Political boffin, keen fisherman looking forward to retirement.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lib Dem Coalition on Swansea Council

Today’s revelations in media must make painful reading and watching for the Lib Dems. As a party they have skilfully managed to create the perception that butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. Must be something to do with the politics of Westminster where the Lib Dems have traditionally played the part of a little brother who ducks for cover whilst the two elder siblings go for it hammer and tongs.

Those of us involved in politics know the reality couldn’t be further from the truth, recall the ruthlessness with which they ousted Charles Kennedy last year. Third world despots would be proud of such a perfectly organised coup d'├ętat.

Well as the old saying goes power corrupts – and as we are witnessing in Swansea where the Lib Dem council are in coalition with Independent Councillors who are plainly in it merely for the money. Ioan Richard my sources inform me is not the sort of guy you mess with if you catch my drift, and perhaps that explains why it wasn’t the Lib Dems who leaked his e mail to the press in which he recommends stitching up every committee meeting just so that he can get a few extra quid.

Labour's Dirty Cash 3

Seemingly the Cash for Honours investigation has now developed into one based on perverting the course of justice. Makes you wonder what did Blair and his team have to hide.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Peter Hain Deputy Leadership Campaign

Far be it from me to mock the leaking of Peter Hain’s Deputy Leadership campaign strategy on Guido Fawkes’ blog, the real interesting fact for us here in Wales is that only two of Wales’ Labour contingent are willing to go public in support – Albert Owen and Chris Ruane. For some reason Nia Griffith, Madeline Moon, Huw Irranca Davies, Sian James, Jessica Morden and Hywel Francis whislt supporting Hain will ‘not go public at this point’. Not being well rehearsed in New Labour speak, perhaps some New Labour blogger could tell me exactly what does ‘not go public at this point’ mean?

The other fascinating point is that Julie Morgan refuses to support Hain at all. Does this point to a serious rift between Peter and Rhodri at the top of the Welsh Labour tree?

What’s most worrying for Labour in Wales of course is that with less than three months to go before Assembly polling day one of their major players in Wales is concentrating on his own climb up the slippery pole. For the people of Wales the great concern is that the Secretary of State instead of looking after our interests as a nation is spending his time on internal Labour positioning.
UPDATE - The Western Mail reports that the document is months old and that Peter Hain has never seen it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Welsh Unionism

Blamerbell in his provocative style asks a legitimate question in a recent blog ‘Is there such a thing as Welsh unionism?’

The Labour party in Wales have a clear unionist wing, currently led by the likes of Leighton Andrews, Huw Lewis and seemingly Peter Hain. The Tories are still officially called the Conservative and Unionist Party – so that’s clear enough.

It’s the unionist wing in the Labour which has been calling all the shots of late. It was they who came up with the farcical Vote Plaid get Tory strategy – in which the Tories were quite happy to dovetail as it was of equal benefit to them. Here is the real coalition in Welsh politics of course, the unionist wing of the Labour party and the Tories.

It's no secret the Labour Party in Wales is facing meltdown at the Assembly elections, and it seems increasingly improbable that Rhodri Morgan will be able to continue to lead in those circumstances (He has actually gone on the record as saying that he’ll go once he loses the confidence of the people of Wales – based on whether Labour get an overall majority – in that context with nobody in their right mind expecting an overall majority for Labour after May, Rhodri Morgan is a dead man walking).

When Rhodri stands down after the election, the Labour Party will inevitably be forced into civil war as the Welsh and unionist wings strive for control. The reality is that a strong performance by the Tories will aid the internal arguments of the unionist wing within the Labour Party in Wales.

One of the major reasons for Labour’s lack of vision for a third term is that all the main contenders for the Labour Assembly Group leadership are positioning themselves ready for May the 4th.

