Thursday, 30 July 2009

Plaid's £1m Year

Plaid Cymru are well set up for the coming General Election according to figures released by the electoral commission.

The party apparently received £1m in donations in 2008 – more than half of that came from wills.

By comparison, the Liberal Democrats received just £5.4m throughout the whole of the UK – with Labour and the Conservatives taking in more than £30m each.

The credit crunch not hitting too hard then...

The BBC are reporting that Plaid haven't spent all of their £1m yet – they still have £300,000 in the war chest to spend in competitive seats...

(Ceredigion and Ynys Mon look out!)

Dewi Tri


Friday, 24 July 2009

Up Close and Personal

Gordon Brown et al’s visit to Wales yesterday gave us here at Politics Cymru the opportunity to complete the set - that is Cameron, Clegg and Brown (in that chronological order). Having met the big 3 I thought it a good idea to write a brief comparative note on them.

In all honesty Gordon Brown was the most impressive in person. He came across to the audience as authoritative, hugely intelligent yet personable (when he wasn’t exaggerating the contents of his I-pod). It made me wonder why his communications staff are so insistent on turning him into a clone of Tony Blair? Especially since this particular tactic is failing so miserably (remember that YouTube smile) and being mastered so brilliantly by his opposite number. As Prime Minister what’s wrong with being high brow? What’s wrong with preferring Bach and Beethoven over U2? What’s wrong with being obsessive about facts and figures? Why does a Prime Minister need to be a showman all of a sudden? What’s wrong with being a heavyweight? His current media plan is blatantly not working and looks like sending him and the rest of the Labour party to electoral doom.

I came out of yesterday's Q and A with Brown experiencing a strange sensation - as if I had just seen a dead man walking. I also came out thinking that if his media strategy was different then he wouldn’t be 17 points behind in the polls.

So how does he compare with Cameron? Despite the obvious passion for his brand of conservativism and his mastery of the Tony Blair way of doing things you can’t escape the fact that when DC’s answering a question it feels like he’s trying to sell you something - “and would you like our comprehensive insurance package with that?”. This makes you wonder - does he truly mean what he just said or is he saying it because it’s makes strategic sense to do so? It might just be that age and a few grey hairs make him more convincing in person - his whiter than white polished aura does make you think that he’s been groomed for power.

And Clegg? An affable chap is how one would describe Nick Clegg. Clegg like Brown does seem to have true belief in his message but it’s almost as if he knows that not many other people do. A ruddy nice fellow, but does he share the same aura as the other two? The aura that Prime Ministers have? I’m not sure he does.

All three have their strengths and weaknesses and it might well be that on a different day I would write a totally different article - but those are my genuine thoughts and impressions after meeting all 3.

I would say that a Presidential style debate between the three come election time would be fascinating and I would love them to have the courage to do it, but I doubt their communications teams have the balls.

Keep your thoughts coming in

Dewi Un


Kirsty's Listening

Forget Twitter and Facebook and all the fancy gadgets in between – Kirsty Williams is going back to basics and wants members of the public to send over ideas on a postcard.

"I believe that leaders should listen, not preach."

Fair doos.

But is this the best way to engage with her party members and the general public do we think? Can it encourage greater interaction with the political process? Or is it just a stunt that will have very little impact?

In PC style we'll wait and see.

In the meantime, if you want to tell Kirsty what's important to you, all the details are on the Lib Dem Cymru site.

Dewi Tri

PS The Dewis apologise for a lack of blogging of late – it's a busy time but we're still here!


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

WAG Has Been Paying for First Class Travel

Politics Cymru has seen evidence that Welsh taxpayers have been paying for First Class Travel despite the First Minister's vehement denials yesterday.

The Liberal Democrats' Freedom of Information request was met with some hostility from Rhodri Morgan who said that the story had been blown completely out of proportion and denied that civil servants used First Class flights (and said that even he himself doesn't take up such luxuries).

However, a travel itinerary leaked to the Welsh Lib Dems and seen by Politics Cymru now reveals that First Class Virgin Atlantic flights from New York to Los Angeles and back again in February and March of this year were paid for by the Welsh Taxpayer.

Kirsty Williams is now set to write to the First Minister demanding an apology for his comments yesterday.

Wales' top civil servant, Dame Gillian Morgan, did confirm yesterday that she would lead an investigation into Civil Servant's expenses.

Dewi Tri


ReActing well to the recession?

