Well! What a week it’s been. As I write, I’m on my way up to the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno for what should be a brilliant weekend talking to members, sharing ideas and getting our positive message out to as many people as possible.
In what should have been the first week of the short Easter recess, we were back in Parliament trying to avoid a damaging No Deal Brexit. I’m glad that a short extension to Article 50 has now been granted so that we have a little more time to come to a consensus and break the impasse.
Away from Brexit, on Tuesday I spoke out in Parliament over the proposed incineration plant in Llansamlet. I’ve been contacted by lots of local residents who are very concerned about this proposal so I was pleased to have the opportunity to voice these concerns in such a public setting. I’ll be continuing to work with local residents to see if we can find a sensible way forward.
On Thursday, I tackled the government again on problem gambling. The reduced stakes on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) finally came into force on 1st April and yet, scandalously, since then we’ve seen bookmakers try to cheat the system and use ever more exploitative practices. They simply cannot be trusted at their word without tough regulation. I’ll be continuing to call out this appalling behaviour and working to tackle the scourge of problem gambling through my new APPG on Gambling Related Harm.
Also on Thursday, I was pleased to take part in an important debate in Westminster Hall on how we can go about preventing retail crime. I’ve been proud to support Usdaw’s campaign on this issue for a long time. It simply cannot be right that shopkeepers and retail workers are subjected to abuse while doing their jobs. Many of them are low paid and work incredibly long hours and they deserve to be treated with respect. I will continue to support Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear campaign and speak up on behalf of those affected.
Well, as I approach Llandudno, I should probably tell you a little bit about conference!
It’s almost a year since I had the honour of being elected as the first ever Deputy Leader of Welsh Labour. Since then, we’ve had lots of changes in Welsh Labour – with Mark Drakeford taking over as Leader and First Minister from Carwyn Jones and a new Welsh Government being formed. We’ve also just welcomed our latest Welsh Labour MP to Parliament – the wonderful Ruth Jones who replaces our beloved friend and late colleague, Paul Flynn.
At this vitally important time in our politics, when everything seems to be in a state of flux, it’s vital that everyone across the Welsh Labour and trade union family comes together to send out our message loudly and clearly: Welsh Labour is the only party standing up for our communities.
That’s the message I’ll be sending out this weekend. I hope you can all join me.