Monday, 29 February 2016

The Bank of England should look beyond the City of London

 Maybe this Blog  sees no real alternative to Independence if Wales is going to prosper  and not be one of the poorest "Regions" of the UK.

I do not think Federalism will work  as if powers were devolved to the English Regions , Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland will still be claiming  National Status  and Cornwall's claims would probably be ignored with them being absorbed into s South West Region,

And I don't see a Federated UK working as Wales , Scotland  Northern Ireland  and England  Federation would have to see the first three have some kind of veto , to prevent them being outvoted by England

But if we are really "Better Together" then our voices should be heard.

Wales Online  has news that Jonathan Edwards fears that in a future crisis taxpayers could once again be forced to bail out the banks.
Chancellor George Osborne last week warned that the “storm clouds are clearly gathering” in the world economy, admitted that the UK economy is smaller than had been thought, and said that further reductions in public spending may be made in next month’s Budget.

Plaid’s Mr Edwards said:

 “Many economists are speculating we are currently entering the third and deadliest stage of the Great Recession which began with the banking crash in 2008. The first stage was the collapse of Lehman Brothers which led to a contagion effect throughout the banking system of the developed world. The second stage was the crisis in the eurozone.
“It appears we are now entering a third stage with the rapid slowdown of the so called emerging economies. Unfortunately, due to the globalised nature of the financial system, banks based in the City of London are highly exposed which explains why equity markets have had their worst start to the year since 1929.”
....“There is no doubt that the global economic skies are darkening. The big question is will it result in overbearing pressure on financial institutions based in the City and what would then be the cost to taxpayers in Wales and the rest of the UK

... “the Welsh public have been paying for this bail-out in reduced wages, reduced living standards and decimated public services.”
Pushing for a true split between the retail and investment wings of banks, he said: “Banking bailouts can only be justified to protect the deposits of hard working people as opposed to spivs in the City effectively gambling on high risk products...
“If there is another crash leading to another bailout there will quite rightly be public uproar.
 Mr Edwards wants to see Welsh representation on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, Financial Policy Committee and Prudential Regulation Authority.
Such a representation, could  remind those who believe that their  belief that , What suits the City of London" does not necessary suit the rest of the UK and I am including the North and South West of England in this.

 We are stuck with the British State for now , Scotland may well find its own solution by becoming Independent  in the next  few years, But for now our future economy relies on people who can't see the effect of their decisions  happening beyond a square Mile in London.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Tear it down and start again.

Wales Online reports that 

A cross-party party group of MPs has today urged him not to press ahead with controversial legislation but instead have a “period of reflection”.
The publication of the draft Wales Bill last year ignited fierce controversy, with First Minister Carwyn Jones warning it could create an “English veto” and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood describing it as an “insult”.
The Westminster Welsh Affairs committee has spent months taking evidence and today its Conservative chairman has called for a pause so that a settlement for Wales can be forged that will stand the test of time.

There seems to have been a consensus  with Arch Unionist Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies said: 
“Over the course of the inquiry, the committee has heard evidence that raises doubts about the draft Bill’s ability to provide the lasting settlement it seeks to create... Therefore, a period of reflection is necessary to reach a settlement that is long lasting.”
He may not be a fan of devolution but he does seem to  realise that this Bill is a Dog's Dinner.

The MPs have concerns about the list of powers that Whitehall has recommended should be “reserved” and not devolved to the Assembly .
Their report states:
We recommend that Whitehall be given a second attempt to come up with a list of the powers to be reserved.”
 The MPs want a procedure put in place for getting ministerial consent – with the consent given by default if no decision has been made within 60 days.
Controversy has also flared over a “necessity” test that would have to be passed before the Assembly can modify criminal or private law.
The committee claims this is the “wrong” test and wants it replaced. They fear it sets too high a threshold for the Assembly in order to make laws – but the Anti-Devolutionist on the commute ensured  that  they could not agree on whether there should be a “distinct” legal jurisdiction for Wales.
This was an option the “majority of witnesses recommended” and it is “unanimously supported by the National Assembly of Wales”
The MPs state in their report: 

“We now ask the Secretary of State to pause, so that he can reflect on the recommendations we have made. These will require him to look again at the necessity tests, the list of reservations, the matter of ministerial consent and also to continue to review the issue of a separate or distinct Welsh jurisdiction.
“There is a growing body of Welsh law that differs from that which applies in England, but the implications of this requires careful scrutiny.”
Labour Shadow Welsh Secretary Nia Griffith said: 
“This highly critical report reinforces what we have already heard from lawyers, academics and constitutional experts. The draft Wales Bill is not fit for purpose and Stephen Crabb has mismanaged this process from start to finish.
“It’s clear that his failure to stand up to Whitehall departments has led to a Bill that is badly drafted, overly complex and completely unworkable. He now needs to go away and come back with a Bill that can command the confidence of the Welsh people.
“As we have already said, Labour MPs will not support this Bill unless it is radically amended.”
Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, a member of the committee, said: 

“It is crucial that the Secretary of State recognises the mounting evidence from legal experts, academia as well as politicians from all parties, including his own, that the draft Wales Bill is not fit for purpose.”

