Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland, discusses the pandemic, the new Defence Command Review and the genocide against Uyghur people by the Chinese Communist Party in her latest column
A year ago a national lockdown was announced to tackle a virus that none of us could have imagined would change our lives and way of life, as greatly as we have experienced over the last year.
We have all suffered losses – friends and loved ones, businesses, freedoms and memories that will sadly never be.
This week we look back and remember those who will never be forgotten. However, we must also look at the small acts of kindness that have, for me, been a light in the darkness. I’m sure that in the past year someone has shown you a kindness – be it dropping off groceries while shielding, cooking meals for someone, or even just that phone call to check you’re doing ok.
All the while, there have been Herculean efforts by so many. The NHS, carers, our police, emergency workers, prison staff at HMP Stocken, council staff, shop workers, bin men and women, funeral workers, bus and train drivers, teachers, school and nursery staff, and utilities workers.
As well as our farmers, those working in the food chain and the many, many more who continued to protect and serve us all throughout the pandemic. Our Armed Forces at Kendrew Barracks have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 response across the East Midlands, as well as their stellar work with testing efforts.
Our Armed Forces are the best in the world because its people are the best.
This week, I was eager to hear the Defence Secretary announce the new Defence Command Review in Parliament. The review will make our Armed Forces better equipped and more capable of dealing with threats to our security.
It is a bold and assertive plan which will focus on the continuing and emerging threats that we face. It’s represents the largest investment in our Armed Forces since the end of the Cold War, and will see them become better and more nimble than ever before. I come from a counter-terrorism background, and the new investment in offensive and defensive hybrid capabilities alongside conflict prevention and rebuilding post conflict, are particularly important.
One of my campaigns in Parliament has been to raise awareness of the genocide being committed against the Uyghur people by the Chinese Communist Party.
This week, sanctions were announced against senior members of the Chinese Communist Party who have been perpetrating these atrocities.
Since my election, I have called for an Atrocity Prevention Unit so that the Foreign Office can more effectively identify this kind of atrocity early, and act quickly. I’m delighted that this was announced last week, and will make the UK’s response to atrocities far more effective.
Meanwhile over the last two weeks I’ve been working on my year-long campaign to secure a ban on LGBTQ+ so-called conversion therapy, to secure increased sentences for fly-tipping, and am relieved to to have secured further protections for young people against those who abuse positions of trust in the policing bill.