Tag Archives: Drakeford

Wales is trialling a £1,600 a month Universal Basic Income for care leavers | Left Foot Forward

It’s all happening in Wales!

I bet UK Labour members are eating their hearts out that they’re stuck with Keir Starmer, who probably wouldn’t dream of allowing such a policy in a million years.

The Welsh government has announced that young adults leaving care in Wales will be offered £1,600 a month for two years as part of a universal basic income trial.

That means around 500 18-year-olds will be receiving the money as a ‘safety blanket’ as they enter adulthood. The payments will begin from 1 July and the Welsh government hopes that it will help them “on a path to live, healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.”

Read more: Wales is trialling a £1,600 a month Universal Basic Income for care leavers – Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate

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Mark Drakeford attacks UK Government plan to repeal Welsh trade union law

Mark Drakeford: This Site really needs to get another image of him.

So much for devolution, eh?

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has launched a scathing attack on UK Government plans to scrap a law made in Wales on how trade unions operate in Welsh public services.

The law, brought in five years ago, banned employers from bringing in agency staff to replace striking public sector workers.

So the idea is to stop public sector workers striking in order to have enough pay to, you know, survive by making it possible for low-paid agency workers to be brought in instead. Is that right?

The UK Government’s plan would see it repeal the Trade Union Act (Wales) 2017, which applies to devolved Welsh public bodies and to trade unions in public services delivered by devolved Welsh public bodies including the Welsh NHS, local authorities, schools, fire services and Welsh Government sponsored bodies in Wales.

It says it wants trade union legislation to “apply equally across Great Britain”.

But isn’t it the point of devolution that the different countries can do things in different ways?

Mark Drakeford told the BBC Today programme that it is “absolutely disgraceful that the Westminster Government announced its intention to do this without a single word to the Welsh Government or Welsh Parliament which passed this legislation”.

“We discovered it tucked away in an explanatory memorandum, it just speaks volumes of the disrespectful agenda this Government has towards devolution.

“It’s nonsense, isn’t it, the idea you’ll find an agency worker capable of driving a train, an agency worker capable of operating a signal box. These are hugely safety critical roles we’re talking about. This is just a piece of nonsense dreamt up by a Tory Government.”

Source: Mark Drakeford launches furious attack on UK Government plans to repeal a law made in Wales

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If #Partygate #blackmail claims are false, why is this man taking them to the police?

William Wragg: he’ll soon be talking to the police about blackmail in Parliament.

The MP who claimed Tory whips were blackmailing other MPs to withhold letters of “no confidence” in Boris Johnson is taking his allegation to the police.

William Wragg reckons he has evidence that will justify a police investigation, despite claims from 10 Downing Street that it has seen no such information, and from Johnson loyalists that the scandal is nonsense.

Mr Wragg said he will see a police officer on Monday because he wanted to leave any investigation to “experts” rather than Number 10. His faith may be misplaced – consider the way the Metropolitan Police has ignored allegations that parties happened in Downing Street when officers were standing guard at the door.

Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, said he had spoken to about a dozen Tory MPs who claimed whips threatened to withdraw funding for their constituencies, including for campaigning and infrastructure such as bypasses and schools.

He said some had alleged that Johnson himself has been doing this, describing such behaviour as “misconduct in public office”. He agreed with Mr Wragg that is was a matter for the police.

He also said the allegations seemed to be part of an erosion of standards that had been taking place over a period of years.

Nusrat Ghani would probably agree with him, although This Writer isn’t sure anybody has asked her.

She lost her job as a transport minister in a mini-reshuffle in February 2020 and has now said she was told it was because her religion – she’s a Muslim – was “making colleagues uncomfortable”.

This seems likely in a Party that has been riddled with accusations of Islamophobia for years – including allegations against Johnson.

Apparently chief whip Mark Spencer has claimed this accusation relates to him but is false.

Well…

“I had to listen to a monologue on how hard it was to define when people are being racist and that the party doesn’t have a problem and I needed to do more to defend it.

“It was very clear to me that the whips and No 10 were holding me to a higher threshold of loyalty than others because of my background and faith.”

said Ms Ghani.

I think she should join Mr Wragg’s interview with the police officer early next week.

And Mark Drakeford, Wales’s First Minister, whose Covid-19 policies have safeguarded the population here so much better than Johnson’s have in England, has said Johnson’s plan to ease ‘Plan B’ health protections (you may call them restrictions) is probably a distraction tactic.

