Condemnation is a strong word that should be reserved for people who commit serious offences. Those MPs who waved their order papers after the Chancellor's statement did so to show their support for urgent action to tackle the deficit; whilst I agreed with them, I didn't join them in waving my order paper because I was conscious that such action would mean some of my constituents losing their jobs and I didn't want to appear insensitive.
I don't agree with you that the cuts are idealogical (unless you think it is idealogical to believe that the Government needs to live within its means). The Government isn't cutting to shrink the size of the state; its objective is to eliminate the deficit and it is not going one penny further.
The letter from David Cameron went to every elector in the constituency, not just to Conservatives. I have included the text below. As you can see, it doesn't question Andrew's character - to the contrary, David Cameron says he regrets that Andrew chose not to rejoin the Conservative Parliamentary Party. It does refer to his arrest in September 2007 because that was necessary to explain why the Whip was temporarily suspended but it makes it clear that the police decided not to press charges. The purpose of the letter was not to attack Andrew but to express regret that he had left the Conservative Party and make it clear that voting for him risked keeping Gordon Brown in Number 10 - a perfectly reasonable argument.
TEXT OF LETTER
Dear Croydon Central resident,
In just a few weeks we will have the most important election for a generation. Our economy is burdened by huge debts and millions are out of work. Our society is broken by crime and irresponsible behaviour. Our political system is in a mess. I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that Britain desperately needs change.
A Conservative Government will take bold action on all three fronts. We’ll cut Gordon Brown’s waste and debt to get our economy moving. We’ll support families and encourage responsibility in our society by backing people who do the right thing. We’ll sort out our political system by scrapping perks and taking power away from the political elite to give you more control over your life. But there will only be a Conservative Government if we have more MPs than Labour after the Election - and Croydon Central is one of the seats we need to win.
You may have heard that Andrew Pelling, who was elected as your Conservative MP at the last election, has decided to stand against us as an independent. I am, naturally, disappointed by this decision. But most of all, I am concerned about what it may mean for Croydon and for the country as a whole. I am writing to explain why - and how this situation has arisen.
In September 2007, Andrew’s second wife made some serious accusations against him and he was arrested and released on bail. We suspended him while the police investigated the matter, as we always do in such circumstances. Andrew then informed us that he didn’t wish to stand for re-election (see over page). Given the risk that Gordon Brown could call an election at any time, we reluctantly decided to select a new candidate and Gavin Barwell was duly chosen from over 100 applicants.
We were delighted when Andrew felt able to return to work in the summer of 2008. Given that the police had long since decided not to press charges, we offered to reinstate him once he had fully resumed his duties. Regrettably he chose not to accept that offer. Had he done so, the local party could have asked Gavin to stand down so that they could re-adopt Andrew as their candidate. Since then, numerous approaches have been made to Andrew to try to bring him back into the fold. He has rejected those approaches and taken an increasingly hostile approach both to Gavin and to the Conservative administration at Croydon Town Hall, culminating in his decision to stand as an independent.
As The Croydon Advertiser observed a few months ago, “one thing nobody with any modicum of political knowledge is saying is that he [Andrew] has any real chance of winning”. Voting for Andrew will simply split the anti-Labour vote, making it more likely that you will get a Labour MP and five more years of Gordon Brown. That’s the last thing Croydon or the country needs.
If you want change, you need to vote for Gavin. He’s lived in the area all his life and you will have seen just how hard he has worked over the last two years. I know he will prove to be a conscientious MP and a real champion for Croydon. I hope you will vote for change in Britain by giving Gavin and the Conservative Party your support.
David Cameron MP
Leader of the Conservative Party
PS Remember, a vote for anyone other than Gavin could mean a Labour MP and five more years of Gordon Brown.