A land of opportunity for all

Our White Cliffs stand as a testament to our timeless national values – freedom, justice, fairness, opportunity for all and a fearless belief in our nation.

They are also a testament to Dame Vera Lynn, who immortalised them in her famous song in 1942 which provided such a boost to our troops waging war in horrendous conditions all over the world.

It was incredibly sad news this morning that Dame Vera has died at the age of 103. She was a genuine National Treasure – a real character who in her later years found time to work with Charlie Elphicke on the successful campaign to stop our Port being privatised. It was a special day when Dame Vera came down. It has given me great joy looking back at footage from the time – and anyone else who wants to can do so here.

Giving joy to people was something Dame Vera seemed to manage effortlessly, at every stage of her wonderful life. My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.

I very much hope that as we move forward with our new Dover town centre and harbour developments over the next period we can find a lasting way to commemorate her very special contribution to our community.

Our White Cliffs are also associated with another of our country’s most popular Britons Winston Churchill, who also did so much to defend our values, and whose famous statue in our Parliament Square was shamefully boxed up to prevent lawless thugs vandalising it.

Here in the UK we know we must always strive to ensure that our land is one of opportunity, and equal opportunity for all. We have achieved so much and embedded our commitments to equality in legislation. The current Government is the most diverse ever – and I am proud to support it. However, more needs to be done to ensure that we are vigilant and active in reducing embedded disparities and discrimination.

But we always have been and always should be an aspiration nation, where anybody can get on in life no matter where they might begin. That, for me, is the British dream. A dream that, having started in a council house without a lot, I feel deeply is a journey we should make as easy as possible for all. I am one of a number of new Conservative MPs who come from humble beginnings.  My new colleagues feel, as I do, that we need to build ladders for a new generation to succeed, whatever their background.

And if we believe that we are individually defined by who we are and what we can do – not who our forefathers were, whether our parents were rich or poor, beggar or thief – then likewise we must not be defined as Britons by our country’s past. We are defined as Britons in our country’s present and future. And what we make of it. We can look at our past, the past of other countries and historical times, and learn the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Yet the values of our White Cliffs are timeless. They go to the heart and soul of who we are and point to how we should react. When far-right protestors came to our area, we denounced it and demanded our police took proper control. Likewise, we would not allow them or anyone else to vandalise a statue of Winston Churchill, who stands for so much good, and appreciated more than most our role as gateway and guardian of the nation.

That’s why I have no truck with the violent demonstrations we have seen. We are not the USA. And we are not defined by what our ancestors did in the past or what happened in another country.

We will be defined by what we do in the present and what we make of the days yet to come. Ours must be a land of opportunity for everyone, wherever they start from.

That is the Britain that I believe in.

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