I have submitted the following letter to the editor of the Newmarket Journal:
Your recent correspondent, Sarah McManus, has had her fears fulfilled by the local West Suffolk Conservatives going far afield - very far afield - for their prospective replacement for Mr Richard Spring, MP. Mr Matthew Hancock is a London-based Cheshire man.
Sarah said, "only in November last year he [Mr Hancock] was on the shortlist for a seat in Congleton, Cheshire, where he originates from. He publicly stated that he dreamt of being in Cheshire and putting down his roots with his wife and children. Is this the type of MP we want to represent us in Suffolk?"
That's a very good question, Sarah, but it's too late now: the deed is done. I think that the Conservatives see it as 'parachuting in' and the Notting Hill lot invariably get their parachutists in nowadays. However, Mr Hancock's saving grace is that he is 'chief of staff to shadow chancellor George Osborne.' That's something, surely?
We locals who have an abiding interest in, and affection for, Newmarket would have been better impressed if a suitable locally-based person had been selected for what is without doubt one of the Conservatives' safest seats. It is safer than South East Cambridgeshire, for example. But, at least James Paice now lives locally, as have I, for the whole of my life.
As a 'furriner,' Mr Hancock is going to find his second preference area very different from his reported first preference in Cheshire. For example, fox hunting has been the 'in thing' in Cheshire, whilst hare coursing has had support in this area. I dislike both: where does Mr Hancock stand on either or both of these so-called 'sports'?
I have one other complaint, this time about Mr Spring. He is often described as 'Newmarket's MP.' The fact is that a substantial part of Newmarket is in South East Cambridgeshire. Therefore, whoever is South East Cambridgeshire's MP is also entitled to describe himself as 'Newmarket's MP.' This is something else for Mr Hancock to learn: not to make the mistakes of his predecessor.