Archive for May, 2012

Change your ways

There were two first’s today. Francois Hollande was sworn in as president of France, and Plaid Cymru’s new leader, Leanne Wood took her first press conference since becoming leader.

The similarities don’t end there. Both called today for an end to austerity. Both called for economic growth. 

Mr Hollande called for “a compromise” over the German-led focus on austerity as the way out of the eurozone crisis. Ms Wood called for all the ‘progressives’ to get together to press for a growth programme.

A similarity of approach, but one has the power that comes with office to make the difference. 

The other one can try to mobilise the “left.” Conferences, taking to the streets? The how is a bit vague. 

In his first presidential speech, Mr Hollande said he wished to deliver a “message of confidence”.

The new president summarised the problems facing France as “huge debt, weak growth, reduced competitiveness, and a Europe that is struggling to emerge from a crisis”.

Well, if that is how he sees the problems facing France the same analysis could be applied to the UK writ large. 

The economy in the UK has flat lined for some time. Consequently unemployment is disturbingly high in the UK has a whole and in Wales in particular. 

The divide as to how the two government’s intend to tackle the problems is wider than the channel that separates the two states. 

Whilst Mr Hollande said he wanted other European leaders to sign a pact that “ties the necessary reduction of deficit to the indispensable stimulation of the economy”.

This side of the channel it’s still business as usual. The Queen’s speech summarised economic policy as still being to give priority to ’˜deficit reduction.’ In other words more austerity.

So not only do we continue with a policy that is hitting the poor hard but also the middle classes or as young Ed Miliband  describes them ‘the squeezed middle.’ Sounds a bit like my waist line.

The austerity itself has kept the economy depressed and the lack of tax revenue has meant that the approach has not even reduced the deficit. So on all fronts our dear Chancellor has failed.

And as his party’s strategist he hasn’t even read the runes rightly. His budget giving a bung to the rich at a time even when shareholders are revolting against obscene high pay packages was widely seen to have been a major mistake. Indeed the whole budget was seen to have backfired. 

The voters response was a very large raspberry in the form of the local election results. This mainly underlines a similar message to that seen throughout Europe that voters will punish all regimes who’s economic strategy is ‘austerity.’ Indeed in the last year austerity programmes have done for eight leader in Europe. 

So beware Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. The latest opinion polls predict a similar fate here. 

The latest You Gov Poll for Sun indicate Labour 45% Con 31% UKIP 8% Lib Dem 7%. and a similar pattern in the Ipsos Mori/Standard Lab 43% Con 33% Lib Dem 9%


This will be the last blog for a while whilst I’m off for a week’s holiday. A much needed boost to the Spanish economy.


Let me build a barrage

So Peter Hain is taking himself to the back benches to build himself a barrage. 

The 62-year-old Neath MP’s standing down 

as current shadow Welsh secretary to concentrate all his energy on trying to get a Severn barrage built. 

But Hain being Hain says he’s open to offers should young Ed Miliband become Prime Minister.  

That’s good of him, eh.

Labour have a list of bright young things waiting in the wings to take centre stage, but one questions why any of them should be queuing up for such a non-job.

Even before devolution Wales hardly got much of a look in Westminster. Now it’s not even worthy of Westminster’s glance. 

Power has moved to Cardiff Bay. It’s Carwyn Jones that runs the Welsh roost. God knows what the Secretary of State for Wales does to fill her days, and even less so what the Shadow is expected to shadow.

As we say in the valleys ‘what’s it for?’  

At best it can only be seen as a stepping stone for a job with something  of an humph about it. But the danger for any ambitious politician is that they get stuck in the job, much as Peter Hain to his own despair found himself. 

Whilst holding the post the temptation is always for the Labour shadow not so much to hold the Secretary of State to account but to interfere with what Labour is doing in the Bay. After all the devil makes work for idle hands.

Mr Cameron, once the Scottish question is settled, will surely scrap the post. 

If Scotland remains in the Union then a ministry for all the devolved nations will be established. If Scotland outs itself, well who knows what new arrangements will be made for the remaining rump.  But you can bet your bottom dollar there won’t be a Welsh Secretary. 

So as Peter Hain says goodbye to the front benches it won’t be long before Wales says goodbye to the Welsh Office itself. 


What next for censured AM

Yesterday my attention was on the Queens speech, so the little local difficulty of the AM for Llanelli took second place in my list of priorities. 

My view on the matter was documented in the blog that followed the first news of Mr Davies’s big night out. 

But to update readers, here’s the latest. Yesterday the Standards committee produced their report on the matter. It will be debated in Assembly’s main session next Wednesday. 

After complaints from the St David’s Hotel to the Clerk of the National Assembly asked the independent Commissioner for Standards, Gerard Elias QC to investigate and report back to the committee on Standards of Conduct.

Just to recap these are the facts that Elias reported to the committee.

  • On 16 April 2012, as one of twelve bookings requested bythe AM’Ÿs office to the MBST, accommodation was arranged for the nights of Monday 23 & Tuesday 24 April 2012 at the St David’Ÿs Hotel, Cardiff Bay.  No issue is raised as to the propriety of such booking.
  • The AM duly checked in to the hotel on 23 April shortlyafter 7.00 p.m. and was given room 408.  He subsequently left the hotel later that evening. 
  • The AM returned to the hotel at about 4.45am on 24 April with a female and both went to room 408.  At this time the AM was adversely affected by alcohol.
  • Shortly thereafter both the female and the AM contacted hotel reception requesting that 2 bottles of wine be sent to the room. After some discussion, this was done – the AM authorised his credit card to be debited.
  • Thereafter, between 05.30 and 08.30am the hotel reception received a number of complaints from adjoining rooms of the noise emanating from room 408 and from its balcony, which included loud shouting and swearing.
  • Telephone calls to room 408 and face to face visits by hotel staff seeking to get the AM and his companion to reduce the noise and consequent disturbance to other hotel occupants were met with abuse and threats, particularly from the female, and an  indication from the AM that he did not intend to pay the bill.
  • The AM booked out of the hotel at about 12 noon while the female made foul mouthed detrimental comments about the hotel from the first floor landing. This was witnessed by the numerous hotel guests then present in the lobby. 
  • The AM left the hotel alone.

Keith Davies accepted the facts and apologised for his behaviour on the night concerned and wrote a letter of apology to the hotel. He also picked up the bill for his stay at the hotel.

To cut a long story short the report went to the committee who unanimously recommend that the Member should be ‘censured.’  

So there you have it a slap over the wrists and end of story. Or is it?

The report poses a challenge to the Labour Party itself. The ball is now very much in their court.  Did the AMs behaviour bring the party into disrepute? And if so what is the party going to do about it?