Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Funding: mind the gap

If nothing else, the Scots independence referendum provides a marvellous opportunity to highlight long-standing funding imbalances. Barnett is naturally at the heart of things with campaigners such as the respected Plaid MEP Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans repeating the mantra that Wales currently loses out by £300m a year under the present arrangement.

Protests aside, the Treasury position remain resolute against revisions when the focus remains firmly on Scottish interests. Gerry Holtham repeats the view:

Prof Holtham told BBC Wales that people hoping to see the end of the Barnett Formula can "forget it".

He added: "One of the things the Welsh Government has been pressing for is a very small change to 
the Barnett Formula that wouldn't affect the Scots, so I suppose it's just about possible that they might get that, but the formula as a whole looks like it's going to be here for some time yet.

"No UK party has actually promised to reform Barnett, in fact they've generally said they wouldn't, so this really reaffirms their long-held position."

It would appear that Joel's legacy will be with us with some time to come. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Only in Pembrokeshire

Any possible mystery as to why Pembrokeshire council is considered the basket case of Welsh local government was thoroughly dissipated during today's bizarre proceedings.

Whatever their original intention, an excruciatingly ham-fisted no confidence motion ended up putting Pembrokeshire councillors in the running to be collective winners of the Political Numpty of the Week award. The impression gained from the gallery was that only the game plan in operation was the constitutional equivalent of sticking your hand in a blender to see what happens.

No wonder BPJ has managed to stick around for so long. His departure will be an even more expensive event thanks to the witless antics in the chamber and behind closed doors.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Devious and untrustworthy

It is remarkable although entirely comprehensible how accusations of treachery levelled by Conservatives are triumphantly acknowledged by Lib Dems eager to wear their  defiance of today as a badge of honour.
BBC reports that: Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs have joined forces to defeat Conservatives in a Commons vote to partly overturn housing benefit changes. MPs backed the Affordable Homes Bill at second reading by 306 votes to 231.
Lib Dem MP Andrew George's private members bill will now move detailed scrutiny at the committee stage.
After the vote, Conservative MP Philip Davies accused the Lib Dems - who backed the plans when they were initially approved by Parliament - of being "devious and untrustworthy".
Whilst BBC parliamentary correspondent Mark D'Arcy gives the bill a "fighting chance" of becoming law, other observers believe the likelihood to be very remote. Such projections are unlikely to diminish the smiles among Lib Dem MPs who know the true worth of symbolism over substance.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Spectator highlights tory divisions

'Civil war' is an unavoidable cliche whenever commentators examine the polarising effect of europe upon the tory party. Such expressions are seldom illuminating, yet it is none other than James Forsyth writing in the Spectator, who begins with:

The general election is now Ed Miliband’s to lose. This is not a controversial statement: the polls say it, the bookmakers say it and in the last week several of David Cameron’s own ministers have come to believe it. The confidence that seemed to envelop the Conservative party before the summer recess has been replaced by a sense of doom. 

On its own, Douglas Carswell’s defection to Ukip would not be seen as a body blow — but it hammers home the fact that the right is fractured and many Tory voters made the jump long ago. A party that should be readying itself for victory is now preparing to tear itself apart in opposition.

Forsyth's assessment is not the normal language of the tory party house magazine. It is a challenging read for Cameron and Osborne who insist the bow wave of economic recovery will keep the party's electoral hopes afloat. They are unlikely to take kindly to any in-house suggestion that they are already sunk, even if the Barclay Brothers also seemingly share that opinion.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Another council, another leadership crisis

Continuing the theme of contretemps among comrades, we note that ten members of the Labour group at Wrexham council, including leader Neil Rogers have quit their posts.

According to media reports, the councillors claimed they were left with no choice because they were being “negatively influenced within the Labour Group on issues that affect the lives of the people of Wrexham.”

No-one appears equipped to explain or interpret this bizarre turn of events although there is said to be a connection with the recent sacking of an executive board member.

Malcolm King, who was lead member for finance, raised concerns about staff levels and case loads at the council's child and family assessment team. An investigation is reported to have found no evidence to back up the allegations although his removal came as a shock.

Last heard from, the 'colourful' Mr King stated his removal was against the council's own whistle-blowing policy.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Fading from memory

Swansea's council leader has fallen on his sword in the interests of party unity the city. While warm official tribute has been paid by insincere colleagues, the back current remains manifestly cooler elsewhere viz. social media commentary.

An illustration of the esteem in which his brief tenure was held may be obtained from Twitter comment asserting "David Phillips has stood down in order to spend time doing to the region what he has been doing to the city for two years". Peter Black has his own interpretation.

His local paper carries perfunctory speculation as to the leverage employed to propel him into his new undefined incarnation. Other press coverage is vaguely sceptical that Phillips is headed for better things. Given the prevailing mood of disinterest, it is apparent that obscurity beckons.

Update: A successor emerges

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A very Ukip kind of coup

A smile started slipping off the face of a beaming Nigel Farage later today on hearing that his coup in getting tory Duncan Carswell to jump ship caught his own party equally aware.

The Clacton contingent clearly didn't get the memo and have reacted badly

The Beeb reports:

UKIP's existing candidate in Clacton, Roger Lord, who was selected before Mr Carswell's decision to defect, has told BBC News he has "no intention" of stepping aside for the former Tory MP.
"It's an enormous discourtesy to anybody really just to announce that," he told BBC Essex.
He added: "Perhaps he's jumping ship to try and get in ahead of all the other Conservative MPs who are going to find themselves in the unemployment queue come next May."
Prominent local UKIP activists have also said there is no guarantee they will adopt Mr Carswell as their official candidate.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

No place for a woman

Alison Goldsworthy appears to be one of those people who believe in direct action. Her response to the reinstatement of Lord Rennard lacks the practised ambiguity normally associated with Liberal Democrats.

She stated, “The thing that makes me really sad is there’s no way I could advise a woman who was a liberal and aspiring to stand for parliament to put herself forwards.

“If she encounters a problem or there are abuses of power she wouldn’t be taken seriously.
“I can see no place for me – or any women who want to deliver change – in a party that behaves like this.”
Ms Goldsworthy has already resigned from the Lib Dem federal executive. She is now preparing to leave the party.

Revolving doors

Due to the challenges of proximity, it is only belatedly that we hear how all is not well at Calamity Hall. Our information, gleaned from newspaper accounts and hurriedly misspelt texts furtively sent from under desks, is that frustrations at the "whimsical" style of the Labour leadership have finally boiled over.

Comradely attempts at achieving a consensual exit strategy rapidly descended into a testy exchange of ultimatums, we are told. Concomitant sackings provoked bitter counter-sanctions to the extent that visitors to the civic centre now invariably remark as to how a 'Balkans feel' pervades the place.

From what other little scraps we can glean, Furher Phillips is said to be issuing orders to imaginary divisions from his Calamity Hall bunker while his loyal commanders attempt personal appeasement negotiations with the enemy.