2020 has been an extraordinary year, and an extraordinarily bad one for so many people who have lost loved ones and all those employers so badly affected by Covid.
For me, it started having just won again in Bermondsey and Old Southwark with my largest majority ever, but in an election that the foolish former Labour leadership did not need to back.
I was left facing Boris Johnson’s new Government with a massive majority pursuing Brexit with glee, despite his own administration’s admission that it would undermine UK security, jobs and opportunities.
We are now a full year into Johnson’s term of office and his ‘oven-ready deal’ has disappeared while he and his Cabinet have repeatedly failed to take other important decisions swiftly enough to protect lives, jobs and the NHS which now faces it toughest January ever responding to the new, more infectious strain of Covid.
The virus has sadly already taken nearly 70,000 lives nationally and many deaths were preventable if the science had been followed and key decisions taken sooner.
By contrast with Government inertia, the community response and spirit was swift and amazing.
Huge numbers of mutual aid groups have helped neighbours with shopping, prescriptions and other essentials.
Londoners have donated hours of time and tonnes of help to food banks, including the one I run from my Southwark office.
Businesses also stepped up, with some making and even donating kit to help the NHS in its toughest hour while the Government spent billions on contracts with their mates which never delivered.
In Southwark, I helped local employers by fixing a Government loophole which left businesses in railway arches initially excluded from help, an issue affecting hundreds of firms in south London like those around London Bridge.
I also helped Southwark cultural institutions receive more than £7million in much-needed recovery grants, which I hope will ensure 2021 is a success.
In Parliament, 2020 also involved gaining Government backing for an amendment to guarantee rights to housing for anyone fleeing domestic abuse, successfully campaigning to abolish VAT on digital books, winning the extension of ‘PrEP’ to prevent HIV transmissions, and working with the wine and spirits trade association to prevent the introduction of costly Brexit-related import forms in January which would have hit all wine buyers. Not a bad haul of results from the Opposition backbenches!
The late announcement of tier 4 restrictions is a blow for everyone. My thoughts are with everyone now forced to spend Christmas alone.
Please look out for neighbours and others in your area and please remember the vaccine will still take months to deliver so keep taking care, washing hands, wearing masks and keeping your distance, and I wish you a happy and successful 2021.
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.