Monday, April 30, 2007
Since 1999 the Assembly Government's budget has more than doubled, rising from £7 billion to £14 billion. Overall public expenditure in Wales is 14% higher per head than it is England.
Health expenditure in Wales has risen by 60% since 2001-2. Wales is now spending 6% per head more on health than in England. Education expenditure has risen by 35%.since 2001-2. Per head, Wales is now spending 5% more on education than England, while expenditure on transport and economic development is 43% higher in Wales than in England.
This has contributed to Wales' remarkable record in attracting new jobs and reducing unemployment.
The successful partnership that Labour has maintained has been achieved through the Barnett formula, which has provided Wales with secure, favourable and rising public expenditure.
Labour's opposition parties in the 3 May election want to dump both the Barnett formula and Labour's working partnership with Westminster. They have not explained to the people of Wales that an alternative to Barnett may well decrease the bonus that Wales now gets in public expenditure.
First Minister RHODRI MORGAN said:
"A vote for the Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats risks putting the Tories into Welsh Government and getting less money for public services in Wales. John Redwood became famous for sending money back to London; Ieuan Wyn Jones and Mike German want to dump the Barnett formula and put at risk the money Wales gets – they want to join the Redwood Club".
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Firstly there has been no lack of the hard slog and traditional campaigning in Arfon. Most people still appreciate a knock on door, I just wish a few more would be at home when we called ! Perhaps we should introduce a compulsory time for beibng at home to greet your candidate !
Or a regulatiion allowing each of us a 2 hour slot in the local Tesco/ASDA etc so we can see people as they carry out this new national pastime - shopping.
It is a candidate's most frustrating experience to hear "you didn't call on me"`when you know you tried a copule of times - but found noone in.
Secondly the real campaigning now tends to focus on those candidiates having a realistic chance of success in a specific constituency. However that it perhaps a recognition of reality - why flog a dead horse when time can be spent elsewhere perhaps making a real difference for your chosen party.
Thirdly campaigning techniques such as the phone are now playing a strionger real in identifying supporters.
Finally it is an established fact that candidates are all delicate flowers, we really should not be subject to such criticsim !!!!
Flawed nationalist spending plans would punish Welsh workers and core public services NATIONALIST spending plans for Wales have been branded as "not of this planet" in a major attack by Labour. According to Plaid Cymru, it will be able to pay for policies such as free laptops for schoolchildren and £5,000 grants for first-time buyers, as well as maintaining spending levels for our public services, within the existing Assembly budget.
But new analysis revealed by Labour shows that this would not be possible without freezing the wages of public sector workers and raiding the budgets of core public services. Plaid Cymru's spending plans would mean:
A wage freeze for all public sector workers in Wales, even assuming that other overheads, such as energy costs, will be frozen ·
A reversal of Labour's projected growth in NHS spending ·
A reversal of Labour's projected growth in social services ·
A reversal of Labour's projected growth in education spending
Labour First Minister RHODRI MORGAN said: "This is sci-fi politics from the nationalists. Almost every week we have a new outlandish spending commitment, each time making their claims to be a serious party of government seem all the less credible. "These are spending promises not of this planet. "Plaid Cymru says it can be trusted with the NHS, yet its plans would mean a reversal of our proposed growth in the health budget. The nationalists say in leaflets and meetings across Wales that they want to protect rural schools, yet they want to reverse our planned growth in education. They say they are the party that stands up for public sector workers, yet their policies would effectively mean pay cuts for all our public sector workers. "These are policies, Ieuan, but not as we know it. This shoddy and irresponsible wish-list would lead Wales into a crazy nationalist odyssey, a nation in such a shambles by 2011 that the institution of devolution would be a laughing stock.
"Only Labour can be trusted with our public services, our children's futures and our jobs."
