Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Christopher Salmon has issued a media statement reflecting his thoughts on the Silk Commission’s second report, which recommends that youth justice and policing should be devolved to Wales. The PCC said:
“I welcome this report; it’s important that we have ongoing public discussion about major issues….I don’t see how Silk would enhance our ability to catch criminals. It would add great deal more expense, and fracturing the criminal justice system down the border would make it harder for us to bring justice and easier for people to escape justice.
We have the balance about right now between Westminster and Wales. We have strong local accountability in the form of Police and Crime Commissioners and, in Dyfed-Powys, that has allowed me to find savings of more than 4% since I arrived whilst adding 30 more police officers to the force…Centralising things in Cardiff would be no better than centralising things in Westminster.”
Before going any further one is compelled to consider the antecedents of said Mr Silk. Readers will not be surprised to learn that the gentleman is a Welsh speaker, born and still lives in Crickhowell, Welsh schooled and an honorary Professor at that old chestnut the Cardiff University madrassa – no surprises here, Crachach time again, nothing like giving plum jobs to outside talent is there?
Ah the internet, what a wonderful thing. In our modern world it was inevitable that Labour politicians would soon offer up their take on that selfie.
People say that a picture is worth a thousand words. They are of course wrong because no picture is complete without a caption, so what would be appropriate for Labour’s selfie? Suggestions in the comments please…
Sabres are the only weapons that have never been decommissioned in Northern Ireland. The reward for Peter Robinson rattling his, has been the creation of a “judge-led” review of how the British Government has been dealing with Irish republican “On-The-Runs” for the past decade.
This follows the collapse of the Old Bailey trial last month against John Downey, charged with the IRA’s Hyde Park bombing in 1982 in which four soldiers were killed. It brought to light the scheme by which 180 or so republicans like Downey who had evaded the authorities were sent letters confirming, in effect, that they would not be prosecuted on returning home to Northern Ireland.
For republicans, this is merely an extension of the prisoner release programme which took place after the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 and no big deal. For Robinson, it amounts to a secret deal letting untried killers off the hook – and Ulster unionism doesn’t let any chance to yell “sell out” pass it by.
Yet what the government has conceded is a long way short of the “full judicial review” (a la Lord Saville’s inquiry into Bloody Sunday) that Robinson initially called for last Wednesday. According to the published terms of reference, the as yet unnamed judge will be tasked with producing “a full public account of the operation and extent” of the policy for dealing with On the Runs and to “determine whether any letters sent through the scheme contained errors”.
In a sense, nothing changed over the weekend: there was virtually no doubt that, once a proposal of such import was made “privately” to the NEC – and therefore instantly leaked to the whole world – that ducks were already in a neat row and nods had already been duly given. In dark, smoke-filled rooms, of course (it wouldn’t be the same without them).
But the securing of the party’s reform package – namely, the change from bulk to individual relationships with the party for union members, fair and representative leadership elections and a primary for London – was undoubtedly a great thing.
Finally – finally – Miliband has left his mark indelibly on his party. Even should he turn out next year to have been a mere one-term leader, the changes he has made will have an extremely long-lasting impact (assuming, that is, that such things cannot be undone later: either owing to an untimely 2015 leadership election, as noted here; or the use of the NEC veto clause on the London primary, as Progress’ Robert Philpot observantly pointed out last week).
There are things missing from the final report: NEC and conference votes remain unreformed. Neither, as blogger Ben Cobley noted, did the party take the opportunity to address its pathological obsession with identity politics, which has left to some nasty stitch-ups in the past, and which may yet be the undoing of the party before long (read this piece by Uncut’s Kevin Meagher if you want to understand why).
At the beginning of the twentieth century I would have been a mongrel, in the middle I would have been half-caste. Now I’m mixed-race; and it is not a coincidence that there has never been a better time to be mixed-race in Britain than today. Language, George Orwell once wrote, “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish”. Foolish language, though, makes it all the easier for us to have foolish thoughts.
Perhaps that’s why, at Labour’s special conference, I found myself shaking with anger. Political discourse is full of foolish words designed to excuse the lack of an argument; the word “neoliberal”, say, or worse still, “metropolitan”. Eighty percent of the British population lives in an urban area, so, with the exception of badger culling, you can throw the word “metropolitan” at pretty much any argument you don’t like. “Only ethnic minorities and economists think Labour got it right on immigration,” is an embarrassing sentence for political weathervanes, but the word “metropolitan” hides all number of sins.
What we say matters: the phrase “one man, one vote” reflects that the Labour Party is still a boy’s club; the phrase “one member, one vote” suggests that it doesn’t always have to be. The words that we use, and the way we use them: they shape the kind of party we are, and the world we’re trying to create.
So what kind of party is Paul Kenny, the General Secretary of the GMB, shaping when he warns Labour delegates against engaging in “wine bar gossip”?
