Monday, 28 September 2009

Get on with it!

Is anyone else getting a little tired of this continued posturing from Rhodri Morgan? Will he, wont he, will he, wont he, over and over again. From a purely selfish perspective I’m fed up of explaining to friends why he has yet to announce his departure date, “but I thought you said he was retiring?” Yes I did say that but...

Away from my selfish desire for closure surely Rhodri is now doing more harm than good? How can the Labour Party here in Wales start planning a coherent message for the electorate if they don’t know who will be at the helm? If they have a next step to take then they should surely hurry up and get on with it lest be caught mid step. I understand that Rhodri may not have wanted to Grandstand Gordon at the Conference so I will give him some leeway but my goodwill is fast running out.

There has been a lot of talk regarding who will take over the reigns – I won’t go into much depth about the likely candidates here (there will be plenty of time for that when he does eventually announce) – but none of them are what you would describe as household names.

Whilst having dinner at Pizza Express last Friday (the dough balls there are exquisite) I tried a little social experiment. How many people around the table had ever heard of Huw, Carwyn and Edwina? The answer: not many, and those sharing the dough balls are good examples of the type of voters that all the parties target election time: floating voters, who care more about policy than politics. These are the type of voters that swing elections – you know your ‘Middle England’ voters -the ones that turned to Labour in 1997.

Now if they wouldn’t know Edwina / Huw / Carwyn even if they came up and slapped them in the face then Labour needs to do something. One option is to get the whole leadership election over and done with and then stick the winners face on every magazine / TV show / newspaper going and start building a public persona.

My point therefore, the longer Rhodri holds on the more damaging for Labour because the less time his successor will have before GE day. If polls are to be believed then people are turning away from Labour – having an anonymous leader here in Wales is not likely to get them back.


Side note: My table at Pizza Express was a mixed bag. I was the youngest there by about 8 years. The rest were teachers, community workers, television assistant directors and a student (plus a two year old). And they were struggling to find a relevance to my question when there are other more important things going on in their respective lives. Winning back hearts and minds it seems will be difficult for every party.

Dewi Un


Thursday, 24 September 2009

A Dewi Meets the Welsh Secretary

I had a chat with Peter Hain yesterday. He was up on Anglesey seeing the effect of the recession on the island. He didn't seem to think it was that bad...some might say he wasn't looking hard enough.

We started by talking about the island and he said he was very disappointed at the Anglesey Aluminium decision and it was in the wake of that decision that he was in Beaumaris (then heading over to Llangefni and Holyhead) to see how things were going.

He took in some lunch at Beau's on Beaumaris High Street (which is GOOD little cafe!) - it's a town that's had a pretty good summer. British tourists have flocked to the region this year – not such good news for the coastguard but that's another story...

I asked Mr Hain about the decision not to build a prison in Caernarfon. He stuck by the Government line – it wasn't a U-turn, the site just isn't suitable.

Either way it's a blow to North Wales but Mr Hain did say he was keen to have a prison up here and it was now up to the local councils to “find him a site” that he could take to the Prisons Minister.

Any preferences, I asked?

No he doesn't. Fair enough. Different story printed in the Daily Post this morning. I have my version on tape!

Finally I asked if he'd be adding his voice to those supporting Edwina Hart as next Labour leader.

“Edwina is a very able Minister. There are a number of very good candidates.”

As Welsh Secretary he's not going to pick a favourite. Shame.

I was a little bit surprised he answered the question at all but not surprised he was non-committal.

So that's what happened when a Dewi met the current Welsh Secretary. That's 2 in a row! Any more Ministers who fancy heading north for a chat would be more than welcome!

Dewi Tri


Monday, 21 September 2009

This Just In...

Here are some extracts from a document sent around the houses today that we thought you may find interesting. It’s a statement by the Presiding Officer about the bilingual services offered by the Assembly Commission.

(The writing you see in red was added by me as a means of explanation and doesn’t appear in the press release)

It reads:

“As Wales’s principal democratic institution, the Assembly has a duty to enable all citizens and Assembly Members to be informed about, and contribute fully to, the democratic process in their chosen language – through Welsh or through English. The Government of Wales Act 2006 stipulates that “In the exercise of the functions of the Assembly Commission effect must be given, so far as is both appropriate in the circumstances and reasonably practicable, to the principle that the English and Welsh languages should be treated on the basis of equality.” (Schedule 2 Section 8(3)). Since 2007, the Assembly Commission has significantly developed and extended the bilingual services provided by the Assembly...”

