The horrific events of March 22 have cast a dark shadow over Parliament.
The assault on Westminster targeted democracy itself and cost five innocent people their lives. I would like to thank everyone who sent messages of solidarity and support afterwards. Those of us caught up in the horror of that day glimpsed the worst of humanity. But we also saw the very best of people - the professionalism of ambulance workers, doctors and nurses who helped, passers-by offering comfort and the heroism of the police whose response saved countless lives and kept us safe.
Last Monday saw the funeral of PC Keith Palmer, who was killed protecting Parliament. The thousands of police officers lining the route and the heartbreaking floral tribute to ‘No1 Daddy’ show how loved PC Palmer was as a husband, father, and friend. I know the thoughts of everyone in Wakefield are with his family and friends and those of the other victims.
Keith, and the other brave officers who work in Parliament, are not faceless people to MPs and the staff who work there. They are men and women who stop for a chat and a joke and who keep us safe at work. Keith’s name, his courage and sacrifice, will never be forgotten.
On another note, the government’s announcement that the 18-week NHS target for operations is to be downgraded is wrong. It means patients in Wakefield will wait longer for hip, knee and cataract operations. The target has not been met since February 2016. Rather than address the chronic under-funding, the government is trying to move the goalposts.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Wakefield Rotary Club and hearing about some of the fantastic work they are involved with. Since 1979, Rotarians have helped to immunise more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries. Locally, they have funded two Admiral Nurses, who support carers of those suffering with dementia.
I have long supported plans for a new community stadium for Wakefield Trinity and I welcome the developments announced by council leader Peter Box last week. I am glad the developer is moving towards a new multi-lateral agreement which will include the council and get things moving forward as rugby league is at the heart of sport in Wakefield.
Finally, despite her many statements that there should be no election until 2020, the Prime Minister has now called an unnecessary early General Election. She has triggered Brexit, but is now wasting time on an election. She is acting, as always, in the best interests of the Tory party, not Britain. I will be standing on my record as your MP - standing up for Wakefield. I have delivered investment in the city’s Westgate and Kirkgate train stations, new flood defences, a new hospital, saved King St walk-in centre and have helped countless local people find homes and a school for their child.
It is vital for the health of any democracy that there is an effective opposition. Wakefield needs a strong voice to stand up against the Tories’ plans for hard Brexit and to protect our NHS, schools, police and council services, all of which are facing their worst crises in a generation.