Will a Pause  work or is the Bill so flawed that even with major surgery  with Amendments it cannot be good for Welsh democratic government?

Why can't we see  a model based on the original settlement for Scotland at the very least.

Why is Wales the only Nation in the UK that has to get "consent" for some of its legislation?

Even England with  "English Votes for English Laws " (EVEL) now in some sectors more powers of its own than  Wales.

Can anyone Imagine the Tories having a majority of seats in England , but are not the government in the UL as a whole having to get "Consent" for voted deemed to come under EVEL jurisdiction?

But the answer is in our hands . We must throw out the Unionist Parties in Wales  and this should be by those who may be  opposed to Independence  but want much more powers than what we have now.

But I do not believe we should support any Bill from Westminster  simply because it purports to be a "Devolution" Bill.

Rather than a Pause we need to scrap this Bill and start again with something other than the Devo Dipyn bach  or puts it in reverse.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Ukip lose another Welsh member (How many are left?)

In October last year Ukip had to  cancelled its Welsh party conference
An email sent out by a company called Ticketsource had claimed the event was shelved due to “poor advanced ticket sales”.
It a pity it was canceled because we may have got some idea what was actually the strength of Welsh Activists in Ukip here.
Maybe Ukip will use their  UK spring conference in Llandudno to announce a spate of defectors from other  Parties but at the moment it looks more likely they will actually see more resignations from the Party in Wales
UKIP Wales' campaign manager for the 2015 general election and 2014 European election has  already resigning from the party.
John Atkinson said an internal row over assembly candidate selection meant the party was "taking its eye off the ball" on the EU referendum.
He also said he had "no faith" in the people in the running for regional candidate selection.
UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill said he stood by "John's decision to follow his own moral conscience, as must we all".
Mr Atkinson told BBC Wales:
"All the in-fighting over the selections means we're taking our eye off the ball on the referendum.
"I've got no faith the selection system we've finally settled on for the assembly will deliver decent candidates.
"It's a flawed system and it's going to be a lottery."
However, with just over two months to go to the election, the party has still not finalised its candidate selections.

Members have until next Friday to vote on UKIP's regional candidates.
It beginning   to look that they  will have to vote for Candidates from outside Wales because they will not have enough members in Wales left to stand.

Meanwhile UKIP has said it is making preparations for its "first ever UK stronghold of elected politicians" at the assembly election, as the party gathers for its UK spring conference in Llandudno.

Which in itself is worrying.  How many overseas investors will be put of from creating jobs here  when we are seen as a stronghold for a bunch of xenophobic loonies?

The party says it has  six main policies  which maybe  populist  but is even more uninspired than Labour's.

Ukip lists of policies are
  • Make local health boards elected and halve the number of NHS managers on six-figure salaries
  • Reintroduce grammar schools and establish "university technical colleges" for 14-19 year olds
  • Oppose tax powers for the assembly without a referendum
  • Oppose any increase in the number of AMs
  • Devolve economic development powers to local authorities
  • Scrap the Severn bridge tolls

I know that Keep it simple stupid (KISS) is a ideology that may well work with some political strategist, But to have such little plans for a legislature even a weak one like the Assembly  seems to me show Ukip have no real plans for revitalising Wales.

Ukip apparently have decided  that now they  have a chance of getting  a number of AM , that they no longer want to scrap the Assembly. But do not want it to advance any further.

We can expect Wales to be high on the agenda from Farage and his cronies this weekend .  But don't expect to much from a party that is still strongly Devosceptic  and who rely on voters who are disillusioned with main stream parties  and yet has little to offer but an appeal to peoples prejudices over  the likes of Immigration.

Unfortunately and to the shame of Wales , the later has met with approval in some quarters here. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

We still need MPs to speak for Wales at Westminster.

I must admit I'm in two minds over  the proposals by the Tory government The electoral map of Wales is about to be redrawn with the number of Westminster constituencies slashed from 40 to just 29.

My natural tendency is to agree with the  Green Dragon  in that 

"Certainly no one who supports self government for Wales should bemoan or be frightened of this decision",

But part of me wonders if the Unionist claim that we are "Better Together" means they recognise the separate Identity of Wales and Scotland , then the de facto increasing the ratio of English MP's over the rest of the UK can  hardly seen as democratic.

