Sunday, 28 May 2017

Is the "English Question" really unsolvable?

As the General Election and Pol tics in general in Scotland diverts from a a mostly Labour-Tory battle to a Nationalist V Unionist campaign. We actually  see  very little  concrete proposal to address the devolution of powers and in particular what happens to a number of powers that  currently come under the EU which will be returned to the UK.

But I am not going to talk about Wales or Scotland , Because is it not about time the English Question is addresses?

The last Government after the Scottish Independence Referendum  saw David Cam for English Laws (EVEL) in which only English MPs are allowed to vote on laws perceived  as affecting (Mostly) England.

But it seems the English Problem will still remain unsolvable by what are supposed to be astute politicians.

Labour Manifesto claim they will will redress that imbalance as part of their thinking on creating a Minister for England , who is actually currently the Prime Minister

However think more junior minister than an English Nicola Sturgeon.or Carwyn Jones and we can wonder what the English Minister would do.

Would they or the Minister currently responsible steer EVEL laws through the Commons if it is the latter then the Minister for England will be in his or her office with nothing to do.

UKIP wants to create an English Parliament with a First Minister of England sitting in the chamber of the abolished House of Lords.

In their plan, the English First Minister would be on an equal footing with the first ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Ukip thinks the English First Minister and the English Parliament would share the House of Commons with the UK’s Prime Minister and a slimmed down House of Commons.
he manifesto says: 
“The public widely regards the UK’s current devolutionary system as fundamentally unfair, particularly to the English.
“Ukip will put England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the same footing by instituting an English Parliament.
“It will sit in the chamber vacated by the House of Lords, have its own First Minister and its 375 members will be elected under the Additional Member system of proportional representation, one or more from each traditional county or large city and 125 top-up seats.”
Wouldn't this indicate that  some how the English Parliament is more important than its devolved equivalents? 

It would see MPs and EMP mixing in Westminster causing obvious friction  as they strut around like peacocks , trying to exert their influence

Its not for me to tell England where its devolved  Parliament but I think that it would benefit them if it was outside London in Manchester or Birmingham for example.

Why is the English problem so problematic, Could it be that in actually finding a solution , London politician realise that their "Precious Union" is doomed  as Scotland and then Wales realise that England under a permanent Tory Majority vastly differing from their Centre Left model.

PR may see an English Parliament open to the odd Non-Tory coalition, but the Tories would probably always be the largest party.

But if that's what England want unless they decide to devolve to the Regions instead that's the future for them.

It may sound selfish but why should Wales constantly , be part of a Union that is already resembling  an English-Tory  led hegemony.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Agree with Corbyn then probably don't vote Labour.

For the first time since I started voting at eighteen Labour have a leader who I agree with on many issues.

Except for his Unionism of course . Jeremy Corbyn refusal to support a second Scottish Referendum betrays a somewhat lack of understanding  of the whole devolution issue. Indeed i find myself struggling  to find what his views  are and suspect it does nor register  with his insular leftism which oddly makes the statesmen 

"I am not a nationalist, I'm an internationalist"
Still I an tin total agreement with him on linking the recent Terrorist Attacks with British Foreign policy

An informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism.
many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed out the connections between wars that we have been involved in, or supported, or fought, in other countries and terrorism here at home".
"That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children.
"Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions.
"The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security."

He said the causes 

"certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone" and said the prison system, where a "subculture of often suicidal violence" had developed among some young men, was also in need of "resources and reform".

You can read his full speech here , It is important as  his opponents try and misinterpret  him or arue that this is not the time to speak the truth 

Speaking on a BBC Wales Ask the Leader programme in Ebbw Vale on Friday, Welsh Leader Carwyn Jones said of Mr Corbyn's proposal:
 "There'll come a time for considering that, but that's not the time this evening.
"Bluntly, these people they will hate us whatever we do, no matter what we do.
"If we do nothing at all, if we don't get involved in any military conflict, they will still try and cause harm and death to us.
"The only way of dealing with them is to have the right level of intelligence to make sure that, as Jeremy Corbyn said, that their supply of weapons is cut off, that their money supply is cut off, to remove the means where they can cause such destruction.
"There is no room for negotiation with these people, they will never ever accept anything other than what they want, and that is something we can never accept."
Which is a misinterpretation of Corbyn's speech  coming from a supposed ally 

Even if he was to become Prime Minister.How many Labour Politicians are going to be brave enough to stand with Jeremy Corburn  and defy our lying smearing media from the BBC to the Sun and Mail?

