Political boffin, keen fisherman looking forward to retirement.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Enter the Young Pretender?

The Guardian reports today that Charles Clarke and Alun Milburn are paving the way for a David Miliband leadership challenge by calling for an open policy debate before Tony Blair departs. Bad news for Gordon Brown who wants to keep his policy cards close to his chest in the hope that his planned shock and awe tactics during the first hundred days would blow David Cameron out of the water. Looks like a leadership election could well be back on the cards.

The Great Tory Paradox

The Tories in the National Assembly and their crop of Welsh based MPs in Westminster seem to be treading very different paths. At Assembly level they are intent on ‘Welshyfying’ themselves – probably taking a note out of the New Labour handbook in terms of triangulation. The strategy is partly motivated to try and step on Plaid territory. The Tories over the years have been great re-inventors. From the day’s of Robert Peel and the Tamworth manifesto, they have made seismic shifts to stay relevant. Peels reform of the party was motivated by the 1832 Act which introduced some remnants of democracy to the UK. Disraeli followed suit with further changes in response to the two other electoral reform acts of the last part of the 19th century.

It’s an interesting strategy, but at the end of the day if the electorate want an all encompassing Wales first party, why vote for the Tories when you can vote for the real thing in Plaid. The clear danger for them is that they will only appeal to a small right wing element who can’t stomach Plaid’s determination to create a more egalitarian society.

The big problem that the leadership of the Tories face in the Assembly is that their Welsh based MPs are decidedly off message. David Cornock blogs that Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Penfro, does not support a St David’s day bank holiday. Their Westminster group if anything are rebelling against the Assembly group – intent on maintaining the nasty right wing, little Englander approach which we all know is the core of the Tories anyway.

What the Tories need to understand is that the fight for greater Welsh autonomy and the fight for rights for the language and culture of our nation are all intertwined with left leaning politics. The left has always been the driving force for change and those fighting for the rights of the minority.

With the Tories in the Assembly apparently jettisoning their raison d’etreie the party of unionism personified – you have to ask what’s the point of the Tories in Wales?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Battle for Labour's Soul

Newsnight ran an excellent piece last night relating to the growing row over Labour’s asset stripping cash. The debate between Sion Simon and John McDonnell clearly showed that this issue could become a battle for the soul of the Labour party.

What’s most interesting from a Welsh perspective is that of the figures at the heart of the scandal Sir Ronald Cohen is Gordon Brown’s equivalent of Blair’s Lord Levy.

Labour in figures in Wales are huge supporters of a Brown succession. Guilt by association therefore means that they not only favour his right wing policies, but also support his clear backing for these firms which are described as ultra capitalists.

In Wales we have already seen the Trade Unions dishing out letters to their members in support of Labour’s campaign. The irony is plain for all to see.

It’s the incoherence of the whole thing I don’t get. On the one hand you’ve got the Trade Unions throwing their formidable weight behind a Labour party in Wales that openly supports a London regime that is funded by the very sort of people the Trade Unions were set up to fight against.

Instead of peddling spin and smear for the Labour party, the Trade Union leadership in Wales should concentrate on protecting their members. My father was an Union shop steward all his working life and joined Plaid when Kinnock started the New Labour revolution and they turned their backs on working people. It’s about time the Trade Union membership rose in revolt against a docile Union Leadership in Wales whose only loyalty is to a party that has long forgotten the principles which founded it.

I have a lot of time for John McDonnell and other principled Labour MPs. The tragedy of the current make up of the Parliamentary Labour Party is that it is unlikely that John or Michael Meacher will get the necessary support to launch a leadership election against Brown.

Those of us who come from the South Wales valleys, from traditional socialist families, know that we are in our natural home with Plaid.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dodgy Labour Cash

The Labour party seem intent on shooting themselves in the foot. Dodgy cash is different to previous blogs on dirty cash relating to cash for honours. It's the morals of accepting money from asset strippers that's at stake here - industrial parasites that have made their money from the misery of working people.

Bethan Jenkins has posted this blog explaining the story. She raises a very valid point on whether this cash will be used in Wales for the forthcoming Assembly campaign, 'cause as we all know the Labour party in Wales does not exist as a separate accounting unit, (ie they need their London bosses to pay the bills for them.)

