Tag Archives: Carwyn Jones

Carwyn Jones – Mr Anonymous

There was a time when Carwyn Jones was regarded as an asset to the Labour Party in Wales. Regard the party political broadcast for the 2011 election which was basically the Carwyn show. And who could overlook the analyses by Roger Scully, which for some reason use polling data, rather than the revolutionary new method we’re about to reveal. Roger noted in December 2014 that:

Carwyn Jones remains by some way the most popular party leader in Wales

Let’s consider that Carwyn has been First Minister since December 2009, a full six years. That would be a decent length of time for someone to make their mark. But I get the feeling that Carwyn’s star has fallen a long way since its ascendency in 2011. Perhaps he’s taken everything (and everyone) for granted for so long that people just don’t care about him – or his opinion – any more. I’d be astonished if Carwyn gets the airtime in this election that he enjoyed in party political broadcasts last election. What leads to this radical conclusion?

It’s the New Year Twitter test.

As First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones’ new year message of good will was retweeted a grand total of 4 times (up to the end of 4 January), one of whom is a candidate in the coming election, and another Wayne David, MP for Caerffili. To be fair, his Welsh language version was retweeted 5 times. But two of these had already retweeted the English language version. Grand total? 7 retweets.

How did other First and Prime Ministers do?  Nicola Sturgeon only managed 419 retweets. Pathetic really for someone who’s been in post a shade over one year. David Cameron managed 1,300 for the cheesy ‘Happy New Year’ tweet, with a more modest 363 for his actual message.

How about the other party leaders in Wales? Kirsty Williams didn’t get a single retweet for her message, Andrew RT Davies netted 12 retweets, Alice Hooker Stroud got 7 (not bad for a month’s tenure!) and Leanne Wood achieved 34.

But we’re not really comparing like with like. It’s hardly a fair contest to pit opposition leaders – of varying tenure – against the profile of someone who until recently was Wales’ most popular party leader. Nor is it fair to pit the leaders of England and Scotland – both much bigger countries – against that of Wales. So here goes, with a quick look at some equivalent leaders.

  • Panama – population 3.8 million – President Juan Carlos Varela 158 retweets
  • Jamaica – population 2.7 million – Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller 11 retweets (great message, by the way… “May 2016 see your dreams come true. May you shine as never before, believe as never before and soar as never before”)
  • Macedonia – population 2.1 million – Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski 19 retweets

To be fair, there are plenty of mid-size countries whose leaders aren’t on twitter or didn’t bother with a new year’s greeting. My personal favourite is the Prime Minister of Lebanon, who clearly hasn’t managed his settings to avoid every post he makes on Facebook appearing in his twitter feed.

But there’s a bit more of a serious point here. If the First Minister of Wales can’t get a single elected politician in Wales other than Wayne David to retweet his new year message, maybe it’s not just the plebs who are losing faith in Carwyn. Perhaps the rot has set in within his own party.

By the time 2016’s out, there’s going to be another leader of the Labour Party in Wales, which of course means a new First Minister.

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3 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government

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.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

* 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.

Rhowch sylw

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

Labour’s Choice

Wales is one of the poorest countries in western Europe. That’s Labour’s choice.

Wales is the poorest constituent country of the UK, by a considerable margin. That is a choice made by the Labour party.

We are kept poor because there are other priorities than Wales for Labour. In fact, Wales is close to the bottom of the priority list.

Thus it will always be.

So where’s the evidence for these outrageous statements? You don’t have to look further than this document. It’s the Labour manifesto, of course. Wales gets less than half a page of this manifesto. Page 65, by the way. That’s where the scintillating “all-Wales policing plan” gets an airing.

“This is all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t prove that Labour chooses to keep Wales poor”, I hear you say.

Political parties make policies that distribute opportunities and wealth around the UK. Is it random chance that greater London’s GVA per capita is £40,000 while Wales’ is £16,900? Of course it’s not. Political parties have, over a period of many decades, made policies that promote high-income jobs in London (and to a lesser extent in south-east England, east England, Scotland etc) and to hell with Wales.

Policies like locating the highest-earning civil servants in London – for centuries – and chucking a few crumbs to the provinces. Policies like subsidising – via Welsh taxpayers’ money – massive redevelopment of east London, extravagant new transport schemes and the like. Policies like vacuuming cash from low-earners (of which a much higher proportion live in Wales) via VAT and council tax and tossing it away on vanity schemes like national ID cards and Trident (you’ll find that on page 78 of the Labour manifesto, although they call it a “continuous at-sea deterrent”, presumably to try to throw people off the scent).

How could it be otherwise? London has 73 MPs, Wales has 40. One-fifth of Labour membership is in London, 31% in London plus south-east England. 6% of its membership is in Wales. There are 34 constituency Labour parties in London with membership greater than 500. There is not one in the whole of Wales.

