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?
Well, it has been a quiet summer in politics and on this blog (I was busy getting married, so sorry for no posts). However, things are beginning to look interesting within Plaid Cymru. A while ago I blogged about the Plaid leadership race, or non race at the time. I set a prediction of who might go for the top job after Ieuan Wyn Jones announced that he will be stepping down. Back then I gave a list of five possibilities, and within days one of the names I listed had thrown their hat into the ring. However, today comes a new announcement that a second person on my list has made her intentions known. Today Elin Jones published on her website a statement, clearly indicating that she will run for party leader.
The statement reads very much like a letter of application, however there are some hints of the kind of leader she will be. She is keen to point out her Socialist and Republican values, as well as her west Wales roots. How long will we have to wait before we hear who else will officially go for the job? Not long i would guess.
After hearing the terrible way Carmarthenshire County council treated a Jacqui Thompson and seeing that a FOI request was sent to the council in question about their policies on blogging, tweeting, and filming at council meetings, I thought it would be great to see how each of Wales’ 22 councils treat these issues. So I have already put a request into my council, Powys. I urge you to do so with your council.
So Plaid Cymru were ridiculed for their plans called Build4Wales where bonds would be issued to pay for investment in Welsh infrastructure etc. However it would seem that the UK government have agreed that this is a great idea, and offered it to Scotland. So what about Wales? When will Wales get its “Calman like” commission that was promised, and when will we be getting borrowing powers so we can pay our own way.
Incidentally, it would seem that Labour have decided that a few months after the election campaign that this is now a good idea. As Mabon ap Gwynfor succinctly puts it:
“Who is it that called it Pie in the sky? Lib Dems.
Who called in “ineffective”? Conservatives
Who said it was “to good to be true”? Labour”
I was shocked to see news of the arrest of a blogger in Carmarthen for the terrible crime of… filming a council meeting from the public gallery. Yes, it would seem that Carmarthenshire county council have something that it doesn’t want to be filmed. In today’s connected world this story was across twitter and on the Telegraph website.
It is a welcome sight to see more people tweeting blogging, and (attempting to) film council proceedings. Lets hope more people will be willing to draw attention to what councils do.
UPDATE 13/6/11 : It was only a matter of time before a Freedom of Information request was made. Lets hope the response will give some clarity on the situation.
Here is the video of what happened in the chamber.
So, Ieuan Wyn Jones has announced that he will go in the first half of this Assembly term. I doubt I’m the first one to raise the question, “who will be in the running?”
First of all I should consider whether this is a good thing for the Party. I was intending to wait until Carwyn Jones had announced his government before blogging about why Ieuan should go. Yes, Ieuan led the party into a coalition government for the first time, and had served as Deputy First Minister from 2007 to 2011. And yes it was Plaid with him at the helm who secured a referendum on ‘more powers to Wales’ – all of which, achievements and milestones.
However, between 2000 and 2011, Plaid has slipped from a strong second Party in Welsh politics, to a weak third. 1999 was a strong showing, maybe a swell of support for due to the creation of the new Assembly, and a sense of pride in our new fledgling democracy. However the following 3 election weren’t to live up to the success of the first. It is certainly time for Plaid
Eleven years is a very long time to lead a party, and it certainly time for Ieuan to step aside. Plaid needs to identify its purpose, what will its role be in this decade? What is the next step in the national project? So, who then could possibly take over from Ieuan?
Here are, who I think could be contenders (in no particular preference):
Rhodri Glyn Thomas: This would not be a step forward for the Party. I believe this would be much of the same, it would be a continuation of what we’ve had over the last decade. However, he could be a possible stop-gap untill 2016, when Adam Price might return to Welsh politics.
Simon Thomas: Although he is a newbie to the Assembly, a novice he is not. Former MP and special advisor to the previous Welsh government, Simon certainly could be what Plaid needs to take it forward.
Leanne Wood: Could Leanne, who is on the left-wing of the Party, win enough support to lead the Party. A few have already suggested that she could be what the Party needs to win in the Valleys and North East Wales. I for one don’t think that it’ll be as easy as that.
