Despite the Welsh budget cuts it would seem that the Labour/Plaid coalition government in Cardiff Bay are not been blamed for these cuts and have hitherto escaped the wroth of the voters.
Yes, it’s that time of month again when we see who’s glowing and who’s cursed, who’s up and who’s down in Welsh politics on the basis of the ITV Wales ’“ YouGov tracking poll.
Labour remain buoyant, maintaining their 44 per cent share for the third month in a row on the constituency vote and even edging ahead slightly by 1 percentage point to 41 per cent in the regional or party vote. On the basis of this poll they would have crossed that very difficult winning line of an overall majority, with a projected 31 seats in the Assembly.
Plaid Cymru will be disappointed that they are not doing better. To use a racing metaphor they are running neck and neck with the Conservatives both on 21 per cent in the constituency poll and on 20 per cent on the regional vote. The Conservatives will take some comfort with their 2 per cent gain in both polls on that of October.
The real losers are still the Liberal Democrats for the second month in a row they are in single figures on 9 percentage points in both the constituency and list poll. The will be particularly worried that the ’˜Others’ with 11 per cent could snatch the North Wales list seat from them if the voters were to fall for one party such as UKIP.
The Liberal Democrats it would seem are taking the hit for getting into bed with the Conservatives and forming the government in Westminster.
Those wishing for a ’˜yes’ vote in next March’s referendum may be slightly disappointed to see the voting intensions slip back to 48 per cent, four points below the October figures. The ’˜no’ side are up one point to 30 per cent and those that don’t intend to vote or have still to make their minds up are up two points at 22 per cent. It is still shows a comfortable margin for those wishing to strengthen the powers of the National Assembly.
The poll shows that the Conservatives campaign to ring fence health expenditure is not the killer punch they hoped it would be. 37% of those polled thought that the NHS should face some cuts in order to protect other departments from much bigger cuts, with only 35% saying that the NHS should be protected.
The full poll results are below
ITV WALES YOUGOV TRACKING POLL.
Results of poll carried out 22nd to 24th November 2010. Sample size: 1018. This month’s poll includes the usual tracking questions plus a one-off question on WAG and Conservative policy on NHS and schools budgets.
ASSEMBLY VOTING INTENTION
(compared with 2007 election and previous polls in 2010)
If there were an election to the National Assembly for Wales tomorrow, and thinking about the constituency vote, how would you vote?
2007 May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov
Labour 32% 32% 42% 40% 39% 44% 44% 44%
Pl. Cymru 22% 22% 20% 22% 23% 19% 21% 21%
Cons. 22% 21% 19% 20% 22% 22% 19% 21%
Lib. Dem. 15% 20% 12% 13% 10% 11% 9% 9%
Others 8% 5% 6% 5% 6% 5% 8% 6%
And thinking about the regional or party vote for the National Assembly for Wales, which party list would you vote for?
2007 May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov
Labour 30% 30% 40% 37% 39% 41% 40% 41%
Pl. Cymru 21% 21% 19% 20% 23% 19% 23% 20%
Cons. 22% 21% 20% 20% 21% 20% 18% 20%
Lib. Dem. 12% 18% 12% 14% 9% 12% 9% 9%
Others 16% 9% 9% 8% 8% 8% 11% 11%
REFERENDUM VOTING INTENTION
(compared with previous polls in 2010).
If there were to be a referendum tomorrow on giving the National Assembly for Wales increased law-making powers, how would you vote?
April June July Aug Sept Oct Nov
Yes 49% 55% 48% 48% 49% 52% 48%
No 33% 28% 34% 32% 30% 29% 30%
Don’t Know/ 18% 17% 19% 21% 20% 20% 22%
The Welsh Assembly Government has announced in its draft budget that spending on the NHS will drop in real terms over the next three years, arguing that raising NHS spending in line with inflation would force it to make deeper cuts in other areas, including schools. The Conservative opposition argue that the NHS should be protected from cuts, even if this means much deeper cuts in other areas, including schools.
Which of the following best reflects your view?
1. The NHS should face some cuts if this is the only way to protect other departments from much bigger cuts 37%
2. The NHS should be protected from cuts, even if this means much bigger cuts to areas like schools 35%
The Unionist strand of British politics were quick to point out that the Celtic tiger was no more. John Redwood, former Secretary of State for Wales was heavily critical of his own Chancellor’s use of borrowed money to contribute to the bail out of Eire’s economy and banks.
