You could well be forgiven for breathing a hearty sigh of relief as Big Ben bonged for Midnight on 31st December. 2020 has been a strange year for all, a really grim year for so many. People of course have suffered terribly from the Pandemic, through illness or even death of their nearest and dearest. Businesses have gone to the wall; jobs lost. So many of the events that we love have been cancelled; life has been at best ‘on hold’, for some a disaster. We would certainly not want to go through 2020 again.

Yet if you survived 2020, is that not so much better than not having survived it? And while there has been much to complain about, can we not also be glad over some parts of it. We must preserve the Covid-inspired humanitarian community spirit which we saw in so many ways during the year. Many people have escaped from the Rat Race to work from home, spend more time with the family and rediscover some lost hobbies and passions. We have done so many things that we have long meant to, but never got around to. Our health and to a degree our stress-reduced mental wellbeing have much improved, our exercise levels have increased.

And are we not lucky to live in such a lovely area as this? Many of us have gardens; those that do not are a stone’s throw from the countryside, historic villages, lovely country pubs (while they were open!) Spare a thought for those who may life in a tiny tower block flat in some great city; squashed in with umpteen bored children; facing a loss of livelihood, quite possibly a loss of physical or mental health. We may have had our little problems over the last twelve months; but let us think of the so many who are vastly worse off than we are.

I personally very much regret that I have not been able to do more in Parliament or the Constituency and look forward to restarting the drumbeat of political life as soon as the Pandemic allows it.  But I have very much enjoyed working largely from home (a day or two a week only in London); I have kept up with the vastly increased  quantity of correspondence and casework demanded by my constituents; I have been fortunate to have had both hips replaced, as a result of which on 1st January I was able to walk 10 miles or so across Salisbury Plain. This time last year I would have been hard pressed to walk 100 yards. I have written two books and started a third. (Wiltshire to Westminster - a 2 volume collection of these columns is still available via my website, jamesgray.org or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). I was honoured and delighted during the year to be appointed a Commander of the Order of St John who are making such a huge contribution both to Covid testing and now to the delivery of the vaccine.

As we approach the New Year, let us be glad that Brexit is done and dusted. I fought and campaigned for it for most of my political life and rejoice in the freedom and opportunities it will bring. But even those who were opposed to Brexit - and I honour their view if disagreeing with it - will be glad that it is all over and that we can get on with normal political and national life. The Pandemic is raging as we speak, and we may well be facing some very difficult times for a couple of months or so. But who would not rejoice at the imminent arrival of the vaccine (especially the Oxford Astra Zeneca one - Britain Is leading the world with it), and the likelihood that the Spring will bring a sharply reduced infection rate, and the beginning of the end of the Covid nightmare.

It’s been a bad year for many, a terrible one for some; and a pretty crummy one for most of us. But let us just be glad that we have got through it, and that there is a real prospect of better things to come. So I truly wish you all a Very Happy, Healthy and Successful 2021.