“In June and July this year the Commission considered its strategic priorities in relation to the draft budget which will be laid tomorrow. Our aim was to limit the budget increase for 2010-11 as far as possible, so as to make as much of the Welsh block as possible available to support public services, while still delivering effective services for the Assembly. One of the options that was considered related to the translation of the Record of Proceedings. At the Commission meeting today we took account of the representations that have been made to us by Assembly Members and others. We concluded that we should take four main steps...” (emphasis added)

“Firstly, we will continue to translate the Record of Plenary Proceedings from English into Welsh so that a fully bi-lingual written record is produced, but to do so within 3 to 10 days of each plenary meeting. (emphasis added)

Secondly, we will introduce the facility for all proceedings related to legislation (i.e. all proceedings at Stages 2, 3 and 4 as well as committee scrutiny) to be translated.

Thirdly, we will establish an independent review to examine our delivery of bilingual services prior to the formal review of the Assembly’s Welsh Language Scheme in 2010. (emphasis added)

Fourthly, we will take steps to bring forward legislation to put the status of the two languages used in the business of the Assembly on a sound statutory footing.” (emphasis added)

And to finish:

“The Welsh Language Act 1993 was never intended to provide a framework within which a national legislature operates... but the Legislative Competence Order (LCO) on the Welsh language, when made, will provide us with the power to do so. The Commission intends to consider the options which will be open to the Assembly when the LCO in question becomes law.”

So what do we make of these four steps then? It seems to me that a review of the current set up is likely to be costly and time consuming – the exact opposite of what the Commission is trying to achieve. And whilst a wait of 3-10 days may seem like a fair compromise to some, Dafydd Ellis Thomas is bound to come under pressure from some language hardliners; however the extending of translation facilities in other areas may just appease them.

The interesting point for me from this whole debacle is wheather or not the commission’s desire for that LCO to see the light of day speeds up the process up at all?

Tell us what you think

Dewi Un


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Plaid's Stance on Nuclear?

Lord Elis-Thomas opened the new storage facility at Trawsfynydd today.

He used the occasion to throw his support behind a new reactor for Wylfa B on Anglesey – which is also causing his Plaid colleague Ieuan Wyn Jones a headache or two because according to Plaid’s 2005 manifesto the party "does not support new nuclear power stations, particularly as civil nuclear power fuels nuclear weapons development; is heavily subsidised; and cannot safely dispose of the highly toxic waste".

How does that work then?

They’re facing a problem because these sites are massive employers in the local areas, particularly Wylfa which is situated on an island short of good news stories as far as jobs are concerned of late.

Plaid, in short, are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Dewi Tri


Constituency Spotlight: Llanelli

No one knows when GB will eventually announce that election – with doomsday edging closer groups of people (form journalists to local activists) are huddling together to talk about how they’ll tackle the beast. It’s likely that we’ll all be holding our collective breath for some time (my prediction is an April election) however with arguably some of the most intriguing battlegrounds of the election here in Wales we thought it would be a good idea to have a look at them (premature maybe – but what the hey).


Here are some numbers about Llanelli

2005 General Election

Party –Candidate – Votes - % - Swing

Labour –Nia Griffith – 16,952 – 46.9% - -1.7
Plaid – Neil Baker – 9,358 – 26.5% - -4.4
Con – Adrian Phillips - 4,844 -13/7% - +4.2
Lib Dem – Ken Rees - 4,550 – 12.9% - +4.4

Majority – 7,234 (20.4%)
Turnout – 35, 344 (63.5%/+1.2)

2001 General Election

Party – Candidate – Votes - % - Swing

Labour – Denzil Davies -17,586- 48.6% - -9.3
Plaid – Dyfan Jones – 11,183 – 30.9% - +11.9
Conservative – Simon Hayes -3,442 – 9.5% - -2.6
Lib Dem – Ken Rees – 3,065 – 8.5% --0.7
Green – Jan Cliff – 515 – 1.4% - N/A
Socialist Labour – John Willock – 407 – 1.1% --0.7

Majority – 6,403 (17.7%)
Turnout - 36,198 (62.3% / -8.4)

2009 Euro Election

Plaid Cymru - 5990

Labour Party - 4053

Conservatives - 2063

UKIP - 1846

Liberal Democrats - 946

Others - 2466

Turnout - 17429 (around 31%)

What Else do we know?

Plaid Cymru think they can win here and are therefore taking Llanelli very seriously – here’s a Tweet today from one of their local party workers:

“Interested in canvassing Llanelli for @drmyfanwydavies - please get intouch with @natashacody - Think Different. Think Plaid. Think Myfanwy.”

“Think Different. Think Plaid. Think Myfanwy. - Join the Llanelli campaign team today, contact @natashacody #plaidcymru - @drmyfanwydavies

They’ve shoved their candidate Dr Myfanwy Davies in front of every camera going (I think she’s been on Pawb a'i Farn more times than Dewi Llwyd!) and are doing their best to raise her profile.

