Robert Largan MP gave his maiden speech on Monday 23rd March, on the emergency powers debate on the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Glossop resident and High Peak MP used the speech to call on the Government to urgently provide more support to the self-employed during the current crisis.
The 32 year old MP said:
“I stand here with a secure job—for the next four years at least—and a guaranteed salary. That many of my constituents do not have the same security plays heavily on my mind.
“I am particularly concerned about the self-employed. They do not benefit from the job retention scheme, and many are seeing a big drop in their income. The Government have sensibly brought in protections such as the mortgage holiday and suspension of evictions, but many self- employed people, often with families to support, are understandably worried about the future, so I call on the Government to look urgently at more ways to support them.”
The MP also used the speech to outline his commitment to be an independent-minded voice and always put the High Peak first:
“I come to this place intending to take an independent-minded approach and prepared to criticise my party and the Government when they get things wrong—and they will, as I have no doubt I will too. I am keenly aware that I was elected by the smallest of margins, just 590 votes. People did not vote for me because they agreed with every single line of the Conservative manifesto. Many lent me their vote, often reluctantly, after their pencil hovered over the ballot paper for a long time.
“So I want to make it clear to the people of High Peak that I am working round the clock, trying my best to represent everyone, no matter who they voted for. I will not get everything right, and I will make mistakes, but I promise that I will always put the High Peak ahead of party politics.”
Robert Largan MP also spoke about his love for the “staggeringly beautiful” High Peak and how lucky he is to live there. He praised the people of High Peak for “pulling together” and helping each other during the current crisis.
He also talked about his background, attending a north Manchester comprehensive and his parents.
The MP summed up with a call for people to work together, reject ideological purity and to recognise the importance of compromise:
“Far too often, politics is boiled down to a contest between a simple, easy-to-sell magic solution and a nuanced, hard-to-explain truth. The truth is that governing is hard. It involves taking almost impossible decisions between competing lesser evils. There are rarely, in reality, obvious right and wrong choices, so we should be wary of those who are always certain or never change their minds. Ideological purity is a moral maze that many get lost in.
“If our history has taught us anything, it is that we must reject that puritanism. Our greatest reforms—universal suffrage, civil liberties, the NHS—were secured not through ideological purity or confrontation, but by collaboration and taking the view that compromise is not betrayal but a kind of victory.”
There was widespread praise from the speech, including from veteran Labour MP, Chris Bryant who said:
“I warmly commend the hon. Member for High Peak (Robert Largan), who I think made a magnificent speech. He delivered it with simple earnestness and a dignity that will commend him to many Members of this House. It is a sad moment, is it not, when one thinks that being an MP is the most secure job around. He was quite right to say not only what he said about no party having a monopoly on truth—ideological purity rarely does anybody any favours—but what he said about being an independently minded Member. I warmly commend everything that he said.”
The speech was also praised by Quentin Letts in The Times:
“Robert Largan had the daunting prospect of making his maiden speech in this extraordinary Commons moment. Maidens are by custom discursive, anecdotal affairs but Mr Largan, a mature 32, spoke with clipped gravity about the honourable confusion of politics.”
A video of the full speech is here: https://www.facebook.com/RobertLargan4HighPeak/videos/622021048379026/
Robert Largan MP said the community spirit shown by people across the area was exceptional and an example of how strong local communities across High Peak are.
“The people of High Peak are pulling together to ensure we protect the most vulnerable in society. Volunteer groups have sprung up in almost every town and village. Teachers are delivering packed lunches to the homes of children on free school meals. Food banks are working day and night to help the most vulnerable.”
Robert urged everyone to follow the advice and guidance on social distancing: “We are facing huge challenges in the weeks ahead. Please follow the advice from the Government, the Chief Scientific Officer and the Chief Medical Officer.”
“My office and I are working round the clock, supporting constituents who require urgent assistance and raising issues with Minsters. We can all help each other, and we can all do our bit by helping those nearest to us.”
Local groups are setting up across towns and villages in High Peak to help co-ordinate the community effort.
“We have lots of fantastic local businesses offering local delivery options now. I’m trying to put together lists for every area of the High Peak and to share so people know what is out there. If you run a business that’s offering services or know of one, please contact my office.”
MPs are in Westminster to push through emergency legislation to help deal with the impact of Covid-19.
“I have been speaking to businesses, and many others in the constituency affected by this pandemic and pushing the Ministers to ensure everyone in High Peak has the tools and support they need to get through this.”