Monday, 18 June 2018

May finds £400m extra in weekly NHS spending, from where exactly?

 It has become a norm for UK politicians whose party is in trouble to promise more money for the NHS

Despite almost exactly a year ago telling nurses “there is no magic money tree” to increase their pay as living costs continue to rise.Theresa May’s latest promise of £400m extra in weekly NHS spending within five years has been overshadowed by scepticism among experts and her own backbenchers over her claim it can be financed through a windfall delivered by Brexit.

In June 2017  Prime Minister was responding to a member of the audience at an election special of BBC Question Time, who asked: 

“My wage slips from 2009 reflect exactly what I'm earning today. How can that be fair, in the light of the job that we do?“
Another nurse said the 1 per cent cap on annual public sector pay rises had meant a real-terms decrease in his salary of 14 per cent since 2010, adding: “So don't tell us we're getting a pay rise.”
The Prime Minister said she recognised the job done by NHS staff but that “hard choices” had to be made across the public sector.
"We did that because of the decisions we had to take to bring public spending under control, because it wasn't under control under the last Labour government," she added.
"And I'm being honest with you in terms of saying that we will put more money into the NHS, but there isn't a magic money tree that we can shake that suddenly provides for everything that people want."
Ms May repeated the phrase, which was also used by Amber Rudd when she represented the Tories in a previous BBC debate, when challenged on the issue

Theresa May’s promise of £400m extra in weekly NHS spending within five years has been overshadowed by scepticism among experts and her own backbenchers over her claim it can be financed through a windfall delivered by Brexit.

Where have we heard that before

Ahead of a major speech by the prime minister in which she will pledge a £20bn annual real-terms NHS funding increase by 2023-24, May was ridiculed for arguing that some of the money would come from a so-called Brexit dividend.

“At the moment, as a member of the European Union, every year we spend significant amounts of money on our subscription, if you like, to the EU,” she said in an interview on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show.

“When we leave we won’t be doing that. It’s right that we use that money to spend on our priorities, and the NHS is our number-one priority.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said, however, that even the government had accepted the idea of an immediate post-Brexit boost to coffers would not happen.

Though I doubt if you see  them admitting it .

Of course Mrs May could send the money that the UK stops sending to the EU but we  still will have to pay a divorce bill  y Bruegel, a Brussels-based thinktank, estimates  range from €24bn (£21bn) to €65bn. The top figure is a reference point used by EU diplomats in the past, who have talked of a Brexit bill of €60-65bn. 

Downing Street has dismissed reports that the UK has agreed to pay €55bn. British officials think the EU have hugely over-egged their demands and say they will fight hard to reduce the bill.

References to sums in excess of €100bn, or £88bn, are based on gross calculations: the maximum gross sum is €113.7bn, according to Bruegel, but this falls significantly when taking into account the UK share of EU assets, such as buildings and cash, as well as the British rebate being taken off the total.

Mrs May appears to be  spending the supposed "Windfall"  before it paid of its existing commitments.

 Even her own MPs are sceptical
One Tory MP was particularly scathing in her assessment, labelling the claim "tosh".
Sarah Wollaston, who is chair of the health and social care select committee and a former GP, said it "treats the public as fools".

She added:

 "Sad to see Govt slide to populist arguments rather than evidence on such an important issue.
"This will make it harder to have a rational debate about the 'who & how' of funding & sharing this fairly."
 It is bad enough that governments and opposition parties think that they can make up for other disastrous policies  with promises of extra money for the NHS  without saying how it will be spent, but its even worse when they cant tell us where the momey is coming from .

Even the NHS cannot be sustained by "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" but its even worse when it is promised money that isnt even there.


Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Plaid Leader's fortunes may depend on events in Scotland.

 Unless I am vary much mistaken there will not be a challenge to the leadership of Plaid Cymru this year.

So far, no other Plaid AMs have said they want to go against . Leanne Wood, who  his week submitted her nomination papers to bid to be leader again. Others can also put themselves forward and the window which allows for a leadership challenge closes on July 4

There does seem to be support from elsewhere in the party for there to be a leadership contest.
Sian Gwenllian, Elin Jones and Llyr Gruffydd have emailed their colleagues asking them all to consider standing.

