Friday, 10 January 2014

A principled politician of whom to be proud

I worked for  the now retired Labour politician, Llew Smith, for 21 years. Here are some of the highlights of his political work:

Llew Smith
Voting record from PublicWhip
How Mr Llew Smith voted on key issues since 2001
  • Voted moderately against introducing ID cards. Votes
  • Voted for encouraging occupational pensions. Votes
  • Voted very strongly for the hunting ban. Votes
  • Voted a mixture of for and against Labour's anti-terrorism laws. Votes
  • Voted very strongly for laws to stop climate change. Votes
  • Voted moderately for removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords. Votes
  • Voted moderately against a wholly elected House of Lords. Votes
  • Voted very strongly against the Iraq war. Votes
  • Voted a mixture of for and against an investigation into the Iraq war. Votes
  • Has never voted on replacing Trident. Votes
  • Voted moderately against university tuition fees. Votes
  • Has never voted on a more proportional system for electing MPs. Votes
  • Voted a mixture of for and against a stricter asylum system. Votes
  • Voted very strongly for equal gay rights. Votes
  • Voted a mixture of for and against a smoking ban. Votes
  • Voted moderately against greater autonomy for schools. Votes
  • Voted moderately against introducing foundation hospitals.

                        Welsh Assembly Member Peter Law ran as an independent and won the seat.
Law had resigned from the Labour party in protest at the imposition of an all-women candidates' shortlist following the retirement of incumbent MP Llew Smith, and overturned a 19,313 (60%) Labour majority with a significant 9,121 (25%) majority.

Tony Blair last night appealed to Labour Party members in Wales to back this autumn's campaign for a Welsh Assembly after the anti-devolution MP, Llew Smith, announced that he was satisfied with Mr Blair's commitment to free speech on the issue.
But Mr Smith's public row, which prompted his leader to say that reasonable opposition to devolution would be tolerated without threats of expulsion, may have a counter-productive result.
Mr Blair and his Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies - who was accused of trying to strong-arm Mr Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent - called the proposed assembly vital to the democratic renewal of Wales and plan a series of party meetings to cement support for a Yes vote.,9061,444427,00.html
Mr Smith was however later barred by the Speaker from tabling any further questions on arms to Iraq or the Scott Inquiry, a controversial decision which has further limited the opportunities for holding the government to account on these topics.
He took the issue up with Lord Justice Scott directly, who declared that he had no objection to ministers answering questions on the matters he was investigating.
Llew Smith, who was elected to the Commons in 1992, is amongst the most tenacious tablers of parliamentary questions (PQs).
House of Commons, Hansard, Written Answers, Prime Minister, June 23, 2003, col. 615W (written response of Prime Minister Tony Blair to a question from Llew Smith MP).

If Llew was not, he would be pushing Rhodri to use the election result to take out Blair.
Llew Smith wants to keep Wales subject to the Fascist measures being introduced by Blair.
He would be organising to recover the soul of the Labour Party.

