Archive for December, 2013

Last assembly week before Christmas

Week 8 to 13 December

Wales

You’ve a longer wait in Wales for an Ambulance in Wales than Scotland and England according to an FOI answer for the BBC. The recommended time is 15 minutes but in Wales it was 20 minutes. Answer, if you need an ambulance move to Scotland.

Carwyn Jones celebrated his for 4 years as First Minister with a press conference. He claimed a successful referendum as a success and also the act of presumed consent. It took the fourth estate to point out the lack of achievement in education, health and the economy. But people still seem to want more devolution when asked, so he must be doing something right.

Last week it was PISA, this week it was banding. Banding of secondary schools by their performance. Schools are graded on GCE results, performance in Welsh , English and Mathematics, attendance and the number of kids from poorer backgrounds attending the school. Its suppose to be a way of discovering when things are going wrong and then putting them right. Teaching unions reckon the whole system is flawed, the Minister disagrees and says they are here to stay. One thing they’re not, is league tables. Although you can consult the bands and identify the top school in Wales and the worst. If they were football clubs they’d be in a league. But they’re definitely not league tables. Why? ‘Cos the Minister says so.

The South Wales programme for how hospital services are delivered is being delayed. It was due out on Thursday. Final details of the plan need working through, apparently. It’s not like the health service to postpone anything. Well, apart from operations, appointments, ambulances, and scans.

Kirsty Williams won the backbenchers ballot  to introduce a bill.  Her proposal is for a Minimum Nurse Staffing Levels Bill. If passed it would the government would have to produce regulations setting a minimum staffing level for nurses on wards in hospitals.  She now has 25 working days to bring forward her bill.

 Rest

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has announced that migrants to the UK are to be quizzed about their English skills before being able to claim income-related benefits. Job centres in England, Scotland and Wales will use the “more robust” test.  So a migrant from Patagonia will be refused even if fluent in one of the official languages of Wales.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) wants to raise MP’s salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015. Predictable there are many MPs saying how inappropriate such an increase would be when everyone’s pay are at a standstill. At least that’s their public stance. But privately many are hoping Ipsa’s chairman Sir Ian Kennedy gets his way on this one.

Polls

Thursday

YouGov/Sun         CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%

Sunday

YouGov/S. Times         CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%.

 Wales

Wednesday

YouGov/ITV Wales/Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University

Westminster – CON 21%, LAB 46%, LDEM 8%, Plaid 12%, UKIP 10%

Welsh Assembly constituency – CON 19%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%, Plaid 20%, UKIP 7%

Welsh Assembly regional – CON 19%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, Plaid 15%, UKIP 10%

(for more detailed analysis see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2013/12/labour-rules/)

 Scotland

Wednesday

YouGov/Times           YES 33% (+1) NO 52% (NC).

Excluding won’t votes and don’t knows the figures are YES 39%, NO 61%.

Sunday

Ipsos MORI         YES 34%(+3), NO 57%(-2).

These are the first polls produced since the publication of the White paper and  show that its had only had a very slight positive effect on the case for independence

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Labour rules

Seeats in Assembly after dec'13 poll jpegLabour rule for ever. Well, certainly for the foreseeable future in Wales if the latest ITV-Cymru/Wales, the Wales Governance Centre, YouGov poll come to pass.

Voters were asked how they would vote in Assembly, Westminster and European elections and Labour was the popular choice in all three.

Despite critics of Carwyn Jones’s government attacking poor performance in education, health and the economy it hasn’t diminished the voters love affair with Labour.

According to the polls Labour will be the largest party in the next Assembly with thirty seats the same number as now.

The party will face a much more fragmented opposition with UKIP taking seats in the Assembly for the first time, making it highly unlikely that a rainbow coalition can be put together to push Labour out.

Labour top the poll in  both the constituency and regional sections giving them the 30 seats.

Plaid Cymru replace the Conservatives and come second in the constituency section with 20%, but only 15% in the regional lists. The result sees them loose 2 seats and gives them 9 seats. Not enough even to displace the Conservatives as the main Opposition Party.

Assembly const dec jpeg2013Assembly const dec jpeg 2013

The Tories are down 3 seats giving them 11 seats in the new Assembly if the poll results were duplicated on election day.

Despite a drop in the polls the Liberal Democrats remain on 5.

UKIP enter into Assembly politics for the first time gaining 5 seats based on a 7% poll in the constituency section and 10% in the regional section. Many commentators have predicted that the UKIP would damage the Tories in elections but these polls indicated collateral damage to Plaid Cymru as well.

Having a spread of Opposition parties trying to compete with each other for the ear of the voter means that Labour has little to fear from the Opposition benches.

Westminster poll December 2013jpegFor the Westminster election Labour are up 10% on the last general election with 46% the Conservatives are downto 21% Plaid Cymru up slightly to 12% and the Liberal Democrats on an all time low of 8% with UKIP overtaking them with 10%. It would result in Labour gaining 7 seats, 5 seats from the Tories and one each from Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.

Euro poll 2013jpegThe European results of the poll could see Plaid Cymru without representation in Europe.

All three polls confirm that one party rule in Wales will continue a while yet.  Of course opposition parties will point out that its only a poll, its what goes on the ballot paper that counts. Hmmm.

 

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Back to the future

220px-Attlee_BW_croppedThe death of Nelson Mandela limited the coverage of George Osborne’s autumn statement. The statement was a declaration of the government’s financial intent. And the intention is very clear, cuts in public expenditure.

The Office for Budget Responsibility spelt it out with some clarity it was government’s intention to reduce “general government consumption to fall to its lowest level as a share of national income since consistent data began in 1948”.

So there we have it, government will be spending less than before the NHS was established, before Wales had a comprehensive school and even before the National Assistance Act.

Although many are feeling the consequences of government cuts already, but they won’t have experienced anything like the cuts they are to face. For let’s not forget the scale of the cuts in spending still to come. Whitehall’s spending on public services will have been cut by just over 8%.

For the Chancellor to meet his target on debt by 2018-19 it now imply cuts of more than 20% in total public service spending.

This would actually imply acceleration in the rate of public service spending cuts – from 2.3% a year between April 2011 and March 2016, to 3.7% a year between April 2016 and March 2019.

As the well informed Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) point out, simply to avoid such an acceleration in cuts in this kind of spending would require cuts in welfare spending of a further £12 billion a year by 2018-19.

Presenting its analysis of the autumn statement the IFS said, “We estimate that in the period 2009-10 to 2012-13 real median household incomes will drop by a whopping 7.4% – another record matched only by the falls seen between 1974 and 1977.”

In other words, more than a decade will have passed without any increase in living standards for those on average incomes.

And it wasn’t only the IFS but also the OBR who published their own outlook for the economy alongside Osborne’s statement. It forecast that average real earnings would fall by nearly 3% in 2011 and fall again in 2012.

But the real cuts will happen after the next general election if the Chancellor’s policy comes to pass. His cuts would be far deeper than anything seen yet, accelerating from their current 2.3% a year to 3.7% a year up to 2019.

And the giveaways he announced add up to £12bn, likely to be taken from the £19bn welfare cuts already earmarked.

So that’s the future, back to 1948. Not a winning manifesto, vote for us and we’ll take you back to the dark day’s before Mr. Attlee’s reforms.

 

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