UKIP have lost a second AM from their group with Mark Reckless announcing his intention to join the Tory group in the assembly.
The UKIP group in the assembly is now down to 5 members. Having earlier lost Nathan Gill who also retains his membership of UKIP in the European Parliament but sits as an independent in Cardiff Bay.
To misquote Oscar Wilde to loose one member is a misfortune to loose two is downright reckless.
It would appear now the referendum to leave Europe has been won, UKIP are finding it difficult to be a cohesive political force.
Having been a single issue political party for so long they are clearly finding it difficult to find a place for themselves in the post Brexit era.
Despite her warm words of being for the working family the Conservative party under Teresa May has shifted to the right of the political spectrum, a space that UKIP were hoping to make their own.
Now they have nowhere to go UKIP members such as Reckless are jumping ship and going back to the Tory party. Significantly UKIP are only fighting 70 seats throughout Wales in the council elections.
One would have expected that they would have tried to consolidate those areas that voted leave in the referendum and seats they polled well in Assembly elections such as Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent UKIP. In these two councils they have not put up council candidates and have put very few in other valley seats.
In the long term to be a successful political party you have to put down roots in local communities. Clearly, they failed to do this when they were riding high in the polls.
Having failed to bed their organization down in local areas they have very few members they can put up to stand for seats on local councils.
What then of Mr Reckless’s political future? He’s unlikely to have a warm welcome back by Conservative Central Office. After all he left the Conservatives to join UKIP in September 2014 causing a by-election in his Rochester and Strood which he won but lost the seat in the May 2015 General Election.
He was parachuted into South Wales by his new party to fight the Assembly elections. He subsequently got elected on the regional list in South East Wales for UKIP joining six others as UKIP made their breakthrough to the Assembly and became players on the Welsh political scene.
However whatever the feelings in Conservative Central Office in London the Tories in Cardiff Bay will be delighted. With the defection of Reckless they overtake Plaid Cymru in numbers and can call themselves the “official” opposition again. And may also win a committee chair from Plaid Cymru.
In announcing his move Mark Reckless said
“I want to be part of a strong and united team of Assembly Members in Cardiff Bay – one which continues to shine a light on the failures of Labour’s Carwyn Jones and his friends in Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats.”
Labour is delighted by the move, a source said, “this shafts Plaid Cymru, UKIP are in disarray and the Tories are seen as the nasty party.”
Labour Conference make Carwyn Jones leader.
Carwyn Jones was elected in 2009 but it has taken until this year’s conference for Mr Jones to became Welsh Labour leader.
Although everyone described him as Labour leader his official title was leader of the party’s assembly group.
The conference formalised Mr Jones’s role as Welsh Labour leader. So its official Carwyn Jones is Labour leader in Wales. It’s only taken 17 years who thought a week was a long time in politics.
According to him he will be leader for a while yet. He has no intention of resigning until after the Brexit negotiations are done.
Meanwhile both he and the new shadow Secretary of State for Wales Christina Rees are down playing the party’s hopes in May’s council elections.
Carwyn Jones admitting it will be difficult to avoid losses and Christina Rees saying 4 May will be “tough”
Currently, Labour rule in 10 of Wales’ 22 councils and run minority administrations in another two.
Devolution Task force
More devolution is needed to save the UK is the conclusion of leading Labour politicians who met in Cardiff at the invitation of Carwyn Jones.
Labour’s devolution task force held its first meeting and it included exPM Brown and Labour’s Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale.
Meeting on the day that PM May triggered Brexit Carwyn Jones warned her if she refused to listen to the concerns of Wales, Scotland and Northen Ireland the UK could break up.
This view was echoed by Brown who said there was a need to “rethink the British constitution” giving more power to the nations and regions of the UK.
Labour’s aim is two fold, the Celtic wings of the party want more powers to be devolved from central government and are concerned about the rise of English nationalism and those from the north of England want to see a fairer distribution of resources from London and the South East.
The group feel that the current constitutional arrangements are “no longer fit for purpose. ” Hinting that a new federal relationship between the UK’s nations and regions is the way ahead.
Considering that the Labour party is languishing in the polls, these ideas may be along way from being implemented and it is entirely possible that the UK would have broken up well before the advent of a Labour government.
Government could take over health boards
Welsh government are threatening to take over the running of three health boards if they don’t get their financial affairs in order.
The warning came as three health boards are facing big financial deficits.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, Cardiff and Vale, and Hywel Dda were placed under an increased level of scrutiny from ministers in September 2016, due to doubts about their ability to tackle the increasing defecit.
It is predicted that the three plus Betsi Cadwaladr in north Wales which is already controlled by ministers under special measures, will overspend by £146m this year, that’s three times more than the figure for last year.
In answering Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies description of the Boards finances as “chronic” during First Ministers Questions Carwyn Jones said “We will look very carefully at what they are doing.
“If they do not come in ‘in-budget’ without harming services then we will have to look carefully at the governance of those boards.”
“We will not shy away from that in the same way as we did not shy away in dealing with Betsi Cadwaladr when that situation arose.”
In another statement to the Assembly the Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said the bills would get paid and there would be no interruption to treatment for patients.
He also warned that pumping more money into the NHS was not a “consequence-free game”, in relation to the impact on the funds available for other public services.
It looks like the direction of travel for health in Wales is a service directly controlled by Ministers in Cathay’s Park.
Well, the letter has been sent and we’re on our way out of the European Union for better or worse.
Only 29% think it will be for better according to a survey by IHS Markit of British households surveyed in March. In July 2016, 39% of the public believed that leaving the European Union would make Britain’s economy better off.
The share of households that expect economic prospects to worsen has increased from 42% to 53% over the same time period. Eighteen per cent anticipate no change.
The most marked turnaround is evident among the poorest paid, who have switched from being the most optimistic to now being the most downbeat.
This in part can be explained by the increase in inflation that Brexit has caused.
Another report by the cross-party think-tank Demos say that Wales and Northern Ireland are most vulnerable to the economic risks posed by Brexit. Not surprisingly as both countries rely heavily on EU funding, exports to the EU and, in the case of Northern Ireland, a large number of European workers.
Little wonder then why First Minister Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood are so concerned to ensure that Wales’s access to the single market continue.
But there is a paradox as the YouGov tracker poll which asks “In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?” has hardly moved since the vote which still shows as many people saying Yes as No.
What’s the explanation? Voters probably feel that once a democratic decision has been made, it should be respected, however uncomfortable they feel about the decision. It is important to respect “the will of the people” just as it is important to keep a contract even though you regret signing it. In common parlance you cut your nose to spite your face.
But today’s decision fulfills the contract with the people it’s now up to the negotiations. If the deal is not good enough then in a representative democracy we would expect our representatives to reject it and seek a new mandate from the people.