Week 13 July to 18 July
Ok, there are no plans to buy a terraced house and put number eleven on it but the Welsh Government are going to set up a Welsh treasury. This is part of their announced law making programme for the next year. It will administer the new tax’s laws and the borrowing powers that they now have.
The legislative programme will also include:
- Details of a planning bill which is designed to reform and simplify the planning process
- A local government bill to allow councils to merge voluntarily. (The hope is to reduce the number of councils from 22 to 12)
- A bill to pave the way for the creation of the new body Qualifications Wales
- Details of a public health consultation, including proposals to restrict the use of e-cigarettes in public places and introduce a minimum price for alcohol of 50 pence per unit.
The last day of the Assembly term before they go off on their summer hols is always a good time to make controversial announcements. True to form the government did just that by announcing £1bn new M4 relief road through Newport’s dockside. If Transport Minister Edwina Hart gets her way it will be completed by the spring of 2022, the project would be the largest capital investment programme ever announced by the Welsh government. The scheme pleases the Tories who have been calling for it for some years. Prime Minister David Cameron has said the new borrowing powers would help the Welsh government make improvements to the M4 which is a “foot on the windpipe of the Welsh economy”. Plaid Cymru and not a few Labour backbenchers are far from happy with the announcement. Some thing that the money would be better used building a Metro rail system for South Wales. So it’s a case of roads, but no rails yet again.
“And I think in Wales there’s a tendency not to complain as much as people ought to complain when something’s wrong. There’s a tendency to feel ‘oh well, we don’t want to upset anybody, we don’t want to bother them”. That was the message delivered by Ann Clwyd to the Welsh assembly health committee. She repeated her call for a Sir Bruce Keogh’s type review in Wales like the one he conducted in England. Previous attempts to call Ms Clwyd before the committee were blocked by Labour AMs who argued that it was “constitutionally inappropriate” for the committee to interview backbench MPs on devolved matters. But last month Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat and Conservative AMs put forward a fresh proposal under a different procedure, which was accepted.
Now that their mentor David Jones has been sacked, it’s safe for Andrew RT Davies to bring back the infamous four Tory rebel AMs that he sacked from the party’s front bench in February. Nick Ramsay, Antoinette Sandbach, Mohammad Asghar and Janet Finch-Saunders all get their old portfolio’s back. So it would appear that its hugs all round. It reminds me of the old couplet, “there never was heard such a terrible curse, but what gave rise, to no little surprise, no one seemed not one penny worth the worse.”
David Cameron decided to reshuffle his cabinet. He wanted more appealing faces to put before the electorate at next May’s general election. One of those fresh, if bearded face, was that of Stephan Crabb the Preseli Pembrokeshire MPHe takes over as Wwlsh Secretary from his former boss David Jones, who was sacked. Crabb will have Alun Cairns as his junior Minister. (see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/07/out-with-the-old/)
It will be extremely difficult if not close to impossible to hold a legal strike if the Tories get their way. The Conservative Party is to tighten the law on strike ballots if it wins the 2015 election. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said the Tory manifesto would include the requirement for at least half of eligible union members to vote in order for a strike to be lawful. There would also be a three-month time limit after the ballot for the action to take place and curbs on picketing. If this was the law for all elections there would be few councilors, MEPs, Police Commissioners or even some MPs. But its always been one rule for some, usually the rich and an other rule for the rest, usually the poor. Nothing new there then. Even Labour were moved to say it was “desperate stuff by a Conservative Party that has given up any pretence of standing up for working people”.
YouGov/Sunday Times CON 33%, LAB 36%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 13%.
Ipsos MORI’s monthly political monitor for the Standard CON 32%(+1), LAB 35%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc), UKIP 12%(-2), GRN 8%(nc).
Populus CON 34%, LAB 37%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%
Ashcroft CON 32%,(+5) LAB 36%,(+2) LDEM 7%(-4), UKIP 14%(-1)
ICM/Guardian CON 34%(+3), LAB 33%(+1), LDEM 12%(+2), UKIP 9%(-7)
YouGov/Sunday Times CON 33%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 12%.
ICM/Scotland on Sunday YES 34%(-2), NO 45%(+2). Without don’t knows, it becomes YES 43(-2), NO 57%(+2).
This Almanac intends breaking up for the summer apart from some additions to the constituency profiles. Although I shall be working on a documentary for the BBC, so rest for the wicked.