Tag Archives: Cai Larsen

The Suppurating Reality of Public Life in Wales

Keir Hardie would be turning in his grave. This is what the Labour party has become. A party until recently wholly committed to austerity, that repeatedly fails to vote against the wilful savagery inflicted on the poor by their Conservative-cut-accomplices in Westminster, a party that delights in lavishing untold billions on weapons of mass destruction.

And in Wales, Keir’s adopted country, a Labour machine brimming with lickspittles and toadies who want to import those nuclear warheads to Pembrokeshire, a party morally and politically spent, acting only in the interests of whatever it takes to retain its tired grip on power.

This paragon of socialist success, Wales, the victim of the longest-running one-party government in Europe.

A Labour party so replete with failure, incompetence and listlessness that its 52-page programme for government contains only the tiniest handful of measurable targets*.

A Labour party that stuffs the institutions that govern our daily lives with party apparatchiks. And the Welsh Government’s defence? That most appointees “did not declare” an affiliation with the Labour party. What they don’t mention? That you only need to declare an affiliation if you’ve been a candidate at election, an agent of a candidate, or a branch Treasurer, Secretary or Chair. That means there are potentially thousands of Labour party members quietly filling up positions in public life with a nod and a wink. What proportion of the 90% of appointees “unaffiliated” to a political party is comprised of Labour party members? We don’t know – and the Welsh Government will never tell us.

A Labour party ruthlessly determined to reduce opportunities for scrutiny and accountability. Using feeble excuses for halting publication of Ministerial decision reports. Consistently fail to meet one of the few targets you yourself invented? Not a problem for Labour. Change, or delete, the target.

So who’s to hold the Welsh Government to account? Not the NGOs. If the environment sector is a representative sample, then the Welsh Government and its agencies apparently use the threat of reduced funding to eliminate criticism.

The media? Well, for a country overly dependent on public service broadcasters such as the BBC, don’t hold your breath. This is a media that treats Carwyn Jones with the sickening reverence usually reserved for the monarchy. Not that all politicians are treated with kid gloves. Jason Mohammad’s pillorying of Leanne Wood for sticking to her principles and not singing the national anthem of another country was astonishing. But then, Leanne’s not an establishment figure, royalty or from the Labour party – goodness knows the backroom deals Labour has done to ensure favourable treatment.

The political opposition? It’s pretty difficult to get your message across if the media is Labour supplicant.

Cai Larsen has pointed out in the past that if your desire is for you and your offspring to get unfair advantage in life, then you stand a much better chance of doing so through membership of the Labour party than through being a mason.

This is what the Labour party in Wales has become. A club for sharing out the spoils of victory to its anointed brethren. An apparatus for stifling dissent, for strangling criticism, and for ensuring its own continuation. The lofty ambitions, the socialism, the ideals, the beliefs, all tossed aside. You don’t need ideals when your status in society is ideal.

Remember this, dear readers, when you flock to the polling booths next May.

Leanne Wood – in that same interview – told Jason that ‘we’re not in North Korea’. And she’s right, we’re not. Yet. But we’re a country that’s been crushed under a Labour administration that’s been in power for 16 years, with another 5 in its sights.

This is the suppurating reality of Welsh public life.

Keir Hardie would be turning in his grave.

 

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* Our inspection revealed just two measurable targets in 52 pages. But do let us know if you can find a few more squirreled away.

  • Increasing spending on Wales’ schools by at least 1% over our block grant, and raise the amount delegated by local authorities to schools to 85%.
  • Fund and facilitate the employment of 500 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in Wales.

Rho sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government, Westminster

The Price of Dependence

We already know the cost of dependence. Or at least, we don’t know the exact cost, but we do know that our dependence on the UK state costs us untold billions.

Every which way, the people of Wales are getting shafted.

But what price do we pay for our dependence?

Something of that nature was revealed by Andy Burnham a few weeks ago:

I conducted the last spending review of the last Labour government and I looked in detail at the Barnett formula, and concluded that it wasn’t fair to Wales and there would need to be changes to it to ensure a much fairer funding settlement… I believe Wales has been short-changed.

As Cai Larsen points out, this means that the Labour Party has known since 2007 that Wales is underfunded. Of course, it’s an open secret that everyone has known for donkeys’ years that Wales has been underfunded. But here’s the first open acknowledgement by a serving Minister, and one in the Treasury at that, that his party has known.

And the Labour Party, during its tenure of the UK Government after 2007, did precisely nothing to secure fair funding for Wales. So that’s at least £300 million per year (some say £540 million) every year since 2007 that the people of Wales have paid the rest of the UK, via the Labour Party, for our pathetic obedience to our Labour masters.

