Courtesy of the Bridport and Lyme Regis News
10:00am Wednesday 11th February 2015
By David Bol
WEST DORSET: Oliver Letwin believes it is crucial for rural businesses to compete online - and expects the economy to be key in May's general election campaign.
The MP will defend his West Dorset seat on Thursday May 7 - aiming for a fifth term in parliament. Mr Letwin is still hungry for the job and is passionate about each community having its own MP.
“I'm just as interested and enthusiastic in doing this as when I started” he said.“Nobody should do this job for any reason other than having a passion for it.
“The constituency system gives MPs a great gauge of national problems by actually talking to real people and hearing about the problems they encounter. I also find with national issues, I can relate them back to my constituents and actually see how they are affected - so it is a two-way relationship.”
As government cabinet member for policy, Mr Letwin has been involved in constructing the Conservative Party's manifesto for the May election. The campaign will begin on Monday March 30 - when parliament will be dissolved for all parties to fight the election.
“I enjoy being involved with the manifesto as I'm fascinated with the policy aspect of politics” he said.
“I have never been interested in Punch and Judy politics - but how the country is governed and how it affects people.”
Although the general election campaign is yet to officially begin, Mr Letwin thinks the economy will be the main talking point - and also believes the apparent disinterest in the main political parties has been blown out of proportion.
“I think in general terms, the biggest issue at the election will be the economy and the management of it” he said. “In 2010, the economy was in very bad shape. It is now in a much better state, but it's very clear that there's a lot of work left to do.
“The decisions that the public want the government to do are all dependant on a strong economy.
Everyone has their own priorities but it all comes down to the economy in order to support them.
“I don't think there is significantly more apathy than there has been in previous years. These things shift around from time to time, but generally over the last few decades, two thirds of the electorate have voted for either the Conservatives or Labour - and I wouldn't expect that to change an awful lot this year.
“There are more parties who have come through and got themselves into a strong position like the SNP, the Greens and UKIP - so I think we may see some changes in that sense.
“I don't believe that people generally cast their vote based on things that have happened in the past. The election is a chance for people to choose which party will do more for them in the next parliament. It is about being positive about what the parties can offer people.”
Mr Letwin is proud of how West Dorset has developed since becoming an MP in 1997 - but believes it is crucial rural businesses are not isolated in the 21st century.
“In one sense, there has been very little change - it still has the character it had 20 years ago” he said.
“But West Dorset is a much more prosperous place, and it has managed to achieve this without the character being destroyed.
“We have an unemployment rate of under one percent, and we have managed to keep low levels of crime. On top of that, there are thriving manufacturing industries and lots of new businesses doing very well.
“For rural businesses, it is crucial that they are not isolated because of where they are. Businesses now rely on electronic communication to compete - so it's vital to carry on the roll out of 4G mobile signal and rural broadband.”