Delighted that the phoney war is at an end and we're finally into the campaign proper. I imagine so too are many MPS, perhaps especially those who are standing down from Parliament!
I think it's fair to say that the outgoing Parliament has been one of the lowest regarded in the history of the United Kingdom. The expenses scandal, the cash for influence affair, the cash for peerages scandal a few years ago - all and more will have left their mark. It's obvious (to me at least) that Labour have had their day and overall, have squandered their near decade and a half in office. I'm old enough to remember the excitement, the jubilation, that surrounded Blair's victory that glorious May morning in 1997 - all things considered, it just didn't live up to the hype, and I fear you don't need me to rehearse all the failings of the past thirteen years!
It really is time for change. As you would expect, I believe, really genuinely believe, that the Conservative Party under David Cameron is the only vehicle for that change. The United Kingdom requires a new broom, but also requires stability in these times of economic uncertainly and general disillusionment; I believe that only Mr Cameron offers what is needed.
It's time for change here in Northern Ireland too. Time to give our people their first chance in decades of actually having influence on Government policy, to sit at the hear of the potential governing party, to copperfasten the Union play our full role in the Mother of Parliaments. Now is the time for Northern Ireland to send full time representatives to Westminster. Now is the time to put Northern Ireland at the heart of the United Kingdom.