2014 has been a tough year for many people in Cambridge – more and more have been turning to the foodbank, thousands are trapped on low-pay while prices for essentials keep rising. Hard-pressed staff in our NHS are battling to meet growing demand without the additional resources they need, and more and more young people are struggling with expensive rents and house prices.
But amidst the difficulties, people still inspire – the battling campaigners who saved Cambridge Lifeworks, and the scientists at the Cancer Research Institute I visited with Ed Miliband a few months ago stick in my mind. And in the last few weeks, falling oil prices have held out hope that pressure on family budgets might ease, even if the instability it produces in other parts of the world may create further problems ahead.
For politicians like me, 2015 is a big year, with a General Election in May, but most people will be preoccupied with just getting by, and I’m well aware that many are unconvinced that anyone really has the solutions to their everyday problems. But despite the very big international challenges, in the European Union, in Ukraine, in Syria, I believe that we should remain optimistic.
Our country is at its best when it is outward-looking and positive – we have a great tradition of generosity and tolerance. If we hold true to those values, and make the right choices in the months ahead, Cambridge and the rest of the United Kingdom can look forward to a better future.