One of the fun things about New Year’s Eve is watching the TV to see celebrations from other countries across the globe. Australia is the first to be televised and that at 1pm our time. They know how to throw a party there for sure but apparently Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean was the first to see in 2024 followed by larger islands including New Zealand and Samoa. The East Coast of America, including New York have to wait until 5am our time for the fireworks.
It's great to see so many countries and cultures enjoy the moment but it also is a reminder that we live in a large and varied world which is generally peaceful, kind and productive. The media understandably focus on conflict, natural disasters and other tragedies and it is easy to lose sight of the goodness of humanity and how much we have in common with people across the whole planet.
Our thanks go to all those who helped with celebrations locally. At the risk of introducing a low note, I thought the self-promoting Mayor of London’s fireworks were inappropriately politicised. Part of the display would seem to suggest Sadiq Khan had paid for them himself, rather than the already hard-hit London taxpayer. Added to his war on motorists, failure to tackle gangs and knife-crime and oversight of the ruining of the reputation of the Metropolitan Police, he must be the worst Mayor the capital has had since the role was created in 2000.
It is also wrong in my view for political reasons to try to set up the NHS as some sort of deity that requires worship. It is a service that we should wish to support and especially the great people who work in it to do their jobs effectively and the nature of that effectiveness is the conversation that we should be having about it.
As usual at the start of a new term I will be having several catch up meetings with our vital service providers, starting with our excellent Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Shelford. He’s doing a great job with a focus on issues that really matter like anti-social behaviour and online scams, rather than some of the strange priorities the Police are showing in some parts of the country. I’ll see if there is more that Central Government can do to support common sense, visible policing.
I am also looking forward to the work that the All Party Parliamentary Groups I chair will be taking on including our work on preserving financial freedoms and stopping any inappropriate implementation of a central bank digital currency. We need to roll back the acceptance of state surveillance from the Covid days. In Education we have a meeting coming up shortly to focus on the benefits of outdoor learning and how they can practically be woven into the school day and the building design itself.
There is a great deal to look forward to in 2024 coming from what was no doubt a challenging previous year. Some economists are predicting at least two interest rate cuts which is great news for mortgage holders for a start.