I recall at this time last year writing that it was very easy to be gloomy about the economic and political climate and that it was important to remain positive and constructive. To be honest, it hasn't always been easy to remain positive and the smile sometimes felt like it was stuck on with superglue.
However, this year has repaid that tentative optimism...with our political message coming across more strongly and, most important, the economy showing clear signs of recovery. We knew it was never going to be easy to put right the decade of economic mismanagement under the last government, but the fact that the tough but necessary policies implemented by this government are clearly being seen to turn the economic tide gives us all more reason to be optimistic as we face 2014.
Therefore, with a more natural smile on my face, I write this year's 10 reasons to be cheerful
- Wimbledon Men's singles won by a Brit for the first time since the dark ages.
- Ed Balls is still Shadow Chancellor.
- Godfrey Bloom ...need I say more?
- There are now over 1m more people in jobs than when we came to power in 2010.
- Finally someone got more coverage than Keith Vaz in the Leicester Mercury - although she had to win X Factor first.
- 2014 will see British troops withdraw from the last of Tony Blair's wars.
- FINALLY a decent summer.
- All the constituency County Council seats were held in May - a great effort.
- The deficit has been reduced by a third under this government.
- At last the introduction of a benefits cap for a fairer welfare system - although more to do.
.......and we don't mention the cricket
May I wish you all a very happy Christmas and every success in 2014 and let me thank you all for your help and support as ever.