New year message: 'We can make 2021 a year of transformation'

Karen Buck MP at the protest outside Queens Park nursery. Picture: Polly Hancock

Karen Buck MP at the protest outside Queens Park nursery. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

2021 will be better. At least, that is my most fervent hope after a year scarred by the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus and the devastating impact of the restrictions to control it.

We end the year with the hope offered by the vaccine, an extraordinary scientific achievement given the timescale!

While we are looking for reasons to be cheerful, it’s also important to recognise the amazing work done by frontline health and care workers, day in and day out since March.

Shout-outs, too, to all the other key workers,  who kept us going this year, and to those who volunteered or contributed, or whose acts of kind neighbourliness made all the difference.

We will come through this. But we can be under no illusions. Covid-19 isn’t over yet. Sadly, just as Thanksgiving seems to have accelerated the spread of the virus in America, the holiday season risks another spike in infections. 

Ronnie Renney, Alice Sinclair, and Jenny Woodberry as they deliver hot meals to those in need in Maida Vale. Picture...

Ronnie Renney, Alice Sinclair and Jenny Woodberry, who have been volunteering to help vulnerable children in Karen Buck's Westminster North constituency. - Credit: Alice Sinclair

As it is, we have ended the year with 65,000 people dead —  including 620  health or care workers. We have already been harder hit than most by Covid-19 — England faced Europe’s highest excess death levels during the first wave of the pandemic — *and* we have suffered more from the economic shock.

Billions have been poured into vital contracts which haven’t worked.

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People have suffered, and are suffering, terribly, and the effects will be with us for some time.

That is all before factoring in the effect of Brexit, whether a disastrous "no-deal" or a thin deal which, whilst better, will still leave us worse off than before. And before rising to the next, very real challenge of responding to climate change.

I believe firmly that Covid-19 could have been managed better. Brexit could have been handled better. A decade of squeezed funding for public services and social security left us ill prepared for what we faced this year.

READ MORE: Maida Vale team fundraise to keep hot food deliveries going

Now we have choices to make in 2021. We do not have to go back to all the old ways of doing things. We can make our recovery a ‘green’ one and invest in a low carbon economy and new jobs in clean energy.

We can make this the year we transform how we get around our city.

We have the choice to end poverty and our accelerating reliance on food banks.

I wish everyone the best Christmas they can have in such difficult times. 2021 will be better, and could even be transformational.

  • Karen Buck (Lab) is MP for Westminster North.