Week 15 to 20 December
Assembly Members have started there Christmas holidays. Sorry, not holidays but working hard in their constituencies.
If a week is a long time in politics, 18 years in the same department as a Minister must be an eternity. That was the lot of Wyn Roberts who was Conservative MP for Conwy for 27 years. He died at the age of 83 as Lord Roberts of Conwy. He piloted the Welsh Language Act in 1993. It was said of him that during his stint in the Welsh Office he built more roads than the Romans and even one tunnel under the Conwy.
Too little is known about the objectives and expected results of the Welsh Government’s Enterprise Zones, according to a National Assembly for Wales Finance Committee. They were told that all seven Enterprise Zones have strategic objectives – but not what they are. That they have bid for investment – but not exactly what they have bid for. They will be expected to deliver results – but not how that success will be measured. In other words treated like mushrooms kept in the dark and feed them plenty of manure.
Draft Wales Bill was issued allowing for a referendum on income tax varying powers. It cannot be held three months either side of an all Wales poll or referendum thus limiting the scope of when it can happen. A cynic might even say they don’t want it to ever take place. The bill if passed would allow Welsh Ministers to borrow in order to invest in capital projects; it would enable the Assembly to develop its own taxes for land and property transactions, and in relation to landfill; and also establish a mechanism that will enable the Assembly to create new taxes on a case-by case basis. On non-financial matters it extends the Assembly term to 5 years & removes prohibition on candidates standing in constituency and on regional lists. It will prohibit “double jobbing”, by preventing MPs from also being Assembly Members. It also allows a change of name it will no longer be the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) but Welsh Government. But same lot in charge.
Another Kinnock wants to throw his hat into Welsh politics. This time it’s the son, Stephan Kinnock. He is interested in becoming the Labour candidate in Aberavon at the 2015 general election. He’s not understood to have had any previous connection with the constituency. Mr Kinnock is married to the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thoring-Schmidt. Although his family live in Copenhagen, he is based in London but says that if he is elected he would make the constituency his home, with the support of his wife. Well, the political class know no boundaries, Wales, Denmark, Europe, who cares, as long as the cash comes rolling in.
Sir Michael Wilshaw the chief inspector of schools in England said that Grammar schools are “stuffed full” of middle-class children and do not improve social mobility and the selective system was not the way to make up ground on other nations. Results of the OECD’s global Pisa tests recently showed that the UK is falling behind global rivals, with British 15-year-olds ranked 26th in maths, 23rd for reading and in 21st place in science. But Sir Michael said he did not think the selective system was the way to make up ground on other nations. Many Tory MPs were unhappy with his intervention and rubbished his claim. Well no surprises there then.
Plans are afoot to make the Health Service in England a truly seven day service. It follows the alarming fact that you’ve 16% higher chance of meeting the grim reaper on the weekend than in the week. As yet there are no such plans for Wales.
Ed Miliband says that councils will be allowed to expand beyond their current boundaries to provide new housing if Labour are elected in 2015. He blamed “stick in the mud councils” for blocking plans by neighbouring councils.
And as he highlighted in his conference speech he will seek to introduce measures to stop housing developers “hoarding” land that has planning permission. His target is to build 200,000 homes a year in England by 2020. Only the small matter of getting the keys to that des res in Downing Street first, then.
Jenny Willott MP for Cardiff Central and a Liberal Democrat whip became a business minister, standing in for Jo Swinson while she is on maternity leave. She also remains a whip.
The Scottish and UK governments have missed today’s (Friday) election watchdog deadline to agree what will happen after the independence referendum. The Electoral Commission asked both administrations to reach joint position on the processes for after the vote, whatever the outcome. The Commission said that the voters needed clarification on what will happen after the referendum, whether the vote is “Yes” or “No”. Neither side have come to an agreement as to what comes next but they are due to meet again in the New Year. They had better decide soon, as the vote takes place on 18 September 2014.
To round the political year off, here’s the polling average based on the last twenty days of polling. Conservatives 33 Labour 38 Liberal Democrats 10 Ukip 11 Greens 3 Others 5. Based on a uniform swing it would give Labour a majority of 58.
YouGov/Sun CON 34%, LAB 38%, LD 10%, UKIP 11%.
YouGov/Sun CON 33%, LAB 41%, LD 8%, UKIP 13%.
ComRes/Independent CON 32%(nc), LAB 37%(nc), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 10%(-1).
YouGov/Sun CON 36%, LAB 38%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 11%.
Opinium/Observer CON 30%(+2), LAB 37%(+2), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3)
ComRes/Indy on Sunday CON 29%(nc), LAB 36%(+1), LDEM 8%(-2), UKIP 18%(+1)
YouGov/Sunday Times CON 32%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%