Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Tory MP David Davies probably thinks we should be an Annexe of England

The BBC Wales webpage carries what looks like a Toty press release which expresses faux-concern  that the Welsh Government has defended spending more than £84,000 on the Brexit case at the Supreme Court.
Ministers intervened over whether the Article 50 process to leave the EU can be triggered without MPs' approval.
The Welsh Conservatives have found just over £79,000 was spent on legal fees, plus travel and accommodation costs.
Monmouth Tory MP David Davies called it a waste of money, but the Welsh Government said it would not apologise for protecting Wales' interests.
The figures have been disclosed as a result of a Freedom of Information requestmade by the Welsh Conservatives.
They cover both the costs of attending the original High Court case and participating in the Supreme Court appeal.
At the Supreme Court, the Welsh Government argued that triggering Article 50 would "significantly change" the devolution settlement as it applies to Wales.
But the UK government dismissed that argument as "tortuous".
The disclosure shows:
  • £79,074.43 was spent on external legal fees
  • £4,162.20 was spent on travel, subsistence and accommodation for the counsel general Mick Antoniw and three Welsh Government lawyers
  • £800 was spent on the application to intervene
  • £327.80 was spent on a meeting room at the Supreme Court
Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies said: 
"What an absolute waste of taxpayers' cash, and all to pay for Mick Antoniw's tortuous bid to block Brexit.
"Ultimately, the weakness of the Welsh Government's case exposed this venture for what it was - a peacocking exercise, motivated by a combination of ego and an unwillingness to abide by the democratic process.
"It might not seem like a grand sum in the context of the Welsh Government's
overall budget, but that kind of money could have paid for four full time Welsh NHS nurses which would have been a much better use of taxpayers' money."

Yes its not a great sum and given the cost of legal representation, we might wonder  of the Welsh Government has actually got as full a representation as we deserved.

The Welsh Government has denied that the case was a bid to block Brexit.
A spokesman said:
 "We do not apologise for intervening in what is one of the most significant constitutional legal cases in the UK's history.
"We did so to protect the interests of Wales and its devolved institutions.
"The people of the UK voted to leave the European Union, and we respect that decision.
"While Brexit will happen, the UK government cannot trigger it by overriding the British constitution.
"They need to act within the law.
"In the Supreme Court, we argued the process of leaving the EU must be carried out within the law, which includes respecting and adhering to the constitutional arrangements of the United Kingdom and the legal framework for devolution."

I wonder what  critics outside the Tory Party would have said if Wales was not represented  in this legal case that will affect the way the UK Government can bypass the Westminster parliament and cut debate,

David Davies is one of those MPs who wishes the Welsh Assembly was not there and the only opinion coming out of Wales is that pf servile acceptance.

Having said that  i must admit he's maybe right, when he described the process by which a construction firm from Catalonia was awarded the contract to build the Circuit of Wales racetrack h as “absolutely outrageous and unacceptable”.

I think we can't really complain that the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HOVDC), the firm taking the Circuit of Wales project forward, has a contract to stage the British event of the annual MotoGP motorcycle championship. That contract was awarded by Dorna, the Catalan company which owns MotoGP. after all any part of theUK would have to accept such a contract to stage such an event.

But at the same time as Dorna announced it had awarded the MotoGP event to HOVDC, HOVDC said the contract to build the Circuit of Wales had been awarded to another Catalan company called Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas SA (FCC).

David Davies said:
 “It is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable that the Circuit of Wales are looking for more than £200m in financial guarantees from taxpayers when there is no transparency about the selection process which resulted in the building contract being awarded to a Spanish construction company.
“How can we be sure that, if the project does go ahead, it will do so on the basis of best value?
“I am looking forward to a report from the Auditor General for Wales on the
project, which is due to be published in February."
As I said he may be right but as he spouts his second act of righteous Indignation in a day he might well reflect . Why a "Catalan" company actually exist that can bid for these contracts?

Could it be due to the autonomy that Catalonia  has and it is able to compete at a level that Wales can only dream about?