A source told WalesOnline the email was sent via personal email addresses and included Ms Wood.

Another source said the email was sent in a positive spirit and was not about challenging Ms Wood's leadership but was about encouraging people to come forward and have a debate.

They said if she survives the challenge then it could strengthen her position but that it was an important debate for the party to have.

There has been some speculation that it would come from either or both Rhun ap Iowerth  or Adam Price .

 In some ways Ms Wood spiked  thier guns  this week said she will resign as leader of Plaid Cymru if she fails to become First Minister after the next National Assembly election in 2021. 

 Also in a BBC interview she mentioned Rhun ap Iorwerth by name and her opposition to the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station became evident. It's a project he's supporting. 

The thing is there are Assembly elections just thre years away. Anybody  who thinks they can win a challenge would have to change the parties rather static poll around and at the vary least finished with at least five extra seats or face calls for them to stand down.

They would  face the potential loss of Dwyfor Meirionnydd as   Dafydd Elis Thomas either winds or splits the Plaid vote.

Thee does appear to be some prejudice among Crachach tendency in Wales 
Crachac that a working class valleys woman could lead a major Welsh part,

(a pejorative term sometimes used to refer to members of the Establishment in Wales. The crachach are usually said to be Welsh-speaking and are said to be found in influential positions in the arts, politics, academia and the media. The term 'Taffia' is sometimes used in a similar sense.)

 But sadly  even more so among some the working class themselves who believe that their "betters" should shed their accents for a more "educated" one.

It's not for me to tell Plaid who should lead them but we seem to be living in a a peculiar period of political staticity where the polls (outside Scotland) see little change despite us having one of the most inept Uk governments  in living memory.

The catalyst for change in Wales however may come in Scotland where events last week made I believe a second (and successful) Independence referendum .  and whoever is Plaid leader  is must adopt an aggressive "Wales must not be left behind".

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Christopher Chope Q.E.D,

 After yesterday's post Refurbish procedure at Westminster before the building, I had no idea that my argument would be proved  so quickly but in less than a day we have the news that,

From the Guardian
A bill to make upskirting a specific criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison has been blocked in the House of Commons after a single Conservative MP objected to it.
The voyeurism (offences) bill on upskirting – the taking of surreptitious, sexually intrusive images – was put forward by the Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse after a campaign by Gina Martin. Police have declined to prosecute a man Martin accused of taking underskirt pictures of her on his phone at a music festival in London last summer.
As a private member’s bill it would normally have little chance of becoming law. But early on Friday the justice minister Lucy Frazer said the government would back it.
However, when the deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle read out the name of the bill later that day, the Tory MP Christopher Chope shouted: “Object”. Without sufficient time in the session for a proper vote it was sent back for another try on 6 July.
The MP for Christchurch also used the Commons session to delay another government-backed bill, which would make it an offence to attack police dogs or horses, or prison officer dogs.
Both were among a series of private member’s bills being given their second reading in the Commons on Friday. If no MP disagrees they are passed without a vote and can be given a date for their third reading. Last year Chope proposed 47 private member’s’ bills of his own.

 Chope was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honours for political and public service.

Some of his contributions to public service include

  • On 12 March 2010, he was responsible for the blocking of a bill to protect poor countries from "vulture funds", despite his party's support for the bill.
  • On 11 October 2011, Chope raised an eleventh-hour objection to the Hillsborough debate taking place because he believed a debate about MPs' pensions was more important. Cries of "shame" echoed around the chamber and Labour MP Jamie Reed said that the perpetrator should be "named and shamed" for raising the objection.]
  • In December 2013 Chope objected to the second reading of the Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill in the House of Commons. Because of this, the Government decided to act under the royal prerogative of mercy. On 24 December 2013 Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a free pardon.
  • He came under criticism in late 2014 for repeatedly blocking a bill that would ban the use of wild animals in circus performances, justifying his actions by saying "The EU Membership Costs and Benefits bill should have been called by the clerk before the circuses bill, so I raised a point of order".[20]
  • On 28 November 2014 Chope, a private landlord, filibustered a Liberal Democrat bill with cross party support intended to make revenge evictions an offence]
  • In October 2015, Chope joined fellow Conservative members Philip Davies and David Nuttall in extended speeches, known as a filibuster, against a private member's bill that would have placed restrictions on hospital parking charges for carers. Their actions caused the bill to run out of time.
On 15 June 2018, Chope blocked the passage of a private member's bill that would have made upskirting a specific offence by calling "object" in the House of Commons, which drew immediate criticism from fellow MPs, including some in his own party. Chope also forced a delay to final debate on the 'Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill', or Seni's Law. 

