It’s a couple of days before Christmas. It’s been a busy and eventful year and although there is still a lot of work to do I will enjoy the opportunity to spend some time with my family.
You may have heard that a number of political Christmas songs have been released by MPs this year. Though they may be unlikely to make the Christmas number one spot, I do believe they highlight worthy causes. I want to mention two songs in particular.
First, a group of Labour MPs have released their own version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, the classic first recorded by Band Aid. The aim of the song is to highlight the issue of retailers cutting back on overtime pay rates, free lunches and bonuses in response to the Government’s introduction of the National Living Wage. The Band Aid Trust will receive all the profits from the single.
Employers who make up the shortfall on the backs of their low paid employees are clearly not entering into the spirit of the National Living Wage. Instead, some low paid workers are actually finding themselves worse off once they lose Sunday pay and other benefits. The Government should look at ways of preventing businesses offsetting the cost of the national living wage on the back of their employees, for example by requiring that that staff are paid for the legally required 20-minute break in a six-hour shift.
You may also have heard about a Christmas single released in memory of the late Labour MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a far-right extremist on the way to her constituency surgery in June. It is a special recording of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and features cross-party MPs as well as musicians like the Kaiser Chief’s Ricky Wilson and KT Tunstall. Money raised from the sales will go to the Jo Cox Foundation which supports a range of charities, including the Royal Voluntary Service and the White Helmets. Helpfully, the Chancellor has agreed to waive VAT and the Rolling Stones are foregoing any royalties in order to support the cause.
Thinking about Jo, as well as Monday’s terrible attack on the Christmas market in Berlin, to me just shows how you can’t take anything for granted in this world. Jo’s husband, her two children and the families of the 12 people killed in Germany this week didn’t expect to be without their loved ones this year, but the heart-breaking reality is that they will never have Christmas together again. So forget those petty feuds or arguments and have a good time with your family and friends over the holidays. Life is too short and precarious to argue, so let’s appreciate the people we love and cherish while we can. Have a great Christmas.