Tag Archives: Owen Smith

Vampires and Blood Banks

Well, the chickens have really come home to roost. In the blood bank, with a vampire as the overseer.

Remember how the ranks of unionist Labour politicians sallied forth to hold back the devolution of further powers to Wales? Well now they, and the rest of us, are going to be on the receiving end of some of the worst excesses of a Conservative ideology.

Let’s take this back to the Silk Commission. This was the Commission established by the Lib Dem-Conservative government to determine the scale of devolution that should be offered to Wales. It was – according to its author – going to bring a stable devolutionary settlement to Wales “for a generation, let’s say… 25 years”. I don’t know why anyone involved in the devolution process bothers making these ridiculous statements, or why they’re taken seriously. After all, I’ve shown that Peter Hain and Owen “end-game” Smith have got it humiliatingly wrong in the past. At any rate, Paul Silk’s ‘generation’ lasted all of 11 months, by which time its devolutionary limits had already been surpassed by the St David’s Day Agreement, which promised yet greater powers over, for example, electoral arrangements and energy.

But the Silk Commission was a work of compromise. The party representatives on the Commission (Part 2 – policy) were as follows:

One can only guess that these political appointees were carrying out the wishes of their respective parties. And given the Plaid aim of full independence, and the Liberal Democrat objective of ‘home rule’, it’s fair to assume that the hopeless policy recommendations of the Silk Commission were made so restrictive by a combination of Labour and Conservative intransigence.

So a combination of factors have conspired to leave Wales at the mercy of Conservative malignance. Firstly, a consistently feeble Assembly – not Parliament – with a devolved – not reserved – model of powers that left it wide open to constant legal challenge. This all put in place by the Labour party. Second, a risible selection of powers devolved. No police, no criminal justice, no taxation, no decent powers over energy, no broadcasting, the list goes on. This all put in place by the Labour party. Third, any chance to radically increase the scope of devolution to approximate Scottish powers consistently thwarted by the Labour and Conservative party. And now, fourth, a Labour party that promised to protect Welsh communities from the onslaught of Conservative policies falling apart in an election it couldn’t lose. Thereby leaving Welsh communities defenceless against that onslaught in all those policy areas that unionist Labour politicians fought tooth and nail to keep the preserve of Westminster.

It’s a classic case of Labour duplicity, incompetence, self-interest and downright malice. I should at this point state that although visiting right-wing policies on the Welsh people is a joint preserve of Labour and Conservative, I don’t blame the latter. They’re totally explicit about their chosen path. People who vote Conservative know what they’re getting.

So what lies ahead?

  • Ripping up the Human Rights Act. Michael Gove (who in 1998 was all for bringing back hanging people) will take sheer delight in making the UK (and Wales as the unhappy corollary) join Belarus as the sole European states unbound by the European Convention on Human Rights. This could have been avoided by the Labour party, if only they’d pushed for the devolution of criminal justice on the Silk Commission.
  • Dismantling the BBC. John Whittingdale, new Culture Secretary, believes the BBC licence fee is “worse than a poll tax”… “we are potentially looking at reducing a proportion of the licence fee”. This happens, of course, with Labour’s blessing. Because the Labour party could have prevented this happening in Wales through full devolution of broadcasting.
  • Caroline Dinenage is the new Equalities Minister. She voted against gay marriage in 2014. Equalities legislation could, of course, be the preserve of the National Assembly for Wales. If only the Labour party had pushed for it to be part of the devolution settlement.
  • The new Disabilities Minister, Justin Tomlinson, voted against protecting benefits for disabled children and cancer patients. He’s now in charge of the Access to Work Fund, which provides money to help people with disabilities get work. Any damage this man will bring to people with disabilities in Wales could have been avoided by the Labour party, if only they’d pushed for the devolution of benefits to Wales.

Which begs the question, who’s the vampire – and whose blood is being drained? Is it Conservative Ministers draining British institutions? Or is it Labour hegemony sucking dry the people of Wales?

Rhowch sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Equality, Labour, Welsh Government, 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

A Revelation

This blog has been vociferously independent since day one. In case you need proof, here’s an extract giving ratings of some of the Penarth councillors prior to the 2012 elections:

With a fabulous 4 points – Cllr. Sophie Williams (St. Augustine’s, Conservative)

A thrilling 3 points – Cllrs. Janice Birch (Stanwell, Labour) and Anthony Ernest (Sully, Conservative)

It’s not a party political blog and has no intention of becoming one.

But I’ve got a revelation for you all.

As from now, this is a pro-independence blog.

