Archive for July, 2015

Welfare warfare in Labour’s ranks.

Osborne's welfare plan given a helping hand.

Osborne’s welfare plan given a helping hand by Labour

Split in Labour’s ranks on welfare.

Seven Welsh Labour MPs voted against the Welfare cuts the others allowed the government to win the vote by abstaining. The rest of Wales’s MP’s helped the Tories in the first stage of getting   anti-poor agenda off the ground.

The Welfare bill repeals most of the Child Poverty Act, and in particular abandons poverty reduction targets, tightens the ‘benefits cap’, the total amount a family can receive in benefits, extends the freeze on working age benefits for the next four years and limits child tax credits (subsidies for the low paid) to the first two children.

The question has to be asked is what is Labour for, if as the Official Opposition allows a bill that will surely increase child poverty to get through its second reading?

Corbyn, of the four leadership candidates, was the only one to defy the party line.

Labour’s approach is baffling when you consider that one of the great achievements of the last Labour government was to reduce child poverty. This was done largely through tax credits. Their vote, yesterday, sets about reversing this and dismantling the approach of their own government. Strange politics.

Ordinary party members would never agree to this at a time when poverty is on the increase and more and more people can only make ends meet by resorting to food banks. Surely reducing poverty is one of the compelling reasons that the Labour party was first established to counter.

Little wonder that Corbyn’s star is in the ascendance at the expense of the other more mealy-mouthed leadership contenders.

 A dubious strategy

So Labour voted against because ‘it must listen to the electorate.’ Apparently clobbering the poor is popular amongst voters. This is what people mean by ‘reducing welfare’.

But equally if you ask people about child poverty, they believe that it should be a government priority to reduce it.

Unfortunately the stories of hardships and poverty rarely make the tabloids. Welfare is associated with supporting scroungers rather than reducing poverty. That is why an unprincipled Labour party abstained.

Whilst the government cuts inheritance tax for the better off Labour’s decision on the welfare bill is equivalent to saying that the children of the poor must pay so that the rich can pass on more of their wealth to their children. Yes, its redistribution of wealth, from poor to rich. Good one there Harriet..

The political strategy of being seen to be moving to the right is sheer nonsense.  It doesn’t matter how often Labour votes with the government on such issues the government will always get the ‘hard on claimants’ vote and Labour will continue to be seen as ‘soft on welfare.’

Following the Tories to capture the so-called centre ground of politics only works if you can keep hold of the left vote. Scotland just shows how easy it is to loose your core vote. There are plenty of alternatives waiting in the wings to mop up those left of centre votes if Labour vacates the ground.

The party ought to wise-up  there are no electoral gains in ditching principle for pragmatism.

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Back to the constituency

A new liberal leader and a pay rise

Liberal Democrats took the first step on the long road to win back the voters support. In Wales Kirsty Williams in a key note speech where she said that she wanted to draw a line under the last five years and reset the dial for Welsh Liberal Democrats. How?”outlining in a series of speeches my roadmap to rebuild our party.” Hmmm. This was the week they chose also Tim Farron as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, winning the vote among party members by 56.5% to 43.5%. Farron, a former party president who was one of the eight Lib Dems to retain their seats in May’s general election, beat the MP for North Norfolk,Norman Lamb  by 4,500 votes out of a total of 34,00

MPs are to receive a £7,000 pay rise, rising to £74,000 a 10% pay increase.  Assembly Members after the election in 2016 will be paid a salary of £64,000 considerably less than the Westminster legislators. When the independent Board decided on 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.” If that’s the case why is it that Welsh MPs are being paid £10,000 more for considerably less work. Other public sector workers see there pay being capped at 1% for four years. And what does Cameron think. Well, before the election the thought that the proposed increase was “simply unacceptable.”  Yesterday on TV he said, “My view is this money is paid straight to MPs. It’s a matter for Ipsa. Personally I think the right thing to do is to be paid the rate for the job and that’s what I will do. As many MPs have said, it gives you an opportunity to do more in terms of charitable giving and things like that but I think MPs … you’re paid a rate for the job and you should take the rate for the job and it’s done independently.” Oh what a difference an election makes.

Harriet Harman the active leader of Labour decided that its not the official Oppositions job to oppose everything and got into hot water with her shadow cabinet. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/07/party-problems/.  Others in the Labour party are getting agitated because Corbyn who was seen as a no-hoper is making a fist of his campaign for the top job in his party. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/07/leadership-outsider-making-ground/

Two reports were issued this week one on the sale of land by a Welsh government agency and the other on neglect of older people in care homes. http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/07/care-homes-scandal/ Guess which one got the big treatment by journalists. Yes, you’re right whether the tax payer had been short changed in land sales. The suspicious deaths of 63 elderly people was of considerably less interest to the news agenda.

The National Assembly is now in recess. Assembly Members are back in their constituencies working not on holiday you understand. If you intend a festival, eisteddfod, fetes, agricultural shows, bazaars be aware this year more than any other they will not be politician free zones. With next year being Assembly election year this summer will be used to its maximum by politicians to mix with the great unwashed and press the flesh. The Almanac, unlike politicians, is going on holiday, so expect only an intermittent service between now and September!

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Party problems

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Labour split on welfare reforms

Not the best of weeks for Harriet Harman. Apparently she received a roasting in the shadow cabinet for her decision to back some of the Tories welfare cuts.

Now Labour’s Helen Goodman has placed down a motion to reject the Tory proposals and has already attracted 40 supporters from Labour’s parliamentary ranks.

To say that the party has lost its sense of direction since the election defeat would be stating the bleeding obvious.

The tussle within the party is between the so-called modernizers or the tradition left.  A division between those within the party that embrace austerity as a necessary means of sorting out the economy or those that reject the approach as making little if any economic sense.

A Corbyn win?

Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the leadership contest has certainly put the others in the contest on the back foot.

The next PM?

The next PM?

Corbyn’s presence in the leadership debate has forced Burnham and Cooper to the left, making them break with Harman. They’re running hard to win the backing of a party that is essentially to the left of the parliamentary party.

If the New Statesman private polls of party members are to be believed there’s every chance that Corbyn will do well and some are even predicting that he might win.

The Tories are delighted. A split party and every chance Labour will elect another Michael Foot and lead the party to a similar defeat 2020, as Foot did in 1983. If you’re a Tory what’s not to like about the situation.

The next general election already in the bag because of Labour’s antics. Or is it?

 2020 not a done deal for Tories

Labour could win the next election under Corbyn’s   leadership. Yes, he could be the next prime minister. Ok don’t fall about laughing. It’s not because he has an authentic voice and voters like authenticity but because split parties don’t win elections. It’s said that Government’s loose elections and not Oppositions winning them.

What could lose the next election for the Tories? Europe could.

The party has to get through the referendum without unravelling. The omens of this happening are not good. Signs are already appearing that it’s a party that’s on the verge of tearing itself apart.

Cameron’s modest demands of reform from Europe will not appease the wide eyed right wingers in his party. It doesn’t need the gift of prophecy to see a major split occurring.

Rumours abound that Boris Johnson is publicly flirting with voting Out, and the Out campaign is preparing to start recruiting Tory activists to the cause. Just as Labour Members tend to be to the left of the parliamentary party, Tory party activists are off the Richter scale on the right of the party.

With Cameron and Osborne leading a yes campaign and Boris leading an out campaign will not do the party much good in the eyes of the voters. It will look like a party at war with itself.

Labour could be the beneficiary of an internecine war for the soul of the Tory party. The odds the bookies are offering on Corbyn being next PM will be high. But for those with deep pockets it might be worth a punt.

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