  • The number of English MPs will fall from 533 to 501;
  • Scotland’s will go down from 59 to 53;
  • and Northern Ireland will see a decline from 18 to 17.
  • Proposals for the boundaries of the new seats are due to be published in September.
There are other reasons  including the decision to redraw the map comes at a time of concern about falling numbers of registered voters.
There has been controversy about the switch to the system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER). Which although  we have a rising population the number of people registering to vote has fallen which many believe suits the Tories as more people in affluent areas will tend to register,
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards said:

The proposal by the Boundary Commission to reduce the number of MPs representing Welsh constituencies in the House of Commons from 40 down to 29 is a sad day for democracy.
"This is the latest stage in the Conservative Westminster Government’s decision to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600. “Wales will have a cut of 11 MPs.
"Despite having only 5% of the UK population, we are being made to bear the brunt of over 20% of that total overall UK cut.”
I would like to see  to see Zero MPs Wels going to Westminster  but as long as there are decisions being made  by Westminster that adversely  affect us . I believe that there is an argument for more MPs not less.

I also find myself nodding in agreement (for once) with Nia Griffith, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Wales who said:

 "This substantial cut in the number of Welsh MPs will lessen Wales' voice in Westminster at exactly the same time that Government policies are hitting the communities we represent.
“Any reduction in the number of Welsh MPs will have an adverse effect on the range of support and advice services that MPs' offices provide to constituents.
“If the Conservatives were serious about cutting the cost of politics they would cut the number of unelected peers in the House of Lords, which has ballooned in size with 236 new peers appointed since David Cameron became Prime Minister.”
It maybe that this could be a good thing and concentrate Welsh minds on the Assembly and see calls for major changes in the relationship between the Nations of these Islands and DevoMax rather than DevoDibynbach.

But as long as we see our young men and Women sent to illegal wars or renewing expensive gestures like Trident  in order that politicians can convince themselves "Britain" is still a major power then we need voices in London that speak for Wales.

It is also important we do not forget what is happening in Cornwall  with the proposal to force a Devonwall seat on us. Undermining Kernows unique identity 

Maybe I could be accused that for someone campaigning for Independence of wanting  a piece of the "Devolution Cake" and eating it.

To which I hold my hand up. 

Unfortunately we in Wales are a long way from parity with Scotland let alone Independence and as long as we have a cruel governments in Westminster that treat us with contempt we at least need some voices there to speak for us,

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Will Wales be offered the same fiscal deal as Scotland.

It will remain to be see whether the Talks over the so-called ‘fiscal framework’ put forward by the cross-party Smith Commission in the wake of the No vote in the referendum which  began in March last year has led to a victory for one side or the other

The negotiations had stalled amid claims from the SNP that Scotland would be “worse off” under the new arrangements, sparking fears that the new Scotland Bill would have to be scrapped.

However, both sides have made concessions in recent weeks, with the ­final deal understood to be close to the compromise of “safety net” to protect Holyrood’s coffers.

The agreed package will see the

There will also be £3billion of additional borrowing powers and £200million to introduce all the new changes.

The deal was agreed during a telephone conversation between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Chancellor George Osborne following a revised offer from the Treasury yesterday afternoon.

So will Wales be automatically offered a similar deal?

According to the Wasting Mule.

Wales could lose out on “hundreds of millions” of pounds a year unless new income tax powers are devolved fairly to the Assembly, a major report warns.
The Wales Governance Centre’s report will today caution that the Welsh Government could take a multi-million pound hit every year, depending on the method chosen to reduce the block grant it receives from the Treasury to account for additional income tax revenues.
The authors fire a warning shot at parties preparing for the five-way election fight in May’s Assembly elections, stating that given the unresolved issues “discussions on changing tax rates and policy during the forthcoming Assembly elections should be regarded as premature”.
They argue that income tax receipts have “grown by 6% across the UK since 2010-11” but “the equivalent figure for Wales is only 2%”.
The report comes as Plaid Cymru warns that the transfer of new tax powers to the Assembly must not result in Wales being worse off.
Plaid Cymru Treasury spokesman Jonathan Edwards said that if his party leads the Welsh Government after the May elections it will “immediately” start talks with the UK Government to secure a fair funding framework.
Mr Edwards said:

 “A Plaid Cymru Welsh Government would begin talks with the Westminster Government as a matter of urgency to ensure that the correct fiscal framework is in place and that there is no undue harm to Wales as a result of the income tax-sharing arrangement set to come into force in future.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the failure to put in place a fair and stable fiscal framework by the Conservative Government could end up undermining the basis of tax devolution throughout the UK by not upholding the principle of ‘no detriment’ or ‘no harm.’”
 “Meanwhile, Labour has used every excuse, every delaying tactic, and has attempted to put every obstacle in the way of taking responsibility for its spending decisions and for being held accountable for the state of the Welsh economy.
“We believe that Wales should take greater charge of its own economic destiny to build a better future, and that income tax powers are an essential part of this, but that the correct fiscal and funding framework should also be in place to underpin its fair functioning.”
Will Wales without a government that  is prepared to fight in the same way the

SNP have over Scotland fiscal settlement lose out?

If the Tories and indeed Labour believe that there will be no electorate backlash,then that may be the case.

There may be some criticism over the deal that the SNP , has secured but if Wales does not see the equivalent Scottish budget protected for the next six years and guaranteed to receive “not a penny less” than it would under the current setup until 2022.