“Everything that goes on in Whitehall and Westminster at the moment for the UK government is seen exclusively through the lens of, how does this make a difference to the efforts that are being made to shore-up the position of the prime minister,” he said.

“This is a government that at the moment is simply not capable of doing the ordinary business of government in a competent and sensible way because it is overwhelmed by the headlines that surround dreadful events that went on in Downing Street.”

He also said:

“The prime minister is someone who’s been sacked from two previous jobs for not telling the truth.

“I think The Times wrote an editorial on the eve of the December 2019 election pointing to the many flaws in the prime minister’s record and in many ways, I think what you see is his history catching up with him.”

There’s a lot of accuracy in that, I reckon.

Even if he slithers out of the Partygate accusations, it seems Johnson may be sunk by his efforts to avoid being backstabbed by his own MPs.

Source: ‘History catching up with’ PM, Wales first minister claims – as more details of No 10 parties are revealed

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#Drakeford attacks England as #globaloutlier on #Covid19 because of #Tories

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has previously described the Tory government in Westminster as “utterly shambolic”.

This is a story about the daftness of the Tory press and the way they frame their questions to try to make Boris Johnson’s government look remotely reasonable when it is not.

That’s the reason Mark Drakeford, leader of Welsh Labour and First Minister of Wales, was challenged to defend his decision to continue with health protection measures – not restrictions – when England is not.

He deftly turned the question on its head:

He said – rightly – that England is not taking action to protect its population.

“The real question is, why is England such a global outlier,” he said.

“In England, we have a government that is politically paralysed with a prime minister [who] is unable to secure an agreement through his cabinet to take the actions that his advisors have been telling him ought to have been taken,” he said.

“Even if he could get his cabinet to agree them, he can’t get his MPs to agree them either.”

And today (January 8), even the official UK statistic for the number of Covid-19-related deaths (which many of us believe to be gerrymandered to appear lower than the actual amount) exceeded 150,000 deaths.

The UK is the seventh country in the world to pass 150,000 deaths, Of the other six – the USA, Brazil, India, Russia, Mexico and Peru – only Peru has a smaller population, putting the lie once again to Boris Johnson’s claims that the UK’s measures to defeat Covid-19 are leading the world.

Worse, the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is accelerating – up 38.3 per cent on the previous week.

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Welsh Labour is finalising plans for UBI pilot that could slash poverty and galvanise the economy

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has promised to devote the rest of his time in office to rolling out a Universal Basic Income that will lift everybody in Wales out of poverty.

While England suffers under Boris Johnson’s tyranny, Wales may soon prosper under a coalition of Labour and Plaid Cymru led by Mark Drakeford.

Flagship policy is Drakeford’s plan to roll out a Universal Basic Income that could slash poverty by at least 50 per cent in a stroke. A pilot is planned for the spring involving young people leaving care, with other groups to be added.

The aim seems to be to find a way of introducing it without provoking sanctions from the deeply neoliberal – and poverty-encouraging – UK government run by Tory Boris Johnson in Westminster.

It seems the aim is to present Johnson with an argument he can’t refute, like showing the plan improves economic activity by giving people more spending power – as indicated by research from the Autonomy think tank.

According to Autonomy’s report, an introductory UBI of just £60 per week for adults aged 18-65, across the whole of Wales, would immediately cut poverty in half – and child poverty by two-thirds (to 10 per cent from 28 per cent, currently the highest level in the UK).

Pensioners would get £175 on this system, and pensioner poverty would be cut by 61 per cent.

A more substantial (and, yes, more expensive) UBI rate would almost wipe out Welsh poverty entirely. It is suggested as a long-term goal for policymakers.

The report forecast that UBI could create £600 million of extra spending in Wales by putting more cash in the pockets of lower-income households – the group acknowledged to spend most of its income into the economy, rather than saving it.

This would generate tax income for the Welsh government, allowing it to push on with further progressive policies.

The income security provided by UBI will improve the nation’s health and increase life expectancy – people in Wales will be able to expect longer and healthier lives.

And people will enjoy more freedom to try new things like finding appropriate jobs, starting businesses of their own, or improving their education or skills. These are all things that the Tory system of means-tested and heavily-restricted benefits suppress.

And the Welsh people support it by a clear majority. Surveys show 69 per cent of the Welsh public want UBI, while only 11 per cent oppose it.

