As the Year of the Rat gives way to the Year of the Ox, there is much to reflect on. For all of us, 2020 was a difficult year; some of us touched by death and many by loss of income, wellbeing and self-worth. So much has changed, and yet not changed.
Those of us with memories of SARS watched with concern the British Government's late and botched efforts to tackle COVID. We saw COVID-related hate crime spike as Chinese people were shunned, and verbally and physically assaulted. Internet memes depicting Chinese people as sources of COVID were widely shared.
Many people appear numbed to news that would have horrified us 12 months back - over 100,000 deaths, job losses, business closures and billions of pounds spent on PPE half of which were awarded dubiously. We cannot carry on as before and we must change the trajectory that has shaped growth and prosperity over the last 300 years. Fundamental changes are needed from the way we govern to the way our economy works, the way we consume and the impact of technology on our lives, our jobs and our societies.
We have also watched with concern the situation in Hong Kong but continue to call for a more balanced response and an evidenced-based Chinese foreign policy within the Liberal Democrats. We are sad that Paddy Ashdown was not able to witness the first Hong Kong citizens use rights he called for decades ago to allow BNO passport holders the right to live in Britain.
So, will things get better in 2021? The ox symbolises strength, determination and hard work. Certainly, qualities needed to rebuild our communities, our economies, our families and ourselves. Many Liberal Democrats have been actively helping others through the difficulties of the pandemic. We can bring a message of hope, that by working together we can reshape our society, economic and governance systems. We can create prosperity, fairness and justice.
Wishing everybody a fulfilling, prosperous and safe Year of the Ox.