WOKINGHAM MP John Redwood has expressed his gratitude for the “kind messages” he has received since news broke that he was receiving a knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list.
The newly minted Sir John gave his thanks in a blog post on Saturday, stating that he owes a debt to “all my constituents” and the children’s charity Variety.
He said: “It has been their advice, problems and issues that has provided much of the impetus to my thoughts … and allowed me to undertake public service.
“I have learned a lot from those who support me and from those who disagree with some of the views I express.”
And he also thanked his alma mater, All Souls College in Oxford for the help they have given.
Sir John is one of three MPs who have been knighted in this year’s New Year’s Honours list. He has been recognised for his political and public service and it was determined by a committee independent of Theresa May’s Government.
Former Conservative minister Gary Streeter and long-serving Labour MP Alan Campbell have also received knighthoods.
Brian King, Wokingham Conservatives President, expressed his joy at the news.
He said: ‘’I am delighted to learn that John Redwood’s long and distinguished public service is now to be recognised by a Knighthood.
“He has been a very dedicated and extremely responsive MP for Wokingham for over 30 years, and we Conservatives, will be especially honoured to call him Sir from now on.’’
However, not everyone has welcomed the news of Sir John’s knighthood.
The Wokingham Paper’s Facebook page and Twitter feed were awash with residents complaining, with some having some choice words for the veteran MP.
One said: “For what? Services to ignoring his constituents over brexit?”
Another said: “Disgraceful! So embarrassed to have him as our MP! Point me to the petition to oppose this!”
There were some voices in favour. One said: “A well deserved tribute for an MP who has represented Wokingham with integrity for many years.”
And another noted: “Sir John, Thanks for Hard Brexit”.
Cllr Clive Jones, who stood for the Liberal Democrats in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections against Sir John, was also bemused by the decision to award him the honour.
He told The Wokingham Paper: “I have no problem with MPs who do great service for the country or for their constituents having honours.
“John Redwood is an arch Brexiter, he has done a massive disservice to the country and future generations which will leave our children and grandchildren poorer.
“Has he been a good constituency MP? I don’t think so.
“He sends far too many replies to constituents’ letters and emails saying, ‘This is not a matter for an MP, please contact your local councillor’. An attitude that belongs in the 19th century. Perhaps it’s because he’s too busy working for businesses outside Parliament.
“For many years he has spent at least two days a week working for businesses which have nothing to do with his work as an MP giving him a considerable income. Should this lack of concern for residents be rewarded with a knighthood?
“As for his charity work, his ex-wife said in the 35 years they were together he didn’t support any charity with either time or money. Personally, I have no knowledge of any of his charitable work but hope that he has helped many local charities during his time as our MP.
“It’s really hard to say, but on balance I don’t think this honour is particularly deserved.”
This was a view shared by Wokingham Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Lindsay Ferris, saying that awards such as the knighthood need to be earned.
He added: “One thing that John Redwood could do to prove he might be worth his Knighthood is to prevent the move of the Wokingham Post Office.
“The Council as a whole has shown its commitment to keeping the Post Office where it is, and residents have indicated their concerns plus I urge as many residents as possible to respond to the forthcoming Post Office consultation expressing their views.
“We therefore expect our MP to do the same, anything less will be a dereliction of his duty to his electorate.”
And Cllr Andy Croy, leader of Wokingham Labour, said: “There is much to be said for public recognition of those who go above and beyond the call of duty in public service. Ideally, recipients of such awards should be widely acknowledged as being deserving of the recognition they receive and the recognition should not be controversial.
“The problem is that with the awards to Samantha Cameron’s stylist and politicians like Nick Clegg and John Redwood, all controversial awards, the system is brought into disrepute.
“There is little point allowing the public to nominate worthy recipients while controversial political appointments are still being made.”