Archive for October, 2013

The political week

Week 20 October to 25 October

Wales

Carwyn Jones’s monthly press conference was held in the new Deloitte’s building in the Cardiff Finance Enterprise zone. He announced small and medium-sized businesses could in future get 2% reduction in interest rates charged on new loans from Finance Wales.  He also said that in all the Welsh enterprise zones there were 6,500 in the pipeline starting with a 100 jobs in Deloitte’s over the next 3 years.

The task force looking at the future of the National Eisteddfod concluded that things should broadly stay the same. But needed more money to pay for an artistic director. It took a year to come to that conclusion.

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives on Devolved matters, as David Jones describes Andrew RT Davies, wants Assembly Members to work harder by having an additional plenary session on Thursday morning and a root and branch review of Assembly procedure so that they ‘burst the Cardiff Bay bubble,’ whatever that might be. Its his response to the recent report on the need for a 100 AMs.

Jane Hutt, The Finance Minister got one up on a spat with HM Treasury. After initially contradicting her by saying that Wales did not get money as a consequence of the expenditure on High Speed 2 eventually they conceded that Wales did. Oh dear, the Treasury wrong on a financial matter, how unusual. (See tinyurl.com/oe6vhhn)

 Rest

The UK is getting back into nuclear energy. The government has given the go-ahead for a new nuclear station the first in a generation. But it’s courtesy of the French Government’s EDF Energy and perhaps more worrying Communist China, who are minority investors. This is the first time that UK has not funded its own nuclear facilities.  The taxpayer isn’t let off the hook all will pay £92.50 for every megawatt hour of energy Hinckley C generates, twice the current wholesale cost of electricity. The French and Chinese in particular will be laughing all the way to the bank. They get money and access to our nuclear industry technology. It’s a strange old world when a government who wants to see all things privatized in the UK is prepared to see a strategic industry fall into the hands of foreign states but not its own. Also see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2013/10/what-has-he-ever-done-for-us/

John Major intervening in the fuel debate. Saying that there should be a one off windfall tax on the energy companies. Even if the current Prime Minister hasn’t got his fingers on the popular pulse the last Tory Prime Minister seems to be on the ball. He even had time to target the head “bastard” Ian Duncan Smith. On IDS’s benefit reform he warned him not to be obsessed about welfare cheats and then the poisoned dart was thrown “unless he is very lucky, which he may not be, or a genius, which last time I looked was unproven, he may get some of it wrong”. Ouch, revenge is a meal etc.

 Polls

After a few weeks of Labour’s lead slipping they’re back to where they were.  Could it be that the line that Miliband has been peddling on energy is resonating with the public. Particularly as the price hikes announced by the energy oligopolies cause consumers to worry about their gas and electricity bills. The polls were to early to reflect Cameron’s abysmal performance in the Commons on Wednesday were Miliband bested him on energy policy.

Thursday

YouGov/Sun         CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%

Monday

Populus                   CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 14%, UKIP 8%.

Sunday

YouGov/Sunday Times         CON 33%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%

ComRes/Indy on Sunday & Mirror          CON 32%(+4), LAB 35%(-1), LDEM 9%(-1), UKIP 16%(-1).

Opinium/Observer          CON 27%(-2), LAB 38%(+2), LDEM 9%(+2), UKIP 17%(+2).

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A fast track to growth

IMG_3746The spat between the Welsh Government and the Treasury about whether Wales is getting its share of the HS2 or not seems to be a side show to a much bigger issue. But just for the record this is what Jane Hutt said.

“At the Spending Round in June, the UK Government allocated funding for HS2 in 2015-16 through the UK Department for Transport capital budget.

This contributed to an overall increase in the Department for Transport capital budget from £7.5bn to £9.5bn in 2015-16 – a £2bn increase. This increase includes funding for HS2. The Welsh Government received a capital consequential of £84.5m from the £2bn overall increase in the Department of Transport capital budget.”

So there you have it, the working of the Barnett formula in practice. But put that against the fact London’s economy is doing even better after the banking crash than during the bubble whilst Wales’s economy is shrinking. Against this whether we get money from HS2 spend is small beer indeed.

The reason why? Well London has seen massive infrastructure projects such as the Olympics and the Channel tunnel rail link have seen a huge amount of public spending flowing into London at a time that Wales is still seeking borrowing powers to launch its own infrastructure projects.

Apparently last year, the construction skills industry training board forecast that Greater London would receive more economic-development spending than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together.

So the inaction on Silk 1 is not a question for Cardiff Bay political anoraks but a very important tool that could at least give Wales an opportunity to launch its own infrastructure programme. The delay is costing Wales dearly.

 

 

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What has he ever done for us?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“It’s not what the Roman’s have ever done for us, but what has the Secretary of State ever done for us.” It’s that question that’s preoccupying the First Minister.

The question arises out of a spat between the Welsh Government. The UK government are dragging their collective feet on implementing the Silk Commission’s recommendations on devolving financial matters to the Welsh Assembly. Naturally enough the Welsh Government want these powers as soon as possible.

Delays have occurred and the finger of blame is very much pointing at our dear Secretary of State, David Jones.

All things devolution would seem to be anathema to him and the very thought of more powers ‘occurring’ on his watch, sticks very much in his gullet.

His predecessor, Cheryl Gillan set up the Silk Commission but of course as so often happens in politics the report landed on the desk of her successor like a hand grenade. His natural reaction, throw it to the undergrowth. But he can’t. Why? A little problem – the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in Westminster, very much want full implementation, indeed Douglas Alexander came to Wales in the spring to tell Wales so.

And according to Carwyn Jones no less a person than the Prime Minister assured him that he’s all for Silk. So what’s young David to do? He can’t say no, but he can do is what government’s are very good at, prevaricate.  And he’s doing so with some considerable gusto.

This has enraged Carwyn Jones. So the First Minister went on the attack. Comparing him very unfavourably with Cheryl Gillan the previous incumbent of Gwydr House. According to Jones the previous Secretary of State had got a referendum on law making powers, set up Silk had taken the decision on electrification of the South Wales railways. It makes one quite dizzy thinking of all she did for Wales.

In contrast, according to the other Jones, David Jones has done zilch, nought,  nothing since he got the job.  Well nothing, except delay and block progress.

As is so often the case in politics nowaday’s it was not David Jones that responded but his spin-doctor. She gallantly jumped to her Minister’s defence and  answered that all-important question of ‘what has David Jones ever done for us?’

She listed efforts to secure a new nuclear development at Wylfa. Establishing committees to work on the business cases for electrification of the North Wales coast railway line and the link between Wrexham and Bidston and bringing a new prison to North Wales

So there you have it a prison, a committee and pushing for Wylfa B.

But Wylfa B could be the making of the lad,  if he’s more successful than his cabinet colleague, Chancellor, George Osborne in his nuclear negotiations.

What Wales doesn’t want in Wylfa B is old technology, which everyone pays through his or her noses in revenue charges to fund. A technology that still produces lethal nuclear waste.31178_Pont-Borth

What is needed in Wylfa is an integral fast reactor which works by using up our stock piles of nuclear waste and eating up more and more of its waste.  He should talk to GE Hitachi about such and get some 21 century technology into Ynys Mon. It would make the First Minister happy if such a scheme arrived at the island’s Energy Enterprise zone. It would make the rest of Wales happy, green energy that really worked.

Now if David Jones delivered this, the refrain would be “the boy’s done good.”

 

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