Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
The disappointing results for Labour in England last week tell us that there is still a way to go to win back the trust of voters who left us in 2019.
The challenge now is to learn lessons from those losses and also build on the successes we saw.
Here in Wales, Labour performed better than had been forecasted and Alun Davies was returned as MS for Blaenau Gwent with a 6,638 majority – a fantastic result.
There were also great results for Labour’s Metro Mayors and the party is gaining ground in Scotland under Anas Sarwar.
These results are a big positive for Labour and can serve as motivation for the future.
I wrote a piece for the Labour List website about my experience on the doorstep during this election – a markedly more positive one than in 2019.
As I said there, I believe that our messaging is starting to cut through and voters are warming up, but these are unusual times and old bruises are still showing.
We have work to do, so let’s get on with it.
This Queen’s Speech left a lot to be desired, falling short in many important areas.
There were no new measures announced to deal with creating jobs and tackling unemployment beyond the failing Kickstart scheme.
Labour has already put forward an alternative Jobs Promise plan which guarantees education, training or employment for any 16-24 year olds away from work or training for more than 12 months.
The need to strengthen employment rights also went unaddressed, with the Prime Minister scrapping the Employment Bill promised in 2019 and failing to mention the appalling ‘fire and rehire’ tactics that have become increasingly widespread during the pandemic – an unscrupulous practice which should be outlawed.
The government also once again failed to turn talk into action on climate change, with nothing to support growing green industries or new green jobs.
It isn’t just what was missing from the Speech, there should also be grave concerns around what was included.
The Speech contained a string of anti-democratic measures, attacking the right to protest and the right to vote.
The Government’s pointless Voter ID plans will shut out millions of people who do not have photo ID – in particular the elderly, low income and ethnic minority voters – and cost the taxpayer £20m every election.
Voter fraud is not an issue in the UK.
This is a time when Ministers should be reaffirming confidence in our elections, not using unfounded scare stories to drum up distrust.
Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme
Last December I signed a letter alongside my fellow Labour coalfield MPs to call for an inquiry into the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, something that is long overdue.
Thankfully the call was heeded and an inquiry finally took place last month.
I presented evidence to the inquiry setting out a case for former colliers to be given a bigger split of the pot and also for an uplift to be put in place so that pensioners would benefit immediately.
I am glad to say that both of these have also been recommended in the inquiries conclusions, which also spells out in the strongest possible terms what many of us have been saying for years now – that there is no way to justify the Government receiving more than £4bn from the scheme while the average Scheme member gets by on just £84 a week and that it is time to put things right.
We all know how dangerous and difficult minework was. Our former miners deserve a fair deal and financial security.
There is still work to be done to ensure that the committee’s findings are accepted and put into action. This is a great first step, but the fight will continue until miners get what they deserve.
I am still trying to get to the bottom of Liberty Steel’s financial relationship with Greensill Capital on behalf of constituents who work for the company.
The issue has become bogged down by yet more Tory cronyism accusations and dodgy lobbying practices.
I put a question to Michael Gove about his involvement with former Prime Minister David Cameron around this issue and received a belated reply from the Cabinet Office which deftly dodged providing a direct answer by telling me that the upcoming Boardman review will provide the answers.
The Conservatives voted down Labour’s call for an independent inquiry in favour of one conducted by Nigel Boardman who – as Rachel Reeves MP told Parliament – is “a very good friend of the Conservative government.”
I wonder what his conclusions might be?
This government and the Prime Minister remain more interested in helping out their pals and covering their tracks than protecting the jobs which are still at risk at Liberty Steel.
We must do everything we can to protect the steel industry and jobs at Liberty while continuing to hold this Government to account for its sleazy dealings.
I recently put a question to the Treasury Secretary about ensuring that the UK Government follows through on promises to help areas like Blaenau Gwent to ‘level-up’.
This is something I am very concerned about, given this Conservative government’s terrible record on providing Wales with a fair share.
Despite promising that Wales will not lose out when EU Structural Funds come to an end, the Community Renewal and Levelling Up funds will provide only a fraction of that funding.
These Funds will involve UK Government departments – with no history of delivering projects within Wales – taking decisions in devolved areas.
This is not right.
Point of Order: Liberty Steel
Levelling-up fund 1
Levelling-up fund 2
Written contributions / video / social media links
Dog’s Trust campaign
Health Board update
Kickstart Scheme failure
Point of Order – Liberty Steel
Vaccine newsletter 2
Health Board update
Covid memorial wall
International Workers Memorial Day
Mineworkers Pension Scheme inquiry
Vaccine newsletter 3