Then we are going to be in deep trouble.

But then what can we expect with a Unionist Party in power in Westminster and the Bay?

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Hamilton claims internal campaign Ukip against him is a "cancer

Disgraced former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton has described a campaign against his bid to stand as an AM for UKIP as a "cancer" that needs to be "cleansed".

According to BBC Wales

UKIP has launched an investigation after an anonymous leaflet criticising Mr Hamilton was sent to party members.

It described him as being "parachuted in" to the assembly contest and included what Mr Hamilton said were "libellous" claims about his past.

An email to UKIP members said the matter may be referred to police.

The email, leaked to BBC Wales, also included a passage written by Neil Hamilton in which he said UKIP Wales has "degenerated" during the selection process.H
e wrote.

"I know the vast majority of you will be shocked by the viciousness of this personal attack," 
"Please help me cleanse the party of this cancer and turn UKIP Wales into a fighting force to dominate Welsh politics."

Mr Hamilton has told BBC Wales he has been selected to fight the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency at the election.

He is also in the running for a regional list slot.

So it seems the selection process has been carried out, so why have we not had an official statement from Ukip on the nominations.

In the email to party members, party official Piers Wauchope said:

 "Many of you have received an anonymous leaflet through the post concerning Neil Hamilton.
"The distribution of this leaflet is not only a breach of our campaigning rules, but was distributed with the aid of a UKIP database that could only have come from a source within the party.
"A full investigation will be made within the party, and if necessary the results will be handed over to the police.
"This election must be conducted within the rules, and I cannot have the election derailed by the criminal activity of a person or persons within the party."

In the email, Neil Hamilton said:

"This libellous leaflet recycled a Guardian newspaper cutting from 1996, falsely claiming I took large sums of money as an MP to ask parliamentary questions.
"The Inland Revenue dismissed these allegations as lies after their top forensic accountants (the Special Compliance Office) completed an exhaustive two-year investigation of all Christine's and my financial affairs during ten tax years, 1987-97.
"The SCO also found that all my parliamentary expenses were legitimately claimed.
"The leaflet was distributed, using an up-to-date UKIP membership list. This raises disturbing questions about the probity of one or more party officials. It also shows the sorry state into which we as a party have degenerated in this election and the urgent need for reform."
In it he described himself as a "proud Welshman" and rejected claims he has been "parachuted in", saying: "I am no 'parachutist' into Wales and I resent that malicious abuse.

I am once again very sorry for this but  here is Mostyn Neil Hamilton and his odious wife singing the  World Cup Song - "England are Jolly Dee!"

As well as dropping his first name  Hamilton, also seemed to lose his Welsh accent somewhere. I've heard his father speak and he sounded nothing like his son.

God help us if he manages somehow to enter the Assembly .

Monday, 22 February 2016

Why did Labour ignore Plaid at thier Welsh Conference?

  Wales Online asked a number of  Labour Politicians a number of question and being Labour Politicians  they more or less gave the same answers,

When it came to  

If Labour wins the Assembly election which party will finish second?

Most followed the line of  their conference  agenda and said the Tories

 Jo Stevens MP, Cardiff Central however give an interesting  answer

"I hope it's not Ukip and I don't think Plaid will so it pains me to say it but the Tories".
 Which to me suggest that she at least would prefer it to be Plaid.

It could be because she does not share the inherent hostility to Plaid that exists in Labour in Wales or maybe she does not see  Plaid as a threat to Labour's Hegemony.

Maybe Labour are wise to have concentrated on the Tories after Welsh First Minister  disastrous attempt to have one to one debate with Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
Labour has spent its spring conference talking up the straight battle with the Conservatives for National Assembly power and admitting more needs to be done to win votes back from Ukip.

But little has been said about the challenge from Plaid Cymru.

“We think this is a battle between Labour and the Tories,” Mr Jones insisted.
“We know that in many parts of Wales the marginal seats are fought between our party and the Tories and it’s important to remind people what the stakes are in this election.

“With Ukip we know that they have the potential to take not seats away from us but votes away from us that would cause us problems in some seats in Wales.

“We have said to people we understand if you are annoyed, we understand if you’re angry, we are listening - we want to remove the reasons for people to vote Ukip. That’s what my speech was about.

“We see them as our main challengers - Conservatives in terms of a straight fight, Ukip in terms of the votes they might take but less so in terms of seats. “If you look at the seats that are the most marginal in Wales, most of them are seats that involve us and the Tories, and we know that is where the fight, as it always has been, will be.
Asked if he had avoided attacking Plaid in case he needed to rely on their support to form a coalition government after May’s election, Mr Jones said:
  “I don’t expect that when Plaid have their conference that they won’t mention me or Labour, that’s the way politics is.

“We all understand it and parties must make their case robustly at times. But we just see the Tories as the main threat.”
So do Do Welsh Labour not se Plaid as a threat or potential allies after Nay?

