Showing posts from February, 2016

The jobs of the future

This appeared in the Llanelli Herald on February 26th Where will the jobs of the future come from? The answer may be within us.  A new book by a former senior adviser on technology to the US State Department says “The world’s last Trillion Dollar industry was created out of computer code, the World’s next Trillion Dollar industry is going to be created out of genetic code”. Alec Ross reckons that 15 years on from the mapping of the human genome we’re probably three years away from being able to get truly individualised medicines, and being able to use our genetics to diagnose the diseases. The innovation will be able to identify cancerous cells at one hundredth of the size that can be detected using MRI. This is why Sir Terry Matthews this week identified this area as a priority for the Swansea Bay City Region - which includes Llanelli. The self-made Billionaire is helping the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a 20 year plan for our region. He sees our economic

Time to think ahead

Speech delivered to Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno on 20th February 2016 Its been 20 years since I last spoke at a Labour Party conference, and the time has gone quickly. Our job, as a movement for change, is to think ahead another 20 years about the type of society we want to create - and to spend every moment, bend every decision, towards achieving that vision. 2036 will be here before we know it. Everyone here who spends their weekends knocking doors, listening to voters, will know that people are increasingly jaded and cynical. In Llanelli, like many of our communities, there is a sense of resignation. That 100 years of economic decline will not be arrested. By being in Government in Wales we are demonstrating every day that politics does make a difference; that Labour values put into action can improve people’s lives. There’s no tax of sickness in Wales. We don’t pay the £8.20 prescription charge that people who are ill in England have to - that’s a Welsh La

Hugs for our childcare pledge

I had a mention in First Minister Carwyn Jones' speech to the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno this weekend.  In his speech he said: "This week I was with our excellent candidate for Llanelli, Lee Waters. It was a brilliant visit to a local nursery to talk about our childcare pledge – and a young girl there in a tutu took a real shine to Lee. She kept running up to him and wouldn’t let him go. He went a very traditional Labour red. Lee is a great candidate, but I’m not sure he’s ever suffered from being over-hugged" I don't know what he means

Who should pay for our parks?

Published in the Llanelli Herald on 12th February There’s a row going on at the minute. Although it focuses on Parc Howard it is in fact about a much wider issue - what are Councils for? The Tories have a clear agenda - though they don’t shout about it  - to shrink Councils to the bare minimum. There’s a list of things by law that County Councils have to take care of, so called ‘Statutory services’ - things like schools and social services.  Everything else, like parks, libraries and leisure, as treated as ‘discretionary’ - nice to have, but not essential. The Tories want off-load the ‘discretionary’ bits and then squeeze the rest. And by cutting Council budgets (via a 11% cut to the Assembly’s budget) they are forcing Local Authorities to follow suit. It is clever politics - get Councils to take the blame for cuts whilst achieving your game plan. And get local Councillors to tear into each other into the bargain. Sure enough, it's playing out according to pl

A fresh voice for Llanelli


Time for a re-think

Published in the Llanelli Herald on 5 February 2015 Trimsaran in action, but without changing facilities There’s all the difference in the world between cuts and savings. But the people who run our public services often can’t see the distinction. The Tories have cut the Welsh Government’s budget by 11% since they came to power. Inevitably that has huge consequences for public services. By trying to minimize the impact on the NHS in Wales, the amount of money taken out of some other areas has been significant. Labour in Cardiff have tried to shield Councils from the worst of it. In England Council budgets were savagely slashed by 37%, but in Wales the reductions have been much more modest. But as the Tories extend Austerity for the sake of it Welsh Councils face tough choices. You may not have heard of Kevin Francis and Mike Bassett, but along with other volunteers in the Carmarthenshire Unified Sports Committee, they have been setting an example other Councils

What is UKIPs appeal?

Published in the Llanelli Herald on January 29th I was asked this week why I thought people voted UKIP? The new party has been in disarray this week, and have failed to agree which candidates to put forward for May’s Assembly elections as a result of deep splits. But I’m not sure any of that impacts on UKIPs vote. In fact the more chaotic they are the more they seem to appeal to some voters. Why? Well, I think there are a number of reasons why they did so well in Llanelli in last year’s General Election. Historically populist parties of the right flourish in times of economic slump. When the economy declines people like to find someone to blame, and this time it is immigrants and the EU who are the bogey men. It is a simple answer to a complex range of issues. On top of all that trust in politics, and politicians, is at all time low. The expenses scandal confirmed many people's worst prejudices about those who rule over us. Against this backdrop Farage is seen