This negligence of Wales isn’t restricted to the Labour party, of course. The Conservatives couldn’t give two hoots about us either. You want proof? How about David Cameron’s whirlwind trip to the Celtic fringe this past week. In Wales, he visited a brewery in Gower. His visit to Scotland was more like a visit to an independent country’s prime minister, reported in every broadsheet. What a stunning snub to Carwyn Jones, poor dab.

The big difference is that Labour pretends to stand up for Wales. The Conservatives have never pretended to.

So Wales is poor because the Labour, Conservative and (most recently) Liberal Democrat parties choose it to be so. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

1 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Independence, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Westminster

Track Record: Albert Owen

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
  • Strongly in favour of a transparent UK Parliament
  • Moderately in favour of more powers for the National Assembly

So what does Albert Owen’s voting record reveal about his activity over the past five years?

Well, on several of these issues, Albert is well aligned with our imaginary centre-left voter. For example, unlike his Labour colleague Stephen Doughty, he voted in favour of more benefits for longer periods for those unable to work because of illness or disability. But there are several of them where the alignment is poor. According to TheyWorkForYou, Albert:

  • Voted moderately in favour of wasting £100 billion on a relic of the Cold War (Trident)
  • Voted both for and against 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
  • Voted for and against a transparent UK Parliament
  • Has voted a mixture of for and against more powers for Wales, but voted in favour of more powers for local councils

Let’s see how Albert’s voting record pans out in the real world. It means that Albert can’t decide whether or not he’s in favour of people being killed, maimed and psychologically traumatised for the glory of the British Empire. He didn’t even turn up to the vote declaring war on Iraq in 2003. People dying in these conflicts are predominantly poor people: poor people in poor countries or poor people recruited from some of the poorest communities in Wales. Places like Ynys Môn, which is one of the poorest places in the whole of the UK, and far and away the poorest in Wales (measured as GVA per capita). But when it comes to holding governments to account for their illegal wars, woah! The last thing Albert wants is a report highly likely to be most damaging to his 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.

He’s also gung ho for running down public services in favour of the most expensive weapons of mass destruction on the planet. That’s notwithstanding the fact that public opposition to renewing this Imperialist Viagra is resolute in opinion polls at both UK and local scales. “Bairns not bombs” as the Scottish independence campaign so eloquently put it.

Bizarrely, he’s voted against increasing the level of income at which someone starts to pay income tax. The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that Ynys Môn has several wards in which income levels are extremely low – most especially in Holyhead, which ironically is Albert’s home town.

He’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.

And he’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 Albert Owen? Not a bit of it. Albert voted against the transfer of powers over energy to Wales. In fact, it surprises me that Albert was present at all to bother to vote against Wales’ national interests. After all, he only bothered to show up for 2 of the 10 key votes on transferring powers to the National Assembly for Wales.

You’d probably expect a record such as that for a puppy of the Labour party. He’s voted against his party a grand total of 8 times in 908 votes. But while he was happy to do down the Welsh people through voting against our interests or not bothering to turn up to vote, he was happy enough to transfer more powers to local councils.

For more information about John Rowlands, his main (Plaid) challenger for the seat of Ynys Môn, you can find his twitter feed here, his facebook account here and his LinkedIn account here.

2 Sylw

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

Track Record: Nia Griffith

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.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Democracy, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Westminster

Proposed Devolution Settlements: Scotland and Wales Compared

I don’t think this needs much commentary. With thanks to SP for the analysis.

After the St. Andrews and St. David’s agreements…what will the Scottish Government be able to do which the Welsh Government won’t?

The Scottish Government will have responsibility for:

  •  Administering justice, including:
    • Civil, criminal and family law
    • Youth justice
    • Managing and operating tribunals
    • Providing legal aid
    • Regulating the legal profession
    • Allowing the use of languages other than English in courts if it chooses to
  •  Policing and public order, including:
    • Administering police forces
    • Preventing and detecting crime
    • Setting powers of arrest and detention
    • Running prison, probation and offender management services
    • Maintaining criminal records
    • Controlling anti-social behaviour
    • Setting drink driving limits
    • Controlling dangerous dogs and hunting with dogs
    • Licensing alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshments
    • Regulating fixed-odds betting terminals
    • Regulating private security and CCTV
    • Regulating safety at sports grounds
  • Controlling aspects of social welfare, including:
    • Providing housing and employment top-up benefits through a regulated social fund
    • Administering certain benefits for people with disabilities, carers, children, young people and those with industrial injuries
  •  Protecting consumers, including:
    • Regulating the sale and supply of goods and services
    • Ensuring consumer safety
  •  Controlling Crown Estate assets
  •  Consenting energy projects over 350MW
  •  Conserving energy by prohibiting certain activities
  •  Setting Air Passenger Duty
  •  Controlling Sunday trading
  •  Setting bank holidays
  •  Registering births, marriages, Civil Partnerships & deaths
  •  Administering land registration and Land Charges
  •  Setting teachers’ pay and conditions

