“In the Bleak Midwinter” – Christina Rosetti’s poem set to the music of Gustav Holst – is the nation’s favourite carol – and mine. It is hard, however, to remember a midwinter as bleak as this. Our country already had one of the highest death rates from COVID 19 and faces one of the biggest economic slowdowns – now the UK an even more virulent strain of the virus.
This is traditionally the time of light and hope, and new vaccines bring both. But for too many who lost loved one’s these are the darkest of times.
It is also the time of good will but I confess that I find that increasingly difficult to extend that to the Government. I am on record as saying this is an unprecedented challenge for leaders and most Governments face moments when the truth seems stranger than fiction. But for this Prime Minister too often the truth has turned out to be fiction.
2020 has thrown up some true heroes. The doctors, nurses, healthcare and social care staff who have worked selflessly and professionally. The teachers, police officers, shopworkers, transport workers and many, many more who have kept our country working and kept it moving. Public health teams who confirmed how important “public” is. The foodbank volunteers and neighbours who brought back to life the charity and community which we feared was lost. We owe them so much, let’s hope 2021 is the start of being able to repay them. To them and to you, I say thank you and wish you a peaceful and safe Christmas.

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