Our country has had to endure several years of highly divisive argument over Brexit. It has divided communities, political parties and in some cases even families. Following last week’s General Election result with a clear majority for Boris Johnson and the new Conservative Government, we have a chance to put all the argument behind us, bring our country back together and start the process of healing.
As we approach Christmas, which is traditionally the season of goodwill, let’s hope that some goodwill can also spread into our political discourse. In recent years there has been a trend towards a greater polarisation of views. Social media has encouraged people to make short and terse comments on issues of the day and to make sometimes quite aggressive or offensive comments anonymously about others. People can wind themselves up and become angry. We need to get more tolerance and respect back into our political debate.
I think there are some signs that we may have turned a corner. The aggressive tone of debate and the level of intolerance was particularly noticeable and acute in the 2017 General Election. I think that this time, while people were very frustrated by what has happened (or not happened) over the last three years, there was also a calmness about the situation and a clarity about what was needed to rectify matters which subsequently translated into a very clear and decisive result in the election.
Boris Johnson has wasted no time in doing what he said he would do. The Queen’s Speech has already taken place this week and on Friday Parliament will have started taking through the legislation needed to implement the withdrawal agreement that was agreed with the EU in October. Having cleared its stages in the House of Commons the Bill will be on its way to the House of Lords by the New Year where it is expected to clear very quickly.
Christmas is also a time when we are particularly aware of the dedication of NHS staff and other public sector workers who work difficult shifts throughout the holiday period. Boris Johnson has reaffirmed his clear commitment plans to substantially increase spending on our NHS by almost £34 Billion per year. Spending on the NHS has increased over the last decade and is about 20 percent higher now than in 2010 but the pressures have grown faster. As medicine advances and surgery becomes more complex, the NHS can do more and that is why we need to make a major new injection of funds.
After some turbulent and difficult times for our country, I would like to wish everyone a peaceful and restful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.