Just over a day before the end of last year the Government announced it was going to delay the opening of Secondary Schools for this term by up to two weeks into this month. This was in stark contrast to the significant number of messages that they had been delivering to parents, students and teachers at the end of the last term and throughout the Christmas holiday. At the same time as the issue was being discussed by the media it emerged from a number of educational professionals that the Government has also failed to follow up on their own earlier proposals to try to help determine how this year’s higher-level examinations will be able to take place. These two cases clearly need to be responded to by the Government and local politicians including in Councils as a matter of significant urgency. It is vital for them to rebuild some confidence from the people who have already been affected by these issues and will continue to experience challenge over the next six months. Indeed, the impact of these issues like some from last year will extend well beyond this current academic year.
On another theme, the impact of COVID on our whole nation which started just over a year ago led many of us to call for the transition of Brexit to be extended until things had been resolved. Sadly, the Government claimed that it would rather move forward from Brexit despite the many other challenges they were dealing with at the time. Either because they were intentionally waiting till the last moment, or because of the COVID challenges, the Brexit Deal did not emerge until less than two weeks ago on Christmas Eve. This arose after many months of their ridiculous claims that a No Deal would be better way forward for our Nation. Because of the Christmas timing this meant that our own local MPs had less than one whole day to debate the EU deal which the Queen has now been forced to approve. The Labour Party was also forced to vote for the deal simply to avoid a much worse alternative which would have been No Deal for our Nation.
We are now at the beginning of a New Year with a lack of clarity in the education of many of our nation’s children and with a very poor-quality deal with the group of our largest trading partners. However, there are clearly many other challenges that need to be resolved. The time it will take for COVID to begin to reduce its impact on our nation along with its new variations is clearly one element. The recent decision to extend the timing of the second Pfizer injections so that more people can be partly vaccinated is raising stress amongst some of the high-risk people and concerns amongst some health professionals. It may also send a confused message to the people who will get an initial injection earlier than anticipated but then not be as well protected as they may anticipate.
Another issue is the way that some wealthy or powerful people have transferred their residency over to Europe or Ireland now that we have left the EU. The news that Stanley Johnson is obtaining a joint French Citizenship arose hours before our Brexit departure. This reminds many of us who wanted to remain in Europe of how certain people can have the best set of personal options. Clearly the fact that Stanley Johnson unlike his son wanted to remain in the EU makes his decision more understandable than some of the people who campaigned for us to leave and then left our nation.
These examples seem to point towards a need for a new way of running our nation and our local settings. Sadly over the last few decades male dominated, privately educated, party political agencies have demonstrated too many examples of their focus on wealthy and powerful supporters. While many of us try to resolve issues such health, education and our international position, could we also obtain some changes to the way our local and national leadership is achieved? Some of us are due to vote locally in five months time. It would be fantastic if we could throw out the party-political silos and instead focus on the people who are the most competent. We need to learn from people who have broken through Glass Ceilings in many public settings. I am proud that here in Sussex our Police and Fire and Rescue Services along with the civil service parts of East and West Sussex and Brighton and Hove have demonstrated that historic male only settings have changed. Let us hope that over the next few years that party political barriers can also be broken through or crossed, here and throughout the whole of our Nation.