The conscious of the Labour party, also known as Peter Hain is quoted today in Metro"I think it's right we accept donations from people who want to contribute to the Labour party and keep us in power." Thanks for clearing that up Peter.

Update the GMB are in frankfurt today protesting outside an annual meeting of private equity firms. Perhaps they should consider re assesing their support for a party that is selling their members down the river every chance it gets.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Plaid Launch Billboard

Plaid are running the slickest campaign in their history. Here's an advert that the party issued on Friday.
As much as the Labour party preach the Tory fear factor line, everyone knows the Assembly election is a straight fight between Plaid and London Labour.
It's been a tragic conference for Labour, they've spent the weekend giving Plaid equal billing. Instead of talking up their (lack of) vision for our nation, they have had to try and justify something which anyone with any grasp of reality knows is complete hog wash.
If I was Rhodri Morgan I'd sack my campaign team or whoever is behind their current nonsensical strategy. They seem to be operating in a parallel universe at the moment.

Friday, February 23, 2007

How Many Times Can You Sell a False Promise?

Labour’s spectacularly inept pre manifesto says everything you need to know about their rudderless vision. No wonder they are fighting a hugely negative campaign based on spin, innuendo and smear.

One promise however caught my eye, universal provision of NHS dentistry.

Nothing new here I’m afraid, for every election I can remember since assuming power in 1997 Labour has made promises along these lines. In the 1999 Labour Conference Tony Blair promised to ensure that anyone wishing to access NHS dentistry would be able to do so.

Things haven’t quite turned out as Labour promised; witness the third world queues we have seen right across Wales once NHS provision actually comes available.

I remember once reading the Tivy Side on my travels across Wales where an old pensioner had resorted to using a pair of pliers to treat her tooth ache. What a damning indictment of Labour failure.

The question is why should anyone trust them to deliver on this if the situation has only got worse under 8 years of Labour being in Government. As the saying goes, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Labour Election Strategy Inconsistency

With New Labour in London in Terminal decline it’s hardly surprising that their apologists in Wales want to fight the forthcoming National Assembly elections on their record in Government since 2003 – although that is hardly anything to shout about.

It is perplexing therefore this week to see the Labour leadership in Wales launching two personal attacks on London based Tory politicians. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve got nothing against bashing the Tories, that’s why I have such an issue with a Labour party that has nicked all their policies.

Having said that if you are saying, as Labour in Wales are saying, that they want the National Assembly election to be fought on a Welsh basis, why spend the week leading up to your Spring Conference attacking the Tories in London and not showcasing your vision for Wales?

Yet again we witness a Labour party in Wales unable to adapt to the reality of devolution. It seems they have clearly run out of ideas and have decided to stick to what they know best – basing their politics on a Westminster model. ‘Operation straight choice’ is just an adaptation of ‘Operation Westminster’.

Wales deserves better that a governing party that clearly has no vision of how to develop our democracy in Wales.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Peter Hain's Aga Gaffe

I can’t claim to be the first to expose this major gaffe by Peter Hain, David Cornock blogged on it yesterday. Even the London Evening Standard ran a massive centre piece article yesterday.

Hain is quoted in Aga magazine, before his spin doctors allegedly pulled it, as saying that following the installation of an Aga cooker in his constituency mansion, he views cooking by electric cookers as ‘second class’.

Aga of course market their product as a lifestyle choice. Put simply the message they imply is that those who have an Aga are slightly better than everyone else. It’s hardly very socialist therefore for the ‘conscious of the Labour party’ as he is trying to brand himself to fuel such non egalitarian perceptions.

It just goes to sow that the London political elite are totally out of touch with traditional Welsh political values.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Guardian ICM Poll – Brown and New Labour in trouble

The Guardian ICM poll today is very bad news for Gordon Brown and the Liberal Democrats. If Brown was leader of Labour the Tories would have a 13% gap – their largest lead since 1992. Labours rating puts them at the same level as their result in the 1983 General Election under Michael Foot.

