Friday, 2 December 2016

If Richmond is to be seen as victory for a Progressive Alliance, Lib Dems must reciprocate.

The Liberal Democrats have produced a stunning byelection victory to unseat Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park, overturning a 23,000 majority to remove the former Conservative MP in a vote which they may well be seen as shifting the Byelection from the reason Goldsmith resigned. Opposition to the Heathrow expansion to a de facto plebiscite on the government’s Brexit plans.

In one of the more unusual and closely contested byelections of recent years, which may be used to support a Progressive Alliance  the Conservatives, Greens and Ukip stepped aside entirely. The Tories decided to not oppose Goldsmith, Ukip backed him and the Greens threw their support behind Olney and the Lib Dems/

According to Wikipedia

.The results in the EU referendum on 23 June 2016 were reported by local authority, and, as the constituency consists of parts of two local authorities, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, the exact referendum vote in Richmond Park is not known. However, Chris Hanretty, a Reader in Politics at the University of East Anglia, estimated through a demographic model that Richmond Park had one of the dozen lowest 'Leave' votes in the entire country. His latest estimates suggest that 27.7% of Richmond Park voters voted 'Leave', and thus that 72.3% voted 'Remain'.
By-election 2016: Richmond Park[57][58][59]
Liberal DemocratSarah Olney20,51049.68+30.41
IndependentZac Goldsmith18,63845.15-13.06
LabourChristian Wolmar1,5153.67-8.67
Monster Raving LoonyHowling Laud Hope1840.45N/A
IndependentFiona Syms1730.42N/A
Christian PeoplesDominic Francis Stockford1640.40N/A
One LoveMaharaja Jammu and Kashmir670.16N/A
No labelDavid Powell320.08N/A
Liberal Democrat gain from ConservativeSwing+21.73

2015 general election[edit]

General Election 2015: Richmond Park[60][61][62]
ConservativeZac Goldsmith34,40458.21+8.5
Liberal DemocratRobin Meltzer11,38919.27-23.5
LabourSachin Patel7,29612.34+7.3
GreenAndrée Frieze3,5486.00+5.0
UKIPSam Naz2,4644.17+3.0
Conservative holdSwing+16.0

This may well be used as an example of a Progressive Alliance something I fully endorse.

But if this is to continue then the Lib Dems need to stop tactics such as a fake newspaper put through his door. It’s more convincing than the usual literature used by political parties, and even goes as far as including reports from “a senior Gazette reporter” who does not exist. 

Goldsmith tactic ts in Richmond in the past have been controversial, but there is no excuse for this.

The Greens stood down in this Election and openly backed the Lib Dem candidate.

Hopefully we will see the Liberal Democrats reciprocate   in favour of the Greens, or will Richmond convince the Lib Dems that they do not need a "Progressive Alliance " and go it alone.

I welcome the Lib Dems  victory but lets be clear a Progressive Alliance must be more then just opposing Brexit or the Tories, but be forward thinking in many areas including the constitution.

It also means an end to the dirty tactics (successful as they are ) that the Lib Dems constantly use.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Labour: Welsh and Scottish Nationalism Bad , British Nationalism good.

Labour Princeling Stephen Kinnock  has been causing a bit of a stir on Twitter Lately

Clearly, alarmed with the rise of Ukip  Brexit,and the election of Trump he appears to think that  the answer is to surrender to the sentiments of those whom voted for them by sundering and becoming Ukip lite.

. We must move away from multiculturalism and towards assimilation. We must stand for one group: the British people.

Indeed Kinnock, the MP for Aberavon, called on the party stop practicing “identity politics” because every racial and religious group is struggling with social mobility. 
He also said Labour needed to understand it was the responsibility of the the state to "manage immigration”.
Speaking at the London School of Economics  recently , he said:
 “We’ve been obsessing about diversity. We have been a party that has been increasingly associated with standing up for certain groups in our society and not standing up for all in our society.”“The huge mistake we’ve made, we have played the game of identity politics and identified groups, whether it is by ethnicity or sexuality or whatever you might want to call it, rather than say, ‘we stand up for everyone in this country and that includes you, the white working class’." 

Of course  he claimed..

“It doesn’t matter what the colour of your skin is or what your background is."What matters is that you’re poor and you’re disadvantaged and we’ve got to be there to help and engage with every single one of you – not just those who seem to have been taken priority over others.”

But he seems to believe that identifying people who have been daily   discriminated   against is a mistake

Mr Kinnock said Britain could learn from Donald Trump's election in America and suggested that Hilary Clinton's mistake had been to only “shout out” to certain communities in America. 

