21 to 26 September
Green, yellow, amber and red are backed by government. No not some new sophisticated traffic system but a system introduced into schools. The colour code replaces the school banding system. From January, the best performing schools will be rated green, followed by yellow, amber and red, for those needing “significant improvement”.the new scheme will use data over a three period rather than just the one that’s current in use . Initially the top 25% of schools will be in the green zone, but if all schools do well they could in theory all move up to that section.
No more “sticking plaster” approaches to further devolution in the UK was Carwyn Jones’s response to the Scottish referendum result. He wants a coherent response with more powers for Wales starting with the full implementation of all of the Silk Commission’s recommendations. He even advocated Home rule to his party’s conference. All the parties in the Assembly were agreed that the proposed lockstep rule, limiting income tax powers should be changed. Although it is widely expected that Welsh Secretary is sympathetic to this and is likely to conceded on the matter. Plaid Cymru called for Wales to be treated equally with Scotland when new powers were being devolved to the two nations.
According to a poll conducted by ICM for BBC Wales those wanting Welsh independence have dropped to 3% and that’s since the results of Scotland were known. But at the same time more people want Wales to have considerably more powers than they have at present (49%). Little wonder Carwyn Jones is calling for home rule. If a politician sees a bandwagon their natural inclination is to jump on board. Incidentally, the same survey saw a decline in the numbers that want the Assembly scrapped with only 12% wanting it abolished.
Nigel Farage, ahead of the UKIP annual conference claims his party is emerging as the main opposition to Labour in Wales. The latest BBC poll shows support for the party has doubled from 7% to 14% since March and came second to Labour in the European elections. There will be more such claims from their Doncaster conference, which is held on the racecourse. A reminder perhaps that many a punter’s prediction can end in tears.
A word to the wise, if you are worried about your health buy a house near a hospital. Why? Well it’s a bit of a lottery wherever you’d receive an ambulance in time to save your life. Last month the Welsh Ambulance Service again missed its target of reaching 65% of life-threatening incidents in eight minutes. In August, 56.9% of ambulances met the eight-minute-target, down from 61.8% in the same month last year. Despite the Health Minister demanding “urgent improvements” in June seems that things are getting worse rather than better.
Two certainties in life – death and taxes. On the latter the Welsh Government for the first time in 700 years intend to collect and manage its own taxes. Powers over business rates, stamp duty land tax and landfill tax are coming their way. So Jane Hutt the Finance Minister announced the creation of a Welsh Revenue Authority to make sure that there are no tax dodgers in Wales. The new taxes, due to begin in 2018, will be the first to be set and raised in Wales since the 13th Century.
Another Welsh MP has decided to throw in the towel. Dai Havard is to step down as Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney at the next election. He reasons that given the debate over further devolution and any constitutional change, it would “best” for a new representative to become directly involved from the start. The former union official, 64, also says that he reaches retirement age soon. Elected in 2001, he had a majority of over 4,000 from the last election. It will be interesting whether the Labour party insists on an all-women short list here given the ructions caused in the neighbouring constituency of Cynon Valley.
The last Labour conference before the general election was a lacklustre affair. The leader spoke for eighty minutes without notes but forgot to mention the deficit and immigration and was roundly condemned for such omissions by the right wing press, now there’s a surprise. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2014/09/a-ten-year-plan/.
No great surprises that Nicola Sturgeon launched a bid to replace Alex Salmond as SNP leader and first minister of Scotland. In making her announcement said she was “more convinced than ever” that Scotland would one day be independent. Mr Salmond announced he was stepping down in the wake of Scots rejecting independence in last Thursday’s referendum. Meanwhile, the SNP now claims to be the third largest party in the UK, after the party said its membership stood at more than 50,000, which it said overtook the figure for the Liberal Democrats UK-wide, reported to be 43,451.
BBC/ICM poll Wales Con 23%(-1) Lab 38%(-4) LD 7%(-2) Plaid 13%(-1) UKIP 14% (+7)
YouGov/Sun Con 33% Lab 35% LD 7% UKIP 14% Green 5%
Ashcroft Con 27%(-6) Lab 33%(nc) LD 9%(nc) UKIP 17% (+3) Green 6%(nc)
YouGov/Sun Con 33% Lab 35% LD 7% UKIP 14% Green 5%
Populus Con 33% Lab 37% LD 9% UKIP 12%
YouGov/Sunday Times Con 31% Lab 36% LD 7% UKIP 16% Green 5%