Archive for June, 2015

Liberal leadership candidate visits Senedd

Farron speaks to press

Farron speaks to press

Tim Farron MP visited the Assembly to drum up support from Liberal Democrat AMs in his campaign to become party leader.

He later went on to speak to Liberal Democrat party members in Cardiff.

His arrival coincides with the ballot papers going out for the leadership election which takes place on the 16 July 2015.

The other candidate for the post is Norman Lamb who was the Care Minister in the coalition government.

Following the resignation of Nick Clegg  after the party’s disasterous performance in the election when the Liberal Democrats lost 49 seats.

Reducing the party to eight seats in the House of Commons and seeing them loose most of the party’s big hitters such as Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, Ed Davey, Danny Alexander and the late Charles Kennedy.

Mark Williams the Ceredigion MP remains the sole Liberal Democrat from Wales in the House of Commons. Jenny Willett having lost Cardiff Central to Labour and Roger Williams having lost his Brecon seat to the Tories.

Tim Farron in speaking to the press said that his party could not hide the scale of their defeat and had to get back in touch with the voters. But all was not hopeless he said the party had experienced a surge in membership since the election with 16,500 new members these will be part of the 65,000 entitled to vote in the leadership election.

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Cabinet changes?

Announces her retirement

Announces her retirement

Edwina Hart announced that she’s not seeking re-election as an Assembly Member come next May.

This news that one of the longest serving cabinet ministers is standing down will make it almost a certainty that Carwyn Jones will have a cabinet reshuffle before the election.

It’s not a question of if but when it will happen.  The chances are that it will happen sooner rather than later.

The most favourable time is likely to be at the start of the summer holidays – giving time for Ministers to get to grips with their new portfolios before the final months preceding the Assembly elections.

Moving Hart to the backbenchers will provide the opportunity for some real restructuring of cabinet responsibilities.

After all the departing Hart has a heavy portfolio. She has to deal with the economy, business, science and transport.

Giving plenty of scope for the First Minister to do some major surgery on government and a more rational allocation of portfolios. What he’ll want is a lean, mean fighting machine for the election.

Full cabinet status will surely be given to two of the four deputy ministers, namely Ken Skates and Vaughan Gething.

Both have made a good fist of their current jobs and are excellent communicators, qualities that will be put to good use in election year.

More powers, better members?

On the wider front the National Assembly is shortly to receive new enhanced powers and responsibilities.

With so many members standing down it puts the onus on political parties to choose candidates of ability that  can match up to the powers that will rest with the new Assembly.

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Contenders wrong, church right

demonstrating against cuts

demonstrating against cuts

100,000 people protest against austerity

Charlotte Church and the other 100,000 people that marched in central London on Saturday to protest against austerity measures put in place by the Conservative government, have got it right.

Three of the four candidates for the leadership of Labour have got it very wrong. They, with the notable exception of Jeremy Coburn, are repeating the same old tired policy line that our economic woes are all due to the high burden of debt.

Ed Miliband did not defend the economic record of the last Labour government even though most independent economists agree that Brown had the right approach. In his indecent haste to distance himself from his predecessors Miliband  sowed the seed for his own defeat.

Osborne and the coalition government were given  a free hit that allowed them to assert they were ‘clearing up the mess Labour left.’ The legend was that Labour had over used the government credit card so Osborne had to take difficult and tough decisions to sort out the mess.

As any half decent economist would point out the deficit was not the problem, it was the solution. Spending warded off a massive depression that could quiet easily have been the consequence of the feckless behaviour of the bankers.

Miliband’s mistake was not to get across with sufficient emphasis the message that by far the biggest contribution to a rise in public sector debt was caused by the banking crisis.

Apparently Miliband turned his back on the advice of Alastair Campbell that he should commission an independent report, by a respected figure, on Labour’s past spending plans.

Even the Times reflects that such a report “would almost certainly have cleared Labour of blame, with a minor dispute around whether the party could have spent less in 2007”.

Miliband allowed the deficit story to run and run, and now the new leadership candidates seemed to have learnt nothing and are repeating the same mistake.

To reduce debt, economic growth is necessary. Austerity is essentially anti-growth.

Osborne in his first term brought about reductions in capital expenditure when borrowing costs for much-needed projects were negligible. He is now proposing to repeat the same.

Labour lost the 2015 election because it failed to convince those that were sceptical about the Conservative economic record that it had a more attractive alternative. The SNP did and cleaned the board.

Half voters are against austerity

Even Lord Ashcroft’s polls by 2015 were saying that around half the public were against the continuation of austerity. Yet Labour’s message on this was confused and listening to the hustings last week the three front-runners for next leader are still confused.

By allowing the focus to remain on the deficit, it lets Osborne get away with the damage he inflicted in 2010-2012, and the continuing social costs of austerity.

Put simply, if around half the electorate already think austerity should not continue, why on earth is Labour giving in to deficit fetishism?

That’s why Charlotte Church in attacking austerity has macroeconomics on her side.

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