Such views may gain some currency amongst ordinary voters. Some may be bemused by the fact that they are subjected to cuts in their living standards when the UK are bailing out the economy of an independent government to the tune of £7bn.
Such views are understandable but wrong.
Eire’s economy is much smaller than that of the UK and their banks became to big for that economy.
But the banks grew in size not on ’˜real’ growth but on overseas borrowing. And what did the banks do with the money? They lent on. To who? To commercial and residential property. Resulting in a rapid increase in property prices which in turn fuelled a boom that was unstainable and the bubble eventually burst. With dire results for the economy – the overall burden of debt in the republic was 700% of its GDP.
So Eire found itself in a situation that it could not pay its way in the world, its economy was in dire straits and this weekend had to admit it couldn’t dig itself out of the hole it had created for itself.
It is to deal with this black hole in the public finance and to bail out the toxic debts of the Irish banks that the current IMF and European Union rescue is all about.
But why is it in the UK’s interest to help bail out the Irish.
Well, the UK and Irish economies are closely linked. The Republic is the UKs largest export market and the crucial role played by Irish banks in Northern Ireland. If these banks were allowed to fail there would be devastating knock on effect on our own economy.
But that apart, it makes good business sense to lend to Eire. The UK is still able to borrow money at very low rates of interests. The rate they’ll charge the Irish will be much higher and provided Eire doesn’t default, it would yield a profitable return for the UK tax payer.
So those right wing politicians who are such advocates of free market forces should recognise a good deal when they see one. But perhaps their attachment to the union is such that they would love to see the one part of these islands to gain independence become a failed state.
Three new Welsh Peers a dancing. Well, perhaps not a dancing but Jenny Randerson, Eluned Morgan and Dafydd Wigley will all three have a spring in their step today. For they are all to go the House of Lords as Life Peers. These appointments underline again the fact that old politicians never die but fade away to that final resting place for retired politicians, the House of Lords
There is nothing surprising that both Eluned Morgan and Jenny Randerson should have accepted their respective party’s nomination to the Lords, for it’s very much part of the patronage system of Westminster parties. It is one of many weapons in the armoury of political parties that they can offer such rewards to politicians that have loyally served the ‘party’ without rocking the boat.
Both are members of parties whose first loyalty is the British state and all its glories. These glories include an anachronistic legislative chamber whose Members are not elected but stuffed full of old party hacks – an interesting form of law making body in a democracy. Quite why two intelligent women would want to give credence to such an institution is somewhat of a mystery.
Now why Dafydd Wigley would want to accept such an honour is an even greater puzzle.
For years Plaid Cymru took the view that as an undemocratic institution the House of Lords was very much a no go area. They refused to play, what they described as the ‘British Establishment’s game.’ They decided to boycott the place.
This was the settled view of the party until relatively recently. Then in what can only be described a spectacular u-turn they decided to stand the policy on its head and nominate party members to the upper House.
Plaid, being Plaid, held an election of all party members to decide who would be their nominees. The three chosen was a certain D Wigley, no surprises there then; Eurfyl Ap Gwilym, he of Paxman fame and Janet Davies an ex-Assembly member.
There was only one little fly in the ointment and that was Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He wasn’t having any of it. No “Nat” would get preferment on his watch. So Plaid have been kept waiting for a more sympathetic occupant in Number 10 – and now they clearly have one, in the form of David Cameron.
Now why should Plaid have changed their policy after years of principled opposition to the Lords. Well, it was all because of Peter Hain’s Government of Wales Act.
This act meant that any proposal by the Welsh Assembly for new laws[Legislative Competence Orders] had to pass through the two Houses of Parliament in Westminster. So the Plaid Cymru leadership put forward a compelling case that they needed to be in the Lords so that they too could vote on LCOs as they passed through.
But, and there’s always a ‘but’ in politics, if the referendum produces a ‘yes’ vote there will be no need for the House of Lords, or the Commons for that matter, to deal with Welsh only laws. These will be in the sole hands of Welsh Assembly members. The compelling case for Plaid Cymru members sitting in the Lords will vanish. It will be interesting to see if Mr Wigley or perhaps by then Lord Wigley will hand back his ermine and join the rest of the great unwashed!! Stranger things have been known to happen, but not very often.