A WEEK is a long time in politics. 

Last week, I was privileged to be invited to Poland to visit sites of the Holocaust including Auschwitz and Birkenau. The industrial scale of the Nazi extermination of Jews, Roma, gay people and the disabled was truly chilling.

However, this “March of the Living” trip was a celebration of life, with the opportunity to listen to first hand to survivors of these camps. The parallels with the situation just a couple of hundred miles away across the border in Ukraine was sobering indeed. Our Polish tour guide, Caterina, told us that the millions who have crossed the border have simply been integrated into people’s homes.

Looking back at Westminster from a distance of a thousand miles with shocking headlines continuing covering Keir’s beers in Durham, Angela Rayner’s leg crossing and tractor porn in the Chamber, it was a relief to be away from the melee for a few days.

The real news, the big news of last week, was that Parliament broke up for recess until the next Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, seeing many pieces of key legislation complete their final hurdle to reach the statute book including the Health & Social Care Bill, Elections Bill, Nationality & Borders Bill and my own Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Bill.

Those who break rules should face the appropriate penalty and the Metropolitan Police have fined the Prime Minister but no such sanction seems to have been levelled against Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner or Mary Foy or anyone else from the glitterati of County Durham Labour who gathered at the miners’ hall. We still await to learn if our Police & Crime Commissioner was at the event.

Westminster has, over recent weeks, received a bit of a drubbing, with the impression being painted of a toxic environment. When one is tarred, we all are. The vast majority of us are there for the right reasons and behave with professionalism and courtesy to our colleagues on both sides of the House.

In the last month, I’ve been on the doorsteps in Sunderland, London and across North Yorkshire. Canvassing in London is a very different experience to that in the North. Outrage and indignation in London gives way in the North to practicality and a desire to get on with the job.

As I suspected, we have not seen Labour resurge. If this was a test of the “red wall”, Conservatives made gains in Barnsley, Hartlepool, Tynemouth, and Peterborough and Labour lost control of Hull. Hardly a resounding victory for Sir Keir.

My view was that my party would see losses in the south, and indeed we have lost control of some London councils – but the demographic changes in London explain far more than recent events.,

In our region, we continue to focus on getting on with the job – just as the PM demonstrated this week on his visit to talk about small nuclear reactors. Labour’s failure to invest in our long term energy strategy while in power for 13 years leaves us with the energy problems of today.

Attracting jobs to our region, investing in local infrastructure, tackling the cost of living and sound management of the economy – those are the issues at the heart of our local politics.