Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Minor News

Found this on the inside pages somewhere...

Still, he's only helped stabilise three nations so we can't expect that to make the headlines really, can we.

Pull yer socks up Tony.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

More Gillan

After completely failing to answer Huw Irranca Davies's question on Cabinet Committees (not, it seemed, even understanding what the question was) Governor General Cheryl Gillan has been in the news a little more recently. A front page on todays Western Mail no less!

But first: whilst SoS, Peter Hain had Leighton Andrews' former bag carrier David Taylor as his SpAd. Since Gillan has taken over the Welsh Office, she is yet to replace Taylor. She was expected to replace him with Welsh Conservative Press Officer Richard Hazlewood, who has lots of experience in Wales and Welsh Politics. However, rumour has it, that instead, she is going to install her researcher, Oxford Graduate Sam Gibbs (who has no experience in Wales, or of Wales). So the person directly assisting the SoS in organising the Referendum, and representing Wales in government, has as much experience as she does. Very little. Fantastic.

And the Western Mail. Put simply:

High Flying Civil Servant (who happens to be Welsh) queries why the GG insists in staying in the swanky St Davids Hotel in Cardiff Bay (very nice, but very expensive, Keir can attest) rather than at the flat the Welsh Office [perhaps] have (Billy Hague used to stay there: Keir is not sure if they still own it) or in a cheaper hotel, when she is in Wales, seeing as "...we are all in it together." It must be remembered that this is the same woman who now, it seems, rather hypocritically earned the praise of the TaxPayers Alliance by forcing civil servants out of first class.

High Flying Civil Servant (who happens to be Welsh) is moved to the Ministry of Justice.

So does she not want a Welsh civil servant working for her? Does she not want a civil servant who is anything but a yes[wo]man working for her? Welcome to the new politics. Of course, this wouldn't happen if we had a SoS who was, you know, Welsh, and from a Welsh constituency.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

We Don't Just Want Signatures

Whilst I totally welcome the influx of Labour Party members since the General Election, something about it still irritates me and also makes me curious about the nature of the political being in the United Kingdom.

This view doesn't represent the view of any party members I have spoken to, it is merely my own view. I have had this nagging feeling about the new members since the day after the election when it became apparent that people were joining at an unusually high rate, but reading a recent article on Liberal Conspiracy urged me to articulate my irritation.

And what proceeds from that urge is something like as follows.

The article, posted by Septicisle, explains what I think is the case for many people. They could not join, and maybe even could not support, Labour whilst it was in government, but now Labour is out and now we are faced with the Tory cuts these people feel the desire or need to join Labour. Let me be clear: new members are always a good thing in my opinion. Always. They provide the party with crucial funds, political legitimacy, a more democratic nature and a base of workers and volunteers. So join, join, join.

However, I can’t help but feel the need to ask the 20,000 or whatever people who have joined since May 6th,

“Where were you when we needed you?”

Septicisle says,

While in government, there was never the slightest possibility that I could have justified to myself being a member of the Labour party.

He also says he is, “...a stereotypically angry leftie. However, I think Septicisle, like many thousands of others, needs to face up to something. Many of the real “angry lefties” in history, the ones we so love, took a disliking to a certain type of political being. From my extensive studying of Che Guevara, I know he took a particularly dim view of this type of political being. It is also the type of political being that is opposed to the progressive political being. This type of political being is the reactionary.

The reactionary is a useless political being at best; a dangerous one at worst. The reactionary supports every piece of public spending from 2005 to 2008 that a government carries out, but then changes its tone in 2009 when a global recession takes a grip on the world economy. The reactionary campaigns tirelessly against what it calls “regressive” policies put forward by an opposing party on things such as VAT, but then backs that opponent once it sees power can be gained from giving its support.

The reactionary has no ideas or values that it can stand up for. It only has ideas and values that it thinks it opposes.

I will always look upon the reactionary with suspicion. Any progressive should. But, as I said earlier in this post, I always welcome new members. However, I would put a challenge to all new members. Whilst the money you bring to the Labour Party is valued and whilst adding your weight to the membership total is appreciated, what we need now is action. I think the new members who felt the same way as Septicisle need to decide what it is they believe in and what it is they want from politics and from the Labour Party. There is a change building within the party and within the Labour grassroots movement. Far from just signing membership forms, people up and down the country are committing their time and energy to becoming re-engaged. Re-engaged with their communities and re-engaged with the people in their communities who share common values, common beliefs and common ideas about achieving the common good. From each of these people will come more people; friends, family, colleagues and also strangers.