Either way it doesn't help Plaid 
After all  as Oscar Wilde put it.

 "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
Plaid might secretly be worried that Labour  ignore them in Assembly Elections .

After all in Scotland even with most of the UK and Scottish Media behind them with the SNPBad message  it seems to have concentrated support for the SNP government rather than  weaken it.

Perhaps Plaid spring conference will see Plaid taking the Gloves off and attacking Labour's record in Wales.

After all it is that what the electorate should be making their judgement.


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Not so strange Bed Fellows.

You can expect this Photo appearing often in Remain campaign literature

The Independent reports that an anti-EU rally in London which seems to have been held to capatlise on Cameron announcing the Referendum on Uk came to a divisive conclusion after over a hundred people reportedly walked out as George Galloway took to the stage as the event's special guest speaker

The appearance of the Respect Party leader prompted shouted complaints from many people at the QE II Centre in Westminster where supporters of Grassroots Out campaign (GO!), a movement urging Britain’s exit from the EU, gathered as the Prime Minister held negotiations to secure an EU reform deal on Friday.

I can imagine there e will be many Brexit supporters who will with be hoping both will be having a low profile in the coming election.

Farage in particular may have bee the face of leave for years and he does attract a fair amount of support, but I suspect twice that number are turned off by him.

As for Galloway even those who supported his attacks on Blair during the Gulf Wars, probably don't wanr to get too close to him.
Th Referendum is tot important is too important to judge on personalities but with Justice Secretary Michael Gove defects to Brexit camp to join Iain Duncan Smith, John Whittingdale, Priti Patel, Chris Grayling and Theresa Villiers sensationally join Leave camp minutes after referendum the referendum date was announced. it could all depend on who you think is most odious and voting the other way.
Those on the left who are tempted to back a Brexit  may not like some of the right on the Remain camp , but the presence of Iain Duncan Smith on the other side could be seen as a warning that a leave  vote  could give him a free hand completely destroy Welfare in the UK free from army protection  EU laws  gave to the vulnerable in our Society.
The fact that Cameron "successful" negotiations  depended on removing welfare payments from EU citizens "working" in the UK is hardly  encouraging  from him.
But can you imagine, what a Tory government  free from  EU social policy restrictions and  able to win with the support of less than 30% of those who voted  will do to the Welfare State in the next Ten years.
Be Afraid Very Afraid.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Mule Praise's Adam Price to sow division in Plaid.

With the Wasting Mule Chief Reporter  in full "Lets support Labour Mode " you can express cringing coverage of Carwyn Jones in his coverage of the build up of the Labour Party  Welsh Branch Office spring  conference.

But Martin Shipton has decided that there a new Weapon  to attack Plaid  and that's er they have more than one talented leader.

In an article 

Why Plaid leader Leanne Wood is outshone by the party's former MP Adam Price'

You can look at it yourself  but  its basically bollocks 

The reason for the article  however is not to Praise Adam Price or criticise Leanne Wood  but to divide Plaid into Leanne or Adam camps in the run up to the election in May. and to get the electorate to question the capabilities of Leanne Wood.

Shipton writes
It’s true that she made a generally positive impression during last year’s general election leadership debates on TV.
She was praised for her put-down of Nigel Farage.
Yet the fact remains that Ukip got more votes in Wales than Plaid did, and that in many seats in the coming Assembly election voters who have previously voted for Plaid are likely to be voting for Ukip.
It’s also true that in the leadership debates Wood was outshone by Nicola Sturgeon, who operates at a higher political level entirely.

True in the Ukip vote argument  but would any Plaid leader have achieved a better response .

And its also true about being outshone by Nicola Sturgeon but only slightly and Nicola outshone everyone.

Shipton article is not one of  a friend  telling you the truth you don't want to hear but an attempt to cause division and place a question mark in the electorate's eye.

If the positions of Adam and Leanne were reversed  the Wasting Mule , would be  praising Leanne 's honesty and connection with ordinary people , whilst claiming Adam  was "a slick political animal  who however did not have the common touch".

If you want to see Shipton's motive take look on his take on Carwyn Jones. Entitled

Why Carwyn Jones' biggest challenge is to avoid looking smug?.

Where Shipton writes.

While in Wales Carwyn Jones may be the subject of trenchant criticism from opposition parties and mutterings within his own, at Labour HQ in London he is perceived as an election-winning guru.The First Minister shines, of course, in comparison with the hapless decline of Scottish Labour, and the failure of Jeremy Corbyn to appeal to a wider spectrum of voters.
Mr Jones will also have been buoyed by an opinion poll this week that saw Welsh Labourl losing no more than three
seats in May’s National Assembly election".

So for Labour to lose three seats will be a victory for them  according to the Wasting Mule's Chief Reporter.

Perhaps instead of pointing out that Plaid have a very talented persona in the shape of Adam Price likely to enter the Assembly , Shipton should look at the lethargic leadership of his beloved First Minister and the lack of "charisma"  or ant real talent of anyone in Welsh Labour's current and future crop of AM.s.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Electoral Reform Society offer manifesto for change.

