Thursday, 24 December 2009

Nadolig Llawen

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi gyd!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

From / Oddi Wrth

Y Dewis


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Bagpuss, acronyms and chocolate Cludo...

Well our Assembly Members have been away from Cardiff Bay for a week or so now and thanks to glorious modern technology we can follow what they're up to!

Here's some highlights from Assembly Member's Twitter feeds (that you can follow @Politics_Cymru/AMsWhoTweet):

@bethanjenkins I won chocolate cludo! How chuffed am I?!!!!

@peterblackwales has enjoyed BBC4 documentary on Oliver Postgate. Bagpuss was meant to be marmalade coloured but dye went wrong. Who knew?

@JonMorganAM was strangely looking forward to going to the panto tonight!

@LeanneWood last (half day) at the office. Yipee!

@DarrenMillarAM Just realised that mince pies is an anagram of 'mice penis'. Very alarming given that I have consumed so many over the past few weeks!

@huwlewis thinks Merthyr looks like a Christmas card picture this morning

@peterblackwales has decided that it is time to put the Christmas decorations up

@DarrenMillarAM Snow, snow, snow, snow! Snow, snow, snow, snow! Lovely snow!

Merry Christmas everyone
Dewi Tri


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Being left out is the best thing that could have happened to the nationalists

I remember a few months ago we were saying how one of the most interesting things about the problems MPs were facing was how parties like Plaid hadn’t been able to capitalise on the misfortunes of their mainstream colleagues.

It’s because they were now lumped in with their mainstream colleagues. Plaid here in Wales and their sister party, the SNP in Scotland, are now parties of Government and can no longer count on picking up votes by being anti-(English) establishment.

But now our national broadcasters could seemingly have thrown them a bone!

They’ve been left out of those mainstream English debates that will have to debate all those issues that are devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The nationalist parties could now go back to their grassroots, back to their communities, and claim that they are once again the party of the people not of the establishment.

Why are Alex Salmond and Elfyn Llwyd kicking up such a fuss?

Couldn’t they say they’re not the same as everyone else now...

Dewi Tri


Kirsty WIlliams: One Year On

A week may be a long time in politics but doesn't a year just fly by!!

Twelve months ago Kirsty Williams was elected the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, the first woman to lead a party at the Assembly.

We went out to meet her in Ystradgynlais in her constituency to see how the year had gone and to look ahead to the General Election next year...

Y Dewis


Monday, 21 December 2009

Uh, what about us?

Well Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are all (apparently) very excited about facing each other in a primetime TV debate but not everyone’s happy with the news.

No sooner had the news been announced than Elfyn Llwyd’s people had issued a press release stating their disapproval at being left out of the whole thing.

Mr LLwyd says:

"Plaid Cymru and the SNP have been key parties in Westminster for decades. By choosing to leave out the respective leaders of these parties from this highly publicised televised debate, it gives the three London parties an unfair advantage in this election."

All other minority parties are also being left out of the debate.

One might argue that if the purpose of these debates is to engage with the electorate then (quite literally) filling a stage with people in suits might not be the best remedy.

Another point that doesn’t seem to have been raised yet is the question of what exactly is going to be debated?? Baring in mind that certain policy areas (little things like health and education for instance) are devolved matters and this election will have no direct result on how money is spent in the NHS and in schools in Wales (and Scotland).

The complex British constitution isn’t easily explained or’ll be interesting to see how ITV, Sky and the BBC try to break down the barriers between politics and the public...

Dewi Tri


New Cabinet and a trip to Copenhagen

Another video Podcast from the Dewis!

It's all about Carwyn Jones' new cabinet, the Copenhagen summit and the news that Kim Howells is set to stand down in Pontypridd.

(We recorded this last week and due to technical issues are only getting it up now)


Y Dewis


Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Anything strike you as odd about the following statement from Martyn Jones MP for Clwyd South?

"I'm concerned about the number of people with long-term conditions in my constituency who may be choosing to go without vital medicines... Gordon Brown was right to promise free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions, but he must now follow through and implement this promise as soon as possible."

I think that Mr Jones may have misunderstood just a little whose responsibility it is to act on such issues, given that the Labour lead Welsh Assembly Government have already legislated on the matter!

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t ‘free prescriptions’ one of Welsh Labour and the Welsh Assembly Governments marquee polices? Hasn’t Welsh Labour defended the policy over and over again, and lauded its success? Isn’t this a prime example of a WAG policy that appeals to the Labour grass roots and legitimises their claim to be the party of the people?

If so it seems a bit odd to me that Martyn Jones a Labour MP would have forgotten about it? Maybe he just simply misunderstood the current devolution settlement? He wouldn’t be the first and he probably won’t be the last.

Dewi Un


I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle... and some environment policies

With the World’s eyes trained on Copenhagen the going has been tough for the leaders struggling to broker a worthwhile deal. However some have found the experience a bit more rewarding having had their efforts praised by none other than the Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger (aka Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, Mr Freeze).

One such individual is our own environment minister Jane Davidson, whose been busy chairing meetings and having talks about the positive impact that regional and sub national governments can have in lowering carbon emissions.

So what has the Welsh Assembly Government actually pledged to do? Well it has made a commitment to reduce carbon emissions annually by 3% from 2011 onwards (in devolved areas of course). It has put aside £300 million to try and achieve this goal, whilst also putting nearly £250,000 in a pot to help areas of Uganda deal with climate change. So is this enough?