Notes: It does not serve Welsh politics well that the Plaid Cymru manifesto has been built on calculations of available new resources which are fundamentally flawed and present to the electorate a programme of which less than a quarter could possibly be delivered. Plaid Cymru states an assumption that there will be an additional £1.582bn for Assembly Government expenditure during the three years 2008-9 to 2010-11. This figure can only be calculated by adding together the Chancellor's forecast for two per cent real growth and two per cent inflation; this would allow Plaid Cymru to assume four per cent cash budget growth, just over £500m a year. In allocating all of this cash growth to new programmes Plaid Cymru has made no provision for increased wages or other costs. They have assumed a total wage freeze in the Welsh public sector and assumed that all other costs, such as energy costs, can similarly be frozen. They would need to reverse all the projected growth that the Government has built into existing programmes for the NHS, social services and education. Labour has been in Government for the past eight years. Our manifesto reflects the fact that we have been the party of government with a well established programme of policy development and budget planning. The budget for 2007-8 is already fully allocated and no new programmes can begin in this financial year.
Over the three year period after 2008, the cost over and above existing budget plans will be £243.5 million; £41.5 million revenue and £36 million capital each year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's 2007 Budget announced that public spending will increase by 2% annually in real terms in the spending review period 2008-9 to 2010-11. Until next Autumn's Spending Review we can not be certain whether the Assembly Government Block Grant will a little below or a little above that real terms growth figure; it depends on the balance of allocations between devolved and non-devolved programmes. Ends
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
"You are a truly pathetic politician and a miserable excuse for a human being. Arfon and Wales would be better places if you were to cease to exist".
That is what I call constructive debate.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Not all comments suffer this fate as my blog will show , but a bit of Dalek style destruction raises my spirits at least. Tough luck to those who don't like it. Get blogging yourself so you can comment to your heart's content.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
25 April 2007 Plaid Cymru on the run in Arfon
Misuse of public funds a sign of nationalist panic, says Labour.
PLAID Cymru is on the run and panicking about losing in the Arfon constituency, Labour said today. Nationalist Caernarfon MP Hywel Williams has taken out a double-page advert in today's Daily Post, paid for by public funds, to promote Plaid Cymru. The cost of a double-page colour advert in the paper is £8,930, including VAT.
Labour believes Plaid Cymru has clearly contravened public rules on the promotion of MPs. Labour Arfon candidate Martin Eaglestone said the advert was a desperate move from a party panicked about slumping to defeat on May 3. He called on the nationalists to pay back the cash to the public purse. Labour will also make a formal request to the House of Commons authorities to look into this misuse of public funds.
MARTIN EAGLESTONE said: "The nationalists are running scared in Arfon. They know as well as I do that reaction on the doorstep in the area has been extremely positive towards Welsh Labour. "People here want an Assembly Government run by Rhodri Morgan's Welsh Labour, not by Plaid Cymru and the Tories. They do not want Tory Ministers back in charge of the NHS, jobs and schools. "This is a desperate move from Plaid Cymru, terrified of a slump in the polls on May 3. This is a clear misuse of public funds, using taxpayers' money to promote the politics of Plaid Cymru.
"The timing of this advert stinks. Its use of Plaid Cymru's logo in such a prominent way and the fact that the newspaper's circulation extends well beyond the boundaries of the Caernarfon constituency, all point towards the nationalists canvassing for votes using public funds. "Plaid Cymru should use some of the windfall it received from its rich, London benefactor to repay the taxpayer for this disgraceful misuse of public funds."
Notes: Guidelines issued by Parliament on the communications allowance and the use of House Stationery states: "The use of party logos, while not disallowed entirely, is restricted to proportionate and discreet use; alternatively you may prefer to use the House emblem (the crowned portcullis) as this reflects the Parliamentary nature and purpose of the material being circulated."
Labour is concerned at the timing of the advert, appearing as it did a mere week before voters go to the polls in the Assembly election and at a time when postal voters have already received their voting papers. The use of a regional daily newspaper, in the opinion of Labour, also brings the validity of the advert into question. The paper's circulation extends well beyond the boundaries of Hywel Williams' constituency of Caernarfon. Why not simply advertise in his local weekly newspaper? In Labour's opinion this is a clear attempt to influence voters across the North Wales region.
I can note that some people were angry, while some were simply scratching their heads on why an MP would take out two full pages at this stage promoting himself at this time. Surely overshadowing all PLaid's AM candidates. Secondly his understanding of devolution seems limited as some of the topics raised are now devolved and not for the MP.
