My article for Walsall Advertiser – 29 June 2017

Much has happened since I last wrote this column in April with our country suffering murderous terrorist attacks, and last week the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. We witnessed exemplary responses from our emergency services, local communities and those caught up in these events. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those bereaved and those recovering from physical and psychological injuries.

It is not ‘playing politics’ to point out the observation that if huge cuts are made to the budgets of public services such as the police and fire service, and to local council finances then there will be consequences for us and our communities. Following cuts of 20,000 police officers since 2010, which included a cut of more than 1,000 armed police it is not surprising that our country is a less safe place. Crime in the West Midlands and nationally has been rising.

Without prejudicing any enquiry, it seems that cost cutting at the expense of safety measures has resulted in the appalling tragedy of the inferno at Grenfell Tower. Regulation and safety standards need to be given proper respect in all aspects of society. We can see where it will lead us if the ‘health & safety gone mad’ and ‘cutting red tape’ opinions have their way.

Already, the General Election seems a while ago. I want to thank those of you who voted for me and re-elected me as MP for Walsall South. And to thank those of you who may not have voted for me but took part in the democratic process. Many more people voted in this election than in 2015. Thank you to all those who supported me and worked so hard to achieve a result which included an increased majority and a swing to Labour in Walsall South.

In any general election there are always more losers than winners, and I wish to pay tribute to my former parliamentary and Labour Party colleague David Winnick who was the Member of Parliament for Walsall North for 38 years. David served the residents of Walsall North with diligence and was a feisty speaker on their behalf in the House of Commons.
Last week saw the opening of parliament and a return to my duties as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. A sparse Queen’s Speech offers little respite from Tory austerity. Labour, on the other hand, is a government in waiting with a positive and hopeful vision for our country.