Jane Davidson clearly thinks so saying "It is clear from the commitments that regional governments across the world have already made that we are setting the pace on this agenda and hopefully our example will lead to a deal by the end of the week."

And so it would seem does Arnie, telling WAG officials to “Keep up the good work in your efforts to fight climate change”.

But are the WAG really ‘‘setting the pace?’’ Pressure groups are sceptical many of whom (like Oxfam Cymru) are calling for Carwyn Jones and his new cabinet to treble their commitment and pledge to cut emissions by 9%. Setting the pace? Maybe not then.

If regional governments like the WAG, whose efforts are being praised, aren’t even cutting the mustard, then what hope is there for a worthwhile global deal?

And doesn’t the mathematics of it all mean that in reality their efforts are a bit pointless if the Worlds big polluters (USA, China, India e.t.c) don’t vote for drastic change?

We wait with baited breath for the outcome of the Copenhagen talks on Friday, I wonder if the rest of the World will follow Wales’ (strong or weak - you decide) lead?

Hasta la vista, baby (sorry could not help myself!).

Dewi Un


Thursday, 10 December 2009

So much to do...

Let us know what you think his priorities should be.

Dewi Un


Carwyn Jones' Cabinet

So we now know who's in and who's out. It's a fairly well shuffled pack on the Labour side.

Here's the team that will lead Wales:

First Minister - Carwyn Jones
Health - Edwina Hart
Business and Budget - Jane Hutt
Children, Education and Lifelong Learning - Leighton Andrews
Environment, Sustainability and Housing - Jane Davidson
Social Justice - Carl Sargeant
Skills (Deputy Minister) - Lesley Griffiths
Children (Deputy Minister) - Huw Lewis
Social Services (Deputy Minister)- Gwenda Thomas
Counsel General - John Griffiths
Chief Whip - Janice Gregory

The Plaid Ministers remain unchanged.

So what do we think? Exciting? Disappointing?

Dewi Tri


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A Busy Week So Far

The Dewis return to video!

(Can you tell we've got a new toy today?)

It's been a busy week so far and so we reflect on Rhodri Morgan's last day and that surprising news that Mr Asghar crossed the floor.

Y Dewis


A Dewi Meets Dai Lloyd

Following our interview with Mohammad Asghar.

Dewi Un sat down with Dai Lloyd to find out Plaid Cymru's response to his colleague's defection to the Welsh Conservatives.

Y Dewis


Mohammad Asghar and a Dewi

Well Mr Mohammad Asghar AM caused a bit of a stir yesterday!

We had the chance to sit down with him at the Assembly to ask him about his defection from Plaid to the Conservatives...

Y Dewis


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Today of all days

It’s been a busy day down the Senedd today; after the morning winds had calmed down we took some time out, had a cup of tea, and reflected on the day’s events.

Today was supposed to be all about Rhodri’s last question time and his last moments as First Minister and in all honesty it was. That’s what the record books will remember and by the close of play today that’s what was on the minds of those still milling around.

However the Welsh Conservatives did upset the applecart a little earlier with their shock announcement that caught all of us, including Plaid Cymru, off guard.

So why today? Considering the party had managed to keep the whole thing such a secret for some time the decision to announce this morning was obviously calculated. I assumed initially, and still believe, that this was a plan to steal some headlines and air time away from Rhodri and the Labour party. Think about it, the Conservatives must be fed up of all the coverage the Labour party have had over the past few months what with the election campaign and all. This was a great opportunity to share some of the limelight.

However whilst a defection is good news for the Conservatives, given the unresolved issues surrounding the defection (staffing issues e.t.c) and Oscar’s ability (or lack of) to communicate to camera, were the Conservatives were actually trying to bury the news a touch? After all instead of a full 3 minute piece on the news you were now more likely to simply get a 30 second clip...

It doesn’t really matter what their motives were I suppose the facts remain the same – but I thought it an interesting consideration and one you may like to ponder over a cup of tea yourselves.

Dewi Un


"The people of the South Wales region did not want a second Tory AM"

Here's Plaid's response (in full) to Mohammad Asghar's defection:

The Leader of Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones AM has responded with surprise and disappointment to the news that Mohammad Asghar, the Assembly Member for South Wales East has left Plaid Cymru to join the Conservative group in the Assembly.

Mr Asghar was elected to represent the South Wales East region on behalf of Plaid Cymru in 2007. The Plaid Leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said:

We very much regret Mohammad Asghar’s decision and it comes as a shock to members both of the Plaid Cymru group and the wider party. We were particularly surprised to hear of this news from the media. We were very proud of the fact that in campaigning hard for Mohammad Asghar’s election in 2007 that Plaid Cymru ensured the first ever Assembly Member from the black minority ethnic community. It is has come as a shock that he has now decided that he shares the same values as those held by the Conservative and Unionist party.”

The Chair of the Plaid Cymru group Dai Lloyd said:

We now call on Mohammad Asghar to take the honourable decision to resign his seat as a Plaid Cymru AM. The people of the South Wales region did not want a second Tory AM to represent the area – they elected a Plaid Cymru AM. Mr Asghar does not have the political mandate to sit in the Assembly as a Conservative member for the South East.”

Dewi Tri


Mohammad Asghar Crosses the Floor!

The lobby were in for a huge surprise at this morning's Tory briefing.

The entire Tory group (led by Nick Bourne and Cheryl Gillan) packed out the media room too announce that Plaid Cymru AM Mohammad Asghar would be joining their group for the remainder of the Assembly.

