What a year 2017 has been.
I started it very poorly, but bounced back thanks to the support of my lovely family, party colleagues, constituents and, above all, a special thanks to the NHS for its wonderful dedication and support.
By the end of the year I was battling for simple decency and fairness against a Tory government and a weak prime minister.
I am partly talking about Brexit, which I voted for not because of claptrap over immigration, but because a proper socialist agenda, when Labour gets back into power, could be stymied by unelected, overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels.
Theresa May’s “triumph” in delivering a long-overdue deal on trade and a withdrawal date, I believe is a sham. What we will get is not a hard Brexit, or a soft Brexit, but I cannot believe it is not a Brexit deal, with a price tag of £39bn.
Think how much that could do to save struggling schools across Northumberland, or to support understaffed A&E departments, or to invest in transport links across the North.
The gap between the rich and poor has widened, and “comfortable” families are now worried sick about how their children can afford to go into higher education, or buy a home, or care for their parents in old age.
A pre-Christmas report branded homelessness across England a “national crisis”.
The Public Accounts Committee said that at any one time there are as many as 9,100 people sleeping rough, while more than 78,000 households, including over 120,000 children, are homeless and housed in temporary accommodation. That really is a national disgrace.
However, it is not all doom and gloom.
For 30 years, I have been championing the re-opening of the Blyth and Ashington line. The minister said: “We are going to press ahead with it in the immediate future.” That is good news indeed.
Happy New Year!