What a bargain!

For one vote, Labour have sold themselves cheap, one might even go as far as to describe them as a “cheap date“. 

Plaid have played the situation brilliantly. For one vote today they have secured quite a list of concessions. Here they are:

  • Thirty hours of free childcare with a commitment to increase the number of Welsh medium places
  • National Infrastructure Commission to deliver investment across the nation
  • Establish fund to end postcode lottery and improve access to new drugs and treatments
  • Welsh Development Bank
  • Recruitment and training of GPs
  • At least 100,000 new apprentices
  • Securing a successful future for the steel industry
  • Campaign vociferously for a ‘Remain’ vote
  • New Public Health Bill without the controversial e-cigarettes element
  • Additional Learning Needs Bill which will include a new Autism Act
  • Strengthen Welsh Language Measure
  • Legislate to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement (the smacking of children)
  • Parliamentary Review into Health & Social Care

Has there ever been an opposition that has succeeded to get so much in so little time.

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An agreement to move Wales forward

Today, Leanne Wood and Carwyn Jones will make a joint statement regarding the agreement reached to overcome the deadlock in nominating and appointing a First Minister. 

It is clear what this won’t be. 

It will not be an announcement of a formal (nor in formal) coalition. Plaid have made clear that they intend to be an effective opposition, unlike that of the Conservatives in the last assembly.

It won’t be an announcement of a ‘supply and confidence’ agreement where Plaid props up a Labour minority government for the next 5 years.

What will the announcement be?

This agreement is for one vote- that of appointing a First Minister. The will be a minority Labour government.

For this Plaid has won many concessions from Labour. These include:

  • Re-structure the committee process, which will strengthen the process of scrutinising the government.
  • Establish bilateral committees to examine legislation, budget and constitutional matter. This will put Plaid in an unique position to hold the government to account and have a hand in important developments.

Plaid has also successfully won concessions on 5 of their 9 election pledges. Although details of these will be announced later today, they range from commitments on childcare to working on a New Treatment Fund for the NHS.

In the first week of the Fifth Assembly, Plaid have shown that they are an effective opposition which will ensure that the people of Wales get the best possible deal. 

Just imagine what they could achieve on government in 5 years time!

It’s up to them

Local Authorities Minister

With Carmarthenshire County Council continuing to show the rest of Wales how to avoid scrutiny and stifle the democratic process, I received a response from my regional AM concerning filming at council meetings.  Ok it wasn’t a response from my AM as such, rather it was a relaying of the Local Authorities Minister’s view.  Here’s Carl Sargeant reply.

It would seem that the minister thinks that filming without prior consent shouldn’t be allowed; fair enough say you, however this is just licence for controlling chief executives, mayors and chairpersons to avoid transparency which suppresses  local democracy.  The minister also explains that he disagrees with filming people without their knowledge and permission, again fair enough; however, councillors are public representatives and are acting publicly in council meetings, so should be ready for people to film them while debating and voting on matters that will affect their constituents.

However, I contacted the AM regarding her view on the principle of filming should be allowed in council meetings.  However, the principle isn’t expressly discussed in the reply, but the minister does outline that the Welsh Government does support councils’ engagement with the public.  The minister has not, as of yet, set out guidelines for councils on this issue as shown in my recent FOI request, he does encourage councils to make the maximum effort in engaging the public in their proceedings.  However without guidelines councils won’t do anything they don’t have to.  This is all ambiguous stuff, with the minister relying on good will, and as we have seen, some councils are short of that.

It was good to see that the minister commends Carmarthenshire’s plans to webcast proceedings, and that it is an example to other councils.  However a similar idea (Carmarthen TV) has been mooted for a while and as of yet is still to be seen.  I suppose time will tell.

Misleading leaflets and the election

I have written before about the Lib Dems’ misleading graphs in their election literature, but this is a new one to me!  Today I received a leaflet through the post from the Lib Dems (see picture).  When I opened the letter I was expecting to see Wyn Williams pointing at various points of local greivances, however there was a leaflet with Kirsty Williams standing in front of an Ambulance, hugging a lamb, and sitting with schoolchildren (and one, which I can only assume, of Kirsty hiding behind a corner – bottom right of the picture).

Anyway, this must have been a regional leaflet, however the title read “Time for real action for Montgomeryshire”.  But correct me if I’m wrong, Kirsty isn’t standing in Montgomeryshire.  I can only assume that this is a regional leaflet, but she isn’t standing on the regional list either!  Neither does it say anything about the regional list on the leaflet, apart from the suggestion that i should “look for the bird” (maybe an idea from the former MP Lembit Opik?).

