AS this is my last column before the general election campaign begins, I want to take the opportunity to say how proud I am to have been able to serve the people of South Shields as your MP over the last two years.
Since I was elected, I have made sure the voices of people in the constituency have been heard at the highest level, and that David Cameron and his Government aren’t allowed to ignore the impact their unfair policies are having on communities like ours.
When a constituent was left waiting more than nine months for a decision on her personal independence claim, I took it all the way to the top, and asked the Prime Minister himself to explain why he thought that was acceptable.
When constituents came to me with worries about local shop closures, I called for a debate with the local government minister and challenged him to do more to help towns like ours.
When I took part in the all-party inquiry into food poverty last year, I brought the group to Shields to hear first hand how austerity has left people in our community without enough to live on.
I have also been hard at work locally, including holding two successful jobs fairs which saw hundreds of opportunities on offer and helped constituents into new careers.
If I am still your MP after May, I will keep being a strong voice in Shields as well as in Westminster.
Today is Chancellor George Osborne’s final budget speech, and a chance for the whole country to see the choice facing people at this election – either five more years of Tory austerity, painful cuts and miserable wages, or a Labour government that will deliver a higher minimum wage, an NHS fit for modern Britain, and an economy that works for everyone, not just the few at the top.
I will be proud to support that Labour government if I am elected in May.