As I write this week’s column, I’ve just addressed the European Jewish Association delegation to Babyn Yar in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

While this year’s theme is ‘Not on my watch’ it feels particularly poignant addressing a delegation in a country on the brink of war with Russia.

Away from the delegation and from the Ukrainian speakers there is a huge amount of tension and desperation from friends and allies to help them to avoid being victim to any further atrocities.

While I was going to use this column to talk more widely about Holocaust Memorial Day which falls on January 27 and its wider implication to society it would be remiss of me not to address last week’s news.

Crossing the floor is the toughest decision I’ve ever made and it has taken a lot of time and emotion to get here. I appreciate there will be mixed emotions, mostly from former colleagues, supporters and friends who will no doubt feel angry, hurt and betrayed.

I am very conscious of these feelings and if I could have avoided them, I would. However I didn’t make this decision to hurt people, I made the decision because I could no longer stay in the Conservatives.

While there are those who are unhappy, many others have also contacted me either in support or in recognition of the gravity of a decision of this nature, knowing it couldn’t have come easy and while they don’t agree with the decision they respect and understand how difficult it must have been.

I care deeply about social mobility and providing opportunities for all regardless of their background. I believe the best way to level up the region and the nation is tackling inequalities in health and education. There is also a real pandemic in regards to mental health, which manifests itself in different ways, from addiction and dependency to self harm and ultimately suicide. Nothing like enough is being done to tackle this growing concern which has only worsened during Covid.

For those stating I have joined an anti-Semitic party, I say I hope my record of work in relation to both the Jewish community in the UK and in regards to Israel shows how seriously I consider this issue.

Having discussed this matter in great depth with Keir Starmer, I truly believe he is committed and dedicated to tackling anti-Semitism throughout society.

If I didn’t believe Keir, I wouldn’t be here. If I thought Keir Starmer’s party was anti-Semitic, I simply wouldn’t have joined. The party I stood against in 2019 has changed, for the better, as I myself have changed, both wanting to tackle the cost of living crisis while the Government isn’t even talking about it.

So while I regret the feelings of anger towards the decision I’ve made, and I don’t expect everyone to agree, I do hope they can understand this decision did not come easily or quickly and I believe it truly is the right one for the people of Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich. I will continue delivering for all and not just the party I represent.