Public Prime Minister’s Questions?

In his recent of many reinventions, Ed Miliband outlined his idea of creating a Public Prime Minister’s Questions where the public will be given the chance to question the Prime minister on any issue.  Sound’s like a good and progressive step forward for democracy doesn’t it?  The problem with this of course is that the current PMQs, where MPs question the Prime Minister every Wednesday is already a sham. The weekly question time is nothing more than a public relations exercise where the Government and the opposition try to one-up each other for the cameras, and back benchers try to make a name for themselves.

I can’t see how a Public Prime Minister’s Question time will be an extension of this, where it will be a well rehearsed show rather than a true opportunity for the public to scrutinise the Prime Minister.  The second issue I take from this plan is that we live in a representative democracy.  We give a mandate to MPs to carry out three primary functions, to represent, to legislate and to scrutinise.  Why would allowing the public to scrutinise the Prime Minister as well as our representatives revolutionise our democracy?  It won’t.

Unfortunately, like many things with Labour and Ed Miliband, this is another gimmick; pure electioneering.  Why not announce that we will have referenda on all legislation?  Why not hold a raffle to give a different member of the public a chance to be Prime Minister for the day as a way getting them more involved in politics?  Although the latter idea of mine might increase Ed Miliband’s chance of being PM!

UKIP – are we all euro-skeptics now?

I will be adding a poll to this post below to see how people feel about the EU, please take part in it

UKIP have won!  They are the undisputed champions of the elections and are on course for a landslide next year…  It’s difficult to convey irony in writing sometimes, and amongst the hyperbole of the media today, I’m afraid that it might be lost unless i explain my opening sentence.  You see, according to the media something massive has happened in British politics, and in European politics; UKIP are no longer a protest fringe group, but part of the mainstream.

First of all, I don’t deny that UKIP are a force in British politics now.  Yes, they have increased their vote, and also topped the poll (in England), won 23 seats, and increased their vote by 10.99%. However, is this as significant as many would have you believe?  The European elections are seen by many as a protest vote against the governing party (or parties in the case of this year).  UKIP have done well in the Euro elections since 2004, and the fact remains, they have no MPs and are unlikely to win any Westminster seats; or at least not enough to warrant the tag line ‘Political earthquake’.

If (it seems an increasingly big ‘if’ at this moment) Cameron wins an outright majority next year, and a referendum is held on Europe, then the wind will be taken out of the sails of HMS Farage.  Let’s consider another scenario.  It would seem that this result has forced the mainstream parties to consider Europe and it certainly will be an election issue in 2016, at the least the next UK government will push for EU reform.  If it can be demonstrated that the UK has had a good deal out of any reform, then the rise of UKIP with be stopped in its tracks.

However, can we really say that there is something new here in Wales?  The distribution of seats remains one each for Plaid, Labour, Conservative and UKIP.  Labour remains at the top of the poll, and, in fact was close to gaining another seat.  I would contend this morning’s headline on the BBC News Wales website “Wales’ as Eurosceptic as rest of UK”.  It begins with the same line as all other media outlets, how we’re all Euro-skeptics now, yet it goes on to show that 308,401 (508,143 if you include the Tories) people voted for pro EU parties as opposed to 224,917.  I would say that the majority of the people who voted are pro Europe, wouldn’t you?

And how will all of this affect business in Brussels and Strasbourg?  The truth is, UKIP will not have much sway in the European Parliament, it belongs to the EFD grouping, which (at the time of writing) has 38 seats, making it the smallest grouping in the Parliament.

This is how i see it:

  • UKIP have performed better than last time.
  • It certainly is a protest vote against the governing parties.
  • People want reform of the EU – but not out.
  • UKIP will not win many (if any) seats in Westminster.
  • There will be a danger that an ‘in/out’ referendum will be held where turnout is very low and a decision to leave the EU will be taken by around 15% of the electorate.

 

A new blog

I don’t usually promote blogs here unless they are directly relevant to a post I’m writing, however I would like to suggest one just this once. My wife has taken to blogging and has set one up. It mainly discusses parenting issues, with bits about fashion, (baby) product reviews, and various other things.

If you think you’d be interested, or know someone who might be, please click on the link, and share the URL.

www.mamaandbabybear.com

Does Miliband know what his party is doing?

Finally, Labour will stand up against Zero Hour contracts and fight for hard working people.  It’s a bit rich for Miliband to tackle an “epidemic” of zero hour contracts today.  It is funny how Labour UK are saying one thing and Welsh Labour do another.  How can the people of Wales, and the people of the UK, for that matter vote for a party that says one thing and does another?

What in particular has Welsh Labour done that contradicts Miliband?  Well the details can be found here.  To summarise, during the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill progression through the Assembly (which is at the 4th stage of the legislative process now), Plaid AM Jocylyn Davies, attempted to introduced an amendment which would have ensured that social care provided by Local Authorities would not be done so by using zero hour contracts.

 

Here is the wording of the amendment:

To insert a new section—

Meeting needs: use of zero hours contracts

(1)A local authority that provides or makes arrangements of the type referred to in section 30(2)(b) must ensure as far as practicable that such provision or arrangements do not provide for the delivery of care and support by use of zero hours contracts.

(2)  A zero hours contract is a contract or arrangement for the provision of labour which fails to specify guaranteed working hours and has one or more of the following features—

  1. (a)  it requires the worker to be available for work when there is no guarantee the worker will be needed;
  2. (b)  it requires the worker to work exclusively for one employer.