Today’s YouGov poll shows the Lib Dems on just eight per cent. The poll also gives Labour a nine per cent lead on 41, with the Tories on 32. This follows the recent Wythenshawe by-election where the Lib Dems received less than five per cent of the vote and lost their deposit for the eighth time in ten by-elections since 2010.
It was in this context that Nick Clegg had the audacity to announce that he is setting up a “negotiating committee” to prepare the Lib Dems for five more years in government. The press release was issued from planet Clegg or from whatever parallel universe the Lib Dems currently inhabit.
The Lib Dems will certainly not be running on their record, which is one of utter failure. Working people are on average £1,600 worse off since Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister. Yet while families up and down the country face a cost-of-living crisis created by the Lib Dems and their Tory mates, Nick Clegg has decided that his priority should be keeping himself in power.
With their painfully transparent strategy of “differentiation”, Clegg and his party like to pose as a restraining influence on David Cameron, but the truth is that the Lib Dems have nailed their colours firmly to the Tory mast. They have propped up this Tory government and given up any pretence of believing in progressive policies in return for a few seats at the cabinet table, the keys to the ministerial cars and a parliamentary group that has more knighted male MPs than women.
A couple of weeks ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest data on UK property prices. For anyone, particularly young people, who aspire to getting themselves onto the property ladder, the data did not make good reading. It showed that house prices in December were 5.7 per cent higher across the UK compared with a year earlier, predominately driven by a 12.3 per cent increase in London.
Indeed, the average property in the UK will now set you back a cool £250,000. For people looking to settle in London or South East England (which as a result of the unbalanced UK economy and jobs market is a substantial proportion), this rises to £450,000 and £306,000 respectively.
But what would that even buy you these days?
Save for the rare gem that quite probably requires a lot of work, a £300,000 property (be it a house or a flat) in London or South East England is likely to be only a fairly modest 3-bedroom semi of the type to which many young families will aspire. Yet, the stamp duty bill on this purchase will be £9000, equal to several months’ entire after-tax pay for average earners.
This has resulted in the government pocketing £16.6 billion in stamp duty tax since 2010.
The Labour Students conference began the Friday before last with a co-ordinated effort by several clubs, threatening disaffiliation over the issue of One Member One Vote (OMOV) for elections to the Labour Students National Committee.
In the run-up to conference, the clubs had sent a letter protesting the decision by Steering and the National Committee to block three motions asking for a further debate on OMOV at conference. However, as delegates had already voted on this issue at National Council and agreed not to discuss it until after 2015, the three motions were blocked.
This tension continued into the conference with a mass walkout by several clubs over this issue and a poorly worded motion in favour of stopping censorship and inference from National Council. The motion as a whole would have done nothing to progress their aims and was rightly voted down by the remaining delegates after the walkout.
It is important to note that the walkout was bound up in the politics of Labour students – it was led by supporters of Tom Phipps for National Secretary, though Tom did not walk out himself.
To be brutally honest, I cannot see what the walkout or the whole disaffiliation threat will achieve at all, other than dividing us in the crucial run-up to 2015.
I cannot understand what we will achieve as a divided organisation. On the back of our membership cards, it said “Through our common endeavours we achieve more than we achieve alone.”
The plan for Labour general election victory launched by Uncutat Labour party conference last year included identifying how to fund a radical Labour alternative. Making deeper cuts in certain areas to free funds to spend elsewhere. We identified £34bn of additional cuts to pay for free, universal childcare, 1 million new jobs in areas that need them most through a revived, regionalised Future Jobs Fund, and 1 million new homes.
Last week, Demos published a report in which I argue that this strategy of reallocating public resources from where they are having least impact to where they could have most has the potential to increase the number of apprenticeships delivered. The failings of the Youth Contract have been well documented. In contrast, other schemes – such as the Creative Employment Programme – have much more rapidly increased apprenticeships.
The solution is as simple as it is potentially powerful: reroute funding from the Youth Contract to schemes like the Creative Employment Programme. If we look closely at these schemes, it’s clear why one is performing well and one isn’t.
Since April 2013 the Community Employment Programme has committed funding to create 634 apprenticeships, and 655 paid internships across 491 employers. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of these positions have been created through ‘consortiums’, whereby a lead applicant such as a local authority, LEP, trade body, or larger employer stepped forward to make an application on behalf of a number of employers who might not otherwise understand how to create apprenticeships or what combination of the myriad of funding they may be eligible for.
Scotland has some serious history. It has produced pure genius in the arts, philosophy, engineering and politics. One can understand a case for independence and separateness, albeit that abstention from out and out support may well be one’s personal inclination.
But is independence desirable?
Is the breakup of such a small land, a land that is so dependent on all its people pulling and working together, the future? Does Sir Colin Campbell’s Thin Red Line matter anymore, where is the enemy?
We have heard all the economic arguments, but is there not the more teasing question of how long finite natural resources ie gas and oil are going to last?
This writer must argue that the future of any world order cannot depend upon sovereign state autonomy and the sanctity of identity. The future for mankind must be consensus, co-operation and a barrier free global sharing of natural resources.