Archive for August, 2011

Leagues apart.

The Welsh Assembly Government today published a report on Wales’s most deprived communities. Top of this most depressing of leagues, remains Rhyl West and second and third are St James and Twyn Carno in Caerffili.

The Council with most deprived areas remains Merthyr Tydfil followed by Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taff.

It is the intention of Government to take into account this Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation when determining priorities in resource allocation.

It is a truism to say that to tackle the complex problems of these areas of deprivation you need cash and imagination. Well, the ‘cash’ is certainly in short supply and the jury is still out on ’ imagination.’

By an accident of timing the Treasury also produced a report yesterday under the sexy title of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses. OK, not the lightest of reads, but it does indicate that Northern Ireland and Scotland are doing nicely out of the Union and Wales lags behind.

The block grant to the countries should be based on need. But there hasn’t been a needs assessment for some considerable time. Indeed, it was when Cardiff’s own Prime Minister, James Callaghan, had the top job over 32 years ago that it was last looked at. Little wonder then, that Wales is being short changed.

But will things change? Well, the government have promised to look at Wales’s funding. Those in the bubble call it Calman Cymru, following a similar look at Scotland’s finances by the Calman Commission there.

It is unlikely though that things will change soon and a more equitable system introduced. Why, well in a nutshell ‘independence.’

The prospect of a referendum campaign in Scotland on whether to rip up the Act of Union with England or not, will ensure that Mr Cameron will not wish to be seen cutting back on support to Scotland at such a sensitive time.

So Mr Salmond is in that happy of political situations of a win, win situation. A chance to win his most cherished of ambitions ’“ independence or the consolation prize of considerable more powers over finance and still a very healthy subsidy from the Treasury.

And what of Wales? Languishing. Dealing with communities with multiple deprivations without the resources to tackle them. Oh, yes the poor will always be with us. Well, in Wales at least.

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Plan B required

It looks as if the world economy is grinding to a halt. Growth has slowed down dramatically in both America and Europe. Global share prices have been in free fall.

In Wales the impact of the crisis has been increased unemployment, a lack of consumer confidence resulting in a slump in the retail sector. It surely a sign that times are hard when even charity shops are closing down. It seems that the one retail outlet that is expanding is the pawnshop.

All the signs would indicate that the Welsh economy is slowing down. Some might go further and say it’s at a stop.

One doesn’t have to be an economic genius or have the gift of prophecy to predict that a double dip recession awaits us.

The response of politicians to all of this? In one word – inadequate.

Those of us who were at tied to our desks most of the summer saw an economic and financial problem developing into a crisis. Why? Because the politicians were slow, inadequate and far, far too late in their responses.

It seems that there is collective amnesia to the lessons of history and to the events of the 1930s. Then, as now, the politicians were too blinkered in their approach to stimulating the world economy. Result – mass unemployment, civil unrest, does it sound familiar? It took a world war to get the world’s economy moving again.

World trade is again slowing down and there seems to be a lack of co-ordination by politicians in finding a way to boost growth. The only policy that they have in common is that of fiscal austerity. They aim to cut their debts in short order. That’s it, the world’s economic policy in a nutshell.

Well, it’s simple in every sense of the word. It can be described as the cuts agenda. But in economic terms it makes no sense to slam on the brakes when the economy is showing so little signs of recovery.

Of course, public finances have to be brought under-control but like much in life, timing is everything. Politicians throughout the world need to change tack and that includes our own dear Chancellor.

Chancellor Osborne needs to look again and change course. Yes, a plan ‘B’ George.

Investment needs to be made in building up the nation so that it can grow it’s economy again. No I don’t mean the investment that my Saturday blogs encourage. But expenditure in capital projects that will stimulate growth.

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Yorkshire fancies

After last weeks disappointment of only picking one winner at Chester we’ll try our luck this Saturday in Yorkshire.

A word about last week. Although that one winner did mean that we almost broke even. Note the word ’˜almost’. OK there was a small dip in our fortune but still since starting this Saturday racing blog we’re still ahead of the bookies ’“ just about.

If only the UK economy was in as good a shape. On my reckoning if Greece had followed our winning tips they wouldn’t have had to go cap in hand to Brussels for their bailout. Consequently, Euro-zone bonds might have been able to compete with this column as an alternative profitable place to invest cash.

This week a visit to the Yorkshire town of Beverley for our races is in order. It’s an historic racecourse dating back to 1680. It is small and compact race course about a mile 3 furlongs in length.

Although small it has its challenges. The last five furlongs to be precise with the final three furlongs up hill. The advice is – make sure that the horses you back are not smokers, a healthy pair of lungs are essential to compete here.

Beverley Minister is always worth a visit for a quiet prayer before you place your bets.

Remember that on the racetrack just like politics it’s always best to back the right horse. A lesson that local Beverley man, Cardinal John Fisher would have done well to learn. He suffered the same fate as Thomas Moore and was martyred for refusing to accept Henry VIII as Head of the Church in England.

Yes, it’s always best to assess the odds and keep you head in life. A point worth noting as we contemplate today’s selections.

Remember the rule, each way bets on odds above 7/1.

2.00 Really lovely if it could take Esentepe which is the one to beat

2.35 Elijah Pepper has shown more consistency than most politicians but I’ve always had an artistic bent so will be backing Robert the Painter

3.05 To me its between Sud Pacifique and Malthouse but the odds are better on the latter and so is my each way bet

3.35 It would be Dinkum Diamond but has a bad draw so perhaps in the circumstances Duchess Dora may have the edge.

4.10 The politicians will go for Select Committee but Green Park gets my nod.

4.45 Most of the tipsters will give Musnad the thumbs up but Libys Dream takes my fancy

5.15 Herrera is for the risk takers but for the cautious it’s La Bacouetteuse

Postscript

With a one winner, a second and a third neither a profit or a loss. Retirement doesn’t beckon yet though.

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