My Column in the Wakefield Express

Here’s wishing all Wakefield Express readers a 2014 filled with peace, hope, good health and many joyous moments.

This time of the year is a period of reflection for me, as I am sure it is for many of us. It’s a moment to pause and reflect on the highs and lows of the past year and to make plans so that the New Year may be the best ever. For me, there have been many highs; from being selected as your Conservative PPC, to meeting lots of passionate people along the way and, of course, some personal happy memories too.  There have also been moments of poignancy and challenge; hearing how a wonderful elderly couple lost their son and now their daughter has been diagnosed with cancer, which is heart-breaking – you go back and hug your loved ones even harder and feel thankful.

Turning to the political landscape, I have been looking back on what the government has achieved over the past 12 months. In January we committed to hold an In-Out referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU and the Prime Minister secured the first ever cut to the EU budget, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds each year. In March, we again froze fuel duty, saving an average of £7 every time we fill up our tank.  April brought a tax cut for 24 million people, saving the typical taxpayer £590; it was also when I got selected to become the Conservative PPC for Morley & Outwood.

Spring brought a National Insurance cut for businesses, making it easier to employ people.  In June we helped to put people on the lowest energy tariffs, saving up to £160 a year. In August we announced an extra £500 million to help A&E departments prepare for this winter.  In October, the Help to Buy scheme was launched to get people on to the housing ladder. In November, the PM announced that EU migrants will have to pass much tougher tests and wait for three months before they can apply to claim out of work benefits.  And finally, December, when employment hit a record high – there are now 30 million people receiving a pay packet each month. It’s been a very busy year.

As we reflect on the achievements of the past year, there is still a lot of work to do, and I am committed to doing the very best in the coming year and beyond.  One of my favourite quotes about New Year is by poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, and I would like to leave you with is: “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’.”