A week ago, the South Wales Argus management received the letter below from me. So far there has been no response. A newspaper that reports all local job losses and threats of losses is strangely silent. The letter read:-
Members of the Argus staff, who are constituents of mine. have complained to me about the proposed loss of jobs at the Argus in Newport. I am informed that the hub of sub-editors here is to be drastically reduced. My understanding was that Newport was benefiting from 60 sub-editing jobs here, partly to compensate for the ending of printing in Newport after it was moved elsewhere.
One correspondent has remarked that the Argus received an accolade from the Welsh Government as a good employer. The loss of any jobs is a blow to the city. The reduction in these highly skilled jobs is especially damaging to those employed and the hopes of future employees. I hope that any decision to reduce jobs will be reversed.
There has been no news item that I have seen that records the conventional newspaper pleas to defend local jobs. It's strange that they are blind to a substantial news item that is happening in their own office. There has been a constant haemorrhage of jobs from the paper over the years. They sold their car park for housing and the overflow from the tiny space they have left now clogs local streets. Interesting local story-but not in the local paper.
Critical of all-except themselves.
Parliament on the defensive
Parliament is also oddly muted about accusations made against us in the Chilcot Report.
Several committees are studying the report and a debate was overwhelmed by those seeking to justify one of the worst blunders in our history. 179 British soldiers lost their lives in war that we should have avoided. Their loved ones suffer a wound of grief that will never heal. Uncounted Iraqis died. The legacy of the war is a chaotic Middle East and a world divided between Christians and Muslims. I warned Tony Blair that this would happen in a letter to him in March 2003 which I published on this blog at the time.
Parliamentary committees have a proud reputation for rigorous scrutiny which we used to criticise outside bodies when they err. We must apply the same standards to our own mistakes. It was not just Tony Blair who was gagging for war in 2003. It was IDS the Tory leader plus all but a half a dozen Tory MPs. The three main committees of Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Defence were all cheerleaders for war. They must now objectively judge Chilcot's findings in order that we became better informed and avoid future wars of political vanity.
Time of generosity
Even in these dark days our hearts are lifted by Christmas. Hearing a favourite carol, getting a card from a beloved friend or seeing a colourful Christmas display rekindles the warmth of our Christmas spirits.
Now is the time to dwell on the fine things of life and value our good fortune living in a place of peace, harmony and order. While much needs to be done to maintain fairness between generations we still have an open society that has been transformed for the better in the past hundred years.
In my lucky life I meet thousands of local people. While we have our differences, there is warm solidarity on the major occasions of war memorial events, sporting occasions, religious gatherings and switching on the Christmas lights. We are rightly proud of younger generations. Brilliant local teachers are nurturing a new generation of children who will achieve much and do Newport proud. My generation enjoys economic security rare in the past but many lives are blighted by loneliness and isolation. We can all help there.
Christmas is at its best in the numberless acts of kindness and unselfishness that will be abundant in Newport. Happy Christmas. Nadolig Llawen.
On Monday this week I asked the PM about her Brexit Paln.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
Will Brexit deliver what the Prime Minister’s three Brexiteer Ministers promised in the referendum and what the majority of voters supported—namely a £350 million a week payment to the national health service? Or will we get a bill of £50 billion for which nobody voted?
The Prime Minister
When we leave the EU, we will be delivering on what my colleagues who campaigned to leave the European Union campaigned for and what the people voted for: the UK no longer being a member of the EU and therefore being able to take control of how taxpayers’ money is spent, how our laws are made and our immigration.
Prison Minister in La-La Land.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
It took three written parliamentary questions from me to get the Government to confess that only one prison in Britain was free of illegal drug use. It took a fourth question to get the information that that prison had no prisoners because it had closed down. This is symptomatic of the Government being in denial of the corruption and chaos in our prison service. Have not the Government’s policies for the past six years been, like the Minister’s statement today, evidence-free and ignorance-rich?
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his assiduousness in asking parliamentary questions, which have elicited an answer. If he reads the “Prison safety and reform” White Paper, he will see there is a whole section on how we deal with the issue of drugs: testing offenders on entry and exit, and making sure that governors are held accountable for getting people off drugs. That is the way we are going to crack this problem.
A free press?
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
We are all concerned that next year the leader of the free world will be a blunt-brained snake oil salesman who was elected by a prostituted press to whom truth is secondary and sometimes entirely irrelevant. Will the Secretary of State bear in mind the very strong views that we need to maintain in this country those qualities of balance and fairness that we have imposed on the BBC by statute? Will she bear in mind the grave danger of a prostituted press?
I do not think anyone is in doubt about the hon. Gentleman’s views.
We are about yours.
We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his sedentary chunter.
From the Independent 22nd December
The most frequent rebel on the Labour side, the MP for Newport West Paul Flynn outlined his 'backbenchers' ten commandments':
"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".