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Westminster Blog: A little New Year's cheer

Newbury MP Richard Benyon says 'optimism is good for the soul'

Andy Murrill

Richard Benyon


01635 886625

Westminster Blog: A little New Year's cheer

One of our national newspapers has an editorial policy that every article should make its reader angry or scared, preferably both.

It’s not just national newspapers which make the world look bleak. Look at the first five items on any news programme and you will be hard pushed to see a good news story in any of them.

So it’s small wonder when you ask people in the street or on their doorstep how they think things are, that you get a pretty negative answer.

No one denies that there are huge problems facing us in 2018 but perhaps it’s time for a little rebalancing of the facts.

Things are better. Really, they are!

Across the world extreme poverty rates are plummeting, literacy levels are rocketing and after decades, even centuries, of rising inequality that trend is now reversed.

More people in the world are living in a democracy, vaccination rates are making some diseases disappear and child mortality is but a fraction of what it was even just a few years ago.

Here at home there is a case to be made that, whilst Governments can claim some credit for improvements to our lives, perhaps the younger generation are rather better, kinder people than those that went before.

Teenage pregnancies have just about halved in number in recent years. Binge drinking is still a problem but a significantly smaller one according to official statistics. Crime has risen a little in the last year but still remains at around a third of what it was in 2010.

In our schools children are now benefitting from the highest quality teaching in my lifetime. Ninety-five per cent of children in West Berkshire are being taught in schools that are independently rated as good or outstanding. Phonics is delivering literacy levels undreamed of a decade ago.

It’s hard to find a headline about our NHS that doesn’t have the word “chaos” or “crisis” in it but, according to a US-based foundation that rates health systems, the NHS is the best healthcare system in the world. It treats over one million patients every 36 hours and has more doctors, nurses and other clinicians than ever before.

I could go on but perhaps at the start of a New Year a little optimism is good for the soul.

As Benjamin Franklin said: "Be cheerful – the problems that worry us most are those that never arrive."




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Article comments

  • Justin S

    03/01/2018 - 20:08

    I am sure the crime rise has been helped by Benny testing the system. At least he wont be behind the wheel crashing into people and sending them into the NHS system to be told to wait in a queue. I need a pair of those rose tinted glasses he wears.............


  • GreenhamPete

    03/01/2018 - 15:03

    My partner was rushed to Charing X hospital A&E on NYD.... It took 4 hrs for her to be assessed then 4 more hrs to be treated. The doctors and nurses were fantastic, but every corridor, nook and cranny was packed with patients on trolleys, chairs etc, many in obvious pain waiting hours to be treated. It was a total disgrace.... This is 1st hand experience... not a press story, Mr Benyon.


  • EugeneStryker

    03/01/2018 - 14:02

    Is Toady for real? Some other reasons to be cheerful that I found: the longest sustained decline in the real value of workers’ wages since records began; the worst productivity crisis since the 19th Century; catastrophic under-funding of the NHS and other emergency services; education cuts; soaring trade deficits; GDP per capita almost unchanged since before the bankers’ crisis trashed the economy; the lowest level of infrastructure funding anywhere in the developed world; massive increases in child poverty and in-work poverty; and 86% of the burden of Tory austerity dogma loaded onto the shoulders of women.


  • Janet

    03/01/2018 - 14:02

    The problem worrying me the most is that Hungerford Town Council will feel they are unable to finance Judicial Review of West Berkshire Council's decision to allow 100 houses to be built on 7 hectares of ' Land South of Priory Road' in Hungerford - a major development on greenfield land in the AONB contrary to both National Policy ( Para 116 of the NPPF) and Local Policy ( HSA 18 which allows for a developable area of 5.7 hectares). And I fear it will happen imminently as the decision is to be taken at next Monday's full Council meeting. Of course Judicial Review might not have been necessary had Mr Benyon supported the call-in application. As it is we still do not know why the Government is prepared to turn a blind eye to contraventions of the NPPF, although I am attempting to find out by FOI.


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