Our reasoning is as follows:

  • Social justice, quality of life, fulfilling employment, good health, strong connections with local communities, well-being are all important goals. This isn’t just our opinion; study after study indicates that these are the things that people value most.
  • The net result of the 92 years of this Union (since the secession of the Irish Free State) is that society in the UK has become more atomised than ever before, more unequal than ever before (and one of the most unequal states in the developed world), more miserable than ever before. We’re labelled as consumers whose sole purpose is to spend, to drive growth in the economy, to funnel more cash to the 1% and their friends and colleagues in the media, politics and big business. In other words, everything we value as humans has been eroded as a result of “the most successful union in history“.
  • The Westminster machine has shown how hopelessly unable – and unwilling – it is to make meaningful change. Despite Owen Smith’s entreaties that the Union is “a living, breathing means to an end allowing us to pool risks and share rewards between us all“, all it appears to have done is to pool the risks of bankers’ profligacy amongst us all, and share the rewards among the 1%. Socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. If the Union is “an embodiment of Labour values“, it doesn’t take a leap of faith to deduce just what those values are.
  • Organisations like the New Economics Foundation offer these pathetic ideas for reducing inequality. I say ‘pathetic’ because they seem to think there’s a chance that Westminster might act on any one of the five. Let’s get real, Westminster will never act to change the system.
  • Logically, if Westminster is unwilling to act, we need to search for alternatives. The only alternative that presents itself to permanent Westminster rule is self-rule. Independence.

The Scottish referendum has been a major factor in this realisation. The social media and blogs have been simply stunning. To have persuaded 45% of the population to vote for independence in the face of a ‘traditional’ media onslaught and the full might of the Union’s apparatus of spin, fear-mongering and bribes is the most significant achievement of social media in these Isles.

Some of the most influential blogs in the run-up to the independence debate include Bella Caledonia, Wings Over Scotland, Wee Ginger Dug, Lallands Peat Worrier and Newsnet Scotland. You might want to check them out.

And so it falls to Penartharbyd to join the ranks making the case for independence in Wales, alongside colleagues DailyWales.net, Syniadau, Borthlas, Dic Mortimer, Welsh Not British, Blog Menai, Jac o’ the North, Oggy Bloggy Ogwr, National Left and possibly Glyn Adda.

This is not a party political blog and has no intention of becoming one. So rest assured, we’ll be as independent and critical of the only party currently giving an outlet for independence-minded people as we will for the unionist parties.

This post has been updated to add some fellow independence bloggers

5 Sylw

Filed under Conservatives, Independence, Labour, Plaid Cymru, Welsh Government, Westminster

How Long is One Generation?

It came to light recently that the Labour Party in Wales is moving towards the devolution of further powers to Wales. The nature of the offer is covered in more detail elsewhere, but one thought on Owen Smith’s comments got me digging through the archives.

Mr Smith – Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, no less – is quoted as saying:

While devolution will evolve we are getting closer to the end game

Servini

I wonder how much he knows about the history of Labour Party activity in this area?

It was the blink of an eye in political terms when someone else – as it happens, someone mentioned in Nick Servini’s immediately preceding tweet – expressed a firm opinion about the state of devolution in Wales:

The Welsh Assembly will not need further devolution for another generation… Whatever changing circumstances we face over coming years there will be no case for a successor Government of Wales [Act] in the decades to come

The omission of the word [Act] from the quote might have been a slip of the tongue. Or he might have been quite serious that no Government of Wales other than the one in place in 2006 (Labour) has a place in Wales regardless of “changing circumstances”.

Anyway, Peter might want to try explaining the futility of his work to Paul Silk, and of course to the Liberal Democrats who wrought the Silk Commission as part of the coalition agreement with the Conservatives.

Of course, Peter Hain’s got a great track record in political fortune telling. After all, he did tell us that the 2011 referendum bestowing primary legislative powers on the National Assembly for Wales couldn’t be won under:

any [foreseeable] circumstances

I suppose in one respect Owen Smith is correct. After all, any further devolution of powers is closer to the end-game if the end is federation, independence or ‘more devolution’.

Which of these comes under Owen Smith’s definition of foreseeable circumstances?

Update: It turns out we have a new definition of the length of a generation. While Peter Hain defines a generation as 8 years, Paul Silk has defined it as 25 years. Hands up who thinks the devolution offerings in Silk will bring “stability for a generation – 25 years”?

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Welsh Government, Westminster

The Star Hustings

This is a guest post description of the election hustings in the Star Leisure Centre, with grateful thanks to D. For an alternative view of the hustings, you might like to try this site.

The main headlines (at least in my view) are that Plaid Cymru’s Luke Nicholas and the Lib Dems’ Bablin Molik have both seen their election
prospects go up in smoke.

They were forced to admit that their respective parties had initiated and supported the controversial Splott Viridor incinerator project.
Both claimed that personally they were totally against it – but eventually had to admit, under questioning from the audience, that
their respective parties had supported the project.

The second issue was that Stephen Doughty (Labour) and Craig Williams (Conservative) were both “no-shows” . Substituting for Doughty (but
leaving the meeting early after barely an hour) was Vaughan Gething AM. The excuse he gave for  Doughty’s absence is that he was attending
a “prearranged event in Grangetown with Owen Smith the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales”. (The Communist candidate Robert
Griffiths said if it had been him he would have cancelled Owen Smith and given the hustings meeting priority.)

