- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Feature, Media
Donald Rumsfeld is not someone I would ordinarily quote but these are extraordinary times. During the Assembly’s Brexit debate on Tuesday I invoked his infamous ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ to describe the present situation. We know the next few days and weeks are critical but the political and constitutional permutations are unknown. So now more than ever politicians must be honest about what they think is right. That is why I voted across Party lines to support the call for a people’s vote on the final agreement between the UK and EU, including an option for the UK to remain a member state of the European Union. The 2016 Referendum signposted the country to this junction. We have reached an impasse. Let the people decide which way we turn.
Next Monday signals the end of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. For the past few years I have teamed up with the Women’s Institute to promote the White Ribbon Campaign, which asks men to take a stand against abuse. In April, Hollie Kerrell, a mum-of-three from Knighton, was murdered by her husband. Every week in England and Wales, two women are killed by a man they know. Thousands more – 1 in 4 – will experience violence at the hands of a partner. Another politician said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Today we need good men to do something to end the cycle of violence. For Hollie it is too late. For her sake let’s pledge to live up to the White Ribbon promise to never commit, condone or remain silent about abuse.
“A social calamity and an economic disaster”. No, not Brexit – the impact of nearly a decade of austerity, according to a United Nations report. The report concludes that Conservative UK governments have ‘inflicted great misery’ on the British people, with ‘punitive’, ‘mean-spirited’ and ‘callous’ austerity policies. Labour Welsh governments has acted to soften the blow. Unlike England, we continue to provide emergency hardship relief, for example. And our comprehensive childcare offer and school holiday lunch clubs are good examples of government intervention at its progressive–socialist best. But we can’t hold back the tide. Policies like Universal Credit are pushing more and more people into debt and poverty, fuelling the foodbank explosion. At the same time, a quarter of working people now slog away in below–minimum–wage employment. The Tories used to say, ‘on your bike’. Tell that to the courier who can’t pay this month’s rent.
Wales will soon have a new First Minister. Carwyn Jones took the helm in the wake of the global financial crash. In choppy waters, he has kept a reassuringly steady hand on the tiller. He will be missed.