Just a quick post whilst I’m tucking away a chicken Caesar sandwich in Terra Nova. Some good news for Wales; unemployment is falling here in stark contrast to the rest of Britain where it is rising. Rhodri Morgan has said that this good sign shows that the Welsh economy is resisting the pressures of the recession and is encouraged by the progress shown. Cheryl Gillan on the other hand is urging caution - let's not get overexcited is her message.

These figures must be good news for Welsh Labour and may offer them a glimmer of hope for all the elections coming their way in the next few years. If these trends continue then they can legitimately claim that they have saved Welsh jobs (through their policies like ProAct and ReAct) and will surely therefore gain a degree of respect and popularity with a large proportion of the electorate.

All of Welsh Labour must have every possible finger crossed that these figures are not just a flash in the pan, at the moment it looks like these figures and their continued success is Welsh Labour’s only weapon in the face of electoral disaster.

Dewi Un


Be careful what you wish for...

So Alun Davies has got his wish - last night he was selected by the Blaenau Gwent Labour party to stand as their candidate in the next Assembly election. Honourable or foolish? Brave or stupid? One thing's for sure; he must be a mightily relieved man this morning.

Remember his spectacular attack on Blaenau Gwent incumbent Trish law? The most striking quote from that fateful press conference in my opinion was his description of her as “invisible especially when she’s on her feet”. Had the AM for Mid and West Wales failed to secure the nomination in Blaenau Gwent he would have been left with a considerable amount of egg on his face - so much so he would have found it difficult if not impossible to trot back to the people of Mid and West Wales without having more egg thrown his way.

Blaenau Gwent is now surely shaping up to be one of the stories of the next Assembly election and if Alun Davies is successful - it may just gain him the respect he craves within the Labour party.

Dewi Un


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Lobby briefings - 14/07/09 (the last ones)

And so on to the last lobby briefings of the year.

We begin with a personal reflection on the year that was for Politics Cymru:

And here's what Rodders had to say in the WAG's final (and possibly his own?) press briefing:

Nick had a dig at IWJ in his:

While Kirsty reflected on her first term as party leader:

Side note: we've just finished at Cardiff University's Centre for Journalism Studies, not UWIC.

Pob hwyl/Happy recess!

Y Tri Dewi


Monday, 13 July 2009

Splashing the Cash

A few pints of Guinness in New York: £3,500
A year's worth of flights from Hong Kong: £70,000...
...Another Welsh Liberal Democrats FOI: priceless!
* * * *
Every Tuesday as we three Dewis sit in the Senedd's cafe sipping our not-too-pleasant coffee between doses of Nick Bourne and Kirsty Williams, we keep ourselves entertained (yes, we really are that sad!) by wondering what Freedom of Information request the Welsh Liberal Democrats have submitted in time for this week's lecture.

But our game has been inconsiderately spoiled this week as it is perfectly clear what dirt Kirsty's trusted aides have been digging for in time for the year's final set of press briefings. It also seems convenient that this information comes ahead of the only WAG briefing which can be filmed by the country's media.

So WAG officials have spent nearly three-quarters of a million tax-payer's pounds on promoting Wales abroad using 34 credit cards. That figure includes more than £250,000 spent by the New York office alone on kids' furnishings, and food and drink at the Irish pub, Clancy's (£3,500). And the WAG must be sending all it's youthful staff across the pond because employees at the Big Apple office have also also spent £2,500 on teen clothing.

And what about the Hong Kong office? Well £70,000 was spent by its staff on flights during 2008-09 and nearly £22,000 on overnight accommodation.

With all that money to throw about surely us journos can be provided with some decent coffee on our Tuesday morning expeditions to the Bay.

Anyway, here's what Kirsty has had to say:

"Every taxpayer in Wales deserves an explanation from the Labour-Plaid government. Whilst we're in the middle of a recession it's disgusting to know that public officials are flying first class, staying in the most expensive hotels, eating in the best restaurant - all at the swipe of the Welsh credit card."

And in what has become a familiar dig at Ieuan Wyn Jones - Kirsty Williams recently slapped him on the wrist for mislaying a few laptops - the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats had this to say:

"The minister for Economy and Transport has some serious questions to answer. What if any procedures are in place to monitor and police spending? What kind of guidance allows civil servants to to take first class flights and live this superstar lifestyle? How can we be sure that all of this activity directly generates investment into Wales? Quite frankly what on earth is going on and what will be done about this?"

