Friday, 27 February 2015

Should Plaid completly rule out any deal with the Tories?

Over at Borthlas  John Dixon raises the question of if there is a hung Parliament  after next may whether Plaid should not completely rule out doing a deal with the Tories if it resulted in a good deal for Wales.

As John points
Given the position in Scotland, ruling out a deal with the Tories may well be an electorally sound strategy.  The SNP is now in a commanding position, with the Labour Party’s support apparently in freefall, and the party’s leaders looking increasingly panicky.  Reassuring Labour voters that the journey from their past voting habits to voting SNP is a very short and easy one makes a great deal of sense in terms of delivering the coup de grace.  And there is no longer a single constituency in Scotland where it is credible to argue that the SNP can't win.
But the same is not true for the Greens in England or for Plaid in Wales.  Outside a handful of seats, it is not credible to argue that those parties are in with a serious chance of winning.  Can anyone seriously see those two parties having more than around 6 seats between them come May?  Whilst it makes sense to tie the post-election narrative for those two parties to the strength of the SNP, does it make sense to tie their electoral narrative into that of the SNP in the same way? 
 The potential effect of knowing in advance that those parties favour a Labour government – and that’s what they’ve effectively said – could all too easily backfire.  For those of their supporters who would prefer to see a Conservative Government than a Labour one (and there are more of those than many would care to admit) it could encourage them to vote for one rather than against one.  And if people do prefer a Labour government, why not simply vote for one directly?

Its a provocative yet insightful argument  typical of John

The SNP have managed to turn into a two party contest between them and Labour and surprisingly there appears to be little analysis of where the voters have come from.

Clearly many are former LibDems but there also could be a fair number of disgruntled Labour supporters .

But of more interest might be how many former Tory voters are voting SNP, having formerly voted Conservative,  simply out of dislike of the Labour Party and a simple desire to break their hegemony.

When campaigning here in the 70 and 80's, particularly in Local Authority Elections there was much talk of "The Anti-Labour " vote .

However I know that at  least of one case in a Ward with a Plaid Councillor  where the Tories stood on a regular basis when they failed to put up a candidate voters arrived at the polling station and finding there was no Tory simply walk out without voting.

Indeed it would be interesting to see whether in 1997 and 2010 when there was a change of Government  whether that was more due  Tory voters in 1997 and Labour  in 2010 not voting rather than switching parties.

But as far as GE2010 goes Plaid, probably should rule out a deal with the Tories in the 2015 -2020 Parliament simply that it would be odd to run on an Anti-Austerity ticket and envisage doing a deal with the ideological fans of it.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

At least Natalie Bennett is not a Blair or Cameron.

There is a story probably apocryphal that when the Labour Government came in to power in 1945 although it had a long commitment to the Natiolisation of the Mines  it had no real plan in how they were going to carry it out.

It is said that when being questioned on Nationalisation in the Commons  he turned to Jim Griffiths who was writing notes , Griffiths handed him  a piece of paper but unfortunately the notes where all in Welsh.

Nowadays Ministers are highly briefed  by Civil Servants and coached by PR men and when questioned in the media are apt in not answering awkward questions

 Even the extraordinary Paxman  - Howard interview did not lead to the latter answering the question with a YES or NO.

Even the extraordinary Paxman  - Howard interview did not lead to the latter answering the question with a YES or NO.

Yes  Natalie Bennett should have been better prepared.  as she  crumbled under scrutiny of her housing policies on LBC there's a trancript here.

 But Bennett could actually make a virtue of this disaster and say that she is not a professional Westminster figure   who avoids he questions they are asked in interviews, instead reiterating the part they are proudest  of a policy of again and again.

Even persistent  interviewers  like Paxman, Andrew Neil and indeed Nick Ferrari who conducted t the Bennett interview  on LBC are often to get hard figures out of their subjects.

The difference is that normally these evasions are delivered smoothly, and most speakers have been extensively polished by PR teams so that they know not to look lost and hide it with coughs and silences .

Maybe Natalie Bennett has not had the extensive  training that the Parties  and she’s paying the price for  it .

Lets face it I would rather vote for Ma Bennett that the likes of Tony Blair so polished that he blinded his interviewers or Cameron   who cleverly makes his soundbite in street interviews then walks off before the difficult questions start.

