Throughout my nearly two years as a Member of Parliament, I am often asked why I have never voted against the Government or abstained.
The answer is two-fold. Firstly, the vast majority of people who voted for me in 2010 did so because of the one word after my name: "Conservative." I owe it to them to support the Government and David Cameron in particular. Despite being referred to on these pages as a "campaigning maestro” and as displaying "true grit", I know that, without that one word, I would not have been elected.
Secondly, I have discovered the many different options available to backbench MPs to raise important constituency issues with Ministers. These range from the ineffective signing of EDMs to the more effective tactics of writing to the Minister directly, presenting petitions, grabbing a moment in the division lobby or arranging a formal meeting. Used correctly, these make far more difference to my constituents' concerns than voting against the party line.
I promised to be a strong voice for Brighton Kemptown in Parliament and I try hard at all times to do this.
Brighton Kemptown is a fantastic, vibrant place to live and work and with a politically aware and active electorate. There are always a number of issues and campaigns bubbling away which I am happy to highlight in Parliament. It is a huge honour to represent some 90,000 people and to campaign strongly on the important issues that affect them.
One such campaign which I have been at the forefront of is the effort to open up access to ultra fast broadband for residents and businesses in Brighton & Hove and the surrounding area. With a substantial creative industries sector providing welcome jobs and income for the local economy, the benefits of faster broadband would be immense.
I contacted both the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport and the Chancellor and arranged meetings to discuss this subject and to put forward the compelling arguments in favour of opening up the competition for ultra fast broadband beyond the ten largest cities already announced.
I was therefore delighted when the Chancellor acknowledged the case I had put to him during his budget speech and as a result Brighton is now eligible to bid for up to £50 million of funding for ultra fast internet.
Another example was a question to David Cameron during PMQs about a Council Tax Freeze in Brighton & Hove. The Prime Minister was very supportive and I am delighted that the Council has listened and that the residents in my constituency have now been saved from an increase.
I have been very impressed by the willingness of Ministers to engage on constituency issues. Whether it has been my efforts to afford more rights to the settled community when discussing the issue of traveller encampments, the funding awarded to Brighton & Hove City Council to help people who were finding it difficult to cope with changes to Housing Benefit, or the ring fencing of the AIDS support grant, each small success has followed extensive lobbying to make the appropriate Minister aware of local factors and issues in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven.
It has been refreshing to find such a responsive front bench and it encourages me that this Government is approaching policy making in the right manner. I look forward to continuing to speak out with a loud voice from the backbenches, being at the same time both supportive of the Government and a champion for my constituency.