Questioned on whether an incoming Labour government would scrap plans to replace the Trident system, Gething floundered and said he had
“genuinely had no idea what Stephen’s position is on  nuclear weapons”. As he left Gething got into an altercation with a member of
the Splott anti-incinerator campaign who has asked him to make a donation. He refused – and left, but was.clearly so riled by the
encounter he returned to the meeting to remonstrate with the woman – accusing her of showing “lack of respect”.to him. It was great fun.

Meanwhile David Melding AM substituted for Craig Williams whose excuse was that he and his wife had had to take their baby to
hospital. Frankly I don’t think either excuse was acceptable – particularly Doughty’s – whom people at the hustings meeting accused of displaying
“discourtesy” and behaving as if the election was “already in the bag”.

The Green candidate Anthony Slaughter actually acquitted himself quite well. Slaughter criticised the incinerator project pointing out
that all the main parties in the election had been complicit in letting this scheme go ahead – including the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru.
He said the combustion by-products from the incinerator would affect Penarth as well as Splott and Cardiff Bay .

Mr Slaughter also drew special attention to the poor air quality in Cogan which he said was “One class of people being submitted to the
emissions of another class of people” and pointed out that if the entire world behaved like America we would need 9 planets to live on
(six, apparently, everyone on earth lived at the UK’s standard of living).

The Socialist Labour Party’s candidate Andrew Jordan was the third “no-show” of the night – so a stand in represented him (badly)

The UKIP candidate, Simon Zeigler, who is reported in the Penarth Times to have once been a butler to the Earl of Faversham said he had
been a left-winger all his life and a committed trade unionist who had once been a local Labour party chairman and worked in transport house
and the House of Commons (as a waiter). He admitted that whilst there, he had actually tried out the green leather seats (on both sides of
the House).

Somewhat to the astonishment of the audience – which contained quite a few trades unionists – Zeigler said that if elected he would press for
the immediate abolition of the Thatcher anti-trade-union legislation. Asked by a bemused audience if this was UKIP policy – he said it was
HIS policy – and that UKIP itself didn’t have a policy on trade unions.

2 Sylw

Filed under Communist Party, Conservatives, Democracy, Elections, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, Westminster

On the Doorstep With Shadow

Thanks to DJ for sending the pdf of this Labour leaflet. If Stephen Doughty doesn’t up his performance on sending the pdfs himself his election address will vanish into the ether.

And we know that he’s getting at least 3 votes, because Lily, Miriam and Iris are backing Stephen. Lily from Splott thinks that Stephen has opposed cuts to police forces from the start, despite the fact that devolution of policing and criminal justice – which his party specifically rules out – is the only way to protect Welsh police forces from the “massive cuts to police numbers”, as Stephen describes them. And Miriam’s concerned that the UK Government has plans to pay Welsh workers less. I’m sure she’d be horrified to hear that Stephen’s party was the one to introduce less pay for Welsh workers when the courts service became the first to have regional pay imposed. And I don’t know if Iris means ‘lower energy prices’ when she says ‘fairer energy prices’, but those are largely out of even David Cameron’s hands, let alone Stephen Doughty’s.

And so to Stephen’s pledges:

  • Cuts to police forces
  • Campaigning for more local jobs
  • “Push for fairer energy prices”, and a new watchdog to pass on energy price cuts to customers
  • Campaigning against regional pay
  • Fighting for “the best deal” for pensioners

I’ve dealt with this Labour’s policy on police numbers elsewhere, but I’ll just repeat that their policy on this is horribly hypocritical: oppose devolution of the very powers that would enable cuts to be stayed. On energy prices, I just don’t see what can realistically be done in the market-based system we have. There’s possibly some merit in either beefing up or replacing Ofgem – after all, the energy companies can hardly plead poverty – in order to make sure that retail prices are reduced when wholesale prices come down. But I’d be delighted to see further detail on this pledge.

Hypocrisy is making a robust appearance in this leaflet, with Stephen campaigning against the regional pay championed by his party back in 2007. And he doesn’t spell out what “the best deal” for pensioners might be, but this year’s record increase in state pension seems pretty hard to beat in a time of severely curtailed state spending.

On layout, this is a messy leaflet with a hotch-potch of colours and fonts. Stephen appears to have been taking advice from this book, which as the armchair psychologists amongst us know, tells us that personal testimonials, and making yourself seem popular, are good for sales. However it helps if you’re actually visible in a small photo of 30 people.

You’ll have guessed by now that the Shadow of the title is someone a whole lot less glamorous than this guy. It’s Owen Smith, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.

But not a laughing matter is the pathetic attempt Stephen makes to suggest he cares a jot about the Welsh language. In case you missed it first time round, you can find the micro-font in the bottom right hand corner of the pamphlet, which invites people who would like information in Welsh to “get in touch on the details provided on the back of this leaflet”.

2 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Elections, Labour, Westminster