The 2005 election result was not what Plaid wanted – they hope that this time round they can replicate and improve on that 11% swing we saw in 2001 and take the seat from Labour.

Why Llanelli?

The result in Llanelli will be a strong indicator as to how bad the night will be for Labour – hold here and it may not be a disaster after all. Lose here and it could be an example of a worrying trend across the country.

Dewi Un


Friday, 11 September 2009

Making a Difference

At this point I would like to reiterate that Politics Cymru is an impartial and non partisan blog that tells things as we see them. We have no agenda to push and no ego’s to massage, but as bloggers, commentators and journalists we just sometimes have to give credit where credit’s due.

The conference season is upon us and being unable to join Politics Cymru’s North Wales correspondent Dewi Tri up in Llandudno I’m casting an eagle eye over proceedings from afar (via Twitter, bloggers, insiders and other social networking sites).

So here it is, this video by Plaid Cymru shows just how far ahead they are (of the other parties) in terms of thinking outside the traditional box of electioneering. Regardless of whether you agree with the message contained within the video itself (which can be picked apart) you surely must agree with me that stylistically it’s spot on. Compare that with most of the tripe that other parties put out there as propaganda it’s in a class of its own. Clearly Plaid Cymru has spent a considerable amount of time (and probably money) on this. It impressed me from its use of camera shots, its use of music and the evident care taken in post production. It almost doesn’t look like a political video (which is an achievement in its own right).

The question we here at Politics Cymru have been asking for ages is when will the other parties make at least some attempt to try and catch up? I’m not suggesting that the upcoming General Election will be won or lost because of one posh video, but I am saying that Plaid are clearly more in touch with the new methods of vote winning that could sway a fairly sizeable portion of the Welsh electorate. Given that the Welsh battleground is particularly close that could make the difference between 3 MPs and (as Ron Davies suggested) 8 MPs.

So what have the others been doing? To be fair it looks as if their at least trying. This video by Welsh Labour is quite nice if a bit dull, if you want to watch all of Cameron Direct in Rhyl (I’m sure someone does) then you can do so here at the conservative site and for Lib Dem TV click here. However do you also get the feeling that the others aren’t taking this quite as seriously as Plaid?

It may be that videos like this have no impact whatsoever on the elections outcome. Because at the end of the day the vast majority will decide who they vote for based on the issues. However a lot of those people are often torn between two parties who are particularly close on certain issues and so it could be that a video like this one might just make a difference (I couldn’t help myself).

Dewi Un

(Just saying what I see)


Thursday, 10 September 2009

Plaid look north

It’s good to be back! And as Dewi Un blogged earlier I’m now up north – away from the goings on in Cardiff Bay.

Luckily this week the politics has come to me! Across the corridor from where Venue Cymru are launching this year’s pantomime season (and where I had a very strange lunch complete with Christmas trees and mince pies), Plaid Cymru are holding their annual conference.

In the politics panto, Plaid were setting themselves up this morning as the hero of the piece while the Tories are the evil stepmother and Labour takes the role of the bumbling Buttons…

Picking Llandudno for their conference, its clear Plaid’s sights this week are set on grabbing hold of voters disillusioned with the mainstream and looking for something different!

They’ve traditionally had a stronghold in the North West, now they’re looking for a foothold in the North East…

Helen Mary Jones told a press conference this morning that the most dangerous thing right now for the Welsh health service would be a Conservative administration in Westminster – because, she says, the Assembly is so dependent upon how much the Westminster administration spends to determine their own budget (tax raising powers in Wales would also help!).

Later in the day former Labour SoS Ron Davies told Plaid members that the birth of New Labour had meant the death of Old Labour values and that the time was nigh for another party to step in and become THE party of Wales.

It’s shaping up to be an interesting conference so far…the speeches start tomorrow!

Dewi Tri


Hanes y Tri Dewi

Well dear reader, as you’ve no doubt noticed we have been blogging light (or not at all) over the past few weeks. There is good reason behind this which I shall now explain.

Firstly the move into employment has been a traumatic one which has left us with little or no time to dedicate to the blog. If you watch BBC Cymru’s excellent “Newyddion” then you will have no doubt come across Dewi Dau strutting his stuff as a fully fledged journalist. If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to live up north then tune into Heart FM to hear the lyrical tones of Dewi Tri giving you the important news of the day. As for myself if I told you what I was doing for a living then I would have to kill you, so I think it’s best for all concerned if we don’t go there.

Secondly, finally and most importantly the summer recess is quite simply a snore fest. Now that the time of return is edging closer things are starting to pick up and our spider senses are starting to flash with stories once more.

So put your handkerchiefs away, dry those eyes because PC (time permitting) is back on the trail of all things Welsh Politics.

Dewi Un