As well as being the MP for Caerphilly, I am also a frontbench spokesperson for the Labour Party on foreign affairs. My responsibility is for the Middle East and North Africa, but I’m also part of a team, led by Lisa Nandy, which is concerned with Britain’s relationship with all parts of the world.
Two of the issues which we are very concerned about are democracy and human rights. It might surprise you to know that democracy throughout the world is actually in retreat, with more countries under dictatorships of one kind or another, than enjoying democracy.
We only have to look at Myanmar (Burma) and the United States to see how democracy is being directly challenged and sometimes being destroyed. In Myanmar, where Aung San Suu Kyi and her party won an overwhelming victory at the polls, the army has seized power in a coup, and a cruel repression is now taking place.
In the United States, which has for so long seen itself as the leader of the free world, there are millions who still believe that Trump won the Presidential election, even though there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. And we all saw the terrible scenes where a mob invaded Capitol Hill in Washington in an attempt to prevent Joe Biden becoming President.
At the same time as democracy is being attacked, all kinds of freedoms and human rights are being undermined. One of the greatest threats in so many parts of the world is the threat to Christianity. As a passionate believer in religious freedom, and as a Christian myself, I take a keen interest in the plight of Christians across the world.
It has been estimated that more than 340 million Christians are suffering high levels of persecution because of their faith, and many of these are facing extreme persecution.
In a recent virtual event organised by Open Doors, it was shown that in so many parts of the world, Christians face brutality and intimidation. In Nigeria, for example, we heard about an unfolding Islamist genocide. In Iraq, we learnt how Christian communities are being displaced, and in China, the Communist Party is stepping-up its programme of undermining still further the already limited freedoms of the 100 million Christians in the country.
These are only some of the terrible examples of the persecution being faced by Christians across the world. There are so many more examples which could be referred to and, in at least a small way, as a Shadow Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister, I am doing my best to, firstly, hold the Government to account, and to encourage and pressurise them to take a more energetic and proactive role on these issues. Secondly, I am endeavouring to give whatever support and solidarity I can to Christians across the world. I do so because I believe that we all live in a global village and Christians, the world over, should be free to practice their faith. This is a basic human right which needs to be upheld, alongside our commitment to democracy.