Alun Michael MP: “Ed Miliband has made a very assured and confident start as Leader of the Labour Party.”

Alun Michael with Ed Miliband

Writing exclusively for Cardiff East Alun Michael MP reflects on a momentous week for the Labour Party.

Ed Miliband has made a very assured and confident start as Leader of the Labour Party.

  • His first task was to reach out beyond those who supported him in the leadership election, and to unite the party and he’s done that.
  • His second task was to mark out the nature of his leadership and bring a freshness to the role of Leader, and he’s made a good start on that.
  • His third task was to reach out to the electorate beyond the party and to persuade the public that this is a fresh start.  Again, he’s made a good start, stressing that we know where we went wrong, and that his leadership will be different – but also making it clear that his leadership will be based on Labour’s true values and that he’s determined to build on our successes.

Alun Michael & Ed Miliband in Manchester Cathedral

All of that is important.

Frankly, we know why things went wrong during Gordon Brown’s period – but we also know that Gordon’s leadership, nationally and internationally, is what stopped the world collapse in financial systems being even worse.  We are rightly proud of the way he massively increased our contribution to tackling world poverty.  But the leadership became isolated and there was a failure to listen to us on such issues as the 10p tax rate.  That’s why it is so important that on Day One Ed made it clear that he will listen to the whole team of Labour MPs – and regard us all as “his team”.

He’s also promised to take up the community engagement initiative that his brother David launched earlier this year and that means that the Party will become much more inclusive and outward-looking – welcoming in activists and people from every aspect of community life.

At the Labour Party Conference, there was a sense of a Party that is chastened by what went wrong, but is buzzing with ideas and initiatives and good ideas for the future – and determined to win support for a constructive approach to the future.  We’ve been honest about being defeated – but we are neither defeatist nor divided, so that the Party is clearly ready to accept responsibility and to take up leadership once more.

Personally, I feel angry that David Cameron’s first action was to slash support for unemployed young people.  I entered national politics after working with unemployed young people and seeing the misery and hopelessness that ruined the lives of a generation of young people as a direct result of Margaret Thatcher’s policies.

Alun Michael & Ed Miliband

What makes it worse is that David Cameron seems to have learned nothing from that era.  The economic writing on the wall is clear and stark …

  • A few weeks ago, we were told that the figures for the first few months of this year were better than expected, largely because the construction industry was recovering.  Why ? Because the Labour Government pulled investment forward to give that industry an injection of work and cash to stop companies going bust due to the standstill in private sector activity.
  • Then we were told that many companies are cutting recruitment because they can see the unavoidable impact for them of the massive Tory-Lib-Dem cuts in public investment. So the Government has engineered a slowdown at just the moment when they need to be giving a boost to confidence in the private sector.
  • And because the new government is going further and faster than Margaret Thatcher’s government dared to do the spectre of double-dip recession and economic failure is staring us in the face.

The damage will be enormous, and the task of reconstruction may well be as great as that which faced us in 1997.  But we have shown we can do it – and this time we can avoid some of the disengagement that happened as time went on.  In other words, we can be just as competent on the economy, create the conditions for further investment in the things that matter, and at the same time be a more friendly, human and humane administration.  And Ed Miliband gets it – he understands the need to do just that. He’s made a good start in settling the Labour Party down and preparing for action.

Am I disappointed that David Miliband has decided not to join the Shadow Cabinet ?  Yes.  I voted for him as Leader because believe he has enormous talent, intellect and integrity.  His inclusion in the short term would make Ed’s team even stronger.  But he may be wise to take some time out, taking time to think and reflect and experiment with new ideas. I found my year on the back benches in 2000 – 2001 gave me some space to do just that, as has the period since I stopped being a Minister in 2006.  I’m convinced that David will then come back stronger than ever – and that he will be a towering force in British politics for many years to come.  Being the Leader is only one role and there’s a need for strong personalities around the Leader.  Ed Balls, Harriet Harman, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and many others are there with the capacity to provide Ed Miliband with the fine team that he needs and that we need ………. But there will be a big role for David to play when he’s ready to do so.

Alun Michael

Labour MP – Cardiff South and Penarth


Face to Face with Alun Michael MP

Cardiff East caught up with Labour MP Alun Michael, Cardiff South and Penarth, in Grangetown.

