Face it: over the last five years, Britain's social safety net has been reduced to tatters. We're letting more and more of the country's most at-risk individuals slip into deprivation. Yet even as food bank parcels continue to fly off the shelves at breakneck speed, we're still being asked to forgo basic empathy in the name of economic growth.
Nothing quite characterises the levels of poverty in austerity Britain better than the dramatic growth in the use of food banks in recent years. With record numbers visiting local food banks in many areas over Christmas - and January looking set to be their busiest month yet - it is clear that they remain a much needed resource for many working people as the Coalition government's cuts, poverty pay and harsh benefit sanctions take their toll on household incomes. How the government can stand by and refuse to act while so many people are struggling to make ends meet is beyond me. We need to work to boost wages, raise living standards and put an end to in-work poverty, food poverty and the cost of living crisis once and for all. We want a recovery that everyone can benefit from - not just the richest...
The Greek elections really show that politics can generate interest and excitement. In their hearts, electorates really want their Governments to govern and to do things. It may suit Nick Clegg to try for honesty with the electorate about can and cannot be achieved by Government but Greece shows that sometimes they want dynamism and action.
The next Labour Government must work with that conclusion to bring a wholesale change from coercive behaviour in order to protect the next generation of women.
Trying to comprehend the numbers of people is a challenge when they are so huge, remembering that these were all individuals is important. The Holocaust Education Trust tries to help this by emphasising individual stories through survivor testimonies and pictures of victims' lives before the war.
It is important to engage with and encourage our community to continue their efforts to stand up against racism and hate crime by working together to pursue the dignity of difference. Holocaust Memorial Day is an affirmation that we should fight against intolerance and promote integration. All communities should work together to raise awareness of the suffering of others.
With the big tobacco companies so focussed on attracting young smokers through pack design, plain packaging is a key step for any country to introduce in the battle to lessen the consequences of smoking to the health service and society in general. Too many people are needlessly dying prematurely because of smoking and too many young people are still being hooked - let's use the next few weeks to save lives and reduce the burden on our NHS.
While the broadcasting establishment may think they are being clever calling out Cameron and becoming the story, they are really cooking up even more voter dissatisfaction. Inclusive government, not inclusive TV debates, is the key.
It is gratifying to see that the young are showing the rest of us how democracy should really work. We need to concentrate on policies and not the way politicians speak, or dress, or loyalty to a party as if it were a football team. They are saying we want a real change; we want a vision that encompasses our duty to fellow human beings, and our connections with others beyond our borders, and our moral duty to those less fortunate, to the poor and vulnerable.
Blair's new Thatcherism and warmongering pushed me from Labour long ago, but still every new tory-lite policy Miliband's Labour announces seems like a fresh betrayal. It's high time the base support Labour takes for granted realised that continuing to vote Labour is not in their best interest. It's time for a real change, for the common good.
Why has it taken so long for the Government to reach this point? It has been years since the idea was first proposed and it was almost a year ago that MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of it. In that time, over 200,000 children would have smoked their first cigarette - the delay is inexcusable.
These facts are awful when you think of the effects such as drinking is a depressant and has been known to be used as a crutch in the mental illness depression or for example drugs such as cannabis make you 30% more likely to develop the debilitating illness of schizophrenia.
It is a decade since the Labour Government's Freedom of Information Act came into force... Having been a minister myself, I'll admit that freedom of information can be a nuisance. Just as the constant threat of being judicially reviewed is a thorn in the side of ministers. But that's precisely the point, and I'd never want to clamp down on either.
Those of us who have decried the way the policies of austerity and monetary stimulus have been used to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor should be arguing now that, when the ECB loosens the purse-strings, it must use the principle of sustainability to guide how QE should be implemented...
Will 2015 finally see the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war? Certainly not this side of the election it now seems. Why is it taking so long? ... Sadly there is no single truth, no burning dossier, no transcript that will allow closure on the Iraq war.
Maybe four million handshakes can win an election, but politicians shouldn't ignore the way the world around us is totally different to what it looked like five or 10 years ago. The iPhone is only eight years old. Of whatever brand, there is a device in our hands right now that is changing the way we consume media and the way we form our opinions. It would be a mistake to pass that opportunity by. Please politicians, channel One Direction - let's make this the Best Election Ever.