Smith had enjoyed a majority of 19,313, making it the safest parliamentary seat in Wales.
Law won the seat, defeating official candidate Maggie Jones, and gaining a majority of 9,121 votes.
general election, which was used to impose a candidate favoured by the party's national leadership to replace the retiring member Llew Smith.
As Tony Blair prepares to give evidence today to the Hutton Inquiry investigating the death of Dr David Kelly, Llew Smith and Glenda Jackson have called on him to disclose the nature of his involvement in a significant change to a section of the dossier concerning nuclear weapons.
icWales - Llew Smith in new Blair dossier claim
In a letter sent to Mr Blair yesterday Blaenau Gwent MP Mr Smith and Ms Jackson, who represents Hampstead and Highgate, have drawn attention to textual changes in the dossier that made the possibility of a nuclear attack by Iraq appear more imminent.
Former Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent Llew Smith says independent challenger Peter Law will win his old seat, overturning a 19,000 Labour majority.
Mr Law, Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent, left Labour in a row over all-women shortlists.
Llew Smith, an MP for 13 years before standing down at this election, said local people resented the way the Labour candidate Maggie Jones was selected through an all-women shortlist.
Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister if he will instruct the Attorney-General to evaluate the statement made by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 15 September that the invasion of Iraq was illegal and contrary to the Charter of the United Nations.
The Prime Minister : The Attorney-General has made his view clear on this matter.
Thank goodness MPs are still pursuing this, but Blair just makes a mockery of the PQ procedure.
Harry Barnes also tabled an amendment to the Commons motion from Jackson and Smith (see above) in line with these comments.
Gary Kent looks at the topsy-turvy world of Glenda Jackson and Llew Smith
The result, however, is far more serious: Iraqi security forces are less able to defend the election process, which is under vicious attack from the so-called resistance and has actually been sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
December 21, 2004
Gary Kent looks at the topsy-turvy world of Glenda Jackson and Llew Smith
The Guardian's David Hencke reported on Saturday 17th December that the defence secretary "has been blocked from sending a Christmas gift of weapons and ammunition on behalf of the British taxpayer to re-equip the Iraqi army and police" by two left-wing Labour MPs, Glenda Jackson and Llew Smith.
They had tabled an Early Day Motion which argued: "That this House while welcoming the gifting of equipment for training purposes to the Iraqi Interim Government, as detailed in the Ministry of Defence minute dated 15th December, deplores the inclusion of this gift of live ammunition, grenade launchers and pistols; and calls upon the Government to withdraw such military hardware, which will do nothing to reduce violence and intimidation in a country awash with such weapons."
Hencke says that the MOD has confirmed that "delivery of the equipment - part of a £17.5m package - will have to be halted until the MPs' objections are examined" and that "the move means at the minimum that no equipment is likely to reach Iraq until after the elections."
The MOD told him that "Our objective is to hasten the capability and capacity of the Iraqi police, national guard and department of border enforcement. This will help reduce the burden on our own forces, enhance wider conflict resolution and facilitate our ultimate withdrawal."
Llew Smith, on the other hand, says that "While we all want the conflict to end in Iraq as a soon as possible, pouring guns into a country already stacked with weapons is not the way to resolve the conflict. To sell the idea that by making this Christmas gift of arms to the unelected Iraqi regime will speed up the withdrawal of the occupying forces is disingenuous. The British troops should be withdrawn because they were part of an illegal invasion force, as the UN secretary-general has confirmed."
My comment
The interim government hasn't been elected. Careful observers will have noticed that Iraq was under one-party rule for several decades until recently.
The point is that the interim government and its national assembly have been drawn from various groups to be as representative as possible and to arrange elections. So this comment by Llew Smith is just so much cant.
The result, however, is far more serious: Iraqi security forces are less able to defend the election process, which is under vicious attack from the so-called resistance and has actually been sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
Who wasn't moved by the terrible picture of an election worker being shot in the head whilst his colleagues waited for their turn? These men were brave patriots and their murder was intended to sicken public opinion and scare others from protecting the election process. Those who murdered them must not pass.
Labour MP Harry Barnes, who is also a Joint President of LFIQ raised this issue directly with the Prime Minister in the Commons on 20th December.
He said: “On Iraq, the Prime Minister said that the European Council has confirmed its full backing for, and financing of, United Nations protection. Is not part of such action this Government's supplying of weapons to the fledgling Iraqi security forces, police and army? Words are not enough, and such action is surely necessary in order to contain terrorist forces in Iraq.”
The Prime Minister agreed that “we must ensure that we not only train the Iraqi forces but equip them properly, so that they can defend themselves against terrorists who are often very well financed and well armed.”
Harry Barnes also tabled an amendment to the Commons motion from Jackson and Smith (see above) in line with these comments.
Llew Smith had carefully groomed the constituency delegates in order to guarantee his own selection for the 1992 election.
Panic spread throughout the constituency when there was one major blip.
It was up to the National Executive of the Labour Party to add Michael Foot to the shortlist.
Even though the Tories got 20% of the General Election vote in Wales, they were denied even one seat.
It was the stitch-up of Rhodri Morgan that shrank the Labour General Election vote of 55% to 36%.
They had 64% of the vote and only 53% of the AMs.