Kirsty isn't standing here!

The end of the Condem coalition.

Shortly after the formation of the ConDem coalition last year I predicted that the government wouldn’t last more than a year. Well, it’s almost a year and the coalition still stands… for now. I might have been a bit hasty in my prediction, however the situation seems more fragile than ever.

The last year has been relatively plain sailing because it’s only now an issue that is close to the Lib Dems’ hearts. I’m not sure why commentators are acting surprised by this though, it was inevitable that the government would be split on the issue of AV.

May will not be a good month for the Lib Dems, they could very well AV slip through their fingers at the same time hundreds of their councillors in England face being turfed out of their wards – and as for the Lib Dems in Wales, well they could possibly find themselves with as little as 2 seats in the Assembly.

With all of these factors considered I feel confident in saying that the Westminster government won’t last until 2015. I would go so far as to say that the coalition won’t be in place this time next year.

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(c)The Prime Minister's office

Who will win Montgomeryshire?

Montgomeryshire

With electioneering in full swing right across Wales I thought it timely to discuss the way things look in the constituency I live in.  As I have already mentioned in an earlier post, I have already cast my vote via postal ballot where I voted for David Senior (Plaid Cymru).  I believe that Plaid are the only group in the Assembly that could offer an alternative to a Labour government.  The Tories have no experience in WAG, and as for the Lib Dems, well their share of seats will either remain the same or, as expected decrease.

However, in Montgomeryshire there are two plausible outcomes to this election, either Wyn Williams, the Lib Dem candidate, or Russell George, the Tory candidate will win.  As many of you will know the Tories took the seat from the Lib Dems in the 2010 Westminster election, and so are riding high off that victory.   Lib Dems have had bad press in the area over the last few years with Lembit Opik (as seen on TV – and any other two bit reality show / tabloid newspaper) and his exploits, and of course the incident between the former AM, Mick Bates and paramedics.

The situation for the Lib Dems isn’t helped by the fact that the Tory that already represents Montgomeryshire in Westmister is a popular individual.  Glyn Davies MP (and former AM) has earned great respect amongst many in the county accross the political spectrum.  Glyn has managed to raise his profile, and that of the Tories in the county with his campaign against proposed plans for windmills and electric pylons in the county which has certainly reflected well on Russell George.

It should also be noted that it is only Russell George placards that can be seen along the roads around Llanidloes and Newtown.  I know such a sentence can easily be hyperbole, but I have literally seen no poster nor placard in support of Wyn Williams up anywhere, up to this point anyway.

So I gingerly raise my head above the parapet here to say that in my opinion it will be Russell George and Montgomeryshire Tories who will be celebrating come May 6th.

Election leaflets

Since the Westminster elections in 2010 I have been uploading all election leaflets that come through the door to a great website called electionleaflets.org. This site depends on volunteers to upload the leaflets they have received. I find that this could be a very useful resource for future historians and political anoraks who want to see how issues have developed, who has promised what, and how campaigns change with time. So I urge all of you out there to scan and upload your leaflets.

Lib Dems and bar graphs!

Another letter I have sent to the County Times in Montgomeryshire, after receiving a leaflet from the local Lib Dem candidate.

Dear Editor,
It often amuses me to read election leaflets from political parties, and none amuse me more than those of the Liberal Democrats. I refer in particular to their infamous bar graphs that would seem to “prove” that its a two horse race! This year is no exception to this. On Saturday I received a leaflet stating that “We [the Lib Dems] called to called to see you [me] today”. In this leaflet was a convenient bar graph showing how Plaid Cymru and Labour cannot contend with the Tories in Montgomeryshire.

I take issue with this misleading bar graph for one fundamental reasons. They are based on the election result of the last Westminster elections. Now, I and I’m sure all of your readers aren’t as naive to believe the graphs produced by the Lib Dems. Of course they are based on real figures, but we all know that the issues for the Assembly elections are different to those of the 2010 Westminster election. And so is the way we elect the Assembly, therefore the results in the election will differ to the Lib Dems “Two horse bar graph”.

I also was amused by the following line more than the graph’s misleading nature, the line was: “Voting Lib Dem is the only way to keep the Tories out”

The irony is certainly not lost on me, neither I’m sure it is on your readers and electors of Montgomeryshire. We have heard that line before.