And the First Secretary of Wales, Mark Drakeford, has said he will devote the remainder of his time in office to rolling out UBI in Wales.

This could be hugely important, not just for Wales, but for UK politics as a whole.

As England sinks into the mire of Tory corruption, its people forced deeper and deeper into poverty by higher costs for groceries, commodities and – very soon – health care, they may find themselves staring across Offa’s Dyke at a land of healthy, happy, people in a country that is moving forward, not downward.

The Tories will do their best to obstruct it, of course, but they can’t stop it. Indeed, any overt attempt to do so will be rightly condemned as anti-democratic.

Done properly, it may stand as a demonstration of the harm being done by Tory – and Westminster Labour – neoliberalism that promised us increased wealth for the rich minority that would trickle down to the rest of us once they’d had enough but only proved that the rich minority never have enough and enjoy keeping the rest of us in poverty and misery anyway.

In short: this could be the pebble that starts an avalanche, overturning failed right-wing economics for good.

Or am I overstating it?

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Mark Drakeford attacked for speaking at ‘Trot jamboree’ – to bring UBI into disrepute?

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister is far more successful at elections than Keir Starmer. Is this the reason he is under attack?

Right-wing headbangers have been laying into the UK’s most successful Labour politician – because he is to attend a discussion of a favourite project at a Labour Conference fringe event.

He will be speaking at Where next for Universal Basic Income? Turning a Transformative Policy into Action: UBI pilot in Wales alongside Welsh Labour MP Beth Winter and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network, Guy Standing – neither of whom have attracted any criticism at all.

Yet again, the weapon being used is guilt by association; the event is to be attended by people who have been falsely smeared as anti-Semites so the loony right is using this as an excuse to smear Drakeford.

Perhaps they’re just jealous because Drakeford actually wins elections while Keir Starmer’s record in that area is singularly lacking.

So we see Eluned Anderson, a regional ambassador of the Holocaust Educational Trust, saying, “The First Minister of Wales should not be sharing a platform with members who have been expelled from the party. The damn state of this.”

Yes indeed – look at the “damn state” of her comment. A man goes to an event to raise the profile of an idea that will improve the lives of millions and she’s bleating because somebody else will be somewhere nearby. Pathetic.

Then there’s swivel-eyed John Haywood, a Labour councillor for Ringwood North in Hampshire, which is nowhere near Wales so we may conclude that he doesn’t know Drakeford or have any qualification to comment on him.

He’s the origin of the catchphrase “Trot jamboree” that has been taken up by the press: “Very very disappointed that Mark Drakeford is on the bill at Twit Festival, which is basically a Trot jamboree taking place in Brighton at the same time as UK Labour party conference.“

For the record, not a single Trotskyist person or organisation has been invited to the event.

Next up: Wales Against Antisemitism: “Why does Mark Drakeford, as First Minister of Wales, think it appropriate to speak at this event, given antisemitism controversies involving many of his fellow speakers?”

I wonder whether this straightforward guilt-by-association smear would provide enough grounds for Ms Winter and Mr Standing to sue for libel.

These attacks are repellant and so are the people making them. They are indicative of the worst kind of political opportunism – accusing people, not because of something they have done, but because of unsubstantiated accusations against completely different people who won’t even be at the event.

(Or at least, we have no reason to believe that Jeremy Corbyn or Ken Loach will be at the talk. It would be nice if they were, though.)

Of course there has been an online backlash from people who seem to be more mentally-balanced.

Here’s a very pertinent comment:

How do the creepy extremists listed above feel about Starmer and Nandy attending a “Trots convention” alongside people who may have been excluded from the party since they were there.

That’s enough reason for Starmer and Nandy to be excluded, isn’t it? According to current Labour disciplinary practices, that is.

Ah, but here’s a possible explanation of why that is unlikely to happen:

Well we certainly can’t accuse Starmer or Nandy of socialism!

There has also been a lot of straightforward support for Drakeford, from people who want to hear what he has to say:

Yes indeed.

Ultimately, this could be interpreted, not as an attack on people who have been accused of holding controversial views – but an attempt to silence a progressive idea.

In attacking Drakeford, these swivel-eyed loons are dragging the idea of Universal Basic Income into disrepute – again, by “guilt through association”. Is that the real agenda?