Precious few indeed PM Corbyn would have to look across the chamber for SNP, Plaid and Green (and some Lib Dem) support.

That's the dilemma of those who support Corbyn , they may think that voting Labour will back him , but they could be electing a Labour MP who believes their first task would be to remove their leader even if he won and was Prime Minister.

I am lucky in that i don't have to even consider it . My Labour Candidate id Owen Smith who has already challenged Jeremy Corbyn and even if I was not intending to vote for Plaid's Fflur Haf , I would think more than twice about voting for Mr Corbyn.

Indeed if you support much of Jeremy's stance take a look to see if he's on your Labour Candidate electoral address. If not I would suggest you would be better off voting Plaid ,SNP or Green a real progressive alliance.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Lack of Electoral Communications again..

This is becoming a regular complaint .

With less than a fortnight to go to the General Election the only electoral  communication  I have received is the "letter"  from First Minister  Carwyn Jones I mentioned yesterday and Plaid's Candidate Address, which  I received nearly a week ago.

Its pretty good Imust say.

I don't know how this is reflected in the rest of the constituency  it is possible that other electors have received all the mail from the other candidates and not from Plaid.

Alas I am old enough to remember sitting with a group of activist in a church hall addressing envelopes  by hand, Time that could be taken up canvassing '

Indeed it led to an uproar in the 1980's when the Plaid Head Office sent a guideline on this stating

"The Ladies are very good at this"
Considering the Plaid candidate was my old friend Janet Davies she was not alone in being more than slightly displeased,

Modern Technology has allowed the use of an electoral database to print mailshots .

I wonder to what extent do the Parties or Royal Mail stagger these freely delivered "Electoral Communications",

It is understandable otherwise our poor old Postie would be weighed dowm.

Is there an means of separating those on the electoral register who will be voting by post?

It's over 20% mow and many will have voted with over a week of the campaign to go .

Personally  I believe that only those unable to walk a short distance to the polling booths . should have a postal vote.

But if people ate not getting electoral communications then maybe we should consider  having a week period before the Official election campaign where parties are not allowed to take to the streets bit prepare their literature and get it printed ready to be dispatched.

I have of course made my mind up who i'm voting for  and its the above Elin Fflur , but I would like to see what the other candidate have tom say for themselves,

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Just who are the "Welsh" Party leaders?

In some ways  this election has raised the question of just who is the Leader Branch Manager of the various parties in Wales? Especially as the Tories are trying to turn it  into a Presidential Election of May verses Corbyn,,

So who is fronting their Party here .

Plaid  Cymru.

No problem here Leanne Wood is undoubtedly the voice of her party and is the only one cannot be called a Branch Manager. After a gruelling month fighting the Local Government Election , she has now been every where on both UK and Welsh Media (though not as much as the Party hopes for.

Appearing  in the Welsh Leaders Debate Nd the UK one the day after she is proving to have huge amounts of stamina.


Clearly to have decide to push Carwyn Jones  rather than UK leader Jeremy Corbyn,or who ever is the Shadow Secretary of State at the moment is an interesting strategy and resulted in me receiving this through the Royal Mail Yesterday.

No mention of Corbyn and unless Carwyn  remembers me from our days in Aber and is writing to an old acquaintance  the above will be going to every voter. So I wonder how this will appear in the electoral expenses.


A real curiosity as John Dixon Points out

I suppose the very fact that the ‘Welsh’ manifesto was launched by the UK leader rather than depending on any natives should have been warning in itself (the self-styled ‘Welsh leader’ wasn’t even present – whether by lack of invitation or lack of inclination is unstated). But some of the comments made should give serious cause for concern in relation to the resilience (I was tempted to say strength and stability) of the devolution settlement. How can these statements:
So where is Andrew RT Davies? It was Alun Cairns who was push forward  invited to the recent BBC meet the leaders from Wales an appearance where he resembled   a deer caught in the headlights and surely the bombastic Andrew RT would have put up a better show.