Following on from when Septicisle said he would never have joined Labour whilst it was in government, he says,

I was never going to be able to have the slightest impact on party policy. In that sense, nothing has changed.


I put it to the new members, and also Septicisle directly: if you want the chance to act, the chance to not only influence policy but to make changes, then do it. If you want to be a part of a progressive, people-led movement and not merely a reactionary that just opposes without ever being proactive, then the chance is there for you now to learn exactly how. It’s free, it’s widespread and it’s started already.

It was Keir’s way and now it’s going to be our way.


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The girls are back...

One thing that troubled Keir more than most about yesterdays Hiroshima of a budget, was the return of the women, and one in particular.

He was glad to see Prudence back, even if she is indelibly associated with the former incumbent of 11 Downing Street amongst the political classes (and is being used as little more than a cudgel to beat Labour with)

Tina was back too, and the ramifications of that is the most worrying development.

There Is No Alternative.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

So what do the Lib Dems add to the coalition?

Over to the ex-President of Oxford University Conservative Association...
Before the election, the Tories promised that 80% of the work of cutting the deficit would come from cutting spending and 20% from raising taxes.

In fact, the chancellor has announced that the figures are 77% to 23%.

That 3% is the impact of the coalition.
Wellllllllllllllll, at least they got comfy Ministerial cars...

You look familiar...

...yes, you, the one in the yellow tie...

I thought I'd seen you before...

(Oh, and for the record Nicky, it's nearer £400pa for every family, those who can pay, and those who can't. Remind me, you're the progressive party?)

A few quick questions, winner gets a big kiss from beardy Keir: Who brought in VAT, who hiked it to 17.5%? and who hiked it to 20%? See a pattern emerging here?

Redressing The Gap, By George Osbourne

There are obviously many issues that will come from the Emergency Budget announcement. Many have been debated in the press and are becoming inevitably boring so I won't go on about VAT rises simply for what they are.

Rather, let's have a quick look at an issue that the Conservatives themselves raised in their manifesto. It was a page on their manifesto that has been referred to previously on this blog. Page 22 of the Invitation to Join the Government of Britain shows a map of the United Kingdom. It is divided into regions with each region's share of the UK economy written on it and each region's size being relative to it's share of the economy. Wales had a 4% share of the UK economy and the North East had a 3% share. Whereas London had 21% and the South East had 14%

So what will the Conservative government do to balance out this inequality? How can you stimulate growth enough in the North East and Wales in order for it to out-pace growth in London and the South East?

Maybe a 2-year public sector pay freeze? No, maybe not.

Wales and the North East have disproportionately high levels of public sector employment. Wales, for example, has around 30% of people working in the public sector. A freeze on public sector pay means less money is coming into these local economies than is going into the economies of London and the South East given that the latter two regions have private sectors to stimulate some growth. So, given that in order to redress the balance we would need to have growth in Wales and North East to be at a higher rate than growth in London and the South East, this policy will just make the gap bigger.

At least these low-income families who are living on the now-frozen public sector pay rates will receive some support though, right? Wrong. The freezing of Child Tax Credits means that a low-income public sector working family will stagnate because of this Budget. More likely, and much worse, they will begin to suffer as prices go up from 2011 with the VAT rise.

Comments such as "it could have been worse" in the media totally ignore the mass of low-paid workers in this country. The Budget may not hit the middle and upper-middle class, represented by the mainstream media, very hard. But what it will do is create a new level of the long-term unemployed class that sadly already exists. This new stream of long-term unemployed will be made up of educated people who have worked for years but are now stuck because of the state of the jobs market; a situation created by the banking collapse. That is, the collapse of banks that will barely be touched by this Budget. Ok, so Gideon introduced a levy on UK banks and UK operations of foreign banks. But that will only raise £2bn. And that's before we consider that the cut in Corporation Tax will allow the banks to scoop up a bit of the money they lose from said levy. Former Chancellor Darling raised more than that with his bonus tax. Much more could and should have been done to bring in money from the banks.

An economic Hiroshima is about to land on the households of poor people up and down this country. Labour and it's people must organise and revolt. This wasn't intended to be a pitch for David Miliband's leadership, but the organisational structure he wants to bring into the party will give people more than just a voice, it will give them a collective fist with which they can begin to pound down this disgusting, ideologically-driven attack on their lives.