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Welsh Secretary is whining because he read about UBI experiment online. But is that it, really?

Why so sad, Simon? The Tory Secretary of State for Wales is upset that Universal Basic Income might be tried out in Wales. What if – God forbid – it’s a success?

Simon Hart has made a big mistake, shouting about the Welsh Government’s Universal Basic Income experiment too soon.

He’s all upset because Wales’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced that the Welsh Government will run a pilot scheme.

He reckons Drakeford jumped the gun by announcing it in a story he read online (this one?*) before talking to the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions, which runs state benefits.

In fact, it seems to This Writer, Hart is the one who’s jumping the gun.

Drakeford, a long-term supporter of UBI, realised before this year’s local elections that he could end up leading an Assembly in which a significant number of members also support it.

In the event, counting himself, 26 of the 60-strong Welsh Assembly want UBI trials.

So he has begun research into that possibility. It clearly hasn’t gone very far because when I ran the story he was seeking expressions of interest from unitary authorities and now he’s talking about giving it to people leaving care.

It is far too early to be talking with the Treasury, DWP or any other official organisations about this because it might not come to anything, despite the good intentions of all concerned.

But being premature isn’t the big mistake I think Simon Hart has made.

His big mistake was showing how much he hates the idea of UBI:

Mr Hart said he agreed with previous comments made by the Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething in 2018 – when he was health minister – that the idea was “out of touch”.

The UK government, which controls benefits, has said it did not think it would be an incentive to work.

The problem, for Tories, is that in many cases the only incentive to work at the moment is the avoidance of extreme poverty and the threat of death due to benefit deprivation according to – guess what? – Tory rules.

Universal Basic Income scheme would take away that threat, but would still leave people living at subsistence level.

The difference is that, rather than forcing the worst possible pay and conditions on possible employees and saying, “take it or leave it,” employers would have to start offering genuine incentives for people to take their jobs.

That is anathema to Tories. It means they and their business-oriented friends would end up taking a smaller cut of their firms’ profits, because employees would be able to demand what they’re actually worth.

That’s what Simon Hart revealed to us: he isn’t opposed to UBI because it’s “out of touch” or because of any inter-governmental lack of manners; he hates it because it offers dignity to working people.

And to those without jobs, come to think of it.

*I doubt it, although the tweet that I used came from a source that was new to me. Why can’t the BBC credit social/online media sources that published stories first? Is it some weird neurosis – worry that someone else is doing better news reporting?

Source: Universal basic income: UK government ‘not told’ about Welsh plans – BBC News

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Universal Basic Income pilot scheme to be launched in Wales. May I suggest Powys?

Money: a Universal Basic Income scheme guarantees that people receive enough money to support them, at all times. Some claim that this discourages them from working, but this is nonsense. Everyone wants more than the bare minimum, right? Or is the problem that employers only offer the bare minimum?

This is great news.

The Labour-run Welsh government was softly suggesting that it might support a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot scheme before the local elections.

But the election result has put 25 AMs in Cardiff Bay who signed a pledge promising to put pressure on governments and councils to launch trials.

That seems to have been enough to encourage Mark Drakeford to green-light projects in Wales, to be organised by new Social Justice minister Jane Hutt:

This Writer has had contact with Jane Hutt. I asked her for advice on a matter involving an acquaintance of mine and she took the time to provide a very full and helpful response. I think she is an effective and responsible public servant and that this project is in good hands with her.

The Guardian‘s article suggests that Rhondda Cynon Taff is among several Welsh councils that have expressed an interest in running a UBI pilot. I hope that my own home county – Powys – has also done so.

Powys is the biggest and most rural county in Wales, with many employment problems associated with having a sparse population. UBI could hugely help people here by removing the threat of sanction associated with the current benefit system and allowing people to concentrate on tackling local issues in a creative and adaptive way.

And it would be a real feather in Mr Drakeford’s cap to be able to say he’d managed to make UBI work across an entire quarter of Wales.

Source: Wales to launch pilot universal basic income scheme | Universal basic income | The Guardian

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Labour wins historic SIXTH term in succession in Welsh government – and may consider independence vote

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has described the Tory government in Westminster as “utterly shambolic”.

Has any UK-based government won six successive terms? That’s what Labour just achieved in Wales.

It shows the advantage that sitting governments can use, when they actually deliver on their promises and do their best to help the population.