He said.
“If you are going not do it you better make sure you list of every group in your population. If you don’t - the results will be very clear at the ballot box"

Basically he's saying the likes of the Mail, Express and Sun have won the argument and Labour should abandon supporting communities that are at threat for fear of losing the vote of some White working class voters.

Here's his tweet again   

. We must move away from multiculturalism and towards assimilation. We must stand for one group: the British people.

Imagine If a Plaid or SNP MP had substituted "British" for Welsh or Scottish.

Stephen's daddy Lord Kinnock of Baron Kinnock, of Bedwellty , would be screaming.

I told you.I told you what these Nationalist were like , with their narrow, even racists views . What we want is internationalism.
Of course Daddy Neil , Internationalism really stopped at Dover.

In 2001 when first standing for the Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant , threatened to sue the Plaid Cymru candidate Leanne Wood (Whatever happened to her?) for referring to him as  a British Nationalist.

I thin if Stephen Kinnock views are anything to go by we will have no worries about referring Labour as a British Nationalist Party.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Ukip may have a point on M4 upgrade and Brexit it will affect Ireland

Yesterday a Ukip AM asked the Welsh government to seek EU funding from the Irish government to help upgrade a motorway between London and south Wales.

The M4 motorway is the main artery between the main cities of Wales and the rest of the UK – but it also carries a large amount of Irish goods exported and sold there.

It is part of European route E 30 ian A-Class West-East European route, extending from the southern Irish port of Cork in the west to the Russian city of Omsk in the east. For much of its Russian stretch, it coincides with Trans-Siberian Highway and, east of the Ural Mountains, with AH6 of the Asian Highway Network, which continues to Busan, South Korea. This route is approximately 6,500 kilometres (4,000 mi)

Ukip assembly member David Rowlands made the appeal to the Welsh National Assembly yesterday afternoon. He says that Irish exporters also rely on the M4 to transport goods to other EU countries on the continent – and told that it is “quite a reasonable idea to explore”.

Rowlands – one of seven Ukip representatives in the Welsh National Assembly – asked Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones today to seek Ireland’s help in rebuilding the motorway, using EU transport funds.

“First Minister, given that a large proportion of all Irish exports, both to the UK and the EU, pass along the M4 motorway,” Rowlands began – before halting to read the question posed on the order of business.

Recommencing, he said:

Will the First Minister explore the possibility of part of the costs for the M4 improvement scheme being borne by the Irish government, given that three quarters of all Irish exports to the EU and the UK pass along that road?

The First Minister replied:
No, it’s for the Welsh government to maintain the trunk roads and motorways of Wales.

To jeers, Rowlands said:
I thank the First Minister for the answer, but this is a serious proposition, as I understand Ireland may be able to access European funds from the trans-European highway funds.

“Very ironic, I think,” he added. He proceeded to quote from the EU’s fund allocation principles, which, according to Rowlands, read:

Although we have been investing a lot in improving transport infrastructure, there is under-investment in many smaller cross-border sections, and bottlenecks.“I trust that they know what they’re saying, and that we can now get funds from the EU. Post-Brexit, of course.”
Speaking this afternoon to the Irish news,  who may not have found  his question so ridiculous Rowlands said:
“Of course I’m glad they all realise the irony in what I was saying to the assembly, and they were all intelligent enough to pick it up.
“But this is quite a reasonable idea to explore, if you think about it. That bottleneck in Newport is as damaging to the Irish economy as it is to the Welsh or English economy, really.
It is a very main access for the Irish economy to get into the UK and Europe, and it must be causing considerable costs to the Irish motor industry and the haulage industry.
“In a way, if you think about, Ireland – southern Ireland – is still part of the European Union, and it still desires access to the EU and to the British, the UK markets,” he added.

“And if the European Parliament is committed, as they say they are, to having a pan-European highway and networks, they can’t say to Ireland ‘you’re out on a limb now’.
So it’s reasonable for the Irish government to say that ‘this is a vital link’.
“It’s the same with anything with regard to Brexit, I realise the irony.”
So  Mr Rowlands may actually a point  particularly from an Irish  point of view but of course he could have added  that the UK was also out on a limb.

I'm not sure about him being Ironic . It seems he has highlighted a major flaw in Brexit in that the UK will no longer  mean that we will see signs that claim a infrastructure project is being built as a result of European funding.

Asking the EU  to pay for an Upgrade in Infrastructure in the UK when it no longer contributes  is plainly ridiculous.

Such funding with regards the a pan-European highway and networks, was part of the European which benefited all members opening markets both ways between Nations.

Whatever "Brexit means Brexit" actually result in the future of the UK economy will still be intertwined with European Markets .