He says his feelings jar more and more with his Plaid party who selected him as a list member for the 2007 Assembly Election in South East Wales...

He hasn't told Ieuan Wyn Jones yet.

Expect a day of high drama in Cardiff Bay...

Dewi Tri

ADD: Believe it or not even though Mohammad Asghar is a list member for Plaid Cymru in South East Wales he is allowed to switch parties.

Once a member is elected, he or she is elected but if he was to stand down Plaid would be allowed to nominate the successor to that seat.

On an interesting note, apparently Nick Ramsey was spotted moving out of his office late last night possibly to make way for their party’s latest addition...


Monday, 7 December 2009

Remember the one about the vegetarian agriculture minister?

On Saturday Labour elected Christine Gwyther to be their candidate for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in the general election. The former Assembly Member for Carmarthen West and South Pembroke has been out of frontline politics since 2007 and is now ready for her comeback.

An AM for 8 years she was controversially appointed minister for agriculture by Alun Michael despite the fact she was a vegetarian. With Wales being in the middle of a beef crisis at the time opposition parties and farming unions weren’t best pleased to say the least. When Rhodri took over the reins she was replaced by the now First Minister in waiting Carwyn Jones, ironically on the eve of the Royal Welsh show.

The selection of Gwyther shows that the Labour Party are beefing up their efforts in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. Despite her sketchy record as minister for agriculture Christine Gwyther has been an elected politician for some time and is an experienced campaigner. The Labour party in the area must be hoping that they can take advantage of Adam Price’s decision to step down and the selection of an old head must be an attempt to counter Plaid’s candidate Jonathan Edwards.

It will be interesting what impact Chrisitne Gwyther will make in the seat, with a big majority to overturn is she simply a lame duck?

Dewi Un

UPDTAE 16:45

Having just spoken to a local Labour party insider it may well be that it was the lack of competition that swung the vote for Christine Gwyther and not some grand plan emphasising experience!

This is a voice mail message left by one of her competitors to a 19 year old brass band member who pulled out of a concert (granted it was in Lybia). It's quite infamous by now so you may remember it.


The week ahead...

It’s a big week for Welsh politics.

One First Minister leaves and a new one gets started (although not at the same time so we will be First Ministerless for a chunk of the week too).

With so much procedure and protocol I just thought I’d run through what’s going to happen (as far as we know):


  • Rhodri Morgan holds his last ever First Minister’s Question time in the chamber at 1.30pm (I wonder how sad he will be to see an end to them?)
  • There’ll be a debate on the budget late tomorrow afternoon (which might be finished by 5.30pm-ish – but Plenary session timings are not an exact science...)
  • Rhodri Morgan will send off an email to Buckingham Palace (who have been warned to expect it). He will cease to be First Minister when the Queen accepts his resignation


    Providing Her Majesty checks her emails on Tuesday night...

  • The Presiding Officer will call a vote in Plenary after Ministerial questions (so around 2.30pm...probably closer to 3pm). The only thing we don’t know yet is whether or not the Tories and Lib Dems will try to vote down Carwyn Jones, abstain from the vote or (unlikely but you never know) vote for him...
  • Dafydd El gives the Queen a ring afterwards to let her know the outcome
  • The Queen invites Carwyn Jones to be Welsh First Minister. He becomes First Minister if/when he accepts but can’t exercise the duties of the office until he’s sworn in which won’t happen until...


  • Carwyn Jones sworn in as new First Minister by Wales’ most senior Judge who’s called Nigel Davies (as well as any new cabinet members who Carwyn can’t actually nominate until he’s taken the oath himself)

    And then a whole new chapter begins...ish...

    Dewi Tri

  • Thursday, 3 December 2009

    Andrew Davies - Jumped or Pushed?

    Finance and Public Services Delivery Minister Andrew Davies has announced today that he is to stand down as an AM at the next Assembly Election. The man behind Edwina Harts campaign said that “it is time for me to have a greater balance and change of pace in my life and to seek out new challenges.”

    The question we’re asking is did he jump before he was pushed? We know that Andrew Davies isn’t Carwyn Jones’ biggest fan, recently he described his role in the Cabinet as “semi-detached”. We also know that Carwyn will be looking to promote some of his supporters into the cabinet (Leighton Andrews anyone?) and so it may be that the prospect of being demoted to a backbench AM was something he didn’t fancy.

    The news will also come as a bit of a kick in the teeth to Carwyn Jones who had been quite successful in pushing his theme of post election party unity. I wonder if this announcement will take some of the gloss off Tuesday’s events? In saying that, this does make his reshuffle a little easier, he can now claim that because Andrew Davies is stepping down in 2011 he had to replace him in the cabinet, and it therefore had nothing to do with their frosty relationship (but such a strategy could leave him in hot water because of Jane Davidson).

    Today’s news offers a whole host of implications for the upcoming reshuffle and is likely to spawn several conspiracy theories, it could just be that Andrew Davies fancied a change!
    His decision to step down has been on the cards for a while according to some, but others have been caught by surprise. As late as last night some Plaid Cymru sources had been telling the Western Mail that Carwyn Jones should keep Andrew Davies in the Cabinet. I doubt they’ll be saying that today. You can read more about that here.

    Andrew Davies will leave behind a Swansea West constituency that is high on the Liberal Democrats hit list, which whilst not making everyone quake in fear should give the Labour party some cause for concern. The Liberals have steadily increased their council representation in Swansea and have a strong operation in the area.

    The list of AMs stepping down at the next election is growing almost monthly, which means that whatever the outcome politically there will bve a host of new faces come 2011.