Davis Davies outrage would probably not exist if it was a company from the South West of England.

He regards Wales as little more that an Annex of England and we should accept the ruling of our Masters and Mistresses in London

Monday, 16 January 2017

Does it suit the Government to keep us in the dark over Brexit?

This week we may (no pun intended) have some idea what the Prime Minister has in mind over how Brexit will be carried  put
The Prime Minister is expected to give the most detailed insight yet into her approach to the forthcoming talks with Brussels in a major set-piece speech on Tuesday.
Several of Sunday's newspapers claim Prime Minister Theresa May will signal the move inspeech on Tuesday.
Although the exact contents of the speech are said to be a closely-guarded secret, The Sunday Telegraph quoted a government source as saying:
 "She's gone for the full works. People will know when she said 'Brexit means Brexit', she really meant it
However wWriting in The Sunday Times, Brexit Secretary David Davis said the Government would be seeking to forge a "strong new partnership" with the remaining 27 member states.

"We don't want the EU to fail, we want it to prosper politically and economically, and we need to persuade our allies that a strong new partnership with the UK will help the EU to do that," he wrote.He also indicated that the Government would consider some form of transitional arrangement - a move likely to be regarded with suspicion by hardline Brexiteers who have been demanding a clean break."It proves necessary we will consider time for implementation of the new arrangements,"
Which seems a very strange statement if the speculation on a "Hard Brexit" is true because one wonders apart from the likes of Marie Le Pen's National Front (who have their own agenda) what allies will still exit after the UK damages not only our economy  but that of the remaining EU?
Plaid's treasury spokesman Jonathan Edwards told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales programme the impact on Wales would be "devastating".
The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP said pulling out of the single market and customs union would have a 
"huge impact on jobs and wages in Wales".
He added..
..."The reality of what we're going to hear from [Theresa May] on Tuesday, it's going to be the greatest job-killing act in Welsh economic history, probably in British economic history," 

Meanwhile the latest Welsh Barometer Poll  still shows a Nation divided   you can see it here but as Professor Scully  comments

 Our new poll is the third one in Wales to ask about voting intentions in such a hypothetical second referendum since last June. All three have shown the nation continuing to be very closely divided: 

Poll% Remain% Leave% DK/ WV% Leave Lead
July 2016464113-5
September 20164245133
January 20174344141

he says 

"Perhaps we will see a change when we find out just what Brexit means and  whether there is any form of open Market"/

Though the Barometer Poll seems to indicate Leavers are pretty solid 

“Thinking about Britain’s relationship with the European Union now it has voted to leave, which of the following would you most like to see?”

Britain should leave the EU completely and have no sort of formal deal with the rest of the EU3%32%18%
Britain should try to make only a limited deal with the rest of the EU, restricting any deal only to trade11%46%27%
Britain should try to make a wider deal with the rest of the EU, giving Britain full trade access to the rest of the EU, in exchange for allowing EU citizens to live and work in Britain26%10%18%
Britain should try to reverse its decision and stay in the EU50%2%23%
None of these1%1%3%
Don’t Know8%9%12%

As Professor Sculy sates
"So more than three-quarters of Remain voters prefer either a ‘soft’ Brexit or no Brexit at all, while almost four-fifths of Leave voters indicate a preference for a ‘hard’ Brexit. And across the sample as a whole there is no consensus whatsoever: no option wins the support of much more than a quarter of people. Once again, the basic point is reinforced – there is no public consensus about Brexit emerging. Wales – and, one imagines, much of the rest of the UK – continues to be deeply divided about the issue.

We are still in the dark on what form of Brexit we are going to have and if the Welsh Polls are any indication  then it suits Theresa May and her government to keeps us in suspense.

So maybe we may not be any wiser n Tuesday after all.  

Sunday, 15 January 2017

We must be wary over the Intelligence leaks over Trump.

We are living in Topsy-Turvey times when we see a Right Wing President Elect of the USA denouncing his own Intelligence Agencies and the Liberal.Left gleefully picking up the allegations.