Huw Irranca-Davies' Reaction to Gideon's Budget

As our good friend Huw Irranca-Davies MP pursued our issue of the Cheryl Gillan Cabinet committee farce, we have kindly, and more-than happily, agreed to make public Huw's response to today's Budget announcement from the Government.

It can be found at his website here:

Keir wholeheartedly agrees with the points made. Similarly to Keir's previous statements regarding the new "patsies" of government, Huw makes the point about the disgusting onlookers of the new government in yellow ties.

The fight begins now.


Saturday, 19 June 2010

It's Time To Agitate Once More

This man is the future. Keir is supporting David Miliband in the Labour Party leadership election.

Not only does Miliband have worldwide credibility, a statesmanlike manner, incredible intelligence and a kind of dorky funniness, but his plans to fundamentally change the way the Labour Party works are an absolute necessity for the party going into the future. Community organising principles were used by Keir as this party began it's life to represent the under-represented. We must use them now for the same reasons and more. There is a civil society waiting to be awakened in a manner conducive to effective action. Bubbling beneath the surface of the level where the decisions get made is a lot of anger and worry and only these techniques and principles can help people form active resistance and create positive change.

David Miliband believes in this too. His dedication to ceding power and ending the days of top-down, centralised power in the party is admirable and worthy of Keir's vote. This dedication is not apparent in candidates such as Ed Balls and Andy Burnham who appear to be happy to stick with the organisational structure as we know it. Also admirable is his promise that those people educated in the community organising techniques as part of his Movement for Change will be passed on to the party should he lose this election. It is this commitment that leads Keir to believe that he really loves the party and, more importantly, all who the party exists to represent.

Bring on the ballot. After considering all of the candidates and more than flirting with some, Keir is proud to be an active part of David Miliband's Movement for Change and his bid to be leader of the Labour Party.

Friday, 18 June 2010

To The Dispatch Box

After Keir's small campaign to raise the issue of Cheryl Gillan's lack of memberships on Cabinet Committees, some progress has been made.

As was previously mentioned, Huw Irranca-Davies MP submitted a question for Wales Orals on June 23rd. Keir is pleased to confirm that the question was selected and now the issue, with the help of Mr. Irranca-Davies, is on the Westminster agenda.

Keir knows you will all stay glued to your BBC Parliament screen or Democracy Live stream next Wednesday to see how Mrs. Gillan responds to the question. Keir is instead hoping to be in the public gallery, so will of course report on proceedings.

We have had some positive and supportive responses from Welsh Labour MPs and, as they outnumber Welsh MPs of other parties, the pressure in the house should be in our favour. Also, those Plaid MPs that sit should support our cause. Prepare to seethe, however, as the Tory MPs deny any negative ramifications caused by the Welsh Secretary having barely any memberships to committees. And it won't stop there: LibDem MPs appear to be following the Government line.

In the grand scheme of things, and in the context of it being our parliament with all of it's slow and cumbersome procedures, it is hard to set a tangible and realistic target. One realistic, yet still very optimistic, aim would be for Mrs. Gillan to agree to a meeting with one or more Welsh MPs who take issue with her lack of membership. At least then the MPs who support the cause will be able to produce a more detailed case. Personally, I can't see Mrs. Gillan doing anything but follow the line. The last thing the new, unstable Conservative government needs is a minor wrangle from a Cabinet Minister.

Still, we can but wait and see. Keir very much appreciates what Mr. Irranca-Davies is doing on behalf of the Welsh people.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The New Patsy

So Danny Alexander had his first experience of what it's like to be the Tories' new patsy. After Dodgy Dave got turfed out for being a naughty little liar, Devious Danny, tax dodger extraordinaire, is next in line to take the hit for the Tories.

Alexander today announced further cuts that were laced with contradictions not just with LibDem policy, but with Conservative policy too.

One of the high profile elements of the new load of cuts is the cancelling of a loan to Sheffield Forgemasters. This loan (not grant: LOAN) would have helped secure the future of production and jobs whilst also contributing to new low-carbon energy plans as the loan would have helped production of parts to build new nuclear power plants. This is totally contrary to the promise made in the Conservative manifesto (page 11), apparently part of Sir James Dyson's review, to keep manufacturing jobs in this country (where did you send your factories James? They appear to have disappeared from these shores years ago) whilst "...making Britain Europe's leading hi-tech exporter". The jobs that would have been secured and created by this loan will now go abroad and, far from helping us become an exporter, this will increase dependency on imports. In addition, the Conservatives said they wanted to re-balance the economy and also make it greener, but a move like this is detrimental to both of these plans.