But of course, if Andy Burnham knew about it in 2007, then there’s no way his successors in the Treasury could have been ignorant of our underfunding. So the Lib Dems and Conservatives, from 2010 to 2015, and the Conservatives going solo since May, have been totally complicit in this asset-stripping of Wales.

The price we pay for praying at the altar of unionism is likely to be somewhere in the region of £400 million per year. This is when we start to realise that we’re not just having a fun political kickabout. We’re talking about people’s lives.

£400 million a year goes a very long way. Over the last 8 years, that would have meant a cash injection of £3.2 billion into Welsh public services. So let’s not pull our punches. People have died in Wales because Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem politicians have conspired to funnel money rightfully destined for Wales’ NHS elsewhere. The life chances of our children are directly damaged because our education system is underfunded as a result of Unionist largesse on the establishment. Our arts and cultural services that bring joy and delight to our lives are being pared to the bone because Unionists consider Wales to be a political irrelevance.

So the next time someone like Baroness Jenny Randerson busily tries to convince the people of Wales that we’re doing just fine and dandy, thanks to Barnett, notch it up as another Unionist lie.

And commit to never vote for a Unionist party again.

Rho sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Education, Elections, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Welsh Politics Changes – for Good

The news that Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Green Party will participate in two of the three televised leaders’ debates has created a seismic shift in the power relationships of politics.

Plaid has faced problems of apparent legitimacy across swathes of Wales for decades. One memorable story is told of a young woman who, having been selected to stand for Plaid back in 2005, visited a relative in Newport to relay the good news. Her aunt was aghast, telling her “What on earth are you doing with those extremists!”

But that legitimacy has now been handed to Plaid on a silver platter. Because it’s very difficult for people in any corner of Wales to argue that Plaid isn’t relevant to the political discourse at a Wales or UK level when they’re on TV screens, beamed into 30 million homes from Islay to Islington.

One of the enduring myths of Welsh politics is that a vote for a particular party is a wasted vote; it’s one that it particularly commonly used by the Labour party to persuade people not to vote for Plaid. But as I’ve argued before:

…some parties will try to persuade you that your vote is wasted if you vote for so-and-so party in a UK election. That’s blatantly false, because it’s the one species of election where your vote is almost guaranteed to achieve nothing but send a message, regardless of the party you vote for.

This scenario couldn’t be a worse result for the ‘big UK’ parties. Instead of bickering amongst themselves to show who has the thickest fag paper to put between each others’ policies, they now face the prospect of policy humiliation by a determined, intelligent and telegenic trio of anti-austerity party leaders. The delightful schadenfreude is that it’s a result that’s been brought about by the parties themselves attempting to score cheap political points. David Cameron’s bluff has been called – he didn’t want to participate unless the Greens were also invited to the party (clearly he was unwilling to go into a contest where the only likely outcome would be his party bleeding votes to UKIP). But Ed Miliband can’t now refuse to participate, because of the extraordinary scenes in the House of Commons a few weeks back when he branded the Prime Minister ‘running scared’ for his stance and his Labour MPs ‘clucked like chickens‘. And with three left-wing parties in the fray, Ed Miliband now stands to lose the most.

In Wales, valleys seats that were formerly impregnable Labour fortresses will now start to drift into accessible territory for Plaid. The combination of new establishment-gifted legitimacy, the platform of the TV debates itself, and UKIP eroding Labour’s vote from the right mean that some veteran coasting MPs the like of Chris Bryant and Wayne David will have to start to work their constituencies.

It also signals the beginning of the end of the two-party system in the UK, and the one-party system in Wales. Although change happens relatively slowly under the first-past-the-post electoral system, the days of people sacrificing their principles to vote, with gritted teeth, for a candidate who is slightly less unappealing than the other candidate, are coming to a close. When people have a genuine choice over their options, they’ll give less of a fig about some fictitious formula where only X party stands a chance of being in government. The fact that every political pundit is saying this is the hardest election to predict for 100 years tells you that the field is wide open.

This 7-party debate, which I among many would have thought totally fanciful (although I participated dutifully in the social media to bring it about) has changed Welsh politics for Good.

Finally, it also vindicates the stance taken by Plaid of forming a bloc with the Greens and SNP. Some commentators (Simon Brooks, for example), have criticised Plaid for working with the Greens in the run-up to the UK election. However, it’s extremely unlikely that David Cameron would have used either Plaid or the SNP in the way he did the Greens in order to try to avoid the leadership debates, and which has ultimately led to this significant step forward for democracy in Wales.

 

1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Greens, Labour, Plaid Cymru, SNP, UKIP, Westminster