This is desperately bad news for Brown personally. His only hope is to call a snap election after assuming power, probably at the end of the first 100 days after a policy blitz, and hope the honeymoon period will be enough to carry him through. The added advantage of such a strategy would be that all Cameron has done so far is talk about ambiguous ideas – the Tories have no coherent policy platform in place ready to face a General Election, much in the same way that the only pledges they are coming up with here in Wales are, “we’ll look at this, re-start that, review those”.

Its very high risk stuff. Will Brown who has waited for so long for the top job risk it all on assuming the Premiership. My view is that if he waits ‘till 2009/2010 the Tories will steam roll, he has to go early if he is to have any chance.

Far be it from me to offer any advice to the Labour party, but Gordon Brown is a dead duck leader in waiting. They have to find someone new, fresh and dynamic. Someone able to renew the party and hope the Cameron effect in Middle England runs out of steam and that they are able to exploit the clear contradictions that exist within the Tory party. The problem for Labour is that their talent pool isn’t exactly deep.

The other interesting finding in the poll is that the Lib Dems are on 17%. They are clearly being squeezed and losing votes to the Tories. It seems that the coup of Charles Kennedy as been an unmitigated failure. If they had not purged him, he would be the most experienced leader of all the three London parties once Blair stood down.

Looks like a very busy year for us here in Wales. After the Assembly elections in May I wouldn’t bet against an Autumn General Election if Brown is PM.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Political Lookalikes

A number of Welsh political blogs are running lookalike competitions, so here's my stab.

I have always thought that Peter Hain is a spit of Cuprinpol man - must be the fake tan!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Y Ceidwadwyr a'r Iaith Gymraeg

Fe wnaeth Owain Clark cyflwyno darn ddiddorol iawn heddiw ar Maniffesto parthed safbwynt y Ceidwadwyr a’r iaith. Mae’r holl ddadl ar yr iaith yn symboleiddio’r ‘newid’ cyfeiriad y mae’r Ceidwadwyr yn ceisio gwerthu i bobol Cymru. Mae ei strategwyr wedi dewis un o’r materion mwyaf effeithiol i geisio cyfathrebu y neges o ‘newid’ i’r etholwyr.

Yn sicr mae’r ffaith bod un o bleidiau Llundain yn fodlon trafod yr iaith mewn ffordd gall, yn hytrach na’r modd y mae’r blaid Lafur yn defnyddio’r iaith fel arf wleidyddol i rannu pobol Cymru yn erbyn ei gilydd, yn rhywbeth i groeso. Wedi dweud hynny, dwi’n credu bod y Ceidwadwyr yn agored i gael ei gyhuddo o ‘spin gwleidyddol’. Y gwir amdani yw, mae ei datganiad polisi ar yr iaith yn amhwys i ddweud y lleiaf. Yn hytrach nag ymgyrchu am Ddeddf Iaith Newydd gyda pwerau dros y sector breifat, yr hyn mae nhw’n gaddo yw adolygiad o'r ddeddf presennol.

Roedd adroddiad Owain Clark yn dangos yn glir bod anghytundeb ymysg grwp y Ceidwadwyr yn y Cynulliad am yr angen am ddeddf Newydd, heb son am barn eu haelodau cyffredin.
Os ydyw’r Ceidwadwyr wir am ail frandio ei hun fel plaid Cymreig mae angen llawer mwy nag addewidion anelwig fel hyn.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rhodri Morgan the new Saparmuat Niyazov?

I’m going to have to stop reading the Western Mail with my breakfast. For the second morning in succession I nearly chocked o my cornflakes. The offender yet again was the First Minister – who had a two page spread buttering toast in his home.

Things are looking bad for Labour and I suppose they have nothing left to offer but try and get sympathy votes on the back that Rhodri is on they way out. He has always reminded me of the grandfather I never had, but that doesn’t mean you want your grandfather to run the country.

Reading the First Minister in full flow immediately reminded me of the former president of Turkmenistan, Saparmuat Niyazov who died last year. Saparmuat, (apart from being one of the most authoritarian leaders in the world – and even I don’t claim that Rhodri is a despot) was quite a character – he ruled by cult of personality. He truly believed that he was the embodiment of the Turkmen nation.