Obama tenure has been long on rhetoric but short on action particularly on foreign policy and it was ridiculous  to award a man who has failed to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp followed his predecessors  disastrous polcies in the Middle East , including sending drones against civilian targets and allowed the Banking sector that caused the financial crisis we are still paying for to continue.
Since his Peace Prize was strangely for what he might do in the future maybe the Ex-President will begin to earn it.
There was no hint of any private scandal though unless you support the "Fake News" that he was a secret Muslim or the accusation by Donald Trump that he was not born in the US
  This time round,Trump is the centre of  attention  focused on reports of a 35-page dossier containing utterly unsubstantiated claims of a “compromising relationship with the Kremlin” and sexual escapades that could expose the President-elect to blackmail.
It did not take long for the dossier to appear online in a move which outraged Trump.
But journalists sat up when they learned that Trump and Obama were presented with a summary of the claims by, in the words of CNN, “four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs”.
Trump reaction As he has done on so many occasions, including the intelligence reports that Russia had interfered in the Presidential Elections was to deny the source.
Trump expressed his innermost feelings on the  on the lurid sex allegations and Blackmail on Twitter, saying: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
When he faced reporters he refused to take a question from CNN, which broke the story that he was briefed by intelligence officials about the claims.
“You are fake news,” he told the reporter.
He derided Buzzfeed as a “failing pile of garbage” and said the intelligence agencies had “maybe” released the information.
As Leigh Richards on Rodolfo Walsh's Glasses points out
The prospect of a Trump presidency genuinely appalls me but i would prefer it those of us opposed to his uniquely divisive and dangerous brand of politics sought to defeat Trump by exposing and challenging his reactionary plans - such as abolishing Barak Obama's affordable healthcare act, building a massive wall on the mexican border and his dinosaur views on climate change - rather than trying to undermine him by relying on on dubious leaks from intelligence agencies trained in the art of deception.

I don't know if the allegations are true or not but would we on the Left be so readily to accept the CIA leaking similar Allegations against Bernie Sanders if he had won the Presidency?

 The US intelligence Agencies may share my view that Trump is a dangerous Demagogues and it is their role to save the US and the World from him but can we trust their information ?

We cannot choose to believe and not believe  such Intelligence Reports  to suit our own views.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Union of equalls? No Welsh, Scottish or NI veto on Brexit.

Yesterday I was bogging about  Federalism and by coincidence    Members of Parliament were refusing to refused to say that the final Brexit deal should be endorsed by the Assembly and the other devolved legislatures.
Instead, a long-awaited cross-party report states that “no part of the UK has a veto over the outcome of the negotiations”.
Plaid Cymru, the SNP, Northern Ireland’s SDLP and Scotland’s only Liberal Democrat attempted to amend a long-awaited Brexit report so it would state that “the endorsement of the devolved parliaments should be sought for the final deal”.
In July, Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones said:
 “My view is that any future deal the UK agrees should be ratified by all four parliaments within the UK in order to get the greatest buy-in.”
The report from the Exiting the European Union committee argues there should be no return to tariffs for UK businesses, insists the UK Parliament should vote on the final deal and stresses the need for transitional arrangements on trade.
But Jonathan Edwards, the Plaid Cymru member of the committee, attacked Labour MPs’ stance on devolution and warned

“unless Wales begins to flex its muscles we will be even more marginalised in post-Brexit Britain under a right-wing Tory government and a weak and feeble opposition“I am dismayed that my attempts to ensure the report recognised that different UK countries voted in different ways and for the devolved parliaments to have to endorse the final terms of the negotiations were blocked by the Westminster parties. Every single EU member state will have a veto over these negotiations, along with a raft of sub-state regions in Europe as well.“Meanwhile it appears that Labour and Tory MPs believe that the future deal should be determined unilaterally by Westminster – the so called partnership of equals only goes so far.”
..By blocking my amendments to give Wales a voice, the Labour MPs on the Committee have effectively gagged their Welsh Government colleagues... Westminster is intent on turning the UK into a unilateral state
Now Wales voted for Brexit so maybe and argument for a veto is not so strong but  Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to Remain and are being pulled out of the EU against their will. 