The real dynamic in Welsh politics is between the forces of progression and those who wish to hold Wales back. Between those who want to see Wales move forward, and those who will stoop to anything to hold on to their position of power, be it at a Welsh level or in Westminster.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Labour's Dirty Cash 2

The Daily Mail swift on the heels of ITN News are reporting further developments in the cash for honours scandal. It seems that despite Labour politicians at the time of the Plaid/SNP exposure, labelling it a cheap gimmick – standard Labour party response when they are caught with their pants down – the net is closing in directly on the PM’s head.

According to the Mail, Police have uncovered that Blair’s senior staff used a second e mail network to discuss ‘Ks’ and ‘Ps’ for Labour party loan donors. Their interpretation is that K stands fro Knighthoods and P for Peerages.

When Ruth Turner, 10 Downing Street gatekeeper, was quoted when asked how she came into politics ‘I fell in with the wrong crowd’ – I presume little did she know the prophetic nature of her words.

Clwb Pel Droed Abertawe

Pob lwc i elyrch Abertawe fory ar ei taith i Ipswich ar gyfer y gem cwpan FA rownd 4. Yn ol y son mae’r brif heol i Ipswich ar gau, felly fe fydd rhaid i’r miloedd sy’n tyrru i Portman Road teithio heibio’r Canolbarth.

Gyda Lee Trundle, Andy Robinson a Darren Pratley yn dychwelyd i’r tim mawr yw y gobaith y bydd Abertawe yn llwyddo i gyrraedd y 5ed rownd.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Cost of Dependence

Unionist politicians always try and talk down Wales with their scaremongering about our dependence upon subsidy from Westminster. Peter Hain comes up with a rounded figure of £1000per head, conveniently neglecting the fact that if Wales had grown at the modest rate of UK growth over the last generation, then each person would be £1000 richer in terms of GVA. If we had matched EU growth, then each person in Wales would be £4000 richer. And if Wales had matched the Republic of Ireland each person would be an astonishingly £19,000 richer.

The reality of the situation is somewhat different of course. In real terms wealth levels in Wales is in free fall. GVA in the European Objective 1/Convergance Funding areas is only 65% of the UK average. In hard figures this means that in most of Wales GVA per head is £11,126 whilst the UK average £17,677. Most worryingly, the trend is downward.To put things in context two hours down the road in London GVA is at 140% compared to the UK average – clearly portraying the wealth inequities caused by the prioritisation of the service sector of the South East of England by the London parties, and their clear failure to compose let alone implement a genuine regional economic policy.

Labour despite a decade in power, far from addressing the infamous north-south divide has exacerbated the divergence. So when the London parties harp on next about how Wales is to poor and weak to achieve its potential – ask them exactly what are the economic benefits for the people of Wales in being ruled by a fiscal and economic strategy that works against the key components of our economic make up. Ask them how after ten years most of Wales continues to be amongst the poorest regions of the whole of the EU – despite the inclusion of 10 new member state, most of which had to endure half a century of Soviet totalitarianism.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Where's Tony?

It’s somewhat ironic that on the day that the Commons was eventually allowed to debate Iraq, Tony Blair despite stating in macho mode that he would be happy to debate the invasion ‘any time – anywhere’ – was away meeting big business.

Poor Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary was left to face the fury of the House with only her junior Ministers as company and Jack Straw.

I suppose when you have the deaths of over 600,000 Iraqis on your hands; destabilised a whole region; increased the terrorist threat to the UK; and undermined international law - it’s best to stick to what you know best, cosying up and doing the bidding of the super rich.

Labour's Funding Scandal

Congratulations to Adam Price for uncovering yet another scandal involving the Labour party and their lust for the money of big business. As Adam quite rightly says – it has come to something when the Labour party are reliant on the money of a foreign steel magnate, the modern day equivalent of the ironmasters and the coal owners of the past – which the Labour party was originally set up to defend workers against.

