Weekly Round-up :: 22 December 2022

In the immortal words of Noddy Holder, “it’s Christmas!” or at least it nearly is. This is a special time of year for many as people come together to celebrate with family, friends and even the odd works party.

But before we wrap up this year’s round-up it would be a good time to look back on the year that was. To say that 2022 has been able to cram in more happenings than many would be an understatement. As the saying goes, you wait for a Prime Minister and three come along at once… or is that buses?

So where better to start that with the disastrous tenure of Liz Truss – Britain’s shortest serving Prime Minister of all time. During her term in office, she achieved a run on the pound, your mortgages to increase by over £500 a year and inflation ramping up to levels not seen since the Winter of Discontent in the 1970s. I took part in debates around the Mini-Budget, the Tory trigger for this chaos, pointing out how you cannot have something for nothing. I also raised the spectre of a Winter Crisis in the NHS never seen before. Sadly, this also has come to pass.

Rewind a few more months and we can see where the foundations for this government that refuses to govern was laid: Boris Johnson. The former Prime Minister’s erosion of rules and principles that governed the UK Government left the country rudderless and open to further political corruption. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, of which I’m a member, has been undertaking many investigations into this issue. Indeed, one of our meetings hauled the then Prime Minister’s ‘independent’ advisors on ethics before us. Only a couple of days later did he resign when it became clear that his position was untenable.

As a former NHS employee, I have spent this year raising my deep concern that the failures we are seeing in the health service were set before the pandemic struck. If retention rates had been maintained at even 2011 levels, we would have had 10,000 more staff than we do currently. This issue is worsened by a social care system that is on its knees. The Government promised social care reform earlier this year, but then u-turned during the financial statement designed to mop up the fallout of the Mini-Budget. More families have been put in precarious positions because of this inability to lead.

The cost-of-living crisis is really starting to bite but we must also spare a thought for Ukrainians who have now experienced their 300th day of Russia’s war on their country. The shocking military assault that began in February has not played out the way President Putin would have liked nor how many of us would have predicted. Ukrainians have shown determination and courage in their staunch defence of their country that is inspiring to see. We must continue to support their efforts with training, military equipment, and humanitarian aid for as long as it will be necessary. For the security of the rest of Europe, Putin cannot be allowed to prevail and we must support a Ukrainian victory. I know some families in Bristol have taken in refugee families and this was also an incredible effort to witness. Slava Ukraini!

As much as the Tories in Westminster are hellbent on undermining everything that is good about our country there are some glimmers of light locally. We held another amazing Apprenticeship Fair in the constituency that matched young and not so young to exciting new careers. This was the first full in-person fair since the pandemic and it was brilliant to see so many people and businesses working together to deliver for Bristol.

I was also able to spend this year providing Maternity Leave cover for my colleague Liz Kendal MP as Shadow Health minister. This allowed me to meet many wonderful people in the care sector and to speak up on their behalf in Parliament. I’m determined to see fundamental reform taken with social care to ensure families don’t face the misery of not knowing where their loved one will be supported. We can achieve so much more if we focus on the workforce and training routes into this wonderful career.

This will be the last weekly round-up of 2022. My next round-up will start when Parliament sits in the New Year. Whatever you are doing over this festive period I wish you and yours a wonderful time.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.