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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Breaking free

Yet another article in the Western Mail on the grand coalition idea for the National Assembly. This time they are reporting the views of the Director of the Institute of Welsh Affairs. He believes that Labour will do significantly worse at the Assembly elections in 2007 than they did in 2003. He gives six reasons for this:

Welsh Labour will have been in power in Wales for two terms and many voters will be looking for a change;

At the UK level, Labour will likely be mid-way through its third term with frustration and disillusion mounting;

The economic climate is unlikely to be as it was in 2003, when Labour benefited from a full term of stable growth, rising public expenditure and low interest rates;

Boundary changes in North Wales are likely to work to Labour's disadvantage, making Conwy more marginal in Plaid's favour;

In the coming general election the Tories can expect to pick up a number of seats in Wales - Monmouth, Clwyd West and perhaps Cardiff North. As a result they will be well placed to sustain the significant advance they made in the 2003 Assembly elections;

The Liberal Democrats can be expected to at least sustain their overall share of the vote while Plaid has an opportunity to recover some of the losses it suffered in 2003.

There are a lot of variables there of course but there are even more in the assumptions that Mr. Osmond makes as to why a grand coalition is possible. The biggest question mark, as I have said before, is whether a common policy platform can be agreed. Mr. Osmond believes that this should not be too difficult and suggests a number of areas where we might agree.

I am sure that if you narrow the parameters of any policy enough then it is possible to get cross-party agreement on it. However, having served in one coalition it seems to me that the biggest obstacle to any co-operation lies in the areas where you do not agree. It is not possible to continually ignore those nor to prevent one party holding the whole partnership to ransom over a matter of principle at some stage or another. Where there is a common approach to politics, say from the left or the right, then it is possible to work around these difficulties, but when there is a wide ideological range of views within a Partnership Government then inevitably those differences will be its undoing.

Comments:
1) “Welsh Labour will have been in power in Wales for two terms and many voters will be looking for a change”.

Not necessarily, people said that in 2001 (General Election) and 2003 (Assembly Election) and it’s disproved. People are happy with their Labour Governments, both in Cardiff Bay and Westminster.


2) “At the UK level, Labour will likely be mid-way through its third term with frustration and disillusion mounting”.

Another unfounded assumption. Why will frustration and dissolution be mounting? If, as expected Labour win the next General Election with a landslide majority, another ringing endorsement by the public and a fresh mandate for the Government. It cannot be assumed, by default that the Government will be suffering.


3) “The economic climate is unlikely to be as it was in 2003, when Labour benefited from a full term of stable growth, rising public expenditure and low interest rates”.

Again, I beg to differ; the UK economy has grown in every quarter since Labour came to power, with employment up by 1.9 million and over 100,000 extra businesses since 1997. Britain is enjoying the longest period of sustained low inflation and interest rates since the 1960s. Lower mortgage rates are saving mortgage payers an average of £2,600 a year – nearly £220 a month – compared to under the Conservatives. We’re delivering strong and dependable public services through sustained investment and reform.


4) “Boundary changes in North Wales are likely to work to Labour's disadvantage, making Conwy more marginal in Plaid's favour”

As someone who attended the North Wales Boundary Commission hearing on behalf of the local party, I accept that Conwy may become more marginal, as will every other seat in North West Wales, making each one a potential Labour target. It’s the Nationalists who should be worried.


5) “In the coming general election the Tories can expect to pick up a number of seats in Wales - Monmouth, Clwyd West and perhaps Cardiff North. As a result they will be well placed to sustain the significant advance they made in the 2003 Assembly elections”

This was the expectation in 2001, when Labour held all three.


6) “The Liberal Democrats can be expected to at least sustain their overall share of the vote while Plaid has an opportunity to recover some of the losses it suffered in 2003”.

Many believe the Lib Dems will be exposed as the opportunistic dirty-tricks specialists they are, and will much of the ground they’ve gained over the last few years.

Plaid Cymru show no sign of recovery whatsoever. Dafydd Iwan has succeeded in taking them to the political fringe, and their withering support base is concentrated almost exclusively in North West Wales, where the boundary changes will work to their disadvantage.
 
You will note that these points are not mine and I stated that there were a lot of variables there. I do not agree with everything you say David but I do agree that it is too early to be making these sort of assumptions.
 
 

 

'People are happy with their Labour Governments, both in Cardiff Bay and Westminster'

I'm a lifelong Labour voter. Labour in Wales has been a dreadful mismanager of - for example - the NHS (would David Taylor take issue with that?)

I just don't know if I can vote for anyone else. To suggest that anyone's 'happy' with this rubbish is to seriously misunderstand the situation.

 

 
 
I agree that the state of the NHS in Wales has become indefensible.

Hopefully the new Health Minister will be willing to radically reform things, just as has happened in England where, thanks to Labour, cancer deaths have fallen by 12 per cent and deaths from heart disease are down by 27 per cent. Hospital waiting lists in England down more than a third (35 per cent) from their peak in 1998 to the smallest since 1987.
By December 2005 it will be routine for patients to choose the hospital at which they receive their treatment. Labour has put in place the biggest ever hospital building programme – 100 new hospitals by 2010. Patient satisfaction levels are high - surveys show high patient satisfaction with hospital, ambulance, mental health and primary care services.

Remember that Labour is investing more money in the NHS than ever before. By 2008, total UK health spending will be 9.4 per cent of national income, well above the current EU average of 8 per cent.
 
I was just thinking on the way home this evening that maybe David Taylor needs to re-start his own blog. At least then he wouldn't be using my comments section for Labour Party propaganda :-))
 
 

 

The really fantastic news from David Taylor appears to be our impending immortality. According to him,

'cancer deaths have fallen by 12 per cent and deaths from heart disease are down by 27 per cent'

So what is everyone dying from these days? Falling off cliffs?
 
Get some perspective both of you, there is nothing to be gained by knocking the Government constantly.

You should recognise, and welcome, improvements to front-line public services since 1997.
 
"Get some perspective both of you, there is nothing to be gained by knocking the Government constantly."

I look forward to you applying the same principle to the Liberal Democrats David.
 
 

Mr Taylor - I simply didn't understand the statistics you cited. If deaths from cancer and heart disease are down, what is killing people instead? Perhaps you mean, for example, that young-age deaths from treatable cancers are down, and these people will die later, from cancer, after another 50 years enjoyable life.

If you'd care to link to an original source and let me read the original stats, that would be useful.

I assume you're familiar with the original source and/or could explain the stats to me? Surely it wouldn't be a verbatim lift from an LP email or party circular that you don't quite understand now you're obliged to think about what you've written?

 
 
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