Archive for June, 2014

Week in politics

Week 14 June to 20 June

Wales

Times will get ‘aharder” for local councils.  Minister Lesley Griffiths has just written to them saying they’re likely to face cuts of up to 4.5% next year. Even more pressure on them to ‘volunteer’ to merge.

Carwyn Jones came under scrutiny over his green credentials in a special session, chaired by the Deputy Presiding officer David Melding. Despite having a target to reduce emissions by 40% by 2020 recent figures released show emissions rising by 5%. The First Minister still refuses to abandon a target to reduce carbon emissions by the end of the decade.

Rest

It’s been a bad week at the office for the Prime Minister. He had to eat humble pie by making a full public apology for employing Andy Coulson the convicted hacker as his Press guru. No sooner had the cameras done their job the trial judge waded in and accused him of undermining justice because the trial of Coulson on other counts had not concluded.  Wednesday saw him worsted by Miliband in Prime Ministers Questions. Then to top it all he takes a trip to Brussells and the other  EU leaders ignore his pleas not to elect  former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European Commission. Not his finest week, me thinks.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, wants another high speed train(HS3)  running East to West in the North of England to join Hull to Liverpool through Manchester and Leeds. I’ts to generate a massive joined up urban area to generate economic growth. Not a word about helping Wales  with a similar scheme I notice.

 Meanwhile Bank of England governor Mark Carney  delivered a blow to savers by suggesting the “new normal” for interest rates is never likely to be greater than 2.5%. That’s even when rates start to increase and those are unlikely to go up this side of the general election. Savers will have to wait until 2017 for the modest saving rate.

Polls

Thursday

YouGov /Sun CON 32%, LAB 37%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 14%,

Monday

Ashcroft         CON 28%,(-1) LAB 33%,(-2) LDEM 8%(+1),  UKIP 17%(+2)

Sunday

YouGov/Sunday Times  CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 14%.

Opinium/Observer          CON 31%(nc), LAB 35%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 17%(-2), Greens 5%.

 

 

 

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Union politics

ukpgaYes or No is almost irrelevant. the referendum in Scotland has energized political debate. People are thinking about what kind of future they want, what kind of country should it be. It’s not just about constitutional change, it’s about social and economic justice as well. There’s passion being generated about politics.

In Wales it’s bland in Scotland it’s vital – politics that is.

Talk of separation causes reflection on the existing state. All above the age of 16 in Scotland have to decide whether to give the UK the thumbs up or down.

Wales doesn’t have that opportunity, but it’s in the same Union and should also be debating what country it wants to live in.  Reflections on the Union should not just be the  business of the Scots.

What kind of United Kingdom is it? Well a particularly unfair kingdom is the answer.

Wealth is concentrated in London and south east of England and power and wealth is concentrated on a small number of its population.

Despite Labour being in government for thirty odd years since the end of the second world war, the gap between rich and poor persist. Indeed in the last few years it’s widened.

And the response of Welsh political and chattering classes, ignore it. The political discourse in Wales has concentrated on bringing political power to the Bay, but seldom if ever has the debate widened to consider issues of social justice.

Little wonder that increasingly large numbers feel that politics are irrelevant to their lives. Whoever you vote for, nothing changes.

Wales has had three referenda and in each of the three the debates have been confined to political democracy, not economic and social concerns.

Class, wealth, income, power no longer command centre stage. At one time every workingman’s institute, quarryman’s lodge, non-comformist chapel, trade union branch would be discussing these issues. Not now, such talk belongs to a previous political age, more suited for a display cabinet in Saint Ffagan National History museum.

Nothing could be more removed from the mainstream of British and Welsh considerations, but surely that state of affairs can  be kept to the margins for ever.

Politics is more than what goes on in Westminster and Cardiff Bay. It’s much more than electing MPs and Assembly Members or councillors for that matter.

A fully functioning political democracy should explore issues of economic and social democratisation. It asks questions about wealth distribution and how to democratise the economic levers.

It’s about shifting the argument away from constitutional matters to a debate about what kind of society we want to live in.

Is it a Wales that is an acquisitive society wedded to the tarnished American version of capitalism or does Wales and, for that matter the rest of the Union want different?

The current political settlement fails to live up to the hopes of many Welsh people. Lives are wasted and many in our communities are not treated with the respect and humanity they deserve. The debate should be about how to build a society people want to live in. These issues are too important to be left to politicians. People need to reassert themselves. A referendum is not a prerequisite to discussing the issues.

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Almost a week in Welsh politics

Week 14 June to 20 June

Wales

Scotland going solo could trigger England wanting to do the same leaving Wales and Northern Ireland in the lurch according to Carwyn Jones. He reckons the Welsh and Irish might be to ‘expensive’ for the English to bail us out so we’ll be kicked to touch after a Scottish Yes vote. His answer a convention to discuss the future of the UK, however Scotland votes, a call also made by ex-premier John Major.

A member of the public complained about Nick Ramsey AM’s demeanour and delivery in an Assembly debate.  The Presiding Officer ordered an investigation on claims that he was drunk. Claims Ramsey denied. No further action will be taken. Deputy presiding officer David Melding made no intervention at the time. An assembly spokesman said in a statement the circumstances had been “looked into thoroughly and have reached their conclusions. They confirmed that there were not grounds to call the member to order during the plenary session on 10 June. They will not be making any further statement about the matter.” There you have it, to slur his human.

The ‘real’ cabinet of the Welsh government met with the Westminster shadow cabinet at GE Aviation Wales at Nantgarw, Caerphilly – Wales’ biggest individual provider of apprenticeships. On cue Mr Miliband praised Job Growth Wales scheme that has helped 10,000 young people into work.  Oh! to be a fly on the wall in the private session. Would Carwyn Jones tells Ed that he’s got to up his game and Ed tell Carwyn  to sort out the NHS.

Rest

It’s irritating queuing to show your passport when you return from abroad as I can vouch this week having just returned from my holidays. But the delay is even more irritating if your waiting for your passport. Now Home Secretary Theresa May has apologised for the problems of delays at the Passport Office, which has been overwhelmed by a surge in applications this year. But Tourism minister Helen Grant has the answer don’t go abroad,  opt to holiday in the UK. She clealy puts a capital ‘E’ into the meaning of little Englander.

As part of the Chancellor’s budget MPs agreed a 2015-16 welfare cap of £119.5bn, excluding the state pension and some unemployment benefits. It was criticized by welfare groups at the time as been totally impractical and could result in real hardship if stuck to. Now it looks as if the government could breach the cap as a result of the cost of them obtained by  the BBC. The documents suggest Employment and Support Allowance(ESA) costs are rising and few cost-cutting options are available. Labour’s Rachel Reeves said the DWP was at “crisis point” and that David Cameron “must urgently get a grip”. She said the work capability assessment was “in meltdown”, the Universal Credit was “chaos” and that people were being let down. Mind you it doesn’t prevent her and her leader getting on the ‘hit the poor bandwagon’ and finding other welfare payments to cut in their own war on benefit claimants.

Polls

Wednesday

YouGov/Sun          CON 34%, LAB 38%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 13%.

Ipsos MORI          CON 31%(nc), LAB 34%(nc), LDEM 8%(-1), UKIP 14%(+3), GRN 8%(nc).

Tuesday

ICM/Guardian CON 31%(-2), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 10%(-3), UKIP 16%(+1).

Monday

Populus          CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%

Ashcroft         CON 29%,(+1) LAB 35%,(+3) LDEM 8%(nc),  UKIP 15%(-2)

Sunday

YouGov/Sunday Times  CON 33%, LAB 37%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%.

 

 

 

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