Tag Archives: Welsh

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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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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Local services in Wales will suffer if the Conservatives take over the Senedd

Think before voting: the Conservatives are promising to freeze council taxes in Wales if they take control of the Assembly – but this will benefit the rich far more than working-class people.

The Welsh Conservatives have said they will freeze council tax for at least two years if they take control of the Welsh Assembly after the local elections in May – but this is a threat, not a promise.

The party has said it will fund a council tax freeze, but there is no guarantee that it will follow through on any such pledge. Even if it does, this only means that it will maintain services as they are.

So what happens when events demand spending beyond that level?

Answer: we won’t see it – they’ll say there isn’t enough money (which is a lie).

Also: who benefits most from a council tax freeze? The rich.

Taxation is a way of redistributing wealth, ensuring that poorer people are able to enjoy publicly-funded services for all, rather than those services being restricted only to those who can afford to pay for them out of their own pocket.

It also ensures that funding is available for projects that would not otherwise receive support from private individuals.

By freezing council taxes, then, the Conservatives are pledging to let rich people keep more of their money while depriving the poor of the services they need to get by.

But the Tories don’t tell you that.

Source: Tories pledge to freeze council tax in Wales for at least two years

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‘No ceiling’ promise for Welsh NHS pay rise – but how much will nurses actually get?

It will be interesting to see what pay rise Welsh NHS staff get, in the end.

The Welsh Government might not have said there is a ceiling on the amount it will pay NHS workers here, but that doesn’t mean Vaughan Gething doesn’t have one in mind.

There is no magic money tree for the Welsh Government; no Bank of Wales to create cash out of nowhere to pay for policy objectives.

The Welsh Government has to rely on the grant doled out to it by the Tories in Westminster, who very obviously restricted that cash a few years ago in order to prevent Wales from looking more generous to its health workers than England.

There are limited powers of taxation, too.

It’s clear that the Welsh Government – the Labour-run Welsh Government – can smell a propaganda victory over the Tories here, whose meagre one per cent offer is in fact a pay cut, as inflation is currently 1.5-1.8 per cent.

But I doubt they will be willing to sacrifice any hard-won fiscal credibility.

Also, of course, any decision will take into account the recommendation of the independent NHS Pay Review Body.

I would be astonished if it supported the full 12.5 per cent rise demanded by the Royal College of Nurses.

But a significant rise could lead to an influx of staff and a surge in procedures, leading in turn to increased productivity in the Welsh workforce.

Remember, healthcare has a “multiplier” effect on the economy that the Tories ignore. A decent pay deal for Welsh NHS staff could make the consequences of that ideological difference embarrassingly clear.

So Gething has it all to play for.

Let’s hope he doesn’t fumble the ball.

Source: Welsh NHS: ‘No ceiling’ for possible pay rise, says minister – BBC News

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Labour leader Starmer thought party rules are his toys for coercing the membership; he is badly wrong

We all learned a lot after This Writer’s court victory over the Labour Party on Tuesday, didn’t we?

Yes, I said victory – even though the case was dismissed. I gained more than Labour did.

The court found that Labour had deliberately ignored its own procedures in order to run an investigation that discriminated against me.

We may therefore conclude that Labour’s finding against me in that investigation also discriminated against me, and that the Vox Political articles that the party complained about were not detrimental to the Labour Party, nor were they anti-Semitic in any way.

In other words, any claim that the party ran its complaints system in good faith is utterly discredited.

Furthermore, the court found that this abuse of its own procedures was fully consistent with Labour Party rules – which says to This Writer that the rule book is not fit to be used and should be re-written, preferably by a committee of constituency-based members, with the help of lawyers hired with party funds. No member of Labour’s ruling elite should be allowed to get their fingers into it.

Further evidence of this came on Wednesday (November 25) when it was revealed that Keir Starmer’s Labour elite have tried to pretend there is a rule allowing him to stifle debate on the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party. There isn’t.

None of the rules specifically forbid the expression of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn or criticism of the leadership’s political decisions.

A letter from Fraser Welsh (who?), head of internal governance (oh), states: “The Labour Party disciplinary case against the former Leader has now concluded… However… motions around this issue… are providing a flashpoint for the expression of views that undermine the Labour Party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for all members, in particular our Jewish members. Therefore all motions which touch on these issues must be ruled out of order.

