My article for Walsall Advertiser – 14 December 2017

As we open a window on our Advent calendar or light the Advent candle, I am reminded that Advent is a time of preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus.

Preparation should also be a vital element of good government. Whatever your views on Brexit, I think we can all agree that our government should be doing all it can to make proper preparations both for negotiating with the EU and also for the country’s exit. Recent events have revealed that this Conservative government is doing neither.

David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, despite telling the House of Commons from as early as September 2016 that the government was carrying out analysis of the effects of Brexit on key sectors of the UK’s economy, now tells us that these analyses do not exist. We expect the government to be working out how Brexit might affect different parts of our economy and to be making preparations to counter problems that will arise. The identified 58 sectors cover 88% of our economy. We expect the government to be fully prepared when negotiating, instead we have witnessed the DUP publicly pull the rug from under the government’s feet just at the point when they had reached a deal with the EU on the first phase of negotiations. The DUP are the Conservatives chosen partners, propping up this minority government, yet the government seems completely unprepared for their disruptive input.

As winter approaches there is deep concern that this government is not giving the NHS the support and funding that it needs to be fully prepared for this winter’s spike in demand for NHS services and that the ‘winter crisis’ will be even worse than in previous years. Hospitals are already running at 99% of capacity before the winter demand has even kicked in.

Reports this week reveal that a staggering 400,000 more children are living in poverty today than in 2013. How does this government expect children to be prepared to live a full life where they can flourish and be valued citizens when 30 % of children in this country live in poverty?

It was Charles Dickens who 150 years ago reminded us in ‘A Christmas Carol’ that austerity and inequality begets the chilling Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. There is no justification for anyone sharing Tiny Tim’s prospects in 2017 so let’s be prepared to make this known loud and clear this Advent.