Cue Rhodri Morgan in today’s Western Mail where he more or less makes the case that he is Wales and Wales is him. I hope the next stage of Rhodri’s megalomania means he wont follow Saparmuat and start naming months after members of his family!
Saparmuat Niyaziv - "I admit it, there are too many portraits, pictures and monuments. I don't find any pleasure in it, but the people demand it because of their mentality."
Rhodri Morgan in today's Western Mail ' "You are who you are and you just tend to get on with the job the way that you think suits the political and social culture of Wales, which is not deferential. Everybody says about the people in Wales that they won't tug the forelock. Therefore you have to build up a political system with devolution around that culture, the non-forelock-tugging, non-deferential culture. I think that's the way that is healthiest for Wales, and certainly healthiest for me, because it comes naturally to me."

Blair and Brown Spot the Difference

Big hitting Labour backbench MP Frank Field is the latest politician in his party’s ranks to voice disquiet at the seemingly trouble free succession of Gordon Brown.

Field confirms my assessment that a Brown Premiership will not herald any significant change from the current Administration – mostly because he has been the one behind most of New Labour’s domestic agenda. In the back of his mind is undoubted the way in which the Cameron strategy is built with Brown in mind.

He calls for a generation skip to combat Cameron and pleads with David Milliband to put his name forward.

The interesting point for us here in Wales is why are the First Minister and Brown’s dogs of war in Wales who led the failed Autumn coup against Blair, such in favour of a Brown succession? They tell us in Wales that New Labour is dead and that they are adopting a Welsh way, yet they openly support the Godfather of what they claim to abhor.

The key point is there is no coherence to the arguments of Labour in Wales. Perhaps I am missing something and would be eternally grateful if someone could provide an explanation.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Growing Unrest in the Tory Ranks

There’s a very interesting article in the latest edition of the House Magazine by former Tory Minister Edward Leigh. The article is a critique of the Cameron project. Leigh is concerned that as Cameron adopts Clinton’s triangulation process (subsequently followed by New Labour), voters are left without a real choice.

Leigh is a passionate traditional right of right winger, and clearly is far happier talking about privatisation and lower taxation than the Cameron focus on wellbeing and other what he views as ‘soft’ issues. He is particularly perplexed at why the main opposition in Westminster would want to fight the next General Election on exactly the same policy platform as the Government.

The Cameron strategy is quite simple. He is doing exactly what the New Labour project did to the Tories. He has positioned his party on the exact same ground in the hope that he will achieve power ‘cause people fancy a change in personalities rather than basing a strategy on a significant change of approach. The Cameron strategy is also built with Brown in mind - with no undistinguishable policies the electorate will base their choice on personality. Let’s face it in the charisma stakes Cameron is on a different political planet to poor old Gordon.

Leigh’s article gives an interesting insight to the frustrations of being a Westminster politician with values these days (not that I agree in any shape or form with his views). Since the battle of ideas in Westminster has come to an end – all three London parties now exist solely for the sake of achieving power.

Luckily in Wales we have another option to the failed consensus of the London parties. I am delighted that Plaid for the forthcoming Assembly Election is putting together a policy programme that challenges the current visionless WAG orthodoxy.
update - Neol Gallagher seems to have the same views as me on the Brown/Blair/Cameron consensus. Watch the newsnight interview.

Rhodri Agrees With Plaid

I nearly chocked on my cornflakes this morning when I read the Western Mail. In it we have the First Minister making the economic argument Plaid has been making over the years – ie that core UK fiscal and economic policy works against the interests of Wales.

I take back everything I wrote about him yesterday after his climate change gaffe. With his damning indictment of the South East of England centric obsession of Gordon Brown’s policies, it makes it ever harder to understand why he is supporting Brown for the Labour leadership.

So Much for the Lib Dem Green Revolution

House of Commons records for Chris Huhne the Lib Dem Environment spokesperson Expenses indicates that the Honourable Member for Eastleigh claimed £3,284 for car mileage and only £176 for train tickets.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Is the First Minister Losing the Plot? - Do one Legged Ducks Swim in Circles!

The First Minister has put his foot in it again with his astonishing assessment that global warming would effectively be helpful to the Welsh economy. According to reports this is the reason why he opposes Plaid’s commitment to cut carbon emissions by 3% per annum, the sort of radical policy which is essential for us to embrace if we are to avoid the inevitable global catastrophe that climate change entails.