I  do know that if (Sir) Christopher  has yet been to the Palace to be invested  but if he hasn't we should have a campaign  to stop it.

Upskirting  has ben offence in Scotland since 2010 alas wein Wales do not have the same powers.

Yesterday has shown that if we want a progressive nation. trying to reform Westminster procedures may not work and we seek the powers to run a true democratic parliament in Cardiff.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Refurbish procedure at Westminster before the building,

Plans to move MPs and peers out of parliament for six years of repairs to the Palace of Westminster has been estimated in costing between  £4bn-£7bn.

Before a single penny is spent  then MPs should insist on reforming Westminster  Archaic procedures

Here's the SNP Mhari Black on how some of the procedure worked

Ironically Ms Black could find her self being  involved in similar tactics in the future as the SNP has warned of a “complete breakdown” in relations between Edinburgh and London as their leader at Westminster launched a campaign of parliamentary guerrilla tactics to cause maximum disruption to Theresa May’s government.

Outside the Commons  after being expelled this week  from the and surrounded by more than a dozen of the MPs  who walked out with him.

SNP parliamentary leader  Ian Blackford said: 

“This is the beginning of something, not the end … They’re taking us on, so they’re going to find we are taking them on. We’ll use every measure at our disposal.
“This isn’t a stunt, this is about the harsh reality of the British government acting against the interests of the Scottish people and the Scottish government. It’s new territory, this can’t be business as usual.
“It is a complete breakdown in relations because there’s disrespect which has been shown to the Scottish parliament by the Conservatives. They need to understand that there is a change in the relationship as a consequence.”
His threat to cause trouble on a “day-by-day, week-by-week” basis raises the prospect of the SNP, the third biggest party in the Commons, obstructing votes, delaying debates and raising as many obstacles to the passage of legislation as its 35 MPs can muster.

Whether you approve or disapprove   of such tactics the Tory Government invoking its power grab from the devolved legislatures   after only 15 minutes of debate in which notn, one Scottish MP took part was an insult to democracy .

Those Parties who claim to be progressive should call for not a penny to be spent on the Westminster building before procedures are reformed.

One start would be electronic voting which could end at a stroke the ridiculous
 situation described by Mhari Black.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

"Powers were always owned by London".

The SNP’s walkout of Westminster has been predictably been  condemned by many people as a “stunt”,

If it was then it was well planned as  the Independent Reports

Prime Minister’s Questions descended into chaos today as the SNP leader was expelled from the Commons – prompting a mass walkout from his party colleagues.
Ian Blackford was ordered out by a flustered John Bercow after he refused to sit down in a protest over the failure to debate what he called a Brexit “power grab” from Scotland.
The row held up questions for several minutes before the SNP MPs left the chamber en masse – some shouting and pointing angrily at the speaker and Tory MPs.
The SNP was furious after a strict guillotine on debate on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill left just 15 minutes to discuss a series of devolution controversies on Tuesday evening.
Theresa May has also rejected Holyrood’s plea not to “break the 20-year-old devolution settlement” by ploughing ahead with her Brexit plans in the teeth of Scotland’s opposition.
Speaking immediately afterwards, Mr Blackford denied his protest was “a stunt”, insisting it was justified by the government’s “democratic outrage”.
Holyrood was exposed to losing powers in crucial areas including trade deals, environmental standards and food safety, he argued.
“The prime minister gave a commitment that she would treat Scotland as part of a ‘union of equals’. Yet, last night, she pressed ahead with a power grab in direct opposition to Scotland’s elected parliament,” Mr Blackford said.
“The Tories haven’t won a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland for over 60 years, yet they press on to claw back powers from Holyrood without consent.
“History will remember this defining moment when the UK parliament chose to reject devolution. This will haunt the Scottish Tories for a generation.”
The Edinburgh parliament voted to withhold consent from the bill last month, when Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs joined the SNP in rejecting the legislation by 93 votes to 30.
Westminster can override the opinion, something Ms May vowed to do, insisting the devolution proposals in the bill were necessary to “maintain the integrity of our own common market”.
The controversy blew up after Mr Blackford used the parliamentary device of calling for a vote for the Commons to sit in private, in order to raise attention to his protest.
Mr Bercow urged him to deal with the issue at the end of the question session – rather than to interrupt it – but spent several minutes discussing parliamentary rules with his clerks.
Eventually, the speaker told him that “in light of the persistent and repeated refusal of the right honourable gentleman to resume his seat when so instructed” he was banning him for the rest of the day.
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, said she was “right behind” Mr Blackford and accused Westminster of treating Scotland with “contempt”.
In a further sign of the rising tensions, Holyrood called for David Mundell, the Scottish secretary, to come before MSPs “as a matter of urgency”.
A looming Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the withdrawal bill could determine the extent of the constitutional clash to come.

