Come on then – what was your New Year resolution and have you kept it?
You might’ve vowed in 2016 to drink less, stop smoking, lose weight, join a gym, see more of friends or perhaps learn a new language. Best of luck if you did and I admire your will power. And commiserations if you’ve already slipped in cold, wet, dark January.
We all know promises made at the stroke of midnight, when the bells and ship’s sirens sounded the passing from the old to the new, sometimes aren’t always the easiest to keep.
But rest assured I’ll keep my resolution – to fight even harder for us on Tyneside – because every day the Tory Government gets worse.
It’s as if David Cameron and his chums on millionaires’ row in Parliament sit there and deliberately think of ways to make life harder for working people.
Everybody deserves a decent week’s pay for a decent week’s work yet that lot are preparing to empty wage packets when Universal Credit is introduced in a benefits shake-up.
Schools risk teacher shortages that would harm our kids’ education and don’t get me started on the damage they’re inflicting on our NHS.
Draining local authorities of funds is worsening the housing crisis when families can’t find a secure home at an affordable rent.
Worrying pointers to the year ahead are found in the year just gone and I, like you, on January 1 reflected on what had passed as well as looking forward.
Just before Christmas, the last deep coal mine in Britain, Kellingley in North Yorkshire, shut as David Cameron finished what Maggie Thatcher started.
I recall vividly the year-long Great Strike for Jobs in 1984-5, an event that politicised me more than any other and taught me never to trust the Tories.
Striking miners at Westoe, which the Tories closed in 1993, took a brave stand for jobs and decency and history has proved them right and the Tories, especially Thatcher, a lying bunch of stinking hypocrites.
I still share the sense of loss and the closure of that last colliery, Kellingley, hurts when we know men will be on the dole instead of producing coal. Utter madness when millions of tons of the black fuel are imported, adding to the country’s trade crisis with the rest of the world.
Cameron no more cares for our area than Thatcher, unable to distinguish Tyneside from Teesside. On his rare visits up our way, the Home Counties Tory toff resembles a haughty Viceroy landing in India during the colonial era.
Pinstriped spivs in the City of London are Cameron’s people just as they were Thatcher’s. Never forget it was the Tory bonfire of banking regulations which sparked the global financial collapse that crashed the economy and sent borrowing soaring.
If you didn’t make a resolution, or want to make a new one after breaking the first, promise yourself now that this year you’ll go to the Durham Miners’ Gala on Saturday, July 9.
It’s a fantastic day of crowds, brass bands, banners, marchers, picnics, pubs, a fun fair and a few stirring speeches in the glorious city. The weather’s usually sunny, though I can’t guarantee that!
Our brilliant people are the North East’s greatest asset and future.
Tories can hit us hard but they will never knock us down or break our spirit.
So let’s all make 2016 the year of the fight back, demanding to be treated fairly and decently, wanting our fair share of opportunities and the country’s prosperity.
I, as your Labour MP for a Jarrow constituency representing much of South Tyneside and parts of the Gateshead council area, am up for that fight against a common enemy.
I’m confident together we’ll win. Happy New Year!