by Brian Pain
Sir Roger Moate died from cancer at the age of 80 April this year. He’d moved to Newnham in 1993 before finally moving to Court Street in Faversham. He was married twice (Hazel Skinner in 1960 and then Auriol Chan) and had three children, Andrew and Sally in his first marriage and then Sophie in his second.
Moate was educated at Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith, and worked as an insurance broker. After first standing for election in the 1966 general election and losing to Labour's Terence Boston, Moate was elected as the MP for Faversham at the 1970 general election and served until 1997. At the 1997 election, the constituency was split to form Faversham/Mid Kent and Sittingbourne/Sheppey. Moate contested the latter seat, but lost by a narrow margin to the Labour candidate, Derek Wyatt. He was a member of the select committee on Agriculture from 1995 to 1997, the Court of Referees from 1983-2000 and Statutory Instruments from 1978 to 1983.
Being right-wing and Eurosceptic, Moate initially clashed with Prime Minister Edward Heath, being one of the 41 Tories who, in 1971, voted against joining the Common Market. He was also one of only 15 MPs to oppose the European Communities Bill the following year. Following that he was seen as totally loyal to Margaret Thatcher. He was best known as one of John Major’s infamous Eurosceptic “bastards”.
He was knighted in 1993 for political service.
During his retirement he became a church warden in Newnham, oversaw the restoration of Faversham's Assembly Rooms, played the piano and took up tennis. He was regularly seen at Vinos wine bar in Court Street.
A PERSONAL VIEW
I first contacted Sir Roger in 1991 to express concern about the decline in the condition of the Creek, bridge and basin after commercial shipping ceased in the 1980s. We subsequently received a call from his office asking to meet him on the swing bridge at 8am the next Sunday. We did and, much to our surprise, he had rapidly assembled a senior group of officials from Medway Ports, the KCC and Swale Borough Council to discuss what might be done.
This led to the old lock gates being taken away and replaced. He went on to form and enthusiastically lead an ad hoc Faversham Creek Committee that met regularly at Swale House until it was taken over by Swale Council and disbanded without explanation. He remained always available for advice and support.
I later asked him to come and talk to the Sixth Formers at my school, Rochester Independent College, about Parliament and politics. It's fair to say he faced a hostile reception from most students, who were not fans of Mrs Thatcher. But, impressed with his humanity and decency, they came to understand that not all politicians are two-dimensional caricatures.
Sir Roger was committed to looking after Faversham and his constituents above other political interests. He proved to me that such an MP, who appeared to care little about advancing his own political career but genuinely worked hard on behalf of Faversham, could be an asset to the town irrespective of national party membership.
It is a sad fact that not all our Parliamentary representatives demonstrate such selfless priorities.