Since the Labour government has come to power, Llew Smith has also accused the Welsh Secretary Ron Davies and his Special Adviser, Huw Roberts, of threatening to expel him from the Parliamentary Labour Party over devolution.
Mr Smith's Blaenau Gwent Constituency Labour Party responded to the reports saying they 'deplore the threats of disciplinary action against Llew Smith'.
Mr Smith told the BBC that Ron Davies had warned him he would be thrown out of the Parliamentary Labour Party should he campaign against a Welsh Assembly.
Gwilym ab Ioan has kept his position as Plaid's vice-chair in Ceredigion and Brecknockshire but will face a motion of no confidence at the next meeting of the regional branches.
The latest attack by the Blaenau Gwent MP Llew Smith follows the resignation of a member of Plaid's National Executive after he said Wales was becoming 'a dumping ground for oddballs and misfits'.
Mr Smith said: "I am increasingly arriving at the conclusion that it is fundamentally a racist organisation.
In London it is not the idea of having an elected mayor which is causing Labour's problem but again, Tony Blair's stubborn insistence that devolution doesn't extend to his own party members deciding who they'd like to represent them.
In Wales we have "left-wing" MP Llew Smith sniping at devolution, while in London, another left-wing MP, Ken Livingstone, has decided to use a form of devolution to further his political agenda.
The meeting was apparently attended by about 50 Labour activists from all over Wales who hope to get the issue discussed at the Wales Labour Party conference later this month.
I would welcome the erstwhile Elwa functions to be returned to local government, close to the people they serve.
Comment “ Smoke without fire, by Llew Smith
One of the main arguments for a Welsh Assembly was to put an end to quangos making decisions on behalf of citizens.
In a separate debate last week, defence minister Lord Bach admitted that the US was encouraging Britain to become involved in its missile programme.
A parliamentary statement from Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon to Labour MP Llew Smith conceded that the MoD has sent two experts to work at the US Missile Defence Agency.
Suggestions of a deepening relationship between Britain and America over missile defence surfaced again last week.,6903,1345380,00.html
We may never know the robustness of Kamel’s evidence, but Mr Blair should tell us his side of things.
But some of us believe there were other reasons for going to war, including oil and the determination of the United States to control the Gulf.
By Llew Smith MP One of the reasons Tony Blair gave for invading Iraq was his assertion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capable of being delivered within 45 minutes.

Llew Smith MP questioned the Deputy Prime Minister on CHP in the Thames Gateway.
Conservative party leader William Hague has sought to pile on the pressure on Tony Blair over a Labour MP's claims that he was threatened with expulsion from the party if he campaigned against the Government's devolution plans.
Mr Hague wrote to Mr Blair, saying that backbencher Llew Smith's account of events was "completely inconsistent" with the denials the Prime Minister issued at yesterday's Commons question time.
The Prime Minister has responded to Mr Hague's letter and says he still believes no threats were made to Mr Smith, the Prime Minister said, he considered, "the matter closed".