Mr Rowlands may have identified a problem with Brexit but maybe he should realise that he and other Leave supporters could be responsible for Europe saying such an idea a part a pan-European highway and networks starts in Calais

After Brexit we may see a further development of projects like the H2 Train link which will largely benefit London and the South East of England.

Wales without European Funding  and reliant on Westminster will be "Out on a Limb" not only from Europe but from the UK as a whole.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Labour really needs to address the "English Question",

The Wasting Mule claims that Welsh Labour has turned its guns on newly elected Ukip leader Paul Nuttall after he pledged to “promote the English” in his first speech at the helm of the anti-EU party.
Mr Nuttall insisted he was a unionist but promised a new devolution deal for England.
Moments after being named the winner with 62.6% of the vote, he told activists:
 “Whilst we as a party believe in the United Kingdom and are unionist to our fingertips, under my leadership we will champion a fair devolution deal for England and we will promote the English.
“I say this because there is a value that unites the vast majority of British people away from the small metropolitan clique, and that value is patriotism...
“My ambition is not insignificant. I want to replace the Labour party and make Ukip the patriotic voice of working people.”
Mr Nuttall  does not seem  to realise that patriotism and xenophobia are not  intertwined. You can want the best for your nation with out playing the race card.

Plaid Cymr, SNP and Mebyon Kernow promote a Civic Nationalism that is inclusive and progressive  and are the polar opposite of Paul Nuttalls Blood and Soil Nationalism.

But it looks like Ukip are going to portray themselves as an English Nationalist party 

Apparently his remarks alarmed Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens

The Cardiff Central Labour MP said: 
“Paul Nuttall has barely been elected an hour but already he’s turning his back on the people of Wales and making clear that Ukip don’t and won’t represent our interests.
“They may have changed the captain but Ukip is still a sinking ship... [It’s] clear that he simply doesn’t share the priorities or values of the people of Wales. No party that will only promote the interests of England has any business being elected anywhere in Wales
But they have and they will .

It seems that Ms Stevens is more concerned that Ukip seeming rebrand as an English Nationalist Party rather than its  xenophobia  and far right platform.
Indeed Ms Stevens does not seem keen on devolution in England

A detailed report from experts at the Queen Mary University of London concludes that the measures do “not give adequate opportunity for the expression of England’s voice”.

EVEL gives English – or English and Welsh – MPs the opportunity to veto legislation that relates exclusively to their parts of the UK. But for a Bill to become law it must win the support of a majority of all MPs.

English stages last 'around two minutes'

The authors note that MPs have not grasped the opportunity to engage in “substantive debate” during “English stages”, stating that “the legislative grand committee stages have so far been almost entirely perfunctory” and “most have lasted around two minutes, and have been almost invisible within the legislative process.

The Cardiff Central Labour MP said: 
“So-called English Votes for English Laws was a complete dogs dinner that even Government Ministers didn’t understand and couldn’t explain... It’s right for English MPs to have a strong voice in Parliament but that shouldn’t lead to a two tier system that excludes Welsh MPs and their constituents.
“Many people in Wales work or use services in England, so their local MPs should be able to defend their rights in Parliament when these services are being discussed and decisions made. The Government needs to go back and think again about how to get the balance right, but for now it should scrap the complicated, objectively useless and discriminatory EVEL procedures.”
Clearly EVEL is a ridiculous solution to the English Question but Labour needs to address it and either call for an English Parliament  or substantial devolution to the English Regions.

Plaid Cymru’s are also not happy with EVEL but at least have an alternative. With  Westminster leader Hywel Williams MP   called for England – alongside each of the UK nations – to have its own parliament.
He said: 
“Plaid Cymru supports the principle that England-only matters should be decided by English MPs and Plaid Cymru MPs don’t vote on anything that has no impact on Wales, whether we are allowed to or not.
“However, the complex nature of the way the different nations of the UK are funded means that there is very rarely anything that has an impact on England and involves funding that does not also have an impact on the other nations. If England wanted to privatise its NHS for example, that would have a very damaging impact on the money available for the Welsh budget.
“To exclude Welsh MPs on voting on matters with such grave consequences for the people they represent would be unacceptable. Ultimately, the best way to ensure all of the UK countries are fairly represented is to reform the outdated Barnett formula and ensure that each country, including England, has its own Parliament – all on an equal footing.”
Can Labour's desire to preserve the Union be so strong that they are prepared to see our friends across the boarder being conned by the "Blood and Soil Nationalism"  masquerading as patriotism that appears to be on Paul Nuttall agenda.

Monday, 28 November 2016

This is Cardiff.

