You will have no doubt been following with interest the current situation regarding the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and the debate surrounding the reintroduction of various restrictions to help stop the spread.
There are always a multitude of different opinions, whether that’s on masks, vaccinations, working from home or various closures. Throughout the pandemic we have had to make judgement calls based on the best information we have available. This is not always popular, but is what makes for responsible government.
This week, for the first time, I found myself voting against the proposed measures. This is not a decision I took lightly, and rebelling is something I took no pleasure from. Collective responsibility is a vital part of governing our country, but for me there were some proposals this week that I simply could not support. The main issue for me was the introduction of so called ‘vaccine passports’, where people would have to provide proof of vaccination to attend certain events, although there was also an option for a lateral flow test to be taken instead.
I have always stated that whilst I would encourage everybody to be vaccinated and to get the booster jab, it remains a personal choice and is not something I would ever force people to do. Vaccine passports also risk a slippery slope towards a ‘papers society’ and that is something I find very un-British. We also know that many of us will need a booster to help tackle Omicron, so therefore a Covid Pass with the standard double vaccination doesn’t really prove a person is not infectious – unlike a lateral flow test. Indeed, there are plans to make the Covid Pass only available to those who have been boosted once everybody has had a reasonable period of time to get one.
For me, there just simply wasn’t enough data available on the severity or the threats posed by Omicron to justify further restrictions, especially at Christmas when people want to be with friends and family or when the hospitality industry relies on the extra trade at this time of the year.
This week was also the second anniversary of me becoming your Member of Parliament for Bassetlaw. It was without doubt the greatest honour of my life – and what a two years it has been.
With 28,078 votes, this was a landslide victory in what many saw as the heart of the ‘red wall’ and included a majority of 14,013. The swing of 18.4% in Bassetlaw was the biggest Labour to Conservative swing at any General Election in British political history.
As we move forwards and see a light at the end of the tunnel with Covid-19, I still have the same passion, enthusiasm and drive to deliver for Bassetlaw and for our great nation. I won’t get it right all the time along the way - and I’m sure we’ve all had things we’d have done differently with hindsight - but I can absolutely promise you that whatever happens I will continue to do my very best.