I hope you all had a very happy Christmas with your loved ones.

I am one of the people fortunate enough to have a few days extra off until after the New Year, and will be making a desperate attempt to try and work off my Christmas indulgences.

Thank you again to all the people who continue to work throughout this period to care for us and to keep us safe. People in our emergency services, those working in social care and our armed forces, especially those stationed abroad away from family and friends - thank you.

For last week’s column, I looked back at some of Ipswich’s highlights of 2023. From Brighten the Corners music festival to the building of hundreds of new council houses, there have been a wide range of achievements to be proud of.

This week, I’m looking ahead to 2024 and the General Election, whenever that takes place.

The odds of a May election shortened with the announcement that the Spring Budget will take place on the earlier than usual date of 6 March. There is a great deal of commentary about possible scenarios.

Will the Conservatives really call a May General Election twenty points behind in the polls, with the economy flatlining and our public services on their knees?

Or will they hope a pre-election budget giveaway will somehow make the public forget about their record over nearly a decade and a half in power?

As a candidate there is little point in speculating when the election might be - it is not remotely not in your gift to give.

All you can do is work hard, set out your stall locally, and be ready for when that moment comes. I am lucky to have an exceptional, dedicated team of campaigners alongside me, and I know they are raring to go.

Ultimately, the Conservative Party will do what is best for them, irrespective of what is best for the country. As we saw throughout the autumn, Rishi Sunak was, to be charitable, inconsistent, trying reset after reset in the hope that something, anything, would turn round his ailing fortunes as he failed to meet his top five priorities for the year. He even picked up the phone and begged for David Cameron to return, hardly the sign of a Prime Minister sure about the direction he wants to head in!

However, as I’ve said before, there is absolutely no complacency from me as a candidate or the Labour Party more broadly. Clearly, the polls would suggest we are in a good position, and this is backed up by historic by-election wins and very encouraging local election results.

Yet, politics in this country has been volatile for some time, and there are no guarantees when it comes to the ballot box.

We never forget that we are coming off the back of our worst election defeat in 100 years, and to win a majority next year would eclipse even the Labour landslide of 1997.

Trust in our Party is certainly returning, the contrast in leadership between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak is stark, as is the difference between Labour's missions for government when compared to the current Conservative Party’s government by gimmick.

Yes, there can be no complacency, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be confident. Not simply about whether the Labour Party can win an election, but about being able to govern effectively and diligently if we get there.

Whether it be May, October or at the very bitter end of this Conservative government, Labour will be ready, not just to win an election, but to change our country for the better.