    Dewi Un

    P.S a quick plug: If you’re not already following us on Twitter you should be! Here’s the link take a look to see who broke the news first...


    Wednesday, 2 December 2009

    Le Cabinet

    So now for a bit of rampant speculation. Here’s my guess as to the makeup of Carwyn’s Cabinet.

    Here’s what it looks like Now:

    First Minister: Rhodri Morgan
    Deputy and Economy and Transport: Ieuan Wyn Jones
    Environment, Sustainability and Housing: Jane Davidson
    Finance and Public Service Delivery: Andrew Davies
    Social Justice and Local Government: Dr Brian Gibbons
    Health and Social Services: Edwina Hart
    Children Education Lifelong Learning and Skills: Jane Hutt
    Heritage: Alun Ffred Jones
    Counsel General: Carwyn Jones
    Rural Affairs: Elin Jones

    I have no basis for the following breakdown just some gossip and backrooms whispers. Think of it as a bit of fun ( I need to get out more!!)

    First Minister: Carwyn Jones (New)
    Deputy and Economy and Transport: Ieuan Wyn Jones
    Environment, Sustainability and Housing: Jane Davidson
    Finance and Public Service Delivery: Leighton Andrews (New)
    Social Justice and Local Government: John Griffiths (New)
    Health and Social Services: Edwina Hart
    Children Education Lifelong Learning and Skills: Huw Lewis (New)
    Heritage: Alun Ffred Jones
    Counsel General: Removed (or still done by Carwyn / unelected official)
    Rural Affairs: Elin Jones

    John Griffiths and Huw Lewis could easily be the other way around, to be fair most of the list could be different!

    There’s my largely uneducated punt – agree???

    Dewi Un


    Carwyn Who?

    The two remaining Dewis have just spent 5 minutes having a flick through the UK’s national press to find no mentions of Carwyn Jones’ election.

    Not one.

    Will making a splash on the front page of the Western Mail really be enough to let the people of Wales know who he is? (Let alone letting them know what he wants to do?)

    Dewi Tri

    PS interesting thoughts from Michael White on Good Morning Wales this morning (2 hours 55 minutes in on iPlayer)
    PPS if we missed the story do let us know!


    In limbo?

    It’s down to work for Mr Jones, First Minister-elect, then!

    Last night he wouldn’t be drawn on who would be in his cabinet and whatever rumours we’ve heard so far would appear to be just that.

    What is for sure is for the next few weeks none of the other Assembly Members will really know what to do with themselves. They’re there to hold the Assembly Government to account, but the Assembly Government is about to be reshuffled (how significantly it’s hard to tell) and until all the pieces fall into place not everyone’s going to know where they stand.

    There’s the budget to keep them somewhat busy. And Carwyn Jones’ cabinet choices.

    But as was apparent from the lobby briefings yesterday, those two stories (the latter in particular) are pretty much going to dominate Cardiff Bay up until Christmas.

    We’ll not see business-as-usual until the new year.

    Dewi Tri


    Tuesday, 1 December 2009

    It's Carwyn after all...

    Months of speculation, weeks of campaigning and days of guessing and here we are, finally having confirmation that Carwyn Jones has been elected as the next leader of the Welsh Labour party.

    Whilst the result wasn’t surprising the scale of his victory certainly was. The man who is now first minister elect received 51% of the first round vote, winning outright and removing the need to worry about second preference votes.

    So what’s next? Well there are 2 key questions I suppose:

    1) What shape will the cabinet now take? Who’s in, who’s out?
    2) What’s his stance on an autumn referendum?

    In his interviews post result Carwyn batted all these contentious issues aside and instead focused on the unifying effect of the election. All three candidates expressed their belief that this is now a Labour party united and ready to take the fight to the Tories et al come May/June.

    The speculation is now rife as to the future of many things – but for tonight let’s just leave it at the facts.

    Carwyn Jones - 51.98 %
    Edwina Hart - 29.19 %
    Huw Lewis - 18.84 %

    Dewi Un


    Monday, 30 November 2009

    Round 2?

    Remember the Affordable Housing LCO? It caused a considerable fuss under scrutiny from the Welsh Affairs Select Committee earlier this year in particular due to its desire to transfer power on council tenant’s right to buy their homes from Westminster to the Assembly before bring killed off.

    This morning the Deputy Minister for Housing, Jocelyn Davies, published its successor: the Sustainable Homes LCO.

    The difference?

    Well this one’s longer and has considerably broader scope. In fact the only this it has in common with the Affordable Housing LCO is Matter 11.5 which would transfer the legislative competence to "enable the National Assembly, if it so wished, to replace the current Right to Buy scheme with improved and updated schemes".

    So it would give the Welsh Assembly the power to abolish right to buy if it wanted to.

    But this might not cause quite such a stir this time around. Why? The WASC’s complaint was, basically, that the powers asked for in the Affordable Housing LCO were too specific and so they ended up scrutinising the laws the Assembly could make instead of asking whether or not they should get the powers to make them. This time that job should be left to Assembly Members if and when the LCO comes into force.

    How far it will get on its journey is hard to say because the General Election round the corner could put things on hold just a little bit...

    Dewi Tri

    PS to learn more about the process of transferring powers to the Welsh Assembly, see my colleague's very helpful diagram...


    What happens after the next election?

    Ever wondered what happens to LCOs currently under scrutiny after the next election?

    Does the Welsh affairs select commitee in Westminster have start their deliberations all over again?