Compare Llew Smith to 'No More Terrorism Laws'
Compare Llew Smith to 'BB Anti-Blairite Terror Laws'
Compare Llew Smith to 'Democratic and Fair Society Party'
Blaenau Gwent MP Llew Smith, who is standing down at the next General Election, said he could no longer recognise the party he had been part of for 42 years.
He said he would not retire from politics after the election, and said he had rejoined the Labour Party this year but did not know what he would do in the future.
Mr Smith, who became MP for the south Wales constituency in 1992, told his local paper, the South Wales Argus: “No service is safe from New Labour“ schools, health, housing and even prisons are all experiencing their privatisation plans.
Llew Smith was elected to the Commons in 1992, having served for eight years as an MEP.
Monday, 21 October, 2002, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK Llew Smith
He has some of the most daunting predecessors of any MP.
The constituency's Labour member of the Welsh assembly, Peter Law, is threatening to run against Ms Jones on a "real Labour" ticket and a motion was passed this year to boycott the selection process and refuse to campaign during the general election.
"They are parachuting in Blairites who have traditionally voted with the right wing and the party is very much against it," said Mr Smith.
Leftwing MP Llew Smith, who is to stand down in Blaenau Gwent at the next election, raised the prospect of defeat in the Labour stronghold after Blairite Maggie Jones was picked to succeed him.,3858,4818578-103685,00.html
The Labour MPs Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent) and Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate) say questions on issues raised in the Hutton inquiry cannot be tabled to ministers - so the public does not know MPs are taking up the matter.
Mr Smith said: "With the Tories supporting the war in Iraq, it is essential that MPs can ask critical questions to ministers."
Ms Jackson, who has been pursuing the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, over the validity of his legal advice on going to war in Iraq, said yesterday: "It seems that anything with the word Iraq in it is being turned down.",3858,4797912-103550,00.html
Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, if she will make a statement on the future structure of Nirex.
Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the operations of Nirex will be (a) overseen and (b) funded under the new management arrangements.
Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what calculation his Department has made of the (a) physical, (b) environmental and (c) health impacts of the detonation of a single trident nuclear warhead on an urban area.
Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent): The Secretary of State will be aware that approximately half of the Iraqi population is under 14 years of age.
People will be able to express their opinions at an anti-war conference on Saturday 18 January and at a march and rally to stop war on Iraq on Saturday 15 February.
How much money will be needed to deliver aid and reconstruction to Iraq during and after the war?
He questioned what Llew Smith had actually done in recent months in terms of campaigning against the rise of the BNP in the UK and against some of the asylum polices of his own party.
He added, “Where was Llew when his party locked up asylum seekers in Cardiff prison, or when the BNP marched in South Wales last year?
A leading anti-racist campaigner and Plaid Cymru member has openly accused veteran Labour MP Llew Smith of being a coward and deliberately stirring up ill-feeling between the English and the Welsh, after a BBC radio interview where he accused prominent Plaid party members of being racist but was not prepared to name names.
Ms Glenda Jackson: There is no requirement for United Kingdom ships to be licensed for this purpose.
Mr Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, which ships have been licensed for the sea transport of MOX fuel assemblies to (a) other European Union member states, (b) Japan and (c) other countries from the United Kingdom.
As explained in answer to a recent parliamentary question (Official Report 4 Nov 1997, col 139-40):
Mr Smith had said: “The public was informed by many of the world’s politicians that we needed to go to war with Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction, that they were an immediate threat to the world, and that Saddam Hussein was behind the tragedy of 9/11.
Mr Hain said he had an “honest disagreement” with Mr Smith over the war.
Earlier Downing Street said Saddam had created “a permissive environment” for terrorists and al Qaida operatives were in the country during his time.
Llew Smith with the children at an RSPB education day at Ebbw Vale
Llew Smith MP joined children from Glyngaer Primary School for an exciting day of outdoor education - 'learning the real way'.
So far, 145 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion recognising the importance of field visits and urging Government to support the campaign's aims by making out-of-classroom learning an integral part of every child's education.
I note that the Contribution also endorses the provisions in the draft constitutional treaty for direct transfer of Commission documentation to National Parliaments and for an "early-warning mechanism" by which National Parliaments would be able to present a reasoned opinion if they felt that legislative proposals breached the principle of subsidiarity.
Llew Smith (Blaenau Gwent): What evaluation he has made of the proposals put forward by the Conference of Community and European Affairs Committees of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) in respect of the relative powers of national parliaments.
I am aware of COSAC's Contribution of 7 October, and have noted that it proposes that all Parliaments within the EU should hold simultaneous debates on the Commission's legislative and work programme.
Mr Smith, who wants a parliamentary statement on the sale, has asked the Speaker, Michael Martin, to intervene following his criticism of the government's use of spin doctors and the failure of ministers to make statements to MPs on government announcements.
Failure to get agreement would see a "disproportionate" drop in the bid, according to one document - suggesting ministers might get only half the money they expected for the sale.
An MP is complaining to the Speaker today about a Ministry of Defence "cover up" over the offer of nearly £100m financial sweeteners to push through the part-privatisation of the defence research agency QinetiQ to the Carlyle Group, a US firm whose European chairman is the former prime minister John Major.,3858,4577985-103685,00.html

The threats against me - while disputed by the Prime Minister during Question Time in the Commons on Wednesday - are in fact only a duplication of the threats reported to have been made by Ron Davies in his press conference of May 15, or in the briefings which followed it.
Therefore it would make sense to talk to Llew about his intentions regarding devolution...
Because all I have done in the past few days, and will continue to do in the months and years ahead, is to speak the truth.,9236,444472,00.html
Mr Smith began quietly but on a single dreary note: "The secretary of state for Wales recently described the announcement by Coleg Gwent to close certain college courses in the county and in particular engineering and catering departments and other courses in my constituency as 'astonishing'.
Mr Smith continued, his voice rasping and flat.
At this point the Speaker, who had been slamming shut stable doors all morning, suddenly woke up.,3858,4933437-107978,00.html
Mr Smith, who intends raising the issue when parliament reassembles next month, said he was "disappointed and rather astonished" by the MoD response.
A group of backbench MPs, led by Llew Smith, Labour member for Blaenau Gwent, has accused the MoD of saddling the taxpayer with unquantifiable liabilities and railroading the plan through parliament.
In a letter last month, Lewis Moonie, junior defence minister, told Mr Smith: "Though the past incidence of claims has been extremely low and these risks have been, and will continue to be, carefully managed, they are of a nature which are not necessarily well understood by the private sector.,9860,784793,00.html
This is an extract from Hansard, the recoird of the debates of the House of Commons
Llew Smith raises Gwent Theatre's plight in the House of Commons
I understand the good work that has been done by the group and I will certainly inform the First Secretary when I meet him tomorrow about the concerns expressed by my hon.

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