Saturday, 31 January 2009
Nid ydym yn gwybod eto beth fydd cynnwys yr LCO. Yn ol un ffynhonnell "mae'n brin ond yn gam ymlaen".
Politics Cymru understands the Welsh language LCO will finally be announced at midday on Monday in Merthyr Tydfil.
As yet its contents are unknown. One source said "it's limited but a it's a step forward".
Thursday, 29 January 2009
We're talking about the big story of the week: Corus job losses, another blow to Welsh industry.
Also the European funding and the Olympics. Plenty to get you talking so please send us your comments - they're always very very welcome!
Gyda diswyddiadau Corus yn dominyddu'r newyddion yr wythnos hon, gwahoddwyd Ben - arbenigwr ar ddiswyddiadau diweddar y wlad - i gynnig ei farn ef ar y sefyllfa.
Hyn a llawer mwy ar bodlediad PC yr wythnos hon.
Y Tri Dewi
Navigating through the Conservatives homepage you can get to a “Where You Live > Wales” section with a few original news items and a single blog post from the party chairman – but no contact details for the central Welsh party.
Baring this in mind they would appear to be the only party in the country who don’t have a working Welsh website (see Welsh Labour, Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid’s sites).
This is surprising since the party is technically bigger in Wales than the Liberal Democrats and (in terms of the number of MPs and AMs) is almost as big as Plaid.
The Tories are also looking competitive in several other Welsh seats at the next General Election so why then do they not seem to take the nation more seriously?
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
The North Wales AM told me what she thought of the London Olympics on the day Tessa Jowell told the Welsh Affairs Select Committe how Wales will (or will not, as the case may be?) benefit from the 2012 games. More here!
Here's a story that broke on Friday morning so I won't bore you with all the details. Just have a look at this.
Here's a clip from an interview I held with Mike German - the Welsh Lib Dems' spokesman on Europe - on Friday:
And since we always look to offer both sides of the debate at PC, here's Rhodri Morgan's response:
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats press notice has got it completely wrong. What we have actually achieved is over £100 million of additional spend in Wales through the final round of the 2000 - 2006 Objective 1 programme. This comprises £52m of actual EU structural funds and the remainder out of additional match funding. This is very good news indeed.
Whilst £100m has been spent on very valuable projects in Wales, the Welsh Liberal Democrats seem determined to give the impression that we have fallen down on the job.
We have performed better than the rest of the UK in getting record sums of project money out of the door and in record time."
It seems to me that the WAG can't exactly say how Mike's got it "completely wrong". Mr Morgan doesn't offer any new stats with regards to how much money will be sent back in 6 months' time.
Mike thinks this is all because the WAG can't raise money of its own to match the EU's funding pound for pound. I'm sure you all know that EU funding can only be spent if the region receiving it can either match the funding itself or find partners willing to offer sponsorship.
If this is the case is it fair to blame the WAG? Are Rhodri et al guilty of bad spending? Or is the WAG in need of more money from Westminster?
Either way is it not a scandal that so much money is being sent back to Europe when our shops and factories are shutting down and making staff redundant?
At least we in Wales can't be accused of fuelling any tedious "awkward partner" accusations levelled at Britain.
In fact they must love us Cardis in Brussels!
The 26 AMs represent all of the political parties in the Assembly. Plaid’s South Wales Central AM Leanne Wood co-ordinated the letter and delivered it today to the BBC at Broadcasting House in Llandaf, Cardiff. It was handed by a cross-party group of AMs to Rhodri Talfan Davies from BBC Wales.
The Open Letter calls on the BBC to reconsider its position on the humanitarian aid appeal issued by the Disasters Emergency Committee. The corporation, along with Sky, has refused to broadcast the appeal. The Assembly Members are joining widespread calls from around the world for the BBC to support the aid appeal by screening the broadcast.
Leanne Wood commented:
“I am pleased that there is genuine cross-party support for the BBC to reconsider its decision. This reflects the amount of messages we have been receiving from our constituents asking us to take action on us. We feel that the people of Wales are behind us on this.
