Steve Baker is the Conservative candidate for Wycombe, which he was first elected to represent in 2010.
In 2010, the estimable Eric Pickles gave new MPs a few tips. Always try to wake up in your own bed. Never accept anything in a long, brown envelope. And whatever you do, come what may, never, ever get involved in a local planning application.
Today, I’m grateful to ConservativeHome for the opportunity to share my five top tips for new Conservative MPs.
1. Slow down: you won. It’s going to take a while for becoming an MP to sink in. Your opponents will keep fighting. Don’t be goaded into an early error, on Twitter, in your local paper or wherever. You can afford to take your time and ask, “What would the MP do?” Don’t be the new MP who triggers a storm and remember, no one can keep sprinting forever. Pace yourself.
2. Hire great staff, as a priority. It’s going to feel like everyone is writing. You are going to be high-pressure hosed with correspondence every day. Prioritise your voters’ correspondence but every organisation outside the constituency can wait while you find experienced staff. And start with your office manager or senior Parliamentary assistant.
3. Keep your campaign going, as a non-partisan incumbent. You never get to serve your first year again. Attend everything locally. Seek meetings with all the important local institutions, who should now welcome you, free of party politics: schools, hospitals, CCGs, police, fire, ambulance, postal workers. Get going and don’t be bogged down by your opponents: you have five years and you can control the pace. You are the MP. And you now have almost five years in the spotlight.
4. Don’t rush to make your maiden speech. Better to make a good maiden speech with no time limit than make it in a packed debate, with a shortening limit and a full if polite House. After a few months, Michael Gove asked me how it was going. I said I felt I had worked it out. He replied it had taken him three years. He was right. Act deliberately. Parliament punishes precipitate action severely.
5. Join the European Research Group. This is going to be a busy and important Parliament. You’ll need supportive, friendly colleagues who rely on one another. We will be supporting Boris to get a great deal and secure our future. Please contact me and we will include you.
Above all, try to enjoy yourself. We are making history and it is our privilege to serve.