Wes Streeting shares his new year resolution and looks ahead to 2015...
I've only got one new year resolution this year and that's to win your trust and support in May's general election. The election in Ilford North will be close and, with 2015 looking set to be the most unpredictable election in recent history, every vote will count.
The main reason I'm standing goes to the heart of what's wrong with our society and the way our country is governed: the gross inequality in our society and the impact it's having on the life chances and ambitions of our community, our city and our country.
For me, this is personal. I grew up in a Council flat in Stepney, born to young parents who separated shortly after I was born. We didn't have much, but my family worked hard - often in low paid jobs and sometimes on benefits - to make sure I was provided for. With the support of good teachers I did well at school and became one of just 1% of kids on free school meals to make it to Cambridge University. Since then, I've spent my career working for charities focused on tackling educational inequality because I want every child growing up in Britain today to have the same opportunities that I've had.
By the time this Tory-led Coalition comes to an end in May there will be more children living in absolute poverty than when Cameron and Clegg took office. There is little excuse for poverty in the 21st century and no excuse for poverty in one of the world's richest nations. Life in London is becoming increasingly unaffordable and although we're told we're 'all in this together', most people aren't feeling better off as prices have risen faster than wages.
There aren't enough politicians in Westminster who really understand real life and then there are others, like our current MP, who should know better but have failed to stand up for the interests of their constituents. My criticism of Lee Scott isn't personal - I've always got on well with him. But every single measure that's hit people in Ilford North during the last five years is as a direct result of Lee's voting record in Parliament:
- The broken promises on tuition fees and maternity at King George Hospital and deep cuts to local government threatening Council services
- The expensive top-down reorganisation of the NHS and excessive waiting times for A&E and cancer treatment
- Young people struggling to find decent jobs and parents struggling to get a local school place
- Disabled families hit by the bedroom tax and cuts to their living allowances
- Rising homeless and no less than five food banks operating in Redbridge because people can't afford to feed their families
Trust in politics and politicians is at an all time low. People haven't forgotten the scandal of MPs expenses or broken promises on issues like tuition fees. But politics has also never mattered more.
That's why I'm relishing the debate of the general election campaign. I'm looking forward to debating the big issues from tackling the rising cost of living to how we improve our NHS. And I'm looking forward to our conversations. I've been out knocking on doors in Ilford North week-in, week-out and I'll be talking to as many people as possible before May 7th.
You may not agree with me on every issue, but you'll always know where I stand. I'm careful not to make promises I can't keep and I don't always have the answers to solve every issue.
But I hope you know that if I'm elected in May, I will work tirelessly for this constituency to champion the hopes, dreams and ambitions of the diverse communities who make this a brilliant place to live.