Perhaps the First Minister should read the Stern report which states that no action on climate change will lead to a crash of about 20% in the global economy. In such circumstances of a global economic meltdown it’s difficult to equate his statements that Wales would prosper.

Reading between the lines his argument is that we in Wales are likely to suffer less environmentally than the rest of the world. That’s the sort of narrow minded and visionless approach which characterises his party and his Administration. The logic of Rhodri Morgan’s argument is that we in Wales should increase carbon emissions and do everything in our power to speed up global warming. Come to think of it maybey the reason why carbon emissions have gone up under Labour is that this is all part of masterplan rather than the gross negligence I had assumed.

It’s astonishing that the First Minister has decided to make this statement at the same time when the National Trust warns that 1,572 hectares of its costal land in Wales is at risk of flooding caused by raising sea levels.

These appear to be the rantings of a lunatic – no wonder so many Labour AMs are positioning themselves ready for May the 4th.

Spencer Davies Rocks for Plaid

I had the pleasure last night of attending a Plaid sponsored Spencer Davies gig in Aberavon with over 500 other people. It was probably the most successful Plaid gig of all time, and it was great to see a Welsh rock legend give his backing to the candidature of Linet Purcell.

Linet is running a fantastic campaign in Aberavon, looks like Brian Gibbons has got more than just the mess in the NHS in Wales to worry about.,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Do the Tories now Support a Local Income Tax?

Tory Assembly fiance spokesman in the Assembly, David Melding is quoted today in the Western Mail:

"there are serious questions about whether it is right to have such a high property tax that bears no relation to income."

As the party that first proposed abolishing council tax and introducing a progressive system based on ability to pay in the 1970s - we are delighted to seemingly have another one of the London parties on board.

How to Remove a Million Children from Poverty – The New Labour Way

Since achieving power, New Labour has always trumpeted the fight against child poverty. It symbolised their alleged determination to turn around the ravages of Thatcherism. But as always with New Labour, scratch under the surface of the rhetoric and not all is as it seems.

In 1999 the baseline year for which future targets were to be measured against, child poverty was measured on the basis of both BHC (before housing cost) and AHC (after housing cost).

The following table reproduces data on baseline, target and actual performance.

AHC (millions)
BHC (millions)
1998/99 (baseline)
Target 2004/05
Actual 2004/05

Credit where credit is due, progress has been made on both BHC and AHC measures, although both targets were missed – crucially by 200,000 more on the AHC measure.

In 2003 the Department for Work and Pensions proposed three new measures for calculating child poverty, which would be used for the 2011 target. All three new measures are calculated using a BHC analysis. At a stroke of a pen therefore over a million children have been removed from poverty based on the 2004/05 actual performance.

Child poverty campaigners argue that the BHC measure is far less accurate as it fails to take into account the costs of housing which significantly affects disposable income levels.

As this blog has eluded before, Gordon Brown and New Labour have a habit for changing the goalposts and cooking the books. Just goes to show that you can’t accept any New Labour pledge at face value.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Here We Go Again

The Guardian reports today that plans for a US led military strike on Iran are in an advanced stage. George Bush is said to be weighing up the arguments of Washington doves who are calling for a concerted diplomatic approach and the hawks of the neo cons who are saying that war is the only option.

The main thrust of the neo con argument is that the US must act to stop Iran developing into a regional superpower – a development primarily caused by the botched invasion of Iraq. Nothing like consistency in argument!

History has a habit of repeating itself – the US supported a despotic Saddam regime in Iraq for decades purely as a balance of power against Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. Isn’t it interesting that all the talk is not of securing democracy in Iraq, now it’s about ‘stability’.

My hunch is that the US will be more than happy to prop up another 'strong leader' in Iraq, especially as the latest escalation is doomed to fail. Only the mad men in the Whitehouse and a deluded New Labour could possibly view the deaths of close to a million Iraqis and the current chaos as anything resembling a success.

Vice Royal Patron to the Welsh Rugby Union

Interesting to see at Twickers today that the Vice Royal Patron of the WRU was singing his heart out for the English rugby team. Who will Prince William be supporting when England play in Cardiff later in the tournament?

