New Year message from Alistair January 2017
A happy New Year to all in North East Bedfordshire!
After the significant political events of 2016, the Christmas break has given a chance for a pause and regroup, as we think through what lies ahead.
I think two things are particularly important. Firstly 2017 is bound to be a year of uncertainty, which will matter to all of us in practical ways. Some uncertainty stems from how Brexit will be handled, and the fact that we will not know the outcome this year or next. This must necessarily affect the economy and business, though not all equally. The lower value of our pound, for example, will help export businesses but make inflation higher and impact businesses importing.
Uncertainty will affect international business decisions too, but for nothing to do with us or Brexit. The Trump Presidency, the general elections in France and Germany, and other events may make our lives just that bit more difficult this year. And it doesn't help Governments finances either.
But secondly, what so many New Year messages of public figures emphasised, was that such challenges should produce a positive response from all of us in this community. The divisions of last year need to be closed, and we need to concentrate on those things we have in common, not those about which we disagree.
For my part, although I won't be quiet about things I think are not in the UK's interest, I need to make clear that I am representing neither side of the Brexit debate, but getting on with my job of ensuring the best result for all of you, however you voted. And also that I'm aware it's not the only show in town; from schools, our health services, major planning and commuting issues - there will be much you want to say to me, and for me to listen to and act upon. I will be talking more in Parliament about our carers, and how we deliver social care now and in the future.
I will still be travelling a bit - visiting Europe for the Select Committee, acting as UK Commissioner for the International Commission of Missing Persons, and going to the Middle East, because what happens there really matters to us here.
But you will continue to find me at our shops, and on our high streets, in villages, with our local authorities and public services, at parish councils, with those of all faiths - and of course at sports events of all varieties.
My constituency is, in my experience, already one of the most cohesive areas I have ever experienced, with a sense of town, village and parish community second to none.
Whatever 2017 throws at us, we will not just take it, but defy any gloom and prosper together!
Burt on the Benches Dec 2016
As this is my last column of the year, although a bit early, may I take the opportunity to wish my constituents, and all readers, a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
How was it for you? 2016? For those of us in public life, and those interested in politics and the world around us, it has been pretty momentous. Unpredicted events such as Brexit and the election of soon to be President Trump have been a shock to a system built on different foundations to the ones we found when we looked under the floorboards this year. The tremors running through the house are unlikely to stop there, and urgent repair work is under way.
BedsLife Dec 2016 A year for the outsiders
When 2016 began, I do not think anyone thought it would be one for the history books. It seemed pretty routine. The UK had a settled government, the country would bumble along to decide narrowly to remain in the EU, and a fractious US election would end with Hillary Clinton overcoming the challenge of whoever the Republicans put up, after Donald Trump’s unpleasant campaign had finally derailed.
Bulletin December 2016 Political Year
As this is the last ‘Bulletin’ piece from me in 2016, it would be tempting to look back on an astonishing political year that sprung almost out of nowhere- the year of the underdogs, and the blows against the establishment. I accept all with humility, having been on the wrong end of opinion in at least two of the events. So I will not trouble you with such reflections but instead bring you some of an MPs constituency highlights, offering cheer to all, with some of the good news which is all around us, but on which we concentrate far too little.
BedsLife Nov 2016 A new kind of politics?
Parliament returned for the autumn session with the heaviest domestic agenda since 1945 - how to give effect to the decision of the British people to leave the EU.
There are huge implications attached to this, which will become clear as time goes on. I make no secret of my view that this was the wrong outcome, but I accepted absolutely as a democratic politician, who had voted for the Referendum to take place, that I would abide by the result, and work to make the very best of it for those I represent.