Column 2nd June 2017

Earlier this week the funeral ceremony for our former First Minister Rhodri Morgan took place at the Senedd. Rhodri was a loved political figure who steadied the devolution ship after a very shaky start. His impact on Wales has been immense. He had a giant intellect but hid it with a common touch which made him seem familiar and approachable to all. Rhodri provided Wales with a unique Welsh Labour brand which underlined the necessity for government to step in when there was a need. He loved Wales and I think it is a fitting tribute to him, his wife Julie and their family that the Senedd opened its doors to them, and to those wishing to pay their respects, during the Assembly’s half-term.

Still fresh in our minds are the truly devastating events in Manchester. My thoughts and prayers remain with those killed and injured in this horrific attack and their families. It is hard to understand what motivates those behind such wicked acts. Those who commit acts of terror against us cannot win. I would like to thank and commend the police, the security services and all those who are keeping us safe.

As many have said, to defeat those who commit these atrocities we need to carry on with our daily lives. After a halt to our election campaigning to pause and remember those taken from us well before their time, we look ahead again to 8 June. Our vote in the General Election will take us forward as a nation and will shape the way for Wales and the UK following the decision to leave the EU a year ago.

To mark the occasion, on Saturday 24 June I am hosting “Brexit – a year on” in Hay-on-Wye, which has a reputation as a platform for critical and profound thinking. The conference is open to the public with a stellar line-up. Sir Kier Starmer, Labour’s Spokesperson for Brexit will be the keynote speaker, along with former Vice President of the European Commission Neil Kinnock, Lord John Kerr the Former Head of the Foreign Office and author of Article 50, and Mark Drakeford the Finance Minister for Wales. I am delighted that so many senior politicians will be coming to talk on this important matter which will have a huge impact on the future of Wales. 

The General Election next week is the moment when we all decide the leap of faith we’ll be taking. Politically speaking, but also speaking from the heart, in my view the biggest threat to Wales is a Tory Government followed by a Hard Brexit led by Theresa May. A Labour Government on the other hand will negotiate a Brexit deal that puts our economy and living standards first. A jobs-first Brexit that allows us to upgrade our economy for the 21st century. Please vote Labour on Thursday 8 June.