Seems the Lib Dems are providing the questions for us to pose at the WAG's briefing tomorrow as well then!

They really are determined to take the fun out of our Tuesday morning.

Stay tuned to see what was said at the three briefings.

Dewi Dau

image used courtesy of SqueakyMarmot @

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Podcast #29: Home Sweet Home

Today we invite you into the humble home of Politics Cymru. Step inside and make yourselves at home!

Up for discussion on this week's vodcast: AMs' expenses (they're becoming a bit of a regular feature aren't they?), the language LCO and the Barnett formula.

For all this and much much more, just hit 'play'!

*Regular viewers will be aware that at the beginning of our other vodcasts we have shown the outside of the venue. However you will understand that due to security reasons and for fear of being compromised in the future we have been unable to do so this week.*

Have a great weekend and we hope you enjoy the cricket,

Pob hwyl,

Y Tri Dewi


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Over the Rainbow? Apparently not.

A tip - if ever you decide you'd like to know why the Rainbow coalition never came to be, please don't go asking Bethan Jenkins or Peter Black.

In fact this recent twitter exchange between the Plaid and Lib Dem AMs should be enough to make you lay the matter to rest!

It seems the friendly exchange began after an interested twitterer by the name of Marcuswarner, asked the following, innocent question:

#senedd is it only the 6 lib dem AMs that believe their 2007 coalition yarn? from web

@ Marcuswarner - it seems they are delusional. Eveyone at the conf yesterday were well aware of their role in the coalition negotiations.... from web

bethanjenkins you were considering rainbow option weeks after LD exec vote. Your rejected it. Nothing delusional about that.5:36 PM Jul 7th from web

peterblackwales- your party refused it before that.5:37 PM Jul 7th from web

bethanjenkins no it didnt Bethan.My party voted for it. Stop rewriting history.8:28 PM Jul 7th from web in reply to bethanjenkins

peterblackwales i think you are the one doing that.8:40 PM Jul 7th from Tweetie in reply to peterblackwales

bethanjenkins not at all. Review the events not the myths generated by your spin doctors.8:44 PM Jul 7th from web in reply to bethanjenkins

peterblackwales- that's a really hard accusation- lying. I never wanted Rainbow. Why would I want to lie about the whole thing?about 23 hours ago from web

bethanjenkins Your preferences at the time are irrelevant. You have adopted Plaid lies designed to spin a particular view of past events.about 15 hours ago from web

peterblackwales- no I haven't. I will defend it so we could continue this for agesabout 14 hours ago from web

bethanjenkins well if you are persisting in saying we voted against then clearly you have adopted Plaid liesabout 14 hours ago from web

peterblackwales - 14 hours ago from web

bethanjenkins article is incorrect in saying the Exec vetoed it as was evidenced by subsequent conf. Vote figures support my view on lies.about 10 hours ago from web in reply to bethanjenkins

peterblackwales oh please can we leave this now? This is going nowhere!about 5 hours ago from Tweetie in reply to peterblackwales

bethanjenkins I am not going to concede on the lies and misinformation Plaid are putting about. It is important that history not rewrittenabout 5 hours ago from web in reply to bethanjenkins

peterblackwales- I have consulted a well know political pundit on this, and that person agrees with my analysis. I have nothing more to sayabout 4 hours ago from web

bethanjenkins well he cant be that independent if he supports your distorted view of history #plaidrewritehistoryabout 4 hours ago from web in reply to bethanjenkins

peterblackwales- he is not 'my' pundit! He is independent. What a laugh.about 4 hours ago from web

So there we go then. Things may be awkward in the corridor from now on. Or then again they do say "wrth gicio a brathu mae cariad yn magu"!

Thoughts anybody?

Dewi Dau


Tro Newydd yng Nghynffon yr LCO Iaith

Felly o'r diwedd daeth ymateb Pwyllgor Dethol Materion Cymreig San Steffan i'r cais am drosglwyddo pwerau dros yr iaith i'r Cynulliad.

Ac mae digon o inc coch i'w weld yno.

Dyma ddywedodd Vaughan am y peth ar ei flog ef:

"Ffrwyth cyfaddawdu'r [sic] yw'r LCO, cyfaddawdu yn gyntaf rhwng Llafur a Phlaid Cymru yn y Bae ac yna cyfaddawdu pellach rhwng Llywodraeth y Cynulliad a Paul Murphy yn Swyddfa Cymru."

