Showing posts from December, 2015

Proof of the pudding is in the eating

This column was published on the Llanelli Star on 23rd December 2015 Today is my son’s 11th birthday. It is a rotten time for a party, but that was the least of our concerns. After a stressful pregnancy we were just relieved to have him delivered. I have lots of memories of that day, but perhaps the strongest is of standing in the maternity ward. I remember seeing all these new born babies, and realising that as unique as my son was to me, the newborns dotted around the room were almost identical - but what was radically different was their life chances. It was a strong impression that came to me again when I became Chair of Governors of a Primary school. By the time children have reached 4 their paths in life are often set. Teachers know at that age which ones are most likely to end up in a cycle of poverty. That’s wrong. And to me the purpose of Government - The State - is to intervene to disrupt that path: To allow every child to be able to fulfill their potential.

A time for reflection

This column was published in the  Llanelli Herald  on 18 December  Christmas is a time for reflection. And for me, a much needed time to try and switch off and enjoy time with my family. The last few months have been relentless. As well as doing a full time (and full-on job) I’ve run for selection as Labour’s candidate for next May’s Assembly election, and since late September have thrown myself into campaigning. Although I’ve been involved in politics at a number of levels over many years I’ve never been a candidate before. Having worked for a Cabinet Minister, and then covered politics as a Political Correspondent for ITV Wales, there’s not much about political life that surprises me. But being a candidate is different. It is weird seeing your face on leaflets, not to mention knocking on the doors of strangers on Saturday morning’s - interrupting the flow of their lives, unconnected with party politics - to ask them for their support. I’m adjusting to it all pretty qui

Wales can do better

This column was published on the Llanelli Star on 16th December 2015 Wales can do better. That’s my simple motivation for getting into politics. I am a passionate supporter of devolution and I played a leading role in the last referendum as Vice-Chair of the cross-party Yes for Wales campaign. But do I believe devolution has achieved all I hoped it would? No, I don’t. Devolution has not yet achieved its potential. There’s no reason why Wales can’t close the wealth gap with England, or lead the way in education. But there’s no point kidding ourselves, after 100 years of economic decline it's not going to be easy or quick; but we can do better. We need ambition, and we need to always push ourselves to do more. We need to encourage everyone in Wales to point out areas where we can improve.  I think criticism is a very healthy and helpful force for change. For my part, I won’t hesitate to point out where I think the Welsh Government can do better. But rather than cu

Finishing Thatcher's work - what power reveals

This column was published in the  Llanelli Herald  on 11 December  The Assembly’s budget is 11% lower than it was when the Tories came to power in 2010.  These cuts are all part of the Tory plan to slash the size of Government in order to give tax cuts to the richest, and finish what Margaret Thatcher started.  The Welsh Government is powerless to resist these cuts as the amount of money it gets to spend is decided by the Chancellor.  But what we can do is to try and ensure that we manage the cuts to protect the services that people rely on the most. The message I’ve been relaying to Labour Ministers in Cardiff is that the people of Llanelli want the NHS and schools to be spared from the impact of the Tory cuts as much as possible. And they’ve listened. Carwyn Jones has set aside an extra £300 million for the NHS in Wales. That means that the health service is now funded at a record level in Wales. We have made a choice to spend more per head on health than in England and

Our best bet is to grow the firms we’ve got

This column was published in the  Llanelli Herald  on December 4th 2015 Fresh thinking needed to help small firms  Tomorrow, Saturday December 5th, is Small Business Saturday It’s a UK-wide initiative to highlight small business success, and to encourage people to ‘shop local’. Supporting small businesses is one of the reasons why I’m petitioning Plaid run Carmarthenshire Council to drop their plan to increase the number of chains stores at Parc Trostre, which small traders in Llanelli town centre fear may be the last straw for the market. I warmly welcome the creation of a task force for the town centre, and I support the Business Improvement District plan that Llanelli small businesses are organising themselves to pool their resources to improve the shopping experience in town. But all this good work will be undermined by allowing Trostre to grow.  Plaid were full of talk in the run up to the General Election of ‘saving the town’ and of delivering free car park