“This Open Letter is a non-partisan message for the BBC and I hope that they will take it into consideration. The Disasters Emergency Committee are a non-political organisation and their broadcast is strictly humanitarian. By refusing to show it, the BBC is potentially limiting the amount of assistance we could give to injured children in Gaza.”
The letter was delivered by Assembly Members Leanne Wood, Mike German, Bethan Jenkins and Rhodri Glyn Thomas.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
It's sometimes hard to believe that within only a few months we'll be half way through the Third Assembly. It's doesn't feel like it. Perhaps the reason is because the coalition negotiations and then Rhodri Morgan's illness meant that months went by after the election before “One Wales” got down to business.
I don't in all honesty understand why some bloggers and journalists question the future of this coalition. They speculate that another coalition could come into being between now and the next election. Perhaps they're longing for that funny period of excitement and farce during the summer of 2007! To be honest I don't see why the present government shouldn't persist. There would need to be a major falling out or a hell of a good reason for one party or the other to break the agreement and back out of the partnership.
In spite of this there are some who still reckon that the climate has changed since the Liberal Democrats changed leader and a change on the horizon for Labour. There are all kinds of whispers (unfounded in my opinion) about a secret meeting between Kirsty Williams and some prospective Labour leader or other.
Kirsty tackled the whispers head-on today. The only possible contended she'd met with was Carwyn Jones, she said, and that was by mistake in a KFC restaurant before a Scarletts and Ospreys games. Is it possible that the future of Welsh governance was decided over a “Bargain Bucket” and “Viennetta”?
Those who think that Labour and the Liberal Democrats could reach some kind of deal are forgetting an important fact. Because of Karen Sinclair's illness the majority of a red/yellow government would be fragile. Labour has had a taste of that before. Why on Earth would the party who lead a comfortable majority choose to put themselves back into the position in which every vote depends on the Trish Law's whim and Brian Gibbons' ability to press the right button?
From Labour's point of view a divorce would be painful and dangerous for whoever happens to be leading the party. Even Huw Lewis has publicly stated that the party should stick to their word and ensure that the current government lasts the whole term.
But what of another partner in the marriage? It's easy enough to argue that Plaid Cymru made the wrong decision by rejecting the rainbow in 2007. If you remember Ieuan Wyn Jones justified his decision to settle for Deputy rather than First Minister through the fact that it was only a Labour coalition that would secure a referendum before 2011.
Does anyone expect that to happen? It's easier for me to believe that Elvis will be discovered working in a tipi shop in Treorchy. In spite of that, walking away from this government would be a blow for Ieuan Wyn Jones' credibility – an admission of his lack of political ability. To my knowledge there's no backbench plot in Plaid Cymru to change leader and while Ieuan is at the helm “One Wales” is safe.
Kirsty said today that she intends to lead her party back to Government in Wales. I can see no way for her to achieve this before the 2011 election.
Translation by Dewi Tri
It will be interesting to see to what extent she defends the position that the Olympics will ultimately be good for Wales especially in light of the fact that the Welsh Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones has recently said that the games have so far proved detrimental for Wales – with millions of pounds of lottery funding being diverted to the Olympic park and London rather than here.
What potential benefits will there be, do we think, in holding a sporting event more than 150 miles away?
Update: Tuesday 27/1/2009 p.m.
Here's what Tessa Jowell had to say
Monday, 26 January 2009
It’s days like today that bring the realities of the Credit Crunch home. Take Ammanford for example, the loss of 73 jobs may not make headlines, but as a proud native of the Ammanford area I can foresee the devastation it will bring, losses like this have a massive impact on such a small and tight-knit community. With Woolies closing, an iconic shop in the town, and even more jobs being lost its going to be a tough couple of months.
Some say that the high level of public sector employment has shielded areas of South Wales from the Credit Crunch, I wonder what those at the Llanwern plant would have to say to that? Re-skilling is not easy for someone who has been doing a job for 30+ years, and with no sign of an economic miracle on the horizon, that is what lots of people will have to try and do to get back into work.
