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Nia reflects on Labour leadership

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‘Certainly supporting Owen’: Nia Griffith MP

‘Certainly supporting Owen’: Nia Griffith MP

THE LAST few months have been tumultuous for the whole country. 

We have had Assembly elections, resulting in the virtual wipeout of the Liberal Democrats and the election of UKIP to the Senedd; the vote to leave the EU; the departure of David Cameron; the selection of Theresa May as PM by default; resignations from the Shadow Cabinet; the sacking of major figures from the actual Cabinet; and now a Labour leadership election which was preceded by 172 Labour MPs voting they have no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

You’d almost think it was like House of Cards – or possibly snakes and ladders.

The Herald spoke to Nia and asked her for her thoughts on all things Corbyn. Nia was Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, until resigning from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, saying she lacked confidence in her Leader’s ability to achieve the sort of unity needed for electoral success.

We began by asking her about Owen Smith’s leadership challenge.

She said: “We want a satisfactory outcome. We want a strong Labour party that can actually face up to Theresa May, the new Prime Minister, and hold her and her team to account and also provide a real alternative for people in a general election. At the moment we feel we that we haven’t been able do that.

“We have tried very hard to make things work this year. We have to sometimes make really difficult decisions.

“Of course, it is not very nice for us at the moment. We really do hope to come through. I am certainly be going to be supporting Owen Smith. I think he is a new generation of very direct politicians. He tells you exactly what he thinks to your face. I think that is the sort of person we need to be really up front and taking Labour politics, sticking up for people and really taking that out to people.”

We asked why she had put her faith in Jeremy Corbyn if she did not believe that he possessed the qualities to be leader.

Nia reflected: “I think the truth of the matter is that many of people who supported Jeremy Corbyn last year and voted for him realise that, although we appreciate the ideas he has brought and the energy that he has brought and some of the enthusiasm he has engaged in with young people in particular, the fact of the matter is that we need a lot of qualities to drive that forward as a leader of the party. We have not seen that this year.

“It is very difficult I think to be catapulted from a rebellious backbencher to being in charge of an enormous organisation. I don’t think he really enjoys that side of it.

“What we need now is someone who can communicate with the party and bring everybody inside the party together and outside of the party in terms of taking the message not just to our supporters but across the whole spectrum of voters. If we are going to actually help people in Britain we need to help people from all walks of life. We need to have a programme of government that appeals to a wide cross-section, just as Sadiq Khan did in the London elections.”

On the machinations surrounding the voting system for the election of her Party’s leader, she said: “We have always had a six month rule that you have to be a member. It is a pity that we did not stick to that rule last summer.

“I am more worried about the opening up of a period of 48 hours for supporters to join up. I am suspicious that there could be people who have joined up to do us down in some way. They are called supporters and they do have a vote in this election.

“Obviously we are looking very carefully to make sure that there are not people there who stood against us in elections. That would be completely ridiculous We have a sneaky feeling that there will be people who will try to sneak in who do not have the interests of the Labour Party at heart.”

When what would happen if Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected, Nia was cautious: “I think that would be for us to decide then. The important thing at the moment is the debate inside the party about how you actually put your ideas into practice and what sort of leader you need to do that.”

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Health

Those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster should get jabbed by end of June

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ALL those eligible for the Spring Covid-19 booster are being urged to take up their offer of the vaccine before the end of next month.

A deadline of 30 June has been introduced to ensure all those eligible for the spring booster will have a long-enough interval between this and the autumn 2022 booster, if they are also eligible.

An announcement by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) about which groups will be eligible for the autumn booster is due to be published shortly.

The JCVI has advised that people over-75, older care home residents and all those aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are eligible for the spring booster.

Those who are 75 on or before 30 June, can get their booster at any point up to the deadline.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is important we continue our very high take up levels of the vaccine to help protect us against the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. I would urge everyone who is offered a spring booster vaccination takes up the invitation.”

If someone eligible for a spring booster has had a Covid infection recently, they will need to wait 28 days from the date they tested positive before they can be vaccinated. They will still be able to get vaccinated after 30 June as part of this campaign if they have to postpone their appointment.

All those eligible for spring boosters will be invited by their health board or GP.

It is not too late for anyone who needs a primary dose (first, second or third) to be vaccinated.

Please check for local arrangements.

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Health

Young people in Wales being failed when moving from child to adult mental health services

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MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES are failing young people when they move from child to adult services, says a mental health charity.

Mind Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to make urgent changes to improve the system.

Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru, said: “Young people have told us that their needs, thoughts, and feelings about moving to adult services are often unheard, or ignored.

“Welsh Government must support Local Health Boards to make sure this doesn’t happen, change the way services are run and make sure our young people are being heard and properly cared for.”

Mind Cymru has published a report, in ate the result of interviews with young people about their experiences of moving from Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – (SCAMHS) to AMHS.

They highlighted five key areas where services are failing young people:
– Poor information offered to young people, particularly on their rights
– Inconsistent use and follow through of care and treatment plans
– High thresholds for SCAMHS and AMHS referrals to be accepted
– Feeling abandoned / cut off from SCAMHS
– Age still dominates decision making process for moving from SCAMHS to AMHS

Nia Evans said: “Any one of these issues could make the process of moving from children’s services to adult services difficult for our young people. But often, more than one is happening at any one time.”

“Our young people have a right to care and support from a mental health system that has been put in place to help them recover. Action must be taken immediately to make sure support systems are robust and doing the job they were designed to do.”

Mind Cymru is asking people to email their Member of the Senedd (MS) and amplify the voices of these young people whose experiences are often unheard, and use the #SortTheSwitch hashtag on social media.

The full report is available here, including what a good move from SCAMHS to AMHS would look like for young people, and where the current system could improve.

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Business

Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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