Dafydd Elis Thomas: Of course lets not forget the former Presiding officer. Never one to shy away, could Dafydd be tempted to take the leadership once again? He’s already said how Plaid worked well with Labour, could Plaid under him find itself in perpetual coalition with Labour?
Elin Jones: One of the Plaid ministers in the previous Government, I think Elin would be a popular leader with both left and right in the party.
Or could there be a surprise contender? Interesting times.
I have written before about the Lib Dems’ misleading graphs in their election literature, but this is a new one to me! Today I received a leaflet through the post from the Lib Dems (see picture). When I opened the letter I was expecting to see Wyn Williams pointing at various points of local greivances, however there was a leaflet with Kirsty Williams standing in front of an Ambulance, hugging a lamb, and sitting with schoolchildren (and one, which I can only assume, of Kirsty hiding behind a corner – bottom right of the picture).
Anyway, this must have been a regional leaflet, however the title read “Time for real action for Montgomeryshire”. But correct me if I’m wrong, Kirsty isn’t standing in Montgomeryshire. I can only assume that this is a regional leaflet, but she isn’t standing on the regional list either! Neither does it say anything about the regional list on the leaflet, apart from the suggestion that i should “look for the bird” (maybe an idea from the former MP Lembit Opik?).
Shortly after the formation of the ConDem coalition last year I predicted that the government wouldn’t last more than a year. Well, it’s almost a year and the coalition still stands… for now. I might have been a bit hasty in my prediction, however the situation seems more fragile than ever.
The last year has been relatively plain sailing because it’s only now an issue that is close to the Lib Dems’ hearts. I’m not sure why commentators are acting surprised by this though, it was inevitable that the government would be split on the issue of AV.
May will not be a good month for the Lib Dems, they could very well AV slip through their fingers at the same time hundreds of their councillors in England face being turfed out of their wards – and as for the Lib Dems in Wales, well they could possibly find themselves with as little as 2 seats in the Assembly.
With all of these factors considered I feel confident in saying that the Westminster government won’t last until 2015. I would go so far as to say that the coalition won’t be in place this time next year.
Since the Westminster elections in 2010 I have been uploading all election leaflets that come through the door to a great website called electionleaflets.org. This site depends on volunteers to upload the leaflets they have received. I find that this could be a very useful resource for future historians and political anoraks who want to see how issues have developed, who has promised what, and how campaigns change with time. So I urge all of you out there to scan and upload your leaflets.
Here’s another letter I sent to the County Times about True Wales’ misleading and extremely parochial argument in Montgomeryshire. Sadly this was not published this week.
Why would the fact that Llanidloes has a bypass influence my views on constitutional matters, as Mr Philip Glynn is suggesting? I agree with Mr Glynn that the traffic situation in Newtown is terrible, and I do use the roads around Newtown frequently, so experience the queues often. Traffic planning apart, I fail to see what this has to do with the referendum on clarifying the Welsh legislative system. There is a deference between the government who creates policy and the system within which it works, and the March 3rd vote is about the system, and not policy.
I too am amused by the headline of Mr Glynn’s letter in last weeks edition (18/2/11), which suggest that a no vote in March would bring an end to queues in Newtown! As I have raised on a few occasions in these pages, a no vote would mean that the present situation will remain, including the traffic queues. However, I will not claim that a YES vote will get rid of the queues, because it won’t – after all the vote isn’t about the traffic situation of Newtown. Mr Glynn could, however campaign for the 5th of May Assembly elections where his efforts might pay off and get something done about the terrible queues we all have to endure on a daily basis.
I’m not “having a laugh” by using the term simpler, because it will be simpler without having to send a Legislative Competence Order (LCO) to Westminster in order to pass a law in Wales. Could Mr Glynn explain perhaps why he thinks I’m “having a laugh”? I don’t think that waiting for 3 years to pass a law on child safety on school busses was particularly funny.
Mr Glynn claims that his campaign is a “local campaign, with local issues” – how local does this mean? – should I, a resident of Llanidloes not express a view on a national debate because I don’t live in Newtown? The issues of Assembly powers are the same in Llanidloes as they are in Newtown, and anywhere else in Wales.
A YES vote would be to the benefit for every person in Wales.
A no vote would change nothing – so if you like the way things are now then vote no.