Archive for June, 2015

Assembly will see the arrival of UKIP says latest poll.

IMG_0010No change for Westminster but Assembly sees UKIP arrive

.The relative popularity of political parties show little change since the general election according to an all-Wales poll.

YouGov conducted the poll for ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff University shows that for the Westminster election very little change in the way voters would cast their votes if a general election was held now to the actual one held last May.

Level of support for the parties are (indicate actual vote in May):

Labour: 37% (no change)

Conservative: 28% (+1)

UKIP: 15% (+1)

Plaid Cymru: 12% (no change)

Liberal Democrats: 4% (-2.5)

Greens: 3% (no change)

Others: 1% (no change

It’s early days to predict what’s going to happen in five year time and we can certainly expect things to change as soon as young George Osborne’ s budget next month, for better or worse.

Of much more interest is what’s going to happen next May’s election to the National Assembly. Here the polls paint a very different picture.

As one would expect in these elections Plaid Cymru do much better in the polls than they do for the Westminster elections but not good enough to overtake the Tories to become the official opposition.

Assembly elections

For the constituency vote for the Assembly, these were the levels of support (the brackets indicate the last YouGov poll in Wales conducted on the eve of the general election):

Labour: 35% (no change)

Conservatives: 23% (+1)

Plaid Cymru: 20% (-1)

UKIP: 14% (+2)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)

Greens: 3% (1)

Others: 0% (-1)

According to Professor Scully of Cardiff University  only two constituency seats would change hands from the last Assembly election in 2011: the Liberal Democrats would narrowly regain Cardiff Central from Labour, while Labour would also lose Llanelli to Plaid Cymru.

Now the  figures for the regional list continue to show UKIP polling well and certainly claiming its place in the Assembly for the first time.

Labour: 32% (no change)

Conservatives: 22% (no change)

Plaid Cymru: 20% (no change)

UKIP: 14% (+1)

Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)

Greens: 4% (no change)

Others: 3% (no change)

According to Professor Scully the polls would see an Assembly where Labour was still the largest party and would remain the governing party but tantalisingly short of a majority with twenty eight seats (26 constituency seats + 2 list seats). They currently have 30 Assembly Members.

The Tories would remain the Official Opposition with twelve seats (6 constituency seats + 6 list seats). Down 2 Assembly Members from 14.

Plaid Cymru go down one to ten seats.(6 constituency seats + 4 list seats)

Strangely, its the party that is seen as an English nationalist party that has most to crow about. As the new kids on the Assembly block they gain eight seats. All of them on the regional lists.

The Liberal Democrats come down to two seats, Brecon and Cardiff Central and have no lists seats. On these figures they would no longer by recognised as a political group in the Assembly which carries with it financial implications for the party.

UKIP and Labour happy

Two political parties will be more than satisfied if what the polls are predicting comes to pass. Ukip will have their first foothold in the Assembly and with it the opportunity to hire staff that will give the party a much needed professional base in Wales.

Labour will be happy to be faced with an Opposition that is split between four parties making it much easier for them to govern alone. It’s difficult to see the opposition getting their act together to defeat Labour on many issues given that some parties have already said they will not co-operate with UKIP.

All in all Carwyn Jones must be a happy bunny. A divided Opposition allows him another five years of government without having to put up with a coalition partner. Joy indeed for the Labour ranks.

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The political week

A week when Wales hears is has  more poor children than elsewhere and Westminster politicians visit Assembly

Oh how politicians can’t resist spin. Take the latest from PM Cameron. Apparently he’s delighted the process of “reform and renegotiation” of the UK’s membership of the EU is “properly under way”. Talk about egging it on. This “delight” was based on a 10 minute contribution at a dinner. A dose of reality came from the European Council’s Donald Tusk who is overseeing the membership negotiations. He said “One thing should be clear from the very beginning: the fundamental values of the European Union are not for sale and so are non-negotiable.” Hmmm a bit of a way to go before the right wing of his party will equally be “delighted” then.

Wales has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK according to figures released by the DWP. In Wales just under a third of children (31%) lived in poverty, compared to a quarter (25%) in Northern Ireland, slightly over a fifth(21%) in Scotland, and 28% in the whole of England. Only London had higher numbers of children in poverty. Last week the Assembly’s Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee, that expressed concern over the Welsh Government’s lack of progress in tackling poverty. Accusing them of dealing with the symptoms rather than the causes of deprivation. All this before the £12 billion welfare cuts that are on their way.