Er mawr ryddhad i'r rhai sy'n ymgyrchu dros yr iaith, mae'r pwyllgor yn cytuno taw yng Nghaerdydd y dylai'r pwerau i ddeddfu ar yr iaith fod. Mae Cymdeithas yr Iaith wedi croesawu'r newyddion er bod Menna Machreth, cadeirydd CYI, yn gofidio y bydd yn rhaid aros i hyn ddigwydd:

"Mae'n galonogol fod y Pwyllgor Materion Cymreig yn unfrydol eu barn mai'r Cynulliad dylai ddeddfu ar yr iaith Gymraeg, ond mae’r adroddiad yn dweud y byddai'r Pwyllgor yn dymuno trafod y Gorchymyn eto os oes newidiadau gan y Cynulliad, sy'n achosi pryder oherwydd nid oes angen llusgo traed a gwastraffu amser ymhellach yn y broses hon," meddai.

Unwaith eto mae datganiad y pwyllgor dethol yn codi cwestiynau ynghylch faint o ymyrraeth y dylai'r pwyllgor ei gael ar union gynnwys cais am bwerau.

Mae'r Aelodau Seneddol wedi holi, er enghraifft, pam fod cwmnïau telathrebu’n cael eu cynnwys yn y cais ond fod banciau'n rhydd i wneud fel y mynnant. Cytuna Menna Machreth fod hyn yn bwynt y dylid ei thrafod:

"Dywed yr adroddiad ymhellach fod anghysondeb yn y rhestr o ddarparwyr, sef yn union beth rydym ni wedi bod yn ei ddweud oherwydd dylai bobl Cymru gael hawl i wasanaethau Cymraeg ar draws pob gwasanaeth; e.e. cynnwys trenau ond nid bysiau, telegyfathrebu ond nid banciau," meddai.

Fodd bynnag nid yw Cymdeithas yr Iaith yn credu taw lle'r pwyllgor dethol yw dweud pethau felly. Yn hytrach y Cynulliad ddylai gael gwneud y fath benderfyniadau wedi i'r pwerau gael eu trosglwyddo:

"[N]id ydym yn credu mai lle Gorchymyn sy’n trosglwyddo pwerau yw nodi hyn, ond penderfyniad Llywodraeth y Cynulliad wrth lunio mesur," meddai Menna Machreth.

"Mae pobl Cymru wedi gorfod gwneud y tro â gwasanaethau Cymraeg tocenistig os o gwbl yn ddigon hir, mae'n bryd rhoi hawl i’r Gymraeg i’r rheiny sydd am fyw drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg er mwyn creu sefyllfa fwy cyfartal i’r iaith yng Nghymru," ychwanegodd.

Dewi Dau

llun wedi ei ddefnyddio gyda chaniatad 'Crystl':


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Lobby briefings - 07/07/2009

It's that time of week again and so here are your video digests from today's lobby briefings.

Gerald Holtham took the reigns at the WAG's briefing and Dewi Un brings you a condensed version of what he had to say (you can see our interview with the chair of the funding review in full here).

Dewi Tri then went to listen to Nick Bourne. The Conservatives were responding to the Halthom report and discussing yesterday's expenses announcements:

And finally Dewi Dau brings you right up to date with what's happening in the Lib Dem camp (see if you can spot the mystery AM lurking in the background - seemingly intent on putting me off my game!):

So that's that for another week.

Hwyl am y tro.

Y Tri Dewi


Gerald Holtham Speaks to Politics Cymru

On the day he published his report into how Wales gets its money from Central Government, Gerald Holtham speaks to Dewi Un about his findings and how they came about:


Monday, 6 July 2009

Taking Control of our AMs' Expenses

So it seems our politicians can't be trusted to run their own affairs.

Roger Jones has reported back that we should no longer pay for as many AMs' second homes, none of them will get a food allowance or be allowed to employ their family members.

Have Assembly Members just brought this upon themselves do we think? If this review's conclusions are enforced, will it make the task of being an AM that much harder? And how closely will AMs' colleagues at Westminister be watching to see if this new plan works?

The BBC reports that party groups will meet this evening to consider their responses – that will no doubt make tomorrow morning's lobby briefings all the more interesting!

In the meantime here's what we've heard.

From Plaid's Dai Lloyd:

"We look forward to having clear guidelines that will be set out by the Assembly Commission once it has come to its final decision following these recommendations. The Plaid Cymru group in the National Assembly is fully committed to abiding by that decision."

