Posts Tagged ‘ Labour ’

Wales: Local Elections.

It was all fairly inevitable in the end. You imagine that even if we had enjoyed a record turnout for voters in the local elections, the results would not have differed much from the final tallies revealed yesterday. Labour clawed back a percentage of their previous losses to the Conservatives, and took a good number of seats from other parties who appeared to be caught up in the wake of an anti-Cameron backlash. So how might everyone be feeling after this mini test of the current electorates mood?

For Labour it was all cheers and dancing in the shadow of Nye Bevan as the liberal democrat strongholds in Cardiff buckled and snapped. Carwyn and that visitor from London Peter Hain were there to eat up the accolades, though neither seemed to play any prominent role whatsoever in the campaigning. Ed Miliband was also congratulated for the impact of his leadership, though perhaps the applause came from those harbouring sentiments along the lines of ‘well done for not completely cocking this up for us’. As senior Tory politicians were quick to note, Labour candidates in many locations could easily have rolled up to the hustings wearing nothing but a red leather gag, spanking themselves with kippers in something remiss of XXX Morris Dancers Gone Wild Special Edition DVD (part of me hopes such a thing exists), and still comfortably win.

For Wales, in time of economic crises, voters have this consistency above all other parts of the world. If things look uncertain, vote Labour, if the economy is a bit shaky, vote Labour, if there is a chance of rain tomorrow, best vote Labour just to be safe. Often there is no rationale to be found in these patterns, it’s simply a case of that’s how it’s always been – and little will change that. So, for all the celebrations in Cardiff city centre, there will be little doubt about many newly elected Labour members, that the real work is about to begin, the challenge of getting elected for many will have been no more taxing than getting out of bed.

So what of Plaid Cymru? This was supposed to be the grand recovery no? The return from the abyss. Despite Leanne Wood leading the most positive campaign of them all, Plaid went on to lose some 40 councillors – where then was the great revival? As has previously been explore in EyeOnWales, asking a new leader to turn a party around in a month is a ludicrous challenge. An indictment on the leadership of Wood? Gibbering nonsense. Plaid was always going to suffer in light of a Labour revival, coupled with the legacy of Ieuan Wyn Jones. Had he of stood aside several months earlier, who knows how Leanne Wood might have shaped the party by now, it’s impossible to say. As much as anything can be concluded, the rotting corpse of Wyn Jones’ leadership can now be finally shovelled out the door, and the work of rebuilding Plaid can officially being.

As for the Tories and the Liberal Democrats in Wales, plenty of losses to choose from, though Rodney Berman’s exit from the Welsh political stage was both the most amusing and welcome development of the night (though how the disastrously inept and self aggrandising figure of Neil McEvoy survived will be a mystery for the ages). Again, no surprises, but really, with the party leaders in general absence, the losses should really have been much greater. Where on earth where Andrew R T Davies and Kirsty Williams? The respective Tory and Lib Dem leaders seemed to almost entirely vanish from the main stage when campaigning got underway. One can only presume that the pair had long since concluded that a series of humiliating losses across the country was inevitable, and that the only appropriate course of action would be to hide out together in one of the Senedd’s basement bathrooms, playing canasta, hoping that by the time they finished, it will all be over and that nobody will have noticed that they weren’t there. What should really worry both is that no, nobody did notice their absence, something which surely cannot bode well for a few years time.

So there we are, the big four in Wales covered, and only one of them is smiling. Yes even their smiles will only have been flown in for the day, before the forced grins would be put back in their packaging, to be saved for a day when those who won their seats might be able to say, ‘we earnt this’, as opposed to saying ‘the Tories are crap…that helped’.

 

Senedd Politics: Not the Place for Peter Hain

Lembit Opik was the first, a crass useless individual with no tangible connection to Wales, who, though having been told where to go by both Welsh local electorates, as well as his own party when it came to shortlists, continued to parade himself as the political voice of Wales, long after the notion was no longer applicable (if it ever had been). Now, after careful, rational and considered thinking, it is long overdue that the ineffectual and habitual ‘dropper in on Welsh politics’, Peter Hain, can join him on ‘the list’.

Hain would probably have made it on to ‘the list’ some time ago, but was due a stay of execution given his generally excellent handling of and subsequent fund raising following the Gleision Colliery disaster. There Hain acted as a local politician should, for the good of his community, and for that he should be praised.

