Posts Tagged ‘Carwyn Jones’

Letter from Wales: Welsh government blows €130m investment in north Wales

08/07/2013, 03:11:03 PM

by Julian Ruck

For a classic example of the Welsh government’s blazing incompetence and reluctance to consider any true private investment (but to be fair, there is no authentic private sector in Wales) that doesn’t involve their profligate dishing out of tax-payers’ money at will to duff so-called commercial enterprises, please consider some correspondence (below) that was recently sent to me by Jeremy Oakley, a businessman.

Mr Oakley’s abridged  letter to first minister Carwyn Jones, on 16.5.13 is as follows –  please note, no response was forthcoming from Mr Jones, neither was there a response from his deputy Rhodri Price, who had put his deputy, one James Price onto it as a matter of urgency.

“It is with deep regret that I must inform you of my decision to pull investment we had planned for north Wales, specifically for the Trawsfynydd power station site.

Over the last 2 years, we have created a green energy project that was specifically designed for Trawsfynydd.

The project was to create 100 full time long term jobs by using new technology to create Bioethanol from the local natural resources of grass, bracken and soft rush.

The annual return to the region would have been c€20m plus the income derived from full time mixed ability jobs created in a high unemployment area.

The capital expenditure for the project would have been 130m EUR of which c60% would have been a local spend.”

That’s right €130m of investment in Wales in exactly the type of green energy project we desperately need, lost without even an explanation. But Wales’ loss is other countries’ gain. Mr. Oakley continues, (more…)

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Letter from Wales: Welsh democracy is in a ruinous state

14/06/2013, 10:31:16 AM

by Julian Ruck

If you politically aware folk across the Severn Seas, think Westminster is the political capital of greasy manipulation and ambitious malfeasance, then think again and try this on for size.

Old welsh Labour with its enforcers has now excelled itself, making sport out of the committee system of scrutiny and oversight where policy is concerned. If any member of said committee shows any sign at all of having an independent intellect (or indeed any intellect at all), or god forbid a view that may be deemed “principled”, then they are ignominiously ejected, without a safety harness.

You think I’m joking?

Well, let me appraise you of a recent Children and Young People’s committee, set up to consider the Welsh Assembly’s Social Services Bill.

By way of background, three of the Labour team were in support of a ban on physical chastisement of those objectionable urchins who fall by the parental wayside as it were, the minister overseeing all this, one Gwenda Thomas, was not.

Chance would have it, that just before the committee was due to convene, take evidence and consider an amendment to introduce the child-smacking ban into the Bill, old Labour’s chief whip-master sacked the three liberal musketeers, and without as much as a by your leave.

Christine Chapman (Chair), Julie Morgan and Jenny Rathbone were all replaced by more accommodating members with a more corporally inclined inclination than their predecessors.

When the meeting started, microphones were injudiciously turned off so that the new chair, one Ann Jones, was left to rather miserably explain that she had only just found out about her ‘calling’ to the committee – nothing like being prepared is there?


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Letter from Wales: Welsh education is in the corner with its thumb in its mouth

23/05/2013, 04:00:41 PM

by Julian Ruck

Did you hear the one about the Welsh education system?

The Estyn Report of 2012 concluded that 40% of Welsh children entering secondary education are going to schools that are barely “adequate.”

Carwyn Jones, admitted that indeed “more work needs to be done”. His education minister, Leighton Andrews, followed this up with an insistence that Wales was not going to follow the English with a new ‘O’ Level type exam that is more rigorous and demanding than the present GCSE.

Can’t have that now can we?

Mustn’t upset the Welsh medium schools with some heinous British deliverance must we? Never mind the fact that Welsh children will be burdened with a third class education, as if their future isn’t grim enough.

Standards? They can go hang. No, the problem is all about money, we are told. It’s all Barnett’s fault. Westminster just isn’t dishing out enough money to Wales, you see.

