Christmas is about things that are hopeful and positive. Colourful lights chase away winter darkness. Presents for the children are given and enjoyed whatever else the family may be struggling to cope with.
Charities and appeals get much more in the way of donations at Christmas time. Carol singers raise money for good causes. Shoe boxes are filled with toys for children in far-off poor and war-torn countries. More people go to church than at any other time except Easter, hearing the message that Jesus was born into this world and that darkness could not extinguish the light. Carols and Christmas chart-toppers radiate the upbeat message.
This is the last time I will pen a Christmas message as Member of Parliament, and I want it, in the words of the song, to ‘accentuate the positive’. Over the last 41 years I have seen and tried to help many thousands of people with all sorts of problems. The ones who have had most impact on me are those who, particularly if you can get them the help they need, see that there is hope and a way ahead.
I have also dealt with quite a few people who can only ever see the bad things – the glass is always half empty for them, never half full. I hope that they might hear the positive Christmas message.
As it happens, there is quite a lot of good news – £290 million to upgrade the busiest parts of the A1 in our area, a new high school for Alnwick, a new hospital for Berwick, the country as a whole coming out of the worst recession in my lifetime – to put on the positive side of the balance sheet, along with free school meals for all children aged five to seven, a decent state pension increase every year – things I have been campaigning for over many years.
So let’s raise the half-full glass and wish a Happy Christmas to all readers. And for the New Year – my hopes, as well as for an interesting and healthy retirement, are to help my good friend Julie Pörksen win the election to succeed me.