Archive for January, 2015

The week in Wales and beyond

25th to 30th January

Wales

Two polls testing the political temperature in Wales were produced this week. The first you can see here http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/01/poll-position-3/ . The second was for BBC. Both polls pointed to very little change in Wales. The BBC reckoned as few as two Welsh seats would change hands. Their survey conducted by ICM put Labour on 38%, no change since September, the Conservatives down two percentage points to 21%, UKIP on 13% (down one), Plaid Cymru on 12% (down one), the Lib Dems unchanged at 7% and the Green Party up from 2% in September to 6% now. The growth of the Green party support was also mirrored in the other poll.

Health dominated the political debate both in Wales and in Westminster (see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/01/health-options/.)Meanwhile an actual step taken to limit ill-health was taken by Mark Drakeford he gave his consent to the new Westminster law introducing standardised packaging for cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco  applying to Wales. The regulations, which will be subject to a vote by MPs, is intended to come into force by May 2016.

Politics and Rugby are supposedly the two Welsh passions. Many a Gog would dispute that the latter is as important as football. But that said, politicians just so love to be associated with sport. Their hope is that some of sport’s popularity will rub off on them.  So like manna from heaven an issue falls into their lap that they can show what good guys and gals they are.  The issue, ‘free-to-view’ rugby coverage. Apparently there’s a threat that the six nations competition will vanish off the BBC and into the hands of those TV companies that charge to view. No, no says Welsh sports minister, Ken Skates. Owen Smith, the shadow Welsh Secreatary says over his dead body. Let’s hope nobody takes him up on his offer. Quicker off the mark, the Liberal Democrats they’ve organised a petition and their leader Kirsty Williams is writing to John Feehan, Chief Executive of the Six Nations tournament, imploring on him to choose a rights deal with a free-to-air channel. So politicians can disagree on matters of war and peace, but when it comes to rugby well, that’s a different game, eh.

Lord Dafydd Wigley who is master minding Plaid Cymru’s election campaign and seen as very much in the ranks of Plaid Cymru seen as a safe pair of hands dropped the ball rather badly. He made a comparison between Auschwitz and jobs coming to Wales should Trident move to Milford Haven. The point he was trying to make was that it wasn’t jobs at all cost. He quickly realized his gaff and apologized. But of course by then the story was making it big in the London press. Not the most auspicious of starts to Plaid’s campaign, me thinks, Lord.

Rest

Mr Miliband visited Scotland to  confirm that a “Home Rule bill for Scotland” would be introduced within the first 100 days of a Labour government. Well, he would. After all, despite his protests to the contrary, he might be dependent on SNP support if he’s to get the keys of Number 10. But with the SNP pretty ill-disposed to the current Home Rule bill as keeping 70% of taxation and 85% of welfare spending in Westminster, Mr Miliband might well find himself having to introduce a very different Home Rule bill to the one he invisages, if he’s to gain Ms Sturgeon’s support.

A party that was the hope of the working class, with a mass membership and the bulk of trade unions affiliated to it, is looking oblivion in the face. (see http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/01/a-mighty-fall-from-grace/)

Police forces across England and Wales have been ordered to review nearly 2,000 cases of alleged corruption in their ranks over concerns that they were not properly investigated. A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found that no action was taken in two-thirds of the investigations into alleged police corruption last year. Clearly, the blind eye, has it.

According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies the wage squeeze means that British workers are taking less home in real terms than in 2001. Wages were 1% lower in the third quarter of 2014 than in the same period 13 years earlier after taking inflation into account. Opposition politicians were quick to latch on with the predictable – it’s a “cost of living crisis.”

Polls

The polling averages point to a hung parliament with Labour one short of an overall majority. The Welsh polls are dealt elsewhere in this blog.

