The Prime Minister’s first King’s Speech was a concentrated version of where the Tory party stands today.
This is a party that has given up on governing and is doing whatever it takes to try to cling on to power
We heard more division and the same old repackaged ideas. Lots of posturing and cheap political point scoring, nothing in the way of policies to help families still paying the price for last year’s disastrous mini-budget and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
We heard about energy policy that won’t bring down the bills, but rather sees billions of taxpayer subsidies going to the oil and gas companies making record profits.
We heard nothing that will undo the 13 years of damage done to our depleted public services.
It is laughable to hear the Prime Minister suggest that his party is capable of bringing about the changes the UK needs.
Labour has a plan. We have our five-point mission for national renewal.
We have our commitments to banning zero hours contracts, ending fire and rehire, and giving the regulator the power to block water bosses’ bonuses.
The Tory party has decimated people’s faith in politics. Labour will rebuild it.
One announcement I do agree with are plans to phase out smoking, something that would do wonders for public health in the future. I am glad that there is also a Welsh Government strategy in place aimed at creating a smoke-free Wales by 2030.
Not only would I like to see legislation aimed at creating a smoke-free generation, but we must also clamp down on the vaping industry’s targeting of children and young people through colourful packaging and inviting flavours.
What started as a means to help adults quit smoking has actually turned into a way that young people are getting hooked on nicotine. This needs to be addressed urgently before it creates a big problem for younger generations.
Israel and Gaza
Like all of you, I am extremely concerned about the situation in Israel and Gaza.
On October 7, Israel was the victim of terrorism on an unimaginable scale at the hands of Hamas. Civilians kidnapped from their homes. Innocent Jews slaughtered in the streets.
In Gaza, people are facing a humanitarian crisis. They are dying, forced to flee their homes, clean water is running out and hospitals are barely able to function.
I believe that Israel has the right to defend itself and to protect its people. But this must be conducted within international law.
I was in the Chamber to hear Keir Starmer say: “We democracies know that all human life is equal. Innocent lives must be protected. These are the principles that differentiate us from the terrorists who target Israel.” This is right.
Hamas is not the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian people are not Hamas. I am deeply concerned at the scale of civilian casualties. We cannot turn away from the suffering of those in Gaza.
We all want an end to the conflict, but a ceasefire is only possible if both sides come to an agreement. It is difficult at this moment whilst Hamas repeats its intentions to carry out similar attacks and refuses to release Israeli hostages.
There is, however, an urgent need to get aid and essential utilities to Palestinian civilians.
I believe the most credible means of alleviating Palestinian suffering at this time is a full and immediate humanitarian pause in fighting to allow food, water, electricity and medicines in and out, and to allow those escaping violence to flee safely. There must also be proper protection for those delivering aid. Civilians must not be targeted. Innocent lives must be protected.
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy MP has written to the foreign secretary this week to urge the UK Government to condemn acts of violence and extremism by Israeli settlers in the West Bank. He has called on Israeli authorities to prevent settler violence and condemn extremist rhetoric.
As David says in his letter, we must look to “long-term negotiations towards a political settlement and a two-state solution” adding that this is “the only means that will guarantee safety and security for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
I agree. We must make serious, substantive efforts to forge a political path to a two-state solution and a better future for Israel and Palestine.
A future where Israelis live free from the fear of terrorism and a future for Palestinians where they, and their children, can enjoy the freedoms that we take for granted.
I spoke in the House this week about the latest news from British Steel, asking the Minister if she agreed that this signals a giving up of the UK’s capability to produce primary steel.
I have spoken about my support for steelworkers and the steel industry, many, many times in Parliament, from calling for a more self-sufficient steel industry, to backing calls for UK steel to be used in defence projects and spearheading the campaign to support steelworkers targeted by pension sharks.
The transition to green steel should be an optimistic time for steelworkers, with new jobs and new opportunities. Closing down blast furnaces and cutting jobs is not the right way forward.
We all want to transition to a greener future but importing from countries with higher carbon emissions is not progress.
This plan will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs, it also undermines any rhetoric around “levelling up”, delivers a blow to not only the self-sufficiency of our steel industry but also our defence capabilities. This is the wrong deal for steel.
Last weekend I made the annual trek to commemorate the crew of the Wellington bomber T2520, which crashed on the mountain over Trefil in December 1940.
It was a wet and windy walk and the heavens opened as we paid tribute to the six brave young men who lost their lives but, as always, it was worthwhile to be able to pay my respects and lay a House of Commons wreath.
Cllr Alyson Tippings led the way, laying a wreath on behalf of Tredegar Town Council.
I also had the pleasure of lending a hand at the Royal British Legion stall at Ebbw Vale Tesco and also plant a remembrance tribute on behalf of Blaenau Gwent in the Constituency Garden of Remembrance in Parliament.
This weekend I will be joining in the services in Tredegar on Saturday, and then Ebbw Vale and Nantyglo and Blaina on Sunday.
For a full list of services taking place across Blaenau Gwent, take a look here.
I spoke in a debate highlighting World Menopause Awareness Month to underline how extra support to help GPs better recognise the wide-ranging symptoms of the menopause could help many women across the UK.
I asked the Minister what the government was doing to support training and development for GPs to improve the advice and help available.
I’m glad that this matter is finally getting the attention it deserves, not in the least down to the hard work and campaigning by my colleague and friend Carolyn Harris MP.
It is not right that nearly 900,000 women have left their jobs because of a lack of support around the menopause. It is not right that just 20% of menopausal women say they have had a positive experience of visiting the GP with symptoms.
As I mentioned in a speech I gave in Parliament previously, something has to change.
It was great to pop in and take a look around the Roy Francis exhibition at Brynmawr Museum, supporting the recent unveiling of the Roy Francis statue in the town centre.
I spoke about Roy in Parliament a few years ago during a debate on Historical Discrimination in Sport.
His statue is a great addition to the town, remembering a sporting pioneer. Well done to all involved.
My next advice surgery will be held at Abertillery Library on Friday, November 24th (4pm-5pm) and I will be joined by Cllr Keith Chaplin and Cllr Ross Leadbeater.
Please come along if you want to speak about anything we may be able to help with.