Monday, 30 March 2009
The Delilah video has been taken down from YouTube. Here's Aneurin Bevan's explanation:
"We have removed our Why, Why, Why? video from YouTube after we were informed that some Nats and Tories had complained. It's a real shame that these sensitive souls are so easily offended, and find criticism so hard to take!"
Nothing to do with clearing the rights to the music, nor the pictures, nor breaking electoral rules! Nothing to do with the total embarrassment to the Labour party ahead of a shared press briefing between Rhodri Morgan and his deputy. The video is still available on the BBC!
Of course this critique pointing out some of the song's less grammatically correct features may have offered one additional motivation for pulling the song! You can find more comments responding to Hain, Morgan and Davies' new site here on - you guessed it - OwainBevan.blogspot.com!
Translation by Dewi Dau
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Never ones for procrastinating too much - until it comes to real work - we set about organising a friendly debate between Plaid Cymru's AM, Bethan Jenkins, and Rachel Banner of True Wales.
You can listen to the result here. And spare a thought for the man in the middle of it all trying to keep tabs on the two feisty ladies, our guest presenter, Mr. James Snaith.
In the course of his speech in which he attacked the Westminster Government for being economically irresponsible he also promised that if he were at Number 10 he would visit the Senedd once a year to answer questions before AMs.
This comes off the back of Cheryl Gillan yesterday promising to make more regular visits herself to Cardiff Bay.
The Conservatives are accusing Gordon Brown of not making enough visits to Wales and that a British Prime Minister should be more in touch with all the countries within it.
But how much difference would this really make? Is it just an empty token gesture or can it really make the system better?
Saturday, 28 March 2009
This throws the whole contest wide open as it had been expected that the health minister would act as King (or should that be Queen?) maker for either Huw Lewis or Carwyn Jones. The latter, who has been favourite to take over from Rhodri, must be devastated to find that the AM for the Gower is now running.
What this does for the odds should make for interesting reading, and what it does for the contest even more so. We have already seen a clear socialist vision of Wales put forth by Huw Lewis, so does Edwina Hart, who is of course a devoted trade unionist and socialist, jump even further to the left? Or does she concentrate her campaign on personality and experience?
All we really know is that the debates (if there are any) will make for very interesting viewing!
As ever let us know your opinions (which, given the strength of comment we had last time we blogged about Edwina Hart, should be good).
Friday, 27 March 2009
Three prominent Labour politicians have launched a new website (presumably in response to Plaid Cymru's WalesCan site) and their first offering is this interesting video.
Is this just a light-hearted attempt at drawing in votes ahead of June's European elections? Probably. Are opposition parties getting a bit too wound up about all this? Possibly.
But there are a couple of issues here: how is this material any different to Nick Bourne's dodgy dossier (apart from being slightly more musical and creative)?
Secondly, how will Plaid Cymru react to this? The party will inevitably be annoyed at seeing its leader dressed in a very fetching clown's hat. Let's remember that this fragile coalition agreement is based on the need for compromise between Labour and Plaid. This video can only make things between Rodders and IWJ more awkward - although perhaps they can now compare notes on what it is that makes drawing comparisons between them and clowns so appealing.
Plaid Cymru supporters will also wonder what damage the video's take on the constitutional future will have done to the prospects of holding a referendum. We know Labour have never supported independence but in effectively dismissing Plaid Cymru as a party whose sole raison d'etre is to achieve independence for Wales, in the process they are distancing themselves from the 'greater powers for Wales' argument.
This video is a stroke of genius if these are the objectives. I doubt however that Peter Hain, who likes to describe himself as one of the chief architects of devolution, has such goals in his sights.
The other two running this site are Eluned Morgan, MEP and Alun Davies, AM.
Inspired choice for a website name to be fair to the three of them though. "AneurinGlyndwr.com": I see what they did there! Although one struggles to see how OG would ever associate himself with any party other than Plaid Cymru if he was still around.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
We also mention some politics: 48% of the population want more devolution - what does this mean for the 'yes' and 'no' campaigns? And how much trouble is Plaid really in?
And have a look at the new logos - which do you like best? Let us know.
Thanks for all your thoughts and comments!
Y Tri Dewi
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Do we want more Powers?
48% say 'yes'; 35% are against.
But how as this result gone down in Cardiff Bay?