Alun Michael MP. Photo: KP Jones

This interview was carried by the Guardian Cardiff

Guardian Cardiff homepage can be found here

Guardian Cardiff is on Twitter here

It’s a humid Saturday morning and one of Cardiff’s most well known political faces is standing in Taff Embankment talking to a Grangetown resident about her concerns regarding the state of the alley way that backs on to her property. Alun Michael, the former First Secretary of Wales, is conducting a street surgery. This is the grassroots politics that Alun Michael clearly enjoys. As he takes notes of his constituent’s comments in his notebook he is greeted with shouts of ‘Hello Alun’ and waves from passing motorists who recognise Cardiff’s longest serving MP.

Michael has recently been elected Chair of an important All-Party Committee in Parliament, namely the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee (PITCOM).

Michael first elected to parliament in 1987 and was re-elected as MP in this year’s election with another landslide majority. His interest in internet related issues is a manifestation of his continuing interest in people.

I am a youth worker by background. It’s recognising that this is something that profoundly effects people’s lives. That is where I come from.  Social communities online now play an important role in many people’s lives. You can see this in the popularity of social media like Facebook and Twitter. For many people now e-mail is an indispensable way in how they communicate.”

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Alun Michael MP calls on council to save Rumney Rec

In a passionate letter to the South Wales Echo, published 30 June, Alun Michael MP has called on Cardiff Council to scrap its plans to site the new east Cardiff English medium secondary school on the Rumney Recreation Ground. It follows on from the local MP’s high-profile visit to the Llanrumney Festival where, to the delight of festival goers, Mr. Michael wore a ‘Save Rumney Rec’ t-shirt where he delivered a speech against any further development on the parkland. Read Alun Michael’s letter in full below.

On Saturday I joined the people of Llanrumney on the Rumney Recreation Ground to celebrate the Llanrumney Festival. Forty years ago, when I was a youth worker  in Llanrumney, we used to take Llanrumney youngsters to the very same parkland for games of football and baseball and in the decades since then I have represented local people as an elected representative, first as a councillor and then as their MP.  That’s why I am very proud to stand with the  people of Llanrumney and Rumney today as we  campaign to preserve the Rumney Recreation Ground for future generations. It’s a fight which is supported by the wider community, particularly in St. Mellons and Trowbridge. The campaign to save  what is really the Roath Park of  East Cardiff is cross-party and only Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru councillors seem oblivious  of  the injustice of their plans. The weekend’s festival would not have been possible  without the dedication and imagination of the Llanrumney Community Forum and in particular its Chair Linda Bartlett.  There was a wonderful atmosphere with families and people of all ages enjoying the sunshine and enjoying each other’s company.  But it wouldn’t have been possible either without this wonderful “village green” which provides the “green lungs” of East Cardiff.   There will be strong opposition to any planning application to build on Rumney Rec and there is massive support for it being designated formally as a “Village Green”.  But why do we have to have those battles when the council can win plaudits by simply withdrawing the scheme to destroy the Rec and instead put their energy into preparing plans to put the new school on the education land that is already in their ownership? Nobody who was present at the weekend to listen to festival goers and  soak up the community atmosphere could fail to be convinced.

Yours sincerely,

Alun Michael MP

Sun shines on Llanrumney Festival

This is a blogpost which I originally wrote for the Guardian Cardiff blog here

Sun shines on Llanrumney Festival

Guest blogger Keith Phillip Jones reports on the day’s events and ponders the uncertain future for the venue

The Llanrumney Festival site on the Rumney Recreation Ground. Photo: KP Jones

The weekend saw large numbers of festival goers gather under the blazing sun at the Rumney Recreation Ground for music, fairground rides, sport and community celebration.

By the time that Linda Bartlett, Chair of the Llanrumney Community Forum, opened the festival on Saturday morning, people of all generations were already streaming onto the site. Festival goers made their way to the Eastern Leisure Centre for the fairground, a myriad of stalls and to secure a place under the shade of the parkland’s trees.

The highest profile attendee of the weekend was the popular local MP Alun Michael – the former First Secretary of Wales, was recently re-elected to parliament for the sixth time to represent the people of Llanrumney within the constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth. The always sartorially immaculate Alun Michael, to the delight of festival goers, wore a ‘Save Rumney Rec’ campaign t-shirt as he toured the festival site.

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