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Friday, October 01, 2010

Clegg visits Wales

Nick Clegg was in Cardiff yesterday and it seems all journalists wanted to ask him was whether he had a blind spot for Wales. The Deputy Prime Minister's answer was spot on:

Not at all, he said. At least he was in the Assembly on an official visit which was more than Gordon Brown had managed when he was PM. The coalition in London was very supportive of this Assembly he said, and Wales as a whole.

Nick also answered those who had doubts about the coalition government by highlighting some of our successes:

“We have done more in five months to protect civil liberties than the Labour Government did in 13 years.” He added that the Budget had lifted 900,000 people out of paying income tax.

There is a lot more in this video:

In fact as the Liberal Democrats find their feet within government, things are starting to look more promising for Wales. We will still be faced with cuts of the order of about £3 billion over the next three years of course, though we should not forget that Labour had planned to chop the Welsh block by £2.8 billion over the same period. But we also have to put these things in context.

The Government will still be spending more in 2014 that it is now, whilst the coalition remain committed to some strategic capital projects that we could benefit from if the Welsh Government play their cards right and stop acting like a naughty schoolchild that has had its toys confiscated.

I am also pleased to see from the Times that Iain Duncan Smith may well have won his battle with the Treasury to radically reform benefits. His plan is to simplify the system so that there is a guarantee that anyone in work will be better off than someone on the dole. Claimants will be allowed to keep more of their benefits when they take a job or increase their hours.

Welsh Liberal Democrats have been talking with Government Ministers and their advisors over the last few months to make the case for Wales. Now it seems that Nick Clegg cannot keep away from the place, and we expect other Minsters to follow him. Far from having a blind spot, the Deputy Prime Minister appears to have developed an affection for our country.
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