Yesterday I met up with Plaid Cymru's Bethan Jenkins and the leader of the opposition, Nick Bourne, to find out what they had to say.
And while I was schmoozing in the Senedd, Dewi Tri was on the phone to Rachel Banner of True Wales.
Here's what she had to say.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Results in the last two months have shown that those in support of more powers at either 48% or 52% and those against at 33% or 35% and a good 10% undecided.
Given that Lord Ellis Thomas has said on numerous occasions that they shouldn’t hold a referendum until they know that the ‘Yes’ campaign would win, these results, whilst positive reading for pro devolutionists, show that they are no nearer being in a place to be certain of a referendum victory than they were some years ago. Things for those who support Part Four are moving in the right direction but moving very slowly.
Further to Dewi Tri’s post below, I got thinking about the One Wales government and Plaid Cymru’s pledge to hold a referendum before 2011, with the figures moving in their favour slowly do they hold the referendum with a chance of losing but stay loyal to their pledge. Or do they hold on until they definitely win but let another of their manifesto points slip by the wayside?
Plaid Cymru’s home base are already somewhat unimpressed with their performance in government what with their failure to deliver “Y Byd”, the less than impressive progress made on affordable houses and of course the recent furore over top-up fees. The only act to reinvigorate the Plaid grass roots is a website supporting independence that has floating voters scratching their heads.
These results also show that the efforts of “True Wales” are failing as more and more people cross over into the “Yes” camp.
The question that is on my lips however is what do the polls have to look like before the Assembly takes the plunge and goes to the people to see what they think?
Friday, 20 March 2009
If this is the case then surely the coalition would rethink holding a referendum. One then has to ask what might Plaid Cymru do in that situation.
One of the proviso's of the One Wales agreement was that there would be referendum before 2011...could Plaid afford another such climbdown in the wake of the language LCO and the top-up fees (and such a public climbdown at that?)
Just some food for thought...
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Also, more on top-up fees - will Welsh students be better off now? And the housing LCO is stuck in the mud courtesy of the Liberal Democrats.
There's also a quiz and the usual merriment! Enjoy and let us know what you think.
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And in case you're interested you can read Schedule 5 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 here.
Y Tri Dewi
I doubt there's need for more proof of how clumsy and ridiculous Wales' legislative framework is as it exists at the moment. However as the housing LCO disappears into some pit in the House of Lords let us consider the scrutiny process that the language LCO is currently going through.
It's the Assembly's Legislative Committee (5) that's considering the LCO in the Bay. On the 10th of March the committee heard from David Rosser and Leighton Jenkins from CBI Cymru. This week the language movements had their chance with Menna Machreth and Sioned Haf representing Cymdeithas yr Iaith and Alun Owens speaking on behalf of the Urdd.
On Monday the Select Committee will be at it in Westminster. Who are the witnesses? Among others David Rosser, Leighton Jenkins, Menna Machreth, Sioned Haf and Alun Owens.
Remember to look out for our podcast later on - some very interesting stuff coming up!
Translation by Dewi Dau
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Jane Hutt made the announcement today, broadly welcomed by Labour, the Conservatives and Plaid it seemed but she faced fierce opposition from Bethan Jenkins and Leanne Wood who are (as previously reported) quite disgruntled by the abandonment of a policy which, they say, universally benefits the young people of Wales by seeing to it that they get a free education (much like almost every Assembly member other than Ms Jenkins as the lady herself pointed out...)
The Lib Dems also weren't best pleased. Jenny Randerson said that there was no longer any incentive for Welsh students to stay in the country and we'll be losing all their talents...
Ministers were resolute though. The Government's policy is that the previous system didn't really benefit everyone because giving away money unconditionally to everyone in Wales meant that not all of the money was going to those who need it most, those who can't afford to go to University anyway, and that's where the money will be going now.
So (putting aside party politics on this issue for one moment) are the Assembly Government the saviours or the sinners on the issue of higher education funding?
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Er gwaethaf ymdrechion diflino a chreadigol Dewi Un i esbonio'r broses gyfreithiol i Dewi Tri a minnau dydy e erioed wedi cymharu LCO i din o fîns! Felly wnaeth Menna wrth amlinellu'r hyn y byddai'n ei ddweud wrth y pwyllgor craffu y bore ma.
