Sunday, 30 November 2008
We at Politics Cymru would like to thank Simon for his hard work and wish him all the best in the future. Diolch a phob lwc!
We are also pleased and proud to announce that, with Simon's blessing, we will now be taking on the responsibility of translating Vaughan Roderick's blog. We will be posting these translations as quickly and frequently as possible and hope that those who read Simon's translations will now enjoy ours.
Watch out for the first translation,
The three Dewis
Friday, 28 November 2008
Tensions are mounting between Whitehall and Wales due to a disagreement over which branch of government is liable for a £12.6 million EU fine, Regeneration & Renewal can reveal.
The penalty imposed on the UK relates to financial mismanagement of a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme in Wales from 1997-1999 (R&R, 21 November, p1).
But Whitehall departments and the Welsh Assembly Government (Wag) have been quick to exonerate themselves of blame, leaving confusion over who will eventually foot the bill.
The Wag has repeatedly told Regeneration & Renewal that, as the fine relates to a programme that predates devolution, the responsibility lies with central government.
But a spokesman for the UK's ERDF lead body, the Department of Business and Regulatory Reform, although admitting that the situation was confused, said: "We're not in a position to say who will pay the fine at the moment. Issues on this sort of scale in devolved administrations are for those administrations to address."
Prior to the devolution of power to Cardiff, the Welsh Office, a Whitehall department disbanded in 1999, was responsible for all Welsh issues, including EU funding programmes.
A fuss about nothing or another demonstration of a London/Cardiff divide?
All parties appear to be on the same page when it comes to small school closures, but will it make a difference?
Andrew Davies has issued a press release that says they “will also support communities which want to take responsibility for local assets such as schools where there is a strong business case to do so.”
So it seems like everyone is on the same side but is it really a victory for small community schools?
These schools are often not viable by any modern standard. They cannot compete for the best teachers, they struggle to buy the necessary equipment and the costs per-head are dramatically greater than larger schools.
Any formal review process (whether it consults with the local community or not) will come to this conclusion.
But there’s an argument that local schools offer something that cannot be measured with statistics: a sense of community.
Not to mention the time and attention a teacher can give to a single pupil in an age when we’re growing more and more worried about the size of classes in inner-city schools.
Will these arguments wash with present-day decision-makers? I hate to put a dampener on things, but I really really don’t think they will…
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Hoffwn i roi darlun bychain i bawb sydd yn dangos sut mae'r cynulliad yn creu LCO.
The s.95 scribbled on the paper refers to the GOWA 2006. Thats the section that gives the Secretary of State for Wales the power to refuse/accept LCO's.
Any questions or comments please leave them here and I will get back to you! I hope this clears the murky water somewhat!
I thought given the confusion over the affordable housing LCO, this may be of use.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Given that inevitably she will be campaigning for a 'yes' vote in any referendum on granting Wales extra powers, was Bethan Jenkins strategically right to launch this campaign?
- We now have a debate: a real 2-sided contest and "no Vacuum" (see podcast 2) in which the All Wales Convention is operating.
- The 'danger' during this economic crisis is that we all look to Westminster for leadership at a time when people think/realise that London is where the real power lies...
- ...and if this is the case, what hope does Cardiff have of gaining support for more power to be transferred its way?
- Therefore, our youngest AM may just be trying to refocus people's attentions on gaining more power for our little 'insignificant-at-time-of-economic-crisis' Senedd. How noble. How admirable. How politically astute.
- She may have highlighted a split in the Labour Party, who are supposed to campaign as one voice in favour of a 'yes' vote in any referendum. The One Wales agreement says so!
- Even her own party may be angry with her for 'going rogue'. Plaid had not said anything so far - save for Adam Price who's conveniently placed far enough from Wales - and would have wanted to save this sort of talk for when more pressing matters (did anyone mention we're heading into a recession?) are out of the way. Surely Plaid will only begin to fight the whole 'referendum campaign thing' when they think they can mobilise sufficent and telling support for it.
So is Bethan Jenkins right in trying to bring the attention back onto the constitutional question and perhaps in suggesting that Wales needs more powers to be able to deal with recent job losses? Or should she instead wait until all this doom and gloom is over and look foward to the time when only the shiny question of enhancing the constitutional settlement is left unanswered?
As always, all your comments are welcome.
She has been a Labour MEP for Wales since 1994 but will be stepping down next year – she has been touted as a potential successor to Rhodri Morgan in Cardiff West (and possibly as Welsh Labour Leader).
After leaving Brussels next year, Eluned will take some time out of politics and “away from the spotlight”, but she doesn't think she'll be able to stay away from politics for long...read into that what you will...
On the same programme Conservative Alun Cairns made his position very clear: he wants to be in London.
He said that he found being in opposition very frustrating and that there's a better chance of his party getting to lead in Westminster.
Eluned Morgan's performance was very confident and competent and it strikes me that for someone who's looking to escape the spotlight, S4C's leading political programme might not be the best place to hide...
Bethan has blogged this morning to emphasise she doesn’t believe this is a party political issue and just wants politicians to start joining a conversation that’s already underway in the country.