Although the "Informal  talks  between Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Greens for an electoral pact failed. I wonder if they might agree that they together can push forward electoral reform in Wales.

Yesterday the Electoral Reform Society Cymru (ERS Cymru) are launching their first manifesto – calling on parties to get behind votes at 16, online voting pilots and a monthly ‘Citizens’ Question Time’ in the Assembly in the run up to May’s Assembly election. 

Writing on the Left Foot Forward Blog  Josiah Mortimer communications officer at the Electoral Reform Society highlighted  a number of key reforms 

  • Make voting easier by piloting new methods like on-line and electronic voting, weekend voting and early voting;
  • Allow people to ‘vote on the go’ in any polling station in their county, not just the one in their local community;
  • Lower the voting age to 16
  • Ensure any directly elected mayors, health commissioners or NHS boards are elected via a multi-preference voting system
  • Support an increase in the number of Assembly Members to 100;
  • Introduce a monthly Citizens’ Question Time, whereby members of the public can submit written questions for answer by Welsh ministers
  • Reduce safe and uncontested seats and give voters more choice by introducing the Single Transferable Vote (STV) for local and Assembly elections;
I support all of these proposals though care must be taken in electronic voting and "vote on the go" to prevent fraud.

Labour according to the polls will find them in a minority  government , But will face probably a even more divided Opposition.

Plaid may be tempted to go into Coalition but that will not be popular with many of its supporters unless significant concessions are guaranteed.

Demanding that Labour accept  theay be worth Plaid or the Liberal Democrats offering a Coalition or supply and demand support. 

We should have the powers  granted to us under the next wave of Divo Dibynbach and it will be a golden opportunity to introduce reform of our Electoral system.

Especially as the duality between Parliamentary   and Assembly constituency seats is likely to disappear  .

With local Government changes with the merger of Councils likely to happen under the next Assembly , these reforms can be introduced there as well.

It would be useful if the Parties contesting the Election announce whether they accept Electoral Reform Society challenge now so we see which parties are prepared to as Josiah Mortimer says  as breath new life into Welsh politics

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Welsh Tories to subsidise Landlords rather than Students.

 The Student vote or maybe the parents of students vote is probably not be a major issue in the Assembly Elections but it will loom large.

The  Student funding  cam be costly to a Party  as the LibDems found out when they broke a a pledge not to scrap the Students grant which they promptly did so.

Students from Wales currently pay only £3,810 towards their fees wherever they study in the UK.  

But there are  concern from some critics that tuition fee subsidies for Welsh students benefit universities in England.
Students from Wales currently pay "only" £3,810 towards their fees wherever they study in the UK. 

The Welsh government supports anything above that up to £5,190 a year which the Tories said was "unsustainable" at an annual £229m cost to taxpayers.

Now the Welsh Conservatives at least realise that even they have to offer something different  to the way their colleagues in England.

According to the BBC

 Radical plans to scrap tuition fee subsidies and pay half of students' rent instead have been announced by the Welsh Conservatives.

The party said its £75m-a-year plans help with living costs and were fairer.
Their argument is accommodation costs often take a chunk out of a student's maintenance loan and the plan would help free up funds for their education.

It may not be popular with Students but Landlords wil be Happy with it.

Education Minister Huw Lewis has suggested Labour would continue to subsidise tuition fees if the party won the election in May, but hinted the subsidies may be means-tested.

Plaid Cymru has said it would shift to a system where graduates who work in Wales would get £6,000 a year of their tuition fee debts written off.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have said they would replace tuition fee subsidies with maintenance grants for students and more direct help for cash-strapped universities.

For some reason Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies will unveil his party's rent support pledge in a speech at Exeter University later today.

So he announcing  Today that he's planning to subsidise  Landlords in England.

 So maybe Andrew RT Davies will just do a check of the average rent there.

The Tories claim  average rental costs in Wales for students were around £118 a week, meaning the average student would receive £59 a week in rent subsidy. 

The money would be paid wherever in a UK the student chooses to go to university.
So maybe the Tories need to look at the costs  or at least make sure Landlords use this simply to put up their rents in Wales .believing the Welsh Government will pay for part of it.

30 years ago I received not only the basic grant but got more because of my age and still struggled with an overdraft.

So how students manage Today  is a miracle to me  and  the  prospect of paying of future debts must be worrying.

 Faced with limited funds it seems that Plaid has the best on offer something that can benefit Wales as well as Students .

Indeed it could help to reverse the "Brain Drain " from Wales as students going to Oxbridge and other Non-Welsh Universities  fail to return.

We need to keep out best here and  this means not only making it financially viable  for Students but also but raising the profile of Welsh Universities and making them attractive to home grown students , whilst benefiting from the influx of Students from outside, 

Even if that means they stay and become Liberal Democrat Councillors or even AMs for instance.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Where is Plaid's USP?

