2018 has been a whirlwind of a year, and certainly not short of parliamentary drama.
Yet there have also been some real highlights throughout, the most recent of which was my annual Christmas Card Competition. I say it every year but it is the best event my team organise, it's always lovely to see the winners and runners up from schools across the constituency receiving their prizes. Choosing the card is a particular highlight, and always incredibly difficult!
Remembrance Sunday in Dagenham this year which marked 100 years since the end of World War I was also a remarkable event. I was humbled by the turnout for the parade; after a couple of difficult years where organisers had passed away it was good to see the event returned to former glory with hundreds of residents lining the streets. I want to put on record again a huge thank you to all those that helped pull the event together and those that joined the march including the Royal British Legion, the Royal Naval Association, the Dagenham Girl Pipers, the Majorettes, and the Leader of the Council, local councillors and my office staff.
It's been a tough year for many with an uncertain government pushing through damaging policies in a desperate bid to seem ‘strong and stable'. Universal Credit hit our community this year, despite constant administration failures which are still leaving many waiting up to 12 weeks for support.
The NHS was in crisis before we hit winter this year, and our local provisions continue to stumble along underfunded by the government, with staff overstretched and overworked. I've been fighting alongside residents and meeting with local Clinical Commissioning Groups to try and find a way forward, but ultimately the NHS needs proper government funding.
I want to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers that have helped with campaigns and in my office this year – and a special thank you to my team. I receive over 1000 emails a week, many letters and many more phone calls, and my team work hard throughout the year going above and beyond, often out of hours to ensure that every resident gets a response.
Who knows what 2019 will hold, they certainly don't know in Westminster with the government in complete disarray! Come what may, in Dagenham and Rainham, 2019 means more campaigning on issues such as police funding across the board, air quality in Rainham, and a Brexit that works for the economy, our environment and the people of Dagenham, Rainham, South Hornchurch and Elm Park.
I wish all my constituents a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.
Jon Cruddas MP - Member of Parliament for Dagenham and Rainham, incorporating South Hornchurch and Elm Park
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