Just shows how debased and unprincipled the Labour party of today really is. A party without any cause at all, but to keep and manipulate power for their own narrow self interest.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yr Her i'r Pleidiau Prydeinig yng Nghymru

Mae fy ffynhonellau yn dweud i mi y bydd Plaid Cymru yn herio’r pleidiau Prydeinig i ymladd etholiadau’r Cynulliad yn deg trwy herio nhw i atal rhag defnyddio arian o’i pencadlys yn Llundain - i ariannu eu ymgyrchoedd yng Nghymru.

Ers dyfodiad y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol y mae pob un o’r pleidiau Prydeining yng Nghymru wedi ail brandio ei hun fel pleidiau Cymreig. Ond gyda’r trydydd etholiadau’r Cynulliad ar y gorwel, mae’n bur amlwg y bydd Llafur, y Ceidwadwyr a’r Rhyddfrydwyr yn ddibynol ar arian o’i meistri yn Llundain.

Nes bod y pleidiau yma yn llwyddo bodoli fel unedau ariannol ac ymgyrchu annibynol, mae ei honiad ei bod yn bleidiau Cymreig yn hollol chwerthynllyd

The Duplicity of the Cameron Project

David Cameron to be fair to him as employed the obvious political strategy to counter act New Labour since becoming leader of the Tories. Much of New Labour’s success has had far more to do with the idiocy of the manner in which the Conservatives have responded to New Labour’s existence rather than anything constructive New Labour has achieved.

By moving Labour to a centre right position – traditional Tory ground – the Tories did the fatal error of moving the party further to the right to create some clear blue water. Under Hague, IDS and Howard, Tory strategists played into the hands of New Labour by fighting on issues that were only relevant to the far right - ie their membership.

Cameron has turned things around by appearing to move the Tories back into the centre right position – creating a Tory/New Labour bottle neck meaning that ultimately after 10 years of New Labour middle England might well just vote for the Tories at the next General Election for change more than any clear divergence.

The problem Cameron has is that messaging is one thing, policy is another. There is no coherence currently. Whilst he passionately talks up the NHS the only detailed policy to come out of the Tories so far is to cut public expenditure by £20bn.

The new cuddly Tories Cameron is trying to push is further undermined by an extremely right wing article he gave to the Telegraph last week. In a statement which has gained very little coverage, Cameron said that he would restore the UK opt out of the EU social chapter. Nick Cohen of the Observer in his excellent article yesterday points out that the Cameron approach is not to secure legal rights for workers but hope employers do the right thing. As we have one of the most liberal labour laws in the world already – the prospect of even greater de-regulation, for the most vulnerable in particular, is quite frankly frightening.

The phrase ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing comes to mind.’
The question is where do the Tories in Wales stand on this?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The inconsistencies of the Liberal Democrats

The poor Lib Dems in Scotland seem to be a mixed up bunch. On the one hand they have ruled out a refferendum on Scottish independence as a part of any coalition pact after the elections. Yet in the case of a Gordon Brown Premiership succession demand an immediate General Election..........so that the electorate can have a choice.

Is it me or would a clear SNP victory in May clearly show the will of the Scottish people to have a vote on the next step of their constitutional journey. The problem for Ming Campbell of course is that a Yes vote would mean the immediate end of his London Parliamentary career.

Having thought about it no wonder both himself and Gordon Brown are in such a state of panic.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Leighton Andrews - A Broken Record

Today we see Leighton Andrews at it again trying to revive his failed VPGT (Vote Plaid Get Tory) strategy in the Western Mail. Poor Leighton has been in a bit of a tiff since the Assembly budget debate - when the tactics employed by the Plaid leadership effectively undermined over a year of Labour propaganda. Without anything positive to say about Labour's record in government, Leighton is trying to revive what to most people is politically absurd. Looks like he hasn't got the ability to come up with anything else.

Interestingly the Lib Dems in the shape of Peter Black on his blog has jumped on a bit of Labour mischief making as a statement of fact. With the red line of local government PR now dropped looks like the Lib-Lab pact is back in full swing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Labour’s Dirty Cash

Downing Street Senior aid Ruth Turner has been arrested as part of the cash honours inquiry it was announced today. The arrest marks a further development in the whole affair with the investigation seemingly homing in on No 10.