If the current rules allow for such blatant political adverts then this is another set of rules Labour must change in the interest of the public purse.
Strange events indeed.........
Given that PR is still a relatively new process in Wales, even I am unsure if people are yet sophisticated enough to make calculations about the relative vlaue of their 2 votes - but as Blamerbell notes
Vote Eaglestone and get Wigley too is a possibility for those wishing to consider any tzactical approach to their 2 votes in Arfon.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
"Do not believe any predictions about the likely result of the Welsh assembly election on 3 May".
It comes as part of the BBCs attempted explanation of the Assembly voting system. Perhaps it puts some of today's fevered speculation in perspective and we should all calm down.
(I have a story to telll how I heard about this morning's BBC news - but will hold back for now!)
It gives us a chance to dust down the letter that was sent by Dafydd Iwan to Dafydd Elis Thomas suggesting that DET should fight the Aberconwy seat, Alun Ffred Jones jump ship to Dwyfor-Meirionydd and Wigley stand in Arfon. DET stopped all of that.
The letter was posted to me by a nice friend, and it is full of praise from Iwan for DET, before the killler suggestion that he move seats.
So the only solution for Plaid supporters now is the "Vote Eaglestone and Get Wigley too" ticket.
(perhaps this is the coalition the BBC are referring to !!!).
Neither I nor anyone else acting with my authority has been engaged in any such considerations or discussions. The obsession of the media and the minor parties is with coalition speculation. As previously stated on scores of occasions, Welsh Labour is aiming to form a government based on a mandate from the people of Wales. "The key dividing line in this election is that the other parties can only form a coalition government. Welsh Labour can form a government based on a proper mandate from the people of Wales. That is what we are seeking. We are certainly not going to be knocked of course by baseless media tittle-tattle."
Now how is that Plaid-Tory "agreement" or "understanding" coming along ??
Monday, April 23, 2007
The Oasis centre has opened 9,000 NHS places in Caernarfon in the last twelve months. However it was disturbing to see the sign on the wall stating that in a recent week 9 hours of time was wasted by "no show" patients. People need to reflect on their actions if this valuable NHS resource is being wasted.
Dylan asks some interesting questions, that I have posted about previously.
I do not see a stand alone "locals only" policy as making sense and we need to increase the supply of homes, not just increase demand by first time "bribery" (sorry it was term used by AFJ and Wigley, I meant grants).
However as I read the Assembly guidance issued in June 2006 it already allows much of the action described by Dylan to take place where the council has the evidence of need. I'm not convinced of the need for a "commission" but would support a clear focus of practical effort on bringing public and private partners togetherr to make things happen.
Of course Cymro failed to pick up the very obvious point (that I will therefore blog on today) which is - where were Plaid Cymru ?
I think there was a general and genuine shock at their failure to attend this event in North Wales agreed by the main party leaders for hope not hate.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
However the time has come to announce moderation until at least May 4th. Apologies to all, as the blog will be less interactive - but I've got bored with you. (Cymro !)
By the way I'm up front and open in my approach (which does not mean we should always agree) - so why do these people remain anonymous ?
Friday, April 20, 2007
Also that my hair was once dark !
Jeff Evans with the handlebar 'tache is the same JE who stood down in favour of P Rodgers on Ynys Mon. Bizzare company we can all keep at times.....
Meanwhile renewed labour has found this cracking little quote from Leanne Wood AM of Plaid Cymru:
"if Plaid went into coalition with the Tories, we would completely lose the trust of working-class people in Wales - and we could forget ever making that breakthough in the Valleys we need to realise full self-government".
They must be facing an interesting tactical discussion over the weekend in Plaid.
As I pledged at their conference, and repeat here - NO TORY COALITION.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I think people sometimes overlook these important local actions that could be lost if Labour does not hold power after May 3rd. I can see no equivalent scheme in other manifestos - but am hapy to be corrected !
