Week 23 to 28 March
Nice to see Wales’s developing its own political class with Stephen Kinnock, son of the former Neil Kinnock, been selected as the Labour candidate for Aberavon. He hopes to take over from Hywel Francis who is standing down as MP in 2015. Mr Kinnock is married to Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt but he is based in London.
The National Assembly for Wales’s Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM, has submitted evidence to a parliamentary committee on the future constitutional arrangements for the UK. She says that Wales’s voice must play a central role in any future negotiations with Scotland in the event of a “yes” vote. But she goes further calling for a Constitutional Convention to be established to look at the constitutional set up of the UK – regardless of how Scotland votes. Carwyn Jones has asked for one and been ignored by Cameron. But there is nothing like a Dame, so who knows, something might come of it.
A Westminster government minister says that the Welsh Assembly should have more powers and, wait for it, more assembly members. Why? To hold the Welsh government properly to account that’s, according to a Wales Office minister, Baroness Jenny Randerson. She also said the model of Welsh devolution needs to be rewritten as it is “overly complex”. One wonders whether she cleared her speech with her boss, David Jones.
Should a back bench MP give evidence to an Assembly committee that is the question. According to Leighton Andrews, no. … “it would be constitutionally inappropriate.” Opposition AMs say “yes”. Assembly rules say “Committees may invite any person to attend meetings for the purpose of giving evidence, or providing advice, and may invite any such person or body to submit evidence and produce documents.” So who do Labour not want to give evidence, one of their own, namely Ann Clwyd MP. Ah! Enough said.
The good comrades of Labour are in Llandudno for their annual conference this weekend. It would be a shock if the event goes by without mention of how the Tories are unfairly attacking Wales’s NHS aided and abetted by their friends in the media. The bookies are not offering odds on this being said.
Nicola Sturgeon the Deputy leader of the SNP came to Cardiff to deliver the Wales Governance Centre Annual Lecture. She said the draft Scottish Independence Bill will be released for consultation before the Scottish Parliament’s summer recess. It will “enshrine Scottish values” and put in place the legal necessities, until a constitutional convention prepares a permanent constitution for Scotland in the event of independence. So a written constitution for part of these islands but not yet for Wales. (See: http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/03/write-it-down/)
The funeral took place in Westminster of veteran Labour politician Tony Benn. A large crowd holding trade union and anti-war banners lined the route of his funeral cortege. Mr Benn’s long-time Labour colleagues were present as well as an interesting collection of others including Conservative grandee Lord Heseltine and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams joined Mr Benn’s friends and supporters on the left, including George Galloway, Dennis Skinner and Ken Livingstone, and a rare public appearance from former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, one of Mr Benn’s closest friends and political allies. A congregation that provides a living history of late twentieth century political events.
According to a survey by the BBC only 6% of social housing tenants in Britain who have had their housing benefit cut have moved home. Despite the government making great play of the fact that cutting benefits for tenants would free up larger homes. It just hasn’t happened. What has happened as campaigners predicted was an increase in rent arrears in 28% of those affected. Commenting the government said the change was saving taxpayers more than £1m a day. Yes, which was the purpose of the exercise. Now the government can claim the target of cutting the overall housing benefit bill. Yes, but the increase in rent arrears will eventually lead to evictions and problems for social landlords. Not only will their debts increase but their ability to invest in new homes will also be reduced. Meaning less new houses built which was another much proclaimed “key” target of government.
YouGov/Sun CON 35%, LAB 37%, LD 9%, UKIP 11%
YouGov/Sun CON 36%, LAB 38%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 10%.
ComRes/Indy CON 31%(+1), LAB 36%(-2), LDEM 9%(-1), UKIP 11%(nc).
Populus CON 34%, LAB 35%, LD 10%, UKIP 13%.
YouGov/Sunday Times CON 36%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 11%.
European elections Survation/Mail CON 28%(+5), LAB 32%(nc), LDEM 7%(-2), UKIP 23%(-3), GRN 3%.
YouGov/Times YES 37%(+2), NO 52%(-1)
TNS BMRB YES 28%(-1), NO 42%(nc).
ICM/Scotland on Sunday. YES 39%, NO 46%. Without don’t knows it would be YES 45%, NO 55% – a 2 point increase in YES compared to ICM’s February poll, but less than the 46% in their January poll.