Looks increasingly like Tony Blair will have more than just a war crimes trial in the Hague to worry about when he eventually goes. It’s somewhat ironic that a law brought in to deal with a double dealing Welsh Lib Dem Prime Minister in the 1920s looks like catching Teflon Tony following a complaint by the party of Wales.

With all the trouble the Plaid Parliamentary party is causing New Labour you'd have thought they would be ardent supporters of Welsh independence by now!

Welcome to Wales Tony

The Western Mail is reporting today that Labour strategists are going to send Tony Blair to Wales on a number of occasions during the Assembly campaign. Plaid Cymru are licking their lips at the haemorrhaging of Labour votes every time the Prime Minister makes an appearance.
The report does raise some serious questions about who is running the Labour show. First of all why is a so called ‘Welsh Labour’ campaign being organised in London? Why are Blair and Brown being used so much - undermining the whole ethos of so called ‘Welsh Labour’?
All this points to yet more evidence of the weakening position of Rhodri Morgan. Half of his AMs are already positioning themselves ready for his imminent retirement, and now it looks like London Labour have been called in to save Labour in Wales from impending meltdown.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hain is at it Again

I just don’t get the hero worshiping of Peter Hain amongst journalists in Wales. He changes his position so often he makes a Chameleon look like a grey wall. The latest gambit of the former Lib Dem is to try and distance himself from the foreign policy disaster of his own Government in the New Statesman. Let’s examine Peter’s record on this issue:

He has resisted any attempts led by Plaid Cymru to have a proper Parliamentary

investigation into the run up to the war or its aftermath.
He supported the conflict as a junior minister when his boss in the Foreign Office, Robin Cook, did the honourable thing and resigned.

After four years of supporting the war and the death of over 600,000 Iraqis, over 2% of the population, he has all of the sudden come to the conclusion that the invasion is a mistake.

The question is will he have the courage of his convictions and vote against the government next week during the Iraq debate?

Jeff Jones

Jeff Jones the former Labour leader of Bridgend made some very honest comments in today’s Western Mail. He is quoted as stating that the Labour party in Wales needs to embrace devolution more by ‘regionalising’ its internal structures. He is also quoted as saying that if the Labour party embraced devolution more it would act as a stimulus for better cooperation with Plaid. The thrust of his argument is that essentially there needs to be a realignment of politics in Wales away from the tired structures of the London centric parties. A brave new world which would show that politicians across the divide in Wales would have embraced the true meaning of devolution.

Jeff inadvertently proves that the whole ‘Welsh Labour’ ethos is nothing more than hot air. But, I welcome his intervention as a positive contribution to the debate on how devolution in Wales should develop. As a keen advocate of a red-green coalition, I firmly believe that the more progressive elements in Labour and Plaid could achieve a great deal for our country. It would be a bold step for both parties, not least for Labour as it would inherently mean the sidelining of the more regressive elements like Huw Lewis and Leighton Andrews.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Celebrities We Deserve

One of the undoubted successes of the reality TV revolution has been Jade Goody. Since leaving the House for the first time she has amassed an amazing personal fortune of over £8m for being famous for being famous.

It’s often noted that we get the celebrities we deserve. Her racist, xenophobic and ignorant actions and other so called celebrities in the House during this years show against Bollywood participant Shilpa says a lot about ourselves and the debased tabloid culture we are subjected to by the London media and the asylum seeker bashing philosophy of the London political establishment.

What Planet are the Tories Living on?

Tory Welsh Leader Cheryl Gillan is quoted as saying as the Independence issue reaches a frenzy, “We disagree with Plaid Cymru whose policies will take Wales down the road to economic ruin….”

