Over recent years, many people have suggested that I keep a diary of the events that I have witnessed in Westminster and Whitehall. My wife, is one of the greatest advocates of this “inside” approach, pointing out that I’ve served as a Member of Parliament during a particularly tumultuous period in British politics. Over the last decade I’ve experienced a coalition government, the rise and fall of Prime Minister’s, the drama of the Brexit votes and an unexpected landslide election victory.
Yet, these events pale into insignificance compared to the national emergency, we are all witnessing today. Our common enemy is the unseen foe that is the coronavirus. At the forefront of our defences against this virus is an army of NHS staff who are working around the clock to keep us safe. I know of the amazing work our teams at the James Paget Hospital, and in GP surgeries and pharmacies around the constituency are undertaking to look after our community. This virus affects everyone – and the most important thing people can do is follow the guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
Alongside our NHS, are a legion of other people making sure our society continues to function. From care workers looking after the elderly and most vulnerable to the staff stocking our supermarket shelves. From the teams processing benefit claims and business grants to the hundreds of volunteers looking after their neighbours. They are all heroes and deserve our respect and support during these difficult times.
The global pandemic has prompted the Government to take measures unseen before in Britain, whether during wartime or peace. This includes massive multi-billion-pound support to protect our economy, employees, businesses and the self-employed. To implement these measures is a monumental task. Of course, there will be people anxious about their own future as they wait for funding or benefits to kick in. My excellent team continue to work from home and are dealing with queries as quickly as possible – they are available to provide advice and support for constituents.
We are watching history being written on a daily basis. Perhaps, we should pick up a pen and start keeping that diary.
[This article first appeared as my monthly column in the Great Yarmouth Mercury on 3rd April 2020]