    Well this is what we've been told happens:

    "If Parliament is dissolved, the process of approving LCOs will be interrupted until after the new Parliament is opened. Following a general election, it will be the decision of the newly-elected UK government as to how proceed with any LCOs which have already begun or completed the process of pre-legislative scrutiny. If the government indicates its intention to proceed with the process, it will be up to any new Welsh Affairs Committee (or Lords Constitution Committee) as to how to deal with any proposed LCOs which were already under consideration in the previous Parliament."

    So essentially it's up to whoever forms the new government.

    It's therefore not beyond the realms of possibility that there could be changes in committe membership - which will surely mean that those hoping to see their LCOs this side of next christmas are unlikely to get their way.

    Dewi Un


    Friday, 27 November 2009

    Jonathan Edwards takes Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

    Well dear readers, I hate to be smug but, as I rightly predicted on this very blog some time ago, Jonathan Edwards has been selected by Plaid Cymru members to succeed Adam Price.

    Roughly 9.30pm last night the man from Ammanford won the ballot, securing the required number of votes in the first round of voting.

    Having interviewed him today – it’s apparent that party members have chosen the candidate who is most likely to be able to mirror Adam Price’s success. His politics and background are very similar to the current incumbents, and their close relationship is something that is likely to endear him to the local electorate.

    It will be interesting to see now much of Price’s majority remains at the next election – with some suspicious that local people vote for him as an individual as opposed to Plaid as a party.

    Jonathan Edwards isn’t worried about that though pointing to Rhodri Glyn’s large Assembly majority as reason to believe that the parties appeal is strong in the area.

    It will be a busy 6 months for him with a general election round the corner, but he didn’t seem too daunted today, in fact it was clear that he is looking forward to the challenge.

    Dewi Un


    Barnett: What the Tories say...

    The Barnett formula is not popular.

    Nor is it fair according to Gerry Holtham who issued a report on the subject back in July. The formula is based on population and not on the age of that population or the levels of poverty amongst that population.

    Peter Hain says it’s worked alright until now but accepts that Wales could lose out in the future and to make sure that doesn't happen he’s said (if Labour win the next General Election) come Budget time the Government will pay special attention to Wales and “take action if appropriate”.

    It’s been widely criticised (although not, I should say, by Gerry Holtham).

    Of course this won’t be Peter Hain’s problem if Labour lose next year’s General Election – the decision on how to deal with Barnett could then be down to the Conservatives.

    Here’s what their Wales spokesperson, Cheryl Gillan, had to say in full yesterday:

    “Typically, this is a vague promise to do something in the future.

    “In this very statement the Government reveals they don’t expect further convergence to happen in the coming years.

    ”This is a nothing statement, which is more about electioneering than securing the future financing of Wales.”

    Call me a cynic but it doesn’t look like Barnett is going anywhere anytime soon...

    Dewi Tri


    Wednesday, 25 November 2009

    Pawb a’i Farn – or is it?

    Pawb a’i farn – is the BBC’s Welsh language equivalent of Question Time. Roughly translated it means “Everyone and their opinions” but according to the Welsh Conservatives that title may be far from accurate.

    If you haven’t seen it – the programme works much in the same way as QT. An invited panel (that represents varying positions on the political scale) answer questions and respond to comments posed by an audience of roughly sixty people. The show travels around Wales from Ammanford to Anglesey talking about a range of issues and topics.

    Last week’s edition came from the Senedd building Cardiff Bay, and as a fan of the programme I jumped at the chance to sit in the audience. A free buffet and a lively debate later the set lights turned off and I left for home content with a fun couple of hours.

    Alun Cairns, it seems didn’t enjoy his evening as much as I did. We’ve heard this week that Nick Bourne and Alun Cairns are unhappy at his treatment on last week’s programme. It would appear that the Conservatives are worried that the programme audience didn’t represent “Everyone” as the title of the show suggests, they feel the audience was rather one sided.

    Nothing official has been said or done by the Conservatives to complain yet, but we understand that Alun Cairns is “considering his options...” at the moment and may take the matter “further”.

    Intrigued? Does he get an unfair ride? Make up your own mind, watch it back here

    Dewi Un


    He Will Not Veto!

    Well Peter Hain says he's not going to veto a referendum (which means Labour and the Tories seem to be on the same page)...

    He’s just told Plenary: "If I am the Secretary of State in receipt of an Assembly request to call a referendum, I would not veto that request."

    It appears he has actually been convinced by the All Wales convention report!

    But he still seems to think that the "new system is starting to work and is starting to work well."

    It’s not an unequivocal show of support – but it clears things up a bit!

    So I guess the ball is now fully in the court of the new Labour leader. If that new leader is Edwina Hart it seems unclear if she will move as quickly as Plaid might like. Today her response has popped up on her campaign site, it says: "Our focus will be on testing public readiness to support such a vote."

    (I thought that was what the All Wales Convention was all about.)

    Dewi Tri


    Clear as Mud

    So what is Welsh Labour’s stance on the timing of a referendum? Well if you read this statement sent out yesterday lunchtime by Peter Hain, Rhodri Morgan and Gary Owen (Welsh Labour Chair) it seems obvious.