Would a Federal UK recognise this and accept that all parts must agree on such a thing as Brexit before it can be carried out.

Indeed if we had a Federal UK would the whole Brexit campaign in Wales have taken a different path and seen the whole EU issue from a Wales viewpoint rather than that of England/UK.

Jonathan Edwards   point   that "Every single EU member state will have a veto over these negotiations, along with a raft of sub-state regions in Europe as well. Can be put in  context when we remember   in ccontrast to last October last year when , Paul Magnette, the Minister-President of the francophone region of Belgium (Wallonia), declined to give the consent of his government to the federal Belgian government to sign the landmark Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. As a consequence, the Trade Council, meeting on October 18th, was not able to adopt the decision to sign and provisionally apply the agreement, which in turn will prevent the EU from signing the agreement next week at the EU-Canada Summit in Brussels.

Walloonia  can block EU trade agreements .

Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland can't even try and if not stop Brexit  get the best deal fr their people..

Friday, 13 January 2017

Unionist Corbyn pours cold water on Federalist plans.

It is interesting that  that Labour, who it is remembered originally supported Hpme Rule All-round  at least until Ireland gained Independence when it was quite dropped to be replaced with outright opposition have been musing over Fedralism

The Blog Thinking Wales – Meddwl Cymru tells us that

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has called for a “radical federal” UK in a recent interview with The Herald, marking a change of policy for the Labour Party. McDonnell’s calls have come amid renewed talk of a potential second referendum on Scottish independence and Labour’s attempt to win back supporters in Scotland in light of the party falling further and further behind in one of its former heartlands. Labour is losing ground to the Tories in the constitutional debate in Scotland and needs to offer a convincing argument to the Scottish people in order to win back support. But where does Wales fit in to this plan? Considering calls for federalism from Welsh Labour have been ignored in the past, it is questionable whether the implications on Wales have been thought through.
They note that

 Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones has been calling for a “constitutional convention” for a few years, but as noted by David Moon in 2014 when Ed Miliband was leader, it largely fell on deaf ears within the Labour Party hierarchy. In a speech in 2014 Carwyn Jones called for federalism in order to enable “unity while guaranteeing diversity” and to strike “the best balance between national citizenship and local flexibility”. His calls have become stronger since the Brexit vote due to talk of a second Scottish independence referendum. A federal UK would mean Wales would not be “an annexe to England…We don’t have to have independence – there is a way to ensure there is some sort of federation, or some sort of agreement”. Maybe Carwyn Jones has finally got through to John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn; but it is more than likely that this move is a way to win back Scotland to the Labour Party cause.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale's has also called for call for a new 'Act of Union'.

Which begs the Question, Why has  this surfaced now when Labour have failed to give Wles even parity with Scotland and have  dome their best to avoid Scotland gaining more powers?

Well i suppose we can give credit to Ms Dugdale 

At a speech to the IPPR in London, she  claimed her plan would “save” the Union.
She said: 
“I believe a new federal UK, with a strong Scotland able to carry forward a significant relationship with Europe, is what people across Scotland have voted for. It goes far to meet the dual mandates of the Scottish people, and gives us the best possible protection for our jobs and our economy.
“That is why on the first day of our party conference in Perth in February, I will ask the Scottish Labour Party to back this vision for a new Act of Union to establish a federal UK. This will restate Scottish Labour’s belief in the United Kingdom as a redistributive union and set a bold and radical new direction for Scotland and the UK.”
Ms Dugdale added: “There can no longer be any doubt that the UK – and everything that progressives are fighting for – is in peril.
“The Tories are to blame for that, and Ruth Davidson must never be allowed to forget that it is her party that nurtured the divisions that Nicola Sturgeon thrives upon.
“Our Union must be saved. We must heal our divided society. It is only Labour that can do that.”

