I am not a patient man. I am an even less patient patient.
Two weeks ago I was all set to get on a train to Grantham for a couple of days of campaigning in the run up to the general election. It was going to be my first visit to the constituency since I had started my treatment for cancer many months ago. I was excited. And then, the night before, my temperature suddenly shot up. I dragged myself off to A&E: I had developed an infection and would have to be admitted. My trip was off.
Since then, political events have given me an extended lesson in humility. The voters of the Grantham and Stamford constituency made it quite clear they didn’t need to see me jumping up and down outside a school gate or in front of a market stall, to know that they wanted to vote Conservative in larger numbers than in 2015. So my majority went up. I am very grateful – but under no illusion that it had much to do with me.
Across the country, a larger percentage of voters, 42.4 per cent, voted Conservative than have done in several decades. But while our share of the votes was 5.5 per cent higher than in 2015, Labour’s share was 9.5 per cent higher, so we lost lots of seats. This too feels like lesson in humility. We called an election we didn’t need to hold, on a subject (Brexit) that we refused to discuss, with a leader who, parroting a few meaningless slogans, failed to communicate her hopes for the country or vision for the future. We were duly punished. The British people do not like to be played for fools.
For the next week or two, MPs will be scurrying around Westminster trying to work out how much impact the election results will have on the Queen’s Speech, which Her Majesty is still expected to deliver sometime next week.
Normally the first Queen’s Speech after a general election is jam-packed full of the eye-catching measures that the party which won the election put at the heart of its election campaign. This time we will see the reverse. A more or less dignified tiptoeing away from the most controversial measures in our manifesto will take place, as the whips try to remove all hostages to fortune. I wish them luck.
My own priority is this: to rebuild my strength as soon as possible so that, within a couple of months, I can start serving you once again properly as your Member of Parliament, both here in Lincolnshire and in Westminster. Roll on the day.