Welcome back to my monthly newsletter!
Mark Drakeford stands down
I want to begin by paying tribute to our First Minister, Mark Drakeford, who announced that he will be standing down in March. Mark has been a tireless public servant, who has served with great distinction as First Minister for the past 5 years. The Welsh Government led by Mark has delivered relentlessly to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in Wales, and for that he has my utmost respect and admiration. I can safely say that his speech to the Welsh Labour conference earlier last year was one for the ages and a real inspiration.
An estimated £7.2bn was lost in fraud from Covid support schemes from business loans and grants, furlough and ‘eat out to help out’, yet again showing the cost to the taxpayer of this incompetent Tory Government. If that was not enough, the Government suspended its usual procurement processes and introduced a highly secretive VIP “fast lane” for procurement of goods including protective equipment. The result was that it then had to write off £8.7bn that it had spent on defective and overpriced PPE. The extent to which cronyism had infiltrated the core administration of Government was truly shocking. I was therefore heartened to see Rachel Reeves reaffirm her commitment to appointing a Covid corruption commissioner and giving a mandate to do what it takes to chase down those who have ripped off the taxpayer and claw back every penny that we can.
It was a great pleasure to meet with Barry John and get a tour of the VC Gallery in Pembroke Dock. Barry and his team do such important work in tackling social isolation, building community cohesion, and encouraging self-expression for veterans and those in the community. There was plenty of excitement over the festive season – attending the Milford Haven lantern parade, the Pembroke Christmas fayre, buying a Christmas tree from Pembrokeshire Christmas Trees and subbing in for Jo as quiz master at the Neyland branch monthly quiz! As always, the Neyland branch was raising money for a local charity at its quiz, and it was very powerful to hear from Forget Me Knot Pembrokeshire about all the work they do supporting those living with dementia in Pembrokeshire.
As ever, we have been out across Pembrokeshire knocking on doors. People are crying out for change, and we must do everything we can between now and polling day to convince them that Labour can deliver that change. A big thank you to all those who joined us out on the doorstep – with the winter solstice behind us we can look forward to some longer days!
Our campaign office is now ready to go, so please drop by and visit us for a cup of tea at Bridge House, Swansquare, Haverfordwest, SA61 2AN. It is looking a bit austere, so any help with interior decorations would be greatly appreciated.
The phone banking team is back up and running and our team leader, John Bramley, is keen for volunteers so please let him know if you have an hour or so spare to make some phone calls. Our digital team is also operational, so please contact Jo Ambrose to get involved with the campaign online. Ben Levy will pass you on if you contact him on 07596 596351 or email email@example.com.
Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to Dan Warder and the team at Top Joes pizza for hosting a brilliant evening at the beginning of December. We were very lucky to be joined by Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff Central and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, who was out with us on the doorstep in Narberth that afternoon and then delivered a rousing speech. Thank you also to both Pratibha Kanse and Kirsty Jones who have both become incredibly effective organisers of these fundraising events. Please keep an eye out for future dates.
As always, thank you for your support!
Very best wishes,
Parliamentary Candidate for Mid & South Pembrokeshire