Posts Tagged ‘Welsh Labour’

Letter from Wales: What is happening to the NHS in Wales?

21/02/2014, 10:37:18 AM

by Julian Ruck

“But it’s not normal, it’s Wales!”

Do excuse my take on a few words from Atul Hatwal, editor of Uncut, in his column 9.1.14. The fact remains however, that nothing at all is “normal” in Wales, indeed the principality makes Westminster look as normal as a packet  Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts and a ’99 on Southend pier.

Allow me to reiterate the statistics broadcast by BBC Wales in respect of the Welsh NHS:

  • 23,500 patients waiting more than 8 weeks for diagnostic treatment, up from 8000 two years ago.
  • The number of people waiting more than 9 months for hospital treatment has reached its highest level in two years.
  • More than 32% of patients in Wales wait more than 8 weeks for an ultra sound scan compared with 0.1% in England.
  • Death rates now coming into question and the Welsh government is refusing to carry out an investigation.

Mark Drakeford, health minister and master of denial, is blaming all of those nasty people in   Westminster again.

This is what happens when you have professors of social policy (from the Cardiff university crachach madrassa of course) running health services in Wales.

Cathy O’Sullivan, acting chair of the board of Community Health Councils in Wales said on Radio Wales recently about the Welsh NHS, ”It needs a very fundamental shake, around how patients are treated in the 21st Century.”

And here’s the problem.


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Letter from Wales: Threats to Labour are rumbling in the Welsh Senate

15/02/2014, 12:24:05 PM

by Julian Ruck

Having spent some time attending press briefings and familiarising myself with the general goings on at the Welsh Senate, I am able to draw a number of conclusions, by way of pure observation you understand.

Upon entering this concrete, modernist incubator for the first time, I was immediately struck by the fact that reception staff had little idea of when and where press briefings were taking place – the replies to my questions were, “Sorry, no-one tells us anything.”

My first impression I have to say, was one of objectionable serenity, there was something of the Sinai about the place. Empty and unpopulated. Having bought a cup of coffee, I began to wonder if I had turned up during a holiday recess, until a horde of school children appeared and delivered me from my isolated anticipation.

I watched and listened to a teacher explaining what the, and I quote, “Welsh Parliament” was all about. Echoes of Ignatius ap Loyola here thinks I, you know “Give me the boy….” Anyway, having listened to this fanciful titbit of nationalist propaganda, I eventually found my way to the press briefing room.

The Tories, Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems, all appeared one after the other to advise journos of what they were up to, and I must say that I was impressed by their general openness and willingness to answer my challenging questions, albeit that most of said questions were off topic.


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Letter from Wales: Understanding the threat from Welsh Liberal Democrats

13/12/2013, 12:26:00 PM

by Julian Ruck

In previous columns I have alluded to the essential job specs a politician needs in order to be successful ie humour and charm. Tony Blair had it in spades – I am immediately reminded here of his sacking of  Ron “Clapham Common” Davies as recorded in his autobiography – and Boris has enough of both to see him breaching the security gates of No 10, if only he will admit it.

On a personal level I have always felt that if more women were calling the shots of sovereignty, the world would undoubtedly be a more peaceful place. Margaret Thatcher, Cleopatra and Catherine the Great notwithstanding.

Readers will know that I recently interviewed Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru in the Welsh Assembly. Well, a week ago I also interviewed Kirsty Williams, her opposite for the Liberal Democrats. Before going further, I am compelled to point out that both politicos were full of steam and passion and were also able to laugh out loud at my occasional political heresies eg my claiming that of course the Valleys will vote Plaid, the voters up there are still pouring Strongbow super-strength onto their cornflakes for want of anything better to do.

So, what is Kirsty and her party all about?

She’s a Swansea girl through and through and like most Welsh girls (Leanne included) full of the verbals but with a lump of Welshy charm thrown in for good measure. She is possessed of a genuine love for Wales but it must be said, a love that now seethes with anger and disappointment at what is being done to it and its people.

It was of course irresistible to explore with Kirsty the implications of the PISA report and Welsh political life generally. Her views were refreshingly bold and unequivocal, firebrand time again and nothing wrong with this, it’s long overdue in Welsh politics  – she has never been a Cardiff university madrassa alumna either!