Alas people like confident Polticians even when they are lying to us so Ms Bennett may have to have some intensive coaching before the Leaders Interview or the Green surge may collapse overnight and that may welll affect the whole Anti-Austerity alliance.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Cardiff Labour's Civil war continues.

The Wasting Mule online reports that

Damning criticisms of Cardiff's top three councillors by an MP from their own party have emerged in a leaked email.
An email from Cardiff South and Penarth Labour MP Stephen Doughty addressed to senior Labour councillors in Cardiff contained savage criticisms of the city's budget setting process.
Swingeing cuts are being made that will see treasured community facilities including play centres face closure.
Mr Doughty's email included the words:

 "It will require some pretty categorical assurances before I am willing to believe anything you, Graham or Phil say after the appalling handling of this process so far."
Mr Doughty’s criticism was directed at the authority’s leader Phil Bale, deputy leader Sue Lent and finance chief Graham Hinchey.

This appears to be a second critical  email that  to the one that  was reported on the same website on February 12th of this year  when Stephen Doughty  and his constituency counterpart in the Assembly Vaughn Gething claimed  they have been “actively misled” by colleagues in Cardiff council’s ruling group following private discussions about proposed budget cuts in the city.
Vaughan Gething AM and Stephen Doughty MP have sent an e-mail, which we have seen, saying they feel they have been misled by senior members of the council’s ruling group – including leader Phil Bale.

It appears that there is such a rift in the Cardiff Labour someone in the Cardiff Labour party is leaking like an old car radiator.

Whether this is actually about the cuts proposed by the Council  or about the clear civil war in the council since Phil Bale replaced the former leader in what seems like a coup is unclear.

With a General election looming there may be jitters in the Cardiff Labour party that this will affect their chances of capturing Cardiff Central from the Liberal Democrats and Cardiff North from the Tories.

Interesting Times indeed


Monday, 23 February 2015

Tory MEP Kay Swinburne tells bankers they should find ways around EU bonus cap

The Wasting Mule reports that " A Top Welsh Conservative has been secretly recorded advising bankers to be “innovative” to flout rules that would cap their bumper bonuses".

The party’s MEP Kay Swinburne was caught on tape alongside a Tory MP talking to an audience in the City outlining how the Conservatives had opposed new European rules limiting how much bankers can make on top of their salaries.

Ms Swinburne, who worked in investment banking before becoming an MEP, told the audience there was no public appetite to revoke the cap and suggested they “get around it” instead.

She said: 
Dr. Kay Swinburne, Conservative MEP“I can tell you there is not a single constituent I have met that actually thinks we were right to have taken that to the courts.
Well she right  there but that does not mean that Ms Swinburne that her banking friends should accept  this completely
They think it was right that there was a bonus cap. So I think it’s up to everybody else to be a little more innovative as to how you get around it and I am hearing all sorts of schemes at the moment that do bypass the overall cap.

EU rules now limit payouts to 100% of a banker’s salary, or 200% if approved by shareholders.
Chancellor George Osbourne launched a legal fight to overturn the cap - spending £43,000 of taxpayers fight on court battles - before abandoning the bid last year after a judge rejected ministers’ claims it was illegal.

Speaking at the same event, Tory MP Mark Garnier described the cap as “vandalistic legislation”.
MP Mr Garnier worked in the City for two decades and founded a hedge fund. He sat on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and is a member of Westminster’s powerful Treasury Select Committee.
He branded the cap “complete nonsense”.
He told the Open Europe Conference in the City on January 20:

 “These types of things the average individual will see in the City just ... sort of rather like ... vandalistic legislation.

“Something like the bonus cap where we’ve done a huge amount of work in this country in order to make sure that you can have deferred bonuses for bankers in order to drive better behaviour and to help the stability of the banks - to suddenly have somebody coming in who doesn’t really apparently know very much about the behaviour of bankers to say ‘we need to have a bonus cap’ is just complete nonsense.
“It drives the wrong kind of outcome.
 Before the  In  2012 HSBC  has set out how chief executive Stuart Gulliver received £7.2m in 2011 – a year when the bank's performance was "satisfactory in aggregate" according to chairman Douglas Flint.