Still there still a place for Old Fashioned Labour Unionism in the guise  of  Jeremy Corbyn who slapped down  Kezia Dugdale proposed a federal structure for the UK last month in a bid to end the constitutional wrangling across the country and stave off the threat of independence.

The UK Labour leader took issue with the MSP’s choice of words in an interview with the BBC.
Mr Corbyn agreed with Ms Dugdale in saying there needs to be a convention to investigate alternative constitutional arrangements.
But he added: “I would not use the words new Act of Union.”
The Islington North MP also said there is no need for a second independence referendum and questioned whether the devolution of immigration powers to Holyrood is possible.
Mr Corbyn said: 
“There is a huge issue about regional government across England, and there is a need to have a discussion about the relative powers in Scotland, in Wales and in Northern Ireland of devolved assemblies.”
A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “Kezia Dugdale has proposed a new Act of Union, to strengthen our union across the whole of the UK for generations to come.” 

 So I suspect thet Labour Strategy will see their UK  Manifesto cal for a convention but give no preference for what they would like to see

In Scotland declare their support for a Federal  UK but do not attempt to make waves with their  London Masters

In Wales also support a Convention but make no new calls for more powers et alone parity with Scotland.

But if Labour think that the establishment of a Convention will end the Independence Question  they are mistaken and Federalism will only be a stopgap  until Scotland realised power still lies with an English Majority.

Or Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland MPs had a veto in the Federal Parliament was "weighed" denying English Members a majority would be acceptable East and South of the Welsh and Scottish Boarders.

The Union is coming to an end what we in Wales face is the choice of being an annex of England or join Scotland as a Independent European Nation,

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Plaid accused of "Pork Barrel Politics" by sneering Labour,

Labour in  The National Assembly really nust come to Terms that they can't at the moment carry forward in the assembly without doing deals with other Parties

 in the  last full session before the election last May ended in acrimony with the defeat of the Labour government’s bid to introduce a partial ban on e-cigarettes in public places following a “jokey” comment made by a Minister.

This unexpected decision meant there was to be be no legal ban on “vaping” in Wales.

Plaid Cymru, which had originally given its AMs a free vote on the Public Health (Wales) Bill, opted to vote against the partial ban after Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews referring to a previous deal with Plaid called those of its AMs prepared to vote with the government “a cheap date”.
Now as BBC Wales points out   a Plaid Cymru AM has defended his party for trying to get investment in the areas it represents after a Labour AM warned against "pork barrel" projects being put in budgets to win support.

Pork Barrel  for the appropriation of government spending for localised projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's district. The usage originated in American English.[1] In election campaigns, the term is used in derogatory fashion to attack opponents. However, scholars use it as a technical term regarding legislative control of local appropriations.

A bypass is set to be built in his constituency under a Labour-Plaid deal.

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said all parts of Wales saw major investments.

On Tuesday, Labour AM Lee Waters warned against "pork barrel" budget dealsthat include bypass projects.

The final Welsh budget for 2017/18 includes £50m for a bypass at Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire.
Mr Price, who represents the town as AM for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, said Welsh Government capital spending in mid and west Wales over four years was half the figure for south east Wales of more than £1,000 per head.
"Next year it is projected to fall to 29% - nothing can justify that level of gap," Mr Price said, during finance questions in the Senedd on Wednesday.

"We heard in the chamber yesterday, I would say a rather sneering tone of metropolitan provincialism attacking my party for at least trying to get some concession, some investment, in the regions and the constituencies that we represent.
"We make no apology for equalising the level of investment," he said, saying those attitudes were "were present on the Conservative benches as well, also from members that either represent or live in the most prosperous part of Wales".
 Mr Price, Plaid's economy spokesman, pressed Mr Drakeford on the issue, saying: 

"I would ask him this: will he commit to equalising the level of investment across Wales so that it is not left up to my party year in year out to fight for bloody scraps at the bottom of anyone's pork barrel?"
Now Mr Waters may have an argument  over whether  the road project a "climate busting commitment" that Plaid leader Leanne Wood had "insisted on whilst chastising" Welsh Government "for not doing enough on climate change
Twitter discussion

He may even have a point over "Pork Barrel politics" but as his government  major infrastructure expenditure  seems to be concentrated in South East Wales  where they have an Hegemony of MPs,AMs and councillors  (at least until neat May) local councillors. It is their huge Pork Barrel such as the M4 Relief road and Cardiff Metro that is denying investing elsewhere.