It’s alright for 10 Welsh poets to enjoy a 10 day little jolly at the Smithsonian in Washington, all expenses paid plus a £100 a day pocket money.

It’s alright to give £4.4m to Welsh publishers to publish 10 books on Welsh place names and DIY manuals on how to fry a Welshcake (I jest not).

It’s alright to give millions of tax-payers’ money to a tiny number of people to write the 100th learned tome on the fanciful Mabinogion, What the hell, there’s no such thing as an ebook in Wales? Stop the tax-payer gravy train? You must be joking!


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Thursday News Review

09/06/2011, 06:46:46 AM

U-turn after U-turn

Dithering David Cameron was ridiculed yesterday after performing yet another spectacular backflip over Government policy. He ordered a rethink on controversial plans to halve jail sentences for violent criminals – shelving proposals put forward by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. It came just two days he was forced into an embarrassing climbdown on sweeping health reforms. And it showed that, unlike one of his predecessors, Margaret Thatcher, this Tory PM definitely IS for turning. The hapless leader’s latest about-face is seen as a humiliating blow for Mr Clarke. – Daily Mirror

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke faced embarrassment yesterday after David Cameron vetoed his proposal to cut by up to half the prison terms for rapists and other violent offenders who make early guilty pleas. It was the Prime Minister’s second major policy U-turn in less than 24 hours following his concessions on NHS reform. Mr Clarke’s plans to cut up to 50 per cent from sentences of offenders who plead guilty early (an increase from 33 per cent) faced savage criticism from Tory right-wingers. The Independent understands that ministers are considering a two-tier scheme, under which a maximum 33 per cent discount will be retained for the most severe crimes such as rape, assault and armed robbery but 50 per cent could be introduced for less serious offences. The latter option is being backed by Mr Clarke and Liberal Democrat ministers, while many Tories are pressing for the 50 per cent proposal to be scrapped outright. – the Independent

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke has been forced by Number 10 to abandon a plan to give rapists, and other serious offenders, a 50% sentence discount in return for early guilty pleas, but he is fiercely resisting Treasury demands to make his justice ministry bear the multi-million pound cost. Clarke had proposed to increase the discount from 33% to 50% for all offenders, so saving £130m from a departmental budget being slashed by a quarter. Following talks with David Cameron over the past 48 hours, Clarke accepted rapists will now be excluded, but he is battling to retain the extra discount for less serious offences, a policy that would free up badly needed prison places. In difficult talks yesterday with the Treasury chief secretary, Danny Alexander, Clarke pointed out he had last year won Treasury agreement that if the government’s so-called rehabilitation revolution did not deliver a lower jail population, then the Treasury would bear the costs from the reserve. – the Guardian

Another U-turn on pensions possible

Senior Liberal Democrats are understood to be determined to reverse the plans. Jenny Willott, the Lib Dem backbench spokeswoman on pensions, has also called for the proposals to be reconsidered. But the Treasury is likely to fiercely resist attempts to unpick the state pension age changes, which will save the taxpayer billions in the years ahead, unless they can be made to pay for themselves. Former Lib Dem party leader Charles Kennedy, John Hemming and Annette Brooke are among those who have opposed the changes. While Tory MPs Peter Bottomley, James Gray and Chloe Smith have asked for the rules to be amended. She told the Commons: ‘Women currently in their late 50s are getting a very bad deal. No men will see their state pension age increase by more than a year but half a million women will.’ – Daily Mail

Tory and Lib Dem rebels sided with Labour in raising concerns about the impact a decision to raise it to 66 by 2018 will have on around 300,000 women born in 1953 and 1954. They have been given just seven years notice. David Cameron was challenged over it by Lib Dem Annette Brook at PM’s Questions. She urged him to review it, saying: “The women affected will be asked to work up to two extra years over and above what they had planned for, whereas men will be asked to work only an extra year. The discrimination concerns me.” Mr Cameron said he “understood” but argued pensioners would be better off in increased pension payments agreed by the Coalition. – Daily Express

