Debate about victims in Westminster Hall
Just before we both resigned from the House of Commons, Tony Lloyd and I launched a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall on behalf of the victims of crime. We believe in getting their voices heard in the criminal justice system and engaging with the actual experience of victims. You can watch the debate here:
Tony is standing as a candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Greater Manchester and this was for both of us our last debate as an MP, and I’m proud that I left having continued my work to give a platform for victims, their experience and their opinions which started when I was involved in setting up the first Victim Support group in Wales. That happened many years ago but the principles and the need for the experience of victims to be at the heart of the criminal justice system is as important as ever.
Today I was invited to the Unison Police and Justice Conference in Cardiff. I addressed the morning rally on the steps of City Hall and then later on spoke at a session with Yvette Cooper and David Hanson. We’ll need to make sure that police staff are properly valued and engaged in the work of the service. Staff still don’t know whether they’ll be employees of the Commissioner or the Chief Constable and Damian Green is refusing to be clear about it yet. So it’s one of many issues with which an incoming Commissioner will have to grapple.
Unison Police and Justice Conference at City Hall in Cardiff
Alun speaking at Unison
Any democracy needs checks and balances to hold the government to account. Those constitutional checks are provided in different ways in different countries.
- America has three pillars of government – Congress, President and Judiciary. Congress passes laws, the President can veto them, his decision can be over-ridden and the Supreme Court interprets these laws.
- In Britain, the Government creates the laws, but they have to be agreed by both Commons and Lords and then “signed off” by the Queen with the Norman-French words “La reine le vault” (“the Queen wills it”).
- In Germany the Bundestag is directly elected but the Bundesrat (second chamber) is made up of representatives of the Lande – the regional governments from every part of the country.
Outside those constitutional structures is the “free press” with the duty of holding them all to account in the public’s interest. It’s because they failed in that duty that we had the Leveson Inquiry. It’s shown that sections of the national Press totally abandoned their responsibilities for a significant period of time. Politicians of all parties also lacked courage and were intimidated by News International – but unless an independent Press is motivated by higher principles than power and profit it has no purpose and no right to be “free”.
Campaigning with Stephen Doughty
Been out campaigning a lot with Stephen Doughty, the Labour candidate to take my former Parliamentary seat for Cardiff South and Penarth! We’ve been getting a great response on the doorsteps and people are up for going out to vote for both of us, even in a cold November! Of course, we couldn’t do it without our wonderful and hard-working Labour volunteers. Here’s us out in Penarth.
Derek Vaughan joined us on the streets to hear what people have to say:
In the past few weeks more people have heard about the Police and Crime Commissioner elections but many are still puzzled by them and don’t understand why the government didn’t do a proper job of enabling all candidates to tell all electors what they stand for so that voters know what the choice is before them.
It’s traditional at this time of year for media commentators to bemoan the death of the old-style party conferences, as if there was a golden era when open and constructive debate was the order of the day, when great speeches were made by great orators and when a single philosophy was shared by everyone and when nobody tried to manage the media coverage. Sorry, there never was such a time.
David Hanson, Alun and Martyn Jones
Conference was great – good to have all the candidates in one place, spending a whole day on policing and crime issues. I received a wonderful endorsement from former Detective Superintendent Martyn Jones – elected as a local councilor in Bettws, Bridgend, in August. He kindly described me as ideal for the job with my experience and understanding of the role.