Archive for July, 2015

Who will rid me of this troublesome Lord? Plaid Cymru’s dilemma

Lord Elis-Thomas fails in bid for party's top job to Leanne Wood.

Lord Elis-Thomas fails in bid for party’s top job to Leanne Wood.

Local Party back Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas

After a debate in Porthmadog the local Dwyfor Meirionnydd Plaid Cymru constituency party backed their Assembly Member Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas to remain their candidate in next May’s Assembly election.

Opinion was sought of the local party about the AMs future following his criticism of Plaid’s election campaign and strategy.

But the controversial Lord is not out of the woods yet, the circus now moves to Plaid’s National Executive Committee, which meets in August.

The governing body has the power to de-select him as a candidate. Despite him already  been chosen by his local party as the Plaid candidate to defend his Dwyfor Meirionnydd seat in the 2016 assembly elections.

What are the heinous crimes levelled at that the good Lord? Sub-ordination. Not toeing the party line.

He criticised his party’s general election campaign. Accusing it of not been focused enough on Wales and ridiculing its over emphasis on parity with Scotland.

He also thought that tactically if the EU referendum was held on the same day as the Assembly elections it would increase turnout and help Plaid. His leader Leanne Wood disagreed. Hardly a hanging matter.

 History of friction

There is a history of friction between Leanne Wood and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas. She was instrumental in him loosing the chair of the Assembly’s Environment Committee for criticising her spring party conference speech in which she said a vote for UKIP was “a vote against Wales”. He described the attack as “facile.”

But it was his criticism of the general election campaign that probably got him into his current mess. It’s what got the  party’s hierarchy so agitated that they want to see him punished.

But as this Almanac has previously pointed out the party made no gains and came fourth the UKIP in the national vote. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/05/plaid-cymru-fail-to-make-a-breakthrough/

Despite Leanne Wood having considerable radio, television and press coverage on the UK stage the party made no headway at all.Plaid should reflect on this rather than shoot the messenger.

Plaid Cymru ought to take stock at the implications of getting rid of the troublesome Lord. If the former President of the party ceased to be a Plaid candidate and stood instead as an independent that would become the focus of the election campaign. Surely not an outcome even the most vitriolic critic of Dafydd El would want.

In such circumstances Plaid’s election campaign would be de-railed and Wood’s ambition of leading Plaid into government would certainly seem a very hollow claim indeed.

It’s not the Lord that should be under the lash but whoever embarked on this foolhardy attempt to undermine one of Plaid Cymru’s elder statesmen.  Madness indeed.

He’s an asset to his party despite occasionally being off message. His party would be the poorer without him and Wales’s politics would be a lot duller if he left the stage.

Better he be in the tent pissing out, than outside…

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Corbyn – a serious contender?

All the talk 's about Corbyn

All the talk ‘s about Corbyn

Panic in Labour ranks as Corbynism takes a hold

“They don’t like it up them” as Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army fame would say is the best way of describing the reaction of some Labour grandees to the surge in support that appears to be flowing to Jeremy Corbyn.

Some MPs even want to postpone the election itself to prevent a Corbyn victory. When the likes of Blair jumps in to urge party members to vote for anyone but Corbyn you know that things are pretty desperate.

Why are the party members moving Corbyn’s way? Because he’s authentic and offers a very different approach to what went before.

After all Labour fought and lost the 2015 general election accepting the premise laid down by Cameron and Osborne and most of the press on austerity.

Labour accepted the need for austerity, cuts and a public sector pay freeze. Ok austerity lite. But why vote for a party that almost mirrored the Tories in their economic policy.

And it wasn’t just economic policy but on immigration they were trying to look more macho than the Tories and Ukip. The ignominy of a party producing a mug to flaunt its opposition to migrants was not lost on many.

Despite it all, they lost. Why? The voters just didn’t believe them. They were a sham and even if you didn’t see through the sham why would you vote for them when you could vote for the real thing.

But the political gymnastics is still going on as the country witnessed on the welfare bill.  The party decided to abstain.

What was Cooper and Burnham response? They abstained but then went on to denounce the stand. Their very own stand. Confused, you bet. Both could be hired in Variety as contortionists.

It was hardly a principled approach to politics and certainly not likely to impress those that have a vote in the leadership elections.

Corbyn’s approach is genuine, authentic and consistent. But more importantly it’s a real break from the past. He represents something; God knows what the others represent.

Nobel endorsement

As Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said yesterday “I am not surprised at all that there is a demand for a strong anti-austerity movement around increased concern about inequality. The promises of New Labour in the UK and of the Clintonites in the US have been a disappointment,” “Unfortunately the centre-left parties have wimped out. They have joined in saying: ‘Oh yes, we have to have a kinder version of austerity, a milder version of austerity.’

One third of the new members of Labour are under the age of 30 and their most common age is 18.  This is the group that has been hit particularly hard by the austerity agenda. Little wonder they are flocking to vote for Corbyn.

If Corbyn wins unlike the general election, it will be the young that clinches it.

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A referendum on tax powers?

Will he pave the way at Royal show to u-turn on referendum?

Will he pave the way at Royal show to u-turn on referendum?

Tories feel a referendum on tax varying powers difficult to win.

There are many Conservative Assembly Members and Members of Parliament that don’t think a referendum on tax varying powers can be won.

If a ‘yes’ campaign in such a referendum is as good as lost then it’s highly unlikely that the referendum will ever see the light of day.

But Tories in both Westminster and Cardiff Bay want the Welsh Government to take responsibility for many taxes including income tax.

Their view is simple if the Welsh Government had responsibility for raising taxes it would be a great deal more circumspect on how it spent the money.

Currently Wales has plenty of representation to make laws, but no direct taxation to pay for those laws, the opposite of the situation that led to Britain losing its American colonies.

Carwyn Jones, Wales ‘s First Minister, is probably happy with the status quo. He can devise a programme of government on the grant he receives from central government. If there’s not enough in the coffers he can blame them for the cuts. How often has he said it’s “all the Tories’s fault”?

If  taxation was to firmly rest within the Assembly’s powers, the Westminster Government could say “If you want more cash to spend, raise it.”

It’s the prospect of a referendum that is stopping any movement on this front. Nothing can happen until the people have spoken.

Referendum to be dropped?

That’s why the Tories will drop the need for a referendum. It’s not if, but when?

David Cameron may pave the way for an about turn on this matter when he visit’s the Royal Welsh this week. With the announcement being made at the Tory party conference and expect it to feature in the next Wales Bill.

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