Gulliver has a salary of £1.25m. He can get three times that amount in his annual bonus and six times that in a long-term incentive plan which pays out on a three-year time horizon.

For 2011, he actually received £7.2m – compared with a maximum potential bonus and salary of £12.5m – because the bank awarded him 1.72 times his salary for his annual bonus and three times his salary for his long-term incentive plan. Turning to the annual bonus of £2.1m, financial targets accounted for half of his potential bonus and he achieved 30% out of 50%. Here is the break down, the percentage figure being the maximum that could have been awarded

What does he do with his Bonus which is likely to be a mere £I.5 Million in today's announcement.(Poor Lad)

It seems that Stuart Gulliver,  who has vowed to reform the crisis-hit bank, sheltered millions of pounds in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company and remains tax domiciled in Hong Kong.

So it is clear no matter how  much we  protest about the excess of the City and our Legislators make some attempt to address our concerns. The Fat Cats will find a way around it and there will be Tory MPs and MEPs who will help them in doing so. 

In Kay Swinburne we must ask whether she has actually advised anyone  how to flout the Rules announcing that such things exist and seemingly giving approval is one thing , Actually helping people to flout the rules  is a resigning matter.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Plaid and "The Widows Mite"

Although I am not a Christian there are still some parts of Doctrine especial from the parables that I suggest we should consider

One of those I always remember is that of the Widows mite

 In the story, a widow donates two small coins, while wealthy people donate much more.[Jesus explains to his disciples that the small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant, but proportionately lesser, donations of the rich.

I would suggest that "A Labour  Spokesman" consider this  as as The Wasting Mule reports that

 A row has broken out between Labour and Plaid Cymru after it emerged that Plaid had received no declarable donations at all during the final quarter of last year.
Figures published by the Electoral Commission show that between October and December 2014, the Conservatives received donations totalling more than £8.3m, Labour more than £7.1m, the Liberal Democrats more than £3m and Ukip more than £1.5m. Even the Green Party registered donations of nearly £250,000.
Plaid Cymru, however, made a zero return.

The Welsh Labour spokesman said:

Just months from a general election this is deeply embarrassing for Plaid. It looks like progressives in Wales are voting with both their feet and their cheque books and giving up on the so-called party of Wales.
“Plaid members will be asking why donations have dropped off so dramatically at such an important time.For Leanne Wood, Plaid’s beleaguered nationalist leader, this is yet another devastating blow.”

Insisting that Plaid Cymru’s finances were healthy and in good shape for the election campaign, a party spokeswoman said:  (can't people give their names?"

“Parties are required to report individual donations above £7,500 to the central party (including aggregation) or individual donations above £1,500 to its accounting units (including aggregation).
“The donations received by the party in the final quarter of 2014 didn’t fit into either of these categories.
"However, we are delighted that there was a 32% increase in donations to the party between 2013 and 2014 and we’re proud to be a party which is in credit and is not burdened by very significant loans unlike most of our opponents.

"This is thanks to the kind generosity of our members and supporters and we’re grateful to them for their continued support.”
 So Where does Labour Money come from?

A list of the highest donors for the fourth quarter of 2014 shows that three trade unions gave more than £1m to the Labour Party: Unison gave nearly £1.4m, Unite gave more than £1.3m and the GMB gave nearly £1.1m.

 Labour’s donors gave it £13,307,696 in 2013 and £18,747,702 in 2014.

 Unions again  donating to  the RedTories who if they win an absolute Majority in May wil continue the present Government  Austerity program and Labour  as Rachel Reeve shadow work and pensions secretary, has insisted, ill be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill..

And we are entitled to ask  how much came from  Tax Avoiders hopi,g a repeat of the Blair /Brown Governmentlethargy in pursing them.

The top donor to the Conservative Party between October and December 2014 was Michael Gooley, founder of the travel agent Trailfinders.

Overall donations to Plaid Cymru rose from £139, 952 in 2013 to £184,585 in 2014.

The Conservative Party saw the biggest leap in donations, from £15,904,171 in 2013 to £28,930,508 in 2014.
We are entitled to ask How much came from Tax Advoiders?

