Week 25 to 30 May
The European election results for the Welsh seats saw the same four parties returned to represent Wales in Brussels. It was no change but all change. UKIP running Labour a close second. Full results http://welshpolitics.co.uk/results/european-parliament-election-results-2009/. For a full analysis see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/05/politics-as-usual/
Greater clarity in the remit of Finance Wales and flexibility to alter the interest rates it charges on loans is demanded by the cross-party Finance committee of the Assembly. The report into the workings of the investment bank, made 11 recommendations in total. The ball is now in the court of Finance Minister Edwina Hart will she take heed?
14,500 adults when asked in a national survey conducted by the Welsh Government said they were happy with NHS care and with the education of their children. For more see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/05/what-do-we-think/
The contract to build a super-prison Wrexham was announced by the UK Government. It will be an Australian firm – Lend lease. The cost of building it will be £212 million. Assembly Member Aled Roberts welcomed it as a boost to the Wrexham economy, but it has been opposed by Plaid Cymru who want a smaller prison built to serve North Wales prisoners.
Simon Stevens, the new head of the NHS in England has said that smaller community hospitals is the way ahead and they should be given a bigger role especially in the care of older patients. He wants a shift away from big centralised hospitals and a new models of care built around smaller local hospitals. This at a time when Wales is going down the route of a more centralized hospital service. No bets on how long the opposition will be throwing Stevens’s words at Mark Drakeford the Welsh health minister.
As if fending off calls for his resignation wasn’t enough Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader has now to deal with another thorny issue – what to do about Lord Rennard. Lord Rennard has apologised for ‘encroaching’ on the personal space of four female activists. The woman still want the Lord thrown out of the party. Rennard is determined to stay and has the support of many senior members of the party. What will poor Clegg do, keep the women happy or throw to the wolves a superb election strategist. Watch this space for the answer.
What has Europe ever done for you? Well thanks to the court of justice of the EU Google have been obliged to launch a webpage where European citizens can request that links to information about them be taken off search results, the first step to comply with a court ruling affirming the “right to be forgotten”. There you have it fill a form and you won’t exist.
The Scottish referendum campaign is now officially under way. You might be forgiven for saying it’s being going on for some time, but now the rules kick in about expenditure and balance. This week saw both sides arguing about how better off or worse off the Scots would be on independence. Salmond claiming independence would mean that in 15 years everybody would be a £1000 pounds better off. Danny Alexander sought to outbid him be saying that the dividend for staying in the Union was £1400. Is this what they call balance?
Survation/Sun for Newark by-election with changes from General election in brackets CON 36%(-18) LAB 27%(+5) LDEM 5%(-15) UKIP 28%(+24)
Populus CON 34% LAB 36% LDEM 9% UKIP 14%
Ashcroft CON 29% LAB 31% LDEM 8% UKIP 17%
Welsh people are broadly happy with their public services according to a government survey of 14,500 adults.(http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/nationals-survey/?lang=en)
Although various reports have criticized educational attainment 92% of parents were satisfied with the primary schools 85% satisfied with the secondary schools.92% of people were satisfied with their GPs despite a large number of them(38%) finding it difficult to make an appointment. Similar levels of satisfaction were expressed with hospital care.
When it comes to council services over half (57%) thought they were getting a good service.
How do the Welsh feel about themselves? Well, according to the survey they are most atisfied with their personal relationships scoring of 8.6 from 10, and least satisfied with their finances (6.9). But when it comes to satisfaction with life there’s been a decline from last year with 7.7, as opposed to 7.8 last year.
Interestingly people were asked whether to rate on a scale of 0(no trust) to ten (complete trust) who they trusted and not surprisingly the political system scored the lowest (4.3), even below the police. Untrustworthy politicians, well, nothing new there then.
And what are we to make of it all. Well, that happiness reigns in Wales. It’s a land of contented people. Believe that and you’ll put journalists in the untrustworthy category next year.
The UKIP rained on the parade of all the other Welsh political parties last Thursday. The anti-Europe anti immigrant party achieved success throughout Wales. This extreme right wing party seemed have struck a chord with many voters.
How can such a xenophobic party win over enough Welsh voters to head the list in some Welsh counties and come a close second to Labour in Wales over all?
At the start of the European campaign Labour had high hopes of returning two Labour MEPs. What went wrong?
Well, it’s too easy to blame the campaign itself. Yes, there were mistakes, that political broadcast targeting Clegg, the sending out of campaign literature after the postal votes had been sent and in many cases returned. Undoubtedly things could have been handled better. But such things do not win or lose elections.
Labour lost ground because many traditional working class voters no longer see it as ‘their’ party. In order to win elections the party has had to appeal to the aspiring voters in the marginal seats. In other words they’ve appealed to middle England and ignored those in ‘safe’ Labour seats.
Many of those living in these areas have battled against poverty, job insecurity and benefit cuts. Little wonder that they feel insecure and are attracted to the simplistic solutions offered by UKIP.
They reject politics as usual and see UKIP as different. A party led by a politician that seems vaguely human and speaks in their language. Forget the fact he’s a rich, public school boy, he’s seen as normal, sipping away on his pint.
The media have helped foster this image by always showing him pint in hand. Forget what he says, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Blair is right. Now that’s a sentence I’ve not written in a while. When he warns Labour to not resort to immigration bashing. The party will never out extreme the extremists.
So forget immigration caps, or making undeliverable promises like Gordon Brown “British jobs for British workers.”
Labour should stop being mealy mouthed and cautious. They need to show that they’re on the side of the ordinary voter. They should be about growth not cuts.
Plaid Cymru will have been shocked by the vote. They’ve always seen themselves as the alternative to Labour in the valleys. No longer so. Last Thursday changed that. The anti-Labour vote headed UKIP’s way, the danger for Plaid is that it stays that way. Leanne Wood must certainly be relieved that she can opt for the regional list as well as the constituency of Rhondda for the Assembly elections. But every cloud, as they say, Plaid kept their European seat and with the slide in the Liberal Democrat vote they might even win back Ceredigion and have an outside chance in Ynys Mon.
Liberal Democrat’s were the big losers they came sixth, behind the Greens. They could vanish as a force in Welsh elected politics completely unless their fortunes change dramatically.
This leaves the Tories. They succeeded in keeping their one European seat and they were mightily relieved with the results. They thought UKIP would hurt them more. But such was the UKIP surge that there are many Welsh Conservative MPs who will look at last Thursday and wonder about their futures.
UKIPs success had little to do with voter dissatisfaction over Europe but a lot to do with their dissatisfaction with national politics. Unless this is addressed, the Europe vote will be just the start of some very unpleasant politics in our land.