From the Conservatives' Paul Davies:

"We have always supported greater openness in how politicians spend public money in relation to their work and will study the report’s findings closely."

And from the Lib Dems' Kirsty Williams:

"We as a group welcome the report and we will accept its recommendations. This is a fair and transparent system of financial support for Assembly Members. The Independent Review Panel has produced a series of recommendations which will hopefully go some way to restoring public confidence in its elected representatives."

Dewi Tri


Friday, 3 July 2009

Dafydd Elis-Thomas Says England Needs Devolution

This is a story that’s just popped up on Golwg360 (I know, we’re just as surprised).

The Welsh Assembly’s Presiding Officer has said that the best way for the British nations to improve relations with one another and give citizens a better chance to decide things for themselves is to have devolution within England. It would also take pressure off central government apparently.

He also says that politicians in Cardiff Bay have been unaffected by the expenses scandal at Westminster because people are perfectly able to differentiate between the different institutions.

Hmm, wishful thinking?

It's already been proved by Mr Blair’s 2004 referendum that there’s not a lot of interest in England for devolution so do we think the Presiding Officer’s got a good point?

Dewi Tri


Podcast #28 - The boys are back in...the booth

Apologies for the old technical glitch - but not to let our loyal followers down here is this week's instalment.

We're back in the radio studio for this week's podcast.

The Dewis look at - AMs' expenses, ReAct and David Melding's book along with the usual quiz and banter of course.

Your thoughts and comments welcome as always (encouraged in fact).

Y Tri Dewi


Please sir, I want some more!

So after this, what is the Assembly Government planning to do about swine flu?

Pig ignorance could work:

Maybe not. But it does seem the WAG is trying to say it's not really up to Cardiff Bay to do anything. Even though health is one of the devolved fields of competence, the WAG is arguing this is an exceptional situation and one where Westminster needs to get involved. But those in London aren't so keen on that idea - they're already in quite a bit of debt, don't you know!

Apparently it's going to cost tens of millions of pounds to roll out the vaccination programme across Wales and that's why the WAG is going cap in hand to the treasury asking for some financial help.

The WAG assures us whatever Mr Darling's decision is following Rhodri's pitch to the Treasury, the Welsh public have nothing to worry about: the WAG will find the funds if it has to.

In the meantime, whilst we await the Chancellor's answer, here are a few questions this episode seems to have thrown up:

What does all this say about the devolution settlement? Does it show that Wales isn't ready for more responsibility? Or do we just need a bigger budget? How ironic is it that everybody's up in arms when Westminster gets involved in the LCO process, but now - when we need some money - we're quite happy to ask for Westminster's involvement?

Or does this just show that the current Assembly government is unable to look after its piggy bank (see what I did there?) and simply isn't up to the job?


Dewi Dau

Image used courtesy of Artifex @


Thursday, 2 July 2009

Four days and counting…

Unlike SW19 there hasn’t been a collective sense of dread among the devolved political class of Cardiff Bay. AMs may have lost a few minutes sleep here or there but compared to their Westminster colleagues I’m sure that they have slept like babies, but for how long? Roger Jones reports on Monday and is likely to cast a critical word (or two) in the direction of some of the more ‘borderline’ expenses claims that have come to light in the last few days.

No doubt the issue of constituency office rent will be high on the agenda, working out why the parties thought it appropriate to use the public purse to fund themselves, which when claiming rent on offices that they own outright is arguably what they have done.

Forgive me if this has already been disclosed but I wonder if Mr Jones will draw attention to some particular claims made? In other words will he single people/parties out? Let me know if he has signalled his intentions with regards this point because if he hasn’t then some chemists my just be getting some panic purchases of nightol.

I wonder if something will be said about the age old defence that is traipsed out by every politician when questioned on expenses - that classic statement of “It was in the rules”. I doubt it but one can dare to dream.

Anyway for the Senedd, relatively unscathed by the expenses saga to date, Monday is unlikely to blow up a major storm but then again four days is a long time in politics…

Dewi Un


Don't panic!

Don't worry folks!This week's podcast is on the way, it's just being held up by technical difficulties!

This week we discuss the revelation that AMs and MPs are claiming on rent paid to their own parties, there's a bit about the controversy surrounding the WAG's failure to pay their ReAct staff in time and there's the usual quiz...

Keep an eye, Podcast number 28 will be here shortly!

Y Tri Dewi