Can anything be done? So far the Assembly has been fairly passive in its reaction to the Crunch, and I am sceptical that it will have achieved anything more than it has by the time Rhods leaves in September. He may claim that everything will have been “put in place” by then to tackle the crisis but call me sceptic because I very much doubt it. Mr Brown talks about spending our way out of recession, but sadly for those threatened with job losses, I don’t think Clause 4 will be revoked and industries renationalised.
It looks like tough times ahead for communities all across Wales, lets hope that the political class come up with some good ideas to help, and soon.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Edwina Hart is a true flyer of the red flag. Where other politicians like to suggest that they are socialist to the core, when it comes to the crunch they often fold to the pressures of the free market. Here we have the health minister openly supporting patient wishes despite the financial cost, and given today’s economic climate you have to admit it’s a politically gutsy move.
It would have been easy for Mrs Hart to sidle along with the arguments of cutting back and being prudent in this time of recession (as of tomorrow) but no, she has stuck to her principles and acted in the way she feels best, I have to admit that in this age of spin it is refreshing to see a high profile politician act in this manner.
Whatever a politician's beliefs, be they lefty, righty, centrist, slightly lefty... too often we see core principles abandoned for short term political gain. Sometimes, whether we agree or disagree it’s nice to see an elected official do what they said they would, and act according to their conscience. For too long we have watched our politicians play a game of chess in the media trying to convince us that they are something they are not.
Edwina Hart's brand of socialism may not be for everyone, and it may be that her beliefs cost her the Labour leadership, but surely everyone has to have a degree of respect for such a politician in today’s age of political trickery.
Hwyl am y tro
Also this week: the Welsh language LCO (again)...
Y Tri Dewi
There are all sorts of whispers circling the Bay about the Welsh language LCO. One of them is that the Assembly will not have the right to force banks to use Welsh, but that right will exist for certain other areas in the private sector.
One little question. Are Northern Rock and RBS not now part of the public sector? If so why are they exempt? If Lloyds/HBOS and Barclays end up being owned by the government how on earth can you justify treating them any differently to the Post Office?
On the other hand it would be strange if the Assembly could force Northern Rock to operate bilingually - but not the Principality.
I'm beginning to see why this application has taken so long!
PS. One government minister's reaction to this point: "...interesting...nobody's thought of that".
Translation by Dewi Dau
Monday, 19 January 2009
Sunday, 18 January 2009
Just when it seemed to be getting better, Nick Bourne has his future as Welsh Conservative leader cast in doubt, again.
This time the Police are laying into Nick (and that’s not Sting's 3 piece rock band). It was confirmed yesterday that Police are investigating Mr Bourne's expenses, following allegations that he has been illegally claiming back cash he receives from the Preseli Pembrokeshire Conservatives.
Image Used Courtesy of photos by Andy @ Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/by_andy/2551148803/
This now clears the way for the likes of Carwyn Jones, Huw Lewis and Edwina Hart (maybe?) to throw their hats into the ring and get the contest for the top job underway.
So who do we reckon will be the first to go for it?
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Two Tory press statements have reached us this morning. There is no connection between them. There isn't. Not at all.
The first says that the opposition's cabinet members have voted unanimously to give Nick Bourne's leadership a vote of confidence. Before you ask, the "opposition cabinet" includes all of the group's members. Not one Tory has to slum it on the backbenches,
The second statement announces that the party are setting up a committee to draft new guidelines for the members regarding claiming expenses. As I said, no connection.
Where does that leave things? This is how I see the situation. I think the group's members have come to their senses regarding the damage the whole episode has caused their party and they also believe that forcing Nick Bourne to step down may make matters worse. There's also another factor. Even though there is opposition to Nick Bourne as leader that doesn't correspond to support for Jonathan Morgan as his successor. I have no doubt Jonathan Morgan would have sharpened his blade if he had the votes in his pocket.