    “ Our internal policy process has already begun: Welsh Labour’s Welsh Joint Policy Committee has met, prioritised the need to campaign for a General Election victory, and agreed to start considering the All Wales Convention report in detail as a prelude to stepping-up wider Party consultation with AMs and MPs, councillors, trade unionists and members as soon as the General Election is over.“

    Holding on this long would make it difficult to foresee a referendum before the next Assembly elections in 2011, let alone a referendum in 2010, and in particular the Autumn of 2010 which is the favoured option of the opposition (and Plaid Cymru)

    But wait – fast forward a couple of hours, in which Rhodri Morgan took a battering in Plenary, the One Wales coalition started creaking and scores of angry AMs and advisors were pacing up and down the Senedd and we have a different picture.

    Another joint statement – this time by Rhodri and Ieuan Wyn Jones reading:

    “All options for the timing of a referendum remain open... nothing has been ruled in or ruled out, including, if it proved practical, a referendum in the autumn”

    So what is the stance of Welsh Labour? If they want to wait until after an election before making any moves then the above statement is a falsehood – because they wouldn’t have the requisite time, which means they are ruling an Autumn referendum out. So the question remains, do they want to wait until after a general election or not?

    Peter Hain is talking to Assembly today so hopefully things will be far clearer soon - or alternatively they could stay just as they are, clear as mud.

    Dewi Un


    Friday, 13 November 2009

    The Debate: Results

    There I was last night popcorn in one hand, oversized soft drink in the other eagerly anticipating the contest between the three people vying to become Wales’ next First Minister. Aside from the cries of “get a life” from my housemates and girlfriend I must say I quite enjoyed the programme despite the candidates rehearsed answers to some of the questions.

    So who came out on top? Well I think it was a pretty close run thing. There’s not all that much to separate the three on policy (bar a couple of notable exceptions), there was a lot of “well I agree with a lot of what Carwyn / Edwina / Huw said there but can I just add...” so I think the decision will come down to style and personality.

    So what of their style – Huw seemed relaxed, didn’t read from notes and came across as the most down to Earth. He did however fail to deal in specifics and generalised a lot. His performance last night wouldn’t have done him any harm but it’s fair to say that he lacked that aura of a First Minister – a nice, well meaning, idealistic politician – yes. First Minister? Probably not.

    Edwina Hart has warmed somewhat to the camera’s over the duration of the contest. She has tried and been fairly successful I think at shedding her traditional grouchy image and showed some wit and humour in places last night. She did fidget with her pen a great deal and read a lot from (what I assume to be) pre-prepared notes. Mrs Hart did however tackle the questions asked (bar the one on health) fairly directly and didn’t go off on one without referring to the original question too much. She wasn’t afraid to stick her neck out and disagree with the questioners position and did receive the most applause from the audience.

    Carwyn seemed the most composed of the three, as you’d expect from an ex-barrister with more public speaking experience. He didn’t rely on notes too much (although there were definitely a few pre-prepped tid bits in there). He is evidently comfortable in front of the camera’s and probably quite enjoyed the experience. But was he too safe? Was he too boring? Was he too much like the politicians that the public have turned against? With the Labour party needing an almighty great big rocket up their backsides before this upcoming election are his ‘safe pair of hands’ likely to provide it?

    So there we are, on balance I think Carwyn Jones shaded it – but the other two by no means disgraces themselves. And I'm sure that their camps will disagree but there we go!

    I do sometimes wish that they weren’t all so nice to each and really had a go at one another –I enjoyed last night but my housemates and better half who were forced to watch alongside me found it all rather bland. Not at all like the West Wing they said....

    What did you think? If you're a Labour member who are you voting for and why?

    Dewi Un


    Wednesday, 11 November 2009

    “Clinging pathetically to some shred of welsh culture”

    Firstly dear readers – my sincerest apologies for the lack of blogging over the past few weeks. Things have changed a lot in PC HQ which has held us away from our respective keyboards.

    Last week I stumbled across a programme that inspired me to get back into the swing of things.
    Called Cymru Hywel Williams this programme takes a look back at Welsh history and not only questions the future of Wales as a nation, but questions the very concept of today’s Wales as a nation. It’s an interesting watch you can see it (with subtitles) here.

    Hywel Williams argues that historically Wales has preferred to integrate with the English way of life rather than try to stand on its own two feet. He argues that since the age of Henry Tudor the Welsh have chosen to accept throwaway gifts from the English (like a Welsh language Bible, S4C and the Senedd) rather than stand up for itself as a nation. During this first episode of a series of six Hywel Williams claims that this weakness is born from an obsession with culture, which has led to the Nation’s loyalty being bought by the English.

    Wales is often seen as a country full of radical thinkers and socialists fighting for the greater good. A nonsense according to Mr Williams who believes that support in Wales for the great socialist causes (Miners Strike etc) came from an inner guilt, and not from an underlying belief in equality and justice.

    According to the historian Wales is fixated with the legends and fairytales of old and oblivious to its current lack of leaders, leadership and direction. Whilst other fledgling nations have fought for freedom and self determination, ours has chosen to fight for by-lingual signs whilst also standing by to watch the aristocracy reassert their right over Wales (Prince Charles’s crowning and The Queen opening the Senedd are used as examples).

    So how much truth is there in this damning assessment of our Country? Are we just “clinging pathetically to some shred of welsh culture”?

    Personally I think there is some merit in Hywel Williams’ logic – but I also feel that his conclusions are overly pessimistic. I also feel that his findings are representative of his background.

    I was struck that not once during the episode did Hywel Willliams balance his argument with reference to the undoubted pride that the people of Wales have in being Welsh. What ‘being Welsh’ constitutes differs from person to person – but anecdotal evidence tell us that there is a ferocious passion here to the concept of ‘being Welsh’. Just take a look at Cardiff on a match day, or the Welsh viewing figures for Gavin and Stacey. Doesn’t this pride account for something?

