Just when we thought there couldn’t be any more dramatic news in Westminster or the world – the Prime Minister Theresa May has called a UK General Election for Thursday June 8 – in a massive u-turn on her previous and repeatedly-stated position. I had long suspected that she might not be being truthful with the country, and while she claims she wants to unite the country – all the evidence so far – whether on Brexit, austerity or the unity of our country – suggests the complete opposite.
We were already in election mode here in Wales with local elections for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils, and Penarth Town, Llandough Community, and Sully and Lavernock Community Councils too on Thursday 4 May. And as a local Welsh Labour team we are always out speaking to residents and holding our regular surgeries.
In the General Election, I will be proud to stand on my record as Welsh Labour and Co-operative MP for Cardiff South and Penarth – this incredibly diverse and wonderful constituency I have been proud to represent since 2012 – and hope to be able to continue fighting for everyone who lives here, for the issues that matter to Cardiff, Penarth and Vale residents.
My team and I have helped thousands of constituents over the past five years, and I have worked to support our vibrant local businesses, our local voluntary organisations, our pensioners and veterans, and have worked alongside the police to keep the constituency a safe and secure place to live.
The country and world are facing huge challenges, and we must not allow the creation of more division. The politics of fear must not be allowed to win. Theresa May talks about divisions in the country and Westminster – but I am sorry to say that this is exactly what she and her party have created. I fear this election is merely an attempt to move politics even further to the right in order to justify a hard and reckless approach to Brexit, which I have strongly opposed and will continue to fight against – in line with the wishes of my constituents.
But this election is about so many other things too – for example how the Tories continue to prioritise those at the top with tax cuts, leaving working families and the most vulnerable worse off, how they were prepared to hit the self-employed with tax increases, how they have failed women pensioners, and how they have abandoned the fight against climate change.
And I am proud to be part of a distinct Welsh Labour Party that is standing up for a fair deal for Wales.
Here in Wales, Welsh Labour has been able to mitigate some of the damage being done by the Tories in Westminster – with major investment in our local NHS services and staff and mental health services (no doctors on strike here), and in our local schools; building new homes; increased support for small businesses; investment in schemes that support young people into employment and help others who have been out of work longer-term; commitment to apprenticeships; more support for homeless people; putting money into PCSOs to lessen the blow of Tory police cuts; and promoting Wales as a great place to do business and invest despite the challenges posed by Brexit. That’s the Welsh Labour difference.
So I am proud to echo the comments by Welsh Labour’s First Minister Carwyn Jones, who this week said: “We won last year’s Assembly election based on our strong record of leadership and delivery. We will enter the General Election campaign with a distinctive and innovative offer for the people of Wales.”
With six weeks to go until a General Election, and just two weeks until the Local Elections – I look forward to meeting as many Cardiff South and Penarth residents as I can on the doorstep!