If you want to see the Union case  then look no further  than  Tim Shipman who  is the Political Editor of the Sunday Times.
“It was a ludicrous stunt. They clearly wanted to be thrown out. Their behaviour was like a class of six year olds … All from an entity which has half the population of London. Powers were always owned by London and devolved down. They were never, and could never be, owned by Edinburgh. They’ll be devolved down again but legally they are in London’s gift. If you have a country, that’s how it works. You may not wish to be part of UK, but win a referendum.”
 I am grateful  to Tim Shopman he has honestly told us the rue state of affairs  read again
 Powers were always owned by London and devolved down. They were never, and could never be, owned by Edinburgh. They’ll be devolved down again but legally they are in London’s gift.
 No "Better Together"  weasel words no "Precious Union" or pretense it is a Union of equals 

The truth is that London can if it suits them abolish the Scottish Parliament and  Welsh Assembly at a whim.

But from a Welsh point of view Scotland's case  was not helped by our Third Rate First Minister capitulation on the whole issue of the power grab in which he was backed by his Labour Party, The Tories, Ukip and Lib Demas in the

A reversal of the case in Holyrood where the Tories were the only party to support it. 

But it led to the most pathetic excuse for a Scottish  Liberal Democrat MP to abstain.

I think i leave it there.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Eluned Morgan "beyond the bubble"?

It would be vary shameful of there wasn't a female candidate for the leadership of Labour in Wales and by fault our next First Minster of the Welsh Assembly

But Welsh Labour leadership hopeful Eluned Morgan has led herself open to accusations of being a "Token" candidate" by claiming she is like her rival Mark Drakeford.

Ms Morgan has announced her intention to stand in the contest - although she is yet to get any backing from her colleagues.
"I would probably position myself in the same place as Mark Drakeford, the centre-left," she said, "but also somebody who is extremely practical, exactly like Mark Drakeford."
Mark Drakeford is the only AM with enough nominations to stand, although Vaughan Gething has also announced his intention to go for the top job. 

 Ms  Eluned Morgan has announced she will start seeking nominations to succeed Carwyn Jones as party leader and First Minister.
Ms Morgan, Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, joins cabinet colleagues Mark Drakeford and Vaughan Gething who have both indicated they will stand.

So far, Mr Drakeford has the required number of nominations with Mr Gething shy of the five AMs names needed.
There are other rumoured contenders, but none have yet formally declared they intend to run.

The Former MEP and Former Shadow Minister in the House of Lords had previously said she wanted to gather opinions from people across Wales before making a decision.

She launched a social media and online campaign called “Beyond the Bubble” asking people what they wanted to see in the Welsh Government.
She now says that she feels a woman’s name should be on the ballot.
Asked why she has made the decision to stand now, she said:

 “One, because of the enthusiasm generated by Beyond the Bubble and responses I have had and the encouragement but also the responsibility I felt at the Processions women’s march on Sunday.
“It’s important that we do have a woman represented on the ballot but I would hope people would understand I am there because of the vast experience I have got to offer as well.
“As this year marks a century since women won the right to vote.

Ms Morgan's "Beyond the Bubble website"  is oddly only in English for
Minister for Welsh Language & Lifelong Learning but how can  a former MEP and member of the House of Lords claim she is not a part of  established  party po;itics?

