Justin Tomlinson

Justin Tomlinson

North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Getting Ready For The General Election

In the spirit of this being my final Swindon Advertiser article of this Parliament (and not using this to be political ahead of the election!), I have agreed to share the insight of what happens here in Parliament when a General Election is triggered.

It is rare such a big announcement is kept so tightly under wraps, but it certainly caught most people by surprise. There were a lot of frantic plans being changed!

In Parliament itself, very quickly all the Parties sit down to discuss the business that hasn’t yet concluded. Where things are close to finishing, it is decided what isn’t contentious and we will then vote through all those on Thursday and Friday – this effectively wraps up this Parliament. Anything not agreed, or too early in the process will simply fall so the new Government can start a fresh.

MP’s then split into two categories.

Firstly, those not re-standing. In addition to those who have already announced they aren’t standing, there is normally a flurry of announcements of others. Things move quickly, their staff are issued redundancy notices and offices must be cleared quickly. Boxes have already arrived.

Secondly, those standing. We must wrap up as much outstanding casework as possible as we effectively cease to be the MP on Thursday 30th May. The constituency offices close and the formal election period begins. Again, all staff are given notice that if their respective MP isn’t returned, they too will be redundant.

As a Minister work does continue. As it happens, I am responding to the final Westminster Hall debate and the final Adjournment debate (a proud Parliamentary moment for me). During the election duties are reduced (as you cannot commit the next Government), but if significant issues arise you are still the decision maker. This is my 6th General Election campaign, so I am perhaps a little less frantic than many colleagues who with such a big turnover of MPs in the 2019 election are facing their first re-election campaign. Election literature and campaign plans must be drafted and triggered quickly – in my case, I used to do this for a living, so I am a little better prepared than most.

Now political journalists are debating the timing of the General Election. Ignoring the political advantages and disadvantages (that’s our problem), for the public it means you will be spared 6 months of a long campaign (the technical term for the period before an expected election) where each candidate could in theory spend up to £50k on campaigning activity / literature before an Autumn election would have been triggered. It’s fair to say you would have all probably been sick of us and our leaflets - now you’ll only be troubled for the next 5 weeks or so!

For candidates the campaign flies by – there will be good and bad days, mostly linked to the weather, the number of volunteers willing to join you pounding the streets and the national picture which can either help or hinder! Before you know it, it is the election day, and your fate is in the hands of the electorate. 10pm the polling stations close and in Swindon’s case the ballot boxes are sent to STEAM museum for the count. A few, nail biting hours later we will all know our fate! See you on the doorsteps!

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