Yn ôl Menna mae'r LCO fel tin o fîns y mae'r Llyodraeth yn ceisio ei werthu a rôl Menna a'i chyfeillion yn y Gymdeithas yw edrych ar gefn y tin i weld beth yn hollol yw'r cynhwysion! (A dyna chithau'n disgwyl rhywbeth ychydig yn fwy dadleuol!)
Ailadrodd yr un hen ddadleuon wnaeth hi ar ol yr agoriad lliwgar honno:
- mae'r LCO'n rhy gul ac yn rhy agos at ddeddf 1993
- mae angen Comisiynydd Iaith
- rhaid gorfodi'r archfarchnadoedd i gynnig gwanaethau dwyieithog "o'r crud i'r bedd a thu hwnt" (!)
Gellir gwylio'r drafodaeth yma.
Neges llawn daioni? Neu llond lle o wynt? Beth yw eich barn chi ar yr LCO iaith?
Neges arall a ddaeth o'r noson oedd honno a gyflwynodd Leanne Wood, AC Plaid Cymru. Yn ôl Leanne mae angen dechrau lledaenu'r neges i'r Cymry di-gymraeg er mwyn iddynt hwythau fod yn ran o'r ddadl ac chael cyfle i estyn cefnogaeth i achos yr iaith. Onid yw hi'n berysglus anghofio am y di-Gymraeg a chredu nad yw'r iaith yn rywbeth sy'n bwysig iddynt hwythau?
Roedd rhyw 30 o bobl wedi ymgynull ar gyfer y cyfarfod gyda dim ond un angen offer cyfieithu - Leanne ei hun. Rhaid edmygu ymdrechion CYI i wahodd adborth gan y cyhoedd ond a yw'r neges yn ddigon bell-gyrhaeddiol?
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Not only do we welcome Dewi Un back after his week of sniffles, we also dive into the constitutional question once again. There's also a bit about this brand spanking new website. And Kirsty has now been leader for nearly 100 days - what effect has she had on the Lib Dems in Wales?
All this and much more from the three of us this week.
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Y Tri Dewi
Firstly who are the JCSI?
This committee is a made up from members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons (6 of each to be exact) and they look at statutory instruments to make sure that they are technically sound – basically to make sure they don’t do what their not supposed to.
There are thousands of statutory instruments passed each year and this committee meets almost weekly to flag up any concerns they have.
What have they said about the LCO?
The concern with the affordable housing LCO which has been agreed by the Assembly and the Welsh Affairs Select Committee is the veto included within it. The committee (which looks at a lot of these things and know what their doing) think that this provision is “remarkable” and have flagged it up for special attention.
Basically they feel that the purpose of the LCO arrangement is to transfer power from one building to another and that the Veto power being given to the Secretary of State goes against this principle. Assembly competence should be defined by the Government of Wales Act 2006 not on the whim of an individual.
What does this mean?
Well it means that the teething troubles continue, but it strikes me with my limited (compared to the lawyers working at the Welsh office) legal knowledge that this was wholly foreseeable.
It means that in their desperate attempt to pass the LCO, the Assembly Government have hashed this compromise together instead of focusing on the root of the problem, their relationship with the Welsh Affairs Select Committee. What they’ve actually done is caused more trouble for themselves in the long run.
Well the JCSI’s report isn’t binding so the LCO can go ahead in its current form and be passed but given the concerns raised a number of things could occur to stop it. Firstly the House of Lords may not be willing to approve it; secondly someone (opposition parties) could launch judicial review into the order and challenge its legality.
Whatever happens next the affordable LCO’s journey into the statute books is set to continue to be a bumpy ride.
What can we learn from all this?
It does strike me that Carwyn Jones (a former barrister remember) the Counsel General has been so blasé about this, I wonder if his approach is indicative of the attitude of the WAG towards the constitutional backdrop?
What may seem like small things, things like having a veto, created simply to compromise on a piece of legislation, can have a huge impact and set a precedent that could change how devolution works for the next decade. And it seems that Westminster cares more about this than the Assembly Government!
This whole incident is just another example of the hugely confusing system here in Wales.
The Assembly Government has just announced the Eisteddfod will receive an additional grant of £100,000 this year because of "the particular difficulties faced by the Eisteddfod in generating funds in a rural area such as Meirionydd"*.
