MP column: Neil Coyle – Bermondsey and Old Southwark

Firstly, many thanks to all those who volunteer over Christmas. Seeing volunteers on the big day at Bacon’s College with ‘Bermondsey People Care’ and at Guy’s Tower for ‘Bermondsey Care for the Elderly’ are just some of the events proving what a great community I represent and I know there are similar celebrations across South London ensuring as many people as possible have company, food and inclusion at what can be a lonely time of the year for less mobile people or those without family.

Christmas and the new year break can also be a wonderful time to catch up with loved ones.

I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some much-needed time with my three year old daughter and to also see more of my wider family in the last three weeks than the previous three months.

Johnson’s premature election took its toll on family time! I’m sure you’re not missing the campaign leaflets but don’t forget we have London elections this year, so they’ll start reappearing soon!

I want to thank everyone in Bermondsey and Old Southwark for putting their faith in me again by electing me for a third time, with another increased majority and one of the biggest swings to Labour in the country.

I didn’t support the early election as I thought the risks were too high. A million people marched for a people’s vote, not a general election, but Johnson’s plan was naively backed by the Lib Dems who began the campaign claiming their leader would be Prime Minister and then she lost her seat and half her colleagues.

The national result was a complete disaster for Labour though – our worst defeat since 1935. I despair that some of those responsible for causing such a serious loss for Labour after a decade of Tory rule have now suggested they might run for leadership. We must learn fast. I know what people told me about Corbyn’s team here and the party must move on. I will only back a credible candidate who can re-attract support.

We face Brexit and another five years of Tory Government and I’m worried what that means for our community. My last Saturday before Christmas was partly spent trying to prevent NHS cuts to a GP service in Walworth.

I hoped to be able to close the food bank I run from my constituency office if the Tories had lost in December. Sadly, it will be needed more than ever as the Government ploughs on with its calamitous rollout of Universal Credit and fails to tackle the housing crisis.

The Government’s atrocious record on policing and violent crime will also continue to negatively affect our bit of London. I suspect my weekly advice surgeries will continue to be extremely busy as this Government continues damaging the fabric of our community.

There is certainly lots to do. Parliament returns next week, and I’ll be hoping for a strong ppposition to Johnson in the Commons. I’ve always said that I’ll never vote for anything that will harm our local community and will continue to keep my promise to the amazing people who re-elected me in December.

Finally, while I may have uncertainties about what 2020 may hold, I still wish everyone a Happy New Year!

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