Wales set to introduce ‘smacking ban’ Fiza Jain Contributor
he Welsh Government has approved plans to ban the physical punishment of children by their parents. This means that Wales will become the second nation in the UK, alongside Scotland, to effectively ban the smacking of children. The Bill entitled the “Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment)(Wales) Bill’ was led by Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, who said that “It is not acceptable to physically punish an adult – it should not be acceptable to do that to a child. There is no such thing as a loving smack. This Bill is about protecting children from all forms of physical punishment and helping to support their rights.” According to The Guardian, Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said “I’m proud Wales has taken this step and once again put children’s rights at the heart of what we do here. “Times have changed and there is no place in a modern society for the physical punishment of children. Wales joins Scotland in being one of the first parts of the UK to see through a positive change to this key piece of legislation.” Assembly Members voted 36 to 14 on January 28 in favour of the Welsh Government Bill. Wales will join a host of other 58 nations in conjunction with Scotland for ending the physical punishment of children by their parents. Additionally, Sarah Crawley, Director at Barnardo’s Cymru said: “We are confident that, over time, this legislation will drive forward the cultural change in parenting that research shows us is already well underway. It is an important opportunity for the wellbeing of children and family relationships to improve as well as being an investment in the wellbeing of the next generation of parents and carers.” However, critics of the legislation claim that it will simply add more pressure on the already strained social services and local authorities. Dr Ashley Frawley, a sociologist at Swansea University told The Telegraph: “It will result in highly negative intervention in good families, increased pressure on beleaguered social services departments and will do nothing to help children who are genuinely at risk of abuse.” Some also argue that despite the fact that there might be children who misbehave, taking away the rights of parents to punish them for such activities would lead to havoc and the beginning of a so-called “nanny state” in Wales. Ministers expect the Bill to be enforced in 2022 after gaining royal assent and a £2 million awareness campaign has been rolled out.
A look at 2020 so far
Take a look at some of the biggest events to have hit the headlines so far this year...
tion of concern policy. Therefore, in the draft deal, commitments have been made to reform and reduce the use of the policy.
Lowri Pitcher Head of Politics
espite only being a month into the new year, 2020 has proven to be a busy year thus far. From Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the assassination of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani to the wide-spread devastation caused by bushfires in Australia; Gair Rhydd politics is breaking down some of the biggest stories to have hit the headlines over the last month.
Iran On January 3, Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was assassinated by a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani, often considered to be the second most powerful person in Iran, behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was “directly and indirectly responsible for the death of millions of people,” according to US President, Donald Trump. On January 4, President Trump announced that the US had targeted “52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago)” and would retaliate if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets. In a retaliatory measure, on January 8, Iran launched 22 ballistic missiles at two military bases hosting US and
1,000,000,000: Over 1 billion animals are estimated to have been
killed in this season’s bushfires. Source: TerryAnneAllen (via Pixabay).
allied troops in Iraq but no casualties were reported. This came shortly after Iran announced that it would no longer abide by the commitments set out in the 2015 Nuclear Deal. Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary backed the US airstrike but warned against an escalation in tensions from both Iran and the US.
The Northern Ireland Assembly officially reconvened on Saturday, January 11, 2020 for the first time since January 2017 (except a one-day session in late 2019 to discuss abortion legislation, which ended abruptly). Leader of the Democratic Union-
ist Party (which formed a confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative party in Westminster from 2017-2019), Arlene Foster, was elected first minister. Upon her election, she claimed that the past three years had “focused too much on derision and division” and it was now “time for Northern Ireland to get moving forward again.” Part of the deal which led to the reconvening of Stormont included a plan to create two new “language commissioners” in order to put Irish on a legal par with English while protecting Ulster British culture. In addition to the language issue, politicians in Stormont were in disagreement over the institution’s peti-
In the country’s worst fire season on record, over 27 million acres of land has been burnt in Australia. The fires, which started last year, escalated greatly in the New Year and have since been reported in each of Australia’s six states. It is estimated that over 1.2 billion animals have been killed, in addition to 29 deaths and 2,500 destroyed homes. Prime Minister Scott Morrison came under heavy criticism due to his response to the fires. Morrison was criticised for spending time in Hawaii while the fires were growing. He was also criticised for not doing enough to reduce the country’s emission levels. Currently, Australia is the world’s second largest coal exporter and numerous citizens are seeking more ambitious climate change targets than the nation’s current commitment to reducing its 2005 emissions levels by 26% before 2030. In response to further criticism that he had not acted quickly enough in his immediate response to the outbreak, Morrison stated that he wanted to create a “legal framework that would allow the Commonwealth to declare a national state of emergency” before the next summer bushfire season.
What to expect in politics in 2020
With Brexit, the Labour Party leadership contest, the US presidential elections and the largest Conservative Party majority in decades, what can we expect from the year ahead? Dewi Morris Contributor
ne of the defining moments of 2020 was of course, Brexit. Britain left the European Union on January 31 and the UK has now entered the transition period. This period is intended to last 11 months and so Brexit negotiations will continue to shape politics throughout the year. During this period the UK will remain in the EU’s single market and customs union and must abide by EU rules. However, the UK will lose its seats in the EU Parliament and its right to vote. This is why the UK Government is keen to exit the transition period before the end of this year. However, this will restrict the timetable for UK negotiations with the EU. At the moment, it is unclear what outcome Brexit will have by the end of the year. There are three likely results, these are: the UK will negotiate a
trade deal with the EU which will be implemented, the UK will exit the transition period with no deal, or the transition period will be extended.
Labour & Lib Dem Leadership Labour’s defeat in the 2019 General Election was its worst since 1935; it was no surprise therefore when Jeremy Corbyn announced shortly after the results, that he would stand down. Leadership candidates have been scrutinised over the past month and are now narrowed down to four hopefuls: Sir Keir Starmer, who is currently by far the betting odds’ favourite; Rebecca Long-Bailey; Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry. Labour’s next leader will be chosen by the party’s members and affiliates, who all have one vote each. The ballot opens on February 21 and the new leader will be announced on April 4. The challenge facing the new Labour leader will be enormous. If Labour is to regain seats in the next general election, due in 2024, it will
be necessary for the leader to rebuild public trust and credibility in the Labour Party. A new Labour deputy leader will also be chosen in a separate contest this year. A Liberal Democrat leadership contest will too take place in 2020 after Jo Swinson lost her seat in the General Election on December 12, 2019. Nominations will open on May 11 and a new leader will be announced
US Presidential Election after the ballot closes on July 15. Outside of the UK, the world will be watching the US presidential election this year. Not only will the election’s result have global influence, but this election will be of particular relevance to the UK considering future trade relationships with the US after Brexit. In the next months, Democrats will decide who will challenge Donald Trump. Out of the 28 Democrat candidates, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren
Ballot Box: 2020 will see multiple leadership elections, including the US presidential elections. Source: Clker-Free-Vector-Images (via Needpix.) and Bernie Sanders are most likely to be chosen according to recent polls. The election will take place on November 3 and the new president, or returning incumbent, will start their term following inauguration on January 20, 2021. At a glance, 2020 will not be far from quiet in terms of politics andthis will no doubt be a year noted in the history books.