Archive for May, 2015

More cash for Assembly Members

Board decides on more cash for AMs.

Board decides on more cash for AMs.

Board increases pay and support for Assembly Members

An independent Remuneration Board has said Assembly Members after the election in 2016 will be paid a salary of £64,000, an increase of £10,000 from their current salary.

In arriving at their decision the Board thought that after the 2016 election, the National Assembly would be a “more significant institution…. It will have law-making, tax-setting and borrowing powers like those of the UK and Scottish parliaments.”

Sandy Blair, Chair of the Remuneration Board said it was “Our duty is to ensure that there is financial support in place that attracts the best people to put their names forward for the role of Assembly Member.”

The Board want the standard of Assembly Members raised. Indeed Mr Blair said “Now the challenge moves to the political parties and Welsh public to ensure that the right candidates, who can deliver on the promise that these additional powers offer, are elected.”

In response to the criticism by the public of the initial proposals the Board are changing their Pension scheme so that the taxpayers pay less and Members will contribute more.

“The Board’s research clearly demonstrates that the job of being an Assembly Member has changed significantly since 2010, when the salary was last reviewed. We have set remuneration at a level to reflect the degree of responsibility that Members will carry.”

The total cost of the package which includes the new salary and changes to the support staff and administration, is £14.5 million – an increase from the current costs of £13.5m.


Giving politicians a pay rise is always a no, no with the public. But they have to be paid and it seems reasonable that an independent board rather than the politicians themselves sets salaries.

The remuneration board is only set the task of looking at the pay of Assembly Members and they concluded that Assembly Members had an increased work

But if these powers have come to Wales there is less responsibility with Westminster. Why then should Wales’s MP’s get paid more than Assembly Members for now, a hell of a lot less work? Surely it is wrong.

Some Assembly Members have already said that they will not accept the new salary when it comes. Well that’s up to them and their consciences.

The pressure should not be on Assembly Members but on Welsh MPs. They have a lot less work than AMs and a lot less to do than their English colleague MPs.

A cut in their take home pay should follow. If the system doesn’t do it, surely as honourable men and women they should voluntarily forgo large junks of pay to reflect their diminished responsibilitiess.  Although, somehow me thinks, this unlikely to happen.

On the question of increasing the quality of Assembly Members, this is unlikely when the gatekeepers are the political parties themselves. It is an unfortunate fact of politics that parties seldom want independently minded people, for they may pose to much challenges to the status quo.


Can’t be bothered voters is what lost Labour election

Labour supporters "lethargic" when it comes to vote.

Labour supporters “lethargic” when it comes to vote.

Not ‘shy” Tories but “lethargic” Labour.

The Conservative Party won almost a hundred more seats than Labour. Not many had thought this was going to happen.

Why? Journalists, pundits and the politicians themselves were mesmerised by the polls pointing to a hung parliament.

The polls dictated the terms of engagement of the election. Who was going to bed with whom and at what cost became the main theme of the election.

Yes, there were attempts to talk about issues, but the real story script was who would deal with whom. Indeed the

Forget leadership, attracting “aspirational” voters, economic competence etc. at the end what did it for Labour was the thought that there would by a hung parliament and the SNP tail would wag the Labour dog.

Blame it all on the polls, my Lord.

Certainly there is a case for the prosecution. The polls almost all said their would be a tie. But the actual votes cast showed the Tories ahead of Labour by 6.5%. Quite a difference.

Disparity explained

Why the disparity? Was it all down to the phenomenon of the “shy Tory.” People to embarrassed to tell the pollsters that they were voting for the Conservative party which in the eyes of many is still seen as the ‘nasty’ party.

But Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams of the Political Forecasting Unit of Nottingham Trent University puts it down to “lethargic Labour” – a tendency of more Labour supporters staying at home compared to Tory supporters.

The Professor basis his analysis on election day polls and the famous exit poll. The exit poll showed a much lower Labour share of the vote than the published polls including those conducted on election day over the telephone or online.

He explains this disparity as a “significant difference in the number of those who declared they had voted Labour or that they would vote Labour and those who actually did vote.”

Lethargic Labour doesn’t provide the whole explanation but when you combine it to a historically well-established tendency for a late swing on the day to incumbents, it goes a long way to explain how the results caught everyone off guard.

To win, get your vote out

So perhaps the biggest task Labour face is not choosing a new leader, but finding a way to get its own supporters to actually turn out and vote

“If the party can’t do that ”according to Professor Williams, “it doesn’t really matter how effective the leader is, how economically competent they are seen to be, how well they appeal to the “aspirational” voter. It is very unlikely that they will be able to win.”


Plaid Cymru get Welsh general election under way

Wood makes an early start on campaign

Wood makes an early start on campaign

In a key note address Leanne Wood starts Assembly election race.

No sooner is one election out of the way Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has started on the next.

Wood has fired the gun for next year’s Assembly elections and hopes it will be a “competition of ideas” about what political parties will do to improve health, economy and education.

Insiders in the party said that they were launching early to take advantage of any disarray within the ranks of Labour after the election defeat.

Clearly with Labour conducting a leadership contest Plaid are hoping that this will cause Carwyn Jones’s government to become preoccupied with the contest and take their eye off the ball.  This follows rumours that all is not well within the ranks of Welsh Government and Welsh Labour since their party’s general election defeat.

Plaid Cymru in setting their stall for the election early are hoping that they set the terms of the debate and exploit any unhappiness with Carwyn Jones’s Labour.

Wood’s wants it to be a contest between Welsh politicians on “what they will do, not what they don’t want others to do.”


Her big new idea, a “Confederal UK.”

“All responsibilities except for those over defence, foreign affairs, the Crown and currency, should be transferrable to any one or all devolved governments, provided a majority vote in favour of such a transfer in the respective national legislatures.”

A more immediate priority according for the Plaid Leader is to oppose the repeal of the Human Rights Act, which was an election pledge by the Conservative Party.

She warned that the matter is “not simply a matter for the UK government or the Westminster Parliament – it is a matter for all parliaments and governments in the UK.”

There is a risk that by starting electioneering so early it will be a mighty turn-off for the voter and Plaid’s entreaties will be ignored.  Oh what energy these politicians have, they must have a higher boredom threshold than the rest of the population.