THIS week marks the 10th anniversary of my election as Wyre Forest’s MP, and of a new government after 13 years of a Labour administration.

Who could possibly have predicted what would have unfolded over the following decade?

This week, under the five-year cycle, should have seen a general election – one that might have heralded my third term as your MP.

Instead, we are now in my fifth term as Wyre Forest’s MP, on our third prime minister, out of the EU, and locked down under a global viral pandemic. I didn’t see any of that coming.

Politics has been astonishing. The once hugely influential Liberal Democrats are a diminished force, replaced as the third party by Scottish Nationalists.

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, for a year or two, became a significant player in the power of the government.

Labour has tacked far left but are trying to get back to the centre again.

And the Conservatives, in their fourth election in power, secured an astonishing victory when history suggests this is all but impossible for a sitting government.

I suspect the overall narrative of the last 10 years will be one of austerity and Brexit. Of course, austerity was first introduced by the Labour chancellor Alistair Darling as the only response to the catastrophic position of our public finances after the financial crisis.

He recognised, back in 2009, that borrowing £1 for every £4 the government spends is simply unsustainable. He was right. But austerity – or to put it a better way: fiscal prudence – is important.

Not only should we try to avoid loading the next generation with huge public borrowing, it is only because of managing our public finances that we can offer the unprecedented support to the economy and the NHS, needed because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Had this crisis happened in 2010, a similar response would have bankrupted the government, or the response would have been necessarily weaker.

But what for the next decade? Will the lockdown have a permanent effect on our economy? Will we see a new, societal approach to the work/life balance? Will we, as I hope, look to be a kinder, less competitive society that casts more than a glancing eye to our environment?

Who knows, and it is a fool’s errand to try to guess. But coronavirus will act as a catalyst for some serious reflection.