Bridget Phillipson: Day of judgement

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I’M delighted that the Echo has asked me to write a regular column. I don’t intend to bash the Government at every opportunity, but to give readers an insight into life at Westminster and my role as a constituency MP.

For once we’ve had glorious Bank Holiday weather.

And for me it’s been perfect for local election campaigning.

Parliament not sitting doesn’t mean MPs just put their feet up for a few weeks.

A North East MP’s life is always a juggle between being in London and being at home.

It’s been an opportunity to catch up on local visits – from speaking to Herrington Heritage Group to Question Time at the Civic Centre.

Thursday brought the day of judgment.

There’s always a buzz around the election count as candidates from all parties nervously await the results.

I remember that feeling well, but I find it hard to believe that a year has gone by since I was elected to serve our city.

It was a relief to be a mere observer this time around. Thinking back to last year’s general election defeat and the unprecedented political events that followed, it was heartening to see Labour gains across England this time.

Voters across the country feel betrayed by broken promises – from student fees to the VAT hike to hasty NHS reform.

The Government simply has no mandate for these changes. The Lib Dems have been hit particularly hard, but it’s the Tories who are taking the blame in Sunderland.

For those hoping that these losses will break the coalition, I remain convinced you’ll be sorely disappointed.

The Lib Dems’ only chance of survival is to stick it out until the bitter end in the hope the economy picks up and their fortunes improve. I wouldn’t bet on an early election.

I’M grateful to Inspector Barrett and Sgt Cole for allowing me to spend the evening taking part in Operation Liberty – Sunderland’s pioneering domestic violence initiative.

 I was dropped off in the early hours of Sunday morning, impressed by their determination to protect victims of crime.

 A clear signal was sent out that night to victims that they can rely on the police and to perpetrators that their behaviour has no place in Sunderland and they’ll be arrested.

Despite 20 per cent cuts to police forces, the government still talks about maintaining frontline policing.

 I challenged the minister in the House of Commons on Monday to explain how they intend to protect these specialist units.

The work of domestic violence officers, child protection specialists and CID detectives isn’t always visible – but it’s vital and saves lives. I’m sure most people would see this work as frontline.

All of this at a time when our most experienced police officers are being forcibly retired in some areas and being asked to come back as volunteers.

Is this what David Cameron really means by the Big Society?