Fair enough. It's so much more difficult raising money in Meirionydd than in somewhere like Blaenau Gwent, for example! I bet there will now be an application for similar funding next year because of "the difficulties attached with holding an Eisteddfod in an underprivileged area".
After all according to Grant Thornton's report the Eisteddfod needs an additional £180,000 each year.
*By clicking on this link you'll notice the WAG has also pledged more support to the Urdd and the Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin.
Translation by Dewi Dau
Politicians aren't usually keen on setting electoral targets. Relative success can appear to be a failure for not succeeding in reaching an ambitious target. So it was surprising to hear Nick Bourne boasting today (Tuesday) that the number of Welsh Conservative MPs could reach double figures after the next election.
The Tory's have three seats at the moment. Where could the other seven come from? Cardiff North, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, where the AMs are Conservatives, are obvious targets as is the Vale of Glamorgan. Beyond thosethe Conservatives would have to depend on a cluster of marginal seats like Aberconway, Clwyd South and the Vale of Clwyd, Delyn and Montgomeryshire. Winning all of these would be enough to reach double figures, just. It's difficult to imagine the Conservatives doing much better than that. Nick Bourne himself admits breaking the 1983 record of 14 is "unlikely".
But another record was set in 1983 with only twenty Labour MPs being returned from Wales - the lowest number since the second world war. Twenty was still a majority of the 38 seats that Wales had at the time - a key psychological threshold. Is it possible for Labour to win less than twenty seats next time and loss their majority for the first time since 1935?
Yes it is. Let's imagine that the Tories (or in some cases, another opposition party) win the eleven seats above. Add Anglesey, Arfon, Dwyfor Meirionydd, Ceredigion, Camarthen East, Llanelli, Cardiff Central, Brecon and Radnorshire and Blaenau Gwent. That's twenty. Note that the list doesn't include some of the seats the Tories won in 1983 (Bridgend, Cardif West and Newport West), seats Plaid Cymru have won in Assembly elections (Rhondda and Islwyn) nor the Lib Dems' main target (Swansea West).
Labour are facing a battle unlike any they've faced since the twenties, and that's with creaking organisation and empty coffers. There's an exciting year ahead of us!
Translation by Dewi Dau
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
But what is the solution to the problem?
Plaid, I’m sure, would promote the idea of more powers at the Assembly but the likes of True Wales (and Nick Bourne according to this morning’s Tory press conference) think they should work with the powers they’ve already got.
So with a general consensus that things need to change but no consensus as to what form that change should take – what are the options that might be explored in the not-too-distant future?
Another Government of Wales Act perhaps? Or perhaps the referendum will take place and succeed after all!
But is there a way to improve the current settlement without devolving more powers? Mr Bourne said he wanted to get Westminster working better with the Assembly not setting them against each other as seems to be the present situation.
How might this be achieved? No actual policy proposals from Mr Bourne. But it will be something for the next Conservative government to look at apparently.
On that subject, the question of how many MPs the Tories expect to gain at the next General Election was raised. Mr Bourne said they have "a number of very good candidates in good target seats" - so we should expect to see Tory MPs in double figures being returned to Westminster...
So what do we think about all this?
Are further devolved powers the only way? What will be the Tory’s answer to the problem be? And is Nick Bourne on the money with his optimistic predictions?
Monday, 9 March 2009
They were launching a new website: walescan.com (or if you'd prefer gallcymru.com) - it's a website all about promoting an independent Wales.
A few questions from the press about whether or not this was the right time to be launching such a campaign? Is this just to keep the party faithful happy? Do they expect to see an independent Wales within their lifetimes? The answer to that last question was yes from everyone on the panel.
Adam Price and Jocelyn Davies weren't available for interview after the press conference (will try and bring you the highlights in this week's Podcast) but I did chat to Helen Mary Jones and we talked about why she thinks an independent Wales is essential and how an independent Wales would look...
Saturday, 7 March 2009
Huw Lewis has all but announced his candidacy for the Labour leadership in a speech he made in Llanelli last night. I suppose given all the talk of the past few months this comes as no real surprise to anyone, but it does show that he’s not daunted by the prospect of replacing a First Minister with a 65% approval rating!
His speech to the West Wales Cooperative party included a string of policy proposals the most striking of which is his idea for a £50 million National children’s savings plan. Mr Lewis, the AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, believes that his ambitious proposal would provide children from all backgrounds with the opportunity to benefit from a range of extra curricular activities.
