Showing posts from May, 2009

Changing of the guard?

Posted on Bevan blog on 31 May 2009 Not content with stretching his goodbye by six months, it seems that the ground is being prepared for Rhodri Morgan to stay on even longer and fulfill his wish to be First Minister to greet the Ryder Cup when it comes to Wales next summer. Leaders do hate to leave. The Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly is similarly digging his heals in. Nick Bourne’s critics in his own group are numerous, but there is no consensus on an alternative candidate. Soundings have been underway for some time. Darren Millar, Andrew RT Davies and Jonathan Morgan have all been canvassed as alternatives, but the rules for bringing about a leadership challenge are unclear. And more importantly no single candidate has enough support to launch a credible bid. So it seems the favoured tactic is to destabilise Nick Bourne. In an extraordinary speech last week Jonathan Morgan accused his one-time ally of losing “the moral, ethical and political capacity to show leadership”.

Mr Speaker?

Posted on Bevan blog

The game

Posted on the Bevan blog on 17th May 2009 The expenses revelations over the last week have been grim. Even old Westminster operators have winced at the claims for maintaining moats and helipads. But the spirit of the practice is no surprise. It has long been an open secret to those with a working knowledge of Parliament that the system of allowances was regarded as a top-up of their salary by MPs. It's another wheeze. Just as MPs hide free foreign trips (if they are on official business they don't have to be declared), so a free London flat to sell-on at profit when you stand down is just another perk of the job. In lieu of a 'proper' salary most MPs feel entitled to make claims up to the limit of their allowances, regardless of how much they actually spend. Gerald Kaufman , for example, is reported to have made regular claims for “odd jobs” which he submitted without receipts at a rate of £245 every month — £5 below the then limit for unreceipted expenses. When these

Devolution’s dirty little secret

Posted on Bevan blog on 5 May 2009 Happy 10th anniversary to the National Assembly. To mark this occasion the man who lead the non-Party 'Yes for Wales' campaign, Prof Kevin Morgan , has written a sober piece to remind us that the promises made have not been delivered. "We had over-inflated ambitions in 1999 about the ability of government to improve economic performance" he laments. It is worth reading the entire piece, but here is a damming reminder of the state we are in: The Welsh Valleys remain stubbornly at the bottom end of all statistics. Of the top 10 Parliamentary constituencies with the highest incapacity benefit claimants in the UK, the Valleys contain five – Merthyr, Rhondda, Cynon Valley, Blaenau Gwent, and Aberavon. For Wales as a whole there is a steady stream of negative statistics: Only the West Midlands has had slower growth since 1999; Lowest private sector R&D spend in the UK; lowest full-time weekly wages in the UK; bottom of UK rankings for