It is now nearly a month since the General Election.  The first December General Election in nearly 100 years was not an easy experience to be a candidate in, and it has been a divisive time for the country. I am deeply thankful to be re-elected as our MP in Stalybridge and Hyde, and to have been sworn in in Parliament just before Christmas, humbled to do so for the fourth time before I am forty. I’m grateful for every vote. I’m also listening carefully to those who didn’t feel able to vote for me this time round, and will work my hardest to represent you well.

Christmas was a time when families and communities should come together. As I reflect back on 2019 and look ahead to 2020, my greatest wish is that we focus on the common ground we each care about, and the values we all share. Elections and referenda ask us to come apart, to pick a team, to critique our opponents. There is a time for that. However, as tensions rise and community divides widen, I hope that in 12 months’ time, Tameside and the UK will feel more not less sympathy and support for those with whom we disagree.

Let’s each make 2020 the year in which hear out someone else’s view point, without jumping in to contradict; the year we get to know someone new in our community, who lives a very different life from us; and the year we read a different newspaper or watch a different news channel, or follow someone we perhaps normally wouldn’t on social media. Too often we all live in our little bubbles, surrounding ourselves with people who back up our own world view, whatever that may be. Let’s burst those bubbles and make a conscious effort to hear one another out. Let’s make 2020 the year Britain stops shouting and starts a deeper conversation.

I hope to see as many of you as possible as I continue to visit local schools, businesses, churches and community groups throughout the year ahead, as well as knocking on many of your doors. It really is an incredible honour to represent you once more. Whatever the year ahead brings in politics, I will strive never to let you down. I wish you all a happy, connected, healthy, resilient and productive 2020.

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