And who was rolled out to give the announcement and face the tirade of criticism and abuse? Not the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but his new patsy; his new fall guy. We took out Dodgy Dave, but the triangulated crossfire is still set up and the guy in the book depository is just replaced by another power-hungry "high flyer". All the while, Gideon sits in Number 11 signing away the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of British people.

Here's an idea for you Danny boy: why don't you tighten up the loopholes on Capital Gains Tax rules to get some extra money to reduce the deficit? Nah, didn't think so.


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Happy Brits

Our friend in my favourite British political photograph of the last decade looks well pleased with life doesn't he? And he is not alone, it seems.

IPSOS-MORI released some interesting data last week. Their study showed that between November 2009 and January 2010, British people were the seventh most happiest people in the world with their local area.

A brief look, first, at which parts of the world have parochially happier folk shows that the Netherlands (85%), Canada (83%), Australia (82%), India (76%), Germany (74%) and USA (73%) all beat the UK’s result of 72% of people who were satisfied with their local area as a place to live. Sadly we don’t have research into what makes people in these places so happy with their local area, but need we ask why Holland is top? Also, it’s hard to imagine “happy-go-lucky Aussie” complain about anything. I digress, and also stereotype. But all in good humour.

Now let us look at the countries below Britain. I won’t bore readers with them all, but most notable among them include Spain, where 64% of people reported being happy with their local area, France, where 56% of people said the same and Japan, where a mere 48% were happy with their local area as a place to live. By far my favourite however, in a slightly perverse way, was Sweden. The social democratic paradise from whence all pure social democratic ideals and policies shall come henceforth has a population of whom only 69% are happy with their local area as a place to live. Has this led Swedish politicians to cry “Broken Sweden”? Not to my knowledge.

It must firstly call into question the reasons for Michael Gove’s trumpeting of his utterly bonkers ‘free schools’ plan as being modelled on Sweden’s system of local schooling. Especially when combined with a Swedish Education Minister’s comments that the system simply increases the gap between rich and poor.

What it also calls into question is why David Cameron, like he had done many times before this research and like he has done many times since, declared Britain “broken.” Cameron, along with homophobe chronie Chris Grayling, who famously said that TV show, “The Wire has become part of real life in this country too,” relentlessly pursued a campaign of scaremongering to dupe the electorate into believing Britain was a damaged society. Grayling, in justifying his analogy with The Wire, explained how the show was, “...a horrendous portrayal of the collapse of civilised life and of human despair. Neighbourhoods where drug dealing and deprivation is rife. A constant threat of robbery to fund drug dependency. Communities dogged by violence and by violent crime.” I’d suggest an addition to these horrific scenarios whereby bigoted bed & breakfast owners turn away people because they’re homosexuals too. But that is maybe a bit too outlandish.

In addition to Grayling’s - let’s call them “musings”, because this guy does seem to just continuously say the mad things that float around his head without giving them any real thought whatsoever - Cameron, amongst many other mentions of “Broken Britain”, once said,

"Do you realise that actually we need to have a more pro-family country, we need to get behind marriage and commitment and fatherhood and we need to have much more discipline in our schools and we need to have a revolution in the way that we provide welfare and education that will really mend the broken society."

Now, let’s condense the issues that Grayling and Cameron talk about into general policy areas. They talk about drugs, poverty, local robbery, violent crime, violence in the community, family breakdown, schools and welfare provision. All of these are broken down into localised issues and the problems that the Tories say that these issues create are local problems that have, they say “broken” Britain.

I am not, in any way, saying these problems do not exist. In fact, due to the area I personally live in, these sorts of issues are right on my doorstep. But how in God’s good name can these two men, and others, claim that Britain is “broken” based on these issues, these local issues, when 72% of people are happy with their local area? So 28% reported being dissatisfied. And what were the 2 top concerns for Brits? Well, top priority was “Activities for Teenagers”, which 39% reported as being important. And the second top priority, with 37% of people saying it was important, was “Road and Pavement Repairs”. You couldn’t make it up really.

So of all the aforementioned policy areas that Grayling and Cameron declared as being pressing issues for “Broken Britain”, where do “Activities for Teenagers” and “Road and Pavement Repairs” fit in?