“We are aware that this ruling will be questioned, so the following explanation of the powers exercised by the General Secretary, as well as the rationale for this decision may be helpful:

“The Labour Party’s Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and other forms of racism states (Appendix 9 in the Rule Book): “The Labour Party will ensure the party is a welcoming home to members of all communities, with no place for any prejudice or discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

“Chapter 1 VIII.3.A tasks the NEC to “to uphold and enforce the constitution, rules and standing orders of the Party and to take any action it deems necessary for such purpose…

“Chapter 1 VIII.5 states: “All powers of the NEC may be exercised as the NEC deems appropriate through its elected officers, committees, sub-committees, the General Secretary and other national and regional officials and designated representatives appointed by the NEC or the General Secretary. For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that the NEC shall have the power to delegate its powers to such officers and committees and subcommittees of the NEC and upon such terms as from time to time it shall see fit. Further, it shall be deemed always to have had such power.”

None of the rules mentioned specifically forbid the expression of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn or criticism of the leadership’s political decisions. And Mr Welsh – deliberately? – omits any evidence in support of his wild claims from his letter, meaning local party leaders have no reason to believe him.

Having just won a court case on the basis that its rules don’t mean Labour has to follow any procedure that isn’t specifically codified in the rule book, the party’s leaders can hardly insist that, in this instance, they do.

And it is encouraging to see so many local parties overruling the diktat from party HQ in order to continuing expressing their support for Jeremy Corbyn, for free speech and for democracy. I’ve been monitoring Twitter and here is a taste of what’s been happening:

Opposition to Starmer’s power grab has extended to the unions, which are not governed by Labour Party rules and can say and do what they like:

It seems the whole Labour movement is turning on Starmer:

Sadly, the Conservatives are doing very well out of the civil war that Starmer has stirred up – and will continue to profit in any forthcoming elections, as long as Starmer and his elites have any power in the Labour Party. Here’s the reason:

The longer this continues, the worse it will get. Labour Party members across the UK have made it clear that they do not accept Starmer’s dictatorship and while the dissent is only a whisper at the moment, it will soon become a roar.

Starmer has put himself in an impossible position. Having abused party rules in a vain attempt to assert dictatorial authority, he is unlikely to accept the democratic decision of members to deny him that authority.

I think, therefore, that Labour members will have to consider what other steps they can take to have him removed. Potential left-wing challengers for the leadership position should start generating support – but should wait until large numbers of CLPs have registered their opposition to Starmer’s activities before demanding an election.

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Welsh Tory MP voted to starve English children while Welsh Labour feeds those in her constituency

I raise this to point out the hypocrisy of Conservative MPs.

Last December, people in This Writer’s constituency – Brecon and Radnorshire, in Wales – voted Conservative Fay Jones into Parliament as their MP.

The Welsh government – run by the Labour Party – has already legislated to ensure that children who have been flung into poverty by UK-wide Tory policies and/or by the Covid-19 crisis will enjoy free school meals to ensure they do not grow hungry.

Last week, Jones was among the 322 MPs who voted to ensure that English children – afflicted in the same way by Tory policies – starve.

What utter hypocrisy.

The worst part of it is that people here will probably vote for her again, in the mistaken impression that she had something to do with the decision to provide free meals for children here in Wales.

I note that Ms Jones has been in Parliament for less than a year but has already incurred expenses claims totalling £25,717.57 – equivalent to the average wage in the UK – on top of her MP salary of around £82,000. She seems far more a waste of money than English children – the feeding of whom I would consider to be more an investment.

It is notable that she has also received a supporting donation from the bottled water company Radnor Hills, totalling £10,000.

Considering that fellow Tory MP Selaine Saxby has said she hopes firms providing food to starving English children should not seek government support, it seems appropriate that this firm (that would receive any such support from the Labour-run Welsh government, rather than Westminster) should be deprived of public support in return for backing Jones.

Don’t you agree?

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Coronavirus: Wales starts easing the lockdown – one rule at a time

The Welsh government has announced that it is easing lockdown restrictions – but only one part of them, and for a very good reason.

From Monday, people from two different households in the same local area will be able to meet up outdoors. They must continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

As a general rule, people will not be allowed to travel more than five miles for these meetings – which comes hard for those of us in rural areas who have friends more than five miles away that we haven’t seen in nearly three months.

There will be exceptions including travelling to work, shopping for essentials that aren’t available locally, and to seek care.

That last exception seems to be an attempt to legitimise behaviour like Dominic Cummings’s trip from London to Durham, which caused a hugely embarrassing scandal that the Tory government has been trying to silence for the last week.

The reason for lifting just one rule at a time is simple, as First Minister Mark Drakeford was told:

“Making more than one significant relaxation was too dangerous because if the infection rate went up, it would not be clear what had caused it.”

Contrast that with Boris Johnson’s idiotic rush to get everybody back to work as soon as possible, and damn the consequences!