Not so much "beyond the bubble " as right in the centre.

It has also emerged  that Ms Morgan  failed  to step back from a decision to exempt the vast majority of doctors from language laws when her husband is a partner in a GP practice has led to calls for an investigation
In a complaint to the First Minister and the Assembly Standards Commissioner, language campaigners have said that she should have declared an interest and passed decisions on health sector duties to another minister because of the nature of her husband’s work.

 The Ministerial Code states: 

”Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.”
Baroness Morgan has listed her husband’s business on the register of AMs’ interests, but Assembly rules say she also has to make an oral statement about a relevant interest.
Although there have been several committee and plenary session discussions about the Welsh-language regulations in the health service, with primary care one of the hotly-debated issues, on no occasion did Baroness Morgan make an oral statement about her partner’s GP practice.

In their complaint to the First Minister, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg state: 

“[The] decision to exempt the vast majority of GPs from the Welsh Language Standards was very controversial, and a subject of debate before and during the public and Assembly discussions on the regulations.

As i said it would be disappointing if there is not a female candidate  for who will be de facto  First Minister , but it would be preferable if it wasn't seen as tokenism.

Mind you Jeremy Corbyn was seen as the Token Left candidate for the leadership of the  UK labour party so you never know.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Does the celebration of "Votes for Women " not credit "Suffragist enough.

Whatever the argument over the campaign for Women's votes  it does see, that nearly all the coverage has been on the militant  Suffragettes  in the United Kingdom such as members of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). somewhat to the exclusion of  "Suffragist" a more general term for members of the suffrage movement.

Don't get me wrong  

I jave nothing but admiration for he Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU)  militant organisation campaign for Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom and its campaign   where it  was best known for hunger strikes (and forced feeding), for breaking windows in prominent buildings, and for night-time arson of unoccupied houses and churches.

But that does not mean the exclusion of main suffrage  campaign including
Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett GBE (11 June 1847 – 5 August 1929) s a British intellectual, political leader, activist and writer.

A suffragist (rather than a suffragette), Fawcett took a moderate line, but was a tireless campaigner. She concentrated much of her energy on the struggle to improve women's opportunities for higher education, was a governor of Bedford College, London  (now Royal Holloway) and in 1875 co-founded Newnham College, Cambridge.[1] She became president of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), a position she held from 1897 until 1919.

Fawcett is considered to be instrumental in gaining the vote for 8.5 million British women over 30 years old in 1918 (as occurred with the Representation of the People Act 1918.)
The Fawcett Society continues to teach British women's suffrage history to younger generations and inspire young girls and women to continue the fight for gender equality while also creating campaigns like the #FawcettFlatsFriday to make strides in lessening the gender equality gap in Fawcett's name.
The Fawcett archives are held at The Women's Library at the Library of the London School of Economics, ref 7MGF.
“A memorial inscription added to the monument to Henry Fawcett in Westminster Abbey in 1932 asserts that Fawcett 'won citizenship for women'".
The blue plaque for Fawcett, which states, "Dame Millicent Garrett FAWCETT 1847-1929 pioneer of women's suffrage lived and died here", was erected in 1954 by London County Council at 2 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6DP, London Borough of Camden, where Fawcett lived for 45 years and died.]
On 6 February 2018, Fawcett was announced as the winner of the BBC Radio 4 poll for the most influential woman of the past 100 years.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 (which granted voting rights to some women over the age of 30), a statue of Millicent Fawcett by Gillian Wearing was erected in Parliament Square, London.[35][36][37]

Millicent Fawcett Statue 02 - Courage Calls (27810755638) (cropped).jpg

Yet arguably most looking at the coverage of the suffrage movement  will come to the conclusion that only the militant campaign had any effect and there no point in a statue, if the majority only know of the movement led by Emmeline Pankhurst.

I do not agree with the argument some  suffragists at the time made, and some mostly male historians since, that the militant suffragettes damaged their cause.

It highlighted it to the point it could not be ignored,

But as we look back at a monumental struggle for the rights of our fellow citizens  it is all to easy to ignore the peaceful majority because the suffragettes  provided  a more interesting story.