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Simon Hughes has been selected as Deputy Leader of the LibDem faction of the Tory Party

Terrible Twosome

Notwithstanding his keen reply to our letter about Cheryl Gillan's complete unsuitability to be Secretary of State for Wales, David Davies MP (Con, Monmouth) has been elected unopposed as Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee. Although it had never been held by anyone other than a Labour MP, the parties had agreed, why, Keir cannot imagine, that the WASC Chair would be held by a Tory.

Keir can only scream. David Davies rivals Cheryl Gillan for complete unsuitability to anything that impacts on Wales.

This is the same David Davies who opposed devolution and campaigned against it in 1997, opposes extension of powers to the Senedd, and last year attended 5 out of 44 meetings of the committee, about 11%. The man the BBC refers to as the '...Tory tornado' will certainly have to improve his attendance, as new rules state that any member with less than 60% attendance can be voted off by his colleagues.

Incidentally, this is also the same David Davies who referred to torture recently as a "bonus" and campaigns for Britain to leave the EU, worrying when Keir considers how important the EU is to the recovery of Wales not only from this recession but the gutting of its economy in the 1970s and 80s.

What sort of a message does it send to Wales as a whole, combining Gillan, (whose only qualification is that she spent the first 11 years of her life in Wales) with Davies? (who is anti-devolution and seemingly, has so interest in the select committee he is now chair of) What sort of issues will be on the agenda with someone who categorically disagrees over Wales's right for even limited self governance?

But it's OK, because
Mr Davies had said he really wanted the job and would get the committee to look at issues which he thought were important to Wales.
How self obsessed is this man? Shouldn't he be looking at issues which ARE important to Wales?

Shameless Populism

Keir used to have a neighbour, who during the 2006 World Cup put up an England flag in his back garden. Every time England played a game he added a cane, or whatever, to make it higher. This didn't make him a patriot, it made him a twat.

There isn't really any ideological, structural, political or nationalist underpinning to this post. Keir however involuntary swears every time a car with any flag attached to it passes him.
TWAT BEACONS n. England Flags placed on cars in order to alert the public that the driver is a bellend
Keir feels the same about people who stick them to their houses. Keir is proud to be what he is, and doesn't feel the need to wave flags around to feel any more Welsh or British.
David Cameron has said he will fly the flag of St George over No 10 during the football World Cup in South Africa.

The prime minister told MPs that the move would not cost anything and he hoped would help unite the nation behind the English team.
Except, of course, England is only a constituent of our nation, and we shouldn't have this cheap, populist, flag waving bollocks forced on us. Who is Cameron appealing to? White Van Man? What a pathetic stunt. Let Keir ask them a question they will be asking of us soon: "Is this something the government should be doing?"

This does have a bit of a political link though: the lack of devolved representation for England within the current Union settlement. An English Assembly (at least) should be the first step on the Coalitions journey to strengthening localism which it holds so dear. They can stick their flag there.

This has happened before, which Keir didn't realise when he first composed this post in his head. But it all applies nonetheless, no matter who is the incumbent in Downing Street, the seat of the BRITISH government.

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Prime Minister's

Keir was going to write a blogpost on the discordance between what Clegg said in an interview with the Observer on Sunday and the contents of a speech that Cleggerer leaked about midnight last night and gave today. (Novy Politik) However, he found this, which precis his argument very well, so why repeat! Go read it!

As an aside, interesting how Clegg uses "we" to describe not only the Coalition, but also the Thatcher Government in the 1980s... (maybe a bit of a slip back to this?)

Cuts and Cuts

Keir was listening to Radio 5, as is his want, on the way home from work this evening, and A N Other from the Indy was doing the News Review, and while discussing Cameron's speech today about the "...inevitably hard times that lay ahead" he said that it is likely that this is a see-through bit of spin, softening the ground and setting the stage for the Tories to reap the benefits of being able to say they are going to be cutting less.

Something interesting over the weekend, too, on the deficit.
Mr Cameron started his speech by saying problems were "even worse than we thought"
Keir thought he remembered something like this though...

This is all political positioning and posturing (though at least he has been brave enough to not proclaim the death of 'spin'), none of the 'national interest' here.

Updated PLP Nominations...

As the deadline draws near, check out Keir's list of nominations.

Friday, 4 June 2010


A promising development in the Cheryl Gillan situation. It shall hereby be referred to as "Stiflegate".

