is a new dimension. Greg meets ambassadors from Sweden and Panama. Greg flies to Taiwan, Korea, Germany and since yesterday to India on Theresa ‘give-privileged-visa-status-to-wealthy-Indians’ May’s trade mission. Lovely trips on the cost of the taxpayer but what does all that do for Greg’s constituency?

Remember, Greg too campaigned for Remain and so he should. On a familial, personal level, Greg is more pan-European than most if not all his cabinet colleagues and certainly as much as Nick Clegg. So Greg should know first-hand the importance of free movement of people and trade. Dare we say that Greg is perhaps not a global citizen but certainly a pan-European citizen?

More importantly, Greg represents a hugely multi-cultural and international-minded community. The area that straddles his constituency voted 69% and 70% for Remain, way above the overall outcome. There is a good reason for that. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • The constituency is very young: 41% are between 24 and 44 years of age which is 1.5x the national average of 27%. Consequently, ‘oldies’ over 44 are 24% below national average. The young voted Remain.
  • It is more diversified than one would think: 77% are white versus 87% for the general population (but 60% for London).
  • By birth it is hugely global: only 57% were born in the UK, against 87% for the nation as whole and 63% in London. Over 17% were born in the European Union and 27% in other foreign countries.
  • Only 4% do not own a passport versus 17% for the UK population and 8% in London. 66% have a UK passport against 75% for the nation; 20% an EU passport (against 5% in the UK overall) and 17% other foreign passports (7% have dual nationalities).
  • For 72% of households English is the main language against 91% for the country.

Lest you dismiss that 36% of residents as non-UK, non-voting irrelevances, consider this. Applying 36% to the nearly 60,000 employed residents at average 2011 earnings for the constituency of £670 per week represents around £700 million in pre-tax annual income. A good part of that gets spent in the council. Moreover, it is a low estimate for that sub-group. Assuming 3.0x earnings for sustainable property ownership, make it even 1.5x, that group of residents can represent between £1.0 and £2.0 billion, that’s right ‘billion,’ in property values in the constituency.

Question: does one really want these people to leave as a result of Brexit? The answer is clearly a resounding ‘No!’

Which brings us back to Greg Hands. What is Greg doing for his 70% of constituents who voted Remain and the 36% of his community who make a huge economic contribution? Where does Greg stand on Parliamentary vote on Article 50? Where is Greg in the defence of our independent judiciary? Where was Greg when his colleague said that British businessmen are lazy? Where was Greg when the ‘naming & shaming’ of companies employing foreigners was suggested? What is Greg saying on budget deficit enlarging ideas such as support for the automobile industry or keeping universities whole on EU funding lost? Should Greg not be like the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments whose voters also supported Remain and stand shoulder to shoulder in the upcoming High Court to defend Parliamentary authority over the Brexit process?

I do not know the answers; do you? We are looking forward to Greg’s next newsletter.

London 7 november 2016