So is Nick safe? Yes, for now, since his opponents don't have any more rubbish to throw at him. Will Nick lead his party into the 2011 election? I would bet a shilling that he won't...but the AM for Cardiff North's hopes of doing so are also uncertain. Darren Miller [sic?*] is the one who has all to play for.
*I think it's probably about time we found out how Darren actually spells his surname! This isn't the first time Vaughan has used an 'e'. Others - including our good selves here at PC - tend to use an 'a'. But what hope is there when Darren himself doesn't seem 100% sure**?!
Translation by Dewi Dau
**Update, 16th January: Glad to see the powers at be have looked at their site and have now finally decided that Darren does indeed favour the use of an 'a' in his surname! Anybody clicking on the link above will be unaware that there were conflicting versions of the politician's surname on that page...until somebody so rudely pointed it out.
Rt Hon Paul Murphy
London SW1A 2NP
14th January 2009
Thank you for your note on recent press reports.
David Cameron has told the Financial Times ‘I think the House of Commons could do the job that it does with 10 per cent fewer MPs’
We believe that there is a strong case for gradually reducing the number of MPs over two boundary changes as part of our agenda to reduce the cost of politics.
In addition, as recommended by the Committee of Standards in Public Life, constituencies should be of a similar size, to allow all MPs to best serve the electorate in their seat and ensure fair representation in parliament.
However any proposals would respect the current special arrangements for Wales.
Thank you for your enquiry.
Cheryl Gillan MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
So they're back. After the Christmas celebrations/hard work in their constituencies, the Assembly Members are back in Cardiff Bay and it feels a bit like “Groundhog Day” with Nick Bourne defending his expenses in a press conference and Rhodri and Ieuan insisting that the LCO system can work effectively.
Nick's situation will be far clearer by the end of the week I think. Today [Tuesday] he announced a plan to make a series of speeches across Wales and that he has written to the party's Parliamentary candidates offering them support in the General Election. “Business as usual” was the message, “the squabble over expenses has calmed down.”
Perhaps. About half of the Conservative group now openly tell the press that they are all for a change of leadership. One member has said that he's asked Nick to give it up. Nick denies this. He's not aware of any discontent. “The group is solid” he says and denies any member has asked him to go.
Here are the choices then:
A. The members are lying
B. Journalists are lying
C. Nick's lying
D. “Denial isn't just a river in Egypt”
You're welcome to phone a friend.
Translation by Dewi Tri
So far he's been blogging about the affordable housing LCO, Mr Cameron's suggestion that there be fewer MPs and about devolution in general.
Always happy to have another blog to read.
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Y Tri Dewi
Oh....and if the whole legal system is still confusing you, take a look at Dewi Un's diagram. (He really does have an unhealthy obsession with those LCOs!)
Friday, 9 January 2009
Dewi Un will be pleased...actually I can be almost certain that he won't be...
What's been announced today is that in future the Welsh Assembly will have the powers to suspend right-to-buy legislation but (and it's a very big “but”) the Secretary of State for Wales will have the power of veto*.
What does this mean? It means that any resemblance this LCO has to actual powers for the WAG is purely coincidental...
Theoretically it makes little difference if the Secretary of State doesn't exercise his powers. However, while that may all be very well right now during parallel Labour administrations – matters become significantly more complicated when there's a Tory government at one end of the M4 and a Labour government at the other.
It also sets quite a precedent (which Mr Roderick is quick to point out) – what if the Secretary of State was to want a veto on the Welsh Language LCO? Or any other LCO for that matter – what's the point having an Assembly at all?
Kirsty Williams has also spoken out against the decision.
But Plaid's Jocelyn Davies has defended the move by saying that they are campaigning for a full Parliament for Wales by which time this debate will be irrelevant - but I didn't think that was in the offing for a few years yet.
So is this an insignificant technicality or a dangerous precedent?
*IMPORTANT NOTE: The Secretary of State will only have the veto on the Assembly's right to abolish right-to-buy not on it's right to suspend right-to-buy - edit by D3 10/1
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Can everyone remember the “curse of Lembit” the phenomenon that guarantees destruction to anyone or anything that the MP for Montgomeryshire supports? Charles Kennedy, Mark Oaten, Jenny Randerson, Sian Lloyd, his own presidency campaign, each one has suffered from this curse.
