Saturday, June 30, 2007

New job for Wales Governor-General

Peter Hain, MP for Neath and Secretary of State for Wales, has been relieved of the Northern Ireland brief, and been promoted to be Minister of Work and Pensions. He has criticised us for wanting to reform the wasteful New Deal programme. However, he now finds himself in charge of the run-down of local Job Centres, part of the Treasury's desperate scramble to fill the so-called "black hole" in government finances. Will he attempt to reverse this?

Incidentally, an unkind Scottish colleague suggested that Quentin Davies (about whom Guido Fawkes is scathing) should become the Welsh Secretary in view of "his history of sheep abuse".

On the subject of Tories crossing the floor to New Labour, Shaun Woodward has been given the Northern Ireland brief which Paddy Ashdown turned down, showing how peripheral this job has become and thus vindicating Paddy's decision.

- Frank Little

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Liberal Democrats launch NHS SOS website

As part of their major summer campaign on the NHS, the Liberal Democrats have launched a new website -

The site includes details of the Liberal Democrats 3-step plan to improve the NHS, local campaign news from around the country and an on line petition which people can sign.

Ming Campbell said, "I know from my own experience just how important the NHS is, and how hard nurses, doctors and other staff work.

"But by trying to control every detail of what goes on in the NHS the Labour Government has wasted money and caused a massive wave of cuts."

Country Needs a Change of Direction, Not Just a Change at the Top: Campbell

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Menzies Campbell said that the country needed a change in direction not just a change in personnel at the top.

Launching an attack on the last ten years of Blair-Brown, Menzies Campbell said that Gordon Brown can not distance himself from the last ten years because his fingerprints are at the scene of the crime. He said that the vast majority of people had been let down over the last 10 years. Since 1997:

* Children from poorer backgrounds are doing worse

* Students are saddled with mortgage-style debts

* The poorest are paying a higher proportion of tax than the richest

* Only one in every hundred crimes in this country is punished in court

Speaking as Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Menzies Campbell said:

"Gordon Brown cannot escape the last ten years. Labour's failures are his failures too.

"This is the man who has signed the cheques for the Iraq war and who raised taxes for the poorest and lowered them for the richest.

"Britain needs a change in direction not just a change at the top."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Applause for Glyn Davies

Peter Black's appreciation of Glyn Davies is understandable. His unspun, common-sense, view of the political process is an antidote to the opposite attitude of New Labour and of his current leader in Westminster.

Yesterday, on BBC-2 Wales's AM.PM, he identified Ming Campbell's interrogation of the Prime Minister over the alleged BAE payments to a Saudi prince as the most serious questions of the session. There was hardly any reaction in the chamber, apart from some restlessness. Then there was almost palpable relief as MPs reverted, as Mr Davies said, to "their usual knockabout".

Mind you, he did reveal his true colours when he confessed that he wished the Liberal Democrats would disappear altogether ...

- Frank Little

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Peter Hain Supports Replacement Nuclear Power Station on Anglesey

Peter Hain has backed the plan for a replacement nuclear power station on Anglesey.

Below is the Hansard extract whilst being questioned by Liberal Democrat Shadow Welsh Secretary.

Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire, Liberal Democrat)

"While I welcome tidal energy in the Severn estuary, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is enough tidal power off the north Wales coast to offset the need for a replacement nuclear power station in Anglesey? However, given that all bar one of the Labour deputy leadership candidates said on "Newsnight" that they support more nuclear power stations, including the right hon. Gentleman, how can anyone seriously believe that the second nuclear consultation is not destined to be as big a sham as the first?"

Peter Hain (Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office)

"It is not a sham. I have always made it clear that if a nuclear new-build is necessary in order to keep the lights on, it would be irresponsible to rule that out. As the hon. Gentleman knows, no one is more enthusiastic about clean, green renewable energy than me. Indeed, I often have scraps with Liberal Democrats about wind farms and other sources of clean, green energy, because they are in favour of green energy in principle, but in practice differences can arise. However, I think that we can work together to make sure that Wales benefits from all forms of energy. Sometimes there is a demand for a replacement nuclear power station. That is the case in Anglesey. The local council and my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen) support a replacement of the existing nuclear power station, and they deserve to be supported."

Click HERE to see the full debate

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Skewen station

The reports of hooliganism at Skewen station bring home how little regard is paid to this vital facility.

We have previously drawn attention to the state of the road bridge and to the lack of passenger information (the speaker system has long since been vandalised). Llansamlet station, just along the line, has a volunteer manager and more facilities. Why not Skewen? Do Network Rail and the council see it as an embarrassment?

21 teachers to be made redundant in Neath and Port Talbot

The price for keeping our schools open is now revealed by the Evening Post.

It is to be hoped that the county borough is not to lose the services of its most experienced and qualified teachers.

Are you affected by these changes? Please let us know, if so.