The only footnote is that, with thanks to Elfyn Llwyd, we finally have cast-iron proof of the gutless, spineless individual that is Carwyn Jones our First Minister. Apparently putting his head in his hands is the appropriate response to being denied devolution of policing by his “great friend” Owen Smith MP . With friends like Owen…

1 Sylw

Filed under Labour, Westminster

Seizing Power in Cardiff Bay: Conservatives

It’s the holy grail of political parties to enjoy power. If you can do it alone, so much the better; the unpalatable compromise is to enter a coalition. In this series of posts I’ll be examining the scale of the challenge for each of the main political parties in seizing power in Wales.

Not just any old power. Full, complete majority power in the National Assembly for Wales. Easier for some than for others.

First let’s just recoup. The proportional element of our National Assembly elections was incorporated partially to make the electoral system more reflective of people’s voting patterns. But it was also there to make it impossible for any one party to wield majority control in Wales. But we’ve already seen from Scotland’s experience that the best-laid plans can fall apart.

What do the Conservatives have to do to win 31 seats in Cardiff Bay? This list is in order of the most likely to be held/fall first (see this post for the reasoning of the target seats). I’m going to make the assumption that they’ll need to do it in the absence of any regional/list seats – and you’ll see why from the complexion of the seats they need to win. The Conservatives’ worst-performing electoral region is South Wales West, but they still need to pick up three seats here in order to get a majority. It’s inconceivable that they’ll get list seats in this or any other region under those circumstances.

  1. Monmouth – held with 20.4% majority
  2. Clwyd West – held with 16.9% majority
  3. Montgomeryshire – held with 10.1% majority
  4. Preseli Pembrokeshire – held with 8.0% majority
  5. Aberconwy – held with 7.7% majority
  6. Carmarthenshire West & South Pembrokeshire – held with 5.3% majority
  7. Cardiff North – 5.2% behind 1st place
  8. Vale of Glamorgan – 11.4% behind
  9. Brecon & Radnorshire – 9.7% behind
  10. Delyn – 12.4% behind
  11. Vale of Clwyd – 17.4% behind
  12. Ynys Mon – 12.2% behind
  13. Newport West – 18.3% behind
  14. Clwyd South – 13.2% behind
  15. Gower – 18.2% behind
  16. Wrexham – 17.9% behind
  17. Cardiff West – 21.3% behind
  18. Penarth & Cardiff South – 22.8% behind
  19. Alyn & Deeside – 24.5% behind
  20. Swansea West – 21.3% behind
  21. Bridgend – 28.2% behind
  22. Carmarthen East & Dinefwr – 22.7% behind
  23. Dwyfor Meirionnydd – 26.2% behind
  24. Newport East – 27.7% behind
  25. Cardiff Central – 22.8% behind
  26. Torfaen – 31.4% behind
  27. Pontypridd – 35.1% behind
  28. Arfon – 44.2% behind
  29. Islwyn – 46.0% behind
  30. Swansea East – 43.8% behind
  31. Llanelli – 28.7% behind

So to get a full, working majority in the National Assembly the Conservatives will need to make a clean sweep of all constituency seats in the north Wales electoral region, along with capturing the seats of Labour former First Secretary Alun Michael (Penarth & Cardiff South), First Minister Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff West), current First Minister Carwyn Jones (Bridgend), and valleys seats such as Pontypridd, Torfaen and Islwyn, along with seats where they are as much as 44% behind the incumbent in terms of share of the vote.

It’ll need a seismic shift in the politics of Wales for this to happen. There are two possible scenarios which could see it happen.

First off, public opinion and politics in Wales could shift dramatically to the right of where it is in England. I don’t see that as being likely any time in the coming decades.

The other possible scenario is for the Conservative party in Wales to move much further to the left. The Conservative’s placement on the political spectrum (some way to the left of their friends in England) is partially responsible for the comparative electoral success they’ve enjoyed in Wales in recent elections. But to continue to move left the Conservatives would have to do several things:

  • Find an Assembly group leader other than Andrew RT Davies
  • Probably split from the UK party – or find some other means of reconciling the political ideologies
  • Play a very careful wicket in holding on to existing right-wing supporters in the light of new right-wing vote absorber UKIP

I find this a distinctly more plausible scenario than the political make-up of Wales veering wildly to the right. But to say that a split from the UK Conservatives is ‘more plausible’ than any other scenario indicates just how implausible an absolute majority is for the Conservatives.

Unless they become unlikely coalition partners, the Conservatives’ fate in Wales is permanent opposition.

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Democracy, Elections