ON Friday 13th December, I decided to step back from my weekly column for The Press and Telegraph and Argus after two fascinating years. Why? Mainly to explore new literary pastures as a novelist and poet.

Also, a period of reflection seems necessary after the election – especially for people like me, deeply concerned by the direction our country has taken over recent years. It seems right to stand back coolly, and assess whether the people’s clear choice will be matched by successful government policy. By successful, I mean, will the government improve the lives of the vast majority of the population, not just a privileged, wealthy elite.

Two years ago, when I was asked to produce a weekly political column for my home community, it seemed a big responsibility.

I hope that my fact-checking has been consistent and accurate. If there have been errors, I take full responsibility, with the plea I have always written in good faith.

From the start, this column tried to air views rarely discussed in the mainstream media.

It pointed out uncomfortable realities for those who rule our divided society. The very first column focused on “the age of the food bank”, and since then I have explored a Britain weakened by austerity.

From mushrooming homelessness, child poverty and destitution, to stealth-privatisation of the NHS and a general failure to respond quickly enough to the climate emergency.

But I hope the column has never been purely negative. Solutions to problems are always available, if we act for the common good with integrity, and apply reason, courage, imagination, evidence-based thinking and compassion.

Meanwhile, urgent challenges await the Johnson government and all who supported them to “get Brexit done”.

Indeed, many people in the UK and beyond fear the proverb, “be careful what you wish for” may yet prove appropriate.

First up, comes Brexit itself.

Personally, I could never see how leaving the EU will benefit my family, community or my country. That debate is thoroughly over.

Now it is time for those eager for Brexit to sort out the numerous complex trade agreements necessary before we exit in December 2020.

It is time for Leavers to prove that “project fear” about the economy was wrong. Time, too, to ensure that the 3 million EU immigrants resident in the UK and 1.2 million UK immigrants settled in the EU have their rights protected.

By the way, while getting it done, please do not turn our United Kingdom into a colony of America. That also means persuading Scotland to stick with the Union: and that sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland are not set ablaze as part of the Prime Minister’s “oven-ready” deal.

What about the NHS and our national crisis in social care? The 43 per cent of voters who chose Boris Johnson, evidently accepted his assurances the NHS would not be privatised or under-funded under his watch.

The rest of us, 57 per cent, also expect the government to deliver tens of thousands more nurses and doctors, as well as cutting A&E waiting times and improving stretched GP services.

Above all, we expect an effective answer to the millions of vulnerable people being failed by a broken, underfunded system of social care.

As for the economic decline, poverty and endemic low pay which is blighting too many communities, we have been assured getting it done is the answer.

That it – whatever “it” is – will release vast sums to renew historically deprived areas. Now we want the government to deliver on its grand promises, especially in the North.

Before bidding a final adieu, I really should mention something which surprised me over the last two years: the lack of basic good manners exhibited by some online commentators on the column.

I have also been disappointed by angry voices writing in to demand that the views expressed in my little articles be expunged altogether.

Democracy depends on robust, free, rational debate and disagreement. Without that, we are reduced to Trumpian soundbites.

So, dear reader, farewell and good luck. Thank you for your support and considering my ideas about the world.

The task we face together, now as always, is making that world a better, kinder one.