Politicians pay tribute to Prince Philip at 90

Taking time out after Prime Minister’s Questions to propose a “humble address” to be presented to the Queen to mark the occasion, Mr Cameron described the Duke as “a source of rock solid strength” during his record-breaking 59 years as consort. Ed Miliband, the leader of the Opposition, was equally effusive, saying the Duke “embodies qualities of duty, loyalty public service and good humour – great British qualities”. But it was the two leaders’ frequent references to the Duke’s famed sense of mischief that drew the biggest response from the House. Mr Cameron promised to keep his speech short, quoting the Duke’s observation that “the mind cannot absorb what the backside cannot endure”, and shared his favourite blunt comment by the Duke, when he was once asked how his flight had been. “Have you ever been on a plane?” the Duke had told a dignitary. “Well, you know how it goes up in the air and comes down again – it was like that.” – Daily Telegraph

Its up to you Carwyn

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that policies taken forward by Carwyn Jones’ Welsh Government would shape his party’s next UK manifesto – and he gave the First Minister a free hand to negotiate coalition deals with either Plaid Cymru or the Liberal Democrats. Speaking in a London press conference yesterday, Mr Miliband made it clear he would not oppose Assembly link-ups with Plaid or the Lib Dems if the Welsh Labour leader considered these necessary. He said: “These are decisions for him. He’s an excellent First Minister. “He’s done a brilliant job since he’s taken over from Rhodri Morgan. Those kind of decisions are for him.” – Western Mail

Encouraging for Labour, but worrying figures for Ed

Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are struggling to improve their image with voters while David Cameron remains almost twice as popular as his two rival leaders.  After a mini-revival early this year, the Liberal Democrats are back at the 11 per cent rating to which they slumped last year after their tuition fees U-turn. Labour (40 per cent) enjoys a four-point advantage over the Tories (36 per cent). Mr Cameron, dubbed “Teflon Man” by Tory aides, appears to float above the political fray. Mr Clegg seems to be the fall guy for ministers’ unpopular decisions while Mr Miliband makes little impact on voters. Mr Clegg’s personal ratings have hit a new low. ComRes found only 21 per cent believe he is a good leader. Professor Curtice said: “There must now be question marks about Clegg’s ability to recover from his unpopularity, which is beginning to be on a par with that endured by Gordon Brown. Leaders rarely recover popularity once most of the public have decided to write them off.” There is little either for Mr Miliband to celebrate. ComRes found only 22 per cent deem him a good leader, compared with Mr Cameron’s 39 per cent. Ominously for Labour, none of the last three opposition leaders with a negative satisfaction rating after eight months in the post – William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Howard – went on to become prime minister. – the Independent

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Friday News Review

13/05/2011, 06:51:09 AM

C’mon Carwyn

Carwyn Jones will today unveil his new Cabinet after swearing an oath of office and formally taking the reins of government. A list of up to 12 Labour AMs nominated as ministers was sent to Buckingham Palace yesterday to receive the Queen’s approval, which is expected to arrive today. Mr Jones will then reveal the make-up of his new Labour-only Cabinet after winning 30 seats in last week’s Assembly Election, making them by far the largest party but with no majority. Mr Jones announced on Tuesday that he would be going it alone as head of a Labour-only Government rather than seek a deal with any other party. He said yesterday: “I am honoured to serve the people of Wales as First Minister and begin our ambitious programme to create a fairer, more prosperous country in these challenging times.” – Western Mail