However, so much of what Hain does is not for the good of his constituents, his community, and his (so called) nation. Many following the post AV referendum fall out will not have failed to notice Peter Hain complete one of the most shameless u-turns of recent political history, overnight switching his allegiance to FPTP because, as he stated, that is what the voters wanted. Not only was his u-turn embarrassing, his subsequent interpretations bordered on horrifying – as Hain went on to then proclaim that the AV referendum was a clear indication from the voters of Wales that they wanted to switch voting to FPTP for the Senedd as well. Now anyone with the most basic grasp of political history in Wales will be able to tell you that there has been a historic split amongst Welsh voters, that for local/national(Welsh) elections, PR is always favoured, whereas Westminster elections have consistently seen FPTP favoured by Welsh voters. It may not be consistent, but there it is. For Hain to suddenly suggest that this was a mandate for electoral reform in Wales was rash, short-sighted and verging on idiotic.

Now he is at it again, meddling in the affairs of the Welsh political scene, meddling in the policies of the Welsh Labour Party. Meddling is very much the word for it. Hain is not an elected representative of the Senedd, therefore he has no voice in this elected institution, and should be distancing himself from policy developed by the Labour Party inside it, not trying to lead it.

Now, while current Labour positioning regarding electoral reform stinks of their long strived for goal, to be unmoveable from Government in Wales, should that be their policy then fine, let them have it – it will be fought against and hopefully defeated, but if it is policy the Labour Party in the Senedd wish to develop, then let them try, it is their party after all. However, Hain does not stand in or speak for the Senedd. Should he wish to shape policy in this institution he would do well to pluck out his finger nails out of his shredded ambitions within the London Labour Party, give up his Parliamentary seat, and stand for the Senedd. Then, if elected, his views, liked or not, would at the very least be respected as those provided in the elected house of Welsh representatives. His current views however should be regarded with contempt, as they do nothing but subvert the voice of those who should be speaking on behalf of Wales, but are being led by the nose by their old slave masters in London.

So Hain, welcome to the list, you can keep Lembit company in his self contrived pit of decay. And there you can remain until such time that you can man up, leave your comfort zone of London, and stand for the elected body that you spend so much time trying to manipulate. Until then, shut your trap, and stay out of things that don’t concern you.

Hating the Poor – Tories and Free Prescriptions.

It seems that the issue of free prescriptions is one that the political junkies can’t help but wheel out of the garage every few months for a good airing. BBC Wales today covered the latest price of covering prescription costs in Wales today, and the figures were indeed on the heavy side of being expensive. So once again here come the Tories, and they certainly love this issue. It’s almost like heroin for them, no matter how bad it often proves for the Tories to use it, they can’t help but going back to it. So it was that Darren Millar appeared to deliver sweeping broadside stabs at Labour policy, deriding free prescriptions as untenable in the given economic circumstances.

Of course, cancer had to come out as well, as Millar rumbled on citing spending on cancer as a problem in Wales, and why on why were we not spending more in this area? Of course Mr Millar, cancer is the one and only health issue in Wales at the moment isn’t it? No doubt, cancer treatment is not something to be left in want of funding, but its use as a political welly to wang in Labours face here is crass and out of touch, especially when Millar seems intent on suggesting that all other illnesses currently provided for by the free scheme simply don’t matter. This is certainly the implication of Millar’s words, and in his readiness to turn to the current economic situation, he belays the real problem with the current Tory opposition in the Senedd, that being a general disregard for the working class in Wales.

Following the Tory leader Andrew R T Davies, who has already led the way with his obscure emphasis on fox hunting, a national vote winner if ever there was, now Millar leads the well trodden path towards the abolishment of free prescriptions. The problem with all this is that in Millar’s own cited economic difficulties, one wonders how many families would afford the rising costs of medicines, were the policy to be abandoned? The simple answer is that many would not, and as a result, many would fail to follow up the medical advice afforded to them and fail to collect prescription medication. Were this to happen, then certainly the budget for cancer treatments would have to be increased, as many patients who turn away from the opportunity to manage and mitigate heath problems through free treatments, would find their health steadily decrease and develop into much worse conditions, cancers being the amongst the most likely to emerge in many cases.

While there may be an argument for reviewing what remains under the protection of the free prescription umbrella, to consider abolishing the programme entirely is to show little to no awareness for the financial difficulties facing families across Wales. Poor health is one of the major issues in Wales today, and losing free prescriptions would only serve to exacerbate that. While Millar might be the latest in a long line of Tories to enjoy the brief limelight afforded by the use of a political soundbite in the form of bashing free prescriptions, one hopes that he might be the last to indulge in such throw away statements. Just because something costs money, does not make it a bad thing. Free prescriptions play an essential role in providing medicines to hundreds across Wales who simply could not afford it any other way. Its abolishment would cost lives, rather than save them through redirected funds.

Mores the point, such a policy would cost working class lives first and foremost, but then, the likes of R T Davies and Mr Millar might well not be losing any sleep over that.