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I will start from a general assumption that most people would like to find solutions to the issues surrounding affordable housing. I then post (for debate) some ideas as follows, it hopefully shows I am open to ideas and ready to listen to debate :
a) So let's really kick off with some controversy -Those requiring solutions will include the developers/builders as it is not in their interest to see increasing numbers, of reasonably paid people, disconnected from the market. Some market adjustment - partly driven by policy - may result from market influence itself, (controversy 2 - is this the new Labour part of me ?)
b) Promoting demand side solutions alone (like Plaid's means tested 5k grant) is not a sensible solution given the restrictions on supply. Has anyone seen the means tests yet please ???? Estate agents must be rubbing their hands in joy.
(is this the economist bit of me ?)
c) Increasing supply will sometimes require some strong decisions in the face of NIMBY pressures,
(I speak with the planner bit of me-don't assume people welcome housing that involves affordable housing as I feel many now fear vital social housing element of affordable housing),
d) Changes to Assembly policy mean councils now already have a right to influence the mix of new development, negotiate/ require affordable housing where evidence supports action
(the planning bit of me),
e) I don't see blanket application of "locals only" policies as a sensible solution. However I read existing Assembly policy as allowing the case to be made, in certain areas, and these policies should now be used to best effect by councils. I fear people are so busy complaining they haven't read/implemented what we now have.
(the 'read/use what you have already got' bit of me)
f) in our hearts some of us would like to see a council house building programme but in our heads see no appetite on the doorstep to stump up the tax levels required (the Labour/union bit of me tempered by doorstep reality)
g) In rural areas the debate about a few people fortunate to own/obtain a plot can be a real distraction from the real issues : do rural communities want to develop the level of housing that might transform the age structure and help retain services,
h) How many of those making voiciferous complaints have used the property boom of the last 10 years to invest in further homes, buy to let and various other schemes that have restricted the supply ? (the hint of hypocrisy in me).
i) As an Assembly candidate I would be interested in using my experience (of parts of the system) to help tackle this problem.
I think Labour's manifesto and policies help in this challenge - but perhaps a new post war "homes for heroes" spirit is required - and I don't beleive "homes for locals" is anywhere near an equivalent campaign.
So what is the equivalent 21st century slogan ???? - Comments welcome.
Crikey I am working to win the seat and running one blog is hard enough. (let alone trying to respond to concerns that I post in only one language-like Plaid Cymru adverts).
If it helps "Cymro" to save time with his cut and paste efforts, I am happy to confirm as follows, because none of it is a secret, and I am happy to give my opinions:
a) Iraq : I did not support the decision to go to war, as I have said on radio/tv consistently since the start,
b) Trident - not my cup of tea, but I can understand the concerns of those making a deterrence argument in a very uncertain world,
c) Child poverty - we are making progress, but have more to do. Hence our election pledge and commitment to more legislation and action. I don't think a lap top is the answer !.
I think that (a) to (c) might help respond to several hundred postings. Lets move on, and moderation might hopefully be relaxed in the interests of more debate - negative and positive contributions.
You wiull see I have let through a number of negative comments because negative contributions in their own right don't concern me, just boring repetition.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
A visit to the Vaynol/Faenol estate outside Bangor with Carwyn Jones AM. The estate is now famous for the Bryn Terfel festival, but inside the estate fantastic work is taking place to teach traditional construction skills to a new generation of workers. The teaching is applied in restoring buildings and items on the estate and provide skillls to be used around the country.
An inspirational project to someone like myself with a qualification in planning and interest in such environmental matters.
A great asset and major opportunity for North West Wales.
I suppose each campaign carries moments when the camera catches an image requiring a caption.
Here I am with Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies, Alun Davies (Mid Wales list) and David Philips (Dwyfor-Meirionnydd) :
"It looks like slate, and feels like slate... perhaps you should taste it!".
Further sugggestions welcome (but apologies for moderation)
Monday, April 16, 2007
Plaid kicked into touch
Plaid Cymru's attempt to spend their London legacy has run into the ground somewhat with the BBC's refusal to broadcast rugby games from the grounds of regional sides where the Party has paid for pitch-side advertising.Plaid paid £6,000 for the hoardings and are rather miffed that the broadcaster has seen through their little ploy to get around broadcast rules. They have written to the BBC Controller in Wales, Menna Richards to demand that the BBC acknowledges it has no right to order the removal of the posters and that assurances be given to the clubs that the adverts can be replaced.