Is he ill or is he resisting the power grab from Wales that Mrs May seem sto be pushing.

Liberal Democrats ,

With Uk leader Tim Farron  struggling to heared Mark Williams would be facing an uphill task and probably concentrating on defending his Ceredigion seat  where oddly if there a Tory swing he might lose to Plaid,

This would cause the Lib Dems a problem as their Constitution demands that the Welsh leader must be a MP or AM. Where will that leave Kirsty  and the "Not a Collation"  Assembly Government.


It was Neil Hamilton who was pushed for the "Wales" segment of meet the leaders, which seems to confirm the finality of the coup against Nathan Gill who was deposed  as the Ukip Group Assembly leader shortly after he led them to an unrepresented 7 seats in the  last  General Election

Mr Gill then left the Group but still claims to lead Ukip Wales.

Perhaps this sorry state underlines the whole of the "Welsh" leaders branch Manager  syndrome.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Latest Poll takes us back to square one in Wales

The latest Welsh barometer poll  comes as shock only that it shows a  a return to the norm with huge reversal in the positions of Labour and the Conservatives, with Labour up nine points and the Tories down seven.
Previous polling had suggested that the Conservatives were about to make a historic breakthrough in Wales, seizing a slew of seats from Labour and sending more Welsh MPs to Westminster than any other party. However, if these numbers are accurate, only a single seat will change hands — as Labour take Gower back from the Conservatives. 
Conservatives: 41% (+1)
Labour: 35% (+5)
Plaid Cymru: 11% (-2)
Liberal Democrats: 7% (-1)
UKIP: 4% (-2)
Others: 2% (-1)
A situation one commentator seemed to think was not so bad if  it kept out Plaid out.
The Tories look set to make deep inroads into South and North Wales. Veteran contrarian Paul Flynn is set to lose while Kevin Brennan is in a dead heat in Cardiff West. Perhaps most strikingly, Owen Smith, who challenged Jeremy Corbyn last year for the leadership, is within a couple of thousand votes of losing in Pontypridd.
However, as bad as the situation looks, it could be worse. What happened in Scotland does not seem imminent in Wales.
It’s notable that Plaid’s number one target, Ynys Mon, a seat where they finished just 1% behind Labour in 2015 looks set to swing to the Tories rather than them.
The structure of Labour’s problem in Wales is as elsewhere across England: banks of Ukip votes tumbling to the Tories while Jeremy Corbyn turns off traditional Labour voters. Dreadful as this is, it’s still better than Plaid expanding across North Wales, breaking into South Wales and shutting Labour out entirely, as the SNP have in Scotland.

Of course there may be a few changes in individual  seats however but it looks the squeeze on other Parties is on.
For Plaid in particular it id a disappointing  poll after what did look like promise.
Some have been comparing Plaid to the SNP  but lets remember that even with a much more viable Scottish Media  the SNP 

974 (Feb)Increase 21.9%
7 / 71
1974 (Oct)Increase 30.4%
11 / 71
High-water mark, until 2015. Increased presence contributed to Labour holding a devolution referendum in 1979.
1979Decrease 17.3%
2 / 71
Poor performance compared to the two 1974 elections caused internal ructions during the 1980s.
1983Decrease 11.7%
2 / 72
1987Increase 14.0%
3 / 72
During this period the SNP did win the Govern By election with Jim Sillars
1992Increase 21.5%
3 / 72
A large rise in the SNP vote saw no increase in seats but did highlight that Scotland had voted against the Tories and despite  50 Labour MPs the  feeble 50) these were largely useless when it came to fighting Scotland cause
1997Increase 22.1%
6 / 72
Th year of Balir's victory  and when there were no Tories in Scotland and Wales
2001Decrease 20.1%
5 / 72
2005Decrease 17.7%
6 / 59
2010Increase 19.9%
6 / 59
2015Increase 50.0%
56 / 59

The Independence referendum changed everything , but in order to to do this the SNP had to win in Holyrood .
Before then they, as Plaid are now were caught in a Catch 22 situation that in order to garner momentum they first had to win .
No Plaid leader has managed to make such an impact in UK elections as Leanne Wood  and I suspect a replacement would find it very hard..