    I was also struck that a he chose not to balance his piece with reference to some of Wales most radical thinkers – people who have fought for equality and social justice – people like Aneurin Bevan and the scores of community development workers and voluntary organisations who’s (often radical) work goes unnoticed.

    I don’t know what to make of this programme, I can’t decide whether I liked it or not, but I can tell you one thing it’s certainly got the little grey cells working!

    Your thoughts are welcomed and today (as ever) actively encouraged!

    Dewi Un


    Wednesday, 14 October 2009

    The Welsh Grand Committee does the Welsh language LCO

    I have now decided that my behaviour today has proven my commitment to covering Welsh politics. Whilst the majority of my peers have been (apart from those in more stable employment) sunning themselves, shopping or going to the gym I have been watching the Welsh Grand Committee on Parliament TV. Yes I know I’m the height of cool.

    These hours spent watching and Twittering (granted not as often during the afternoon session) has taught me several things about the scrutiny of LCOs.

    It’s well documented on this website that during my time in university I spent many a Friday morning learning about the GOWA 2006 – its scope and powers and therefore the LCO process. What I learnt today is that the members of Parliament clearly have not interpreted the Act as my lecturers had. Granted THIS LCO is a special case, however what I saw today was the process of minutiae scrutiny (and even a request to see a draft measure before passing the LCO), as opposed to a broader approach that looked purely at the legality of the LCO.

    My (along with lecturers / classmates) interpretation of the GOWA is that it’s the Assembly’s role to make the measures and it’s the Welsh MPs role to transfer the powers but only if they fall within the remit of the above mentioned act. We have known for some time now that this isn’t the approach that the Welsh MPs appear to be taking, or is it?

    Several times during today’s debate’s the MPs seemed confused themselves as to what exactly they were talking about, and several times some MPs had to remind others that it was not their place to discuss what would be included in a measure but instead what was included in the LCO. Confused? Some of them certainly seemed to be.

    My conclusion after watching today’s proceedings:

    Someone somewhere surely needs to clarify the role of the Welsh MPs with regards to LCOs.

    Are they essentially scrutinising future measures and therefore looking at LCOs to do exactly what they say on the tin?

    Or are they (as I initially interpreted) looking at whether or not the LCO transfers powers that the Assembly shouldn’t have legally ? And therefore leaving the Assembly do the close scrutiny at the measure stage.

    Either way - someone somewhere (for my sanity if nothing else) needs to decide or expect to see this confusion continue.

    Dewi Un

    P.S Great updates on Twitter from David Cornock, Nick Speed et al


    Monday, 12 October 2009

    MPs Hart Labour

    Today we’ve found out that Edwina Hart’s campaign has been boosted with the support of Paul Murphy MP and Don Touhig MP – as one tweet put it, two for the price of one.

    Now have I missed something somewhere? I’m sure that all the talk to this point has been that whilst Edwina Hart is popular with the trade unionists and some AMs, her campaign would likely splutter due to a lack of support from MPs. Today’s news surely means that this analysis is flawed?

    Paul Murphy and Don Touhig are some of the most senior Labour MPs and the most anti-devolution. If they support Edwina Hart’s campaign then surely many more MPs will follow? Edwina Hart is seen as a radical and the most pro-devolution of the three candidates – so if Don and Paul have ignored their natural opposition to these positions, and backed the AM from Gower, then maybe MPs are not as anti Edwina as we have been led to believe?

    If this is the case and MPs are dancing to Edwina Hart’s tune then surely she must become the front runner?

    Ladbrokes latest on Welsh First Minister race has it as:

    Jones 4/6, Hart 5/2, Lewis 7/2

    So Carwyn Jones is in the lead for now – but if more MPs start harting Labour then I suspect the odds will change.

    Dewi Un


    Thursday, 8 October 2009

    Podcast #2.2: The Importance of Being Seen

    The Podcast returns with the best quiz ever (for Dewi Tri)...

    We're also talking about the Labour leadership, who's got the snaziest website and how much of a difference that really makes??

    Dewi Tri's also been along to the Topping Out of the new Assembly building at Llandudno Junction with Mr Rhodri Morgan so will this help public relations up north??

    All that, fun and banter in our new look Politics Cymru Podcast.

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    Wednesday, 7 October 2009

    Carmarthen East and Dinefwr - not in the bag?

    So we now know pretty much who the runners and riders are not only in the Labour leadership race, but in the race for selection in Carmarthenshire East and Dinefwr. What is seen by many as a safe Plaid seat (I’ll come on to this later) sounds like an ideal place for a Plaid candidate to stand.

    The big guns to watch out for: Angharad Mair and Jonathan Edwards, I expect the race to effectively come down to these two, and I expect the winner to be pretty pleased. How often does a safe seat come up for grabs months before an election? Or is it a safe seat?

    The facts are that Adam Price managed to take the traditionally Labour seat in 2001 and extended his majority from 2,590 to 6,718 in 2005. Adam Price is a local boy who went to school locally and whose parents live locally. Given the boundary changes in 1997 this local link becomes far more important. Why’s that then? Well now Ammanford and Llandeilo are the two biggest towns / population centres in the constituency and both are fairly intimate places – where mostly everyone knows pretty much everyone else, so local links and empathy for local issues become very important here. An absence of this cost the Labour campaign dearly in 2005 where the candidate was seen to have been parachuted in from London.

