Christmas is a time of threes. Three kings bearing gifts for baby Jesus; three ships sailing in on Christmas Day in the morning; three ghosts –of Christmas past, present and future- visiting Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. So in my final column of the year, as I reflect on the year behind us and the year to come, I wanted to share my three Christmas wishes, and three New Year’s resolutions.
- A railways miracle. 2018 was the year in which local rail services went from mediocre to unmitigated disaster. Timetable changes, endless delays and record numbers of cancellations have made getting to work a daily nightmare. This month I took the Friends of Mossley Station to parliament to meet Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to tell him some home truths, like that only 4% of recent local trains ran on time. I wish that the government and rail companies bash their heads together, stop passing the buck and deliver a rail service that is fit for this millennium. I’d add in a better bus service, a full Mottram bypass and Metrolink for Stalybridge too please, transport fairy.
- A grip on Brexit. December has had all manner of Brexit chaos, with Theresa May tabling her weak and worrying Brexit deal for a vote in the Commons, realising it had no support, pulling the vote after several days of debate leading up to it, the pound dipping, facing a bruising no confidence vote from her own MPs, and trying and failing to achieve reassurances from Europe. Sympathy for May’s stoicism has dissipated because whether you were a Leaver or a Remainer, this is a troubling mess. My Christmas wish is real leadership on Brexit which safeguards our economy, avoids making local people poorer, and heals divisions.
- An end to homelessness. Rough sleeping has doubled –yes, doubled- since 2010. You can’t avoid it in our town and city centres. Latest figures from Shelter show that at least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain. Whatever your politics, we can all agree this is a disgrace. With the backing of local charities like Emmaus Mossley, Second Generation Furnishings and Greystones, I was a keen supporter of the Homelessness Reduction Act, with its goal of eradicating rough sleeping by 2027. My Christmas wish is to meet this target sooner. No-one should be freezing on the streets this winter.
New Year’s Resolutions
- Diarise family time. Like so many families, juggling long working hours means it can be difficult to carve out quality time at home. So, this Christmas I’m going through the diary and popping in date nights with my other half and outings with the kids throughout 2019. I hope by saying so here I’ll stand a greater chance of sticking to them!
- A realistic health kick. I’m sure I’m not alone in having previously resolved to go to the gym 5 times a week and eat like an angel, only to revert to my normal bad habits a week into January! So this year I’m going for 3 more achievable steps- ditching sugary cereals, adding more salads to family meal planning, and increasing my step count. If you see me taking the car to pick up some chocolate chip Weetabix have a word!
- Try new ways to keep in touch. This year I launched my MP Instagram account, and this month I’ve done several Facebook Live updates from my Commons office to keep constituents up to speed on breaking Brexit shenanigans, because written media has been out of date almost as soon as I’d written it. I will never ditch my newspaper columns and leaflets but I’m doing my best to keep up to speed with new ways to communicate with constituents as well to ensure I’m as accessible as possible. Search for me on Facebook for the latest updates.
I wish all of you a very happy Christmas, and hope, peace and productivity for 2019.