This page contains information about the work I've been doing as a Member of the Senedd (MS). As of April 29th 2021, I will no longer be an MS and will be a candidate.
I was elected to the Senedd on the 8th of February 2019 as a regional MS for South Wales East, a few weeks after the death of my friend Steffan Lewis. Having to take the oath under these tragic circumstances was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. In my maiden speech in the Senedd I said that I knew I could never take Steffan’s place, but that I would do everything I could to keep his legacy alive. Click here to watch the speech I gave that day.
Starting the Job and Portfolio Work
I was honoured to be given the Brexit portfolio by my new boss, Adam Price, and spent countless hours learning the complex brief so that I could do it justice on behalf of the party. I will forever be grateful to my Plaid Cymru colleagues for the support they gave me during those first few weeks. I found that I enjoyed going head to head with the Welsh Government’s Brexit Minister, and we had many intense debates in the Chamber. Since then I was appointed as the party's Shadow Minister for Local Government, Housing and the Future. My approach to the portfolio has been to ensure local government has the resources it needs to provide for its citizens, advocating for tenants' rights and a right to housing for all and ensuring that future generations' interests are represented by supporting measures to tackle climate change.
Working on Behalf of My Constituents
Working on behalf of constituents is an essential duty of an elected representative, and I’ve worked really hard over the past two years to help my constituents.
All in all my team and I have took on many hundreds of cases during my two years in office, ranging from healthcare to housing, and from flytipping to business support. Before coming to this role, I spent a good deal of my career in fighting to get a voice for the voiceless in our society, and I’m so proud that in this job, I’m able to do so much to help the people who need it most.
On top of helping constituents through casework, sometimes it's necessary to campaign loudly for a change in policy in order to deliver justice on behalf of the people whom I've represented. I'm an experienced campaigner and understand what it takes to force Ministers to change their minds.
A recent example was the issue that people with learning disabilities had been neglected from the prioritisation list for vaccinations, due to an appalling oversight on behalf of the JCVI (the committee that issues guidance on vaccination to governments within the UK). I was contacted by many families who were deeply concerned about their loved ones, who pointed to evidence that they were up to 30 times more likely to die from Covid. Given that health is devolved, I knew that the Welsh Government had the power to change the policy and prioritise this group, if they wanted to do so. I raised the matter directly with the First Minister, and when he said no, I followed it up with a forceful letter and an online campaign. The decision was then overturned, and people with learning disabilities have now received their vaccinations.
I’ve also done a lot of work helping care homes during the Covid-19 crisis. They were betrayed by the Labour Welsh Government and I am determined to hold them to account over their failures. I have also continued to campaign against Labour’s surgery closures by visiting and supporting affected residents – the closures in Caerphilly have seen patients having to travel further to access care and our remaining surgeries having to take on hundreds of new patients, with a detrimental impact on waiting times, and I’m determined to continue the fight. Labour have no excuse for allowing this to happen, since Plaid Cymru warned them nearly a decade ago that surgeries would struggle to find GPs unless around 1,000 new doctors were trained and recruited. They didn't listen.
Other issues I've campaigned on include: · Action to prevent climate change · Overdevelopment in Caerphilly · Council tax freeze for the next financial year · Protecting the Welsh language · Votes at 16 (if this is you, remember to use your vote!) · Showing the Tories up for their callous incompetence (Michael Gove in this instance) · Teaching Welsh history in schools · Improving public transport in the south east · Lack of parking for Caerphilly residents · Ending homelessness · The need for a Clean Air Act · Keeping the 6 Nations free-to-air · Establishing a perinatal unit in Wales (a promise broken by Labour) · Making our streets safe for women · Saving the A&E in the Royal Glam (since secured) · Eradicating poverty (including child poverty) · Justice for A-Level students who were unfairly downgraded by the Labour government last year (another success!) · Holding the First Minister to account for implementing a local lockdown in Caerphilly without properly explaining the rules, leading to widespread confusion · Various constitutional matters, including urging the Welsh Government to bring a Supreme Court case against the Internal Market Bill (which they subsequently agreed to do) · Better support for carers (including unpaid carers) · Finding solutions to the Welsh media deficit problem · Improving woefully inadequate mental health support · Expanding the provision of free school meals to include every family in receipt of Universal Credit (Labour refused to do this) · Looking after the wellbeing of children who've been badly affected by lockdown · Supporting the work of the Senghenydd Drop-in Centre · Making the cause for Welsh independence - the only way we'll ultimately be able to transform our economy and take control of our own destiny
I also established a Cross-Party Group in the Senedd to find ways to improve intergenerational solidarity. I spoke about this work in the Senedd recently.
The main campaign I'm currently running is for fair funding for Caerphilly, following the news that the UK Government had excluded our area from the Community Renewal Fund. This is money intended to replace EU funding that the Tories promised to provide us with. They intend to break that promise - but I intend to stop them. I will demand that the Chancellor includes Caerphilly in this scheme. You can support my campaign by voting for me to be your next MS.
One of the first cases I took on when I became an MS had a lasting impact on me. It was the case of Imam Sis, a constituent from Newport who was on hunger strike and was demanding justice for the Kurdish people. Plaid Cymru has always been an internationalist party and has stood proudly with our oppressed allies over the years, so I had no hesitation in intervening to try to broker a solution to prevent his death. What seemed an impossible task was achieved: thanks to pressure from myself and colleagues, the Welsh Government wrote to the Foreign Secretary to demand he intervene in the case, which he did, meaning that Imam could end his hunger strike. Playing a part in saving his life is something I'll never forget. You can click here to watch my contribution to the debate Plaid Cymru held in the Senedd.
What You'll Get If You Vote For Me
I've enjoyed being an MS for the South Wales East region during the past two years, and hope my constituents feel I did a good job of standing up for them. But I now want to be the constituency MS for Caerphilly, the place I was born and I love the most. If you vote for me to be your next Member of the Senedd, you will get someone who will work extremely hard on behalf of you, your family and the whole constituency. If you've decided to give me your vote - thank you. It would be great if you could let me know by clicking here (but don't feel you have to). For information about my vision for the constituency, click here.