Happy New Year to all Star readers and a word of appreciation to my own hard-pressed constituents in Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough.
As many readers will know, I enter 2015 with mixed feelings.
I know how difficult times will be for so many people I have represented for 28 years but from May 7 I will no longer be an elected representative of the people I care so much about.
This is of course my decision and as I spelt out in the summer when I announced I was no longer seeking re-election, I do so in order to allow fresh legs to take on the challenge.
However, I will not stop caring, raising my voice and giving what support I can, to an alternative to the eye-watering cuts, which the Government calls austerity measures, which will devastate already deeply damaged public services.
It is however the prospect of political chaos after May that concerns me most.
As opinion polls have it at the moment, no political party would win an outright majority in the House of Commons and therefore putting a government together, is going to be both challenging and if we’re not careful, destabilising.
In other words, who knows what compromises might have to be made and as a consequence, who on earth you, the electorate hold to account for the decisions taken.
We have only had 40 per cent of the reductions in public spending, required to meet the coalition’s target of cutbacks, never mind what the Conservatives are seeking to add on top of that.
Quite simply, the better off don’t feel the impact at all. They can buy their way out of inadequate education, health, housing, and of course transport and the environment.
But none of us can buy our way out of a downward spiral, where the more that is cut from the most deprived areas the less money is available to spend in the local economy. Small businesses are hit, people’s income reduced. The taxes paid by those in work and in business reduces. The Government then has less money to spend. And guess what, they then cut public services even further because they claim they don’t have the money to able to afford to deliver them.
It is a road to nowhere, except back to the 1930s. And I hope that in 2015 the voice of the people will be heard.