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.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Madame Semtex leaves the building

The departure of Johann Lamont as leader of the Scottish Labour Party, reportedly over irreconcilable differences with the London leadership actually stems from factional wrangling, if some former colleagues are to believed.

No-one in Holyrood is overly surprised that Madame Semtex lived up to her soubriquet by lobbing an IED over her shoulder as she left the building. Disbelief is also temporarily suspended at her stated reasons.

Lamont has not been without her internal critics, several of whom see her as the problem rather than the solution to hurdles that have inhibited Labour's electoral appeal in key seats. A few have been musing within the earshot of the media that if Scottish Labour has been treated as a branch office then it is because she allowed to happen.

Another version of events is that she found herself on a limb after senior colleagues proved less enchanted with her incremental breakaway agenda than she had hoped.

The full extent of the overall damaging effect on Labour's general election chances have probably yet to be fully assessed. Much will depend on what further revelations Ms Lamont decides to reveal over the weekend. Meanwhile, the safe bet is that Cameron's focus in next week's PMQ's will shift from Wales.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Unhealthy opposition

There is a detectable nervousness in some quarters as the Daily Mail continues its onslaught against the Welsh NHS. Strangely, the discomfort is not among Labour ministers but Welsh tories and their fellow travellers who are feeling the beginnings of a backlash against the relentless tirades.

A number of AMs are reported to have been somewhat perplexed by the robust reaction is some media circles and particularly the Western Mail, who not only printed the entire rebuttal issued by the Welsh government but have since called for an end to the attacks.

One Plaid activist is quoted on social media as stating, "the tories are slagging off the Welsh NHS in order to save marginal seats in England. We should have nothing to do with it".

Events have also led one well known Lib Dem to have himself pictured outside a local hospital while welcoming the installation of new operating theatres. Only a few days ago he was part of the opposition chorus demanding a public inquiry into the NHS.

Update: ….. and the hits just keep on coming.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bye Bye Bryn

Confirmation comes this evening from Pembrokeshire that arch-survivor Bryn Parry Jones has finally decided that it was just too much effort to dodge the bullet.

Besides being the longest serving council chief executive in Wales, B
PJ is also the highest paid with an annual salary of almost £195,000 plus benefits in kind. His tenure owes much to a capacity of being able to manage a succession of council leaders like compliant glove-puppets. All the signs were that he could have continued in that vein for many years to come but to what purpose?

It is not as though he has ever faced a serious challenge. The pressures on him to resign have been the clumsy and overly arcane version that sadly distinguishes Pembrokeshire lodge local politics. 

Inconsequential clamouring aside, councillors, national agencies and the ragbag media continue to hugely overestimate their influence in this matter. Sufficient evidence to this effect can be seen in the shape of a £330,000 payoff.