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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Tories put their foot in it

It has not been a good weekend for the Tories. The resignation and ostracisation of Howard Flight has both split the Conservative Party asunder and exposed the fragility of their sums and their disingenuity with regards to public spending.

Things were not going well for the Tories anyway on their pledge to axe £35 billion from Labour's plans to increase public spending. The Secretary of State for Wales joined with the soon to be ex-Labour MP for Cardiff Central on Friday to highlight the fact that these cuts would mean £2 billion less for the Welsh Assembly.

It is worth pointing out of course that contrary to Mr. Hain's assertion that Tory plans could lead to "£2 billion of cuts for Wales", what they would actually amount to is £2 billion less growth in the Welsh budget and then only if they impact on the UK expenditure groups that produce a 'Barnett dividend' for Wales, that is spending on services in England which the Welsh Assembly has responsibility for. Thus £10 million extra on education in England gives the Assembly an extra £590,000, whereas £100 million on defence has no effect on the Welsh budget whatsoever. Still, why let the facts get in the way of a good and very valid rant.

The Tories in Wales are putting their foot in it in other ways as well. Their inane poster campaign has already been commented on elsewhere in the blogosphere, now it seems that they have been less than tactful in their choice of sites. A poster demanding "how hard is it to keep a hospital clean?" has been placed outside the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, angering workers and the local NHS Trust. The Royal Gwent Hospital has one of the better records on MRSA infections in the UK. Their average for infection rates is 76 cases per millon bed days compared to the Welsh average of 113 cases and the English average of 170.

Obviously, the Conservatives are going through one of those accident-prone phases where nothing goes right. Long may it continue.
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