“For anyone watching the 10 0’ Clock News last night,” she began, “the Pisa report will have dire consequences for the Welsh economy. We have the highest levels of low skilled youth in the UK. Companies will not invest here. The Welsh government is bereft of new and fresh ideas, the funding gap per pupil between Wales and England is not being addressed properly and my frustration with all this is that Labour is obsessed with consultations, commissions and reports but nothing ever happens. It’s the rugby club mentality; it doesn’t matter if we lose boys, as long as we lose with a bit of hwyl (spirit) that’s alright.”

The old ways are just not delivering anymore There are issues with the Welsh civil service too. It doesn’t like being challenged by politicians or new ideas. Crachach time again. The Welsh government has no ambition, Wales should be at the forefront, the Welsh are being let down!”


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Letter from Wales: Welsh Labour is damaging Ed

22/11/2013, 10:12:21 AM

by Julian Ruck

The search lights of accountability and scrutiny will always make Welsh Labour dive for the blacked out sanctuary of its pleasure cruisers bobbing up and down in Cardiff Bay. For 98 years Welsh Labour has been able to wallow in a take for granted mandate that enjoys the unchallenged absolutism of a House of Saud princeling.

Almost every day in Wales, some political scandal or other hits the Welsh headlines, be it financial, be it authoritarian or be it just plain blazing incompetence. Wales has one of the lowest performing economies in Europe, it’s education system is cheating its young folk on a grand scale and awarding them qualifications that would shame a Zimbabwean Sunday school class and not to mention that only this week the Wales Audit Office has announced that the Welsh government has blundered (yet again!) over its financial projections on reduced student fees resulting in its populist flagship now being nothing better than a clapped out rowing boat.

And of course, its health service is worse than England’s on a good day – which really is saying something!

And what does First Minister Carwyn Jones say at the September Labour conference? That he leads a government that is ‘a living, breathing example” of what the party can achieve in in power!! How on earth Ed kept a straight face on hearing this startlingly complacent, Chamberlain letter waving delusion and swansong of profound idiocy is utterly beyond the keyboard of this humble Uncut scribbler.

The question then is this: Can Ed rely on the historical Welsh Labour mandates of the past? Hegel remarked that ‘governments never learn from history, or act on principles derived from it.’ The lessons of Welsh political history would instruct Ed to take the Labour vote for granted in Wales thus proving Hegel wrong but since when, like economic forecasts, do philosophical meanderings always get things right?

There is a view that our young are politically indifferent. This may well be true up to a point, but they are still a force to be reckoned with – technological whizz and bangs notwithstanding –  and cannot be ignored. Welsh Labour can no longer rely on the generational ‘My dad voted Labour so I’m going to do the same,’ or indeed the oft quoted ‘Stick a Labour donkey up in Swansea and it will still get the vote.’


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Letter from Wales: Where has “clear red water” got Wales?

23/06/2013, 12:18:56 PM

by Julian Ruck

Back in 2002 Rhodri Morgan gave his “clear red water speech,” declaring “We’re not old or new Labour, we’re Welsh Labour.” It set the course for Welsh Labour’s approach to government, citing Beveridge and Bevan as the inspirations.

Fine words but more than 10 years later, where has it got us?

Perhaps Morgan would have been more honest had he said, we are going to fight Tony Blair to the death and to hell with modernising public services, the Welsh economy, health and education.

We want the days of old council chamber back-slapping and back-scratching in Cardiff Bay. We want to be welsh and proud of it, no matter what the cost. You boyos in Westminster can pay our bills, no questions asked. We know our devolved rights, so go and get stuffed!

For every Welsh person almost an extra £4,000 is borrowed compared to England. This Welsh Labour dream of an outdated socialist Brythonic Atlantis has bankrupted Wales, bankrupted the education of our young and bankrupted the Welsh health service.

The Welsh Labour party’s obsession (and Plaid Cymru’s) with a tyrannical Westminster Labour party has resulted in a dire attempt to free fall into isolationism without a parachute.


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