Member of Parliament for Clacton

Douglas Carswell

10 NOV 2006

Commons Diary - Harwich & Manningtree Standard

Douglas joins the Marines

I have signed up with the Royal Marines. No, I am not about to swap politics for a career in the armed forces. Rather, I have joined the Parliamentary Armed Forces scheme. As a new MP, I am very conscious that politicians sometimes make key decisions that will affect our soldiers, sailors and airmen. Personally, I have not agreed with every decision that Parliament has made – and the failure to give our troops the right kit is a national disgrace.

If I am to do something about it, it is really important that I get a first-hand understanding of what it is like to serve. The Armed Forces scheme will allow me to find out what it is like to be in the armed forces, and to show my support for our services.

I choose the Royal Marines – which will probably get me in to all sorts of trouble with one or two ex-Paras and former RAF people that I know. However, I felt that the Marines, with their multipurpose role, would be a good branch of the armed forces to sign up with. I also wanted to do something with the navy given Harwich's ancient ties with the senior service.

This Sunday’s Remembrance Day services across our district will be poignant, as they always are; a chance not only to reflect on past sacrifices, but to appreciate those currently serving their Queen and Country.

I was mulling this over in my mind during an Education Committee discussion in Parliament on “Citizenship education”. What does it take to give people a sense of citizenship, and of belonging? After the July 7th terrorist outrages last year, this question has come to the fore. I believe that it is vital that young people in Britain grow up with a sense of our shared past, if they are to have a bright future. That means teaching our island story, and in doing so, giving people a sense of patriotism and quite pride in what our forbearers did for the world.

On a totally separate note, I was lobbied in Parliament last week by some local nurses worried about the future of the local NHS. They are worried because of what has happened to our local Primary Care Trust. On top of that have been the delays in opening some services at the new Harwich hospital and the closure of a ward in Clacton hospital.

A day or so later, the Tendring Pensioners Action Group, led by Mike Le Cornu and Vic Brown, came to see me to express their concerns about the raw deal that our older folk are now getting. Pensions have not increased in line with average earnings meaning that many retired people are worse off. Added to that the rise in gas and electricity prices, and there is real cause for concern locally.

If you would like to visit the House of Commons, or just come along to one of my surgeries or coffee mornings for a chat, please do contact me. I am always available for local people.

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