I’m going to preface this article by making some assumptions. I’m going to assume that the centre-left voters who make up the bulk of the support of the Labour Party in Wales have a political persuasion that would be:
- Strongly in favour of an investigation into the Iraq war
- Moderately opposed to foreign wars; particularly after the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles
- Strongly opposed to wasting billions on a nuclear deterrent
- Strongly opposed to the bedroom tax
- Strongly opposed to the NHS providing services to private patients
- Moderately against introducing ID cards
- Strongly opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail
- Moderately or strongly in favour of increasing benefits at least in line with increasing prices
- Strongly in favour of higher benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability
- Moderately opposed to a reduction in spending on welfare benefits
- Strongly in favour of extra support for long-term unemployed young people
- Strongly in favour of increasing the amount of money someone earns before paying income tax
- Strongly opposed to raising VAT
- Strongly in favour of extra taxation on super-high earners (>£150,000)
- Strongly in favour of a bankers’ tax
- Strongly in favour of a mansion tax
- Strongly in favour of reducing tax avoidance
- Moderately in favour of an elected House of Lords
- Moderately in favour of more powers for the National Assembly
So what does Nia Griffith’s voting record reveal about her activity over the past five years?
Well, on several of these issues, Nia is well aligned with our imaginary centre-left voter. But there are several of them where the alignment is poor. According to TheyWorkForYou, Nia:
- Voted moderately in favour of military aggression in foreign wars, and very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war
- Voted very strongly against increasing the threshold at which someone starts to pay income tax
- Voted strongly against reducing tax avoidance
- Has peculiarly voted in favour and against a wholly elected House of Lords
- Has voted a mixture of for and against more powers for Wales
Let’s see how Nia’s voting record pans out in the real world. It means that Nia’s in favour of people being killed, maimed and psychologically traumatised for the glory of the British Empire. The people dying are predominantly poor people: poor people in poor countries or poor people recruited from some of the poorest communities in Wales. Places like Llanelli. But when it comes to holding governments to account for their illegal wars, woah! The last thing Nia wants is a report highly likely to be most damaging to her Labour Party to be published just before the voters get to hold that party to account for it. After all, if you give these things enough time, people start to forget about them. The Chilcot report finished taking evidence in 2011.
Bizarrely, she’s voted against increasing the level of income at which someone starts to pay income tax. The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that Llanelli has several wards in which income levels are extremely low.
She’s all in favour – apparently – of big business and the mega-rich avoiding paying their fair dues in tax. Companies like Google, Amazon and Starbucks, who pay a pittance, or nothing at all, in corporation tax on their multi-billion pound activities in the UK. What does that mean? More tax for me and you, of course.
She has confused opinions in relation to democratising the second chamber of Parliament, despite the fact that it’s stuffed full of party donors, super-rich hereditary landowners and people who’ve been totally, unflinchingly loyal to their parties. People, in fact, like Nia (who has never rebelled against her party since the start of the 2010 parliament). Mind you, that level of toeing the party line comes naturally to Nia. In the 2005-2010 parliamentary session, she managed to rebel against Labour in a grand total of 6 votes out of 1,133.
And she’s happy to keep Wales – and her branch secretary Carwyn Jones – on the Westminster leash. Carwyn has said that withholding powers on energy from Wales is “wrong in principle and wrong in probably every other way”. Might that be of interest to Nia Griffith? Not a bit of it. Nia voted against the transfer of powers over energy to Wales. In fact, it surprises me that Nia was present at all to bother to vote against Wales’ national interests. After all, she was absent for 7 of the 10 key votes on transferring powers to the National Assembly for Wales.
For more information about Vaughan Williams, her main (Plaid) challenger for the seat of Llanelli, you can find his blog here, his twitter feed here, his facebook account here and his google plus here.