But it it is the sniping after a agreement on the Welsh Budget that is disturbing.

It seems likely that if Plaid was not to wrangle concessions out of the Welsh Labour Government (Pork Barrel or not) those parts of Wales not currently shown in red on the Welsh Political Map will see very little in new projects and investment.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Lib Dems think Remainers will forgive their sins over backing the Tories.

Poor Jeremy Corbyn can't   win.  Despite the impression given by Labour HQ overnight that Jeremy Corbyn was on the point of ditching his long-held backing of the freedom of movement of European citizens - that allows an unlimited number of them to come and live and work in the UK -
He has not changed his mind on the most basic question when it comes to immigration. 
Does he think that the current levels, with 190,000 EU citizens coming to the UK last year, are too high? "No."
Asked whether he agreed that anyone without a job offer should be barred from coming to the UK, he said:
 "We are not saying that anyone could not come here because there would be the right of travel and so on.
"The right to work here would be something that would have to be negotiated."
 It seems that the Labour Leader  shares some of the concerns I raised in Yesterdays post on this blog
He said the
 "grotesque exploitation" of EU migrants by some UK companies had caused "awful tensions" in communities because of the under-cutting of wages.
But he defended the role of migrants in helping the NHS and other public services function.
While the UK was definitely leaving the EU, he said it could not "avoid" having a close trading relationship with the continent.
"What we don't want to do is turn Britain into a bargain-basement economy on the shores of Europe where we continuously reduce corporation taxation, encourage a low-wage economy,"
The Liberal Democrats were buoyed up with initial reports that 

He will say Labour’s priority in EU negotiations will remain full access to the European single market, but that his party wants “managed migration” and to repatriate powers from Brussels that would allow governments to intervene in struggling industries such as steel. Sources suggested that the economic demands were about tariff-free access to the single market, rather than membership that they argued did not exist.

Former Lib Dem Peter Black wrote

 The fact is that we cannot remain members of or have access to the single market without the free movement of labour and capital. How can a country trade freely in goods, or have a level playing field with other members of a single market if it also imposes restrictions on who produces those goods or who finances the production of those goods?
Our European partners grasp this and they have stated it loudly and repeatedly. Why are the likes of Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn not listening?
The Liberal Democrats are now the only home for those who want the UK to remain in the EU and/or retain access to the single market after Brexit. Labour have had their chance to join us in that campaign. Corbyn's latest re-positioning appears to have blown it for them.
I find it somewhat distasteful  to see the Liberal Democrats using Brexit to give them a Unique selling Point  in order to attractant those who voted  Remain .

Its as if they believe that this will wash away the sins of them being the bag carriers to the Tories in the previous government and supporting the austerity cuts.

This has led them to present themselves as the natural home for Remain supporters even if the chances of reversing Brexit at least remote for now

A commentator on Mr Black's  Blog asked

What about Plaid and the Greens ?
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous : 12:18 PM
Plaid and the SNP are not UK parties. The Greens are not strong enough to fly this banner
# posted by Blogger Peter Black : 12:45 PM
Is it just me is this not proof that the Lib Dems  are being opportunist in their argument that we Remainers  should drift towards them.

Indeed it would be welcome if we we saw clearer statements from them echo Jeremy Corbyn over freedom of movement and the real problem of migrant workers is that they are exploited.

Also aside from Immigration though of us who oppose Brexit need to know what sought of European Union we  want to remain in?

For the Wales and Scotland  we need to know whether we should have a grater input in the UK dealings with Europe inside the EU or out.

I see no answers coming from the Liberal Democrats.