I think the idea of a “Yes” campaign will prove popular with the Plaid faithful but I think this e-mail demonstrates that Labour are concerned that it will appear to divide their party…
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
All this and more in this week’s Politics Cymru Podcast!
Of course we love your thoughts, comments and opinions so please continue to get in touch (whatever you do, don’t mention the rugby…)!
And the Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has urged the Assembly Government to spend it on road building and social housing soon (before it starts to run out…).
There were also tax cuts. But because of the massive public spending the Tories weren’t very keen on the plan at all (Cheryl Gillian MP called it a “Christmas tax bombshell”).
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru didn’t think it went far enough – check out Adam Price’s recent blogs on the issue.
I am not an economics expert but I would think that cutting taxes and making it easier to buy stuff will only boost the economy if people do buy stuff…
Labour are being optimistic it seems and assuming we will (which isn’t unreasonable I suppose with Christmas just round the corner) while the Lib Dems and Plaid are not so sure we will (which isn’t unreasonable either – we’re in a recession don’t you know?!).
The Conservatives just don’t like the debt; their argument is basically what good is helping people now if we’re all going to be paying for it in the future?
By the way, Betsan Powys has just written a great blog on the pre-Budget report - worth a look.
The review panel said that there were better ways of encouraging Welsh students to attend higher education institutions – in particular students from poorer backgrounds.
They would rather the money is redistributed to the students who need it most…
Will this encourage more young people to go to university or will it just encourage Welsh students to look further afield?
Jane Hutt is due to respond later today.
Monday, 24 November 2008
Apparently it's an appropriate way for describing the current complexities of the LCO system in Wales. Dewi Un will be fascinated!
Also interesting to see that somebody has finally launched a "pro-yes" campaign ahead of any referendum on getting law-making powers for the Assembly. Perhaps now we can hear both sides of the argument: with the "No" campaign having been launched yonks ago!
Of course Politics Cymru will be keeping an eye on all the developments so you don't have to.
A felly dyma ofyn os ddylai'r Cynulliad fod yn gwario cymaint ar ddigwyddiad sydd ond yn effeithio canran weddol fechan o'r boblogaeth. Onid oes dyletswydd ar ein corff llywodraethol i ofalu bod arian yn cael ei wario ble mae'r angen mwya' amdano (yn enwedig o ystyried ein trafferthion economiadd diweddar). Ai nid yn ein cymunedau tlotaf, ym myd addysg, iechyd a thrafnidiaeth y mae'r angen mwyaf am fuddsoddiad gan y treth-dalwr?
Heb os, mae'n rhaid cynnal digwyddiad sydd yn gwneud cymaint dros ein hiaith a'n diwylliant. Mae'r syniad o weld yr Eisteddfod yn diflannu a hithau wedi bod yn wyl mor bwysig ers 1176 yn fy nychryn. Byddai gweld marwolaeth yr Eisteddfod yn taro hoelen arall yn arch ein treftadaeth.
Ac wrth gwrs bod dyletswydd ar y Cynulliad i helpu ymdrechion yr Eisteddfod. Ai nid hynny ydy raison d'etre ein Gweinidiog Treftadaeth?
Ond a ddylid gosod pwysau mor fawr ar gorff democrataidd, sydd i fod i gynrychioli pob sector o gymdeithas, i gyfrannu cymaint o arian bob blwyddyn at ddigwyddiad sydd o hyd yn weddol neilltuol? Mae'r Cynulliad yn barod wedi ennyn beirniadaeth hallt eleni am ariannu Canolfan y Mileniwm felly ai nid annheg ydy gofyn iddi am fwy o arian?
Nid sugar-daddy ydy'r Cynulliad ond mae 'na ddigon o bobl cefnog o'n cwmpas sy'n pregethu am bwysigrwydd traddodiadau Cymreig ac am ddyfodol ein hiaith. Maen nhw'n barod yn dweud 'i dweud, efallai ei bod hi'n amser iddyn nhw ddechrau gwneud hefyd.
Be ydych chi'n ei feddwl?
Friday, 21 November 2008
Having witnessed some of the debates first hand I felt it would be a good idea to share with you my thoughts.
The first point that struck me is that there is little difference in policy or approach. Both candidates are essentially arguing for the same changes, both speak about finding a strong ‘Welsh’ identity for the party. Both speak about enthusing the young supporter base and both want to be more accessible to party members.
The cynical side of me did wonder that if the party was seeking a more Welsh identity then perhaps they could have had 1) at least one candidate who was born in Wales 2) a chairperson who didn’t sound like Prince Charles (I have to add that the chair was a very bright and friendly person, if a bit posh).
Jenny Randerson is certainly playing the experience card, which of course makes political sense. Often she used phrases like “when I was a minister” and continually referred to her 21 years as a Councillor. Setting her sights high she tried to match this experience with ambition claiming that she could double the number of Lib Dem AM’s by 2016 (yes I did say double).
