Happy 2024. The beginning of a new year is a time when many of us round off our Christmas reflections about the year before with resolutions about the year ahead. New year’s resolutions are often about personal development; some people resolve to be healthier or fitter; to visit the gym more, for example. Yet new year’s resolutions also offer an opportunity to think about our duty to others.
We might resolve in 2024 to spend more time with the people we love. We might resolve to really listen to our loved ones – carefully, and attentively. Some of us will also want to think about duty to the wider community. I spent some time over the Christmas break knocking on the doors of people in Honiton to find out what they are thinking. We Liberal Democrats do this all year round, rather than just at election time.
2024 is very likely to be one in which we have a General Election. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be undistracted by Westminster and have an election campaign in which I can spend time focusing on doorstep conversations. Over the Christmas break, I was hearing from people who are waiting for operations or hospital appointments. There are now over 100,000 vacancies in the NHS and over 7.7m people on NHS waiting lists. This is affecting people’s ability to work, to earn, to contribute to society and to pay taxes; we need to break this vicious cycle.
A General Election also means that at long last, people have an opportunity to return a verdict on this strained Conservative Government. Rishi Sunak has had conversations just recently with the notorious advisor Dominic Cummings, with a view to bringing Cummings back on board in 2024. This, you will recall, is the same advisor who drove from London to Barnard Castle in County Durham, so that he could “test his eyesight”. Sunak should be getting more than just his eyes tested; this calls into question the Prime Minister’s own judgement.
I gather on doorsteps that many people share my view that we are fed up of Government ministers and advisors setting rules that they are unwilling to abide by themselves. At last, people will have an opportunity to return a verdict on this Conservative Government. Then we can spend the rest of the new year getting back to our hopes and aspirations for our personal development, for our families and for our communities.