Thursday

YouGov/Sun         Con 34% Lab 33% LibDem 6% UKIP 15% Green 7%

Tuesday

ComRes/Independent         Con 31%(+2) Lab 30%(-1) LibDem 8%(-4) UKIP 17%(+1) Green 7%(+2)

Monday

Populus         Con 34% Lab 35% LibDem 9% UKIP 13% Green 6%

Ashcroft         Con 32%(+3) Lab 32%(+4) LibDem 6%(-3) UKIP 15% nc) Green 9% (-2)

Survation/Daily Mirror             Con 31% Lab 30% LibDem 7% Green 3% UKIP 23%

Sunday

YouGov/Sunday Times         Con 32% Lab 32% LibDem 7% UKIP 15% Green 7%

 

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A mighty fall from grace

IMG_1280Once a party with a big working class base. Affiliated to the trade union movement and see-sawed in and out of running the country. No, not the Labour Party but a fellow member of Socialist International, Greece’s Pasok.

A party that was so powerful and had mass support this weekend was humiliated by the voters. Gaining only 13 seats on 4.7% of the popular vote and falling to 7th place in the election. It only just managed to overcome the 3% threshold that parties have to reach to get a seat at all in the Greek parliament.

In the eighties it was the natural party of government the main centre-left organisation but now the voters have consigned it to the dustbin of Greek political history.

How come? How did a once strong, relevant and popular party loose out so massively? Well, the answer, it was a long time coming.

The easy answer is to blame austerity. Sure, developing a policy of cuts and applying those cuts to your own working class supporters is partly responsible but it’s far from being  the whole story. No, not by a long way.

What really did for it? It ceased to be a movement based on its original supporters to one run by a small self-serving political class. A class that took the people’s support for granted. Parts of the country would always be wedded to Pasok – well that’s what they thought. Oh, how seriously they got it wrong.

Being part of the establishment, it played along with conventional wisdom. When the financial crisis hit Greece, Pasok won the subsequent general election offering an answer. Did they? You bet they didn’t. They offered no alternative to austerity.

Forget Keynes the conventional wisdom stemming  from Europe, the IMF was cuts and more cuts. So Pasok mildly went along with it. They lost power. But still they propped up the Conservatives in Greece that carried out further cuts. ‘Cos there weren’t any alternative according to the establishment.

The result, a national income shrunk by a quarter since the banking crisis. A quarter of the workforce out of work with not a prospect of finding a job.  6 out of 10 young people unemployed, no prospects, no future,

Pasok were seen as part of the problem and offered no solutions.  The new kids on the block had more to offer, they offered hope.

Now they’ve replaced a once mighty party.

In the words of the movies, any similarity to any party nearer home is purely co-incidental. Or is it?

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Poll position

Welsh-polling-station-thumbnail2Less an earthquake more a mild tremor that’s what we can expect on the night of the general election in Wales according to the latest all-Wales poll.

With One Hundred Days to go before the election the Welsh Political Barometer- an unique polling collaboration between ITV Cymru Wales, the Wales Governance Centre at Cardiff University, and the leading polling agency YouGov, poll 1,036 Welsh adults.

The poll show Labour remaining the largest party in Wales polling 37%, a 1% increase on the last poll. The Tories remain unchanged on 23%, but with 16%  UKIP  become the the third force in Welsh politics certainly as far as the general election is concerned, all be it they are down 2% on the previous poll.

Plaid Cymru will be disappointed to be languishing on 10% a percentage point down on last time and breathing down their necks are the new kids on the block in the form of the Greens who command a healthy 8% three points higher than previously. Perhaps they ought to dust down the old Green/Plaid alliance that delivered Ceredigion to Cynog Dafis.

With only a slight improvement of 1% the Liberal Democrats languish at the bottom with 6%.

But what does it mean in seats? According to Professor Roger Scully not a great deal, Labour gain two seats, returning 28 Members of Parliament. Both the Tories (8 seats) and Plaid Cymru(3 seats) remain the same. Again it’s the Liberal Democrats that take the hit with only one representative from Wales down from the three seats they hold now.

Professor Scully sees three seats, of the forty in Wales, changing hands. Cardiff North and Cardiff Central would both be won by Labour (from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats respectively); Brecon & Radnor would be narrowly gained by the Conservatives from the Liberal Democrats.

Despite big increases in the polls neither UKIP or the Greens translate these into seats. The first past the poll system helps the current holders.

In Lord Ashcroft’s latest UK poll the Conservatives and Labour are running neck and neck on 32%, the Liberal Democrats are on 6%, UKIP 15% and the Greens are on 9%.

For my analysis of Welsh seats see previous blog. http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/01/seats-to-watch/

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