Plaid Cymru will  pledge to create a "well, well-educated, wealthier Wales" as the party launches its assembly election campaign.But is there something missing

Shorter NHS waiting times, free care for the elderly and improved school standards are among the policies to be announced by leader Leanne Wood.
She said 17 years of "unbroken Labour rule" had brought "economic stagnation" and declining public services.
"People in Wales are crying out for competent leadership," Ms Wood added.
Plaid Cymru had ministers in a coalition government led by Labour from 2007 to 2011, but lost seats and power at the election which ended that four-year term.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday's campaign launch in Cardiff, Ms Wood said Plaid Cymru had been "listening to what the people of Wales want" over the last five years.
"Their hopes and frustrations have informed our most ambitious programme for government to date," she said.
"At the heart of this programme lies our three ambitions - to create a well, well-educated and wealthier Wales."
Ms Wood said Plaid Cymru wanted "a fairer, more prosperous nation which can stand on its own two feet".
She said she would unveil nine key policies to support the party's ambitions to boost the nation's health, education and economy.

All very worthy, but  they could have come  any of the Parties fighting the Assembly Election.

Where is Plaid's Unique Selling Point (USP)?

Where is the call for if not Independence now parity with Scotland ?

Where is the Inspiration to take to the people of Wales a future of a Welsh Government that does not look to a vision k to Westminster and the Pocket Money they give us to solve our problems?

All of the Parties will be dangling goodies in front of the Welsh Electorate  ,
not mentioning that something else will have to be cut in order to pay for this.

The LibDems are giving us almost a daily feed via Subordinate Central as alluring as anything Plaid promise

But Plaid can offer much more with a vision of Wales with control of much more of our own polices  in Policing ,Law and Order to name just two that would move us to the same level of devolution as Scotland.

I hope Plaid's Spring Conference will see them putting parity with Scotland at the core of the Assembly campaign.

Lets have a campaign of ambition not just promises.

Offering to rearrange the "Deckchairs on the Titanic" even if it is not actually sinking at the moment is not good enough.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Is Ukip rise in Wales due to media ignoring Us?

Yesterday's Blog on calls by Plaid to the BBC to ensure coverage of the Assembly Elections in their news coverage can well be seen to be justified  with the news that  UKIP is on course for major gains in the Welsh Assembly despite its internal squabbles, according to new polling.

Ukip have virtually no councillors in Wales s, No MPs ,very little grassroots membership and lately have been split over selection of candidates for the said Assembly Elections.

And yet the latest Welsh Political Barometer suggests that UKIP will snatch nine seats in the Senedd, setting up a “three-way fight” for second place in May’s elections.

The polling in the constituency vote section puts in Labour on 34 per cent (-1 since December), Conservatives on 22 per cent (-1), Plaid Cymru on 19 per cent (-1), UKIP on 18 per cent (+3), the Lib Dems unchanged on 5 per cent and other parties down 1 point to 2 per cent.
On the regional list vote, Labour are on 31 per cent (-3) followed by the Conservatives on 22 per cent (-1), Plaid Cymru on 19 per cent (-1) and UKIP on 18 per cent (+2). The Lib Dems are unchanged on 4 per cent with the Greens down one point to 3 per cent and others on 3 per cent.

Replicated universally across Wales, this would indicate the following Assembly breakdown:
Labour: 27 seats (25 constituency seats + 2 list seats)
Conservatives: 12 seats (7 constituency seats + 5 list seats)
Plaid Cymru: 10 seats (6 constituency seats + 4 list seats)
UKIP: 9 seats (9 list seats)
Liberal Democrats: 2 seats (2 constituency seats)

When we bring in the response to rhe EU Referendum? With the referendum becoming likely to be held in June already there seems to be a strong leave majority.

Remain a member of the European Union: 37% (-3)
Leave the European Union: 45% (+3)
Would not vote: 3% (-2)
Don’t Know: 16% (+2)

This means that coverage of the Referendum will dominate the news that the BBC and the rest of the UK media give us  ,even during the Assembly campaign further bolstering Ukip profile , to such an extent they could end up with 12 regional seats .

With mt local SPAR giving out free copies of the SUN on a daily basis many people where I live will be getting their news from a right wing xenophobic  press ,which hardly  even acknowledge Wales exists.

I know our friends in Scotland face an constant barrage from the Unionist media with its SNPBAD coverage ,but i can't help thinking even that is preferable to virtually no news of what Palid stand for.

We are facing 4 years of a big Ukip in the Welsh Assembly where they will squabble will squabble constantly even among themselves probably loosing some AM from their ranks to resignations from the party.

It will lead to calls to abolishthe Assembly from some quarters and may find willing ears.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Will the BBC show as much interest interest in the Election here as well as the US?

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has raised a big issue with the BBC with her call to give as much network coverage to devolved elections as the broadcaster has to the US presidential campaign.

According to Wales Online Ms Wood has written to James Harding, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, to stress the importance of elections to the National Assembly to the people of Wales.

