The week 23 to 28 February
Tina Donnelly, The head of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales says an inquiry into death rates at Welsh hospitals is not needed. Last week this blog highlighted the intervention of England’s medical director in an email to his Welsh counterpart. Sir Bruce Keogh said data on rates in six Welsh hospitals was worrying but not adequate to “form a view”. The Welsh government has already ruled out an inquiry, and this stance is now clearly backed by the RCN leader. But she says “We’ve got to put the patient at the centre of this, this should not be politicized.” No chance of that Tina, can you imagine a politician giving up the opportunity of scoring points on any issue.
When politicians emerge from a meeting proclaiming unity, sweetnest and light you can bet your bottom dollar its to hoodwink the voter. Welsh Tories emerged from a meeting with David Cameron in Downing Street playing down differences between the party in Wales and in Westminster. The Welsh secretary and the Conservative leader in the assembly gave a rare joint interview. David Jones said he was in agreement with Andrew RT Davies over the proposed devolution of income tax and that the policy announced in a draft bill at Westminster was agreed party policy. Oh dear, that’s not what the bulk of the Conservative Assembly Members voted for our wanted. Never mind seeing Andrew RT Davies and David Jones in sweet embrace is worth ditching a policy for. It would almost cause a run on a sick bag market.
Despite all the money Wales has received from Europe things seem to have got worse. Figures just released show the economy of west Wales and the south Wales valleys have slipped further behind the European average.The latest figures released show Wales’s Gross Domestic Product per capita was 64% per head of the European Union average in these areas in 2011, down from 65% in 2010. £4bn of cash from Europe has been spent to build up the Welsh economy since 2000. Money, money, money might make the world turn round, bit it certainly doesn’t turn round the Welsh economy. Where has all the money gone? This might be an appropriate area of research.
Its that time of year when the BBC does it’s bit for St David. Whether conducting a poll was quite what the saintly David had in mind when he said “take care of the little things”is dubious. And what does the St David’s day poll tell us of the nations thinking? Well, it would seem that only 5% of people want to see an independent Wales. But when it comes to the Assembly over a third would like to see it gain more powers, although nearly a quarter would like to see it abolished. Overall though people in Wales back devolution but within the Union. What a cautious lot, opting for the status quo. No change here, we’re Welsh. Are you proud to be our patron Saint, David?
The Scottish referendum campaign again turned its attention to North Sea oil. Both the UK and Scottish government cabinets met in Aberdeen on Monday. Not quite in the same room but in the same city. Strange they both outlined their plans for the oil and gas industry. Both sides said warm words about Sir Ian Wood’s review of the industry. Alex Salmond has already praised Sir Ian’s work, but took the opportunity to claim Mr Cameron should be apologising for the UK government “squandering” the riches of the North Sea over the past 40 years. The future of the North Sea oil and gas industry has been a major battleground in the campaign and this is likely to continue until the vote in September. No oil on troubled waters here.
David Cameron’s efforts to reduce net migration levels to below 100,000 suffered a major setback on Thursday when figures showed levels had rise by 58,000 to 212,000 in the year to September 2013. The increase has been driven by a big growth in the number of European Union citizens coming to Britain.
Spring is in the air. How do we know because the political parties start to hold their ‘Spring’ conferences. First off the block is the UK Independence Party. They’re down in Torquay and there Nigel Farage hopes to galvanise support ahead of May’s European Parliament elections where the polls are predicting great things for them. Opinion polls suggest there has been a sustained increase in UKIP’s national support since the end of 2012, with it regularly getting double digit figures. There’s nowt as strange as folks.
YouGov/Sun CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 13%
Populus CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 15%
YouGov/Sunday Times CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%.
ICM/Scotland on Sunday YES 37%(nc) NO 49%(+4).
Panelbase/SNP YES 37%(nc) NO 4