Pensioner Fuel Poverty

David Lloyd George said on introducing the pension, a society should be judged on how it treats its elderly. Today it is revealed that over half of pensioners in the UK are living in fuel poverty - an astonishing figure after ten years of New Labour Government.

New Labour has always been big on rhetoric. In 2001 they set a target to end fuel poverty by 2010. These figures show clearly that they have made little headway at all and have no chance of reaching their target.

New Labour just don’t get it. Politics needs to be based on sound principles. The only way to address issues such as this is to believe in the fundamental principle of the common good – that each should contribute according to their ability and receive what they need. Labour have long turned their back on such a path, preferring to immerse themselves in the London centre right consensus which adores the primacy of the individual. The much heralded ‘Third Way’ is a sham.

Radio 4s Money Box programme claims that over 2 million pensioners in the UK are having to make the choice every day between heating or eating.

We should not be surprised – under New Labour the rich have got richer than the poor poorer. The sons of Thatcher Blair and Brown have done their mother proud.

What seems increasingly apparent is the need for a return to the battle of ideas, – otherwise politics will become increasingly irrelevant and the most in need in our communities will continue to be failed.

Iinteresting fact – Labour MPs such as Kier Hardie, George Barnes, Fred Jowett, Joseph Clynes and George Lansbury although welcoming the aim of Lloyd George’s pensions legislation argued that pensions should be universal and disliked the means test aspect of the original proposals. Just goes to show how far the Labour party has travelled over the years!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Doorstepping - New BBC Wales Tactics

Looks like BBC Wales politics staff are emplying doorstepping tactics as we approach the Assembly Election. I look forward to seeing the entire BBC Politics Unit camped outside Minesterial Offices from here on in as hardly a week goes by without some WAG Minister refusing to do a Dragons Eye interview.

The Future of Policing in Wales

Seems Labour has got itself into another real right mess on the future responsibility of policing in Wales. Some enlightened Labour AMs agree with Plaid that the imminent break up of the Home Office means there is a compelling argument to devolve responsibility for policing. As I understand it the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Scottish Parliament have responsibility for Policing, therefore it seems perfectly reasonable to me that our National Assembly also assumes power for such an important policy area.

Needless to say the Unionists in the Labour party are having a fit. Peter Hain has even gone as far as to argue that responsibility for Policing may never be devolved to Wales.

After the complete shambles of the Home Office driven police merger plan, I say devolve responsibility now. The safety of our communities in Wales is far to important an issue to be left to a Home Office in Whitehall that is in complete chaos.

Sometimes politics is about grasping the moment and the Home Office turmoil clearly is such an opportunity to develop our democracy in Wales. What a pity therefore that the Labour leadership lack any vision. Instead of leading the nation Hain and Morgan are always looking over their shoulders - seemingly frightened of their own shadows.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Refferendwm ar Senedd Llawn

Mae Plaid Cymru wedi datgan y byddent yn cynnal refferendwm ar Senedd go iawn ar sail argymhellion y Comisiwn trawsbleidiol Richard cyn 2011. Lle mae pleidiau Llundain yn sefyll ar y mater yma?

Gyda mwyafrif helaeth o bobol Cymru yn ol poliau opiniwn yn cefnogi Senedd gyda pwerau deddfu llawn, pam mae pleidiau Llundain yn pallu datgan ei safbwynt ar y mater wrth i nesau at etholiadau'r Cynulliad? Hwn yw gwir cwestiwn cyfansoddiadol Cymru

A’i Plaid Cymru yw’r unig blaid sy’n ymddiried ym mhobol Cymru i benderfynnu tynged eu hun?

Same Old Tories/Ceidwadwyr – Dim yn Newid

Gweler blog diddorol gan un o ser mawr dyfodol gwleidyddiaeth Cymru, Steffan Lewis.

Find an interesting blog by one of the future starts of Welsh politics, Steffan Lewis.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Dual Candidacy

In Scotland the independent Arbuthnott Commission have come to the conclusion that there is ‘no survey evidence to suggest that dual candidacy is an issue for voters, or a disincentive to their participation in the political process.’