Forthcoming polls in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will have a major impact on the way public services, such as health and education, are run in each of the devolved nations.

Ms Wood said:

“I’m writing to raise the issue of coverage by the BBC of May’s elections to the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on network television.
“Many viewers have noted the extensive coverage given by the BBC to the campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.
The US presidential election is obviously significant and will impact on our lives but the people of Wales and those living in the other nations of the UK have no say in them.
“In Wales, elections to our National Assembly will have a direct impact on people’s lives.
“They will have the opportunity to choose the next government of Wales, a government which is responsible for running vital public services such as health and education.
“The BBC, as the UK’s public service broadcaster, has a responsibility to ensure that the voting public in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are kept informed of the choices they have, the record of current governments and the policies that the parties are putting forward ahead of the election.
“I would like an assurance from you, as director of news and current affairs, that the elections here in May will receive the same extensive network coverage as the battle for the Republican and Democrat presidential nominations have received on our screens.
“For the people in Wales, the elections to the National Assembly will, I would stress, have a far greater impact on their daily lives than the battle for Republican and Democratic nominations in the United State
 A spokesman for the BBC gave a lees than full and committed response : 
“We will cover the elections across the UK in May appropriately to give audiences clear, impartial information about the choices they have.”

Some Plaid and SNP supporters may think that given the BBC bias towards the Union  it may be just as well we didn't get constant coverage giving a Unionist slant to everything.

But given that people in Wales and Scotland get much of their news Information from the same source that has been churning out coverage of the odious candidates for the Republican nomination (Trump is not the only one) people in both countries need to be informed that there is an election going on and that it is important to them.

At the moment it is likely that any coverage of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliamentary Elections on the BBC will be largely when a negative story appears.

Unionist Parties  will be given air time as part of UK coverage even if as with the Junior Doctors Strike it only affects England.

Indeed such was the nature of the dispute and the failure to empathise that it was  not happening in Wales in Scotland  . I'm surprised  that we haven't seen some comments in the Social Media asking what Plaid and the SNP were doing to resolve it.

You can bet the English Local governments will get far more coverage and we will see a addendum "Welsh and Northern Ireland Assembly Elections and Scottish Parliamentary Elections will be held on the same day".

That will be largely it and those outside NI ,Wales and Scotland will be blissfully unaware such elections are happening.

The sad thing is that this will also be true for those who live in Wales as well.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

We need Consensus on the Welsh NHS>

Maybe the NHS staff in Wales deserve an apology from the Tories,  after a major report said the health service was no worse in Wales than elsewhere in the UK.the first minister has demanded.

Though in reality he means his government deserves one.

Carwyn Jones said the OECD report "nails the lie that the NHS in Wales is being out-performed by England". 

However the  Welsh Conservatives pointed out the OECD had not looked at waiting times. Which is a major concern.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have ruthlessly and consistently attacked Welsh Labour in the House of Commons over its handling of health services in Wales.
On numerous occasions, the pair have publicly denounced the Welsh Government’s record on the NHS, with Mr Cameron controversially describing Offa’s Dyke as the “line between life and death”.
Mr Hunt claimed patients in Wales received a “second class” health service, even describing the state of the NHS in Wales was “a national scandal”.

First Minister  Jones claimed David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had "denigrated" NHS staff in Wales to gain political advantage.

He said the UK government should examine its own record on health in England.

 Welsh Labour will use the report  to present a positive spin on the Welsh NHS at a time the English Health Secretary is caught up in a heated contract dispute with junior doctors in England.

So ther eis no Border of Death as Cameron claims but this does not let the Welsh Labour government  off the Hook and if they were tp go into Opposition  it would not be long before they started attacking the state of the Welsh NHS even if in reality Nothing had changed.

As the cabinet post in Westminster and Cardiff Bay  are handed  out after a reshuffle . I bet every potential minister is praying.

"Please not Health"
 This report may put a end to the "Our Health service is better than yours" or rather "our Health service is not as bad as yours" claims but the problems are still there

In England Jeremy Hunt attempt to convince voters he can improve the Health service there has led to Junior Dr's going on strike.

Whilst in Wales we are likely to see all sorts of promises  on waiting Times being reduced by employing more Doctors and Nurses.

But could the best thing for the NHS  after the Election be a consensus on the Welsh NHS taking it out of the political spectrum for now and all Parties joining together to work out what is the best response to the problems of the Welsh NHS .

It will not happen of course there's to much Political capitol to come out from the NHS and lets face with it be responsible for nearly half the Welsh Budget.

Indeed it will probably eclipse all the other issues, and we have many more things to discuss in the run up to May including where we foresee the Assembly going.

The argument is that the electorate  are not interested in Constitutional matters so we will have debates and promises on the Welsh NHS and maybe Education as well.

As i said maybe we need consensus on the Welsh NHS not treating it as a political football . There are so many more things we need to address which are being overshadowed .