Why I am standing for Esher and Walton

The advertisement has now gone out for the vacancy for a Conservative Parliamentary candidate to succeed Ian Taylor. I mentioned on this blog that I was going to put my name forward and now it’s time to say why I think I could be a good candidate for this seat.

There will be many high quality candidates coming forward and some have already been picked up by the local press. Only 6 will be shortlisted and reducing the large number of candidates to such a small number will be a tough job for the selection committee. The Conservative Party only allows the candidates 2 sides of A4 to publicise their credentials and so what follows is a version of what I am putting on my standard format application form.

1. I am a local candidate. I live in Cobham and am a local councillor.

With the next election due to be held no later than June the new parliamentary candidate who will be selected in November will have less than 6 months to get to know the area properly before the campaign starts. As a local resident and Councillor I have been dealing with the major issues in this part of Surrey for the last 2 years. I know who to call to get things sorted out. Also, equally importantly I use the same public services as the people I will be asking to vote for me – the same hospitals, GP services, roads and the same train service to London. My elder daughter is at a school in the constituency and my younger one goes to nursery in Cobham. My wife has worked in Esher for the past 5 years.

2. I have the right political experience to be the next Parliamentary candidate and, I hope, MP.

As an Elmbridge Borough Councillor I have campaigned successfully to prevent Sainsburys from erecting 4 feet high lettering on top of their Cobham store. I helped the local residents gain a lot of publicity for their opposition to what would have been an eyesore had it been allowed. Eventually Sainsburys understood the strength of local feeling and backed down.

I deal with the concerns of my ward constituents every day, experience which I would be able to make use of for the entire Constituency if I were elected as the next Member of Parliament.

As a former Parliamentary candidate in South Yorkshire I know exactly what is required of a Parliamentary candidate in a general election. I was standing in a region where memories of the 1984-5 miners’ strike were very fresh even in 2001. Nevertheless I campaigned in all the mining villages and even obtained the support of a former NUM shop steward who was amazed that a Conservative had been prepared to come into his village and to engage with the issues which bothered the local residents – schools, hospitals and the way that New Labour took the support of people like him for granted. I had already appreciated that the Conservative party needed to focus on the public services at a time when, sadly, the leadership was only talking about immigration and Europe.

I was a regular contributor to the local press and radio – including an interview on BBC Radio 5  – and obtained a 4% swing in my favour in an election where the national swing to the Conservatives was only 1%.

As the former Chairman of Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives I led a team which ran an innovative campaigning strategy that led to the Labour held seat of Hammersmith & Fulham falling to the Conservatives in 2005. Then in the following year (after I moved to Cobham) there was a Conservative landslide on the local Council whihc had been run by Labour for the previous 20 years.

3. My work and my community involvement have given me an insight into the problems facing the country today

Many people, when they learn that I am a barrister, might reasonably wonder if there aren’t enough lawyers in Parliament already. Actually there are relatively few lawyers currently in Parliament, they just happen to be quite high profile ones, such as Jack Straw and (formerly) Tony Blair. But the job of Parliament is to make laws, amend laws and repeal laws and therefore you do need some lawyers there because we deal with legislation on a daily basis and we know what works and what doesn’t. Badly thought through laws don’t achieve their aims – they just lead to expensive court cases.

I deal with housing law and that means I get involved in two areas which are important to everyone: disrepair and anti-social behaviour. Living in a decent home is something everyone aspires to no matter what their income but sadly living with damp, mould growth, ant and cockroach infestation and poor central heating is still the lot of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in this country. I get a lot of satisfaction out of ensuring people whose landlords don’t repair their houses get a fair deal.

Anti-social behaviour is a real problem. I spend a great deal of time talking to people who through no fault of their own find their lives made a misery by noisy, violent, threatening and anti-social neighbours. Many of these people are frightened of complaining in case they and their families face reprisals. Their bravery in coming to Court and facing up to some quite unpleasant human beings is something I find humbling. I also speak to the troublemakers and very often the problem can be traced to abuse of alcohol or drugs or both. We need to re-think how we treat drug addiction in this country. Sometimes however the fact is that the anti-social person simply has no understanding for the way his behaviour affects others. They have been brought up in a system which encourages every child to believe they are important (which is no bad thing) but  completely fails to educate them about the need to think of other people. What you end up with is a person who is obsessed with their own “rights” but totally unaware of their responsibilities. A person who believes that the problem lies with the neighbour who simply wants to get on with their life unmolested. That is wrong and a new Conservative government must address this.

4. I want to re-build trust in our democracy.

My uncle was killed fighting for the free and democratic system of government which we now enjoy. As a result I am furious that several MPs of all parties have used the Parliamentary allowances system to feather their own nests. So here are my pledges if I am elected to Parliament as the MP for Esher & Walton.

A. I will live in the constituency and not claim expenses for a second house in London.

B. I will not claim any taxpayers’ money for home improvements, holidays or any other personal items which my constituents have to pay for with their own money.

C. I will commute to work on the train just like my constituents do.

D. I will not employ any member of my family to work for me.

E. I will publish full details of all my expenses on a web site every quarter.

F. My diary will appear on my web site so that every constituent can find out what his or her MP is doing on any day. 

5. I will abide by the Conservative manifesto

The next Conservative manifesto should be seen as as contract with the people of Britain. Every Conservative MP will be elected on the basis of that manifesto and it is therefore important that all MPs stick to their manifesto commitments. Reneging on such commitments (as Labour did with their promise of a referendum on the European Constitution / Lisbon Treaty) is unacceptable and ends up with the public once again seeing all politicians as liars.

I believe that the voters in this constituency are sceptical towards the European Union. I too am sceptical and therefore any Conservative who has had reservations about Ian Taylor’s views on Europe will be very comfortable with me as their Conservative candidate. European integration has gone too far and David Cameron is committed to reversing this process. I fully support his aims.


I will keep this blog updated as issues crop up. Anyone who wants to know more should either leave a comment on this site or contact me via Elmbridge Borough Council. Thank you for reading my blog.



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4 responses to “Why I am standing for Esher and Walton

  1. Hi James, Good luck with your campaign. It sounds like you have some valuable experience to offer. A question I am keen to put to all the candidates is whether they agree with the direction that Cameron has taken the party, specifically with relation to what has been termed “progressive Conservatism” reflecting our historical roots in one nation Toryism, combined with a modern belief in social justice. Is that a direction you would support?
    Tim (Member Esher Committee)

    • jamesbrowne

      When I was the Conservative candidate in Don Valley in 2001, I chose to campaign on issues such as schools and the NHS, at a time when most other candidates and the party leadership were only talking about the pound and immigration. I knew then we had to address issues of social justice and I supported both leadership candidates who wanted to move the party in that direction – Michael Portillo and David Cameron. So the answer to your question is “yes” but I believe that view is also compatible with taking a sceptical line on Europe, and aiming to reduce the burden of taxation in the long run.

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