(3)  For the purposes of this section—

  1. (a)  a worker is a person who is employed;
  2. (b)  a person is employed for the purposes of this section if he or she is engaged by another person to provide labour and is not genuinely operating a business on his or her own account;
  3. (c)  in any legal proceedings it is for the respondent to show that the applicant is not employed.

(4)  The Welsh Ministers may by regulations amend the definition of “zero hours contracts” in subsection (2).’.

 

If Miliband and his Labour party are truly against zero hour contracts, even if this is in principal only then why not support this amendment?

Here are the AMs who supported the motion:

  1. Rhun ap Iorwerth
  2. Peter Black
  3. Jocelyn Davies
  4. Yr Arglwydd / Lord Elis-Thomas
  5. Llyr Gruffydd
  6. Bethan Jenkins
  7. Alun Ffred Jones
  8. Elin Jones
  9. Eluned Parrott
  10. William Powell
  11. Aled Roberts
  12. Rhodri Glyn Thomas
  13. Simon Thomas
  14. Lindsay Whittle
  15. Kirsty Williams
  16. Leanne Wood

A list of how all AMs voted can be seen here.

 

Once again we are seeing a Labour Party which is either at war with itself or totally ignorant to what other parts of it are doing!

How will Wales Vote?

Yesterday the Elections in Wales blog published the latest poll on voting intentions in Wales for the next three elections: Europe (2014) Westminster (2015) and National Assembly (2016). It confirms a narrative which has been making the rounds in the media of a rise in support to UKIP, and the continuing troubles for the Lib Dems.

What is interesting is the fact that as it stands UKIP could be the third largest party in the National Assembly in 2016. This will certainly change the dynamics in the Senedd. It shows that according to this UKIP will have 5 (regional) seats and the lib Dems will be reduced to 2 seats (one regional and one constituency).

Opening access to local democracy

A year or two ago, I blogged a lot about getting local councils to transmit their meetings online, for voters to see what was going on. This was sparked by the event of @caebrwyn being arrested for filming at a council meeting at Carmarthenshire county hall.

I found it strange that a council would go to the trouble of calling the police on someone filming a meeting, which was open to the public. Surely the public should be allowed to see and hear what was being discussed and decided in their name at county hall.

As a result of this, I, and a few others went about making requests under the freedom of information act for information on what councils were doing to allow filming, and broadcasting in council meetings. As I recall, it was allowed at the discretion of the chairperson, although few councils bothered to broadcast their meetings online.

It was good to read this article today, and encouraging to see that more councils are now attempting to use the internet to open access to local democracy. This certainly makes democracy far more transparent, especially at the level that impacts on citizen’s every day lives.  It would seem that £1.25m will be available to install broadcasting equipment at county halls.

Y Gymraeg, technoleg a’r gymdeithas sifil.

Heddiw, mae nifer o bobl yn cyfarfod yn Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru yn Aberystwyth i drafod amrywiaeth o bynciau yn ymwneud gyda thechnoleg a’r iaith Gymraeg. Mae Hacio’r Iaith wedi cael ei chynnal ers 2010, ac wedi codi sawl pwnc pwysig.

Un peth sydd wedi codi heddiw sydd wedi fy ysgogi i flogio (ers sawl mis). Yn sgil trafodaeth ar ymgyrchi / lobio ar lein postiodd Rhodri ap Dyfrig sawl cwestiwn ar beth ddylai digwydd, ac ar ba ffurf dylid symud ymlaen.

Nodwyd sawl pwynt yn fan hyn (gwna i ddim ail adrodd nhw i gyd yma). Ond yn fy marn i, mae’r hyn sy’n cael ei gwneud gan mysociety.org yn dda iawn ac yn adeiladol. Byth yw’ch barn chi ar y mater?

A sabbatical… not to concentrate on my garden I hasten to add!

After a period of silence on this blog I make my return with news of scandal! In a local politics first for this blog, what better way to dive in than on a “scandal”. News came from Llanidloes town hall that there has been misuse of funds, in particular the use of the council groundskeeper on the private garden of the town clerk.

It would seem that the council’s groundskeeper worked on the clerk’s garden while he should have been working for the town council.  The scandal, however, comes from the fact that the town council voted to “sweep the matter under the carpet”.  According to the council, accounts are audited as required, and the auditors have not called this into question.

A petition is now doing the rounds calling for  an investigation into the matter.  I wonder whether this issue is being used by individuals who happen to be standing in the 3rd of May county council election?  Hmm….

Leanne Wood to stand for leadership

And the fourth person on my prediction list has announced they will be standing for Plaid Cymru’s leadership. This evening Leanne Wood has announced she will be standing for the leadership of the Party.

If elected Leanne will certainly navigate the party to the left.

Simon Thomas to run for leader

And soon I shall have a full house!  The third person on my predicted candidates for Plaid Cymru leadership list, which I complied a while ago, has announced that he will be standing.  Former Ceredigion MP, WAG SpAd and current Mid and West Wales regional AM, Simon Thomas has thrown his headwear into the ring.

This has now made things a bit more interesting, two of the candidates are either current of former representatives of one of Wales’ most marginal seats.

In his statement, Simon made it clear (like other candidates) how in touch he is with all of Wales, not just Welsh speaking areas.  Of course, being from Aberdare originally, Simon is the first candidate in this race to have a connection with the Valleys (I believe).

Simon is a left of centre candidate, very much like Elin Jones, and so I must question how will these two individuals win support from a shared pool of natural supporters?

Lets see whether anyone else from my list will step up to the mark?