Keir Starmer, Carolyn Harris and me.

I suspect 3 years ago none of us would have been able to tell the difference between a backstop and a prorogue.  The Oxford English dictionary has exploded since the referendum; cakeism, remainer, leaver and the term Brexit itself are all now regularly used by broadcasters and journalists and every twitter warrior with a view.

I still find it strange that some of the political issues that now seem to completely divide this country hardly registered in most people lives only a few years ago.  Back in 2008, when the financial crisis hit, all I was thinking about was; will my bank go broke, how am I going to pay my mortgage and what about the people losing their jobs.  How were we all going to survive?

Bit by bit the world appeared to get its act together again. It was said that although the financial institutions had caused the problems many of them were ‘too big to fail’. Banks were bailed out to the tune of billions using public money and it wasn’t long before the bonuses started to flow again. But places like Swansea still feel the affect with the years of austerity taking a massive toll on our communities.

Hopefully this will be taught in schools and universities in the future.  Maybe the kids who are taught will take it on board and when they are in charge they won’t make the same mistakes as we did…but I doubt it.  History repeats itself because we never really learn its lessons.

All of this sound very heavy Mal, its not your usual stories about family or football, wildlife in the garden or Elton John.  I know, but I’m worried.  Just like every parent and grandparent before me I am starting to ask what sort of world I am giving to my kids and grand kids. The fact that the Amazon is on fire probably won’t affect me because I’ll be long gone.  When the time comes and they sell everything I collected during my lifetime, including my home and guitars, hopefully there will be enough to pay for my care home. But what about the kids. What will I leave them?  What world will we leave them?

Politics can seem very remote.  It’s what they do in London or Brussels or New York and the people who make these big decisions seem very different to me and you.

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This week the 2 sides of politics came to town, the local and the national.  Many MPs have taken the Parliamentary Summer recess to go get away from it all, to recharge the batteries before what is sure to be a very intense few weeks in Parliament.  Carolyn Harris, the MP for Swansea East, chose to stay in Swansea.  Over the summer Carolyn has been running a Kids Lunch Club. Together with a committed band of volunteers the club has provided meals for hundreds of kids during the school holidays.

Over the past few weeks Carolyn has asked, persuaded and cajoled every contact she has in the area to provide food, gifts, outings, presents or ice creams to make sure that the Kids Lunch Club this year was a summer to remember.  Kevin Johns has been there serving teas and coffees, the Ospreys and Swans have been up coaching, Joe’s Ice Creams even gave a freezer full of tubs and when I went this week everyone knew Lee Trundle, not just because he’s ‘Lee Trundle’ but because he’s been there so often to organise a game of football.

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On Friday Carolyn was joined By Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour Front Bench spokesman on Brexit.  Keir was in the city to talk to business leaders about the potential harmful effects of a No Deal Brexit.  Next week will be the mother of all arguments in the mother of all parliaments as MPs who oppose the governments handling of Brexit and the possible exit on 31st October without a deal try to change the governments stated position.  After the meeting he found himself in Jersey Park for the end of summer party.

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He arrived with Carolyn but almost as soon as she introduced us Carolyn went off to organise something or another.  I found myself ‘sort of’ looking after Keir.  Now I’ve seen him operate in the House of Commons and he’s sharp.  He was a Barrister, a QC, he used to be head of the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). I thought it best to start a conversation where I felt on solid ground…football.

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Keir is an Arsenal fan.  He was pleased by the start of their season, disappointed that they got destroyed by Liverpool last weekend but acknowledged that as a pure football fan it was hard not to be impressed by the beautiful way Liverpool are playing.

His 2 children have Swansea City shirts, bought for them by Carolyn, and he said they would proudly wear them in North London to the bemusement of many Arsenal fans.  We talked David Luiz’s haircut, Pepe’s speed but lack of cutting edge in front of goal and the wonder that is Mo Salah.  Good, I thought the first conversation’s gone well and I haven’t made too much of a fool of myself.

Then we moved onto the Swans.  I said we looked good this year, there was a toughness about our team that was missing last year, and I secretly hoped that we might surprise some people this season.  2 for 2 I thought.

Then we started talking about…Brexit.  How austerity has hit our city hard leaving very few spare resources for anything other than essentials.  The fact that we were at a Kids Lunch Club which was there to guarantee kids didn’t miss out over the summer holidays, to me, said it all. Then we moved onto Parliament and I think I’m not breaking any confidences by saying that he expects next week to be a titanic struggle of wills, and strategy and it might not be pretty.

What struck me most was this was obviously a very bright man who has achieved many things in life but that although he is passionate about his politics just like me he loved talking about football and his kids.  Just like Carolyn Harris he cares about his community. It struck me that one day this guy might just have a shot at the title.

Next week, Keir and Carolyn, together with people with many different views will decide our futures.  This shouldn’t be a game.  The decisions made in the next few weeks will affect us all and our children and our grandchildren.  I just pray they make the right ones for all of our sakes.

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