Boris is playing politics with steel workers' lives, says Port Talbot MP

Sun Tory bungler Boris Johnson has suddenly discovered he cares about British steel. Just as last month he suddenly discovered he was in favour of leaving the EU. This man’s opportunism knows no bounds. Boris was in Wales today, but he didn’t come to Port Talbot – I’d guess the closest the Blonde Opportunist has ever even come to my constituency is a Ken Clarke style drive-by. Continue reading

Steel's not a sunset industry - it's the lynchpin of our economy

New Statesman The British government has been in a state of denial about the steel crisis, ever since David Cameron moved into Downing Street. They have time and time again failed to act. The steelworks at Port Talbot is the beating heart of my constituency, and in my year in Parliament I have seen a government that has a record of warm words accompanied by absolutely no delivery. It has been a litany of failure. In stark contrast to the government, the workforce in Port Talbot has always delivered. They have broken production records, and they make the finest steel that money can buy. And this bias towards quality, consistency and added value that we see in Port Talbot is reflected across the entire British steel industry: our steel produces a trade surplus, its investment in R&D, training of employees and productivity are all higher than the norm in the British economy. It therefore has an impact on the wider economy not only through the supply chain of connected industries, but also in terms of skills, employment and demand. Continue reading

As MP for Port Talbot, I believe Brexit would be disastrous for British steel

Guardian On Tuesday Tata Steel announced its intention to sell the entire Strip Products division of its UK steel business, including the Port Talbot works in my Aberavon constituency. It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Tata Steel announcement, on both local and national levels. Locally, the Port Talbot plant is the beating heart of the community and economy, and nationally steel is a vital foundation industry: it is fundamental to the cars that we drive, the homes in which we live, the offices in which we work, and the bridges that we cross. Just under 11,000 men and women are directly employed by Tata Steel Strip Products division, and once you take supply chains into account that number rises to around 40,000 jobs. So, it’s no exaggeration to say that the decisions that were taken in Mumbai this week were amongst the most important business decisions in our postwar history. Continue reading

Steel 2020

Labour List As we opened our papers this morning or scrolled though the news on our phones we will have been greeted with the latest updates on the civil war taking place within the Conservative Party, made a little more juicy thanks to a certain someone who is most notable for his blonde ambition, along with more about the horror show of another notably coiffured populist from across the Atlantic. In stark contrast to all of that gossip and punditry, something real is happening this week in my constituency. This is the week that the impact of the January announcement of 750 job losses at the Port Talbot steelworks becomes tangible. In a series of meetings this week the men and women who have given years of service to the works will find out if they are amongst those being laid off. Continue reading

Britain in Europe, Europe in Britain: the new patriotism in action

Labour Movement For Europe Labour must not allow the EU referendum to be about deciding whether or not Polish plumbers or Latvian taxi drivers are allowed to claim tax credits. Rather, we must ensure that we make this a referendum about what sort of country we want to live in, and what sort of nation we want the United Kingdom to be. This referendum must be about what it means to be British in the 21st century. And the choice will be clear and stark: are we as a people going to confirm that we are open, confident and happy to embrace and shape the world as it is, or are we going to turn in on ourselves, pull up the drawbridge and sail off into the mid-Atlantic? It is, of course, essential that the ‘Yes’ campaign wins the EU referendum, but the manner of our victory is at least as important as the result. The pro-EU camp must learn the lesson of the Scottish referendum campaign, which in the end delivered a pretty convincing win, but which somehow failed to fire the imagination. Continue reading

Trading For Peace

I contributed a chapter to Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East's Making the progressive case for peace in Palestine and Israel: Labour Party policies to support the rule of law and human rights. My chapter is entitled Trading For Peace and you can read it below. Continue reading

Partners For A New Kind Of Growth

Progress Over the course of the last parliament the Labour party made several attempts to create a new narrative on the economy, and to stimulate a debate around the role of business within that narrative. Phrases such as ‘responsible capitalism’ and ‘pro-business, but not pro-business as usual’ were the watchwords. But they failed to gain traction, and the broad perception across the British electorate on 7 May was that the Labour party was lacking competence on the economy, and was somehow ‘anti-business’. Continue reading

Commons Diary

For the early November edition of the House magazine I wrote my 'Commons Diary' covering Westminster Hall debates on transforming rehabilitation and economic crimes, the trade union lobby of Parliament, the unveiling of a plaque for Aneurin Bevan and meeting three Welsh Regiments.  Continue reading

An economy of purpose and resilience

Until we win the war of ideas, the policies will fail Labour’s recent travails over the fiscal charter were a ‘Groundhog Day’ moment. Back in July we fell right into George Osborne’s traps around the welfare bill; fast-forward three months and there we were again, disappearing down another hole that had been dug by the chancellor, only this time right beneath the fiscal charter. On both occasions Osborne successfully exploited the fact that the Labour party is lacking a cohesive alternative economic strategy, and every day that goes by without clarity offers the chancellor an opportunity to continue to play his games. The debacles of the welfare bill and the fiscal charter have taught us, in no uncertain terms, that cohesion is a pre-condition for credibility. Continue reading

Check The Reality, Re-capture The Essence

IWA On 7 May a sickening feeling spread through the Labour Party. It started with the exit poll and continued through to the early hours of the morning as it became clear that David Cameron was going to command a parliamentary majority. The picture across the UK was mixed: a boost in London but obliterated in Scotland and soundly beaten across most of middle England. The Welsh result was equally as mixed: gains in Cardiff Central but the Vale of Clwyd and the Gower, held by Labour for over 100 years, both lost. Overall the Labour vote went up in Wales but so too did the Plaid, Tory, Green and UKIP vote, and UKIP became the third party in Wales. If in England Labour were too left wing and in Scotland Labour were not left wing enough, then where exactly did we sit in Wales? Continue reading