I know Cheryl represents a constituency outside Wales, but has anybody told her Wales is the poorest part of the UK with a lower GVA than any of the other nations and regions. GVA in the European Objective 1/Convergance Funding areas is only 65% of the UK average. In hard figures this means that in most of Wales GVA per head is £11,126 whilst the UK average £17,677. Most worryingly, the trend is of a worsening situation.

To put things in context two hours down the road in London GVA is at 140% compared to the UK average – clearly portraying the wealth inequities caused by the prioritisation of the service sector of the South East of England by the London parties, and their clear failure to compose let alone implement a regional economic policy.

Put together with the worst health levels in the UK; the worst standard of housing; and poor transport links - the case for Welsh independence is compelling. The union as it stands is fast moving Wales down the road of economic and social ruin.

To coin a phrase from New Labour ‘things can only get better…’!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Under the Radar Plaid

PlMy sources inform me that Plaid Cymru is running their best ever campaign for the forthcoming election. During 2006, the party distributed more leaflets than it has ever done in a year and canvassed more people than ever in its history. Coupled with rebranding the party at a national level, conducting a hugely successful What Wales Wants programme, and professionalizing its policy/political work – Plaid are looking in good shape for May. The lessons of 2003 it seems have been learnt with a far more focus on messaging and political strategy. The new Campaigns Unit has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in the party’s ground offensive.

With Labour in strategic disarray led by a leader whose power is waning every day as potential successors position themselves in anticipation of any handover, perhaps May the 3rd will be far more interesting than everyone has thought to date.

Cometh the hour - Cometh the man

Press reports indicates that Lakshmi Mittal, the richest man in Britain has bailed the Labour party out with a £2m gift. Mr Mittal is the steel magnate who in return for his kind donations in the past has received favours from the Prime Minister as exposed by Plaid Cymru star Adam Price. The infamous Mittalgate scandal was the first nail in New Labour’s coffin of sleaze and spin – where Price discovered a letter by the Prime Minister to the Romanian Government aiding his bid to purchase the former nationalised steel company. The deal is understood to have been negotiated by Lord Levy, the PM’s tennis partner who is currently on police bail pending the completion of the Police investigation of the cash for honours scandal also exposed by Plaid and the SNP.

At a time when Corus plants in Wales are under threat from takeover, I’m sure Welsh steel workers will be interested to learn that Labour will be using the donations of a rival company to buy their votes in the Assembly elections.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Crisis in Labour Strategy

The Labour party in Wales seem to be sending out some very conflicting and mixed messages recently. On Sunday the First Minister Rhodri Morgan is quoted as saying:

"I don't think you can compare the situation in Scotland with the situation in Wales at all. If I went out on the doorstep in Ely tomorrow and said, 'Don't forget to go out and vote Labour or in five years you'll have an independent Wales breaking off from the UK', they would look at me and probably think I'd lost my marbles. Even in Scotland it's not an immediate threat."

Yet in today’s Western Mail Peter Hain, the Secretary of State for Wales, views the demise of the Union as imminent.

With the discredited and farcical Vote Plaid Get Tory strategy in ruins, looks like Labour strategists have lost their way. My tip would be for them to come up with some policies and stop playing fear politics.

The fact that Labour after 8 years in power have to rely on negative spin says everything we need to know about their lack of vision for our country.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lets Concentrate on Policies

Is it me or is the whole Lib – Lab, rainbow, red green coalition getting a bit boring. What started as a cynical electoral ploy by the Labour party (aimed at strengthening the resolve of their faltering core support by raising the ludicrous idea of a Tory First Minister) threatened to dominate this years Assembly elections. Plaid’s budget tactics thankfully undermined all this scaremongering.

How pathetic it is to see some politicians in the London parties continuing to talk of the politically ridiculous. What about coming up with some policies for a change? The continuing harping by some Labour and Tory politicians says far more about their lack of vision and policies as Leighton Andrews himself admitted in his rant against Rhodri Morgan in the Western Mail.

Thursday, January 11, 2007