Huw Irranca-Davies MP, one of Keir's earlier respondents, has been the only MP to take action on this issue in any constructive way. After thanking the man he now calls "Huw" for his initial response, Keir was delighted to hear back from the Ogmore MP as he said,

"Ok. Let's get the ball properly rolling. I have submitted a question for Wales Orals on 23rd June:
'How many Cabinet Committees will she be attending in her role as Secretary of State for Wales?"

This is great news indeed. Keir agrees with Huw as he continued,

"That simple and innocuous question should provide the catalyst for some good exchanges on the inadequate representation of Wales at Cabinet level."

He also said that he has, "...a good feeling in [his] bones" that this question will be selected for the debate.

This is indeed a success. As Huw said, this question should provoke debate in the house and will force Mrs. Gillan to give a response on the issue. She can surely not disagree with what we are saying, so it will be very interesting to hear her views. What is also important is the timing of the question. As Keir suggested to Huw, the issue needs to be raised soon before the new government has settled into its ways and the bums on seats on Committees are comfortable.

It is indeed heartening that for every Gwenda Thomas, there is a Huw Irranca-Davies. Keir will of course inform of any further developments.


Thursday, 3 June 2010

Cheryl Gillan Letter Responses

Keir has received a few responses from the officials that were sent the open letter. Considering the letter was sent
on a Bank Holiday weekend, it is understandable, if slightly frustrating, that there hasn’t been a flood of e-mails just yet but here are the responses so far:

Peter Black AM (Liberal Democrats) sent a somewhat suspicious response. His first response stated;

Thanks for your e-mail. I have noted your concern. I do not accept that Wales has been marginalised under this coalition government as you imply.”

However, after Keir sent a response expressing disagreement but appreciation for the quick response which also, incidentally, came on Bank Holiday Monday, Mr. Black surprisingly responded again, saying;

“I will obviously keep an open mind and maintain a dialogue with my party on this issue.”

Maybe it is reading in a bit deep, but it did seem a bit bizarre that he replied to a simple reply indicating our appreciation that he responded in the first place. Some might say it has the sound of a caged man. Or some may just say he is merely highlighting the democratic and open nature of Liberal Democrat policy-making procedures. Keir will leave you to judge for yourself.

David Davies, MP for Montmouthshire, said,

“I don’t think membership of cabinet committees can be determined by who represents which area of the UK, otherwise who is in there specifically representing the English[?]”

A fair point, Keir conceded. But the issue that the English don’t have a representative is totally separate. Keir also added that if Ministers are given Cabinet posts to represent the devolved areas, then surely government acknowledges that representation in Cabinet and, thus, on Committees is necessary? It was also pointed out to Mr. Davies that Cheryl Gillan has very little experience of Home Affairs yet has 5 years experience as the Opposition spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. So what is her one membership, on the Home Affairs Committee, based on? Mr Davies simply responded;

“Well I haven’t got the time to look this up but I could have sworn she had something to do with prisons at some point. I am relying on memory.”

It may sound like Mr. Davies is dodging the issue, but Keir appreciates that he is a busy man and the fact that he sent 3 quick responses to our persistent e-mails in the space of around 20 minutes is commendable enough. Especially given that Keir is not a constituent of Mr. Davies. Keir welcomes debate and disagreement and Mr. Davies’ frankness made him go up a bit further in the estimation.

On a more positive note, John Griffiths AM (Labour) responded well to the letter. Mr. Griffiths simply said;

Well done on your initiative on this. Labour AMs and MPs amongst others have been and will be making appropriate points on this as you suggest.

Best wishes


Well you can’t ask more than that, can you? And Keir does like a “Best Wishes” as opposed to a “Regards”.

David Jones, Conservative MP for Clwyd West, seemed in lazy mood when he responded to Keir, simply saying,

I am sure Mrs Gillan will send a response to you direct”


A slightly bizarre e-mail from David Hanson MP. Verbatim, it read,

“when i was parliamentary under secretary for wales 1999-2001 i sat on 23!

Ummm...great. This doesn’t really help Keir or the Welsh people though. But thanks. I guess.

Gwenda Thomas, a Labour, AM fobbed Keir and the people of Wales off onto her “Researcher/PA”, who responded by saying,

“Gwenda Thomas AM thanks you for your email and notes the contents.

Can’t help but think, “well fuck off then”. Keir wonders, if he was a raw 16-year old trying to get involved in politics, whether he’d become disenchanted with everything after getting this sort of response. Thanks for engaging Gwenda, thanks. I’m sure you’re much busier than David Davies.