We’ve gone six years back

Households may have suffered their biggest drop in take-home incomes for 30 years, a leading economic think-tank has warned. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said that analysis of new official figures suggest it was “entirely possible” that median incomes dropped by 3% in 2010-11. Such a fall would leave income levels back where they were six years earlier, the IFS said. The IFS’s analysis is based on household income data for 2009-10 just released by the Department for Work and Pensions. It shows that median incomes continued to grow by 1.6% – following similar sluggish growth the previous year – despite the effects of the recession. However, the IFS warned that these increases were likely to have “more than unwound” in 2010-11 as the long-term effects of the recession are felt and higher inflation erodes living standards. It said that data already available for the first 11 months of 2010-11 showed earnings fell by 3.8%, while its own forecasts pointed to a fall in median incomes of around 3%. – Daily Mirror

The first of many

The Liberal Democrat group in Rochdale has announced changes to its leadership.  Councillor Wera Hobhouse will take over from Councillor Irene Davidson as the Leader of the group and Councillor Zulfiqar Ali will take over from Councillor Dale Mulgrew as the Deputy Leader of the group. Councillor Hobhouse has been a Councillor in the Norden since 2004 and Councillor Ali has been a Councillor for Central Ward since 1998 and is the outgoing Mayor. The move comes following a difficult year for the Lib Dems. Towards the back end of 2010 seven members broke away and formed the short-lived Independent Alliance group. A further three Councillors have since defected to the Conservative party. The group also suffered heavily on election night. – Rochdale News

Physics could be the next to suffer

Deep funding cuts could put the UK’s prominence in astronomy and particle physics at risk, MPs have said. The Science and Technology Committee says astronomy funding will fall by 20% over four years – the science budget’s average real-terms cut was 14.5%. The MPs say some of the resulting cuts are likely to deter leading scientists from working in the UK. The government says it has protected the science budget but cannot make individual funding decisions. Committee chairman Labour MP Andrew Miller said: “If you don’t invest in big science at the level it needs, it’s going to have a big impact on our competitiveness and pre-eminence in areas that are important to the country.” – BBC News

Clegg fires independence warning

Nick Clegg has warned Alex Salmond not to “misinterpret his mandate” by believing the SNP’s landslide victory in the Holyrood election was an expression of support for Scottish independence. The Deputy Prime Minister also did not rule out completely Westminster instigating its own Scottish referendum.That would almost certainly pre-empt the one planned by the First Minister well into the second half of the five-year Holyrood Parliament, ie from 2014 onwards. He said: “I’m not personally – at the moment – persuaded that what we want to do is try and develop some sort of Gunfight at the OK Corral, where we threaten each other with referendums. I’m not sure that is the best way to proceed.” However, Mr Clegg, appearing before the Commons Constitutional and Political Reform Committee, seemed to suggest the door on a Westminster referendum had not been entirely closed. – Daily Herald

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Clear red waters in the land of our fathers

23/02/2011, 02:30:25 PM

by Dave Collins

As Welsh Labour’s faithful departed Llandudno’s conference centre on Sunday, there seemed to be a new spring in their steps. An air of optimism, expectation that the worst is over and that Labour is back on the path to restoring its status as the true party of Wales.

Ed Miliband delivered a competent enough address imploring delegates to “send a message” to the rest of Britain. With a referendum on extending primary law-making powers barely a fortnight away and assembly elections due in 10 weeks time, this was more pre-election rally than sober post mortem.

And, to be fair, last May Welsh Labour limited its losses to just four seats (Aberconwy, Cardiff North, Carmarthen West and Vale of Glamorgan, all won by the Tories), and won back Blaenau Gwent. 26 seats out of forty was a long way from the rout predicted by pundits, despite Labour’s share of the vote in Wales being its lowest since 1918 – 1.3% worse than in 1983. As in the rest of the UK, Welsh Labour escaped meltdown on May 6th, but it was a tad more touch and go than the simple seat tally might suggest.

Last weekend was no time for navel gazing, but Welsh Labour stands at an important crossroads. Since the acceptance of devolution, by the slimmest of margins in 1997, through the difficult gestation and messy start, and then throughout the decade long rein of Rhodri Morgan, Welsh Labour’s political mission was to deliver devolution and make it work. (more…)

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