As with many other people involved in politics, I wasn’t always obsessed with it. My interest in the Conservative party started when, living in Boston, Lincolnshire, my then landlord, who was a local activist, asked me to help him campaign. A few months later, I was standing as a councillor and was elected as deputy chairman of the association.
Grassroots activism is what keeps our party alive and, as Members of Parliament, we should never forget that we would never have been elected without the support of all the people who, alongside their day jobs, always spare a few hours every weekend to canvass on the doorstep, deliver leaflets, ring a constituent, support an event. They do this enduring any kind of weather and potential abuse. Tory activists are the salt of our party and their opinion should be heavily valued by their elected representatives.
My personal experience, which I believe is reflected by many colleagues, is that our grassroots just want Brexit done. They want the Government to deliver, regardless of what they voted in 2016 in the majority of cases, and to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10.
Boris Johnson has energised our party, giving it a more positive spirit and his premiership has heavily boosted the numbers in our ranks. I have personally seen dozens and dozens of people becoming Conservative members. They are often young and some of them are former Labour voters, disappointed that the socialist, hipster party of Corbyn has forgotten northern towns. They participate in the internal democracy of our party, help in elections and often go on to become elected representatives.
They are the ones who win us elections.
When I talk to campaigners, as with people on the doorstep, one sentiment that is becoming quite clear is the growing frustration towards the immobility of Parliament.
Westminster is held hostage by a certain number of people, often by those who have crossed the floor or that, once elected, totally discarded the commitment to deliver Brexit that was in their party manifestos. As soon as Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, these people tried everything they could to undermine his mandate to deliver Brexit. Once he got a deal from the EU, something that the “commentators” said he could never achieve, they managed to drag it into quicksand, forcing him to write to the EU to get another extension.
Don’t be fooled, it is not “more scrutiny” that they want, it’s more time - to kick the can in the long grass, avoiding a general election that would see many of them getting back to private life.
A general election is now the only way forward. People are fed up with so many of their MPs not listening to their voice and ignoring the result of the referendum. When they call for endless scrutiny of the legislation to get out of the EU, they are avoiding the scrutiny of their own constituents. Democracy is a frail and precious concept, built on the sacrifice of our ancestors and on decades of practice, and is based on the will of the people, in the respect of the rights of the minorities and of constitutional limits.
Ignoring the result of the 2016 referendum would open a rift in the credibility of our institution, making voters feel that their vote is worthless.
When this general election comes, it will be our grassroots who will be the catalyst that will help us win and will protect democracy. I am already out campaigning every Saturday in my constituency and I am looking forward to the people having their say about this parliament and the future of our country.
Andrea Jenkyns MP