Archive for July, 2012

No growth area

The economy is still in deep trouble. Just published are the official figures by the Office for National Statistics that show that the economy has shrunk for the third quarter in a row. The economy shrank by 0.7% in the last three months.

This shrinkage is much larger than most economist’s were expecting. Most thought the figure would be nearer 0.2%. 

This follows a drop of 0.3% in the first three months of the year.

It is traditional to find a scapegoat for such disastrous figures and true to form thy’ve done it again. This time it’s the Queen. The fact is we’ve all taken time off to celebrate her jubilee. Naughty us. And of course that perennial stand-by the weather. It rained.

The biggest fall was in the construction industry. The building sector saw output fall by 5.2%. But manufacturing was also down by 1.3%, while services was down 0.1%.

Looking at the figures it is very unlikely that we’ll be on the right side of zero growth this year. It is more likely the economy will be contracting.

These figure again underline that the coalition governments handling of the economy is proving disastrous. All reputable economists will say you don’t go for a policy of public expenditure cuts in a recession. The time to cut back is when the economy is growing. 

The government is repeating the mistakes that occurred in the Inter war years of last century. Are lessons never learnt from history?

The UK is now in the worse double dip recession for fifty years and still our Chancellor has no plan B. 


Who’s whose poodle

So party stalwart and ex MP & AM Cynog Dafis wants Plaid to forget about independence and concentrate on trying to be nice to Labour. Presumably so that Labour relents and allow Plaid Cymru back into government.

In a Radio interview Mr Dafis said his party should do a deal with Labour and agree a way forward for the Welsh NHS.

Mr Dafis seems to be singing from the same hymn sheet as Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Both want a governmental role for their party rather than a constant oppositional role.

What both are saying don’t bother trying to hold the Welsh government to account, don’t co-operate with the other opposition parties.  Put simply, just cosy up to Labour.

Such a strategy must be music to the ears of Carwyn Jones and Labour. If Plaid Cymru was to adopt such a policy, Labour would be given a free hand in the governance of Wales.

Now whilst some in Plaid Cymru might agree with Lord Elis-Thomas that there was no evidence that a no confidence vote was warranted on the Health Minister. Maybe, on this occasion the party got it wrong. 

But surely there will be occasions when the government will need to be held to account by the opposition parties. And yes even a vote of no-confidence will be warranted. 

A party whose main strategy is getting into bed with the government rules out any constructive role of opposition.

The nub of it, is that with such an approach Plaid Cymru is accepting Labour hegemony. It is accepting one-party rule in Wales. And is not inclined to challenge Labour’s dominance. 

Such a policy is inherently anti-democratic, it it is exactly the approach that was taken in the old Soviet Block where other parties were allowed to exist, but in name only. There was, of course, a condition for their existence. They always had to vote with the comrades in the Communist party. 

Forget the realignment of Welsh politics. One party rule forever.

Is there room in the Welsh politic scene for such a party. 

A party that kicks its reason for existence into the very long grass  and turns its back on independence. It’s only role in life, to prop up Labour.

‘Vote for us and we’ll help Labour.’ Doesn’t do it for me as a winning formula to gather votes on election day. Why vote for the monkey when the organ grinder is on the ballot paper.


The Dafydd El question

Will he go or will he stay? That’s the question being asked about Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas the Plaid Cymru Member for Dwyfor Meirionydd.

Although the former Plaid Cymru leader ruled out joining the Labour Party on Radio Cymru, on the very same programme he admitted to having considered joining Labour. The reason? The stance taken by his party both during the Assembly election campaign in criticising Labour when they’d just been in government with them. Proposing a vote of no-confidence in the Health Secretary he saw as crass politics. His view is that Plaid Cymru are being a ‘supportive opposition for the Conservatives.’  

What really was the final straw for Elis-Thomas was what he perceived as a Plaid Cymru group u-turn. 

The party first decided to turn a blind eye to his likely absence from the vote of no-confidence in the Health Minister. He was to be allowed to go to Bangor to hand out degrees in his capacity as Chancellor of the University. 

On the eve of the vote, the party had second thoughts and insisted that the Lord turn his back on the pomp of the graduation ceremony and come back to vote. It is thought that this was after Tory pressure on Plaid Cymru. 

It would have been odds on that had he turned up his vote would have been not with the opposition but with the government. It is difficult to see what Plaid Cymru were hoping to gain by their insistence. 

His non-appearance has led to the whip being withdrawn from him and he faces a disciplinary panel  of three Plaid AMs on Monday. The panel will be Elin Jones, Simon Thomas and Bethan Jenkins. They will decide what further punishment the good Lord will face, if any. 

Elis-Thomas claims he will not turn up.  He has the prior engagement of attending the Royal Welsh show. His way of raising two fingers to the witch-hunters general.

Last night he was given the unanimous support  of his constituency party in Dwyfor Meirionydd. One of Plaid Cymru’s biggest constituency branches.

Meanwhile as  yesterday’s blog made clear, the Labour Party are expressing warm words about Dafydd Elis-Thomas in the hope of enticing him into their ranks. Such a high ranking defection from Plaid Cymru would leave the party in some disarray.

It is indeed ironic that the most left wing leader that Plaid Cymru has ever had has now been manipulated into working and voting in cahoots with the Conservatives in the Assembly. She is now in grave danger of engineering the departure of a former leader of the party. Her naivety and inexperience has caused an embarrassment to become a crisis.

Unless  wiser heads take a grip on things, the  situation could spiral out of control and do lasting damage to Plaid Cymru.

So what of Dafydd El. It’s unlikely that he’ll voluntarily jump into a party that is even more authoritarian and disciplined than Plaid Cymru. 

But he is certainly playing the political equivalent of the game of chicken. He’s almost daring the party to push him out. How often have we heard someone claim that ‘they didn’t leave the party, but the party left them.’ Is this what Dafydd’s up to? 

His role over the years as Presiding Officer made him semi-detached from his party. Submitting to party discipline now can’t be easy for the man. Perhaps, he’s thinking that he’d find it politically more comfortable to be pushed out of the party and become an independent. 

After all that’s the role he’s played in the House of Lords over the years. Even in those days he manage to get up the nose of his party. He accepted a peerage at a time when it was party policy not to. 

Maybe, he’ll sit as a cross-bencher in the Assembly as well as the Lords.
Leanne Wood intervened and has restored the whip to Dafydd Elis-Thomas. It’s now up to him what happens next. Will he jump? Plaid Cymru making it very clear that he’s not being pushed out of party.