Showing posts from January, 2010

A headache for Nick Bourne?

Posted on This is My Truth on 28 January Cheryl Gillian has begun to carry out her pledge to appoint a Minister for Wales in every shadow departmental team. The Western Mail reports today that Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper is the first. If the Tories win "Each department would have a minister with a specific duty to ensure Wales is not inadvertently left out of key legislation", the paper reports. On top of a Conservative dominated Welsh Affairs Select Committee, and Dame Cheryl herself, every Whitehall Ministry is to have a Junior Minister with licence to meddle in devolution. I am sure the ex-pat future Welsh Secretary means well. “It places the interests of Wales at the heart of every government department” she told the paper. But it could easily get out of hand. At the moment the chief frustration is a disinterested Whitehall machine and a Welsh Select Committee eager to use their oversight powers. But we could have idle hands getting in on the act. Surely if you invi

Cuts, cuts, cuts - in MPs that is

Posted on This is My Truth on 25 January There are likely to be few dissenters when David Cameron gets round to cutting the number of MPs if he becomes PM. The Conservative Leader has pledged to cut the size of the House of Commons by 10% as part of his initiative to reduce the cost of Government. It is of course completely unrelated to the desire to recalibrate the Parliamentary boundaries that currently disadvantage the Tories. It is assumed that a 10% cut would reduce the size of the Welsh Parliamentary Party from 40 to 36. But as Richard Wyn Jones from Cardiff University's Welsh Governance Centre has pointed out, this may be an incorrect assumption. The only clear statement setting out how the change would be implemented comes from Lord Kenneth Baker. The Tory grandee introduced a Bill into the Lords in 2006 proposing that every constituency should be equalised at 76,000 electors - up from around 56,000 in Wales at present. This is said to be the working model by experts in

The upside of snow

Posted on This is My Truth on 10 January Despite the grumbling the snow covered roads have served as a reminder of how things used to be. This week many residential streets have been recaptured as a social space. With cars taken off the roads people have been socialising with their neighbours and children have been playing freely outdoors. I've spoken with neighbours I've never met before as they've been forced out of their 4x4s and walked instead. By getting to know their neighbours better parents are typically a lot happier letting their children play in the streets. As well as being less fearful of traffic, parents tend to be less concerned about 'stranger danger' when they feel neighbours are keeping an eye on the street. Research shows that the greater the levels of traffic the lower the level of social interaction. When streets are dominated by cars people tend to sense danger and retreat indoors. Rather than allowing children to play outside parents fee

The credibility gap

Posted on This is My Truth on January 5th I feel sorry for the Liberal Democrats. Why aren't they taken more seriously? In the Times this morning Nick Clegg has outlined some very attractive key election pledges: No income tax to be paid on the first £10,000 you earn Cutting class sizes and provide more one-to-one tuition to children by introducing a new “pupil premium” in our schools (he fails to make clear this applies to England only). Measures to boost the Green economy, including tens of thousands of new jobs in public transport, a national programme of home insulation and new social housing. Political reform through recall elections, PR, devolution and a ban on tax avoiders standing for Parliament, sitting in the House of Lords or donating to political parties. But as ever Nick Clegg's appearance on the Today programme was dominated about questions on what he'd do in a hung Parliament. I fell into that trap too when I was a political interviewer. It never takes lon


Posted on This is My Truth on January 2 2010 I normally try to avoid them, as they are invariably wrong. a man a mwnci Gordon Brown will lead Labour into the General Election There will not be a hung Parliament There will be a big turnover in Welsh MPs, and tension will increase between Westminster and Cardiff Bay The One Wales Coalition will wobble in the face of severe public spending cuts but the commitment to hold a referendum will see it through. But this time next year options will be reviewed. There will be a referendum on further devolution in October 2010 and there will be a clear Yes vote, but less than half the electorate will vote All the Welsh Party leaders will still be in place this time next year Obama will fail to get a meaningful commitment to combating climate change through Congress Tony Blair's long term reputation will be severely dented by the Chilcott inquiry The Conservatives will wish Mohammed Asghar had stayed in Plaid This blog will s