Is it any wonder that this decision has been followed by another one – to stop showing the daily number of Covid-19-related deaths?

Source: Why the Welsh Government is only making one major lockdown change | Wales – ITV News

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Selfish MP calls for Wales to be abolished so he can visit the beach – and Tories can take control

Daniel Kawczynski: you can tell just by looking at him that he’s another Tory berk.

What a selfish, entitled Tory git.

And the people of Shrewsbury have elected him as their MP continually over the last 15 years, with an increasing majority every time. What possessed them?

Daniel Kawczynski, Tory MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, has called for the Welsh Parliament to be abolished so he can visit the beach.

Wales has coronavirus-related restrictions that are different from those in England. In Wales, people are not allowed to travel away from their local area and most cannot, therefore, visit the beach; nor can English people travel into Wales to do so.

In any event, Kawczynski is a fool because his nearest beach is in the Wirral.

His words suggest he is trying to use the virus and the lockdown – that his prime minister Boris Johnson imposed, let’s not forget – to rekindle the debate about whether the UK countries should have devolved Parliaments.

“I am sorry, but the time has come to reach out as Conservatives to large numbers of like-minded citizens in Wales who like us believe in one system for both nations,” he said.

“We must work towards another referendum to scrap the Welsh Assembly and return to one political system for both nations – a political union between England and Wales.”

He means he wants the Tories to carry out a political power-grab and take control of Wales, so they can impose their disastrous coronavirus policies there and kill thousands more Welsh people.

Fortunately, his efforts have resulted in him being made to look the fool that he is:

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As Conservatives lose hundreds of council seats, Welsh Tory asks May: “Why don’t you resign?”

Theresa May had not one but two nasty experiences on the morning after the 2019 local government elections.

Not only did the predictions come true, with the Conservatives losing nearly 600 council seats (at the time of writing) – but she was heckled when she stood up to give a keynote speech at the Welsh Conservative Party conference in Llangollen.

The incident was caught on camera:

Looking at the slogans on the wall, it seems clear that it isn’t her Wales, and she doesn’t have a future.

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Theresa May told huge lies in her Brexit speech today and everybody knows it

Lying yet again: I’m getting tired of using this image, but it remains the most accurate depiction of Theresa May’s attitude.

Wow. What a screw-up.

When you’re prime minister of a nation like the UK, giving a major speech on a subject that has split your citizens, it is highly advisable not to tell a huge lie about it if you want to have your way.

But that is what Theresa May did today (January 14).

She tried to co-opt the story of the creation of the National Assembly for Wales in support of her claim that Brexit must be enacted, despite the narrowness of the referendum result.

There are just three problems:

First, she said, “On the rare occasions when Parliament puts a question to the British people directly, we have always understood that their response carries a profound significance.” This is a lie.

After the Welsh Assembly referendum in 1997 produced a 0.3 per cent majority – smaller than that for Brexit, the Government of Wales Bill went before the Commons in December 1999 and the Conservative Party – including Mrs May – voted against it en masse.

Mrs May is using the Assembly referendum to support her Brexit policy, even though her own actions in that case were the exact opposite.

Not only that, she said, “When the people of Wales voted by a margin of 0.3%, on a turnout of just over 50%, to endorse the creation of the Welsh Assembly, that result was accepted by Parliament.”

While this is accurate, it is because the majority of MPs in Parliament at the time were members of the Labour Party. The Conservatives campaigned for a second referendum and included a promise to offer the people of Wales a second vote in their manifesto for the general election of 2005. They said that was the democratic thing to do, in sharp contrast with her current attitude to the EU referendum.

Finally, there’s the issue of what happened in the aftermath of the two votes. After the Welsh Assembly referendum, devolutionists worked hard to build “losers’ consent” – reaching out and addressing the concerns of their opponents.

Mrs May has done the exact opposite with Brexit. People who supported remaining in the EU were demonised as “Remoaners”, “saboteurs” and “traitors”.

These are fundamental flaws in Mrs May’s argument. She is revealed as a hypocrite and a liar. And everybody saw it.

(The quoted extract is from a version of the speech that wasn’t used – it seems Mrs May’s advisors realised that “both sides” did not accept the result of the Welsh Assembly referendum and modified it to say that “Parliament” accepted it. As already mentioned, this was because Labour had a majority.)

Evolve Politics goes into further details in an article here.

The only conclusion to be formed is that Theresa May doesn’t care about democracy and nor does her Conservative government. She wants Brexit for petty, selfish reasons that have nothing to do with the national interest or even with the wishes of Leave supporters – and her dire Brexit deal represents those narrow demands. If anything, her speech should reinforce opposition to her claims.

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