What a year of despair and some hope. In a topsy-turvy 12 months we saw vain Theresa May lose her Tory majority in a backfiring General Election and the renaissance of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.
We’ve endured the incompetence of a chaotic Tory Brexit, May unable to negotiate herself out of a cul-de-sac.
In the US, Donald Trump is killing satire with his crazy Tweets.
We’ve lost brave Bradley Lowery, a little lad who captured the hearts of the nation and I’m still at a loss to understand how Jermain Defoe wasn’t even on the Sports Personality of the Year shortlist.
Terrorist attacks tragically took the lives of our own South Tyneside teenagers, Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, who are gone but will never be forgotten.
And the burned wreck of what used to be Grenfell Tower in London stands as a charred giant tombstone to Tory fatal indifference to the lives of working families.
Diminished May clings on in Downing Street only after shaking a magic money tree to cobble together £1billion to buy the votes of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists.
She was the biggest loser politically in 2017 and the clear winner was turbo charged ‘Oh, Je-rem-y Cor-byn’.
Labour’s brilliant election campaign and manifesto were the best I’ve known nationally, our championing fairness and ditching crushing austerity creating a shining beacon of hope.
Labour significantly boosted its majority here in the Jarrow constituency and the seats we won across the country included the once Tory strongholds of Kensington in London and Canterbury in Kent.
The genuine enthusiasm for Labour under Corbyn is a recognition of our party’s policies – good quality jobs, £10 minimum wage, opportunities for the young, free education, money for the NHS, respect for the elderly and a lot more houses to rent and buy.
People are sick to the back teeth of the Conservatives’ relentless cuts to public services, NHS under-funding, denying our young people the chances they deserve and the elderly the appreciation they’ve earned.
Workers are entitled to be angry when wages are worth less than in 2008 and under the Tories aren’t projected to recover their pre-crash spending power for another decade. That’s a terrible record of Tory economic incompetence and it’s easy to grasp why Tyne and Wear didn’t elect a single Tory MP and there isn’t a single Conservative councillor on South Tyneside Council.
Sadly economic growth, employment rates and wages in the North East remain worse than most other parts of this nation.
From wicked cuts to the welfare state and the “downgrading” of our local South Tyneside Hospital, to the slashing of public services with South Tyneside and Gateshead Councils forced to slash 4,000 jobs, over the past seven years we’ve seen the damage inflicted by a rotten Tory Government.
I want here and now to thank everybody who will be working over the holiday period. The emergency and hospital staff, taxi drivers, workers in shops and bars - everybody grafting when others are resting.
Spare a thought too, and a few pounds if you can, for the less fortunate when Foodbank referrals in South Tyneside are up 300%.
In 2018 and beyond I’ll keep up the fight against an out of touch Government inflicting so much pain.
I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happier New Year.