On a stormy autumnal evening on Friday, 20 October we warmly welcomed The Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP to God’s own County and to the heart of our constituency in Skipton.
Following drinks and canapes and the opportunity to meet and talk with Michael, fellow local MP’s from across the Skipton & Ripon, Keighley, Pendle & Ribble Valley Constituencies, as well as local councillors and business representatives at the fabulous Alexanders Wine Bar (where Great Gatsby himself would feel right at home!) it was time to cross the road and join with a packed room of members and constituents from Skipton & Ripon and the surrounding constituencies at The Town Hall, where all in attendance were hungry - both for the delicious Indian buffet dinner on offer and of course, to hear what Michael had to say.
Sitting with Michael over dinner, he captivated the table with his answers to a range of questions, ranging from his background and past jobs from being a young boy, to his career in journalism and latterly politics – having first been turned down by the party for being insufficiently conservative! later came his thoughts on Trump, having been one of the first British journalists to interview the 45th President. Like him or loathe him, it would surely be unwise to underestimate the man came the learned reply. With regard to America’s current president – Michael of course, ever the professional, wouldn’t be drawn – suffice to say a certain colourful prime-minister may have once been on the end of a puzzled call…
Having all wiped our plates clean with the last of our naan breads, it was then time for Michael to commence his after dinner speech and Michael was certainly on form. Speaking from the heart of his regard for our committed MP, Julian Smith and those other MP’s and candidates present from the adjoining constituencies, it was clear that despite the obsession of elements of the national press with discontent within the Conservative Party that this is just not a true reflection of the respect and relationships that are enjoyed between the majority of members across our National Party – something easily overlooked in favour of a headline grabbing few.
Sure of himself and determined yet certainly not aloof, Michael’s voice boomed, unassisted by any microphone, across the floor of the cavernous Town Hall, proudly extolling the virtues and successes achieved by successive Conservative Governments over the period of the last 13 years, which are perhaps taken for granted or forgotten with the passage of so many years in power – now having surpassed the period that the Labour party were in Government between 1997 and 2013.
It was clear to see that Michael is not only a learned politician, but an experienced and adept operator – easily one of the best of the current generation – possessing a charming yet cunning ability and persuasiveness, as demonstrated by the success of his humorous encouragement for members to fill envelopes in front of them on their tables with monetary donations to assist the party with campaigning ahead of the next General Election!
Next came time for questions from the floor and Michael fielded each with directness and sincerity, something perhaps not associated with politicians by the general public, but not Michael - unafraid to tackle important, but often difficult issues head on.
Having tackled some atrocious weather to reach our event in Skipton and enjoy a rather delicious curry and many tough and varied questions from the audience, it was time for Michael to head for some well-earned rest at the Coniston Hotel, at the kind invitation of the hotel owners and our past Association Chairman, now President, Nick Bannister and his family, leaving members to finish the evening with a fundraising auction of several exciting prizes kindly donated by members and a tense game of heads or tails, ably directed by Robbie Moore MP.
We thank Michael for making the effort to attend our event, along with fellow MP’s from our surrounding constituencies and hope all in attendance had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Fundraising Officer, Skipton & Ripon Conservative Association