    The constituency has a strong Labour tradition, Plaid managed to win the seat in 2001 because of a combination of a message that was more left wing than the Labour Party and a candidate with strong local roots who was brought up in the area (plus aforementioned boundary changes).

    Coming from Glanamman myself I’ve spent some time talking to locals gathering their opinions. My findings are: There is not necessarily a loyalty to Plaid Cymru here, there is however a loyalty to Adam Price.

    My point is - this is not Meirionnydd. There is no definite / concrete affiliation with Plaid Cymru here.

    All of which means that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr could be up for grabs - making the selection of a candidate for Plaid Cymru all the more important. Angharad Mair, I am told, may well alienate the voters who feel, just as they did with Ross Hendry in 2005, that she has been parachuted in.

    However with Labour’s inner party workings in Wales a mess, and their election coffers bare, it may be that they just don’t have the cash to support a push out West – which makes this entire article rather academic – so I suppose in classic Politics Cymru style, we shall have to wait and see....

    Dewi Un


    Monday, 5 October 2009

    Campaign Website Review

    It would appear Huw Lewis is slightly behind the times...I can’t find a campaign website for him.

    Carwyn Jones (who technically doesn’t launch his campaign until tonight) has gone for a Wordpress blog with 1 post to date and different sections including ‘Carwyn’ and ‘Ministerial Record’...sounds like gripping stuff.

    Edwina Hart has what is quite a stylish website complete with logos and catchphrases and everything!

    Based purely on websites I know who I’d vote for...of course there’s much more to these campaigns than looking good!

    Dewi Tri

    ADD: Lewis4Labour is now online and Huw Lewis is on Twitter already! D3


    Saturday, 3 October 2009

    Could this be what Wales look like after the next election?

    Vaughan Roderick’s been blogging this morning on the Welsh results for the annual Politics Home survey of marginal constituencies.

    Wales looking very interesting indeed and according to the index would see a major resurgence for the Conservatives who would take Aberconwy, Bridgend, Cardiff North, Carmarthen West and South Pembs, Gower, Newport West, Gower, Newport West, Vale of Clwyd and Vale of Glamorgan…


    It also sees Plaid making most of the gains they’d want to make.

    Here's a summary of those Welsh marginals:

    Aberconwy Labour Conservative GAIN
    Arfon Labour PC GAIN
    Brecon and Radnorshire Lib Dem Lib Dem HOLD
    Bridgend Labour Conservative GAIN
    Cardiff North Labour Conservative GAIN
    Cardiff West Labour Labour HOLD
    Carmarthen West and South Pembs Labour Conservative GAIN
    Ceredigion Lib Dem PC GAIN
    Clwyd South Labour Labour HOLD
    Clwyd West Conservative Conservative HOLD
    Delyn Labour Labour HOLD
    Gower Labour Conservative GAIN
    Llanelli Labour Labour HOLD
    Newport West Labour Conservative GAIN
    Preseli Pembrokeshire Conservative Conservative HOLD
    Vale of Clwyd Labour Conservative GAIN
    Vale of Glamorgan Labour Conservative GAIN
    Ynys Mon Labour PC GAIN

    If, like me, you can imagine no better way to spend your weekend take a look at all the findings here.

    Dewi Tri


    Friday, 2 October 2009

    Do we need a North Wales candidate?

    BANG! That’s the starting gun being fired on the race to succeed Rhodri Morgan.

    But it strikes me that all the candidates (so far) are all based along the M4 route:- Edwina from Gower, Carwyn from Bridgend and Huw from Merthyr.

    Three places that feel very far away from those of us based along the A55…

    Would a candidate from the north perhaps offer something different to the debate?

    Dewi Tri


    Thursday, 1 October 2009

    Podcast #2.1: The Next Generation

    We're back! New Podcast! New jingle! But we are a Dewi down...swings and roundabouts!

    And is there any better week to be back?

    Rhodri Morgan has stepped down - but what legacy does he leave and who will be his successor?

    We've also got our new north/south feature and the quiz is back.

    Let us know what you think -- as far as we're concerned it's very good to be back!

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    Hwyl Fawr Rhodri

    So Rhodri’s finally gone and done it – announced that he’s standing down as First Minister, with his intention to leave the job after the details of the budget have been hammered out (roughly December the 8th).

    It will be a nigh on impossible job to fill his sizeable shoes, but those who are feeling the urge to try are, as we speak, preparing for battle.

    Rhodri’s well respected by his colleagues, well liked by the Welsh public and feared by opposition politicians, to be one of those things is an achievement, to be all three is truly remarkable. His enthusiasm for Wales and for devolution has arguably held the project together for the last 10 years especially in the dark early days when the Assembly was floundering around looking for something to do. It is because of Rhodri that the Assembly has been normalised and accepted in the minds of the Welsh public – only a politician of his stature (with an approval rating that U.S Presidents would drool over) could have achieved that.

    Of course no-one’s perfect. During the last few years under Rhodri’s leadership the Labour Party’s popularity in Wales has plummeted – leading to that disastrous European election result in June. Some will also criticise the lack of progress made on the Parliament front and look at the still frosty relationship between the Senedd and Welsh MPs.

    However whatever your personal opinion of Rhodri’s politics it’s difficult to challenge his passion for Wales and desire to better the lives of those of us who live here. He has almost singlehandedly brought credibility to the Assembly – through his huge brain and common touch.

    Today is a momentous occasion for devolution, and now with its champion leaving the front lines for good hanging up his sword and shield, will devolution cope?

    Dewi Un