John Redwood’s New Year Message

I am an optimist by nature. I would like 2008 to be so much better than last year, as there is much we can achieve together. I hope you have all had a happy and relaxing Christmas ?? or have now recovered from the exertions of catering for families reunited around the Christmas tables. I wish you and yours a prosperous and happy new year.

This year I want to see the government lift its nasty credit squeeze. The run on Northern Rock was just the most visible sign of distress in our economy. The new year is ushered in against a background of falling commercial property prices, fears about house prices, and difficulties for people seeking mortgages. High fuel prices, high taxes ?? with a further National Insurance rise to come for many ?? and general rises in the cost of running a home are all taking the shine off the new year even as it dawns. If the authorities cut interest rates and make more cash available to the banks we can avoid too sharp a downturn.

I have been very moved by the fact that there are still people unable to live in their own homes following last summers floods, and have been angered by the slow response of the authorities to the need to improve the flood protections. Too much building on low lying land in decision after decision taken over local heads by government Inspectors has put too many homes at risk. I will press the agencies and government more to try to get them to take preventative action for the future.

I am glad our troops will be coming home from Iraq after long and arduous tours of duty. I hope the US and the UK governments will put more effort this year into peace initiatives in the Middle East ?? it is time for jaw jaw, not war war. Fear, distrust and jealousy generates conflict: being positive, talking through problems, and trying to see the other persons point of view can make things better.