Unless Plaid were to get lucky and there's a by election  win in the next few years which would create the momentum , but after the elation of 1974 the SNP found it hard going,
Clearly the answer is to win control of the Assembly , but even this could be a hard task.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manchester Attack

In the  wake of the news of last night apparent terrorist  attack in Manchester . my  pithy polemics seem irrelevant.

\my thoughts are with the victims and their families.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Post Brexit we will be going Cap in hand to Westminster even more.

It has been speculated that one of reasons that Wales voted with England to leave the European Union was that Welsh Politicians were too busy fighting the Assembly Elections to put the case for the EU especially pointing out the funding that came from Brussels .
The latest 2014-2020 round of European Structural Funds was due to inject more than £2bn into the poorest parts of Wales.
Now we will be no longer getting such funding  in the future , the question now is we will receive equivalent funding  from Westminster?

Maybe not 
The Conservative manifesto states: 
“We will use the structural fund money that comes back to the UK following Brexit to create a United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund, specifically designed to reduce inequalities between communities across our four nations. The money that is spent will help deliver sustainable, inclusive growth based on our modern industrial strategy.
“We will consult widely on the design of the fund, including with the devolved administrations, local authorities, businesses and public bodies. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be cheap to administer, low in bureaucracy and targeted where it is needed most.”
Wales Online reports   Cardiff University’s Professor Kevin Morgan – one of Wales’ leading experts on regeneration and an adviser to the European Commission on regional policy – said Wales had the greatest level of need in the UK. as saying

“I really think it would be a really regressive step, a real step backwards, if central government saw the prosperity fund as [a fund] where poor areas simply bid into it willy-nilly on a one-off ad hoc basis...
“When you treat unequals equally that’s not a recipe for territorial justice...
“If the prosperity fund is treating unequal regions equally then it’s not a recipe for sustaining the union let alone rebalancing the economy. It would be a step backwards if the prosperity fund was simply a new bidding system and it didn’t recognise the structural inequalities that exist today, which is what the European Commission recognised.”
He also pointed out that it is important where the decision  will be made 
 With economic development being a devolved matter, I personally believe that that money that’s coming to Wales ought to be devolved to the [Welsh Government]...“It was an explicit promise from the Leave campaign that Wales would not be worse off as a result of Brexit, the implication being that London would underwrite the money that’s currently flowing from Brussels.”
: “Whatever’s wrong with the European Commission, and there’s lots wrong with it, at least in its very DNA it’s got a commitment to regional policy... Whereas you can’t say the same of Conservative Governments in Whitehall.”
Its about this time we listened to the Proclaimers ,

The Tories hope to control funding for Wales not only through how much is allocated , but how it is spent.

The former leader f the Quebec Party  Option National  Jean-Martin Aussant . puts it this way 

: Imagine you have $50 to buy music you like. Your neighbour takes the $50, and promises to give you back $55 worth of tunes."What he doesn't tell you is that it's music you don't like -- and there are $25 in administrative fees,"  "So you started off with $50 and you ended up with $30 worth of music you don't even like."That's Canadian equalization. We need to face the facts: We'd be better off keeping our money and choosing our own music."
This is true of Wales and Scotland as well

That means that this may result in infrastructure  projects being built , that could be as I have already argued see Wales divided into two and absorbed into England

Projects like reopening the Carmarthen- Aberystwyth line,  will be declared superfluous to our needs and although it will never be admitted of little benefit to the regions around Liverpool or Bristol.

We need decide what we want for Wales .

If you really believe bring absorbed by English regions  will benefit , then vote Tory or Labour (because  it is Labour councillors in the likes of Cardiff backing tying South Wales to Bristol)

However if you believe its time Wales grew up and  stopped going Cap in Hand  
then it time to consider Independence as an option.