Mr Lewis has gambled that he is more likely to win the nomination by jumping as far left as he can. In his speech he spoke of letting Labour be Labour, of how the free market has failed and of how the Labour instinct had been right all along. Obviously trying to align himself with the socialist sensibilities of those in his party and hoping perhaps that the current economic climate (sorry) will make people more open to a lefty candidate than a centrist.
It’s an interesting (if obvious) strategy being undertaken by Huw Lewis and one that I look forward to seeing how his “opponent” Carwyn Jones reacts to. I am however reminded of the Michael Foot Manifesto of 1983. Now better known as the 'longest suicide note in history’ his decision to jump to the left to try and win votes against the free market-loving Thatcherites failed miserably. I wonder if this will be the fate of Huw Lewis candidacy?
I also think that candidate manifestos may be irrelevant, in today’s world of style over substance I can see a situation where the Labour party base their decision purely on who the public recognises.
Friday, 6 March 2009
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Dewi Dau a Dewi Tri
Thursday, 5 March 2009
Tipped off by the lady herself (@KirstyAM) - Kirsty Williams won the Devolved Parliament & Assembly Member of the Year award at the Women in Public Life Awards yesterday.
A deserved win do we think?
Monday, 2 March 2009
This measure will place a duty for the first time on Welsh Ministers to develop a new child poverty strategy for Wales. I thought they already had a child poverty strategy? The Assembly has set a target of eradicating child poverty in Wales by 2020 and this is a key step in meeting that target, so will they?
Well lets have a look at the passage of this measure so far shall we? To get the power Gwenda Thomas proposed an LCO in July of 2007. It was passed in April 2008, and the measure is being introduced tomorrow (3rd March) at Plenary. So that’s around the two year mark so far. So what have the Assembly done to tackle child poverty while they wait for the legislative powers? Can you think of anything?
The WAG has found time to conduct a study into child poverty (in February 2008), with help from a respected children’s charity. It found that:
1 in 4 kids in Wales live beneath the poverty line
1 in 10 kids in Wales live in severe poverty
The report tells us that:
“Child poverty is one of the greatest threats to the well-being of the people of Wales. Despite some reduction in child poverty since the late 90s, the numbers living below the poverty threshold are still some way off the targets for both 2010 and 2020”
Ok so the Assembly needs to do something drastic to meet its targets and more importantly eradicate child poverty. So what far reaching programmes can we expect in this measure to do that, well in the words of Gwenda Thomas:
“This Measure is highly symbolic. It sets a clear direction for the Welsh Assembly Government’s priority in supporting those in society who are particularly vulnerable and most disadvantaged.”
Surely the time of symbolism has passed? Wales was the first to have a children’s commissioner, whose role and impact is unclear to the vast majority of the population. Surely with time ticking away the WAG needs more than a clear direction, it needs action?
We can expect some new programmes from this measure for example new “Integrated Family Support Teams” and placing “a duty on specific Welsh public bodies to identify and take action”, but is this enough?
The study spells out quite clearly that the causes of child poverty are many, for example:
“There is a strong association between severe child poverty and having at least one parent with a disability; a third of children in severe poverty have a disabled parent.
There is also a strong association between severe child poverty and living in a lone parent household (in large part because lone parents are less likely to have paid work than couple households).
Other factors associated with severe child poverty include: living in a large family; living in an Asian/Asian British family; living in a family where mothers do not have any educational qualifications.”
Will there be anything in the measure on these issues? Has the WAG done enough in this measure, which is designed to help eradicate child poverty by 2020, to tackle these root causes? I know it's too early to tell but it doesn’t look like it.
I guess we will have to wait and see
Sunday, 1 March 2009
They're backing a campaign by Cymru X (Plaid's youth wing) who are writing to the party's AMs asking them to maintain their policy.
Plaid have been accused of campaigning against top-up fees while voting with their Labour coalition partners to introduce them.
This issue also seems to be highlighting differences in approach within the party.
On last week's Politics Show Wales the Chair of Plaid Cymru, John Dixon, said that in government compromises have to be made while on Tuesday Plaid Minister Elin Jones defended the move and said that most of the party's AMs were supportive of the idea.
Ms Jenkins and Ms Wood therefore appear to be in the minority but could their rebellion be enough to cause damage to the coalition or to make their party's ministers think again?