The Labour party’s nasty bit of electioneering in banning dual candidacy in Wales has been shown for what it is – political gerrymandering of the worst kind. Leaving aside Labour’s visionless governance of our country, and a record of incompetence that makes Fawlty Towers look efficient - Labour deserves a hammering in the polls in May for undermining the fundamental democratic rights of the people of Wales.

Labour Duplicity 2

To be fair I could fill a lifetime of Blogs with this theme, however one little episode over the last week deserves special mention. I am referring of course to the decision of Carmarthenshire NHS Trust to remove emergency surgery from Prince Phillip Hospital.

Llanelli’s Labour AM and MP have been spitting blood at the announcement with the Trust management bearing the brunt. Perhaps in future Catherine Thomas would be better advised looking into what she votes for in the Assembly, after all the Trust are only implementing WAG strategic vision as outlined in Designed for Life.

Rising Tide of Bankruptcy

The news that over 100,000 people are likely to be recorded as insolvent during 2006 provides a stark reminder of the core failure and excesses of New Labour. Leaving aside the fact of growing regional and individual wealth inequalities; a growing trade deficit; the loss of over a million manufacturing jobs; and the pensions crisis, Gordon Brown deserves firm criticism for an economic strategy built on sand.

Most economic commentators agree that Gordon Brown has been a lucky Chancellor, he has also been a very calculating one with a talent for cooking the books. We all know about the way in which the goalposts on the Golden rule (the government may only borrow to invest over the course of an economic cycle) has been shifted, but little attention has been given to how Brown has exacerbated borrowing to fuel consumer spending by a cold and calculating move which threatens to de-rail the economy in the long term.

I am referring to Browns decision to change the measure of inflation from a broad based formula to one that only concentrated on consumer prices (the consumer price index was adopted in 2003 by the MPC to calculate inflation). Consumer Prices have remained low due to cheap imports (further eroding our manufacturing base) meaning that the MPC has kept interest rates low at a time when other facets of the economy such as house prices and energy bills have been going through the roof.

As a result of hyperinflation in the housing market fuelled by low interest rates, people have been borrowing far in excess of what they can afford - caused mostly by a false feeling of wealth due to equity in their homes.

Little wonder with unsecured debt in the UK far above the £trillion mark that insolvencies have hit record levels - with the worse to come. The long term outlook isn't very good.

No wonder Gordon is in such a rush to get to Number 10.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Labour's Dirty Cash 4

So Tony Blair was questioned last Friday for the second time as a part of the Cash for Honours affair. It seems pretty bizarre in the first instance for the Police to ask for a media black out of the event until today, even more bizarrely is 10 Downing St’s decision to agree to such a black out.

What seems pretty clear though is that Lord Levy was arrested this week following Blair’s evidence on Friday. Looks like being the PMs tennis partner is not enough to avoid becoming the fall guy.

Labour Duplicity

Yet again we witness the surreal ability of Labour politicians to distance themselves from their own party’s policies. I am referring to yesterday’s PCS strike over Gordon Browns savage public sector cuts. Splashed across the Western Mail today is Assembly Minister Sue Essex proclaiming total support for the strikers against her own party’s policies. When you are a branch of a London based party, its disingenuous to distance yourself from the policies of your paymasters.

The problem for Rhodri Morgan is that he has come out in support of an early Gordon Brown succession. He must be the only person who actually believes that good old Gordon is going to turn the clock back when he gets to 10 Downing Street and bring in a new socialist dawn. In case Rhodri hasn’t noticed, Gordon is the ideological Godfather of the whole New Labour domestic project. When his Ministers are crying crocodile tears over public sector job cuts, they are directly opposing Gordon Brown’s centralisation and privatisation agenda. So as WAG apparently now oppose Gordon’s job cuts plan, does that mean that they no longer support the succession? Clearly if there is such fundamental opposition to a core plank of Brownism (the Scottish version of Thatcherism) it would be insincere not to oppose his leadership bid.

At the end of the day there comes a point when politicians have to have some remnants of political coherence to their arguments. We are now led to believe that Labour AMs oppose the policies that Labour MPs based in Wales voted through in supporting the last Comprehensive Spending Review. They can’t have it both ways.

Will the real Labour in Wales please stand up?