Kirsty Williams wants to take the Lib Dem’s out of the ‘Cardiff Bay bubble’ and argued the need for the Lib Dem’s to increase their party membership and quickly. She called for caution by reminding the audience that Paddy Ashtown took 10 years before getting any electoral success. But that’s all we really got from her, there seemed to be a lack of clarity in her message compared to her opponents.
Having chatted with the party members and by looking at the debates myself, I have a sense that Jenny Randerson might just sneak it, but it will be close. Neither candidate are Blair like in their delivery, but Kirsty Williams speech felt a little more staged, as if she was in the Eisteddfod. And whilst she certainly looks the part, a dynamic young woman I think at this stage in her career she is simply too lightweight to compete.
Anyway, knowing my track record with predictions and appreciating how close it is, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kirsty Williams is the first Welsh female political leader.
Can I take a moment here to ask all politicians in Wales and the World to stop comparing themselves or their parties to politicians and political parties in the US, and no more election jokes please!!!!
We may not have a chance, but we can always have hope. And are we not allowed to lose ourselves, for a few hours ahead of the game, in the romantic idea that in sport anything is possible? Can we not find hope and encouragement in past sporting events like Istanbul, Rocky Balboa and Wales/England earlier this year where the underdog came good and the odds were shamlessly ignored.
"Only the accents change" the journalist tells us as he compares the All Blacks' victory in Scotland [correction: Ireland] last week with this weekend's event. I beg to differ and ask anyone who shares that opinion to look at this year's final six nations table.
So in conclusion, C'mon Cymru! Make us proud and give us all something to be smug about on Monday morning!
The small print: At Politics Cymru we believe strongly in the distribution of neutral, balanced and objective information. We also strongly believe that when the Welsh team is involved in a rugby game these values can be ignored at our discretion.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Rhodri Morgan has of course suggested that his departure date will be around September next year – a full 10 months away. So why is the Deputy Minister for Regeneration bringing this up now?
Adrian Masters and Betsan Powys speculated that this was a deliberate attempt on Mr Andrews' part to get the ball rolling on a leadership race which might not be a bad move on the part of Welsh Labour.
At the moment the party is in a transitional period – I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say it was a lame duck administration but as long as there are questions over the leadership it can only cause further distractions.
And what of potential candidates for the big job in Welsh politics?
Leighton Andrews wasn't at all forthcoming but he did recommend that it was time for potential candidates to “get out their stalls”.
My opinion is that the obvious choice is Carwyn Jones and there's also talk of Huw Lewis but there are another 21 eligible AMs and I'm not sure I'd rule any of them out just yet...
Quick note: expect a posting on Leighton Andrews' blog on this subject in the not-too-distant future.
Thanks for that Dewi Tri.
Can I add my two-pence worth and throw a cat in amongst the pigeons: how about Eluned Morgan, MEP? She'll soon have some time on her hands! We might have to discuss this in our next podcast!
Mae’r stori yma o’r Western Mail
Read the story in the Western Mail
This is a big step towards having Welsh accepted as the 24th language of the European Union.
However, the flip side might be that more money will have to be spent on translating proceedings for what is ultimately a minority language because where, ultimately, should the EU draw the line? Within the UK alone there’s Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Manx and Cornish – should taxpayer money be spent on translating all of these languages too?
Disgrifiadau annymunol am wleidyddion eraill sydd wrth wraidd y datganiadau hyn ond heddiw (ynteu ddoe?) mae dadl newydd wedi'i thanio am hawl y gwr bonheddig i wneud cyhuddiadau am ei gydweithwyr.
A ddylai cynrychiolwyr etholedig gael yr hawl i siarad yn gwbl agored am eu cydweithwyr?
Mae stori Paul Flynn yn pryfocio dadl ddiddorol am hawliau a dyletswyddau y personoliaethau hynny yr ydym yn eu hethol i'n cynrychioli. A all unrhyw sefydliad wleidyddol weithio'n hollol effeithiol heb god answyddogol o ymddygiad ble mae pob Aelod Seneddol/Cynulliad yn cydnabod ei gyfrifoldebau i'w cyd-etholedig yn ogystal a'i etholaeth? Pe bawn ni'n clywed am bob sgandal fechan ac am bob camgym feddwol sy'n digwydd yng nghoridorau mwyaf pwerus a dylanwadol cymdeithas, ni fyddai unrhyw ddatblygiad neu freuddwyd wleidyddol yn cael ei gwireddu.
Wrth gwrs ar y llaw arall, gellir dadlau bod dyletswydd ar ein swyddogion etholedig i ddatgelu diogi, anallu a gwendidau'r sawl sy'n methu a chyrraedd y safonau a'u gosodwyd ar adeg etholiad. Yn ôl y dehongliad hwn, aberth er lles gonestrwydd ydy 'cosb' ariannol Aelod Seneddol Gorllewin Casnewydd.
Beth yw eich barn chi?
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
In the very first podcast from Politics Cymru we introduce ourselves and our new blog.
We also touch on some of the issues of the day: the Liberal Democrat leadership race between Kirsty Williams and Jenny Randerson, the LCO issue and do we need another Welsh language act?
Plenty more to come in the not-too-distant future - we look forward to receiving your thoughts and comments!
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