Economy, not hair, is crucial this year

Alistair Burt MP
Alistair Burt MP

By Alistair Burt

As the New Year gathers pace politics begins to look ahead to a year which will be overshadowed by the European elections and Scottish Referendum, the results of which will be seen as pointers of some sort to the General Election in 2015.

But before MPs thought about all this, we received one of those lighter hearted requests for information from Her Majesty’s Press.

Following on the revelation that our Prime Minister apparently pays £90 for his haircut, I had an email from the Independent asking me where I had my done, and the cost?

I don’t know if you’ve bumped into me recently, or caught up with the pictures on my website, but I felt the researcher had not done too much research. Mrs Burt handles this part of my life, increasingly with a bottle of polish and a damp cloth!

They did not need to know this personal information, so I sent them a photo, and asked if they were having a laugh? To the Indie’s credit, they published it on their own website!

When the journalists get around to something serious, it is hard to see past economic recovery as the key political indicator of the year for me. Our unemployment figures last month were encouraging. They are a quarter lower than the same time last year, and particularly pleasing for me was that there were 150 fewer 18 to 24-year-olds looking for work, a near 40% drop.

Contact with local business suggests that the hard work the public is putting into a difficult time for the country, supported by tough Government policy to deal with what the coalition was left in 2010, is having an impact.

I am very conscious that behind every statistic is a real individual, family and that circumstances remain very tough for many. How the Government and politicians address this during a crucial year will be most important, and I expect my correspondents will continue to give me their views on what we are doing well, or less well.