Donations to the Liberal Democrats rose from £3,870,637 in 2013 to £8,221,771 in 2014.
Ukip’s donors gave the party £668,829 in 2013 and £3,847,474 in 2014.

Another big leap saw donations to the Scottish National Party go up from £41,500 in 2013 to £3,772,594 in 2014. The referendum on independence for Scotland took place last September.

So Plaid have no big Donor's of Tax Avoiders  and Trade Unions betraying their members .

But which Party can claim to be free of  "Outside Influences".

I see nothing wrong in someone who supports a Party's aims   to donate but we seem to be back to Lloyd George  selling knighthoods and peerages – and the OBE which was created at this time – for money.

The same with Unions but that also should not so much about influence  as backing Parties or Individual who share their principals.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Hengoed Result - Mixed blessings for Plaid

 The result of the Byelection for the Hengoed Ward on Carmarthen Council saw Labour holding the seat from Plaid
Carmarthenshire UA, Hengoed- 19 February 2015

Edwards, Penelope Magaret Labour 335 [33.2%; +7%]
Davies Martin Vaughn Plaid Cymru 313 [31%; +6.6%]

Richards Bramwell George UKIP 152 [15%; +15%] 
SamuelWynford People First 80 [7.9%; -26.1%]
Skinner William Edwaed Independent 76 [7.5%; +7.5%]
Davies William Andrew Conservative 54 [5.3%; +5.3%]

It will be a disappointing  for Plaid who must have had high hopes of regaining the seat they lost in 2012 and the 15% Kipper vote looks ominous . Whilst the collapse in the People First

Candidates Party Result 2012 

CAIACH, Sian Mair People First - Putting Llanelli First 337 Elected
DAVIES, Martin Vaughan Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales 315
EDWARDS, George Welsh Labour 338 Elected
EVANS, Mike Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales 271
JENKINS, Heidi Elizabeth Other 89
JONES, Ken People First - Working For Your Community 261
LEWIS, Sue Welsh Labour 253
ROBERTS, Fred Independent 213

To what extent personalities played in this election is unclear but I believe that the Labour Candidate was the Window of the councillor  and may have gained some sympathy vote.Whilst the collapse in the People First shows that it is largely a personnel vote (probably deserved ) for Siân Caiach.

It may explain the on the same day the same voters produced a different result for the vacant rural seat Llanelli Rural Council by a rather more comfortable margin:

Susan Phillips for Plaid won the election for the vacancy  by a comfortable  margin:

Plaid 351
Lab 285
Ukip 165
People First 65
Ind 37

I wonder if the the fewer voters  on the rural seat was partly due to Conservatives not voting.

A win Plaid in the county seat would have a moral booster so gaining the  Rural seat may be very much a relief.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Dafydd Wigley makes case against Fracking in Llantrisant.

Last night Public meeting in Llantrisant held by Plaid had a good turn out  could have been more Plaid stalwarts  than locals but there were certainly a fair number of Llantrisant people active in opposing Fracking. 

I have no doubt that if the current threat of Fracking exploration in Llantrisant had not been lifted  and  the machinery moved in we would have seen a bigger turn out

But it wasn't  Bad  and it was good to see Dafydd Wigley on form who detailed much of the experiences in some of the US states having met  Welsh born campaigner from South Dakota on a trip to the USA who clearly had a great deal of influence on him.

Dafydd also emphasised the cooperation between Plaid.SNP and the Greens at Westminster  which is already in existence in Westminster.

He also emphasised  how vital it is that  powers over  Fracking  should be devolved to the Welsh Assembly.

As I said the threat in Llantrisant  as been lifted for the moment  but there now a new threat in nearby Llanharan,

That is why we need a Moratorium  on Fracking . I know that many who like me have already made their minds up and are opposed to Fracking would like to se  it banned now.

But it is vital that we halt Fracking exploration now and a Moratorium will give us time to build up the case against and hopefully lead to a ban.

A moratorium has more chance of getting support from those Parties which are in Power at Westminster than a outright ban.

But as last night showed  early opposition by people of all Parties and those who are not members of any helped to at least stop exploration around the Llantrisant area (including Beddau ) but we must be constant vigilant throughout Wales  if we not to leave a environmental disaster  to future Generations.