“No taxation without representation” might have been the cry of the founding fathers of the US, but in Wales’s its

Crabb says he's hearing strong objections to a referendum on tax

Crabb says he’s hearing strong objections to a referendum on tax

representation, legislation but no taxation. At least not taxation raised by the Welsh Government itself. This state of affairs can’t go on says Secretary of State Crabb. That’s the message he delivered when presenting the Queen’s speech to the Welsh Senedd. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/06/crabbs-speech-to-assembly/.

A number of high profile Labour Assembly Members have decided to call it a day. The latest announcements include a cabinet minister – Edwina Hart, a former deputy Minister – Gwenda Thomas and backbencher Keith Davies. Of course speculation is rife as to who will replace these. Names mentioned Jeremy Miles, Lee Waters, Sian James and Eluned Morgan. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/06/cabinet-changes-3/

The wanabees visit Wales. Yes, those that have their eye on the main chance are doing the rounds. In Wales this week, Labour’s Yvette Cooper who says  “[The new party leader] has to be someone who can feel at home, whether it’s in a business boardroom or a workingmen’s club or at the school gates – and that’s what I believe I can do.” Also after the same job Liz Kendall who responded to the taint that she was the “New Labour Taliban.” By saying “Anybody who uses terms like ‘Taliban’ or ‘Tory’, I think, just shows that they are stuck in the past and the comfort zone of politics – and if we do that we won’t win in 2020, and that’s what we’ve got to do.” Meanwhile Liberal Democrat Tim Farron MP visited the assembly. His arrival coincides with the ballot papers going out for the leadership election which takes place on the 16 July 2015. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/06/liberal-leadership-candidate-visits-senedd/IMG_1354

 

Meanwhile, there is concern that the trade unions are trying to manipulate the Labour leadership election to favour their chosen one(s). Now that trade union members have to “opt-in” if they want to vote.  Only 3,788 have signed up in the affiliates section, making just 1.5 per cent of the electorate compared to a third under the old system. Apparently, Unite and the GMB, two of the biggest trade unions are delaying registering supporters until the final days of the campaign.  Why? You may ask. They can give the contact details to the candidates they favour whilst the rest of the field will only get the details when Labour get the information at the end of July. Leaving them with about 11 days to campaign amongst the brothers and sisters. It was always thus.

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Crabb’s speech to Assembly

Crabb speaks to press after Assembly speech

Crabb speaks to press after Assembly speech

Crabb spells out what will be in the new Wales Bill.

Representation, legislation but no taxation is not a position that Stephan Crabb wants to see continue. That’s the message he delivered when presenting the Queen’s speech to the Welsh Senedd.

He outlined plans for far-reaching reforms to the Welsh devolution settlement since the referendum in 1999.  Indeed Crabb said that he was redrawing the original devolution settlement.

Scrapping the conferred model of devolution, in which Westminster grants certain powers to Wales, and replacing it with a Scottish-style reserved model in which all powers are presumed to be devolved unless specified otherwise.

But on the vexed question of taxation the Secretary of State challenged Carwyn Jones to use existing powers that allow the assembly to raise ten pence in the pound in income tax.

Crabb says that the failure in the original UK devolution settlement to grant tax-raising powers to Wales has had a damaging effect. It means that Cardiff is always blaming London for being shortchanged. This has to change.

One of the great mistakes the UK body politic made in the immediate years after devolution to Scotland and Wales was to take a whole step back, a kind of wilful retreat from projecting any kind of confident face of UK government.

Crabb, the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said that the Tories now want to deepen devolution.

A pragmatic Wales?

“There is a strong philosophical tradition within British Conservatism that supports decentralisation and localism and devolution.”

His plans allow the assembly to change its name to a parliament and to set its own franchise.

His plea to Carwyn Jones was that pragmatism and collaboration should be the new politics of Wales.  Now that would be an innovation.

Postscript

Crabb says he's hearing strong objections to a referendum on tax

Crabb says he’s hearing strong objections to a referendum on tax

When tackled about a referendum on tax varying  powers by the Almanac, he said that strong representations were being made to him which he would reflect on. But on balance he thought a referendum on the issue was important. He pointed out that Scottish people had been asked the question and he felt it right that the people of Wales should be asked the same question.

Despite his words in support of a referendum it seems that if the Westminster government want the Welsh Government to go down the road of being responsible for raising some of its own cash then scrapping the need for referendum is the only way this will happen. So there would be no surprises that this requirement might be dropped when the Wales  bill is put to the Westminster parliament.

 

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