The mainstream media have been unforgivably quiet about it. Perhaps the London-based hacks think Wales doesn’t matter. They certainly pay more attention to Scotland, where the SNP has won only its fourth successive term.

That could all change very soon, with both devolved governments likely to support independence referenda if proposals are put before them.

I know Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make it happen. The surprise here is that Mark Drakeford has said he will support an independence referendum in Wales, if there is a majority in the Senedd for holding one.

The contrast with Labour’s performance in England could not be more extreme – as social media commenters have merrily pointed out:

The lesson was very clearly put by Simon de Jever: “Drakeford is a left wing Corbyn supporting leader. Starmer is a Corbyn bashing centrist. Drakeford has had a spectacular win even in Brexit areas and Starmer has reduced the Labour vote to 29%.”

And Andrew Feinstein added: “Makes you think Starmer’s purge of the left and massive shift to the right might have been a mistake!”

 

 

Ya think?

The victory creates huge problems for Keir Starmer because his failure will be measured against Drakeford’s success. Some are already laying bets that Drakeford’s suspension from the Labour Party is already in the mail.

But if Drakeford is serious about permitting an independence referendum, it could create a monumental problem for Boris Johnson.

He can’t refuse permission for such a poll on the basis that we’ve had one recently (as in Scotland) because we haven’t.

He can’t rely on Wales rejecting independence because he knows his government has been so appallingly useless that many Welsh people may consider going it alone to be preferable – even if it means a few lean years in the immediate future. We’ll have hardship under the Tories indefinitely.

And it means he could be in line for a double dose of shame as the prime minister who presided over the end of the United Kingdom.

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Rees-Mogg’s hypocrisy over England-Wales travel ban is borderline schizoid

Rees-Mogg: doesn’t he look properly psychotic in this image? Little did we know that it reflects his actual personality. Or did we..?

See what I did there? No? Allow me to explain:

Jacob Rees-Mogg has supported to the hilt plans that would put permanent borders within the United Kingdom – in the middle of the Irish Sea and on the inland border of Kent.

But he reckons a plan by Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford to ban entry into that country by people from other areas of the UK with higher Covid-19 lockdown restrictions is “unconstitutional”.

It isn’t; it simply puts those other parts of the UK in the same situation as those parts of Wales that are under more stringent restrictions and Drakeford is well within his rights to impose this temporary rule.

It seems, regarding internal borders, Rees-Mogg is schizoid – he is literally of two minds.

Here’s Nation.Cymru:

Jacob Rees Mogg replied: “What would you expect of a hard-left Labour Government?

“The approach to putting a border between England and Wales is unconstitutional and will place the police in an invidious position considering that they serve the whole of the United Kingdom.

“We are one single United Kingdom and we should not have… borders between different parts of the United Kingdom.

“And I’m afraid that is what you get when you vote for socialists.”

He did not offer any evidence that the Welsh Government’s plan was unconstitutional. Health is a devolved issue in Wales and can be legislated upon by the Welsh Parliament.

Police are not devolved but organised on an England and Wales, Scottish, and Northern Irish basis.

The measures regarding people coming to Wales from England are the same as those that exist between Welsh authorities.

You can see him making his comment here:

Phew, what a loony!

“Hard-left Labour government”? Rees-Mogg’s own constituency of Bath and North-East Somerset is very close to Wales. All he has to do is cross a bridge to realise that this is not a country full of Bolshevik revolutionaries.

Drakeford himself always struck me as being more of the ‘New Labour’ persuasion than a socialist. Perhaps he’ll take the hint from Rees-Mogg and adopt a more left-wing policy from now on (that would be welcome).

Realistically, we could suggest that Rees-Mogg’s attitude is that of the spoilt boy who finds that someone else has been playing with his toys; perhaps he thought nobody else was allowed to do as Drakeford has – now he knows better.

Alternatively, he’s mad as a bag of cats.

Our friends in the social media have an opinion about that, of course:

Come to that, so do a few people from Wales itself:

Of course it is perfectly permissible to travel out of Wales in order to give Rees-Mogg a verbal battering.

And if you don’t travel through any English Covid hotspots, it’s perfectly permissible to travel back in again.

The only people under any restrictions are those who should not be travelling anyway.

So this Tory fool is making a fuss about nothing.

Source: Rees-Mogg incorrectly claims new Welsh Covid-19 restrictions are ‘unconstitutional’ – Nation.Cymru

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