I started the week in Parliament listening to Gordon Brown speaking at a Hope Not Hate event about the future of the Union. As always, Gordon spoke expertly, knowledgeably and passionately about the future of the UK and the importance of keeping Scotland with us. He’s a remarkable public speaker, and one of the biggest advocates of Scotland’s place in the Union – even 10 years on from leaving office as Prime Minister he’s still playing a hugely important role in keeping the UK together.
He spoke about the aggressive nationalism sweeping across countries like Hungary and Italy, inventing enemies where none exist. Economic insecurity and anti-politics sentiment is the driving force behind the populist nationalist movement with people like Steve Bannon, from Trump’s favourite peddlers of hate, Breitbart, fuelling this.
Gordon set out a compelling argument about how we need to make a positive case for the Union, giving both resources and voice to all the nations and regions and suggesting using Citizens Assemblies to develop ideas and policy. They have been used very effectively in Ireland.
He set out the case for a Constitutional Convention and reform of the House of Lords.
One piece of evidence really leapt out for me. In December’s general election, the SNP got 45% of the vote In Scotland – exactly the same percentage who voted for independence in the Scottish referendum.
We need empathy not enmity, cooperation not conflict and reciprocity and solidarity between each part of the UK.
Lots of food for thought!
On Tuesday I spoke in a parliamentary debate about the contribution of music to our economy and society, an issue that I’m particularly passionate about. In my speech, I recognised the role of volunteers and music teachers alike, spoke up about the fights to save independent live music venues in Cardiff like 10 Feet Tall and Gwdihw, and asked the Government Minister about the implementation of the recommendations we made in our report into live music on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
On Thursday the FA Cup came to Cardiff! Sadly, not because City won it this year (yet), but it was on show in one of Cardiff Central’s most popular independent businesses, the Grazing Shed in the City Centre. Being able to see the famous trophy up close, with all its history, was a real experience, and hopefully I won’t be the only Bluebird pictured holding it this year.
Elsewhere on Thursday, we had notification that the European Union Withdrawal Bill had received Royal Assent, and despite being refused legislative consent by the devolved Parliaments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, it was now law. We will now be leaving the European Union on the 31st January. I remain resolutely if the view that this is the worst political decision in my lifetime.
My attention and that of my Labour colleagues now turns to fiercely scrutinising whatever deal Boris Johnson reaches with the Europe Union and trying to mitigate the damage for Wales and the UK after we leave the European Union.
On Friday I had a busy day of constituency meetings and my advice surgery at Adamsdown Day Centre, followed by a very useful meeting with NUS Wales, where we discussed a raft of issues facing students in Wales – including the future of Erasmus+, fees for students from Europe and voter registration.
I also have two advice surgeries tomorrow morning, you can see me between 10am and 11am at Penylan Library with our team of Plasnewydd Labour Councillors, or between 11am and 12 noon at Cathays Library with our team of Cathays Labour Councillors.