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That was the week

Week 26 to 31 January

Wales

A spat has developed between the Assembly presiding officer Dame Rosemary Butler and Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies. It’s about the Senedd procedures. Davies wants them reviewed Butler says they already been looked at by the business committee in 2010 on which the Conservatives were represented by William Graham AM. Not good enough says the Conservative leader. He wants change, and when does he want it? Now. Dame Rosemary wants change but isn’t going to be pushed into it by what she sees as the political posturing of the Conservative leader.  (See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/01/a-representative-democracy/)

It’s not just the Presiding Officer that the Welsh Conservatives are unhappy with it’s also the government. No not procedure but drugs.  All because Public Health Wales are funding a drug testing service to stop psychoactive substances, or legal highs harming users.. Forget the public health value says the Conservatives “The Welsh Government should be trying to tackle drug dependency and not allowing drug dealers to benchmark the quality of the substances they pedal to vulnerable people in deprived communities of Wales.” So there you have it forget the harm to the kids, it makes a good headline that the government is soft on drugs. Is there any wonder that there is not a rational debate about the subject.

The Welsh government seems to have developed cold feet about introducing a ban on smacking children. An opportunity to make it illegal has arisen when the Social Service and Well Being Bill is discussed next week.  Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle has put down an amendment seeking to outlaw smacking. But Ministers say ‘no,’ not until after the 2016 election. Why? They fear that our learned friends might say that they don’t have the right to do it. – Passing the law that is, not smacking. The Labour group are  to oppose the amendment. But here’s the rub, AMs have already voted in favour of a ban. Ok it was a symbolic vote. But now what was symbolic can become a reality. How ironic that an issue that Labour AMs have championed is now kicked to touch by their very own party. It was only October 2011 that Julie Morgan and Christine Chapman co-sponsored a motion with Whittle calling for a ban. The question is will they defy the Labour Whip. If they do, they’ll get a right smacking.

A Development bank for Wales to help Welsh businesses was proposed in a review set up by Economy Minister Edwina Hart.  And now in response the Minister is to, guess what, set up a review to see if a Development bank for Wales would work.

Rest

David Cameron and Francois Hollande are holding a UK-France summit. At the meeting the Prime Minister will be pushing his vision for a more ‘flexible Europe.’ Hollande will have none of it; the last thing he wants is a referendum on Europe on a treaty change. Meanwhile the bill for an “in-out” EU referendum in 2017 is in the House of Lords. Although the bill authorising a referendum was approved by MPs earlier this month there are doubts whether the private members bill will make it through the Lords before the end of the current session in April to become law. So a ‘no’ from Hollande and prevarication in the Lords may not do a great deal for Cameron’s blood pressure but Farage will be a bunny.

It’s not only Europe that’s causing Cameron difficulties but also his own MPs are causing him some bovver as well. After failing to get his backbenchers to heel it was left to the Opposition of Labour and Liberal Democrats to vote down a bid by nearly 100 rebel Tory MPs to stop foreign criminals using European human rights law to avoid deportation. Cameron took fright and ordered his ministers to abstain in the face of the rebellion. Another example of the old adage that your opponents are opposite you in the House but your enemies sit behind you.

Mark Carney Governor of the Bank of England went to Edinburgh to tell the Scots that if they wanted to retain the pound they would have to cede some national sovereignty. And the response of the politicians; the SNP welcomed the speech as it recognized the benefits of currency union, whilst Alistair Darling argued the governor’s remarks were “devastating” for the Scottish government’s currency plans. Typical of a Bank manager you never know where you stand after the visit.

According to the Office of National Statisitcs real wages have been falling consistently since 2010, the longest such period since at least 1964.  Miliband will cry crocodile tears deploring the fact; whilst being quietly delighted that it gives his cost of living attack on government more traction.

Polls

Thursday

YouGov/Sun                           CON 32%, LAB 42%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%

Tuesday

YouGov/Sun                           CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%

Monday

ComRes/Independent         CON 32% (nc), LAB 33%(-4), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 14%(+4).

Sunday

YouGov/Sunday Times             CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%.

Scottish referendum

ICM/Scotland on Sunday 37%(+5) YES 44% (-5) NO

Apparently the swing is strongly concentrated on young people

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