A few weeks ago Lembit announced that he was to write a weekly column for the Daily Sport. So it was only a matter of time before this article in the Telegraph was published.
"Sport Media Group, the publisher of the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport newspapers, is looking at a debt for equity swap and other sources of new financing, after breaching one its banking covenants."
Translation by Dewi Un
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
I've never understood why painting the Forth Bridge is such a big job. Maybe it's just one man and a single brush that's responsible for the job! Regardless of this, the story goes that once the job is done it's time to start all over again.
Election night programming is the broadcasting equivalent of the proverbial bridge. The second one comes to an end it's time to start work on the next. The most important part of the process is making sure that the mechanics of presenting the results works properly and choosing the right places to send the outside broadcast units. We don't always make the right decision. For instance we lost the 2005 result in Ceredigion.
Making the right decision for the next General Election is especially difficult. Some seats are obvious. You don't have to be a genius to know we need to be in Aberconwy, Montgomeryshire and Carmarthen West.
Beyond the obvious it's much harder. It would seem that the next General Election will be quite old fashioned. The economy will likely be the talking point with the obvious policy differences between Labour and the Conservatives. If that's the case, it will be a very different election than anything we've seen in the past quarter of a century and it's likely the smaller parties will be squeezed.
If that happens (and that's a big “if”) we'll have to add a whole load of new seats to the list of eccentric rural seats who've dominated our coverage in recent elections. We'd be back on the old battlegrounds of the 1960s and 70s – urban and semi-urban based constituencies like Cardiff North, Newport West and the Vale of Glamorgan. This creates problems for us.
Generally our resources will allow us to do about a dozen outside broadcasts. This time it's easy enough to draw up a list of 20 or more interesting elections. That's an incredible number in the context of Welsh political history. I'd guess that you'd have to go as far back as the 1920s to find as many elections worth watching. Here are my top ten – I'll be writing about each of them in detail between now and the next election.
Vale of Glamorgan
Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Vale of Clwyd
You're welcome to disagree. What about Brecon and Radnorshire, Llanelli and Swansea West? Is there any hope for Labour in Clwyd West? Clwyd South and Gower are marginals in the Assembly elections – is the same thing true at a General Election? There's plenty to talk about!
Translated by Dewi Tri
(just to prove I'm not completely incapacitated)
Fortunately Dewi suffered no physical injuries but we understand his pride took a fatal blow as he released a high pitch scream. We will be asking him to repeat this performance on Politics Cymru's next podcast.
Brysia wella, Dewi,
Dewi Un and Dewi Dau
Monday, 5 January 2009
What were our favourite moments of 2008?
What are we looking out for in 2009?
And why a trouser press would come in handy in the PC pod…
As always we love your thoughts so please drop us a line.
Y Tri Dewi
Friday, 2 January 2009
Dyma syniad Kirsty Williams o sesiwn yn y gampfa! Mae arweinydd(es) cyntaf unrhyw blaid gwleidyddol yng Nghymru'n gobeithio dyblu cefnogaeth ei phlaid drwy annog pob aelod presennol i sgwrsio ag etholwyr eraill - mewn canolfannau hamdden, y tu allan i ysgolion ac yn ein tafarndai.
"It may be stating the obvious but if every one of us signed up just one more member, this party would double in size. That’s my challenge to you – to persuade one person you know to join.
"There must be someone in your street, your family, your local pub, at the school gate, at the gym, wherever, who shares your beliefs, my beliefs, our beliefs in a better future for Wales."
Rhaid edmygu brwdfrydedd Ms Williams, sydd ei hun yn honni i fod yn ffan o nosweithiau 'Pizza a gwleidyddiaeth'. A phwy a wyr, os yw ei chynllun yn enghraifft o'r hyn sydd i ddod o'r blaid ar ei newydd-wedd, efallai nad yw 'prosiect 31' Kirsty yn rhy uchelgeisiol wedi'r cyfan!