For their part the BBC say that their rules are quite clear:"In the UK, there are legal restrictions imposed on broadcasters to ensure that where controversial subjects are covered, for example elections, such coverage is presented with due accuracy and impartiality. "I think the purpose of such restrictions is clear - it is to ensure fairness. In this context, this means fairness as between political parties. The BBC is under a legal obligation to comply with these restrictions - they are not optional."During an election period, the requirement of due impartiality as between political parties arguably becomes even more important. The BBC goes to great lengths to ensure that it meets its obligations of due impartiality during election periods."The inclusion of political advertising within sports programming places the BBC in a difficult position. We do not want to interfere with a political party's ability to advertise.
At the same time, we have to operate in accordance with the law, and treat parties in this context with due impartiality. It is for this reason that we do not at present believe that we would be able to broadcast matches where there is the prospect of your party's advertisements being featured to any significant degree."The Welsh Rugby Union is under a contractual obligation to the BBC to ensure that any advertisements in relevant venues do not infringe the BBC's Charter and Agreement or our Editorial Guidelines. These requirements were included so that our broadcasts do not breach our legal obligations."
I suppose it was worth Plaid trying it on, especially as they can afford it.
I was really upset !! But surely someone has some explaining to do on how that London legacy is being spent.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Why would I say this ?. Well one of their candidates (Dyfed Edwards -list North Wales) wrote to our local papers complaining about letters issued from Labour's campaign centre in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Apparently this is a great crime for Arfon!
Of course Plaid funding their high spending , but flatlining, campaign from some London property sales is somehow okay !
Saturday, April 14, 2007
How must Morrison's feel now as it is clearly a matter of expediency whether to use Welsh or not. Apparently Alun Ffred told the Mail that
"In four of the local Welsh language papurau bro we have printed Welsh-only adverts".
So please take note the next time Cymdeiathas or Cymuned come to you about a lack of bilingualism and say you simply follow Plaid Cymru's example - English only adverts in the mainstream weekly papers, and Welsh language adverts when in the papurau bro.
My adverts will use both Welsh and English languages.
Of course I also suggest that if you applied for a job with Plaid lead Gwynedd council suggesting this approach you would not get very far !
Friday, April 13, 2007
"Hacio" - I took a very late booking to help in Hacio's (S4C young person's programme) and the excitement of an election special. A number of stories to share, but I will show some respect to other, younger, candidates and not spill the beans. Broadcast at some point prior to election.
Rhodri Morgan in Bangor and a cracking night on the door.
Part of the panel for 'Dau o'r Bae' on Radio Cymru about the manifesto, and other stuff.
Front page of the Bangor and Anglesey Mail with some non story about the Mayor snubbing Peter Hain's walkabout. I invited the mayor out of courtesey, even though he is not of Labour persuasion.
The Mail reports dramatically :
"But once Labour's Arfon candidiate Martin Eaglestone arrived on the scene, Cllr Madge made a hasty exit.
He explained "I said that I had another appointment and left the office".
Despite his claims to a "hasty" exit I will be e-mailing Councillor Madge the various photos that he posed for in the Deiniol centre - funny thing that word "hasty"!
Thanks for the front page councillor Madge !
Photos to follow.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Sunday, April 08, 2007
"At least after Martin Eaglestone's visit to the Plaid Cymru conference we know one big difference on May 3.
A Vote for Labour will keep out the Tories. A vote for Plaid Cymru could let in the Tories.
The people of Arfon have been warned".
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
If the people of Wales want a Labour administration after May 3rd then they must go and vote for it. Otherwise we face the prospect of a growing Tory influence. That is their democratic choice on May 3rd and it seems that a vote for the flat lining (but big spending) Plaid is just a distraction.
Perhaps this is how politics use to be, before Labour's recent landslides, and we need to keep reminding people how precious a vote for Labour can be.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Monday, April 02, 2007
I think Blamerbell briefs thought my blog had hit the stratosphere - until it was realised most came from one source.
The costs of democracy, but the blog continues with moderation enabled.