It is hard to remember a time when the public held their elected politicians in lower esteem. Surveys show that only journalists and estate agents come close to our profession in terms of public contempt. Sometimes it is not hard to understand why.

Too often the temptation of those seeking election is to put spin over substance and promise more than can be delivered. And then of course there are the cycle of scandals such as the current, understandable furore over MP expenses. Along the way, people have lost faith in their ability to change anything and so they drift away from getting involved locally or even voting.

My perspective is different. Having lived and worked abroad I know how respected our democratic tradition is and we should be proud of it. Having worked in the House of Commons for four years, I also know that for the most part our parliamentarians are driven by a genuine desire to change things for the better.

Having worked closely with a number of Hillingdon Councillors, I know how determined they are to keep this area a nice place to live. So I think we need to be careful about being so quick to damn.

If we carry on like this, then we will put good people off going into politics and then we will be in trouble. And we should celebrate those who do the job well. Solveig Stone, who died recently, was just such a person. She served West Ruislip well as a councillor. She was passionate in her causes, whether it be improving the standards of education in Hillingdon, or fighting overdevelopment in Ruislip. She approached everything with integrity and honesty and Hillingdon politics will be poorer without her.