Thursday, 11 December 2014

When banter merits a bollocking

For those who insist that the Welsh Assembly is an irrelevance inhabited by wastrels, an illustrative account in the Western Mail of how things are done in Westminster when two Welsh MPs found themselves on the naughty step.

Jonathan Edwards and Geraint Davies were reprimanded by the deputy speaker for spouting irrelevances swapping interjections during a debate on the Wales Bill. The substance of their comments according to those present were "puerile bollocks about suits and football.

It is known that both MPs regard themselves as accomplished PR and social media adherents. Both however remain silent on the matter to date.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Coalition cracks widen

Things are getting distinctly tetchy among the ConDems. George Osborne in particular has flung a few epithets the way of the semi-detached deputy PM Lib Dem by warning that he and his party would cause "economic chaos" in a future government.

According to a newspaper report  the Chancellor accused Lib Dems of planning "hefty" income tax and national insurance increases to avoid deeper cuts to public spending.

He insisted in an interview with the Sunday Times that the coalition party's plans for a mansion tax would do little to balance the books, claiming they would have to hike other payments to make up the shortfall.

The Deputy Prime Minister was accused of trying to distance himself from the Autumn Statement after failing to show up for the Commons event, but Clegg insisted he fully supported the measures that had been announced.

Osborne told the newspaper: “It's hard to work out exactly what they [the Lib Dems] think. While they sign up to deficit reduction, they want more tax rises rather than spending cuts.

But they shouldn't pretend to people that the sums required can be achieved by their homes tax alone.

If you want higher taxes to do the heavy lifting, you'd also need to increase taxes like income tax or national insurance.

"The battle lines for the General Election have been drawn this week," he warned.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Missing and unashamed

Notwithstanding a preference to be among the 'normal people' of Cornwall rather than the chamber on the day, Nick Clegg has since informed an enthralled media that he is proud of the government's Autumn Statement.

The Lib Dem leader's almost unequivocal endorsement of spending plans announced this week, chimes nicely with the distracted efforts of other senior coalition collaborators to distance themselves from the less attractive deficit reduction measures now anticipated.

According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, welfare cuts or tax rises worth about £21bn a year would be needed by 2019-20 if the current pace of reductions in departmental spending continues at the same pace.

No wonder Mr Clegg thought it beneficial to be missing in action.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Plebs 1, Tories 0

It was noticeable to the point of blatancy last night how the message circulated by Downing Street sources was that the demise of former government honcho Andrew Mitchell was entirely of his own making.

Present and potential donors attending a party soiree the other side of Parliament Square were earnestly informed by their bright young hosts that Mitchell had previously shown signs of "going rogue". It was only David Cameron's instinctive loyalty immediately after the Pleb-gate scandal, they insisted, that had kept him in post.

Notwithstanding this thoughtlessly damaging commentary on the PM's personal character judgement, the unsubtle assessment shared over the canap├ęs was that any thoughts of bringing the member for Sutton Coalfield back into the upper echelons have dissipated.

Indeed, as a slightly braying junior party apparatchik was heard to remark later at the bar, this could be one instance where the government might actually welcome the prospect of an investment banker thinking of relocating overseas.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Panto piece from robber baroness

Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson has gone into panto villain mode by claiming that Wales is no longer under-funded as a result of the Barnett formula. The Lib Dem peer told Shipton of the Mail latest Treasury figures debunked notions that the settlement should include an additional £300m to take account of social need factors.
Asked whether the Welsh Government should be more enthusiastic about embracing income tax powers, Baroness Randerson said: “I think it should be part of growing up as a government to accept the need for income tax raising powers.
Who says Lib Dems don't have a sense of humour?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Did George bungle it?

Consensus has it that it takes a special kind of ineptness to achieve the level of disconnection between  CCHQ and Downing Street which almost allowed embattled Ed Miliband to wriggle off the hook.

The expectation was that the weekend headlines would be dominated by speculation on the future of the Labour leader. Somehow the self-inflicted counterpunch that now has to be dodged is just what did George Osborne actually achieve in his cheap-at-twice-the-price EU haggling?

Arguments continue as to whether the 'good news' was put out at the Chancellor's insistence but the dominant feature at present is the near boundless delight at Ukip circles.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

TC takes up cudgels for the Daily Mail

We note today's intriguing tale of how Monmouthshire MP David Davies is outraged that a nasty Welsh local health board has used a Cardiff law firm to defend itself against the highly principled people at the Daily Mail.

It appears that parts of the Welsh NHS are taking legal advice in the wake of alleged inaccuracies and misrepresentations made by the DM in recent weeks. Davies, whose views featured prominently in the critical articles, believes this to be a shameful waste of public money.

There is no indication as to how he was apprised of the legal intervention. The source however is easily guessed given that the tory MP possesses the same devolutionary blindspots as the London-based newspaper in terms of understanding the workings of shared services in Wales.

What a pity though that the Western Mail didn't apparently think to ask him.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Wishing they hadn't worn the tee-shirt

The downside of attempting to look cool by riding a right-on trend is that it can suddenly swerve under your feet, leaving you at best bruised and at worst looking bloody stupid.

Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Nick Clegg have no-one else other than themselves (and their advisors) for this self-inflicted media car-crash. Even if it transpires that the Daily Mail story is as dodgy as some suspect, the damage is already done.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

How green was my crap?

Lib Dems are being urged to hijack embrace the green agenda in an attempt to regain electoral popularity. Andrew George, the party's former environment spokesman has urged his party to develop local "arrangements or pacts" with the Green Party in advance of the 2015 election.

The Beeb quotes Mr George as believing that such a strategy would minimise the prospect of a majority Conservative government.
He told BBC Radio 4's World at One: "If the alternative is something so grey and dark and foreboding and dismissing of the environment as 'green crap' - actually we do need to actually think intelligently ourselves about our strategies."
The reaction from Greens to the idea of an overt alliance (and quite few of his colleagues) strongly suggests that the proposal is a welcome as a sizeable shipment of high-phospate fertiliser.