Amser a ddengys pa mor lwyddiannus fydd Ms Williams yn y Senedd, ond yn barod mae hi (a'i jins) yn gadael'u marc.
Early on in a New Year is always the time to consider what has been and what will become. Seeing as we are relative new comers to the Welsh blogging scene we felt it best to stick to this time honoured tradition and give you our thoughts (even though you’re probably fed up of reading reviews and previews!)
Predictions, as Vaughan Roderick rightly says, are always a tricky business. Also given my track record (Jenny Randerson anyone?) I can see the attractions of not making any, but where’s the fun in that?
So here it goes, mirror mirror on the wall what will 2009 bring us all?
Nick Bourne’s last day as Welsh Conservative leader. Given Nick Bourne’s gaffes in 2008 (described admirably by Dewi Dau) everybody (except for himself) knows he’s on borrowed time. The only difficulty is guessing how and when he will go and most importantly who will replace him. Unlike
Rhodri’s retirement plans will be delayed and he will still be in charge this time next year. He’s a shrewd politician is old Rhodders and he must know that no one in his party at the moment has the stature to fill his boots. He might be craving to get down to some gardening and only have to worry about getting to the pub in time for Scrum V but for the good of his party he will surely stay on until a natural successor is apparent, whether that happens in 2009 is another story.
A contributing factor in Rhodri Morgan’s plans are of course the European Parliamentary elections that take place this year. The outcome of which must surely affect his decision. Turnout is low for these elections which doesn’t bode well for Labour, but with Mr Brown on the bounce, and UK-wide issues in play, I don’t think it will be too catastrophic a result. In
Plaid Cymru will be put under increasing pressure from its core vote over the faltering Welsh Language LCO. If statements from within the Welsh Affairs Select Committee are to be believed then it’s not likely to go through as planned. I hear the straining of the One Wales agreement.
Because of this and the countless other LCOs stuck in
Kirsty Williams' first full year in power: can she get people excited about the Lib Dems in the Assembly? Probably not. (This is not a contradiction with my previous prediction on the European elections because
And of course:
Camplawn i Gymru (another Grandslam)! And a
Let me know what you think 2009 will bring,
Let me know what you think 2009 will bring,
Hwyl am y tro,
Image used Courtesy of Juliemonster x @ Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/25470157@N03/3155780260/
Thursday, 1 January 2009
I'm always in a bad mood on New Year's Eve, and in one word here's the reason - predictions. For some reason there's a tradition for poeple like me to put their head on the block and predict what might happen over the next twelve months. This puts somebody in quite a predicament.
It's quite easy to play safe and form a list of things that are likely to happen. I could predict that Nick Bourne's trials and tribulations will continue and that Rhodri will keep his word and retire - but what would be the point of that? I could be a little more daring and predict that Jonathan Morgan and Carwyn Jones will be the Conservative and Labour leaders at the end of 2009, or braver still by swapping those names for Darren Millar and Edwina Hart. Everything's possible - but who am I to say?
Even if I did make daring predictions which turned out to be accurate what about the things that weren't foreseen? Who, twelve months ago, would have predicted that Gordon Brown would nationalise most of our banks? Not even Vince Cable!
But tradition is tradition and so begrudgingly here's handful of predictions.
Nick Bourne will resign as Conservative leader by the Spring. There will be a leadership election to decide who will succeed him with Darren Millar narrowly beating the favorite, Jonathan Morgan.
There will be increased dissatisfaction from the Plaid Cymru ranks at the coalition deal with Labour. The delays over the language LCO and reluctance in doing anything about a referendum will lead to calls for the coalition deal to be reconsidered after Rhodri Morgan's departure.
As Labour's Assembly members worry about losing power Huw Lewis will fail to secure enough nominations to stand for the leadership and Carwyn Jones will be crowned leader unopposed.
As for the Lib Dems...NO! Enough is enough. What's the point?
Translation by Dewi Dau