Yesterday I posted that
Yes we can give numerous examples of Local Government waste and you can bet that we will see numerous examples in the run up to May elections.
But even the most well intentioned would be councillor, if elected under the banner of the ruling  group will have to take very difficult decisions on Social care  and how to at least keep up standards.
It didn't take Cardiff City Council long to  come up with a example where things go wrong
After a long wait for the £30,000 tree to be shipped over from China it has now been put up outside Cardiff Castle.
According to information from Cardiff Council, the artificial tree is 40m high - making it taller than Christ the Redeemer, which stands at 38m, and twice the height of the Angel of the North.
The artificial tree is covered in golden baubles and all the decorations and illuminations were pre-attached.
Cardiff  Council officials were probably hoping that the initial controversy over the design and cost would fade as it became an attraction and showed the Council to be initiative and outdoing its rivals.
However When the Christmas tree at centre stage of Cardiff's festive celebrations went up - it did not quite measure up to expectations.
Cardiff council said it had ordered a pre-decorated 40m - or 131ft - "tree-shaped structure" from China for outside Cardiff Castle.
But when the centre piece, costing £10,000 a year, went up on Friday night it was revealed to be just 40ft.
The authority apologised to anyone who had been expecting "a bigger tree".
A council spokeswoman confirmed the tree was 40ft not the 40m that had been advertised.
"The person who told us the tree was 40m high has since revealed he believes he is 18ft tall,"
"We apologise to everyone who was expecting a bigger tree and are cutting the person responsible down to size."
If that was meant as a joke it was a poor one'
Costing £30,000 over a three year lease from UK-based company MK Illuminations, the structure arrived in Wales with all the golden baubles pre-attached. It been compared to a stack of Fererro Roche  chocolates.
But the authority says the tree will save the tax payer £5,000 a year compared to previous "tree installations".
We can however wonder what the cost of a Council looking incompetent and being a laughing a stock may lead to.
It is reminiscent pf the spoof documentary  This is Spinal Tap
One of the most famous and hilarious scenes when England's notorious "Spinal Tap" run into some difficulties when lead guitarist Nigel (Christopher Guest ) confuses inches with feet.

So a  Council that had hoped to be seen as Bold and initiative  are now seen as a laughing stock.
Mistakes happen but this seems to reflect the hubris of the controlling Labour group.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

UK governments have passed the buck on social care.for decades.

Today's Observer  reports that 
Social care services that support elderly and disabled people are facing “an existential crisis” despite being as important to national wellbeing as the NHS, council leaders will claim on Wednesday.
Councils will have to continue reducing at-home support for older people and paying for beds in care homes because of Whitehall budget cuts, according to the Local Government Association.
Rising costs, the ageing population, difficulties recruiting staff and years of central government reducing its grant have left the service in crisis, the cross-party body claims in a new report. 
Councils have had to provide less care at a time of growing need, leaving more vulnerable people isolated and at risk, it says.
Philip Hammond, the chancellor, must recognise the “perilous” state social care is now in and ease the pressures on it when he delivers his autumn statement on 23 November, says the LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales.
Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board and the Conservative leader of Warwickshire county council. said
“The situation is now critical and it is no exaggeration to say that our care and support system is in crisis,” said Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board and the Conservative leader of Warwickshire county council.
“For too long the service has too often been seen by decision-makers as an adjunct to the NHS, rather than a service of equal importance,” she added. Theresa May needed to deliver on her promise of building “a country that works for everyone” as prime minister to avoid the sector suffering even more damag
 Richard Humphries, a social care expert at the King’s Fund, said: 

“It defies all sense and reason that social care spending will slip back to less than 1% of GDP by the end of the parliament when the number of older and disabled people is increasing and demand for services is rising. This is an unsustainable situation.”
Whatever your opinion  political (or non-political) party controls your council I suspect none would like to cut back on social care faced as they are with the reality f the situation.

It shows the gulf between Westminster  Politicians who may not be directly dealing with the daily crisis local government leaders and Managers face with the Social care and are forced to make cuts in other areas like Libraries and Leisure centres.

Over the last six years firstly  the Tories and their Liberal Democrat bag carriers and then the Tories alone have seen council funding cut to the bone.

For the two main parties in Westminster Tory and Labour it may be that they are not worried if their colleagues on a local council get stick for cuts in social care so long as its not MP's in the UK parliament. .

What this show is we need a complete review of the funding of local government 

Yes we can give numerous examples of Local Government waste and you can bet that we will see numerous examples in the run up to May elections.

But even the most well intentioned would be councillor, if elected under the banner of the ruling  group will have to take very difficult decisions on Social care  and how to at least keep up standards.

There will be other reasons to vote for X,Y or Z next May, but unless Westminster admits its responsibility  we are faced a bleak future in social care.