James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

That it’s been an extraordinary year is a truism. Brexit, the end of Cameron and Osborne; Theresa and Boris; SNP perhaps peaking; Liberals all but destroyed (despite their ridiculous extrapolations of the Richmond by-election success which would see them form a Government with a massive majority if there was a General Election tomorrow!); Trump; Mosul; the tragedy in Aleppo; Putin rampant and threatening; Ed Balls the hero of Strictly. What a year.

At a time like this people need to hold on to a few traditions to keep them sane. The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day, Midnight Mass in the local Church and carols from King’s College, Cambridge; soldiers wearing Santa hats on deployment overseas, Christmas cards with jolly redbreasted robins. As you might have guessed, my Christmas is totally traditional- turkey, flaming pudding, a drink or two, family and friends; and alongside that warm thoughts for those less fortunate – the ill and lonely, the homeless, the bereaved. These are the good and old and true human things to which we cling while the world around us is in turmoil.

Yet there’s another thing which Christmas reminds us of – peace and good will to all men. I was deeply disturbed by the vitriol, passion, hatred and disaffection caused by the Brexit campaign. Surely it should be possible for intelligent people to discuss things, disagree about things, without all the foul bad language, the splits in families, the vile abuse we saw, especially on Twitter. It’s a delicate judgement as to where we are better off ‘in’ or ‘out’. But we don’t need to hate someone who has the opposite view on this or other current issues. There was a similar vitriolic campaign of hatred from the SNP the previous year after they lost their Referendum.

It’s something to do with Twitter, Social media, the Internet- the universality and immediacy of all communication makes disagreements seem much more important than if they were written down on a piece of paper and posted by Royal Mail (Bless them ). Well I say we must take the nastiness out of political discussion; we must seek to see the other side of the argument, while still espousing our own views with clarity and robustness.

So in that spirit, I wish all my friends and colleagues - Labour, SNP, Green, Liberal and Independent alike; I wish all those who supported me in the last election, and all those who did not; I wish you all, no matter who you may be: A very Happy Christmas.