Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The peacemaker rides again

There are sinister echoes in the warning from Tony Blair that the West will pay a "very heavy price" for not intervening in Syria. The former prime minister, now a peace envoy (imagine) insists that powerful nations must take sides and back "open-minded" groups.

Blair is urging western leaders to concentrate on what he says is the problem of how a radical view which "distorts and warps Islam's true message" is "spreading across the world".

"It is destabilising communities and even nations", insists the guy who sanctioned the invasion of Iraq in order to pander to US foreign policy interests.
Blair will tell an invited audience at a London event how he is surprised that everyone is "curiously reluctant" to acknowledge the threat and "powerless to counter it effectively."
Could that be because they already have him down as being personally responsible for destabilising the Middle East and helping foster the radical fundamentalist cause in the first place?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Almost naming names

It hasn't been an easy ride for Vince Cable in pushing through regulations for a public register of company ownership. Vested self-interests within the ConDem coalition have frustrated his plans at most turns, including a limitation ensuring that exposure can only apply to UK-registered companies.

The intended consequence is that companies registered in off-shore spots like Guernsey apparently remain outside the requirements. We assume that the identities of those behind South Wales Land Developments will therefore stay unknown until such time as the information is disclosed by the Serious Fraud Office (if ever).

Equally anonymous the board members of the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales, the limited liability partnership set up by ministers and which is accused of selling off public assets under what are alleged to be questionable circumstances.

According to the official blurb,the management board consists of two Welsh government representatives, a representative from the Welsh Local Government Association and two members appointed by the Deputy Minister Housing and Regeneration (following a public appointments advertisement and selection  procedure). 

Keen eyed readers of the BBC Wales news website will note that an earlier report by [then] business correspondent Nick Servini carries the note:

"This report is the subject of a legal complaint by the Regeneration Investment Fund for Wales".

It is not known if this rather pointless action was taken before or after the fund was suspended by ministers.

We should be told.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Money for nothing

Whether it is at CCHQ instigation as some suggest or simply axe-grinding journalism, The Times doggedly continues it's investigation into how Ukip handles its finances.

Today the shit-coloured spotlight falls on the past activities of a now inactive fund-raising call centre. Like the broad-brush innuendo aimed yesterday at Nigel Farage, the articles contain lots of financial detail accompanied by critical comments from former workers.

Implying creativity in a party's accounts is hardly a novelty. For a Murdoch flagship paper to put so much effort into mud-slinging smacks of sweaty desperation somewhere along the food-chain.

That might explain why the obvious has been overlooked viz. anyone thinking of voting Ukip is hardly likely to be a Times reader. Even their own poll said as much.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Critical condition prevails

The airing of complaints about the NHS in Wales is hardly a new phenomenon and the media can't be expected to cover every little detail in a story. The same can be said about the lead item broadcast yesterday by BBC Wales Today on the poor out-of-hours GP service in the Cardiff area.

On second thoughts, maybe the fact that the couple with a grievance are both former BBC presenters was slightly relevant, don't you think?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

It's getting nasty out there

It's all starting to kick off as pre-election/recess recriminations fly among press and political parties.

Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston is feeling the heat for backing the accusers of Nigel Evans. Former GP Wollaston has previously been described as 'the nation's super-nanny' by fellow tory backbenchers for her heightened sense of empathy with staff.

Meanwhile, Nick Clegg gets pilloried in the Daily Malice for being the man who know nothing about Cyril Smith. The Lib Dem leader told the Telegraph that he would not have made tribute to the Rochdale MP on his 80th birthday in 2008 had he been "aware of the allegations".

Ukip leader Nigel Farage makes the papers with the revelation that he faces investigation over his MEP expenses

Labour must be wondering when it will be their turn in the barrel. Patience, comrades.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The good news and the really bad news

A spot of good news for Lib Dems comes in the form of today's Guardian/ICM poll. This has them holding 12% support - one point above UKIP. Conservatives are down three points at 32% with Labour on 37%

Predicted European election results are something else.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Line of Death and other things in Llangollen

It won't take long for Welsh tories arriving back from their conference in Llangollen to unpick the hyperbole. By the time they're putting the kettle on, many will be wondering if Cameron's 'Line of Death' speech on Welsh NHS performance was a such a good idea.

It all sounded jolly good at the time, even though the rhetoric delivered from the podium by the likes of Jeremy Hunt was less about blue water as blue rinse.

A rallying call to depleted troops about to go over the top was essential of course.

The aspirational fluff from Andrew RT Davies about a coalition of ideas was an indulgence. Tory party managers in the conference clearly wished Beefy would encourage a similar consensus within his own group.

What a pity that the polls today predict that it was all for nought. A poll in the Independent on Sunday signals a stuffing for the party at the hand of Ukip at the Euro-elections and from everyone else a year later.

Pundits blame Maria Miller and the Sexminster revelations. The RCN in Wales have their own views.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Saying what we already knew

There is no longer any point to the Liberal Democrats, one of the party’s most senior MPs has claimed.
Jeremy Browne, a Liberal Democrat minister until October, and one of Mr Clegg’s most prominent early supporters puts the blame at the feet of the Lib Dem leader for pandering to its left-wing.
“Every political party and every politician has to be able to answer the question: if you didn’t exist why would it be necessary to invent you?” he told the Times. “I’m not sure it would be necessary to invent an ill-defined moderating centrist party.”
Nothing more to add really, is there?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Different but not damning

Spin and counter spin today as political parties grab their favourite bits from a Nuffield Trust report which concludes there is little sign of the Welsh NHS lagging behind any other part of the UK.

That is not to say that differences in performance are therefore acceptable. The Labour Welsh government took a conscious decision to limit NHS spending compared with England. The effects are apparent in the form of longer waiting times and poor ambulance service performance.

ConDems have done their utmost to highlight these shortcomings and throw in a few other condemnations about poor care standards for good measure. That is after all their job. Whether they have gained any actual political advantage through their affected outrage is something that May's elections will reveal. The polls so far suggest not.