It seems like I have to describe nearly every week in politics at the moment as either “unprecedented” or “extraordinary” but this week certainly has been. The highest court in the land – the Supreme Court – unanimously found this week that Boris Johnson unlawfully shut down our Parliament to prevent us from carrying out our duty as MPs in holding the government to account. At one of the most crucial moments in our country’s history, the Prime Minister tried to silence MPs like me and prevent us from speaking out on behalf of our constituents. Quite simply, the only honourable thing for Boris Johnson to have done following this landmark ruling would have been to resign. But what did we get instead? More bluff and bluster and a sharpening of political rhetoric which has divided our politics and our country to a new extreme. This week Boris Johnson has proven that if there were any doubt left, he is completely unfit to be our Prime Minister and Welsh Labour are ready to take him to task at the ballot box at a General Election, as soon as we can be sure he won’t be able to railroad through his reckless No Deal Brexit. Until then, I’ll be working hard alongside my colleagues to ensure he respects the rule of law and stops undermining our democracy.
Of course, my week started very differently down in Brighton for the Labour Party’s annual conference. It was fantastic to meet up with so many Welsh Labour members, trade unionists and others from right across our movement as we seek to prepare for that crucial General Election. I was also delighted to catch up with some of the 1950s-born women who still haven’t had the justice they deserve after the UK Government made changes to their state pension age without informing them.
During conference, I was really pleased to chair the Postcode Lottery’s fringe event where we discussed charity lottery reform and the importance of their investment in our local communities in Swansea East. The government is dragging its heels on the implementation of legal changes which will allow more charities to benefit from a rise in the charity lottery sales limit from £10 million to £50 million, and we want to see this change implemented quickly. I also sat on the panel for the Making Gambling Pay: The Case for Progressive Regulation discussion, where we exchanged gambling reform strategies that would see the definition of gambling changed so that we can better regulate practices, particularly those relating to online gaming. It was then eyes down in the evening, where I enjoyed bingo calling for the brilliant team at the Bingo Association.
On Tuesday, before I even knew about the Supreme Court ruling, I had a full day of Parliamentary meetings planned back in Westminster. Many constituents will be aware about my successful campaign to secure a Children’s Funeral Fund for bereaved parents across the UK. While the fund finally opened in England on 23rd July this year, I’ve been working hard to ensure families in Northern Ireland can also draw on such a fund. While many local authorities have extended their provision, the lack of a functioning Executive and Assembly in Stormont means that a full fund is not yet up and running. It was great to have the opportunity to meet with Northern Ireland Minister, Robin Walker MP, to discuss how we can put this provision in place and ensure that all families across our United Kingdom have the time they need to grieve, rather than further cause of distress, at one of the most difficult times in their lives. I look forward to taking this work forwards once again now Parliament has returned.
The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill is now returning to Parliament for its second reading next Wednesday. The fact that this crucial Bill is being brought back before MPs is welcome but yet again the victims and survivors of domestic abuse have had to deal with another unnecessary delay because of the government’s Parliamentary game playing. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was disgusted by the Attorney General’s language this week, who used the phrase “when did you stop beating your wife?” as an analogy when responding to questions on the legal advice he gave on the prorogation. He may have given a half-hearted apology but this language is deeply offensive and does nothing to challenge the assertion that parts of this government are simply not serious about tackling domestic abuse. That said, I look forward to working with colleagues on a cross-party basis to ensure we get this important legislation through the House as quickly as possible and in a way that really delivers the change we need to help rid our society of domestic abuse once and for all.
It’s set to be a very wet weekend, with some treacherous weather conditions on the horizon. Please do take care if you’re travelling and look out for the Met Office’s weather warnings. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.