Optimism has kept me going. I am always expecting beneficial reforms and retreats from the greed, ignorance and stupidity that dominate political life.
A turbulent year ended well for Newport's Labour family. Our new heroine Jayne Bryant scored a brilliant victory in May and has established herself as a popular, hard-working Assembly Member, respected by all. It was satisfying to receive the award of Welsh MP of the Year from a group of journalists who know what is going on in Welsh Politics. A mixed blessing was that I named yesterday by Professor Crowley as the most rebellious MP of 2015. Phillip added extra interest in June by claiming that I was the oldest frontbencher since Gladstone. Some disagree but I’m not arguing.
From top rebel to Shadow Leader of the House is a significant metamorphosis. The Independent of the 22nd of December did a playful article about rebels. Kindly they printed my full response.
"Not so much rebellious but a faithful follower of my backbenchers' ten commandments. Number four says 'Attack your opponents only when they are wrong' while respecting number seven which is 'Honour your party and extend their horizons'. I have been less tribal with the SNP initiatives because working in harmony with them when they are correct does extend Labour's horizons and is the only way to defeat the Tories".
The commandments included in my book on How to be an MP. It is still being sold. The new LibDem MP told me her husband had bought her a copy. I assured her that it guaranteed her future success.
2017 is a fearful prospect with world power in the hands of lowest common denominator of US opinion Trump, ex KGB chief Putin building up the Russian Federation as a world super-power and joker Boris here, trivial, wayward and rash. Politics will be suffocated by Brexit changes that seek to unpick the progressive reforms of the past 50 years. Mercifully here we have the Senedd and the Labour Local Authority to shield us from the worst excesses of crude Brexitism.
The local elections in Newport are likely to repeat the Welsh success for Labour of last May. The other parties in Newport are all in decline. The Tories are demoralized by the defeat in the Assembly election when they had high hopes of victory. They even brought Boris down to the Ridgeway but it did not help. UKIP are draining support and this one trick party now lacks potency. Their Assembly antics are rightly ridiculed.
Labour has a bonus in a fresh City Labour Leader with an energetic new approach. The Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones is a trusted and popular personality. The turnaround of the City’s image and sense of well-being which Friar’s Walk has generated in the past year is infectious. As with all elections, nothing is ever certain. The voters are in a volatile mood. Labour’s Newport election machines will be in top gear for fresh successes and working hard to win every possible vote in May 2017. There is deep-seated loyalty to Labour in Newport which was displayed in all elections over the past five years. As an optimist I hope that will continue even in these turbulent times.