Showing posts from May, 2014

Opportunities provided by the E.U

This is the text of a speech delivered to the Ammanford Twinning Association visit for the twin town of Breuillet on May 30th 2014 at Amman Valley School It’s been a while since I’ve been back at this school. When I was a 17 year old student here I wrote an article for a Welsh newspaper on the growing trend of young people going away to study and never coming back. Like so many others before me, and since, to access opportunities and challenges I had to leave this valley. My family are still here and I visit often. Even though I have now lived elsewhere for as long as I lived in Ammanford I always say I’m from the town. It is home. But driving up and down these valley roads saddens me. While the community remains strong, and warm, the economy is getting weaker. Despite cosmetic changes there is no disguising it. This valley, and those around it, stands amongst the poorest parts of the enlarged European Union. Poorer than parts of Poland, Romania and Greece. Membership

Wales, sleepwalking to independence?

Posted on Spectator Coffee House blog on 14th May 2014 Independence is a fringe issue in Wales. Just 12 per cent of Welsh voters support it , and that figure has been stubbornly consistent. But it is far from implausible that within a decade Wales could find itself standing alone, not through any conviction that independence is the best bet, but because the UK has marginalised Wales. Wales is in a weak negotiating position already, as the Scottish referendum campaign has shown. Take the Barnett Formula, which adjusts the amount of money received from the Treasury by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. An expert commission, led by respected economist Gerald Holtham, pointed out that if Wales were treated on the same basis as an English region it would get some £300million more a year. But the pro-unionist parties have pledged to keep the Barnett Formula in place (which provides Scotland £4bn annually) as part of their case that the UK is ‘better together’. Wales, Gerald Holtha