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Trains, travel and tax – the week in politics

Week 16 to 21 March

Wales

Air Carwyn as Cardiff Airport has been named so  a 9% increase in the number of its passengers since it was bought for £52m  by the Welsh government last year. Since May 2013, the business has seen 10 months of continuous growth. By the end of March, managers hope to break the one million passenger mark for the financial year. Not only did the Welsh government put the capital in to purchase they also gave the airport a £10m loan repayable over a 12 year period for renovations. Remarkable what a lick of paint can do, eh.

Attempts to move the Valley lines from its Thomas the Tank infrastructure to a modern electric railway have hit the buffers. It’s a massive buffer indeed – cash.  It’s about who’s going to foot the bill.  Carwyn Jones said that Cameron’s lot had agreed to foot the bill. The other Jones who’s Welsh Secretary maintains that there are documents that prove that the Welsh government had agreed to pay for upgrade. The Fat Controller needs to take a grip (see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/03/running-late/)

The Welsh Affairs committee are off an a ‘fact finding’ visit to Patagonia for  six days at a cost of £50,000. Hope it improves relations between Argentina and Wales. It might if the don’t mention the Malvinas. How comforting to know that the Welsh MPs are working diligently on behalf of the people.

Another Wales bill starts its passage in the Commons. It’s a bill to right the wrongs of the original devolution settlement. It’s the third. But rest assured there will be more to follow. (See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/03/financing-wales/)

Rest

The budget was announced on Wednesday. In all the excitement for the affluent grey voter, what was overlooked is that the cuts to public services continue unabated. So many those very same grey voters are dependent on will vanish in the next few years. Vanish never to return. (See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/03/the-budget/)

Ed Miliband attends the Scottish Labour Conference to try to save the Union. His pitch will be Scottish independence and a Tory win at the next UK election would force the country into a “race to the bottom”. He will argue that Scotland and the rest of the UK will compete on cutting taxes and wages to compete globally. Meanwhile, Labour are promising to give Scotland power to vary tax rates by up to 15p in the pound, giving Scotland control of three quarters of the 20p basic rate of income tax. Devolving housing benefit to abolish the under-occupancy penalty, which opponents have dubbed the “bedroom tax” and giving the Scottish Parliament control over the administration of its own elections. Hardly a package that will quicken the blood like “Cry freedom.”

Polls

Friday

Scottish referendum

Panelbase/NewsNetScotland YES 40%, NO 45%, don’t know 15%.

This is the narrowest lead yet for the No side. It is entirely consistent with the 14 polls conducted since Christmas which show the Yes vote on about 42% after you exclude the “Don’t Knows”. There is no doubt that that the No’s lead is narrowing. The intervention of the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England on the currency  debate did not reverse the trend.  Clearly, things will liven up more between now and September, the Unionists  will have to be a lot more specific on what they’re going to offer on Devo-Max if they are to gain back momentum.

 Thursday

European elections YouGov/Times. CON 24%, LAB 32%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 23%, GRN 5%.

 Sunday

ComRes/Indep/S Mirror CON 32%(nc), LAB 35%(-2), LDEM 9%(nc), UKIP 16%(+1).

YouGov/Sunday Times          CON 33%, LAB 40%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 12%.

Opinium/Observer                   CON 30%(+1), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 10%(nc), UKIP 16%(-3).

 

 

 

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