Tory MP Guto Bebb simply said,

“We are very keen to ensure that there is a strong Welsh voice in parliament and your comments have been noted.”
Great. Thanks. 
Huw Irranca-Davies, MP for Ogmore, sent a slightly more encouraging response to Keir’s letter. He said,
“I share your concern that Wales is now in danger of being sidelined and even ignored by the new coalition government. The appointment of a Secretary of State who does not represent a seat in Wales, the bypassing of the First Minister when Cameron announced there will be no referendum on further devolution of powers this autumn, and the proposal to cull the numbers of MPs from Wales are all unmistakeable signs of the new direction of travel. Labour MPs from Wales will of course be speaking up for Wales, because I worry that the new government in Westminster will not.”

Hear, hear, Mr. Irranca-Davies.

So, quite a feeble response so far sadly. Without a cross-party consensus among Welsh MPs, the resistance from the few who voice dissent will be futile.

This sort of issue needs a much more organised revolt. A letter to MPs, evidently, will not achieve enough. Keir feels the campaign methods and Labour Party structural changes being proposed by some of the leadership contenders will allow for grassroots rebellion to be a lot stronger. So, come October, when we have a new leader and if the response to this issue isn’t good enough, Keir assures his no-doubt wide readership that he will be agitating on the ground, just like he did at the start of the twentieth century.


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

American Expense

It this the American version of the Expenses scandal? (Did you see what Keir did with the title?)

What does this tell us about the American fetish for the military?

All pictures courtesy of the excellent Political Wire


Keir Hardie sends condolences to all who have been touched by the tragic events in Cumbria today.

On public spending cuts and credit rating...

Keir isn't sure about his credit rating, though admittedly he doesn't have Standard and Poor, Moody's or Fitch regularly reminding the global press about it...
If you recall, during the election campaign we were told by Gideon, by Cameron, by any Tory in sight of a television camera, was that unless we slashed public spending to slash the deficit, then the cost of borrowing would increase as our credit rating was downgraded. That, they told us, was the only reason they supported "swingeing" cuts to public spending, not the fact that they had the horn for ideological conservatism and small government.
Conservatives' confidence to talk honestly about cuts should stem from three other “c” words: context, character and credibility...Britain will have the biggest budget deficit of any G20 country...Britain faces losing its “triple A” international credit rating because of the prospect that our national debt could exceed our national income
This has been accepted by the right wing press, much of the right wing commentariat, and even, it seems, has become 'general knowledge' after Mervyn King's so called "ringing endorsement" of the Coalitions cuts policy. It has been accepted, put simply, that the credit rating organisations are not only in the right, but also have the right and the power to dictate fiscal policy to nation states. If, the theory goes, we slash public spending (I wonder why the private sector might want this to happen?) then the credit ratings and the international markets will be much more confident in our recovery and future economic growth and we can all sit around the fire singing 'Kum-ba-ya'. This is not only happening in the UK, in France, Budget Minister Francois Baroin says that maintaining France's credit rating is central in driving economic policy.

Last week, the government of Jose Zapatero in Spain passed an austerity package through the lower house of parliament by a single vote. The aim of this package was to slash the public deficit almost in half, from 11% to 6%, including public sector pay freezes, reductions to regional government spending (Keir's sure that will placate the Basques!) and cutting deeply into public sector pension schemes.

This package came as Spain became the last of the major European economies to move out of recession, with 0.1% growth in 2010 Q1.

So what do you think should happen then? Spain has slashed public spending, just as, Gideon tells us, we should do too! So, in this brave right wing supremacy of the market world what should happen? Yes, that's right, Spain should keep her credit rating because she is being 'credible' about the scale of cuts?

But look here:
Fitch Ratings cut Spain's credit rating Friday, saying its government's efforts to reduce debt would weigh down economic growth.
And here:
The ratings agency cut the country's rating one notch from AAA to AA plus, saying Zapatero's efforts to close the budget deficit "will materially reduce the rate of growth of the Spanish economy over the medium term".
So, you mean, the credit rating agencies aren't being completely open, honest, or reliable, and don't have our best interests at heart? Damn!

What was it that Gordon Brown used to repeat?
Mr Brown said the Conservatives' economic policies would do "enormous damage to the economy and make sure the recovery was put at risk by taking money out of the economy now.